Only A Fool Would Agree

fool

I’m almost afraid to tackle this one. Maybe I should do the math today instead of tomorrow to avoid the pressure.

I began 1000 days of daily writing on August 13th 2007. That was 1750 days ago. My original goal date was May 9th, 2010. I am almost two years late, but I am done. It’s hard to know how proud to be of this particular ending. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy and satisfied in many ways. I just can’t help but wonder what might have come out of 1750 days of consecutive writing instead of my near every-other-day reality.

I suspect it may not have been that much better. That’s not sour grapes. I think despite the later than expected completion I’ve put in about as much effort as I could have along the way. When I started I had three kids under four; I now have four kids over four. I also have one less dog, two more dogs and one more cat. I picked the eight o’clock hour to write which became school drive time and the oldest dog’s favorite time to eat and poop. I can’t blame him; developed similar habits. I started in one office alone and ended in an entirely different office which I share. These aren’t anywhere near as bad as being stricken with cancer or losing a limb, but they were niggling enough that they took a toll.

I took some breaks. I forgot occasionally. And sometimes I said, “Fuck it.” Those are the only days I regret.

There are more than a few standout efforts I like. Hartwhile, Shanty, Benhá, Grumphook, Malachi, Pixies, Terminus, Crainewood, and Bringer come to mind for threads. (There would be more if I looked.) Fanboy, dialogue pairs, 20 minutes, and 10 plots for craft.

I’m glad I took the time to play a bit with the second person. I’m glad I found some comfort in if not much success from learning about structures. I’m glad I played with maquettes. I’m glad I’ve developed a repository of pictures to inspire me. I’m glad I can use a picture to write something new I never planned to write thirty seconds before I saw it. I’m glad I could come back from breaks. I’m glad I practiced planning ahead for known outages. I’m glad I made one submission.

I wish I had learned to write for sixty whole minutes. I wish I had learned to stick with something longer than I did. I wish I had submitted more. I wish I had tried harder with first person. I wish the same of present tense. I wish I had developed a following. I wish I had written more non-fictionally. I wish I had found a thousand words a day rhythm. I wish I’d learned to be better at editing.

What happens now?

I don’t know. I’ve actively avoided thinking about the answer to that obvious question. Pointless question.

I don’t expect to stop writing, but I don’t know how I can continue in the haphazard manner I’ve been carrying on these past years. I want to do more, but I want to do much differently than I have been. I want to account for plotting time, planning time, research and thinking. I want to do something which values that kind of effort in the pursuit of a goal. I want to take a break. I don’t want to feel guilty for not creating. I want to feel compelled to write each time I do.

If I had to be concrete. If I had to start something new and different and the same on Tuesday the 1001th, I’d say that I now write at night. That I have one or two threads I can alternate between. I’d say that my week has a rhythm; not my days. I’d say there were monthly and/or quarterly goals. I’d say I bring in a partner of sorts—someone to regularly discuss my work with. A manager. I’d say there would be a checklist.

Shit.

That sounds much harder than 1000 days. That doesn’t sound like a break. That sounds like something only a fool would agree to.

Photo courtesy of boxlace.

690 words on day 999

Obviously Unprompted

I use the tag ‘inspire’ when reading various blogs and producers of content to note intriguing content I find.  I mark between three and five items every day that give me pause.  While the tag isn’t exclusive to visual inspiration—at least it’s not supposed to be—I haven’t yet found enough inspiration from the written word to pin ‘inspire’ on any.

Recently I ran across two blogs listing prompts for writing.  I jump when others recommend such tools hoping they will have found some widget or technique I haven’t.  As I recall both these listed word based prompts.  I checked them all out thinking something might tickle me.  None did.

Part of me wants to find the irony.  I write yet I cannot find inspiration in the words of others.  My attention drops off of this conclusion like a cat skidding down the windshield of a parked car it’s not longer interested in perching on.  So far I’ve found written prompts fall into two categories: questions or demands and poetical near gibberish phrases.

“Someone has replaced your regular coffee with Folger’s Crystals.  How do you feel?”  I feel like hitting the Next Prompt button.

“Describe a garage sale at a haunted house.”  What for?

“thrice packed inside” Ummm…

So these turn out to be mechanical aids that don’t much aid as annoy.  I end up distracted by the inanity asking myself what I’m supposed to get out of that effort.  Maybe exposing my bitter feelings about coffee betrayal will help me cool down after being steamed?  I just don’t understand where I’m meant to go.  Maybe I’m not meant to derive any real use out of the effort.  Maybe I’m just warming up my muscles, stretching out my fingers.  I’m not much for throw away writing.  At least not throw away writing prompted by external forces.  I’m certain I can trash the crap my internal muse dishes out quite easily.

Anyhow, I like pictures.  I can read a beginning in them I can’t discern in canned words.

Day 296

One-hundred Ten Days Short

Ouch!  Just looked at the original Google Doc starting 1000 Days.  My first entry is dated August 13th.  Which means I’ve been at this daily writing thing more than a year and only have 284 entries to so for it.  I don’t recall abandoning weekends so early in the game.  I am a little afraid to check the math to see how many weekdays I must have missed too but I will anyway.

20080813 to current date equals 394 days.  110 days short of a full compliment.  In that time there have be 56 weekends encompassing 112 days.  Since I know I didn’t start dropping weekends till about halfway through this means I’ve missed more than a few weekdays of writing.  Being just two days ahead of the ‘just weekends off’ line is not pleasing.

I am certain a year ago I had higher expectations for more writing at this point.  In both quality, length, and regularity I’ve missed any mark I explicitly set or implicitly projected.  None of this surprises me.

I’ve not set standards for output.

I’ve not set goals for length.

