March 8th, 2021 – 894

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. One week ago today, I wrote out some key goals on my whiteboard, that I’ve left up since. There were three ‘priorities’ and each had two conditions listed beneath it. They were 1) Sleep; 2) Exercise and 3) Diet. For sleep, I said to get back on track, I needed to be getting 8 hours a night, which realistically given I start work at 9am on weekdays – and want to on weekends – means being out for the count by midnight at the latest. For exercise, I looked back at my old routines, and saw two constants: 5,000 steps a day on the good days, and when I recieved it, 5 minutes of rowing a day on my WaterRower. The latter had not been put back together since the move, in part because my ankle is still quite painful. And on diet, I listed two points, neither of which had to do with calories because I have those under control: what I eat, and when I eat it.

I said to myself when I stood back, that there was no reason in a week from now that I shouldn’t have all of these fixed if I made it my main focus. I was capable of writing early enough to sleep, and that was the only reason I couldn’t sleep earlier. Of course the often real reason I didn’t wasn’t not writing sooner but procrastinating on my writing until late because I wanted to focus on my job and was burned out by 5pm. In the past though, I wrote on my lunch breaks without causing any issue, so I needed to make that my goal again. Ideally, I wanted to write before 3pm, as the 3-5 window is best suited to wrapping up the smaller tasks in the day that don’t get as much attention, and I didn’t want to take my lunch break that late on.

Exercise required me to break the mental barrier that is ‘I’m scared of going outside because long covid is a thing, and with my constant fatigue I do not need to be any more tired than I already am’. I had to tell myself that a) ‘long covid’ seems quite rare; b) I was keeping my distance from people and wearing a mask if I went out before the evening, and c) exercise is non optional. With mixed success, I started to be able to go out more and more, and hitting 5,000 steps is about a half hour to 40 minutes of walking depending on what I bank just wandering around the flat. Sure enough, I started managing this.

But the WaterRower still loomed by my desk, disassembled, taunting me that I had lost a routine I was so proud of, all because of a dumb sprained ankle – assuming it was as sprain, given it still hasn’t gone away almost 5 months later. I made a seperate list of my top 5 goals, the ones I have to clear before anything else gets my attention that isn’t my normal day to day, and ‘Reassamble the WaterRower’ lingered as my albatross on it for a long, long time. Then, last night, after wrapping up a reasonable early target, or early-ish, I pounced. I learned two things: once you start to do a task you’ve dreaded for an age, it becomes a lot less scary. In truth I’ve learned this thousands of times, we all have, but it always helps to note it when you rediscover it. And second, a five minute row when you have barely any stamina after 4 and a bit months of no exercise, is a bit beyond me.

Diet was the point I dreaded the most, so it’s a bit anticlimactic to say how I nailed this one without much if any effort. I went through my diet for the last month and a half, noted the good and bad, and then panned back to 13 months prior, in the golden period that spanned between my heating at my old home being fixed and the start of the pandemic, and noted what I ate in a few sample weeks. I coalated, this, worked out macro nutrient distribution, and assembled a new diet I like to call ‘2020 didn’t happen’. Lunch is cottage cheese and crackers with a muffin, a simple mix of short and long burn energy food, and in the evenings, veggie duck, or chilli, or baked bean curry, or Chicargo Town mini pizzas. The latter, is to evoke Mana, and as a little reminder things won’t always be this way. And well, it’s working. I eat lunch – still no breakfast, but I established years ago it doesn’t work for me – and I don’t feel a need to over indulge.

So all that is a way of saying that, sure enough, one week later I did in fact manage all my goals. Yes I am going to need to work up towards more rowing – I have no intention to stop at 5 minutes, I want to get towards 45-60 minute workouts with rest days when the time is right – and I am going to need to hold firm in the face of the next cataclysm, but this is order. I am stable, I have a plan, I’m on top of my work, and I’m starting to enjoy life again. To cap it off, today, TWO hit 50,000 typed words, which means an April 13th deadline for this draft is more than reasonable. I don’t have the hubris to day mission accomplished, but as I look out of my office window into the bright late winter sky, the sun is out in more than one way.

