Sunday Journal: Progress and the career juggling act

Last time I checked in for Sunday (er, Monday) Journal I was tearing my hair out, but the past month has been looking up. Reasonable progress on my novel revision, another TWO weekend retreats to Phillip Island… a bit too much ‘dayjob’ work though.

On the writing front, I’ve spent a fair deal of time planning and writing notes; going back and tweaking things in the first part, while mulling over how to rein in the second.

As a result I’m on the way to being quite happy with the first part of this novel. I’m still editing bits and pieces, filling in gaps and so forth; but on the whole it seems to be hanging together.

As for the second/middle part, I have decided to strip it back.

You see, I’ve been letting myself be constrained by ‘history’ as it stands in a subsequent book, which I’ve already written. Even though I embarked on this ‘prequel’ exercise intending to re-envisage that first-written book, it’s hard to think completely objectively and laterally. Certain things I had already consciously changed. But there was one aspect of events I was having trouble making fit in this book.

And then I realised this particular thing either a) didn’t need to happen exactly the same (and, frankly, it wouldn’t make a huge deal of difference to the ‘history’ in the subsequent book), or b) it could happen — but later. After all, didn’t I not so long ago decide I needed to have a middle book?

Phew. So now I have a more streamlined first book with good scope for escalation in the second. It makes so much more sense.

This opening book was starting to feel conceptually unwieldy and clumsy and chopping it in the middle did not seem like the answer. I much prefer to keep the original arc and structure, but with cleaner lines.

I’m also managing to squeeze in writing time on most days, despite a fairly heavy workload over the past couple of months. (Heavier than I want, anyway.) Somehow I’m more productive overall on the days I write than on the days I don’t. I think it has a lot to do with the fact I’m happier if I’ve spent some time working on the novel, which makes it a bit easier to push on with the contracted work.

Today’s a great example of that. I had assigned today for work and maybe some writing… But when it came down to it, I was too resentful of spending a Sunday working, so I went to the cafe to work on fiction for a while first. Then I came back and knuckled down to do some work later in the afternoon (because… deadlines!).

So on the whole I feel like everything is going well, although I still wish I was making faster progress with this revision overall. At least I have now commenced work on the middle section — huzzah!

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