The Writer is In!

Late last year I fell off the horse – figuratively speaking! Of course! After months of head down, unrelenting focus on trying to get down the first draft of my WIP, one day in early November, I suffered a complete crisis of confidence over where my story was going. And if I could write at all. Add in two very disappointing rejections that week, a day apart, and I quite literally melted down.

In all the years I’ve been writing, I’ve tried to approach it professionally – as a job. Even through the most gutting knock backs, after manuscripts have gone to acquisitions meetings and not made it through, I’ve given myself the standard 24 hours to mourn and cry, but the next day I’d be back on the proverbial horse and back at my desk.

Being a Friday, I figured, a couple of wines and a good cry and come Monday I’d be back at my desk as always. But even as I walked out my office door, I sensed something was different this time. It was as if a switch had flicked in my brain. I can’t do this. Do I even want to do this anymore? I was sick to my stomach in fear this might not just herald a break.

Over the coming days, I couldn’t even step into my office. I’d lost my nerve, my mojo, and, it seemed, my will to write. What the hell was wrong with me? The question nagged again, did I even want to write? It’s too hard. It hurts. Who and what am I writing for?

It took time before I could face a good hard think about writing and my practice. But when I did, I realised that somewhere, somehow, my determination to get words down had become an obsession. I’d barely noticed in the passing months that I’d stopped exercising and going to the swimming pool (too busy), or working in my garden (too wet/too cold), or even taking time out for friends (I’d catch up as soon as my draft was done). Even playtime and training sessions with our precious puppy had become snatched moments between writing. Poor baby!

I came to the sad realisation too that I had no hobbies, nothing that was not connected to writing. How and when did that happen? I’d been given a beautiful mirrorless camera the preceding Christmas and it had scarcely been out of its bag.

I have a little easel (pictured above) on a shelf in my office bookcase with the sign, “The Writer is In”. As a joke, when I made it, I made one for the reverse side, “The Writer is Out.” (I’d never turned it around.) The week after my meltdown, I spotted it as I left my office, after being unable to open my manuscript for the umpteenth time. I cried as I turned the sign around, wondering if the writer would ever be in again? Again, the question: Did I even want to write anymore?

But when someone near and dear innocently asked, what do you want to do then? ‘WRITE!’ came my savage reply. ‘It’s who I am. What I do. All I want to do!’ (Despite the voice screaming in my head, ‘I just don’t know if I can do it anymore.’)

Turns out, there is more to life than just writing. In these past few weeks, I’ve undertaken a CAE Intensive Photography Course, worked prodigiously in my garden, read some great books – for pure enjoyment, romped, played and generally hung out with a very cute, small, white dog, as well as with some human friends. I’ve given my house a mini-makeover and enjoyed a lovely Christmas and holiday break with my family. Plus I’ve pretty well planned and booked an overseas trip for us later in the year. Plus, as of this week, I’m back in the pool.

I’m also booked to do a 5-day writing masterclass in February and I’m sincerely looking forward to it (more on that another day) and I’ve finally found some words (if only to write this blog post – it’s a start!)

Oh, and I nearly forgot, Santa brought me a most special present. I’ve always, always, wanted to learn to play the piano and shortly before Christmas I took the time to ask the question, was it possible to teach an older dog such a trick. Turns out, Yes! It is. In the weeks since, I’ve been practising with an app, learned to play a couple of songs, and, hooray, hooray, today I had my very first piano lesson!

I also reread my WIP and turns out, there is a story there. One I really want to write. So it seems, albeit it tentatively, the writer/photographer/piano player/gardener/dog buddy is IN.

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Elizabeth Jane Corbett" alt="Elizabeth Jane Corbett">

Elizabeth Jane Corbett

A horrifying experience, Chris. But more common than you’d think. Glad the writer, piano player, gardener, dog lover is back. I never doubted. 💕

January 30, 2019 at 6:42 pm
Leisl Leighton" alt="Leisl Leighton">

Leisl Leighton

So glad to hear you’re feeling more positive now. Sometimes it’s just necessary to take a break and be kind to ourselves. I’ve done that myself for the last 4 weeks and am feeling better for it and was back in my writing groove today. This blog is a great start and loving what you’ve written in your ms so far an even better one. I for one can’t wait to see what you come up with. ❤️

January 30, 2019 at 6:50 pm
Corinne King" alt="Corinne King">

Corinne King

Oh Chris. Thank you for writing and sharing such an honest and heartfelt blog post. Of
course you will keep writing and I see you’ve forgotten to mention those 35 educational books you’ve had published. That trade novel will come and maybe this wip is the one. Never give up. You are too good a writer to do that.

January 30, 2019 at 7:01 pm
mattdaviesauthor" alt="mattdaviesauthor">


The image of you turning that sign around …. The writer is out … almost made me cry too! So happy to hear you’re back on the horse. Looking forward to hearing about the course too. xx

January 30, 2019 at 7:20 pm

Dimity Powell

Good to read you again, Chris! Corinne echoes my thoughts. Write on! Dim x

January 30, 2019 at 10:25 pm

Karen Tyrrell

Thanks Chris for sharing your inner turmoil over whether you can still be a writer… Of course you can! All writers torment themselves with this question.
Your soul-searching Blog writing proved that you could.
I love the way you immerse yourself into joyful life experiences… All fodder for your next book/s.
Happy writing, Karen x

January 31, 2019 at 5:52 am

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