March 7th, 2021 – 893

When I was getting started with 1K, my biggest nemesis – apart from my own track record of abandoning good habots and practice when the going got tough – was the weekend. I would get to the end of the week, and then would sleep in on Saturday, laze about, then write super late and sleep in more on Sunday. I would sometimes correct for this, but other times I would go into Monday on five to six hours sleep and feel wretched for the whole day. Covid made every single day like that last Sunday example, an endless stream of half-Sunday-half-Thursday ungodly hybrids that both feel like the end is taking too long and as if I;m having to dive right back into the start on zero batteries.

That’s why hitting target before 5pm – which was the exact time as I wrote this line – is such a big deal. It means an early night tonight, and a fun restful evening before then. It means I go into work recharged and ready to hit inbox zero as soon as possible. And most of all, it means I feel in control of my routine, because I like work finishing at 5pm. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking my main job, UpWork gigs or even 1K, I like to be done with productivity at 5pm so I can enjoy my evenings. It’s such an important thing for me that my mantra has the line “but finish up by five each night” as my goal to work towards. Just because I can write as late as I need to, doesn’t mean I should leave it that late. Regaining that discipline is going to be the key to coming out of this mess of a twelve months stronger than when I went in.

TWO is looking healthy. I added another 1,200 words today, which is a good indicator I am in a better place than I have been. When I just scrape target for weeks at a time, like I have been for the last few months, it shows I am clinging onto stability and even lucidity at times. When I start banking extra, even when as it was today I strugged to get started, that shows I am finding my swing, the flow of the work coming to me without needing to force it. The actual scenes themselves I think are going to need a lot of revision, as chapter boundaries don’t work as well for the writing style of the second half of the book, but on the whole I am feeling optimistic. WHT is having a few similar issues as I split big chapters up, but nothing I hope can’t be fixed by cutting and pasting.

This is what being in control feels like. I hope this is me from now, because I gotta say, you don’t realise how much you miss this feeling until you’ve spent a year without it. That’s out of my hands, but I can hope.

March 6th, 2021 – 892

So a little bit later than I would have liked to be writing this, but today turned out a very good day by all accounts. I’ve decided about my desk – I’m just going to save for a brand new one as I’m not fussed about antique status, I just like the aesthetics. I’ve gotten 6K steps in, and get to feed the squirrels as part of that, as well as doing a really healthy food shop. I even made some time to play on my old Gameboy Colour, something I’ve been trying to carve out time for for ages, and I enjoyed it enough to want to make it a more regular thing. And, while I’m not switching off as early as I would like, I should still get my 8 hours or close to and get up at 9am, which I’ve been not so great at managing. On weekdays I rarely get 8 hours and I sleep through a lot of my weekends, so this getting back on track is an all around win.

That I strugged to write earlier despite trying is a little concerning. I think it’s rebuilding the habit of getting to my desk to focus on just that sooner I need to nail, and also me being so tired still. I’m going to try and get a doctors appointment about fatigue if it persists in spite of getting back on track, as I should have done that about half a decade ago. You know, in 21 days time, so three weeks, 1K becomes a quarter of a decade old? That’s insane, I still remember when I first sat down to write that 1,000 words of my series’ lorebook – what I call the Oreacle – which led to, well all this. Literally that 130~ days later led to this blog, and pretty much kept me sane during the pandemic. Well all I can say is if the first quarter-decade was this eventful then for the love of god can the next one be as boring as possible please I am begging you I will do whatever you want can we just not go back to this I can’t even ok I think I made my point.

