Introduction to the Accountability Post 2021 Week 31
The brick wall’s back. I managed to stay ahead of it for seven solid months. I finished the first draft of Book One: 61 Cygni and got a chunk of Book Two: Epsilon Eridani written. To be honest, I knew I couldn’t evade it forever. My life’s defined two two unalterable facts: I cannot not write. I know how badly my writing sucks. The latter, of course, it what I’m calling the “brick wall” for the purposes of this post.
I do have one advantage now that I didn’t have in December 2020. I’ll get into that in a minute. But first, how badly did the brick wall affect my writing output this week?
Accountability Post 2021 Week 31 By the Numbers
Last week, I reported that I ended up with 43,688 words after having written 9,031. That reflected more than the usual number of writing sessions because I had been on vacation from my primary career. How’d I do this week?
I can’t call the output catastrophically bad…
My final word count hit 49,380 for a weekly output of 5,692. Not horrible. But do you notice the 0 word count on 07/31? I had some family business that needed my attention. I should have been able to write after that. I’d allocated the time. This is the brick wall’s new method of attack: Wait for me to get a little tired, then unleash fifty years of negatively in a tightly focused beam. I ended up playing video games. On the plus side, STALKER Anomaly is turning out to be a great mod.
Designs Took Up Time
But first, I do have a legitimate reason for the low counts on 07/27 and 07/28: I had to design the sets for TransStell Deep Space-1 (TDS-1). Using the dimensions I’ve established for a standard manufactured crew compartment for spaceships and space-stations, I came up with the basic design for a launch control module.
The idea of the dimensions reflecting a standardized manufacturing process appealed to me.
I went through the various stations in NASA’s launch control, from Apollo to the space shuttles. My goal was to understand the overall conceptual progression and consider how it would apply to the types of launches TDS-1 oversees. I designed the individual launch control modules around those ideas.
I say “individual” launch control modules because TDS-1 usually handles 5 simultaneous launches with a capacity to handle up to 8. Since I’d suggested TDS-1 was a dual wheel design, and since in Book One I mentioned that the Flight Control Center was in the hub, I wanted a design to reflect a Zero-G environment. So I came up with this:
I wanted the design to reflect a Zero-G native environment.
As you can see, OmniGraffle and I still have an uneasy relationship, because I had to hand draw this part! But it seems to have decided to help me out more often than not. Maybe it took pity on me? In any event, I’m not unhappy with the design. I think it has visual appeal. My son knows a lot about using the Unreal Tournament level Editor. I actually considered “building” a mock-up of TDS-1 as an Unreal Tournament map. But as much fun as I might have, it wouldn’t help me finish the manuscript. So, I’m keeping that idea on the shelf for now.
The Return of the Brick Wall
Confidence is Over Rated
After I finished Book One, I jumped right into writing Book Two. I had two reasons. First, I knew that any self-editing so soon after completion would be impossible. I was still too close to the draft.It’s hard to be objective in the momentary glow of accomplishment that follows finishing a 147,027 word draft. No matter how bad it was, that amount of work represents commitment and drive.
The second reason was more psychological: I knew that if I didn’t keep moving, my old mental habits would catch up with me. I’ve called them demons before, and today I’m consolidating them into a single brick wall. Either way, the impact is the same: Sooner or later, I was going to remember that I think my writing sucks.
I’m not going to belabor this. I only bring it up now in case someone runs into my particular brand of brick wall. Most of the self-help literature I’ve read focuses on boosting self-confidence. The idea is that if you can regain your self-confidence, you can perform better. Given the popularity of this approach, I conclude that at least for some subset of the population, it works. But it makes what is, for me, a fatal assumption. Namely, that I have any confidence to start with.
Early on, my approach was to evolve the ability to work without confidence. There’s actually a huge benefit to this! Most trolls try to attack their target’s self-confidence. Every time a troll insults me, I have to laugh. It’s like amateur hour at a stand-up comedy club. Their insults are laughably inept. I mean, I’ve spent a lifetime cataloging my faults, so when someone else tries to insult me, I see how they have only scratched the surface.
