If you’re a regular visitor to the Lair, you will probably have noticed that I haven’t written any smut in a while. The dearth of my creative writing started with a very reasonable and understandable cause; I was flat out working on audiobook projects and genuinely had too few hours in the day left in which to do anything more than grab a bite to eat and a few hours sleep. What I had not realised before, but know very well now, is that audiobook creation is a very time-consuming task. The narration itself is the easy part; an hour of audio generally takes about 1.5- 2 hours to record (depending how often one trips over tricky passages or has a coughing fit!), then there’s the listening back, editing out the flubs, going back to re-record any bits you fucked up but didn’t realise at the time, then cleaning up the sound. And once that’s done, there’s the sound engineering. Amazon’s audiobook production platform has very stringent guidelines, involving noise-floors, RMS levels and dBs, and a whole lot of other techie wizardry that I spent lots of time researching but am not really much the wiser for it. But, long story short, a simple hour of an audiobook takes a lot of work and several hours to produce.
I now have sixteen titles under my belt, with another few on the way to retail, and the work has started to slow down. I tried not to let that worry me, as I still had a couple of upcoming jobs on the horizon. And I thought that the respite would allow me time to concentrate on getting some writing done. Well, sods law, in that time I have not only come down with two separate infections, but find myself struggling with a vicious depression. I admit to spending most of my time hiding under the duvet and trying to sleep it away. But one can’t sleep all day, and those waking moments can be hellish when all you can think about is how hopeless everything has become. Sometimes I can’t do anything other than fight against the darkness. Other times, I try to fight back by doing something I used to enjoy. If I can manage to remember what those things were…
My short story “The Day Trip” was recently featured on the Good Girl Gone Bad podcast and, if you’ve heard it, you’ll know that it’s practically begging for a Part Two (and possibly more), but although I initially had many ideas about where I would take it, now I find I just can’t write it. In the occasional moments of respite from the worst of the depression, I’ve tried to capture what was in my head for these characters. However, a couple of paragraphs in, and I get stuck. I read it back, and all I can see is clumsy and uninspired prose. I debate whether to press on and polish it later, or to just give myself a break and trust that my muse will return when (if?) my mind is in a better place. I put “The Day Trip Part Two” back to bed for the time being and try to start a new story, but again I get no further than a (clumsy and laboured) paragraph in, and I falter yet again. And that starts the fear that it’s all over and I’ve lost my creative spark forever. Cue another spiral down into the dark pit of despair.
Now, hypocrite that I am, I wrote about this kind of thing in an article for The Smutlancer back in October, offering my own tips for beating the block. These things have worked in the past, and it’s alarming to me to now find that they are currently, as the fabulous “Malcolm Tucker” character in The Thick of It says, “about as much use as a marzipan dildo”. However, one of the first points I make in the article is to “Put Your Health First”, and that “getting well is the most important thing”. And so, I know I have to try and “chill”. I could force myself to sit and churn out whatever dregs my brain is currently capable of producing, but I fear that the more I do that, the more disillusioned and disheartened I’m likely to become. And so, I find myself waiting, hopefully, for a break in this bad weather that lasts long enough for the muse to poke her little nose back above the parapet. I hope to return to usual service sooner rather than later.
I want to give a massive shout out to the lovely Lola Down, who cheered me up in the early hours of this morning when things were bleak, with some very kind words and a couple of inspiring tunes on YouTube. Thank you, Lola 😘