Bursting the comfort bubble; hiring an editor

While working on my novel, I’ve been fortunate enough to have met a number of people who offered to read and provide feedback on it over the last few years. I could try and list them, but I’d probably forget some – such has been the collective effort – but every contribution has allowed it to evolve.

That’s in addition to my own learning and growth, and these are lessons and comments I’ve taken to heart in every draft and project since. There comes a point, though, where something else is needed.

There have been questions and comments, but they’ve been of a similar vein. This is incredibly helpful, as it tells me I’m on the right path and I can address some of the gaps and problems. The number decreased with each draft, and it left me feeling quite confident.

While submitting to agents hasn’t been the success I’d hoped for, that’s not surprising. Maybe it’s the genre, or the niche within the genre? Maybe my cover letter hasn’t gripped them, or perhaps it’s just not good enough to be published?

Except, I don’t believe that last one. I can’t.

Why did I hire an editor?

So, while making moves towards self-publishing, I wanted to make sure that this is as good as can be. For that, I needed something else; a fresh pair of eyes trained to spot the things I still didn’t see. There are different services to choose from, and I spent some time speaking to different people and professionals to find the right path for me.

And then I found the right one.

It turned out, after all those conversations, the right one for me was someone I knew! Rachel has been a friend for a fair few years now, and it turned out that some of her clients had provided her with the kind of experience I wanted and needed.

After discussing my situation and needs, a course of action was set. The cost fit into my expectations and the excitement soared as everything was agreed, signed and started.

The hardest part of it all was waiting for the assessment to come back to me, or so I thought.

Dealing with a new kind of feedback

I’m used to friends reading my work. I’m used to relative strangers reading my work. I’m used to classmates reading my work.

I want the honest feedback. I’ll fight my corner but, ultimately, if something doesn’t become clear when I intended it to for a reader without the knowledge I have, that’s got to be addressed. Some of it is genre or style, and different readers pick up on different things, so having a wide net to cast is really useful.

An editor’s comments are something else.

There is literally no reason to be shy or protect my feelings. I’ve paid for a service, so I expect professional results. I got those, but it still hit me more than I expected. That’s another lesson to learn.

There weren’t any negative comments, though. Everything was constructive and questioning. A lot of it was designed to make me ask the questions and find the answers myself, and that takes time. I have some consultation time included but rather than rush in, I’m thinking on the points raised, looking over my manuscript and making notes that I can formulate later into questions.

Again, I’ve paid for this and I’ve got to be professional, too – that’ll help me get the most out of this whole experience. Anything I can learn now will only help me in the future. I’ll take my medicine and do my best to do better in the future.

The results

First of all, it’s made me rethink more than a few things about the story. It proved to be a bit of a wakeup call, and that’s a good way to beat the complacency that can set in. While the test readers had responded positively, there’s always a niggling doubt that they’re trying to protect your feelings somewhat, even the ones who are casual friends or passing acquaintances.

Some of the comments I received, now that I processed them, are on the mark, and the next draft will take big steps to address them. Some need subtle changes and others bigger, more sweeping edits throughout various parts of the manuscript.

Ultimately, the decision of what to change falls to me. This isn’t a traditional publishing deal where I have to make certain changes (if that’s how it works), and I need to keep in mind that the editor has studied this story in relation to itself, while I have two sequels in first draft. Some of the points raised I can relate directly to how I’ve structured the trilogy as a whole rather than just a standalone book. This is something I’ll discuss with her further.

Once done, I can move on to the more technical editing – and that takes me another step closer to the publishing stage.

It’s starting to feel a little more real.

Surviving lockdown and self-isolation

The last seven weeks have been incredibly difficult for people around the world. The emergence of Covid-19, it’s fast spread and devastating effect on people, countries and economies are well-documented.

Different approaches have been adopted by everyone, from world leaders to families, and it’s clear the effects they have.

On a personal level, though, I spent the start of lockdown (here in New Zealand) wondering what to do. I was fortunate to be able to continue working – although I’m not going to lie, I was a bit envious of those who had some free time to do things – but if I was going to be stuck inside for however many weeks, I wanted to do some, to achieve something.

