In January, I started a new writing schedule. My schedule was simple – rise early and get an hour done before the kids wake up and I have to go to work. I stuck to this schedule for two days. Two days. First I got sick and lost a week or so swaddled on the couch floating through a codeine haze. Then, my day job became stressful, a large project taking up most of my mental real estate. I couldn’t switch off when I got home. I went to bed thinking about work, woke up thinking about work. Just another victim of the grind. To deal with the stress, I bought a new video game. It was fun to play. Too much fun. I stayed up late and mornings became harder to face.

During this period, I wanted to write. I had every intention to write. I didn’t write.

At some point, it became a matter of distance. My study is on the bottom level of our house. To reach it, I need to go down a set of stairs and then up a smaller set of stairs. The stairs are steep. When contemplating this journey at six-thirty in the morning I found myself despairing. Crossing the Andes in a pair of thongs seemed easier. More achievable.

So what did I accomplish in those two days I did manage to make it to the computer?

About three thousand words or so of the third Winter novel. Not bad. Still, I’m about twenty thousand words away from where I wanted to be at this time.

I console myself that those three thousand words scan well. At least, they did on my first re-read. I’m hesitant to re-read them again in case I begin to pick at them and find myself undoing the meagre progress I’ve made. First drafts are like a jenga stack, wobbly constructions.

The biggest hurdle I’ve faced in returning to Winter’s world is my memory. Why didn’t I just write about vampires? Or werewolves? Something known. Turns out the mythology of my Winter books is a little complicated. Maybe even a little convoluted. Okay, very convoluted. Even I get confused with all the Demori, Skivers, Malfaerie and the arcane rules governing them. To help with this, I’ve had to re-read the first two books, Winter’s Shadow and Winter’s Light.

This has been both a cringe-worthy and encouraging experience. Some of the writing is good. Some of its bad. You hope the good outweighs the bad but never know for sure. That’s how it goes.

Apart from reminding myself of the story’s mythology, the only other issue has been a question of style. Over the last six years I’ve become a better writer. The more you do something the better you get at it and despite my procrastination I have managed to fit in a decent amount of writing over that time. My prose style has changed, become more refined. Could I find Winter’s voice again? More to the point, could I write a book that was stylistically of a piece with the preceding books?

I needn’t have worried. Just because I know more notes now doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how to play the basic chords. Turns out it’s all in the strumming.

Still, three thousand words isn’t much. I’m behind schedule. I want to write more but life keeps getting in the way. I’ve come to the rather obvious conclusion that it will continue to do so. There will always be other concerns vying for my attention, other responsibilities. I am not a hermit living in a mountain cabin. I am not alone. This is a good thing.

The solution to my dilemma isn’t tricky to figure out. It comes down to discipline, to putting the time in. No more excuses. If the distance to my study is insurmountable I won’t try to cross it. Who needs a study? Who needs a computer? I have a notebook. I will keep it by the bed. I will carry it everywhere. Write anywhere. I will learn to find that inner quiet place. Learn to turn off the noise for an hour a day and focus on the words. On the characters. On the story.

I will write.

M.J.