Welcome to my Crisis!

I’ve been hiding from the internet.

No, I didn’t go away, unfortunately, although a holiday was what I both have been and am still craving. I made a rash promise some weeks ago to put up a Facebook Author page, to do a minor relaunch of my novel, and to serialise a bawdy Elizabethan detective story. Really, I should know myself better than that.

dawn panorama

I think it was the short story that finally broke me.

Writing, for me, is a pleasure, comparable to painting. It is all about crafting the finished product, taking my time and eventually producing the best I can. When all goes well, the process is immensely satisfying from beginning to end.

Within that process, of course, there are times of writer’s block, false starts and finishes, wrong turnings, and many other things to go wrong. And the editing can be an infuriating process. But overall, there needs to be a flow.

Making Friends with the Crocodile worked for me at the length it was (45,000 words), since I wrote it almost as a stream of consciousness as the story unfolded in my mind. It came out in a rush partly because of its importance to me, and partly because I found I could visualise the characters, the story and the setting clearly. Once I had reached the end, I knew that was the end.

Obviously, many stories take a lot more coaxing to get down on paper. I’ve struggled with ones that need to be forced, certainly in places, partly because at that point they are not ‘me’ at the heart of them; I have lost that flow. But sometimes because of the length.

One reason I stopped entering short story competitions is I write a lot of long short stories. I am perfectly aware of the dictum that whatever you write can be edited down to the required length and that, indeed, they should be edited down.

But I also strongly believe that when a story presents itself to be written, that story has an internal length that needs to be respected, even after editing. Some require a few hundred words, some a lot more. But to attempt to turn Making Friends with the Crocodile into a 120,000 word novel or a 5.000 word short story, I am sure would have meant a lesser read. It would have been padded out for the sake of it, or stripped down to bare bones that would have meant that the characters could not have been drawn as strongly as I wanted them to be, and therefore encouraged less empathy from the reader.

Where is all this leading?

I began the short story / serial. It was working quite well, and I had a good few chuckles to myself as I was writing it and then, suddenly, it was almost 10,000 words long and nowhere near finished.

Oh dear.

So I attempted to cram and trim and edit and get it down to a suitable length for serialisation, but I was not happy with the result. Oh no. And I had one of my minor panic-I-can’t-cope-stress attacks and decided the only way to deal with it was to hide.

So, I’m not going to serialise it after all. I will finish it, but the attempt to condense it into a few instalments simply wasn’t working, and what I ended up with felt completely wrong. I will return to it at some point in the future, and finish it as the novella that it clearly is.

There is another strand to all this:

I made the Facebook Author page. That was the easy bit, and I’ll show you where it is next time. And I put together the re-launch promotion piece by the simple expedient of gathering together extracts from lots of the kind reviews the book has had.

But I am in a state of recurring panic, once again, over this huge need to self-promote to sell books. Of course, we all want to, but we are forever urged to use this or that platform, accept this or that offer, etc. Now, we are told that we ‘must’ have a YouTube channel. Really? And a presence on all sorts of social media. Are we not ‘serious’ writers if we are not prepared to move heaven and earth to sell a couple of extra books? That we should ‘invest’ a hundred or five hundred dollars here and there to advertise ourselves?

I have sold a few, and what is really important to me is the tremendous feedback that I’ve had.

Blowing my own trumpet is anathema to me, as I have written in the past. I just can’t do the selling and marketing the way that seems to be presented as essential. It’s an aspect of life that I hate, and a reason I have never gone into ‘business’. Everything around the promotion and marketing just seems relentless and is something that I cannot cope with.

Fortunately, I am not interested in fame. The idea frightens me.

And I really struggle with social media. I have had two goes at being on Facebook, and cope with it at the moment by not going on it very much. I spent ages trying to see the use of Linkedin, and have solved that one by closing my account last week. I really see no use for it.

And I am not doing Twatter.

So here I am back on WordPress, which is a platform I do enjoy. I’ll dip in and out of it a bit over the next few weeks or months, I suspect, since I still feel a bit panicky, but I will be there.

Thank you for your patience!

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49 thoughts on “Welcome to my Crisis!

  1. Nice to hear from you Mick.

    I understand, I think, the panic that rises from time to time. I believe that when we engage in social media, the first comment is an offer of social contract. Once the comment is answered, the deal is sealed. Now we are obliged to continue that and subsequent conversations.

