Skip to main content

Writing about writing: I did a bad thing.

I am sitting across the dinner table from my sister-in-law when I realise something: I don’t want to be with my husband anymore. The thought comes together innocently enough. It’s one of those background thoughts that play over someone’s conversation. You’re not fully committed to what the other person is saying, and so you have a few tabs open in the background: Bugger, I forgot washing up liquid; Did I send that email, or just draft it – must check; Can’t remember whether the car is booked in for the morning or the afternoon, better check that too; I think I want to leave my husband; Is this chicken cooked?

*

The title of this post is slightly disingenuous; let me just be up front and admit that to you right now. I didn’t do a bad thing, at all. In fact, I did what I think is probably a very smart thing.

If you follow my PhD posts then you know I am about to start what will be the fourth – and, I hope, final – edit on my PhD novel. At this stage it is very much a labour of love because, while I am as passionate about my protagonist as I was three years ago, it is still three years spent working on the same book with some level of intensity – and that, my friends, can get a little tiring. I am happy – that’s an overstatement but I’ll edit a better emotion in at some point – to be going back to the book, even though I am slightly nervous about it, too. My supervisor tells me that it will work my creativity a little; although the stroppy child that is my creative brain is going: ‘But whhhhyyy do I have to ediiiiiit mooooooore?’ It’s creative editing, if you will, because there will be new writing – but there will also be more line edits, and we all know how much writers just love line edits...

Enter complicating action: While I am on the cusp of editing one book, my brain is cracking its knuckles and making plans for another. And I will not succumb to the temptation. I want to – God only knows how much I want to – but I also know that I cannot give enough time to two projects of this magnitude to do them both justice, particularly when I am so close to finishing one of them already. I will wait – because the idea will still be there; the perfect notebook (given to me by a dear friend at my book launch), will still be there; my words will still be there – and better still, I will have the time to write that with the intensity and enthusiasm with which I have written my PhD novel and that, I think, is the key to sticking it through these longer projects.

This is all logical – especially for the creative brains who may be reading this. It makes sense and I have thought about this long and hard, discussing it with fellow creatives along the way.

‘You can’t give yourself entirely to two projects; it’s definitely best to wait,’ one writer-friend recently told me – and she’s right.

So I – the human, logical individual I – am waiting. My brain:


Not so good with the waiting...

So this morning after I had rolled downstairs – not literally, although you can pull on that funny image whenever you need it today – I made my tea, I booted up my laptop, and I opened a fresh word document. I had a line rattling around my brain: ‘That’s when I realised I wanted to leave my husband’, and I ran with it. For just over 1000 words, I ran with it. It isn’t a story – although one day I may discover that it’s part of one, or a prompt for one, we’ll see – but it was forty minutes of unencumbered creativity and my brain? Well...


It was good stretch, and whether it amounts to anything or not seems entirely inconsequential given how good my brain feels for having done it. So my bad thing – ignoring my book for an hour to write something else – may actually have been a smart move for the book overall. And even if it wasn’t – at least I took my brain for a walk... 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

In Her Wake is the recently published novel from Amanda Jennings, released a little earlier this year by the friendly folks over at Orenda Books, and it has been collecting glowing reviews – all of which I have tried to avoid – for weeks on end. Now, having dipped into the book myself, it’s clear to me why. I was around three pages in to this read, in fact, when I turned to my friend next to me and said: ‘Bloody hell, this is going to be a good one.’ The novel follows the story of Bella. A young woman who returns to her family home following the unexpected death of her mother, only to be greeted by a father who is so overcome with guilt and anxiety – perhaps what you’d expect following the loss of a spouse, but certainly not how you’d expect it – that their already strained relationship only worsens in the opening chapters of this book. When Bella’s father, Henry, finally reveals what he’d been holding in for so long, Bella’s world promptly falls apart – and the reader’s heart pr

The Diary of a Whatever I Am Now: Corrupted Hard Drive.

Take a walk with me. We’ll go back to August 2010, late August, when I finally found out that despite my below par A-Level grades, there was a university in the country that was prepared to give me a chance. Praise be to them. Ahead of starting this journey, my generous mother bought me a laptop. A brand spanking new laptop. That my kind and patient sister, and her partner, set up for me and taught me how to use. They deliberately picked something that would suit the university life style – and they were bang on the money in that respect. That laptop lasted I-don’t-care-to-remember how many assignments and a 10,000 word undergraduate dissertation. Let’s not forget, either, that during my first and second summers home from university, I also wrote two “novels” (I use that word in a bland and unimpressed tone, incidentally) that were typed on that same laptop. From there, we moved to postgraduate studies. More assignments and eventually a 25,000 word dissertation. By this point

The Diary of a (former) PhD Student: Now I actually have run out of work.

In case the title of this blog post didn’t give it away, let me clarify: I have handed in my PhD thesis.  I handed it in exactly a week ago, actually, and I would have blogged a brag sooner if not for the fact that the day after my hand-in, a family member was taken into hospital, and the last week has sort of slipped away from me as a result of that. It’s been a while since I gave you an update at all, I know, and the last time we “talked”, I was in this blissfully ignorant place of not having any work to do. Let me catch you up from there:             My readers were wonderful. All of those who read and provided feedback for the book part of the project were insightful, considerate, and careful with their responses. I ironed out technical issues and even one or two final plot holes and so, to those who read the manuscript ahead of hand-in, I cannot and will not ever be able to thank you enough.            My supervisor made me cry. A lot. The “final few twe