Monday 3rd April 2017

Today was one of those days where it felt like it was going to be a quiet day and then in the last couple of hours a few major things happened.  So you get a bumper edition today (and that’s with a few things being pushed to tomorrow)
Those who’ve been following along since the beginning may feel like The Climb has found a bit of a groove and that this is the pace it’s going to continue moving forwards, that every day it will be more of the same.  I can safely say that’s not going to be the case.  I promised a bit of a rollercoaster and I think in the next few weeks you’re going to start to see that with some huge leaps.
I’m excited for this.  We’re in the calm before the storm time right now… but trust me when I say the storm is coming!
Talking of storms, there’s a bit going on with storm chasing.  I released my 2016 video last night and it’s got some really great comments.  I’m so pleased how it turned out.  There’s probably one or two shots I might have changed but I love how people can see the way the video builds and builds.  Friends have been leaving very positive comments and sharing amongst their friends.  I’m very happy with the response.
I also had a storm chasing friend make the Washington Post, although not for a good reason.  My friend Bart drove into an EF0 earlier this week and he’s getting a bit of criticism for it.
Now I chased with Bart last year and he’s a bit of a daredevil, but seeing that tornado, I would have been tempted to run into it.  It wasn’t particularly strong at that point given how small the circulation was, and whilst it could have quickly developed, I personally think the risk was minimal.
Driving with a camera in one hand, I have more of a problem with, especially as 3 chasers died last week due to distracted driving.
But the point is, anyone who has been the other side of the computer screen in situations like that knows that adrenaline takes over.  I talked about it last week.  It’s very easy with hindsight to criticise.  It’s very easy to do the perfect thing when you’re calm and removed from the situation, but when you are there…  you can do some dumb stuff.
So whilst I think there are lessons to be learnt from the last week, I think everyone can be guilty of those mistakes.  It’s one of the reasons why I’m planning to be further away from the action this year.  Bart is an incredibly seasoned chaser, this will be my first year going without a guide.  It might mean a less exciting video than this year but my second ever tornado was a 0 foot intercept, so it’s not like I could ever get closer.
When I first started storm chasing I thought going with a guide would be a tame experience, staying well back whilst the seasoned chasers got up close and personal.  If you’ve seen my video, you’ll see that I got incredibly close, much closer than most chasers.  I’m glad I had that experience as now I’m about to chase with friends as rookie chasers, I don’t feel the urge to get close.
I also saw that there’s a Stormchasing game kickstarter just been launched so I might be supporting that  (although they are currently not shipping to the UK)
Today was tight for time and so I decided to work on the novel a little earlier.  I’ve been typically not starting on it until after midnight and as a result, if I have a busy day, it gets missed in favour of sleep.  However, I had 30 minutes free this evening before I went out and so wrote 700 words in half an hour.
As you might remember, I was at the stage where the hero and a secondary character get discovered.  This was the scene I wrote tonight.    I think it needs a lot of tidying up as the way I handled it was a bit clunky and could have done with some foreshadowing, but it’s done and with it the chapter is finished.  Next I have to write a chase scene so I plan to think about that tomorrow, possibly watching some parkour videos and Asian cinema kitchen fight scenes, with a view to getting it planned and writing started tomorrow evening.
I went swordfighting this evening.  First time I’ve fought in a week after missing yesterday’s sparring.  I got my glove back so my surly sulk about not having a spare has subsided.  We were doing slips to avoid leg cuts and I enjoyed working with a number of training partners to analyse the moves and counters.
But I did get a little distracted at the end, because I had an email from my agent.
I didn’t have my glasses with me, but I’ve learnt to distinguish certain email addresses from their blurred length.  My friend Stewart (himself a writer) was beside me when I saw it come through.  I asked him if he could read it to me, and told him that if she said that she’d made a terrible mistake and wanted to drop me as a client, just to lie to me.
But I was able to increase the font size and read the email.
It’s very easy to get paranoid as a writer.  You’d think that you get a big name agent and suddenly you’ve received all the validation you ever wanted.  Now don’t get me wrong, it does wonders for your confidence as a writer, but (for me at least) it came with a feeling that somehow there’s been a massive mistake.
