Oh Well. Fuck ’em.

November 29, 2007 at 1:02 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve had a pretty ordinary couple of days, I must confess. Sorry for the absence of a post yesterday – I just couldn’t face it. I wrote in my diary instead. And then I edited and printed out a short story I wrote some time ago and sent it to a magazine. And then I went back to redrafting my manuscript. I can’t help it. It’s what I do. I’m always writing something.

I’ve given myself a sty in my right eye from crying. I think I also genuinely alarmed Llew – I don’t think in eleven years he’s seen me this despondent (not on a professional basis, at least, personally things have been much, much worse than this). And it was a new thing for me too. I’ve been very fortunate never to suffer from depression, but I think I had a glimpse down that dark, dank well in the last 48 hours, and I did not like the look of it one bit. It was very cold and lonely.

Thank you to the people who emailed, phoned and facebooked me to say buck up – I really appreciate your kindness. I know in the big (and even just in the medium) scheme of things this doesn’t really register on the richter. But take my word for it: I felt like some malevolent and super powerful force was holding me down and thumping me into a deep despair and a really drowning sense of defeat. I didn’t know following my heart was going to make me feel so unbearably sad and like such an utter failure.

But following my heart I am, so fuck ’em. I could drive myself crazy second guessing the judges, but it won’t help me. It won’t help my writing. So I have booked in for one of the follow-up phone sessions, I’ve sent my $110 to pay for it, and I’m just going to scrape up what’s left into a little cardboard facade that looks a little like what used to be me, and I’m going to keep trying. I don’t see that I have got any other choice. I really wish this other outfit I’ve paid quite a bit more money to for actual feedback would hurry the bloody hell up and give me my MS appraisal… It’s six weeks they’ve had it now and I really need to know what’s so wrong with it that I can’t get on a long list of 35 names. Let me say again: ouch. Ouch. I don’t know where I’m going so wrong… All I know is I have to keep trying. Is it delusional to keep going even in the face of this kind of failure? Quite possibly, yes. Absolutely. I can see that, don’t think I can’t. But it’s my dream, my one consistent dream in life, and nothing really changes that. It just makes it harder. But that’s okay – no one said it was going to be easy.

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8 Comments

  1. Miriam said,

    Hi Di

    I’m a shadowy reader of your blog and I have much admiration for your openness as well as your lucid prose. I feel compelled to come out of the shadows and onto the comments thungumy (which I’ve never done! on anything anywhere! such a coward!) because I too am a Varuna long-list reject. I know from bitter personal experience that there’s not much anyone can say at these times, but the simple line that I cling to is: you can’t please all the people all the time. If you believe Varuna’s website, it only took 1 of the 3 person judging panel to rank our manuscripts below par for them to be struck off the long list. Literary appreciation is a horribly subjective thing, and who wants to write the kind of book that everyone likes. Right? Hmm.

    So clearly this comment is mostly a scramble to rationalise failure on my own behalf, but I hope you can coast a little way on my rationalisations and that you come out of the funk soon – because, really, fuck em!

  2. doctordi said,

    Wow, Miriam, THANKS! It’s not your rationalisations I’ll coast on so much as your commenting at all – I’m very honoured to be the recipient of your inaugural comment. Perhaps it will open the floodgates of your inner-commentator and you’ll start whoring your opinions right around town – it’s hard to stop once you start, trust me (did you ever read that Alan Bennett Talking Heads monologue of the woman who couldn’t stop writing complaint letters? It’s a slippery slope).

    And I do feel much better just cyber-connecting with another Varuna casualty who is going through the nasty gut-wrench too (not that I wish it upon you!).

    I am coming out of my funk, thanks, I don’t seem able to stay in it, thank goodness. I hope you’re the same, Miriam, and thanks so much, I’m really very chuffed that you stepped out of the shadows. Here’s to us for having a crack!

  3. kate said,

    Maybe you two could swap manuscripts and give each other some unpaid for feedback?

  4. doctordi said,

    Not a bad idea at all, Kate. Miriam, if you come back and see this, perhaps this is something we could discuss via email? On the other hand, I’d be reluctant to lock out the silent readers of this blog who have taken an interest in this post – 40 views in the past 24 hours and most of them read the comments too, so perhaps they’d like to see the outcome, if any. Miriam, I leave it with you for now.

    FYI, I called the MS Appraisal Service yesterday for an ETA on their report. I’ve been going stir crazy waiting for it, but obviously Tuesday’s news made its eventual appearance even more pressing. Looks like I should have it back around mid-December. Hopefully early enough that it doesn’t curdle the custard on my Christmas pudding.

  5. Miriam said,

    Yes! We should discuss it via email! It turns out I’m not quite ready to unleash my whorey inner commentator on the blogging world, I feel like anything I say here could be used against me in a court of spelling and grammatical construction. I don’t know how you have the balls to blog.

    How did you find your MS appraisal service? I’ve thought about going down that road but it seems so risky. I’ve known a couple of people who’ve done MS appraisals, one of whom was a great writer and a constructive critic, the other was a crazy lunatic. So I guess I’d say, don’t necessarily stake your all on whatever your MS appraiser tells you, they’re just one reader.

  6. doctordi said,

    Cool – I’ll email you on the address you provided with your comment. I definitely don’t want this exercise to feel like you’re coming before the Apostrophe Police to answer charges of reckless construction (especially since I once blogged about being a self-appointed member of said force).

    As for the MS Appraisal Service, I canvassed several from the web and the Australian Writer’s Marketplace (2006 edition). I liked the sound of Lynk Manuscript Assessment Services (www.lynk.com.au). And I liked the sound of the Director Sean Doyle when we spoke yesterday. Just a gut feeling, but that’s good enough for me, especially when I’m at such a low ebb.

    Risk… well, I think an element of risk is essential to any worthwhile enterprise. It’s a question of mitigating risk, and I think you do that by researching the services and making a considered judgement about which one to employ. I’m not planning to stake everything on anything anyone tells me about this or anything else, but even a crazy lunatic is a potential reader, which immediately makes their opinion important. I don’t mean I’m hoping my MS is currently being appraised by a mad person, only that I am trying to get over my terror of letting people read the work because, well, shit, who is it for if not other people?

  7. kate said,

    Ah bless! I feel all warm and fuzzy inside! I think sometimes it is about both the destination and the journey.

  8. doctordi said,

    I’d absolutely agree with that, Kate.

    You and others may be interested to know that blog-shy Miriam and I have taken our discussion into the relatively private email realm, and we are going to have a manuscript swap this week. The Varuna snub was not all tempest and trial after all.

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