I want to acknowledge how this blog has not been as active in July as it had been since launching. I surprised myself by being able to keep up an update schedule of roughly one post per week in May and June – not exactly a glut of content but I think the key to establishing yourself as a “brand” (such as it is) is consistent output. To me, you capture people’s attentions frequently enough that, during those spare moments of the week when they are looking for something to entertain them, they know they can come to you.
I like to think I was doing a good job of this, having uploaded four short stories of, I think, consistent quality (if I do say so myself) in only a few weeks, and filling out the rest with my own musings, observations and remembrances. I know that the in-between posts, the ones that are not stories, are probably not as exciting for people (I certainly don’t go to forums and link them or hype them on Twitter as aggressively) but I want them to keep appearing so as to regularly inform people that I am here, I am doing stuff.
When you are a creative writer, writing extensively about your own theories and things you like is kind of a double-edged sword. I do enjoy sharing my writing theories with the small number of friends I have in my writer’s circles. It’s fun to spitball, or have a spirited debate about what makes good fiction. But when you present it to the general public, I fear running the risk of exposing myself (not like that!) and inviting people to analyze my writing and say “Oh, he’s doing that again.” In a way, the less you know about the writer, the more they let their writing speak for themselves, the better. I like to be shadowy and anonymous so as to disassociate myself from my work. That’s why, for many years, I was not active on forums or in any kind of community (you could say I’m still not.) And yet, reading what I have put on, say, the Trading Post or Fictionmania, or even on this blog, you might get the feeling that you know what I’m about. And maybe you do… and yet, in my quest to push myself, and to keep you guessing as to what Liam really is, I may make efforts to contradict what I have already done by trying something different. In a way, I am excited by the idea of surprising you. “I didn’t think Liam would write that.”
So of course, me constantly popping my head up to say “I like it when writing does this” or “One thing I have noticed about my writing is that”… hampers this. But it isn’t the worst thing in the world to be known and to know people have some sense of who you are and what you’re about. Hence, my pushing myself to keep writing about writing. Thus, posts like these occur where I am only tangentially talking about my TG writing, just to Ping a little bit so you know I’m still around, at the expense of that air of mystery I wanted to keep.
I hope you find it to be at least moderately enjoyable content. I personally love reading great writers on Writing, whether it be Stephen King or Michael Chabon or George R.R. Martin or Nora Ephron. I don’t flatter myself that I have as keen of insights as they do, I hope I am just a friend bouncing ideas back and forth.
So, what has caused this slowdown? Good and bad things.
The good: I really am writing. If you follow me on Twitter (and I hope you’ll consider it, it’s really harmless of you to do so) you’ll know I am hard at work on what I hope to be my first long-form TG novel, after many years of attempts. Bear in mind, I have probably written three or four novels’ worth of content on The Trading Post over the years, but there would be something so satisfying about putting out a singular product that could be read in one go. Right now I’ve got bout 40,000 words down and am just hitting a stride – if I had to guess I’d say I am about 55% done. Forgive me for patting myself on the back, because I have only been working on this project since the beginning of April and under different circumstances it took me 8 months to get to 30K words on my previous, as-yet-unfinished project (which will probably end up being my second novel or novella uploaded here.) Because my day job concerns raw data, I am probably too obsessed with numbers and stats, but I am pleased with this pace – not exactly NaNoWriMo level speed, but my personal best in years.
The flip side of that productivity is that I have less leftover time to work on short stories, for which I still have numerous ideas. It’s just a matter of pacing myself and picking my spots as to when to work on one. I have so much momentum on this one that I prefer not to let up, but sometimes you get an idea for a short that can be knocked out in two or at most three writing sessions that you absolutely have to write now. I rely on these impulses to get my short stories done.
Similarly, my dedication to this novel in progress means I am less apt to take time away from it to update this blog with my non-fiction posts. I blinked and it was August, and I had only barely done two posts in July. I had run through quite a few of the ideas I already had for topics I could explore between stories, but I have more for when I determine I have time. I want to keep telling the story of how I, as a young writer and reader, came to this point – what I read and what it made me want to write – for whatever value it has. There are more installments of Liam’s Story to come, as well as some bios and readthroughs of some of my favourite TG franchises.
The bad: And while I hesitate to paint it in black and white, as a pure negative, I really just want to use that word to indicate that this is not my choice exactly. I have made no secret of the fact that this blog’s existence really benefitted from COVID-19 Lockdown this spring. I was surprised to find that, because I am still working 9-5 from home and have a very fulfilling marriage that I devote most of my time to, so I was surprised to find myself able to make additional time in my life for writing. There certainly isn’t any from Monday to Friday. But under those “normal circumstances” I alluded to above, my wife and I were constantly travelling back and forth on weekends to our hometown to visit family, where it would not be welcomed to sit off in a corner for 2-3 hours writing, even during a casual Saturday morning. I didn’t think of this as taking anything away from me, because I love my in-laws, and the rest of my family, and was always fine with the amount of time we spent with them. But when it was impossible to do so, I made sure to use that added time to my advantage. Now, here in Ontario, restrictions have opened up some and we have been visiting more frequently (albeit not yet to pre-pandemic levels) and, at least in July, I have had to accept this change of pace. Will August be different? I cannot say. I would love to keep doing a post every single weekend so that people knew to keep checking every week, but 3 out of 4 weeks may be more realistic. And the pace of life may soon quicken back up to where weekend writing sessions are simply not possible anymore.
That’s a thought that saddens me, but when you have to write you have to write, and you will – that is my belief. So I know I will find a way. If I never get a novel done and only ever upload dozens of 3000-word short fictions, so be it. But for now I have my objective and a clear path to work towards it.
Sorry if this extra-self-indulgent post ended up being my only entry for this week, I hope to get you back soon with something more on-theme.
Thanks for reading and be kind,