When I returned from France in mid-September, I had a new book deal and a deadline. I thought it was going to be a bit tight, but there were exciting reasons why I wasn't going to argue. I would just put my head down and concentrate all my energies on writing, and I was sure that by the end of January, I would have a good first draft.
Sadly, real life intervened. I'd only been back a day when the first of several bombshells hit, and by the end of September I knew that looking after my mother was going to have to take precedence over writing. When she was in hospital, I got up early and wrote in the mornings before visiting time; when she came home for the end, I took my notes to work when she slept but usually failed to write a word.
January, new grit, I thought. I managed a week's work, still feeling terribly sad, but with time to concentrate, at least . My mother's memorial service was on January 8th. I managed to get to my feet to deliver a tribute I had written, but that very evening I came down with 'flu. Just reaction, I suppose. Last week I ploughed on with aching head and racking cough.
I put this out here not to elicit sympathy, though I know the loyal readers of this blog will be quick to offer it, both above and below the public wire, and they know how grateful I am. Actually, this is a post about writing. Sometimes it's not easy. I'm sure editors and agents would be understanding if I missed my deadline. But I won't do that because I pride myself not only in writing well enough to be published and paid for it, but on what that implies: being professional about my work.
I've written before about not having much truck with writer's block - I genuinely believe it's not much more than self-indulgence, an excuse to talk about writing without doing any. Of course there are days when I sit down at my desk with my head too full of other thoughts to find the right words for a story, or in a panic that I've literally lost the plot. But the mark of a professional is that you open the manuscript, take some deep breaths and go in. Then stick at it until the words come.
I'll let you know the state of play at the end of the month.