March update

I may be a tiny bit behind on my goal of writing a million words this year, but it’s not out of reach. I’ve written a lot of poems in the past month, and have done some heavy work on world development, characters and the plot for two books in different series. I’m really excited by both series, and took the time to read several books on craft (I recommend Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland).

I’d hoped to have the next book out by the end of this month, but I’m running about three weeks behind. That means an April release for Warden of Storms under my pen name K K Ness. In the past, I’ve felt disappointed or ashamed by publishing delays. This year feels different, where my focus is on developing as an author, focussing on craft, and not worrying so much about deadlines.

It’s feeling good so far.

And following on from my last post, the PDT treatment on my face went really well. Most of the redness receded after ten days, and my skin is now clear and better than it was before. I’m kinda looking forward to the next few rounds of PDT, too. There’s a certain relief in knowing that a medical issue is being dealt with, rather than being left to fester.

So 2019 is shaping up to be a healthful, productive year!

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Cancer and countdowns

Okay, that’s a gloomy heading, and perhaps a bit more dramatic than warranted, but the past few weeks have been more full on than expected.

I’ll start with the cancer. After my last blog post, I went to a skin specialist to have my freckles and moles checked (a necessity when living in Queensland), and discovered that a spot on my back had been misdiagnosed as benign six years ago. A sizeable excision was taken from my back (it now looks like a baby shark decided to take a bite), and the results came back as an aggressive BCC (basal cell carcinoma). While it’s the ‘safest’ type of skin cancer you can get, mine had been squatting there for six years and had grown deep, and is expected to recur. I’m a little bummed by this, as I wasn’t expecting to have skin cancer at 37 years old (or technically at 31), but I’m also pale, freckled and burn rather than tan. Wear sunblock, people!

Day 1 of PDT

Day 1 of PDT: swelling, oozing and pain!

Five days ago, I also underwent PDT (photodynamic therapy) to deal with any cancerous and pre-cancerous cells on my nose and cheeks. It involved having my face sandpapered, a cream put on and left to seep in for three hours, and then being baked under a red light for about 10mins. The heat from the light was so intense I could feel my skin shrivelling, hardening and cracking liky a crusty loaf of bread. It was alarming and super painful even with nerve blockers.

 

My face is now bright red, tender, itchy, oozing and peeling. I won’t know how successful the treatment has been for a few months, and it’s likely I’ll need to go another round, particularly for my scorched nose. In the meantime, I’m hiding in the house because there’s only so much pointing and staring a woman can take.

I’ll say it one more time:

Wear. Sunblock.

As for the countdown…I’m talking about the goal of 1 million words in 2019.

The whole business with my skin has been a bit of a distraction, so I’m feeling a little doubtful about reaching it. That said, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the type of woman I need to be in order to write a million words.

Being someone who writes regularly and a lot is a given, but I don’t think that a million words is possible (or healthy) without coming from a place of enjoyment, capability, and self belief. Like so many writers, I write not because I want to, but because I need to. I feel hollowed out and sad if I don’t write for an extended period of time. Life would be easier if the stories weren’t calling me.

But a million words is the other end of the spectrum. It demands a lot of time and energy and willpower. Setbacks feel big and impossible to overcome (just like the goal itself). And if I approach the goal wrong, it’ll cause burnout. In truth, I’ve spent decades feeling miserable and full of doubt because of my writing. There have been long periods where I forgot how to love being a writer. Some of my bleakest moments have stemmed from the guilt, shame and doubt that burbles up when I sit in front of the laptop. It doesn’t matter that I’ve published three books. I’m very familiar with feeling like a self-indulgent fraud.

So my writing the past few weeks has been around light topics, like poems about my dog and word prompts from one of my favourite books: Theasaurus of the Senses by Linda Hart. I open it to a random page and then write a paragraph, short story or scene involving whatever word leaps out at me.

None of this writing will see the light of day. There’s a lot of pressure on writers to be ‘productive’. Fanciful stories about the coarseness of sand and poetic puffery about dogs kinda misses the mark. But I’ve had fun.

While the next K K Ness book is moving forward and will be out at the end of next month (eep!), reminding myself that I love writing has been the biggest progress toward a million words so far.

Wandering back

It’s been almost two years since I wrote on this site. Where have I been? Generally making a mess of things over on the website I use for my pen name K K Ness. I’ve published three books under wee Nessie, and I’m excited about the ones that are coming.

So why am I back here?

I think one of the downsides of having a blog under a pen name is that I struggle to be authentic and show the floundering, disasterous, ‘I’ll never get this book done’ side of me. And I miss being honest about my writing journey.

So here I am. And I brought baggage.

