Over the last few weeks, one of my writing friends and I have been talking (emailing) about trying to do creative work right now, in this world. About how difficult it is to get into the flow of it, and how deep work is almost impossible. Routines are shot to hell; writing time is being swallowed up by new chores. Money’s tight, and art feels a bit frivolous. Tempers are fraying, ennui is setting in, and it’s just really hard to think of good stories right now, ok?
May has taught me that I really do need to build a better system for managing my writing projects.
It started off well enough—I had finished drafts of both The Black Sun and Violet Lane, vague plans for my next project (very tentatively titled These Modern Things), and I was excited to move forward. And then… not much happened.
I’ll be honest: the heatwave has been awful for my motivation this month. I haven’t wanted to do anything but hide indoors and stare at my phone. (Even watching a movie or reading has felt like it required too much energy the last few weeks.)
My goals going into July were to write (including outlining and editing) more days than not, and to keep going with my photography project. I wanted to make it another 1/3 of the way through editing The Black Sun, and make a good start on the Violet Lane outline. And I wanted to start carrying a real camera more often.
It’s been a very busy two weeks, but I still struggled to remember what I’ve been doing. I’ve been: editing | trying | moving | enduring | repainting | worrying | hemming | working | looking | feeling
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!
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.
The last two weeks have been kind of awesome. I’ve been: taking | eating | cutting | thinking | watching | feeling | saving | cursing | enjoying | looking
I keep sitting down to write this post, and it keeps not happening. There’s part of me that feels like it’s not time, yet: I haven’t finished writing the story, so how can I possibly think about any of this objectively? I didn’t write the postmortem for last year’s project until I’d finished the draft, and that worked out well enough. But this isn’t about the story, it’s about the experience.
And this year was a very different experience from last year.
I went in confident that I could do it. Last year was… I won’t say “easy,” but it was fairly straightforward. I wrote nearly every day, and I stayed pretty much on-target as far as word-count went, and then I crashed as soon as I hit 50K, because I’d had a cold for the last few days of the month and the only thing that kept me going was stubbornness.
This year wasn’t like that. At all.