Here We Go Again…

I never meant for there to be so long between chapters, however, I kind of got stuck, so much going on in life.  Of course work is the biggest drain on my creativity, but as I’ve mentioned before, it pays the bills, so has to come first.

However, there is a new first, and that is my beautiful niece Phoebe, born two weeks ago today. She’s amazing – well amazing probably isn’t the most accurate description so far she’s learned to sleep, poop, and cry, but who knows what she’ll be doing this time next week.

Also, I have a pretty significant problem which interferes with my ability to write for any length of time. I started with carpal tunnel syndrome a few weeks ago, it was, and still is, really bad in my left hand, however now my right hand has all the symptoms too. I know have tubigrip covering both my arms in an effort to find release.

Carpal tunnel snydrome kind of caught me by surprise, I never thought i’d feel pain like this – even know as I type everytime I stretch to hit a key the pain is there, but ther are times when its excrutiating, especially at night. I’ve known people that suffered, and heard of plenty more – but I always figured it was constant discomfort rather than pain.

It does mean the limited time, and energy I have in my life for writing his decreased considerably, because I can literally only write during times the pain isn’t so bad.

I’m not giving in though, in a couple of chapters time, Memoirs of a Space Corsair is really going to take off, and get into the exciting adventures in space, and I fully intend to enjoy it.

Meanwhile, while the muse is with me, and I’m able to write I’m trying to get as much of chapter five done as I can, since its a day off work today, but back tomorrow.

Being Creative Isn’t Easy…

Being creative isn’t easy, writers block just won’t let me go – I get a small amount of joy and then it is gone. Distractions do not help, so many things in my life deflect my attention to the important things. Unfortunately in life we must weigh up the importance, so work is rated higher than writing – because if I don’t earn a living, I’ll not be able to write anyway.

That said, I’m trying to reclaim some of my life, trying to close off massive projects at work, thus freeing up my time, and my mind outside of work, however as with all things in business, available resources are filled as immediately as they become available. A frustrating situation – however one that should not be moaned about truly, as I said I need to earn a living, and there are unfortunately many people far far worse (by a severe magnitude), than myself for whom lack of work is a significant part of their lives, and writing is far from their immediate concern.

We western writers have it so hard don’t we?

An unfortunate thing about writing in the grand scheme of things its relatively worthless, compared with the realities of living. However, the worth of simple joy is not necessarily measured by normal merits of survival, but surely without joy, we may as well not bother to survive.

Its Been A While

Reports of my demise, well weren’t really reported at all – but if they were, they weren’t true. I’m still here, this heart of mine beats its strong baddum baddum.

It has been a while since I posted, and the last time I posted I admitted failure, I had lost NaNoWrimo09, however it wasn’t the end of the world. Unfortunately, the writers block didn’t stay long gone, and since then I’ve struggled to write again. Even the words for blogging just wouldn’t come. As I said though, its not the end of the world. It never really is, however depressing it feels. That said, I’m feeling ready to write again, a whole chasm of ideas has started to fill the void where inspiration had previously been lacking.

I also have a brand new toy to help with my writing. Since I switched to using the Nokia 5800, I’ve been struck by the lack of keyboard, and many key features of my beloved Nokia E71, so until I get another new phone that combines the great features of the E71, and the 5800 – I needed a filler, which was either going to be a carrying my laptop everywhere, or gadget time. The gadget in question is an electronic pen. I got the cheapest one I could – however it is incredibly amazing. Forget your iPads, and you tablets, the future is pen and paper!

I’ve never been adverse to handwriting my fiction – in fact I find it far easier to transfer my thoughts to paper than to a screen, however I fail at typing up, and at some point I’m going to get stuck because my handwritten pages are hard to read, and get damaged, or go missing. There is no way I can type up thirty thousand words of my handwriting, especially not when most of my writing time comes while travelling. However, the digital pen comes with software to not only catalogue your written word into a database, but to also convert it into text.

Obviously the catch here is that the quality of your handwriting will affect how well your scribbles can be converted into text, the software can’t make miracles. I’ve found, though, that as long as it can hit 70%, you’re correcting, not rewriting whole sections. Which suits me, as it lets me slip a bit of editing in the process.

I bought the most basic one I could find, (by basic read cheap), and the look of the product does reflect this – however the actual quality is so much better.

It comes in two parts, the pen, and the sensor that does the recording. You clip your sensor to the top of the page, and then start writing. When you complete a page, you hit the button, and it starts a new one in memory. Best gadget buy of the year for me, its going to take a lot to top that. Here’s a link to the one I bought: 

Hopefully that’s going to help me achieve some writing – but toys themselves aren’t whats necessary, I realise now I’ve been having real difficulties at focusing on the tasks I set myself. So I need to work on my habits – and this is a general life thing, rather than specifically a writing thing. So I’m going to introduce some new behaviours, such as going to a coffee shop once a week to chill out, and read or write. Getting back to going to the gym, get myself fit, doing more puzzles to get my brain engaged, rather than switching off the second my mind wanders. I should probably stop making lists of things I intend to do – but we all have our vices. There are never any promises with me, I get distracted far too easily to even promise myself something – but I’m going to try. Writing isn’t just about writing, its about making better worlds, and better people to me, especially a better me.

In the mean time, I think I’m going to spend this week writing a couple of three hundred word short stories, just to get myself warmed up for the rest of the year to come.

Block Breaking

In the words of Shirley Manson (of Garbage), "My head explodes, and my body aches," why? Because I’m trying to overcome writers block, and it takes a lot out of me. Its akin to smashing my head against a brick wall for hours at a time.

