Sunday, November 10, 2013

Epiphanies and Obstacle Courses

To start, I'd like to say "Whoot!" to the fact that I'm over 12,000 hits. I pretty much never suspected such love for a dinky blog that is just a glorified diary of a whining writer. So thank you to all of my repeat readers. Thank you for enjoying my lame rants. Thank you for sticking with me when I disappear for weeks or months on end. Thank you for enduring my emo-ness on occasion. Thank you for showing me love.

Thank you also for following along while I whine incessantly about how "lame and pathetic" I am as I give out a seemingly never ceasing list of excuses as to why "I didn't write anything this week". I knew that I gave those pitiful "reasons" that were supposed to justifiable. I knew that I did so frequently. I didn't quite grasp HOW often I posted such updated until ChibiSunnie bluntly wrote to me:
Chibi: I’ve noticed a pattern of "I was going to write, but there was a great TV show on” or “I was going to write but Hubby's friends came over” or “I was going to write, but I got distracted by the forums” etc.

An astute observation of the content of not only my blog, but my Facebook statuses. I was slowly picking up on this pattern myself. This typically resulted in my verbal berating of myself about being lazy and unproductive; resulting in me whining to my husband that "I haven't written in x-days! I need to work!" However, I never picked up on the fact that I gave SUCH lame excuses and so frequently; enough to get called out on it.

I thanked Chibi for her honesty. Sometimes your repeating pitfalls like that need to be pointed out to you before you truly see how large of a problem they've become.

I keep saying that I want out of my current job, and yet I rarely do any form of active job searching to find a replacement. I keep going on and on about wanting to be a professional author, and yet I don't put any sort of effort or discipline in to my writing. With my mentally and physically draining job - combined with the work of maintaining the house - it's just easier for me to turn off my brain when I'm home. Veg in front of the TV while snuggled against my husband; pretending to be productive while STILL working on my niece's blanket - a repetitive task that does allow me to sort of shut down my brain. Play video games that only require minimal puzzle solving. Mess around on Facebook or Deviantart. All mindless tasks.

I don't want to put the effort in to thinking. I don't want to put in the effort to try to figure out what The Girls have been doing at the institute or what Trish was doing before catching up with the two-year time skip. I don't want to think about how to thread forum posts together so they make a coherent narrative. I don't want to think about the layout of Gyateara, Amara's life, or how to bring Connor back to the Heroes Guild so he and Natalie can finally get back to their quest to save Albion. I don't want to have to figure out what Arnold did in Hillwood as the love of his life is out with another man. I don't want to figure out the thoughts racing through Helga's head as she tries to wrap her mind around the idea that Arnold never stopped loving her.

It's hard work if it's not a blast of inspiration; the characters spilling out their thoughts through me. After all the other work I do I just don't want to have to put that much effort in to something that is generally a stress-relieving past time for me.

And there's the problem. I still think of writing as a hobby. As a stress-reliever. And it is. When I do have those great moments of inspiration in which I don't really need to think - I just let my fingers fly and the words spill out - I feel lighter, happier, productive, proud, determined, and an overall mild sense of euphoria. As I stated in my one post last week: I was cranky all of October and I also didn't write all of October. I'm sure if I had done any sort of writing it would have really helped to de-stress me and made October a bit better.

The trick is to remind myself that I also want this fantastic stress-reliever to be a CAREER. If I wait for inspiration - for when it's easy to write - I'll never get anywhere. Weeks or months will go by without any progress, I'll slowly chip away at about five different projects - wherever the muse takes me, chapters will take up to a YEAR to finish, actual stories will inch towards a decade before completion, and I'll never get any sort of income for my efforts. On top of all that, I'll get closer and closer to middle age grumbling more and more about how I've wanted to be an author since I was nine and yet I STILL hadn't done anything to actually make that happen.

I hoped the concept of NaNo would kick me back in to gear, but it's not just the mindset, it's the atmosphere. When I lived with my mom I had seclusion. I could lock myself in my room, only poking my head out to eat and use the bathroom, and neither my mom nor my sister would really say anything about it. If I isolate myself in my bedroom now for more than an hour my husband tends to whimper about how he misses being able to hang out with me.

