Woe is Meh
Well, this is troubling. I sat down with plenty of ideas for the weekly blog, but none of them are working. Every single one of them died after a paragraph or two in. Some were too lightweight to be worth your time. Others were just too dark and brooding to be read by anyone outside my own head. One in particular was too angry to live.
Still, thematically, this does seem to neatly sum up the past few days. I’ve really achieved nothing this week. Nothing at all. Nothing of any value, nothing of any worth or merit. I’ve gotten up in the morning, I’ve served my time and then I’ve gone back to bed.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like it’s been bad or painful. I’m not suffering here. I’ve got a small amount of money to my name and my usual limits of health. I’m not in any real trouble. My loved ones all seem okay. I’m employed and no natural disasters have occurred close to my home. The world is still turning, night still follows the day. It’s just that there’s been a distinct lack of flavour this week. I could feel existence phoning it in, day after day.
Not that it’s all the Universe’s fault. I don’t think I’ve contributed anything valuable, useful or entertaining to the world over the past seven days. The writing has been middling to average, at best. A lot of utilitarian editing. Grunt work. Sentence structure and tone. Experimenting with shifting tenses and point of view. Hopefully it’s all groundwork for a far more constructive week to come.
Nothing at the cinema has made me run for the multiplex. Even the deadlines that await me at the desk I’m paid to sit at five days a week have mocked me with computer issues and shifting goal posts. It can all neatly be fitted under the label ‘Meh’.
One solid sign that I’ve been drifting this week is that I haven’t known what to read. I get like this sometimes. I’ve been going through some of W F Harvey’s short ghost stories but wanted to switch to a novel. Nothing too epic or heavyweight. Something engaging, with some style and a plot designed to keep me guessing. Sadly, instead of finding that, I’ve just been hopping from book to book all week. Nothing holding my interest. Nothing feeling right.
I hate getting like this. The possible winner ends up weighted down with all these requirements that no book needs on its shoulder. I start convincing myself that the right book will do more than just entertain me. It might inspire me, inform some old idea I’m still chewing on or change my mind on something. It’s like trying to order food when all you know is that you’re hungry, but without any craving at all. You rarely get a decent meal when you feel like that.
Then there have been some odd nights on social media as well. I’ve seen some real highs and lows out there on the feed this week. Particularly for the writers in my social circle. They’re struggling with an indifferent world, doing their hardest to engage people to check out what they’re offering.
I hate to say this, but in the past four weeks I’ve started to wonder if indie writing is becoming a dead end art form. It seems that if you’re popular, you’re okay: you will remain popular. You’ll have the space and time to grow, to try new things. To breathe, look the Devil in the eye and say what you want to say. But, for those of us trying to get noticed, you have to work far harder to just make a stranger glance in your general direction. Any set back, any slight misstep you encounter and you begin distrusting your work. You start worrying if this is the speed bump that slow you down to the point of forever stalling.
It’s crazy, really. If you like writing, then you should be able to write what you want and trust in simply the process of creating your story. Never mind what comes after. Only that’s easier said than done. A little praise or attention or success is always welcome. Hell, I celebrated this week when I was asked if something I’d tweeted about a movie could be used in its advertising.
Look at me, Ma, top of the world.
I always thought indie publishing was meant to solve all this. It was meant to seize some of the power back from the TV book club nominees, the celebrity biography plague and the book a year bestseller crowd. If it was, then it has failed itself and its writers. It has just laid out more mines in more minefields. It got everyone scrambling for the expensive editors and convincing themselves that unusual sentence structure or unique ideas might be the reason no one wants their story. Instead of the fact that there's a tidal wave of new books appearing every day and not enough good ways to tell people about them.
I’ll tell you one thing that doesn’t help when you’re struggling to write, there are other indie mediums that clearly engage with the public far more easily. Movies, sketches, comics. Podcasts, board games and apps. Gameplay videos. Shorter, happier blogs. They’re all quick and accessible. People flock to them because they don’t require too much time or commitment to get you on the hook.
Not to say they’re lesser forms of entertainment than a book or a story. They just get a faster, more direct line into people’s heads and hearts. They build an audience far faster than any new, indie novel can.
I’ve watched some truly talented writers struggling this week and, most of the time, their posts have appeared amongst a slew of other writers dancing the self-promotion quick step. Buy this, one two three. Doesn’t it look good, one two three. Here’s a link, one two three. It keeps making me think there has to be a better way to do all of this, but I have no idea what it is. Also, it’s very possible that this is just the flight or fight talking. I’m seeing hard work ahead and trying to justify running away from it.
Ah, I don’t know.
Which is exactly the point. I really don’t know. I just feel like I need to get this week out the way. Keep my head down and get to better things. Weeks like this come stocked to the gills with quicksand, tangling vines and inescapable webs. You don’t want to sit too long or stray too far from the path on a week like this. You might not make it out whole again. I'm not sure i have.