Match 31st, 2020 – 552 – Day fifteen

Keeping things a little short today as I am knackered. I’ve still got week old emails to sort and not yet got my head quite on straight. Finishing a novel is great but it can leave you quite rudderless. I’m chipping the last few bits of WHT on my mind today for target before I dive into VOL’s edits tomorrow. And my email backlog…

March 30th, 2020 – 551 – Day fourteen

I wrote 1,900 words today. And with that, I have finished typing up the second draft of William Howard Taft did Everything. There are some big holes to plug in this story to be sure, whole sections that don’t sound right, hanging messages I need to trim off and a heck of a lot of stuff to chuck in the trash. But it is done. 108,000 words, so near enough my later estimate when I realised we weren’t writing 75k stories anymore. I’m pretty pleased with that all told. I need to cut at least 10k and probably closer to 15k, but that can all come in time. I have the next 9 days for editing and rewriting three novels.

I will start with VOL. I haven’t uploaded a chapter of that today because I was busy with work and then had a packed evening, but I’ll do so tomorrow. That one will be edited on WattPad itself for the most part, but I’ll upload the last few chapters as drafts once they’ve been through Hemingway to clear off the rough edges. Then VOL is getting a top to bottom ‘whatever sounds right in my head’ edit. It’ll get some adverbs back. It’ll get stuff lopped off that I can’t defend anymore. And most of all, it’ll be gutted like a 200 year old bathroom.

And then, I do the same with Spectrum. Then I’ll do it to WHT. And once I’m done, I’ll give TUS another look over to be safe. Once I have done all that, I’ll have four finished novels to my name and enough content to get me through into March of next year. I haven’t written much about quarantine because, to put it bluntly, it’s the last thing on my mind right now.

March 29th, 2020 – 550 – Day thirteen

I’ve not done too bad this weekend all considered. After arriving at the end of yesterday’s post, and my things arriving just after an extended decontamination shower, I found myself quite at ease in my new day to day life. I am under a lot less anxiety now the walk and the move are both done, and that I know I am set up for the foreseeable future. The only issue I have at the moment is my ruined sleep schedule, but I will manage tomorrow at work. Ok, it will be super unpleasant being sleep deprived with the deluge of work emails and my long backlog, but everybody is in the same boat. It’ll all get sorted, and it is all in hand.

WHT is looking darn good. The story now sits at the cusp of 105,000 words, and the final chapter leading into the epilogue is all but good to go. Were it not for the lateness of the hour I would I imagine sprint to the finish tonight. Or, well if it weren’t a work night I would do that. As it is, I am confident that I will have the whole saga wrapped up before the end of March, and then enter my grand edit phase. VOL and then WHT under the microscope, all the chaff cut, all the gold polished and a few puffs of Febreze to seal the deal. Is it a good story? Hell yes. Is it well written? Eeeh, it’s passable but clunky, and at least 10K too long. I also need to sync the story beats into the right place.

It will be a while before I am firing on all cylinders at work again. Even so, I am making great progress by not falling apart with all this change going on around me. I do not suit the upheaval of this pandemic but I can bend it to work for me with enough effort. I can only apologise to the people waiting on me to finish building them guides and classroom resources. I’m glad at least that I managed to get most of this done before my brain caught fire at the start of March. Also of note, while this month has been almost, almost as rough on my mental health as a general election, March 2020 looks set to be my best month for main story content ever. Can’t say much fairer than that.

March 28th, 2020 – 549 – Day twelve

It’s not too unusual to blog on the move, but this is weird as hell.

There are cars on the road, but it’s sparse. Some dog walkers were ahead of me on the way. They took one look and crossed the road. It feels, strange outside. It’s like nothing looks different, but I feel as if someone will spring out of nowhere any minute. The world is all uncanny valley. I decided not to even deal with the silence, and Jason Mraz is doing a good job of blocking it out.

There are people ahead I have to plan to dodge except, they all do it first. I’m talking quite some way ahead. I am the sort to cross the road not to pass people if I feel fragile, but it’s weird to have everyone do it for me. Even so I’m keeping my eye out. Mum is driving my stuff over now.

This could be my last time outside besides the garden for months. I’m in this for the long haul, and – someone was around a corner. I’m holding the phone in front of me as I write, or I wouldn’t have seen them. This is intense. Doesn’t help my left leg is threatening to collapse. I do not do well after a long time.

More people out than I expected. It’s like a weird game. It would be funny. In a way it is. Then you remember why. I’m almost there now which is good as my leg is burning. There’s a good chance I’ll be back on my stick after I can go out again. I am not looking forward to that.

I will say this. The air is somehow fresher. Here now. I’ll update tomorrow.

