When I get to 5pm my brain stops being so helpful. Back in the days before the apocalypse in my first bullet journal, I designed what you might call my optimal day structure, entitled funnily enough, ‘Day Structure’. I’ll likely grab a picture some time if I haven’t already, but in essence, this was how my day broke up between work and leisure, and how to get boundaries between the two so I didn’t bring work or that mindset into my home, preserving the barrier I’d spent years cultivating. Are you sensing how BITTER AND FURIOUS I AM ABOUT THIS STILL TO THIS DAY? No? I must be being too subtle.
The point of me mentioning that old structure, is that I noted 9am until 12pm was the best time for big, thought intensive tasks, including if possible with what I had on that day taking my break to do 1K. 12pm until 3pm was akin to round two, still good for this, but I needed to refuel to be at my best. 3pm until 6pm was best for wrapping up smaller tasks, replying to emails, you get the idea. 6pm until 9pm was best suited to leisure and relaxing, and after that, the sooner I got to bed, the easier it was to preserve the model. Ideal, to a tee, until the boundary between home and work evaporated, tasks came up on Saturdays and were chased at 9am on Monday, and well, all of that with the background of the world falling apart. Needless to say, I did not see my ideal model last long, mostly because when your office/dinner table/leisure space/bed is, well all your bed because there isn’t much room, you crack.
We’re now several months and houses on from that – I wish the latter was a joke – and I am, better I guess, but still a mess. And if I don’t get target done by 5pm, my brain melts, because spoiler, that’s the one bit of the structure it held onto. So yeah, today was busy, target is late, and I am stressed. I miss order…
Tomorrow shall be a momentous day, the kind that I will speak of for aeons to come, and holds a significance that transcends the human experience into the infinite. Tomorrow, my internet connection is turned on. Ok, I know what you’re thinking: nothing, because you are an imaginary reader and therefore do not have the capacity to think until I place thoughts within your head, mwahahaha. I mean, what you are thinking is A) that does not sound all that momentous at all and appears more like hyperbole; 2) how the heck are you writing this without internet? Well my dear imaginary reader, you are quite right, and I am being a doofus, but in all seriousness I am on the cusp of running out of mobile data so writing this today at all was a bit hit or miss.
I decided to risk using some of this limited data today to start researching a new topic: desks. I have at the moment got an old IKEA standard single-desk sans drawer – I threw it out because storage wasn’t worth scarred kneecaps. It’s passable as a writing desk, you don’t need fancy – foreshadowing – just a large enough space and a piece sturdy enough not to wobble. Except, two problems: this one does wobble, and now I’m working from home, well I’m typing this at that desk right now. My laptop and an external screen are on the desk, and as you can imagine that halves the size. However, a curve ball: I don’t need writing space on my writing desk. I am typing everything that isn’t my diary or journal.
That said, the desk is, cramped to put it lightly, so I’ve been researching options. The good news is I know exactly what desk I want. The bad news is it costs $9,000 and I will never own it.
Coming back down to Earth – not that the Oval Office is in space, though it was moved to the Oval by William Howard Taft and of course he did do everything – I have a few options. I think short term I’m gonna go for the “can I make this desk I have work” route, but failing that, I’ve found a 110 wide, 60 deep desk with shelves that could hold my PC, and I might put a shelf or a wall mounting up for the monitor. I just got the funds back from selling my old oven and I have a few more to trickle through from some other furniture, but if I can I’d like to put all that cash to one side, as savings, maybe for a new PC. Still on the fence if I even need one.
So on TWO I’ve started a new first draft notation system:
The logic if it’s not clear, is this is my initial take on the ‘quality’ of the chapter. Rather than going back and doing a full read through when I come back to edit this, it will allow me to start on the stuff I know doesn’t work and move back. ‘S’ is strong, ‘M’ is middling, ‘M/w’ is middling going on weak and of course, ‘W’ is weak. You might notice, despite me saying of late ‘my writing seems to be coming out better in the first draft‘ that I only have one ‘S’, and the last two chapters were arguably the two weakest, despite me writing them as I was making such claims. Well, quality of prose wise, I think they’re clean. Story wise, well let’s just say if I were to cut both down from their 5,000+ words to a single 2K chapter I wouldn’t be sad to see them go.
