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Progress and Pitfalls

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Well, didn’t January pass quickly! Summer is way behind us —at least here where I live in Tasmania (averaging about 16C most days)— and the bushfires that devastated large parts of Australia, while not all out, are at least contained, and the huge work to rebuild has begun. Unfortunately, the physical, psychological, environmental, and ecological impact of the fires will be ongoing, in many instances for decades to come.


I have been writing 😊. Still not as much as I would like, but it has been happening, and I have broken through whatever it was holding me up. I have enjoyed writing the ‘all is lost/dark night of the soul’ transition between acts 2 and 3, and now look forward to where the action ramps up towards the climax. Do you know what this means? Yes, I am closing in on finishing my first draft!


However, you, like myself, cannot get too excited yet. As I have taken 27 months to get to this stage (not finished yet), and I started this book at the beginning of my writer/aspiring author journey, many things have changed. My understanding of story structure and story elements has gone from about 5/100, to somewhere close to 50. I know I have so much still to learn, so I don’t presume to have learnt it all yet. I gauge my understanding to be about 5/10. Of course, in my mind, this gauge will change at each step of my career. 5/10 sounds high now I have written it down, but this is only for the first stage—getting my first book published. The scale will begin again for the next stage—learning from my readers and peers on how to improve my story and level-up.


Scarlet and Rory’s story has changed as my knowledge of writing and structure has grown. For example, I didn’t understand (truthfully, I wasn’t even aware of) the ‘all is lost/dark night of the soul’ element that allows lessons to be learnt, and new insights to be made, so the character undergoes a transformation. This stage allows the character to move from doing things the same old way with no/little effect to a new way that shows their growth and how they will get out of the mess they find themselves in. Of course, this only works in stories where there is a positive character arc, like Scarlet’s.


What this means for me, is that I have a lot of editing ahead. I now understand the advice of other authors. “Get the book written.” “Just write it.” “You can’t edit until you have something to edit.” This awareness helped me move on, which is why I am now able to write and find that it is easier. I am also doing less editing as I write, which demonstrates a bit of growth in me as a writer too, I think.


I am now under pressure to get the complete first draft completed in the next four weeks. We are off to the US and Canada for three months at the end of March and have a packed itinerary. This trip is in part due to making hay while the sun shines on our health and fitness. Luckily, we have family in the house to look after the pets and the garden so we can escape feeling less guilty. I am hoping to take the draft with me as we have multiple extended flights and a couple of weeks at the start in Alaska (while we unwind and relax) where I might need something to do in the cold, dark evenings. I will update my progress just before we head off.


Wherever you are on your writer/aspiring author journey, I hope you can keep learning. You are never alone, even though it feels this way much of the time. It is hard to reach out to people, but the contacts I have made in my short journey have become friends, mentors, and pillars of inspiration, and although I don’t reach out as often as I should, I know that I can, and they will be there. Never hesitate to reach out. I have learnt so much from them. While I have read many books on writing, watched many YouTube videos, listened to many podcasts, and all of them have said versions of “just write”, it was discussions with my new friends and mentors about all things books and writing, that allowed all this information to distil down in my little pooh brain until I finally heard the “just write” for myself, and put it into practice.


While I have experienced pitfalls, I have also had progress. ‘Just write’ has moved me forward and closer to achieving my dream of being an author. Yes, there is still a huge amount of work ahead. No doubt it will be plagued with pitfalls, but I am closer today than I was yesterday and to be honest—it feels great!


So now I must get back to my writing and finish Scarlet and Rory’s adventure. While their actual journey won’t change much, there is much to change in the story around them so that it culminates in the story I want to share with you—full of action and adventure, and a bit of fantasy (she has a dinosaur sidekick!)—but the bottom line is that it is a good story.


If you are writing, make sure you are, in fact, writing. Just do it! I know life gets in the way, but if there is a story in you, please find time to get it out. You can take the pitfalls if there is progress and I hope you can progress the shit out of it!


Cheers for now,


Susanne.x


I love the shadows Maya casts on our afternoon walks.


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