Tag Archives: mothering-writing

Editing Your Novel and the Art of Strategic Panic

So it’s a new month and along with hatters and hares, March is bringing a whole lot of new writing issues for me to talk about in what seems to be a theme of writing process vs. lifestyle this week (started with Writing – Mothering – Balancing and continued with Mothering, Writing, Pilating, Guilt).

My plan for this year is still pretty loose, but the big goal was to have the revised, polished and generally awesomecaked Nancy Napoleon novel ready to submit by the end of March. Which seemed pretty sensible to me – I had ROR at the end of January, and school holidays ended the middle of February, which gave me a whopping SIX WEEKS to revise the book at make it awesome.

But then I convinced myself that I had all these other bits and pieces of things to do, like writing my talk for the Horror film festival, and a few short stories, and… well the main thing was that at that point I’d put down very few new words since November, and much though my ‘no writing school holidays’ experiment was a great success, I was starting to get the itch. So I gave myself a different goal of writing 10,000 words on various fiction projects, and happily played with the idea of getting back into some kind of writing routine.

At least, that’s what the top part of my brain thought was happening. The public face of the brain. The secret, dingy underbelly of my brain had a whole different agenda, which I have been circling around for the last few days, waiting for the bad news to be revealed. Here we go:

The truth is, I hate editing myself.

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Mothering, Writing, Pilating, Guilt

I finished my short story! It feels like a big achievement, the first thing finished of the year. This is going to be my year of finishing things, and rewriting things, and submitting things. Many things. For the first time in a while, I don’t have a contract or official deadlines which means I have to MAKE MY OWN.

Today is Pilates Day, an activity I took up when Justine Larbalestier started evangelising about how important it was for writers to start that kind of stuff BEFORE developing RSI or some other work related injury. When I started, it was amazing how many people were there to fix something awful they had done to their bodies. I would feel a bit abashed about being there pre-emptively, but it seems the thing to do.

Pilates is one of those things I had to circumvent a lot of guilt to allow myself to do – because it’s something that’s about ME and not the family. Especially when I was using household money to pay my way – but since our last big budget rehaul, I’ve been paying for it myself and buying less things on the internet in order to do so, which means I feel less like I have to justify This Thing.

(I know, by the way, that I shouldn’t have to justify it, and what’s good for me is good for the family and so on, but logic is logic and guilt is guilt)

Managing guilt is a huge aspect to being a working mother. Or a mother full stop, I guess. (it’s also one of the hardest aspects to reconcile with being a feminist – what works in theory often falls down in practice, and when the baby’s screaming, theory doesn’t help much!) I find it interesting when talking to other mothers that we all have different lines of guilt, those which we cross regularly and feel bad about, those which we try not to cross and feel AWFUL about, and those which we are okay with.

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