Herding the Words: Q1 2023

Close up of a typewriter focusing on the paper above the typing ribbon. The words "Stories matter" are already typed on the paper in black ink. Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pixels.

I’m instituting quarterly updates for both my writing and my crochet (the first wrangling the yarn post will appear next month) mostly for my own benefit; having things to talk about depends on me actually doing things and thus gently encourages steady productivity.

That said I do hope a few of you are also interested in what I’ve been up to with my writing. 

Stats first (because I love me some statistics and GYWO* provide the best tracking spreadsheets going): 

  • Last year I wrote on 300 days of the year and cranked out 96k words on various projects. Of those words, just over a third of them were written in the last two months of the year.  
  • This year, up to the end of January, I wrote 18k words and worked on 29 out of the 31 days. So far in February I’ve written every day and added another 7.5k to the word count.

Now that’s all very lovely (and certainly makes me feel good) but how much I’ve written is really a secondary concern to what I’ve been writing. These days I’m much more about enjoying the creation than wracking up the tracking.

As I’ve said elsewhere – so I’ll try not to labour the point – the joy I found in writing had all but drained away in the last few years. I kept turning up and putting words on the page anyway, pretending nothing was wrong, figuring that fake it ’til you make it was better than nothing. Although I’d occasionally have “oh this is wonderful” moments, most of the time it felt like a chore and I had to fight myself to get started every writing session. That loss of enjoyment felt pretty permanent and was making me think I’d do better to just put down my pen and stop altogether; walk away from writing entirely and find some other creative outlet, one that didn’t make me want to cry.

I still cannot quite pinpoint the moment last year when everything changed. I also cannot tell you what it was that flipped the necessary switches in my head but suddenly, right at the end of autumn, my writing mojo just … came back.

The main result of that wonderfulness was finding myself creating a 10k word outline of the Arthurian re-telling I’ve been trying to plot for over ten years^. This year my overarching goal is, therefore, to fully flesh out the world and magic structure, get a better handle on the characters who I’m not already on intimate terms with, and to have a zero draft of the story finished by the time December rolls around.

I also decided that I would put creating work solely because I wanted to hit submission goals so far on the back burner it might just drop down the back of the cooker. Which is obviously why approximately half of January’s 18k words went on creating a short story written in direct response to an indie press’s call for submissions for an anthology.

In my defence I first attempted to write for this particular call last year and that attempt at filling it is the reason I now have the 10k Arthurian outline. So I’m saying that it’s not breaking my new rule, it’s just tying up some loose ends. Plus I really wanted to write it and once I’d figured out how to do it, it made me feel utterly gleeful and that is most definitely the sensation I’m trying to get out my work.

I enjoyed the Twelve Days of Ficmas challenge that Writer’s HQ** ran at the start of December so much that, as well as share the twelve stories I wrote in twelve days on here, I created a challenge just for myself to work through over the course of this year, called Flashes of Feathers and the first story from that is titled Lone(ly) Wolf. As well as generating more fiction that I can share with you all I gives me a nice break from novel writing and, given that I’ve figured out I’m much happier when I have several different length writing projects on the go at once, helps me to keep my writing fun.

I also have my witchcraft-y, druid-y, Working with the Wheel blog series on the go. Winter Solstice and Imbolc are up and you can look forward to Spring Equinox next month. This series is happening because I realised I didn’t often talk about my witchcraft and druidry and wanted a structured way to share the bits of what I do that I feel comfortable sharing.

The other thing I’ve done recently is set up a substack to share a newsletter on the last day of every month where I’ll talk about things going on in my life and various bits about my writing and crocheting that don’t fit into blog posts on here. It also includes a “what will we need to know for next month” tarot card pull on there. If that’s something you think you might like you can check out the ones Ive already written and sign up here!

And that’s it for this quarter. Hopefully by the time we get to May, and the next update, I’ll have at least another three Flashes of Feathers stories up for you to read as well as more blog posts, possibly some creative non-fiction, and news about progress on the novel. 

Until then

May words flow smoothly from fingers to page,
and may imaginations blossom alongside the spring flowers.

*Get Your Words Out is one of the two writing groups I am a member of. GYWO is free but I’m afraid sign ups for this year have closed – if you’ve checked out their website it sounds like your sort of thing put a reminder in your calender for the start of January 2024 when you’ll be able to join. 

^This is one of those “you get ideas you know you’re not cabable of writing the way you want them written and so you have to get them out periodically, dust them off and see if you’ve grown your writing abilities enough to work on them yet” moments. I suspect Neil Gaiman has put that more succinctly somewhere but you get the idea. 

**The other writing group I’m a member of. Writer’s HQ does a lot of free stuff but to access their online courses and all of their writing forum space you do need to be a paid up member. However they offer bursaries and other help for low income and otherwise marginalised writers so don’t let that put you off checking them out. 

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