Week 5 as a full-time writer?

I think it must be about week 5, but I’m too lazy to check the calendar. I type this in between preparing dinner for the Significant Other (he will be home soon) and trying to squeeze out a few more words on “The Badger Bride” before the sun goes down.

The last few weeks have been busy and very productive: I taught an online course for Queensland Writers Centre, which was great fun; I’ve edited and critted a metric buttload of stories; I attended a workshop run by the awesome Kelly Link; I’ve finally handed in the bound version of the interminable PhDoom; I’ve written a couple of articles; and I’ve written a LOT of words, some with Lisa Hannett on Midnight and Moonshine (we’re over 50k), and some on my other collection, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (of which today’s story forms part).

Up until today, the words have been most accommodating, flowing freely, generally in the right order. It’s been lovely.

Today was just one of those days. The kind of day when every word comes out coated in blood. When your inner editor will not be shut up with chocolate and coffee, nor distracted by shiny objects or promises of shoes. When your frustration is so intense that you could scream because you KNOW this story – you have plotted it out, you have it planned from head to tail, you love it – but it does not love you.

Today was the writer’s equivalent of a bout of terrible, terrible constipation.

Today was one of those days when I wandered around the house, talking to myself (best not witnessed by anyone else, especially not the man who loves me), and finally gave up and watched cartoons for a while.

And with the cartoons came a memory, one of those deep-seated things that runs in the background but which I still forget from time to time: some days you just have to push out the workman-like words. Not every day will see diamonds and roses and pearls fall from your lips. Some days, you just need to produce the brown stuff before you can start polishing it up.

Today was a reminder that writing is rewriting, no matter how good you are, no matter how many years you write.

So, today was bricks and mortar; today was building a strong foundation, which is in no way sexy, but is reliable. Tomorrow (or the next day) is for adding the shiny bits, the sequins, the ribbons and bows.

Writing is hard work, as the lovely Charles Tan observed.

But some days – like today – I get reminded of that and I am eternally surprised.

Then again, sometimes an awesome thing happens too – like Alan Baxter naming a video game character after me (with a double-handed broad sword no less). That’s cool.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, those potatoes aren’t going to mash themselves. And at least, unlike the words, they won’t fight back.




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