I’ve been struggling with time, recently.
It’s now the beginning of March—can you believe it?—and I’d originally thought that by this point I’d have my first quarter/fifth of Everborne drafted and ready to hand out to my reading circle.
Instead, I’m about two thirds of the way through. Having not edited something as large as 105,000+ words before, I guess I didn’t really know how long it would take me. (The next largest amount I’ve edited was probably something just below 30,000 words, from my MA, and that would’ve been split over two assignments.) My original assumption was that I’d be drafting, so I hadn’t accounted for the large amounts of rewriting that I’ve had to do—this, naturally, takes longer.
While I’m not worried about the pace I’m working at (with the exception of this week, but I’ll get to that)—you can’t rush art–-I’m still worried about how it affects everything else in my life. This should be a thought buried deep in the back of my mind, but it hasn’t been recently: it’s had a first class seat right at the front.
OK. It’s funny. It’s only now, as I try and put my thoughts into words, that I realise how much of an idiot I’ve been. I’m kinda annoyed at myself for only realising this now. That’s the power of the written word, I suppose.
Let me explain.
I was going to say that part of me is ashamed to be twenty-five and living at home (even though I’m happy and comfortable), to be working a job that is using my savings instead of adding to them, to be pushing back other events and milestones in my life, to, sum it up best, be moving in an opposite direction to most people of my age.
I’ve been placing expectations of the “norm” on myself, when really I’m not doing what is considered the norm at all. I’m not saying what I’m doing is special, but it is different.
Sure, the longer writing Everborne takes, the more sacrifices I’m going to have to make. And that’s what worries me the most. But by worrying about the future, when really what I should be doing is enjoying the present—I may never get a chance like this again in my life—is only going to add further pressure. And it’s a pressure that will only be counter productive. As Emily told me, I’m self employed, so I should be able to control the pressure that I place on myself, and to adjust it if it becomes unmanageable.
The whole reason I’m doing this is because I love writing. I want this experience to become a job I will love, so I can live a life I will be proud of.
I’m not working a job I’ve fallen into. One that I hate to get up to every morning. One I don’t know how to get out of. That can also be the “norm”. For many people, they believe they will never enjoy work—it’s work. I believe they’ve not found the right job. I love what I do. I don’t ever have that Monday feeling, or that waking thought after the alarm of Urgh, he we go again.
I’m fortunate I’ve found what I want to become: a published writer. I’m even more fortunate I’m in a position where I can do my best to make that happen. I shouldn’t be complaining at all. You shape your life as much as you can, to include as much as you can—but you can’t expect it to all happen at once.
That’s something I’ve lost sight of that recently. Hey, I’m only human. It’s hard to always maintain the belief of success. But I don’t have a back up plan. I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else. And I won’t need to, hopefully, as long as I continue the way I am—minus the doubts and worries, where I can.
This wasn’t my only struggle with time.
As aforementioned, this week I was unhappy with the pace of my writing. I was a little demoralised to look back on Friday to discover that it’d taken me a whole week to produce 2,600 words of Chapter 12. (Not Chapter 15, as I previously thought).
That didn’t seem like enough to me—not even close—even though they weren’t the only words I’d written. I probably deleted just as many as I kept. Every day I rewrote what I’d done the previous day, as I knew I wasn’t happy with what I had. Even so, it felt like I was stuck where I was, and it was frustrating.
I thought Chapter 12 would take me a few days, and perhaps that’s where I went wrong. By dismissing it as something that would be quick, by not giving it the respect it deserved, I probably made it harder for myself to write it. I thought I could just get it done and move on.
I was tempted to write today, so I could try and complete Chapter 12, but decided against it. I thought it’d be better to allow myself a break, to leave the work where it was, and to resume as normal on Monday. It’s already allowed me to feel more confident.
The next few weeks aren’t going to permit me full weeks of writing. My previous concern about time was partly fuelled by this knowledge, but now I realise I need to not worry about it. A few days here and there aren’t going to change much in the long run.
As the saying goes, you can’t rush art. One of my Sixth Form Art teachers used to tell me how slow I was, but I always got the work done, at the best of my ability. It’s the same with writing. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve produced since the start of January, and I think it’s much better than what I wrote before Christmas. I’m allowing myself the time to go over each chapter without being rushed. The reason this actually taking longer than I first thought is owed to Past Tom.
Past Tom was concerned about meeting word counts and deadlines; he encountered problems and thought Future Tom could deal with them in editing. Future Tom is now Present Tom, and he’s having to deal with those problems, all because Past Tom was rushing, instead of allowing his writing the time it needed.
I have to learn to be more relaxed about the time it will take for me to write Everborne. It’s good I’m thinking of the future, but I need to remember that there is no deadline. Not yet, anyway. I’m not thinking about agents and publishers and manuscripts just yet, as I’m not ready—I’m not there yet. Thinking about all that now won’t help me. In the same way, worrying about the future now won’t benefit me either.
I know I work hard every day. I put in the hours, the effort, the commitment. I’m putting in as much of myself into it as I can. As much as I love Everborne, I need to make sure it doesn’t consume me.
Writing these posts can be very therapeutic. I’ve shown above how it can help me think things through. It’s good I write these on a Sunday, as it gives me renewed optimism to start the next week with. Perhaps this week would’ve gone differently had I written a post for week 22.
Before I wrote the posts for weeks 20 and 21, I didn’t think I’d have much to say about either. It was only once I’d written the posts that I discovered I’d had quite a bit to say. However, I didn’t feel this was the case for week 22, hence the bumper edition of this post.
Week 22 was a solid week of editing and rewriting Chapter 4—which only made the frustrations of this week harder to bear. My only comment about week 22 was that I was disappointed to go over work and find it wasn’t as good as I’d previously hoped. However, as I improved upon it, this didn’t seem much of a problem—as long as when I come back to it I don’t think the same!
I don’t think I will, though. For the most part, I’ve been pleased with what I’ve written so far. I’m just improving upon it as I edit and rewrite. (This is why I’m eager for feedback from my reading circle, as I need their opinions too.) Hopefully I will continue to keep raising the standard, to keep bettering myself as a writer, and to keep improving the story that I’m so desperate to tell.