About robjtriggs

Currently based in Cambridgeshire but with links to Belfast, Bradford and Norwich, I'm a writer of speculative fiction and a dreamer of dreams. Including that one which starts out nice and then turns on you like a twisty-turny thing

99%

So, one of my editing jobs is complete, the other not so very long or intensive. I can finally see my way to the world of creative writing beyond.

Indeed, I actually managed to fire up my WIP for the first time since Christmas. I carved out an hour to do something original, something new, and… I failed.

It seems as if just having the time isn’t enough. One must also have brains in order to write, and, right now, I’m just not getting anywhere.

Frustration. But also optimism. Because writing is work, and I can do work. It’s just a case of sitting behind the keyboard and staring at the screen until those black marks on the screen – the words, I mean, and not just the dirt – make sense, and then they start talking to you.

I never really understood what it means to say you’re blocked. I’m finding it hard right now – does that mean I’m blocked? Does it signify something horribly awry with the work I’ve produced thus far? I don’t think so. I believe in what I’ve done, imperfect though it is at this stage. My problem is that I’m out of practice; since August I’ve not had a few straight weeks to just focus on the manuscript, and that’s costing me now.

But I will continue. I will keep scratching away, one word at a time, doing as little as I’m able each session until either a) the metaphorical pen begins to fly again and I realise that I’ve slipped back into the swing of things, or b) I look back and realise that all this scratching has added up to a solid page or two of writing.

It won’t be very good, of course. But that’s what second drafts are for.

So at the moment I’m taking odd moments to reacquaint myself with the situation I’ve left myself and my characters in. Just adding a few words here and there as the inspiration finds me. Treading water, not really getting anywhere.

But all this is valuable. It is the building blocks of progress. It’s not ideal; ideal would be to sit down and write solidly until the work is done. But it is what I have to work with after real life is added to the equation.

They say that genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration*. I’m no genius but it’s where I am. I’ve had my moment of inspiration – a dream 16 months ago – and now I’ve just got to sweat it out.

Any future biopic of me will surely rewrite this section of my life. Score points for determination, but it ain’t never going to be the most dramatic Oscar-worthy sequence.

Onwards!

*Edison said that. Leacock puts the figures at 10-90. Can’t even agree on that one.

Two guvnors

I have done but a single line of creative writing this side of Christmas. This is clearly sub-optimal. I’m not blocked, though, or taking ill-deserved time off; I am, in fact, as busy as I’ve ever been – just not with the things that matter to me.

Partly the problem is that I am very lucky. I have a day-job at which I spend twenty hours a week, plus a little time commuting and preparing. I then fill up the rest of the working week with writing or editing.

Thing is that my commercial editing arm has got really long recently. I am in demand, with all of two jobs awaiting my attention. This obviously isn’t many, not really, but it’s rare for me to have work stacked up; usually I work from one to the next, never quite knowing when my next job will come through.

It’s been like this since August. I’ve been so busy working on other people’s writing that it’s taken all the time I used to use for myself. And I’m not (honestly) complaining about that – it’s great. Good, interesting work that keeps me entertained and off the streets, or at least saves me from being too dependent on my wife.

It’s just that, what with spending some crumbs of time with my family and the odd moment for myself, my genuine, original writing has taken a back seat. This is beginning to eat at me; I have a half-finished novel just waiting for an ending (though I fear the amount of mental effort I’ll have to pour into it; editing is, for me at least, much the easier task) and I have my own books to problem-solve, thank you very much.

I am not good at turning down work. I am too afraid of being blackballed, or being seen as unreliable, or some red flag being appended to my name, to refuse paying tasks. As I said earlier, I’m used to working as the tasks come in and don’t have a great timetable of works ahead as the true professionals do. Thus I take what I’m given, and I work hard, and I get the job done, he says with a certain amount of pride.

But I want to write. I want to create. And I haven’t truly got the work-life balance right. In this day and age, how do we tell them apart anyway?

I have some great stories to tell. I need to carve out time to tell them.

On 2022

I’ve had a book on submission with a publisher for eleven months now. That’s a long time – by no means a record, but a long time nevertheless. In the meantime I’ve got halfway through the (second) sequel, as well as doing a hell of a lot of commercial editing, so I’ve hardly been sitting on my hands. But I’ve not been submitting. I have been waiting.

