Well, it's a rainy Saturday today, but for once I'm not sulking about the weather and am instead focussing on enjoying the weekend! I've spent the morning in bed drinking tea and watching Diagnosis Murder, I've had a leisurely lunch, and now it seems like the perfect time to (finally!) write a new blog post.
"At least it's good for the plants" -- rainy weekend vibes ^
I can't believe how long it's been since I last did an update. For the past nine months, I've been busy in my writing cave, avoiding social media in a bid to get my novel written. There have been highs and lows. In January, I found out the first draft of my novel had been longlisted for the Mslexia 2020 Children's and YA Award. This was probably the most exciting email I've ever received, and I spent the following week skipping around the house like a hyperactive pixie. Some months later, I heard that I hadn't made it onto the shortlist. I was having a bad day anyway, so probably moped more than I normally would. Eventually, however, I danced around the kitchen a bit to 'Tubthumping' by Chumbawamba, ate some chocolate, and felt better. Never underestimate the healing power of Cadbury's.
Anyway, I've made some big revisions since that first draft I sent to Mslexia, and I'm now at a stage where I'm ready (I think!) to start approaching agents. I'm excited about this, but also a bit apprehensive, as I've been here before with my previous two novels, neither of which was successful in finding me representation. I think this novel is better than the others -- I've spent longer on it, and have had some mentoring through the Professional Writing Academy -- but I know there's never any guarantee of success. I'm dealing with the uncertainty by focussing on planning my next novel (a ghost story set in early 20th-century Cornwall) and reminding myself that the only thing to do is keep writing. Being a novelist has been my absolute #1 goal in life since I was in primary school, so I feel I owe it to myself to just keep trying, trying, trying, however long it takes.
As well as writing, I've been doing lots of comfort-reading. I find the winter and spring months a bit cold and tedious (especially during lockdown), so I've been clinging onto books that make me happy: books by writers like Jessie Burton and Stacey Halls (at the contemporary end of the scale), and Elizabeth Bowen, Daphne du Maurier and M.R. James (at the more vintage end). I even re-read Bram Stoker's Dracula, which I thoroughly enjoyed, despite getting enraged by all the casual sexism (did Quincey Morris really need to keep calling grown women "little girl"? Ugh!).
Another thing that has kept me going over the past months is listening, reading and watching all sorts of things about writers -- particularly debut novelists. These have included the Riff Raff podcast (sadly no longer running), the Sunday Salon podcast, the Tea & Tattle podcast (also sadly no longer running), and the Diary of a Debut Novelist videos. I've listened/watched certain episodes/videos dozens of times, usually while exercising, baking or cooking. Possibly this is dangerous -- I realise it can be unhealthy to fixate too much on the dream of getting published -- but these interviews have brought so much joy and hope to my days. It's just so wonderful to know that it can happen: people really do sometimes turn their writing ambitions into reality.
Well, that's my update on my writing life! I hope that everyone reading this is doing well and hasn't suffered too much from the pandemic. It's been such a tough year or so, but we do seem to be gradually coming out of the worst. My husband and I are excited to be seeing our families later in May, for the first time since August. Right now though, I'm off to bake a cake, hang up a bathroom mirror and do some housework -- definitely embracing the rainy Saturday vibe today!