January 31st, 2022 – 1,223

I started writing a ‘Travel Guide’. It’s not really a travel guide, I just couldn’t think of a better name for a journal of in depth descriptions of the locations in the stories. So far, it just has an overview of Horizon 1, but I’m going to start doing more granular profiles of the districts within, and then the major places within that. I’ll probably need to come up with some sort of coding system for depth, so Horizon 1 as top level, D1 district as second level, KT’s home in D1 as third level. I can’t imagine many places will have more than three levels of depth, but most should have three. Even ‘Hastings > Ore > Ore Railway Station’ is three. Granted Ore Railway Station isn’t actually in Ore, but it’s close enough. People who live near it just like to make that fact clear.

It feels like too early days to say if it’s helped in writing HOF today, but it did work as a nice warm up. I’m hoping it’ll serve as more than a simple warm-up activity in the long term as it does need to be more than that, but it did have one decent unintended consequence: when you add up all my edits, and the roughly 640 words of the guide so far, my average word count for the month hits 1,100 words. It’s barely, but it’s an important statement of intent I guess. I stand by what I said before, that’s a nice to have, not a requirement, but it’s a nice to have nice to have. And target before 5pm so I get more of my evening, even if I have about 2 hours of commitments after work, well that also is quite nice to have.

January 30th, 2022 – 1,222

This month has not been one of my most productive. In fact it’s been dire. My average daily wordcount has been 1,075 words, 25 below my 1,100 norm of 2020 and I believe all of 2021, or at least most. There are several reasons for this, not limited to the emotional upheaval that hit over Christmas when I was already at negative-batteries, and then the onset of Project4. The latter is a drain on my emotional wellbeing even when I am not acting upon it directly, and I imagine will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. That’s the bad news. The good news, is none of that matters. I like to aim for 1.1K, but target is 1K. Averages and statistics have their uses, and I am a data driven person, but when it gets down to it, I am still on my feet and fighting, even if it does not always feel that way.

I’ve said a lot over this month too, that what I’ve written for the day or over the last few has been of poor quality. This also does not matter. 1K is not about always meeting a quality threshold. 1K is about keeping the habit, so that my natural ebb and flow allows for my above average times, as well as seeing me through the demoralizing lows. With that in mind, I feel I have been in one of those lows since at least midway through TBS, and I felt it during some of MAL, though that was my best book of 2021. If I were ranking them I’d say:

  1. TWO*
  2. MAL
  3. TBS
  4. HOR

The * is that TWO was really a 2020 book, that I just rewrote in 2021, but in terms of OG manuscripts, MAL comes out on top. And you know I like most of TBS. I think you might be able to see what I am trying to say without out and out saying it, but I guess I should rip the band aid off:

I’m not enjoying writing the Horizon books.

I’ve kind of hinted at it or even said ‘right now’ versions of that a few times in recent posts, but this is as much me admitting to myself that a part of this or more has not jelled with my brain. So rather than waiting to post-mortem this, I want to do a long post mid-mortem’ing it, and maybe figure out from that what needs to happen. That will follow on below, but I’m gonna post this blog entry at the end of this paragraph as it’s almost midnight, so stay tuned.

OK so I’m going to try and keep this spoiler free, if only because one day this old relic might be found by someone and they may not have read the books, but might want to. Also, I might make drastic changes for all I know, so I don’t wanna hype up an aspect I take a hatchet to later. With that in mind, this isn’t an essay, so I don’t know all that I’m gonna write about and therefore can’t list points here, so let’s just dive in.

Writing stories not set in East Sussex doesn’t seem to work for me. This one is a little controversial a point for, myself, because my inner voice is throwing her hands in the air and jabbing an angry finger at WHT. Yes, ok, I enjoyed writing that one a lot. Or, well is that true? I had to restart that one, a month in in fact which should still be documented on the end of April 2019’s posts here. That was because it went off a bit into the weeds though rather than the setting. A counter point I suppose is I find the presidency and therefore the White House fascinating enough that it pulled weight in my mind and got me past it. Also of note, my stories do not feel grounded enough in East Sussex yet. There’s not enough fairy dust that even TUS needs to be happening in Ore, or even TSS at Sussex. That’s on the page though; in my mind, they are, I just need to translate that part better.

That touches on what I think the actual problem is: Horizon 1, where the stories all take place at least in part, is not a location I have grounded in my mind. So an exercise from here for me might be to figure out that a bit more, draw a map, get more perspective and understanding of the world and how it works. I intended to do this after writing the book so it wouldn’t turn into procrastination, but it could be that it just needs to come further up front. Writing lore exposition won’t get direct use, as I avoid those passages. Even so, I am still hoping to make a wiki, and this would help that. So location bios might be a task I count as ‘editing’ and start doing instead of pointless ‘minor tweaks’ I keep making to TUS at the moment.

Another problem I’m having is the cast. The characters themselves, not so much, but the way they fit into and interact with the world – ok that’s an epiphany, my problems with the cast are the same problem as above, I need to flesh out the world more. Ok, ok that gives me a good roadmap. I need to get a detailed lore dump and even history of Horizon 1. Cool.

Plot is a big one. Now, I tend to these days write plot just as I go, and then tighten it up in the rewrite. I just chuck a bunch of exciting events in there, and then I can cut like a third of them, meld them into others if needs be, and figure out the ‘why’ to string it all together when I’m not under pressure to figure out what happens next anymore. I guess the hold up I’m having is, I don’t do those kind of edits at the moment for my past books, so I’m filled with some level of dread I’m leaving a job on the table that I will never get back around to. Ok that’s feeling as I write it like a significant hold up.

