Clarion West is over for another year, and so is the Write-a-thon. Over the course of the last six weeks my goals were revamped as I went along, mainly because the novel needed a longer gestation period than I expected. So I kept up the research and note-taking, and returned to short stories.

Changing my schedule like that isn’t always a simple decision, especially in this case as there is a sense of backing down on my sponsors. However, at this point in the game I know better than to push on a project until it’s ready to go, and the novel isn’t ready. I try to work on a concept level as much as possible for longer projects before I get them underway. I prefer to have a concrete grasp of a central emotional truth / theme / core seed idea that I can use as a guiding star for the long writing voyage. Once that comes together the characters and situations can get me through most scenes. That important reference point is not solid in my mind yet, and I’m not about to start writing a novel without one. I’d get lost.

In the meantime I have re-written six stories, one of which was a ground-up rebuild and extension (it has a conservatory with a nice view now), and a new story. I’m particularly pleased with that rewrite since it has eluded me for a year, despite two concerted attempts to tackle it in the past. This underlines again that the creative process is somewhat unpredictable. Hard graft and bum-on-seat is the foundation of writing, but sometimes you have to be flexible. My goal now, always, is to keep writing, but I’ve learned to be adaptable, and always heed my gut instinct on whether I should forge ahead on something new, or turn my attention to work that’s on been on the to do list for a while.

Many thanks for all my sponsors – Clarion West is a wonderful organisation and deserves all the money it gets. They’ve announced an outstanding list of instructors for 2008: Paul Park, Mary Rosenblum, Cory Doctorow, Connie Willis, Sheree R. Thomas, and Chuck Palahniuk. Thus the legacy continues.