LiteraryMinded is seven; Captives is born; writing-work balance

CaptivesFCR (1)I missed my blog’s birthday. For the first time. You can imagine why. Something else I’ve written has just been released, my tiny book of short fictions, Captives. 

Actually, there’s more to it than that. I haven’t felt like I’ve had a proper chance to let publication wash over me, that now when I say to someone ‘I’m a writer’, and they ask, ‘what’s your book?’ I have an answer.

It’s just that I’m back in extraordinarily-busy-saying-yes mode… That’s why I truly missed my blog’s birthday. I’m working on two contracts (one editing, one writing), have started an awesome new casual job at Nant whisky bar, have two reviews, one essay and one academic paper due, am judging two writing competitions, preparing to report on a conference, preparing an interview, preparing for a HUGE amount of festivals, events and workshops, and trying to keep on top of social media etc. around my book’s release (and continuing to promote The Great Unknown). I’m a little stressed, admittedly, but I’m also grateful. When I got back from overseas it was so difficult, at first, to find work. I’d much rather have too much work, than too little. And everything feels (almost) balanced: a little reading, some writing, a bunch of emails, some editing, and then whisky.

Except for one thing: not enough creative writing going on. I’m managing about once a week at the moment. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Do many people manage to write a lot when they’re in the throes of promoting the current book? And how do other authors manage balance between book promotion (and career building) and making enough of a living? This is a question that’s been fascinating me, last year (when I finished my doctorate) and this year: what is the ideal job for a writer? Is my bar job ideal, because it’s casual and flexible, and still stimulating (I love the smells in the bar, and hearing people’s different stories about how they came to like single malts—it often involves travel). Or is freelance editing ideal? I just love putting that logical part of my brain to work: problem solving; knitting text, spaces and punctuation into something neat. I get to put the control freak to work, purge her a little. Editing feels powerful, I think. But it does use up a lot of brain power, not exactly from the same area as the writing (at least the drafting) comes from, but close by. Enough to drain you of words for the evening. I don’t think I’d want to edit full time.

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I don’t think I want to do any one job full time.

Can I manage this ‘juggling’, then? And still write, and still pay the bills? I’m going to try.

A grant would be helpful, of course! Or an advance. I am so enjoying writing this novel and it would be great, after some of these contracts ended, to have more time in the week to immerse myself in remote 19th century Scotland.

But hang on, let me take a moment here. I have a book out! (Always thinking of the next thing.) And it’s even receiving some lovely reviews and attention. The other day I received an email from an author whose book I very much admired, telling me she admired my book! It made my day. I couldn’t quite believe that she’d written to me as a peer (I know, but I’ve admitted to my inadequacy complex on here many times over these past seven years).

I’ve linked in the past few weeks to some of the guest posts/interviews I’ve been doing around the book’s release, but recently Captives has also been reviewed in Readings Monthly by Brigid Mullane, and Bronte Coates interviewed me for the Readings blog. Author Annabel Smith also interviewed me (on the writing process) on her blog.

And The Great Unknown is kicking on! It received a review in the Australian last weekend, by Kirsten Krauth, alongside the latest Sleepers Almanac. I still have to put up the last of my author posts from TGU on here. Will do soon…

Please also check out my events page while you’re here!

And while I’m rambling on, I must say that I’m reading some incredible books for upcoming festivals: Fiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest is bowling me over, and Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals is lingering long in my mind. I put a small note on that one on Goodreads.

But I also feel I’ll never catch up on all the books I want to read: Alex Miller’s Coal Creek, Chris Womersley’s Cairo, Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book (not to mention Carpentaria), Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda, Emily Bitto’s The Strays, Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil, Clare Wright’s The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, and now Paddy O’Reilly’s new novel, The Wonders, has just landed on my desk. And I have an advance proof of Jessie Cole’s Deeper Water… (!)

All the books.

OK, I best get on with my work for the day. Thanks for coming by, it’s been swell.

10 thoughts on “LiteraryMinded is seven; Captives is born; writing-work balance

  1. Great update. I’m always interested in hearing authors’ journeys and processes. Congrats on all your recent success! Well-deserved, I’d say (going on your relentless work ethic, anyway).

    I’ll definitely snatch up a copy of Captives when my assessments die down. Looking forward to it 🙂

  2. Congratulations on turning seven! And on the release on Captives. And wow! That is a lot to juggle, I felt a little tired just reading it. Good for you that you can take on so much.

  3. Actually important to just say what a champion I think you are, in the truest sense of the word. A champion for all the best reasons to write, that gnarly endeavour “become a writer” (arguably totally different to just actually writing), and to support others’ work and ideas. Truly terrific stuff–thanks for being awesome! A copy of CAPTiVES is on my short short short list! (microlist?). Good luck upping your writing sessions from once a week–you can do it! XO

  4. Congratulatons on your book Angela! Great review by KK in the Australian. Don’t forget to enjoy your success with all you have going on! Those successes don’t come by often!

  5. Hi Angela, I’ve just started ‘Captives’ and am enjoying it very much: trying not to binge read. I pull it out of my bag (it’s so small and light!) to read when stuck in a queue or when the train is delayed two minutes. Perfect.
    I’m still struggling too with the ‘how do I make money and not exhaust myself for writing?’ question. I’ve recently shifted jobs from doing journalism to doing technical writing, and finding it a lot more friendly to my writing brain. My researching, grammar and succinctness skills stay trim, without exhausting any of my imagination. And there are some nice quiet spots during the day when my brain can recuperate.

  6. Great post Angela. Congratulations on Captives – on my shortlist. I’ve also been grappling with the writing/life/work balance this year and not sure I’ve got it right. I like writing anything so I find my (regular) freelance journalism work exercises my wordsmithing, and a TV job exposes me to an office a couple of days a week so that I have some contact with people and other worlds. But the only time left for fiction at the moment is the weekend, which is also supposed to be family time. Assignments and classes are cutting into weekday evenings. Ideally I’d like to spend the first two hours of every day writing fiction when my brain is at its best but that’s not happening at the moment. Maybe later in the year when things are less busy. I have to carve out the time for the fiction because there’s no deadline I have to meet. But not forgetting all the driving, walking, commuting time that I spend mentally writing fiction in my head – that’s gold. Now if only I could stop waking up in the middle of the night to think about my book!

    • Yes, carving out time can be so hard – let’s hope things calm down for both of us in a few months and we’ll be able to translate more of that mental writing onto the page! All the best.

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