We’re officially half-way through the year. Or we will be in a few days.
I’m mostly saying that to remind myself, because it feels like 2018 is never going to end. It feels like we’ve been stuck in 2018 for three years already, it will always be 2018, this is our life now. This is an impossible year in which to write, or look for beauty, or make art in general. June in particular has been a difficult month - in light of the news, it’s hard not to feel like this is all a little bit shallow.
But art - writing and photography - is what’s keeping me sane this month. This year.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into May.
I finished April feeling good about how I was approaching my goals. I was feeling really good about the first draft of The Black Sun and my writing routine in general, but not so great about Violet Lane. And kind of awful about my photography. And I wasn’t exactly clear on my goals for May; I knew I wanted to keep moving forward, but beyond that…?
So I have no real metrics with which to judge May. Vague emotional impressions, it is!
I had one big goal in April: to get over the ennui and inertia of March and find my focus again. (So… nothing too big, then?)
I think I succeeded. Mostly.
The first step was reviewing and revising my long-term goals, and figuring out how to keep them top-of-mind. And that’s actually been the biggest change I’ve made this month: I’ve completely changed the way I set and keep track of my goals, and I’m working to modify the ways I juggle day-to-day tasks and projects. I’ve taken some big steps, but the whole thing still feels very much like a work-in-progress; I’m still making little changes, and figuring out the flaws in my new systems, but I do feel like I’m (finally) on the right track. (I’ll go into more detail later, once I’ve ironed out the kinks. The whole thing feels like it merits its own post.)
That’s the general. And I’ll be honest: the general is working better than the specific for me right now.
When it comes to the big picture, I have a three-month attention span.
It takes three months for that initial burst of energy and enthusiasm to fade.
It takes three months to lose sight of my big goals, and get bored with the day-to-day grind required to achieve them. Three months to start to question whether those goals are actually possible, and whether I’ve got the drive to see them through. Three months to start thinking ’I don’t feel like writing today. I’ll make it up tomorrow.’
In other words, March was difficult.
Last week, I said that if I didn’t start actually writing this story by today, you could nag me about it in the comments.
You can stand down. I’ve started writing, and no nagging was required.
It’s been… a month and a half since I finished the first draft of The Black Sun.
I haven’t looked at it yet. Soon. As soon as I’ve actually started the Violet Lane rewrite… which I wanted to be working on by now, but I spent most of this week with a minor-but-annoying cold that slowed my progress. But it’s going to happen! The outline is taking shape - I broke out the index cards late last week - and I hope to be able to start the actual writing by the end of next week.
Actually, I’m going to put it out there: I am going to start the actual writing by the end of next week.
February was one of those months that just… didn’t work for me. That one week in the middle - something like a vacation, but not quite - threw me off my game for the entire month. I had a hard time being productive the week before (because I knew I’d be taking a break, so I didn’t want to build momentum only to lose it again), and I struggled to find my stride again after.
I really need to find a way to work around interruptions like that. They’re a real struggle for me, and I’ve never been able to figure out a way to integrate them into my creative process.
If January taught me anything, it’s that I need to have some kind of well-defined photography project if I’m going to keep shooting. And I need to make a public commitment to that project. Without those two things, I really struggle to stay on track with any of my photography goals.
In other words, it wasn’t a good month for me as a photographer.
On Monday, I was convinced that I wouldn’t be meeting my self-imposed deadline to finish this story, despite the commitment I made last week. It wasn’t that there was a lot of story left to go, just… the story that was left was a bit daunting. This was the final set piece, the ultimate confrontation, and I knew it would be draining. And it was.
But I did it.
I have been so lazy this week.
I intentionally took Tuesday off from writing (I had reasons. They were good, and I stand by them), and my schedule on Wednesday meant that my head wasn’t in the game, and I’m not writing today because (apparently) my brain just doesn’t work that way on Fridays, no matter how much I want it to.
So I only wrote two days this week. But they were good days!