Why would anyone put themselves through that? Is it worth being a writer if you are not very good at it, and in fact can not write a blessed thing? It is without a doubt a masochistic tendency of writers to try and write through writers block. However it is worth it.

What I’m trying to do at the moment is warm up to NaNoWriMo, I’m taking on the insane challenge of entering twice this year. Two targets of 50,000 words – which I’m definitely capable of achieving, but only if I write. Indeed daily its a requirement of about 4,000 words (with room for creative breaks).

So banging my head against a brick wall ia just warm up, next month I’ll be peddling a bike at twenty miles per hour into brick walls, and clinging on for dear life in the hopes I don’t get knocked off in the process.

I’m confident though, because despite the block, the ink is flowing. It might only be hundreds of words a day, but clearly that its any words per day after struggling with none is a great thing.

Bring on the impossible challenges. Speaking of which, throughout November, to help push myself I’m going to be giving myself little challenges, characters, and scenarios to include in the stories I write. There are already some over at York & Leeds for my region. Will keep you posted on how that goes, and feel free to suggest challenges at me, the more the merrier.

Still struggling…

I’m still struggling with writers block. It’s spread from my ability to write fiction, to my ability to write poetry, and write here. It is having a decidedly melancholy affect. I’d hoped a bit of travelling might snap me out of it, but no such luck.

I think I need a crisis, I had a crisis this time last year, and coming out of that crisis I started writing again. However, the new improved me deals with problems a lot better, so few even get close to a minor crisis, never mind the life altering ones from last year.

I am now quite scared of NaNoWriMo looming over me, I’ve got the ideas, but without the ability to actually write, it’s fairly meaningless.

I could create a crisis, however that doesn’t fit with the new me that works hard not to get life in a state. I’ve gotten into pretty bad financial trouble this year (after years of owing no more than £400 at anyone time), however I’ve even dealt with that so that I’ll be debt free again in by this time next year, and am comfortable with that.

I could quit my job, which does have double benefits, it would be a major crisis, I wouldn’t be able to fix easily, and I would have time to write. However, I’d have nothing to write on, never mind anywhere to actually write – so possibly a level of crisis too far.

Likely, it’s still temporary, and that once November hits, I’ll be flying. I’m actually planning on doing something insane for NaNoWriMo (assuming I can find the ability to write again), and that is enter NaNoWriMo twice. That’s right, I’m aiming for the 100,000 words in a month bracket. I’ll be doing it with two different stories – however I personally feel that 100,000 in a month, on one story, that could retain 75% to 85% of it’s words after editing, might be worth pursuing. I was tempted to do it one story, however, I worry that I’ll balk under the challenge and settle for 50,000, I don’t want to settle. With two entries, settling is still a win and a failure, to have a true win, have to achieve both.

What I’ll aim to do, is get the first one complete in the first fortnight, and the second in the second fortnight, so I’m not having to switch between stories (which I can do, but might cause problems).

For now though, I’d settle for some good writing for the rest of September, and through October.

Another problem with writers block, it forces you to analyse every idea, as you seek the in roads to it, that will allow you to translate imagination to words on a page.

I just had a brilliant idea for a poem, for about a second, before I realised it’s a subject that’s been more than adequately covered in myth and legend.

There was tiny spider (but with long thin legs) in the bath, and it was stuck, but kept trying to get up the sides. It’d get so far, and then fall, but used it’s web to limit it’s fall, then tried again, then the web broke – so it started over, and nearly gets to the top, and then falls again.

Eventually, it drifts along the length of the path, trying to find a decent climb, and it makes it! I actually felt quite happy for it (even as I don’t have any like for spiders after being bitten by one, yuck). Then the damned thing, not satisfied with it’s monumental climb (they’re not after all known for escaping baths), then proceeded to climb a shampoo bottle. It must have realised it was disappointing when it get to the top, as it got back down again. Teetered on the edge of going back in the both, but instead choose to use the grouting to climb up to the ceiling instead.

It was amazing to watch. Unfortunately, it’s already a well observed phenomeon, kind of – Robert the Bruce famously is supposed to have seen a spider trying, and failing, then trying again, to get a web from one side of a cave to another, and it inspired him to try again and rebel against Edward. He still failed, but the moral is no less true.

As I said, it was amazing to watch – even more amazing, aside from this ickle spider, there was a much bigger spider (where the ickle one had legs no thicker than a hair, this had legs that were like 0.5mm – and a much bigger body and mandibles that were very visible (shudders). To be fair, I suspect they were the same breed, but probably the bigger one was considerably older (I believe a week might be descriptive enough of age in the life cycle of a spider – but I’m no arachnologist afterall), just sat there watching. I couldn’t decide if it was keeping the little spider as an emergency meal for later, or not. After the little spider escaped the bath, it turned and was facing the wall (it had been facing the length of the bath for the entire time little spider had been trying to escape), so I wonder if it was thinking, damn – if only I were smaller, and lighter, with legs that could find every tiny bump and gap to get me up – I could make it. Or maybe it was just cursing it’s luck, as the little spider succeeded, while it had sat and done bugger all.

Well there you go, like Robert the Bruce (allegedly), that little spider has inspired me too – because I’ve written a few words. Maybe I will write a poem about the two spiders… it’s a subject that may have been covered, (but then, lets face it what hasn’t?), but it was a pretty major thing for me.

I love moments like that, I once wrote down a few pages about a pigeon with a clubbed foot that I saw at the train station while travelling to work once. Still have it, might share that too. In fact, I think I might share inspirational animal stories everyday next week, I’m feeling well and truly inspired.

Thanks for reading, if you did 😉

JL Legend