Understating the obvious

Well it’s been a while, hasn’t it?! Mind you, you should be used to my somewhat hit and miss offerings of late (ahem, over the past few years…).

Right now I can point towards ‘these unprecedented times’ as my reason (ermmm, excuse). As to my infrequent and erratic appearance during the months and years prior to ‘the current circumstances’, well your guess is as good as mine as to the reasons why. I’m sure there would be overlap, if we chose to compare notes.

One thing that the CoViD-19 pandemic (euphemisms are so over-rated) has does is put a big spanner in the works on the novel that I was editing. Given that its storyline is virus-related (sort of), I just couldn’t get my head in the correct space to continue editing.

I’m not worried about the possible criticism – oh, she used CoViD-19 as an easy inspiration – oh, it’s lazy writing – oh, why would I want to read that after the terrible things that have been happening – oh she is profiting out of others’ grief and misfortune – and so on. Whatever you write, you will always be criticised, there will always be someone who wants to tear you to shreds. And, really, profit? I’m under no illusion that making any kind of living out of writing isn’t guaranteed, especially not these days!

Don’t get me wrong, I am lucky to be able to work from home. I’m also a little less lucky because I have a condition which means I need to shield/self-isolate more than your average person. It’s fine. I’m employed, I can pay my bills, I’m not suffering. But, these changes in circumstance have been a challenge. For those of us not in terrible difficulties (and for that I thank my lucky stars, my ancestors, this good Earth, any heavenly body or otherwise who is listening), this enforced stay at home period has resulted in ups and downs.

For me the downs meant a feeling of near-revulsion for my draft novel. Not because the plot is virus/pandemic related (all is not as it seems, if that’s not too much of a spoiler!), but just because my focus and concentration was suddenly directed elsewhere:

  • where to set up my home office (such as it is)
  • wondering how long before my eyes fell out from squinting at a laptop screen when I normally use two large desktop monitors in the office
  • how many times I would have to reset my printer to hook up with my home WiFi
  • how to set up my new work mobile phone
  • overcoming my revulsion for Skype/Zoom (I really do not like seeing my digital self)

The list could go on and on. I also felt guilty for allowing these, quite frankly, insignificant things to consume me when I could be in a much, much worse situation. Swear words were said, many, many times.

I’m only human. Like many, many others, I had to learn to adapt, to not keep beating myself with an imaginary stick for not making the most of my down-time by writing. But in truth, writing (or rather editing) felt like a bridge too far. Too much mental energy for the amount I had spare after all the work ‘stuff’ and the dark inability to tear myself away from the news as I ate my lunch or ‘relaxed’ after work.

Finally though, I had a breakthrough. Last night, unplanned, I managed to do some editing and amazingly resolved a plot problem that had been haunting me for a long, long time. I was quite surprised, to understate the obvious.

I’m not setting myself a goal for my next breakthrough. There is no deadline. Let’s face it, this novel has been a work in progress for several years, so the latest intermission won’t make much difference. I’m just thankful that I haven’t permanently lost my mojo.

It seems my writerly brain is alive and well, if a little peripatetic at the moment.

Stay safe everyone.

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This-stopia

I have an Instagram account (@freyathewriter). Instagram is an amazing place to be for writers – the community is great. Readers, writers and others that find themselves caught up in the web of the community are having a great, supportive time over there. I bought a book only 11 days ago that was an independent writer’s first publication – and it was excellent. If I hadn’t joined Instagram, I’d likely never have read it. Congratulations to Nicholas Crivac for getting Apotheosis to print. Take a look at his website if you want to know more!

Anyway, I digress. On my Instagram account I got involved in a conversation about how the way the world is at the moment means that any ideas us dystopian writers might develop seem to have been stolen by, or been the inspiration for, various regimes around the world (looking at you, governments of the UK and USA!). It means we have to push our plots further and harder so that they don’t just end up being non-fiction tomes. Having said that, in my experience what it has meant is that the tiny news articles that slip through when we are all being supposedly distracted by the latest scandal (which seem to focus very much on the Royal Family these days) have been the jumping off point for some quite interesting and unexpected plot twists. I can’t decide whether to be pleased or horrified at my schadenfreude. It just goes to show, we are all a messy mix of light and shade.

This takes me to my next point (I did have a plan for this blog post, honest). I’m so focused on my burgeoning novel that other writing is taking a back seat. I’m in the throes of my first edit of my book. It’s both challenging and revealing and I find that I edit best with a cup of coffee, under the duvet, in bed (who knew?). I wonder if it’s because it reminds me of when I was a law student and the only way I could have access to all the law books I needed when writing and studying (it was before the internet!) was by spreading them out on my bed? Anyway, once I’ve made some more editing progress my flash fiction and poetry brain cells will kick back in. I do have a list of ideas, inspirations and whatnot, I just don’t want and can’t get too distracted by them for now. I used to contribute a lot to DVerse and I want to get back into that, definitely. It too is a fun place to be.

Which takes me to my final point, which is a bit of a shout out to Helena Hann-Basquiat. She too has been off the radar for a bit (I think the youth across the pond are still saying ‘a hot minute’), but I am reliably informed because I follow her and comment on her blog posts (not stalkery at all), that she is also getting back into the writing gig. I’m so pleased because (a) she’s a brilliant writer and (b) because I reaaaaaally enjoyed being part of the Jessica collaboration back in 2014. it appears that the final book in the trilogy is in the works. All being well I can unleash my really dark side on a bloody slice of this final book, if she still intends to go down the collab route with it. I have a dark dystopian soul and an even darker horror soul. And then there’s my fantasy soul too which is really quite a doozy. Anyway, all hail Helena. I’m looking forward to working with you, if you’ll have me.

There. I think I’ve written all I wanted to for now. I intend to be here on a weekly basis, every weekend, all being well. I’ll be in my dressing gown and PJs, allthough you won’t see that – or will you? Who knows who is watching and by what method?

We are in This-stopia after all…

 

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SoCS Jan 4/20 – Tap tap tap

‘Ow!’

That’s what my brain is thinking as I stare at the computer screen yet again, and begin tapping away at my laptop – yet again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed my break from work over the festive season, relaxed, eaten tasty food, cooked tasty food, had lie-ins, all the usual ‘stuff’ as we’ve hunkered down against the short hours of daylight at this time of year. BUT (and it’s a big but, hence the shouty capitals!), I’ve also been working very hard.

Thankfully, it’s been pleasurable work. The only person standing over me and wagging a judgemental finger has been my inner taskmaster (and believe me, she is quite the taskmaster!).

Also thankfully, I have finished said work – at 6.37am on 28th December to be exact. I was so excited, I posted about it on my Instagram account – @freyathewriter

By the way, the writing community over there is absolutely lovely. I only joined to see if there was such a thing as a writing community – and there is! It’s been a happy accident to find friendly and encouraging fellow writers.

Anyway, the work that I’ve been, errr, working on (use your vocab, Freya!) has been the first draft of my dystopian novel. Quite wisely I think, I’ve taken a few days since completing it to have a break so that when I start my editing, I’ll see it with fresh eyes. At this stage, I’m looking forward to it – although I recognise that I might think differently at some point in the future!

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It’s time for Stream of Consciousness Saturday where the lovely Lynn invites us to write using a word that includes ‘ingle’ – I just added an M!

Please do join us to read, or let your mind wander and join in!