October 21st, 2020 – 756

Good news! The swelling continues to go down, so the odds of this being a fracture are close to zero. That is an IMMENSE relief, as you can imagine given I live on the 5th floor of my building. I just needed to catch a break and not having a break will do for now.

I’ve gotten to 66k in TWR now, so we inch ever closer to what could be called the ‘novel threshold’. 70k is about the minimum new sci-fi should aspire to and about 10k short of what general fiction starts at. The story is zipping along nicely and I even think I’ve managed to eek out a decent break-into-third-act model. This book is not my cleanest first draft but it’s ended up coming out a lot better than expected.

See that’s the funny thing. This is the book I had the least concept in mind going into. I knew it would flip between a short present-timeframe and a longer past one, but aside from that and it’s key cast, I didn’t really have much going in. I did once write an abridged version of it, but that was back at the start of 1K and well, this is day 756 I’m a bit further along now and stuff’s changed. For all that, I’m happy with how it’s shaping up.

Another later night isn’t great, and it is making me a little more stressed and reducing my sleep, but honestly given what happened on Monday I’m amazed I’m holding together as well as I am. I keep getting these images in my head of my ankle snapping that make me flinch something bad, but truth is aside from being back on my walking stick and WFH, not much has changed. Business as usual.

October 20th, 2020 – 755

Well, my foot looks horrible. It’s a swollen mess, and there’s every chance I’m going to have to sit in A&E tomorrow waiting to get an x-ray. That is not an inviting prospect, even if hospitals are working to be as safe as possible. If nothing else, I still have a beard, and masks are so uncomfortable with facial hair, as well as less safe. I’ll try and shave if I can stand at the sink. My foot is turning blue, which sounds a lot worse than it actually is. It’s a horrible bruise on the side, one I can’t help but flinch when I think about.

This week is getting off to an even worse start than last week, and as such my writing is slipping again. It doesn’t help being in pyjamas all day – too painful to change unless I have to – which always saps my motivation If you want to be motivated, get dressed every day, even the lazy do-nothing days should you do those. On a plus side, I found my letter paper after months of searching, so I’ll at least be writing more letters again even if I won’t be blowing off any barn doors with my wordcounts in-project.

Saying that, with 1K from today, I have a 1,100 average for October. I also had a bit of an amusing realisation how bad at maths I am; turns out I never dropped below a 1,100 word average. September worked out as that by the skin of its teeth, and October is looking to be about the same. Not explosive mind, but the win is still a win, and I needed that epiphany with where my head’s been at. Letting my stress levels get so high that I ended up nearly breaking – at least hopefully it’s ‘nearly’ – my ankle isn’t great, but at least it shows I’m functioning.

Let’s finish on a lighter if torturous note. There’s a special edition of the Monkey Island series coming out at the end of the month and boy if the temptation monster ain’t roaring its head off. At £125 before postage though I imagine this will stay a sad little dream, though I am honestly tempted to try selling stuff. All well and good except nobody be buying stuff I have to sell. I don’t need need it, but boy, do I want it. Look at this beauty:

October 19th, 2020 – 754

Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

I goofed. I’ve sprained my ankle pretty darn bad, enough I had to call mum to come help. Given how I’ll often shrug off injury and say ‘eh it’ll be fine’, me making that call gives you an idea how bad it is. Irony is I was looking at my Oreacle journal earlier today, and in that the small piece I wrote on October 7th, 2018 – finally got round to checking the date – about how I wrote through a migraine, so can write through anything. Well, I can add nearly fractured ankle to the list of things I’ve written through, so, woo?

No rowing for a while though. That sucks, as I had a great chain going there. 68 straight days, and now no chance. I would go sit on it and rock back and forth and be happy to count that, but man, I can’t stand up right now, the slightest movement sends waves of NOPE all up my leg. I would rather break the chain than break my, well, yeah. Well, thousand words, blog, journal and edit a whole chapter whilst feeling like someone sledgehammered my foot ain’t half bad, I will focus on the positives.

But seriously come on, it would have been day 69. Fate is cruel.

