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© Alan John Ward

Six months in

April 29, 2018

The 13th of April was six months since I left my job. I've been focussing on writing, and enjoying having a different pace of life. The only pressure is the pressure I put on myself. It's hard work, but a different kind of hard work to the work I did before.


I'm writing this blog post to remind myself of some of the things I've achieved and what (a lot) I've still got to do.


These days I get a lot of rejection. That's what happens when you suddenly increase the amount of opportunities you apply for. Hardly a few days can go by without bad news.


I've had some nice things to celebrate too:


  • Being shortlisted in the Oxford Books International Poetry Prize.

  • Becoming Hastings Library's writer in residence.

  • Finishing the first draft of a novel for young adults (shown in picture).


In numbers, the last six months looks like this:


  • Entirely new pieces of writing finished (stories, poems and a script): 19

  • Blog posts written: 15+

  • Writing workshops / events delivered: 40+

  • Submissions made (competitions, magazines, other one-off opportunities): 40+

  • Books read (not counting magazines and journals): 31 


As well as those milestones, I've also got much more organised when it comes to writing. I've reread a lot of my old stuff and consolidated some ideas. I've researched opportunities and have a detailed spreadsheet that helps me set deadlines.


I've written, edited and rewritten a huge volume of material to submit to magazines and opportunities in the hope of finding publication. I'm waiting to hear back on many of these, and I've had some warm rejections and come very close to success on a couple of occasions.


What have I learned from writing this out?


As I look back, I think I stretch myself a bit thin. I try to do everything. I don't just work on one project or in one form, though the novel I'm working on is ultimately the main focus of my attention. 


I could be a lot further on with it if I didn't submit to every tempting opportunity going, but then if I didn't do that I wouldn't have gained three months of prestigious work as Hastings Library's writer in residence.


Applying to these things is like applying for a job, every single time. It takes a lot of headspace. That said, you only have to find success once in a while for the effort to pay off. I wouldn't have the hope I have now about hearing of success on a few things if I hadn't submitted to them, even if I might be onto a second novel by now if I spent less time writing blog posts... And with that thought, I'll sign off. Thanks for reading my ramblings. I'm glad you're here.

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