I only wrote two days out of my five usual working days. Sunday, Monday, and Thursday were given over to a day off with my wife, work and chores, and vet visits, respectively. I managed to get a pretty good amount of writing done in the two days I actually wrote, however.
As far as my working habits, little changed. I go through the same routine, and at 10am the lights are out and I’m disconnected from the internet, down to write. I didn’t put on any additional sounds beyond the noise maker app, though I did experiment with it a little. I might attempt to use it for location specific sounds, to get me in a different headspace when I need something for a particular location or scene.
I worked on two projects during these two days. On both days, the morning sessions were given over to High Empty, and I’ve set a 1500 daily word count goal for it. I’ve spent most of my tracked time working on this particular project. I have a rough plot in mind, and each session has been in service of putting the pieces together. I’ve been building the world, creating necessary characters, and putting them into situations where they interact. The first act’s major plot points are mostly mapped out, the work at this point is writing all of the connecting narrative that propels the story along and makes it all hum along.
High Empty itself is shaping up to be bigger than I originally envisioned, but now that I’m finally committed to creating it, I’m finding myself more and more curious about where it’s going. I end each writing session with a desire to keep writing, to figure out how to lose myself in the world, its characters, the story that shapes it.
I also found that my first session usually has a lower word count than my second. Some of it is just finding my groove, and some of it has to do with what I’m doing in my first session. For a good portion of my tracking time, I’ve been using the first writing session of the day to start scenes and introduce new characters, both of which take up a lot of energy. When you’re not creating them ahead of time, figuring out the necessary elements of a character can slow you down.
Once I’m in that pocket, the next session goes by without a hitch.
My biggest change has been in adjusting my word count. I set it to a hard number, so I have something to aim for every day. It has helped immensely. Seeing the notification that I’ve made it after I’m done has brought me enormous satisfaction, and seeing the progress bar turn green just makes me feel good. It’s a simple trick, but it keeps me going.
I finished a couple of books over the last couple of weeks: Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist, and Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey. I also read volumes 4, 5, and 6 of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki, and the first and second volumes of Astro City by Kurt Buisek and Brent Anderson. Silverthorn was a fine book, but reading it in 2017 brings out a lot of flaws that make it feel dated—chief among them a total lack of actual female characters. I gave it a pass because despite that, it’s not an inherently sexist or misogynist.
Ashes was a mess. The perspective shifts are jarring, there’s little sense of a driving narrative, and it’s just really boring. The political wrangling lacks bite, the action scenes are too few and far between to keep up tension, and the characters themselves just feel flat, lifeless, and stale. There weren’t any real moments here. The Expanse as a series remains firmly above-average sci-fi adventure, but the last three books have fallen pretty flat. Ashes limps to the finish, without any real resolution or intense climax. A seventh book was announced recently, and it mentioned that it is the start of the final trilogy. Let’s hope they can recover.
Kurosagi and Astro City are wildly different comics, but they’re both rooted in telling stories using characters first. Both cover a lot of ground, and they work to create a deep and interesting world from their limited material. Astro City in particular does this very well, by hinting at a wider world that’s always existed in its first volume, and then diving deeper into the world in the second.
Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to this week. I’ll be back next week with another update.