A fortnight ago, I announced that I was taking a leap of faith by quitting the day job in favour of taking up writing full time. Since then, it’s been a time of transition. I’ve had an emotional last day at work, and been treated to a parting gift of a beautiful pen set. I’ve had a leaving do, a hangover, some old friends for the weekend, and some more gifts – a bottle of Bombay Sapphire from an old university chum and a surprise bunch of flowers from an old colleague. It’s been a good time for getting presents. And on Monday, I pulled on my pyjamas and got to work. Yes, I wear pyjamas to work now. Because I can.
How’s it gone so far? Well, as Helmuth von Moltke the Elder once said (and I find 19th-century Prussian generals make the best life coaches) ‘No plan survives contact with the enemy’. I had originally intended to try and get my daily dose of writing first thing in the morning, and then have the rest of the day free for such activities as going for walks, drinking tea with friends, cooking dinner, and looking for a part-time job. Disappointingly but entirely predictably, this hasn’t quite worked out – the writing has spilled over into the afternoon several times, and my health hasn’t co-operated either. But hey-ho – chronic pain is part of my life now, and I just need to manage it as best I can, and hope it gradually improves. And the good news is that, by making writing my top priority, the thing I do before I do anything else, I have so far managed to achieve my creative goals. Which was, after all, the whole point.
What were my creative goals for my first week as a writer? I reported here back at the end of May (https://ruthdehaas.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/at-the-crossroads/) that I was considering various options for what to write next. I had been hoping that, by now, I would have a steer and be able to get on with churning out the first draft. As ever, things haven’t quite gone to plan, but I have received some feedback on my ideas which has enabled me to refine the list of options, and this week to revise the outlines for the two leading candidates. At the moment – and of course this could change – the front runners are Forever 27, a tale of sex and death and drugs and magic and rock ‘n’ roll, and The Silvergreen Sea, a fantasy novel about a heavily-forested land facing ecological disaster.
The Silvergreen Sea is a fairly new idea, currently very much at the planning stage, with nothing actually written so far. In contrast, Forever 27 was started back in November 2011 and I’ve spent quite a lot of time – albeit intermittently – on it since then. This week – with a little help from my friends at my writing group – I finally wrestled the outline into a shape I’m fairly confident will actually work as a novel, while remaining true to the original concept. The bad news is that this has changed it so radically that I’m going to have to chuck out everything I’ve already written. Oh well. So you could say I’m currently working on two projects, both with a wordcount of zero. Put like that, it might not sound like a great deal of progress, but I figure it’s better to have ideas and no words than words but no idea.