WriYe: Let’s Talk Distractions

I’m not doing all of the blog topics, only the ones in which I feel I have something to say. The topic this month though is close to my heart – “Define your biggest distraction and how you deal with it.”

My focus is actually not as terrible as it used to be. Really that’s what distraction is to me – lack of focus. I can’t say a specific person, situation or circumstance is a distraction because it doesn’t matter what it is. I either focus – or I don’t. If I’m not focusing then my attention could be caught by watching paint dry (as an extreme example). It’s never what calls me as the ‘distraction’ because if it wasn’t that, it would be something else. The fault lies with me.

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WriYe: Author Admiration

The question this month is simple:

What author do you admire the most? Why?

And the answer is thus quite simple. Only because it’s me I’m going to take a little segue first and explain my thinking behind any kind of admiration.

I joke sometimes about certain people being “who I want to be when I grow up”. Now obviously I’m 33 and so I should be grown up but it’s more about the dream they represent I guess – an ideal in some way. I don’t know if I’m unusual in this approach because I feel (possibly mistakenly) that most people would equate author = writing, and talk about the books that have touched their soul, the wordsmiths who transcended the written word to weave something magical.

Now don’t get me wrong that’s good too but when I think of the authors I admire the most, it’s less about their actual words (though I like those too!!) and more about what they have achieved in their career. Essentially, they are where I would like to be.

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WriYe: Let’s Talk Revision

So I skipped February’s blog topic because I didn’t think I had anything really to contribute (it was about writing ‘hacks’). However, this month the topic is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – The R’s of Revision” and if there’s anything I have opinions about in writing, it’s revision.

I have had a pet peeve for years of people saying revision when they mean editing. I have tried to get less grumpy about it because we are all entitled to use whatever words we want. One persons editing might well be another persons revision – I shouldn’t judge. Yet it’s one of those things that annoys me anyway.

So what is revision?

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January – Your Future Author Bio

So last year I managed a sum total of 2 blog topics for WriYe (January and December). I am aiming to do a little better this year. I probably won’t write all of them because some of them don’t speak to me, but I have made a note of the ones I think I could write a post on, and I intend to do a post for all of those.

Anyway the topic this week is to “write your future author bio / FAQ page” and I honestly laughed when I read that. Back in the day I had one of those pages, during my first attempt at publication. I got somebody on Fiverr to write it because I found it so awkward. Now I could cheat and just look in the depths of my hard drive and post that one, but I think I will make an honest attempt myself. It’s been… well lets not think how long its been, but a while, and I’m older and maybe want to say different things I don’t know.

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Goals for 2024

Look I’m actually making the post! I’m not sure I have done this ‘properly’ in a few years so let’s do this. What do I want from this year?

Now goals need to be SMART because when it’s intangible, how do you know when it’s been achieved? I can want inner peace, contentment, some amount of happiness etc. but that’s a feeling and an end result. Maybe I will get it one day, maybe I won’t, but I need to target things I can actually do something about.

This is the time of year I usually get an infusion of hope/optimism – wishful thinking – and I hope, hope with all my heart that the upcoming year will be different. I want it to be better, I want to feel better, so badly and then it never works out. It’s always a disappointment and I hate getting to my recap posts and going “well that was another sucky year”. It always seems like there’s some kind of external reason, but a lot of that is just excuses. I have depression, I have intense anxiety. I am autistic. I have physical symptoms even if I am unsure if I have actual physical issues (the mind likes to screw with the body). Life can be hard but I need to make choices that serve me.

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WriYe 2023: Year in Review

So here we are again.

To be honest I could copy and past a lot of last years ‘year in review’ and it would apply. I’ve got to the end of another year and I feel like I’m no further forward towards my dream.

I started the (2022 goal post) by saying that in my review of 2021 I had put “that I really didn’t want to get to the end of the year and be disappointed again – but I was.” – that is the dream and it is yet to be obtained.

2022, Year in Review

And as I said – here I am again. Another year, another disappointment.

