Juggling projects

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post, but that’s because I’ve been pretty busy with my other writing projects recently. I completed my conversion of Tales of the Ancient Rabbits into The Panopticon Papers and sent it off to a handful of literary agents and a couple of competitions. So far it’s meeting the same fate as my other submissions, but c’est la vie.

I started some preparatory planning for the second draft of The Dragon on the Tower, but I’ve been deliberately holding off doing any writing until a reasonable amount of time has passed and I can look at it with fresh eyes. I’ve got some reservations about this book, and my partner, who is my primary beta-reader, made some suggestions about how to improve it that are going to take a fair bit of rework. I’d also made a bit of a mistake in my historical chronology, so I read another book about Dark Age Scotland (Tim Clarkson’s The Makers of Scotland) to get the details of the period straight in my head.

To fill in the time, I tried my hand at a short story – but it didn’t go particularly well. I’d intended it to be very short, perhaps in the 1500 – 2000 word range, but when I reached 2000 words while hardly scratching the surface of the story I wanted to tell, I decided that perhaps I needed to take a step back and do some proper planning on this one before it turned into a novella. Short stories used to be so easy! I used to be able to sit down at the keyboard and just bash out a story. Writing all these novels has messed up my short story writing abilities.

Having sent The Panopticon Papers to a couple of competitions, I was having a search for more children’s fiction competitions when I came across the Great War Dundee Children’s Book Prize Competition – where the brief is to write a children’s book about Dundee during the First World War. “Oh well,” I thought. “My book is about Florence in an alternate 1800s, not Dundee in the First World War.” But then I started idly speculating about what I’d write about if I had the time. And then I thought a bit more. And started taking some notes. And before I knew what I was doing, I’d written a plan for a children’s book set in Dundee during the First World War.

“Ah, but I don’t have enough time to write it,” I said to myself. The deadline is at the end of August. That’s not much time to get a whole book written and through at least one subsequent draft. But the idea and the plan wouldn’t let go of me, so I started writing. And here I am, two-thirds of the way through the story, with over a month left before the closing date. I’m still going to be cutting it close, but if I can keep up my momentum, I might be in with a chance. If I don’t make the deadline, so be it. It’ll be another few tens of thousands of words under my belt, my fifth completed novel, and I can stick it in a drawer until I’ve got a free slot for submitting to literary agents – I only submit to a handful of agents at a time, and I don’t plan on having two different novels making the rounds at the same time, so that might be some time off.

Keeping all these projects going is a bit of a struggle, and unfortunately it’s this blog that’s suffered. I’ve read some cracking stuff lately that I wish I could find time to review – Katherine Rundell’s Rooftoppers, Jeff VanderMeer’s City of Saints and Madmen, and the free digital comic Moose Kid Comics, which is as mad as a sack of badgers.

Let’s not talk about the short story I wrote a while back that I might try to polish to submit to yet another competition…


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