Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Year In The Writing Life

One year ago today, I got laid off, something I hadn't planned to do for myself until 2015, and probably should have done earlier. 

And though I have technically been a full time writer for all this time, it hasn't been the year I expected. (Which in itself is to be expected.)

Sunday, it happens, my Blogiversary.  Four years of blogging, 1160+ posts.  So on Sunday, I'll give you more about the future.  Today, I think I'll take a quick look at the past year.

*Dealing with the paperwork of losing insurance, shifting expenses around, considering filing for Unemployment, etc. can take months.  The mental adjustment is distracting.  There are many problems to be solved, and you use the same part of your brain to solve problems as write stories.

*As soon as you have more "free" time, other people's lives will expand to fill your life.  And it's not people who are trying to take advantage of you (those are easy to shut down).  It's just that, when anybody in your circle - even mere acquaintances - has a real life-threatening emergency, they will call everyone they know... and you are the one who's home.  And next time they call you first.  (Because there will be a next time.  All major emergencies are ongoing.)

*A small glimpse into the mess other people make of their lives will send you back to step one -- to make sure that you really have dealt with all the back up plans and processes and emergency procedures in your life.  Furthermore, the high-stress fallout from other people's crises can be intense.

So that was more than half the year gone before I even got started.  By that time my career was in a "dead stick" situation.  All propulsion gone.  And it was my very worst time of year; summer.

You can see that situation progress in my blogging schedule:  The blog was going full steam last fall, and then coasting on reserves for a while, and then sputtering with a few ups and downs, and then it became a non-blog for a while.  Minimum life-support stuff.

I'm prone to forget that's where I was this summer.

Sometimes I also forget that I decided then to take advantage of the complete loss of momentum; instead of blindly trying to restart what I had, I would take the opportunity to start over.  To explore options, find out what I want to do differently.

And I don't expect that phase to be over until the end of this year (the end of the actual year in December, not just the end of the first year of freedom).

That's part of the problem with the instancy of the internet.  It reduces us to the mental state of dogs, who see time as "now" and "never."  Maybe a wise dog grasps the concept of "later" briefly, but usually they're only thinking of "immediately after now."

(This mindset is enhanced by spending time on internet forums filled with newbies who have no sense of time or the concept of large-arc business cycles.)

So back to work.  On Sunday, my fourth Blogiversary, I'll talk about some of the interesting new directions I'm considering.  Before that, though, we'll have Friday's Plot Game post, where two of these new directions will cross over. I talk about looking at plot structure in terms of Character Structure instead of timeline.

See you in the funny papers.


Anonymous said...

"you use the same part of your brain to solve problems as write stories."


"other people's lives will expand to fill your life."

You've summed up MY life just fine. Add CFS to that, and the fact that I only have a couple of hours of time in which the brain actually works, and progress is glacial.

But I manage to write IF I'm not standing in my own way because there's something MISSING from a scene. That's the thing that stops me from just doing the next little bit. When I find it, extract it, and beat some sense into it, the work goes forward.


Thanks for the insights!

Congratulations on your anniversary (from a blogging newbie - only 1 year).


The Daring Novelist said...

I think most people underestimate how much circumstances can lay you low.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think you've definitely made lemonade out of the lemons you were dealt. And I know exactly what you mean about being The One Who Stays at Home. I could fill every minute of every hour with volunteering for the schools, helping neighbors who know I'm home, and friends who'd like coffee with me...

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Elizabeth.

Yes, it's worse when you have kids, because you're involved in their social life as well.