March 27th, 2020 – 548 – Day eleven

Today was long, gruelling and I still have emails from last week to deal with. No offence to anyone still waiting for a reply, but like, what, 80% of you are asking for stuff that has nothing to do with me. You just assume it’s me because I have a vague-technology job and I can ‘direct’ you. Newsflash, that’s what the helpdesk is for. Usually I won’t put anything negative to do with work on here, mostly because there isn’t anything most of the time, but man, I hope you see this if you are part of that 4/5ths. Ok, rant over.

Besides that glowing little dump that is borderline HRable, I am doing, ok there is no point in pretending I am alright. I discovered over these last few days that I have transitioned into much more of an extrovert than I realised. Not you know, full-on, but I have after years learned to enjoy social company rather than feel awkward and dumb, and now it’s all gone. I am craving contact. God I miss Mana. I miss my work desk. I miss the damn hot’n’cold water filter. My coworkers laughed when I said it helped me get through the day. I was not joking.

Jeez ok all stylization rules out the window for this post it seems? Whatever.

I wrote 1,550 words of WHT just now, bringing the story to 102,500. Final estimate is something like 4,800 more, and I imagine one of the remaining days this month I will sprint out the last leg of it in one go, likely another 3-4k day like earlier this week. I have to say, writing is what is keeping me sane right now. When I was 18/19 writing drove me insane, so what a difference a decade makes. Then again I spent my first 7 years or so as a ‘writer’ disliking writing. Funny that when something becomes the love of your life you kind of don’t go coocoo doing it.

So tomorrow is a big day, and is part of what made today so hectic. I spent a long time packing, and at 11am tomorrow I will be leaving this building for the first time in almost two weeks. It’s going to be, surreal. It’s a 20-minute walk to my grandparents, and it’s going to feel like being an escaped convict the whole way. It fits within two of the government exceptions for leaving the house – medical assistance to the needy and daily exercise – but man, I am anxious out of my skull right now. And paranoid I’ll somehow pick up covid-19 en route. That is so dumb it doesn’t deserve a second thought, but hey, unmedicated paranoia. Spicy. What was I talking about? Oh right so I will hop in the shower as soon as I get to their house, and even then I will worry. But what can you do?

Right time to switch off. And by that, I mean switch off this computer, put it in a box and put it with the other stuff. I reallyhope I haven’t forgotten anything…

March 26th, 2020 – 547 – Day ten

Today was a looooomg day. Apart from spending a long time grinding through work tasks, I also packed. I’ve now got most of what I’ll need at my grandparents packed up minus my work equipment and PC. It feels a bit surreal but thankfully with my Bullet Journal restored to its former glory, I was able to work through most of what I had to do with ease.

On WHT, I have now hit 100k, and for that matter 101k. The final wordcount looks likely to be 106/7k, and will be wrapped up before the end of the month. Of note, that little one day sprint seems like it didn’t have repocussions. So a 3-4k day once in a while when my gut says it’s ok is tolerable. I hit target before 10am too today so that was a welcome shift.

My mental health is improving, perhaps because I’ll be having company soon enough. For now I’m going to get some sleep, and hopefully wake up to a smooth sailing day tomorrow. Here’s hoping. Who knows, I might even sprint.

March 25th, 2020 – 546 – Day nine

Today is a big day. It’s been a long few weeks, but after 12 days of failing to write stuff down in it, I used Trello today to fill in TWELVE days of bullet journaling. I have my lifeline back, and man does it feel good. It took two and a quarter hours of non-stop handwriting and transcribing to pull it off, including a forward explaining the situation, but it’s a weight off my chest to have it back. I’ve felt quite rudderless without it. Is that sad? Not really. We all have our crutches, and this is mine, along with 1K. Unlike 1K it looked like BuJo wasn’t going to survive for me. A tiny bit of order restored.

I now need to finish target before I can sleep, but I do feel on a roll so I have no doubt I can wrap that up in record time. Apart from that, today’s been, almost normal, if a bit dragged out. I helped several people, designed user guides, did normal worky stuff. But it’s not normal, and it is still freaking me out a bit I have to move in less than a week. I’m also looking forward to it though as it is unbelievable how lonely I’ve been. Turns out, I am more of an extrovert than I realised. I’m still an introvert, but we all sit on a spectrum, don’t we. I do as it turns out need in-person company more often than the odd food delivery.

WHT is looking pretty great to be honest. It’ll likely come close to if not hit 100,000 words today, and will in either case by this time tomorrow, meaning for now pre-edits it’s my longest* story. It won’t stay that way, there’s plenty of chaff, but I feel pretty good about how it’s come out. If I do wrap up on or before the 31st, I won’t start on TFS until the 9th of April. In between, I will be editing VOL and WHT to polish and improve them for primetime, and if I have room, I may even write A Planet Named George now after all. Point is, I’m staying positive, and focusing on what I can control. I think that’s all any of us can do right now.


