Writing in the void

Image from Canva


I don't think I need to say to anyone that 2020 has been a really strange year. On a global level, I've often felt that I am witnessing something historical, something that will be studied in classrooms and written about in books in the decades to come-- an interesting concept for an amateur historian like myself. This has been made particularly poignant for me personally because of the role that history and research have played in my professional life this year. I'm not only talking about the pandemic; today, many people are glued to newsfeeds, anxiously watching as the US Presidential election results come in. That an election in another country can have such a global impact is really a sign of how much of a global society we have become. Imagine a US Presidential election 100 years ago, when my current WIP is set. News would reach us here in Australia slowly, and at best, we'd probably only be getting daily updates from newspapers. I don't think anyone in Australia dreaded Woodrow Wilson's election in the same way people are dreading the results of this one. What a difference 100 years makes. 

On a more personal level, 2020 to me feels like a year of almosts because I've been very close to a few personal milestones, and have experienced some disappointment. It has been strange to release a book right before the world changed. I was lucky. I got to do a number of in person talks and bookshop visits, and residing in Western Australia, was far less affected by things being closed or locked down than many writers I know, who had to release books when bookstores were not even open to the public. Still, I imagine the first year of my book's life (and it will be a year on December 1st) does not look the way it would have without this virus. I thought that being published would be a little more momentous, but this seems to have been one of those adulting lessons you hear about-- being published is just another step along the road. You do your celebrations, you talk about your book to some wonderful people, and then you get back to your desk and you write another book. 

Not right away of course. 

Again, I was lucky in this respect, as I had several novels in various stages of production already on the go when Well-Behaved Women came out. In May 2020, I took six weeks off from my part time job to focus on a rewrite of one of those books, a novel set during the First World War following a young woman named Margaret who throws off the expectations of a woman in the Edwardian period to become a children's author. I'm now working with a group of historical fiction writers on refining it and making sure I get all the research done that I need to. But I haven't quite built up that daily drive to get to my desk that I had before. I'm assured that this is quite normal after you publish. The urgency is gone, and so, in order to not damage a book I love, I'm not forcing it.

There's another reason too. I've been finishing my Masters in Information Science, and all going well, by the end of January 2021, I will be a qualified librarian. I'm doing one more course over summer to finish. Writing academic papers and writing fiction are two very different modes, and this year I've tried to focus on the former. I find it interesting to note that a person can have two callings. My library work gives me things my writing work can't, and balancing the two makes me very happy.

Anyway, I hope you are all well.

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