Why Do I Keep Doing This?

(I had second thoughts about sharing this with you, but I think it’s important to talk about all my moods, even when they make me look like a whiny fuck. Proceed at your own risk.)

Writers are a stubborn lot. In the face of the most abysmal sales, we keep on doing it. Writing, I mean.

Why?

What makes us keep bashing our heads against that creative wall? Today, I thought, “I could be playing video games. I could be out enjoying the many interesting things my city has to offer. Getting falling down drunk. Fucking my brains out. Painting something wonderful. Taking pictures. Taking a nap.” 

In other words, I could be doing all the things normal people do. But instead, I was reworking a story and writing the opening to a new one. I didn’t get far with the latter; my heart wasn’t in it.

I grow weary of slaving away on my stories for little to no return. Self-publishing has not been good for me. No matter how good the reviews (and I’ve had some really good ones), no matter how much promo I or my friends do (much thanks to you, my friends!), and despite a sexy new cover on Three of Swords, my sales hover just above zero.

Where am I lacking? What have I missed? I keep reading about other authors making six figure incomes and I want to weep.

Oh! I know. I’m controversial. I rant and rave about assorted things on my blog, which turns everyone off. Yeah. That I can believe. If that’s the case, then it’s my fault. I have no one to blame but myself.

As I cannot help being who I am–which is an opinionated, often loud-mouthed individual–q.e.d. (quod erat demonstrandum) I should give up writing.

What’s the bloody point if few want to read my stuff? I could be playing video games, etc.

I miss playing video games. I miss reading for hours every day. I miss taking walks and going on drives and spending time with my friends. I miss so much! And for what?

I could get it all back if I’d just STOP WRITING. I could be normal again. NORMAL. Whatever that is.

I’d certainly be less crazed.

(Am I the only writer who feels this way?)

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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24 Responses to Why Do I Keep Doing This?

  1. AJ Rose says:

    You could get it all back, but the ideas would still bug you until you wrote them down and fleshed them out. Hang in there. You’ve got the talent. What happens if you quit and the next story would have been THE story?

    My sister once asked me if I would rather be out living life instead of filtering it through a computer screen and characters in my imagination. She had a point, but on the other hand, I need the filter. Sometimes life is… too big, too there in my face, just… too much. So I write to temper it, to understand it. Even if it never paid off, I’d still do it.

    I never claimed any kind of sanity.

  2. Lindsaysf says:

    From what I hear from my writer friends, they all have periods where they get disgusted & want to throw in the towel. I also gather that the reson they don’t is that they can’t. They have openedthemselves to the muse, who toys with them, even abandons them. But then she comes roaring back in & takes over their lives.

  3. Sarah_Madison says:

    I don’t think you’re the only one who feels this way at all. I look at the things I used to do and wonder how they all fell by the wayside. I look at my dog, who desperately would love a good run in to the woods, and know that years from now, it’s going to *kill* me when I look back and see how much of his life was spent waiting for me to pick up the leash.

    There’s such a thing as working through writer’s block, and I believe sometimes you need to push through and do just that. But I think you have writer’s fatigue–and that’s totally different. If you are having to force yourself to write, it’s time to pick up something else for a while. Go for that walk, Play that video game. Engage a different part of your brain. I often find when I do this, the sticky scene I’ve been fighting with magically unravels itself. Your brain has to have the freedom to play–and it can’t when you harness it to ‘craft’ 24/7.

    I used to joke that I wished there was a 12 step process for kicking writing–because it *is* an addiction. We tell stories because we have to. But cut yourself some slack too–you’ve got a lot on your plate right now. Remember to have some fun, too!

    • Your remark about picking up the leash really hit home. Suki gives me that look a lot. Comes over, paws my knee, asks for attention. I’m happy to say I mostly give it to her, even if it’s only for a minute.

      I’m not suffering from writer’s block or fatigue. Rather, it’s that I don’t feel I’m getting enough return for the time I put into it, and the last couple of years, I’ve done almost nothing but write.

