Those who have been reading Life Diverted will have noticed that the regularity of my postings has been shot to pieces lately. It's been a bad few weeks. In theory, there are three chapters remaining in this first volume, which are all largely written. But it isn't as simple as that, and I hope this blog entry will help readers understand at least a little.
Today is world mental health day, which I only discovered by seeing a post on Facebook. Mental health is very personal to me. No, I'm not in need of a straight-jacket, nor am I on any meds. But I have struggled (mostly unknowingly) with depression and anxiety for much of my life, un-manly though it may be to admit that. One quote I've seen today is that "if we don't act urgently, by 2030 depression will be the leading illness globally." So at least I'm not alone. Anyway, story-writing has been an outlet for me in some ways, but has exacerbated the issue in others. When I began uploading Life Diverted, I wrote in a blog post that I had aborted story attempts many times before. This is why.
Uploading something and waiting to see how readers respond is a very big deal for me. It has been hugely positive to me that thousands have read my story and stuck with it. And much of the feedback was equally anti-anxietal. But for me, the smallest things can have a disproportionate impact. For example, one person recently rated the story as 'not good', the first to do so, which sent me into a downward spiral for hours, despite the vast majority of ratings being very good or better. And when a story that I've enjoyed reading for several years returned recently, the inferiority complex I got from uploading on the same day was just crazy. (And yes, I use that word advisedly!)
Then there's the negative feedback, as recently discussed at length on this site. Obviously, this affects me differently to most other writers. My first piece of highly-critical feedback stopped me from even opening my email program for days. After a few more, I knew I either had to stop writing completely or turn off the feedback function on my account. I went with the latter, obviously, but it means that I sadly no longer get the affirmation of positive feedback either. Nor do I get the constructive suggestions that would help me improve (and believe me, I am only too aware that there is lots of that to be done).
All this is basically a very long 'dog ate my homework' note as to why I haven't uploaded chapter 20 and don't expect the remaining few chapters to be uploaded with any regularity. After the progressively lowering scores of chapters 17-19, I've been spending my available time re-reading things, and I may make some tweaks before I resume uploads. I hope readers will understand that I'm not even remotely soliciting sympathy, but would appreciate your patience while I get my head straight(er).
PS If you don't know much about depression, I'd urge you to read up on it, because you can bet that someone you know will suffer from it at some point.