Shelving It

1981b510e2326d3f2781c457c5026510I sometimes wonder how many other aspiring authors have full time jobs. I follow lots on Twitter and WordPress both, and they seem to write a new novel every other month. I work forty to fifty hours most weeks and while I know this isn’t uncommon anymore (they keep putting the price of tea bags up!) I feel suddenly lucky to suffer from insomnia. I’d never get anything done otherwise.

I’m mainly a short story writer and have been for a long time. This means the format and word counts of my prose can change dramatically from project to project, but it takes about a week to write one. This includes editing it, leaving it to simmer for a few days, rewriting it and then posting it somewhere. I’ve talked about how I plan to release my novel as a serial and that decision has enabled me to work along the kind of time scale I’m used to.

Well, that was the plan anyway.

As I’m sure it has with most of us at some point or other, life has gotten rather vocal lately and I’ve had to prioritise. Sadly the novel has had to take a back seat while I sort out insurance claims, unwell relatives and an overwhelming desire to quit my job and wear a cardboard box on my head until everything settles down again.

But leaving my writing in a document somewhere and forgetting about it hasn’t ever turned out to be a bad thing for me. Looking over my work with a fresh eye often helps me pick up things I’ve missed while editing, or made me come up with filler for the plot holes I’d been tempted to gloss over.

I’m talking about breathing space, cutting off from the work for a while to prevent yourself getting so close to it you end up missing something important. Iain Broome has written a little about it over on the WriteNetwork before, and while I agree with his points I still can’t help but feel disheartened at times like these. It’s all very well to expect the words to mature like a wine while I focus on other things, but it’s a little different when the situation is forced.

I keep thinking about Monday. I have the entire day to myself and I’m not going to let it go to waste. I shall activate my hermit mode and finish the final draft of part one of this thing if it kills me. Speaking of which, have a hundred odd words from the latest version and let me know what you think…

It started with a dream, or perhaps a memory. The evening was still clinging to the pavement, the last lines of sunlight dragging along the cracks in the slabs as the sun faded into the distance beyond the Shard. Being lost, ignored and labelled a vagrant was something I wore like a shield as I walked between the tourists along the South Bank, head dipped low.

I can’t remember what fancy brought me so far central, away from the places I knew so well. Zone One was as bright as ever. I dodged the lights above stumbling foreigners as they consulted the maps on their phones and questioned automated InfoPoints. Buses and taxis lined the road beside me, waiting to ferry them back to their hotels and hostels to wine and dine and argue with each other.

I knew the routine but didn’t miss it much…


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2 thoughts on “Shelving It

  1. Are your short stories the ones you post on this blog? If not, will you one day share them with us?

    I don’t have a job right now (but hopefully that’s going to change soon) and I don’t know where I’d find the time to write if I did D: my time management is bad enough as it is.

    Enjoyed the excerpt. You’ve improved it a lot. Looking forward to reading it :)


    • They are and they aren’t, I have a massive backlog of stories that are in notebooks all over the place but they’ve got no home as of yet. Some go up on the blog, others I want to save to enter into competitions etc. Most are longer than the ones I tend to post though, simply because I’m not sure how well longer pieces are received on here.

      I like to blame a lot of stuff on working full time, but the truth is I’m a terrible procrastinator anyway. I’m sure I’d still write everything in the dead of night anyway!

      And I should be thanking you! A lot of that is down to my lovely betas, you gave me so much to think about it was fantastic. :D


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