When I quit my office job to write full-time a few years ago, it was one of the most exciting times of my life. Finally, I'd get the chance to focus 100% on writing in my favourite place: home. I didn't feel the need to be around people during working hours. I didn't need the banter and the feeling of people's proximity. My dog would be enough company.
And for a long time, it was enough. Me, my dog, my laptop.
But lately, lately... maybe it's the pandemic... maybe it's losing my anchor in life, my beloved Mum... but I feel boxed in. I am afloat in a box of my own making and I realise I need to break down some walls to feel right again and, more excitingly, to WRITE right again.
Let's start with how to 'feel right again'. What does that even mean? I guess a contentment, a creative focus, something that has been lacking lately. I think a lot of people are feeling this way with the pandemic twisting our lives around like bedsheets in a washing machine. Can the world stop shaking? I want to get off. Maybe getting off the world means 'grounding' ourselves. In fact, there's this method called 'earthing' where you're encouraged to get as close to the earth as you can, skin to skin, to find yourself again. Nature. Being outside. Fingers digging into mud and grass. Toes sinking into grass. The scent of nectar and the heady buzz of insects clogging out ears. I feel strongly this is what I need to find that centre I've been looking for.
How does this connect to writing right? So I've written four novels in two years. My choice. I write quickly and prolifically and I wanted to be in a contract that encouraged this. But four books in and I'm gasping for breath, for space, for stillness. I hand the first draft of my fourth book with Lake Union in soon and this time, I'm not going to seek a new contract and hurtle towards a new deadline. It's all I've done since I got my first deal. There hasn't been one day in the past eight years when I haven't been writing to contract.
EIGHT YEARS! I know it's a blessing, damn I'm lucky, so lucky. Most of my books have been taken on based on a short blurb. But I'm yearning to write something without the constraints of a contract or deadline. Put simply, I want to write a whole novel first. I want to write the best something I've ever written. And then see what happens.
And guess what? I have an idea bubbling inside me filled with all the things that seep out of this blog post: the sound of dragonfly wings and the feel of long grass on my shins. The taste of salty tears and screams of grief. But also wide smile happiness and surging joy.
This is what Of Insects and Pens is about. My journey to writing this new novel... and my journey to grounding myself. It can be your journey too. I'll be sharing it with you and also be giving you the chance to get involved. I have some ideas on that, like regular creative and 'earthing' walks. A wildlife desk. Research trips. Interviews. Reading, lots of reading.
I hope it helps and even if nobody is even reading this... just writing it down will help me.