Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Managing the news hungry writer...

One day two weeks ago was a red letter day. I got two emails that surprised and delighted me. One was responding positively to a bold suggestion I'd made sometime in the second half of last year. The other was to let me know a short story I'd submitted was accepted for publication. I floated, giddy, for 24 hours and believed in myself for at least 4 or 5 days. Now I'm back to my usual normal grumpy, jittery, self-doubting, frequent email-refreshing self.

As a writer, receiving any news is addictive. Good news makes you happy. Great news makes you high as a kite. And the rest of the time we are in withdrawal. Where the analogy goes awry is that we have no control over the supply of our favourite drug. So we need some management techniques to help us survive the cold turkey times. Because we never know how long they'll last or if they'll ever be over again.

For all the people who say 'but writing should be your addiction', or 'distract yourself from waiting for responses to your submissions/proposals/putting your neck on the line by getting started on your next book' - they are lying to themselves. Or they're not and I'm just so happy for them in their lovely homes in Stepford.

So here are my ideas for getting through...

1) Run away to a far away country where you can ignore the fact that there is no new news (an expensive option and only good for short bursts)

2) Have children so you can sneak a high from their good news. This is a major (and costly) investment but can really pay off in the long run

3) Refrigerate or freeze your favourite emails/letters so you can enjoy them again later. Please note however you cannot refreeze a thawed email, and previously frozen news will deteriorate faster

4) Keep news fresher for longer by watering daily. Some folk recommend a dried arrangement and these will last a lot longer but the colours do fade and they can become very brittle.

5) Fake news is NOT recommended. Especially as it makes the real news harder to identify

6) Don't try and 'be' the news. The media/social media are by their very nature rather judgy and generally harsh critics. Even filters won't protect you

The truth is all news wears out eventually anyway. Careful handling will make it last longer but it will become history at some point no matter what you do. Of course this is a blessing for the less than stellar variety. There will always be periods without news. You will get times where your email inbox goes deathly quiet and the world seems to be spinning on without you. Staying in the game is still the best way to keep new news coming in, but know that the days of waiting and wishing to hear are just a normal part of this job we have found ourselves in. And it pays to remember too that all writers have to deal with the lulls and the cold turkey trough. Hanging out with each other during an absence of news may just be the best way to get through. Be kind to yourself. And nice to each other