So as the year end is looming – how am I doing with the clutch of mad challenges I set myself at the start of the year? Helped along by plenty of encouragement from Mhairi Simpson and industrial strength Assam, the theory is that even if I pitifully failed, I’d still be further along than if I’d been sensible and set more attainable goals. I’ll be looking at that theory in more detail next month – which is crunch time, anyway.
• Breathing Space was doing just fine last time I looked at it – which was a couple of weeks ago. But on the way home from Bristolcon on the train, Mhairi suggested it might be a good idea to finally write the extended story of ‘Picky Eaters’ and unleash it on an unsuspecting world before Christmas… I’m putty in that girl’s hands!
I wrote the original 1,000 word story and those lovely folks at Every Day Fiction published it back in 2009 – but Granddad and his family of dragons wouldn’t leave me alone. (If anyone is interested, you can read the original here.) While I knew there wasn’t enough for a full-length novel, every so often I’d find myself sliding back to Wyvern Peak and wondering how things were going with him, Sammy Jo and Billy Bob… So when Mhairi suggested I went for it – I did! I’ve completed the first draft, which had me skipping around the room on a high that didn’t fade for several days. Which is bizarre, as when I complete a novel, I normally feel drained and rather depressed for the following week. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this slice of Granddad’s story has come out at just over 10,000 words. I’m still aiming to have it out with Amazon before Christmas (this habit of setting crazy-stupid challenges is getting to be something of a bad habit…) but the RELIEF of having let Granddad out again has affected me far more profoundly than a daft story about dragons should, really…
Challenge – to have the first daft of Breathing Space completed by the end of the year. Hm. Not sure whether I’ll hit this one, thanks to Picky Eaters popping up – but I refuse to let the tail wag the dog. Challenges and targets are there to facilitate my creative process – not ringfence it.
• Continuing to read books and write more reviews – although I hit a rough patch in the middle of November where I read several books in a row that I didn’t like enough to finish. Which had me nearly running out of reviews…
Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews on my blog during 2014. I wrote 9 reviews during November, bringing my total to date to 115 reviews.
• The Autumn Term course is now on its last lap and though I have yet to have done the full evaluation with the students, it seems to have been well received. I have completed all but one of the main sets of course handouts for next term and should have them all prepared for printing next week, in readiness for the students in the New Year.
Challenge – to have written at least two sets of course notes for the next academic year by the end of the summer break. The Spring Term’s course notes are now nearly completed, which I regard as an achievement as I have been also working hard on another teaching project.
• This remains the biggest failure. I am stepping away from this until next year. I’ve been thinking long and hard about exactly what has been hampering my progress and I now see how to progress. But it needs time and a flexible, resilient strategy, which I’ll be devising over the Christmas break.
Challenge – submit all my unsold short fiction and poetry. No.
I was surprised to see that November provided my highest word count so far this year. I managed to write another 18,000 words towards Breathing Space which is still going well. As I’ve already mentioned, ‘Picky Eaters’ was another 10,200. The work on next term’s Creative Writing course meant that jumped to just over 10,700 words and my reviews and blogs added 7,500 words, making my monthly wordcount to just over 46,500 words and my yearly total to date to just over 305,000 words.