I’m definitely not hitting any huge numbers or even finishing scenes as of yet, but I’ll hit those goals once again, soon enough. I’m not going to push it. Right now, my only writing goal is to get something written. The other day it was a little over six hundred. Tonight it’s probably more like two hundred.
Again, this is how I remember writing A Division of Souls: at the beginning of the project, it was about forward motion, even if it was a little at a time. This allowed me to take my time absorbing the scene and the characters within it, really get to know them a bit. These are mostly all new characters I’m introducing right now, the main cast that will take over where the original gang left off, and I’m learning about them as I go. This has already paid dividends as I’m getting to know one of the new mains more intimately, flaws and all. Which lets me figure out what’s going to happen next.
So yeah, that’s all I have to report here right now. Here, have a new groove from Unknown Mortal Orchestra that’s been playing on my PC lately!
The hardest thing about writing MU4 so far has been making a personal connection with my characters. I know what I want from them, and I think I know how I want them to evolve, but getting to those points has been fraught with missing by inches.
I also know, this time for a fact, that I’m not trying hard enough. I’m still suffering through waves of the Don’t Wannas with an equal serving of Easily Distracted. I want to write this novel, damn it all, I’m just avoiding working on it, and I’m starting to piss myself off because of it.
If this means I have to take desperate measures, I’ll do it. I’ve already uninstalled or removed several apps from my phone to minimize distraction during Day Job breaks I should be spending less passively. But though I’ve been doing all my actual writing work at home and I do close my web browsers come writing time, I still have too many distractions. If this means unpinning nearly every shortcut from the Task Bar, so be it. Making it harder to open distraction apps usually works for me simply by utilizing the Out of Sight Out of Mind method, and I’d rather not use one of those ‘won’t/can’t open until forty-five minutes pass’ apps if I can help it.
Still — the issue remains that when I am writing, I’m still not quite making that connection. I’m not connecting on that emotional level I’m aiming for. They still feel too distant. And again, that’s a personal issue I have to work through: I have to let myself establish that level, allow myself to take that deep dive. I know I can do it and I’ve done it before.
Eventually I’ll make that connection I’m longing for. I just need to keep trying.
Again, I’ve been thinking about how I pulled this off back in my Belfry days.
I’m of course feeling a bit frustrated and twitchy because I’m not getting any new words done. Chapters One and Two are still where I last left them, maybe with a few slight revisions here and there. Why am I getting nowhere with this thing?
But then I remember: starting A Division of Souls was also slow going at first, at least when new words were involved. Those first few chapters were written and rewritten so many times before I could accept them as a true part of the novel. I essentially took the best-so-far version I had and started rewriting them from the beginning.
But that wasn’t all I was doing. I was spending a lot of non-Belfry time working on the world-building. Creating short character studies of the mains and the secondaries, getting to know them better by creating seemingly mundane facts and figures about them. Sometimes they serve no purpose, but sometimes they come in handy somewhere down the line in the most unexpected ways. [For example, I came up with Caren having a scar on her leg from someone shooting at her well before I actually mentioned that fact in The Persistence of Memories.]
So this is what I’ve been doing for MU4 these last few weeks. Creating character studies for the original returning cast as well as the new cast of characters coming in. Some of them are from the several recent outtakes, but some of them are reinterpretations instead. In the process, I’m learning more about who they are, why they find themselves involved in these two important chapters, and what their stories will be during the course of the rest of the project.
It doesn’t quite get rid of that I need to write new words now, damn it! itch, but it will definitely make those new words come easier once I do have the chance to make them happen.
Recently I wrote up an entry on 750Words laying out a sort of Where Are They Now? for the original cast of the Bridgetown Trilogy in the current MU4 setting. It was all sorts of fun to do and it even gave me a few ideas for plot points to hit later on in the story! The reason I did this was because I wanted a firm grasp on their roles in this new story (if they indeed have one) as a sort of anchor for the new characters I’m about to bring in.
I suppose this confirms that I do want to return to the original cast to explore the Mendaihu Universe a bit further, but it also gives me a bit of distance and breathing room from the trilogy so I don’t feel like I’m trying to revive a story that’s already been told. The new generation of characters provide me with a way to expand the universe yet keep it connected to its origins. After all, this whole story universe is about connections, right?
Anyway, now that I know where the original cast stands, I suppose I should probably do the same for the next-gen cast, given that I know who they are already (due to previous versions dating back to 2015) and what their goals are. Some of them are already fully fleshed out while others are only a brief idea, but that’s okay as well. Perhaps even newer characters will arise when I least expect it!
…and without further ado, here’s the freshly-minted eighth volume of Songs from the Eden Cycle, the official playlists of the Mendaihu Universe! These are mostly from new releases that have been getting heavy play here in Spare Oom including Love in the Void by Hammock, After the Magic by Parannoul, plus a few classic tracks from New Order and Wire that I’ve been listening to as well.
