Tag Archives: motivation

Whistlestop Weekend

Well.

What a weekend that was.

Over the past three days, I’ve travelled hundreds of miles, met my brand-new baby cousin, attended a fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society (which involved several friends having their heads shaved/chests waxed/hair dyed various colours, and which can still be supported here for a short while), and tried to catch up with as many friends and family as possible all in a very tight space. It was fantastic, and just what I needed, and I enjoyed every second.

But, whoa. Now I have to turn around and function, for five whole days in a row? Sheesh.

If anyone wants me, I'll be on the couch... Photo Credit: abbamouse via Compfight cc

If anyone wants me, I’ll be on the couch…
Photo Credit: abbamouse via Compfight cc

The good news is, I made a substantial start into a new WiP last week, mostly on a whim. It came out of my ‘cataloguing’ urge, which I mentioned the other day, and I was so overwhelmed with enthusiasm for one particular idea that I thought I may as well just start writing it. Now, what may well happen is that it stutters to a halt again in another few days – but perhaps it won’t.

And the important thing is, I enjoyed writing it. I’m only about 5,000 words in, but I’ve already begun to create a world with its own systems and class structures and economy, and a family who struggle with money and ill-health and hard work, and a curious hero who wants to step out from under his big brother’s shadow, and a brave heroine with her own family to support who falls foul of a too-tempting opportunity. Part of the exhilaration of this point in a project is discovering what sort of ‘voice’ to use – I had started this WiP in an entirely different sort of voice, using a dramatic and tense omniscient narrative style, only to find after a chapter that it wasn’t working very well. It was making things seem leaden and dull, when what I wanted was for there to be a light, sparky, almost cheeky feel to the tale, as befits my curious hero. So, I started again with that in mind, and from the very first scene – when the older brother boots the younger out of bed long before dawn in order to begin their day’s work – there’s more humour and dynamism and three-dimensionality to their relationship, their dialogue, and the story.

I still might find myself beginning from scratch. This is always a possibility. But gradually I’m trying to understand that beginning again, and again, and again, isn’t a sign of weakness in writing. It’s a sign of strength, and a developing sense of quality control. If I know something isn’t ‘right’, or isn’t working, then the only responsible thing to do is reconsider, and if that means starting again then so be it. Sometimes, a story will be at the back of your mind, gradually taking shape, but the images and ideas that dance in front of your eyeballs and come sizzling down your fingers are slightly less refined and complete than the larger story arc itself. Enthusiasm has a lot to do with this, as does inexperience, but neither of these are bad things. They can lead to some wondrous and unexpected connections and plot developments.

They can also lead to false starts and frustrated re-writes, but that’s all part of the fun. Right?

Not including The Eye of the North, which is at an advanced stage in development, I have ten ideas (some partially written, some existing only in fragmentary form, and at least one of which has been drafted, but which will in all likelihood never see the light of day), and sometimes, when I get panicked that I will never write another good word and that my only novel is behind me (and believe me, these days happen with paralysing frequency), I remember that I have these ideas, queuing, waiting for their time to ripen and be written. Cataloguing them, as I did during last week, really helped me to focus, and to see that the ideas are all quite different, not just in content but in how I imagine them on a page (for it’s important to always have an ‘end product’ in mind, in order to keep yourself motivated if nothing else). Some are long chapter books for 8+ readers, and some are shorter works which I can imagine as highly illustrated stories for slightly younger readers, and some have a historical focus, and some are entirely fantastical, and some have magic in them and some don’t. It’s really easy to convince yourself that you’re not having good, or any, ideas, and that if you are having some that they’re stupid, and it’s really important to vanquish that sort of mindset as early into your writing career as you can. Writing lists helps me; maybe something else will help you. It’s up to each writer to find their own path through the tangled forest which chokes out all the life and strength from their fictional worlds. None of the ideas on my list may ever be completed, but even if they’re never written, I know one thing: They’re not stupid.

And another thing: I’m going to give them all the best fighting chance I can.

