Balancing Priorities

The positive result of having targets when writing is that once you have reached them you can kick back and enjoy your free time without having to feel guilty. I’ve had a busy week, in addition to a difficult few days with my health. However, knowing that I’d already managed to edit a large chunk of my desired 5,000 words of NaNo #1, I was able to accept rest was the better decision.

This leaves me with only a small deficit for my 24,500 word end of June goal for the edited draft of That which is left is lost (aka NaNo #1).

Progress made on edited Draft 1

As for the typing up of Cecelia’s Story, my target by the end of June was to have completed 4,500 words. I was able to spend an hour on it yesterday – in short bursts and therefore exceeded my target. Go me!

Cecelia’s Story: Words typed so far

I’ve also kept up to my blog post schedule and started reading another novel this month – The Incident by Kenneth Macleod. However, what I haven’t managed is that two hours of writing time dedicated to submissions and/or competitions.

I do still want to submit to the Writing Magazine subscribers competition on Separation, which closes on the 12th July. I already have a 1,000 word piece that links in very well with the theme that I hope to adapt to the word count. But, I just haven’t been able to focus on it this week.

In all honesty, this is the goal that is most likely to slip: I feel comfortable with my novel edits, I know where I want to get to with them and the deadline I have set for it. Once the edits are done on my novel there is a clear next stage. Competitions, however, are the unknown. The work that I put in to writing submissions may go entirely unnoticed. I don’t want to say that it’s wasted – because I don’t believe that any time writing is ever wasted – but if nothing comes of the submission it is easy to wonder if the time was well spent.

There is a certain amount of weighing up to be done here, though. Entering into competitions, submitting work, is currently my only chance of getting my writing out there. When it finally comes to pitching my novel it will be beneficial for me – as the writer – to say I have had work published elsewhere. Thus, in the short term it seems sensible to prioritise the novel, but in the long-term short fiction may become a significant factor.

Of course, if I never finish the novel short fiction accolades won’t help me in that way. But, it will mean my writing is out there – that I can consider myself ‘published’, even without the completed feat of a novel manuscript.

So therein lies the balance that has to be discerned: between working on the novel and refining my skills using short fiction to ensure my writing is publishable. It will be important to understand this over the next few months, to not bury myself in the comparably easy task of editing my novel and instead push myself to continue to submit short fiction. It’s all too easy as a writer to turn in on yourself and hide behind a piece you know will take a long time to refine, all the while trying to believe in your skill when it hasn’t yet been put to the test.

Hopefully my health will improve enough over the next week or so (providing I don’t overdo it again) and my tasks will become manageable without seeming I have to choose between them. I hold myself up to high standards – I know this – but I’m also aware that if I don’t reach these I will still have accomplished a lot just because I was aiming so high in the first place.

There’s a fine line between pursuing ambition and the desire to achieve the impossible, and I think I may be walking it.



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