Even so, I do feel I’m starting to get the feel of this book a little more, and it’s because I do that I can see these don’t add a lot. They have important plot details, but I believe no plot is ever ‘important’ enough to justify a shoddy chapter. Funny story, I made a typo adding the quotes to that, and accidentally wrote ‘limportant’, which I hereby coin as meaning ‘something that while a necessary part of the whole, reduces its quality in its current form’. And yes I Googled it and yes, ‘l’important’ is french but I’m calling this different enough to count. Also no one reads this so who cares? When I do the rewrite, I will separate the important from the limportant, and cut accordingly. For now though, time to march ahead.
Today I finished my fifth diary since I started doing a page a day 869 days ago. That journal started on September 27th of last year, 2Y1K, so it was a bit of a bittersweet day already given the proceeding year. That journal saw me get injured and unable to go on walks – to the point I’ve lost the habit even though I can walk again now – move house, experience two lockdowns, and, and saw my grandad end up in hospital. Funnily enough, that’s what I was holding off mentioning at risk of jinxing myself and, well yeah. It’s been, a rough few months for sure. Four and a half of what’s been a heck of a nonstop rollercoaster since pretty much 1Y1K, given I had to deal with the General Election and recovery from that leading into 2020.
Not too much to say reflecting on all that, except that I hope it’s over soon, and that I know it won’t be ‘over’ for years yet, even if there’s some hope normal-ish life might return before 2022. I’m not assuming anything right now, I don’t have the energy to. To be blunt I don’t have energy. But hey, TWO is now at 27K, I’m relatively healthy, I’m mostly on top of work and I’m only slightly relying on adverbs to put a positive spin on all this. Just a bit. But at least tomorrow’s a new day. Sure it’s still lockdown, the world’s still on fire, I’m still a mess and all the rest of life’s windowdressing is still there, but life is what you make of it, and I want to at least try to stay positive.
Today did not go well. Ok, so by the standards of the last week today was Christmas-freaking-Day but it was a rough Monday. Had some connection issues that kept me out of my emails for a chunk of the day – not fun when you’re clearing up a bunch of out of office backlog – and in general, felt awful. I went to bed plenty early, but as expected, I couldn’t sleep. That was bad, but then I had a package for a non refundable item arrive today – because it was a kit – and of course in my stress I messed it up. £30 down the drain, or more, £12 when I can be bothered to order replacement components. Oh and I also screwed up food shopping after work too, stress again, and bought a bunch of useless stuff. Like, within budget but I might have to do an actual shop at some point soon.
So at least TWO went ok. Right? You have, written already righ-of course I haven’t. Yay, another late night. Not too late, but I hate getting to bed after midnight on work nights. It’s nothing a few coffees can’t fix at 8am but that’s not healthy. Or sustainable for that matter, coffee is expensive. Honestly the biggest positive today was I finally got around to signing into this blog from my workstation, hence, an actual blog post rather than the stub-tripe I roll out when I post from mobile. I mean yeah it’s still tripe but it’s long tripe now. Long tripe sounds like the kind of thing you see on a menu before deciding to try somewhere else for dinner.
Oh right writing! So TWO is about to hit 25K as I said yesterday, and it’s not in the worst shape a first draft has ever been in. Granted that title is shared by TWR for being all over the place, and WAN for being good but morally reprehensible. but yeah even without those in the picture TWO feels good. It felt good when I handwrote it too, which I’m glad about as you might notice TWR and WAN were my last two projects before this one. I have been a little bit worried that my speed of output has increased at the cost of early quality. Early quality isn’t worth a lot, seeing as I’ll be ripping through all these books many times to get them seaworthy, but it’s still nice to not have that nagging feeling I’m getting worse at writing instead of better.
Oh on that note, we are now 36 days away from a pseudo-milestone of sorts. On March 27th, assuming a conservative 1,100 word average across the project and despite it only being day 909, 1K should definitively cross the 1,000,000 word mark. See, it’s not all bad. Course I have to not drown before the 27th but it is kinda neat to hit that on the 30-month mark. Gotta stay positive.
Not the most romantic of Valentine’s days for sure – being cooped indoors will do that – but far from the worst, and as a day far from that either as I banked all of target with time to spare, meaning an ‘early’ night. I’ll take ‘lights out by 23:00’ as early any day, it makes a world of difference, especially on a Sunday night. Of course I’d be happier if the flat were tidy and inviting for the working week but we can’t have everything now can we.
TWO is a few paragraphs short of 25K, which means by my usual novel lengths this should be the B Story coming in to the second act. I think that’s kind of where it’s landed but I do need to play around with making my B Story more overt, as it’s still a little hard to pin down. My guess is I won’t nail that chestnut down until the rewrite but that’s ok, I got time. Plenty of it in fact, by this pace even a modest turnover would see the book typed by my birthday, and that’s assuming I narrowly hold my 1,100 average.
