Monday, April 17, 2017

Balance is hard

I haven't posted since I finished the second short story on Thursday, so I thought a brief update was in order before we resume our regularly scheduled programming.

My Friday and Saturday were spent with friends who I hadn't seen in a while. The past month has been a pretty constant grind of either streaming, writing, or school work. I had the chance to catch up with some people and took it, even though I knew it would mean nothing else would get done. Friends and family are the most important part of my life, and always will be, no matter my personal goals, and I enjoyed the much needed time with them.

Sunday was Easter, which ended up being the day I tried to recharge and figure out what I have to do this week. Since I started this blog, I've been trying to figure out how to balance everything. I haven't succeeded, and Sunday afternoon I started to feel a bit overwhelmed by the effort. As I'm sure many of you can attest, there is simply not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do.

This week, my last week of classes for the semester, I have 5 papers to finish up. That doesn't bother me, as writing papers is right up my alley, but I am aware of it, and aware of the time it takes. That means less time for other things, and causes that feeling of frustration as I try to figure out how to fit it all in.

The truth is, I can't. In terms of what I can get done, I had to get organized and look at things objectively. My list of personal priorities looks something like this:
  1. Health
  2. Friends/Family
  3. Work/School
  4. Writing
  5. Streaming
  6. Everything else
That's the order I view them in, too. So, having established that, I had to look at what I want/need my typical day to be life in order to accomplish what I want to accomplish.

I came up with a basic daily structure - exercise, followed by school, followed by writing. That means I have to get up early and get my exercise in first thing in the morning. It also means that the end of my day is devoted to writing, since most days I have either school, work, or both.

Friends and family I fit in as occasion arises. I try to spend at least part of two days enjoying time with the important people in my life.

Streaming, sadly, is difficult to find time for. I miss it, but not enough to move it up the list. It is where it belongs. I'll fit it in when I can, which, honestly, isn't going to be very often, and isn't going to be a focus at all until I nail down the daily schedule of exercise/work/write.

I've finished two short stories in 2 weeks. I will work on a third this week, and plan on finishing it by the weekend again. I'm happy with that progress, even though I haven't gotten around to editing either story. I think about the edits I want to make a lot, but it just has to wait until I have the time. that should be after all the school work is done for the semester.

Tomorrow, I get my ass up and to the gym. I'm tired now, so I'm going to relax for a few and get to bed early, so I can wake up early and start sticking to that simple schedule.

Gym/Work/School/Write

That's got to be my day. That's got to be my life. It's what I want, and the only thing keeping me from it is myself.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Thursday

Class today, then homework, then a nap, because I didn't sleep well last night. Woke up, had dinner, watched some television, and got to writing around 10:30.

Wrote for an hour and a half and finished short story #2. There are minimal edits to be made. The story clocked in at 4108 words, and is the beginning of a series. I'm not sure how I'll approach it yet, though I expect there will be several shorts and eventually a novel, or perhaps just a collection of the stories that forms a longer work. In any case, it's done except for edits, and I have some background writing I'd like to do for it to figure some things out. That can wait, though.

Work tomorrow, and then plans to go out, so writing is suspect. I'm going to try to start something new longhand on my lunch break and see how that goes. If not, no biggie.

Fiction word count tonight - 1588
Fiction word count April - 20012
Blog word count tonight - 169
Blog word count April - 6409

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wednesday

Woke up with a mild hangover this morning, which was to be expected. I started the day drinking plenty of water and catching up on some Netflix before I transitioned to homework. After I ate some lunch, I was feeling fine, if a bit tired. Getting old sucks.

More homework in the afternoon, and then spend a couple of hours finishing the Iron Fist series. It wasn't good, but I didn't find it as bad as the reviews say it is, either. Mostly, I felt compelled to finish it to keep up with the continuity and prepare for the rest of the Defender shows in the Marvel Universe. I'm hoping they bring things together sooner rather than later.

Played a couple games of Rocket League and a couple games of Hearthstone, and then figured I'd better get some writing done, so I opened up the story from Monday night and put on some music and got to it.

Wrote for an hour and a half and wrote about 1500 words. The story is two-thirds done already, and I know where it's going now, having thought about it a lot yesterday. I went back and cleaned up a few things, too, since I had no idea what I was even writing about on Monday. Now that I know the story in my head better, there were things that needed fixing before I moved on.

I'll probably finish the story tomorrow night. Still have to get to editing the first story, which will most likely have to wait for Sunday at this point. I'll get to it though.

So, yeah, I was able to take a day off writing and then get right back to it tonight. I wasn't too worried, but it still feels good to have not gone down that road. Honestly, I didn't intend to take last night off, but I was a bit too drunk when I got home to do anything but go to sleep.

Fiction words tonight - 1483
Fiction words April - 18424
Blog words tonight - 339
Blog words April - 6240

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday

Taking the night off from everything, except getting a buzz on with my best friend, 'cause sometimes you just need to say fuck it.

Word Counts unchanged.

See ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Monday

Did the work thing all day, during which I read the play, Doubt, by John Patrick Shanley. Solid piece of writing, readable in under an hour, and I enjoyed it. Not a feel good piece, not at all, as it deals with sexual abuse by a priest, but the writing is sharp and the whole play works brilliantly. I guess that's why it won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Headed to school and discussed said play, then came home and ate dinner and got in a stupid argument. No real reason for it to escalate, but it did, and that put me in a bad mood for a few hours, so I turned to Netflix for a chill pill.

Ended up watching Louis C.K.'s latest stand-up, which turned my mood around, and then figured I'd better get to writing. I didn't want to just edit, figuring I'd save it for tomorrow when I have more time, but I didn't have anything in mind to write about. So, I pulled a trick I'd learned from Dean Wesley Smith's blog and looked for a random title.

