In a book review I wrote recently, I talked about getting my reading mojo back. Sometimes it’s dangerous to make a bold claim like that, especially so publicly. For some people, it becomes a commitment and spurs them on. My brain works differently, and it can just as easily lead to catastrophic failure. Fortunately, not so far with the reading, and I hope the book reviews I’ve posted recently are a testament to that.

Aside from having lost my reading mojo, though, something much more serious happened. I lost my writing mojo.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more conscious of time slipping away. Sadly, it is true that it passes more rapidly as you get older. 2023, for example, seems to have disappeared with very little to show for itself – certainly on the writing front.

I could be wrong, but I suspect it’s the consciousness of time passing that’s led me to gain a much greater sense of satisfaction from life when I’m writing regularly. A milestone birthday happened last year – a reminder that time on this planet is limited. Another birthday is coming up soon and this one’s a reminder that I’ve written bugger all of worth in the past twelve months. There have been attempts at rewriting early drafts of a novel, but each one has stalled for a variety of reasons. In most cases, I can rationalise the interruptions as issues that genuinely needed more attention. But some were just because I’m in a mindset that it wasn’t worth getting started again since something else was bound to crop up.

So, for more months than I can recall with any accuracy, I haven’t bothered writing anything. Not even touching my blog. And that brings with it a sense of frustration. Especially when I think about the limited time I have in front of me.

Obviously, I don’t know how long that time is. My grandmother lived until she was ninety-eight, so I could have nearly forty years ahead of me. But my dad died when he was seventy-five – which looks a lot closer. And, whether we’re talking ten, twenty or forty years, who’s to say that those years will be filled with good health and a clear mind? In his last five years of life, my dad struggled with his breathing and mobility. My partner’s mum has dementia in her seventies.

Although it might seem morbid to reflect on this, reminding myself of the limited time I have available could be the kick up the arse I need to get on and make sure I do stuff while I still can. And so I made time a week or two ago to start rereading the first draft of a novel I’ve written. It’s the second in a series. I’ll talk about the rest of the series on other occasions. For now, though, I’ll focus on Renegade (its working title for now).

Like most authors, as I was reading it through, I found parts that I was pleased with, and others that left me cold. The opening is too slow (not unusual for my early drafts), and the ending seemed to take too long. But that’s what edits and re-writes are for. Because the story itself felt right – appropriate even – considering what had happened in book one (Borderline). The tone felt different, but I suspect a lot of that was down to the change of location. Borderline had a largely urban setting, whereas this one is very rural. Also, Borderline was more of an ensemble piece, whereas Renegade focuses more on one character.

Perhaps inevitably, changes like that are a concern. If readers are coming back to a series, they probably want more of the same. And there are certain characters I want to see more of. The saving grace for me is that I’ve already written book three and I know those other characters are back with a vengeance. So maybe I need to resist the temptation to shoe-horn them in.

What’s more important than any of those issues, though, is that I’m thinking about it at all. After months of suppressing the urges to make an abortive attempt to start writing again, I’ve begun the process. I’m only a few chapters into the rewrite, but that’s a damned sight further than I was only a week ago. And I’m thinking hard about what needs to change. Where the pace needs ramping up, where the background needs spelling out more clearly, how I make the characters really feel it when the shit hits the fan.

My mojo seems to be returning. I’ll keep you posted on its progress.