Tag Archives: failingtowrite

2017: The Year of Shit

love 'em shoot 'em front coverSeriously, this year has been crap, on a personal level as well as a political level.

I lost my best friend, separated from my partner, moved house and city, started a new job, left that job, started another new job (as a freelancer, ARGH), had a few family stresses, and I miss my cat. I’ve had a nice wallop of depression, anxiety and insecurity as well as imposter syndrome, and frankly, I’m feeling pretty shit about it all. On a wider level, current events are scaring me; I feel like the world is spiralling out of control, and everyone seems so bloody horrible. It’s hard for me to understand the sheer level of hatred that seems to be the norm, and the wilful destruction of so much of the world just seems insane. I’ve had to back away from the news for the sake of my sanity, even though I want to do something – I just don’t know what’s going to help.

On the writing front, it’s been pretty shit too. I halted NaNoWriMo as the book I wanted to write wasn’t ready to be written; I’ve shelved No Man’s Land after twenty failed subs; there’s been a delay in publishing the next GreenSky book thanks to factors outside my control; and I haven’t been able to write the books that are sitting in my head, or even the short stories that I’d love to get out there.

But *takes a deep breath* that isn’t everything. I know it isn’t.

I’ve got a lovely new home, and an incredibly supportive family. I’ve landed on my feet with a job and time to just recover; even with the double wallop of depression and life, I’ve still been blogging, talking to people and managing to work. I’m reconnecting with old friends and working on making new ones. I’ve been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, started yoga, found a kitten and gave him to a good home, read a bunch-load of really good books, and I’m still doing new things, little by little.

empty skies and sunlight front coverAnd on the writing front, Empty Skies and Sunlight was published, along with several short stories. I’ve edited one anthology (Terra Nullius, out next year) and assisted with more edits, proofreads and beta-reads than I can count. I’ve signed a three-novella deal under another name (no, I’m not going to tell you about that under this one, sorry!) and written & edited those novellas, and I’ve had several short stories published, both under this name and the other.  I haven’t got as far as I wanted to, but I’ve kept going. I’ve kept writing.

I’m feeling incredibly lost right now, and incredibly low. I can’t find my path; I’m just wandering, unsure of what to write or what to do. I feel like I’m making constant wrong decisions, and I’m still filtering through everything that’s happened in the past few years. I’m watching the world burn and trying to find something to do to let people know that not everyone thinks like the headlines, and that there are people who disagree with the current trend of events, but I feel like one tiny voice in the mass and I’m not strong enough to get heard. I’m scared for the future, both my own and the wider world; I’m trying to piece back together everything that I want to keep, without knowing exactly what’s going to help me in the future.

But I’m going to make plans for 2018. I’m going to spend a few months just getting myself back on my feet, pushing myself forward. I don’t know if it’s the right direction, but at least it will be a direction. And that’s all I can do.

I’ve had a Year of Shit, but I’ve got through it alive. I’ve taken it one day at a time, and I’ve reached the end. That is the biggest thing I’ve achieved this year. I’ve got to the end.

I’m going to do a post in a bit about my aims for 2018; at least if I put them down, then I might work on them!

Gaming (and typing practise!): Epistory

I have been gaming a bit more recently; I’ve had a whole stack on my wishlist and I’ve picked a few up when they’ve been on Steam sale, and over the last few weeks, I’ve started playing again – mostly a game called Epistory!

I wanted to love Stardew Valley, but it had too many bugs, too many random quests, no help given….screw that. I’m sure it’s fun if you get into it, but for me it was just tedious, and I refuse to waste time on tedium. I also had a go at something similar to Sid Meier’s Civ, but didn’t get on with it.

But Epistory…love love LOVE.

In a story where everything is to be written, ride a giant fox and fight insectile corruption in a beautiful origami world.

I mean, how cool does that sound? And it really is!

The world itself is stunning; everything unfolds as you approach it, and it’s origami-and-paper style designs, beautifully drawn. It’s a sheer joy to look at, especially as there’s a range of different areas that you can travel through, all rendered with different settings (I particularly like the ice floes). The plot is basically “find area, explore, do some puzzles, whomp creatures, learn a new language, explore more” but each level is different enough that it’s not tedious – and there’s a larger story wound into the world, writing itself as you go.

And that’s part of the fun – the story tells itself on the ground as you travel. You fight monsters by typing words and letters. You reveal treasure chests and flowers by getting the words right. If you’re trying to learn touch-typing, it’s an excellent way to learn – as I’m finding! I’m so used to writing from my head that I don’t have to think about how to type a word – but give me one on the screen and I get a little lost, so it’s actually an excellent tool.

I don’t know how long the story is, but you can keep exploring the world even between the levels. On a gameplay level, I love that the game automatically saves and if you die, it puts you back to a sensible save point (so doesn’t immediately put you back into danger!) The interface and tools are very easy – the only thing I’m finding difficult is the movement controls, as the game uses E-F-J-I. It helps typing, but unfortunately I can’t get them into my head as directions so I’m constantly going the wrong way…but that’s a minor bug compared to the rest of the game.