So, off I go, into the unknown. It’s a new week, and time to make the most of every second of writing time I can get. If you’re joining me on the path, good luck and happy travels!

Getting There

Sometimes it can be hard to remember that life’s about the journey, not just the destination.

Particularly, of course, when stuff like *this* is going on... Image: theguardian.com

Particularly, of course, when stuff like *this* is going on…
Image: theguardian.com

Trying to forge a career in writing can be exhausting. It’s certainly long-haul, and trying to perfect your craft sucks down the hours of your life so fast that you don’t even notice them whizzing by. It can be hard to keep going sometimes when it feels like all you’re doing is (as my mother would say) ‘throwing biscuits to a bear’ – no matter what you do, nothing seems to change. You keep submitting, you keep writing, you keep trying, and nothing comes back in return.

But we keep going anyway. Why? Because we love the act of writing, of creating a piece of work from nothing, of watching an idea that previously existed only in skeletal form somewhere inside our minds taking shape on a page and turning into a full-blooded Story. Or, at least, we should.

Writing in order to become rich in a speedy manner is simply foolish, yet – from what I hear – many people still believe that writing a book is a fast-track, one way ticket to wealth and fame. I follow a lot of blogs and Twitter feeds where I pick up advice not only on the art of writing, but also on the art of creating a career as a writer, and something I read last week which has stuck with me is the following (highly redacted, and heavily summarised) story:

Once, there was a writer. They lived in an ordinary house, with two or three cute but ultimately ordinary dogs. They may have had up to four (beautiful and dearly loved) children. They got to a certain age and thought: ‘Hey. Instead of just reading all these books, why don’t I write some? There’s got to be a buck or two to be made in that game. Right?’ So, they bought one of these:

Image: site.xavier.edu

Image: site.xavier.edu

They sat down at their brand-new writin’ machine, and they started to bash out a story. Night after night they laboured, until at some point up to a month later they had a story, approximately 178,000 words long, which they thought was wonderful. Their hairdresser read the first chapter and wept (with amazement? Envy? Who knows); their friends all told the writer how brilliant they were to have done something as fabulous as write a book. ‘It was so easy!’ the writer said. ‘You should all do it!’

So, the writer bundled up their manuscript, penned a floral and extravagant introductory letter describing their book as ‘Barbara Cartland meets Catherine Cookson meets Stephenie Meyer,’ and ‘a work of genius,’ doused it in perfume, and sent copies to every major publisher and agent in their country – whether or not they accepted unsolicited submissions, and whether or not they represented the sort of work this undaunted writer had produced.

Then, our writer friend sat back and waited for the big bucks to roll in.

They may also have thought, rather smugly, ‘Not everyone would be intelligent enough to take the easy way out, like me. Suckers.’

Image: fstop57,com

Image: fstop57,com

But, sadly, the writer never heard back from the majority of the places to which they’d submitted their laboriously created novel. From others, they heard stock rejections. From yet others, they received letters thanking them for their effort, and making suggestions as to how they could improve and resubmit.

The writer took this as a blind and idiotic refusal to accept the towering magnitude of their genius, and wrote excoriating letters to each and every publisher and agent to whom they’d previously submitted, lambasting them for not spotting said genius. ‘You’ll be sorry when I’m a multi-millionaire,’ they wrote, in red pen. ‘Just watch!’

And so, they self-published their magnum opus.

And nobody – besides their friends, their mother and the lady who worked behind the counter at their local cake shop – bought it. Nobody read the whole thing. The writer didn’t even have the joy of discussing their work with anyone else, because the book was unreadable.

This writer didn’t write for love of words. They weren’t interested in crafting a story until it’s as good as it can be. They didn’t want to hear constructive criticism, and they didn’t want to be told that there were ways in which to improve. Their first draft was the only draft, in their eyes. Why tamper with perfection?

This person is not a writer, in my opinion. They are what we term in Ireland ‘a chancer,’ out to chase a quick payday without having put in any effort.

But their biggest mistake?

