The slough of despond


I don’t know where the last month has gone. I honestly don’t. All I know is that I’ve been so scheduled, pressured and snowed under by work of so many different kinds, that I’ve barely had a moment to think.

I started using the MS Office calendar to block in the big rocks of my life, so I knew where I needed to be and when. It works much, much better than my written diary, though obviously is not quite so portable. Keeping the two broadly synchronised is a nightmare . . . but all in all a worthwhile exercise. I particularly like the ‘recurrence’ function . . . it’s magic when it comes to putting in regular activities . . . . hmmmm . . . I’m wondering if I could synchronise it with the calendar on my mobile? (Yeah, right, like I have time to play around with that . . . )

It is, however, a two edged sword. When I make a list of all my current projects and activities, and break them out and schedule them in, I’ve got work for the next six months just to manage the current pile. That doesn’t take account of any new and shiny exciting things coming through the door or into my head, and I *know* I’ve got a new novel to write. How that will fit with things like the regular non-fiction slot and the write/submit a short every other week I’m not quite sure. What I have found is that I’m immediately stressed if I start missing on the schedule. I’ve kind of addressed that by building in some time off each week, but I’m still slipping – at least in part because I’m not keeping to the schedule . . .

I’ve just done a big re-read and final tweak of the Anneth story, in preparation for it going into crit group in January. I only meant to do the final few chapters, but ended up doing the whole lot. I am pleased with the end result, I think it is much improved (again) . . . . each cycle through that story has showed me how much I’ve progressed as a writer since it’s sad and sorry first draft, when coherent plotting was a mystery to me.

And now I’m deeply involved in planning for the next novel, which I don’t think I will even start until April, but I *so* needed some playtime as opposed to relentless slog.

The non-fiction is kind of OK – I seem to have found a niche at Seven, but I’m not entirely sure that writing more journalistic pieces is really where my heart lies. I think I will continue to do one on a monthly basis, and perhaps trying to get round more markets, but I don’t think I have either the interest or dedication to pursue it.

Fiction is where my love lies.

Sadly, not even the faintest whiff of success around that.

The story out every other week is more-or-less on track, and has been going now since September. So, of course, I’m starting to get forlorn, broken-winged hopeless things crumpling through my letterbox and into my inbox. I know that the rejections are all part and parcel of the apprenticeship, but it sure is painful. I feel like a boxer who has been hit so many times I’m drunk on the pain, but I’m still standing there, weaving from side to side, with blood all over my face, saying “that didn’t hurt. you gotta try harder than that. Come on, hit me again”. It’s difficult to pick myself up, dust off the poor things and send them out into the big cruel world again. I hope I get a success soon. It’s getting a bit demoralising.

But, I’m confident that my writing is improving, and I got the merest sniff of hope today. I got a rejection from MsLexia for a short I sent in for their ‘New Writing’ feature. Yes, a rejection. But on the up side, I made the final shortlist of 60, of which c13 made the cut and will be published. It makes me feel just a little less hopeless, and that perhaps there might be a silver lining to this particular cloud of rejection.

Next step, review story, see if I can work out where it’s weaknesses are. Fix them. Send it out again. Forget it and move on.

Fingers crossed, eh?


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