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This time I’d thought I’d talk about writing and just how fucking hard it is. Coming up with the idea, the execution of it, it all takes a lot of time and effort and dedication. So if you’re committed to writing a novel and are pushing your way through, stop and give yourself a bloody standing ovation as you are bloody amazing.

Writing a novel isn’t easy. Writing a novel when you have to fit it in between life is even harder and it does impact the work you produce. I’m going though some old projects now and I can tell where I was mentally by the topics and the writing. Noh was written on my MA and I can definitely tell. Another novel is so dark and horrific and was written in the year following my dad’s suicide, and it’s pretty obvious that I wasn’t well when I wrote this. It’ll never see the light of day and has been deleted. Heathlands is better, the idea is there but the execution needs looking at and has a saggy middle, a reflection of the years in deep depression when I was struggling to function. This was a novel that I clung to to keep me going during the darkest times, but does need an overhaul.

The Girl Under the Stairs is the novel where I’m feeling better, coming out the other side after years of depression, and trying to be a bit clever again with my story. I started this one while waiting for feedback from my former agent on Heathlands, as she was on maternity leave but we unfortunately parted ways as she left to focus on children’s books. But I’m more hopeful about this one, think it could be strong and I’m looking forward to tackling one day again. I haven’t written as much I should have during the last 18 months due to unforeseen circumstances, external ones this time, but these are passing, allowing me to come back to my work. It’s always worth putting stories to the side and coming back to them after extended periods of time to get clarity of thought about them and decide what I could do with them.

And then there’s the PhD, where I’m playing with ideas and stories and having the luxury of time to work out what it is I want to do next. And it’s the first novel where I’m not bogged down with depression or anxiety, which I’ve been battling since my head injury over a decade ago. I feel like I’ve been dealing with trauma pretty much consistently from then. I was recovering the injury and depression until it all got better and felt able to do a MA. Then my dad died, and I was swamped with grief, and depression once again. And now I can breathe once more. It’s amazing to have clarity of thought once more, and I realised I didn’t have, that I’ve been stumbling through, trying to survive. I hope it continues because right now I feel as though I might have a chance.

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