Saturday, January 7, 2012

Three Steps Forward

At the risk of sounding like one of those ‘Review of the Year’ programmes (you know the sort: they splice together footage of mildly interesting events from the past twelve months and invite d-listers with nothing better to do to tell us how very fascinating/funny/tragic/unacceptable it all was) I’m going to try and summarise my year in writing. For I’ve neglected this blog for six months and, certainly writing-wise, rather a lot has happened.

I’ll start with my writer’s group, WOW (Writers on Wine). For the first half of the year, it was an enormously encouraging way to get stuck into the first big edit of my novel – and an opportunity to read some fabulous work by my contemporaries. Sadly, the WOW members are now somewhat scattered, with Lizzie and I having both moved away from Edinburgh, and I miss those evenings very much – both creatively and socially. However, I hope that one day we can share stories and drinkies once more, and until then I cannot thank my girls enough for giving my novel a good kick up the arse

Yes, I’ve moved from Edinburgh, which was a wrench - a huge wrench, in fact. I lived in Edinburgh for exactly four years, during which I made wonderful friends, had wonderful experiences and, for the first time, felt like a real writer. Yet when I was offered the Literary Consultant job in Geneva (a freelance version of which I have been doing for a year or so beforehand) it came at the perfect time. The UK seems to be full of doom and gloom at the moment, especially in employment terms, so it wasn’t too hard, deciding to escape to the land of Toblerones and cuckoo clocks to be paid to write.

As though I didn’t have enough on my proverbial plate with a new job, the move to a new country and trying to master a new(ish) language (how I can be so criminally bad at French after five years of it at school, I have no idea) I decided to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) again in November. As strange as it might sound, I don’t particularly like the writing part of constructing a story. I love the ideas stage, I enjoy tinkering around with a text once it’s on the screen, I adore scrolling through a lengthy document and marvelling over how many words I’ve written, but actually bashing out the first draft… meh. I can take it or leave it. The advantage of Nano, in which you have to do a ‘barf draft’ of 50,000 words in a month, is that the initial writing part is over nice and quickly. In a year of scribbling that has felt quite serious at times, with editing my novel and doing a Proper Grown Up Writing Job, Nano gave me the opportunity to pen a silly story about dancing, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

So there they are: three steps forward, no steps back. Never one to be completely satisfied, I would have liked to have done something a bit more substantial with my novel… But hey, there’s always next year.