Sunday, 6 July 2014

Six Months In

I've actually been working permanently as a writer for about seven and a half months now ... but I tend to discount that first month and a half before Christmas since I mostly spent it allowing myself some slack and addressed some lingering health problems, so by my reckoning it's basically been six months since I began writing full time.

Sadly this is not a cake I made myself to celebrate.
It's been, on the whole, a good six months.  But for a tough relationship break-up and a vicious bought of flu and the fact that you don't go from being physically and emotionally wrecked to joyously happy and Zenishly calm overnight, it might even have been a great six months.  But you know what, good is okay.  Good is, in fact, pretty good.  And I'm glad to say that the personal stuff is much improved: I've finally finished the interminable-seeming work on my sort-of-recently-purchased house; I've been learning and relearning all those life skills that working two jobs pushed to the sidelines; I've been repairing my health, rediscovering neglected friends, even starting to think about actual hobbies.  And most importantly, I've been writing five days a week, writing and editing and researching and blogging and submitting and keeping on top of e-mail, doing all those jobs that fall under the banner of Writer and being able to enjoy it all again.  Like any job it's had its off days, but the good ones have been by far the majority, and given what I gave up and gambled to do this it would have been pretty devastating if that weren't the case.

The upshot of all that is that I've written one and a half new books.  Almost exactly, in fact: To End All Wars is finished in first draft and The Novel Formerly Known as "War For Funland" is well past the fifty thousand word mark.  Add to that a comic and half a dozen short stories and I've produced nigh on 200'000 words, which is somewhere around three times my output of last year or just under twice that of the year before.  At the six month mark.  And most of it, I think, is as good as or better than anything I've done up until now.  I've also redrafted my first novella Patchwerk, thirty thousand words worth, and worked through about the same in short fiction.  And research-wise I've plowed through some twenty books, something I could never have even conceived of when writing was a second job.  I've done everything I'd hoped to get done and maybe a touch more, and while I'm definitely keeping busy it's rarely felt like a slog.

So that's it for the first six months.  Between now and Christmas I'd like to finish The Novel Formerly Known as "War For Funland" - god I'm so bored of calling it that, it's called Degenerates now, okay there I've said it!  I'd also like to get most of the way through an initial draft of my first Crime novel, currently under the working title of The Bad Neighbour.  At the same time I need a chapter plan of novel number seven ready by the end of December, which means figuring out an actual plot, which means a hell of a lot of research into both witchcraft and the Middle Ages.  Then there's the second draft of To End All Wars, a few more short stories, and ... well, whatever else comes up.  Even us obsessive planners can only obsessively plan so much.

The conclusion, if it isn't obvious by now, is that I'm not regretting my hazardous leap out of full time employment and into full time writing.  Right now I feel that even if it fails I still won't regret it.  I've wanted to do this since I was a kid, I understand now how badly I needed to do it, and now I am, and as I think I mentioned somewhere up there, it's good.