The Morning After
The Morning After Smut by the Sea 2014:
It’s been a week since Smut by the Sea now. Can’t believe how fast time flies, and what a roller-coaster ride the week back home has been. But I want to talk about The Morning After today. I wrote most of this post on The Morning After. That meant everything was running late. My brain felt like someone stuffed it with cotton wool. When I sat down to write, I spilled my coffee and woe to anyone who crossed my path wrong. I’d have probably either bitten their head off, or worse yet, I’d have cried. As I walked to the green grocery that Morning After to cheer myself up with some summer fruit, I thought about why The Mornings After are so hard.
This time it was the Morning After Smut by the Sea. Just as I had expected, at Smut by the Sea there was that fantastic camaraderie with other writers. There was the chance to meet readers and encourage new writers to press on. One of the best parts of Smut by the Sea this year was meeting four members of the Brit Babes’ Street Team. Alison Scott, Debbie Lowery, Stephanie Robb and Peter Hill.What a pleasure it was to share the smut-tastic fun with the four of them. I was inspired by Victoria Blisse. I have the beginnings of a hot new story thanks to her workshop. I was reminded of what editors need and want in Lucy Felthouse’s workshop – always good for writers to remember. I was encouraged by the wonderful reaction and input and snippets share by the lovely writers in my writing workshop. I loved being read to in the reading slam and being intrigued by the stories shared there. Jackie Brocker had me squirming on my seat and my mouth watering with the most sensual description of eating a chocolate eclair I’ve ever heard. Janine Ashbless read some of the hottest, most prickly vampire prose I’ve ever heard. I was in aural heaven.
Beyond the actual schedule of events of Smut by the Sea, there was the wonderful catching up with other writers and talking shop. We writers work in isolation so we seldom get that chance to share with each
other. There was the chance to encourage new writers and the opportunity to meet readers in person. All in all it was a perfect day.
Buuuuuut … the Morning After, back home, I moped around with my chin on the ground. Why is the Morning After so hard? Here is a truth that I share gently and, in small doses, with new writers because I’m always afraid I’ll discourage them. Writing is hard enough and discouraging enough without hearing another writer talk about the hardships of the vocation. It’s a neurotic job we do. We work alone; our work is never done, and no matter how hard we try, we’re never a hundred per cent satisfied with what we do. Then there are the rejections that are just a part of the package and the bad reviews that every writer gets. There’s the wondering if we’ve done the best we can to promote ourselves, to make sure that our babies get the attention we think they so richly deserve. There’s the constant mental battle to decide what tasks we can leave undone so we can spend more quality time writing. And who doesn’t live with the chilling fear that tomorrow morning we might wake up and not a single word will come to us when we sit down to write?
The Mornings After are those days that follow the highs of being a writer – a good review, times spent
with other writers, a new sale, a nice royalty cheque, an inspired writing session. The Mornings After are the times when we remember that we’re always on our way up a very steep slope and that the pause to enjoy and to celebrate with writing friends — a pause we’ve well earned — is only that, just a pause.
Those last few weeks before and the weeks immediately following the publication of my first novel, I found myself depressed. The publication of The Initiation of Ms Holly raised the bar. Every writer wants each story, each novella, each novel to be better than the one before, and every writer wants to do all she can to see that her baby gets a good start. The Morning After is the understanding that we don’t know what will happen next, we don’t know exactly how to get where we want to be, as writers, and it’s inevitable that we’ll make mistakes along the way. The path is incredibly daunting. Sometimes it’s daunting because of the huge challenge we face. I felt that way when I began writing as Grace Marshall. Sometimes it just feels overwhelming because there are never enough hours in the day to do what we’d like to do to promote, to write, to become better at our craft. Quite often the Mornings After, for me, involves the overwhelming desire to run away and hide someplace where no one can find me until my heart rate settles and I can breathe again and think rationally again.
But when I strip away all that overwhelms me, all that frightens me, all that upsets me – the massive need to promote my work, the blog posts that need to be written, the work that needs to be done, the editing, the social networking, the tight deadlines, the fact that I’m never totally pleased with myself and I set my standards outrageously high and I’m tunnel-visioned, and … breathe, KD! Breathe!
Once everything else is stripped away, the bottom line, the bedrock of my life and who I am as a human being is that writing is not a job for me. Writing is not a hobby. Writing is my vocation, my calling. Telling a story is my passion, and I’ll do it no matter what. I’ll do it because I can’t NOT do it. It’s as important as breathing. It’s my anchor to sanity when I feel like running away screaming. It’s both the gift and the curse, and the pull at my centre that keeps me focused and moving forward.
I hope that by writing this, I haven’t scared new writers, or maybe I hope that I HAVE scared them. It’s that perpetual state of fear and discomfort edged up close and personal to the love affair with story, with word, with a vocation that sometimes baffles us, but never, NEVER bores us; it’s that sharp edge that makes writing the story more than just a hobby, that makes it a spiritual journey and a digging down into the meat and bones and grit of the tale we’re compelled to tell and the passion we have for it.
No worries. I got through the Morning After. I always do. The Work in Progress grabbed me by the collar, yanked me away from my navel gazing and sat me in front of the laptop, and once again I’m focused on what really matters. I’m a writer at the heart of me, and if I go to the heart of me, I can always get through another Morning After.
A very special thanks again to two of my heroes in the world of smut, Victoria and Kev Blisse. Thanks to you two, Smut by the Sea was the kind of event that make for great memories, loads of inspiration, and much encouragement long after The Morning After. xxx