As I was reading this month’s copy of Writing Magazine, I came across an article by the author James McCreet. It began – ‘Here’s my guilty secret: I’ve not read a book or written anything creative for six months.’
I can’t tell you the feeling of relief that swept over me as I read those words. Looking back, it must be early July since I finally stopped tinkering with the manuscript for “Blood Flows South”. Since then, I have done no fiction writing at all. More than that, I have not given the next novel a single thought. To discover that a writer with his credentials was in the same position was a great consolation.
Even better, he goes on to write – ‘I believe such fallow periods are essential for any serious writer.’ Better and better!
I can’t say I found much of interest in the rest of his article. He made a positive decision not to write or read for that matter (an even stranger decision) and I have to say his reasons seem pretty weak to me, but each to his own.
My fallow writing period was definitely not a positive choice but the result of other things taking over. As I mentioned in last month’s blog, the opportunity to be Writer in Residence on board my favourite cruise ship was not one to turn down. Nonetheless, preparing and delivering nine writing workshops meant that everything else had to be shelved for a good couple of months. Ever since I got back, I’ve been hard at work researching and putting together PowerPoint presentations for seven history lectures for my Mediterranean cruise.
Taking ten weeks out of my preparation time for the Writer in Residence cruise has put me way behind schedule. Nor had I appreciated that the cruise company would want to see a copy of the presentations six weeks in advance.
I’m not complaining. I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve devoured every book I could find on Greeks, Romans and the Byzantines, and watched TV programmes and videos to the point that I count myself almost an expert!
I’m now at the stage that I can’t stop tinkering with the wording of the presentations – that’s the writer in me I suppose. Trying to find the perfect way to express an idea and make it accessible – to impart some of my great passion for history to my multi-national audience who will no doubt come with a wide range of prior knowledge of the subjects I shall be talking about – is a daunting task.
I shall no doubt return to earth with a bump when I get back. Mind you, Christmas will be around the corner by then, so it will be New Year before I put my writer’s hat back on. The first task will be to sort out the priorities. There are two novels itching to get written – the next Aunt Jessica mystery – “Undercover Geisha” – set in Japan and another Fiona Mystery set in Paris and the Loire. After our wonderful river cruise in Russia in the spring, I’d like write a novel set there though I’m not sure whose adventure that will be as yet. There are also a couple of nonfiction books I want to write, one on rewriting (I’ve already amassed a folder of notes for that) and another on PowerPoint for Writers.
When I finished the last novel, I promised myself that before writing another book, I would spend some serious time getting to grips with marketing and promotion. I need learn how to use twitter, understand Goodreads, grow my email list, investigate paid ads, research new key words and all those other things I should be doing, but keep putting off! It’s not just writing that I’ve abandoned since the summer. Apart from my blog, I’ve done absolutely nothing about promotion. I haven’t even kept up with Facebook.
One good thing has come out of writing this blog. I’m looking forward to making a new start. I’m not going to rush things. I spend too much of my time living life at 100 miles an hour. I’m going to sit back and enjoy it. That’s why I took up writing – not to keep putting myself under pressure or feeling guilty because I’m not eating, breathing, sleeping the latest manuscript.
There are times for all of us when life takes over – work, illness or to see to the needs of family members. We simply need to tell ourselves that when the opportunity to write again comes along again, we’ll be able to appreciate it all the more and we’ll come back to it all the more invigorated from our enforced break.
Happy writing everyone.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do get back to me.