It hasn’t all been lockdowns, at least not over here, but it’s been a year since Covid-19 hit my radar and I suggested we all get enthusiastic about handwashing. It’s been a tricky year, hasn’t it? Exhausting. But one thing I’m not exhausted of is washing my hands – I regard each bar of soap turned into a useless wafer-thin puck as a victory, and I hope you do too.
So much has happened since then. Do you remember the forts of toilet paper? We were all so innocent back then. I keep looking over my shoulder at my copies of Dog Country, though. It’s amazing to think that that’s a real thing that happened amidst all this pandemicry and lockdownaramaness. That’s probably the thing I’m going to remember most.
My past month has been inconsistently consistent. Some very good stretches of time in front of the keyboard, mixed up with odd mental health days and tricky events – one of which was the winter freeze that descended on many of us. Over here in London, it resulted in a frozen drain outlet that somehow resulted in the kitchen sink draining into the washing machine. (The plumbing where I live is fascinating.)
Writing-wise, the numbers game tells me that I’m 52.17% to 57.66% through the manuscript for Aconite Braid. It’s a milestone, although anticipated date of completion continues to hover between May and June for now.
The writing is… I hesitate to say it’s going well. It’s difficult, it’s grindy. My work notes I make for myself consistently say something along the lines of ‘another day at the mineface’, right now working on the manuscript is all about putting time into it, but more and more bits of it feel artsy in the way I like to feel artsy. Small little flourishes that don’t necessarily call much attention to themselves but make me feel proud of my craft.
One to watch for is in a meal of ikizukuri, or fish so fresh it’s twitching on the plate and watching you eat it. Thankfully I’m only writing about it, not causing any animal cruelty issues, but I do not recommend googling for videos of this dish. It’ll tie into later events – assuming the rest of the manuscript goes as I hope – in a subtle way that nevertheless pleases me immensely. I will not spoil it here, just keep an eye on that scene with the fish, is what I’m saying.
One of the big challenges with large projects like this is maintaining one’s endurance. I’ve been working on Aconite Braid since September, drafting since October. About five months so far, with at least another three to go.
Part of that equation – one which I hope you all remember for yourselves – is self care. Being kind to yourself. Treating yourself like you’d treat a friend. Noticing when you’re tired, and making time to recover. Noticing when you’re having a bad day, and reaching out to friends for a little help and kindness or taking some time out to improve things as best you can.
Another part of my personal equation, with all this writing, is your support. Your support helps me do this. When I’m worried about whether or not my next book – Aconite Braid – is going to find a home, I remember that if it doesn’t, your support is there to help me afford what I need in order to self publish. When I worry about whether or not the manuscript is going to be as good as I want it, I know your support is there to help me get professional help for it.
So, as ever, I am very, very thankful to you all. Whether you’re in the middle of a big project, or just the continual marathon of making it through the plague year(s), I very much hope you find ways to be kind to yourself and get the support you need.
For me, it’s back to this ongoing marathon – at least three months more – and I’ll send another update at the end of March.
Oh, and. Wash your hands.