The goals of lockdown

First of all, getting through lockdown is the goal. I’m aware it’s ended here (for now, at least) but others around the world are in a different situation. Before reading any further, I want to stress to you that I took this approach because it’s what was best for me.

If the best thing for you is to binge Netflix, spend time with the family, sleep a lot, go to work, learn a new language or any other idea – then do that. Sure, try something new but no one has the right to take aim at how you get through this. We should be supporting each other, and I’m glad I had friends who gave me the support I needed to get through lockdown in my own way.

So, I set two goals. The first was to work on my current novel-length project. I had started in January 2020, and while that month had been busy with a new job, February and March proved more productive. I was about two-thirds of the way through when lockdown started, and I hoped to get another third done.

The second goal was to start working on the content for Innate Wanderings since it’s little reboot. I’d stopped the updates due to the global situation, but there’s a lot I want to cover over there.

Completing the project

Of these two goals, I completed one – and then some. Even while working full-time, I worked to get three chapters a week done, and after the first four weeks of lockdown, I had met the original target. I could have stopped there, or reduced how much work I did on it to meet my other goal, but I felt like I was on a role.

Over the next three weeks (and if I’m being truthful, the first few days after lockdown ended, too), I finished the first draft of the project. Is it perfect? Not at all, but it’s a good foundation to start from as the editing process begins later this year. It’s a bigger achievement than I expected to have by this point in the year – the original plan was to finish this draft in the last quarter of 2020 – and it’s given me a huge sense of satisfaction.

Having this goal made lockdown and self-isolation easier. Without the distractions of life, it felt like a good use of time and stopped me focusing or dwelling on the negatives the situation brought.

As a result, the content for Innate Wanderings didn’t come to fruition but there’s time for that later.

So, what next?

Well, as is my custom, I’ll take a bit of a break from writing. I had other plans, and I may dip into them after a while but whether it’s more blogging or short stories, I’m not sure yet.

With lockdown coming to an end in New Zealand, I’ll have time to do some exploring again. There’s a lot to see, and an economy to support. We’re coming into winter, so there are time and weather restrictions to figure out. On top of that, I have friends to see and a couple of games I neglected over the last couple of months.

That means plenty of things to keep me occupied while I’m taking this break and letting my mind recover.

Until then, my friends. Take care!

Get yourself writing, part five

As I mentioned last time, this will be the final part of this series. I’ve enjoyed sharing these great writing exercises with you, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed them – and that they’ve helped alleviate some boredom during this challenging time.

I’m giving us all a break, there’s a bunch of things to try from this series. There will be more, sure enough, but I don’t want to offer subpar ideas. Once I find a good one, or I’m shared a good one, you’ll have it here.

You can find parts one, two, three and four here, too.

So, let’s get to it!

Changing the medium

What you need: A story you’ve already written, or one you have permission to use for personal exercises.

This is an interesting, and sometimes challenging exercise, but it is a great way to try out different mediums of writing. It’s probably clear to everyone that I like prose. Constructing a story, describing events, scenery, characters and their interactions, developing plots – it’s what suits me the most.

There are plenty of other mediums, such as poetry and script, which have great histories in storytelling for different purposes. The way these stories are adapted for their needs is interesting, and can often lead to subtle differences, if not big ones to fit the medium.

Beyond that, new ways of telling a story have emerged. They might not be recognised by the literary critics but for the purpose of developing your skills and stretching your creativity, they can be great to explore. These include blogs, tweets/social media updates and even image-based updates.

Take a story you’ve written in one medium, or one you have the permissions to use in a personal capacity, and re-write it again in different medium, such as a poem, script or blog format. See what’s missed, or what’s needed, when you compare the two.

Mix it up: Tell the same story across multiple formats. Do it once as prose, again as poetry, and a series of blog posts. Once all are done, you’ll see exactly how the different styles work, and maybe how they can work together.

Retelling a story

What you need: A story told in a different form, a movie, TV show or stage performance.

A lot of films are based on, or released with, a book, which is a very long story to whittle down to a couple of hours or so. A lot of these are details which are present in scenery, characters, settings and items but dialogue and action are a different matter.