This is how 2022 is going to go for me. This book is either going to be accepted for publication or I’ll be rejected. If the latter I’ll be very disappointed but, y’know, life and all that. I’ll then have to consider whether I go on trying to place it commercially – all the hells themselves won’t know where, mind – or if I’m going to take all the lessons learnt from New Gods and self-publish.

If it’s accepted – well, it probably won’t be published before 2023 and there’s all the rounds of editation it’ll need to go through, but I’ll know what I’m doing. I can get on with first-drafting Breathing Fire, and editing Our Kind of Bastard, and I’ll keep the hope of being some kind of ‘success’ alive.

Of course I’ll do all that writing and editing anyway because it is, at the end of the day, what I do.

2022 is to be determined, for me, by a binary choice made by someone else. This is not a good way to be and I don’t advocate it – which is, of course, why I,’m trying to carry on as if that’s not happening. I am still keeping my eyes open for other submission opportunities – I’m not beholden to anyone – but I’ve already been rejected by all agents and, for this trilogy, this seems like my last chance.

So how optimistic am I about the year to come? I have no idea. Not very? Somewhat? I always try to expect rejection because that way it doesn’t hurt as much when it happens. I guess, though, this time I am afraid because I can’t see a road ahead with a no.

And that’s what I really fear. Not the rejection itself, but the feeling of helplessness that is likely to accompany this one. This is a good book. It’s levelling up on my past work – or at least that’s how I feel anyway. I just won’t know what to do next if the thumbs turn down.

2021 can get in the bin. It was not a good year for me. 2022? Well, we shall just have to see.

Books of the year 2021

Yup, it’s that time again, my lovely blog-friends. Time for my favourite reads of the year. Now sadly reduced, as I’m way out of having a proper reading regime. I’m trying, I promise, but the works I select are from a narrow pool.

 Some of these books won’t be out until next year, some have been out for a while, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all great. Read on, read beyond and, as ever, feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments.

Stringers – Chris Panatier

Ben knows more than he should. Sadly, that ‘more than he should’ is pretty much limited to insect sex. Turns out Ben is a Stringer, someone blessed – or cursed – by the memories of past lives. And one of those lives happens to know the location of the Chime (whatever that is), and someone has sent a flesh-construct bounty hunter on his tail just to get it.

Consistently funny, Stringers is wonderfully written and elegantly put together. I found myself cursing the author’s talents as I read it, so jealous am I. The turn at the end – of which I will say no more – was wonderfully handled, full of pathos and so right for the story. Definitely one to look out for when it’s released next year.

Prison of Sleep – Tim Pratt

Everything Tim writes is worth reading. He’s just consummately skilled, consistently interesting and never without merit. This, the sequel to Doors of Sleep (see last year’s recommendations, folks), deals with a pesky cult, one that succeeds in destroying what sense of family Zaxony had gained in his previous adventure and sending him out into the multiverse again.

But this is only partly Zax’s story; it’s also the tale of Ana and how she came to ‘rescue’ Zax at the end of the last book. Her voice is strong and confident and welcome, as is that of Zax’s new companion, Zaveta of the Broken Wheel. There are a lot of strong women in Tim’s books.

Retelling the first book from a different perspective; expanding the mythos; adding a new and terrifying antagonist. All check. As I said, Tim is an outstanding writer and this is well worth your time.

The House of Cats and Gulls – Stephen Deas

Another sequel! And yes, obviously another worthy of your time or I wouldn’t be wasting mine writing about it, would I?

Ahem. This is a novel of troubled pasts that won’t quite let you be, and the fear of what you might become, as Myla seeks to save her family, Fingers searches for a missing brother and Seth explores the history of a dead warlock. But as they converge on a conspiracy against the throne, an incomprehensible enemy attacks the plague-ridden city of Deepwater, making all their efforts look worthless.

I stupidly passed up on the opportunity to get a free copy of book one, The Moonsteel Crown, through not reading an email carefully enough. This book two is more clearly part of a series than some sequels I’ve read, but I still found it incredibly enjoyable, engrossing and various other positive adjectives. Deas is an excellent storyteller, his characters fully-rounded and well worth getting to know.

Can’t wait for book three.

Spidertouch – Alex Thomson

Ah, this is an interesting one. I can’t think of another story that tells of the translator’s lot – especially one who acts as the go-between betwixt an enslaved population and their cruel masters, who ensure loyalty by sending the people’s children to work in the mines – essentially holding them hostage against their parent’s good behaviour.

