My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Novel Update Word Count- 4612 (Personal Update)

Image description: Writer typing with expression that is a little.....TOO happy.
Really Rough Draft

Raw unfettered shit- 4232
Slightly polished turd- 380  

Does that seem a little light to you? It does to me. There were several grinding lurching sessions that took literally hours before I was writing at a clip. It's been a long time since I sat down to do something so big and I had to relearn to silence the critic and remember that written is better than good when it comes to drafts. No matter how long you've been at it, that imposter syndrome is one fucking badass brain demon, and is immune to both lightning, fire, and holy spells.  Plus just starting this project involved a lot of scowling at a blank screen. The first few puffs of the old steam engine didn't even turn the wheel.

But even with the slow start, I found three things stood out.

Thing the first- I got sick. I'm actually still sick, but I try to write something unless I'm bed-ridden. But I've actually been nursing a creeping crud of Blerg for about four days now. Not only did I spend last weekend around thousands of people in our nation's capital, I also hopped on my third flight in the span of 9 days. So no doubt I was exposed to all kinds of slimy disease vectors. I'm sure some assholes out there love nothing more than smearing their rhinovirus covered fingers all over the glass case that houses The Constitution. Or maybe someone on the plane decided that other people's health was no reason not to be in a metal tube with recycled air and two hundred people for five hours. Yolo, amirite?

I was also in a vulnerable place. Remember how all that shit and stress was finally ending just last week? I also got some great news this week. And I mean some really great news. If you've been following this blog for a while you know that Sonic Gal had cancer.

Well Sonic Gal doesn't have cancer anymore. She stopped having cancer and was awesome instead.

Her natural superhero resistance to damage allowed her to take the maximum dose of radiation and at the end of it, they found her scans to be all clear.

A few years ago when I was in school, I would get sick at the end of every semester. Every. Single. One. You could have set your watch to it. I'd wrap up the last final. Make some Facebook post about being happy to have a few days off, and be sick within 24 hours. Basically stress and health do a cellblock tango in my body and after I've trashed my body on caffeine and stress for a solid month, my six remaining white blood cells start dancing around and singing "HE HAD IT COMING! HE ONLY HAD HIMSELF TO BLAME!"

So you can imagine the kind of stress relief I had feeling eight months of out-of-my-mind worry start to unspool. I know my situation with my family has experienced great upheaval (hence my move) but I gotta tell you that this was better news than, "Hey Chris I hooked up a threesome and some pharmaceutical MDMA for your birthday." By miles.

Thing the second- I'm still working a lot at my other two jobs: nanny and teacher. As you know, I didn't fund my Kickstarter to get a year "off." I did so to get a year with a lighter schedule. I wasn't able to get one of my nights off from teaching because I found out too late that my Kickstarter funded–we have to commit to our next semester schedule really early, and I couldn't find anyone who wanted to take either night. I'm currently working between the two jobs about 15 hours a week more than I intended to–a non trivial bite out of the time left.

Even though I will almost never say no to more time with The Contrarian (cause he's HELLA cute), next Spring I will be able to drop to one night a week (and maybe teach no classes if they'll let me hold my spot and seniority when I return the following Fall). Whatever pace I start to average for the next two and a half months, it's going to go up.

I'll have to keep my eye on it. It'll be important to schedule writing time in an evening and not just flop over if I've spent six hours nannying or something. However, in the end, the simple fact is that I'm not wasting that time, I'm working. Working means money.  So the worst case scenario is that the book release might get postponed, but it won't be a situation where I've blown through the Kickstarter and have nothing to show for it. I'll just be behind where I want to be.

Now, I don't really want to start talking about getting behind eleven months out, but as I navigate 30-35 hour weeks across two jobs, it occurs to me that those 10-15 hours over what I'd planned might have a thing or two to do with why the word count is flagging a little. So if that is where my productivity bleeds to, I'll work hard to catch up as soon as fall classes are over, and make sure that The Hall of Rectitude isn't contracting out my nanny services for any "fluff" time.

Thing the third- You want to find a "lesson" in today's post? Here it is: You have to be willing to itemize your time expenditures, log them (like you would a food journal or a cigarette journal if you were starting a diet or trying to quit smoking) and see if they match up with your priorities in life. You're going to surprise yourself with what you say is important and what you actually spend most of your time doing.

How many writers who express florid love for writing play video games 40+ hours a week and claim they've no time to write? How many people who are frustrated that writing isn't their day job are actually sitting down to write less than 5-10 hours a week. How many writers with a sincere sense that they would like to write more and an internal narrative that they "don't really watch TV" are binge watching Jessica Jones and Stranger Things for hours longer than they actually spend writing.

Well...I'm one of them. I may get my axe to the grindstone more than some writers, but my priorities and my actual time spent don't match.

Around Thursday I realized I wasn't making the progress I wanted and I started to watch my time and where it was going and came to one overwhelming, inescapable conclusion:

I am absolutely HEMORRHAGING time on Facebook. 

Yep. It's true. It's not just an "hour or so." (Or "An hour or two" when I'm feeling properly introspective.) It's three, four, sometimes five hours a day trading comments on friends' walls or crafting pithy quips. This one is hard to I use FB for promoting my writing, so I can't just "take a month off," deactivate my account, and learn what it means to live again or some inspirational bullshit that ignores how actually real online friends can be. I will have to monitor closely and limit my time spent going down the hole. I know for sure my patrons didn't back my Kickstarter for a year of extra pithy quips.


  1. It's all about prioritizing, you got that right. I work full time, my commute is over an hour both ways, I have 3 sons one of whom started college this fall, and I love those video games, too. So I get up every morning at 3:30 and I'm writing by 4:00, of and on until I need to shower and get ready for work. I've been really lucky to not lose too much time to sickness, so I feel for you. But having a daily writing habit has been a huge positive, making and sticking to my schedule. It's tough, but you'll get there because you want to be there.

  2. Go Sonic Gal :D :D :D

  3. My unasked for advice? Kiss the writing gods, the keyboard and the chair you sat your butt in that you got 380 words done. That's more than you had before. I find that if I judge myself for not having written, I actually write less. Something like a soul-sucking death spiral shows up in my life. If I sat my butt in the chair and opened Word instead of Facebook, I chock that up as a success.