circles

So four years is a long time.

Things that have changed in my life: My work situation. My location (same region, different dwelling). My hair (cut it very short two years ago, grew it out, now six months into locs).

Things that have not changed: my unpublished status. My self-sabotaging inclinations. I mean, I should be asleep right now, actually, but let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on what I’m trying to do.

Things I will (try) not (to) worry about here: who may be reading or not reading. What my writing reads here like. The future. Other nebulous, unspecific fears that I’m sure will reveal themselves in due time.

Goals: Be present. Reconnect. With self, with world. With work toward betterment.

I (rather unexpectedly) went on extended hiatus for a few different correlated reasons. Inexplicable fatigue. Pressure to sound more refined than I perceived myself. Pressure to make this place work as a viable online presence. My life was reclusive and uneventful and I felt I had little to offer. My motivation petered out, dragging my writing progress down with it. I felt I’d run out of things to say, at least at the time. Whenever I felt like hopping back into the groove, I talked myself out of it. I’m still not 100% convinced of myself, but at this point I’m working through those doubts, and I guess that makes all the difference.

I’m realizing that none of those concerns matter. Just do, I’m realizing. Just do.

I’ve sat on this post for a couple of days, wondering how to make it more somehow, how to polish it in ways I couldn’t explain, how to make it work. I have to post it now, because I just remembered that, again, none of that matters.

Here goes.

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Feeling like marmalade on toast.

I’m spread soooo thin. I need to… I don’t know. Stop freaking out about the workload.

I have to have mentioned this somewhere in a previous post, but man, I have a lot of projects running at once. Here’s a glimpse of what we’re dealing with here:

  1. Doing research for a doc.
  2. Multiple (!) novels, the most highly prioritized ones being the following three: a) SJL, my oldest and most complete one, despite being far from finished; b) 485 Days (that’s the shortened title actually), with the unintentional author-insert protagonist I mentioned a couple days ago; c) Funny Little Man, about a twenty-something guy working to get his life together (oh look everyone, I think I’ve got a theme going).
  3. A probably-never-going-to-happen webseries that I’m wholly and inexorably smitten with. I can’t stop thinking about it even when I know I should work on other stuff. (UGH, I love these characters to death.) This is what’s eating most of my work time.
  4. One screenplay, and a couple of screenplay-esque something or others.
  5. A handful of short stories (some finished, most in progress) that I’d eventually like to put together in a collection.
  6. A partridge in a pear tree (I know you saw that joke coming, but it would have been disappointing if I hadn’t made it, right? Right?).

It’s ridiculous, I know. Ridiculous and unsustainable. “Do it all at once” is not a good way to approach anything. Ever. In life. At all. Ever.

And amazingly, that list is actually still excluding a lot of material that I intend to get back to eventually.

I spend a lot of writing time just clicking through my folders, thinking, “Well, they all look good. In a list.” But they’re all unfinished, and it drives me nuts. I can’t concentrate on one project at a time because I’m thinking about all the other unfinished stuff I’ve got in the queue. I click and fiddle around doing a little here, a little there, but not a whole lot anywhere.

Several months ago I sat down and made a weekly chart. I worked out days and times to work on every single piece. I tacked it to the wall beside my computer. Then I ignored it completely.

Does anyone have any good advice for learning to take things one step at a time and to focus?

And for not screwing up bullets/numbers/indents in the post editor, because seriously guys, why did formatting that list take me at least twenty minutes to get right?  It’s still not quite how I wanted either.

Next post, surely: anyone have good advice on how to stop complaining? here, have more complaints

Venn diagram snippet, AKA just a circle.

I never do this. It’s a tiny, jumbled sliver of material I’m working on though, so it doesn’t make me twitchy.

I went to bed late last night, as is the trend. Words in her voice popped into my head before I turned off the light.

I wrote this for her:

What is this? I mean, really. What? What is this? How did I get here, and how do I get back to where I started? Someone hand me a walkthrough. Seriously. 

Can I have these last eight years back? Let me— let me just start over from there. I don’t know what I’d do differently. Maybe I’d just get more sleep. Scratch that, actually. I spent too much of those years unconscious anyway.

and realized– or fully admitted, perhaps– that my Everyday and my protagonist’s Purgatory had become one and the same.

Usually I try to make a distinction between Me and Me-Shaped Characters. This time? Nooope.

I don’t know how I feel about that.

In other news: I learned that music sounds better when you’re getting things done.  My theory, anyway. I mean, yesterday was almost fun.

Peace and quiet, or lack thereof.

I don’t live alone, and so I have little time and space to myself.

When I listen to music, I use headphones. The others, not so much. On weekends, there’s often music going, out loud, from as early as 8 am to well into the afternoon.

