Tag Archives: preparation

The Dry Season

Friday greetings, my people.

I hope everyone is well, and looking forward to the weekend, and remembering to always keep focusing on the good stuff. Not an easy thing to do in today’s world, especially if you make a habit of watching the news, but we’ve got to do our best.

Words of wisdom, Hannah... Image: healthandphysicaleducation.wordpress.com

Words of wisdom, Hannah…
Image: healthandphysicaleducation.wordpress.com

Anyway.

This morning, my most recent story was published. If you click here, you’ll be able to read it. It’s called ‘ShipShipShip’, and I’m very proud of it, and if you take the time to have a look, I hope you like it.

As well as being my most recent piece, though, ‘ShipShipShip’ also marks a sort of story-boundary for me; it’s like a roadside inn on the rocky mountain path that has been my writing career to date. It’s a little uncomfortable to admit, but it’s the truth, so here we go: I don’t have anything else, in terms of upcoming publications, in the pipeline at the moment. That’s not because I haven’t been writing, or sending work away, or anything like that; I’ve submitted plenty of stories over the past few months, but I’ve had a lot of work rejected. That’s absolutely fine – it’s par for the course, and completely normal, and something for which I prepared myself many months back. Those of you who have been following me for a while (thank you, by the way) will, perhaps, remember me gearing myself up to be knocked back, over and over and over again, right here on the blog. I’m dealing with it, and it’s surprisingly okay.

But now I’m in a position where I’ve pretty much exhausted my submission opportunities, and there’s a yawning gap of nothing between now and the end of June, when my next major deadline starts to kick up. That’s a frightening feeling, in a way. I’m looking into the next few weeks and all I’m seeing is a dry riverbed, with the odd tumbleweed drifting on through, and I don’t like it.

I’m trying (as I am wont, though I don’t always succeed) to see the positive in this – I have a lot to focus on at the moment, and so going through a fallow period where I have time to regroup and make some plans for the future may not, in truth, be the worst that could happen. But, having said that, it’s an amazing thing to have a story published, and it’s a little disheartening to know I won’t have that experience again for a long while. I love the feeling of receiving that elusive ‘yes’ from someone to whom you’ve entrusted your work, looking forward to seeing it appear, and finally (if you’re me) proudly adding a new link to your ‘Writing’ page.

It is, of course, also a little scary: ‘What if people hate it? What if I offend someone? What if this is the absolute worst piece of writing that anyone has ever read?’ So far, though, I’ve managed not to enrage anyone or cause an international incident, which is a relief.

Image: blog.propertyhawk.co.uk

Image: blog.propertyhawk.co.uk

So, where to from here? Well, I’m always on the lookout for more places to submit work. I do have a few on the far horizon, and if I’m lucky I’ll unearth a few more. I have some short stories that have been bubbling away for the past few weeks; they’re eager to find a home, so I’ll be revisiting those and polishing them up, straightening their collars and wiping their sticky little faces, and hoping for the best.

Oh, and yes. There’s also the small matter of the fact that it’s now time, finally, to start contacting agents. I am, I hasten to assure you, all over it.

So, like I said. I have plenty with which to be occupying my mind. Perhaps the distraction – a pleasant one, but a distraction nonetheless – of having stories published is something I can do without over these next few weeks; to everything there is a season, after all. I’m in a preparation phase, a planting phase, and I’m hoping for a strong rainy season a few weeks down the line.

Happy Friday, happy weekend, see you tomorrow for a review of Emma Pass’ fantastic novel ‘ACID’, and until then, take care.

The War on Distraction

So, lately I’ve been feeling a little panicked. I’m not too worried about the feeling of being panicked itself, as such – I think it’s pretty normal to be nervous when you’ve made the choices I’ve made, and you’ve picked the slenderest branch of all to cling to. Still, though – feeling panicked is nasty, in and of itself, and I don’t like going through it.

I’m worried about my future, of course, and my husband’s and my financial security as time goes by. I’m worried, in my deepest moments of despair, that I’ve made the wrong choice (when I’m thinking more rationally, I realise I haven’t, of course, and that there’s nothing else on this earth I’m able to do better than what I’m doing right now), and I worry pretty much all the time that I’m not good enough to walk this path I’ve chosen. This manifests itself in various ways – I’m still sick at the moment, for instance, which I feel is significant. I’m normally the kind of person who shrugs off colds and flus and infections, but this one is proving harder to shift. Perhaps my body is metaphorically ‘circling its wagons’, waiting for the next attack, and doesn’t have any resources free to help me fight away the bugs.

I’m also experiencing a strange phenomenon, one I think I dislike very much indeed.

Image: scrapbookladypages.com

Image: scrapbookladypages.com

I’m normally a ‘start a job and see it through’ type of person; I’m not a quitter. I always do my best and I try to bring the same amount of effort to everything I do, whether it’s writing a short story or cleaning the bathroom. Over the past few days, though, I’ve been finding myself distracted at every turn by new ‘ideas’ – storylets, ones which may never have enough strength to stand on their own, but which are new and exciting and interesting and extremely demanding of my attention. I should be working on ‘Eldritch’, getting it fixed up and sorted out and ready to ship off; it’s a good little story, but there are issues with it that really need to be addressed, not least with its structure. Instead, I find my mind embroiling itself in the political and social structure of an entirely new world which is starting to unfurl behind my eyes, and searching through it for a tale that needs telling. I’m quashing my inner voice which is yelling at me that this is the story to write – this one will sell and it will work and it will be brilliant.

But I know what it truly means. I’m not being visited by the Super Inspiration Fairy from the Planet Amazing. It’s my brain trying to veer away from dealing with my real life issues, namely: I need to get something written, finished, polished, polished a bit more, checked one last time, and sent away for other eyes to read. I need to stop starting things, and start stopping things – or, in other words, focus on the work I’ve already begun, and get it finished to the highest level of professional accomplishment I can reach, and then let it go out into the world. I don’t want to dismiss my new ideas completely, and undeniably, it’s difficult to put them in a back pocket, so to speak, and have them ready to come back to when an opportunity presents itself, but it has to be done. I wish I had a big enough brain to work on everything, all at the same time, but I feel splitting my attention like that might make everything suffer.

However, I’m also a planner, and a list-maker, and a systematic sort of person. I get great satisfaction from ticking things off, knowing I’ve reached a particular goal, and that it’s a certain percentage of the way towards my ultimate goal. While procrastinating via distracting myself with new stories is, I feel, a destructive thing masquerading as a constructive thing, making lists of agents, publishers, dates, deadlines, competitions and so on can be a constructive thing – so long as I don’t let it get out of hand. In this regard, I have the greatest help imaginable in my husband, who shows me such loving support by actually telling me he enjoys looking things up for me on the internet and making me lists of competitions to enter and places to submit. What better help could I wish for? He’s the best defence I have against the war of attrition that Distraction is waging upon me right now, and I am so glad to have him by my side.

So, the plan today is: focus on getting better and feeling stronger, gently make note of any new ideas that bubble up in a panicked froth from the gurgling lake of my subconscious before putting them away somewhere safe, and, most critically, finish ‘Eldritch.’ I can’t do all of this at once, of course, but I need to stop allowing my attention to be divided. I don’t want to become a person who starts plenty, and finishes little. It’s never happened before, and it won’t start happening now.

Time to get to work.

Image: theheroinesbookshelf.com

Image: theheroinesbookshelf.com