At the beginning of the year I made several resolutions, which included giving up smoking (semi-successful so far; my willpower has been tested but still holds), writing one short story a month (very successful as I wrote two in January and have a short thingy written for February, but we’ll see how that one holds up) and writing down all the books I read this year.

I read a lot of books, but I am incredibly bad at writing them all down. It sounds silly, because surely it can’t be that hard to remember to write down their names?

It isn’t that hard, so I’ve started making more of an effort. In fact, I’ve noticed that a lot of my resolutions and goals for the year involve wasting less time – but more on that as the year goes by. For now, I’ll talk about the books.

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Hello, and welcome back to Drifting Astray! A lot has been happening in my life of late, which doesn’t excuse, but perhaps explains the long hiatus.

I started my new job at Waitrose, quickly took on lots of overtime and spent my hours at home watching Bad TV instead of writing much. Bad TV is only enjoyable for so long before you start to crave something richer. Books, then, have also been filling my time, and Better TV. I’m currently reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which is enjoyably dark and subtle so far.

I’ve also been reading (although I’m yet to finish) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, which has further opened my eyes to the possibilities of magical-realism and omniscient voice (which you can also find in the wonderful One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez).

I’m still toiling away at the WIP-novel, which is trickling along merrily, if slowly. I’m thankful for the fact that I seem to still be writing something, instead of nothing. A couple of years ago I might have abandoned writing completely, for several long months, after starting a new job. So I think I can say that although I’m nowhere near perfection just yet, I’m a better writer than I was back then. 🙂

I have a lot of people to thank, actually, for keeping me on the writerly straight-and-narrow. Twitter has been the safety net which has prevented me from falling off the edge of the communicating world completely, and I must give thanks to @squeakattack, @jenku70 and @atrinza in particular.

Your encouragement and wisdom has been of invaluable help, guys. 🙂

Now, in penance for neglecting you all, I offer up this short story for your entertainment …

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I said I’d let you know what was happening with my novel work-in-progress. Well, I still haven’t come up with a decent title for it, although it currently lives in a folder in my hard drive entitled ‘Guardian’. This was my first idea for a title (I won’t say why – this is a strictly spoiler-free post ;)), but ever since then I haven’t been able to look at it without thinking of the English broadsheet newspaper which my parents buy every week. I now think of it almost like a code word for my novel.

Hah! My novel has code words.

Since my last post on the subject (the previous post in this blog, in fact – proving that I am consistent in my subjects, if not in regularity of updating), I have written every day. This is immensely satisfying, not only because I’m finally creating good writing habits and sticking to them, but because it proves that the writing techniques I learned last year during NaNoWriMo were not just flashes in the pan of inspiration: what I learned back then has stuck with me over a whole year, and I am applying it to my writing outside the NaNo zone.

Which means – *drum roll* – that I may actually have it in me to finish a novel this time around. Touch wood.

In between feverish bouts of writing, which average at around 1,000-2,000 new words not-all-in-one-go per day, I have found several ways of distracting myself from the task – opportunities to break off and do something else for five minutes. Or several hours. This is admittedly dangerous – if I find the perfect distraction, who knows when I might get back to writing the actual novel? But since I’ve managed to pull myself back from each of these distractions in turn, I think I can safely say that I’m not in danger of abandoning my story just yet. Still, to give them their due, here’s what I’ve been doing in between writing (on top of the obvious things like making unnecessary cups of tea or coffee) …

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