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Victory Number Ten! (of a sort)

So I ‘won’ NaNo.

The inverted quotes are because I got the 50k (and for the 10th time in November) but if I look back at my intentions post, I didn’t really get what I wanted.

“my primary motivation this November is to try and find my joy again.”

“I wanted to feel excited to write it, I wanted to obsess over it, to have my mind wander to that world – like it used to years ago.”

That’s what I wrote. That’s what I wanted. That is NOT what happened.

NaNo usually follows a pattern of sorts. I have zero days, and then I have high word count days to make up for it. While there was some of that this month the graph was actually more stable than I think I have ever seen it – consistently a little below par. Usually when I approach the end I get a real whoosh and my final day is a downward hurtle to the finish line. I’m pretty sure on almost all NaNo’s I finish before Day Thirty due to that headlong whoosh. Well it was Day Thirty and it was a double day (3k) because that’s what I needed to scrape the 50k and so that’s what I did.

It was a total slog, and the only thing similar to the downward whoosh is when I got a “fuck it” mentality and just embraced the crap. There wasn’t any moments of joy, there weren’t any moments where I felt it flowed well. I had one brief moment where I felt I might have captured one characters voice, but that lasted for a single writing session and hasn’t repeated.

The only moments where I felt any kind of ‘magic’ were when I had to plan. I did like the idea generation for the episodes. Starting with nothing and then coming up with the episode plot and I think I came up with some cool stuff. It’s implemented very badly but there’s some cool ideas there I think.

I ended up with basically discovery drafts of the first three episodes, plus the first couple of scenes and half an outline for episode four. So I have something to build on I guess.

I knew going into this that joy was a state of mind, and that my lack of it isn’t really related to the writing – it’s me. So I know I shouldn’t be surprised at this result, and I’m not I mean I flat out said in the intentions post that I doubted it was possible to find the joy, but that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed. I really would have liked to enjoy this month. I really, really, REALLY, wanted to remember why I do this writing thing, to feel some smidgeon of hope again.

I wish I had something more positive to say in this NaNo wrap-up but right now this is how I feel. In December obviously I need to think about my goals for 2024. Finding joy is likely to be my top priority but I really don’t know how to do that. It’s not about what I write, it is about me, and I don’t know how to change me. I really wish I did.

I forgot what I remembered

Simply put this October that’s what happened. I had been joking a few different places about “All Hallow’s Eve” and I’d been trying to plan my NaNo story. It wasn’t that I didn’t know November was approaching like a freight train, but it took me by surprise anyway.

I forgot to make my standard “it’s that time again” pre-NaNo post. I also didn’t properly finish planning my NaNo story. I had a lot of the character and world details locked down, but the actual plot itself? On Monday I realised I had to throw most of it out and start again. Talk about a last minute scramble to have something that worked to start writing on Wednesday.

Anyway, what am I writing?

This year I am attempting a serial. My history of writing short is not successful so I am highly sceptical but we shall see. I didn’t finish the revision I started over the summer because (and this is the thing I should talk about most) I realised that I hadn’t had any joy really in writing since 2016. Oh there have been moments here and there. I didn’t write much of anything for a few years, until I picked fanfic back up and dove into a new fandom (Sanctuary). However, fanfic is a little different as my brain sort of accepts whatever spews out for the most part, and as a lot of things are familiar, it is easy to skate on a lot of foundational parts of writing. Also even then it could be a slog.

Writing is hard. And I’m not romanticising how it was back pre-late 2016 – it was always hard. I remember countless days of staring at the screen and not getting anywhere, of frustrated tears, and a lot of anger at myself for not getting on with it. I remember feeling like I wanted to burn it with fire, as my drafts were so terrible that’s all it deserved – none of this is new. But it was balanced by the times it went well. The times I had a brainwave, everything fell into place and I felt a spark of magic. The times the words did flow and it didn’t feel constantly like pulling teeth. The times I remembered why I did this writing thing.

