Some of you might have noticed I’ve been very quiet online recently and I apologise for that. Things have been a bit tough and I haven’t been able to keep on top of much. A few posts ago I spoke about suffering from anxiety related to my day job. Unfortunately that didn’t get better, in fact it got worse until I hit breaking point.
I don’t want to go into it further but I’m no longer in that job and am instead looking for something new and less awful for my health. A bit scary but definitely the right decision. Learn from my mistake and take your mental health seriously. And by seriously, I mean keep an eye on it. I still find it hilarious that the anxiety pills I’ve been put on have the common side effect of NIGHTMARES. I still think laughing at things is the best medicine.
Don’t let things get bad if you know they’re going that way. Don’t pretend that nothing is wrong, that everything will get better if you just persevere. Listen to the signs.
Anyway, my point is I quit my job yesterday and had my best night sleep in two months last night. Time for a fresh start, a more suited job, and a bucket tonne of writing. And hopefully after a couple of weeks of recovery, a more myself me.
Take care of yourselves, everyone.
One of the hardest things about writing is worrying about appeasing everyone. It’s an important and difficult lesson that needs to be learned – one I’m still struggling with. You can’t please them all. No matter how much you try.
When someone dislikes some aspect of your story, that doesn’t mean it’s not good. It could be that it’s just not for that person. No story is for everyone. We all have different hopes and expectations for things, and sometimes there are people who are just not going to like your thing. No reason. It’s just not for them. And that sucks but it’s important to remember that it’s because we’re all different.
Take the example of me and one of my co-workers. He likes expensive things. He comes to his day job wearing a suit that is—and I know I’m fond of hyperbole, but this isn’t—worth more than everything I own put together. The other day he complimented me on my jacket and I yelled “TWELVE QUID FROM PRIMARK” and moonwalked out of the room like I’d just won the lottery. I get embarrassed if I think I’ve spent too much on something. My co-worker on the other hand wouldn’t be seen dead in a £12 coat. The things we brag about are polar opposites.
What’s my point? Just that everyone is different. The things people enjoy or respect or whatever can be completely inverse to yourself for no other reason than that’s who they are as a person. So it’s important to remember that while, if you’re trying to get published, we need to write stories that audiences will like, there is no way whatsoever to write a book that everyone will like.
All we can really strive for is to write something that we like, so long as it’s not hurting anyone*, and hope some other people out there like it too. Because really, if you’re too worried about making it for other people rather than for yourself, you won’t be enjoying it as much.
It’s hard, hard advice but we all need to remember that someone, somewhere, will hate my story no matter what I do. And that’s okay.
*There’s a different between writing that something that someone might not like and something that is misrepresenting and harming marginalized groups. There are loads of great articles out there about writing characters you might not have any first-hand experience of. As always, research is your friend!
Just a short—and late!—post from me this time.
The process of writing a novel is a long, difficult and tiresome thing. It can be very easy to lose inspiration, especially when life outside your writing is hard. There are a few little things that I find are great for injecting a little of that passion back and there was a particular one that I was reminded of today.
It can often feel like all this time I spend pounding away at the keyboard doesn’t produce anything. I don’t end up with anything tangible after and sometimes when things are tough that can make it easy to forget the final product.
Today though, in preparation to start my final phase of Through the Black edits, I printed that sucker out. I very rarely actually print my work, partly because nothing ever feels finished enough to waste the paper on and partly because I’m convinced that all printers are out to get me. I was reminded of just how amazing it feels to hold that work in your hand, to flick through the pages you’ve worked so hard on all these years. Even just a print out for scrawling across can be enough to remind me both what I’m working towards and what it’s come from.
So if you’re feeling a little disillusioned with your writing, maybe try printing out a chapter or two and have a read. Touch the words, smell the paper. It might just give you that little boost you’re looking for.
Suddenly it’s September. How on Earth did that happen? I have no idea but it’s terrifying. We only have two months before the madness of NaNoWriMo starts again and I still haven’t decided what I’m going to work on. I have so many open projects that I don’t want to start a new one and make the pile even bigger. What I’d like to do this year is work on a draft of something I’ve already started and, as I generally use NaNo events as a break from my main projects, I won’t be looking at Twyned Earth.
The three projects currently fighting for my attention are The Fishperer, One Dead Prince and War of the Heavens. Each has their pros and their cons.
The Fishperer is the shortest of the projects and I have a pretty much complete rough draft. Choosing this one is the quickest path to getting another MS that I wouldn’t be horrified to show anyone. I’m worried the story is a bit naff but I love the world and the characters are, in my opinion at least, hilarious.
