August 31st, 2020 – 705

Today ended up a bit better than the rest of the long weekend. I think a mixture of extreme fatigue and the aftershocks of The Wanderer floored me for most of the last few days, pushing target to the twilight hours and leaving me in quite a state. As it is, I have chained several days of what might be lightly termed ‘barely 1K’. That is to say, I cleared a thousand words, but not by a bunch. Today it was 1,016, the kind of territory where there’s every chance my personal journal – which counts for target – limped me across the finish line. Those days happen, and it’s kinda gratifying in its own way that a thousand words is a less optimal day. I’d have killed for that at one point.

TWR is shaping out nicely, and again I’m finding that intrigue, twists and excitement are my favourite ways to open a novel. I love leaving some tantalising hooks with a few moments of extreme activity to show a taste of what’s to come. If one day that becomes stereotypical of my openings, well again there are worse fates. It’s nothing revolutionary, indeed it’s pretty basic attention grabbing technique, but it’s nice to feel I’m getting the hang of it now. Maybe in another 6 novel’s time I’ll look back and wonder what it was like not to do those tropes on autopilot, or indeed not to twist them even deeper into richer stories.

My holiday resets tomorrow, and I am going to take that opportunity to book off two weeks of September, one starting the 7th, and between a partial and full week beginning the 28th. As you might imagine, the latter is for my special day, 2Y1K on the Sunday before that, and a heck of a celebration it’ll be. Sure, I won’t do anything fancy – festivities will likely extend to take out – but what a year to reflect on. Since mid-October I’ve only hit 1K with main story content, finished four novels – by October it’ll be close enough to five – and managed to do so through the biggest collapse in my mental health in almost a decade. It feels presumptuous to call that metal, but it’s at least worth a nickel. I’m not even sure that joke makes sense, that’s how tired I am.

Right, early night. Actually have to sleep this time…

August 30th, 2020 – 704

Really starting to slip bad now. I think the exhaustion is just catching up bad, so I might look at booking the week starting the 7th off, even as I plan to book off the 27th and the data around. I need to do some course correction and it needs to take place while I’m still relatively lucid.

Story wise things are a bit rosier. The first four chapters of The Whispering Rail have a lot going on in them for excitement and intrigue. I feel I’m getting better at engaging content our the gate, though what I really need to get better at is editing my back catalogue. I still plan on a triple entry to the Wattys, but I’d like to at least try and spruce the triplets up.

I need to go row. I also need to stop leaving this until super late in the day. I end up having to row super quiet to not be anti social, which kind of defeats the point. Got a lot to sort out…

August 29th, 2020 – 703

I’m starting to slip again. I can feel it even as I manage to stabilise around the 11-Midnight range. This isn’t a great place to find myself mentally, and night after night of bad sleep is starting to cause some unsettling repercussions. It’s as if I’m walking a tightrope between stability and chaos, the wire all that keeps me from falling into an abyss worse than the chaos behind.

That all sounds pretty morbid, but I think I can put it in a less dramatic, more succinct way: I have choices to make and I don’t know what to do. I don’t like change and I’m only just recovering from the upheaval we’ve all been living through, one I took harder than most it seems. And I just want to not screw this up I guess.

Best I can do is keep working hard at work, on writing and on reconnecting with the people around me at a distance. I just hope the wire broadens to a more accommodating path soon.

August 28th, 2020 – 702

A three day weekend to rest and recouperate, a welcome boon right now when my batteries are on fractional percentages remaining. To be fair that’s my own bloody fault for getting 7 hours sleep in the last 72, but what ya gonna do? In my case write this, journal, row, and sleep. Nah just kidding on that last one VIDEO GAMES. I HAVEN’T LEARNED A THING.

August 27th, 2020 – 701

Long busy day, but I’ve got The Whispering Rail underway and I’m starting to feel a lot better with my routine back. Apologies for the late post, but I did manage to get a lot done today, and even got some sweet cube additions while I was at it. I didn’t end up sleeping on time yesterday so today ended up out of sync, but all’s well. I think I’m just finding my feet in a whole new life again. It’s nice to be doing that with a new novel I can actually enjoy this time.

