I said my post today was going to be mostly about optimizing layout. I'm going to talk about that next week.
What I really want to talk about first is my shift in goals.
Like so many writers, especially writers of a certain age, I've got WAY too much stuff in my life -- way too many ideas, way too many projects, way too many interests, way too many promises and responsibilities -- and not enough time and energy for them.
So the quest of my existence is to find a way to fit everything into a comfortable package. Including, you know, sleep.
This summer was a great experience. Usually summers don't work out for me. I am not suited to the weather or the long days, and no matter how I set my goals, I never achieve them, and even if I manage to accomplish something, it's something other than I wanted or needed.
But this summer? With the blog story driving it? It worked. The pieces came together and it fit my lifestyle. I didn't sacrifice to accomplish anything, I enjoyed myself a lot, and I met my deadlines with art and story twice a week.
This summer was kind of done in the laboratory. I didn't do anything else. I worked fewer hours at the day job. I cut back on the blog. I also had lower expectations because summer is slow on the internet. Fewer people watching and reading.
So I was able to throw a tremendous amount of energy into this experiment. And it needed it -- Kris Rusch was right, 600-700 words is a TOUGH length, and doing it twice a week was a major challenge. Especially since I was more or less pantsing it thew whole time. Sure, I had a good idea of where I was going, but whenever I got an idea, it required a lot of brainstorming to figure out the exact right details I need to put in each highly distilled chapter. And in the end I was often writing each chapter and doing the illo right up to deadline.
And I nearly sank myself trying to do the dual goal on the Clarion Write-a-thon. I managed, more or less, but doing an expanded version and a distilled version did not work for me. All it did was wear me out and set me back.
But that was a learning experience too.
So what does this mean for the future?
Well, I'm going to continue this experiment, so I guess the first thing it means is that I'm taking this out of the protected summer environment and checking it out during the regular year.
This is one of the reasons why I'm switching to a different story as soon as this one is over. The other story, Test of Freedom, is drafted. It will still require work, but it won't require that intensive brainstorming. It will give me more time to see if this fits in with the rest of my life, and if I can get some other projects done.
But I want to do more than see if I can survive this effort. I want to see if it will make me thrive? Can what succeeded for me this summer continue to work for me the rest of the year? Can I get work done? Can I build an audience? Can I sell books?
Next week, I'm going to talk about some of the mundane little details of how I'm going to approach this differently -- how I'm gong to tweak my blog, and things like that.
And I just realized that is pretty scary. Why? Because I'm tired. Fun is exhausting and I've been having fun and my brain isn't functioning well... and next week's Wednesday post is about details. There are so many million little details to deal with when you shift into gear.
So I think one more thing I need to do, to make sure this fall is a success, is Conservation of Energy. I need to make sure that I don't let the little things destroy what I'm doing.
The writing, and drawing, comes first. If I never get my website improved, or my book blurbs optimized or anything else I intended to do, that's okay. The prime test is to see if my writing life can survive this new schedule.
See you in the funny papers.
Progress report for "A Round of Words in 80 Days"
Sunday Day 42 - Illlustration for Episode 29
Monday Day 43 - Spontaneous Story Notes for Episode 29
Tuesday Day 44 - Working on a new version of Episode 31, and this update post.