I'm having a crisis of faith.
It feels indulgent and self-pitying, but it's a real feeling and being rational isn't helping. If you don't want to read a writer whingeing about writing, then move on, this is not for you.
Now, you may say, if you follow my exploits on Facebook, that in the last few weeks I've appeared on Radio 4, I've had an article accepted for Writing in Education and a story accepted for Shoestring; I've started back to teaching a full timetable - mostly Creative Writing for the first time in years - and I've continued writing my daily flash-fictions. So, what's to be down about?
It's the things that aren't happening that are getting to me. In the same period as these successes I've had a number of stories rejected, I've had a number of stories - stories I consider to be among my best - not short-listed for competitions in which I felt sure I had a chance. I've had rejections for jobs and other opportunities, and I've had speculative emails disappear into the ether with no response.
Swings and roundabouts, you say? Good and bad? It's all part of the life you've chosen. I know all that, but it doesn't raise the spirits. Instead I find myself questioning what I'm doing. I know that some important people in the business are taking me seriously, and there are likely to be some big breaks just around the temporal corner, but it doesn't stop the feeling that I'm howling into the void.
When I started flash365 I envisaged a crowd of people eager to read my stories. Instead, as time goes on, it seems that people have simply become used to them as a wallpaper to their lives. If they are reading them, they don't tell me. If they like them, they smile to themselves and move on with their day. If they don't, they simply shrug and move on with their day. I'm not asking for adoration, I'm really not, but just the feeling that someone has noticed would be nice. I thought maybe my radio appearence would help, but it seems to have had no effect.
I have a really large project that I'm thinking of starting up, but I'm even starting to wonder if I have the right to do it. Am I suffering from delusions of grandeur? If I do it will anyone care, will anyone join in, or will they just say 'Oh, it's him again. Ignore him and he'll go away.' Rationally I don't think so, but rationality has a hard battle against such negative thoughts.
Am I whingeing? You bet I am. But this is how I'm feeling. Because, when this starts happening, you start to doubt yourself. Yes, I've had things published, but maybe I'm not as good as I think I am. Maybe, in fact, I'm pretty crap, pretty run of the mill, pretty ordinary. And in that case, the big break I'm working towards will never come and I will always be just bumbling along and making a fool of myself.
Being a writer requires dedication. This has been stated over and over again. But it also requires self-belief and confidence because you can never actually assess how good you are. When that gets knocked, it's easy to lose faith, lose hope, lose direction and start to believe that it's all pointless.
So, what am I going to do? Well, I'm going to carry on writing my daily flash-fictions. Are people reading them? Yes, some are. I don't have the huge following I'd hoped for, but I'm certainly not going to let down those people who are following. And, more importantly, I'm not going to let myself down by failing after 160 days of success.
Am I going to undertake my large new project? Yes, I'm going to try. I can fail and fall flat on my face, but that won't kill me. And, if I succeed....
Am I going to keep submitting and sending out stories even though only 1 in 10 make it? Of course, what else can I do. If I don't submit I won't be published and if I'm not published I'm just talking to myself.
So, forgive me for this whining blog entry. Its impossible, I think, to be guns-blazing and gung-ho all the time, and who knows, if you've read this far you might just identify a little.