Certain facts and suspicions can be ignored no longer. The first concerns my published books. It does not matter how good a writer I am, or how well-written those tomes might be, I am not making any kind of impact, financially or in terms of wider recognition, as a novelist – and, at times, I churn myself into a jealous spiral when I see the much greater success of people my age, and younger, whose new-career-initiatives have soared far higher than mine are showing any sign of doing.
I think it is time to face this head on – and ask myself whether I am actually meant to be a novelist at all. Perhaps I lack the competitive streak, the push, the necessary ruthlessness and drive; perhaps my lack of interest in, and engagement with, the marketing side is too great a drawback. Perhaps I am scared of success, of wealth. I do not know – and it probably does not matter.
I am also, however, having to look at the reality of blogging. It does not suit me, though I am a competent writer. I have a very ambivalent relationship with social circles and people at the best of times – and this opening out and sharing my own vulnerability, with names I have never actually clapped eyes on, is both sinister and addictive. I fear it and am consumed by it. I cannot stop – and yet I long to lay down the intense emotional burden of it all because, apart from anything else, I feel I have said it all and am emptying myself of precious life fluids by this daily outpouring of words.
The nudge happened in the three weeks I was forced to be off line. Far from being distraught, and going through Cold Turkey, I loved it: I felt happy and free and spontaneous and blessed. My life, away from the laptop, became delightfully physical and, in the nicest way, unthinking. I felt connected to the earth, to my new area; I walked for long periods of time and my days were unbroken by the obsessive need to produce yet another entry on here. Even my journal was put on the proverbial back burner, entries spun out over several days instead of hurried and harried in a clutch of anxious fear.
And then, on January 11th, I was reconnected. But the thrill was gone. The hunger was absent. The magic had disappeared.My heart was no longer in it. Perhaps in part because I could finally see the truth: It doesn’t matter how hard I try, or how much I write, or how talented I am, or how shocking I sometimes set out to be, I am not one of the Golden Few; I am not going to be plucked out of obscurity; if money I make, it will not be as a result of my writing.
Not now. Maybe not ever. I do not have what it takes to persuade the world to read my books. I lack the self-confidence and the rhetoric and the strategies. I am merely going round in circles now. The books are out there, gathering invisible dust on non-existent shelves. The process of trying the sell the bloody things is too distressing, too enervating and draining. I do not seem to have developed the necessary thickening of the skin.
I am exhausted. Counselling followed by divorce followed by house selling and buying and a move to a new town. Emotions banked along the way – because these life processes were not tidy and discrete; they overlapped messily – and, as old readers will be aware, my ex-husband and I had to live together for six months after the Decree Absolute.
Sometimes I feel so broken and sad. Sometimes, I don’t want to get out of bed or face the day. Sometimes, I ache all day long and struggle to believe that things will ever improve. Whilst in the thick of the worst of it – roughly, October 2013 through December 2016 – I cried rarely. Some things are too deep and painful for tears. I put my desire to weep to one side. I held off. I maintained a stony visage. It was the only way to keep going, to get through.
Coming back onto Facebook has had its downside too: It is great to connect and to make new friends, but I feel scared and oppressed by the gloom and doom, the predictions of utter horror which have arisen in the wake of Trump’s inauguration. I understand the fear, for I share it; but, at fifty-nine, I have seen this kind of Apocalyptic thinking played out on all too many stages. It does seem to be a part of the human consciousness, almost a need, this finding of bogeymen and women, this worst case scenario building. I wish we could see the way WE paint yet another corner in the canvas of darkness when we give way to this primal fear of the dark and fear of the monster urge. I am not, and never have been, an advocate of the ‘Let’s deny it all and pretend all’s right with the world’ brigade – but pessimism spreads like a virus and fear feeds off itself.
On these Social Sites, we have the capacity to bring one another great love and light and comfort; but we also share the ability to stir one another up into ever-greater levels of terror, anger, hatred and hysteria.
But I also think there are individuals who are able to deny their own grievous wounds through their obsessive immersion in the gashes shown, on the world stage, by the media. Such people will play out their individual, and largely unspoken, tragedies on the vast board of that game we all love to hate: Us and Them. Sometimes, it is much easier to contemplate the Biblical End of the World, and to see Trump (or, in times gone by, Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gadaffi, Osama bin Laden…) as the Anti Christ than it is to dig deep and look at our own personal Revelations.
I don’t want to have my heart in my mouth, and my anxiety peaking, whenever I flick through the statuses on Facebook. I don’t want to read all this predictive wailing and darkness. I don’t want to be crammed full of conspiracy theories and paranoia pretending to be wisdom and concrete knowledge. I don’t like the way we are using the social media to wind one another up – again. It is like a vast game of Chinese Whispers – and we all know that the message received by the final person in the circle bears no resemblance to its starting words.
Grim news sells. Dark places and acts gain money for the media moguls. The News is slanted, to say the least, in favour of the negative, the frightening and the life-denying. We all know this – and yet we continue to believe that the world is the way the media portrays it.
It may be appropriate for me to take myself off line for a while! Back to a more earth-based daily life: Grubbing about in the garden, cooking, walking, talking, looking at the beauties of our world.