But Razvan, as one of the few masters of the ‘spidertouch’ – the tactile method of communication the silent rulers employ – is in a unique position to change the fate of his city. As discontent is fanned by the arrival of a besieging force outside the city walls, can this middle-man subtly begin to change the message? Can he not only win the freedom from the encircling army, but from his superiors too?

Twenty-Five to Life – RWW Greene

A colony mission is leaving Earth on a mission to save the species. But what about the billions who are left on the planet? Life goes on… but what’s the point?

For Julie the answer is to run away and seek a new life in the Volksgeist, a loose culture of tramps, oldies, artists and ne’er-do’wells who have elected to ride out the end of the world in their campers and converted vans.

A road-movie in all but name, this is a witty and perfectly observed tale of life in elegant decay. It’s also the story of searching: for the life you wish to live, for the person you wish to be. Although the protagonist is 23, it feels like a coming-of-age story. It’s also beautifully written, never more so than in its depiction of an America that’s slowly coming to pieces.

The Offset – Calder Szewczak

You know of this one, right? It seems to have got a lot of press, although that may just reflect the circles in which I move (Twitter, basically). Climate-fiction, it’s the story of an overpopulated, environmentally ravaged world where stringent measures have been put in place to save the planet. Most notably, there is the Offset: for every child born a parent must die.

Miri is about to turn 18 and must choose which of her mothers is to be sacrificed. Her choice would be simple, except that the one she hates, the one she left home to get away from, might just be the only person who can save the world.

Melancholy, yes, and tragic, The Offset is also beautiful and horribly plausible.

The Fallen – Ada Hoffman

Another sequel, and I suspect another middle-of-the-series book. This takes up after the events of The Outside have forced moderately-mild-mannered Tiv Hunt to become a guerrilla leader, trying to free his planet – and the universe – from the influence of the ‘gods’ and their cruel angels. Impossible physics abounds, neurodivergence is everywhere and the cruelty of the powers-that-be universal. It just comes in different flavours.

As well as the gods, Tiv and partner Yasira are hunted by disgraced angel Akavi, former servant of Nemesis, who adds a very important element of bastardry into proceedings – especially in his dealings with their subordinate, with whom we perhaps empathise with most.

The Fallen ends on a partial resolution, setting up for a third book that I’ll very much be looking out for.

Ring the Hill – Tom Cox

A curious book this. One for landscape lovers everywhere, this is presented rather like a short-story collection but is actually roughly biographical; longish essays on aspects Cox’s life in different places he’s lived. That there is less on his cats then there has been in previous books of his might disappoint some – though they are there, always there. But, as I said, this is a book mostly about landscape, about the natural world and the ways in which one can inhabit that world.

By turns magical, mystical, and ruthlessly grounded, it is perhaps a hard sell. But Cox’s writing – and, one suspects, his personality – is lovely. There’s always something interesting, some new adventure, to be found in his words. A pleasure to be around.

Saga Book 1 – Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

A graphic novel! And also a cheat, as this is a re-read of a story I’ve featured in these pages several times before.

But it’s also brilliant; a Romeo-and-Juliet story about lovers running from their warring planets and the loose confederation of people they draw into their orbit – and also about the forces sent to track them down.

Beautifully written, wonderfully imaginative and perfectly brought to life by Fiona Staples, this is a story one can truly fall in love with. Can’t wait to receive part 2 for Christmas, he says in hope.

What Abigail Did that Summer – Ben Aaronovitch

He’s simply a damn good writer. What more can I say? This is the only novella in the list and is a side-step in the Rivers of London series, which is also excellent but suffers from ‘the protagonist’s with the wrong woman’ syndrome.

Maybe that’s just me. Regardless, it doesn’t detract from this beautifully constructed little piece, which takes apprentice wizard Abigail and a posse of talking foxes into the wilds of Hampstead to try and discover who’s luring teenagers away – and why.

It’s simply great fun. Sit back and enjoy.

The Sandman (Acts 1 & 2) Audio – Neil Gaiman and Dirk Maggs (audio)

Yes, of course I’ve read this before, but the audio treatment, which I’m specifically recommending here, just takes it to another level. The cast is magnificent. The narration, by Gaiman himself, works beautifully. The work Maggs has put into the adaptation is so subtle that no seams can be seen.

Something about the experience of hearing it brings out the horror of the tale – for it certainly touches horror in numerous places – and makes it transcend its source material. And I say this, realising that I’ll be accused of heresy by many graphic novel fans. But still – and again maybe this says more about the way I absorb my material than it does the material itself – I couldn’t listen to this for long stretches as it unsettles so.

