General Writerly Aargh

Before I start this somewhat grim ramble, I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has bought The Bean Jar recently, especially those who have left reviews. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it!

Succinct. Erudite. Eloquent.

That’s my writing style down in three simple words.

Yeah, right.

Right now my writing style looks more like this: “AAAAARGH.”

Well, I suppose that’s being a bit unfair. When I do actually get words to paper (/screen) they’re coming out pretty well. Only yesterday I rejigged a few paragraphs of Karin Cluster to a standard that made me nod my head in a particularly satisfied manner. Though ‘erudite’ they weren’t. Practically pornographic, yes. But considering that covers about half the book, it’s not much of a surprise.

The problem is getting those words to the page, and which bloody page it is I’m putting them on.

I’m having a crisis. A writerly crisis. And it’s making me want to bang my head against the nearest wall and bellow like Tormund Giantsbane faced with a particularly ugly wight (nb. if you’re not watching Game of Thrones, you should be).

I don’t know what I’m doing at the moment.

I keep starting things, getting incredibly enamoured, passionate, full-on writing nine-hundred words in half an hour kind of into it, then zip. The attention goes elsewhere, and the first set of characters are dead to me. I feel like I have so many commitments right now, both in real life and my writerly life, but I can’t actually commit to any of them.  I am the proverbial gnat. A gnat who’s so confused about what to do with its gnatty little life, it’s spending most of it paralysed with indecision on the sofa scrolling mindlessly through the same three social media apps while bemoaning the fact that there’s no time to be productive.

Bad gnat.

I should probably stop referring to myself as an insect.

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The only thing I’ve been even vaguely fruitful with has been reading. I read a hell of a lot of books in April – mostly due to developing a sudden passion for forensic pathology and books about death – but I can’t even commit to writing my usual monthly bookish blog post about it. I have drafts of it all over the place but again, the attention span just wanders right off.

It’s Liberation Day tomorrow – if you don’t know what that is, you need to read The Bean Jar – and I planned to do a whole load of book-marketing based around it. But somehow none of my plans have come to anything, and I’m now doing… nothing. Unless I have a major push in the next half an hour before I have to go to work, there’s not going to be anything special on my Instagram or Facebook tomorrow, and I’ve wasted an opportunity.

I’ve started two separate photo challenges on Instagram, one related to babywearing and one an exercise in deepening your main character. I’m just about pushing on with the babywearing one, but I’ve deleted my few attempts at the Character Development Challenge. They were cluttering up my feed and making me feel guilty about Bisous, Tilly.

And that is where most of my indecision lies. Bisous, Tilly. Karin Cluster. Even The Escapists. If you follow me on any kind of social media you’ll know I’ve been banging on about a Secret Project related to Bisous, Tilly, with a July deadline. You’ll also know I’ve recently reopened The Escapists for the first time in literally years and am considering resurrecting it.

(Sidenote: The Escapists was my book baby for years. Got accepted with a small publishing house but I couldn’t meet my deadline. Then the publishing house vanished, probably went under. Bye bye contract. The Escapists got shelved while real life took over. And now it’s started clamouring for attention.)

Bisous, Tilly and the Secret Project should be my priority. If I’m going to meet my July deadline (self-imposed, I should probably add) then I need to be working on it every single day. The edit it needs is enormous. I’ve been collating each diary entry (it’s an epistolary-ish story) and working out which ones need merging to work with the project, which need expanding, and which need ditching entirely. I’ve been trying to get deeper into the characters than I ever have before, really trying to bring them properly to life.

But I can’t.

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Something is blocking me. I’ve always been able to get into Tilly’s head far easier than any of my other characters, even though she’s a sixteen-year-old French girl and I am certainly not (though what that says about my mental age, I can’t possibly guess). But at the moment, it’s like she’s locked the door. Sulking, probably, that’d be just like her. I can’t get in there, and I can’t write in her voice. When I try, it comes out like… like I’m someone else trying to emulate her usual style. When usually, I am her.

(That makes me sound like an absolute madwoman. I’m a writer. Comes with the territory.)

I reread the entirety of The Escapists in two nights and I loved it. So much, I put it on my list of goals for May – start editing it and getting it up to my 2019 writing standard. And I’m more inspired to do that than Bisous, Tilly.

But more than anything else, I’m inspired for Karin Cluster.

I don’t know if it’s just because my head has been so tied up in The Bean Jar these last few months, or just that I had a few crazy heavy metal situations of my own recently, but I want to be writing my crazy heavy metal story again. I want to lust over Luka, commiserate with Clemmie, blush over Bobby. I want to close my eyes and imagine the rush of being on the front row at a metal gig you love, knowing there’s more to come after the show. I want to cry while my fabulously feminist main character has to make the choice between family, friends, or fuck buddies.

If I miss this opportunity with Bisous, Tilly, I’ll have it again. But not for another year. It’s a July thing. If I don’t do it the month after next, I’ll have to wait a full year before I can do it. And who knows what will happen in a year?

Though, flip-flopping wildly as I am, that does make me think – in that year, what can I do? Instead of rushing and chucking out the Secret Project, essentially making it up as I go along, I can take my time and hone it to perfection. With more time, the right equipment, and most importantly, the right mindset, it could be amazing.

And to continue said flip-flopping, it could also make me miss my moment.

I may have to go and cry into my cup of coffee for five minutes.

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I suppose, in the great scheme of things, there are far worse problems to be having. It’s not writers’ block that troubles me, as such, at least, just total indecision and the attention span of my toddler faced with two train sets, Buzz and Woody, and a Thomas the Tank Engine tent.

I haven’t made any concrete decisions yet (obviously; I mean OBVIOUSLY), regarding Bisous, Tilly and the Secret Project and whether or not I’m going to totally sack it in. But I’m getting the feeling that it might be all-round far better for my mental health to do so before I implode in a ball of damp writerly angst. On the positive side, that means Karin Cluster might actually get finished this year. It’s only about halfway-written so far, but with a Camp NaNoWriMo coming up, who knows what could happen?

If you’ve made it to the end of this semi-cohesive ramble, thank you for being my invisible sounding board. Hope you enjoyed the random writing memes spattered throughout this post in lieu of any actual photos!

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