I’m 2 chapters short of completing the draft one of the first Julien Trent novella. He’s a free-climber, a thief, and a civil servant, of sorts. Not sure of the title yet, but I know how it’s going to end. In total it’ll be maybe 60 pages in length and will hopefully be part of a series of 7. Equivalent to one 400 page book or thereabouts.
I’m aiming for tone and character rather than plot complexity. Each book will be a one-shot narrative, the extra details will reveal more about the characters than they do the specific storyline.
In response to injuring my knee eighteen months ago, I had to drastically cut down on what I ate, because physically, I was so much less active. The easiest way to do this, I found, was to simply not eat before 1pm, which I’ve been doing since last October.
Now that my knee is improving, I’m becoming more active, and it’s getting tough to not break my fast until 1pm. That’s a good sign, I guess.
I find that writing is one of the few things that allows me to maintain my focus and attention. Apart from writing, I can barely keep my attention on any one thing for more than five minutes. Three days in and I’m still only 53 minutes into Jumanji 2. It’s taking me days to finish reading a short story. I can barely complete a newspaper article before I’m flicking across the screen to read something else.
My mind is becoming a goldfish.
Think I’m going to start using a stopwatch on myself, and refuse to stop reading/watching something for at least 10 minutes. If that works, I’ll build it up to 15. If I could get to 20 minutes undivided attention, that would be excellent.
The strangest thing about the lockdown is not people ram-raiding supermarkets, or queuing at 2 metre intervals, or the quiet streets. For me, what it is, every night when I take my dog for a walk, is I’m passed by two or three buses while I’m out.
And they’re all empty.
Each and every bus is absolutely empty. I’m guessing there’ll be driver, though they’re usually past before I can check to see, but there are no passengers. They swish past, not stopping, because there’s no one waiting at the bus stops either.
I like it.
There’s something dreamlike about these empty buses passing by, driving no-one to nowhere, and doing it strictly to timetable. They’re like the muggle versions of the Knight Bus from Harry Potter. Seeing these buses zwish by with their empty seats and all their lights blazing is like something from the sort of dream you have when you’re unwell.
One of the things about being an independent writer is that I don’t always see the ragged edge. If you have editors and copy-editors and a team of readers, one or more of them will usually spot some glaring error in the text. They’ll query narrative dead-ends and point out non-sequiturs.
I don’t have that luxury (and to be fair when I’ve worked with publishers and editors they haven’t always spotted what turn out to be glaring errors in my work), so I have to trust my own judgement. And accept that my work will contains errors.
But it’s worth it, because I get to write what I want to write. I am veering more towards genre work of late, but if I decide to change course, I can, and will. Of course, my income from writing isn’t anywhere close to that of the most commercially successful writers, but then it probably wouldn’t be even if I had a team behind me, so I won’t cry over that puddle of milk; I’m where I want to be; I’m where my creative impulse has sent me.
The freedom to follow my muse, and the acceptance that I’m not perfect, is a powerful combination.
It’s half-nine on a Sunday morning and I find myself watching Jumanji 2. I’m looking forward to a day of reading, writing, chilling, turning the clocks forward, and sorting screws in the shed. And Jumanji 2, of course.