Doomed. Tragic. Beautiful. Human.

Wonderful.

Senlin Ascends – Josiah Bancroft

A bewildering, bewitching world of the many realms – ‘ringdoms’ – that make up the Tower of Babel are here explored as we follow Senlin in his quest to find his missing wife. Through madhouses, theatres, airships; past (and with) rogues and tyrants and thieves and actors we go. Upwards through the tower we go on this mild-mannered man’s quest.

A triumph of invention and imagination, Senlin Ascends is bursting with wit and energy. Would that I were reading at something like a normal rate I would have devoured the whole series already. As it is I must merely anticipate what the future will bring as Senlin makes his way up the Tower, ringdom by ringdom.

*

And that’s it. Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief canter through books I can barely remember more than to say ‘yeah, liked that’. Hope I’ve not been too spoiler-y but enough to whet the appetite. Remember, you can always leave your comments or your own reviews below – I love to read them all.

Have a great end-of-year, my lovely friends. Happy reading!

More on the morass

Green Morass, by Zdenka Kezele

It is a matter of personal taste: would you like to struggle more with the beginning, the middle, or the end? I know of writers who find getting going excruciating – every word a struggle until enough brain-lubrication has been got down and their pistons can fully come online. The ending – well, I don’t know of anyone who’s fought too badly with this, but presumably there are those who have to hack away with the machete of will to get out of a novel.

Me, I’m a middle man. Specifically, I’m a ‘the bit from 25-40k’ man. It seems like on every novel I get hung up about this point; the words don’t flow no more and every session is a slog. Progress can be measured in paragraphs, not pages, and a decent conversation is a joy as it means you can feel like you’ve really got somewhere, even if the word count is still crawling.

To put it another way – because word-count doesn’t mean all that much, not really – it’s the section from the inciting incident to the central conflict that I really struggle with. To those wot don’t speak Hero’s Journey (or whatever we’re calling it today), the inciting incident is that occurrence that means the central character can’t sit around in their armchair all novel and must go out and do something: their house mysteriously burns down, say, or their attempts to rebuff the kindly old wizard finally come to naught: the band have got together and they’re on their way to adventure.

The central conflict is the conflict at the novel’s heart, where all things flip and the protagonist is sent in a new direction.

It seems that I always struggling with this section. It’s not necessarily that I’m stuck for ideas, though often the slowness is caused by having to think – an occupation of which I Do Not Approve. Rather it’s… Well, I’m, honestly not sure what it is. I just know that, for two novels in a row, I have been pulling words like teeth precisely at this juncture. If I could remember I’d swear it was other novels too.

This is where novels are abandoned. Where they’re set aside ‘to stew’ and never quite get picked up again. Or where a new project suddenly looms on the horizon making all that’s come before seem like a waste of time.

If you are struggling with this, or with any part of your novel, I wish I had answers for you. The only real advice I can give you is to keep going. For each word you write – even the wrong ones – get you closer to the end. You’re not in a race (unless you are). You’re not (usually) writing to a deadline. All progress is good and it does get easier (or so I tell myself). You’ll have good days amidst the struggle, and soon you’ll find that all the hard work has not only moved you forwards considerably, but that now you can ‘write downhill’ and dance through big chunks of story because you’ve done all the hard prep already.

I suppose that’s the real trick of writing. That it has to be done. There may be shortcuts – proper prep and gestational work – that I’m not an expert on, but at the end of the day it comes down to getting the words down on (electronic) paper.

Keep going. No matter how slowly you move, no matter how many hours spent thinking, or not thinking, keep coming back to that manuscript and make words happen.

Soon you’ll be looking back, amazed at how much you’ve done. And eventually you’ll have a finished draft.

First draft morass

First drafting is an inefficient thing. When the initial rush has worn off, when there’s nothing left but vague ideas and you’re stumbling around to try and find a clear path, the clumsiness is clear. The only maps are long out-of-date and the natives none too friendly; forwards a few paces, then sideways, then over a strange fold that seems to take far longer to cross than by rights it should… Inefficient.

Sometimes an inch takes an hour, sometimes you seem to fly. Like a punch-drunk boxer you sway and stagger and when the bell rings for the end of a round it’s all you can do to hope you’ve somehow engaged the enemy.

But the only enemy is the shape of the story in your own mind. Can you design a vessel for the ideas? Can you channel them – whether in a familiar fashion or in a direction you’d completely failed to anticipate – into something story-shaped?