I don’t know if you can adjust difficult levels – if you can, Epistory would definitely be an excellent game to teach children touch-typing! It’s sweet for all ages, though, and beautifully drawn. The story’s still unfolding for me (and I love that I can play in small chunks!) so I’ll keep you updated!


Writer’s Block: Going Back To Basics

Well, it’s not exactly writer’s block. It’s a feeling that this novel is not the one I want to write; there isn’t a yet a story I can tell. It’s missing spark. I’d be able to write it, sure, and it’d be ok.

And that’s the problem. I don’t want to write an ok novel. I am not in the business of “meh”, darling!

So. Adrian and I had an informal Cake Club meeting last week, as Sophie is chaotically busy with maps; and we ate too much Yorkshire pudding, talked over Adrian’s (lack of) editing progress, I got all of his gossip…and then we spread my novel out, metaphorically, and played with the pieces.

It’s missing a spark? Then one of the bits needs flipping. Something needs adding. Sure, you might have a lot of the pieces – but something just ain’t quite right.

Adrian was picking apart themes, and we settled on a strand of life/death. So…ghosts? Zombies? One of my second themes is essentially WW1, so can I use that existential dread to wind into the horror and enormous impact that the war had on citizens and soldiers? I’ve also got a nice line in necromancy, so ghosts would work well there.

Another strand was looking at tropes. Zombies have been done to death (hehe) but could they be flipped somehow? What could be taken as a baddy that hasn’t been done in my context? What’s the polar opposite of a Tudor society, and can I incorporate it somehow? What would really scare the people of that society – and us?

And a third strand was thinking about voice. Adrian prefers to look at overall voice – after all, you can twist the same character into many different styles – but I have to start with the characters. I had someone I wanted to write, but…could I change them? What voice do they have? What setting do they fit into?

And actually, I might have something there…

It’s all still ideas at the moment; I’ve got a lot of wool, and I’m going to have to wait until I find a thread I can pull that will let me knit the rest up. This is a frustrating point in writing, as I really do just have to let it settle out! I can’t force the ideas; I have to let them come.

But it certainly gave me things to think about!

NaNo2017: Temporary (?) Hiatus

Givin’ up. And that’s fine!

A friend commented recently about my laid-back attitude to writing. I was chatting about writing thing, and commented that I’ve got a few things on the go, but for now…I’m not writing. But there’s no angst; I’m not particularly bothered. When I feel like writing again, I’ll write.

It basically comes down to practicality. I could write. I could sit and drag every sentence out of my brain. I could get the words down. But it would, frankly, make for a shit story.  I have ideas, thoughts, bubbles –  but the jigsaw pieces aren’t fitting together. I could make it look ok, ish, but….

I don’t have a problem with stepping back. I’ve got editing work and proofreading work and I’m still thinking about everything – I’m currently pondering names for No Man’s Land, thinking about the Tudor period, storing little autumnal images in my brain for later use, people-watching to see what I can store. Nothing’s going to waste. It’s just that currently, I’m not in a state to output it as I want to. And that’s not oh-my-god-it’s-going-to-be-shit or writer paralysis: it’s just practical for me. I know, after 15 years of writing, how I work best. And working when my brain is depression-fogged and broken is not the best time to get work out of it.

I also don’t see NaNo as a competition. I never have, since I break the rules regularly (novella writer!) and, frankly, competition doesn’t float my boat. I don’t give a crap who’s written more words (and friendly banter on the first day this year gave me a panic attack, thinking that everyone hated me) so honestly, I’m not a good NaNo candidate. I’ll leave the pushing onwards to everyone who does care, and for the time being, just do what I need to.

So I’m shelving the project, and I’m waiting. I don’t currently have a story that I want to tell – and that’s fine. I’ll just keep thinking, and one will come.

Depression, Writing and Week 1 of NaNoWriMo

An update from Day 7…I’m somewhere around 17,000 words, of which about 10,000 were the first day.

Depression is absolutely crippling me at the moment.

This is why I don’t usually try to force writing; every word is like pulling teeth. My head’s full of grey fog, and the story. Just. Will. Not. Come. It won’t flow. The characters are flat, the scenery isn’t there so I can’t describe it, and everything’s just one damn event after another. I don’t care about this story.

And frankly, that sucks. I know I can, and I want to. I loved the story when I was planning, but currently, I’m just not doing it justice. It’s frickin’ difficult to push through the fog long enough to write a couple of sentences, just so I can put something in my wordcount.

I’m taking it day by day – as some days are better, some worse – but I seem to have had a run of bad ones recently. I’m hoping that for one day, the fog might lift and I might be able to write again…

Just struggling at the moment. One step at a time, one day at a time, one sentence at a time. That’s all I can do.