I’ve made it through the Bleizgeist wilderness.
Yes, I’ve made it through all the editorial and proofreading comments my dear sweet girl thought were warranted when she read Bleizgeist.
I’ve made it through a further round of edits that I myself deemed necessary.
I’ve made it through my own final proofreading of the MS, and it has now been sent off for a final proof check by a fresh pair of eyes.
What’s Next for Bleizgeist?
Once it has returned from the hazy wastelands in which manuscripts exist whilst they are being proofread I need only finalise the formatting, add the pretty map, get the cover image from my fabulous artist, design the cover, upload it all to Lightning Source, order a proof and check everything’s okay and then that’s it, the party can begin!
Of course, I’ve not finished the map yet.
The cover image has been delayed due to my own stupidity.
There’s a deal more to do in terms of ISBNs etc. before I can upload it anywhere.
The proof copy invariably has a mistake in it. At least one. Always. I still find the occasional proofreading mistake in Chasing Azrael, and that’s been out for over a year.
Also I forgot to include converting it to Kindle on that list so…
Not Quite Over Then…
Okay, there’s a way to go yet, BUT the important part – you know, writing and what not, that thing we writers actually like to do but somehow always manage to complain about – is done.
All I can say is Thank God It’s Over.
A writing project – any writing project, regardless of length, be it short story, flash fiction, novella, novel, or epic door stop – is a labour of love. It’s invigorating, draining, fulfilling, depressing, wonderous and soul destroying all at the same time. The first draft often involves typing and scribbling and crying and screaming until your fingers bleed and your hair is half torn out and sticking up in odd tufts.
No? That’s just me? Please tell me that’s not just me…
Throughout the course of writing Bleizgeist I’ve faced sleep deprivation, hunger, poverty, social isolation, and general insanity. I started smoking again. I stopped smoking again. I screamed at anyone who interrupted me but likewise procrastinated to the extreme by needily clinging to anyone who attempted to converse with me via non-physical means (by which I mean over the internet or the phone, rather than actually physically being in my office, which is very small, and claustrophobic enough with me, my books, and my dog).
I have also loved it.
Before making the decision to pen a new story, rather than continuing to work on Death Becomes Me, I hadn’t actually finished anything in a very long time. I wrote two short stories, both of which are now published in anthologies, and another novella (originally intended to be a short for another anthology, but it rather got away from me…yes, I know, that happens a lot). Other than that, Chasing Azrael was the only thing I had finished in about five years.
Given that it’s now well over a year since I finished Chasing Azrael, you can understand how this inability to finish anything was beginning to bother me. Last year, struggling to finish DBM, I started writing another novel, Sinead. I got about a quarter of the way through and realised I was lost in a sea of disconnected plot threads. I set it aside and went back to DBM. Once again, I couldn’t write it, and set it aside again, this time to work on yet another novel, The Crimson in the Black. I fared better with that one before running into the mother of all walls. It wasn’t that I couldn’t write, I just didn’t know what happened next. This has never actually happened to me before, my issue has never been what comes next, but having too much happening and not being able to fit it together properly. So, yet another novel fell by the wayside, not forgotten, just on hold.
I couldn’t even finish a first draft of anything, let alone bring a project through the deadly wilds of editing to fruition.
It was demoralising.
I began to realise that a large part of the reason I was struggling so hard with DBM was because I no longer believed I could finish it. Yes, I had issues with the plot. I wasn’t sure what I was doing with it. The whole thing felt disconnected, all over the place. But it was more than that. I had an over-riding feeling that, even if I could figure out what was wrong with it in terms of plot and structure, I no longer believed myself capable of finishing writing anything.
This is a situation I am also in with my PhD thesis, which is almost finished. It’s been almost finished for two years.
I struck upon the idea of writing short stories for several reasons.
One, I wanted to FINISH SOMETHING. Anything. I didn’t care what, I simply wanted to start writing a story and follow it through to its conclusion. I wanted to polish it up and get it ready for publication and I wanted to publish it.
Two, I needed the therapy. I’ve been writing a lot for other people in the last few years and less and less for myself. When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I didn’t get a lot of support from anywhere. Not medical, not friends, not family. Nobody understood what I was going through, least of all me. I explored it through writing. I researched it, yes, but I didn’t stop there – I expressed myself through writing, both fiction and non, and in doing so found some peace. Since finishing CA I hadn’t had that and I missed it greatly (see here for more on the benefits of writing therapy).
Writing Bleizgeist has been an extended therapy session for me, and like all therapy, it makes you feel worse before it makes you feel better. It brought out some emotions and resentments I hadn’t realised I’d been harbouring. It allowed me to stare them straight in the eye and recognise them for what they were. It gave me a means of accepting them and finding a way to reconcile myself with them.
Having finished the writing and editing and having only the post-op work to do before the fun of launching begins I feel infinitely better in several regards. I am no longer crippled by The Fear of Finishing. I have started a project, and followed through with it, and finished it (in terms of writing at least) to a standard that makes me happy. I have had the opportunity to work through some issues I had in the process. I’ll soon have another novella out in the world. The thought of finishing DMB and my thesis, while still daunting, no longer seems insurmountable.
I’m a writer.
Writers need to write. Not only for others, to earn money, to get by, but for themselves.
For their souls.
Writing is my therapy.
My worlds are my Shangri-la, my Arcadia.
I write in order to live.