Work

January Round-Up

Hi folks. A month into 2022 and I, for the first time, feel like I’m progressing on my work. So many big things have happened this month, though, from my own health, to my family’s health both in America and China, to my friends moving out of state (she’s aiming for Canada, can’t blame her at this juncture), to a slew of other crazy life stuff (Bengals going to the Super Bowl what?? On Year of the Tiger no less lol). But I trudged on despite it all, and more importantly, I am where I’d like to be with my novel, and that’s not something I could say about it for the past few years.

I did take a lot more breaks than I anticipated, so I didn’t work as much as I’d like, but that’s more of a quantity issue than quality. I am content that I finally figured out how to deal with some major plot holes, and I think the story has evolved quite a bit because of it. Now all I need to do is make sure I do enough hours of work. I think once I actually get the detailed outline written, the writing process will then become a pure time-spent issue, and not a stuck-for-days-and-write-nothing-because-the-central-plotline-is-borked issue, do you know what I mean? At least I hope that’s the case haha. I don’t know, I’m not there yet. I need to actually finish the whole Snowflake Method first.

I’m hoping I can actually start writing the words in February. That’s the goal anyway. We’ll see if that is achieved in the next month’s round up.

Work · Writing

Geez, Stuck on Settings Again??

This entry, unlike my last one, is just pure writing gripe. First of all, I’m glad to be writing again, period. After my last entry I had to take a few days off to fully absorb the news. It’s not like I have cancer or anything (knock on wood!), but it is a condition that requires some life adjustment. Or at least expectation adjustment. I thought I just needed a day or two, but that didn’t turn out to be enough. Anyway, I tried to work yesterday and somewhat succeeded. I felt more trepidations on starting everything and was not concentrating as well. But today I feel totally energized. And I think I’m ready to jump back in.

So what am I working on in my planning document? Settings. Again. Yep. I really thought I had gotten it all figured out, but nope, turns out there are some major contradictions and plotholes in my overall setting – I’m talking about the whole trilogy’s background, rathe than this singular book’s – that I didn’t even realize were an issue until I talked to my s.o., and he was like, waitaminute, some of the initial premise doesn’t make any sense. So yeah, back to the drawing board I go! Fortunately, the plot of the novel itself is not really affected, so at least I don’t have to reorganize that whole spiel. Until the outline phase, that is, but that’s Far Future Me’s problem. Today and Tomorrow Mes will be focused on making the setting fit the novel properly.

It is my fault, I know, in the grand scheme. I have been obsessing over some details while ignoring others, and it just happened that some of the parts I ignored are actually quite important, and definitely should’ve been settled early on. Oops. Guess that’s just how the writing process works, eh? Nothing else to do but trudge on. So my hope of actually putting words down by second week of February will probably have to be scrapped. But I’m not really working the full 4 hours yet, so maybe reaching that daily goal would offset the setback. That will be my February goal, I suppose. Work full time and try to start actual writing before the month ends.

Life

Here Be Some News

Well, I have some news. I had an appointment with a geneticist yesterday, because my fertility doctor was trying to figure out why I kept on having miscarriages when they couldn’t really find things obviously wrong with me, so they took some of my blood and did more testing. The results came and I had a very revealing talk with a very nice lady about my karyotype.

So, turns out I have a rare genetic disorder in which some of my cells are missing an X chromosome. It’s called mosaic Turner syndrome. Apparently I have a very mildly expressed case, so it went undiagnosed until now, when I’m a full-on adult for a while. Usually they start testing when you’re a teenager and didn’t start your period at all, or you had a heart attack in your 20s, or you’re just exceptionally short, and other very obvious and abnormal things. Those are the full-on Turner syndromes, where all the cells are missing an X chromosome. For me it’s only about a quarter defective – hence, mosaic. Luckily I missed a lot of the negatives growing up, as nothing happened to me that was out of the ordinary. Unluckily, I did not get spared when it comes to getting pregnant. I apparently have about 40% miscarriage rate compared to normal people’s 10%, and all in all my entire reproductive system just doesn’t work quite right.

So yeah. Quite some news, huh? I’m still processing the shock of it, and I think it’s an effect of the pandemic years, because now I’m just numb than depressed. A bit sad, surely, but not catatonic or anything. My spouse and my in-laws are very sad about it. My mom, however, when I told her, was more understanding. Probably because she works as a lab technician so she has medical background, so I didn’t have to explain too much about what’s going on and she “gets” it, you know? Unlike my mother-in-law who has no idea what’s what and is just like “what is wrong with you why how what does this mean?!” Bless her heart, yeah?