I know that writing requires discipline. I’m not advocating chasing new shiny stories, as ultimately they do all end up in the same place – as writing is hard work, it’s a slog to write tens of thousands of words to draft a novel – but my primary motivation this November is to try and find my joy again.

It’s a difficult problem because the reality is I don’t have joy for anything. It’s not a problem exclusive to writing, it’s just that writing bears the brunt quite often as it’s the thing that matters most to me. Yes I know that sounds like depression (and it is). I also have intense and dehibilitating anxiety (I can’t leave my house alone anymore), and the sensory overwhelm is a real problem. It’s depressingly (ha!) easy to just drift, to give up. Every now and then I get a burst of energy which motivates frustrated anger and self-hate at how much time I’ve wasted, how I have things I want to do and time in which to do them, but do I? NO! But it rarely translates into much of a burst of actually doing the things, and even if it does it doesn’t last because I mentally tear to shreds everything I attempt – there is no joy to be found there.

So how can I find joy again this November? I suppose I do doubt that it’s possible. Indeed I am currently writing this on Day Two, and I haven’t done my words today. I did yesterday. But today I had an appointment first thing, and I had an awful nightmare last night, and I’m just permenantly on the edge of tears, and I feel so out of the mental energy to push myself. To actually make myself start. I have opened everything, I am sitting at the desk, and I just feel more like crying than writing – the very opposite of joy. It’s not that I hate what I’m writing (even if I do hate how I have strung the words together). I do like my idea very much. I like all my ideas. I joke that I want to have them done, rather than actually do them, but that’s the truth really. I want them to exist but I don’t think I have the skills, and I am struggling to find the spoons, necessary to make that a reality.

When I picked my new shiny project I tried hard to pick something that hit all my like buttons. I wanted to feel excited to write it, I wanted to obsess over it, to have my mind wander to that world – like it used to years ago. As I said I do like it very much but that’s the only tick off that list so far.

My word count goal this NaNo is obviously 50k, which I think should equate to about 2.5 ‘episodes’ of this serial. My real goal is to enjoy the process and that leaves me conflicted because I am definitely not enjoying it today. But I know I will beat myself up if I don’t write, as then I will be ‘behind’ pace. But then again I’m not exactly getting anywhere just sitting here either. It’s an eternal dilemma. I wish there was an answer.

New Year, New Start?

The January blog topic for WriYe is quite open to interpretation I feel. The prompt is:

“(Re)starting fresh, for a new year, new story or after a writing break.”

Now I am both late to this topic and perfectly on time. You see the new year is a boundary time, it’s where you can put the past in the rear-view and ‘start again’. Obviously you can do that at anytime but with the turn of a calendar, and potentially millions of other people doing the same thing, there is a certain weight to it. If 2022 didn’t go well, then that’s ok because 2023 is a fresh start! That kind of thinking.

I struggle with boundary times as they make me reflective. I get torn between the hope of the possibility that maybe the future will be better/different, and being depressed and hopeless over how the past hasn’t been what I wanted, and that another year has gone by and I’m still no closer to my dreams etc. So I guess essentially what I’m saying is the whole “new year, new start” thing is something I feel very keenly. If life is about chances, then I guess psychologically speaking a new year does feel like a new chance. Every year when I do my retrospective and then my plan, I say that I want the upcoming year to be different.

So why did I say I am both late and on time?

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WriYe 2022: Year in Review

This is December’s blog topic but honestly it’s something I would do anyway. Retrospectives are a bit of a thing for me. The prompt is simply to “sum up your year” so I will endeavour to break it down and not just ramble.

In January I did the usual goals post which can be found here – WriYe: Impossible Year.

I started that goal post by saying that in my review of 2021 I had put “that I really didn’t want to get to the end of the year and be disappointed again – but I was.” and that is the dream. Ultimately really that was the dream for this year when I get right down to it. What I said in that goal post was that I was really searching for some confidence, to have some hope again, to feel like I can actually do it.

So did I get that in the end?

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