One Dead Prince has the benefit that I’ve been working on it most recently so a lot of its issues are fresh in my mind. It’s neatly spilt into four sections, each of which is roughly 50k words so I could aim to edit one of them. The only issue is I’d have a lot of work on the build up to November as I’d need to re-read and make extensive notes on 215,000 words to know what I needed to do to it. It’s a big and very messy draft in need of a lot of attention.
Finally there’s a project I’ve not spoken about very much recently but that’s not for a lack of passion for it. Somehow it just always seems to get nudged out by something else. War of the Heavens is the project that first got me back into writing as I was in my last year of university and as with ODP it’s a big one. However unlike the other two this one still doesn’t have a complete rough draft, which means I’d get to do some actual writing done instead of just editing. Given how most of the year has been spent working on edits, it’s a very tempting thought. It also wouldn’t take as much prep work as either of the other two as I already have chapter plans typed out.
Right now, I’m leaning towards War of the Heavens because that poor project has been pretty neglected over the last couple of years. Plus, as I was half way through transferring it to Scrivener last time I looked at it, it’s in a bit of a state so it’s really about time I fixed that. I’ve still got a few weeks before I need to start prep anyway. Let’s just hope I don’t get stuck by a dreaded Shiny New Idea like I did last year.
Are you starting to think about NaNoWriMo this year? What plans, if any, have you cooked up?
Portrait of Sharneth Vix’sear
Story: Twyned Earth series, first appearance in Through the Black.
Protagonist or Antagonist?: Protagonist
Name: Sharneth Vix’sear
County of Origin: Thikrek
Occupation: First Voice of the Vix’sears
Loyalties: Those who have proven their worth
Goal: To preserve peace
Morals: The needs of the many matter most. Often dark things must be done in the name of what is right.
While exploring a suspicious rock formation, Sharneth and her mate discover that someone is trying to shatter the thousand-year long treaty that has protected her people from the horrors of the past. Thrust into an alien world unlike anything she ever imagined, her mate wounded and the shadows of war gathering, she must unlearn all her prejudices and side with some of the very creatures she fears in order to stop the worst period in her people’s history from repeating itself.
And strange, strange creatures they are.
So, the new job has been throwing curve balls and things have been pretty rough. I’ve been writing a little on weekends but not a lot. There’s been some big upheaval and uncertainty and thanks to that I’ve been hugely stressed out. I’ve been dealing with anxiety pretty much constantly and must admit that I’ve been struggling.
This week though, after work, I’ve been writing. And not just sitting forcing out a couple of lines from a brain made of mush. I’ve had a proper good writing sessions.
I’m finally starting to settle into the new job and getting better at handling things. And so I finally have the energy to stick bum in chair and face the screen. It’s really hard to not be able to do the thing you love because of something you have to do, especially when it’s something that makes you anxious and unhappy. I’m moving through that though and things are looking up.
Unfortunately right on the heels of this I’ve received another short story rejection but I’m not going to let that get me down. Regaining the ability to write at all feels like too much of an achievement and I’m happy with just that.
Not to mention, if you’ll have a look to your right at the progression widget, you’ll see that Through the Black edits are now OVER 50% COMPLETE! We’re over the hump now and as I get more and more settled in with the new job I’m hoping things are just going to keep rolling!
Also next week we should be back to proper blog posts instead of just me grumbling! Huzzah! They might even make it out on time. What on Earth next?!
I’ve been very quiet online for the past week and that’s because of the continuation of my massive life upheaval. As some of you know, three weeks ago I moved from my little town in the Highlands south to the big city. As of Monday, I also started my new job. As such I haven’t had much time for anything other than working, commuting and collapsing into an exhausted heap when getting home. New jobs are like that. Loads of information, meeting dozens of new people, new places and being so far out of a carefully crafted comfort zone. On the plus side, I’ve watched a lot of Voyager.
On the downside I’ve missed a whole week of writing from tiredness alone. Good job I used my time off well. Still, I have survived the first week which is usually the worst. I’m hoping that next week I’ll handle things better and be able to actually get some writing done.
It’s a bit of a downer having to neglect the thing that I love because of the day job but in the end it will be worth it. I’m already loving living here and the new experiences and people this opportunity is opening me up to will vastly increase the knowledge I can draw upon for writing with. People and experience are research tools that can’t really be replaced. Plus, I’ve already got a couple of boxes of tea sitting ready for cracking on next week.
Also, since this post is apparently more about my boring life than actual writing, I got a place in a Pokémon gym yesterday, so that was nice. I was knocked out again in the five minutes it took me to get home but I shall treasure that screenshot forever.
Are any other writers out there facing massive upheaval? How do you handle the changes and balance your writing?