Everything for next month is gonna get done quite late, far more than I’d really like. Of all the things that ought to be fixed in the business of organisation, it is this pre-planning which could really do with the most attention. However, over five weeks the entire process has improved enormously. One of the benefits of exercise every day has undoubtedly been a massive uptick in overall productivity.
That means that in February we’re gonna give Instagram another poke in terms of trying to build an audience. I have no idea whether it will work or not, but my basic understanding of hashtags should give a bit of a head start. It also helps possessing some neophyte design skills, which should stand me in good stead. I’ve already drawn a line over last month’s content… so, let’s see where it all goes.
I get the whole thing about identity and cohesion, so ‘building a brand’ should not be impossible, if there’s content. My biggest problem right now is ensuring that happens without anything else suffering as a result. That means there are now three planners up on the wall to my right: not just writing, but exercise too. There’s a blog post coming up about what I’ve learnt this month about aiming for realistic goals.
An awful lot has changed since the end of December. For the first time in many years, pretty much all of it is positive. Sure, there are still fairly substantive diversions that take place: in order to avoid finishing this blog, for instance, I’ve managed to tick off two highly important subsidiary tasks from the ‘Do When You get a Chance’ List. It’s amazing what I’ll throw in my path when it comes to avoiding the obvious.
Currently practising Douglas Adams levels of procrastination. On the plus side, this cheese sandwich is fucking awesome.
— 🗨️ S Reeson 💭 Digital, Physical, Fractal 💬 (@InternetofWords) February 1, 2020
In the end, however, far more than was previously the case, shit does now get done.
At the end of last week, I applied for an opportunity that a year ago wouldn’t even have been considered as a possibility. It doesn’t matter, now it’s done, whether I’m successful or not. For the first time in probably two plus years, that process wasn’t about wanting to be chosen, but simple satisfaction at taking part. Somewhere between then and now, a fundamental part of my psyche has changed.
The portion of me that thought success only came from other people’s validation has finally realised this is the biggest lie in existence. If that kind of assuagement is what I seek, there are better, far less stressful means by which it can be achieved. They emerge from moments of kindness, helping other people get what they want and achieve their dreams and aspirations. I don’t need to write to do that.
Writing has become expression of moments I’ve been too scared to share until now.
Validation is achieved by the completion of projects, working to the timescales I impose. It will be when I choose to create and sell my own things and not be reliant on others. Poetry will combine with pictures, video with sound, and everything stops being a race or a contest. It is a freedom I realise only comes in the quiet moments when all the critics, both external and internal, are silenced.
It is the moments when you believe anything is possible, if the means can be located within yourself to release fear and uncertainty. It was one of those moments, a week ago, when I ran for three lots of four minutes without stopping on a treadmill and grasped that if I could knit those fragments together, pieces became a proper run. The confidence gained here combined with new found physical strength made impossible, real.
Understanding how to write without fear taught me how to run.
In turn, running gives back to mental strength and creativity. The body self-sustains, creating calm where previously only chaos existed and those difficult tasks finally appear easy, academic. The freedom of expression that only previously took place after long periods of self-imposed reflection spring forth unprompted, with new enthusiasm and joy attached. Creativity really is in a new, exciting place.
However, I was the one who had to change, needs to keep altering myself. If the door’s not kept open to this new place in my mind, if change cannot be embraced and then directed elsewhere, all this good work can still be lost. The task now is not to lose sight of direction, focus or possibilities. With mental and physical strength, anything is and will be possible.
The decision has been made, I’ve changed my NaNo page BACK to where we started a week ago. No more indecision. There’s a Soundtrack being updated and many changes in my head as to where action was initially going to head. Now, however, it is time for some honesty. I’ve mentioned before some of the technical shortcomings that hamper my long-form fiction work: repetition of words, bad grammar and the eternal problem of going on Multiple Tenses Safari.
All of this is known well enough to handle without worry: I can cut out superfluous words, but not too many, because that hampers decent narrative flow. It is a delicate combination of when and where, it is apparent. All of this goes without saying, but the majority of that should happen during my editing period and not whilst I’m writing. The issues then need to be admitted in public before going forward.
I seem to have terrible trouble being confident my narratives truly work.