Really I only have one serious concern right now. You know how I said you can tell my mental health by my coffee consumption – and my beard which as of today is gone? Well, as great as drinking more is, my god is it expensive…

…Ok it’s really not, I’m just a cheapskate but, yeah…

March 5th, 2021 – 891

I love blogging early. Ok so it’s not 10am, we’re not back at that all-is-well step yet, but after a rough night last night, I got up, cleared up the mental rubble and dove into work. And at last, I found the strength on my break to just do target early. I cannot express how much better that feels than doing it when it’s dark outside. I didn’t get a full nigths sleep so I feel queasy, but apart from that, I’m doing well. TWO is on the cusp of 47K, I’ve got a plan of action for reworking TUS from the ground up, and I am so close to inbox sero at work I can taste it. This is what recovery looks like.

March 4th, 2021 – 890

When I was younger, I used to love listening to my records over and over again. It took me, a lot longer than everyone else to move away from casette and LPs to digital, which I think did stunt my music development quite a bit, and of course, meant a lot of the parts of my childhood I loved would, inevitably over time, deteriorate. This hasn’t got a point except to reflect my less than rosy mood right now, unless talking about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I have to this day got the LP edition, in its pretty 80s-style blue slipcase. I would listen to it over and over again, and the quotes got lodged in my head. In the last 9 years or so when my memory first appeared to start getting worse – aging I suppose – a lot of those quotes left me. But you know one universal truth that’s included in the first few minutes? I don’t even know if Douglas Adams meant it as an absurd joke or not, but if he did, he hit the nail on the head:

It must be Thursday, I never could get the hang of Thursdays

Wow, you took ^ all that to say you had a bad Thursday, I hear you thinking my imaginary reader. Well yes, because I can be as rambling and incoherant as I want to be, and because it’s true damn it. Friday has the good grace to lead into the weekend; Sunday leaves a daunting week ahead but it’s a day off; Monday is, well Monday, but it’s Monday for everyone so no one judges you for it; Tuesday you’re just awake enough to be in a state of flow, and not yet burning out; Wednesday you start to get tired but I mean hey, 50% battery is still battery.

And then, there’s Thursday. No batteries. No day off tomorrow. No sense of being any closer to said day off because it just feels like the second half of a 48 hour Wednesday. I empathise with you Arthur Dent, I can’t get the hang of this damn day either. It still blows my mind that 1K started on a Thursday – one of maybe 8 good Thursdays I’ve had in my life. Well suffice to say, today wasn’t a good one. Nothing bad happened, but my mood, oh boy it’s been a struggle. I need to figure this out if I’m gonna be in a weekday 9-5 for the rest of my life. And, if I end up going alone at some point, you better believe I’m going to adopt the ‘Weekend Wednesday’ model from CGPGrey. Watching his videos helped lift my mood today at least, one of my go to channels for ‘I need comfort’, along with Tom Scott and Stephen Colbert. Also Down The Rabbit Hole at the moment, and a bunch of those voice actor channels, like PM Seymour, Luke Correia and ProZD.

Can you tell my brain is spaced out right now? I think it’s the fatigue, because I am so tired. It’s not the kind of tired sleeping shifts, not on its own. I’m getting closer to ok but the home stretch is a tightrope with no safety harness or net to catch me. I really cannot afford to fall off again. TWO is going well at least, and my space is neat and tidy. I just wish my head was.

March 3rd, 2021 – 889

Yeah yesterday’s post was weird but come on, it was 888 day! I won’t get to celebrate that again for almost 22 years, you think I can wait that long? I only just managed to earn the “Go Outside” – ‘Don’t play The Stanley Parable for Five Years‘ – achievement and nearly broke several times. Also I earned that legit, so no Unachievable achievement in my collection thank you very much. Still need to earn the Tuesday one though, I don’t wanna just idle that one. Anyway if you don’t like weird posts just complain in the comments except HA, jokes on YOU, I don’t HAVE a comments section! Also you don’t exist, you’re imaginary, so by default you agree with all my woefully misguided opinions like TALES OF MONKEY ISLAND IS THE BEST GAME IN THE SERIES. Except no, legit, it actually is, and I say this as someone who adores the LucasArts classics and played them first.

