Friday 13 December 2019

The Post Book Slump

I hesitated about naming this post The Post Book Slump, but after talking to other authors I think it is something that needs to be acknowledged and talked about. What I am talking about is that time after your book has been out for a little while - in my case six months - when the excitement has died down but you still haven't got your writing mojo back.

I have very much been in this space for the past few months. At first I put it down to that fact that I had been travelling a fair bit for readings - but actually when I am 'on it' with writing, travelling is usually a fruitful time for me creatively. I have written before about how much I love writing on trains, but at the moment even trains aren't getting me writing. It is a bit like the post hand-in slump I used to get as a student, and very much like the cavernous feeling of loss I felt both at the end of my degree and the MA. I came across this blog post today which is about post PhD slump - but a lot of it feels pretty relevant to the way it can feel once a book is published - especially the feelings of 'so what' and Imposter Syndrome.

I had mistakenly thought that this would get easier with more publications, but for some reason I have found it harder with the publication of my second book than I did with the first. I have also found doing readings harder - partly because the subject matter feels more exposing and more gritty - there is always a niggly worry at the back of my mind as to how new audiences will react, which I didn't really have with the first collection. There is also a pressure (or it feels like there is) to write something radically different to what than what I have written before - but as a wise poet once said to me: 'you can only write what you can write.'

At the moment I am on a writing retreat. I had hoped that getting away and having time to read and write would give me the kick in the pants I feel I need. Of course things are never as simple as you imagine. I have been here a week now and the writing is slow - though I have done a little. Instead I have been focusing on reading poetry books, typing up and editing, and I have also used the time to make some submissions - something I have been very slack about of late. I am planning to use some of my Arts Council DYCP grant to pay for some mentoring and time management sessions. Life is busy when I am at home and it can be very easy to get so sucked down the rabbit hole of work that there is little time for anything else.

The main thing is that I have decided not to be too hard on myself and to try not to be too impatient. If you are in the post book/hand in slump I urge you to do the same.