Blood. Sweat. Tears.

Happy Unleashing Day!

If that has piqued your interest, then yay, I’m a better marketer than I thought!

Seriously though, today is launch day over on Amazon of my debut novel, Anti-Virus. I can’t quite believe it! I wrote an actual whole book that people in the world can buy and read. I also wrote a book that has had 5 star reviews on Goodreads! Writing a novel has been a dream of mine (sometimes buried for many years) since I was a little girl (my mum probably still has some of my handwritten stories in the Sideboard of Doom in the lounge). Just a few decades later and I have achieved!

Why blood, sweat and tears? Hmmm, well.

There was no actual blood let in the creation of my novel, but lots of red pen was used, that’s for sure. There comes a point when I need to use paper and print off my writing and read it in a different format. That’s where the bad things that have been hiding on screen tend to come into the light (and boy, were there some bad things!). So yes, red pen made a huge appearance at the editing stage (twice).

Sweat? Definitely. I began writing the germ of this novel years ago and then Life happened. I picked it up again pre-pandemic and finished the first full draft at the end of 2019. I was in edit mode and then doubt set in as the pandemic raged. It didn’t feel appropriate to write a dystopian fiction when dystopian fact was consuming the world. However – Anti-Virus isn’t really about a pandemic, not in the way your typical pandemic novels and films go. So I got over that a few months later and set to work. Sweating receded, and here we are.

Tears? For sure. Of frustration at first because I had wanted this novel to be worthy, to mean something, to honour my dad (I’ve written about that before). But then, as the saying goes, you should write the book you want to read. Using an imaginary force to push something that I wasn’t really feeling (and to be honest, I think it would have come across as a diatribe given the mindset I was in at the time) was a good way of stopping me in my tracks. So after that I got on with the novel that really wanted to be written, and Anti-Virus was born.

And so, here we are. It was hard work. It needed discipline, it needed attention, it needed focus. it was both harder and easier than I imagined it would be.

And it was so much fun.

And I’m going to do it again.

My name is Freya and I’m a write-aholic.

The waiting game

My partner has said on more than one occasion that she would hate to be inside my head. Frankly, I don’t blame her.

I find it incredibly difficult to properly relax. I used to think that this was normal, that everyone felt this way, but apparently, this is not true. Go figure.

Take this time right now, the fallow period, if you will. My precious gem of a book baby, Anti-Virus, is with my much-valued ARC readers. I am giving them time to read it, at their own pace. Because we all have lives and commitments, the summer is basically theirs. There isn’t a great deal for me to do for the next couple of months.

My brain is making me feel guilty. For not doing something. God knows, I have no idea what that nebulous something is, but it’s poking at me very regularly for not ‘working’. As if a demanding day job isn’t enough.

‘Do more.’

‘DO MORE.’

‘DO MORE.’

DO MORE.’

I have a small list of things I will need/would like to do before publishing, but it’s small and manageable and…

I DON’T NEED TO DO THEM NOW!

As you can imagine, that only pacifies my brain (which is behaving like a demanding two year old to be fair) for a short while.

I do have a draft of a fantasy novel that is the first in a trilogy (this is how I have always envisaged it). So I’ve printed it out and am about half way through reading it. I’m quite impressed by past Freya. She had some good plot and characterisation going on. It’s definitely got legs. Will it be a trilogy? Do I have the ability to commit to that?

Time will tell.

Pssst… time’s running out! Better get on with it NOW!

Oh, good grief…

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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