Not listening to the agents who wrote back with constructive feedback and tips on how to make their book work.

Agents are busy people. They don’t typically take time out to help writers if they don’t see something – even something tiny – which is worth nourishing. They’re also interested in a writer’s career, not just helping them bring forth one blockbusting, moneymaking book which will see them both retiring to the Bahamas. Agents do their job because they love finding the right book for the right publishing deal, and because they love discovering something new. If our writer had managed to see beyond their own ego and had listened to the agents’ advice, things could have been very different.

Image: fanaru.com

Image: fanaru.com

The point of all this is: I have received another ‘rejection’ from an agent, but I use the word ‘rejection’ lightly, as the agent is interested in helping me to live up to my own potential.

An agent thinks I have potential.

I haven’t reached my destination yet, but it’s good enough, for now.

**

I just wanted to say a quick ‘thank you’ to everyone who took the time to sympathise with me after yesterday’s post. I had many messages, most of them on Facebook, expressing sorrow for the loss of my friend, and I am profoundly grateful for each one. Please keep his parents, his brothers and his fiancée in your thoughts, particularly on February 23rd which is the date his memorial service will be held. Thank you all for your kindness.

Proof Of My Silliness

As if you needed proof, right?

So, it’s NaNoWriMo, as we know. I have a project to complete, as we also know. Other stuff that I knew, but which perhaps I should’ve taken into account when deciding to bash my details into the NaNoWriMo sign-up page included:

The fact that it’s my dad’s birthday this month;
The fact that it’s
my birthday this month;
The fact that my husband is taking several days’ leave this month;
The fact that I have at least two medical appointments this month; and, last but by no means least:
The fact that I have no fewer than three really important family things to attend – yes, you’ve guessed it – this month.

Image: likeablequotes.com

Image: likeablequotes.com

Over the weekend, I attended a (very fun, and wonderful in every way) birthday party for one of my dearest and oldest friends. I got to see so many people – some of whom I hadn’t seen for ages – and much laughter and catching up was had. We also visited my husband’s aunt and uncle, and that was great too. The silliness in all this, of course, kicks in when one considers that I also knew about all this before I signed up to NaNoWriMo.

So.

I am, at the moment, trying to do several things simultaneously, all of which are vitally important. I am attempting to do them all in the one month so far this year when I have the least time. It’s definitely silly. It’s even perhaps a little on the ditzy side. But you know what else it is?

It’s great.

Image: kwasistudios.com

Image: kwasistudios.com

It’s a privilege to have friends and family to spend time with, and it’s great to have so much to celebrate. (The medical appointments aren’t so much fun, but we’re not thinking about those, right? Right.) It’s also fantastic to be busy, and to have so many opportunities to submit and create work. Having said all that, I still really wish I’d engaged my brain a bit more before making the decision to begin NaNoWriMo. It’ll be NaNoGoSlo at this rate. I was doing really well last Friday – I was way ahead of schedule for the day, and the site was predicting I’d be done with my 50,000 words a week early if I kept up the same pace – but, of course, over the weekend it all went to hell. I’m afraid to check the website now, in case it yells at me – or, worse, tells me how disappointed it is in me, and how it expected better.

I hate that.

The current picture of my situation is like this: I am just over two-thirds of the way through my line edits for ‘Tider’, but the manuscript has been sitting on my desk now since Friday, so I hope I can get back into the right mindset to get through it. I want to finish that job and get the manuscript sent away to the kind agent who gently rejected ‘Eldritch’, but who wanted to see my other work. So, my heart is (not literally, because urgh) in my mouth as I work. Once that’s done, then it’s NaNo time, and to stay on track I have to write something like fifty million words today (approximately.) Then, it’ll be time to turn my attention to my story for Walking on Thin Ice, which has been neglected so long I’ve forgotten what it’s even about. (The closing date for this contest is coming up, by the way, so if you’re preparing a story, get ‘er done.) On top of all that, then, we have the usual stuff – living, eating, breathing, sleeping, attempting to keep the house from turning into a hovel, and all that other incidental stuff.

