My Apple Watch Hates Me

My Apple Watch Hates Me

Stupid Apple Watch. It tells me that I’ve exercised for four minutes, but that I haven’t stood at all in the last hour. It tells me that I haven’t climbed any flights of stairs just because its definition of a flight of stairs is a higher elevation than the actual flight of stairs in my house. I rescue it from the trash-heap, fix it up, love it forever, and this is how it repays me?

Anyway, I haven’t posted for a while, and there’s a lot to unpack. First off, remember how in my last post I said I was planning to take a year off studying because I was getting burned out? Well, that burn-out caused me to defer from this year’s module, and I’m still planning to take a year off.

Turns out that trying to do everything at once was ruining my ability to do anything right. I know I said I was finding the time, but it was all in my head. My grades were slipping, I had the time to write but not the inclination, and my kids’ social worker decided I’m suffering from depression. I’m not suffering from depression, I have stress and anxiety, which is not helped by having social workers looking down on me all the time.

But having the time to think now means that I can really focus on my writing. I’ve been slogging away at a full-length novel over the past month, and I’m happy to say it’s almost finished. It’s a story I’ve been wanting to write for a while but lost interest after the #MeToo explosion two years ago. Let’s just say, having Kevin Spacey in your head as the voice of your character doesn’t help with your motivation when there’s a barrage of accusations levelled against him.

But I found myself going through some old, abandoned Scrivener files on my OneDrive, and found this story that I’d almost forgotten about. The outline needed a lot of work, and the characters needed changing up a bit, but I figured it was worth giving it another go.

Three-and-a-half weeks later, I’m almost finished with my first draft. I’ve been doing loose edits as I go, and I know where the plot lines need tightening up, where major revisions need doing to make the story make more sense, and I’ve never been more enthusiastic about writing something.

This is the cover as it stands, but I’m not entirely sure about it. I’ll keep playing about with it, and let you know if I come up with something else. I might just bugger about in Canva for a while and see if I can find any inspiration.

Mostly, I think it’s the new voice of my MMC. I play a lot of video games when I can’t focus, and I pay more attention than I should to voices. I can hear a familiar voice even in a muddle of voices, and one of the voices that crops up regularly is Nolan North. I mean, it sort of helps that this time last year I had just finished my uni module, and I wanted to play through Uncharted from start to finish (it took me about nine days). And that meant a lot of listening to Nolan North.

Look at that smile – isn’t he adorable? This totally isn’t my laptop wallpaper or anything. 😉
Image by Gil Cope; snaffled from Nolan North’s IMDB page.

So it was no surprise when, after vowing not to let another actor infiltrate my head while I was writing my characters, my lovely MMC suddenly started sounding like Nathan Drake… Well, except when I inadvertently wrote him as saying something extremely British (the character is an American actor), and then he ended up sounding like Rory Stewart. Such is the life of me and my brain.

In other news, I’m working on setting up a YouTube channel, where I’ll talk about stuff I’m writing, post book reviews, ads for my writing etc. I don’t plan to monetise it, so if there are any ads, it’s down to YouTube and not me. I also want to stream video games on Twitch – i won’t monetise that either, it’s just for fun. No prizes for guessing whose voice you’ll hear most regularly on there! Maybe I should play Uncharted again… 🙂

And I’m working on a plan for a wiki on here, to use as sort of a database for information about my writing. Anything relating to unpublished work will be hidden unless you’re a Patreon sponsor so, you know, there’s Patreon in the works too. And that’s how I’ll monetise my writing – sales, Patreon, and if I can be bothered (read, if I feel a work needs it), Kickstarter.

Did I mention I’m drinking a lot of coffee lately? I can’t really say that’s increasing my enthusiasm to work, but it’s certainly not harming it. And it’s not because I’m buzzing off my tits either – I drink decaf coffee. And decaf tea, come to that.

Anyway, if I want to get this novel finished any time soon, I’m going to have to get back to it.

God, I’ll be glad when I get the keyboard fixed on my laptop. The WASD keys packing in a couple of weeks ago, and I’m having to use an external keyboard. 🙁

xx

RJ

No More Pantsing!

Down With Pants!

I’ve been a “pantser” for as long as I can remember. If you don’t know, there are two types of writers — pantsers and plotters. Pantsers write without any real plan for how their story will happen. Plotters, well, the clue’s in the name. And for the longest time, I’ve been a pantser. Or at least I was, until now.

After my last module at uni, I just didn’t want to write. I had all these story ideas spinning around in my head, but I didn’t want to write any of them. And I couldn’t work out why. I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer. So why didn’t I want to write? Well, it turns out the problems were twofold. And both problems were related to my writing course.

Problem the First

The first problem was that I got a few pretty crappy scores for my assignments. The thing is, writing is a creative endeavour. Any creative endeavour is art. Art is subjective. I think you might see where I’m going with this. My tutor didn’t think some of my work was any good, and it was clear from her feedback that it was the subject matter.

Now, my daughter will tell you I’m a crazy person when it comes to writing. I just write whatever my brain thinks up. So for one of my assignments I wrote a selection of poems about characters from a video game; a video game my tutor had never heard of. She wasn’t interested, and I got a shit mark for the assignment. I’m not really a poet, so I was expecting a bad mark, but not for the subject matter. She wasn’t the target demographic, and I wasn’t writing the poems with her in mind. The poems, from a technical point of view, weren’t bad.

So with that, and the fact that every creative piece had to be presented with a reflective commentary, I lost interest in writing for a while. I still wrote down story ideas, I just never got around to writing them.

Problem the Second

*mumbles* Stupid writing course, making me plan out what I’m going to write, and create plots for stories.

Turns out I can’t write by the seat of my pants anymore. Or at least, not entirely. I still don’t write fully detailed plots. I can’t work with something like “The Snowflake Method” and never could — it’s a perfectly respectable method of writing, it’s just not for me. But I’ve found I can’t write without some sort of guide anymore.

But I Have a Plan!

NB: It’s not a plot.

I’ve started outlining stories. I know, it shocked me too, but here we are. I just write loose outlines, so I know where the story’s going. I still don’t know everything about my characters when I start to write either. To be honest, I don’t understand why people write full character bios. It’s not like you instantly know everything about someone when you first meet them. And sometimes the most fun I have when I’m writing is finding out something new about a character while I’m writing their dialogue. Because that’s how you find things out about people — by talking to them. Or talking about them, of course.

And of course having a rough outline fits with my bizarre method of writing random scenes out of order because I think of something that’s going to happen at some point.

House Flipper
Lloyd Grossman voice: “Who’d live in a house like this?”

But most importantly, it means I’m writing again. It’s been bloody hard not writing when I know that’s what I need to be doing. I’ve still written stuff, even when I wasn’t writing, it just wasn’t anything I particularly wanted to write. You know, like uni stuff. And now I’m hitting, and even surpassing, my daily word count goals. I know now that I can write what I need to before lunch, study after lunch, and play House Flipper after dinner. God, I love that game! Except adding decorations to the houses. That’s like the reflective commentary of house flipping. Art is subjective, you donuts; buy your own damn paintings!

Well, I guess I’m going to sign off now. I have houses to flip!

xx

RJ