What a week! Great news about Artisan and a tremendous amount of progress on all sorts of writing projects, plus cementing new writerly friendships online. Exhausting, but very satisfying!
Off to Stickwick Manor for a four-day retreat with Urban Writers Retreats!
But, before that, I got an email from the publisher I re-submitted Artisan to earlier in the year – and they want to publish it!!
The words that will forever be burned into my brain: “we like what you have done with the manuscript and want to offer you a contract to publish”.
They can’t send anything through until March, because their publication schedule is too full, but that’s fine with me! I was expecting to be doing more edits over Christmas, but they’ve only asked for one more, very minor change, which will give me the opportunity to do one more read-through before sending them a revised manuscript at the end of February.
I’m aware that the wheels of publishing move very slowly, and sometimes get stuck altogether, but this is still a major moment for me!
So, it then felt a bit mundane to be writing reviews on the train to Devon – though I suppose my writing life must go on!
I planned out my desired writing tasks for the rest of the week, then wrote my script for the next main podcast episode and brainstormed some ideas for an upcoming competition.
Slightly later start than I had intended, but I was set up in the gorgeous dining room at Stickwick Manor with a pot of tea, and ready to get started by 9:15am. I launched straight into the next three scenes of Beneath the Tree, completing 2,500 words in less than three hours.
I did some brainstorming on upcoming submission opportunities, either coming up with ideas for new stuff or identifying old, unpublished stuff that would be appropriate.
After lunch, I got out my notes for developing the second draft of Colours and had several moments of complete paralysis as the enormity of the task started to sink in. I briefly read through the things that need to change and decided the best approach would be to go through the scene list and add notations to each to determine what needs to be added/changed where. This required careful consideration of each point to figure out how much alteration was required. Scary stuff, but at least I came up with what I hope is a workable plan.
I finished up the day by reading some more of my current writing craft book, which was really interesting.
Second full day at the Stickwick retreat!
I started out like yesterday with the next three scenes of Beneath the Tree, which went better than I expected.
Then I brainstormed some more ideas for new stories.
After a short break, I went back to Broken Succession and did the edits from my Scribophile critiques to finish off the story.
I finished off my morning session by reading another chapter of my current craft book, which is proving to have a lot of excellent, concrete examples of how to apply its proposed techniques.
After lunch, I identified the easiest edits for Colours and knocked those on the head, just to feel like I had started the great editorial endeavour.
Later, I rewrote a really old story, in order to fit it to an upcoming submission opportunity. I thought it was going to be a lot of work, but it actually turned out to be pretty easy and I think the story was much improved by the alterations. I posted it on the TL;DR betaswap channel and got some great suggestions from the writers there, so I wrote some editing notes.
Then I read another section of the emotional craft book.
Two decent writing sessions left of the Stickwick retreat – morning at the manor and the train journey back to London.
I started out with the next two scenes of Beneath the Tree, to get to the halfway point. The first one flowed really well but the second one was a struggle. My brain was definitely reaching saturation point with writing by that stage of the week.
I took a break and did some planning, some scheduling and some task list amalgamation. Nothing like making lists and plans with different coloured pens in a notebook to rejuvenate the brain!
Then I completed my retreat experience by writing an Hour of Writes entry on the train home, a competition I used to enter a lot but which hadn’t released a new prompt in nearly a year until this week.
What a fantastic few days! I was worried I would be unfocused and lazy, and not make the most of the opportunity, but I exceeded my wildest expectations with what I achieved at Stickwick Manor this time around!
Roll on the next visit in January!
I took a break from actual writing today and did eleven submissions instead.
Then I started work editing a friend’s novel and later, I wrote a review.
I was due to meet some of my family for lunch so I dragged myself into central London early and set myself up to do some writing in the Starbucks over the road from the restaurant.
I started with the next two scenes of Beneath the Tree, as per my recently constructed schedule.
I edited some more of my friend’s novel.