April 30th, 2019

I did it.

Yesterday I got William Howard Taft did Everything from 2,600 words to 3,600. It felt like a hundred sit ups after not having done any for weeks, and it was surreal how gruelling a simple task could be. It’s not that hard to write, but the words have not been coming.

So today, again. Yes again, we’re getting this ship back on the waves and exploring. I have to, this is a fundamental story to the series. Cynically it’s also my best shot at widespread attention but that’s less of a motivator.

This has ended up the hardest month of 1K to date. Well, today is the last day, so here’s to May being a little less overwhelming. It’s gratifying that even at my worst, I produced at least 1,000 words each day, even as I wasn’t sure where the heck I was going.

Well now I am.

April 29th, 2019

I’m starting to feel better. I’m going to try and write actual WHT today. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy my holiday. Not much more to say. Will update if I make significant progress.

April 28th, 2019

Jeez I let myself burn out hard. This morning I had to take 3 hours extra sleep just to function today. I hated doing it but I would have been on 5 hours again without it. I am a ball of stress at the moment and nothing seems to be scratching it. Oh and believe me, I have tried everything conventional at this point.

So is this why Taft has stalled like learner driver at the front of a long queue at the lights? Well, I think so? But I feel so clouded by this damn state that I don’t know for sure. It’s not writers block – I don’t really believe in that like I used to anymore – and I am pretty sure I am not ill. I feel fine, except I also feel like something intangible is pulling my insides in all directions at once. It’s, not a pleasent feeling, but I am certain it’s anxitety based.

I’m writing this at 7:30 at night because I have been out of kilter all day. I haven’t even had my shower yet as that’s a 7am ritual, and well, I slept. I did some sketching and a bit of high concept planning, but my wordcount is a big fat 0. I knew there would be times like this ahead but this last couple of weeks – and I mean almost to the day because it started around if not on the 14th – have been awful for my creativity.

I have wondered if I put on too many weights by trying to chain two stories back to back, especially two that are so radically different. The thing is I do still struggle to be jazzed about Taft enough to do it right, and that pains me. I still like the story, but I can’t find the magic. I don’t want it to die, not least as it would cause major repocussions for the entire series if it did.

The trio of Unreachable, Volcano and Taft are what I always called the “Fundamental Trilogy” – the trio that form the bedrock of everything that comes after them. In these three stories I set the stage, introduce two of my key protagnists, the multiverse model and the Break – the event that causes this series of events to break off from the wider multiverse. Taft has to nail that; it might be the pressure getting to me.

Whatever is causing this feeling, I hate it. I want it to go away so I can go back to doing what I love. I’ve written log lines for Taft, matched the plot against everything from the hero’s journey to Save the Cat’s plot model, and I truly believe it is a great story for it. There is something inside me I haven’t found yet, the missing piece that gets me over this hurdle and into the series’ proper.

I have no idea what I will write today. I am going to try to write Taft, as that is what I am desperate to do, but I have no idea how that is going to go. If I fail, I might do another short story; yesterday I wrote a write up of what I could learn from Avengers: Endgame and the wider MCU for my own work, but I chose not to publish it, at least yet, as it naturally contains spoilers.

I feel a bit trapped and lonely. If I am honest I feel very lonely. I think the quantity and quality of my work has suffered for it. When I used to struggle, I always assured myself that the pain would make the words better; in retrospect it didn’t, and I had a lot of improvements to make to my style. I still do. But now, I don’t have that same borderline narsassistic comport blanket to take the edge off.

I think one of the problems is I am in a dark unsettling place in my head at the moment. I know this because when I get this way, I start wanting to write The Wanderer, and that is messed up. I hate indulging that character on a page even if they are just as fundamental to the series as the three books mentioned above. I also want to write my series in order, not jump around erratically – that’s what the Oreacle is for, my 40,000 word encyclopedia of the series and its workings.

You know what, screw it I’m going for a walk. Yes I want to get done early today so I can sleep on time but I want to do some real writing damn it. I do not want to go back to the early days where I wrote 50 days of rambling Google Docs like this but counted it towards target. I needed it at the time, and I am grateful I did it because it kept 1K alive. But this is my outlet for those angsty feelings now, and I do not count these words. If I did this would be 841 words.