One month until 2Y1K. Need to make sure I book that off when my holiday resets next week. Can’t exactly go out to do much but hey, I’ll think of something. Stay safe imaginary readers.

August 26th, 2020 – 700

Seven hundred days of 1K. By the time I hit the 200 mark I knew that this was pretty much going to be about for good, but there’s still something a little surreal about hitting new benchmarks. When I hit 200 I finished handwriting VOL, and at the time that marked the first new novel I’d written in two years. Even then the previous book was an extension of a novella, and that was the first time a book broke 70K in five years. Now 500 days later, I have six novels – not including that ancient first one – and that’s six typed novels. But that’s not why today feels significant. This isn’t about the first 200 days of 1K; it’s about the 200 we just came to the end of.

When I hit day 500 of 1K that was a big deal for me, as it coincided with the start of my latest attempt to reinvent myself. I knew about Covid-19, and I had my inklings where the wind was blowing and how to stay upwind of it, so our family was already making plans at even that early phase, but I never imagined what the 200 days between that day and today would do to me. By and large, I think it made me better, if only by tearing me down and forcing a total rewrite of how I lived my life, and what I considered a priority. I learned a lot about myself, and not all of it was good. I also learned that even if the world was on fire outside my window I would still write my thousand words.

A couple of days ago, I returned to working in my office for the first time since the UK went into lockdown. I had of course decamped home a little early of that fateful day, plans laid and ok’d to ensure it wasn’t a hurried exit. I still managed to panic and leave my aloe vera plant to die in the office, but other than that sad outcome and all the desks being moved about, when I came back in on Monday it was one of the greatest reliefs of my life. I knew I hated working from home, but I didn’t realise just how much until I had the alternative back. It was like that feeling after a period of illness where all your senses work again at last and you thank whatever higher power exists for each and every one of them. It’s not ‘normal’ – and I don’t think that version of normal is ever coming back – but it’s both peace, and closure.

I wrote two novels in lockdown. One is decent but needs some work. One is great but so horrifying I doubt it’ll ever see the light of day. Neither are my focus. When I hit 200 days, the elation I felt for finishing that novel sent my soul soaring. Now, I finish a novel, and just move onto the next one. They’re still achievements, and I am still proud of the hard work, but the greatest achievement is that whether I write a story that puts me on cloud nine or brings me to my breaking point, the day after I finish, it’s on to the next one. My stories are inevitable, and more than any x number of words benchmark, that’s what I’m proudest of. Here’s to many hundreds more.

August 25th, 2020 – 699

On the verge of another milestone. Yes I know that 100s are arbitary, but they’re special to me, and it’s also significant for me if for no other reason than every day sees my portfolio grow. I’ve got a nice new book that I’m still finding my feet with, and keen to draw a line under the last one.

But tomorrow also marks one month until 1K hits the big 2 year mark. As September 27th, 2018 was day one, the 26th of September is the real two year post, even if it’s the 27th I like to celebrate. It’s still a little unreal that I finally found my feet creatively, even if I still have a ways to go. It’s nice to be able to enjoy writing again. I’d missed it.

August 24th, 2020 – 698

Today was a good day. I was at my desk for the first time in five months, and the focus and drive that gave me was immense. I found a peace that’s been gone for so long now. I got a lot of walking in, and hit the rowing machine right after getting in. And yet, none of that was what made today special.

I didn’t have to write The Wanderer. Words cannot express the burden that lifts. I might just be ok.

August 23rd, 2020 – 697

Rough evening. My heart is going a mile a minute, and it was doing that before I went for my evening row. Even that brief bit of exercise did little to ease my nerves, but it’s done. 6,252 words later, I’ve finished writing The Wanderer. I’ve only once before done a sprint to the finish longer than that, and it was for a book at the time I disliked as much as I do WAN. Of course, where that old work is a relic now, depressing but otherwise without note, WAN is a living part of my wider series, the 6th finished novel and the book at the heart of the timeline. And yet, I have made my decision that I will not upload the story to WattPad. When the time comes, I’ll make it a page on here, give that page or series of pages a password, and only give that out on request. For the foreseeable future at least that shouldn’t be an issue, as I don’t exactly have legions of readers.

