Sketchbook #45

I have no idea what’s going on with July. It’s been one of those months that’s simultaneously been dragging on forever and is disappearing in a flash. But July is almost over (however that happened), and I guess it’s time to think about how it went.

I’m going to start with photography, because that’s the bit that doesn’t make me want to tear out my hair this month. (Fair warning for when I get to the writing bit of this update.)

I’m still in that rut I mentioned in June, still taking far too many photos of flowers and not enough photos of literally anything else. So that’s not great. But I’m still carrying a real camera a few times a week, and I do like the photos I’m taking, even if they’re kind of boring. 

But the real progress has been in the super-secret Big Scary Project. I’m still not ready to launch, but I have made some huge steps forward this month. (That ‘next step’ I mentioned at the end of June—the one that required an incredibly tedious bus ride? I actually tackled that the day after I said that it was going to be my top priority for July. And the bus out there wasn’t air conditioned, so it was pretty much exactly as painful as I imagined it’d be. It was slightly better coming back—at least there was a/c.) 

Point is, I’m incredibly proud of the progress I’ve made on that project this month, and I’m super excited about the next steps. If I can keep the momentum going, I’ll be ready to make some actual announcements by fall.

Now. Writing. (Feel free to skip this bit. Last warning.)

The Black Sun is still with beta readers, so I’m still trying very hard not to even think about that. I’ve been doing a lot of character work on These Modern Things—I’ve got the core of my cast (mostly) figured out, and I had a bit of a revelation when I developed one of the antagonists. She sort of came out of nowhere, but she adds so much clarity to the story (and backstory), and I’m really looking forward to writing her. And I’m coming up with good names for these people, which is starting to make them feel real. (I mentioned a few weeks ago that my go-to character-naming site had lost its usefulness? I’ve been using Nametrix, and that’s been a big help. It’s not great for coming up with ideas on the fly without having some criteria in mind—there’s no way to show a random group of names—but it’s good for verifying that a name fits the demographics of a character.)

… which brings us to Violet Lane.

This story is still fighting me. Well… it’s less ‘fighting’ than ‘passive resistance.’ I built my daily wordcount back up to pre-illness levels, and I’ve gone back and filled in some blanks in the story (I apparently forgot about two entire plot threads), and by every indication, it’s moving along nicely.

Except I’ve got this overwhelming feeling that it’s not working. Or… it’s technically working—there’s nothing truly objectionable about it—but it’s not the story that I want it to be. The tone is off (I know that much), but beyond that… I’m not sure where the problem is. I’ve got a few ideas, but… I don’t know.

On top of that, I seem to have entirely forgotten how to manage my time.

I was doing fine before. I’ve got two good blocks of time in my day for writing—one in the morning, right after my workout or run, and one later in the day (I’m usually a bit more distractible then, so that’s when I usually do prepwork or editing). But for some reason, in the past month or so, it’s been next to impossible to settle into that morning session. And since that’s when I do the deeper work, it feels like my whole day’s been wasted.

I can (and do) blame the heat for some of it—it takes me a bit longer to recover from my workout when it’s this warm out. But that’s about ten minutes, and it doesn’t feel like the rest of my morning routine is taking any longer than it did before. It doesn’t explain why I’m sitting down at the computer at 30 to 40 minutes later than I was back in May. And that half hour is a huge part of my writing time. 

If you bailed out when I started complaining about writing, this is a good spot to come back. The tl;dr version: I have absolutely no idea what’s going on—with my story, or with my actual writing routine.

So! Obviously, I’ve got to sort some stuff out in August.

For photography, my top priority is still the super-secret Big Scary Project, but I need to get out of this creative rut. I just really want to take photos of something other than flowers right now, but I’m still at a bit of a loss as to what that means. I’m going to go through some of my idea books this week, and come up with a few different things to work on. 

For writing… I’ve got some serious soul-searching to do when it comes to Violet Lane. I love the concept so much, and I know there’s something there, I just have to figure out where I took the wrong turn. (I’ve got this horrible fear that maybe I’m just not ready to write this story? I can’t do it justice yet? But… ugh. I hope that’s not it.) In the meantime, I’m going to keep moving forward on These Modern Things. I should be ready to start the actual outline very soon.

And I absolutely need to figure out the whole time-management thing. I might need to get serious about tracking my time again, or… I don’t know. I need to figure out where my time is going, and whether fixing it means bringing things back under control or adapting to the new normal.

It might just be time for a bit of a reset. That happens sometimes, too. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.