    Add to the equation unfamiliar technology, constantly upgraded software platforms, full moons, Mercury Retrograde AND an introverted personality? Yeah, in 2016 I ducked and covered for the entire year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your reference to Twatter made me smile, Mick! I am on Twitter but largely use it as a means of sharing my WordPress posts. Occasionally I will share a news story or a post by a fellow blogger but, by and large I try not to engage with Twitter. Of course if we writers where to utilise all the social media and other tools we are constantly being exorted to utilise, we would have no time whatever for writing! Best, Kevin

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Some stories write themselves, some only present themselves after you have overpaid your dues. Why this is, who knows – but I like what you say about respecting the length that each story demands.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Bawdy Elizabethan detective story! That sounds fabulous! I know what you mean about starting something that takes on a life of its own. But that is the beauty of creativity. Don’t restrain yourself by trying to cram the story into a smaller space. Let it rip! Very happy to see you back!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I saw myself in almost everything you wrote Mick. I hide away too, except I seem to go to extremes like not answering the door. I don’t mind Twitter though as I use it to say when I have a post out and to tweet for other blogs I follow. Apart from a set tweet I have going out about my books, I never advertise now, either the books sell or they don’t but I refuse to prostitute myself to push them.
    Enjoy the finishing of your projects YOUR way, you’ll know when you’re happy with them.
    Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, David. I do much the same – I don’t answer the phone at times, and occasionally not the door. As for the books, I think I’m now waiting for the Magnificent Book Promotion Fairy to drop by and take up my case, but other than that I’m leaving it for the moment, other than occasional mentions on my blog and Facebook, and the occasional wail when I see some of the books that sell by the million!
      Hugs back!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. That whole issue of self-promotion and “platform” gives me the shudders, Mick. The joy and satisfaction of writing are diluted by constant reminders that authors must market themselves like the latest brand of yogurt. Agents and editors ask about the size of one’s platform before they assess the quality of the work. These changes to the publishing industry make me wonder if there are fabulous authors I will never read and whose work will never see the light of day because they are loathe to self-promote.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s very possible, Donna. Of course, I’m under no illusions that the same wasn’t true when the only way to publish was either through the publishing houses or via a vanity press – there must have been many fine books unpublished because no one thought them worth publishing. But it is a different frustration now, in a way, because we know that with a huge amount of effort and, perhaps, a lot of money, it is possible to build a successful promotion platform, but many of us just don’t want to do all that!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. True Mick. I can relate to this issue as self appraisal in social media is a big problem for me also. Sometimes I also go into my shells refusing to show my face. Get demotivated and don’t keep up to what I want to. So that’s the reality, think every blogger or anyone in any field face until they become popular. Don’t lose hope and am glad to have you here. Do what you want to. All the best.
    Meena

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Two things you have said in this post stand out, and speak for me too:
    1. But I also strongly believe that when a story presents itself to be written, that story has an internal length that needs to be respected, even after editing.
    Agree with you totally.
    2. Fortunately, I am not interested in fame. The idea frightens me.
    Ditto to that.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I think I get all that, Mick, and the stuff about writing to a certain size seems far too like pandering to formulae. An artistic creation, a pure one, is self-determining, it seems to me. Disciplines can be good, but I don’t believe you can discipline a true creative work into existence. And I’ve never met a genuinely creative person to whom marketing isn’t anathema. Let the writing determine itself, and as writer get out of the way; don’t you think?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed, Hariod. Discipline is important, but it is not an end in itself. The writing may need coaxing and encouraging, and occasionally a firm word to prevent it from descending into chaos (although, of course, that could get very interesting… [ellipsis borrowed from Jackie]), but other than that it usually seems to have a better idea of where it is going than I have.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I hope you enjoy experimenting and carry on writing whatever feels good to you. It’s true, today’s supposedly mandatory standards for self promotion are terrifying and unrealistic. I’m all in favour of finding a platform and readership we enjoy, and getting over the idea that we can all hit the best seller lists or even make a living from writing in this day and age. Last century I had ten years as a full time writer, living happily and paying my bills. Then I got distracted, and the world of publishing and writing changed forever. Let’s just enjoy what we do, or what’s the point? (And yes, I do understand that for some writers there is a point in self-flagellation — but it’s not for me.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with all that, Rachel. I’m certainly for an easy life if at all possible, and I’m too old now to put a huge effort into trying to burst onto the world stage to get noticed. And for why? Apart from anything else, if I find it hard to find enough time for writing now, what will it be like when all the world is clamouring for my attention? Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi mick! Thnks for writing. I hve much trouble writing long stories and here you are struggling to shorten them. 😊 am bck too on wp (left fb…at least for a while). Good luck to u!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sushi. Great to see you back. Oh, I have trouble doing both! I thought that ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile’ would be longer when I began to write it, but it wasn’t going to cooperate and so it ended up the length it is. I think it is probably the right length…
      As for FB, I certainly have a love/hate relationship with it!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I can relate, Mick, to so many of your comments about social media. It’s overwhelming and to do it all well would leave no time to write (or sleep). We have to pick and choose. WP continues to be my backbone mostly because I enjoy it. The rest get very little attention if any at all. I stopped worrying about it a while ago.

