29th July

or: Leaving this month’s post to the last minute, and other procrastinations.

A strange month in all. Let’s start with a highlight.

I got a new First Reader gig. With Fantasy & Science Fiction. Charles Finlay put a call out for applicants, I applied, my application was accepted. The team got to work just as the submission hiatus ended and have worked through nearly a thousand of the over eleven hundred submissions received. I’ve read some awesome stories. I look forward to some appearing in future issues.

One of the things I have noticed is more than a few stories where sirens of some sort are a key feature of the tale. I blame Rhonda Parrish. Her Magical Menageries collection Sirens is now out, and that means there are a few related tales that weren’t included still available. I myself wrote two stories for the anthology. One never got as far as submission, the other never made the cut. I hope to do better with the Equus call – though I need to get my finger out and finish writing the story.

Which means I need to be busy writing because over the next four months I am challenging myself to write a 40k word novella. To be fair, I have about 15k of early draft work done, but it will still be my biggest challenge. This is a story that has been with me for some time. Elevator pitch? The crew of a small salvage ship scraping a living on the fringes of the solar system find a derelict space yacht. It’s been drifting for two hundred years. What they  discover aboard sends them on a journey back to all the things left behind, and will change Earth/Mars relationship forever. How does that sound? I’ve never done one. The reason I’m undertaking this is to submit it to the Ab Terra call being edited by Yen Ooi.

In other, non-writing related news, I was at the hospital on Wednesday. I received official diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue. This wasn’t a surprise, but rather the culmination of a couple of years deterioration in my health. I had hoped my most recent malaise was a recurrence of glandular fever I suffered three or four years ago, but the blood work all came back as negative. The frustrating thing is on Wednesday I really needed to be sat at home with my foot up, as I couldn’t I have now strained ligaments. The constant pain is sapping. Imagine bad toothache, in your foot, for three days. Of course, as the family carer I’ve had to do more than I should, thought today and tomorrow should be days I can rest. If I’m sensible I’ll do some writing, or editing. It’s all highly annoying as I’ve just purchased a bike (2nd hand) to try and rebuild some strength, and have been swimming at the local beach (Cawsand).

Next month I hope to move back to weekly updates to help keep track of my novella progress.

 

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19th March

I can’t have a high, without seeking the low.

There’s a strong streak of self-destruction that runs through me – it’s a parental influence and I’m well aware of its source – whereby I cannot experience success, no matter how minor, without immediately feeling a deep rooted sense of failure.

So, I have my first pro-acceptance, and immediately I’m looking at my other work and thinking, ‘Yeh, but that’s all crap, isn’t it. I should just give up. No one wants this derivative, single-dimension, turgid, typo-filled dreck. Grief! I can’t have a well executed original idea if I try!’

On top of this my glandular fever is spiking, so holding onto a single idea and manipulating it is a struggle (as is staying awake all day).

That all sounds kind of ‘Woe is me!’ And I suppose, to a certain extent, it is. But it is also writing honestly, laying out an inner part of myself that I don’t like people to see because it’s part of me I don’t like admitting to.

Writing is easy. All you do is sit at the typewriter (or keyboard), open your wrists, and bleed onto the page. Yeh. I don’t do that. Writing is a further exercise in not being me, in exploring realities other than my own. Is that why it’s a struggle? Or is it all the typos? The meandering sentences? Or how about the jejune ideas?

But I still want to write. Oh, a writer NEEEDS to write! Right? Meh. I don’t need to do anything, except breathe. But there are things I want to do to a greater or lesser degree. I want to write to a greater degree. I want to not suck at writing. I want to…

Yeh.

Today is low.

My ideas are weak. The execution is poor. My grasp of basic English shows me up.

This being the case I’m grappling with a blank page, and writing. Writing, with words, and words. The best words (I have all the best words).

Because, while I have a self-destructive streak, I also have a very, very strong ‘Ain’t no-one tells me what is what.’ Especially where that no-one is me.