After my previous downer of a post where I admitted I was struggling with motivation towards my writing, I can happily say I’m back on track. My solution was to find a better place for my writing to fit into my life, so that I can balance my hobbies and my time more comfortably. I now write on Friday mornings only. Up at 6, work from 7 until 12. With tea breaks of course, I mean, let’s not turn writing into hard labor… I’m tapping out about 3000 to 4000 words, and in my current project that seems to be a chapter a week. So it feels satisfying enough for me.
Sitting down to write has been a little tough lately. I don’t get writers block, in the sense that I can’t think what to write–I plan too much–so I always know what I need to get down on the page. It’s just that writing relies on me wanting and being able to write. I’m just getting over a cold, which has dragged on for about a month. It left me feeling pretty wiped out, lacking concentration, and just wanting to sit and be. Prior to that there was some stuff going on around me which made me feel very set apart from everyone as I did not think or feel in the same way as everyone else seemed to, it kind of compounded some personal wider established thinking around this, so I was a bit distracted, in my own head and feeling a bit stressed and miserable. So, it hasn’t been the best time for writing for me. All that is heaped onto some struggles I have with writing in general.
I’m really excited with the recent announcement by Fantasy Flight Game (FFG) of X-Wing 2.0. I’m hoping it’s going to fix what needs fixing and clean up what has gone from a streamlined quick play game to a bloated game requiring regular rule checks. Reading all the news though, I found that many people have suddenly found themselves feeling anxious, angry and upset. X-Wing Adjustment Disorder (X-WAD). There’s even been some self-harm by spikey Tie-Interceptor, and others who have pitched themselves back into the age-old mystery of trying to understand the point of crit tokens. As a trained therapist and author of the self-help book, ‘Get Over It’, I can’t just sit here with all the XWAD suffering I’ve witnessed on social media, so after the mad Tusken Raider and hyper-jump below I’m wading into the despair to triage the most common cries of anguish…
One year vegan and… not dead. Yay us! That being said, I’m writing this feeling like death thanks to a cold, so while our vegan diet hasn’t killed us it hasn’t made us invincible either. I could drop anecdotal comments about how my hay fever symptoms reduced, I didn’t get my usual winter cold and how I haven’t had back ache since the diet change, but it’s hard to say whether that’s anything to do with the diet or just natural fluxes in my condition over a year. It might also not be directly due to the food I’m eating, but the lifestyle changes going vegan prompted. So, instead of this post being about actual physical health improvements I’m going to talk about the impact going vegan has had on well-being, which is about how we have felt in this process and feel now.
Okay, start with the negatives… I’ve been health conscious for quite a while now–if not so healthy in my actual diet–and would watch sat fat and try and moderate the treats, but going into a vegan diet for ethical reasons we were worried that we could be jeopardising our health. Every spot, tummy wobble and head ache, had us questioning whether we were making ourselves unhealthy through our diet. Ironically, this wasn’t the go-to explanation we would have come up with on our meat, dairy and egg filled diet! I also lost nearly a stone in under 6 months, which was a bit of a worry as I am already quite light. However, in the last few years my weight had crept up from 9.5/10 stone to 10.5/11 stone, so I’m taking the drop back down to 10 stone as my having lost the onset of middle-age spread. So, result for me. Rob has not lost weight, but we don’t talk about that… He had hoped he would. The only difference in our lifestyle seems to be that he eats crisps and doesn’t exercise as much as I do as I usually cycle a lot in the week through work. Thankfully, reading around and watching the films ‘What the Health’ and ‘Forks over Knives’ and Mic the vegan’s YouTube channel, we felt somewhat reassured that through our food choices and supplements we would be getting a balanced diet. In the midst of all this angst we had to do a bit of ‘calm the f*** down’ and stop being so quick to recognise health issues and blame them on our diet.
February was a good month for writing. I managed to reach the end of part 1–a third of the way through–my latest project. At 40 pages, “The Darkwood Mysteries (17): The Slaves of the Underworld”, is shaping up nicely as a novella, perhaps even a novel length by the time I have completed parts 2 and 3. My plan, which I talked about in my last post, has held up. Chapters are pretty short, which is what I wanted, and the story I have had in my head for a few years now is getting onto the page without too much effort. I’ve managed to get a few full days of writing in, starting at about 6:30 or 7 am and then working through until 5 or 6 pm (with lunch and plenty of tea in between of course!). This was always how I used to write, and I’m glad to be getting back into the swing of it. It feels much more satisfying than a morning or afternoon, and an hour or so in an evening here and there a couple of times a week.
I’m going to share chapter two with you now. And disclaimer time again–I don’t consider I have a first draft until I have finished the whole story, as I often revisit sections and chapters as I am writing to make tweaks or changes, or move things around, so these shares are very much the rough that comes from the writing desk before they’ve been studied and edited. Please forgive typos and any wonky writing that comes through. After the ‘hook’ of finding Jack Hobbs committing himself to the workhouse, chapter two reveals why he is in this situation, and sets up the inciting incident–entering the workhouse–which will propel the story forward, with Hobbs in a very different place to the usual Darkwood Mystery.
My January in writing started with a tax return. What fun. As my writing can only be considered a hobby considering my low earnings, I’m hopeful I will only have the 2017/2018 return to do before taking advantage of new tax rules allowing for a minimum of a £1000 additional earnings before the need for a separate taxation process beyond main earnings. Of course, I would like for my writing to earn me more than a £1000 and for that to by my main source of income… (I earned £320 last year, and while I know that will not pay any bills, that’s supported my board game habit, and I’m chuffed at earning anything from tapping away at my keyboard!)
January also saw me doing some writing too. With one wholly new project finished in ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (13): The Ghosts of the Black Museum’, I set about planning the next three. One of them proved to come more readily into my head than the others, so to avoid brain ache I just went with that one. The other two can get more head time to cook up into something easier to get into the keys. I opted for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (17): The Slaves of the Underground’. It will be the penultimate of the next run in my series, but it will still pack a punch. It will see Darkwood and Hobbs separated under sad circumstances, and then reunited in desperate circumstances. The next run doesn’t let up on the bashing of Darkwood and Hobss. I’m a mean writer daddy. There will be a return of an old friend, an old enemy, a return monster, and a newly visited ancient Cthulhu style city. Read on for an extract after the jump…