Sketchbook #15

I had high hopes for August. Realistic hopes—slowly increase my daily word count, update my portfolio and try to get back to work on my 52 Week Photo Project, and try to figure out how to stay out of the creative rut that I’d fallen into earlier in the summer—but they were still kind of optimistic. And they were all going well at the beginning of the month.

And then the computer decided to freak out on me: writing (or at least typing) became extremely difficult, photo editing became impossible, and I suddenly had to spend most of my time first troubleshooting the computer I’d been using for six years, and then transitioning to a brand new machine.

So… August hasn’t exactly been my most creative month. It’s only in the last few days that I’ve been able to get back to any sort of meaningful work, and I’m going to be honest: the unscheduled interruption and all the frustrations that went with it hit me hard. It doesn’t really feel like I’ve accomplished anything at all this month.

But that’s partly why I write these posts: to remind myself of what I have done, even in a month like this one.

First off: photography’s still stalled. I’m not going to try to gloss over that one—like I said, I wasn’t able to edit photos on the old computer (it was a graphics issue) for most of the month, or get around to updating my portfolio. And it took me a while to get the new computer set up the way I like it to do that kind of work. (This would be one of those “frustrations” I mentioned.) And while none of that stopped me from taking photos… I haven’t really done that either. It’s been a bad month, as far as photography goes.

Writing fared a little better, but it still wasn’t great. I could have kept up with the daily free writing, I suppose—I am still capable of writing longhand—but I didn’t. I’ve started again in the last week, though, and it’s going reasonably well. My word count’s about the same as it was, but once I get used to the new keyboard (I didn’t think I’d have to get used to the new keyboard, but apparently I do), I should be back on track.

More importantly, I’ve made some real progress on my NaNoWriMo outline. I mean, I’ve pretty much had to put all the work I’ve already done out of my mind and focus on the actual story, rather than the backstory, but other than that…. I’ve figured out a few characters that have been giving me trouble, and I’m slowly starting to make sense of the plot. I’m annoyed at the time I lost this month, I’m still nervous that I’m not going to have enough to go on once November rolls around, and I’m still struggling to find a way to outline this story that doesn’t suck all the energy out of it, but… it hasn’t been a total loss.

“What about drawing?” you ask. “That doesn’t rely on a computer.” No, it doesn’t. But my heart hasn’t really been in it, either. Yes, I’ve managed to keep up with it, but I’m pretty much just going through the motions right now. Again: it’s been a month of frustrations.

So what’s next?

The good news is, I’ve just about got all the computer issues sorted. That’s not standing in my way anymore, and I can’t use it as an excuse. And it has been an excuse. While it’s been a genuine struggle lately to do the work that I need and want to be doing, that’s as much—more—about me as it is the technical issues I’ve had to deal with. But I’m slowly figuring out what motivates me to make things, and how to remember that when things get difficult. I’m not where I want to be—I’m not even where I was at the beginning of August—but I’m ready to get back to work.

I’ve also got the advantage of having a plan in place. At the beginning of the month, before everything started to go downhill, I sat down and made a list of the things I want to (and should be able to) get done by the end of the year. And I might be a little bit behind schedule, but it’s still a good plan. I’m still committed to getting through NaNoWriMo. I’m still committed to finishing my 52-Week photo project.

So, that’s my hope for September: to get back on track. I’ve still got plenty of time to work on my NaNoWriMo outline (I’ll just keep telling myself that). I should be able to clear the photography backlog (or at the very least, I should be able to work on clearing the photography backlog). I can take those lessons I’ve been learning about motivating myself, and put them into practice. And I can start figuring out how this new computer is going to affect my routine and workflow, and (I hope) use it as a fresh start. (And we all know how I love those.)

I won’t say that September is going to be a good month. I’m still feeling too gunshy for that. But it’s probably going to be better than August, and that’s good enough.