Happy New Year.
I hope you enjoyed your Christmas holiday and managed to find time to see your friends and family, avoided arguments, drank and ate to excess, and were surprised with thoughtful gifts.
I haven’t posted on social media since June 2017 with the haunting words of ‘taking the rest of the year out’ which, although I am by no means a maths genius, seemed to imply I would be posting again in 2018… and here we are, the 1stJanuary 2019. I am completely aware that the few people who may have read my blog before may not remember I exist, and I am writing this to speak to myself, so to speak, as in… well, so to speak… so, this post is to convince myself more than anything that I am still a presence outside of my own bedroom and that when the time comes, I still know how to communicate. The last year has been a quiet, self-reflective period, to say the least.
My last self-published short story went online 15thApril 2017 which means that I have been working on my first novel for twenty months, although that is just in terms of writing. I thought of the idea many, many years ago and had a rough outline in my mind long before putting words down. I really wanted to have a first draft ready by now, in fact, before Christmas was the plan, albeit an arbitrary self-imposed plan. You can guess by my tone that was not successful.
I think I am probably another three months away from a first draft, and thinking about that April date above, it seems convenient to give myself a new deadline of April, i.e. making it two years in total. That doesn’t feel too bad, this is my first novel and I’ve learned a lot (if I do say so myself) so I’m not going to be too upset that it’s taken longer than I expected, however I can’t get away from the fact I have not been as disciplined as I could have been. If I had really concentrated and worked harder, put in longer hours, a twelve to sixteen month timescale should have been feasible. I have achieved many days of four or five hours writing but very few of seven or eight and I firmly believe I have it in me, and I need to find a way of getting there.
It is hard to explain the relief I feel when I know I have produced some new words. The days I do not, all too common, leave me feeling useless. The disappointment of wasting a day knowing you could have written or edited, and by doing so, moved forward with your work, is one that leads to gloom. I don’t want to sound over the top, I am an amateur after all, and this is no different to what most people feel when they under-achieve in whatever field or tasks they are undertaking, I am not unusual nor unique in these problems, but nevertheless, it is immensely frustrating. I will turn forty next year and the annoying thing about that is that when I first conceived of the story I am writing I was probably around twenty or so. I have explained before how I first explored the majority of what I want to write in my teens and twenties, and in this case, I imagined one of the two leading characters in the story to be turning 40. I wrote an outline imagining what that would be like and the sore truth is that it took me so long to get my act together, writing wise, that now I am nearly 40 myself the book has turned out to be far more self-reflective than I wanted it to be, and in fact, it isn’t the story I wanted at all, however I will persevere and finish the damn thing, because I want to first of all prove to myself I can do it, and second of all, I have many more novels and short stories I want to get on to. I am not very pleased with the story, but I am pleased enough. It is not near the standard I hoped for and I have over-written a lot, I’m currently at five hundred thousand words with another fifty to one hundred thousand to write, before the time-consuming job of editing it down. It is not flowing as I intended and there will be quite a lot of structural changes to work through. However, again, I am going to persevere because I am a believer in getting better by doing, and I always (self-doubt no-doubt) thought that it would take me two or three books to get to a level I would be happy with.
That leads on to quickly explaining my renewed focus for 2019. Just as I have not been on Facebook, etc. for the last couple of years (In fact, I have gone one step further and have deleted the majority of my personal information, un-liked all pages… by the way, that had to be done one at a time and I had liked over 3000 so imagine how long that took, plus pages liked by my pages which have a different method to un-like… a right pain… so please accept a mass apology for not being a follower of your page anymore, nothing personal, I just feel a whole lot better having minimised my data, including removing pretty much everything off my phone) I will remain off social media until I have completed this book. So, I may not blog again until (**put total guess here**). I have decided to delete all previous posts and updates, and to leave my pages blank. Next time I post will be a complete re-boot.
I have come to the conclusion that in terms of the business side of the company, I cannot help anyone else. I have worked very hard with others over the last few years, both in strategic terms with my colleagues Rufus Garlic and Alfred Duff, and in shorter bursts with other amateur writers who needed quicker one-off helping hands. I have learned a lot from Rufus and Alfred, and the others that I have dealt with, so I do not want to sound like this was a one-way deal, however, it takes a lot of time and effort, and I now feel that I must focus on myself. The level of input from others has not been enough to propel us all along, instead the stop-start nature of writing, promotion, marketing, and so on, has meant that I am still involved in projects that are years old, and in some cases, have stalled completely and I can’t deal with having those projects on my mind anymore. I took the decision to stop working with others early on in December and will stop accepting queries and projects from now on. I will keep my company, Thinking Plainly, open as a self-publishing company for myself should my position change in the future, but all existing titles and works (including those that were never realised) will be transferred to their respective authors. I wish them all well and genuinely hope they don’t give up and put in that extra effort to progress their writing.
This means that I need to take a bit of time to reorganise my social media platforms and websites, but dismantling things take far less time than setting them up, so I imagine six years of work can be wrapped up in a week or two. There is something very sad, but also very pragmatic and eye-opening about that. A valuable lesson.
On a personal note, the last two years have been tough, I have lost some family and struggled with a resurfacing of some emotional issues, but nothing that I want to go into detail about and nothing that most people don’t have to deal with. It is just life. The main thing is that I am still here, still getting up every day and trying to get on with things, I would like to say I am trying my best, but I’m not there just yet, as I have already said, I feel I have another couple of gears to switch into yet and I’m hoping 2019 will be the year I find them.
One little anecdote for any writers out there trying to up their game like me. Invest in a good back up service and make sure you use it. For the first time ever, I had a laptop die on me in 2018. How many times have you heard horror stories about this but never believed it would happen to you? I use a Mac and I did have a Time Machine but I didn’t use it regularly and as fate would have it my laptop died three weeks after my last back up just before the weekend when I intended on backing-up. I lost about twenty thousand words because luckily I had emailed myself the stuff I was working on to check on another machine so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I also lost all of my passwords and usernames. That it turned out was a far bigger pain. I had to reset hundreds of accounts but I took that opportunity to finally close down stuff I didn’t use anymore. That was a two-week chore of emailing companies asking to close accounts, prove ID, retrieve data, etc. If anyone read up about that GDPR stuff then you can imagine the time it took. All in all, a major headache but with the end result of making me a much more organised and, hopefully digitally secure, person. I now use an online back-up service that autosaves every single word I write, and I back up to a time machine every day. I have no old or re-used passwords, everything on 2FA and the minimal of accounts open. Even if I am an amateur, this gives me a peace of mind I didn’t have before. I would recommend everyone to have a thorough digital spring clean, it is a frustrating but worthwhile task. You will be amazed at the amount of data you have that needs looking at.
Okay, enough. I don’t have much to say other than I wanted to blog to show any random visitors I am still alive. As I said, I don’t know when I’ll be blogging regularly again, I actually quite miss it, but whatever I say it will be wrong, so I’ll simply say, see you here when its time.