Coming back from a break…

A piece I made for my friend (Template by Paper Panda)

It’s been 11 weeks since I last wrote a blog post. It feels strange to be back, but I’m pleased to finally be here. Over the past couple of months I’ve read books, found new series to watch and even developed a new love of crafting via paper-cutting. It’s been a revelation to realise just how much free time I actually had: time that used to be spent writing, plotting, blogging and tweeting. In some ways, a part of me wonders if I really have time to go back to writing at all…

They key thing to returning from some time away is to not expect too much too soon. I may have been churning out short stories, editing the novel and blogging and tweeting regularly before my break, but I won’t reach that level of activity immediately now I’m back. That is not realistic. A lot of the next few weeks will mean going back to the basics, not over committing and exploring those elements of writing that I know tap into my passion for it.

Paper crafts need patience

Paper crafts need patience

The positive aspect of such a long hiatus is that I feel refreshed, energised and relaxed. I think part of my reasons for needing some time away was inextricably linked to the pressure I was putting myself under to forge a potential career from my writing. But, that isn’t what it is about. There is no time limit to my dream, there is no reason to rush through it and try too hard to mould myself into something I am not yet ready for. If anything, I have learnt the value of stepping back and engaging in other creative pursuits. Paper cutting has reminded me of the rush I used to get when creating fiction: the planning, the effort, the final piece. It hasn’t felt like a chore or a task to be done: it was simply something to do for fun – and I had lost that feeling when it came to writing.

Yet, I love writing and I can’t help but come back to it because of this. Although I might struggle to return to it, I know that it’s time to re-focus my goals and get back on the path to my dream of publication. I have not been totally idle during my time away; I did reread my manuscript in June and then passed it on to two more beta readers for their comments. Therefore I am coming back to the novel with renewed eyes and a certainty that the first page and a half can be cut and a good idea of where the niggles are to be ironed out. The aim here is to prepare the fist 5,000 words for entry into the Mslexia Novel Competition; I think it’s ready for it (or at least will be once September 21st rolls around!).

And that’s all I’m promising myself that I will do in the next month or so (that and perhaps my Writing Group homework – lest I get into trouble!). As much as my idealistic self might dream of it, writing is not my job. I think I have spent too much of this year trying to convince myself it could be, when in reality I am more than happy with it being a pursuit I explore our of enjoyment. Yes, I want to be published, but that doesn’t mean that I have to pursue this in exclusion of all else. I need to find a balance, and with my time now limited thanks to other opportunities that I am currently committed to outside my part-time job (Festival Secretary for the Huddersfield Literature Festival only one of these things), it is more important that ever that I ensure I don’t over-do things and risk spoiling my health.

So, yes: I’m back. But I’ve not yet decided on a blog schedule or writing goals outside those 5,000 words for Mslexia. I suppose that is another thing I’ve realised during my ‘time off’; that I don’t need to be prescriptive about what I must do. If I want it to happen, I’ll make it happen. Eventually.

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12 responses to “Coming back from a break…

  1. Lovely to see you back blogging again and I’m so pleased you feel rested and refreshed. Easing yourself in gently is the way forward, and I agree with you about taking a slower pace and not knocking yourself out!

    My own start to 2015 wasn’t the best health wise, and the road to recovery can be long and hard, and different to how things were before. So listen to your body, and go gently.
    Best wishes with everything you do Cat…

    • Thanks Maria, really appreciate the welcome back. Hope that your health has improved too. Different isn’t always bad – I’ve learned so much since I was diagnosed with ME and one of those things is how to be happy.
      Take care
      Cat x

  2. Your paper-cutting is beautiful. I might give it a try.
    On an unrelated note, I’ve tried to stick to a schedule but found it unnatural at times and am still trying to find the right “blogging process” for me.
    Good luck with yours! 🙂

    • Thank you – I suggest you check out Paper Panda and By Charlie’s Hand if you’re interested in paper cutting – that’s how I started. Though I warn you, it’s addictive!

      Think you’re right about a blogging schedule, sometimes it can be more difficult to stick to than is necessary – especially when I can’t think of anything worth sharing! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Hope you continue blogging – the important thing is that you enjoy it I think!
      Take care

  3. Great to see you back! Its definitely easy to over-commit and to forget that writing should be enjoyable, first and foremost. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to stop and step back from it because I’ve become hellbent on letting it become my life, which just leaves me disillusioned and drained. And as you’ve said yourself, living with a disability means your energy is precious so you need to use it wisely.
    Best of luck with Mslexia, and indeed with all your writing 🙂

  4. Nice to see you back, and your paper-cutting examples look amazing. Stress and feeling overwhelmed are counter-productive to creativity, as I’ve discovered myself recently, so I think your strategy is the right way to go. I’m trying to establish myself as a proofreader — as well as a writer — having recently completed a course and finding this difficult without any experience to speak of. I notice you have beta readers for your novel, but should you require anyone to proofread your 5000 words before submission to Mslexia, I’d be happy to do it for free, in return for a testimonial — only if you’re happy with the outcome, of course. The offer’s there, if you want it.

    • Ooh, Julie that sounds like a fantastic deal 🙂 I may very well take you up on that – sometime at the end of this month? I’ve reread those words so many times I don’t see the mistakes anymore so a fresh pair of eyes would be great.
      Do you have a website? Post the link here if you like.
      I’ll be in touch. Thanks for the welcome back 🙂

      • I haven’t established a website, as yet, because I’d like to get some experience under my belt first — think potential clients would be more inclined to trust my abilities if they know of other satisfied customers.Will probably link it as a page to my blog, initially, so when it’s in place, I’d love to post the link on your site. Thanks for that. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    • Hi Julie, is the offer to proofread my upcoming Mslexia entry still valid? Happy to give you a testimonial in exchange. It’s due on the 20th, so would need it back in a week or so – would that be okay? How can I get in touch with you? Or, if it’s easier, drop me a msg via my contact page.

  5. It’s disarmingly easy to over-commit, as I think I’m beginning to find. I am so busy reading other peoples blogs and maintaining my own, that ‘normal’ reading is relegated to the last hour of the day and editing my first draft from last year has taken up residence on the back burner – to say nothing of the output from last year’s NaNoWriMo!
    Having said that, I have always been rubbish at time management.
    It’s good to see you back, Cat, and good luck with Mslexia.

    • Thanks Keith. The important thing I’ve learned over the last few years (of living with a disability) is to prioritise. For every task ask yourself ‘is this getting me closer to where I want to be, or is it distracting me from it?’. I love reading blogs, but it’s so easy to procrastinate this way: now I give myself half an hour every other day to catch up, and that seems to be a good balance for me.
      Good luck with your own efforts. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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