Random Ramblings

Is It Any Good?

I’ve been away from this blog for a couple of weeks. Firstly work has, as is often the case, got in the way. For those who don’t know, I work in recruitment, and have been working on a range of assignments in the following countries – Australia, Germany, Hungary, The Netherlands, Singapore, the UK and the USA. Needless to say managing the time zone discrepancies isn’t easy, but it’s worth it financially – and I need to ramp up my earnings as much as possible in the next 5-10 years. No easy wind-down to retirement for me.

It is what it is.

I’ve also been going through one of my periodic bouts of doubt in my own writing. Is it actually any good? You’d think that with a book published in 2018 and around 120 poems in print and online publications, (I’ve lost my spreadsheet that tracked all the early acceptances), those days would be behind me, but they aren’t. I’ll always suffer from imposter syndrome to a certain extent. I’m sure most writers feel the same on occasion.

I’ve not written much recently, and I have hardly sent out anything this year. Most of what I’ve been writing has been pretty dark, reacting to, (how can we not be influenced?), on what is going on in the world right now, whether it be Ukraine, climate change, or the current political situation in the UK. Who really wants to read that?

I’m not in the frame of mind to send stuff out, or enter competitions. I’m reading at a couple of events soon – May 1st being the first of these (I’ll post about it separately next week) – and I’m really looking forward to meeting up with writerly friends again, but I’m not sure how I feel about reading anything. I did an online reading last week and whilst the event was good, my reading wasn’t that great IMO.

Maybe I’ll send some out later in the year. Maybe it’s just a period of reflection on where my writing is going to go next. Maybe I’m just too tired. Because I am, very, very tired of the world we are living in, and the world we are likely to be living in over the coming decades. But I’ll save that for a future post – particularly as I’ve already written about my fears over environmental change in the past.

I will get over this – I did before, and I will again. I’m not going to cut off my ear or do anything stupid. Writing isn’t my whole world, and this isn’t a post to elicit clicks and comments on how wonderful a writer I am, or how great a particular poem is or a particular reading was. To quote Pascal Petit from a tweet earlier today (she’s worth a follow on Twitter);

“Just because you can’t write, or when you try it won’t come, doesn’t mean you are blocked. It means something is gestating & might need more time to grow. That’s what I’ve found in the past – a fallow period might lead to a shift & development worth waiting for! Worth hoping for?”

My current, temporary, malaise may just be a symptom of what Pascale is saying. I don’t think it’s anything more than this. I’m sure I’ll pick up a pen, or tap stuff out on a computer again soon enough. And I can’t stress this enough – I do not want sympathy – it happens to most writers at some point. I went through a spell of about 8 years when I practically wrote nothing at all. And what I did write I ended up chucking out as it was sentimental, self-indulgent drivel.

So this post is for any other writer who happens to be going through a tough patch on the writing front.

I’ve been reasonably successful in my writing ‘career’, and many other better writers, far more famous, and far more successful, have gone through the same situation. So how do you get out of it?

Set aside a certain amount of time to write each day, and not even think about what you are writing?

Re-work older pieces of work?

Do some writing exercises, perhaps in a genre you don’t normally write in?

Spend the time you would have been writing reading instead?

Embrace other aspects of your life in the knowledge that your ‘muse’ (or whatever it is), will, at some point come back?

What works for you? Let me know in the comments.

Back to my original point. How do you know if what you are writing is actually any good? Do you ever know, really? I wonder how famous writers, internationally acclaimed ones, react to the praise and awards they get. Do they still have that nagging doubt that they are writing rubbish?

Yet I know many writers write because they have to. It’s not some conscious choice. Taken to the logical extreme, so what if no one reads your work? So what if no one says they like it?

Does any of this actually matter?

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