September 20th, 2020 – 725

Day of excess eating, good company and as it turns out, late writing. The former two are good, even the excess as I don’t exactly care about maintaining a trim figure; food tastes too good to fight for much more than breaking even. But late writing? That sucks just as long as it always has. Still need to tonight.

Reading IT by Stephen King, as I’ve wanted to for years now but for the longest time I’ve resisted reading fiction. Yeah, I know that’s a bizarre thing for someone who lives to write fiction to day, but to be fair it’s more for every fiction book I read, I read like 3 nonfiction ones, and I listen to every book multiple times. I’ve reread King’s 11/22/63 at least 6 times now. IT is a good book, enjoying it. I’m aware of the ‘infamous’ scene later on but even knowing that’s going to happen I’m still liking it.

Now to write…

September 19th, 2020 – 724

So much for writing earlier I suppose…

I spent most of today goofing off on Stardew – latest year one community centre run died to the dreaded ‘no red cabbage on the travelling cart’ – and then Magic Arena – where I finally brewed a mono red deck I enjoy playing, only taking what, 9 years? So all in all, I am ok that I only hit target at gone-11pm, and I’m just glad it wasn’t post-midnight. I am feeling a bit rough even so, but by and large that’s residue from how intense last week was. I’d be amazed if I didn’t feel wretched after that.

TWR as I said yesterday is continuing to develop into the multiverse-lore exploration book this series badly needed to set up its more epic crescendos, of which I feel this will end up one. I also feel I’m getting better at making all my characters a bit more unique, and that’s been a tricky thing to pull off when two of my protagonists act like twins most of the story. Usual caveat, it’ll need polish, but I am more confident about this book than I was before. I didn’t talk about this much in public, but TWR was the book I had the least idea what I was doing at the outset. I knew the key tie in points, but not how the story would ebb and flow, where it would peak and how that would show.

I just hope a restful day tomorrow will get me back on my feet. This year is still kicking and I cannot afford to do what I normally do at times like this and get ill. Here’s hoping I can still get a decent night’s sleep in, even if an early night is, well a bit redundant as a goal now it’s 23:53…

September 18th, 2020 – 723

So this week has been long. I managed to kick off Sunday with an early target, at last in a working routine, then of course had to shift my whole day an hour and three-quarters earlier for ID card printing in Lewes, so sadly early-target died a bit of a death. Granted I righted the ship before things slipped into the twilight hours, but I am still knackered and in need of some deep sleep this weekend. I also need to tidy the flat but man, sleep comes first. And relaxation as I have been in a wired state for like 5 days straight now.

I did at least make some time this evening to play Stardew and Arena. I’m still so freaking greatful to WotC for their incredible customer support on the latter. It paid dividends for them as it turns out because after saying what they did, a few friends were encouraged to try out Arena again to see what it was like. More than happy to be a walking advert for Magic, that game is incredible and derserves to be as profitable as it is. Least I think so.

I am having so much fun writing TWR at the moment. This book is turning into the best tribute to the train line the series is named for that I’ve written yet, and I think will with some meta editing across the series will become the backbone of the StOre-lore. That’s ‘The Service to Ore lore’, not 100% sure I like shortening it to ‘StOre’ even if it is clean. The idea that I might self publish and sell through a “StOre Store” is amusing to me though.

September 17th, 2020 – 722

As much as I’ve found I can function better getting up at 6:30am than I expected, I am not going to miss doing that now I’m back to being Eastbourne-based. It’s nice being back in control of my routine again, which I did lose a little with the amount of running around and working in an unusual place. Of course today I am working out of the North Wing of ECAT House, so it’s not my normal desk, but close enough. I even managed to take a break today, which I’ve gotta say made the world of difference as I’ve been getting a bit run down by nonstop days. I can do them, happy to do them to support the team, but not as happy as I am to have them in the rearview mirror.

TWR is coming along well, hitting – when you include chapter headings – 27,000 words exactly today. That means we have a clean number to judge against the number of days of the project so far, which started on the 24th of August. That’s 25 days, to produce 27K. It is as far as I’m aware my worst pace I’ve had in eleven months, a far cry from the novel-in-67-days of WAN. Granted, I was pushing to get away from that story, but I know I can work faster, and I’m keen to get back to that former pace as soon as I can. Of course, the 24th was when enrollment started at the college, so a lot of long hours and late nights are hidden within that figure. Then again, lockdown was busy and even TFS worked at at least 100 a day faster than I am at the moment. Or, should I cut myself some slack?

1,100 banked today. If I can try to hit that whenever I push past 1,000 I can lift myself out of this rut. And even so, It do find it funny that a novel every 3 months is a ‘rut’ for me now.

September 16th, 2020 – 721

Someone did something super nice for me today, and I feel, bad about it. I’ve been struggling to make the time needed to get my Magic Arena goals all done, and messaged support asking if there was a way to buy the pet I wanted but was going to fall short of in levels. They gave me a refund for the pass,which was super nice of them but I paid for that in part because I like Magic and want to support it, so it feels, well wrong to get a refund. They told me how to buy levels which I did and got the pup pet, but I would have then paid to do so.

Let me just say it was so sweet of them to do that for me. Honestly this is a great game, you should play it because it’s fun at any skill level and FTP works well on it. I’m really touched by the generosity, but I feel bad now because I worry they thought this is what I was angling for? I really wasn’t, I just assumed there was no legit way to buy up to level 80. In hindsight I should have Googled it and not out myself into this moral quagmire. Or, I could stop overthinking this so much and recognise they probably like doing this for people from time to time. I guess my point is I don’t feel I deserved it but I do really appreciate it.