So I trip and I stumble but I keep going forwards. There’s nothing glamourous about this. It’s hardly sitting at a keyboard and letting the fingers dance, as the media would have you believe. It’s stop-start, it’s distraction, it’s having an idea whilst you’re in the middle of another and so you have horrible nesting conversations where no-one gives an answer to the preceding question but is instead discursing on the history of the East India Company.

Conversations especially have a way of getting out of control. Because what you want to say is always hijacked by the characters, how will insist on responding to imagined insults when you’d rather they helped move the plot along.

Writing is a mess. First drafting is a mess. It’s why I so admire people who can plan books out properly and don’t have all this chaos in their life. I’ve never been able to manage it, personally; I always say ‘okay, this will be the novel I outline fully before setting pen to paper’ but it never works – or, at least, I’ve still not found a way to make the actual writing any easier.

At the moment I’m all tangled up in backstory, but the buggers will insist on interrupting, telling things arse-over-tip, and generally being messy. Characters are like that.

I guess I should really try to embrace the chaos, get it all down and tidy during Round 2. But inefficiencies can be paralysing; we can’t do that until this is sorted.

There is no point to any of this. I will struggle onwards because it’s what I do. But my mind is all a bit of a muddle at the moment. I need to remind myself that it does get better – because it surely does. I’m just at that horrible 30k mark, where everything eternally is a slog.

Back to the coalface to chip, chip chip away. I’ll keep going. It’s what I do.

Breathing fire

I am doing some writing.

I know, I know. I’m every bit as surprised as you are. But it‘s true. I’ve finally got a bit of leeway in my schedule (I think – I’m always terribly worried that I’ve either forgotten something or that the jobs I have on my plate will take longer than anticipated) and I’m using it to create.

Breathing Fire is the third in the modern fantasy series that began with Oneiromancer and continued with Our Kind of Bastard. It’s an absolutely pointless thing to write as I have no home, nor even a hope of a home, for the first two books; I should be doing something unique and entirely standalone rather than revisiting old characters.

Well, tish and pshaw to that. This is the book I want to write. And now I’m a self-publishing veteran (if not an earner) there is always that option.

I don’t want to say too much about the story yet, but it revolves around cursed books, grief, terminal (?) insomnia and evil industrialists-cum-venture-capitalists. It’s set in the environs of Bradford, which is where I grew up. I’m fed up of the London-centricness of British novels, which is rich seeing as Oneiromancer was set there. Still: London, Brittany, Bradford – I’m moving things around, at least.

And that’s really all I’ve got to say for now. I’m first drafting, and doubtless what I’m producing is pretty terrible. A first draft is all about getting the story down on paper; of finding steps and mis-steps and of trying not to get too bogged down in a morass of one’s own making.

But it’s fun, and exciting, and though it’s a slog it’s my slog.

*             *             *

For those what missed it I did an interview with the wonderful Runalong Womble the other week. If you want to read about New Gods, about my influences, the problems of writing sci-fi, and my book recommendation for the world, head along here – and check out all of Womble’s other interviews whilst you’re at it.

Oh, and maybe buy and/or review New Gods? Cheers. You’re the best.

Writing is fun

It’s fun, writing. I mean no, it’s horrible, a unique and vengeful form of torture. It weakens the soul, erodes the buttocks and is no good for diet, digestion or dignity. But apart from that it’s fun.

It’s a massive challenge, writing anything, let alone a novel. It’s worse when you feel like you’re stuck in mud, striving desperately to shift the merest inch. And the road, should such a thing exist, is a switchback, easily lost, and sometimes we must reverse course to make progress.

And even then, when all the kinks are unbound and the thing laid flat upon the paper, it will look nothing like the golden model that originally shone in the mind’s eye. It will have been watered down, irrevocably changed by the needs of ‘logic’, ‘consistency’, and ‘taste’.

And yet I maintain that it is fun. There is not enough fun in this world right now, and so I am resentful about all the things that are getting in my way at the moment. I have proofreading to do, deadlines to meet, edits to edit.

It has been a long time since I could just sit back, untethered by expectation, and create.

I can just about see the pages through the foliage. Recently I have carved out brief moments where I have been able to take my manuscript, the same that I’ve been mucking around with since February-ish, but which got lost in August as Other Things arose to bury it in the morass.

