One thing that’s been noticeable about 2016 is that I haven’t been blogging very much.
I made a brief attempt in the middle of the year to change that, but it didn’t last long, and since then a weekly post has been about all I can manage (if that). Although I’ve managed to keep my book blog more consistent, that’s only been possible because I schedule a lot of posts in advance.
To be honest, I’ve been writing less in general; it isn’t only the blogging that’s been neglected. I completed one first draft (Bard) and started another (Happy Gay Magical Novel), as well as editing a book (Butterfly of Night), but that doesn’t seem like very much when you consider that for seven months I wasn’t at university and could theoretically have been writing as much as I wanted.
I’m going to go right ahead and blame depression for both of these things, because I think it’s affected my ability to write fiction as well as my ability to maintain my blog.
With blogging, it’s made it hard for me to have anything to say. I haven’t been doing anything, which generally means nothing’s been triggering particular revelations or thoughts, and therefore I have nothing to share with you. Since I tend to only blog when I have something to say, and since that tends to require me to actually do stuff, that’s seriously limited the topics I’ve had available to me.
It also means that when I do end up talking about my life, as inevitably happens when there’s nothing else to say, it tends to be less than cheerful. I don’t like moaning on the internet, for all I do it regularly, so I find these posts somewhat frustrating to write, just as I’m sure they’re not particularly fun to read.
With fiction, I haven’t been writing because I’ve lacked the energy to sit upright for any length of time, the motivation to commit, and the positivity to believe it’s worth the effort. On the few occasions I feel mentally clear enough to write, I have to use that time to get on with university work, since that also suffers when I’ve got the brain fog that gets in the way of fiction.
It turns out when you can only write a dissertation OR a novel and not both, the dissertation has to take priority. Who knew.
My writing hopes this year had included querying Butterfly of Night and hopefully finding an agent, a process that started with Pitch Wars in the summer and then faded from view when everything else started to get in the way, to the point where I’ve made absolutely no progress. I’d also hoped to write another draft of the first Death and Fairies book over the Christmas holiday, but since I’m a good couple of weeks in and my work remains largely untouched, that’s not going to be possible.
As for poetry… ha. Remember how a couple of years ago I was writing enough poems to put together three collections and have some left over? I could count on my digits how many poems I wrote this year, and I’m not even sure I’d need to move on to toes. A couple of them might have been good, but mostly they were just non-existent. Poetry doesn’t seem to be a thing I’m capable of at the moment.
I’m frustrated, to say the least. I’m fed up of not being able to do the things I love because of depression and chronic pain and the fatigue that means I sleep way more than is practical. I’m fed up of realising the year has come to an end and I’ve made next to no progress towards my goal of making a career for myself as a writer, that instead of gaining experience and confidence, I’ve actually lost a lot of my nerve.
I’m sad to realise that my twenty first birthday is approaching and I’m a year further past my original goal of being at least agented, if not published, as a teen — but I haven’t got any closer to it.
I guess this, like many of my other blog posts, has focused solely on the negatives. I think in 2017 I’ll try to do that less, and I may as well make a start now. So here are a few of the writing related things I did manage to achieve this year.
- I wrote and posted the first draft of Bard on Wattpad, even though that was a terrifying experience. This included writing it on trains and in Canada to ensure I managed to post chapters regularly, but I did it.
- I maintained my book blog fairly consistently. It wasn’t perfect or uninterrupted, but I still wrote a lot of book reviews.
- I completed NaNoWriMo for the eighth time running (I think?), despite not finishing the book itself, and having very little plot to speak of.
- I did a lot of background worldbuilding for the Death and Fairies series, so even though I didn’t manage to write any new drafts and I still have more questions than answers, I’ve made a substantial amount of progress with it.
- I only wrote a handful of poems… but I wrote a handful of poems. Some is better than none.
This hasn’t been a great year for me, especially in terms of writing and blogging which have suffered due to the unending brain fog that plagues me thanks to fatigue and pain and depression and so on. It’s been disappointing, and in many ways the difficulties have made me question whether it’s worth it, as well as whether I’m good enough to keep trying.
But 2017 will be better, because I need it to be better. It has to be better.
And in an attempt to make it so, I’ll be trying to focus a little bit more on what I’ve achieved (however small), rather than on the things I failed to do. I hope you’ll stick with me as I attempt to get back into the habit of writing regular posts.