Contracts and Black Dogs

April was an interesting month, if for no other reason than it took me to both ends of the emotional spectrum.

Progress on plotting DIASPORA was chugging along, I’d finished the first major sub-block of 120 sections and was tearing into the final two blocks, and we’d decided to spend a week on a nearby island, North Stradbroke (great little place, more laid back and smaller than most around here), to entertain a few friends and for me to get a bit further into plotting. All went well, then went even better. My publisher of choice, Temple Dark Books, sent over a contract for DESCENT: DEATH, so I get to publish at least the first part of the trilogy with them, with an expected release date of late 2024.

So, you’d think the rest of the month would be all strawberries and cream, with the heavenly hosts in chorus around me as I lift up my pen in triumph and joy? Not even remotely so.

I crashed, big time, the old black dog of self-doubt deciding it was the best time to sink it’s ugly little teeth in. Everything I looked at, wrote, or thought of was just so much rubbish in my eyes. Although I have, now, plotted out to section 151 of 200, I’ve written four times as many and made lovely large piles of crushed paper for our local recycling pickup. And the language? Just glad my door’s sort of sound proof.

I guess no one’s immune from it (although I can’t imagine Stephen King, Dean Koontz or Jacki Collins cowering in a corner, shivering, hands around their knees wondering if anything they’ve ever written is anything more than a pile of shite) and perhaps it goes hand in hand with the whole ‘I want to be an author’ thing, but it was a bit of a shock; and a wake up call.

In every other area of life I’ve used a motto that, basically, says that success and failure are the same, and that the only way to get by in one piece is to do your absolute best and, regardless of which one ends up as the outcome, treat them the same.

So it really doesn’t matter; I write what I want to write how I want to write it, and if others like it well, that’s just a nice bonus. Obviously, Temple Dark Books will think in quite a different vein; it’s a business The Gatekeeper’s running, not a charity for wannabe authors, and that means money, and that means mass appeal. Both worlds intersect with the contract, then the first, final draft – and then the dance between the dreamer and realist starts.

Bring it on.

P.S. This will be the final post from me for a few months. I’m going on a bit of a trip, looking at a few (slightly) dangerous and tricky places, and expect to not be able to touch this at least until September. So stay tuned, and if I’m not in the newspapers I’ll catch up then,