This is a pretty staggering admission from someone who likes to believe, on most days, that she’s capable of telling a damn fine story… except, there are always holes. This is the problem… going great guns, ready to start working… then discovering the plot’s got a gap in it that’s not really that wide, but can end up looking insurmountably deep. This time around, therefore, I’m going to do something that’s never been done for a NaNo before.
It’s time to transcribe the narrative, longhand, from start to finish. I don’t expect this to be either pretty or easy, but every plot hole needs to be identified and covered. If this doesn’t happen, it will just be like the last couple of times when I’ve tried to write something complex: my own brain will destroy the fragile confidence built up over the last few months and BANG we’ve gotten nowhere. It’s not happening.
The story is going to be finished.
The hope is if I can do it once, then we can do it again with a couple of the unfinished manuscripts on my hard drive. Now the major shortcoming in long-form writing has been identified, it’s time to crack on with the task. There’s poetry scheduled over the next few days, but space has been provisioned at the weekend for the all-important first pass. Needless to say, you’ll know how it all worked out this time next week.
Cross everything please, it will be very much appreciated.
Yesterday, I filled in a survey for a large organisation who, if I’m honest, was never set up to deal with the likes of me. The girl with anxiety issues, constant bouts of Impostor Syndrome, fear of failure and inability to understand what other people are talking about, on her worst days, puts the cause back months. Today however that girl’s still in bed, not wanting to push forward or achieve greatness. In her place this doppelganger is at the PC, putting in the hours, covering for inadequacy.
The world’s a tough place to negotiate at the best of times, especially in these fraught days of political and social uncertainty. The survey asked me a simple question: what do I miss in my life, now that there’s so much dedication to the writing cause? The answer is simple: friends. People who understand what this is like: the constant rejections, the uncertainty, doubting yourself and the output you produce. When I look at the successful people in my timeline, perilously few show the weaknesses I deal with.
Maybe that’s part of the problem.
Twitter presents the world with a platform to be whatever they wish, yet so many believe that’s the kind of person who never shows vulnerability or shortcomings. Undoubtedly the people I now gain the most from in terms of interactivity and support are those who show this more vulnerable side, not afraid to be honest with their failings. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that anyone who arrogantly believes their opinion is the only right answerwill never be worth listening to or indeed debating with.
When I’m writing poetry, or fiction, or whatever else might be needed of me in terms of words, success is what is aimed for. However, less and less that success equates to being able to put well known organisations next to my work. Validation in a capitalist society inevitably is being able to earn a wage from your efforts. It doesn’t help that ‘best-selling’ ‘successful’ writers are all over my social media: many act like they’re some kind of literary evangelist, offering answers and succour in exchange for your fealty.
Except reality is a long way from that truth.
A lot of individuals consider any public admission of failure as unacceptable. It is understandable, especially as such concepts are often grouped with social constructs or lifestyle choices that directly fly in the face of continued success. The pressure to achieve, present the ‘right’ impression or outlook, places incredible amounts of stress on the most hardened of individuals… and yet, showing this is inevitably negative. That’s not true. To err is human. It is the most basic part of ourselves, and should be embraced.
Today, sitting here, I know there’s a rejection waiting to drop in my Inbox. I could probably write the generic message that will accompany it. It will include phrases such as:
‘hugely high standard of entries’
‘incredibly difficult decision’
‘so difficult to choose a winner’
‘because of the high volume of entries, no individual criticism of individual work can be provided…’
and there’s the killer. Nobody’s willingly prepared to offer free criticism, or comment. If you want to learn how to do this, you’ll more than likely have to pay someone for the privilege. Take a course, hire an editor, and even then nobody may care one jot about what makes you passionate because, in the current market, nobody wants poetry that rhymes. Your narrative is unsaleable, according to people who claim to share your passion, but only if it will make them money.
This is a tough world, and it is not getting any easier.
Not gonna lie here, I have JK muted on Twitter. Her ideas and mine are quite a long way apart, but if personal proof were needed that the unknown can become successful overnight, this is it. It would be a foolish person who did not respect the achievement of others: it is also a foolish person who will believe that only one route to success exists, and that is to exactly emulate the actions of others, without being true to yourself first. You are what you are, good and bad: I believe that you need to embrace both to be truly comfortable with your work.
