Saturday 18th March 2017
I think one of the things that thwarts a lot of writers is the lack of instantaneous reward. If you bake a cake, you can pretty much eat it straight from the oven. If you rebuild the engine of a car, you can take the car for a drive.
But as a writer, the payoff for all your hard work can be months or years down the line and instead of just getting on with the next thing, the mistake a lot of writers make is waiting on the reception to the thing they’ve just completed. It goes back to my argument that writers are inefficient.
Now don’t get me wrong, being patient is not an easy skill to master. Whilst I’m much better than I was, I’ve still not mastered it. It takes a lot of practise and even then there are days when it’s more difficult than normal.
But then you get days where you finally get the rewards, big or small, and suddenly all that hard work and angst seems worth it.
Today was one of those days with a couple of things receiving the payoff.
I woke very late. I’m usually a fairly early riser but not getting to bed until 4am meant I slept in until midday. On one hand, I couldn’t be too annoyed given what time I’d gone to bed, but on the other hand, there was a lot I wanted to get done this morning.
So I got up and over breakfast, I edited yesterday’s The Climb and got that posted.
I then noticed that Fantasy-Faction posted my article on Scrivener for iOS. Given how many months that’s taken me to write and edit, to finally see it published felt great. It seemed to have got a decent response as well so I spent some time, retweeting and answering comments on Facebook. I guess I need to start thinking about what I’m going to write about next month.
From there, I did some work on School of the Sword. I’ve been dealing with a bug in the latest theme update over the past few days and I was glad to see it get fixed in the latest patch, so I got that applied and posted one of my backlog of articles. I also chased up some pictures from Monday’s training which I missed due to illness.
I tried something a little different with Instagram today. By way of a little experiment I decided to post a selfie of me without a shirt. I’ve noticed a number of Instagram influencers do it and wondered whether it makes that big a difference to likes and follows. It’s no understatement to say that back when I started The Climb I would have never dared do this, but the daily selfie has forced me to be a bit more confident about my body image, and given the comments I’ve got over the past few weeks, I felt confident enough to give it a go to see if I got more likes than normal.
For someone who pretty much covered up even in the privacy of his own home, this has been quite a big step, but being able to do this and feel good about myself is the payoff for years of loads of hard work and diet. I still feel I have a way to go before I’m totally happy with how I look but I’ve come a long way.
And yes, it did seem to get more likes. Whilst I really don’t think I’m going to be posting a load of topless selfies (I don’t think it’s really essential to the brand I’m trying to create), it was a very interesting experiment in self-esteem.
I wanted to go into town and get a gym session in today but time was running away from me so instead of going into town I popped to the post office to post a couple of birthday cards.
I returned home to find that the Summer’s End anthology (of which my short story, Bastion, is part of) got a nice review with comment made about my story. I wrote that short story a year ago and at the time I was feeling a bit of a one-hit wonder, having only had one short story ever published. Now I get the payoff from that, with a nice review.
As you could imagine, by this point I’m feeling pretty good about the day, despite losing half of it to sleep.
I wrote some more on the novel and am quickly coming to the conclusion that this chapter is a total and utter mess. You can’t always feel good about everything and that’s certainly true for this chapter. I had a character get a promotion that they’ve already had.
I know there’s something missing from this chapter but I don’t know what. Years ago, something like this would have derailed me. I’d blame the cause on something in chapter 2 and then have to go back to chapter 2 and totally rewrite. Now, I just do the best job that I can and make the note “REWRITE” all in caps in the notes with the view that I’ll fix it when it comes to editing.
At a push, I think the issue is that I’ve not spent the time building up some secondary characters and as a result, as a reader, you’re not invested in the character dynamics (which feature heavily in this chapter). But, as I said, I can’t be sure. So I’m just going to write it badly and move on… because it really is an awful chapter.
I was out this evening in Reading. A group of my fellow swordfighters decided to have a social so we all met up in a backstreet pub and made very bad fencing jokes, talked about weird Russian tanks and sent abusive messages to friends not there.
It was a good night out and throwing out time came way too soon. The level of piss-take between all of us is at just the right level, harsh enough to be funny, but not so far as to really offend. One friend has a major tuckerisation in this novel, and I did vow to another friend I will include them as well, just so I can make some pointed jibe at his namesake.
To be fair, when the jokes from the evening go as nerdy as how to have sex in the style of each of the major fencing masters, saying that you’re going to roast a friend within the pages of your novel isn’t the most controversial comment of the evening. What can I say? We enjoy hitting each other with swords, we’re clearly not right at some level or other.
I was sad when we got turfed out the pub and had to head home. It was a good night. I’m on call with the day job and so I wasn’t drinking this evening and drove back home.
In many ways, due to sleep and going out tonight, I didn’t have a lot of time today. But I made it count and got a few nice payoffs that will keep me motivated in the weeks ahead. The hard work I’m putting in now, whether it be into social media or this crappy chapter, will eventually pay off themselves but I just need to be patient and not let my eagerness for the payoff deter me from working on the next thing.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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