You tell yourself it’s a quiet, hermit period, but then life has other things in mind.
Back in July, I realised that it had been a year since I got back from my trip to the USA, and I was still just plodding through the writing process, just over a third of the way in. In an effort to not be disparaging to myself, I will say that my plan had been to work on the first chunk and polish it so that I could submit to certain places that require the first ~howevermanywords~. I’d been workshopping with my writers’ groups, and figuring out how it would fit together in reality, rather than just a concept. I also put it aside for a month here and there to work on grant applications. All of this is also done outside of my full time job, so, in the spirit of acknowledging the effort I’ve put in, I’d done well to have the first 10,000ish words looking reasonable.
I’d also tried my hand at writing essays on what I’m exploring in the book. There were some competitions to enter; good practice at articulating ideas.
Then, I had a conversation with a publisher friend about the book – not about trying to secure a deal, but to get general advice – and it lit a fire under me. The crux of the advice was, “what you’re writing will be wanted in the market, but don’t send it anywhere until you’ve finished AND polished ALL of it.”
I did some calculations, I had roughly 50k words left to write until I got to the end of the first draft, did more calculations, counted my empty days in my calendar, took a handful of days off work on leave, and aimed to write those 50k in 5 weeks, finishing the first, “vomit draft”, by the end of August.
I pushed myself hard. But the more I wrote, the further away the end seemed. By the end of August, I’d written 55k, bringing the whole draft up to 85k (it was supposed to be 75k at most) and I was just over halfway through the narrative. I was happy with what I’d achieved, but a little frustrated that it was taking me so long. Then, in that last week of August, all my submissions received “unfortunately” emails. One. After. Another. I was knocked off my feet, and fell into a funk that lasted the better part of a week. I honestly felt like the world was telling me that it wanted none of my writing, thankyouverymuch.
I wouldn’t say it diminished my excitement at receiving an advance copy of Everything Under the Moon, but it did have voices in my head saying things like, “The world only wants things from you when you have other people’s names attached. Think of all the rejections you’ve received over the last 15 years. Think of Every. Last. One.”
But, you know what? While I sometimes want to exhaust-quit every other day… I don’t.
I took a weekendmorelikeaweek of disengaging. I played more Diablo 4 than I can account for, and just let it be.
In the meantime, all sorts of things are getting lined up for Everything Under the Moon, and I find myself feeling super busy and getting excited for its release on October 10th. I’ve lined up the launches (yes! Two! Narrm and Eora) and a lot of other things besides. My lovely publicist lets me know of media interviews that are being booked in, and publications which are going to review it. All in all, there’s a lot going on, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.
I found myself wanting to pull the plug on my Patreon, feeling like it was a distraction I didn’t need. But, after touching base with some of the lovely people who support me in that way, I heard how they really enjoy reading my writing, and they’re really happy paying the cost of a cup of tea each month to do so. I know I’m never going to make Scrooge McDuck Swimming Pools from it, but I realised that the fact that there are even a handful of people who look forward to those monthly samples and insights pays dividends in the not-thinking-my-writing-is-worthless department. (That that, brain!)
At the end of the day, writing takes time. Healing takes time. Recouperation takes time. And I’m in this for the long haul. Hope you enjoy joining me for the journey and the good things will happen along the way, and not all of the good things will be in the form of a published book.
The photo I used for this post was taken from the plane as I approached Launceston. My flight had been delayed 4 hours, but I guess views like this were the silver lining on that shamozzle.