It’s been a while.
I ran out of steam somewhere in October. I wrestled with myself for a bit (quite a bit): I should… be writing… be editing… be researching… be submitting. But I was tired and needed to let everything rest, to lie fallow.
Fallow: land that has been ploughed and harrowed, but left for a period without being sown in order to restore its fertility and avoid surplus production.
Consider all the dull-looking earth in the picture above. It’s hard to imagine there could ever be growth, greenness, new life, never mind any sort of surplus.
When I stop I find it hard to imagine waking early in the morning, a tumble of delicious words ready to be written; to imagine creating images that didn’t exist until I put pen to paper; to imagine sculpting a new story from thin air. Stopping is a scary, scary thing to do.
During this fallow period I heard that I hadn’t got a Scottish Book Trust new writers award for the second year. If I allowed myself I could have seen that as confirmation that nothing will grow.
Instead, I pruned two stories to make them fit the word counts for two competitions. Storytelling tradition calls that desprender las palabras,* to throw away some of the words of the story to make it stronger. I heard this week that they’ve both been longlisted, one in Reflex Fiction’s winter flash fiction competition, the other in Words and Women’s prose competition.
After repeated rejections, no feedback and attempting to wrestle a novel into shape (it won by two falls and a submission and I will have to find a different way to engage with it), these two longlistings look like the first sign of spring.
*That’s in Spanish just because ‘las palabras’ is so much tastier than ‘the words’. Perhaps that’s another sign that spring is coming.