Ok that was a tangent and a half and I haven’t even been drinking. Then again I have had like 3 coffees today, and, 3 yesterday actually. Eight in total this month, and real talk, that is a really good sign. I have always said you can tell the state of my mental health by the length of my facial hair, but I only tend to shave that all off once I feel I’ve emerged from a spiral. Well, it’s still there – I envy guys who can’t grow beards – but I have noticed another useful trend. If I drink more than one cup of coffee a day, that means most of the time I am functioning and stable, for a few reasons. First, I drink coffee pretty much exclusively at my desk, ergo the more I drink, the more time I spend at a proper PC, which I work better at. And, coffee helps me function. It blocks the tiredness receptors in the brain – DRASTIC OVERSIMPLIFICATION I KNOW – and that’s important for me, because I often feel tired, but find when I get going I have plenty of energy.

And yes, I know that has a common meaning. Look I’m not one of those people in denial about their depression, I know it’s there, I know it’s bad, but I don’t like to make a big deal of it. And, well I think that’s worked against me for way too long. I think I’ve talked on here before about needing to get therapy, but once lockdowns look like a thing of the past I need to seriously consider it. The worst case scenario is 2020/21’s legacy is it sets me back like five years in my development. Sounds dramatic but University did that, and this, well it’s not as bad as uni was but it’s close. And I’m not proud enough to pretend I don’t need help fixing some of the broken stuff right now.

Speaking of broken stuff, I backed up all my unedited novels today. Downloaded all of them as Word Docs, and put them on a USB. I’m going to burn them to a CD as well as an additional back up as soon as I can justify buying more blank CDs, as that is the easiest to preserve data format. I really wish that was floppy disks, I love those so much and they give me so much nostalgia, or casettes for that matter. Sadly both are prone to degrading pretty darn fast, where CDs insulation helps keep the data in tact for a while longer. I know that sounds weird when the whole reason I use Google Docs – well not the whole – is the autosave and cloud storage of Google Drive. But when you’ve dumped this many hours into projects – and lets be real here, it’s in the thousands at this point – then you develop a nervousness about losing it. Funny story, when I was first typing Unreachable in 2012, I stayed up all night in the library writing, and at 4am an auto-update reset the computer and I lost 15,000 words. Autosave, there is a reason I would give my life for you.

One other thing: you might have noticed a lot less orange here. I decided to strip out the WattPad links, though I intend to leave the books up there, given they’re pretty harmless to keep freely available. If I ever take off one day, that can kind of be the “try before you buy” some people stumble across. If I were going mainstream publication as my route then I would need to remove them of course. But, well that might not be an issue anymore. We will see, and time will tell.

Match 2nd, 2021 – 888

888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888

Man I want to replay The Stanley Parable now. Writing gone good, more tomorrow.

March 1st, 2021 – 887

I’m still not used to being paid for my writing. It’s, not a pleasant feeling. I know I should be happy, I should want to be paid for hard work, especially towards my super secret project I’m still being cagey about, as if anyone actually cares what it is. And, yeah it’s nice someone is glad they paid for it but, I feel like I’m scamming them you know? Like, come on, there’s a reason no one reads this blog: I’m a hobbyist, I’m not ‘payment’ good?

I know that’s irrational. I know that I am able to produce work and critique worth paying for on some rational level, that’s why people who have paid me then offer to pay me more the next time round but, it feels wrong. I don’t know if this is my crippling lack of an ego on display – an odd feat when you write a daily blog on a website named after you but go figure – or if I’m not cut out for this. I hope I am cut out for it because I have big plans for this money, but, it still feels wrong.

I think I need to go rest. Maybe this is tiredness talking, but, I don’t know. TWO is going well, WHT is getting stronger in the rewrite and I feel like I’m wrestling control of my life back, and yet, something is really wrong. I can’t put my finger on what, but it’s gnawing at me.