Imposter syndrome is a very real thing and something I’ve really had to combat.  Imagine that your dream was to own a 4-bedroom house and a Ferrari.  Then imagine someone came along one day and told you that instead of that, they were giving you three 6-bedroom mansions and four Ferrari.  Can you imagine what that would do to your head?
I found myself in a situation where my reality was ahead of my dreams and it was the biggest mindfuck you can imagine.  I mean, it was great, but it felt like I was missing some catch.  It did my head in that much that I popped round to a friend’s house and ended up getting more drunk than I’ve ever got.  I’m very lucky my friends are very understanding people who’ve had their own fair share of drunken antics.  I think the huge box of chocolates I gave them by way of an apology helped a little as well.
But then I did my first round of rewrites and sent those in.  I think subconsciously I was waiting for the response of “oh we’ve made a mistake”.  As much as logic told me I’d worked hard for this and given my rewrite everything, my emotions felt that this was the moment I got found out for being some fraud who they mistakenly thought could write.
So when my agent came back and said that the rewrites were good but they needed more, I felt screwed on two levels.  On the logical level, I’d given the last rewrite everything.  How could I possibly give more?  And on the emotional level, there was shock that my agent still thought I was worthy of her time.
That was what screwed up my 2016 and why the second rewrite took forever.  But it was also an incredibly important growth year for me.  I was forced to level up my thinking.  I realised that just like lifting weights, the more you did something, the better you became.  So just because I gave the last rewrite my all, didn’t mean I couldn’t go back and improve it.  I also made a point of levelling up my ambition.  I decided to accept the fact that I am where I am because I worked hard.  I wasn’t going to fall into the trap of thinking that there wouldn’t be setbacks and struggles ahead, but I also wasn’t going to show false modesty for how far I’d come.
And that’s why things like The Climb came about, a place where I could be completely honest on what is going on, balancing massive ambition with humility.
But that doesn’t mean that the imposter syndrome isn’t there from time to time.  I can look at the situation logically and know that the authors that have contracts and are bringing in money are always going to take priority.  This is a business after all, and I’d be wary of an agent who did anything differently.
Yet there’s still small part of me that wondered whether the fact it was taking a time was because there was a lot that needed fixing.
How do I deal with this?  First I look at this as an exercise in patience.  Publishing is very much an industry where hurry up and wait is the normal course of things.  Better I learn patience now.  Secondly, I put that time to good use.  Rather than worry, I’ve focused on the first draft of book 2.  I honestly believe that how I utilise time waiting for things is the thing that will ultimately determine my success.
As a result, 2017, despite trying to throw me off course a couple of times, has seen me get back to the way I worked in 2015 when it didn’t seem to matter.  Saying that the worries aren’t there would be a lie, but I feel the work I did to level up my thinking means I’m able to deal with them and not let it distract me from the job at hand.  I know that if I want to achieve my new ambitions, it’s only going to get tougher as time goes on.  That’s fine, I’m so ready!
So the big news is that, as I suspected, the rewrites have been delayed by urgent deadlines for other authors.  As a creative business, I’d expect nothing less that clients with deals to take priority.  It’s also quite gratifying that my agent’s clients seem to be having greater and greater success.  Plus, given how long I took on the last rewrite, I can hardly complain about the length of time something took.  I’ve also been busy on the draft of book 2, so it’s not that I’ve been sitting around twiddling my thumbs.
I should be getting the edits back in a couple of weeks.  But I’ve been told that the first third of the manuscript is looking solid.
I’d planned to take a couple of weeks off to get these editorial comments done.  I want as quick a turnaround as possible without compromising quality.  But with storm chasing 2017 a little over a month away, I don’t think I can get time off the day job.
In which case, I’m mainlining energy drinks and still getting it done (although it might take me a couple of weeks longer).
Either way, you’re about to see things ramp up on The Climb.
I knew this would be coming and one of the reasons I started The Climb when I did was because I wanted it to start from a point of relative normality.
This is your warning, readers.  This is the calm before the storm and it’s only going to last a few more weeks.  Because the storm is coming, and when it does… it’s going to be epic!
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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