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.
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.