The following is a guest blog post from Paul Curtin, my good friend and fellow author. Paul published O Negative in 2017 and plans to release his second novel this winter.
I’ve been quiet for a while. This wasn’t intentional.
I keep track of my writing on a full-year calendar. Every day I write, I mark an ‘X’ over that day. You can see my year below:
Not great. There are months where I wrote nothing. Weeks. Sputtering starts and then complete stoppage. Never getting momentum.
I’ll probably look back at 2018 as The Lost Year. In years past, I spent the fall and early winter drafting new novels. I spent the spring and summer editing, shaping older works into better condition, maybe asking feedback from beta readers or taking their feedback and editing again. This was my rhythm, and I loved it.
Then I released O Negative.
O Negative‘s production process took a lot out of me. By the time it was ready for release, I wasn’t even excited to be releasing a book anymore. It was kind of a—plop. Then nothing. Sales weren’t as good as I was expecting them to be (even with my modest expectations), but I thought, “It’s okay. I’ll release another book. Get momentum.”
And then I didn’t.
I struggled to do any work, writing next to nothing. Since March 2017, I haven’t produced more than 20,000 new words (a standard book is 80,000). Editing has been even more difficult. My next book (I’ll get to that soon), has been such a difficult slog that I didn’t want to even touch it most days.
If it hasn’t become clear so far (losing interest in things that once brought joy, lack of motivation, etc), I’ve been suffering with depression. Most days, I haven’t had the motivation to do much of anything. I didn’t want to write blogs. Didn’t want to write new material or edit older works. I just wanted to quit.
I think in some ways when writing became a business, I lost a lot of joy in doing it. Now there was pressure to get a new release out, to massage the algorithms for exposure (places like Amazon reward faster releases, for instance), to get momentum. I’ve spent countless nights laying in bed, feeling like I had dropped the ball and that I would never be a successful author. And I would wake in the morning and do nothing about it. I felt powerless.
You might notice that in October and November I’ve been much more active. And that’s because I’m finally getting my next book out. I’ll announce it tomorrow in a separate post, but you can expect its release in December.
The dedication in this new book is: “For those who struggle but don’t give up.” I don’t want to make it seem like I’m out of my funk and that the release of this new book is a triumph of my will. It isn’t. It’s just me putting one foot ahead of the other. I want to say I will post a lot more on this blog or be drafting new novels or editing older works (I hope all this to be true) but I know it will be a difficult. I don’t want to give up.
I’ll keep struggling, trying to put out the best work I can. It may take time, but I think it’ll be worth it.
Learn more about Paul Curtin at https://paulcurtinbooks.com/.