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Monday, July 30, 2012

Doldrums


When I first started reading on a regular basis it was reading series of books which kept me going from one book to another.  The series that stands out more than any other was Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin Series.  The first book of the series many are probably aware because of the 2003 movie of the same title which was based in part off pieces of several of the books, “Master and Commander.”  Through the books Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend and ships surgeon, Stephen Maturin, relate his adventures in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic War.  I have subsequently learned many things of a nautical nature from reading these many books which is one of my favorite genres.
One of the terms I have picked up on is the Doldrums.  The Doldrums is a colloquial maritime expression for the parts of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans affected by the inter-tropical convergence zone where a low pressure area around the equator causes the prevailing winds to be calm.  In many areas the Doldrums were to be avoided because it could trap sail powered ships for periods of days or weeks.  With little or no winds the sea is dead calm and the ships are just stuck there.

I use this term to describe those periods of everyday life when the wind gets let out of your sails and you feel like you are stuck and just sitting there.  It generally isn’t anything you have done or haven’t done, but other people and the things they say, the pressing of schedules to do things you don’t necessarily want to do, the daily routine of tasks to be performed.  Your zip has been zapped, your get up and go has gotten up and left without you, and your enthusiasm is waning at best.
The Doldrums, and just like the ships at sea of the old days, if you’re not careful you could get stuck there for days or weeks.
Writing is such a solitary job to begin with as you do all of the writing by yourself.  If you’re just starting out, you’re an Indie Author where you do almost everything by yourself, and even if you have an Editor or Artist who may help with aspects of the books you rarely speak to them and have little or no contact with them what so ever.  In my case my biggest cheerleader would be my editor who I e-mail four or five times a month and we have never actually spoken to each other.  Plus, it isn’t their job to cheer us up anyways.
Writers have to be able to pick themselves up by the boot straps and find our happy places all by ourselves.  We have to be self-motivated to get out of bed and do all the regular things everybody in else in life has to do concerning family, job, and everyday life, and then happily write out novels on the side.  It sometimes feels like a full time job that you have to sneak around to try and accomplish stealing minutes from this or that, jotting down notes into notebooks, on napkins, or on your hand so you don’t lose the thought or idea until you can find the time to write it down or add it to the book you’re currently working on.
I imagine everybody in the world gets the doldrums every now again because its life.  Life is hard.  Work is hard.  We get tired just like everybody else.  We get discouraged when our sales slump or fall off.  We get discouraged when parts of the process take slower than Christmas getting done.  We get discouraged when you try and self-promote a giveaway of your books and nobody wants a Free copy of them.  We get discouraged when it seems like nobody but ourselves believes in us.  That we will someday be able to write for living and be able to stop working towards others dreams and making them money.  It gets discouraging when you just barely make it from pay-check to pay-check.  The doldrums!
I wish I could say I have a fix for it, some magical potion you eat, drink or snort to lift you out of the doldrums but it doesn’t work that way.  I wish I could tell you the steps to take to get over, under or around the doldrums and get happy and back on track with your writing career but there isn’t any 12 step program to get you past it.  Just like the large man-o-wars and sailing ships of days gone by, many of which were powerful ships in their own right under a good head wind, but when you’re stuck your stuck.  To get the wind back in your sails the only suggestion I have is use the peace of nothing going on, no enthusiasm, no sales, and no staff bugging you, to write!
That’s it just write your happy ass off.  Live vicariously through your characters and their misery, triumph’s, success or failures, and write, write and write some more.  Who knows the writing and pouring yourself into your characters may be just the breeze to turn into a tempest and blow you somewhere you never imagined you might end up!  Success is the journey not a destination, and all journeys have dead ends, pit stops, rest breaks, and unexpected disagreeable parts to the trip.  Your doldrums is just that, a speed bump over the course of your life.
Fake a smile, get your work done that you have to do so you can get back to writing.  Who cares if nobody believes in you?  When your ship comes in everybody will be asking how did you do that?  Then remember these days when nobody thought you would amount to anything.  If your writing is your passion then that’s where you’ll find your inner peace and happy place.
So get back to work.  If you’re flying high today save this link to this post under the title Stuck in the Doldrums and when that day arrives and you put a name on that gloomy pissy attitude you woke up with, then read this.
Myself I started this day and post off with the Doldrums, but now I am about to get back to Alexander Hawk and company saving the Earth from shit loads of Gators and Dragons.  I have a book to finish and get to my editor if I want to publish another one this year!
Have a Great Day Everybody!

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