A longer post this week. Firstly I’m so glad I could tell you all my exciting news! It’s absolutely crazy to be working with Chicken House and Random House, and I still can’t believe my luck. Will fill you in as we go along.
In the meantime, let’s start at the ending. In an alternate version of The Sound of Music, it’s a very good place to start.
I finished my Creative Writing MA course on Tuesday. I don’t hand in my final thesis and poetry collection (a retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice from the latter’s perspective) until September, but this was the last time we were all going to be together as a group. It was a strange feeling. These people were the reason I wrote The Cartographer’s Daughter in the first place; I have made (I hope) lifelong friends; and learnt so much about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
My cohort taught me precision, humour and humility (plus whiskey) will get you through most writerly problems. I am sure I will keep in touch with many of them – and I am sure many more will go on to be incredibly important writers in their field(s). I don’t want to gush, but really, these guys are something special. It is daunting to realise how many talented people there are out there, but it is also invigorating to know that I have worked with some of them.
We had some brilliant speakers too. Author Alex Preston gave us some sage advice, and Neil Astley (a personal hero) made my day by knowing who I was. At the end of the residency, the course directors asked us to write down one of our strengths as a writer. I think mine is instinct – I don’t waste too much time on self doubt (though I have a lot), and I get my stuff out there. I see so many good writers second guessing themselves, and I just want to shake them and say ‘let someone else judge, you may be surprised what happens.’
I need to stop, because jet lag plus gin is making me weepy, but it really was an incredible experience, and I’m so glad I shared it with the people I did.
The middle: Ready. Set. Write! 2014 continues apace, and I am now well into the central section of my WiP. Here is the lowdown:
1. How I did on last week’s goal(s)
I crawled weakly over the finish line at 28,492 words. I didn’t get round to the editing.
2. My goal(s) for this week.
Plough on! Another busy week coming up: Bangkok, anniversary and parents’ anniversary, so I’m going to set a gentle target of 32,000 words.
3. A favourite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.
Then we are laughing so hard my stomach hurts. I feel dizzy, almost sick with the strangeness of it all. The fire, the letter, Mari.
4. The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).
Discipline – knowing I had the time and space to write but doing something else instead (i.e. spending that extra hour at the Ampawa floating market and eating lots and lots of dumplings).
5. Something I love about my WiP
I’m still coming back to it excited to carry on. It’s not remotely draining to write.
And finally, a beginning! Now the contracts are confirmed, TCD is on its way to becoming an actual, printed book. Maybe if I type that enough it will start to sink in.
What a very good place to end.