I have a desktop computer located in a shared room. I used to have a laptop, but it exploded. Long story. Anyway, you can imagine the complications this results in. I think this is part of the reason I became so much of a night owl over the last seven or so years of my life. It’s the only time when I’m, in one way or another, alone. It’s dark and peaceful. The rest of the world seems to stop for a few hours. I don’t have anyone or thing to answer to.

I have a plan. A fantasy, really. Someday, when I’ve got the free time, I’m going to check into a hotel for several days, someplace far out of the city. Someplace scenic. I’ll check in. Hide the clocks. Take the tv remote down to the front desk and tell them to keep it from me. Then, I’ll lock myself in the room and write for as long as I can. I’ll stop to eat. I’ll stop to take walks. I’ll stop to sleep at night, or take a brief siesta in the afternoon. That’s about it.

I know I’m not the only writer to do that. I’m just wondering if it really works. Maybe it’s something I really need to look into. At the moment I feel like my concentration’s been shattered, like I’ve got all the focus of an anxious squirrel.

I’m curious as to how the need of and search for quiet time and private space affects other writers. Just how prevalent is this feeling? Is it possible that I’d be a lot further along if I could just get some time away?

I’ll continue to tell myself that…

Real life changes the plot? Also, Nanowrimo!

Very serious question I’ve been pondering: What do you do when a real-life personal tragedy mirrors the fictional tragedy occurring in the work you are composing?

For example: a character passes away in a very specific kind of car accident. Then, a close friend’s family member passes away in an eerily similar, if not identical car accident.

You can’t just change things, not now. Can you? Are you obligated to, out of politeness?  This sort of incident brings up tons of questions I have regarding showing sensitivity while depicting tragedy, especially if there’s a possibility that it could hit closer to home for than you ever anticipated. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no answers.

Also: today is the first day of November, which means a number of writers are embarking on the difficult task of finishing an entire novel by the end of the month. I’ve never participated in Nanowrimo officially, although as the tags indicate I’ve used it as an opportunity to try completing one of my novels. Go ahead and check those out if you’re interested in reading the chronicles of a writer slowly unraveling, you know, if you need inspiration in a vaguely schadenfreudey kind of way. This year will be much more relaxed. Since I’ve been writing everyday anyway, I’ll try to stay current and update on progress when necessary. Good luck to everyone participating!

Staying focused. Or not really.

Last week was uncharacteristically strange, and as such led to a slowdown. Either way, I would have still tripped over my own gleefully flailing limbs and never quite picked up where I left off, as feared in a post from the week before last. Although the desire is still present, I feel back at square one regarding energy. How do you maintain momentum when executing personal projects?

One of the things that actually has turned out to be a hindrance is the effort required to write here every day. I spend huge amounts of time thinking about what I have to say, as for a long time I felt I simply had nothing to say– nothing that worked here, anyway. I don’t think that’s true anymore, and learning how to get back into the rhythm of writing daily– and accepting that writing for whatever it turns out to be– is healthy. Still, I struggle with splitting time between posts and other writing projects, which are the higher priority for me.

I don’t see this as the absolute end of my sudden burst of energy, but more as a reminder that it will require discipline and effort to stay on target. I won’t always feel like doing it. I knew this already, but it’s always easy to tell yourself that you’ll never slack again when you’re itching to write and still coming up with ideas at 4 am.

Daggers, or puppies.

I often find myself sitting uselessly in front of my computer with one or several of my manuscripts open and waiting.

I’m often excited, at the potential of the work. Excited about where the story will be going. I’m also anxious. I’m worried I’m not getting enough done. Worried I’m not doing the story justice, and that I could never do it justice. There’s a huge spectrum of feelings I travel along when I sit down in front of my work in the morning.

I’m noticing a shift in my default reaction, though. Before, I would look at them and in a way those words would look back, and I’d feel vaguely taunted. “Wow, have you got issues. You may never get this done, at your rate.”

Now, we are both older, and the taunting has given way to something else. Something more sympathetic, or pitying maybe, and fatigued. The story longs for completion as much as I long to complete it. Instead I hear, “Look, we’ve been at this dance long enough. We’ve seen every corner of this ballroom. My shoes pinch and my feet are tired. It’s four in the morning. Can we just be done with this already?”

Yes. I’d like that too.

If only I could stop staring at you. Just. Staring… at you.

Really, I don’t know how to stop it. Sitting down and getting started for the day continues to be the hardest part. Might be the pressure. I’ve always been one to duck my way out of high-pressure situations, opting to throw on my headphones and pretend the high stakes don’t exist.

I’ve been working on my longest and oldest in-progress piece for almost eight years. It’s gone through rewrites, four restarts, a couple of major plot changes, three different names for my protagonist (third time’s absolutely the charm), one Nanowrimo attempt, and a loss of over 100 pages worth of progress.

So how long? I mean, really?