‘Tis The Season to be Stressed Out, Fa La La La La, La La La, HALP

OK guys. Confession time.

I’m not going to make my end of year deadline to complete a first draft of The Mayor.

Here’s the situation:

In a previous post (see here), I explained how I still had 8 more chapters left to write, and was aiming to finish a chapter a week.

Well, this plan fell on the wayside pretty quickly, because it took me 3 weeks to complete just one chapter told from the POV of my villain.

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 23.52.21
Our writing retreat in the Cotswolds… Take me back!

Now, I’ve spoken before about how hard Kale is to write in the past; understatement of the century as I’m concerned. This particular chapter was even harder, because it dealt with long-awaited revelations, violent payoffs and a fuck-ton of allegory. Add that to real-world, catatonia-inducing stress (I decided that now, just before Christmas, would be the perfect time to sell my house for some stupid reason), and you can imagine how hard it was for me to sit down and force those words out.

As for the 4-day writing retreat with K.F. Goodacre? Productive as it was (I’d probably still be stuck on that Kale chapter if I hadn’t gone), it was only 2 days long, not 4.

So I still have 5 chapters left to write, and less than 4 weeks to write them.

I have shed actual tears over this. I have had anxiety attacks. I’ve felt like a complete failure and like I was letting not only myself down, but other people as well: my writing partner; my boyfriend, my friends who read what I write as I go along…

But the other night while I was having a shower (it’s amazing how much a nice hot shower clears my head), I had an epiphany:

  • I’m not being paid to do this. I’m not published. I don’t have an agent. I’m not locked in a contract. I don’t have any obligations beyond the ridiculously high standards I’ve foolishly set for myself.
  • It’s the festive season. I usually love Christmas, but this year so far, I haven’t been enjoying it at all, because I’ve been so wrapped up in worrying about how I’m not going to meet my deadline on top of work stuff, house stuff, money worries, and other things I can’t control. I can however control my deadline. Why? Because it’s self-imposed.
  • Most of my writing happens at the weekend… but I’m fully-booked from now until Christmas. I do not want to be resenting the fact that I’m spending time with the people I love — or worse yet cancelling on them at the last minute — because of a self-imposed deadline.
  • This last month has been a struggle. A real struggle, mental health-wise. This wasn’t helped by the fact I didn’t win NaNoWriMo, even though I knew there wasn’t a chance in Hell that I would when I started. WHY, BRAIN?! WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?
    Throw a lapsed deadline and a failed 2017 New Year’s Resolution into the mix, and at this point I’m running pretty close to throwing in the towel altogether. My finger is practically hovering over the delete button, Guys, and that is not good! THAT IS NOT GOOD AT ALL. (I’ve actually done this before with a previous WIP, and have regretted it ever since).

If I’m objectively honest with myself, I’ve done amazingly well this year. I’ve written almost 75,000 words of my novel — more than I’ve ever written in a single year in my life — all while maintaining a household, caring for two cats, and holding down a full-time job. I’m within touching distance of the finish line, so to fall at the last hurdle would be an absolute tragedy.

Therefore I’ve made the difficult decision to extend my deadline by 2 months. Instead of 31 December 2017, I will now be aiming to have a first draft completed by 28 February 2018. (This is actually a pretty excessive deadline — I should in theory be able to do it in one).

I hope you guys aren’t too disappointed in me. I’m so sorry to have let you down if you were excited about the prospect of me finishing, but I think it will totally worth it in the end because I will actually have a story to share with you ♥

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


P.S. Just so this post isn’t entirely disappointing and depressing… here are some random things I’m really loving at the moment that I want to share with you!

Books: The Six Of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo — a New Adult heist story set in a fantasy world based on 19th century Tsarist Russia. It has a wonderfully diverse cast with some great characterisation — and the story is so much fun! I just don’t want it to end.

Music: Kingslayer by symphonic power-metal band, Almanac — especially the opening track, ‘Regicide’:

On the morning after the king has lost his crown,
Only tears and laughter come together now.
When my senses fail us, I’ll fade without a sound.
When I see you fail I’ll break in to break you down.

