Sketchbook #55

Black and white photo of a tulip. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

I’m glad I said I was going to take things slow in June, because… I  took things really slow in June. 

Not intentionally, and not because I was being lazy (or not entirely because I was being lazy), but coming up with a new title for the story formerly known as The Black Sun was more difficult than I anticipated, and wound up taking a lot of time. The edits themselves weren’t difficult, but I only settled on a new title last week.

The Black Sun is now The Marcasite Star.

I like it, and it doesn’t require a lot of rewrites to make it fit the story (though it does require some), and I am so thrilled to have figured it out.

While I was working on that—or while I was taking a break from that so I didn’t end up committing to a terrible title just to have it over with—I did make some headway on the outline for the still-untitled crime drama. Not much, but enough.

I’ve also decided to put both Violet Lane and These Modern Things on indefinite hold.

I mentioned some of my concerns about Violet Lane—and trying to write near-future sci fi in the middle of a pandemic—in last month’s sketchbook, but it’s more than that. VL and TMT are good concepts. They’ve got the potential to be very good stories. But of all the stories and concepts I’m working on right now, they’re the furthest from the stories I want to be telling. I’ve been working on them because the ideas arrived almost fully-formed, and because I could see a market for them, but I’ve never been in love with them, and they won’t move me closer to my goals as a writer. They won’t even help me improve as a writer, not the way a more challenging concept would.

I want to say that it’s a weight off my shoulders, setting these stories aside. And it is, in a way. But let’s be honest: it sucks. I hate giving up on these stories. I hate thinking of the time I spent working on them over the years only to leave them unfinished.

But I need to let them go so I can focus on the stories that matter to me, the ones that still hold my interest when everything else in the world makes it feel impossible. Especially right now—I can’t afford to waste time and attention on projects that I don’t care deeply about.

You might’ve noticed that I haven’t said anything about taking photos in June. There’s a reason for that: I didn’t take any photos in June. (Well, one or two of Lucy, but those were all of the ‘look at the weird thing the cat’s doing’ variety.) I’ve been in the same soul-searching mode with photography as I am with writing. More, actually, because the whole thing was triggered by some of the craft and journalling exercises I’ve been doing as I study photography.

I’m realizing some things—good things!—about my relationship with photography, and I’m learning a lot, but as far as actual photos go… not so much.

So… yeah. June wasn’t the most productive month, even by pandemic standards.

But I’m ok with that. I needed the time to regroup and reset so I can get out of the weird holding pattern of the last few months and get back to work.

I have high hopes for July.

I should be able to finish up the current round of edits on The Marcasite Star this week, and I’ll (finally!) be back in the query trenches by the end of next week. After that, I’m going to finish outlining and character work for the untitled crime drama. I want to be ready to start writing the first draft in August. I’m hoping to get out and take some photos; I’m not sure when, or what sort of photos they’ll be, but I miss having a camera in my hand.

Mostly, though, I want to devote as much time as possible to figuring out my next steps.

I know what my ultimate goals are for writing and photography, and I’ve started doing what I can to shift my current actions back into alignment with those goals. But I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to figuring out the middle steps: the skills I need to build and the path I need to follow to get from where I am to where I want to be.

That’s my big project for July.