I’ll start with what many folk shared at the start of the year – my goal for 2019. It’s a biggie, and it kinda makes my belly go to liquid…

I will write 1 million words in 2019.

In truth, I kinda decided on this goal only yesterday, so that’s when my countdown started. It means I need to write 2900 words a day. Every day. Which is achieveable for anyone…if you’re not drowning in self doubt (most days, I’m soooooo drowning). But I figure if I continually strive for my 1 million words target, no matter what, I’ll have gotten some BIG things done in 2019.

Oh, and to be clear, that’s 1 million words of fiction. Blogging, plotting and journalling don’t count. But redrafting does, because I have a habit of basically throwing out the first draft and starting over. It might be why I hate first drafts, because I bleed all over the page and then toss it in the bin. An 80K book actually takes me 160K words to write. It’s my process, I suppose.

Anyway, I’ll give regular updates on how the goal is progressing, along with what’s going on in my writerly life. It’ll be messy because, even though I’ve published a few books, I still don’t know what I’m doing.

Kel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trolls in the dungeon

Well, I promised to share all the bumps and lumps of this writing journey, and here’s one that makes me squirm. I recently went on an author community forum and asked how a bookseller can sell a ‘used’ paperback version of my book when I hadn’t sold any at the time. I thought I’d done my research, but simply didn’t know that ‘used’ in the publishing world doesn’t mean ‘used’ like in the real world.

The reply I got on the forum was not what I expected.

I was railed at for not researching, for not wanting my book to be sold by a bookseller, and for demanding ‘permission’ for others to sell my book. And I was told not to hold my breath because the paperback wouldn’t sell anyway.

I’m not writing this to garner sympathy. The post upset me and the level of bile spewed across the screen seemed unwarranted, but my experience is also something that new authors may go through when they dip their toes in the forum world.

My advice is to stay strong, keep asking questions and keep learning.

And when you eventually reach the lofty heights of authorly knowledge and experience, be better than the trolls who told you that you’d never make it.

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Hello Stranger

I haven’t here for a lifetime, but it hasn’t been because of a lack of activity.  Last month, I published my first book under a pen name. To say it’s been a rollercoaster of terror and awesomeness is a wee bit of an understatement. I’ve learnt a lot (but not nearly enough) and can already see some of the mistakes I’ve made as a newbie indie author.

My aim now is to share with everyone the mistakes and missteps I’ve made, and (hopefully) the knowledge I’ve gained as I fumble my way towards long term indie author success.

Bear with me. It’s gonna be bumpy.

How my dog told me to shut up and sleep

I’ve just reached the tail end of a pretty crazy exam period involving hominins, Indigenous knowledge, medical anthropology and the environment. Admittedly, I’m not sure how well I did, but one of my study methods involved voice-recording all of my notes and listening to them on repeat in bed, night after night, in the blind hope that I’d absorb something in my sleep. This went on for three weeks. Every night. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well.

IMG_0180My lovely Labrador, Sheldon, suffered through my droning dulcet tones, too. For three weeks, he grunted and grizzled, nudged and huffed during the night from his nest of blankets, then looked at me with bloodshot eyes when the time came to roll out of bed and hit the pavement for our morning walk.

I’m still in that hyped, stressed out study mode, so yesterday I downloaded some mindfulness podcasts to help me reach for that illusive sleep. Expecting another sleepless night last night, I turned off the light and hit play.

Sheldon immediately let out the long, drawn out huff of the damned.

I patted his head and told him he was beautiful, while in background the podcast dreamily spoke about embracing the moment.

Sheldon replied by kicking me in the legs.

I took it for the sign it was; I turned off the phone, settled into the darkness and listened to something I hadn’t heard in three weeks: silence.

Sheldon huffed again, this time in bliss.

It was the best sound I’d fallen asleep to in weeks.

5 things I’m grateful for

Lately, I’ve been a bit swept up by studies, writing/not-writing, and life in general, and so I’ve forgotten to be grateful for all the wonderful things that happen daily. So I’m going to note a couple of them here to acknowledge that each day is a gift.

Today, I’m grateful for:

  1. My dog, Sheldon, who said ‘good morning’ by giving me a nose-to-nose boop.
  2. The autumn leaf that hit me in the face, reminding me that nothing stays the same.
  3. The electricity bill, which was way less than I thought it would be considering how much I used the air con this summer.
  4. My mum, who finally figured out FaceTime and isn’t afraid to use it.
  5. The ‘F’ key that fell out of my keyboard, because I swear just as emphatically while writing as I do talking…and maybe I don’t need to.

Enjoy today, everyone, and try to think about what makes you grateful.