February 28th, 2021 – 886

UpWork decided to go down for an additional four hours downtime yesterday, so I didn’t get to sleep until past 4am. That proved a grim start to the last day of the month and yet, while today wasn’t ‘great’, it wasn’t awful either. I’m seeing in little ways how I am doing tasks right away, picking up detritus, and getting tasks for the flat done in quick succession. I have struggled to get to the other end of the day much as I have to get to the other end of the month, but I’m still on my feet – not literally I’m at my desk – and I’m still fighting. That’s all I can ask for.

Tomorrow I start writing Chapter 18 of TWO. That’s important because it’s the midpoint of the novel, where the story sees a dramatic pivot in plot, tone, and for that matter, perspective. I’m quite excited because what I’m doing is delving into a type of storytelling I have little experience of, and through a character I am immensely fond of. It’s going to be an interesting exercise if nothing else, and one I feel that will serve the story, and the audience’s perspective on the plot twists and turns from here on out. And, well I’m starting to enjoy writing again. I’ve been struggling with it for the last week or so but today, the words came without as much angst. That’s gotta be a good sign.

In 8 days, the UK in theory leaves lockdown. In practice, I doubt much if anything will change, but it does mean that there is a faint glimmer of hope. I still think another lockdown is far from out of the question, but I also think we’re closer to the end of this mess than the start. My initial prediction of this extending into 2022 may yet prove wrong, as I sincerely hope it will. And I feel, right now, like I’m starting to put myself back together. The pieces have been scattered ever since the stressful start to the 19/20 Academic Year, the General Election, and of course the Pandemic. And other stresses will emerge. I still have mountains to climb that I cannot even see on the horizon yet, many at least as high as the largest I have yet scaled. But, I also feel like after over a year and a half, I’ve found the right climbing gear to tackle them.

February 27th, 2021 – 885

Saw Tenet today. That was just a waste of time. Enough said on that.

No that’s a terrible Haiku, but then it was a terrible movie so shrug. I feel, awkward when I criticize art given I know I am not all that great myself yet, and that my best work still isn’t quite at ‘consistent greatness’ level yet, but here’s the thing: when your film is supposed to be about manipulating time and using that power against nefarious forces with the same ability in high intensity action sequences, don’t make your ‘fun and games’ a bunch of people sitting around talking about that. There was so much exposition where there should have been cool experimenting with the concept, and by the time they got to that, I was bored. And then the finale was full of complex explanation and exposition too, when we should be getting payoff, we instead got homework. And man, talk about flat characters that I could not care less about.

Ok no one reads this blog but SPOILER WARNING. There is a bit in the plot where the characters break into a high security facility where one of the time manipulation machines is. They fight two masked people who are ‘inverted’ – meaning they are travelling the other way in time. Spoilers, but this is them from the future, and our protagonist – who refers to himself as the protagonist all over the place because oooo look at me I’m self aware media, god that’s annoying – he fights himself. And I wanted to laugh because it’s exactly the same person. There is zero character development or arc between the first encounter and when he’s in the past fighting himself. They’re pretty much clones because he hasn’t progressed an iota. This film played itself harder than Cookie Clicker, which is a damn sight more engaging than this drivel was.

Ok, ok I’m done now. Onto my terrible writing. TWO is, well it’s going. It’s plodding along. I feel like I need to rethink the balance between day to day life and action in this, even though I have more action than say, a movie that spends the entire fun and games section talking about drawings and moseying around on a boat ok no I said I’d stop. It’s a problem for the next rewrite, but when I compare it to say WHT, which had action every other scene and in many places chapter after chapter, I worry I’m being too dull. If I am, I may need to play around more with what the outside force is able to do, and perhaps show more of that on screen. The more horror elements of it – and I stress, TWO isn’t a horror – are about the psychological idea that the universe might be against you after all, but I don’t want to drown that too much in the human side. Even so, I need some of said human side so any of it matters to the reader.

One to think on. Don’t watch Tenet.