What I’m up to - February 2022
A long update about the shortest month.
This is a cross-post from my current Now page.
It’s sort of ridiculous how consistent I can be just so that I get to check off a little box. But here we are 2/12ths of the way through the year and you’re getting a fresh-as-a-daisy February update.
- My planned two week break turned into one week, because my agent Harry is a very fast reader.
- That meant that I spent most of the second half of January and the first half of February trading edits with Harry on The Burning Line, which is now done, dusted and out there in the world. In the end I cut about 12,000 words from the draft (a lot of which was to make room for all the cool new shit I wrote in December) and it came in at a nice, readable, pacy 115k.
- With the initial editing process done, my book is now ‘on sub’, which means my agent and his co-agents have sent it to editors at publishing houses in the US and UK. Much like the querying process, this is now a waiting game, although one key difference is that when you get a decline from an editor, it quite often comes with very kind feedback. I’m finding the whole process kind of exhilarating and energising so far, but I’m also only two and a bit weeks into it. But so far it’s just a real joy to know people out there are reading and enjoying my book. Fingers crossed for a positive outcome.
- Now that my book is on sub, I’ve been thinking about what comes next, writing some short stories (one out on submission right now which I’m very excited for) and planning the next thing. That included writing some speculative pitches for Harry and outlining a new novel in detail.
- I started on that this morning and I’m quite excited about it. Also I’m finding writing something totally new a quite nice change of pace after so many months of editing. Writing new first draft material is something that I really know how to do, after spending many years only doing that, so I can sometimes find it weirdly relaxing, just a steady drumbeat of new pages, day after day.
- This is going to be the first time I’ve attempted to do consolidation edits as I go, reviewing each week’s output for continuity and quality and shoring up the whole thing regularly. My hope is that this will give me a much cleaner first draft. I’m going to write a blog post series about that pretty soon.
- Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey - I finished this last night after taking a big break from it due to editing and critique reading load. Really, really great and they totally stuck the landing for the series as a whole. Just a fantastic series.
- The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi - Still working on this one. Still enjoying it.
- Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer - Likewise.
- Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghey - This one is an Audible recommendation from my critique partners and it is just a gorgeous piece of writing. It’s quite far outside of the SF, thrillers and historical reading I’ve been doing for some time, but that means it is a really welcome breath of fresh air. And did I mention how beautiful the prose is?
- Like everyone else I’m mostly utterly aghast at seeing a state-on-state land war, in Europe, in 2022. What a staggering waste of everything it is. If there was any doubt, I’m on the side of democratic self-determination and I’ve found the incredible resistance the Ukrainians have put up to be very inspiring. As a writer of near-future SF, I quite often imagine worst-case scenarios in my books, but I very much do not want them to appear in the real world. I hope very strongly that it ends soon and loss of life is minimised.
- I’m starting to very, very gradually see friends and relatives out in the real world, which is a bit weird feeling but very welcome. I’m still masking in any enclosed public space, keeping my distance and generally avoiding breathing other people’s air. But I am allowing a small glimmer of hope to return for more regular social contact.
- In the meantime I’m still walking every day I can manage it, which is a wonderful connection to the turning of the season. When you leave the house for a walk at roughly the same time every day, you really notice the gradual (then very quick!) shift in the length of the day. It’s now full daylight when I’m out walking and that makes such a difference.
- March is, I think, going to be a ‘steady state’ month - I’ve got a new book to draft, a couple of short stories I might revisit and a submission process to try not to think about too much.
- March is also when I usually start thinking seriously about the shape of the whole year, planning time off and so on. That hasn’t felt like a good use of time since the start of the pandemic, but my optimism is a bit higher this year than the last, land wars in Europe aside.
- On the blog, I’m finally going to post my series on editing, then start making my way through my big list of blog post ideas. I’m aiming to post a couple of times a month at least (on top of these updates), so if you have anything you’d like to see me write about, feel free to @ me on Twitter.