Not long ago, I wrote about not being very good at getting reviews. It occurred to me that, on the face of it, there’s a good chance it might seem as if I’m not much good at writing either. The reason I say that is because it is now over five years since Ravens Gathering was published and I haven’t produced another book since.
At this point, I should clarify what I mean when I say: ‘not much good at writing’. There is quality and there is volume. Of course, I think I can produce good quality writing. I know that sounds conceited but, in the main, Ravens Gathering has been well received by the select few who have read it – and, no, they aren’t all family members. Whether I can produce good quality writing consistently is a different matter, and certainly something I’ve struggled with on the latest draft of Carrion.
But sometimes producing any quality of writing consistently is a product of volume – i.e. sitting down and writing most days (and ideally every day). That is where I’ve had doubts, because I feel I haven’t been much good at writing volume since Ravens Gathering was published.
We all have doubts about ourselves at times, and often those doubts loom large in our minds, eclipsing the positive things. For some people, it can be about self-worth, and they focus on the areas of their life they feel bad about or have been criticised for and ignore their achievements. For others it might be about physical traits – weight, fitness, etc. – and have hang-ups about these that are disproportionate to the reality.
In the case of my writing, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take a step back and consider the background. There was the sale of my business (my day job), so I could free me up to focus more on writing. That took a lot of extra time and finally came to fruition last year. And the transition from working full time to being able to concentrate on writing took a lot longer than I expected. Even after that, some changes in my personal life meant I chose (I’ll never say I had to do it, because it was a choice) to set aside the writing for a bit longer so I could get some balance back on that front.
All that aside, during the last five years, I’ve written a first draft of Birth Rights (the first part of a trilogy), and made several attempts to rewrite Carrion, a novel I started long before I wrote Ravens Gathering. So I’ve not been idle, but I haven’t actually reached the point where there is a final product.
I’ve written elsewhere about where I’m up to with Carrion. The pause on that project is deliberate and necessary. During that pause, though, I am writing every day. Some of it is typing up an old story ready to edit and revise; some is returning to the blog and being a little more active. If I have time, I may also finish off the plotting for Life Signs, the second book in the Birth, Life and Death trilogy (the third is Death Duties, if you’re interested). The main thing is for me to write consistently so when I’m ready to review and write the next draft of Carrion, I’m in the right mode.
Some years ago, I took up running. Owing to an injury, it only lasted about four years but, during that time, I entered races fairly regularly. My reason for entering wasn’t my competitiveness, because I’ve never been competitive. No, the reason for entering the races was to ensure that I kept running each week. Because, if I knew I had to run 10k or a half marathon, I knew I had to be fit for it. So I kept my fitness up by running two or three times each week.
The mistake I would sometimes make after completing a race, particularly the half marathons, was to take a break from the training. My mind – and body – seemed to tell me that I’d earned the break and I should have a rest. The thing was, when I started training again, I’d struggle to complete three or four miles, in spite of having run 13.1 miles only two or three weeks earlier.
Momentum was the key with my running, and I realise now that it is just as important with writing. Sometimes it takes a while for the blindingly obvious to sink in.