It’s been a few weeks since my last check-in, and therein lies a tale. It’s not a very interesting tale, but then I’m biased. Tragedy is when I get a paper cut, comedy is when you fall down a manhole and die. I think Shakespeare said that.
A few weeks ago I entered the sort of Bad Phase my mental illness just loves to throw at me. No motivation, can’t put thoughts together in the proper order, and the words putting into sentence doing is completely out of the question–I can’t even read very well.
One of my friends asked me about that last bit, and how it feels like to read when I’m struggling. As a point of illustration, here’s a paragraph you might be familiar with, re-written as though you’re reading it through my eyes:
It was the best of times…best of times, it was the worst of times…it was the best of times and it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom…
It was the best of times…
[One minute goes by.]
Huh? Oh, fuck.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom…
Yeah, that gets you about half of the way there. Take my word for it, the actual experience is worse.
A week ago I managed to crawl out of the hole.
That’s something anyone struggling with an illness like this has to keep front and center. You’re in a hole and you will crawl out of it. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, and that’s when Very Bad Things can happen. You have to take it on faith that things will get better.
That’s the religion of all successful crazy people: God is the good days ahead of you.
Anyway, once the wheels in my head started turning the right way, I started picking through a couple of the partial novels which have been sitting on my hard drive for a while. I’ve been looking for a fiction project to work on, in parallel to the free-lancing non-fiction that has been dominating my writing life.
I decided to pick up a young adult book I’d started last summer. I don’t really know why I started writing it. Young adult isn’t really something I do. But I had an idea, it seemed like a good one at the time, and it also just happens to be exactly the sort of thing I need right now.
I’ve spent the last few days re-writing what I already had down–not a lot–and getting a handle on where the story is going. There are a lot of little things to fix, a lot of dialog which needs tweaking, and a few of the characters need to be given life.
On average I’ve been laying down around 5,000 words a day, with around half being pure transcription. It’s a fun story filled with characters I like hanging out with. As far as projects go, you can’t really ask for more than that.
Anyway, all of this is to say that I’m feeling better. More importantly, I’ve managed to get a handle on what I want to be working on and how I want to track my progress.
If you remember, a few weeks ago I decided that the goals I’d been working toward weren’t really doing it for me. I won’t go over ground I’ve already covered, except to say that I’ve decided to cast my goals in terms of time spent on my various projects.
So without further ado, here are my new writing goals:
- Spend one hour every day working on content mill pieces.
- Spend two hours every day working on blog posts/promotion/social networking.
- Spend two hours every day working on a novel.
With my schedule, that’s a pretty reasonable set of writing goals. I plan on adding a set of “Me” goals to the mix as well, but I’m waiting until the official start of the next round to worry about that.