Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Private Review Club

Well, it’s that time of year yet again when we pull up a chair, swill a bucket sized glass of brandy around in our hand, enjoy the burlesque dancing girls and reflect meaningfully on the year that was and the year that is to be.

And what a year it has been. 2012, for all it had some magnificent personal highs (solely comprised of family holidays and time away from work, funny that), felt very often like it was the straw determined to break the donkey’s back. A straw made of kryptonite, as locatable as the Higgs Boson and as irritating as John Sessions on QI. An itch that just couldn’t be scratched but was nevertheless going to follow you around for the entire year and make everything hard work and dreadfully miserable.

I confess, I have come close to giving up on the dream.

After the highs of completing what I would consider to be my first ever proper, publishable novel I found myself tumbling into the slough of despond. The mental Slough of Berkshire in fact. It was that bad. Agents and publishers were not fighting themselves to rip the manuscript out of my hand. The rejection letter pile was swelling like an infected bladder. I began to wonder what the point was.

And then the ol’ blog began to fail as well. What was the point of that, I began to wonder? My sacred, little platform for free speech and opinion expressing (as is my inalienable rights as an Englishman) had been compromised and curtailed. It’s proud borders had been eaten away and annexed by the Nazis of censorship, suppression and bowdlerization. Lord knows I had tried to go on with the fight. To keep the flags of satire and sarcasm flying aloft.

I maintained a sly campaign of guerrilla warfare for years but in the end I was beaten by a war of attrition.

Those who objected to my writing made life outside of the electronic ether difficult and miserable and in the end concessions were wrung out of me.

If I am honest my soul felt compromised and sullied.

I tried to move on. I tried other tacks.

I tried to court the blogging audience I had found for myself. Tried to style and cater my output for their eyes. I don’t regret this. It was a good writing exercise. But such exercises can only be good in the short term. If you sell too much of yourself to others you end up with little left over for yourself.

So it was that I came close to chucking it all in, literary speaking. Censorship and self-editing were not what this blog was supposed to be about after all.

Grand visions.

I now realize that, actually, any kind of writer has a responsibility to the words they write which is a little more subtle that simply “it’s my opinion, therefore I have a right to express it”. None of us exist in a vacuum. Sometimes the most honest and effective expression is that that expresses an idea without seeming to express anything at all. Like that last sentence in fact.

And I found I couldn’t quite turn my back on writing.

I need to do it. It keeps me sane.

But there has to be a purpose to it. An end in itself is not enough for me. So that means reclaiming some of my old joie de vivre...

To that end then, not a Resolution but a resolution. My aims for the coming year are to commence writing a new novel whilst continuing to push the previous one onto an unwilling public and to blog a little more the way I want to. I make no apology that forthwith some of my posts are going to be self indulgent, minority interest, selfish exercises in self expression.

I’m not going to advertise or review products and services for material reward. I’m not going to court attention or approval. Audience participation would be lovely but I’m not begging for it or chasing it. I’m going to write about the things that matter to me, no matter how trivial and inconsequential they might be to the outside world.

I’m reclaiming this blog and my writing for me.

Everybody is invited but the party is mine.


MommyHeadache said...

Hurrah! Hope I'm not too late for the party, I've brought a liter of cider and my bodyweight in sausage rolls. Party on!

Steve said...

Emma: and I've got enough appetite for the both of us; bring it on!

Unknown said...

Glad you're off and running with writing again! Look forward to a new book and hope you find a publisher for the other one.
Here's to a better 2013

English Rider said...

A writer's gotta do what a writer's gotta do...Cheering from this section of your audience.

Steve said...

Livi: ditto that last sentiment for us both.

English Rider: my hearty thanks!

Trish said...

If Emma's bringing the cider, I'll bring a couple of bottles of cheap plonk. Bagsy first go on the karaoke!

The bike shed said...

Good resolution - write about what you know and what you care about. And oh yes - for God's sake never do product reviews.

Steve said...

Trish: the mic is all yours. I'll be in the kitchen with the chocolate cake.

The Bike Shed: glad I've ticked that box for you!

libby said...

Good on yer!

Steve said...

Libby: ta!

Gorilla Bananas said...

I never quite understood who objected to your blog, but to hell with them anyway. No one forced them to read it. Your beard must matter to you but you never write about it. I quite understand if you're too ashamed...

Nota Bene said...

Feel you've found your mojo...excellent

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: being a gorilla I am sure you'll understand that some hair is personal.

Nota Bene: I've found something... whether it is mojo remains to be seen.

Being Me said...

If you're not doing it for yourself first, you soon lose that drive and creativity. The uniqueness is gone if you censor too much. And then the bastards have 'won' and where's the sense in that?

You're one of the funniest people on my internets. Glad you're back. Again. Stay this time though, ok?! xox

the fly in the web said...

Good for you!
Write for yourself...and that self is what makes the books and the blog work.

I'll bring the banana wine to the party...if invited....and have just been given some palm toddy guaranteed to knock out the brains of anyone not born north of the border.

I will not, you will be relieved to hear, bring tamales.

Rol said...

"...self indulgent, minority interest, selfish exercises in self expression."

Excellent - my very favourite type of blogposts! (The only ones I'm capable of writing.)

Never give up, Steve. One day, all this will be yours.

Marginalia said...

I can't imagine why anyone would want to shut you up.

As for novel writing...all the best novels never get published. I mean "50 Shades of..."

Have you thought of writing something that would attract the 30 to 40ish man - "Hubby" as distinct from "Mummy" porn - a cross between the Magic Roundabout and Playschool? It'll have to have that level of intellectual content to interest that market.

Anyway, your tales of woe cheer me up. Keep them coming. They're what keeps me smiling.

Steve said...

Being Me: I'll do my best, though it always helps to feel wanted!

The fly in the web: banana wine? I am genuinely intrigued... will it let me bend it like Beckham?

Rol: absolutely. I'm only sticking around to get the inheritance.

Marginalia: hubby porn? Isn't that just normal porn?

I'm sure I can do that if you want me too.

Now there's a quote.

Annie G said...

Hi hun, I'm several pages into your first novel and really enjoying it!
Be true to yourself Steve... keep the passion :)

Steve said...

Annie: the horror? Oooh. Good luck!