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It would have passed in any case

Part of maturing as a writer is learning to wait. You learn to recognise the varieties of dread: to distinguish genuine judgement about the quality of a story from plain old back-to-work nerves. I am currently Waiting for Edits, which is usually a very anxious time, but I feel quite happy about the work ahead – for the first time I’ll be doing edits from my home office, and not from Hawaii-Arizona-Mexico-Cuba (The Diamond Anchor) or Berlin-Russia-China (Gone). Since it’s about 70% previously published, I’m hoping this round will also be easier. The Rest is Weight isn’t far from being finished. It already has a distribution page, so it very nearly exists. The cover’s a little further away. I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile I’ve dipped my toe into the novel I’m (not really) working on, and it seems that there is some book-like substance dangling there, though it is fragile, as early drafts are. Pulling these amorphous blobs out of the water, moulding them into shape, sticking them together – it is slow. It accounts for most of the work, and thankfully, this is the part I enjoy the most. Having long breaks between drafts is good – I was exhausted at the end of last year – but they do come at the price of rising worry that the mind might rust. Fitting, given this book I’m working on has a bit to do with ruins.

I realised just before the break that I don’t have the kind of mind that can do one thing at a time. I like to have a few projects on the boil. I like being able to distract myself with a blog post or a short story or a zine or an art project or even a paid gig as well as work on the book. Can’t keep staring at the same page day after day without losing the plot, so to speak; I need on some level to keep busy. This is the one, very unconvincing downside of having grant money. But I am also grateful for a little nothing-time, the idleness from which ideas and associations can grow.

So with the return to the regimentation of school hours and the calm of a daily writing practice, I feel like the new year has finally begun. After a trying few weeks dodging curveballs from the universe, which appeared to be playing that sadistic primary-school game of brandings, it’s good to remember to sit still. To focus on my own definition of success and do the work which makes me happy and keeps me going. Happiness must be cultivated, and having meaningful work is an important part of that. I want to be successful enough to keep myself alive and able to continue working. I have to be patient, to simply do what I love, and allow the rest to sprout behind. (The rest is weight, after all.) To be brave enough to be patient. Time is a bloody luxury, I have to say.

Oh, and before I forget – happy National Year of Reading! A story of mine is up on the NYR website as audio – read by someone else for a change. Enjoy.

And this wonderful short story event continues in Adelaide, now at the Wheatsheaf – so I shall see you there on the 7th!

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