I’ve not set rigid times for writing.

I do have a job and a life and a great number of kids to balance.  And while that combination of an excuse might seem tired to you, for me it feels both valid and improper at the same time.  Everyday is busy, but in much the same way.  With that kind of homogeneity in my distractions I should have been able to schedule around them better than I have.

This is my endeavor so I won’t embarrass myself by listing the fruitless distractions of the Internet.  Minus those I may have completed and sold my second novel by now.

Day 284

Rethinking The Monday-Tuesday Bridge

As I wrote the title to last night awesome post I realized I wasted a good title on an insubstantial post. “The Monday-Tuesday Bridge” conceals a plot by mixing a few common words unexpectedly.

Maybe the title and the mystery are quite literal. The city in which the story takes place named their streets after days of the week, similar to how sections of Denver are named in alphabetical order or Topeka after states. The bridge may rise over a river or train tracks to connect Monday Avenue to Tuesday Avenue.

Potentially it’s only half literal. There are no streets named Monday or Tuesday but there is a bridge with such bad traffic locals dubbed it the Monday-Tuesday Bridge because traversing the structure takes so long.

Both of those would work out nicely without much torquing of the plot. I am left to figure out how a bridge of any kind plays into that plot. I suppose there’s plenty of ways to clumsily insert a bridge or location of any kind into a story. Characters met there, died there, it was built, it fell down, it blew up, it meant different things to different people…

Where does that leave me with the less literal possibilities? Symbolic bridgey-ness seems the way to go for the bridge part, but where do you roll in the days of the week?

Consider this: there was a bridge so hastily constructed and then torn down that it “went up on a Monday and was down by late Tuesday afternoon”. The hyperbole being trimmed down to a Monday-Tuesday bridge and now meaning any action taken too quickly with no judgment, poor planning, and laughable results.

Something like that could be applied to relationships or business venture or any other ill advised undertaking a character might strive towards. I could even have a theme: futility on one end or perseverance on the other.

I haven’t exposed any of my titles here, but sometimes I think write kick-ass titles. Maybe I could get someone else to do that book part?

Word count: 324
Day 227

The 200 Day Hump

It is fair to say that a fourth daughter is taking it’s toll on my daily writing habit. When I haven’t been writing short things or bad things or reworking old things, I’ve been writing nothing. While the first three styles don’t conflict with what I do here at 1000 Days that last one directly opposes my goal to write every day. Incidentally I’m not normally pleased by short, bad, or reworked writing.

I didn’t assign this new habit to any particular hour of the day. Initially I wrote in the mornings with the occasional effort falling late in the evening. My longest runs and most interesting content occurred in the early stages when I focused in the morning. Not all the encouragement on the Internet insists on a specifying a time of the day along with their admonishment to write daily. Those that do, put such specifications on par with frequency as part of a successful strategy to form a writing habit. I’ll rededicate the 8 o’clock to 9 o’clock hour to this purpose in order to get over this hump.

Let me make explicit what I feel my be only implicit to some readers. This morning hour isn’t just a range to start in, it will be a duration to write for. Stick around to see what part fails first.

Word count: 221
Day 190

Down by the Memory Banks

I enjoy writing in second person. They say that reading first person feels intimate, I’m sure I haven’t noticed. But I am here to say that writing second person sure feels intimate. Maybe as a long time educator and former classroom teacher I like the instructional character of the language.

Maybe I am doing it wrong but it has the flow of a guide tour or a shared exploration. The eminently more popular third person is just telling. Even when you’re ‘showing, not tell’ it’s still telling. With second person its more like discovery.

And I like the voice I’ve been taking with the wasp posts. A rah rah sort of edgy coach.

Yesterday I wrote ‘memory banks’. I just wanted to say to anyone savvy enough to know that we no longer call them memory banks that I know that too. The ambiance of the phrase appeals to me. Now I’ll have to dig up similar phrases to compliment the piece. Maybe I could ‘cross reference’ something.

Word count: 167
Day 165

Accept Mission

Several months ago I read a posting for a job writing game scripts. I’ve read enough of the Internet to know that writing isn’t as glamorous as we hope. Writing is a skill and a talent. The technique of turning that skill and talent into cash is hard work. It’s a job.

I know nothing about game writing except game reading. I know that I gloss nearly everything in the script to find out where I need to go next, what I need to kill, or how many gold pieces it will cost me to armor up. All the other stuff is blah-blah-blah. However, there is still a plot. I have to feel like going from here to there and then performing some task follows a reasonable amount of logic otherwise I’ll just bail on the game even if I don’t read it.

The writer that answered that ad must do that plotting too–along with the crap dialogue I only scan–so I am still exposed to her output. I wonder if that plotting is different than what goes on in a novel.

Seems that in many ways it should be, but that when you know the whole game it probably isn’t. I suspect there are plenty of plots overlapping both temporally and spacially. I imagine there are a few missions that can occur at any stage in the game because they are above or aside the overall game. In these various raids your character earns hit points and experience points and money and plenty of other things for advancing his traits. I doubt he accumulates anything that disrupts the overarching plot.

A character never fails so miserably at stabbing Dastardly Wolves to death in the Growling Swamp that the various Non-player Characters stop offering him jobs to do. “Sorry Kyle of Blackwater you appear incapable of even the most trivial of tasks. I will wait for another Ranger. [OK]?” Or worse, “You’re the crazy man that walks into walls, stands as if stunned in the square, never eats or sleep, and the disappears for hours. Please go away. [OK]?”

But none of that was really where I meant to go in this. I meant to consider the style of writing. Is it like screen writing with EXTs and INTs? Is it like those second person “Choose Your Own Adventure”TM books?

Hmmmm?

Word count: 387
Day 163