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Monthly Recap: April 2016

So, I’m well overdue with my monthly recap, and I’ve been wondering how to handle it. It has been an incredibly overwhelming month for all aspects of my life, and at this rate, by the time I actually get this post written, it’ll be mid-May… How did that happen? There’s so much I still need to do before we hit the halfway mark of the year!

So, in order to make things easier for myself this month, I won’t be breaking things down as usual. Instead, I’m just going to tell you about three things I’ve learnt…

1. The Structural Edit – You’re Not Alone

If you stay up to date with this blog you’ll know that I was due to have a meeting with my publisher. I met Donna Ward and Nicki Williams for my first editorial meeting at the State Library and got stuck into the real core of my narrative and characters.

It was great to have that kind of attention on my manuscript, and as I mentioned in my most recent video – I’d never spoken about it to anyone for that length of time (3 hours!). But what I found in the week following the meeting, was that I became incredibly overwhelmed at the amount of work that was still left to do.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been working on Red Hands for years now, and I’ve really reached the point where I’m mentally/emotionally exhausted by it and just want to get it out into the world. However, there was work to be done, and lots of it.

Donna helped me come up with a way to best approach the manuscript and over the past few weeks, I’ve added over 14,000 words to the existing manuscript (and that’s only from one character’s perspective – I’ve still got another to go).

During this time, I was very up and down, which was fairly new to me. I usually pride myself on being really good with feedback, and my ability to take on constructive criticism. But this was hard. What I learnt though, was that it’s not just me. By reading the blogs of other authors, I soon saw that everyone else experiences the same thing when it comes to the structural edit – the tidal wave of emotion and the utter exhaustion.

I couldn’t believe how much that little kernel of information helped me push on with my work. And push on I have. Which is partly why I haven’t been able to get to this ‘recap’ until now. My deadline for the first half of the manuscript is tomorrow, so I’ve been hammering away at that.

And there’s more work ahead. I have half the manuscript to go. And then we start all over again. (I have to remember to take this one day at a time…)

2. Read What You Love

This ‘lesson’ truly deserves a post of its own, and one of these days I’m going to get to it, but for now…

When I was doing my creative writing degree, there was definitely a sense of ‘book-snobbery’ among peers and teachers. ‘Literary fiction’ was something we should all strive to write and read, and any ‘genre’ books were lesser books.

For the longest time, I let this limited way of thinking impact my reading choices and what I wrote. However, in the past year or so, I’ve rediscovered a genre I once loved – fantasy. In fact, for the past year or so, I’ve hardly read anything but fantasy. And it’s made reading a joy again. I’d forgotten that the best fiction, no matter its genre takes you on a journey, makes you feel things for its characters, and in essence, reflects universal truths for us all in the most magical way.

This week, I finished reading A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas (who has fast become one of my favourite authors) and it was a rollercoaster. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that connected to a book, to the point where I was laughing and crying with the characters, and literally sitting on the edge of my seat biting my nails as Maas raised the stakes higher and higher.

And when I finished it? I flipped right back to the beginning and started again. Amidst what was a really difficult week for me, this book took me out of myself and my problems, and took me on the most breathtaking adventures.

3. Go Outside

Naturally, in my line of work, a lot of my day is spent indoors, sitting at a desk and looking at a screen. And in the past few weeks, I’ve spent most of my time alone hammering away at the keyboard. It’s easy to forget there’s a real world outside when you spend the majority of your time in a world of your own making with people you’ve invented.

But this week, I took my laptop out on the deck, and sat outside – I actually felt the breeze on my face and the sun on my skin. And it did wonders for me. One afternoon I actually gave myself an hour off work just to sit in the sun and read. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d let myself do that. Medicine for the soul, I’m telling you.

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And there you have it! Not quite the usual monthly recap, but a summary of lessons learnt (or re-learnt) in April.

Fingers crossed that May proves to be a far less intense/stressful month than April, but who knows!

Until next time,

Helen

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