I’ve been having monthly conversations for a while now with coach Nicola Brown, who is being hugely useful for my thinking around my two main works (writing and Fun Palaces) and the many smaller bits of other work I do – some performing, some teaching, sometimes commenting/reviewing.
Last night (Nicola is in Aotearoa/NZ) we had a conversation about how I’d felt before starting Book 17, and how I feel now, four weeks on. Four weeks in which I have written over 17,000 words, while also doing Fun Palaces stuff three days a week or more, and a bunch of other work. There are usually three days a week (out of a seven day week, not a five day ‘working week’!) when I can write albeit with some interruption and often only a half day, so I have aimed for 1000 words a day when I can. And I’ve done it, and more. Which feels fantastic, especially as I was very nervous before starting this new book. I am always nervous before starting any new project, often I’m nervous in the middle of them too, and afterwards, and … etc.
At the moment, the book is writing well. It’s not ‘writing itself’ – I have never been one of those writers who get to say that, it’s ALWAYS me doing the typing. I never say ‘I love writing’ but I often say, with Dorothy Parker, that I love having written – see also having run. Regardless, it feels as if the book is writing well – flowing to some degree. It feels the right time (emotionally, in my own life) for me to be writing this book with these characters and these themes. It feels right.
I have written books that took ages to flow and were hard work all the way through and hardly ever ‘felt right’ and they have ended up good books. I have fewer, one or two examples, of writing when the work was ‘flowing’/writing easily. Neither experience/process seems to have any impact on the ‘quality’ of the end product. So, at the moment, this book is writing well. It feels more like I’m uncovering a story than carving each line out of granite bit by bit. Of course it’s first draft so far and it will need lots of rewriting (I always do the bulk of my work in the edit) but even so, it’s going well.
And … I was talking with Nicola about how this feels, the problem of acknowledging this time of work flowing well, when our culture tells us not to show off, that pride comes before a fall, that when we acknowledge things are going well we’re ‘tempting fate’. And how even though I know this is bollocks, that good and bad things happen whatever we do, I’ve always bought into it a little. A lot. A fear of skiting (NZ for bragging), a fear of being thought arrogant, a fear that acknowledging the good will bring it all down around my feet.
So. I’m tempting fate. I want to note that writing this book, so far, has been fine. Not too hard, not particularly easy (finding time is often tricky, especially this close to Fun Palaces weekend) but fine. Good. Enjoyable. Interesting. There. I said it.
I am the Temptress of Fate.
Want to join me? What’s going well for you right now? Writing or otherwise, tell me in the comments. Let’s get rid of the daft superstition and allow ourselves a little joy in what we are achieving as opposed to the usual wallowing in what we’re not!
I tempt you …
Here’s my six-armed Temptress of Fate – one hand for each of the tarot suits and two empty hands for Everything Else. (And how brave am I for sharing a drawing??!!)