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Light of day

August 24, 2020

I abandoned my last writing project in December 2019. It started life as a psychological thriller set in the near-future, and ended life as a satire set in the recent past.

Thanks to Scrivener‘s slightly alarming stats, I know I spent 272 days working on the manuscript, clocking up 100k words. And yet it will never see the light of day.

It sounds like a terrible waste, all that effort for nothing.

But sometimes you need to do something wrong to conceptualise what might be right.

I took heart from a recent interview with Sarah Moss, talking about her new novel, Summerwater: “I always say to students, time spent writing is never wasted because you learn from it.”

Although the words and work may never see the light of day, they compost themselves down and are absorbed by the roots of the next idea. Sometimes it takes writing about something to work out what you really think about it.

There are ideas and themes I can trace through the project I’m working on at the moment and the things I’ve abandoned in the past. Each time the roots are stronger, the shoots more vigorous.

Learning from your mistakes is familiar territory for anyone who has run a marathon. Those iceberg training miles, invisible under the surface, tell you everything you need to know about your limits and are essential to build your mental resilience.

Failure is only part of the journey, and besides killing your darlings is such a strong 2020 energy:

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