A few weeks ago I discovered that while writing new stories has been going well for the last several months, as that was happening I was falling farther and farther behind on the various administrative tasks involved in this project: updating the website, submitting the one standalone story I wrote in the middle of it, commissioning illustrations, running ads to drive traffic, and so on and so forth. In order to deal with that I shifted my schedule around to have Wednesdays exclusively for non-writing tasks, and I’m slowly catching up on my backlog of those, one of which was to start an occasional blog on the website, knowing that there were going to be times when I didn’t have a new story to publish for several weeks in a row, and not wanting to let it sit looking like I had abandoned the project.
And without too much of a surprise, with the end of November and the beginning of December have come some obstacles to the writing as well. This is not a good season for me, especially with the pandemic limiting my ability to deal with the winter by extensive travel. In a normal year I’d be somewhere warm by now, or at least getting ready to head there. Instead it looks like I’m going to be stuck at 45 degrees north for at least the first chunk of the winter, and I’m not really sure how it’s going to go.
The last couple of weeks, however, have not gone especially well. My writing groove has gone away, and I’m working to get it back, with some success. I have hopes that this crash won’t be long-lasting. But I had planned to get at least one story in each of the current series out in December, and right now that doesn’t look exceptionally likely. Each of them is well-started and completely outlined, but the onset of winter has left my brain unable to keep track of enough things at once to feel comfortable putting new words on them.
For me the creative act of actually writing the words of a story still involves a lot of narrative decision-making, even if I have a full scene-by-scene outline to work from. This is even more true when writing a series that’s supposed to have continuity. I have to consider the implications of everything I have a character do, every bit of backstory I introduce, even casual descriptions of setting. I had no idea that air pressure didn’t increase at altitude in Fairyland until I wrote that sentence in Ian and the Goats Gruff, and being able to put it in there meant considering how it worked with the world as I know it and the world as I intend it to be in the future.
When I’m working well, this sort of cognitive load is one of the most enjoyable things about it. It’s the complexity that builds off of each little detail in an ongoing series that made me want to do this in the first place, and figure out a way to publish them in an environment where very few venues exist for that sort of thing. Unfortunately it also means that I requires the ability to operate at a high level when I’m doing it, something that just hasn’t existed in the last couple of weeks.
I have some strategies to try to get back from the crash of the early winter here, and I reassure myself that even in this particularly difficult state I’ve still been able to write about as much as I was when I started the project in June. I’m pretty sure that at some point I’ll be able to recover and start making real progress again, and continue bringing out stories to advance these two series. I just don’t know if that will be tomorrow, or next week, or in January, or in April. I really hope not in April.
Until then, you may get blog posts on Wednesdays instead of stories for a while. One thing I can always do is write about not writing. If I need one again next week I’ll probably talk about my mitigation strategies for this crash and whether they’re working at all; by then I ought to have a pretty good idea. I’ve also been thinking about maybe publishing that one standalone story here, since the logistical overhead has been keeping me from actually sending it anywhere anyway. I might give that another week and see where I am on the next stories in the series.