Non-writerly and un-readerly friends recently bemoaned the fact that neither Mark nor I have been around to hang out with them as much as we’ve done in the past.
To be honest, I really didn’t notice / realise this!
Oh, I lie. I maybe did, vaguely, at the back of my mind. Last year we were incredibly social, making sure we had people around every couple of weekends.
This year…not so much.
The reason is mainly because both Mark and I are keen to get our respective books done. Me, for the end of June and then hopefully to continue with the New Shiny whilst Djinn is out on submission. Mark is working on his epic fantasy novel with zombies and wargh! and bloodhsed. He’s just over halfway through that and is hoping to be done by the end of the year…then revision starts.
So priorities for both of us changed dramatically over the past few months.
For me it was the realisation that I really wasted last year, the remainder of last year, after finishing Djinn, by doing very little and thinking about it a lot.
Or was it really wasted?
I spent the the year puttering or noodling around with Djinn but never really wanting to revise it in full. I was scared of it. Of the next step.
Instead I read a lot and I wrote a lot of other things. I joined SCBWI and I also joined two critique groups. I kept up to date with what was going on in the market and I reviewed over a hundred books. I went to writers events and publishers events. I networked and met new authors and established authors. I spoke with a lot of editors and agents and publicity people. And I listened and I paid attention. I felt a bit spy-like.
And looking back now, I realised how much I’ve learned in this past few months. By reading practically everything that’s come my way I have been subjected to a variety of styles and stories. By listening closely to writers, tutors and other people in the industry I have an informed opinion about what is currently going on in the market.
And now I’m thinking that whilst I’m revising Djinn for the third time to completion, that that time I spent maybe wasn’t a waste but it was an opportunity for me to learn and realise that I needed to learn. On one hand it sounds like an excuse – can I ever forget Meg Rossoff shouting: WRITE THE BOOK! – but to be honest, I wasn’t ready. But more importantly, Djinn wasn’t ready. I was hungry for it to be done but not hungry enough. Now I am. I’m hungry and I’m hoping that it will find an audience. If not, I’m happy to put it in the bottom draw because most times, the first one is not good enough, no matter how much you want it to be.
Then I’ll work on the New Shiny and disappear into a cave where friends won’t be able to find me.
And I think, after our recent bbq at home, with non-writerly friends, when we explained to them what was going on, they actually GOT where we were coming from and understood. And made lovely noises of encouragement. It was actually really cool to see the interest spark in their eyes when I told them about Djinn. I’ve not told them about it before. And then a big compliment came when one of them said: hurry up and get published so we can read it, dammit!
The confidence and the enthusiam really made me smile and I love them for it because they totally understood what both Mark and I needed to hear right then – excited noises and compliments. And that, afterall, is what friends do.