Last night I realised it’s been nearly a month since I finished my 2013 365 Challenge (although I’m still blogging daily). Twenty-four days since I had to hold a story in my head every day; to remember who was in scene, all the strands of plot that needed completion, all the characters and their stories and flaws and mannerisms.
Four weeks since I had to format a word document for Smashwords, search for the perfect cover image or wonder what the weather was like on a random day last summer. To worry if I was taking Claire through a development arc as well as a physical journey.
I felt a bit sad, especially as I no longer get any downloads on Smashwords – checking my stats always picked up a gloomy day. I wondered if some of my sense of being adrift is due to not having that thread of continuity with me all the time. like leaving work or finishing a university course, or breaking up with a partner.
Then, in my new spirit of Happiness, I thought I would list all the great things about finishing Two-Hundred Steps Home.
- Finally being able to read all the novels I’ve wanted to read for ages, rather than just reading Tripadvisor reviews and the YHA website
- Catching up on blogs and actually leaving comments. Okay I’m still behind on my aim of three comments a day, but I probably managed fewer than three a month last year
- Eating lunch while watching Bargain Hunt instead of researching tourist attractions or driving routes with Google Streetview
- Going to bed before midnight
- Getting stuck into crafting a novel, including all the pain of fixing continuity errors and plot holes, and being able to work on any chapter rather than having to stick to a strict linear timeline
- Writing poor prose, just to write something, and knowing I can change it!
- Walking the dog without tapping out dialogue into my phone: feeling the wind on my face and not falling into rabbit holes
- Sitting down after dinner and the kids-to-bed routine without that lead weight in my stomach and the dread words “I have to write my post”
- Spending time after the school run; getting my head straight, listening to the radio, drinking tea, and not feeling guilty that I’m not writing
- Going out. I actually went to the cinema this evening for the first time in years, and afterwards talked about something other than my blog and Claire
- Spending time with new characters and getting to know them
My work rate has dropped off as a result – I’ve only written around 12,000 words this month instead of the usual 20,000-25,000 (uncrafted words, too, whereas I proofread every Claire installment) – but I barely feel like I’ve done any writing and still the words pile up. I wrote 600 words on my iPad while waiting for an appointment yesterday. Before the challenge, I would have seen anything less than 5,000 words in a day a failure, but I could go days without writing anything. I have now learned that daily 600-word scenes quickly add up to a significant amount.
I learned so much from the challenge, although I’ll probably save that for another post. But, in some ways, I’m having to learn to live without it. It’s good to realise there are loads of positives. Mostly I feel there is time to breathe.
Now, time for another cup of tea.