In which what, exactly? In truth, I'm not sure. I've been silent about everything for so long. But it's May - 18 months since my last blog post - and things are on the turn. It's time I make myself heard again, give an update on how things are going.
The writing life is a tough one at any point in your career, but as a writer who has not yet achieved that elusive début novel it seems like a never-ending struggle to be heard. So much has been achieved these last twelve months, and yet hardly anything at all. But I choose to carry on despite the stress of it, the horrible suspicion that actually I cannot write at all and I'm wasting precious time. But it is time I must take, because to achieve what I want is going to take time and unfortunately, nothing has ever come to me easily; it's just taken me a while to accept that the novel, as with everything else, will happen when it's good and ready.
In 2016 the novel went out to agents twice. That is to say, it went out on two rounds of submissions. Between March-August I received two calls for the full MS, and I even met one agent. In the end it wasn't a right fit, but knowing in round one I managed to get any agent interest at all gave me a boost of confidence. However, in round two between August-December I had no takers, though the rejections I received were positive abstracts rather than a one line, straight up 'NO'. Despite this, by winter my confidence had flagged and I realised the painful truth - the novel was not going to sell as it was. I needed to make a drastic change - one that wasn't historically factual - and create something that veered off slightly from my original concept. This both excited and terrified me in equal measure. The amount of work needed was daunting and I ended up getting frustrated and despondent (do I dare say the other D word?) - not just with the novel but with everything else that had crept up on me in the meantime. My current role in Higher Education was announced as being made redundant in August last year, the subsequent job hunt wasn't going well, my flat was burgled, and it really did seem like all the dominoes had fallen spectacularly flat with a mighty crescendo. It stopped my productivity - the academic papers I'd begun to draft for three Romanticism conferences that year fell on the wayside - and I removed myself from social media for a while just so I didn't have to see (what felt like) everyone else's successes as opposed to my failures. Yes, I really was feeling that melodramatic.
But that's the creative mind for you. It becomes overwhelmed and we seem to feel things far more keenly than others. Throughout 2016 I became almost morbidly desperate for the novel to succeed; I wasn't happy in the job role that later became redundant, I felt resentful of my lack of progress in all aspects of my life (melodrama again) and what made it worse was I knew I'd tried my hardest to change things but was getting nowhere anyway.
I genuinely felt like I was trapped in a glass box. I could see my ambitions surrounding me, all within my grasp, but I was completely unable to touch any of them. So, the 'desperateness' I felt essentially came from a feeling of acute dissatisfaction. I thought getting an agent and a publishing deal would 'rescue' me from the situation I'd found myself in and that once I'd knocked down that first goalpost the rest would come. Of course, my logical brain knew it didn't work that way. I'd have been faced with different problems after that and on different, most possibly, even greater levels, but my emotional brain wanted to have been able to at least tick that one box. Then, perhaps, I'd have felt like I'd achieved something and I was finally on the right track. Thankfully in spring '17 I managed to turn it around. I have since become involved with Writing West Midlands as an assistant writer, finally (after four years) got myself a car, and found myself another job in HE that will give me lecturing practice and time in which to write.
The current update, in short? I'm still not any nearer to getting published than I was twelve months ago. As per usual, I have a long way to go. I haven't touched the novel since February and won't likely touch it again now until the summer. I know what needs to be done, but the desperateness I felt before has waned now I feel a little less trapped. The agent, the publishing deal ... it'll come when it comes. I'm not going to even put a time limit on myself now. I must simply learn patience, put less pressure on myself, have a little bit of faith, and trust that everything will work itself out in the wash.