Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trying to keep the balls in the air (and the knots out of the stomach)

Well, that's not worked out perfectly so far: last night I woke up with the realization that I'd left something off the flowchart that was meant to save me sleepless nights thinking about all I had to do for publicity and trying to remember it. And I couldn't get back to sleep...!

Sue Guiney, who has a new novel coming out this month with new independent Ward Wood, has said on my Fictionbitch blog that she is planning to take a whole year off writing in order to promote the book, A Clash of Innocents, and maybe that's the only sensible way to go. But having done no really solid and sustained writing between the publication of my story collection Balancing on the Edge of the World in October 2007 and April this year when I got down to work in earnest on my novel in progress (with the publication of Too Many Magpies in between last autumn), I've decided that I really can't afford to stop altogether for the reissue of The Birth Machine next month. For one thing, if I did, I'm sure I'd lose the thread of the current novel. If at all possible I'm going to try and keep going while simultaneously working hard on the publicity.

So how's it going, you may wonder? Well, yesterday and today I managed two solid mornings of work on the novel from nine in the morning till one-thirty, and later yesterday I fulfilled the requirements of my flowchart by designing posters for my Didsbury Arts Festival reading and talk on 27th September and creating a Facebook event for it. (Today I'll have spent a good chunk of the afternoon getting back to blogging.) Can't say, though, that yesterday was easy. Although it's true that I'm at a tricky point in the novel, where I'm juggling several threads (and trying to make it look seamless and simple), I can't help feeling that the peace of my Wales retreat, where the connections and sequences seemed just to present themselves to me, would have been more conducive, and that there I'd have had to wrestle with it all less hard. And it's a point in the novel where I'm alternating between two different time levels and different psychic states for a character (while again trying to make it seamless) so it's taking a lot of mental and emotional energy.

And then, quite honestly, after a morning of doing that, I could hardly face sitting at the computer and designing the posters, a job that in other circumstances I can really enjoy, and I really had to force myself to do it. And I'm not sure I had the proper concentration. I thought I'd finished, and, in a hurry to get the job over with, I printed them out before realizing I'd left out some vital information, and will have to print them again...

By then, 4.30, I'd really had enough of the computer and just couldn't get my head around any more publicity collation and blurb, and anyway we needed food for the evening meal, and I'd promised myself a proper break and some exercise (because in the last couple of years glued to the computer I've got so unfit), so out I went shopping and walking. When I got back, I felt refreshed and was keen to get creating my Facebook event, but by the time I'd done that (and had a stupid problem loading up the image) it was 8.00, and we still had the evening meal to prepare and eat, and I still hadn't been on Twitter properly, as I'd intended. Just as I thought I'd finished, a nice email came through from Waterstone's Deansgate about my official Manchester launch for the reissue on 27th October, asking for some publicity blurb, which I really appreciate.

Meanwhile all the time at the moment there's the great mound of washing, including bedding, which we brought back after several weeks in Wales without a washing machine, into which I have to keep trying to make inroads. As for reading, that's confined to half an hour in bed at night: in Wales I finally began reading properly Jenn Ashworth's A Kind of Intimacy, and was really enjoying it, but have had to abandon it for the moment for the book we'll discuss in the reading group next Thursday. This once-voracious reader is now getting about 10 pages read a night...

We don't go out much nowadays, and I guess it's no surprise. And I'll probably forever regret confessing this, but quite frankly when there's so little time in the day, showering and washing your hair begins to seem like an expenditure of time you simply can't afford...!

The glamorous life of a writer, eh?

Well, maybe I'll get on top of it all. After all, I know I'm luckier than a lot of other writers, who have 9-5 jobs and young children or other caring responsibilities...


Rachel Fenton said...

I share your time saving devices of a weekend, Elizabeth - until I can bear the smell of myself no longer; there's a fine line between time saving and distraction!

I cannot begin to imagine factoring in twitter and face book - writing time is so scarce as it is! I have two competitions I would love to enter in the next couple of months and barely a quiet moment to write anything. Maddening. And reading is a slow trickle currently but a varied one.

Best with getting your threads woven in.

Elizabeth Baines said...

And all the best with your juggling, too, Rachel. I do hope you get those stories written.