I can see it. I want to get back to it. It’s called Breathing Fire and I’ve written enough of it to worry that it’s not very good, so that’s something. I’ve also written enough of it for it to have a shape already, and there are flashes that I was to nurture and grow and hot-house.

Other things are currently in the way, but with my machete I will hack my way back to the trail and scamper after loose lost pages, scribbling on them as I go, until I find my way to the clearing and the great heart of the story is to be found, a bloated, sweating carcase fanning itself slowly with abandoned plot-lines.

And then I’ll complain about not having enough paid work to do. You watch me.

Sack the juggler

And… breathe.

It’s busy times again and I must work on working on: I must find myself time to write. Recently I’ve been somewhat swamped with the dirt and diesel of modern life. Only now can I take stock and see what I’ve been missing.

I’ve barely presented any new writing at my weekly group meetings because I’ve been so buried in self-publishing, and in proofreading and copyediting that, though I have virgin writing to share, I’ve not had time to actually go over it and do the inevitable rewrites.

I’ve managed to carve little half-hours, here and there, and I’ve been inching on with my very brandish-new project (not the thing I’ve been editing; that’s Our Kind of Bastard. This is the as-yet-untitled sequel to that and Oneiromancer) but that’s slow, painful going, not helped by the piecemeal approach.

I’m juggling these things but sadly not very well. It’s more just waving balls around rather than a jaw-dropping transcendent many-limbed performance.

Sack the juggler.*

I’ve just handed in another editorial assignment and, though I do have another project checked in, things currently look a little calmer out in front of me. The self-publishing is done (bar any possible far-too-late edits, should any typos have crept through, and possible promotion opportunities). So it’s time for me to get back to what I do best I’m here to talk about.

I have to get better at balancing my time. I need to reprioritise and maybe say no to things sometimes. Because I’m not doing the fundamentals right now. For good reasons, maybe, but still, I’m failing.

I’m also eager to get back to it. I miss creating and picking away at a novel; as I said, it’s what I’m here to talk about and for too long I’ve not really been doing it.

So let’s get to it. No time for this! Whose idea was it to write a stupid blog anyway?

*How do you kill a circus? Go for the juggler

Weasels

The problem with being a human being is that you not only have to be strong to organise an event, or review, or interview or whatever, you also have to be strong when the actual time to do it comes round. And then you have to be strong when the results come in, too.

Case in point: in the run-up to the publication of New Gods, I decided I’d darn well gird my metaphoricals and try to arrange for the book to be reviewed. And, in a rare fit of energy, I decided to double-down by offering myself for interview by someone else. To my surprise, both fishing expeditions bore fruit (or possibly fish). Great! Go me!

No good deed goes unpunished. Now I have New Gods reviewed by a highly respected blog/website, and this is absolutely brilliant. The only downside… I’m not feeling strong anymore. I don’t know if I can face actually reading the review, which I kind of have to do in order to retweet and otherwise promote it.*

No matter that the review is probably positive (I was tagged in the promotional tweet, which is always a clue). Not having a strong day today. Can’t even face positive comments. Anxiety is a cruel mistress.

As for the interview, it’s only via email, which makes it a lot easier. I don’t have to make an appointment to speak to someone. But still I have to puff myself – and then the benighted thing will only go and be published and I’ll have to promote that and then I’ll immediately realise what a berk I was…

Writers have to face these things all the time. It’s a profession where rejection is the norm, and that rejection can come at any time. We must be bold to put ourselves out there; we must be keen and eager and, on that good day, we can face that probable-no. But we have no control as to when those rejections come in. Can we be strong every day, eternally powerful and vigilant?

I know I can’t. Somedays the brain-weasels just can’t be faced directly, must be approached sidle-wards, armed with a Long Stick of Poking.

The older I get, the more I realise that this is, in fact, modern life. I envy those who have strong days all the time. And it’s why I try not to get cross with people for taking time with things. I mean, I try not to get cross with people at all, but I’m only a deeply, deeply flawed human.

Now the review has spawned another interview, which is brilliant! I’m something of a publicity whore, which might seem to contradict all of the above.

Except it doesn’t. Because I can make myself get up to perform, no matter how weaselly the brain.

The writing game is not so dissimilar to a performance. Long hours of rehearsal, fearsome critics, great rounds of indifference.

And so I must go and do my little turn on the catwalk once more.

Happy weaselling, folks!

*The more astute amongst you will have noticed that I’ve just linked to said review. Well I have actually skimmed it, now. But it wasn’t easy, and I don’t know if I dare actually read the spaces between the words