I’ve got a long day of work ahead of me tomorrow, not least as I still need to finish all the work I meant to over the weekend. Most is done, but there’ll be an intense morning lying in wait for me. As such I’m off to bed as soon as this is done, but I need a minute or two to calm down first. When I finish a first draft of a normal novel, I feel a sense of elation, of accomplishment, of satisfaction even if not pride just yet, knowing all the editing that needs to occur. Even then there’s a little pride. Right now, I feel hollow and drained. The last 67 days writing this novel have been miserable, and I am putting off editing down the 91,239 words of soul destroying vulgarity as long as I can. I might even do a hands off edit and only do continuity tweaks. After all, ‘adverbs’ and ‘passive voice’ are the least of the abhorrences in that story.

I know I don;t have regular readers, but I just want to apologise for my one-note theme to the last couple months of posts. Rest assured, I will never write a story like this again, so you won’t have to listen to me whining about how much a book is crushing my spirits. Soon, normal service of me whining about other more mundane matters will return. Talk soon my imaginary readers.

August 22nd, 2020 – 696

I’d make some childish joke about that date number, but I’m not in the best place mentally to do that. I had a wonderful day yesterday, spent a long evening with my mum and step dad and made the most of their company, ate great food, watched Hamilton (again) and couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I got a full night’s sleep, ish, and today I kicked back, ate what I wanted, played Arena, almost played Stardew, and, well I feel like a mess. It’s not that I feel like a mess because I left writing until late, or even because I spent the morning working. It’s because I was dreading writing, and when I at last got out the 1,083 words that made up target today, I can’t say I felt much better.

WAN is now 84,987 words long. If i were to switch back now, and write enough words to make this a 1,100 word day, which with any other book I would, then we’d hit 85K. 85K is the centre of my ‘sweet spot’ for novel lengths. My projects seem to always finish in the 92-100K range, so that means cutting back about 7-15K words. That’s about right for trimming the chaff that tends to accumulate on these kind of projects. As such, hitting that mark means everything from now is buffer, meaning I won’t have to extend the story after I get to cutting. Apologies if I have explained that badly; the quality of my prose tonight was not much better than this. I don’t feel elated at that milestone. I pretty much feel dead inside.

That’s one of the more dark things I’ve said on this blog, but I think as much as I try to maintain a professional image here – with my eccentricities on display but in a way that is more tasteful than gratuitous – there’s no point lying here: this book almost killed me. I debated using the word ‘broke’ there; less hyperbolic sounding and a lot less shocking. It’d have been a lie if I toned it down. This is the most raw story I have or likely will ever write. I’d hoped knowing story tropes and conventions better now, I’d be able to distance myself more from the made-up story, but, well I can’t. This book literally keeps me awake at night I am so ashamed of it. And as you can imagine, I am also ashamed of how I’m letting a story get to me like this.

Part of me wishes I could delete the book. Of course I can do that. I wouldn’t even be sad to see 66 days of work disappear. There’s just one problem: the story of WAN is central to the story of the series. It’s not just the cannon events that take place; the novels tell a story about the forces that drive our lives, and though the Wanderer is an extreme example, it is a stand in for the irrational cruelty we all exhibit once in a while. The story is about what it’s like when those impulses consume your life, especially when you play host to them rather than seeking help. Rosie literally tries to deal with the horror on her own rather than seeking help, in the same way I did with my demons. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I think it might be the best story I’ve ever written.

When this project is over, 1K will turn 700 days old. That’s 100 weeks of this, in which I wrote the equivalent of seven novels, given I typed up VOL and WAN as pretty much new stories. WAN might be a book that I loathe, but I’m going to finish it within 70 days. That means in 700 days time, I should have another 9-10 novels to my name, at least. It would likely be 9 as I am handwriting the first draft of The Way Out, but that would see the whole series complete, and a few new stories. Those new stories, those 9-10 books, that’s what I have to focus on now. I’ve learned a lot writing WAN. And soon, I can put it in a drawer, and at least for a year, forget about it. That, I cannot wait for.