It’s 0 words. I am better than that. I have to find the willpower to ressurect a story I have been burning to write for six long years. It’s so overdue it hurts. Ok so Volcano was at least seven years but that if anything makes it worse. My head hurts and I don’t want to blind it with alcohol until I have target in hand.

I have an idea.

April 27th, 2019

I thought I’d feel bad for taking a series of quiet days in a row, so it’s surprising just how great I’m feeling right now. I think my bullhead approach to “no do this now” isn’t bad, but resisting it for this short time has done me some wonders.

My reticence to doing so makes sense, as I have in the past drifted off from writing after I finish major projects and become rudderless. 1K, journalling and this blog have all prevented that, and posting “CDWC: 0” each day recently has been tough, and been a firm reminder that I can’t just stay like this.

My mantra contains the line “Take a break if you feel done”, and like it has for a lot of parts of my life this has proven itself to be the exact right approach for me. So today is another lazier day – though I’ve restarted my workout routine, in the mornings now – and I’ll ease myself back into the latest novel when I feel ready.

April 26th, 2019

My restful days recently have made me feel a heck of a lot better. I think I needed it pretty bad, and with my 10 days off I will try and lock in this positive improvement. While I’m doing that, I am also having yet another look at the self published route.

So here’s a brief history of my history with distribution. I tend to go through a cycle of three stages when it comes to sharing my work. First I go “I should probably care about finding an agent”, and end up going all over the shop, send off about 30 manuscripts, then I hit the second stage, where I remember that “hang on, I am fine with this staying a hobby and this is so much added stress for me right now. I’m good” and I stop.

Then I go “well, I do want to share my work, I don’t care about revenue, why don’t I just self publish/freeshare?” This goes well right up until I find I can’t make a professional cover/marketing strategy – which yes, you do need even when giving things away for free. So I go back to step 2.

I go like a pendulum between 1 to 2 to 3 to 2 to 1 again. It’s, annoying. So I’m trying to listen to a few podcasts on point 3 and see if I am overthinking the whole process. Spoiler – of course I am.

April 25th, 2019

I avoided writing WHT yesterday, working on a write up for my local MTG team instead. This morning I avoided writing at all. I think it’s having a positive effect; I feel a bit less strung out than I was before.

I’m using this working break to start unpicking what the idea behind WHT is, so that I can write it properly and be hooked by the concept again. Save the Cat is acting once again as my guide in this process, so it’s back to log lines and genre definition for me. I’ll update when I know where I am.

April 24th, 2019

Well that didn’t last. Ir does not help that I keep getting forced into late nights by events beyond my control, but my mood and ability to focus there with it have plummeted off a cliff. I’m not sure if I’m exhausted or fed up, but I don’t think that I am in the right headspace for WHT right now either way. That’s fine, I can take a break and do more leisurely writing, even switch to Spectrum if I want to, but that only solves my writing issues. It does not solve my head being screwed on the wrong way problem.

So I need a holiday, badly. The good news is I have one, and not even a short one like my string of long weekends. This is ten consecutive days off to do whatever I want to. The bad news comes in a few parts. First off, my job isn’t the cause of any of this anyway. I am pretty happy at work, have a great job and feel like I am where I should be. Yes time away from it lets me focus on myself, but it’s not like work has me over-stressed.

That’s more of a technicality than a problem. The other two red flags are full on problems. The most obvious of these is that I am not taking a pure leisure break; local elections are the reason I took the holiday, and will be a large focus of it. What I’ll end up doing – canvassing, data entry and various odd jobs – are intense tasks for me, the first one especially as I find knocking on doors the most nerve wracking activity imaginable. Heck stand up was less intense.

The third issue is the most subtle, but to be honest is the real problem. Time off is good even if you enjoy your job, and I can regulate how much of my time the election takes up, with the obvious exception of May 2nd. What I can’t do anything about is the loneliness. This is not as simple as being around people – for the most part this makes it worse – but is the reality of even a good life like the one I have when it’s devoid of someone to share it with.

I will try and turn this around. And of course I will write my thousand words, and yes, I will try and write William Howard Taft did Everything with that energy if I feel able. I have to be realistic that I am supporting others while dealing with all this, so I can’t fire on all cylinders. But like I always say, if I hit a thousand words – and I always do – then I have something. Part hope, part pride, part a sense I know who I am at last. I’ll get to share that one day.