Whether you know a film or TV show inside out, even if you’ve read the accompanying book, a great exercise is to watch that film or episode and write it down on paper (or type it on screen). It’s a great way to recall details and events that matter, as well as find out what you miss. This can help you when writing original pieces as you have an idea what you might be missing.

I’m not suggesting you write a full novel here, but a couple of thousand words translating what you see or remember can reveal interesting details about your writing style and interests.

Mix it up: Watch the film or show first and do this task from memory, rather than at the time of watching. You can expand it to computer games, poetry readings and songs, too.

I wonder if there’s more to do with this, or an easier way to collate them. Let me think on it. If I come up with a better way to share these exercises, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

Until next time.

Get yourself writing, part four

Anyone remember what ‘normal life’ was like before this started? Before lockdown? It’s beginning to fade for me, too, but there have been benefits. More time and less distractions have meant I’ve been doing more writing myself. Not on short stories, this time, but on my current project. You never know, by the time this is done, I might have the first draft done!

Anyway, back to why you’re here. We’ve had part one, part two and part three looking at different writing exercises, and it’ll continue here. Ready to get going?

Good.

Using words

What you need: A list of words, either from a word generator, a friend or that you’ve created yourself.

This is a relatively simple exercise, and the difficulty changes depending on you. You need a list of words to start, and these words must all feature in what you write – in the exact way you’ve recorded them. No changes, even to alter the tense or make it plural, are allowed.

You should set a word limit on this piece at the start, as that will help you decide how many words to add to your list. A shorter limit, like 500 or 1,000 words, with a list of 20 could be more challenging than a 2,000-word piece with the same list, for example.

The kind of story you create is up to you, but if the list is themed, that might help with genre or setting.

Mix it up: You can do this same exercise in reverse. Take the list of words, or a different set, and write without using them at all. It might sound easy, but that depends on the number of words you have and how long your story is. If it is easy, make the list longer and change the wordcount.

The interview

What you need: A fictional character.

This is an interesting exercise in that it allows you to explore a character more deeply. It can be a protagonist that you think you know well, or a more minor character you want to flesh out and understand better.

Take the role of an interviewer sitting down with this character and ask questions about a topic. This topic can be based on real news you’ve seen or something in their world, but I’ve always found the former to be more interesting.

Consider the tone of your interviewer; are they polite or aggressive, pushy or laidback, informed or misleading? This can change the tone of the piece, as your character will react differently.

If it helps, you can always ask a friend to sit down with you and act it out, getting a feel for the setting and take other parts of communication into account, like tone and body language, for example.

This exercise can be done in script and prose form, making it very versatile.

Mix it up: Add in another character, either from the same world as the first or a completely different one. You can have the two complement each other or go against each other but taking the view of the interviewer into account is important, too. Bias, attitudes and topics can bring a whole different side of these characters to life.

This is the fourth set of writing exercises, and I hope you’ve found them useful. I’d originally intended to finish the series here, but there’s been a good reception to these posts and plenty more exercises to share – maybe from you, too. What I will do, after next week, is take a little break. I don’t want anything to get repetitive, but when I find good ones, or suggestions come in, you can sure I’ll share them. Maybe I’ll collate them in an easier to find place.

Check back next week for the last batch (for now).

Until then.

Get yourself writing, part three

Is anyone else feeling the days blur? Are we going by days of the week or the number of days in lockdown? Does it matter?

What does matter is finding new ways to stave away boredom. For some, that’s work and for others, Netflix calls their name. For me, I’m trying to do more writing than normal, while I have the excuse of fewer distractions.

Hopefully you’ve read part one and part two of this series (but if not, use those links to take a look) and you’re ready for the third part, with more writing exercises you can try out. Maybe you’re sharing them with friends or changing them up for a different group or age range – as long as this is helping someone, I’ll keep it up!

Without further ado, let’s get on with it.

Out of place

What you need: A character from your favourite book, game, film or TV show.

This is a great exercise for exploring how characters react, grow and develop. At times, it can feel your characters don’t do much, or the importance is diminished by something else in your story. That could be an event or another character.

While not a bad thing, letting your character fall to the side is unsatisfying and unrealistic – even in the most fantastical stories. How your character deals with this, or anything else that happens, is important to the overall story.