Now, because I’ve been diagnosed, I have to go get some routine checks. The most important two are the cardiologist and a nephrologist. Or maybe not necessarily a nephrologist but definitely a renal ultrasound. I have to go get an echocardiogram first, just to rule out there could be some function issues with my heart, and then make sure I have functional kidneys. Key there is plural, kidneys; people with this disorder sometimes have one messed up kidney and one okay one. So fun times ahead. Either way I’m not planning go anywhere near a hospital until well into February because of Covid. I’m expecting to hear from my fertility doctor soon. I imagine we’d make detailed plans then.

Like I said I’m still processing. I’m definitely giving myself a few days off so not much going on work-wise. Maybe I’ll start cleaning the house or something, just so I can deal with it while doing something productive that doesn’t require too much brain work. I’ll keep you updated for sure.

Work · Writing

No Motivation, and Some Adjustment

I do NOT want to work today. Nope. I think the past three tough days kind of drained me, and today is Friday, so I’m like, wow, I have no motivation to open up my document and work on it. Zero. But, you know, too bad! So many people are exhausted and are forced to work in dangerous conditions right this minute. They make do. What’s my privileged excuse?

Anyway, yesterday I took a good look at the rest of the Snowflake Method, and realized I actually did a lot of steps in one step by accident. I think this method is great if you’re just starting to think about your novel, but is a bit slow for me who’s been ruminating on this novel for literally years. I already know a lot of the advanced stuff because I’ve thought through all those, but I still needed to use the method to really work out some of the major kinks that were keeping my story from being cohesive and whole. Not to say I won’t have issues when it comes to actually writing it, but at least the overall goal is much clearer per chapter. (Or I hope – because I haven’t done the detailed outline part yet, and that’s when things can all fall apart.) So like I said yesterday, I’ve added a step for detailed setting sheets. I’ve also put minor character sheets as its own step because I also have some very important minor characters, who’re going to be the major characters in the next book, so I need to get their stories straight too. And of course the all important outline. Although the method calls for an Excel sheet for that step, I think Scrivener does a good enough job. I’m not afraid of Excel sheets, okay? Hell, I’ve worked in data entry before, so yeah, very familiar. I just like keeping everything I have in one program, and I paid for Scrivener so I’m going use it, dammit. lol.

So when it’s all said and done there’s going to be only 9 steps in my adjusted method. (Eight if you don’t count the review step, but I think a final look at the whole thing before I start writing in earnest is important.) I think at the pace I’m going, I will be done with the whole process by the first week of February. So right after Chinese New Year week I can legitimately tackle my novel again. Wow. So scary to think about. So I’m NOT going to think about it right now. Today Me’s problem is definitely trying to work on the settings sheets. At least get one done, you know? Gotta get over that laziness and lack of motivation to keep going!

Work · Writing

Super Tired

I was so tired yesterday, y’all. You wouldn’t believe. First of all I haven’t been sleeping well because I was having my period, so I took a whole lot of pain pills before I went to bed. Well, turns out that heats me up so I was very uncomfortable. I mean it’s either pain or hot, and I think being hot distresses my sleep less than pain. So I already woke up groggy for three days straight. Also add in the fact that there’s very loud construction right outside my window for the past two weeks. I didn’t realize how damn hard it is to concentrate on writing when there’s incessant, loud clanking all throughout the afternoons. So I was focusing so hard trying to work, while being sleep-deprived and annoyed, while also being anxious about the usual how-much-I-suck. I was so exhausted yesterday, that when I was finally done with the portion of my work I pretty much passed out immediately after dinner.

But. The good news is that I did get Step 4 done! Just finished editing it today and will start on Step 5! I’m going to have to make some changes to the steps to tailor it to my novel, though. For example, in addition to character sheets I also have place sheets, and for this novel the setting is very important. The desert that a lot of the plot takes place in is almost like a character itself, so I’m going to take some time out to work on those. Either way, I’m pretty surprised that I actually am steadily making progress. I did not think I’d be able to make it this far. In fact, I have never made it this far with planning before. You know that horrible Tuesday I had with that one character setup? Yeah, Previous Me’s would have given up and scrapped the thing altogether already. But not Current Me! No, sir, Current Me is determined and more motivated than I had ever been in a long, long time. So yes, onto step 5, even though I’m still ridiculous tired from it all. At least today I slept okay.

Work

Step 3 Done!

Woot! I officially finished step 3 of the Snowflake Method for my novel! Yay!

Yes, miniscule accomplishment, but I think every small step needs to be celebrated. I don’t have a boss to tell me “job well done”. Or even something like “aha, made it under the timeline even though it’s meh work!”. Everything is just me, myself, and I. Until I completely finish the novel and all the things that come after, the ‘during’ process is just one big blah of a marathon. So any tiny marker of accomplishment is important to keep going.

