Monday, 16 February 2009

Minding the gap

I’m having a life crisis! I won’t call it a mid-life crisis because, although I am mid-life and this is all about work and emotion and mental state, mid-life crisis suggests something you do once – whereas I have tended to lurch from one crisis to another ever since home-educating my children stopped being the main thing I did and my portfolio of writing, youth theatre and counselling re-placed it - always with writing novels feeling like ‘the most significant thing’.

But oops! Talking things through with a friend who is a life coach last week, I came to the realisation that things have changed. Although I still enjoy writing and want to carry on, I have lost the absolute ‘die for it’ passion that I once had – or at least, I have for writing lengthy fiction. Hand on heart, the book that I’m most proud of and which gives me the biggest sense of personal satisfaction is ‘Wha’ever – the teenager’s guide to spinal cord injury’ published by the Spinal Injuries Association and unavailable except through them.

And why is that? Why, whilst running a children’s book group, teaching creative writing in a variety of contexts, being a member of two book groups myself, has writing fiction slipped down my pecking order of Things I Would Die Rather Than Not Do. Is this just a knee jerk reaction because my agent doesn’t like my latest opus – and actually, neither do I?

No, I think not. There are many, many factors in the mix and it took me two and a half hours to unravel them with my friendly life-coach – but what may be relevant here on an authors’ blog is the difficulty in getting what you want to write published by publishers! For many years, I was published by Lion Hudson, the only Christian publishing house publishing specifically for the secular market – so although spirituality was an important and very welcome thread in the mesh I wove, it wasn’t expected to be a dominant theme in my fiction – indeed, that would have been unacceptable. But last year Lion Hudson stopped publishing children’s fiction and although I have had books published by other publishers, gaps that suit me are hard to find – and the point is, that I’m not sure I want to look! For me, the real joy is in writing what is on my heart and what is challenging my mind – whereas it seems to me that, very understandably, the way publishing now works is that a gap is spotted and writers try to fit their writing to that slot. Maybe that’s a very controversial thing to say? I don’t know – it’s just what I perceive to be the case. Let’s see if anyone comments!

Meanwhile, I’m not giving up as a writer – but I am valuing much more the different ways I write (of which there are many!) and looking at expanding them. That feels like the sensible thing to do right now. Until my next life crisis, that is!

1 comment:

Katherine Langrish said...

I know how you feel, Meg - but I'm not sure I agree that writers fit their writing to some perceived 'gap': if only because gaps are so difficult to spot and tend to be illusory when spotted! Perhaps it's that your other work - which sounds wonderful - feels currently more important... and what a delight to have so much richness in your life!