If someone finds me gibbering gently in a corner, don’t worry. Just leave me be. If you really need me for something, however, just waft a book in my direction and I’m sure native curiosity will drive me out of my stupor.

Happy Monday and happy new week. I’m armed with a brand new jar of decaf, my biggest mug, and my game face. Let’s do this.

Nicolas Cage speaks the truth. Image: brightestyoungthings.com

Nicolas Cage speaks the truth.
Image: brightestyoungthings.com

 

Sir, Yes Sir!

I know, now, why so many people who aspire to writing never actually manage to achieve their aims. It’s not necessarily down to a lack of talent, or a dearth of ambition, or a shortfall in the amount of effort they put into it, but perhaps – at least, if I’m anything to go by – it’s because they try too hard.

Image: ecocatlady.blogspot.com

Image: ecocatlady.blogspot.com

I’ve been working very hard on ‘Tider’ over the past few days. Since I finished draft 1 last Friday, I’ve managed to get to the end of draft 2, which involved making major content changes; I’ve also gone through the text again fixing and tweaking as I go, which I wouldn’t consider a ‘draft’, as such, but it was still hard work. It has been a challenge, and I am tired.

Even as I write all this out, I’m telling myself that it’s silly to do so much so quickly. I know, however, that there’s no other way I can do it. It’s they way I work, and has always been the way I work, to tackle a job head-on and to throw myself into it right from the start. I also have a hard time taking a rest until the job is done. Even as a student at school, I used to push myself to reach a certain point in my studies before I could take a break; if I didn’t manage to reach a certain chapter, or write a particular number of pages worth of work, or whatever it was, I wouldn’t allow myself to have a snack or go to the loo.

Who needs a Drill Sergeant when you do this to yourself?

Image: newgrounds.com

Image: newgrounds.com

This is all very well when you’re preparing for exams, or when you have a major project at work that needs to be done, or when you have a manager or a boss breathing down your neck. Of course, I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a work ethic, or to be motivated to do a job quickly and to the best of your ability. I’m just not so sure it’s always easily applicable to the job of writing a book, which is something that requires perfect balance between a person’s body and mind, and which you can’t do if you’re tired or burnt out, and which you’ll find challenging if you’re screaming at yourself inside your head, urging yourself on to the next goal. ‘Get the Job Done!’ doesn’t always help you to achieve a delicate thing like creating, sustaining and finishing a story.

I know all this, but it’s hard to switch your mind from one ‘mode’ of working to another. I haven’t been successful, as yet.

There’s a lot about ‘Tider’ that I’m not happy with. I don’t like the ending – I seem to have a problem with endings, no matter how long or short the piece I’m writing is! – and there’s not enough peril; the stakes aren’t high enough for our brave protagonist. I’m still working through the challenges that come with writing a story which is narrated in the first person, where your protagonist has deliberately been kept in the dark about a lot of issues which turn out to be very important ones for her; as she learns, the reader learns. For a writer, though, trying to get this across without ‘info-dumping,’ or telling the reader too much in too blunt a manner, is difficult.

I think, however, for the sake of the book’s future, and in an attempt to make sure I don’t end up flinging the whole thing in the bin in frustration, I’d better take a step back and try to rest today. I know my brain will yell at me, and I’ll probably feel an inexplicable urge to stand to attention (though hopefully not to shave my head), but I’ll have to cope with that as and when it happens.

Ten… Hut!

Have a good Thursday. Try to take it easy on yourself, if you can.

 

Slaying the Dragon*

It’s strange how significant everything becomes when you’re facing a mortal threat. Every step, every breath, every thought, every decision becomes invested with new importance. Everything seems slow. Your breathing sounds too loud, and the rushing of blood in your ears makes you light-headed. The morning breeze ripples through the flags overhead as you make your way into the courtyard, already covered with an inch of sawdust, and you feel the weight of your armour pulling on every muscle and sinew in your body. A few yards ahead of you, a sword is placed, point-first, in the hard earth.

