I’m so happy to report that it’s March, and that I have a draft of the next CPTE story. After the second week of February went so well I had real hopes that things were getting going, just had one scene left to finish, surely that couldn’t take too long. But February came back with a vengeance in the last two weeks, and I’ve mostly been trying to hold the pieces of everything together. 

Usually I have to get the rest of my life into some sort of balance before writing works, but this week has been the opposite, as writing is just about the only thing that’s working. But I’ll take it, and try to use that as a base to pull the rest of myself together. 

The next one is “Ian and the Lost Princes,” and it needs some close rewriting of some of the dialogue (writing for Richard III is tough) and to be sent to the illustrator, but I’m pretty confident in being able to get that out in the next couple of weeks. 

Meanwhile I’m glad to be reading something that isn’t Discworld, finally. The first new book off the pile was C. L. Polk’s Soulstar, the third book in its trilogy. This series hadn’t really reminded me of Daniel Abraham’s Long Price books before, but Soulstar really heads in that direction, working really hard on the idea that every bit of success against dystopia reveals deeper and more complicated levels of dystopia. It goes back toward more typical fantasy structure at the very end, with a simplifying and presumably happy ending, although like the Long Price books the amount of work the characters have gotten themselves into is daunting. 

Beyond that, it’s getting noticeably warmer, and I’m hoping that will eventually help my body which will help everything else. Thinking about keeping the Wednesday blog even after I can start publishing stories again, as this has been usefully keeping me on track, even when I can’t move very quickly down it.

So, another week, another lack of writing. I managed to get good sleep in there once, on Sunday, and today was all right. That’s a certain amount of progress, I guess. In the first half of this week I was able to sit down and figure out what the next Cell Phone Towers of Elfland story is going to be, tentatively titled “Ian and the Lost Princes” unless I come up with anything else. It has a setting and a theme and a plot, but actually writing it seems like it’s probably a ways away still. Just doing that much used up my available mental energy for those days very quickly. But it’s a certain amount of progress, albeit slow progress, and more importantly it means I’m continuing to try to move forward at this rather than just slipping into survival mode until spring. That could still happen but I’m holding it off so far.

In other news, since September I’ve been rereading the Discworld books in order, and catching a few that I missed in the kind of haphazard way that seems unique to that series. There are so many of them and they’re so diverse that reading them in order, or even looking for completion, doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you’re doing what I’m doing now: trying to learn what you can about writing comic fantasy from them.

They’re very reassuring, in some ways. I find it really inspiring how Pratchett was able to consistently improve over the lifetime of the series. The first ones really are not all that great, but I found three distinct places where he clearly leveled up along the way, as well as making smaller bits of progress more regularly. There are big steps up at book 13 (Small Gods), book 23 (Carpe Jugulum), and book 29 (Night Watch). Small Gods is better than several of the books after it, but even so they’re a step up from the ones before. 

One of my issues with the whole writing process is being motivated to put the work in over the long term. That’s part of why I set up into this particular format of working with series and arc plot, because it puts me into a better position for working on the next thing, when I know there are good plot points and character development and just funny moments to work toward. A series has momentum in a way that writing a bunch of individual stories doesn’t for me. If I were doing that I’d have to work up motivation from scratch every time, and eventually it would fail and I would go long periods without writing anything at all. With these series in place, now I have a ready default, with large chunks of the motivation already invested, and it makes it easier to keep going even in times like the present when everything is very difficult.

Where Pratchett comes into that is that it’s very easy to see where he benefited from putting the work in in the long term. I’ve gotten, now, to the Tiffany books, and shortly will get to the Moist books, and reading them all in order makes it very clear how he got to the point of being able to do those by writing a couple of million words in that world beforehand. It makes me more inclined to write a couple of million words in mine, in hopes that afterward my work will be that much better than what I’m doing now. It’s an excellent example of the learning and improving process really working, and that makes me more motivated to invest heavily in my own.