It’s definitely a more shoegazey, post-rocky, electronicky mix than I’m used to, but it definitely fits the mood of MU4 so far. Hope you enjoy it!
Yes, Cali and Jules (see above) are definitely distracting, in a good way. Especially when they get all cute and cuddly and want our attention. But that’s not the distraction I’m talking about.
I’ve fallen behind on my work on MU4 partly because this past week I’d worked mid-shifts at the Day Job for three of the five days, Tuesday through Thursday, followed by two early mornings starting at 5:30am. My brain’s been a little loopy because of it and the most spoons I had was to maybe do a bit of reading of what I had so far.
I still have the same distractions I’ve had since we moved out to the west coast, of course — fiddling with the music library, refreshing the social media timelines, cleaning out the email inboxes, things like that — but I’d like to think I’ve gotten better over the last couple of years, especially now that my Day Job isn’t a high-stress brain melter and that I’ve cleaned out the detritus up there. I’d say my worst distraction right now is simple avoidance: purposely finding other things to focus on to avoid doing the actual work. The good thing is that’s an easy thing to combat, simply by shutting down those browsers and starting the work whether I’m ready for it or not.
I find that’s the most common start to a writing session when I’m distracted. Most of the time I am ready for it and the output isn’t all that bad (and when it is bad, I try not to dwell on it for long and remind myself to fix it next session). I’m simply just delaying because I’m trying to get the session mood just right. [Hey, remember during the Belfry days when I used to waste a half hour deciding what cds to listen to? Some things never change, do they?] My workaround has been the same thing since I came up with it in the mid-90s: just shut the f*** up and DO it already.
And that still works to this day.
Hopefully this coming week will be better! My schedule is mostly mornings with a day off midweek, so I should be able to work through the lingering Don’t Wanna’s and make some progress. There probably won’t be any new words, but I can at least revise and improve this newly reinserted chapter and work out how to go from there.
Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the right direction either.
I’m committed to not seeing this as yet another attempt at writing the same twenty or so scenes, but just a major obstacle to overcome. And as I’ve said plenty of times before, getting the first chapters right are always a major obstacle for me. I’m not trying to be perfect by any means…just trying to get it right, that’s all.
Anyway, a few previous beginning chapter attempts have been reinserted into this version and I’m much happier again. At least two of them which will take the job of doing two things: introducing newer characters, and also introducing the long-arc plot. The Original Gang from the Bridgetown Trilogy will of course arrive in due course, but in a slightly different way than I’d planned previously, and I think it’s for the best. Once these chapters are quickly revised, I can move forward again.
Now if I can only get past that annoying self-nagging that I’m not writing any new words at the moment…
Sometimes you just have to treat yourself to new office supplies. After all, they’re useful, right?
This past weekend we stopped at IKEA for home furnishing things and while there I picked up a few items that I could use here in Spare Oom. We’d been planning on heading there for household things anyway, so before I left I did a quick scan of the back room and thought about what I could use to update things. One thing in particular that popped up was the fact that I have a ton of space under my desk, and the only thing currently under there is my trash can and occasionally a cat or two. So why not get a smallish storage set that I could slide under there? And while I was at it, I bought a few more of those ‘inbox’-style stackable desk file organizers not for the desk but for the No Longer Hidden Bookshelf for further storage and notebooks I’m actively using (like my personal journal and the poetry comp book). And they were all pretty cheap, too! Of course I’ll have to put the under-desk storage set together when I have a moment today…
I know, this may or may not inspire me to get my ass in gear and get working on MU4, but it’ll make things a bit more bearable and the top of the desk a bit cleaner. I used to do this during the Belfry Years anyway, replacing things that were wearing out or working on better filing systems at the start of every book. Either way, I see it as a sort of celebration that I’m about to embark on another Epic Project.
I think I need to rewrite Chapter 2, and I’m not entirely happy about it. But it has to be done.
I’ve got a good handle on what needs to happen in the chapter…but this first attempt doesn’t quite stick the landing. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m writing it from the wrong point of view. The way I have it now is that it’s a nod to the opening of A Division of Souls, but really lacks the oomph I want it to have. It lacks the important conflict that will set the course of the rest of the story. It’s causing the pace of everything else to slow down considerably, and that’s not what I want.
I guess when you’re a deity followed by multiple worlds, you get a little jaded by the repeated nonsense that goes on? So maybe not from Denni Johnson’s point of view…maybe from Alec Poe’s instead? I mean, he spent the entire Bridgetown Trilogy trying to maintain a balance that normal people wouldn’t be able to handle, so maybe he might be a little cheesed off that this bullshit is still happening.
Yeah, that works for me.
I really should be used to multiple takes of early chapters by now, and right now I’m reminding myself that this is all part of the job. Just cut it out, paste it in the Outtakes document, and keep going. That works just fine. I think I’ve done this enough where I can bypass the temporary freak-out of thinking I’m a failure or that I’ll never get this thing off the ground. I hope…? Anyway, I’m not going to let such a minor error cause much of a problem. I’ll just need to start again!