For various reasons, I’ve been largely offline for the last month or so. I’ve been working on my novel, but I also write poetry and spend time on sending out work and marketing and so on. I find that I don’t do enough of sending out or marketing, both of which frustrate me considerably. That said, I’ve had successes this year, winning a contest for my poem “Ephemera.” You can read it at http://www.yuleloveitlavenderfarm.com/p/poetry-contest.html, at least for the next few months until the next contest, when it will be supplanted by next year’s winner. I also wrote a short ekphrastic piece, “Forever Dali,” which you can read at http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/forever-dali-by-aline-soules.
All of this sounds like a distraction from writing my novel, but it’s not. I start every day with poetry, which I consider one of the highest forms of wordsmithing (among other characteristics). I find starting my writing day with poetry gets me “set” in some way for working on my novel. Sometimes, I spend only a few minutes on poetry; other times, I might spend an hour or two on some poem that’s either in my head wanting to get on the page or already on the page, but pushing me to craft it into a better poem. Regardless, when I turn to my novel, I’m in my mental “writing place” and can work on my novel more effectively.
The other benefit of writing short poems or prose pieces, sending them out, and, if lucky, getting them published is affirmation. A novel takes a long time–at least, it takes me a long time–and I need to know that my work can be “out there” and read by someone, even as I spend months, even years, on a novel.
When I retired to write last year, I found that my novel to that point was too fragmented because I would promise myself that I wouldn’t get subsumed by the academic term (I worked in a university) and, every term, I got subsumed by the academic term. Three weeks into the term, I’d find myself working from 7 a.m. to midnight every day, even weekends. At the end of the day, writing on my creative work was impossible. I was spent. For the last year (I retired in Aug. 2018), I’ve been able to work on my novel almost every day and it’s brought consistency to my drafts, for which I’m grateful.
I had hoped to finish the novel this year and I may still do that, but I think it’s better to say that I will finish the novel in 2020 and move on to my next one.
Finding the time to write consistently and engage in BIC (butt in chair) has been a real gift. I hope all you writers out there can enjoy the same sense of focus that I’ve found in the last year. It’s so much fun to see your work emerge out of the fuzz into the light, to shape that work, and to create a piece of writing (of whatever length or genre) that satisfies you and, in turn, satisfies your reader.
Next month: Back to Historical Fiction and its language.
Image: Courtesy of Jan Kahánek, https://unsplash.com/photos/g3O5ZtRk2E4