Also the album art is great. It’s so, so good; currently tied with Arch Enemy‘s Will To Power for my personal Favourite Album of the Year, 2017.

Lipsticks:Naked Witch‘ by the lovely ladies at Necromancy Cosmetica. At last! I can now make myself look like a ghost without using my foundation as a lipstick! Their palest nude ‘Healing Stone‘ is simply gorgeous too. I love them both. Love love love.

I’m also super amazed at how — despite being without power for 90+ days (being based in the hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico) — they were still able to safely ship my order to me in a matter of days ♥

Advertisements

Berrow and Goodacre’s Annual Writing Retreat Part II: The Hermits Emerge

Click here to read Part I.

Thus the Writing Retreat has come to an end, and K.F. Goodacre and I must return to our day jobs. I must confess, my level of productivity paled in comparison to that of K.F. Goodacre, who’s been slashing words from her book baby as though editing were some form of infanticide. Me? Well I spent most of my time sorting out my extremely out of date Scrivener file and organising the research photos from my visit to New Orleans last year for one of my current projects, Salt. I also did a little bit of editing myself and a smidgeon of plotting, essentially attempting to hammer my existing work into some form of springboard that I can push up from.

Truth be told, I haven’t actually picked any writing up since April last year. Two things happened around that time that caused the longest and most numbing spate of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced:

1) My beloved cat Jaffa died slap-bang in the middle of a really productive Camp Nanowrimo and I was too upset to continue.

2) I bought a house. Not just any house, but a new build that didn’t actually complete until late December/early January.

Have you ever bought a house before? If so, you will know how stressful purchasing a house is; obtaining a mortgage, scrabbling around for money you didn’t even realise you needed, having to deal with rude and incompetent solicitors… At the same time I was stuck in a job I absolutely loathed, but I couldn’t move on because it would violate the conditions of my mortgage. Then, after I moved in, I had to find a new job and at the same time deal with all the stresses of living expenses, furnishing and decorating. New job aside, I’m still dealing with these stresses, but at least now it’s gradually receding into the background radiation of my everyday existence.

Regardless, I know that life simply won’t stop just so I can write a book, and now things are considerably less hectic than they were before, I really need to get back into the ‘swing’ of writing again. The more I write, the more I want to write, so this weekend’s Writing Retreat – whilst not as productive as it could have been – did succeed in reminding me how much I love my story, and how much I want to continue writing it. I sometimes get the notion that I am ‘not worthy’ of writing Salt; that I lack the ability to weave the story that I want to tell properly. Yesterday whilst out for a Sunday roast dinner in a group, my friend Maria asked me if I had written anymore, because I sent the opening chapter to her last year and she thought it was ‘amazing’. It was really lovely to hear her praise, despite the crushing guilt I felt at not having written anything more to show her. There’s only one way to change that of course… I need to write more!

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


Official website for K.F. Goodacre:
http://kfgoodacre.com/

For more information on Camp Nanowrimo, visit:
http://campnanowrimo.org/

Writing Retreats and Adventures in Late-Night Baking

Today marked the first day of Berrow and Goodacre’s second annual Writing Retreat. The idea is that each year, my writing partner and I hole ourselves away in a room, knuckle down to business and bash out a few thousand words without the distractions of work, family, friends and boyfriends luring us away from our desks.

So, how is it going so far?

Kim gets down to businessWell, for K.F. Goodacre, things are going spectacularly well. She has been continuing to edit her recently completed novel, The Elder Throne, getting it ready for querying agents and generally being a Good Little Writer.

Me? Well, I spent most of the day sleeping off the tail-end of my hideous cold, coughing my guts up, making sinister avocado-peeling videos to creep out my friends on our WhatsApp group and attempting to bake a cake with rotten eggs at 11pm.

Adventures in late-night bakingNot very writerly of me.

Still, tomorrow is a new day. And, following an emergency trip to Asda to acquire fresh eggs, we now have some Dorset Apple Cake to see us through!

No doubt I shall keep you updated with our progress.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


For more information on K.F. Goodacre and The Elder Throne, visit:
http://kfgoodacre.com/

Dorset Apple Traybake recipe from BBC Good Food:
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2044/dorset-apple-traybake