Took me way too long to seriously digest and understand that mentality. So today I’m celebrating finishing this tiny milestone. I’m giving myself tomorrow off. And then I can go on to tackle Step 4 and beyond.

Step 4 is arguably even more scary than Step 3 but, you know, that’s Sunday me’s problem. Friday me is just going to chill and watch tv for the rest of the day.

Happy Friday and long weekend, folks!

Work · Writing

What I Work On Affect My Mood

Title is kind of like, duh! But it’s interesting to observe this now that I’m consistently working. I’m sure this happened before, but because I felt anxious all the damn time, I never actually seriously analyzed exactly what was causing me to be depressed, you know? Well, now I inadvertently have, and the conclusion is, uh, what I explicitly work on matters!

So let’s just take the past few days. On Monday I was semi-okay, kind of excited to work even. Tuesday was horrible. No motivation, no creativity, almost cried in bed but didn’t (and still managed to get some work done!) Yesterday I was a bit better, and today was very neutral. The reason for this swing? Well, right now I’m working on very detailed character sheets. On Monday I was finishing up one, and it was fine. On Tuesday I was starting on the next character, who is very complicated in both motivation and plot elements, and I think I completely froze up on how hard it’ll be to write him. Hence all the anxiety, doubt, hatred for myself, etc. etc. Yesterday I was finishing up the second half of the character sheet, so because I already had a starting point, it was much easier. And today I’m starting my last major character and she’s not nearly as complicated as the previous guy. So I’m okay today. I literally felt awful because the thought of tackling a perceived difficult character wrecked me. What if I just can’t do it? What if I make a super messy, crappy character with a plotline that makes no sense? What if this, what if that? I fought through it, because I did get it done, but it was a bad day overall because of it.

I’m not sure what I can do in the future to prevent this. I guess the most I could do was no matter how shitty I keep going? Tomorrow is a better day? Upon contemplating today I realized my current character could use a bit more tweaking because I want her to be a little more complicated than she was. So I did that. I’ll finish her tomorrow. All in all the day is going okay, and I’ll be on track to finally finish the character sheets by tomorrow. And then it’ll come plot outlines and…yeah, I’m not thinking of that at all, okay? Too daunting to pre-think; better if I just take as it comes. If that means I’ll have a couple of awful days where I don’t know if I can handle starting it? Let it be. Because I think, and I kind of have proof from this week, that I can handle it, somewhat. Which is better than before when I just stopped progressing.

Work · Writing

All Hail the…Cookie?

Okay, so here’s something really weird going on with me. Oh, and it’s work related not baking related, so yeah curb your expectations please haha. Anyway, as I said before, I’ve finally started to do a huge overhaul of my novel, because it desperately needs it before I can continue writing. And it’s hard. Ho boy I’m still on only step 3 of the Snowflake Method and it’s making me stressed as hell. I have 4 major characters and I’m supposed to write an overall plotline for them along with physical descriptions, internal struggles, the works. Cool. Should be able to drum that out in a day or two, right? NOPE! I started last week and only just now finished with 2 characters. Pathetic, I know, although the first character took longer to finish than the second one, which I mark as progress.

But during this process, I discovered something that’s kept me going despite me wanting to shut down the document and run away every few minutes. (Yes, I legitimately panic whenever I write a sentence or two, because I feel like everything sucks and I suck the worst, and I have the urge to close everything and go to bed and watch mindless youtube videos forever.) And that is, oddly, a small web-based game called cookie clicker. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, from like a decade ago? Anyway, it used to be that I would write a few sentences, maybe some paragraphs on a good day, and then I’d feel panic at how bad I am and go on reddit, and then boom, 2 hours have passed by and I only wrote like 100 words. Then I’d feel bad about wasting all that time, and then I’d just give up altogether. And that’s how I made no progress on anything for years. I mean it, YEARS. The more depressed I got the worse progress I made, and the lack of progress made me more depressed, and hence a ridiculous cycle of doom was born. Well, on a whim last week, instead of going to reddit, I decided to play cookie clicker. I don’t know why; I just did. And I discovered that I could write a couple of sentences, click on a bunch of cookies, and return to writing after just a few minutes! It’s still slow and dumb, I mean imagine after every sentence you type you take a two-to-five-minute break clicking things. But it’s vastly shorter than 2 hours on reddit, npr, whatever, and I did not freak out and feel useless afterwards, because after a bit of cookie clicking I somehow am ready to write again! No, I don’t understand why. I would love to, but I don’t. But all I care about is that, as slow as it is, it. Is. Working.

And getting better. Because I definitely feel like sorting out my second character went faster than my first. Plus I didn’t give up after a tough spot, or rather, many, many tough spots, and kept going. Even now, as I’m typing this entry, I took a few breaks to click on the cookies. Only a few seconds later and I’m good at continuing! Sure, I cannot make the four hours a day deadline yet, but I feel like I can reach it, you know, instead of it being something completely impossible. All thanks to an ancient, idle web-browser game. What a weird discovery.

