April showers – a writing diary entry

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As we approach the end of April, it’s time for a new entry in my writing diary.

In my previous entry this year, at the beginning of February, I wrote about my New Year writing resolutions. I was then quite upbeat about my prospects. I’m a little less so now. Four months into the year I’m feeling the drag of goals not quite achieved pulling me down. Like the undertow of a breaker on the shore sucking back.

February and March

All in all, February was a good month. I wrote on 25 days of the 29. (It was a Leap Year this year, remember.) I wrote at least 32,000 words, so I easily bested my target of writing 1000 words a day on average. In fact, as I missed writing on three days, my average on the days I actually wrote was even better. It was 1242 words a day.

March was almost as successful. I wrote on 29 days out of 31; at least 33,000 words. And I averaged 1141 words a day on the days I wrote.

All well and good, but I can see from my daily notes that the drag was beginning to affect me in the second half of the month. While my weekly writing score was around 8000 words the first week of March, it was only a little over 6000 the last week.

April showers

Come April and the weekly score holds around 6000, but then drops off. Last week I only managed to record 4700 words. I haven’t summed up my score for the whole of the month yet; there’s still one day to go. But I clearly need to pull myself together.

I suppose I could blame the showers of April. The annual tax declaration. The lockdown.

The coronavirus has me sharing the flat with Mrs SC, who is working from home. I’m not good at writing in company. I like to walk around, speak aloud, dictate, all of which I feel inhibited from doing now. Not wanting to interrupt her conference calls or her concentration. I’m very conscious, too, that she might interrupt me at any moment. It’s as good an excuse any for not starting any writing at all.

But it’s not a very good excuse. Not really. And we don’t know how long this situation will go on. It could be indefinite. So in May I need to buck up and develop coping strategies. For instance, here I am writing now while she’s on a long telephone call in the other room. This is good. I should do more of it.

Write – Submit – Repeat

Another resolution was to complete writing and polishing at least one story or a poem each month, and submit it somewhere. I managed this in February and March, but not in April. The February submission was a short Science Fiction story and I was delighted when it was accepted by Red Planet magazine. They published it in March. The March and April submissions, sadly, didn’t have the same success. Two short stories in March were both rejected and two short poems in April seem to have been passed over too. At least I’ve not heard back about them.

I was invited to submit a poem for the latest edition of The Poet magazine (theme War and the Battlefield) but though I tried, and though I had (I think) a good start, I couldn’t bring the poem to a satisfactory conclusion.

During April, however, I took up a challenge on the Writers Abroad website to write a poem a day for the whole month. I decided to try out verse forms I’m not familiar with and I had a few successes. I managed to keep the challenge up for just over a week, but then I fell by the wayside. Still, one of my poems, “A Villanelle for Ulla”, seemed worth publishing here as my weekly blog entry.

I don’t think the time I spent on the challenge was wasted, but I notice again how much time goes into writing so few words.

(Perhaps it’s worth adding that April saw us coping with my mother-in-law’s sudden death. Sudden, but not entirely unexpected. It was the speed with which she went downhill at the end that was shocking, and that I tried to illustrate in the villanelle. Afterwards though, for a week or more, writing seemed a rather frivolous activity.)

Archive diving

Between times, I’m still looking back through the archives on TheSupercargo. I’m tracking down old posts that don’t conform to the structure and presentation of my website as it looks today, and fixing them up . A new header image, a better layout, a spelling overhaul. Also working on the posts’ search engine optimisation. I had 125 posts that needed some TLC at the beginning of the year. Now that figure is down to 90.

It’s fun to re-read things I’ve published here 8 or 10 years ago. In 2012 I was fussing over my New Year writing resolutions too, and failing to keep them.

Every year brings a new spring and every new spring a new green. Every year brings a new attempt to make myself write, and a new struggle to keep myself writing.

     Now, of my threescore years and ten,
          Sixty will not come again,
     And take from seventy springs three score,
          It only leaves me with ten more.

So I’d better push on, hadn’t I?

Perhaps I should add that I don’t give too much credence to Biblical time periods. Three score years and ten. I’m rather counting on my inherited genes to keep me going another thirty years yet. Pandemics permitting.

Cherry blossom before April showers have rained it away
Cherry blossom before April showers have rained it away

The poem I twisted to my own ends above is the middle verse of A E Houseman’s “Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now”.

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