Decay

As I mentioned last week, the editing process for my work in progress novel came to a halt round about the beginning of lockdown here in the UK. I know I’m not alone in suddenly feeling like I just couldn’t be creative, at least not in a literary way.

I felt like the words had been sucked out of me, also not uncommon in what is now known as ‘these unprecedented times’. However, peculiar to my novel was the oh so ironic title of…

ANTI-VIRUS

Now, whilst my novel is set in the UK and takes place in a pandemic-type setting, the central plot isn’t about the pandemic itself (not really), nor is it about finding a cure (well, maybe it is), nor is about the heroic survival of a selection of characters against the odds (although perhaps it is). There is jeopardy, there is intrigue, there are twists and turns and characters who turn out to be, well, wrong in the head, but

IT’S NOT ABOUT A PANDEMIC! (EVEN THOUGH IT IS, KIND OF)

Sorry for shouting. It’s just that I had to do this to myself (in my head, I don’t actually shout at myself) in order not to let my novel shrivel up and die and become a largely insignificant – in the grand scheme of things – casualty of 2020. As you can probably tell, it’s complicated. I just didn’t have the energy to explain it back in March, April, May when things were really bad here (although not Anti-Virus bad).

That, dear reader, saved my novel, or at least meant that I felt connected enough to return to my literary offspring before the end of the year. It also meant that my pandemic era, government-approved, one hour walks turned into treasure hunts – if you consider treasure to be sinister, ugly broken things that are menacing in monochrome. Luckily I do. Also luckily I live in a city where there are pockets of these places tucked away, if you look hard enough. I am nosey and curious, so I have found them. I also found a new source this morning, a full seven months later, which pleases me immensely.

I know that this post is somewhat a reiteration of last week’s, but it’s important to me. I look to my left and I can see that I have increased my word count in the editing process. That, in this case, is a good thing. I mostly wrote Anti-Virus on my commutes to and from work, so in hour long snippets. This meant the writing was quite spare and my chapters were more like scenes – in-fact it read a bit like a screenplay. The extra 10,000 words (so far) are contextual so that there is more description of the world in which my characters exist. Not so much that there’s no room for imagination, but enough so that it doesn’t read as if everything is happening in an empty space.

I’M EXCITED!

Next week I’ll move on from the ‘thank God I didn’t let my novel die’ phase. But I’ll still be hunting for more photographic treasure, you can be sure of that!

Revamping and revisiting – and some focus

Well, yet again, its been a while. That’s what a global pandemic does to you, or at least to me. I haven’t been completely absent though, just mostly from here.

It’s a weird old life, being a writer when you’re not actually doing much writing. Imposter syndrome for the win! Thank goodness that I have a day job that pays the bills and that hasn’t suddenly been obliterated by the joy that is 2020. I am very lucky.

When I finished my first draft of my dystopian novel at the end of 2019, the whispers of a potential pandemic were making the news. And then, Happy New Year, it became a reality in all its deadly and devastating force. What a treat.

I had just completed my first draft with the joyous and ridiculously apt title of

ANTI-VIRUS

I have a particularly dark and twisted sense of humour but I felt it was less than appropriate to promote my achievement against the backdrop of a pandemic, even though my book isn’t really focused on a pandemic, not really. Explaining that technicality felt way too complicated and exhausting as we began, country by country, to go into lockdown to save lives. So I put my word-swaddled literary baby to one side. For. Bloody. Months.

Instagram saved me, surprisingly. Posting themed photos hinting at the background to my plot, wrapping up each post with the phrase ‘Welcome to the world of Anti-Virus’ during this time has kept my silently screaming baby alive in my head and also the heads of my followers, who have asked me, quite regularly, ‘When is it due?’. (The baby analogy stops there, you’ll be pleased to know).

I have returned to editing with a vengeance now that the new normal has, because humans are adaptable, become more normal, even if it’s not the old normal. I have set up a dedicated space for editing with a new, surprisingly reasonably priced desk, under the window in my spare bedroom. It helps when you don’t have to keep moving your notebook, sticky notes and other inspirations from one place to another. This is the first time I have written at a desk and boy, does this writing lark feel more ‘real’ now. Environment is important, clearly.

And yesterday’s nudge from one of my Instagram followers has focused my mind on when to aim for publication, and also to promoting my novel, because I am damn proud of it. I have a vision of it, a vision for it and it deserves to be read.

I have added my Instagram feed to my website – do take a look. It will give you a sense of the background to the plot. It will drop some hints, it will give you a photographic insight into how my characters are forced to live in their dystopian world. All the imagery is my own. Oh yes, and I’ve updated my ‘About’ info. It was more than time.

I will be using this platform, my website, to discuss my progress, my trials, my tribulations, my successes and will include some Anti-Virus inspired flash fiction and poetry along the way.

This is when I plan to publish

2021

Fancy joining me for the ride?

Rotten Borough – dVerse

I want to connect with you, deep down inside

but I’m deeply disturbed by your tissue of lies,

in front of others, you’re polished and sleek –

you manage to obscure just what hides beneath.

You’ve done it before, the veneer has been fine

and your gift of the gab has played tricks with my mind.

You’ve courted, persuaded, played to my tune,

dazzled and sparkled, my energy’s consumed.

Resistance is futile, you believe in your power

whilst my boat of lost hope is bound to founder

on rocks of persuasion; as politicians stand

I can’t help but wondering – are we all damned?

IMG_1541

———-

This week, on dVerse Meeting the Bar, Karin has asked us to write in slant, or near rhyme, which I enjoy both reading, and writing. I’m posting early and linking up to Karin’s post later, as I will be hot-footing it to the polling station to vote in the European elections. As you can see from my poem, I do wonder at the sanity of it all, but better to vote than not at all, that’s not in question. My personal politics, other than ones I have shared before on the future of our planet are not for here, but I imagine you have a fair idea of the sorts of things I really can’t abide.

By the way, the title of my piece, ‘Rotten Borough’, is the name that was used for parliamentary boroughs or constituencies in the UK which had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain undue influence in the House of Commons until the Reform Act of 1832, which disenfranchised them. For example, Old Sarum in Wiltshire had 3 house, 7 voters and 2 Members of Parliament! See Wikipedia for more examples!

Please pop over to dVerse to see how others have risen to the slant rhyme challenge – I will be hooking up and linking up later!