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Where the inane meets the mundane

Category: Writing (page 1 of 136)

Thoughts on writing, both general thoughts and relevant to anything I might be hacking away at, or thinking of thinking of hacking away at…

A lack of written words is not a lack of desire

Monthly updates do not a good blog make. There are probably a few exceptions to that rule of thumb, such as sites that publish all of their articles in magazine format on a monthly basis, or the more successful review blogs. But for all intents and purposes, I know that it does me no good to not be blogging.

But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to not blogging, I haven’t been writing much lately either. It’s the season of NanoWriMo (and if you are participating this year, know that you have my support all the way – it’s a grueling but rewarding experience to even attempt it), but I’ve elected not to participate this year. “Ah,” my newsletter readers will assume, “surely that means you are wrapping up the next Niki Hunter book?”

Unfortunately, no, and that’s part of the problem. I’m about 40-50k into a draft, a fair chunk of writing under my belt, but I’m lacking the motivation to move forward on it. I’ve stepped back for now, and have asked my better half to take a read through and tell me if the story is even working. The problem is that I’m so close to it, I can’t tell if it’s working as a novel, or if it’s floundering about. When you write a novel, you keep so much of the story in your head as you write it that sometimes you fail to put it all down. So while you know the complete story, the reader is left with a disjointed account. Did that happen here? I’m not sure – that’s why I need a second opinion.

So what am I doing to fill the time?

Well, there’s been a lot of Breath of the Wild. My youngest and oldest and I are playing (independently, but trading shrine and challenge info), and that’s been a lot of fun. I really love being able to play a game on a handheld or on the TV without any break in continuity. I had the gold cartridge of the original Legend of Zelda, and it’s fun to see how far the game series has come since then.

I’ve also been working my way through my stamp collection again, the US issues in particular. I’m catching cataloging mistakes I made originally, which in some instance is disappointing, and others very exciting. Plus, it really is fun to have a hobby where all of your attention is focussed on something so completely non-digital it literally comes from another era. Of course, I’m not completely without my technical crutches – this time around I am scanning everything as I go so that I can make a database of what I have, condition, and estimated value. I’ve never actually taken the time to do a large scale audit of the collection, and what I’m finding is fascinating.

Finally, and I suspect it goes without say, my time has been filled a lot with work. I got a promotion this past summer, and the aftermath of that is more work to fill the nooks and crannies of life. We’ve been pretty busy since summer, and the fruits of those labors are starting to come out. Recently, we launched a longtime fan requested Favorite Folders, and there’s more where that came from.

So, to sum up: Michael has lots of things filling his time, very few of them are writing, mostly because he has a lack of faith in what he’s written to this point on the current novel.  Moving forward, I will return to Niki’s story…eventually. In the meantime, I may work another stalled project to get the mental juices flowing, but don’t be surprised to find me waxing philosophical on perforations and watermarks in the interim.

A Late Night Blog Post

I wrote a post tonight that was very whiny. In it, I bemoaned the differences between writing to share the stories in my head, and the fact there isn’t really anyone I’m sharing them with (ie, my readers are near nill).  I didn’t post that blog entry, by the way.

The heart of the matter is the debate on whether to

  • keep writing the sequel to Chrysalis
  • work on something different (like, say, the alpha draft of a fantasy novel you have sitting on your hard drive, waiting for edits and readers)
  • give up, throw in the towel, pursue other fine things in life, like cheese tasting

I do like a bit of fromage, so that last one is pretty alluring. I feel compelled by a promise to finish the sequel, which is in mixed shape. There are about 50k words written, a clear outline, and a direction. It’s getting there that’s been the problem. At the same time, I’m not sure who I’m writing it for. Me? You? Is there a You? Then again, the same would be said for anything else I worked on.

It’s this kind of road that leads to a cyclical spiral into self torment. And it did.

If you are one of my handful of readers – thank you. I really do appreciate you, despite my self-pitying blog post tonight. If you could leave a review on amazon, that would be grand. I also officially accept bribes for coffee to fuel my writing (see the blog, right side column in a desktop browser).

All right, it’s slipped into the next day, so I should head to bed. It was both liberating and odd feeling being able to write a blog entry again. I should try doing this more often or something.

I used to write.

I used to write. Now I just complain about my lack of writing and give feeble attempts at guilting myself into writing.

I think it all went downhill when I self-published my last novel, Chrysalis. I’d been looking forward to releasing it for a while. It was polished, it was the start of a series I’ve wanted to write for a long time, and I was finally going to get to share it. My first foray had had a little success, so with this one I had hopes for. I made newsletters, an author page, I even advertised. I thought I had everything lined up.

It bombed. Worse than bad reviews, it received almost no reviews. I think I can name every person that read it. While I am generally a go lucky, well adjusted and happy guy, I felt a writer’s fugue encroaching. Efforts to work on the sequel floundered. Writing in general began to lapse. I tried to motivate myself, but I couldn’t find the words. I blamed equipment (maybe it’s the software; maybe it’s the type of hardware; this interface doesn’t empower my words), the seasons (despite evidence to the contrary, I feel more productive in the colder months), and the stress of the day job (I got promoted! I’m hiring! I’m a 2 man shop at the moment!), I failed to see the obvious: I was in a writing depression.

Past me never let the real world slow me down. I’ve written in commuter vans at 5 in the morning and on scraps of paper between tasks at work. I’ve given up mornings and/or evenings to be able to get in those needed words of the day. Blaming anything – even the valid – is just masking what was really going on. Although by no means a true depression, I am (as they say) “down in the dumps” when it comes to writing. I’m burned out. For the last month or two, I’ve largely withdrawn from social media. It’s a lot of extra static in my day that, although interesting, sometimes even vaguely informative, doesn’t really add any value. I find I just don’t miss it. Most of the updates I get aren’t personal (not all, but most). I check in on twitter occasionally, mostly because the format lends itself to dipping in every now and then without feeling compelled to catch up on day’s worth of posts. Facebook? Not so much (I check for messages every few days, but avoid most of the timeline at this point). I’m not even following my favorite blogs any more, though based on what I see in Feedly, they aren’t publishing too much either.

So, what have I been doing with my time? At first, I played video games to fill the void. I highly recommend The Last Guardian, by the way, if for no other reason than it’s like playing an interactive Studio Ghibli movie. Then I played and beat Mass Effect: Andromeda. A little too easy in parts, a little predictable, but I enjoyed it. Then there’s the reading – I’ve read 13+ books in just over a month now. I’d like to think my brain is saturated with the primordial ooze of story at this point. I don’t know if that’s fair, maybe that’s just putting more pressure on that weary organ, but surely something is brewing in there.

My hiatus from blogging isn’t over, though. Instead, I’d like to provide fewer but more informative posts. We’ll see how that goes. But for the few of you wondering what was going on in the world of Mike, there you go. Feel free to drop me a line, but it’s time for me to get back behind the screens and see if I can put some words together.

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