A quarter of the year has passed, the evenings are getting lighter, and the freaky snowstorms have given way to rain. So much rain. And I can’t help but evaluate my time spent so far in 2018. My word counter tells me I’ve clocked around 20,600 new words of fiction since the new year — probably more than I wrote in 2017 combined — though a busy day-job, a bad cold, and life in general have meant just 300 of those words were written this month and only one short story edited, compared with the three new drafts I’d planned.
I feel guilty about this.
D’you ever think you’re not worth anything unless you’re working and producing because not me nope I feel full of value and am totally not working on 12 things at once while zoning out on Twitter and grinding my teeth.
— Delilah S. Dawson (@DelilahSDawson) March 28, 2018
I know this is due to self-imposed pressure as a result of my WFA — it’s hard not to feel like I owe the community a certain amount of effort in exchange for that honour.
I also know that feeling is a load of rubbish.
I’ve seen quite a few discussions between friends and peers online lately that challenge the idea of progress based on words written, and I would like to echo that. I may have only managed 300 words this month so far, but I did finally edit a short story I wrote back in August and send it out on its submission journey, and I have consumed media which fed my creativity, and I am thinking about and planning the novel I’d like to start this year. All of this is progress. All of this contributes to being a better writer than I was in January. It just doesn’t look like progress in a culture of NaNoWriMo, word counters, and advice to write every day (or you’re not a real writer).
If any of this rings true for you — if you’re in a spiral of not writing and feeling guilt about not writing — know you’re not alone. It’s important to allow for the tinkering we all do, invisibly, in our heads, as well as the consumption of research materials, our favourite media, or even just the time we spend living.
I’ve been writing long enough now to know my own ups and downs are cyclical, and another burst of tangible, identifiable progress is just around the corner. Until then. . .
I finished Gareth L. Powell’s Embers of War — a fantastic start to his new space opera trilogy. It follows the Trouble Dog, a sentient warship-turned-rescue-craft, and her crew as they respond to an SOS in a contested system. I’ve not read much space opera yet, so I can say that not only is it a solid start to the trilogy, it’s also a great introduction to the genre. The universe feels appropriately huge yet structured, and the distances involved give Powell time to layer conflict and characterisations brilliantly before everything kicks off.
I’m very excited to read the next instalment, which I believe is due for release in February 2019.
My current read is Scarlett Thomas’s The End of Mr. Y, which was lent to me by a friend two years ago, so it’s well overdue!
I’ll reserve my thoughts until after I’ve finished it, but it’s been a while since I’ve read a novel with such a strong voice and surprising plot. What I learned of the story from the blurb was dealt with before the halfway point, and it’s now charging headlong into new territory. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something a little weird.
In the next few blog posts, I’d like to look at my editing and plotting processes, because I hope that will be interesting and useful. But for now, take care!