Your guts turn to solid ice as you hear the beast’s first roar, loud as a gash being torn in the face of the earth itself. It makes your knees want to bend of their own accord, and it makes your head want to bow. You have to fight the urge to crumple before it. Inside your metal visor, nobody can see you weep, so you let the tears come. Then you remember there is nobody here to see you, anyway; no friendly faces, nobody to guard your sword-arm.

There is only you, and the dragon, and the dragon is coming fast.

Image: john-howe.com

Image: john-howe.com

 

Sometimes, in literature, dragon-slayers live; most of the time, however, they die. Dragons are the ultimate enemy, the one true test of a warrior’s prowess. So powerful that they get the better even of men like Beowulf, the greatest hero of his age (and ours, arguably), dragons are not to be trifled with. At all times, they are to be taken seriously, and they can never be underestimated. Waking one is a complicated business, and slaying one more complicated still. It’s best to leave them unroused altogether, and let them get on with slumbering and you on with living.

Sometimes, though, they wake of their own accord.

Facing doubt, in many ways, reminds me of dragon-slaying. It’s just you and the dragon, eyeballing one another over a sheaf of paper or the thin film of a computer screen; you hear its hissing voice in your mind, laughing at you for having the cheek to think you are worthy of putting words on paper and joining the ranks of ‘those who write’. The dragon is bigger than you, more powerful than you, and far more frightening than you can imagine. ‘I have slain mightier than you,’ it gurgles. ‘I have devoured warriors who could snap you like a twig!’ There’s nothing you can say to this, because you know it’s true.

It’s all too easy to back down from the doubt-dragon, and let it live inside your computer or – worse – inside your mind for the rest of your life. It seems like the simplest thing to just give in and turn away from its jeering, toothy grin, to walk away while doing your best to ignore its taunts of ‘I told you so!’ It can feel like doing anything else is the height of foolishness, like you’re risking your life by engaging with it. The only safe option, you convince yourself, is to give in and move on.

But if you do that, the dragon wins. It doesn’t even have to lift a claw to defeat you – you’ve defeated yourself.

I feel a little like I’ve been swallowed by the doubt-dragon at the moment. I feel like I’m stuck somewhere in its gullet, not quite inside its foul and noisome stomach (where I will surely perish, prithee), but not far off. Everywhere I look, all I see are dead ends, and there doesn’t appear to be a way out.

Instead of giving up and allowing myself to be swallowed, though, I’m really doing my best to understand that I need to make my own way out. If you don’t see a way to escape, then you need to make one.

St Margaret slaying the dragon by attacking it from within. Image: greenwichworkshop.com

St Margaret slaying the dragon by attacking it from within.
Image: greenwichworkshop.com

My attack of the doubts has come about because I have to do some unpicking of ‘Tider’. I’ve managed to write myself into a place where the story is no longer interesting or holding my attention; it seems too flabby and far-fetched. As well as this, the setting is poor, the character motivations are illogical, and the structure is wrong. I know I’m writing a first draft, which gives you a bit more leeway to make errors like this, but if it leads to you losing yourself in a morass of darkness, then something has to be done before you reach a point where you can’t find your way back. It’s important to complete the first draft, no matter how hard it is, which means I have to rescue myself from the dragon of doubt before I’m lost forever in the labyrinth of its infernal intestines.

So, there’s only one thing for it. I’m hefting my sword, and I’m picking what looks to be the most efficient way out of this mess, and I’m punching on through. See you on the other side, with any luck…

 

 

*All dragons used in the production of this blog post were unharmed, and all dragon involvement was monitored by the Geatish Dragon-Lovers’ Association. Any encouragement to harm, slay, maim or otherwise interfere with the lives of ordinary, law-abiding dragons inferred through reading this post is unintentional, and regrettable.

Life/Time Management

Another new week is beginning, and the sun is shining here. It looks (fingers crossed) like it’ll be a lovely day. The weekend was more or less restful – I was attacked by an idea on Saturday lunchtime, which is currently languishing in scribbles on the back of an envelope, and my husband and I had a Serious Discussion about the opening chapters of ‘Eldritch’ yesterday. So, I almost had a break from the words that like to linger in the corners of my mind.

