I feel, however, as if a corner has been turned. I must try not to sound too smug as I tell you that I was expecting this (I think I managed it). The thing is, I've been writing for at least three years now (I can't be very accurate with that estimate as I didn't ever mark the day when I began writing anything with a sense of purpose), and I'm getting used to the sine wave-like pattern of my writing habits. It's an organic (not orgasmic: I'd never get anything done if it was) process and I decided a long time ago to avoid fighting with it - it will be what it will be. I feel now that - in contrast to the seasons - the sap is rising and my enthusiasm for putting my pudgy-yet-strangely-cornery fingers (I have an amazing ability to hit two keys instead of one) to the keyboard is returning.
By surfing this not-so-gnarly wave, I think that I continue to fly in the face of the perceived wisdom (especially that which is hurled out at the world on social media), which is best personified by memes which say, in characteristically authoritarian/prescriptive terms: "You should be writing!". Of course there's a humorous underlying tone there, but the message is unremitting, and speaks of a genuine conviction that the word 'should' is an appropriate one to be using. Well (and here my inner Llama comes to the fore), fuck that. I'll write when I want to, which tends, by the way, to coincide with whenever the creative juice (usually orange) is flowing. Today, for example, I'll write three blog pieces and perhaps later, if I have the opportunity (don't even try to tell me that I should make the time), I'll do some work on a book. This will be quite a productive day by my own standards.
In the last week I've also received the first ever lukewarm review for Signs of (a) Life, and it was an interesting experience. The person giving me the feedback is a learned man and a writer (although I didn't know that at the time!), and so my first response was acute embarrassment. My second (and more enduring) response was worry - something which lasted several days - about, well, everything to do with my writing. Already, you see, I feel that I could re-write the book in a more pleasing and entertaining way, but after some thought, the Llama tells me that leaving things as they stand is a more honest way to go. Also, I have other projects (too many, I know) to pay attention to.
I'm relieved to find that I haven't once felt angry or offended (my inner Llama has not felt the need to bite any testicles). Everyone, after all, will come to the book with their own perspective, and a book has yet to be written which satisfies or entertains every reader to the same degree. I, for example, have yet to be moved sufficiently to read a great many well-established and undoubtedly talented writers.
Hopefully this bodes well for my future as a writer; hopefully I can learn to ride the choppy waters of opinion and criticism without attaching to such things my age-old emotion of shame. If I can avoid doing so, I may just stick to this for the rest of what I am hoping will be a long and trouble-causing life...