Must have bullets! Must have bullets! Must have… argh, no.
I’m writing this on a bleary Friday morning from my favourite couch in Rijeka, Croatia. It’s the second-to-last day on the week in the year when I tend to get overworked the most (a children’s books festival – fun times). My left knee is out from under the camo blanket because the brand new tattoo I’ve started yesterday with my favourite artist needs to get some air, and chapter no. 7 of the Second Werewolf Novel is staring at me from it’s Google Drive home, awaiting editing after this post is done.
But, there are more important things to write about, at the moment, than caves in the vicinity of Rijeka and dead bodies that might have – or might have not – sprung up around them. Two days ago, a message got through that the Third Werewolf Novel is going to be supported to be written by the culture department of my local hometown of Rijeka, for three full months.
Which means that I am going to get paid to write, for three months. (It’s totally not a large sum, nor is it the only thing I’m going to be doing for those three months, hell no. But still. I’ll get a full, brand new south-facing window out of it for the apartment, maybe even the English translation of the First Novel if everything works out well.) It’s not the first time there’ll be a bit of money for my typing – the First Werewolf Novel (Izazov krvi) was published due to financial support from the City of Rijeka, too – but it feels like such a huge milestone.
There’s another reason for the groundbreaking feel of it all, to me. You see, I’ve applied for the exact same grant last year, too, with the Second Werewolf Novel (the one currently undergoing primary editing and beta reading – yup, including the lonely chapter no. 7, above), and last year it was listed as the first application “under the line”, i. e. the one which was so close to getting the
medalgrant, but didn’t. I was not happy about it – but, at the same time, the copy I’ve sent (the first chapter and a half of the second, if I remember correctly) was so boring tha it had to get cut out of the current version of the novel, so there’s that.
On the other hand, the copy which got included in this year’s application (the first chapter in the Third Novel) almost brought the writer herself to tears while being typed out (from pain, for the record), and it had two serious hook lines (maybe even three? we’ll see when somebody I can actually talk to reads it), as well as a murder
execution. (Well, that was one of the hook lines.)
And the copy I’ve submitted received maximum points from the jury, this time around, so there’s that.
Both last year and this year’s applications were most generously seconded by Milena Benini, a Croatian author I’ve been a fan of ever since childhood, mostly because she’s written one of my all-time favourite fantasy series (the Djeca vječnosti i kaosa novels, loosely translatable as Children of Eternity and Chaos). I was lucky enough to meet her through Croatian sci-fi conventions and work with her on some of the projects I’ve done before (most notably larp Astra). I’d gotten more than lucky to have her kindly agree to do a professional reference for my application for the grant, two years in a row. Having read this year’s reference for the Third Werewolf Novel – a piece of writing which I’m absolutely positive has added to the grant judges’ opinion on the novel – there’s not much I can say, other than thank you.
So, starting a few months from now (still unsure about the grant’s schedule), I will be writing about werewolves and mercenaries (I still blame Riddick and Jack for that), about the first bad bad guy I’ve ever tried to carve out of words as an adult and, also, about a Rijeka before indoor plumbing, a blossoming city in the early years after the railway got connected to us, bringing the city closer to Europe. (We’d already been close to the rest of the world – the perks of having a sea port.) I just have some 10+ chapters to edit in the Second Novel, first, before we hand it over to the team at Hangar 7 for post-production.
One of the reasons why this worked for me in 2019 is, I believe, because I’ve started writing again early in the year, and I haven’t stopped. Finishing the principal copy of the Second Werewolf Novel in just under two months was fun – and rather fast, for me – and writing the grant copy (that first chapter) right in the middle of it, while both my fingers and my brain were at full speed, certainly contributed to the results. (Oh, and I’ve also spent one glorious Sunday writing and publishing a fanfiction story which still makes me grin wide every time I think about it.)
Last year, it was so easy to stop writing at any given moment, for any reason whatsoever. Not getting the grant was one of them, and I’m not even the only person to get discouraged by it – which is quite scary, when you think about it, and we cannot allow it to happen again, since it has nothing to do with the fun and fulfillment one gets out of writing. Also, work. Ahhh, 2018 was such a great year to get sidetracked (also, stopped) by work. Work, the constant complication and the thrilling challenge. Work, the one thing one can’t evade, the neverending drain on one’s physical, mental and emotional health.
Work, the glorious excuse.
Well, in 2019, I’m making the writing (a part of) my work. I’m seriously looking forward to seeing how writing stops me from writing. Cheers to that!