Portrait Of The Artist As A Young(ish) Man

I started writing my novel five years ago, but truth be told, my heart wasn’t in it for the last three. Whenever I sat down to write, it was the last thing I wanted to do. There was no belief. No passion or desire in what I was doing. And when that happens, you might as well flush yourself down stream with the turds. Subconsciously, I’d given up. Dreams that had once burned so bright, fading away with every passing day. All those lonely evenings spent staring at my laptop trying to muster the energy to write, but all I got in return was emptiness. I’d drink to hide from the truth, the terrible truth, that I’d lost it. I doubted myself, and when you do that, you’re finished.

These last several months have been a wake-up call. Sometimes, you need to hit rock bottom to find out what you’re made of. Sometimes, you need to lose it all, to discover if you’ve really got what it takes. When you finally realise that you’ve lost your belief, you can do one of two things. You can either accept it, or you can dig deep and do whatever you can to get it back. So I started a blog, and vowed to write until I couldn’t stop, until it became as natural as eating or taking a shit. Five months later, and I’ve written over two hundred thousand words of new material. That’s more than I’d come up with in the previous five years put together. And today I start work on the novel again. The passion is back, and so is my desire to succeed in what I love doing.

In many ways, I wish I could’ve picked something easier. A path that was more conventional. There’s nothing worse than the humiliation of telling someone that you’re writing a novel. You can feel the laughter bubbling away behind their eyes. To call yourself a writer when you’re not published, is a soul destroying thing. And for years, I let it get the better of me until I almost called it a day. In the beginning, I vowed to prove everyone wrong. I swore to myself that I’d do whatever it would take to become successful. No matter how long it took, no matter how lonely I’d be, I’d stick with it. But, I let doubt get the better of me until I ended up a mess. Maybe everyone was right. Maybe I should relinquish those crazy dreams of mine. Grow up and do something sensible, Stephen.

But my place in life was never meant to fit in, to become like everyone else. I was born with an incredible desire for fantasy. I’ve always been a dreamer, always creating stories and inventing surreal realities and scenarios. It’s not an interest, or a quirk. It’s who I am. My regained passion for writing isn’t something I do on the side, it’s what I do full stop. Once you’re successful and you’ve sold books, you can say this and people won’t bat an eyelid. But when you’re struggling to find your feet, people call you lazy. You’re deluded they say. And eventually, you end up believing them. Not this time though. I don’t care how long it takes me, or how mad I am by the end of it. Every time I feel the doubt creeping back in, I’ll kick it in the face. And every time I see it in someones eyes, I’ll use it to fire me on, not retreat back into apathy. A writers gotta write. No more excuses. No more fear. Life’s too short to deny the dreams that fill my heart with sensations nothing else comes close to.

Belief. Passion. Desire. And a touch of madness for good measure.

9 replies »

  1. I’ve been down that dark road with my novel myself. It’s hard and horrible, but we are all stronger than we give ourselves credit for. YOU CAN DO IT πŸ™‚ Keep holding onto that passion and fire and use it to scorch away those pesky shadows that creep up on you. Indeed, a writer must keep their leg poised ready to drop kick doubt in the face. But it’s good to know you’ve found your muse again.

    All the best!

    • Thank you for your words of encouragement! It means a lot to have you say that. For someone who’s been in the same kind of situation, it’s a much needed confidence boost!

      Thank you once again πŸ™‚ x

      • Any time ^^ I know how precious a few encouraging words from a stranger can be.

        Keep at it πŸ™‚ x

      • Haha, ahh yeah, that πŸ˜‰ Thank you πŸ™‚ It’s been a nightmare writing this story of mine, but only very recently have I had an attitude shift, so hopefully I should no longer find it as torturous as I have been… Writing, eh *tuts*

      • If you don’t mind me asking, what was behind your attitude shift? Having struggled so much myself, I’m always interested to hear how writers overcome such obstacles. Well done though, it must be such a great feeling to have a book out their after putting in so much effort! πŸ™‚

      • Well… It’s no simple explanation, really. It’s all been a bit of a mess! I’m not too sure what suddenly caused my attitude shift, truth be told. I just woke up one morning and I kinda had some sort of epiphany in the sense that I viewed the whole purpose of writing this story differently than before. But I’ve never written because ‘I love to write’. That’s not what it’s about for me. The book that’s out already was so easy to write, it’s the second book that has been absolute hell. I’m in the process of writing it now.

        Thanks πŸ™‚ You’d think so, wouldn’t you, but that hasn’t been the case for me! I almost regret publishing it to be honest. I dunno. Maybe I’ll feel the full reward of it all when the whole story is finished!

        What caused your attitude shift? Isn’t it like your mind – or heart – has been given a light so it can see clearly again? It is a lovely feeling after such a prolonged spell of gloom.

      • I hope the process of writing your second novel improves for you. It’s always such a headache when you’re struggling, isn’t it? There’s nothing worse then when you get stuck and you can’t seem to sort yourself out.

        I think for me, I realised I was spending too long on each individual scene. I was trying to get it perfect each time, and as a result, the whole process was grinding to a halt. Now, as soon as I finish a scene, I move on to the next. Even if I’m not completely happy with it, I know I can sort it out later. As a result, the original energy and pace that the novel once had has come back. And I’m a lot more enthusiastic!

        Fingers crossed you get this second book done and dusted so you can reap the rewards of seeing your whole story come to fruition πŸ™‚

      • A headache? More like a brain haemorrhage.

        I know a fair few people who give that as their main issue. Indeed, the perfectionist nature can be a bit of a curse when writing. You’ve just got to power onwards, because as you say, you can always change it later anyway! Such is the glory of redrafting, or rewriting. It’s great to hear the energy and pace is back for you πŸ™‚ Make sure you don’t let that go again!

        I too spend forever on each individual scene, but that is only because I never have the time to actually write these days. But you know, I’ll get there eventually.

        Ha, well hopefully! But I’ve got a third one to do after the second. I like a challenge, I do πŸ˜‰

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