Life and other problems…

*taps screen* This thing on…? Good.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Generally, I think you’re not meant to apologise for your blog going dark for long periods of time but I’m not convinced this is actually the best advice because it assumes readers don’t notice. My audience is small but I think you do notice if I’m not posting. The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted why: I’m getting married in a few weeks.

Juggle bitch, juggle…

For all my productivity hacks and obsessions with wringing every ounce of productivity out of the day sometimes there’s just too many balls in the air. For the last few weeks it’s been a case of head down and plough on as details were finalised for August, the pressure to deal with the pre-summer hols work stepped up and I tried to keep going on new material. At last it’s starting to feel like this is quietening down to a sensible level again now. As ever with these things, I think I’ve learned some lessons.

Timelords are fictional…

As much as I might like to pretend I can keep going like the energiser bunny the truth is, like everyone else, I run out of steam at some point. One of the frustrating realisations during this period was that I’d been running at full whack for so long that my overall capacity for Getting Shit Done started to drop. It’s like driving a five gear car and having fifth gear suddenly taken away from you. There are only 24 hours in my day, I can moan about it all I like or I can work with it and adapt.

Write smart…

For me this probably means I need to write shorter books. The Scarred God racks in at 140k, Forever (in its current mid draft state) has bloated to 156k (too big and, if I continued as is, would be even bigger on completion). This means that redrafting becomes a massive task, particularly as I don’t seem to be able to stick to prescriptive outlines, and I find I suffer from severe project ennui after about 100k. At this stage with my novel length work I am more bothered about improving on each project than submission which compounds the need for fast turn-around. I’m planning to aim for the 100k mark in future as, for the stuff I write, this seems to be happy medium between the desire for slightly bigger books in fantasy and being able to turn round a project in a sensible time frame.

Reducing Forever…

In the case of Forever I’ve opted to take the chainsaw to parts of it. I don’t have time to plough on and then edit down. I need to produce a tight draft as soon as possible in order to move on to other things and, depending on my view of the feedback, have a chance of using it for the purposes of either getting an agent or a deal. Given it’s contemporary fantasy it’s just too long for its market. Cutting down is, in my view, markedly easier than grafting in new material as, particularly at this length and this early draft stage, there are often chapters that clearly don’t work and a tendency to have a scene for almost every transition. I think it’s probably harder if you want to change the plot arc but I don’t, I just want to make it much tighter, and so it’s about cutting out the fat and using the skills I learned writing flash and short stories to imply what’s happened off the reader’s mental eye. I’ll probably do a post on how I approach this next week.

Acceptance is serenity…

I’ve learned I just need to accept that sometimes I can’t get everything done that I would like to and so I need to accept that. It could mean the house is a shit tip for a few weeks, it could mean I need to blow off writing and other projects for the day and just go plonk myself in the cinema for a bit, it could mean I book myself into a conference that just serves as brainstorming time, and it almost certainly means that from time to time my blog will go dark. I think I’ve finally learned that I’m not willing to get stressed over this.

For those of you – rare few that you probably are – who want some more frivolous fixes of Neil you should probably head over to twitter and follow me there.

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