What I’m up to - March 2022
Everything worth reporting in the month of March.
This is a cross-post from my current Now page.
Once again, having a recurring item in my personal task list pays off and here I am again with updates both quotidian and more exciting.
- March has been the month of new things, which has been quite refreshing. After so long living in the universe of The Burning Line, it’s been quite a change to make bad things happen to a completely different set of characters.
- I’m now about 15,000 words into a new novel, this one a distant-future solarpunk murder mystery. Or at least, that’s my thumbnail description. I’m having a lot of fun with it.
- This is also the first new, novel-length piece of work that I’m writing as a member of a critique group, and it has been a fascinating experience. My outline crumbled completely a few chapters in, so I’m doing three things that are new to me; working with a very loose outline (I’ve previously outlined right down to scene level), editing as I go instead of at the end and workshopping chapters with my fellow writers after I write them. It is so, so different to my previous ways of writing, but so far I’m really enjoying the experience.
- Because I’m an idiot, I’ve also got a working outline for another completely different project, a contemporary spy thriller. I’m mulling the idea of just quietly writing 500 words a day on this one. You know, as a treat. But I’m not sure if I will actually do that. There’s something to be said for sticking to routines, even when you get over-excited about a new idea.
- I am currently inhabiting at least two overlapping limbo states when it comes to finished work that’s out there in the world for consideration. I created the second limbo state myself, as a project, to distract myself from the first, thinking it would quickly turn into a rejection and I could occupy myself with submitting it elsewhere. More fool me it’s been on hold for editorial review since the day after I sent it. So for now, I wait.
- 36 Streets by T. R. Napper - I got this one after hearing the author on a podcast and I’ve been very glad I did - it’s a really good cyberpunk novel. I hesitate to call it ‘retro’, because the world it describes (Vietnam 100+ years in the future) is so clearly loaded with extrapolations from the present day, but there’s definitely a sheen of Gibson-esque neon on the whole thing. Great protagonist, excellent action and prose that just vibrates with energy, detail and atmosphere. Recommended.
- Real Tigers by Mick Herron - I cannot wait for the TV adaptation of Mick Herron’s Slough House series, and seeing the trailer made me pick up the third in the series. These books are exquisitely plotted, beautifully written and ooze atmosphere, while also having some of the blackest humour and most memorable characters of any spy fiction I’ve read. I love them and good lord the cinematic openings and endings are a masterclass in scene-setting, comparable with Le Carré at his best.
- I had a close contact ping this month, so I’ve definitely drawn in my horns a bit when it comes to socialising and being out in the world. The spike in case rates has me spooked a bit, for sure.
- I’ve started running again this month, picking up with good old reliable Couch to 5K. It never fails to impress me how quickly and consistently it can help me regain my cardio fitness after a while without regular exercise. This was prompted by a couple of trips into Edinburgh where I ran for a train and ended up wheezing, which is worrisome at my age. And running three times a week is a great time to chew through a few podcasts or audiobooks. Helps distract from the burning in my legs.
- I posted the first in my editing series, which seemed to go down well, so I’ll be writing up another one of those soon.
- I’m also thinking about starting with some book reviews. I’m a bit of a slow, distracted reader still, but one of my goals for this year is to gradually rebuild my attention span and use that stronger focus to read more books. I think posting reviews will provide a nice bit of closure for each book and, of course, help my fellow authors out by exposing their work to the half dozen people who read my blog.
- As always, if there’s anything you’d like to see me write about, publishing or writing process-wise, please say hi on Twitter.