If I had enough free-time to write something – a blog post, something in my novel WIP, short story revisions, B.T.’s story, really anything - in all honesty, I’d probably spend it sleeping instead.
Incidentally, and I’m sure not at all related: you’ve heard, dear reader of the “terrible twos”? In my experience, the twos weren’t so terrible. The threes on the other hand… a different story. There’s all sorts of boundary-pushing and limit-testing and identity-asserting with an extra dose of want vs. need confusion. All very normal, I’m lead to believe, but no less difficult to pass through for it.
To misquote the Bard:
To Sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub.
For in that sleep of peaceful actual being asleepness and nobody waking you up in the middle of the night, what dreams may come…
No I’m not dead, though it’s been over a month since I updated the blog. But I wish I was sleeping right now. And according to good ol’ Bill that’s kind of like being dead.
Hey, would you look at that! I wrote something:
Book of M:
- Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
- First Draft Wordcount: 0 words
Story of V:
- Wordcount: 0 words
- Wordcount: 1,460
Grand Total: 1,460 words
Does this mean that my long drought of non-writing is at an end? Does this mean I’m back in the saddle?
In a word: No.
In more than one word: I can’t really say that it is, yet. Too early to tell. But I suspect for a while to come that my writing progress from week to week will continue to favor “No Writing This Week” more often than not. While the proximate cause of my long dry spell in writing (i.e. my being the father of a still-mostly-new-to-this-world infant such as whose age is still measured in months, and especially of such a one as has had an erratic sleep schedule) has noticeably improved, it has not been fully resolved. To wit: I’m still the father of a something-month-old baby who doesn’t sleep for more than about 4 hours in a single stretch at night (a noticeable improvement overall, especially in terms of this length of time becoming generally (though not always) more consistent and predictable). Besides the sleep issue, there’s all the other responsibilities one assumes when becoming the father of an infant. No small commitment of time, that. So, I’m still generally sleep-deprived and short on free time.
But for last week, at least, I wrote something. And it felt great!
You might wonder a bit at the thing that I worked on. It was neither the Short Story that I’d been focusing on (with intent to send off to Writers of the Future or to some other fiction market upon getting through some clean revisions), nor the Steampunk-flavored Post-apocalyptic Epic Fantasy novel. The latter is still my main long-term project. The former has morphed, in my mind, into an “epic” short story series, which may yet see multiple short stories set in the same world, with different characters at different times, each a hopefully satisfying read and a complete story on its own, but which ultimately weave together to tell a longer, more cohesive story. (Time will tell if I can meet that ambition.)
But “Project D” – so named because it is neither a novel nor a short story nor, really, any of those other wordcount-bound sub-classifications of units of fiction. It’s a personal project, really. It’s fiction, yes. Some flavor of fantasy. And at this juncture I doubt that I will ever make the story public – that is, I do not expect to see this published and available for reading by other people. (Though I may opt to solicit for feedback from a small number of trusted folks.) Not to be too evasive about it, but it’s a “book” for one of my children. (This one is technically for the older of the two. The younger will undoubtedly get his own book in time.) As a “book” it’ll probably be very short – no longer than a very long short story. But I have ideas enough for this to be an ongoing multi-part serial story (again, doubtless, with some cross-over for the expected eventual book for the second child).
I’m strangely excited for this project. Like I said, my head is just bursting with ideas for it. I decided to let my imagination go wild and take me where-ever it though to go. Whether I’m looking at tired tropes or something strange and new and wonderful… Who knows, who cares? The only person whose opinion will matter, at the end of the day, is the child for whom this story is written.
And so that’s where I am today. If I write this week again, then maybe there’ll be another update next week. If not… well… neither you nor I will be surprised.
I sort of began the year with a set of goals for the coming year. By sort of, I mean I didn’t get around to posting them until the first of February.
They were ambitious but, I told myself, achievable.
Now the year is a little past half-gone, and the time of the Mid-Year introspection and self-review is upon us. (Okay, maybe it’s behind us for everyone else, and I’m just late to the party.)
And I see now that I should’ve taken the fact that the year was a month-gone before I was able to find the time to post my goals as an omen for how the rest of the year would go.
But reality has a way of, you know, being real, in spite of whatever spin you might like to put on it. It catches up with you. And, it turns out, you can’t make great things happen by the sheer force of optimism. So it is that I start this mid-year review a humbled man. So, let’s review the ways in which I have been humbled, and maybe contemplate, if I can, what humility has taught me?
1) Reading Goal – This is the one goal I set for myself that I still have a chance of achieving this year. My goal was to read 750,000 words worth of novel-length fiction this year. So far I’ve made it through somewhere just north of about 500,000 words, which means I’m closing in on 70% of my goal for the year. Not bad.
2) Write 1,750 words of fiction per week – Considering that I’m going on my 19th consecutive week, now, without a single word of fiction writing. Well… I certainly dropped the ball on that one, didn’t I? I have an excuse – a perfectly good excuse (i.e. the relatively recent introduction of infant V.R. into our lives) – but excuses are excuses. The fact is, the year is half-gone, and I’ve written scantly more than 3,000 words total. That’s over 4 weeks of the total 28 weeks so far. (And, if you do that math, that’s much less than 1,750 words in the weeks in which I did write.) So, basically, this is a goal that I’ve yet to come even close to meeting on any given individual week, and I’m way past exhausting my 14-week supply of “freebie” weeks. Even if the second half of the year recovers somewhat (current prognosis: not bloody likely), this goal would still merit an overall failing grade for the year.
