What Time Do You Call This?

I call it ‘nearly there now’. It’s the equivalent of being on a long car journey when the kids are chanting ‘are we there yet?’ and you can finally see the end in sight. If we were on a plane it would be time to start folding up your tray table.

Because it has been a journey, of sorts. The only kind we can really go on at the moment but that doesn’t make it any the less real or rewarding.

From my Scottish lockdown I’ve met up with old friends, made new ones and stretched my legs… metaphorically, anyway.

At the beginning of every challenge I find myself wondering what will happen over the next month. Before I open the first brief, I can feel the anticipation. What characters will appear or re-appear? What situations will I find them in and how will I resolve them? Will something come out of this month that I can use and expand and turn into my next novella or play or full-length book? Will I remember to submit on time?!?

Before I know it, I’m halfway through the month and already written about the nature of good and evil, wittered on about elephants and rambled about jigsaws. Maybe before the end of the month I’ll even write about good and evil elephants doing jigsaws – anything is possible.

The halfway mark is usually my high point. I feel cocky and smug... ´I can do this, easy peasy, look at me!´ Then at some point in the last week or so I hit the wall. The uphill climb. The point where I’m pretty certain those monkeys with their typewriters would be laughing at my pathetic efforts. But I’ve been here before and I know the way through is to keep on keeping on, as they say, and write something, anything. I have days when I wonder why I even bother, days when I think I might be an epic genius and then days when I’m just glad to get it submitted in time.

It’s all worth it for the run to the finish line. These last few days are filled with a determination not to fail and a sense of pride to have got this far. I can see the end, the last ‘submit’ button is visible at the bottom of my screen and suddenly I’m equal parts relieved and sad. Before I know it, I’ll be able to go the whole day without checking my email if I want to and I can get back to all those other projects I would have been working hard on writing this month (honestly!). But on the other hand, my email inbox will be boring again, and I won’t have an excuse to chat to other writers as much or go to Zoom readings. All the mixed feelings that come at the end of every challenge.

For now, I’ll enjoy these last few days, plan out my July writing and look forward to the next challenge when I can do it all again.

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