Back from the air-conditioned comfort of the library, and it occurs to me that I’ve not actually mentioned how my new writing world is coming along: given that the majority of you know me as a writer and not some sort of work experience weight-loss guru for the aged and blimpically-inclined, maybe I should actually talk about the stuff that brings us all together for a moment…
As you might remember, I’ve spent the last 2 years failing to come to grips with finding enough time and energy to work on Ghost Tracks, the new children’s novel that the world is sick of hearing me say I’m still working on. I managed 17,000 words on it before the 18 Month Plan ™, plus another 15,000 words during my Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre residency in July last year, but outside those two bursts, the work lay stagnant while I tried to deal with all the things I’ve whined on about due to the day job. While I’ve been able to coast along, to some extent, on the success of Magrit, that book was published 2 years ago, now. The time for putting up and shutting up had well and truly arrived, and I was ill-prepared. Part of the 18 Month Plan was to address exactly that: Luscious was prepared to take on the role of prime breadwinner, but unless I wanted to go back into the full-time workforce (which I most assuredly did not), I would have to earn my domesticity: She would work, but I would have to write.
It took three or four weeks since arriving in Karratha, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve started to established a routine based around the local swimming pool and library being at opposite ends of the same complex. After my morning walk/swim (a perfect 45 minutes of solitude to immerse myself in the world of the novel), I head across the car park, sit myself at a desk in the most secluded corner of the library, and crack open the laptop. As I’ve listed on my Patreon page, I came here with the intent to work on 6 projects as well as Ghost Tracks:
- Bear Hunts: a crime novel, in which a reformed small time crook is blackmailed into a heist that goes wrong, and determines to hunt down the mastermind behind it and take revenge.
- The Claws of Native Ghosts and Other Stories: a linked collection of horror stories taking place throughout Western Australian history.
- Tales of Nireym: a fantasy novel about a daughter who runs away, the hidden society she inspires in a patriarchal culture, and the hunt to find her before a brewing rebellion puts her into direct conflict with the Emperor.
- The Canals of Anguilar: a fantasy novel, in which a cadre of cowards discovers a city that can only be found by cowards, and the malevolent force that hunts them down, one by one.
- The Boy from G.O.B.L.I.N: a children’s book, in which a homeless child is recruited into the Guild of Beasts that Lurk in the Night, and discovers that the world is not structured the way he thought.
- Antimony Lavage: a children’s book, in which a young girl aspires to drive the train that takes the dead from the City to the Necropolis near where she lives, and will do anything to make her aspirations come true.
In addition, I’m committed to posting a new, 500-1000 word story to my Patrons each month, plus I’ve kind of got the idea for a Karratha-based crime novel series kicking around in my head that doesn’t bear too much scrutiny right now, as we should probably just focus on what appears real rather than vague stirrings.
So, how have I gone?
I’ve completed 2 Patreon shorts, which covers the March and April downloads: Secrets and Masters is a 930-word story about the man who discovers the secret rulers of the world, and how he prepares to get off the grid; and Creeping is a 960-worder about the art of home invasion, and who invades the invaders. Both are Patreon-exclusives, which means only my patrons will see them.
And as to Ghost Tracks, well, inspired by a biography of Graham Greene I read recently, in which his habit of writing 500 words a day was discussed, I’ve set myself the same minimum wordage each of my 5 weekly writing days. As a result, in the I’ve managed to complete 21,000 words in the 4 weeks I’ve been writing, to take the novel to 53,000 words in total, with a likely finish line somewhere in the region of 60,000 words. That’s an average of a sniff over 1000 words a day, which is hardly cattle stations (Ray Bradbury, for those who like to gauge such things, wrote 2000 a day), but is a significant improvement over the zero per day I’ve been averaging for most of the last 4 years.
I made a strong commitment to Luscious that, should we enact the 18 Month Plan and make all the changes in our life that we have subsequently made, that I would do everything in my power to use the time I was given to do what a full-time writer should. Slowly, all those writing muscles that have atrophied over the last half a decade are remembering themselves. Words are appearing. The first of my projects nears a completed first draft. Much more of this, and I’ll be able to look myself in the mirror and believe that I am, as I once was, a real writer.
So far, it’s all going according to Plan.
Patron-exclusive stories and the progress of my novels is part-funded by the generous contributions of my Patreon patrons. In return, amongst other goodies, patrons received exclusive excerpts from works in progress as well as the above-mentioned exclusive short stories every month. If you enjoy my work, and would like some inside glimpses into my working methods, as well as a range of patron-only content, consider making a pledge. Pledges start as low as $1 a month, and your rewards arrive in your inbox on the first of every month.