While this blog has been quiet for the past couple of weeks, I promise that there’s movement at the station. It’s been a productive time for the manuscript – you remember that thing? – with a writing blitz last week that left me a little stunned.
I had woken up to find the sun blazing mercilessly down on Melbourne (the middle of a three-day hot spell of 40-degree weather, coming not less than a week after wild hailstorms and flash flooding. Bless this city.). So, I kept the curtains drawn and turned on the laptop, sat down at the dining table, and wrote. And wrote. And just kept on writing. Without distraction, without temptation, without music to get me into the mood or one of my favourite books nearby to inspire me on a turn of phrase. The lovely wife estimated that I wrote for ten hours, give or take. And every minute of that was 100%, without-a-doubt, enjoyable. Cross fingers for me that every day is this easy, and I’ll do the same for you.
After not having done any major work on the manuscript for a few months, this has been a bit of a breakthrough. By putting it aside for a while and thinking through story arcs, characters and what I wanted to say over these 100,000-odd words, I was able to have ideas gestate in my head a little more freely than I’d be letting them previously. By giving them a little air, I’d found that certain aspects fitted together a lot more smoothly than I’d previously suspected, while others needed more explanation to get the characters and story to where I needed them to be.
I’m not there yet, of course – I haven’t mistaken a milestone for the destination. Much of what I did was centred on cleaning up what had gone before – tightening up motivations, rounding out the dialogue on conversations, beefing up the momentum of the plot and stripping back extraneous phrases and rambling descriptions. But, I feel like a weight has lifted from my shoulders. I now have the first major movement of my story well and truly under wraps and swathes of later chapters completed (if not necessarily ready for scrutiny). The Lovely Wife has read the first 15k and found them legible and mostly free of embarrassing spelling mistakes or inconsistent tenses.
If I was to tack a pithy moral onto the end of this little story, it’s this: sometimes you honestly need to have a break, put the work aside, think about it for a while and come back to it when you feel ready. It’s okay, honest. You still need to prioritise and give yourself time to do what you need to do. And, if you ever feel the itch then don’t put it off if you can – just get stuck into it and ride that wave for as long as you can, whenever you can. To stall or take a little longer than planned isn’t failure. Giving up is.