It is the 30th of December and a new year looms. I am still sat, writing crappy poetry and vacillating between numerous unfinished projects.
I have the main project, the one I have been working on for three years and have recently sent to my mum for beta reading and comment, as a kind of semi conscious bid for validation. However I sat and read through a few chapter this morning and realised- it’s still not there, it’s still not ready. It’s good, but I don’t think it’s at the stage yet where an agent would take it on.
So what do I do?
This project has sapped my energies, demanded blood sweat and tears which I have readily produced and made available. I need to finish it, and get it sent off to agents, just to reassert some kind of balance in my mind.
The amount of time and attention I have focused into it now needs to balanced by a kind of resolution; I don’t think it’s good enough yet to be accepted by an agent but for myself, the act of sending it off to see would work in my mind as an adequate counter weight to all the exertion of writing it.
I’m tempted to simply send it off now, just to see whether anybody comes back and says the thing which would set my spirits flying- “it’s not ready to be published yet, but it’s good enough that with some more work, it would be.” This is the validation I need.. though I know the likelihood of any nice literary agent actually relating this to me is very slim.
Moreover, after doing some research I’ve realised that the way to submit nonfiction manuscripts it with a proposal letter, which is going to be a fairly massive piece of work in itself. Long story short- I still have a very long way to go, and this fact is starting to wear me down.
I think my current problem, and the thing which is causing me extra stress, is the fact that I have to go back to work on Wednesday. My fixed term contract is up at the end of March, and so what I should really be doing with my time at the moment is searching for a new job. This is filling me with unease, and yet it’s something which can’t be escaped. My attentions are so divided at the moment, and I feel as though I’m simply not going to have the time to finish this dam book.
One of my colleagues at work gave me some thoughtful advice, back before we broke up for Christmas. I’d told him I was working on a book, and he knows I’m coming up to the end of my working contract and was kinda freaking out about finding new work. He suggested I apply for Universal Credit, at the end of March, and then take a few months to get the book finished. He told me not to tear my hair out over the next few months, and instead take the time I need to get this dam novel out of my mind and onto paper.
I’ve been fairly stressed at work over the course of the last couple of months, and he’s perceptive enough to have picked up on that, and decent enough to take the time to think about my options and then give me advice. I confessed to him I’d already had that thought, and that it was really nice to have someone else reassure me that this wasn’t a terrible idea. Obviously the usual line is- put work first.
I wouldn’t be too bothered about going back onto benefits for a bit, and I’d be looking for jobs- I’m not simply going to give up on working for a living. I guess I just feel that I haven’t worked long enough yet to be able to simply take a break, without really good reason. Isn’t that the kind of thing which looks bad to future employers..?
Either way, I do still need to look for jobs, whether I plan on starting a new job at the end of March or later. I really struggle with splitting my time and my attention in this way. Naturally I’m very tunnel visioned, and I work best on my writing when I can simply immerse myself in it for at least an entire week.
As my life is speeding up and filling out I’m sensing I will have less and less opportunities to work in this way. I can’t simply block out all my other responsibilities, and push away all the other things which demand my time.
I need to develop new time management skills, in my day to day life- and this really all comes down to routine, really, and consistency. I want to devote three hours a day to writing, and be strict enough to keep to that and keep myself in the right kind of mindset to be able to use that time to its best advantage.
At the moment I’m so torn by numerous other side projects and ideas- I’ve got another novel I’ve spent hours planning and plotting out, and I’ve got a good 35,000 words already written of. But to continue writing that I’d need to spend at least a whole day reading back through what I’ve already got and then getting back into the mindset of the plot.
I don’t have an entire day at the moment! And can’t really imagine the next time I will have, and these admissions keep sending me into something of a tailspin.
I’ve got two short stories which would only need a couple more days to complete, and an idea for another novel in itself which I’d love to pursue. Which project should I focus upon? This question leads me back to the honest acknowledgement that I should keep focusing on the main one and get that done, before starting to branch out. Though that simply leads me back to stressing about job hunting.
I feel like I’m caught up in a worry spiral.. and subsequently I’m hardly getting anything done. I have spent the last two days cleaning, and de-cluttering my flat- the most rigorous and worthy of procrastination techniques. My flat looks great- but I haven’t got anything written.
I am at last at least back on WordPress, which usually functions as a stepping stone between total inactivity and writing. I wrote a poem, which wasn’t that great, about Mary Shelley- but that only made me more frustrated as the desire to one day write something even half as incredible as she did is so dam strong.
Anyway- 2019 looms, and right now anything really does seem possible in the new year. Just gotta keep chipping away, keep focusing on the goal and keep trying to make each hour count.
I’m still hopeful; still convinced I can get all these words out of me in an order I’m pleased with.
Wish me luck..