*Original Service to Ore doesn’t count because screw that pile of, well I can’t say that in polite words so I won’t…

March 24th, 2020 – 545 – Day eight

So there it is. The UK is pretty much in lockdown at last. Were we right to wait? I guess we will see. For my own part, I’ve been in isolation, only seeing delivery drivers at a distance and mum twice to drop off supplies in the same way, for eight days. I am starting to get over the weirdness of the whole thing, and regaining my past productivity. I got a lot done ‘at work’, and also a lot done in my writing too. Today was, well quite a big day. How big? 3,700+ words big.

I do ‘sprint to the finish’ with most projects, but with this one, I was eyeing the March 31st ‘mid-deadline’ that I want to hit and decided what the heck, one intense day won’t kill me. It also helps make up for a long series of near-enough exact 1K days, where I like to try and average 1,100. I will not be ‘chaining’ days like this, and maybe it was not even a good idea today, but the advantage of finishing long before the 8th of April is under my new schedule, that gives me several free days.

I intend to spend those free days outside of work and being there for relatives doing one thing: hitting target by editing. VOL is ok in its current form, but it needs a lot of polish. WHT is much the same. I want to spend that week-long stretch polishing the word-I-don’t-use-on-this-site out of both. I’m itching for that chance and looking forward to re-reading the stories because, hey, I enjoy the story. I’m biased, yes, and I need to be careful of that, but it will be nice all the same.

I’ve no idea what lies ahead from here. I may move on Saturday as planned; I may move today. But As of today, I have spent an equivalent of one week in self-imposed exile from the world. I’m not presenting symptoms, and for the most part, I am not insane. Yet.

March 23rd, 2020 – 544 – Day seven

A busy and long day at work, and yes yet again I am writing this quite late. I will be keeping this entry short as I am exhausted, need to sleep and it is almost midnight. On the plus side, I had a large word count by the end of today for WHT and am on the cusp of 95,000 words. With a week to go until the end of the month, my ‘mid-deadline’ looks like it will be achievable after all.

It appears lockdown is now pretty much a thing for the UK. I’m ‘moving’ in less than a week, but with the new restrictions, I may need to move my timetable up significantly. It could be I am on the move as soon as Wednesday, which still means I isolated for a period equivalent to a week, but is a bit tight. We will have to see how the new rules roll out. Needless to say, it’s another added stress for me, but I have it easy compared to most. Ok, I do also have a mile-long work queue out of nowhere but hey, at least I appear indispensable.

Mental health hasn’t gone down as bad as I thought it would after almost a week by myself. I was worried because in my worst days at Sussex University – and I am not allowed to go off on that topic because a) I will probably swear and 2) it would probably be libellous – I ended up having alone stretches about this long. They were never pleasant, and what little I remember of them was a pain I do not want to ever return to. But no, I seem to be holding up fine.

When I get my sleep under control again I will feel a millionfold better. But for now, I need to go to sleep and brace for another rough night and day. Wish me luck.

March 22nd, 2020 – 543 – Day six

When I said I was thinking about doing these posts a little later during the quarantine, this is not quite what I had in mind. However all my writing is done, so this is a good way of making sure I wrap this up in 10 minutes so I can still post it today. I spent most of today on Animal Crossing and Magic Arena to be honest, and in doing so tried to switch off and have a day of relaxed fun. On any other day of the year, today would have been perfect. I ate nice food, watched cute foxes from my window, and had an aimless wander through the things I enjoy goofing off with.

But right now, it’s hard to stay lost in things. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in a panic over Covid-19. To be blunt I am far more worried about the slippery slope of giving Boris Johnson emergency powers but that’s not something I want to go into here. I managed to write a great scene tonight, fix a slight issue I had with wanting a slightly cheeky scene but not wanting to make it tasteless, and all in all, I feel accomplished. But with the world falling apart, I struggle to feel much of that right now. It’s there, but it’s being drowned out.

I just wish the paracetamol wasn’t running out, because the stress has been setting off my headaches, and I am a little worried about this one turning into a migraine. That probably wouldn’t hurt my immune system, but I’d rather not test the odds. If all goes well, in a week I’ll be moving in with my grandparents, and we’ll all get through this with a lot less drama. Work is going to be surreal tomorrow. I don’t know if any work people read this – I doubt it – but those non-techie types don’t worry: it’s just as weird and uncomfortable for me doing my work at a distance as it is for you. Stay safe my imaginary readers.