November 5, 2020 in Dag

Big wins in difficult times

2020 has not been a fun year. With bushfires and pandemics and all kinds of craziness, all over the world, this has definitely not been a year to savour.

One of the challenges of 2020 has been figuring how to get through. How do you make it to the end of the year, while retaining some level of sanity? How do you spend time productively, cultivating some kind of hope and positivity that things will improve?

There haven’t been that many options, certainly not here in Melbourne where we’ve been subject to one of the strictest lockdowns. You can barely leave the house. Going out for dinner, or even a quiet drink has not been an option. Forget about movies, or even a nice walk in the bush or along the beach. It’s largely been all about staying at home, with some small, mask-covered excursions where possible/necessary.

Some have found it harder to deal with than others. Some have found it to be anxiety-inducing and creativity-crippling.

But, for reasons I can’t fully explain, I’ve actually found it to be, if not exactly creativity-inducing, at least not so stifling that I couldn’t get anything done. Maybe I just had to force myself forward, to give myself a reason to get out of bed. Maybe it made me more aware of my mortality, and the need to get things done in time.

Either way, I was excited this week to hit a big milestone. To score a big win, which seems especially significant in these difficult times.

While I didn’t set myself any writing goals at the start of the year, I’ve managed to surpass my expectations. I’ve achieved something I didn’t think I would be able to do until at least the middle of next year. I’ve actually completed a second draft of my latest novel.

You know the one – the comedy/fantasy/romance/adventure/satire. The most ambitious thing I’ve ever tried to write, with its mix of genres and snaking, multiple storylines.

The first draft was a mess. I always knew it was a mess. When I started writing, I had little idea about what I was doing, and just wanted to get all my ideas down in some format.

This second draft is…well I don’t think it’s a mess. I cut it down by almost a quarter, and it’s much sharper and tighter. The plotting works better. The characters seem realer. I was pretty nervous when I started on this draft, because I knew the challenges ahead of me, but I feel like I’ve managed to address most of them. I’m actually pretty proud of the final result.

I could be completely wrong. I could be absolutely delusional about whether it’s any good or not. But it’s not going to stop me. Time to put it away for a while (maybe till the end of the year) and then back to the rewriting. I’d like to give it at least one more work-through before I think about letting anyone else have a look.

So even though 2020 has been a crap year, it hasn’t been a dead loss. Hope you have your wins too.

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