Not, of course, that I’d like them to give me a complete break. That would be like the bereft, cold feeling of having the blankets pulled off you in the middle of the night. It’s just – sometimes – I wish there was more space in my brain. Space into which I could put, for instance, all the other things I have to do. Space to remember everything I need to remember, and arrange my life in the most time-effective and efficient way.

So, not like this guy. Image: smallbizmodo.com

So, not like this guy.
Image: smallbizmodo.com

Now, normally I’m not too bad. I’m usually pretty well organised. I get up early, I attack the day long before most people (I think anyone who does the sort of work I do would do the same), and I generally know what’s on the schedule from one day to the next. But there are times when I slip up, and that’s a real pain. I’ve been entering competitions, as you know, and trying to submit work to as many places as possible in the hope it might be suitable for publication. And I’ve mentioned before that there are lots of places to submit. So, it’s inevitable that, at times, stuff is going to slip through the cracks. I realised on Friday, for instance, that I’d allowed time to slip away from me, and that a competition deadline was approaching – and that, even if I acted fast, chances were I’d miss it.

This was a shame, because it was a competition I really wanted to enter. I’d noticed the call for submissions a few weeks ago, and I’d had an idea. I kept this idea on a particular shelf in my brain, ripening like a fine cheese; every so often I’d turn it, tend it, and check how it was getting on. Unlike a good cheesemaker, though, I allowed too much time to go by – I left it too long on the shelf. By the time I hurried it out into the light, I fear not only did I spoil it, but also left myself too little time to get it out into the world. The competition is in the UK, and the closing date is early this week. I sent my entry, but I have a feeling it will be too late. I also know that I should have spent more time on the story, if I’d had time to spend.

I got very side-tracked with ‘Eldritch’ last week; I really allowed it to take over all the space I had in my head. So, other things (like checking up on a contact I hadn’t heard from, sending a few emails re. an upcoming publication, and – of course – sorting myself out for upcoming competitions) fell by the wayside. I don’t want this to happen again, because it makes me stressed. There are, of course, a few simple steps that can be taken to avoid a recurrence – first among these is ‘not relying on your holey brain to remember everything, and getting a calendar’; second would be ‘not forgetting to take a big red marker and write the stuff you need to remember on the calendar.’ I’ll probably end up writing notes on my hand to remind me to write on my calendar, which will devolve into tying pieces of string onto various extremities and leaving myself Post-It notes all over the house… I can see it turning into a total disaster, but it’s better than nothing. At the moment, I normally put reminders on my phone to help with time management and organisation, but I think the poor device is going to raise the white flag shortly and beg for parlay. Plus, if I lose the phone, my whole life goes with it. That, naturally, would be a disaster.

Whatever way I choose to do it, there’s a job to be done. It’s (besides the physical action of putting words on pages) the most important job I have to do, which is making the most of the time I have, and doing as much as possible in every working day. I have a lot of ground to cover in a reasonably short space of time, and so every second is important. So, today’s agenda looks like this: my (wonderful) husband gave me some interesting and useful feedback on the first 10,000 words of ‘Eldritch’ yesterday, so I’m off to rethink the opening sections. I’m still determined to get the book submitted to agents, but this time I want to make sure I don’t send it until it’s as ripe, tasty and perfect as I can make it. If I’m to keep to my schedule, then, I’m going to need to have the most efficient working week I’ve ever had!

Determination, organisation, motivation… and a lot of perspiration! Hope your week is shaping up to be fun, creative and (happily) busy, too.

Monday Musings

It’s ‘that day’ again. Let’s not speak of it. I’ll draw a veil over it, shall I, and we can move on with the rest of the post? Marvellous.

