Here I am sitting in front of my laptop, with no window behind it and wondering about the last twelve months in the Netherlands. I arrived in Utrecht just before my 30th birthday and the day before this country’s first lock down. One of many failed attempts to curb the corona rates. At first I thought to use the time to write productively. I had thoughts of 9-5 writing hours like a business and I’d kick arse. I’d write more than ever before and finish more than ever before.
But dear blog reader, it did not go that way.
I did write, however I was unsatisfied with how much I wrote. Yeah, I got out a novella and novelette from idea spark to publication but I wanted more. I was moody, irritated and unsatisfied with myself. And it was a constant. It also didn’t help that I found Utrecht to be a step down from Edinburgh. The tax rate’s higher, health care isn’t free. Food costs more and the language barrier a bit of a wall. Utrecht as a city is expensive and I don’t understand how people can live here and like it. If Covid had hit just a month or so later it might have been better for us as we would still be back in the UK. We went from living in our own flat to a share house . . . for the same price.
And the end of 2020 was terrible. I never mentioned it online before because I didn’t know how to, but my husband was attacked by a former roommate. His wrist was slashed to the bone and he almost bleed out. There was blood all over the third floor landing. However, the police got to us in under ten minutes and gave a tourniquet to him. The roommate got arrested and is in jail under a manslaughter charge. Chris says my steely resolve is what saved him because I kept calm throughout everything while he was bleeding out. (His physio is going great, and he has full use of his hand, thought a part of it has no feeling in it).
To add more unpleasantness to the situation, my husband’s contract was not renewed. This happened before the attack. But not at the fault of him. His workplace is toxic or was, if it still exists in a few years. A third of staff has left since he began and he has won two bottles of scotch from co-workers about making bets on who leaves and when.
The end of his contract also means the end of his work visa and by extension mine. As Australians we can be in the country for three months without a visa so we going to decide at the end of March if we return to the UK (we have residence) or to Australia. What makes everything difficult is that we have two cats. Chris got them years ago thinking we’d be in Europe for years to come. So we have to work out how to transport them and the only pet quarantine facility is in Melbourne and then get them to Brisbane.
Due to easing restrictions, Covid’s second wave has arrived and is more potent than before. The Netherlands has been put into a second lockdown. It’s not that surprising actually. There were never that many people wearing facemasks. People only wore them when on public transport. I’m not sure how long this one will last, but hey, at least I can do another quarantine project.
Since March I have all the time in the day to write. For the most part I have spent my time equal parts writing, moaning about not writing, and wondering why my organic self cannot work like a machine. However it has not been a complete waste like I infer. These are the things I have done during quarantine;
The Dragon’s Mate: I wrote, edited and self-published this novella in two months.
Matt and Rose: A novelette that is just about ready.
Those in the Forest: Plan for a supernatural story about an escapee from a recluse cult. Only has a few thousand words have been written. Probably won’t be done for at least a year.
My journey to this event was both straight forward like I stated above and just as bumpy. Between each step, I had many moments of anguish and worries that I wouldn’t get this done at all. After all, I have many uncompleted manuscripts. But I finished it. This might be my second fastest publication. If I was a lesser person, I might have given up when I got my feedback on the first beta read. But I fixed it rather than throw it away.
How was my mind during this time?
Well, I arrived just on lockdown, and that might have been both a blessing and a curse. I had no distractions, but I found them. I had nobody to talk to, but I might have shied away from them under the guise of writing. I had no job and yet couldn’t make writing my job. I was harder on myself than I should have been. However, I still managed to complete it 🙂
So what happens next?
Well, I have a bunch of other stories I came up with around the same time as The Dragon’s Mate, so I might work on those 🙂
I’ve been in the Netherlands for six-ish weeks now. I literary arrived the day before everything shut down, so it should have been a paradise for me. I was already going to have some time off work so I had been psyching myself up to it.
And then I get here and my ability to perform fails.
I’ve made some progress editing the beginning of a novel (which I gave up on). I also started a novella that’ll I have done by the end of this week. I’ve been keeping track of what I’m doing and I feel terrible about all the days where I did nothing. All that lost potential.Why can’t I make writing and editing a 9 to 5? It’s almost like I have burnout again, but I’m not sure if I do. It doesn’t help that I’m having a lot of negative thoughts that have no relation to my life at present. They are taking up a lot of time in me. Maybe it’s because I can’t socialise in person anymore.
It’s not a good day unless I’ve written more than 1k and I hardly ever do that. It’s not a good day when I spend hours playing computer games, even if I do manage to write. That’s still time spent elsewhere. From memory, I used to be so efficient at writing. But now my body and brain says no 😦
So where do I go from here?
I’m slowly getting things done, but not to my liking. Do I just keep chipping away at it? Maybe I have to as I can’t seem to do anything else. Maybe having a day job was something that improved my writing. It gave me some eustress about my finite time and made me manage what I had. Now I have all the time in the world I have no immediate rush to do anything 😦
Looking through my calendar I saw to my surprise that I came up with the story and completed the first draft all in one month. I can’t believe it. It’s like all those unpleasant feelings I’ve had about this project is gone.
Currently, it stands at 22391 words and has two main POVs. While it took a month to finish, I only wrote for 19 of those days. I will leave it for a few days before editing. I still have a June/July release date, but I’m hoping for sooner.
I look at my blog posts about the first 40 days of my creative endeavours and I’m like, is that all? I’m not nearly as productive as I would like and yet I felt like I had accomplished quite a bit. It’s strange how I see things.
I always want to have more done than I have completed and I somewhat blame my cross-stitch kits. Those little bastards call to me too much. I need to complete them like I’m trying to fill a fix.
I hope by the end of the next 40 days; we’ve come out of quarantine and that I’ve at least finished The Dragon’s Mate. I want to publish it by June/July. But that is not a set date. I also want to finish one of the three cross stitches I’m doing as well 🙂
I’ve made my mind up to complete a project during my time in lockdown. It’s my new novella ‘The Dragon’s Mate.’ I’ve already done 15,000 words and if I do another 500 every day this month, then I’ll have doubled it by the 31st. I don’t have a set word goal for this story, so I’m not sure if it’ll pass the 30k mark when completed. I kind of know where I’m going with this story and I am planning on this being just a stand-alone.
The Dragon’s Mate revolves around two teenagers as they team up together to try the stop their King gaining control of dragons and prevent him from having absolute power.
I just published a short story 🙂 I got the idea for it at the beginning of the year and went with it. It’s only six thousand words and it’s US $0.99. It’s an apocalyptic science fiction story about a teenage girl whose been in quarantine on her family’s farm since the outbreak of an alien virus.