My goodness, it’s cold this morning.
It almost doesn’t matter, from my point of view, because what I’ll be doing today is printing out a hard copy of ‘Eldritch’ and going through it – line by line, word by word, syllable by syllable – with a pen. And, of course, I can retire to the coffee shop for this. Full of steam, condensation, and – crucially – other people, I’ll be able to stave off hypothermia in its kind embrace. Yay, say I, for coffee shops. Bastions of culture since the 1700s, and still going strong.
I don’t really want to look too closely at it, but it’s true that I also have before me a handwritten list of things that need to be done before the end of May. Most of them are competitions that I must enter; some are publications whose closing date for submissions is also the end of May. Then, of course, I have ‘Eldritch’, which needs to be gone and out of my mind by the end of May, too. It’s times like this I wish I had three brains. It’s really hard to divide attention between two or three projects and feel like you’re giving all of them your full attention, but I guess this is my lot. Deadlines don’t wait because you’re busy. Life doesn’t wait until you’re ready!
On the upside, my story, ‘Lord of the Land’, was published last night in the most recent issue of ‘Synaesthesia‘ magazine, and I was very happy to see it spring into life. This is the story I was telling you all about the other day, the one which I feel has more of me in it than most of the others I’ve written. Also, there’s a photo of me included at the end (brace yourselves); if you’ve always wondered what sort of head I have on me, well, wonder no more. I actually am a real life person, and not a shiny chrome android randomly hitting a keyboard, which may come as a relief to some of you. ‘Lord of the Land’ also has the dubious honour of being the last piece in my current clutch of ‘forthcoming’ publications for adults. I have one more story forthcoming for children, which will be published in about a week and a half, and after that, I’ll be all out for a while. Unless, of course, I manage to get some more stuff submitted, accepted and thrown out into the world. The cycle begins again.
This is the challenge, and the beauty, of writing, of course. You need to keep up the momentum. You can’t afford to stop once you’ve managed to build up even a small head of steam, and you start feeling the pressure of it quite quickly. It’s not unwelcome pressure, but it’s pressure nonetheless, and self-imposed at that – sometimes, that’s the worst kind. There are no easy answers, either, and no short cuts. I know what needs to be done – my head needs to bend to the grindstone, and no mistake. It’s lucky that I enjoy writing as much as I do, then; a shame, though, that pressure is the death of inspiration.
In any case, those are the challenges (at least, the creative ones!) facing me this week, and for the rest of the month. Seven competitions and/or submission opportunities to enter, one little book to introduce to the potentially unwelcoming world, a children’s book conference to attend (which will be great fun, I hope), and desperate prayers that the stream of ideas and enthusiasm won’t dry up just yet to be said.
If all else fails, I’ll just go out and buy a copy of Dan Brown’s latest potboiler, which is being published today (as anyone into books will surely know); if he can do it, anyone can.
Not, of course, that I’m being sour-grapey, or anything…