      Like you and many others, I have a full-time day job. It takes a lot of my time and energy. I’m also a part time property manager. And I’m getting ready for a move.

      Not only do I not have time to write at present, I don’t even want to. I’m exhausted.

  4. Kate Aaron says:

    It’s burn-out. We all get it, those of us who turn writing from a hobby into a vocation (or want to!). It becomes *work*. So take time off. Play video games. Hump your brains out. Walk the dog. Sit and eat pizza until you put on 10lb, then spend a month exercising it off. Whatever you gotta do. Because writing is more than a vocation, it’s a passion, and the muses will return in their own time. Then when you do pick up a pen again, it’ll be fun and you’ll remember why you love it.

    And don’t lose heart – it’ll happen for you 🙂

  5. louise cossey says:

    Don’t give up – take a much needed break Theo. Louise x

  6. suze294 says:

    Sounds like a break is called for, as the others have suggested – sort the move, get settled in and adjusted to living together then see what gives. You are doing two of life’s most stressful events at the time!
    Maybe use your photography as an outlet for a short while, I always enjoy your photos.

  7. A.M.B. says:

    Cheer up! I doubt there’s any rhyme or reason as to why certain authors “make it” and others don’t. Maybe it helps to be less controversial on your blog, but then you risk being dull (and who wants to follow those blogs or read books by those authors?). Besides, your blog may serve appropriately as a filter: weeding out people who aren’t the intended audience for your book (and who might leave terrible reviews because the book just isn’t their cup of tea). As others have said, maybe a break is a good idea, either from writing altogether (for a brief period of time) or simply from your current genres. Or you could just stop being so hard on yourself and see what happens with a little more effort and a lot more time. Maybe your audience just hasn’t found you yet.

    Have you gotten any feedback that could suggest why sales have been slow? I liked your first book, even though I rarely read paranormal mysteries, but I’ve been slow to read books 2 & 3 because I’m the type of person who wants to re-read the 1st book before continuing with a trilogy (which I will do!). I would have expected sales to improve after the 3rd book because I suspect that people often wait until the series is done before they start reading it.

    • The only feedback I get is I haven’t found my audience. The few readers I do have tell me they love my stuff (and I’m grateful to have and hear from them). That’s encouraging but doesn’t help much when I get the royalty check, which isn’t enough for a good dinner.

      I’m living on the financial edge, so every dollar counts. I find it hard to justify spending that time writing when what I really should be doing is getting a second job.

  8. diannegray says:

    You should really be writing for yourself because you’re putting yourself under too much pressure trying to please everyone and make sales. Writing shouldn’t be about making sales, it should be about doing something that soothes your soul 😉

    • I saw an interview lately with Ray Bradbury. He said he didn’t start to make money until he wrote for himself.

      The thing is, I always write for myself. I’m selfish that way. ;/

  9. Never stop writing. You’re going to hit big, I know it.

    • Thanks, but I’m beginning to doubt it. The book I thought would be my breakthrough–and AJ insisted it would be–didn’t do much and, in fact, got a lot of mediocre reviews, especially on GoodReads (which we all know is an enclave of readers with excellent taste).

      So if that one didn’t do it, and the trilogy ain’t cutting it, well…. very hard to stay positive at the moment.

  10. Leta Blake says:

    I didn’t have time to read everyone’s comments, but I just wanted to say thank you for writing this because I feel less alone in these thoughts now. I look at other people who don’t write and they lead such normal lives. They have clean houses and spend time making cupcakes with their kids instead of holing up somewhere as the slave of fictional people. Some days I want to just be one of those normal people. But I keep on being a writer.

    • Other obsessed people (musicians, visual artists) probably feel much the same way.

      I can’t remember the last time I thoroughly cleaned my apartment. Filth has to get bad enough for me to notice before I’ll do anything about it. Laundry gets done when I run out of underwear. The fridge and cupboard are nearly bare when I decide it’s time to get groceries.

      What strange lives we writers lead.

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