    I also agree with you on story length. Stories seem to have their own ideas about the number of pages required and to impose arbitrary counts on them seems disrespectful of the tale, the characters, and the muse. A well-told story speaks for itself. Happy Writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh Mick, I can relate to this so much! I know all authors have to promote their books or they don’t sell (which is one of the reasons I’m not pursuing publishing at the moment, because I also hate self-promotion), but I think you need to do it in a way that feels natural to you. There is no need to follow someone else’s advice about how to use social media. I don’t blame you for not wanting to do YouTube or Twitter.
    You write very well (and I know, because I read your book, and was especially impressed by how authentically you presented the women’s point of view) and that needs to be your focus. Beyond that, I think you should just educate yourself of the different ways to market a book and do what you want to do. All this pressure to market ourselves via social media is overwhelming, and also, I think, unnecessary. Just be who you are!

    Like

    1. Thank you, Ann. And thank you for the kind words! I think I have to do that, because I just freak out when it comes to jumping through all those hoops that you seem to be expected to jump through. No way will I be making YouTube videos. No way will I be on Twitter. And I certainly cannot afford to buy advertising. I suppose there is a small and foolish part of me that still hopes the world will somehow find its way to my writing, regardless of what I know of the real world. And so…I write. As you say. It’s what I do!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I can relate to the self-promotion thing – I never went independent back in my consulting days because the whole idea of marketing myself just made me cringe. Just do what you’ve got to do, and remember who you’re writing for. Is it for us or is it for you?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good to see you back, Mick. I’m sorry you’ve had a tough time and have been struggling with issues around writing, promoting and marketing. I can identify with much of what you have said. My writing always rambles on for far longer than it should but try as I may, I can’t find anything which is irrelevant enough to me to be omitted so my poor readers have to wade through far too many words than I should have written.

    As for promoting and marketing – I gave this one up years ago (having published two very amateur and now out-of-print books in the past). I do have a Facebook page but am always forgetting to log into it or to promote my writing there and as for Twitter … I just can’t see the point or attraction of it at all. I’ve never got on well with Linkedin either.

    I do envy you the ability to write fiction even if it’s based on some life experiences. This is something I’ve got stuck on ever since I was in primary school so don’t even attempt it anymore.

    Wishing you well, Mick – just write when you feel ready and that’s fine. Ellie x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for that, Ellie. I disagree about your writing too many words, though – I haven’t seen any evidence of that! No, I can’t see the point or attraction of Twatter, even though people try to make me understand its importance and usefulness every now and again. And I never found a use for Linkedin, so just checking that was another distraction.
      Anyway, back now and about to put up another post shortly.
      All the best, Mick

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I totally agree with you that each story has it’s own decided length. I can’t imagine stripping some books that I have read to a short story, that would be beyond bare bones. I also don’t understand spending so much on advertising. A bit here and there but not shelling out hundreds of dollars that I don’t even have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jacqueline. No, you do come across some writers who spend hundreds on advertising that they must know they will never see back. Of course, we all want our books to be read, and by as many people as possible, but I think there comes a point where, if you’re not careful, it turns into a vanity project.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Concerning social media…I wouldn’t worry too much about the youtube thing. How many books have you bought because of videos or trailers? It’s fine if others want to do that sort of thing, but I can’t see how it’s critical.

    Although I’m still trying to find my feet in the social media world, too. I like my blog, and I like Pinterest (as an artist, you might want to look into the latter). I do Twitter and Facebook–barely–because I’ve been told I should. There’s no time for anything else.

    That’s why all the social media stuff I’ve been writing about lately has mostly been about streamlining. How to maintain a presence without too much work. Not that I’m lazy, but there has to be some kind of rational time commitment.

    Blogging may be partly to blame. People need stuff to blog about, and social media posts get good traffic. People speak in very positive terms when they blog. There’s very little, “Hey, you might want to try this…” sort of attitude.

    Just do the best you can. Really, that’s all anyone can do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I’ve never bought any books because of videos or trailers on YouTube, but…I never watch them, so I wouldn’t.
      I know about Pinterest, and looked at it, but really can’t get my head around it. I like my blog, it’s a platform I understand and feel I have a lot of control over, and gives me a good and satisfying entry to other people’s blogs, which, again, I can control to my own satisfaction. It takes rather too much of my time, sometimes, but I’m becoming less precious about taking time away from it if I need to. Facebook I think I have under control – having put up an author page, I feel it is working for me at the moment, but Twitter I just cannot get into!
      As for blogging in positive terms, I think that rather depends on who you follow – I follow a wide range of attitudes, so to speak!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. A belated comment from me, Mick. I’m rapidly catching up after my self-imposed exile from the Internet. (Well, not exactly exile, but certainly a fair degree of distance.)

    This is a great post that struck a lot of chords with me and, as the comments indicate, many others.

    I’ve made a mental note to visit your Facebbok page – but as I’m not on Facebook much this could take a while! Meanwhile, I’ll keep reading…

    Liked by 1 person

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