A Bit of a Pickle

And sadly not the tasty kind. No, I’m using that phrase to describe this month, which despite starting out well, quickly dissolved into one thing after another either going wrong or being difficult: Competition deadlines were looming – or had passed me by altogether. Things that needed doing were stacking up and very few getting crossed off the non-existent never-ending list. I was in a situation of wanting to write, wishing I could write like other people did, dashing off short stories and plodding away at a novel. Then I got the most horrendous cold/flu I have had for ages and everything ground to a halt.

When I clawed my way out of this time-sink I realised several things, first and foremost that the month was over halfway gone. Second, that I would have to stop panicking about getting things done, it wasn’t helping, and if I was going to catch up at all it would take time. And third, that I had developed a new sympathy and appreciation for editors and competition judges. Or indeed anyone who is faced with a stack of manuscripts to read through.

Now I don’t mean to pretend that I had anywhere near the number to deal with that they must, but due to my recent avoidance of editing in favour of writing, I had several novels at various stages, all in need of severe editing, plus a few short stories. Previously I have done my editing on the computer, appreciating the immediacy of changes and lack of wasted paper, however whenever I had tried to do this recently my attention wandered so easily to other things – writing, emails, all things that needed to be done. . . honest. Which explained the task awaiting me. In desperation I decided to try something different: I printed them out.

I now had a literal stack of paper to sit on my desk making me feel guilty for ignoring it. Yay.

Only that wasn’t all. Once I had it printed out, I could carry it around with me. I had different coloured pens to cross out and highlight and scribble over the whole page. I couldn’t get distracted so easily. Well, in truth I still did, but not quite so much because it wasn’t a simple case of clicking up a new window, I had to get up and go to this other thing. I think it also helped me focus on the words more, so I was reading it properly and picking up more mistakes rather than skimming over them.

Whatever the reasons behind it, going paper and pen seems to be working for me right now. Which only leaves me with the dilemma regarding wasteful use of paper and ink. Which I feel printing out stories to be. Only it’s not because it’s making a difference to my editing. . .But I can edit on the computer. . .

Anyway, that’s my month so far: letting things slide, vile viruses, writer-envy, having fun with stacks of paper and brightly coloured pens, and extra doses of admiration for editors.

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