Sometimes, I feel so sorry for them I want to give them tips.
… Is What I’d Like to Say in Accountability Post 2021 Week 31
Without having much or any self-confidence, I’ve managed to achieve quite a bit in my life. But to be honest, I think all of that is less than it could have been if I have approached it from a perspective of confidence. For one thing, in personal dealings with people, they find it confusing when I refuse to engage in any kind of competition. From my perspective, it seems like that’s something humans do. I even heard through the grapevine that a developer I worked with years ago complained about it. They didn’t know how to engage with me, or even know where they stood.
If I compete with anyone, it’s myself. Why do I care how I compare to someone else? That person took decades to get to where they are. Their genetics, their education, their experience all combined to create a distinct, unique human being. What’s the use of seeing who can crank out Visual Basic or Java code faster? To me, that’s not useful information. Having a sense of confidence might have given me more anticipated relationships with others.
The other problem is that my approach gives me no emotional cushion. Once the brick wall caught up with me and reminded me how much I think my writing sucks, I didn’t the space to push it back and regain emotional momentum. The situation is actually worse than that: I read a little of Book One’s first draft, and I have to agree with the brick wall. It needs work. In does, in fact, suck.
But I have to expect that, right? I mean, isn’t that the definition of first draft?
Oh, the advantage I have now that I didn’t have in December 2020? Even I, as much as I don’t like my writing, have to admit: I wrote a novel that’s over 147,000 words long. Other humans have actually seen it, so I have proof! So I can’t deny that a written novel, even if I think it sucks, has a better chance of selling than a novel I didn’t write.
I’ll take any plus I can find!
Thanks for reading this far, and sorry for getting so introspective. I thought I’d use this forum to think through the situation. Thanks in advance for not pointing out how terribly shallow that thinking turned out to be!
Important Explanation for This Week’s Existential Crisis in Accountability Post 2021 Week 31
As I replied to a comment on one of my anime site’s posts tonight, I realized why I’m in this mood. Over the weekend, I watched Bo Burnham’s Inside on Netflix. I watched it over 24 hours ago, and I still can’t process it. In that regard, it reminds me of Donnie Darko. I watched that decades ago, and bits and pieces still percolate to the top of my consciousness. I had watched it alone, and when my wife came home and asked what she’d missed, I answered, “Everything.”
Inside is a terrifyingly good movie, but only if you’re ready for it.
Bo Burnham’s Inside is like that. It made me on one hand want to despair of ever creating anything and on the other hand go throw myself into creating everything.
If you haven’t watched it, I’m not sure I can recommend it without reservation. It’s so insightful it’s like a philosophical dagger. I’d recommend watching one of his YouTube videos first. It’s funny. Then you think about what he said, and if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself grasping at your laughter to keep you afloat.
If you can handle that, then you might be ready for Inside. But please be careful!
Last Week’s and the Coming Week’s Goals
I had hoped to finish Plot Turn 1 for the arcs that center on Ira Malhotra, Liam Martin, and Atticus Porter. I almost made it: I finished the first two and about half of the chapter for Porter. There’s some stuff going down in South America, and for Porter’s chapter, I had to reinforce my understanding of the terrain. Again, I can’t say enough good about Google Maps for researching locations. Of course, I can’t hope to represent these locations as well as a local could. On the other hand, I wanted this book to feature some locations other than North America. Earth’s a big planet; I wanted my book to reflect that.
Here are my new goals:
- Finish Atticus Porter’s Plot Turn 1.
- Move into Pinch 1 for the main plot, Jack Booth’s arc, and Dek Conrad’s arc.
The stretch objective will be to write Ira Malhotra’s Pinch 1. She’s turning out to be more important than I anticipated, and it’s in a way that’ll play very well into Book Three.
What techniques do you use to keep your inner doubts/demons/whatever you call them at bay? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!