One day, my work will get noticed. There’s a fair chance that won’t happen until long after I’m dead, part of why the notion of ‘success’ needs to change in the here and now. As it is just as likely I’ll not be around to enjoy that definition, maybe this is the moment to find the joy elsewhere, and stop worrying about the idea that you’re only good when people you don’t know read your work and enjoy it. I’m already at that stage, or else you wouldn’t be here now. So, in that regard, this is progress.
What matters most, right now, is honesty and not publicity.
Yesterday was, without doubt, one of the most difficult days I’ve ever had as an adult. ‘Yeah yeah, it’s all hyperbole,’ I hear you mutter BUT THAT IS WHERE YOU ARE WRONG. It was apparent, going into this year, there would be points where everything could topple, but what wasn’t expected was the opposite to take place. The permanent, ongoing assumption is that things get better with time. Except, sometimes there’s a release of pressure, and amazingly everything just improves.
How that happens is often a cause of considerable surprise.
Yesterday was the day I submitted probably the most important piece of work I’ve ever completed. Sitting mentally exhausted in front of my PC and Mac, I became really very angry. That same day’s events hadn’t helped, as came an understanding that all of this, countless revisions and rewrites and polish plus everything else are not contributing to my happiness, but serve to attain a standard other people set. There needs something that is my standards alone, or else slowly, everything will begin to suffer.
Then, I remembered the Gym. Those numbers after weigh in today, let’s be honest, are a revelation. Most people exercise to get lighter, but that’s not me. I’m here, gaining muscle mass, and becoming something a world away from the woman who thought ‘thin’ would solve all her problems, which of course is so patently untrue as to be funny. For the record, there’s less fat than ever before in my makeup, but this journey is no longer about dieting.
My road to success just took a massive detour.
All of this is a complex cocktail of emotions to add to the general state of mental health, which pretty much relies on there being more to life than writing and submissions. Once upon a time, of course, writing was the therapy in itself, but that has now become the job. Therefore, I need a new means to cope, and exercise has become that means not only by which events are in my control, but that destiny is allowed to throw up some interesting possibilities.
I’ve learnt an awful lot about myself in the last month or so, and that’s set to continue. The lesson to learn, if it were needed, is that the best way to improve is often the least obvious route offered. I’m sure someone’s said that better, but that’s not the point. Talking about mental health isn’t just dealing with the issues, it’s finding the means by which you better communicate all the other stuff about your existence that matters just as much, sometimes more.
I’m really looking forward to travelling this way going forward.
For as many days as it has been possible this week, I’ve dragged myself into the Gym. Amazingly, only on two days has this been about exercise to a point. On the others, I’m there to use the treadmill as a writing tool.
This is probably going to require some explanation.
Once upon a time, I’d have real trouble trying to work out how ideas would develop past that first massive burst of creativity. I then developed a means by which I’d use pieces of music effectively as the backgrounds for ‘narrative videos’ that would run in my head, roughly corresponding with the pace and timing of actions that would then be written down. It is the reason why that whenever I now hear ‘Whoops, I Did It Again’ by Britney Spears I don’t think about the music video that accompanies it, but my fanfic-created Bond heroine Ronni Flemmings bursting out of a control room using a chair as a shield and summarily killing Ernst Stavro Blofeld completely by accident.
I’ve ruined a lot of pieces of music this way, but the destruction of meaning is always worthwhile.
Before I got as serious about exercise as I have now become, being on a treadmill with a musical soundtrack used to be the means by which I’d sort out the kinks and holes in narratives. Returning to my novel over this last six weeks has made me grasp that there was no longer the time to do this: suddenly, whenever I’m doing physical stuff it is to meet a target or complete an objective. The simpler days of just walking and thinking have somehow gone amiss. Therefore this week, re-instigating the treadmill as a writing tool required a massive twenty-five track playlist, constructed in chronological order to match my action. Most significantly, none of the music must have been made after 2005.