Now, Dean has a list of half-titles that he's pulled from old magazines, and he smashes them together until he finds something interesting.  have no such list, so I turned to the internet.

There are a few random title generators out there. I tried three different ones, with awful results, before I figured I'd just let my mind wander and see what it came up with.

The first thing I latched onto was the name, "Half Moon Canyon," which I thought just sounded cool. I tried to find another half for it to give it some sense of action and urgency, something that would drive me in the direction of a story. First thought was Bad Day, which turned to Last Day, which then turned to Last Ride. I ended up with Last Ride to Half Moon Canyon as my title, put it at the top of the page, and tried to come up with a character name. Once I'd gotten that, I typed it in and off I went.

I wrote for about 45 minutes and banged out 1037 words, which is a solid start for what looks like a shorter story than the last. You never know, though, or at least I don't. I know from experience that I tend towards a longer form, but I'm trying to learn to write a nice, concise short story, and I'm focusing on that a bit more this time through.

Anyway, leaving off there for the night. Kept the streak intact, got the second story started, and I'm off and running. Tomorrow I'll try to get the editing done on story #1, which is titled Fairway to Heaven. Then, in the evening, I'll continue with story #2.

As soon as I feel like Fairway is ready to go, I'll post it here for you to read.

Fiction word count tonight - 1037
Fiction word count April - 16941
Blog word count tonight - 501
Blog word count April - 5901

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday

I finished catching up on sleep today, staying in bed til noon. I felt more refreshed than I have in a month when I finally got up, and was pleasantly surprised to see it was a beautiful day, nearly 70 degrees and sunny.

With nothing planned today but finishing up the story, I decided to take it easy for a bit. In fact, I started browsing the internet stock image sites in search of a good image for the cover for the short story, and found a couple I like. One is perfect, but rather expensive, and probably out of my budget, so I'll probably go with the other.

I thought I'd like to do some reading on the deck while the day was nice, so I grabbed the book I started reading last night, Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin, and set myself up on the deck to get some sun.
I sat out there until almost 5:30, turning pages and just enjoying the novel. When I finally felt like I'd had enough sun, I went inside, sat down on the couch, and read til almost 7, finishing the novel in one day.

Think I enjoyed it?

I had dinner with the wife and we watched Arrival Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. Good, intelligent sci-fi flick where the aliens are really just the backdrop piece, and the characters are everything. That's almost always a win in my book, and I enjoyed the movie, but I would like to watch it again sometime, as I feel like I got lost a bit along the way.

At 9 pm, I figured it was high time to get to work, so I sat down with the intent of finishing the short story. I wrote for about 2 hours, getting in more than 3000 words and finally wrapping up the story after a whopping 53 pages. I have some definite edits I want to do, and I'll work on them tomorrow night with the hope of posting the story for your reading pleasure late tomorrow or, at the latest, sometime Tuesday. I'll leave the story up for a week, at which point I'll pull it, slap my cover on it, and get it up for sale.

If things go according to plan, I should have another story up next week, and every week thereafter. I hope the next one is a bit shorter, though. this was way longer than I expected. It almost could have been a novel if I'd taken it a different way. When it's done, I expect that I'll chop around 10 pages off, which still leaves me with a 12,000 word short story.

I'm very happy with how this first week has gone. I still have to work on getting the exercise thing down, but as far as writing, it's worked out very well. I've gained stamina and feel like my writing chops came back and improved as the week progressed. I averaged more than 2000 words of fiction a day, boosted by the 7000 words I wrote the last two days, but still, it' been a solid and productive week.

This week, I'll work on the next story, work on the cover for the first story, and try to get a bunch of school work done early as the end of the semester nears. I'll continue to blog every night, and my goal is still simple: at least 1000 words a day.

I hope you all enjoyed this first week as much as I did.

See you tomorrow.

Fiction word count tonight - 3304
Fiction word count April - 15904
Blog word count tonight - 592
Blog word count April - 5400

Saturday

Got up this morning, went to work for half a day, got out, came home, had lunch, and immediately fell asleep for 4+ hours. I thought I'd take a short nap, but apparently my body had other ideas. I've been complaining about being tired all week, so I guess I must have needed the extra rest.

Once I was awake, I finished reading Farmer Giles of Ham. It's an excellent read, very Tolkien with the feel of an old fable, and surprisingly evocative of all things medieval and fantasy. Somewhere between Ivanhoe and Arthurian legend, I'm glad to have finally gotten around to it.

I had dinner with the wife and watched Counting Cars for an hour, decided that the next car I spend money on will be a classic American muscle car appropriately restored, and figured a shower was in order.

Finally, at about 10:30, I sat down and opened up the story to get some writing done. I hoped to finish it tonight, but that didn't work out. I did, however, write more than 4000 words between 10:30 and 1:30. The story has blossomed to over 40 pages, and even with what I want to edit and cut it will be 30+, but I'm happy with that.

Most importantly, the streak is intact, and I've proven to myself that I can write for longer sessions when I am well rested. I just have to keep working on getting this sleep schedule in line and I'll be feeling good.

I have no school work that is pressing this weekend, so the plan is to get a good night's sleep and then get up and finish the story tomorrow. Then, I'll do a quick edit and cut where I already know it is needed, and sometime Monday I will post it here.

I failed at the exercise thing again today. It's starting to bother me, so I have to make time for it. I'll get it done tomorrow. The first step is always the most difficult to take.

Fiction word count tonight - 4006
Fiction words count April - 12600
Blog word count tonight - 347
Blog word count April - 4808