Journal#21 – In the Engine Room

2022 is proving to be a strange year. One I’m definitely having to adapt to.

This is my year of ideas.

Over the last two years, I’ve seen so much change. I published another poetry collection (Little Quakes Every Day), a novel (Composite Creatures), and saw an opera performed, which was based on my mythological poetry (Folk Tales).

I also had a baby, little N. Can’t get more life-changing than that.

And then 2022 arrived, and it’s all been very still and calm. At least, on the outside. This is a year of writing.

Writing many, many, things.

I have one book confirmed for release in 2023 (more details about that should come soon-ish), but the other projects – potentially another four books – are still hovering in the air. It’s thrilling, to the extent where I feel like all the air is pressed out of my chest when I think about them.

But one lesson all writers must learn early is patience.

I was truly awful at this at the beginning. My gawd. If I was waiting for news of anything, my head would be full of fireworks. And when working on a new project, I’d often send it to be read prematurely, just out of sheer excitement. Poems and stories that really weren’t ready to see the light of day.

But I learned very early on that this approach doesn’t work. In fact, I cringe at the thought of some of the mistakes I made! Luckily, I can see the funny side. But it’s still hard to be patient when you’re desperate the see the gears turn the little dancing puppets on the stage and you’re stuck in the bowels of the engine room.

But being stuck here has had so many unexpected benefits.

I’m having quite an unusual surge of decent ideas at the moment. Periods like this happen to me about as often as a lie-in when you have a toddler. Normally, I have one good idea for every ten truly terrible ideas. And that’s being generous. Luckily I can tell when something isn’t working quite early on, so I’ve never wasted too much time on those bad seeds. Besides, even bad ideas teach us something about how to avoid bad ideas (that’s probably why I’m so good at identifying them!)

I think this strange creative surge is because the most recent books I’ve written are all relatively short. When I’m consumed by a long novel, I lose myself in the layers of that story. I can’t see the way out of it. But this year, I’ve ricocheted from book to book in the style of a clumsy amateur gymnast. And while I’m not at the skill level of a trapeze artist quite yet, I’ve definitely limbered up. I’m now at a point where I literally don’t know which idea to do next, because they all – from the outside – seem decent!

It seems I quite like the engine room, after all. It’s cosy. With so much potential.

Lots of projects on the go means lots of uncertainty, but also lots of excitement too. I’m so incredibly lucky to be at this point, with a few extra potential books on the horizon and collaborations to develop. And I’m sure once the destinies of all these projects have been resolved, I’ll then be frustrated that I don’t have even more finished projects to queue up!

And then, back into the engine room I will go. Hooray!


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