Dispatches From The Querying Trenches - January. Guest Blog by Kirsten Hesketh

Posted on 27th January, 2017

This week I am delighted to welcome my friend Kirsten Hesketh back to my blog. Kirsten was here a few weeks ago when I interviewed her about her writing and her experiences submitting her book to agents.


This was a very popular blog interview and Kirsten will now be popping back at the end of each month, for the next six months, to tell us how her writing is progressing and generally keep us up to date.


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Dispatches from the Querying Trenches - January


I was going to make my first article for Susanna light and fluffy. I really was. Something expanding on the DM I sent to my writing chums the first week in January, the one that said, ‘tell me to stop faffing, get off my arse and do something!’ That flippant it’s-the-New-Year-and-I’ve-been-kidnapped-by-Twitter-and-my-word-count-is-going-nowhere’ sort of vibe. You know the sort.


Then something bad happened and I’ve really stopped writing.


Like really, really stopped writing.


I suppose it doesn’t really matter what the bad thing is. In this case, it’s teenage depression - real debilitating, black dog stuff – and it’s heart-breaking to see my child suffer in this way. I’m passionate about bringing mental health into the open, but this isn’t my story to tell so I hope you’ll understand if I leave it at that.


The point of this article is that the bad thing has killed my writing mojo stone-dead.

I can keep things going at home - even though things are a bit ragged around the edges. I can care for my child – my children - to the best of my abilities. I can still work, complete my tax return, fill in my VAT - although luckily I’m going through a quiet patch. I can - by and large - stick to my New Year diet; after all, a healthier me will be better able to cope. I can even passionately promote a mental health petition for a lovely lady who is now a friend; if we can push the numbers up past 10,000 maybe … surely … hopefully everything will be OK.


But I just can’t write. Sometimes I don’t think to, sometimes I don’t want to - it just seems irrelevant. But some of the time, I do want to but feel too guilty to start. If writing was my job, I’d just get on with. But it isn’t. And, surely, instead of crafting the perfect sentence for my WIP, I should be crafting the perfect sentence to cut through the fog and help my struggling child.


So that’s been January for me.


Zero on the writing front.


How does it work for you as an aspiring writer? When bad things happen to you and those you love, do you write more, less, the same or not at all?


Hoping for brighter and lighter days ahead for us all.


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Meet up with Kirsten on Twitter  



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Comments (36)

Such a touching post, Kirsten. Writing takes so much emotional energy, it's no wonder you've been finding it hard. Thank you for being so candid about your life and writing. Wishing you lots of love and happier times ahead for you and your family.
Such a heartfelt post, Kirsten. I feel for you. I do hope that things improve, especially your child's mental health. Congratulations on achieving the milestone number of signatures on the petition. Such a worthy cause that affects so many people. xx
Thanks Susanna. And thank you for the opportunity to appear on your fab blog again. Hopefully I'll have more upbeat post to share in February. And, now - all eyes on you!! I gather from Twitter you have some exciting news to share........... Can't wait ....!! xxx
Congratulations, Kirsten, on your success with the mental health petition. I know how hard you have worked to achieve this milestone. Congrats also on writing such a successful guest blog. As with your blog interview before Christmas, you have touched a chord with many others. Now we're all looking forward to your next blog at the end of February! xx
Just a little update to let you know that the mental health petition I've been supporting has hit 10,000 signatures. Yay!! I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone on here who has asked for the link so that you could sign and RT. It's really appreciated and you are all STARS!! xx Now we just need some celebs to get on board so we can go for the big 100,000!!
Hi Julie, and it's taken me a while to gather my thoughts to reply to your comment! Thank you so much for such a lovely post. It's so reassuring to hear of people who have trodden this road before us and have made it safely through the storm. I think I can see light at the end of the tunnel now and things feel a little brighter. I'm really hoping that I find my writing mojo pretty damn quick or this series of articles for Susanna is going to be very dull. Thanks again for your support and your kindness. Kirsten xx
Carol, thank you for adding your voice to those who are supporting and encouraging Kirsten through this difficult time. Her openness and honesty have brought out such kindness in others - but that is hardly surprising, as writers are a very supportive lot, I find.
Wendy, thank you for taking the time to reply to Kirsten's blog and for sharing your own personal experience. I think the most important thing you said that not to feel guilty, which I know is something Kirsten has struggled with, because she feels that all her energy and efforts should be directed at her home situation. Thank you for your compassionate response.
Thank you, Julie for such a kind and helpful message, which I am sure will touch Kirsten deeply. She has received so much support and encouragement as a result of writing this guest blog. Thank you for sharing your own past experience with your daughter.
It's taken me a while after reading your very brave post to collect my thoughts together and send a reply, Kirsten. I originally started writing as a way of escaping all the difficulties that real life was throwing at me and my family at that time, including how to help my teenage daughter deal with a number of issues she was facing. Since then, I have also had periods when writing seemed too much of a self-indulgence compared to all the other difficulties I was facing but with time and patience, I got past them and I found my mojo again, as I know you will. You can only do so much and you'll know when the time is right for you to write again and when you do, you'll be able to delight in the escape it offers you once more. Wishing you and your family all the very best xx
'Accept what is.' I like that, Carol. Thank you for stopping by and for your lovely, supportive comment. Kirsten xx
Hang on in there, Kirsten. I'm sure many of us have travelled this path and will relate to the stone-dead mojo. Thank you for sharing, not an easy thing to do at all but you are not alone. Be kind to yourself and accept what is - someone told me that once - and it helped. Love and thoughts to you, Carol x
I wanted to say a thank you to all the lovely people who have DM'd me with supportive and encouraging comments and to share your own experiences of teenage depression. I think I've replied to you all personally now. It's so reassuring to know we're not walking this road alone and that things can and do turn around. A big thank you and a hug to you all xx
Oh Wendy - you've absolutely nailed it. Bleak and never-ending is exactly how it feels. A long dark tunnel - although I can definitely see the light at the end of it now. Thank you so much for coming by to write such an empathetic and supportive post and I'm so glad things have worked out so well for your lovely daughter. Love and light to you and your family xxx
Many years ago, when my daughter was a teenager, we entered what I can only think of as 'hell' (it was a different situation to yours). We came through it eventually but the memory of it still lingers.This was long before I started writing but when I was still teaching (luckily part time). I remember how it was hard to think of anything except the situation we were in and it seemed bleak and never ending. No way could I have written a sentence during that time. Fifteen yeas on, my daughter is doing fine, has a job she loves, and is studying for a degree while bringing up three children singlehanded. I still worry about her but never as much as in those teenage years. My advice is: be kind to yourself, don't worry if you can't write as you will have writing days ahead of you when the time is right, if you want to write then that's a lovely bonus and never feel guilty. Sending hugs and good wishes... life will get easier I promise x
We're a weepy duo, Kirsten, as your comment brought tears to my eyes too. Thanks so much for your good wishes about my book release. Please know that as another writer who has gone through some dark times, I'm holding you especially close in thought right now. xxxx
Jen, how lovely you are and what a warm and empathetic post. It made me cry. Thank you so much. I want to try and be honest in my posts for Susanna because - otherwise - what is the point? On another tack, I am so looking forward to reading your debut novel and very many congratulations to you. Hugs xxxx
Jen, how kind of you to send Kirsten such a long and thoughtful message of understanding and encouragement. You are right - each one of us copes in our own way. Some writers will respond to dark times by escaping into their fictional world, while others will find writing just too difficult to contemplate for the time being. Sending warmest wishes to you and English Rose.
Hello, Moira. Thanks for dropping by to offer Kirsten some encouragement. However difficult a situation a writer faces, her/his ability doesn't get lost, even if it hides away for a while. I join you in wishing Kirsten better days ahead.
Thanks, Vanessa, for your comment. I agree with you - it took courage for Kirsten to write this. I think this is why her previous blog interview was such a success - because she was so open and honest.
My heart aches for you, your daughter and your family, Kirsten. As a mum of a daughter with a chronic illness, I appreciate the struggle to keep things going and the toll it takes, both emotional and physical.

