Whanganui writer Airini Beautrais' mindset during the creation of her award-winning short story collection was the complete opposite of the "warm and friendly vibe" at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
Bug Week and Other Stories took home the $57,000 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the awards this week.
"It was a really tough time in my life when I was doing a lot of that writing," Beautrais said.
"I wasn't in a very good space, and I think it's good to be open about that because a lot of people out there are struggling with mental health.
"There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved, and some pretty rough stuff that I was going through."
Beautrais said she was always working on poems, but fiction was something she would like to do again.
"I've got a few projects I'm working on, and I guess it depends on what gets finished first.
"You'll start one thing, then there'll be another idea, then you have a few things on the go. You just have to go back and finish them up.
"Poems are just something I do reasonably regularly, and I'm also working on some essays.
"That is going to be quite a long-term project I think, because the kind of stuff I want to write is going to take a lot of reading and research."
There was always a long process involved in publishing a book, Beautrais said.
"I got a grant to finish Bug Week in 2017, and it was then that I was doing a lot of the writing for it.
"Then the editing process happens and, especially with a smaller press like my publisher, there's a bit of a queue.
"You send stuff to them and it might come out 18 months later."
Beautrais said there weren't any upcoming deadlines to meet in terms of finishing her next book.
"I just have full-time work and being a mum to juggle around to get time to write.
"Maybe time pressure would be good though, because you'd get more focused.
"I always have a lot of ideas, it's just a matter of making them work."
Beautrais' poetry books Dear Neil Roberts (2014) and Flow: Whanganui River Poems (2017) have previously been longlisted for Ockham awards.
"I was pretty surprised [to win the fiction award]," Beautrais said.
"There are these little points where things go well and you have success, and then in between there are these other times where you're feeling adrift or lonely, or thinking 'oh my god, all my work sucks'.
"Reach out to your fellow artists and see how they're doing if you haven't heard from them in a while, that's what I reckon we should all do."