Wednesday 8 May 2013

Why I've been away, and so on

First, let me assure you all that I am alive and well, and thank you for your concern.

Sometimes, I do take breaks from writing – but this wasn’t one of the usual breaks. Nor was I going through one of my periodic cycles of clinical depression. No, I wasn’t arrested and renditioned to some charming prison where I was waterboarded and stress-positioned, et cetera, either.

So why haven’t I been online?

Simply put – I was going through a personal identity crisis revolving around my life as a writer and cartoonist. And the trigger was a rejection slip.

A couple of years ago, I’d finally finished writing a novel called Fidayeen. This was my third completed novel, and in my opinion (and of a select circle of friends who read and commented on it) it was good. Certainly it was the best novel I’d written, much more streamlined than my first (Rainbow’s End) and more serious than my second (The Call of the Khokkosh).

Now, I’m no longer a beginner at the game of trying to be published. I know that it’s almost impossible to be published – no matter how good you are – unless

                1.     You have an inside link to the publishing industry – one reason why almost all Indian authors these days are media professionals, and/or

               2.     You have a story which “sells”.

Of course I’m no media professional, but I thought Fidayeen – which features jihadist terrorism in Kashmir – would sell. So I did send it off to some Indian publishers (the mainstream ones). I got rejection slips from all, except one – and that rejected it after a few months.

Then someone let me know about an agent. I sent it to him and he said it wasn’t saleable without rewriting. He’d be glad to tell me how to rewrite it – for a “reading and analysis fee”, of course.

Screw that. I’m not going to fall for these transparent attempts to rip me off.

Anyway, I then sent it to a New Zealand e-publisher. She sat on it for nine months and then – after repeated emails from me – informed me that she was rejecting it. I’m pretty sure she never got around to reading it – nor did anybody else.

So, I reached a point where I began questioning if anybody really cared.

Some time ago, I was a member of a website called Multiply where I had a hell of a lot of readers, and I used to get a lot of feedback. Some of it was favourable, some not – but it was always interesting. Well, Multiply folded for reasons which had absolutely everything to do with the owners’ greed, and left us bloggers stranded high and dry – bereft of the online network of friends we’d spent often many years developing. Suddenly, I found I had almost nobody willing to read anything I wrote.

I’ll just mention something here – to me, believe it or not, writing doesn’t come easy. In fact, writing is pretty goddamn hard, In order to write something, I generally have to give up reading, rest, sleep and exercise to sit pecking away at a keyboard – and half the time I’m not even satisfied with what I spend hours or days writing. And, then, you know, I don’t exactly react with joy when I get almost no views or comments.

So, I asked myself a question I’ve asked before: Do I really want to do this?

And my mind answered: No.

So I stopped writing. Completely and absolutely. I didn’t write, I didn’t go online, I didn’t do a damned thing along those lines. Instead, I slept. I read. I worked out. I went on a vacation with my girlfriend and slept some more and had a fairly good time. And I came back and went back to work – and I still had no desire to start writing again.

Then I began to get depressed.

There’s a thing they say – that writing isn’t something you can stop. If you do it, you’ve got to do it, whether you like it or not, because it’s a monster which has you by the throat and will never let you go. I resisted it for a while, but I think at the back of my mind I knew I’d have to start again someday. I am.

I actually started writing several days ago, and I’ve got two stories half-written; but they are on my laptop, and last night my laptop’s LCD screen went kaput. It’s in for repair but will take at least two days (and possibly five) before I get it back. So, in the meantime, I’m filling you in.

Let me just say something – anybody who has ever read me – I appreciate it. Thank you.

I hope you’ll continue.

And, let me repeat, I’m back.

Let’s get on with it, shall we?


  1. First of all, it's great to see you back.

    I went through some difficult times with the writing thing a couple months back, too.

    On one hand, I "know" I can write - I mean, I might not be modest enough about it, actually. I don't need anyone to tell me that i can get an idea across.

    On the other hand, it can be frustrating when it becomes apparent that a) I could have a bigger audience with some bland pictures or political cut & pastes, or b) people have gotten way farther than me on way less.

    I'll keep writing for fun - by which I mean for free, because it's not always that fun - and hope for the best.

    I hope you do, too!

  2. I remember reading a story of yours, rather longish. I was supposed to be weeding my lily bed, so I would dig a section and then reward myself with reading a section of your story. Dig a bit, read a bit. Except the story got so interesting I gave up, left the lilies to their own devices and read the entire thing. I so hope I commented.

    For what it is worth I read and enjoy (or agree with in anger) everything you have written and the Raghead cartoons as well. Coward that I am (and remembering how letters I wrote during the anti-war movement of the 60's/70's in the US were intercepted by the State Police) I probably haven't commented on ol' Raghead. I should. It's a brilliant series.

    Please keep writing, this platform sucks as it does not allow the kind of interaction that Multiply did, but please keep writing.

  3. I'll ditto what Katy said - it's great to see you back.

    Something I learned over time - writing is therapy. It really is. A writer writes, and damn the agents and other cheap cocksuckers who get paid to say 'no'.

    Sad that Multiply died - but now you know you have a hard-core of readers who care no matter what.

    (By the way - I'm thinking of dialing my own site up a notch...)

  4. Good to see you back, Bill! I've told you many times that writing or doing an art is fine, but selling it is another pair of shoes. Just continue and see it as doing what must be done, without asking for any reward. Maybe they'll discover you some day, when you're old or even when you'll be dead... maybe never. Life isn't fair.

  5. To be honest, I read very few of your stories, you wrote so many! But the ones I did read I liked. I miss Multiply, it seemed like home to me. I also miss your little family that you used to blog about quite often. :) Hope all is well, I mean that.

  6. I hope this didn't publish twice, I wasn't signed in before.

    To be honest, I read few of your stories but what I did read I liked. I really miss Multiply, it was like home to me. I also miss your little family you used to blog about. Hope all is well with everyone.

  7. I love your writing and your stories, you know that. The problem I find with some sites, and Blogger is one of them, is that it's not easy to follow someone. I think Astra is kind of having the same kind of issue right now. As for me, I don't think anyone has ever come to my BlogSpot that I didn't specifically send a link and ask to read my few stories.

    Word Press seem a bit more community oriented, and I have had people visit that I don't know. There are other problems with it, of course.

    I still like Blogster because of ease of use, as long as you avoid the idiots.

  8. Stupid thing apparently ate my comment.

    Love your writing and hope you'll continue at some level. We all need a break from time to time.

  9. Of course, I noticed your silence and thought you might be having a break outside the cyberspace... all of us need it from time to time. Sad to know the main reason for not being around. I'm sorry to learn about your unsuccessful attempts to get your work published. It must have been very much upsetting. I know not many but a few cases like yours. Not always what we find on sale at booksellers is worthy paying for...
    Don't feel discouraged and keep on writing...


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