Writing uphill

‘I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.’

Douglas Adams

I currently have five books on the go. It’s too many. I need to put some of these to bed before I go insane.

I like multitasking. I always think it’s good for the brain to have several different levels of activity. At the front of the mind is your active project, the job that’s right before you. Behind that is the thing you did last, or you’re planning to do next, and beyond that the deeper images in the mid-memory. Your ideas pool swirls right at the back, ready to be called on at any moment – or ready to pounce upon you when you least expect it.

And though the majority of your energy is spent in your short-term memory, it does you good to have other things simmering away in the background. A little time not actively thinking about your work can invigorate it and give you answers to questions you were only dimly aware of posing. It’s good.

Right now I need a break. I’ve been swimming in various different incarnations of Antarctica for three years (Night Shift, Australis and New Gods) and, after a particular vicious slog, all I want is to start up something new so that when I have to return to the bottom of the world I’ll be able to see with fresh eyes.

But life doesn’t run like that. Writing is work and to be a writer you sometimes have to push yourself to places you don’t want to go. I’ve just received feedback from a beta-reader on the latest incarnation of Night Shift and I have to turn right round and get back on that particular appaloosa once again. See, I promised my interested agent that I’d get my manuscript to her ‘early new year’, which I’m reliably told is before the end of February.

Not gonna happen. I mean, I could just abandon my betas and send it off now, but then what’s the point in asking for feedback if you don’t act on it? No, I want this work to be the best it possibly can be, and that means ploughing through once more; my last revision was a biggie, and I need to reassure myself that I’ve not committed any egregious crimes against rationality or miseries of melodrama.

So I’m having to pull NS back to the front and opening that file once again. Hopefully this will be a bit of a canter. And then it’ll be back onto fresh virgin writing. Somewhere in there I’ll have to get back to my sequels, and to the last tidy of Chivalry, and maybe…

They say that no piece of writing is ever finished, it’s just published. I need to get something out there, to say definitively that this is done.

But not yet. There’s still a lot of work to do before then.

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