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Querying, rewriting and ADHD

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything other than my fundraising poems, which, though I’d appreciate you all having a read of them and sharing, aren’t the sole purpose of this blog. I like sharing my writing journey and the struggles I have, in the hope that others currently struggling with writing (or anything, really) don’t feel so alone.

And wow, have I been struggling.

Last year, I did quite a few edits of older projects, drafted a new book — something I try to do every year — and starting querying literary agents for the…seventh time, I think?

Meaning that come New Year, I was quite worn out. Add to that a broken laptop, and work became rather hard, to put it mildly. (I’m currently still using my partner’s laptop, which I’ve grown used to and he’s more than happy to let me use for as long as I want, so I got over that hurdle pretty quickly). My focus, however, has been particularly bad.

I wanted to rewrite a project that, from feedback I got from agents, was about 15,000 words too short for the genre. As I never know how to relax and get bored between projects, I actually tried to start the rewrite just before Christmas, but then my laptop failed and it got put on hold until I could grab the files from the hard drive. (I’m usually good at backing up my stuff, but as I’d only started the rewrite about three days beforehand, I hadn’t gotten round to it. Naturally, the one time I delayed, ‘disaster’ struck.) When I did manage to get back to it again, despite engaging with the story and characters, it took hours to go over four double spaced pages. I tried repeatedly to go faster, to try and be more productive with my time, but it simply wasn’t working. By the time I reached the half-way point in the book, working on it felt comparable to digging a trench with a teaspoon, and I’m incredibly impatient with certain things.

Now, here I’m going to jump in with the ADHD part, as it’s likely relevant. I’ve been on the waiting list for assessment since mid 2019. I knew it’d be a long wait, just like for my ASD one, and when the pandemic happened, I resigned myself to an extra long wait. Several times I considered getting it done privately, but it does cost a lot, and as I get imposter syndrome, one week I’d be convinced I needed a diagnosis, the next I’d be unsure — I’ve heard this is common regarding ADHD in adults, particularly as it can present quite differently depending not just on age, but gender too. That aside, I was then super surprised when I got a phone call last month saying in-person assessments where I live were no longer supported due to costs, so the people in charge had decided to go with online assessments and mine wouldn’t be too far off. After another phone call and some screening questionnaires to make absolutely sure I’m eligible, I was finally given an assessment date. It’s early next month, and I am nervous as hell. But I already sent them extra notes, so hopefully it’ll go smoothly, whether the conclusion is ADHD or something else.

Anyway, back to writing talk. I’ve always struggled with focusing on and maintaining projects, but I’m stubborn and refuse to quit. So I ended up giving myself a tight deadline and marathoning the work until it was done. It worked, but as always when I do that, I ended up exhausted as it’s really not good for me. That’s the main reason I haven’t posted much lately. All my energy has gone to rewriting, recovering, or writing poetry. (I am happy with the way the rewrite tuned out though!)

As for querying, this round is going better than past attempts in that I’ve actually had a couple of full and partial manuscript requests, but not as many as I’d hoped. Which is disheartening and has led to many hours of ‘what if I never get an agent?’ thoughts. Of course, there are many options, one of which I’ve already pursued for my previous books — finding indie publishers. But the rejections piling up still hurt.

On a side note, though, my publisher recently informed me that two of my contracted poetry books are moving to the editing stage, so that’s something to look forward to (and also be anxious about. You may be thinking I’m anxious about a lot of things, and you’d be right. That’s just my brain.)

So, to bring this ramble to a close: if, like me, you’re a creative struggling with current projects, I see you and I understand. My family keep saying productivity shouldn’t be linked to self-worth, and while I get the idea of that sentiment, I haven’t yet found a way to make it stick. Even writing this post, which I could have left until I felt better and had more energy, is part of that. I didn’t feel like I’d done enough today, so words had to be written. But maybe someday, I’ll have a healthier approach to self-worth.

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1000 Posts!

So WordPress has just informed me that I’ve managed to publish a thousand posts since I started this little blog in February 2017. Admittedly, I have tried to post every day, so that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but it was still a strong reminder of how much writing I actually do.

It also made me realise that writing every day, as popular writing guides suggest writers do, doesn’t mean slogging through to build up word counts for big projects. It actually means write something every day. So it could be the draft of a new poem, which apparently is what most of this blog consists of (originally, it was supposed to be inspirational writing advice, but then I realised I couldn’t really give much advice while I was still learning myself – though I did manage a few good posts on it), or the outline of a book. Maybe even my thoughts for the day or a two minute free write. All of it keeps my brain creative, so though it doesn’t feel like I’ve done much writing, it all helps in the long run.

At the moment, I’ve got a lot of WIPs that need editing, so I’m going to drop my posts here down to once a week so I can focus on those works and any other new projects I end up with. It’ll also take away the unnecessary pressure I’ve put myself under to keep these posts regular, and hopefully reinstate that ‘less is more’ idea. But even if I don’t post everyday, I’ll still be writing in one form or another to keep that creativity I treasure going strong.

So, until later!

P.S. You may have noticed the cover of my book, The Origin Stone, has changed in the banner I use. My publisher decided it was time for a redesign, and I loved their idea, so we went with it. I believe The Origin Stone is also free on Kindle at the moment, so if you’ve been interested for a while, now’s the time to pick up a copy!

Poetry

Shuffle Huffle

It’s been a while since the spark of my mind

and the images it carves in the grain of my imagination

have wanted to come freely out through my fingertips

and drip into inky life on the page.

Usually, I have to drag them. Wrap my hands around their horns and heave

to get them moving. But of course, that only makes them more stubborn.

I show them pictures of the tumbleweed rolling across my notebook,

pick up handfuls of dry soil

so they can see how barren it’s become.

Guilt-tripping them all the way until they grumble into a slow shuffle

one by one, and cause ink blots everywhere as they do so.

But today they danced out to a waltz,

a festival of colours and gowns and painted masks

because I chose to let them take control of my fingers

and make the shapes they wanted to,

and not force them to bend into mine.

Poetry

Gaining pace

Like pulling at teeth,

like moving a boulder,

feet wanting to drag,

brain wanting to slumber.

Pick up the pace,

time is starting to wander

on and on and on and on.

 

The end of the line is in sight,

my friends.

Believe it, it’s true.

I’ll prove it to myself,

if not to you.

I can reach it before the night ends.