Thursday, May 29, 2008
Best Laid Plans
You would be forgiven for thinking that my lack of activity on this blog over the past six months is due to an extraordinary amount of progress on my novel: hours and hours of sitting at my desk, churning out brilliantly written prose, hurtling through the chapters and finally finishing the first draft.
My total dedication to finishing the novel would definitely explain my lack of presence on the web, both here and on the numerous forums and communities that I usually gravitate to.
If only that were so. Unfortunately, there are a few other reasons why I have been a little bit “quiet” lately and none of them revolve around completing my novel (and none of them are all that exciting either).
At the start of the year, I listed my intentions for the first six months, identifying my priorities and putting together a battle plan. Completing the first draft of my novel was the first priority.
It was my intention to have a completed first draft and three polished chapters to take with me to Harrogate Crime Festival 2008. There was no expectation that anyone would be asking for them at the festival, but I hoped to make contact with agents and / or publishers, grab a business card or two. Then, as the battle plan dictated, I would make a submission to these nice people, while my face and name were still fresh in their mind. I would have three chapters ready to go and a completed draft behind me, not only for the off chance that someone would like to see a partial or full manuscript but for confidence and practicality. Consensus says that it is best to approach agents and publishers when you’ve got a completed novel to hand over if so requested to do so. Nothing worse than being asked for something you don’t have.
Sound battle plan.
Then came reality. The goal with the lowest priority, performing well in my temporary promotion at work, took over and monopolised my time. The new position equated to long hours and mountains of frustration. Sure the experience was worth a lot, I don’t begrudge that, but ultimately, my true calling suffered.
In short, the first draft isn’t complete. Not by a long shot. And to tell you the truth, as I sit and type this, I am at my most frustrated and lowest point as a writer thus far. And what’s even more frustrating is that my disappointment doesn’t come from producing a piece of writing I’m not happy with or finding out that I’m not much of a writer after all, but it’s the fact that I haven’t had the chance to do what I set out to do. I haven’t had the time and the consistency that I believe I need to get this novel completed. Writing a few thousand words one day and then nothing for a week is not an efficient or effective writing approach. For one whole month in March/April, I hardly sat in front of the computer at all.
But I must look forward and I must stay focused and positive. I won’t be able to do what I had planned for Harrogate and I don’t propose to take short cuts like submitting chapters without a full draft backing it up – that’s not the approach I want to take. So, instead, I have to regroup and get back into a routine of writing and not worry about a potential wasted opportunity.
And really, it won’t be wasted at all. Harrogate will be a blast no matter what – it is such a great experience for any budding writer. You talk to people, listen to what they have to say, soak up information and advice from the best in the business; and you have a bit of fun. It all makes a difference. I might even take a few chapters along with me; just in case.
You never know.