Also I swear this isn’t even the first blog post I’ve done with something like this has happened. Don’t know of that makes me na├»ve, neurotic or just insecure, maybe all three. Oh and I wrote some words today,should, probably mention that…

September 15th, 2020 – 720

I’ve been going nonstop for 13 hours so forgive me if I keep this brief. Got what I needed to done in Lewes so that’s a huge win, and will be helping out for one more day tomorrow with other stuff related so getting an early night right after food, which I just haven’t had time to eat yet. TWR goes well, and is wholesome as ever. Needs more horror though.

Sorry for the brevity. Normal service resumes soon.

September 14th, 2020 – 719

Super long day today, I was working flat out from 8am until 5pm, no break. Saw dad after work which was nice, and I got my writing done on my walk home, so though I’m knackered and writing this post late, I’m good. Even so, I’m hoping tomorrow to get target done a lot sooner.

Right I’m going to go pass out now. Gotta get up at 6:30am again. Wish me luck.

September 13th, 2020 – 718

Man does it feel good to pull of early morning target. I managed to get just 7 hours sleep last night as I switched off a bit late, so I need to get to bed a lot earlier today if I’m going to be at the station for 7:30am tomorrow. That alone has me a little nervous, even though this won’t be my first train journey of the pandemic. Still, I am more or less prepared, albeit I left my work laptop at work on Friday when I meant to take it with me, so I guess my home laptop – a very generous hand-me-down from my sister – is being demoted to work laptop for the day.

I don’t find writing horror a natural fit. I don’t mind it, but the first draft product is pretty far off of the mark. I can write sadistic horror but hate it, and while I adore the cosmic horror genre I don’t know if I’m going to be turning out my best work if I stick with it. Still I’ll try, and it is a genre I want to be good at. The more I practice, hopefully the better I get. For now i’ll take getting my target done in the morning so I can chill for the rest of the day. Got to do a meter reading for NPower and go collect my rail tickets, but at least with the latter I can play Stardew on the way.

So sleep: I did only get 7 hours but it’s hard to argue that resting up for that 12 hour catch up wasn’t central to this recovery. I have to prioritise more sleep as my circadian rhythm is quite demanding, requiring at least 8 hours most nights. I’m thankful I can do a 12 hour night and reset the clock, but it’s not the most practical fix in the world; for one thing it only works on weekends. So, I need a way to cue earlier nights that doesn’t feel as much like sacrificing my time in the evenings. If I can nail that, I’ll be back to 1,300 and 1,400 days in no time.

September 12th, 2020 – 717

Man does it feel good to get early target on the weekend. When I am at work, I don’t mind if I cannot take a break for the 8 hours of the work day because stuff comes up, but on the weekend where I don’t have to be on call there isn’t the same excuse, and once I’m up and about there’s no downside to knocking target on the head early. It means I can have a drink in the evening if nothing else, something I avoid if I still need to be creative. Moreover, today was a 1,100 word day, which isn’t a big leap but still makes me feel like this rut is closer to the end than the start.

I sat down with my blog, bullet journal, diary and health tracking apps to pinpoint why it is I’ve been having such a rough time of late. Spoilers, I crashed after I finished The Wanderer. That 6,250 word sprint to the finish let me get past the story, but I do still react badly to over exertion like that. It sounds silly – plenty of writers write a lot more than that each day* – but that asterisk is that I don’t know many others who mean every day when they say every day, and have a 40 hour a week job, and to an extent emotional dependants. If I push myself too much on top of all of that, I burn out, and work has been busy enough to burn me out by itself.

So how can I put the Wanderer out of mind and move on in a meaningful way? I don’t have an answer. There’s got to be a way, and I do feel better than before I got the story out of my head so perhaps it’ll just take time. But getting enough sleep and more early targets like today, that seems to me the best route forwards.

September 11th, 2020 – 716

It’s a bit surreal that 9/11 was 19 years ago. I was understandably, 9 years old at the time. As such I have ‘memories’, but I assume that my childhood recollections are not exact, though I picked up on how freaked out everyone was, and remember getting home from school and sitting in front of the TV for hours as the footage played over and over again. I guess that’s why it stuck in my mind so much. I don’t know anyone who died that day or to my knowledge anyone directly affected, but it shook me watching bodies falling on the feeds. I had nightmares for years after that, and my more hallucinatory ones did call back to those images.

It makes me think about devastating events, and how as a writer you have to treat the people of your stories as human beings, even if just for empathy’s sake in the case of various other species a fantasy story might contain. Devastation on that level demands to be the focus of a story, and has to be treated in the right way as to not be flippant or dismissive of real world traumatic experiences. That’s as true for a single person tragedy as a multi thousand one. I think it’s telling that – while yes I grew up in an insular western-world – I could live in the UK my whole life and be shaken by that kind of event on another continent. It’s also telling that other tragedies that take place in the world haven’t left the same lasting impact.

I honestly don’t know if that empathy issue is one locked into my own brain, is societal, or there’s some more grounded explanation in the study of human behavior to explain why there’s a gap in perception. The Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 stuck with me in the same way, so that might be a sign media exposure and scale of tragedy lies behind it. It’s hard to pin down why events effect us, but I feel I have to get a better grasp on that if I’m to convey meaningful and compassionate stories, particularly when dealing with mass grieving.

Just something that’s been on my mind a lot today.