Smut Marathon And Mental Health


Smut MarathonI dabbled with writing erotic short stories since 2001. While I generally got a lot of very positive feedback, some, I will freely admit, were better than others. Then, in March 2016, exactly two years ago today, I stopped. I posted my final story and, other than the opinion pieces that I post here, and the very occasional haiku on twitter, I haven’t written anything since.

Why?

I don’t actually know. I just lost the spark. It would be easy to blame it on my depression and, indeed, that maybe did play a part, but it wasn’t that simple. Something had changed. The particular well of creativity had run dry. It wasn’t “writer’s block”, I was, quite simply empty.

When, late in 2017, Marie announced that she would be running Smut Marathon, I was intrigued. Would I join in? Could I do it? Would I be able to actually write anything? Would it, maybe, just maybe, reignite my writing bug?

I struggled with the idea. Resolving to sign-up and then deciding against it. This process went on and on until, with the deadline date for application looming, I bit the bullet and, under the guise of my kilted and hirsute alter ego, I signed up.

The first assignment: metaphors seemed straightforward enough.

The second assignment: Micro Fiction was a bit more of a struggle, but I managed to come up with something that I was reasonably comfortable with submitting.

At this stage, I was content. This was the first elimination point. I had achieved my first goal, I had managed to submit something for both rounds. I then found out that I had made the first cut. I had achieved what I had actually decided at the very beginning would be my ultimate target: to get through the first elimination.

It was an odd feeling. There was a sense of satisfaction of having got that far and achieved what I set out to do. There was a sense of relief in having only just scraped through (I shared position 40 with another writer). There was also some disbelief when I took notice of some of the writers that had been eliminated. Writers like F dot Leonora and Ina Morata and others whom I have admired for almost as long as I’ve been blogging.

Mind Matters - #SB4MHAnd then, almost inevitably, my dark mood kicked in. What little creativity I had dredged up deserted me. As I struggled with the third assignment, my mood plummeted, taking my fragile self-belief with it. I couldn’t do it. I had no inspiration. I wasn’t a writer. I even went so far as to tell a few people that I was going to withdraw.

I was a failure. I was a fraud. Far better writers than I had already been eliminated. Surely there had been a mistake. I obviously did not deserve to get through.

The thoughts became seductive. After all, I’d achieved my goal. Even if it had been on a technicality, I had got through. I’d done what I wanted to do. There would be no shame in admitting defeat. I had tried. I had tried and on account of my mood I had come up short.  People would understand that. People would respect that.

People might. I wouldn’t.

I reasoned that, if I quit now, I would be effectively denying someone who could have progressed their place in this round. I would be stealing the opportunity from one of the many talented bloggers who hadn’t got this far if I gave up without trying.

So try, I did. I wrote something and I submitted it. I don’t know how good it is, but that’s not my worry. If the judges and the public like and vote for it, great. If not, well I’ve tried.  If I get eliminated at the next cut, so be it; I will have tried.

If, as it seems at present, my writing spark has not been re-lit, I still have my photography, and I still have my rambling streams of consciousness that share with/inflict upon you here.

I may not be a writer, and that’s fine. but having got this far, I owe it to (a) those who have voted for me, and (b) those who haven’t got through, to keep going until my time runs out, and not to just give up.

ZeN

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