3) Complete 2 Short Story First Drafts each less than 8,000 Words – As I stated in my original goals, I began this goal with a leg up. I’d already completed the majority of a first draft when the year turned. Well… I finished that first draft. And I haven’t written a word since. Still… in theory this goal is still within the realm of possibility. If things ease up at home (read: V.R. starts sleeping more regularly), I might be able to actually pull off a second first draft. Actually, it’s rather unlikely, but even if I can get a second first draft started, I’d consider this a goal mostly met. Or at least mostly enough to feel good about it.
4) Submit at least one completed and revised work to a professional market – Not gonna’ happen. 2013 is not going to be the year when I make my first professional short-fiction sale, nor even the year in which I get my work back out in the market. As mentioned above, I have one short fiction first draft ready. But I don’t see how I can get this fully critiqued and revised (through both an alpha and beta reader stage) in time to get it out to a market this year.
What Have I Learned?
I guess a few things. Namely: a new baby in the family is a bigger time commitment than I fully appreciated. I was in the middle of Grad School when B.T. came along. And his personality and V.R.’s personality have some differences. So while I thought I knew what to expect, I really didn’t. Fatherhood is an ongoing learning process, filled with many joys, many challenges, many triumphs, and the occasional failure of vision, foresight, planning, or patience.
Nor have I yet fully grasped the implications of my own writing process, the time and energy I really need to accomplish anything meaningful in my writing. Which means, simply put: as a writer, I’m not yet where I want to be, in terms of skill, talent, focus, and self-awareness. I’ve a long, long way to go before I’m the writer I want to be. And I doubt I’ll achieve anything significant in terms of publishing before I get a lot closer than I now am to that ever-receding, evanescent and evasive goal.
So now, I’d update my 2013 goals in a more formal manner but… I think the above self-examination will suffice. I’ll try to be more conscientious (and more realistic) in setting my 2014 goals when the time comes…
(Because even though I’ve never played Portal, I frickin’ love that song…)
The answer to the titular question is: Yes.
In the month since my last non-writing update, we’ve had Father’s Day (a huge success). And Independence Day (aka the Fourth of July, the national patriotic holiday of my nation of birth, which is traditionally accompanied by both barbecue and pyrotechnics but this year not, for many good reasons, namely several metric tonnes of inconvenient, inconsiderate, and ill-timed precipitation… so… yeah, actually not that hard to overstate my satisfaction, but still we had a good holiday in spite of the rain).
What I haven’t done in the intervening space of time: any fiction writing whatsoever.
What I have done: read a book, pretty much from start to finish. (I finished one behemoth of a book on June 19th. Finished the next book in my queue on July 5th, roughly half of which I read during the holiday.)
I could say a lot more about any of the above-mentioned things, but… I don’t actually have enough time to say it. Point of fact, I’ve got several half-finished or barely-outlined drafts of blog posts sitting around here that I just don’t have the time to finish and post. So you get this instead.
Hope your writing time is more productive than mine!
My non-writing updates are getting sparser and sparser, aren’t they? I keep on not writing. I expect to have an update on my annual reading and writing goals hopefully… eventuallyish.
I really don’t have a lot to say. But I will say this: the whole “infant who doesn’t sleep a full night” thing? I’m so done with it.
I’ve been shambling through my days on zombie-mode for so long, I think I’ve started to forget what life among the living was like. Dear Wife and I keep trying to encourage each other: “He’s got to start sleeping sometime, doesn’t he?” The words sound empty and hollow. Probably because the lack of consistent sleep has left us both empty and hollow.
Such as it is, free time that isn’t spent trying to get to bed early is in very short supply. And when we have it, do you know what we most often choose to use it on?
Yep. Those continue apace. Both the pantry-to-be and the office/craft-room-to-be have been painted, at least. Not a whole lot else has been done in either place.
So, yeah: I’d apologize for the radio silence these past several weeks… but I’m too tired to apologize.
That’s where we stand, now. If this message makes it out to the wider world, I have but one request:
Please Send Sleep Pills. Stat.
Yeah, I missed updating you all on my not-writing last week. There was too much not-writing going on, and I didn’t have time to sit down and even write a simple blog post. (Hint: When the week starts with a work-day that lasts until such a time as you’ve worked some 50% longer than a normal day, one tends to start the week rather a little mentally exhausted. It doesn’t help when the beloved infant makes sleeping for more than 2 or 3 hours at a stretch a complete impossibility night after night.)
So yeah, there was no writing going on a couple weeks ago. And, yes, no writing going on last week, either.
On the other hand, the home projects are continuing apace. Dear Wife and I patched the dry wall in what will be our pantry, and it’s now painted. The edge of the walls near the trim in the soon-to-be-office have also been painted. So those things are moving forward at a good pace – slower than we’d hoped, but not so slow that we don’t still feel quite accomplished.
But other than that, not much has been happening around the Casa Chez Watkins.
So there’s not much more to say except to say to those of you who are mothers or potential mothers: I hope you had a fine and wonderful Mother’s Day; and to those of you who have mothers, I hope you did what you could to wish her a happy Mother’s Day.