I only wish life were so easy to plan ahead and set milestones for. The situation at home is less tenuous now than it was but not by much, and though I’ll get an early night, there’s no guarantee I’ll sleep. But like planning a novel, all you can do is put the legwork in and hope it all sticks – or most of it – when showtime arrives. Well, that’s sort of tomorrow, so here goes nothing.
What a day of, basically nothing. I should have done more but I spent most of it being burned out and sleepy. That’s ok I guess, I mean, I did get a lot of work done, just not on TWO especially and not until late. Still, some good news, the personal crisis I’ve been in for the last few days appears resolved. I’m sure I’ll talk about it at some point, but for now I think I want to let the dust settle.
Still out of sync, still working slower than I’d like, still not got the flat sorted, still got to fix my sleep, diet, and exercise. But mood is, ok. Not great but stable. Also Stardew 1.5 is on Switch so that is pretty fantastic. Still need to pick up a physical copy of it. But given I just dropped £58 on To The Moon I should probably wait. Oh also, TO THE MOOOOOON.
Look how cute this is! Platty plushie and all! I’ll need to try and make an origami bunny to accompany it, and man I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I really hope Finding Paradise gets this treatment too, and if I’m being greedy A Bird Story and the Minisodes, but yeah I’m overjoyed to get this and be able to hold onto all the feels this game gave me. I dream one day of writing a story that even comes close to this.
So I can’t really talk about what’s been going on just yet, in no small part because I’m superstitious as all heck and I don’t like to inadvertently curse myself without meaning to. I know it’s dumb and that’s not how the world works but man right now, I’m happy looking like a nut case and not taking chances, not when loved ones’ wellbeing is at stake. So yeah, in a nutshell, I’ve still been a bit too tense to right the ship today.
The good news is taking two extra days off seems to have helped, and I may still be able to balance even that out; I may only have one day of unassigned leave left, but I booked the whole week of my birthday, and I’m open to revoking a few of those days to spread them out. I’ll work that out as and when I need to but for now, I’m focusing on recovery. Oh and on TWO, which is now well past the 20K mark on the type up. It’s a bit slow by my preferred pace but ‘9K in 8’ is still reasonable pace.
I decided rather than waiting for Stardew 1.5 on the Switch that I needed the distraction now, and though I haven’t seen many of the changes yet I’m yet again reminded why this is one of my favourite games of all time. In terms of simulation games I think it might just be #1, though it’s only real competition there is Civilization V/VI and Cities Skylines; bless Graveyard Keeper but it’s a bit too linear. So imma keep focusing on that for now and let the storm pass. Maybe the snow too.
Yesterday went very wrong after I blogged. Like, very wrong. Wrong enough that today became a late-target write off and I had to use up most of the rest of my holiday to get my head on straight. You’ll understand I hope that given it’s a sensative subject I’m not all that keen that go into detail just yet. I’ll be ok. It’s not me I’m worried about though…
Well this is novel, it’s been, a very long time since I got my thousand words in the morning. I guess if I had any doubts that I needed to book some time off and get back in control of my routine, this is the answer to those. Moreover what I wrote feels much better than what I’ve pushed out on some of the later targets from this project so far. And I can’t tell you how nice it is to feel I’ve done all my ‘have to do’s before 10:00am. I’m going to post this at 10:10am per earliest-post tradition but right now it’s 9:47am.
So what changed, apart from the time off of course? Well to be blunt, putting my foot down about saying goodnight to people earlier. I think I’ve been making myself a little too flexible in when I’m willing to stay up until, and while I don’t regret that, I also don’t feel I can do that going forwards when this is what I’m giving up. I’ve always said my sleep routine is second only to 1K itself as my bedrock, and since August it’s been a mess. But I mean, what do you expect, The Wanderer messed me up that much. Yeah don’t read that book.
The flat is coming along nicely now, even if it still needs a lot more work. My dedicated WFH space feels a lot nicer than my old office, not least because the view is better, and I have easier access to coffee. On that note I’ve more or less entirely switched from instant to bio-degradable coffee pods, though I’d like to do more with my actual machine. Maybe that will become my ‘indulgance’ option, or I might just cycle between coffee types. Probably the latter, long time imaginary readers will know how fickle I am.
Also as much of a pain as I know it’s been to a few of my loved ones, damn if that snow isn’t pretty.