On Tuesday I went into the Gym, plugged myself in and thirty minutes later had managed to solve three major issues that were holding me back in plot terms. Today, the last quarter of the book is blocked, with each major sequence ready to write. There’s also been a piece of music added, that forms a vital part of the late narrative, section I’ve been frightened to write for over a decade because of the intensely personal nature of the content. It is the means by which I tie past back to present, and remind the female protagonist of the life she once knew but has lost contact with. This track was the crack which burst the dam of writer’s block, once and for all, and I’ve not been able to stop writing since.
Every writer is different: how you maintain focus and drive as individual as eye colour or shoe size. For me, music is at the heart and soul of every piece written. Without it, I would be considerably less than a whole.
I predict a considerable amount of treadmill in my future.
Today marks a significant line in the sand for my ability to plan. It is the first week since I started this journey that a complete seven days worth of Social media output is scheduled in advance. In the case of the short story, that’s a full ten days to end on the 31st (a week on Wednesday.) The plan today is to begin February’s story so I can get it to be beta read before next week, and if the planning for THAT works out, it should mean that 28 days worth will be up long before the month is done, thus granting me even more planning time.
This expansion of the ability to fit my available spaces is having knock-on effects too. It should allow poetry to be scheduled tomorrow for weekend viewing once the daily ‘postings’ are complete… as will be the case with Conjoin. However, as is becoming apparent with each new day unless I write these things down, I do (and will forget) so it is especially vital to keep a running total of what needs to be done and when. My planner has expanded as a result to take in more space for daily notes and, so far, it appears to be working.
Tonight, therefore, after cycling and domestic tomfoolery, I will throw down the first draft of February’s short story and complete timelines for both The Sayers and Contractus, so I can check I have events in the correct order. This is also the means by which I don’t just sit and stare at a screen for hours on end with no discernable work to show for that time. It is pushing both mind and body to make the most of the time available and not allowing procrastination to gain the upper hand. If that is able to happen for the rest of the week, there will be much rejoicing.
I wonder if this is what being a grown up really feels like?
It’s been a while since I lobbed this graphic on the top of a post, but you can expect to see it a bit more in the weeks that follow. It’s a New Year, after all, and that means that people are using Social media as a means to prove they are capable of change. I have to admit that the major change I’m implementing is to spend less time taking part in discussion, and more time working. It was during that period yesterday that a couple of minor epiphanies took place.
You Know I Can Hear You, Right?
It is clearly apparent that a couple of people on my feed aren’t aware that if I’m friends with the same people they are, I get to see their conversations. If you have a dialogue directly with someone, this won’t clog up anybody’s timelines except the people involved, which is great. There’s an exception to that, but we’ll deal with that in a moment. However, if Person A posts a non specific tweet into my timeline and then Person B replies, it’s there for everybody to see. Sometimes I watch people reply to these with the belief that it’s a ‘private’ conversation.
You wouldn’t have said that in public otherwise, would you?
I watched a couple of people fall foul to this yesterday and learnt some quite interesting stuff about them that wasn’t clear otherwise. The other one is when someone does a lovely soapbox speech about X in one place when I’ve seen them say the exact opposite somewhere else to appease the friends groups they’re now hanging with. All those people who wish Social media wasn’t like High School are, amazingly, the exact same people making it just that way due to the fact they think other people don’t pay attention. You’d be amazed how many of us do, dude.
Please Don’t Include Everybody in your Replies
As it’s Friday, I’m hoping mentioning this in a cheery, helpful fashion might have an effect. This is traditionally the day people on Twitter do #FF (Friends Friday) and shout out all the great people they interact with. The problem isn’t those initial tweets, let me be clear, but everybody that then hits reply to say than you, inadvertently cc-ing in EVERYBODY ELSE. Except, for some people, I suspect this isn’t an accident, and they enjoy the brief dopamine hit all those messages make in their Notifications.
I use Twitter to write, and communicate. I’m not here for the popularity contest, and have made a habit of force-unfollowing people when I no longer feel we have anything to say to each other (no, it’s not the main reason but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t happened.) I don’t #FF any more because of it. I also appreciate that for some people it is an important part of their existence online, but if you’re going to live here long term it might be an idea to either learn how to respect other people’s spaces or grasp how much noise thinking before posting can reduce.
