Today, it is cold enough for me to wrap myself with a woollen blanket, despite wearing a cardigan. There’s a slight chill in the air after the rain of the past couple of days, signalling that autumn is on its way. This last day of August, I’ve been finishing off my thoughts and suggestions after beta reading for one of my favourite indie writers (Ksenia Anske), and something about doing that has given me a feeling of gratitude. Gratitude that I reached out and went towards connection at a time when I needed it, that I reached past my comfort zone and gave myself a chance to do something different. It might not seem like much, but to me, it felt like a lot.
I’ve been happy to do the work, to enjoy reading her draft, and give her my feedback. We all need those connections with each other – to reach out, sometimes when we don’t know if we feel like it, and take a chance. To do something for someone else. I’m hoping this spark of inspiration and joy will carry me back towards my own fiction writing. I’m already feeling a sense of excitement at starting to work on my novel again, and write short stories, to finish unfinished things, and start writing new books, perhaps a poetry book or two included. I’m also hoping to branch out more with my freelance writing, to take chances and write for different blogs and websites. More reaching out, essentially.
As for Fragments, I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve realised that I’ve almost come to the end of my first draft. I feel that there are perhaps a maximum of five more essays to write, until I feel comfortable and happy with how much I’ve written. There are roughly 32 essays so far, which is far more than I was expecting to write, and many of the essays need work – citations, a bit more depth here and there, structural changes, redrafting in full, or just a little. I need to work on the structure of the book itself – my original idea of having sections based on the Body, Heart, Mind, Writing, and Identity – don’t quite fit together, and either that will involve culling essays, or rearranging things to make more sense as a whole.
Either way, I’m looking forward to finally being done with the first draft – to celebrating the work I’ve done over the past year and six months, and making Fragments into something I hope people will enjoy reading. It has taken me far longer than I thought it would, perhaps because it’s my first time writing non-fiction like this, everything part of one project, but also because life has intervened so much in these two years. At least the things we have been through work to make us wiser and more equipped to deal with difficult things. As someone commented on one of my posts – life has a way of shaking things up. Healing has taken a while, but with the arrival of September, I can feel myself waking up again, looking towards new possibilities, looking for the good in life – and celebrating it.
The 100 Days of Poetry is going much slower than I planned too. I’m still sticking with it, still aiming for that 100. I’m in the 60s, so have just less than 40 to go. It’s achievable, if I think back to how many I’ve already written. It’s achievable for anyone if you’re willing to look at it as a marathon and not a sprint. It’s true of all writing and creative projects – you do them for however long it takes, until you feel finished, or until you reach your goal or deadline. Then you have to get going again and do another marathon. It’s an apt metaphor, because you have to be in it for the long haul, even when you get tired of the repetition, cresting hills until you find yourself running downhill towards the end.
I’ve also finally pushed through my reading slump, and have read a few interesting books – Letters from Klara by Tove Jansson (creator of The Moomins), This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab, Under the Paw by Tom Cox, and Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. All very different, but all worth a read. I’m currently reading The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, and a re-read of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (I’m attempting to make my way slowly through Harry Potter again). My beta read counts too – Tube by Ksenia Anske – and it was amazing, so I’ll be re-reading it and blogging about it when it’s officially released (early next year). If there’s anything you’ve read lately that you’ve loved, let me know in the comments because I’m always looking for recommendations. With my book group, I’ll be reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, for an October or November meet.
There’s a lot to look forward to this autumn too – quite apart from the usual things like crunchy leaves and beautiful colours. I’ll be taking two trips to the seaside (this year has been all about the seaside trips!) – one to Cornwall with my husband Dan, and one to Wells with my parents and sister. There is something soothing yet wild about the sea that makes me happy. I’m looking forward to spending time with them all. Mum’s final round of chemo is next week, and she’s done so well. It’ll be a case of sorting out any issues she’s had from her operations and waiting for the results of the chemo she’s had. She and the doctors are optimistic, so we feel very lucky.
I hope this slide into autumn is just as hopeful as it is for me, and that life is treating you well. If it isn’t, take some time for yourself, or with loved ones, to reconnect with what makes you happy and feel good.
‘And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.’ – J.R.R. Tolkien.