Promotion, promotion, promotion. That's pretty much all I've engaged in since releasing The Tor. I've set up this site, promoted my Facebook page, sent copies off to horror magazines for review, met with bookstore owners, contacted bloggers and shouted about The Tor to anyone who'll listen. In between all that I have managed to get a bit of writing done. How I managed that, I'll talk about in later blog; but I have squeezed in a certain amount of writing.
And I mean small. I've finished off two short stories, drafted a few chapters of The Swarm, edited a few older short stories, and... that's about it.
Not good enough.
So over the last week or so I've dedicated set evenings to writing. That is, two four-hour blocks where I don't promote, don't email, don't fiddle with the website. It's just me staring down Word in a battle of wills. You see, starting to write was wonderful. I mean writing as a serious endeavour, foregoing my usual evening activities in order to dedicate the time to writing, putting in enough hours that it's a second job. It was rewarding and fulfilling, especially as I ticked off all the milestones - first book completed, first short story published, first story sold, first book released... and then came The Tor, a trilogy of novellas, an omnibus, the paperback, the five-star Amazon reviews... none of it felt like work until it came to promoting and selling The Tor. And until I stopped writing to do so, until I looked back over what I'd achieved, I didn't realise quite how much I'd done. And now I'm about to do it all again.
The hardest thing by far is getting back into the habit of sitting down and just writing for several hours at a time, rather than flitting between emails, FB, Twitter and horror sites. It takes a lot more discipline than I'd remembered. I find myself fidgeting, distracted by the thought that I should be promoting rather than writing. How quickly we unlearn; not so long ago I was fretting over the 'lost' writing time spent promoting The Tor.
It goes deeper than simply discipline. For the first few days, I felt out of practice. “Her soft lilting voice poured into my ears and down my spine like honeyed mercury.” That's from The Tor pt 2: Rest. For the better part of a week I couldn't come up with anything more imaginative than 'he said', 'he shouted' or, worse, 'he growled/hissed/roared'. Blech. I never type a page or two without going over it. My firsts drafts are always 'version 1.5' before I even think about any formal editing process. But right now feels like getting back into training. I can remember how it used to be and still hold myself to those standards, but it's going to take a little bit more training to get back where I was.
If all this sounds negative, it's not meant too. Every time I sit at the laptop to focus on writing it gets a little easier. I still relish what I do, it's just that getting back in the saddle after even a relatively short time away is something else for me to learn about the writing process.
I would love for nothing more than to write full-time, for my writing to be my main source of income. I remember reading Ian Rankin say that it took ten Rebus books to be released before writing was his main income. I have no intention of giving up anytime before writing is mine.