For me, writing has always been a refuge from life's darker moments. When I write, I come out of my 'writing cave' more able to cope. However, each of us is different and what works for one writer won't work for another.

The most important thing, though, is not to feel guilty. The situation is what it is and each moment of each day you are doing your best and making the best choices you can.

You're carrying a heavy load so be kind of yourself. Care for yourself too. And when you're ready to write again, even if you only write one word or one short sentence, it will be a start. Whether you're writing at the moment or not, you ARE a writer with important stories to tell.

Thanks for sharing and for your honesty. *Hugs* xx
Thank so much Moira. I'm really hoping February is going to be brighter than January and spring is just around the corner! How does this real life thing work for you - do you find comfort in writing or hide from your WIP? Xx
That's a lovely thing to say, Vanessa, thank you!! How is your writing coming along? And how do you cope when real life gets in the way? Xx
Well done Kirsten. That's a brave and honest account of something that has affected us all I think. Things will, I'm sure, get better. Your writing, your ideas and your mojo are all there waiting for you to return to them. Wishing you love and a hug and better days ahead.
Full of admiration for you, Kirsten, for writing this post. x
Thanks for all your support and for you kind words, Karen xx
So glad you're finding comfort in the writing again, Kirsten. I sometimes stop writing when things are difficult, but on other occasions, it offers a welcome escape from the real world. Here's to a much brighter February for everyone :)
I'm sure that's because you're never grumpy, Catherine!!
Funny how life happens, isn't it?
Not sure that my teens ever notice that I am less grumpy!

How funny that stepping away and writing fact has reopened the door to fiction.
Thank you, Susanna.
I'm so grateful to you for letting me have a home on your lovely blog and I really hope I'll be writing something more upbeat in February.
Lots of love
Oh, thank you Karen - what a lovely, supportive and kind message. I guess different things work for different people. There's no right answer, is there? Now I've started writing again, I'm finding it very comforting and calming which I think helps the whole family!!
What do you do when times get tough? xx
Thank Catherine.
Ah... so I'm not the only one who runs and hides from the WIP when times get tough, eh? That's good to hear!
The funny thing is that writing this article has got me writing again. And then one of the teens said I'm less grumpy when I'm writing ...
You can't win!!
What a lovely, supportive message for Kirsten, Karen. So sweet of you. I imagine there are two types of writer - those for whom, in times of trouble, escaping into the world of fiction feels just plain wrong and those for whom the escape gives them solace.
Oh, Kirsten! I'm not at all surprised you're finding it impossible to write. Sometimes, when life is difficult, to spend time in a fantasy world just seems so silly. Depression is a horrible illness. I hope your lovely teen feels better very soon xxx
Thanks, Catherine. I join you in wishing Kirsten well in how she handles her home situation. It is easy to understand how her writing has stalled recently. She has written so openly and honestly. I'm sure her blog with resonate with many others.
Your sentences are always excellent and I trust that perfect one for domestic use will pop along soon.

As to your question, I hide from the keyboard when things are less than good xx