Today, from a distance:
a: tolerate my opinion b: okay b then says something that is their opinion a: I don't agree! b: but… that's my opinion a: I won't tolerate that
You could thank the person who does the #FF in a separate Tweet. You don’t have to show everybody else you did that, just them. I won’t lie, when I end up in a #FF userpile I politely thank the person concerned, and then mute the original conversation, so I can get on using Twitter in the way that works best for me. If this flagrant disregard of your #FF motivation removes me from your Friday mantras, I will not take it as a slur or unfollow you in disgust. If you fail to communicate regularly or stay stuff I find uncomfortable, or assume that because we spoke once three years we remain friends? Then I might have reason to press the button.
In the end, you can rest assured, it wasn’t you. It was most definitely me.
The Overnight Mass CC gets you an Instant Mute
If you cc-me in on a conversation when I’m asleep and I wake up to 100+ Notifications on my arrival the next morning which constitute nothing of value, I’m gonna mute yo ass.
Sorry, but I didn’t sign up for that when I joined.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start working on getting the poetry archived and scheduled for the weekend…
As was the case in 2017, every Thursday for the next 52 weeks I will focus on writing plus getting both old and new projects finished and started. It seems an appropriate moment therefore to put up a list of intent for January, that we can revisit in four weeks to see how I did. Also, saying all this stuff ‘in public’ makes it more likely to happen, as I discovered (rather usefully) last year. Most importantly of all, I GET TO DO A SWANKY GRAPHIC 😀
NaNoWriMo Novel (Revision Stage):I’ve reset my Goal tracker to start from today at 9am. We’ll see how much I can get done. I’d like to have it in a workable form by the end of the month and this is not an unrealistic goal.
Poetry and Haiku for January: This week’s poetry was all produced ahead of publication, a habit I fell out of towards the back end of last year, for various reasons. The plan is to try and have the two scheduled pieces for Twitter written and ‘complete’ well before Friday, and then schedule today the publication of both pieces to this site across the weekend. This then upgrades the site to having content for 365 days a year, which has been my goal since at least the latter part of 2016. It took me this long to get arse in gear, but is totally worth the effort.
February Planning: It’s the Month of Love coming up, with Time to Talk day scheduled for February 1st. This means subject matters will Love Poetry, Erotica, Depression and Self Care. This seems to me a decent combination of bases to cover, all of which I can write about with a measure of confidence. Also, apropos of nothing at all, I’ll have been writing my Warcraft blog for nine years next month. Might have to do summat about that…
So, that’s the plan, except I’ll be honest and admit I will be nipping for a quick kip once I’ve written my blogs for the day. I’m carrying some kind of throat/ear based virus/infection thing and I’d really like to stop it getting any worse than it is, so a brief break to recharge the batteries is in order…
Well, here’s a thing. It is all going REALLY well. I’ll grant you, some of my writing is shonky as hell at this stage, but the plot is golden. I’m confident with where everything is heading, there’s no panic over motivation or characterisation. When I write my two leads (and right now this is simply a two character affair) they sit in my head with glorious clarity. There is reassurance and comfort in familiarity. All that needs to happen now is to keep the momentum going. The only fly in the ointment is that I forgot to update my word count over the weekend and therefore won’t get my ‘updated every day for 30 days’ badge. I’m a gamer, come on, this shit matters to me.
However, as you can see, I’m over halfway to completion… but I doubt I’m actually halfway through the novel. Looking at where I am the final total’s gonna be around the 70k mark, and I’m being pretty economical with exposition. It just happens to be a long and complicated story, and I need to tell it complete before I can go back and consider chopping stuff out. Right now, however, according to the stats, I’ll be done with 50k around the 23rd, which still allows time to get the thing finished at my level by the end of the month. I hope to put some extra work in today and tomorrow in order to push myself to about 35k. That’s what I’d like to happen anyway.
I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself because I know how important it is with the limited free time available before Christmas. Most importantly of all however, I need to prove to myself I can go from start to finish and make this happen, because there are so many other half finished projects I could be working on apart from this novel, and they all could potentially make me some money. It has become a bit of a personal crusade now to show I’m capable of sticking with this through to the end, as that’s always the part of the process with which I fail. Saying you’ll create something is one thing, having the courage to complete the task is a different ask entirely.
Today’s going to be a lucky day. I’m going to make sure of that, and take a huge step towards a major goal.
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