October Ghosts

It is really strange to be here after spending the lion’s share of the previous month writing actual story, instead of just working on endless streams of outlines. But, thankfully, thanks to Aconite Braid being a complete story in and of itself, I have actually managed to reach the end of outlines, and I’m drafting.

Or, at least, I’m drafting until November 20th – that’s when I intend to nip back into my outlines and change them to match what I’m actually writing.

I’m learning a ton about the book by actually writing it, and there’s a lot of things that need tweaking in the overall plan. For instance, my originally-outlined ‘Chapter 2’ has turned into ‘Chapter 2a’, ‘Chapter 2b’ and ‘Chapter 2c’, and my protagonist is wildly racist. Partly this is because I think white supremacy and capitalism are very much woven together, and this is a story that’s kind of about capitalism? And, the protagonist was born into a patriot militia of sorts, and the USA had a second civil war around fifteen years before the start of the book, and…

… I may be slightly nervous about current events. Americans, please do get out and vote for a better future than the one haunting my brain and spilling into this book.

Writing prose intensively again, after so long away from it, feels kinda strange. I’m discovering that I kind of need to take breaks and research things – like checking into the history of credit cards to decide if a ‘credit card’ is appropriate to my cyberpunky future or not – and trying to avoid that for the sake of more wordcount probably wouldn’t help me. I think the research breaks help me get this world to be ever-richer in my head.

I am, however, also caught up with my poor self-esteem. Writing’s hard! You put something onto the page, and it’s not quite the perfect thing you imagined, and in order to put more onto the page you have to make peace with the fact that what you’re writing isn’t going to be perfect. Because if you want it to be perfect, and you can’t make it perfect, you will not be able to add another imperfect thing to the page. Or another after that, and there are a lot of pages to fill if you want to write a book.

It’s tricky! I guess it only gets easy if you convince yourself that everything you do is perfect, or if you just don’t give a damn about what you’re doing. Neither of those are options for me – and I don’t think I’d enjoy reading something by someone who wrote like that, let alone writing like that – so what I have to do is find a way to be okay while writing imperfectly. Which means finding a way to be okay while being vulnerable – while showing an audience things I know might be mistakes I couldn’t figure out how to fix.

It’s pretty stressful. But, with some luck, I can still make my writing as good as I can, and maybe the mistakes will be pretty enough that they can entertain a reader anyway.

So, while giving myself permission to fail so I can keep blundering through my manuscript, there’s also the successes. The small wins. I am, amidst all the tough stuff, finding a few little moments where I write a few lines that feel really good – maybe not perfect, but certainly good enough I’m proud of them. And that’s really nice. I try to focus on those, even when they’re rare. You should focus on your small wins, too. Small wins count.

Thank you all for your support, which helps me keep pursuing all the small wins, and here’s to hoping they will add up to a medium-sized win, or even a big win, real soon.

Stay safe from the second wave, keep washing your hands, and I hope that the November ahead is a wonderful one for all of you.

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By foozzzball

Malcolm Cross, otherwise known as 'foozzzball', lives in London and enjoys the personal space and privacy that the city is known for. When not misdirecting tourists to nonexistant landmarks and lurking at bus stops, Malcolm enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy with a furry twist.