Thirty or thirty-five years ago, going through a week like the last one would have convinced me to stop trying to publish. The combination of Real Life Family Events (RLFEs) and creative developments challenged my resolve. But now’s a different time, and I’m a different man. But let’s talk numbers before we talk about what happened.
Progress Report 2023 Week 09 By the Numbers
It was a rough week. But the good news is I’m still here to explain why!
Character Interactions within the Subconscious
You know my rule of thumb: 10,000 words means a successful week. This week, I managed just over 5,000 new words and two chapters. But those numbers hide the real story.
I won’t go into detail about the RLFEs, except to say everyone’s still above ground and we’re only slightly worse for wear. What’s important is that those events happened at the same time I ran into the biggest creative hurdle I’ve hit in about thirty or thirty-five years. I had started Atticus Porter’s latest POV chapter, and it just wasn’t working.
In the past, I’d try to blindly push through that kind of malaise, or writer’s block, or muse abandonment — or whatever you want to call it. Of course, back in the day, I’d fail. That’s why I stopped writing back then. I couldn’t see a way past that block.
What’s different now? I recognized this for what it was: my subconscious was trying to tell me I’d missed something. In particular, I’d missed something about Atticus Porter’s arc. I didn’t panic. I let my brain do the free-form association thing, and I listened to creative music (like Two Steps from Hell’s Unbreakable) to help my brain relax and do its make-up-stuff thing.
Without spoiling a major plot point from Evolution’s Hand Book 3: Primary Target, I can’t explain what I realized. Maybe after I release it, I’ll say more. But after realizing what I’d missed, I incorporated it into Porter’s arc and tried to restart writing. But again, it was like writing through molasses.
Had I been overly optimistic? Had my old demons decided they’d had enough of me being uppity, thinking I could write and all? Maybe. But they don’t matter. I won’t let them matter. What does matter is that my subconscious wasn’t done with me. I’d missed something else.
This diagram will make more sense when you read Evolution’s Hand Book 5: Split Infinities. In many ways, it’s an expensive drawing!
Atticus Porter Brought a Friend Along
What I missed is a spoiler if you haven’t read Evolution’s Hand Book 1: Executive Action or Evolution’s Hand Book 2: Dying Breath. So if you haven’t read those stories, please skip the next two paragraphs!
Last chance to skip! But this doesn’t count as a paragraph — so if you don’t want a spoiler, skip the next two paragraphs.
At the end of Dying Breath, TransStell had to evacuate its Ohio headquarters and head to its hot site in Redding, California. They spent Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus there. I’m writing Evolution’s Hand Book 5: Split Infinities, which starts one year after the end of Blind Exodus. The scene that fought me had Atticus Porter talking to the Redding hot site.
See the problem? TransStell is supposed to be a capable, competent corporation. There’s no way they’d sit in a hot site for a year. I could have argued that they ran into construction snags, or made up something else. But now that I saw the issue, I saw that moving to a new permanent facility, still in Redding, fit Porter’s arc perfectly. It not only made sense from a world-building perspective. It made sense from the character’s perspective.
Those two things snapped into place. I designed the new sets. I sat down to write. If I said I was confident, I’d be lying through my teeth. But I started writing. And guess what?
The words flowed.
That’s the difference three decades of maturity made to my writing capabilities. So now, I hope I’m back on the right track!
I didn’t get through any of my goals from last week, and now you know why. However, I did get a few things done that I think might interest you,
First, I sent Evolution’s Hand Book 3: Primary Target to a proofreader on Fiverr. The editor, jesshay, did good work on Dying Breath. The edit should be done on March 5th. After that, I can incorporate her feedback, use Kindle Create to build the ebook version, and begin formatting the paperback.
Second, I’m decided to try something new. I found a Fiverr editor who critiques book blurbs. The price christianfreed seemed reasonable, and heaven knows my marketing blurbs can use all the help they can get. That critique is due back on March 1.
Third, I confirmed that Jess Art Studio, the Fiverr artist who created the covers for Executive Action and Dying Breath, is still available. They are! Once I receive christianfreed’s feedback on my blurb, I’ll order the cover. To me, that’s really exciting. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Jess Art Studio comes up with! I couldn’t be happier with the first two cover, after all.
I’m mulling over how to put this cool image to work. So far, it’s going to be the featured image for the progress posts.
Finally, I took another step in this site’s facelift. I found a new graphic for the progress posts’ featured images. The artist is from Pixabay. This is the attribution link they asked I use if I was so inclined, and I was: Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay.
Pixabay said it’s optional to give credit to the artist, which is cool and all. But I wanted to give credit where credit is due.
Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 09
This might look familiar. It should, because it’s the same as what I published in last week’s progress post! I hope that the early indications hold true and I can get through these this week:
- Finish Atticus Porter’s Plot Turn 1
- Write the second half of Jadwiga Janczak’s Plot Turn 1
- Write Leon Weber’s Plot Turn 1
- Write Matsushita Sachi’s Pinch 1
- Start Atticus Porter’s Pinch 1
What Do You Think?
What techniques do you use to figure out what your subconscious is trying to tell you? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!
2 thoughts on “Progress Report 2023 Week 09”
I’m envious of your continued production even with the block and RLFEs, although it would nice if we didn’t have to deal with them.
I had something similar when I did NaNoWriMo years ago. I got to a point where there was no logical way to continue without dropping in a dues ex machina. In the end, I had to go back five chapters and take things in a different direction. I’m not sure how I worked it out, but I’ve learnt to listen when that happens. There’s always something causing the block.
Good luck getting book number three ready for publication.
You know, I expect a certain level of RLFEs. But when they queue up and seem to coordinate their attacks? It’s a bit draining. I think the only reason I can write at all is that it’s how I maintain my sanity.
“There’s always something causing the block.”
It’s hard for me sometimes to listen to my own observations, but that’s what I think, too. I really don’t believe in writer’s block. I’ve experienced what I think folks call writer’s block, but like you said, there’s always a cause. It’s just a matter of finding it. J. Michael Straczynski said something along the same lines in Becoming a Writer, Staying a Writer: The Artistry, Joy, and Career of Storytelling.
It might seem to take some of the mysticism away from writing. But if it helps me write more and better material, then I guess I can do without romanticizing the writing process!