To help with this, use a character you know well, from another book, game or movie, for example, and put them in a different situation. It might be something that happened to you, or a friend, or a news story. It could be the situation you’re writing about.

There will be problems. The worlds are different; the rules, attitudes, settings etc – but that’s part of the fun! This isn’t a serious project, it’s to develop your skills in an interesting, and probably quite funny, way.

Mix it up: Try using multiple characters from different sources and see how they react differently to the situation and each other.

What happens next?

What you need: A story that’s ended. It could a book, film, TV show or game or something else.

This is bordering on fan fiction, but it’s a very good way of tempering your storytelling.

The sky is the limit when it comes to the stories you want to tell but there should be a clear and logical progression. Too many stories fall apart when there are unexplained jumps that change settings, skills and attitudes, and that’s when audiences lose interest.

So, the goal here is to continue the story you’ve chosen. Use the existing characters and continue the story. You want to see if the story can keep going in a believable way. This is harder for some stories than others, as the endings can be definitive.

Remember this isn’t something to be published per say, unless you’re really interested in pushing the fan fiction, but a way to practise developments and scaling in a created story and world.

It would really help if a friend or fan of the story could offer feedback on your story and see if it is believable based on what’s come before.

Mix it up: While it’s easiest to carry on a story that’s just ended, try looking much further into the future. The temptation to jump too far is easiest here and will need extra thought to keep it realistic.

Set the scene

What you need: A picture of something.

This is one of my favourites. Take a picture of something. Some examples I’ve always gone back to are a lighthouse, a cemetery, an empty street, a forest path, a lone house, the rain and an empty lake.

The goal here is to write about it. Take that picture and put it onto paper (or screen).

Describe what you see. Start with the main object or focus of the picture and go into the smallest of details. Is there a chip in the wood? Is the water still? Is the wind blowing, and which direction? Once you’ve one this, I want to be able to form an image in my mind that is close to the original picture.

The next step is to describe the rest of the picture, using the same level of detail. After that, think about what’s beyond the picture, to the sides, behind and above. Your piece should almost act like a full tour of the scene you can see and are creating.

Add in how this scene makes you feel. Are you calm or creeped out? Happy or sad? Hot or cold? You can do this after the description or weave it in. You’ll find no action in this piece. Nothing happens, as such.

What it might do is give you a place to start another project based on, or set in, this world you’ve created.

At the beginning, 500 words might be a challenge but over time, writing more than 3,000 words in this way is more feasible and you’ll learn to construct these scenes instinctively when you see an image and when you need a place for your characters or story.

Mix it up: Combine two or more pictures to create a bigger scene. You can also work on editing this piece down to a succinct amount, which will help you include powerful scenes and settings in other projects without rambling or destroying your wordcount.

How are you getting on? Found an activity that you’ve enjoyed more than others, or have you started a project you’re excited about? Do let me know!

Until next time.

Get yourself writing, part two

Welcome back!

I hope you found the first part of this series useful, and that it gave you some inspiration to start creating your masterpieces. We’re going to push on this week, so if none of the exercises from the last post helped, or they didn’t appeal then maybe these will fare a little better for you.

Don’t despair, either way, as there’s still more to come next week, too!

One line at a time

What you need: A poem, either written or recorded one line at a time

If you’re looking for a little more direction, try writing a story from prompts. Take a poem and read one line at a time. You must then write at least a paragraph based on that line, although there’s nothing to stop you writing more if you feel the need.

This doesn’t mean your story has to be a retelling or adaptation of the poem. Take each line as its own entity and write freely from it. One light might focus on a sound or place, while the next on a person or event. It’s up to you to connect them in the way that makes most sense.

Don’t try and rush this exercise, or you’ll write yourself into a dead end where your project makes no sense. If it helps, record the poem a line at a time and play it to yourself, rather than reading. It also works as a group exercise if done this way. You’d be surprised at how different everyone’s response is.

You’ll get different results with poems of different lengths, as shorter poems require you to really let your imagination take over. You might want to save these for later.

Mix it up: You can do this with monologues, speeches and even songs. For the latter, having the music accompany the words can make a huge difference to the end result, so try it both ways to find what works for you.