We're still in that sickingly attached stage of marriage where we want to spend all of our free time together. Probably a result of being in a long-distance relationship for eight years. We both know that we have to get over it; I have my stuff to do and he has his and we can't spend every waking moment attached to each others' hip. Yes, when I explain to him that I have to hide away in either our library or bedroom so I have a quiet place to work, and I explain how much I need to do said work, he pouts and then lets me be. The issue then is me not caving in to that puppy-dog look and wanting to snuggle against him while binging on the next show we have in our Netflix instant queue.

So we both have some growing to do. We need to re-learn to be independent and accept just being in the same house. He needs to improve his understanding of how important writing is to me so he can better build an atmosphere that I can nurture my writing in; instead of struggling to fit it in to my life. I need to stop letting the atmosphere I'm in dominate me. I need to find ways to make it work until the lifestyle changes. I need to do more things like locking myself away in the bedroom, writing when Hubby's not in the house, and blasting music through headphones so I can block out my surroundings while I write at my desktop. I have to be strong and reset our home's culture myself; Hubby will follow once I get it started.

I need to make an active effort to bring reading and writing in to my life. Well, reading without it TAKING OVER my life. Twice now I've spent the six hours Hubby's been at work just sitting in bed reading. I don't even realize how much time just disappeared until I have to stop to pee and notice that I have to go fetch him in about a half-hour. On the plus side, I'm half way through the "Heroes of Olympus" series and the conclusion of "Son of Neptune" was enough of a stopping point that I can hopefully wait a week or two before picking up "Mark of Athena"; especially since I KNOW it ends in a massive cliffhanger, resulting in me instantly tearing through the latest book. If I do that I'm going to loose a week or two of my life, easily.

Anyway, enough about epiphanies. They mean nothing until they are acted upon. So I started to act upon it.

For the Brotherhood section of the forum I wanted to upgrade the obstacle course that the mutants use to train on; as well as test out possible new recruits. Warbash busted up most of the obstacles and so it needed to be rebuilt anyway. The problem is that I'm HORRIBLE at coming up with a challenging obstacle course. Between June and now I had about four pages of obstacle ideas. I wrote out what I wanted to train the Brotherhood members in and rough ideas on how to do so. They were all jumbled concepts that didn't really work. Then Ronoxym posted as Devon this past week. He was itching to have the Brotherhood's two-year time jump to finally get that part of the forum up-to-date with the main X-Men portion.

Hubby was all set to do the time skip, but one of the ideas I had scribbled down for the obstacle course was Quicksilver poking fun at Trish over getting shot during the Purifier raid. I loved the playfulness of it and didn't want to lose my opportunity to post it. I needed the new obstacle course though, and I needed it before the time skip.

So I struggled and bounced countless ideas off of Hubby. I even started doodling out the layout of the course. When I say "doodle" I of course meant that I measured our apartment to get a better idea of  how large certain obstacles should be and then drew them to scale on a sheet of paper. When I set my mind to something I go all out to make sure it's done right. This usually results in something that SHOULD only take about a half-hour to write instead taking a WEEK to plan out and finish. This is probably another reason why I'm so hesitant to write anything.

I finally completed building the obstacle course on Thursday, finished typing out the three-page description of it on Friday, and wrote out Trish's run through it during my Sunday Insomnia while Hubby was on his overnight shift. It's lengthy and so I still have to figure out how to best post it on to the forum so it's not just this large wall of text to sift through. For the obstacle course description I broke it down in to the individual rooms the Brotherhood member has to run through, and hid them behind drop-boxes. That way you can easily jump to the room description you need without having to sort though endless text. I also used Photoshop to draw out the layout and hid the map of the course inside a drop-box as well. Not sure if this is the best way to go for Trish's run though. Maybe....

Anyway, this resulted in me going from virtually no writing to writing about 7600 words over the weekend. True, spending all of my time working on this project resulted in me not taking the time to work on the next X-Future chapter, but at least we can FINALLY move forward on the forum after it being dead since August.

Since Trish's obstacle course run isn't really all that crucial to the overall storyline of X-Future it probably won't end up as more than a paragraph or two in the novelized version. In that case I think I'll post it as a very lengthy addition to the Snippets anthology. So keep an eye out for that within the next few days and I'll be sure to link to it next Sunday.

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