What I’m up to - July 2022
And off we go, into the second half of the year.
This is a cross-post from my current Now page. You can also get these updates (and other cool stuff) in your inbox by subscribing to my newsletter.
July was a big writing month, with a new short story coming out, a finished novel draft and the launch of my newsletter!
- At times, July has felt like a tiny bit of a slog (mainly just in terms of writing a lot), but the results have been very worthwhile. I mean, I finished a whole book! That’s pretty sweet.
- I got a really excellent 41,561 words in July - including a couple of days that were my highest individual word count days I think I’ve ever had. It’s not the most I’ve ever written in a month (that record still goes to November 2005 and my first NaNoWriMo, I think - I’d have to check my spreadsheets) but it felt like a a good one.
- All of that was on one project, The Disaster Club - that’s now a finished first draft as of this week, clocking in at a little over 123,000 words. That’s about 15-20k more words than I think it should be, so I’m now straight into editing, largely of the structural variety - excising unneeded characters and locations, reworking scenes to seed in stuff I need for reveals later, as well as incorporating feedback from my critique group.
- Once I’m done with that, I’ll be doing a complete read-through to see how it all hangs together and then doing a full edit pass on the whole thing. Hopefully it’ll be winging its way to my agent in the first couple of weeks of August.
- My latest short story came out in Clarkesworld and seems to have been really well received. I was particularly pleased with the audio version - Kate Baker knocked it out of the park with this one.
- Wake of War by Zac Topping - I saw Zac on a couple of SF podcasts and mentioned on Twitter and I thought his book, Wake of War, sounded like some excellent dystopian military SF. So far it has proven to be exactly that and I’m really enjoying it. As with The Water Knife, I bounce between thinking ‘wow this is some really cool worldbuilding and these characters feel very real’ and also just sort of curling up into a ball at how plausible and terrifying the whole thing is. So, good job Zac!
- Excession by Iain M Banks - Iain M. Banks has always been a huge inspiration for me (I was lucky enough to meet him once) and his books are ones I return to pretty regularly. I think this might be my favourite of his books and the audio version I listened to was fantastic. I’ve been gradually spending Audible credits on them to get the full set. If you’re a fellow Banks enthusiast, I can highly recommend the backlog of the Cultured Swine Podcast which is a couple of American fans of the Culture series doing pretty deep-dive discussions of the books.
- It took me about six full weeks to recover fully from Covid. I’ve now lost the persistent hacking cough I had for all of June and half of July. I am back to masking in any enclosed public space because wow I do not want that again. It sucked.
- I’ve been hugely enjoying Casey Johnston’s LIFTOFF: Couch to Barbell program. Turns out I really like doing weight work? It’s challenging, but it doesn’t feel like I’m gradually destroying a bunch of tendons and cartilage in the way that running does for me. And after each workout I feel like I’m about 9ft tall. And it’s great podcast/audiobook time. If you’ve ever felt a bit intimidated by the free weights corner at the gym or just have no idea where to start, give this program a look. There’s a good intro to it on Youtube.
- I’ve been in my new day job for three months now and it’s going really well. Unfortunately my planned trip down to London to meet a few of my colleagues got cancelled thanks the heat wave buckling the railway tracks. I’ll hopefully make it down in August.
- The first half of August is editing, editing, editing. While my plan to edit this book as I went kind of fell apart after my bout of Covid, I do think this is a cleaner first draft than I’ve had in the past. So my hope is that I’ll be able to rattle through my edit passes fairly quickly and smoothly.
- Then, as predicted last month, it will be Short Story Time - I’ve been building up a whole stack of short fiction ideas and I really want to get at least two more stories finished in August and out on submission to markets.
- My plans for July didn’t really happen on the blog, what with Covid and getting the novel finished. But I’ve got a big backlog of stuff I want to write about and some upcoming time to do it in, so I’ll also be writing lots of new posts. In particular, I’m going to try and answer a question I’ve had a lot recently since I started posting word counts, which is usually variations on ‘how do you write so much, Dave?’
Links links links
Hey look, it’s a new section! While I’m not as Extremely Online as I once was, I still read a ton of articles, blog posts and Twitter threads each month. Since I’m going to be putting out this regular update as a newsletter now, I figured including a links section would be worthwhile. So here’s a few things I enjoyed this month and why.
- This Cory Doctorow thread on ‘A Half Built Garden’ from Ruthanna Emrys made it an instant buy for me. It sounds incredible.
- I’m continuing to enjoy Bret Devereaux’s blog ‘A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry’ - right now he’s doing a series on logistics. Here’s the latest post on foraging. I’m in awe of the man’s output - dude is basically writing half an undergrad dissertation every week or two. If you’re a fantasy writer, his resources for worldbuilders index is an amazing place to get some inspiration and avoid many of the pitfalls of coming up with entire countries, peoples and planets from whole cloth.
- I enjoyed this thread on managing your emotions and energy in the querying process - can confirm this is all true and good and also applies to being on submission.
- Another Cory Doctorow thread on the challenges we face in relocating people away from zones likely to become flooded. I read this with interest because one of my novel outlines is set in the context of a team of people doing just this kind of work.
That’s it, that’s the post. If you have a question, suggestion or something else you’d like me to write about, please get in touch over on Twitter.