October 18th, 2020 – 753

This was a great start to the new week, given I treat Sunday as my kick off day rather than Saturday. I managed to write 1,500 words of TWR, which is the highest daily total in 22 days, and the highest for one single project in 29. Before those two, you have to go back to my sprint to the finish on The Wanderer – August 23rd, 6,250 words – for a day that breaks past 1,400. That seems like a big leap up, but remember, I sprint to the finish, so huge days like that are pretty common. The point is, I’m also hitting 1.5K at a time my head is starting to go back on straight, and I have a solid editing habit embedded.

I think the most important thing I can do for myself for the remainder of this project – still with a soft deadline of November 15th – is maintain. I’m still not firing on all cylinders, and now is not the time to push; that time is coming soon however. If I can keep a level head, turn out maybe a couple more 1,500 days between now and say the 11th of November, and then sprint to the finish, I will be in a great position going into writing The Way Out. And on that note, in the spirit of not pushing right now, I plan on doing the hand written version before I start typing, not in tandem. I am in no rush, and will still have a long time to edit TWO before it goes live.

All in all, I’m feeling quite positive at this moment in time. Monday will be busy at work because I kept having to flip between tasks, so my big ones are still incomplete and there’s a deluge of smaller ones to contend with, but at this point I’m kind of used to the vomitorium that is my in-tray. That itself isn’t good, but again, now’s not the time to push, I need to maintain and then make incremental change as and when it is feasible. When looked at from that perspective, I’m not doing half bad. Here’s hoping nothing major explodes in the wider world beyond my front door and work desk to mess with the plan this time. And yes, I am well aware it could any day now.

October 17th, 2020 – 752

So yeah, today was, interesting. It’s not often you wake up to a news story that fundamentally changes a key plot point in one of your novels. I won’t go into the details too much as I’ve linked the Imgur post I did on it below for context, but suffice to say, Betelgeuse is 530 light-years away, not 642.

The funny thing is, the rewrite I did, which included a tweak to future-proof the story if not the numbers against further changes, I think comes out as a significant improvement on what I’d already written. More, the burst of energy I found to get this rewrite done at such short notice not only made for an earlier target, but a 1,300 word day and a deep feeling of fulfilment once it was done. I took to my white board, listed the problems the new discovery created, and in about 5 minutes I had a solution.

Moral of the story is twofold: if you base a story on science, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for new developments in the field; buy a white board. Trust me on that last one, nothing liberates your mind like having a huge drywipe blank canvass and being able to sketch out any problem on it. And, to make it a nice trio, if not quite a moral, this reminded me just how much a jolt to your system – or star-system – can tap into willpower and enthusiasm reserves. Honestly, this was the best thing that’s happened to me in months.

October 16th, 2020 – 751

This working week was, weird. My head got into a darker and darker place as it went along, and that does not bode well right now. I’m quite sure in fact that the weekend is going to either see me sleep through most of it, or will only get more dark still. And of course, late targets mean I’m seeing more literal dark outside. I don’t have SAD but reduced exposure to daylight is not a good idea all the same.

TWR getting to 60K is a good step forwards. What I have noticed though is my latest “addition*” to 1K might be having a negative effect. I now try and edit one chapter a day of a precious project before I start target, and well, that’s having mixed results. I’m getting it done, but it’s also acting like a barrier between me and writing. Not sure what to make of that. One to think over this weekend.

October 15th, 2020 – 750

I didn’t give much thought to the 250 mark, so the 750 mark isn’t that much different in that regard. I write a lot of my stories with a version of the Hero’s Journey in mind, using various fiction-theory totems as my guide, such as The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and of course Save the Cat. In the latter, a 110 page manuscript is broken down into elements that occur on certain pages, which I’ve found a useful concept to work into novels as have many others. Granted a thousand days worth of 110 pages wouldn’t have All Is Lost on day 750 – ominously that would lie just ahead – but it’s more or less now.

