I had big plans for this year. I have big plans for every year, because if I’m going to fail I may as well fail hard, right? But this year my plans were bigger and more exciting than before.
My friend, Robyn Sarty, and I decided we would conduct a little experiment. I would write a series of sweet romances under a pen name, and she would publish and market them under her company, Belwood Publishing. We made big announcements about it. We shared the news far and wide. We even did a podcast interview about it. We were working hard on it all behind the scenes. Things were going well.
And then it all came crashing down around my ears.
I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from mental health problems. I have had so many diagnoses over the years, some of which contradicted each other, and I don’t think there’s any benefit to be had by me stating them all here. The point is that my brain is broken and it doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to. Sometimes it’s like the batteries have run down on it, and it can’t do anything at all, or it takes ages after I pushed the button to actually do the thing.
But other times it’s like my brain is plugged straight into the wall and suddenly everything that was in the queue starts going at once. And that means I bite off more than I can chew.
Scientifically speaking, there are not-quite-exactly 24 hours in one earth day. This is a thing that is known to be true. Practically speaking, only a fraction of those hours are actually available to me (or to anyone else). And that is something I am acutely aware of in my low-battery phase and completely oblivious to in my wall plug phase.
Care to guess which phase I was in when we made our big plans for 2020?
Don’t get me wrong, I did the math. I looked at how many words I needed to write per story. I looked at how much I could write in a day. I worked it all out neatly before I chose the project deadlines (and yes, I know how lucky I am to have been allowed to choose my own deadlines). What I didn’t take into account was LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE.
I have a day job, and a commute, like most people. Conventional wisdom says I should be able to squeeze writing into these things. Sometimes I do. More often I don’t, and there are reasons for that. And it’s not just mental health problems I have. I’m more-than-usually prone to URTIs since I quit smoking. They can and frequently do knock me flat. Sometimes I can still write, sometimes I’m so drained I can’t remember my own name, let alone the characters’.
At the start of the year, I managed to get a decent routine going. That was thanks, in part, to the BXP2020 Challenge. I was writing a minimum of 200 words a day, every day, and life was good.
Then I got sick, day job requirements changed, my stress levels went through the roof, and I could barely focus on getting myself dressed and out the door most days. I was just starting to get things back on track when the current global situation hit and everything went haywire again.
Mr Sage is high risk. I am high risk, albeit it to a lesser extent. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m living in “constant fear”, the pandemic and its associated concerns have definitely taken a toll. I’ve found it difficult to be creative with words, or at least with prose. Poetry is easier.
I still need a creative outlet, so I’ve been doing a lot of watercolour painting. I’ve also started a YouTube channel and a podcast. They’re fulfilling in a different way than writing, but they do not help on the lack of time front.
And I decided to take a couple of courses online to gain some skills that I hope will be marketable in the future. I’ve realised that if I want to do all the things I want to do, I’m not going to be able to do that while working a full-time day job, so I’m trying to learn the skills I need to make a transition to a less rigid work schedule.
I want to make it clear that all these things are just reasons, they’re not excuses. I take full responsibility for the fact that the Kaye Bellingan projects are so far behind. Robyn has been incredible through everything. She’s applied pressure when necessary, and backed off when that was the better option. The huge delays in our plans are entirely down to me.
So, here’s where we stand: I am currently writing/re-writing the final handful of scenes in what we sincerely hope will be the final draft of the first Kaye Bellingan book. I am working to get the finished document to Robyn by the end of this month and, if everything goes according to plan there, it will no longer be my baby as Robyn will be running with all the rest of the production tasks.
I will then be taking a couple of weeks to try and finish All the Little Choices so I can get that out for feedback, after which I will return to the world of Kaye Bellingan. I don’t know when I will be done with the next Kaye Bellingan story, I don’t know when the books will actually be published, but I will try to be more diligent in posting about the journey along the way.