If I may begin with an observation – weekends never seem to last long enough, do they? I’m still not fully convinced time behaves the way it’s supposed to. When nobody’s looking, I think it speeds up or slows down as much as it wants to, just for the fun of it. There’s no other explanation for why it seems to take so long to do the housework, say, or work your way through your manuscript, or whatever it is you might need to do between Monday and Friday, and then the weekend comes and you don’t even have time to take your shoes off before it’s Monday morning again.

Anyway.

Despite the fact that it was so brief that I barely knew it was there at all, I managed to have a nice weekend. We didn’t do a whole lot – in fact, I can hardly remember Saturday, which is probably not a good sign – but I’m pretty sure it was a good (if mentally vacant) day. Unfortunately, however, I didn’t get my manuscript edited. My aim for the weekend was to get the first edit of ‘Eldritch’ completed, and be ready to begin the second run-through this morning, but my brain had other ideas.

This is literally what the inside of my brain looked like this weekend. Image: artsandcatsmovement.wordpress.com

This is literally what the inside of my brain looked like this weekend.
Image: artsandcatsmovement.wordpress.com

I’m sure this is a ‘fail-safe’ mechanism, built into the brain; a ‘Do Not Edit’ function which kicks in when fatigue would make it dangerous to approach your WiP. It’s not just an excuse to let your brain ramble off down the highways and byways, gathering berries and singing to itself (though there’s nothing wrong with that, of course.) I felt the need to read this weekend, which I did – I got through ‘Eight Days of Luke’ by the majestic Diana Wynne Jones, and I started ‘Mortal Engines’ by Philip Reeve, which has been on my ‘To Read’ list for months. This takes the books I’ve read this week (if you count last weekend, too) to 3.36 approximately, which is a point of pride for me. Last weekend, I enjoyed ‘Robopocalypse’ by Daniel H. Wilson, and ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ by Ruth Ozeki, which is one of the most wonderful books I’ve ever read. My imagination feels fat and sleek at the moment, pulsing with inspiration and life. It’s just a shame my brain feels like a piece of lint.

Sometimes I feel that a change of scenery can be a very helpful thing to do if you’re feeling a little bit unmotivated. I spent a lot of Friday in Dublin city, which was great – the weather was wonderful, and it was refreshing to be among people and the hustle and bustle of a city again. I have a feeling, however, that I enjoyed it so much because I knew I’d be going home at the end of the day to my sleepy little one-horse village, where three people on the pavement at the same time constitutes a crowd – but in any case, it was great. I really enjoyed feeling like a pretentious auteur, sitting at a café table with my WiP spread neatly around me, being held down by coffee cups and milk jugs and random pieces of detritus, hoping someone would walk by and be stunned into awed silence by the sheer brilliance of my words. That last part didn’t happen, of course, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. So, in an attempt to recreate that feeling of hipster-inspiration, I’m going to take myself off to our one and only coffee shop here in Countryville, order the most complicated coffee on their menu, and break out the red pen. I’m just over two-thirds of the way through ‘Eldritch’, so I am hopeful I’ll see the end of Edit One before the week is out.

So far, the editing has been going reasonably well. I’ve run into a few difficulties with regard to the book’s structure and its central narrative conceit, but I hope I’ve smoothed those over – that’s what I spent a lot of Friday doing. I am planning at least one more read-through before I start the query process (don’t worry about that noise you’re probably hearing right now – it’s just me, hyperventilating), and once ‘Eldritch’ is out of my hair, it’ll be time to go back and tackle the almighty mess that is ‘Tider’. I’m hoping my memory has made a bigger mess out of it than is actually the case in reality, and that I’ll be pleasantly surprised when I get back to it.

I guess it’s good to be an optimist.

Image: acceler8or.com

Image: acceler8or.com

So, I’m off to pack up my manuscript, my editing pens, and my wizened motivation, and hit the café. I’ll try not to wear black, or a beret, or sigh heavily at random intervals, but I can’t make any promises. Fingers crossed I’ll get the work done before I keel over from a caffeine overdose, or run out of money.

Whatever you find yourself doing this wet and miserable morning, good luck with it.