These next two ideas come from Kat, a fellow writer and good friend of mine.

Newsworthy

What you need: A newspaper or two, or use an online news publication

Pick a page from the newspaper or website and find a headline that catches your attention. They don’t have to be the big stories – in fact, this exercise works better with the more random, slightly obscure headlines – but whether its funny, outrageous or just plain silly, write that headline at the top of your page.

You can then write the new story how you expect it to be written. This is a great exercise to stretch your imagination while writing in a different medium than you may be used to.

To take it a step further, read the real news story once your done and compare the differences. You might be in for a laugh or two!

Mix it up: Instead of writing a news story, use the headline as the title of a story. You’ll write in a different format and come up with a completely different story. Remember, news stories tend to be shorter than stories, so use that to your advantage.

‘What if’ stories

What you need: A bunch of scenarios that may or may not be plausible:

  • What if pilots were afraid of heights?
  • What if swimmers were scared of water?
  • What if we couldn’t laugh?
  • What if vampires couldn’t smell?

This is a great exercise for anyone, as the stories can be both short or long, for kids or for adults. All you need to do is start with a very innocent “what if” question and build a story around it. The crazier and funnier it is, the more likely it will hook readers.

Moral lessons are easy to include in such stories, which is why they’re great for younger readers, but the premise of some questions can open up a whole new world to explore – and you might find that world appeals to readers everywhere.

Mix it up: Take some existing stories and change it around, from fairy tales to big budget movies. Ideas like:

  • What if the three bears had let Goldilocks stay?
  • What if the big bad wolf was a vegetarian?
  • What if Anakin Skywalker didn’t become Darth Vader?
  • What if Frodo didn’t destroy the One Ring?

So, what do you think? Feel free to keep sharing your favourite exercises and activities. We all need to do our part to get through this phase of self-isolation, and these ideas will still be here in the future, too.

‘Till next time.

Get yourself writing, part one

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been thinking about what I can do over the next four weeks of isolation. I’m still working full-time but I’m using this chance to work more on my ongoing projects, since there’s nothing to distract me right now.

It made me think of all the times people have said to me they wish they could write something – a story, a book, a poem or anything else – and how I had little to offer them. It didn’t sit right with me. Now, given we have more time to try new things, I’ve compiled some of my favourite writing exercises. I hope you’ll find them useful.

Note: I’m not claiming credit for creating or naming these. I’ve come across them from writing groups, university and online sources. There are so many more than the ones I’ll share.

Freewriting

What you need: A timer

This is a deceptively simple task; all you need is a timer. Set a time limit and once it starts, begin writing. The goal is not to stop until the time runs out, regardless of where your mind takes you.

This sounds simple but it’s really not. We are trained to think about what we write, how to structure sentences and paragraphs, follow a lot thread etc. The goal here is to ignore all that. What you write doesn’t matter as much as doing it.

Freewriting is often used before working on something else as a way to get you in the mindset to write. That being said, the randomness and nonsensical logic can unleash brilliant ideas that can be included in other projects or become the starting point of something new.

Mix it up: Vary the length of time you write for to see what works best for you.

Picturesque inspiration

What you need: A picture, a photo, a painting – anything visual.

This is a great exercise, and it only requires one thing: something visual. This means you can do this task over and over with different things, whether a photograph, a painting or even the view from your window. Hell, watch a movie and pause it – then use that.

Set yourself a word count and write something based on what you see. It might be a descriptive exercise if you need inspiration for other projects, or it can blossom into something more. Ask yourself who would be in that scene and why. Ask yourself where it is and what’s around it. Use your other senses to flesh out the world.

If it’s a scene of action, think about what’s happening, or what happened before or after that moment. Who can you see? what are they doing? Even if you know, in detail, what is happening in that scene, let your imagination create something else.

You can do both of the above separately then combine later or evolve into different pieces. This is really two tasks in one and they can fit to your preferences.

Mix it up: Instead of using something visual to inspire you, use audio. A sound, a story, a poem or music. Think about what you hear, what it inspires in you, what the words tell you and do the same as above. You can also change the word count to add another level of depth to this task.

