What can I say? 2013 has been an interesting year in terms of writing… not necessarily a prolific one as far as published work goes but interesting nonetheless. For the first time in nearly six years, I haven’t published anything in either print or electronic format… and despite breaking the streak, I can’t say that I’m bothered. I haven’t actively pursued publication, let’s put it that way. Instead, I’ve spent the last year concentrating on trying to finish off the damn novel that I’ve had kicking around in various stages for more years than I care to remember.
There are a lot of motivations for taking up ‘the craft’ (as wanky people tend to refer to it)… for me it’s mostly about getting fragments of ideas out of my head before they begin to rattle around and do some serious damage. Plucking an idea out of your noggin and capturing it on paper, or a computer hard drive, or wherever medium you choose, creates one less distraction in life. Let’s be real: the majority of writers will never be fortunate enough to see their passion pay the bills, myself included. Sure it’s a dream that we all aspire to but most of us regular Joe’s have day jobs and families. And when it comes to those two very important aspects of life – unrestrained ideas can be an incredible distraction.
That’s the man reasons I write: it’s a kind of therapy. That and the fact I love telling those stories. So yeah, becoming less active in terms of short story writing has made for an interesting period of adjustment. Basically I’ve spent the last eight or nine months working on the novel. I tried tinkering with an old work-in-progress short story that I’ve had sitting here for a while but even that got shelved. It’s all about the novel at the moment. Hell, I’ve had these characters stuck in my head on and off for the last decade and it’s time to either send them out into the world with a bang or a whimper. There’s no more locking my manuscript in the drawer and hoping it will go away – as any writer knows, eventually you’ll hear your characters muffled cries for freedom. They’ll want out. And the only way to get some closure for those little fellas is to give them that freedom. Cast them off into the world and hope that somewhere out there someone enjoys your novel as much as you enjoyed writing it.
That’s the plan. It’s getting that final draft that’s the killer.
I spend my lunch breaks writing. I steal an hour here and there when I’m alone. I’ve even resorted to taking annual leave in order to pump out the words. Sadly it’s all going a little slower than expected. So far I’m seven chapters through the final draft. ‘Final’ in terms of the fact that I never want to touch the damn thing again unless it’s on the request of someone who might actually be able to get the thing into print. That and the fact my loved ones would disown me if I dared to rewrite it for a fifth time without a really good reason. It’s that sort of final draft. Seven chapters down… about fourteen to go. So basically one third through.
Yeah, I’m looking at another year at this rate.
Obviously I’ve missed a few self-imposed deadlines, namely trying to get my manuscript in front of some agents and publishers at a local writers festival. Another opportunity missed… however I’m still content to plug away. I will get there in the end. And hopefully it will have all been worthwhile.
We can all chase our dreams, can’t we?
Have an excellent and productive 2014…