I think I see the issue. Horizon’s three books are a far grander story than most of my other novels. VOL and TWO rival it as single volumes, but like, VOL was a huge struggle to write for that exact reason, and it’s why I don’t share it with people – even the ones I have I’ve rescinded since. VOL is a better book than most of them but it needs far more work because of the scale of the story. And I think the scale of the story, and of the worldbuilding I still need to do, is what’s holding back Horizon right now. I need to do some serious worldbuilding. I’ll keep chipping away at it, but in my headspace where I get it this week – I’m off on Wednesday – I need to figure this out.

Ok good talk.

January 29th, 2022 – 1,221

Well I slept through most of today, so that’s not a fantastic start to things. I did manage to play some Divinity Original Sin II and Subnautica VR so I have made the most of the day, but I am gonna be out of my routine across tomorrow too, which is a bit more of a mess than I would like. I have also stopped my daily workout routine for the last few days to recover from that spike in pain, but at some point I do need to fix that. Somehow…

Oh and writing, stuff, things. God I’m a mess…

January 28th, 2022 – 1,220

I managed to write 3,300 words today, which is super cool until I point out that was writing minutes for a 3 hour meeting in real time. As far as I’m concerned, as it’s not ‘work’, it sure as heck counts, but I still need to write 1K of HOF just because I like to keep my main story run going. Naturally a 3 hour meeting on top of an 8 hour work day means I’d be tired enough, but on almost no sleep, it is, unpleasant. I am going to sleep in hard tomorrow. Bit of a running trend at the moment on Saturdays…

January 28th, 2022 – 1,219

Things are ticking along, I’m in pain but, less pain. I’m counting that as a win and an excuse not to go to the hospital, which to be clear I would if it actually seemed serious. I’m convinced it’s Project4 stress. Well the cure for that will be a restful weekend, so if I can just get through my commitments tomorrow – admittedly running until 8pm – then I can rest and relax.

And by relax, I mean my xirlfriend just bought me Subnautica to watch me freak out in VR. Because that’s relaxing, you know, for one of us.

January 26th, 2022 – 1,218

Abdominal pain sucks. Like, royally sucks. I feel like I’m barely holding together, but at least I can confirm, not you-know-what. Actually I’m pretty certain I know exactly what caused this, and as much as my gut is set on Project4, it sure seems like it wants to knife me for it. That isn’t hyperbole, I feel like there’s a knife being twisted in my abdomen and it is remarkably hard to stay composed.

Also I think at this point I’m resigned to the Horizon trilogy not coming out great in the first drafts. But that’s ok, I can fix that in edits or rewrite them or whatever they need. Point is, I don’t feel keen beating myself up for that when I’m feeling plenty beaten as it is.

January 25th, 2022 – 1,217

I feel I lean far too much into goofball humour in even my serious books. Ok, I know I said a few days ago it’s nice to let my hair down with this, and that just yesterday – I think? – I said I was having fun now, but I do think it compromises some of the tone I need to be setting to write a book like this. I’m not saying it has to be all doom and gloom – lord knows I can swing too far that way too – but I need a sort of swingometer between goofy and morbidly depressing. Really some nuance at all would go a long way. i’Ll gEt iT iN tHe eDiT…

Also, I am in horrible pain. Just thought I’d chip that in. Imma go lie down now…

January 24th, 2022 – 1,216

There are not enough hours in the day are there? I guess in that sense I should be grateful that I have to be up an hour earlier tomorrow for a blood test. I mean I’m not but I should be, for a multitude of reasons. I live in a country with free at point of service healthcare and a national safety net, and with the peak of western medical knowledge to aide me. I should be grateful. I’m salty I have to be up an hour earlier. If that isn’t damning for my character I don’t know what is.

HOF is, mixed still, it has its good days and bad, but to be honest I’m starting to have fun with it at last. Gotta count for something right?

January 23rd, 2022 – 1,215

Weird day today. I ended up drawing a line under a few commitments that were kinda left dangling from last year, some of which I finally got done, others I had to let people down and deal with their disappointment in me. Grim, but then it’s better to draw that line and move on, even if it stings a bit. I did some drawing practice which was a lot of fun, and I do seem to be getting ever so gradually better at this the more I work at it. Got a long way to go before I can turn it into a side hustle but I’m cautiously optimistic I can if I get good enough. Not like a huge earner or anything but I think by the end of the year, covering the buy in cost isn’t totally impossible, if I practice every day.

In other news, HOF is taking tentative steps into the B Story, which is going to be a bit of an ensemble ‘making new friends’ track, one I’m hoping will evolve into a nice memorable backbone for the book. I’ve gotta be honest, I still think most of the books I’ve written first drafts for over the last year and a bit have been, sub-optimal, but after the year I had in 2021 I will settle for drafts in any state emerging from that mess. Heck in the clean up of those loose ends today, it started to dawn on me how many bad commitments I took on at the absolute worst time in my life to do so. I need to avoid those this year.

Most important though, and relating to all of the above, I exercised my resolution for the year. Yeah others are gonna be disappointed in me, and I have to make up for that, but I choose to forgive myself for falling out of bounds for the last few months. It’s not a surprise that I did, and I will bounce back from it. It’s ok to mess up. I’ll do better.

January 22nd, 2022 – 1,214

Got a little distracted by drawing today. Oops. Well it was still a chill day, and I kinda needed that after a quite intense week. All is well, but if it’s all the same to you my dear imaginary readers imma turn in for the night. As by way of an update, I think, tough wood, I’ve now finished HOF’s first act, and it’s, well it’s a first draft of a first act, so, not the best right now but give it time.