The senses task

What you need: Something you can see, something you can hold, something you can hear and something you can taste (you don’t actually have to eat or drink it, though).

A word count of up to 3,000 is ideal for this task, but you can make it more challenging by changing it, usually making it lower. You must include all of the items you’ve chosen in some way, either as a focus or as a passing comment.

With these building blocks, you can craft anything. Start with the sound or view and build up to why the objects are there, and who might be using, seeing or hearing them. Alternatively, do the opposite!

There’s a lot of freedom in this task and it relies on you to make decisions about the importance, order and reason behind each object. If you find it difficult, start with fewer objects and work up to it. In some cases, they’re integral to the piece while in others they add more depth to a character, location or situation.

This is also a great exercise to work on humour, as the random assortment can sometimes deny belief – especially if you don’t choose the objects.

Mix it up: The simplest way to mix it up is use different items/views/noises. This task literally becomes what you base it on and that means you have endless possibilities. Ask your friends to pick items for you, as they might surprise you with their selections. For a real challenge, ask a different friend for each one. Then you’ll have a completely random assortment.

This is only the first post of writing exercises. I’ve been talking to fellow writers and asking for their favourites, too, so expect to see some of those later in the series. Feel free to let me know how you get on, or if you have any writing exercises of your own!

The rollercoaster of 2020, and what’s coming next

Hello! Hi! Hey! Hiya!

I’m still here, but as I mentioned last time out (last year, geez) I needed a break. I finished the first draft of the second book of my current trilogy project, and it got a little intense towards the end as I pushed to get it done amongst two jobs.

It got a bit too much and while I wanted to do more short stories and other projects in the meantime, changes in location, lifestyle, working commitments and more made that a bit harder. In short, in November, I packed up and said goodbye to Australia (temporarily, I hope) and started a new adventure in New Zealand.

It’s been five months since then, the job I came for started well but a better opportunity came up that will keep me here until November, so I can enjoy a bit more of a stable life outside of a hostel. It’s meant a lot of change, and whenever I get used to a situation it changes!

That being said, since 2020 began, I’ve managed to dive headfirst into book number three, so that’s positive.

Picking up the pen (figuratively speaking)

I’ve harked on about this time off since finishing the first draft of book two for a while now, and normally I wouldn’t take so long away from writing but I’m also not one to force something that isn’t ready to be done.

In an ideal world, I’d be able to work on projects every day, but jobs take priority, and I like to go on adventures, too. Balancing that is a challenge but one I’ve got better at handling now that things have become a bit more regular.

I’ve also set myself a more realistic goal. I aim for one chapter a week. That means progress will be slow, but I’ll still get to enjoy my time in New Zealand and work/writing won’t suffer. In some cases, I’ll do more when it strikes but this is definitely doable.

Covid-19, holidays and isolation

As we’re all aware, Covid-19 has thrown us into turmoil so far in 2020. It’s a big issue and I was lucky to get back from a two-and-a-half-week holiday in Southeast Asia just before things go worse. I was in self isolation from the office, got three days back and then started to work from home again before a four-week national lockdown began.

I’ll still be working but I also can’t go anywhere. This means I have a chance to get more work done on my book than I thought.

January was a slow month, but February proved much more productive even with this great holiday I enjoyed! March has been a little bit of catching up but I’m almost back to my target just in time for the end of the month.

I’m hoping to get at least two chapters done a week during this isolation period, which will speed things up immensely – and if it goes on longer, then I can get even more done.

I’m trying to stay positive, you see!

Getting through the lock-down

And here we are. In lock down.

Well, I am. I know many other countries are, too, but plenty are not. Wherever you are, I implore you to be safe and keep the vulnerable in mind in whatever you do.

I’ve been thinking of ways to get through this. I have a book to write but other ideas and tasks can mix things up a bit, keep it fresh and interesting. The idea I have is to collate some of the writing tasks I’ve found and use(d) over the years and post them here.

Writing isn’t for everyone, I know, but it’s something that someone, somewhere, might find useful and that makes it worthwhile. This will start next week and if you have any ideas, please get in touch to let me know and I’ll do my best to fit them in.