Ok so that’s over dramatic. I’m still going, and I’m still writing a lot, even if I am struggling to reclaim the 1,100 a day average. My head however is not quite so rosy, is in fact in yet another spiral that this time I can’t point to upheaval, grief or self-inflicted torment to explain. I am as I have many times in my life experiencing a mental health lull, and these are at their worst like this one, times which make writing a lot harder. That’s not unique of course; they make everything harder to do. It took so much willpower to make it through the working day that I went out-of-body for the last six or so hours.

These are the hardest days to hit target, and in a fitting boogeyman’s return, TWR hitting 60,000 is starting to leave me in a bit of a limbo what I am supposed to have happen next with the story. Self esteem dropping equals a lot of second guessing, and this on top of the fact that it’s hard to keep every thread straight in my mind as I do work on it, which is in an ironic twist what my protagonist is experiencing in character. I’ll get past this, but it is a little infuriating that I couldn’t just fix this with my week and a bit off work. Or, maybe it was naïve to think that would fix anything.

So a low note for 750. When I hit 750 words for target, I tend to feel a smaller version of that ‘sprint to the finish’ second wind that I get near the end of a novel as a whole. Of course day 1,000 won’t be the end of anything, but I do hope that when I reach that milestone, I can celebrate it with a little more cheer and optimism than I feel right now. It is amusing to realise that day is less than a year away. Just one more reason to pray for a swift end to this year.

October 14th, 2020 – 749

This has been a tough week. I’m going to go to bed soon but I’m stressed out, and it’s because I’m still fatigued. That’s a bad sign given I took a whole week plus of holiday. I need to get my head on straight, and I also need to start writing earlier. I’ll sort this out but man, this year has been rough.

TWR is almost at 60K, which is pretty sweet, but it’s been a slow book to write. I hope that TWO is a little more speedy. It’s ok to take time, but I have a need to get out as many stories as I can. Though I gotta say, that’s a great problem to have.

October 13th, 2020 – 748

Ok I am getting much worse. I am working from home for the next couple of days because, to quote myself: ‘I am unpleasant to be around right now.’ I’m not relishing working from home, but I refuse to put anyone else through my sour mood, especially as there is literally no trigger. My brain has just declared ‘no you are in a bad mood, deal with it’. Who knows maybe a day will be enough for me to mull. I’ve got more than enough to keep me busy at least, lots of T Level rollout work.

I’ll do better tomorrow. As for tonight, I’m gonna wrap up my writing and just try and draw a line under today. If I have one safety net, this part of TWR is supposed to be a little less coherent. Fortunate coincidence…

October 12th, 2020 – 747

Had a bad day again. I did stick to my guns on emails I received over my annual leave and though I likely will still get to them as a courtesy gesture, I focused on actual and significant tasks instead. Those tasks however were, not great. Not hard, but long and intensive, and I drained my batteries to empty by 5pm without having written. I’ve plonked out 1,000 words of acceptable prose, but only after an evening of being curled in a ball. It’s just the readjustment to routine again, I know this, but man do I hate first days back.

The funny part is, it’s not a dislike of the job, just the in-flux routine. I find time off stressful for the exact same if inverse reason, and it’s why in an ideal world I would spend my days off in the at home office for a good portion of the day, just to maintain a sense of order. I slept in way too much for that to be viable in my week off, even if it was pretty much me catching up on a year of lost sleep. I’m sure I’ll feel a little better tomorrow, but in the meantime I just hope I can sleep again tonight. Managed my first pre-11pm drop off in quite a while yesterday, and I’d quite like to chain those if at all possible.

On a side note, I’ve been thinking about the next novel, The Way Out, which I believe I have mentioned in the past is the third in the core trilogy (TUS, TSS, TWO, and yes I recognise the quirk with the third book’s initials), and that it has had a journal waiting for me to write it in for the last 7 years. What I haven’t mentioned before, mostly because I only thought of this yesterday, is that I could in theory write the book by hand and type it at the same time, perhaps even doing 500 in paper, 500 on screen if I want to maintain 1K as my baseline. That, or I could alternate, handwrite one day, type the next. This is going to be the last book potentially I handwrite for a while, so it could be a useful excuse to experiment.

One to sleep on. Speaking of, night.