Onwards and Upwards into 2019
January 1, 2019
Here, in my little corner of Scotland, the world is calm, the sky is unusually blue and my head, for once, is clear on this glorious New Year’s Day. It’s a day of hopeful beginnings, where nothing is certain and anything is possible, bringing with it a fresh opportunity to change and grow, to learn from past mistakes, do things differently – and most importantly – to leave the ghosts of last year firmly in the past.
Which is exactly what I intend to do in 2019.
2018 was a difficult, chaotic and obstructive year for me, personally and professionally. Life didn’t just intrude into my writing space, it came crashing through the door, hurling bloody great rocks at me from every direction. The biggest and hardest were of my own making, wielded by my inner demons in an attempt to crush me, body and soul.
I’d rather not jinx this optimistic post by reliving past horrors, but for those of you who would like to know how not to tackle a first draft, you can read about my descent into madness here. Thankfully my demons didn’t crush me, mainly because of my Weeble-like powers of stubbornness and resilience, although there were moments in the last and darkest part of the year when they did bring me to my knees.
Other frustrating obstacles outwith my control have been less destructive and more of a hindrance. Building work inside and outside of the house caused a lot of upheaval, stress and noise for much of the year, subsequently followed by a spate of plumbing disasters which left us with a bloody great hole in our kitchen ceiling over Christmas.
I’ve also had to take on additional caregiving responsibilities to support my elderly mother. This has brought a new set of challenges to my work-life balance, to which I’ll have to find new and creative ways to work around for the foreseeable future.
Suffice it to say, I didn’t achieve all of the writing goals I set for myself at the start of 2018. But that was then and this is now. There’s no point dwelling on things I can’t change. 2019 is a fresh start, a blank page, a chance to build on what I have achieved and to cut loose all of the baggage that’s held me back.
That doesn’t mean I plan on making New Year’s resolutions I know I won’t stick to, and which will inevitably come back to haunt me in a few months’ time.
This year I’m not going look back with regret. I’m not going worry my best isn’t good enough. I’m not going to let perfectionism slow me down. I’m not going to let social media make me feel like a failure. I’m not going to compare myself to other authors. And I’m not going to let my demons defeat me.
What I am going to do is pick myself up, dust myself off and throw those soul-crushing saboteurs straight into the skip.
But first, I’m going to thank them. The obstacles they threw at me did slow me down in 2018, but they didn’t stop me. They’ve made me stronger, wiser and even more determined to succeed. I’m not the writer I was ten years ago, and neither is the ambitious story I set out to write.
I’m a better writer.
Still slow, still a work in progress, but when I compare the original draft of The Caves of Tavannar to what is currently my seventh, I can see just how far I’ve grown. In its entirety, The Crystal Keeper has also grown beyond my wildest hopes and dreams into an epic fantasy trilogy of cosmic proportions, rather like a stack of Matryoshka dolls in reverse.
At this point in time, I’ve rewritten from scratch a new 157k first draft of The Caves of Tavannar, and completed a first and second draft of book two, The Book of Seven. I’m currently a quarter of the way through revising the second draft of book one, which I’m working through one point of view at a time so that I can ensure the major characters’ voices and arcs are both distinctive and consistent from beginning to end.
The process of redrafting is taking longer than I hoped it would, mainly for reasons mentioned, and, perfectionist that I am, because some of the earlier chapters need to be reworked and the world-building/ mythology expanded. I’m hoping later chapters will need less revising. Time will tell, but it’s more important to me that my first series of books are the best they can be before I release them into the world. I don’t know yet when that day will be, but I’m determined to make it happen, one step, one word at a time.
Rocks, demons, even the Hulk won’t stop me in 2019.
Because Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down.
I wish you all a very happy, healthy and productive year.