Taking Stock

I feel I should have written a post in the New Year, to talk about resolutions and hopes for the future. But all that seems a bit trite when I look round at the world, so I didn’t.

It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking in very polarised ways though. No longer can we have a day where we feel a bit ‘meh’ without starting to feel melancholy and alone and HOLY FUCK WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE WORLD. Or, if it’s a good day, it’s suddenly a great day, compared with the former.

I’m trying to take each day at a time.

Writing-wise, I’m doing okay. I’ve written a few pieces, edited some others and have a few submissions that I’m waiting to hear on. I signed a contract with Fox Spirit Books and they were on my “things that’ll make me feel super-happy as a writer” list, so yay!

I somehow, finished a novella in December. That’s writing one, not reading. It’s sat at just under 18,000 words and whilst it’s not what I intended to write for NaNoWriMo and overshot by about three weeks, I’m ecstatic. And that’s for several reasons:

  1. I don’t write longer than about 4,000 words normally and after 5,000 feels like it’s pulling teeth, so 18K is huge.
  2. I pantsed most of the first half. I had a weird night’s sleep and sat in the bath the next day, thinking back through and asking “what if?” and from that, started developing an idea. I sat down and just started writing, setting rough word count goals.
  3. Halfway through, I realised I’d need to plot it properly before I did an ‘Inception’ on myself with memory layers and recall. That meant going back and sorting a few plot holes. Then, there was the major gaping plot maw that nearly had me giving up. I didn’t. I worked it out.
  4. It’s still in the very early stages — with a beta-reader and my writing mentor — once it’s back from them with, I’m hoping, constructive feedback on plot, sticky sections etc… I can go back through scene by scene and turn the tell into show. That will add a few thousand words but at that point, I know the story is strong.
  5. It’s a mashup of genres. I started with some folklore ideas and knew it would be sci-fi but it’s part pastoral and part cyberpunk, amongst other things.

Health-wise, I overstretched myself in December and ended up in a lot of pain and with limited mobility. It led to me over-promising and under-delivering on work deadlines. Anyone who knows me know this isn’t me.

I took a week off between Christmas and New Year and did… basically nothing. I gave myself time to get back to myself and worked out what I wanted in terms of a balanced life going forward.

I’ll never be able to do anything at normal speed or tick off my to-do list at the pace I’d like, but I now have buffers built in to my week. So, if I have a day like today when it took me a fair few minutes to get up the stairs, that’s okay. I have the time and space to do that and not feel I’m missing out, letting someone down or panicking over workload. It helps I have great clients.

And I have weekends, too. I’ve had the headspace to get into the kitchen and get creative. So far, my waistline is enjoying hot water crust pastry pork pie for weekday lunches, and last night I ate my bodyweight in homemade gyoza.

One of the things that has happened over the past near-year is that I’ve made some brilliant friends. We video chat on a semi-regular basis and without lockdowns, we’d have been less good friends or been those ships that pass in the night. I’m so glad to have a fantastic group of people who are all there for each other.

The world will never go back to how it was but hopefully this year we’ll get a quick vaccine rollout. It means we’ll be able to laugh, cry, hug, touch and be fully human in each others’ presence again. This thought alone gives me hope.

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