Until next week, folks, keep safe!

Taking a little break

So, I’ve been a little quiet on the writing front recently. Some of you may have seen that I finished the second draft of my second book, and I felt so relieved that it was done, as at times it felt like a real slog, that I realised I needed a break.

Most of you will know that I’m doing a lot of travelling right now (and if you don’t, feel free to take a look at what I’ve been up to) and this creates some challenging environments and situations in which to focus on writing. That being said, there are plenty of positives, too.

While I tried to keep everything together, and balance the travel, work and different living scenarios, it proved really taxing. That meant that when the draft was done, I was nowhere near ready to do anything else for a while.

Normally, I’ll blog more or work on some short stories, but I couldn’t even face doing those activities, too – despite how much I love writing!

A couple of months later and I’m back to it, so there’s some catching up to do on my regular updates but also a lot of short stories I want to redraft as well as some new ideas to put into writing. I know already what I want to do for the third book of this trilogy and I’m going to start the first draft of that story in January.

Compared to the first book, which I completed fully before starting the second, this is also a little bit of an experiment for me. It will keep the world and characters I’ve created fresh in my mind but in a different part of their story. I’m hoping that when I come back to edit the second book, it’ll be easier to keep track of everything, fixing mistakes and refining the novel without as much back and forth and fact checking. I have a lot of notes, but things do change during the process.

The other reason for doing things this way revolves around my longer plan. I’ve been submitting the first book to agents since late 2017 and I’ve had no luck so far. That’s a shame but I’m not prepared to give up on it, yet. All the reader feedback I’ve had (select friends and some strangers I’ve met on during the travels – not all of which are science fiction fans) has been constructive and positive.

Most of the questions they’ve raised are points I wanted them to pick up on, the story and writing style are enjoyable and the characters interesting. This is enough to keep me pushing ahead with it. If at the end, I have no luck, I’ll consider self-publishing the first book once the first draft of book three is done. Then I can edit book two while pushing that, before editing book three while getting the second book out there.

There is a plan, and while it’s not going as I’d hoped right now, it’s good to have some goals. Over the next couple of months, I’ll have some new stories to send out and post, so you’ll see more of what I’m working on, too.

That’s it for now, ‘till next time!

I didn’t write last week…

…Except, I did.

When I’m working on a novel or similarly lengthy project, I set myself a target. It used to be 1,000 words a night back when I had one job and a stable lifestyle. I didn’t always meet it, but I did get some writing done every day, no matter how little.

With my current lifestyle, where I work three jobs and don’t have my own space, I set myself a different target; to write four chapters a week. I rarely meet it but usually I can get three done a week without too much trouble.

This week, I didn’t write a single word.

Except, I did.

I write five days a week in my current job. So, in reality, I actually wrote a lot. Writing I have to do to get paid. I need that money to live and continue my travels later one.

But, when it comes to my own project, I wrote nothing.

Instead, I worked my second job on four of those days and nights, after my main job (which is a 9-5). Again, there are benefits to this, but I didn’t write anything.

And I feel guilty.

I’m close to finishing the first draft of this project, and my goal is to get it done this month. That should still be doable, I hope. Not writing for a week is just going to mean I have to do more in a shorter time.

This is what I want for my future, and I feel bad that I’ve been so lax. I can’t even say I did anything exciting or had a good time. Don’t get me wrong, the people I work with in my second job are great but it’s not the same. I have no stories to tell, no pictures to show and no writing to mark that passage of time.

I didn’t write last week.

I feel guilty every time I let an opportunity pass me by. Sometimes I am too busy, others I know I’m not in the right frame of mind to do so. I still feel guilty. I’m trying to change that, to accept the decisions I make in my life, for whatever reason, are the best they can be in that moment. Maybe things would be different if I took those chances, but maybe not. There’s no way to know for sure.

I’m getting better. This has become a bit of a mantra for me, one I wanted to share. It’s okay that, as a writer, there are times I don’t write. It’s okay there are others I do. It’s okay to enjoy other things or prioritise other parts of my life.

I’m not there yet, but I’m improving every day. Every week.

I did no writing last week, except, I did. Then again, I also didn’t.

And that’s okay.