I’ll keep you updated if there are more weird changes. I feel like I’m jinxing it or something. Seriously, I’d like an explanation for this phenomenon. If I knew this’ll be the stupid trick to get my brain going I’d have done it a long, long time ago.

Work · Writing

Keep Going

Welp, I did not meet my goal of 4 hours yesterday, and probably won’t today either. It’s my fault, definitely, but I’ve been having trouble sleeping these few days because I’ve kind of been binging on bad news about Omicron. Yes, again, I know that’s bad for you and you shouldn’t read the news, especially on reddit, nowadays. But I did. And so I’m paying for the consequence of sleepless nights, really late wake-ups, and more worrying when it’s prime time to work. It’s a bad cycle.

In addition, I’m just sitting here looking at my document and characters, and thinking over and over how I don’t know anything about anyone, and I’m a terrible writer, and all kinds of self-doubt things. It’s stressful af I’m telling ya lol. The one small silver lining is that I am sitting down and looking, every day, despite it breaks me out in cold sweats. So maybe like, after a week or two I’ll get slightly less freaked out from exposure? I mean, my characters aren’t going to contribute to my stress, which is the difference between my writing and a forum where all kinds of random people can say things that add on to my stress. (Which is why I should ban reddit from all my devices not just my work computer, but alas, I sometimes like to read it for cute things.) I’m hoping me sitting here every day feeling inadequate would become me sitting here not feeling as inadequate in a month or two. Or at least tomorrow I’ll feel a smidge less inadequate than today. Sounds like coping but a couple of therapy exercises my psychologist assigned me seemed to utilize the same trick. So maybe it’ll work.

The key is just to keep going. So here I go sitting and stressing about how stupid my characters and me are for another few hours before giving up and going to sleep. And repeat the same thing tomorrow. And maybe I can snatch five or ten minutes here and there to work in between hyperventilating, which eventually will lead to less hyperventilating. Then, uh, I don’t know. Let’s get through this week first.

Work · Writing

New Year, New Work Ethic

Yes, the title is very optimistic. Declaring this year will be the year that I actually develop a work ethic and stick to it. Ha! Just to be clear by work ethic I just mean have a schedule and not slack off because of whatever mental block I have on that day. You know they say you have to write through writer’s block; that’s the only way. I believe that but I never actually need to put it into practice. Plus, I was in denial about the fact that I was blocked in the first place, so obviously I don’t need to write anything if I’m not even blocked, right? Yes, I know, that doesn’t make any sense. It also didn’t do me any good on productivity.

Speaking of productivity, I’ve decided that I really need to do an overhaul of my novel. I mean I have random snippets and scenes but I lack a cohesive structure. There are plot holes that’s not been resolved that I keep on putting off. Well, some people can write a whole first draft with major plot holes and not care, as long as they got all 100k words out. Me? Nope. Can’t write a single word until I know absolutely everything that’s going to happen in the chapter. Which, again, I know doesn’t really work in the creative process. So you see how I can’t finish anything, right? But acknowledgement is the first step to solving the problem. I know my problem now. So to tackle it, I’m applying the Snowflake Method to this novel.

I think I used this method at the very beginning of my novel writing, but never followed through. Hence why to this day I don’t have a good ending or know exactly what happens in the last third of the book. Here lies the root of all my issues, no? Therefore, I’m going to do the method all over, and follow through to step 10 this time. Probably will take the entire month of January to do it, too, if not longer. Word counts don’t matter right now. What matters is a thorough once over of the entire work. Write, rewrite, edit – that all come later. Incidentally, I talked to my s.o., who went to school for project management, and asked him what would be an appropriate amount of time of work each day for him to consider it a job. (As opposed to a hobby.) He thinks 6 hours should be sufficient, I consider that too much for the beginning, so we settled to 4 hours, with weekends off. (Also barring medical emergencies, surgeries, and all that, which I expect to have a lot of this year too.) There, a concrete number for the insurmountable amount of work ahead. Or at least it felt that way to me haha. I’m sure my perception is all wonky due to my horrible sense of self-assessment, but that’s why I asked for an outside opinion.

I spent most of yesterday setting up my new novel file. Today will be the first day of a bulk of work and I’m absolutely terrified. It’s arguably the easiest thing to think about right now and I’m still freaking out. Thank you for the existence of this blog, eh? It’s nice to put all my feelings down in words. I will also try to update this blog more frequently, and keep up with Friday Fictioneers, too, when I need breaks from thinking about my own work. I’ll talk to you guys later.