February Blog: The Time It Takes

I finally finished the first draft of Attrition in mid-February and to say I was delighted is an understatement. It was a long slog just to get the first draft done, far longer than I had anticipated, especially compared to Bitten By A Dog On Tuesday (the first draft of which I wrote in 6 weeks). At present I have Attrition printed out (I hate wasting paper but I like to have a hardcopy to read and write edits on) and have set it aside to give myself a little space between drafts. Next month I plan on starting the second draft, or more accurately draft 1.1 as I need to rewrite the first fifty thousand words or so in third person close PoV. Once that’s done, then I’ll really be able to start the second draft. The amount of work yet to be done is somewhat daunting but at least I’ve got something concrete to work with now and I’m happy that I stuck with it.

In the two weeks since I’ve set Attrition aside for a little breather from it I’ve written a short story and have been playing around with some poetry ideas. The short story is one from a list of many that I want to write but this one in particular has been me haunting for over a year. I’ve said before that writing is a form of exorcism; a way of getting a story out that has possessed the writer. This short story very much lived up that that analogy. It actually came to me in a dream one night. It had all the hallmarks of an anxiety dream or nightmare, except that it was in no way frightening or troublesome. In fact, it was quite peaceful and serene. Usually dream ideas are farcical upon waking, especially in the cold light of day when we’ve time to reflect properly on them. This one was different however, so I wrote down a few sentences and filed it with all the other story ideas. It wouldn’t stay filed away though. I kept thinking about it and dreaming about it. It demanded to be told so as soon as I was temporarily free from Attrition I began to write it. It’s a brief little piece set in a harbour town during the early 20th century about a boy who returns from beneath (i.e. from the dead) to be with his parents. Now I’ve been able to get it from my head onto the page I feel that it stands the test of being made real. I’m currently redrafting it and tidying it up but it won’t take too much longer to reach its final version.

I was planning to return to work on Bitten By A Dog On Tuesday but that’s a bit up in the air at the moment. I might just get back to Attrition sooner rather than later and see if I can get it out into the real world at some stage. Either way, I’ve plenty of writing options to keep me busy, just not enough time to get them all done. When I was workshopping Attrition with Mia Gallagher at her excellent masterclass in 2017 she stressed strongly that it’ll take the time it takes. I knew this to be true at the time but it deserves repeating. If your work-in-progress is taking longer than you’d ever imagined, just stick with it. It’ll take the time it takes.

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