A moment of panic

This morning I woke up at around 9a.m. and started writing. Lately I have been using a method where I jot down ideas for a scene or even a chapter right there when I need to on my phone. I finished writing a significant chunk by 11a.m. when I got out of bed. 3260 words. Last night I struggled to get the right ideas down, but eventually I did. This morning, the scene I worked on flowed better. It pieced together the scenes I wrote last night in a good way. It was really a keystone kind of chapter that begins a new section, having played out the last one to the point where I am sick of those characters.

I got the scene down in Notes. Then I got coffee. Then I fought fires through the better part of the afternoon until around 4p.m. when I sat down to transcribe the scenes I had written in bed to my master document. I opened up the file and it synched through to my computer. I watched it as I clicked on the file to select all, copy, and paste it to the main document in Scrivener. And as I did this, the entire file vanished.

Two hours of work. Gone.

I checked in deleted files. I rebooted my phone and the computer. I tried to check my backup hard drive. It was like the computer decided to be helpful and synch what was on the computer over what was on the phone. Because computers are helpful that way. It was gone and not a tech info library in all of the internet was of any help. They just kept suggesting I check the recently deleted folder.

No shit? I hadn’t thought of that!

Of course I had thought of that. It wasn’t there. And unlike the last time this happened, I didn’t think I was crazy and maybe had shaken my phone and accidentally undid typing in a file that hadn’t been saved. It was literally right there. Synched on my phone and computer.

So, I broke down and called Apple Tech Support.

The first person, though she was very nice, was exactly the same kind of tech support I used to work with when I did the job myself twenty three years ago. She escalated me to L2 tech support. Someone in Cupertino who actually knows what they are doing instead of trying to field 50 plus calls a day which can usually be remedied by “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

He took control of my phone and poked around in Apple’s secret files and…

Found the goddamned files. Saving my bacon. My sanity. And getting my eternal gratitude.

The rest of the day, I finished Utopia on Prime and also the most recent episode of The Boys. I got another coffee and prepared to do some more writing. I had some Happy Panda for dinner, poured myself a stout and sat down to write another 2,850 words on a new chapter. And then the words you are reading now.

It’s just midnight now and I feel good about the day. I could keep writing though.

Maybe I will. If I make a tea, I should have another two hours in me before the writing gets sloppy or I black out at the keyboard.

I think I might just let the chapter I’m working on percolate while I sleep. Then I can start again in the morning, hitting the ground running.

I keep holding back, since a lot of the stuff I’m writing isn’t going to sit well with some people. This is a concern. I’m not a robot and I do still have empathy for people. But the story needs to be told, and this is what I need to write if I want the story to be true. No holding back. No pulling punches. Not that anyone ever pulled a punch with me.

Maybe being nice is one of those things to consider in my second draft.

Plans

I have the whole week ahead of me, which should mean lots of writing, lots of working on projects, and all of that. But it’s Monday, which usually just entails getting my bearings and trying to get my life together. It’s always hard to see my son go back to his mom’s for the week. You can’t help but wonder if you have done enough, and it is exhausting dealing with his needs, school, keeping a ten year old mentally engaged enough to not be bored out of his mind. Especially since right now he has no friends, and the schools seem to be concerned only with making sure the state and the Department of Education recognize that the teachers are earning their cut. Hence the Zoom meetings peppered all throughout the day which demand that you are sitting in a chair, interacting with the general chaos of the classroom online.

There is no middle ground.

When he is gone, I miss him like I have lost a part of myself. The house is too quiet. That takes over for about a day and I experience a sense of loss until the evening when I can actually feel productive. Throughout the day, my body becomes an experiment in equilibrium. Enough caffeine to keep me moving, then enough food, protein, sugars, fibre, etc. to keep my moods in balance. Too much sugar and I want to sleep and then I get depressed. I gain weight too. Too much protein and I’m always hungry, and protein isn’t cheap. I only eat a couple meals a day anyway. When you are alone, meal prep is time consuming and pointless.

This week, my plans, once I get going again, are to try to write ten pages per day, seek out leads for travel writing, post at least a few times here and on my travel site, and hopefully get a podcast in. I have been paying for extra time and indexing on my podcast site, but with everyone on lockdown, I dislike the idea of sitting around talking to myself for any length of time.

Sometimes it feels like writing is just sitting around talking to yourself too. As with talking to yourself, you start wondering if you are crazy, if you are saying anything worth saying, and are you wasting your time.

When I did almost nothing during the day at my day job and they rewarded me with money, that was such a weird experience. Now I work my ass off, and not getting paid.

I also have that fear that once this project is done it will just reveal what a complete prick I really am. And nobody will buy it. And I might as well have been sitting around eating paint all day instead.

Trying

Today has been a productive day on the book. My resistance for a few days has been the avoidance of some of the topics of the story. Today, I have been focussing on a lot of the hard elements. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that not everyone will like this protagonist. And there are many reasons he often hates himself in spite of enough external challenges out there he faces.

Some of the topics are pulled from my own life, and at the advice of a few of my friends, some truly supportive and awesome brothers of the writing craft, I am taking their advice to heart and truly cutting down to the marrow.

It’s not a very nice mirror to hold up, but the story rings truer than any other way.

I don’t know how many words I have gotten down today, but I will say that I have transcribed several notes and scenes and written three or four large scenes today. I’m starting to get tired and so I will attempt to let the brain wind down so this isn’t all I am doing all night long.

When people ask me how the book is going, I am surprised to say lately that it is going very well. There are days it feels like it is writing itself. It’s a story that is demanding to be written, often at the expense of a normal sleep schedule, or reminding me of awful bits of my past I wish I could have forgotten long ago.

Lately I have been re-reading Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and am finding that the first read through was a personal story, but now I am reading it from a writer’s perspective. There are moments I stop and open up the notes on my phone and I have to write a scene or a chunk of dialog, because her fearlessness in the narrative has been giving me permission to explore a lot of things that I would have otherwise left buried.

I’m taking the advice of Joe Lansdale to heart when he says “Write like everyone you know is dead.”

I’m not writing a story to make people happy or feel better about the world. I’m writing to break their fucking hearts. Whether or not reading about this heartbreak gives the reader some kind of catharsis is up to them. That is what it has been doing for me at least.

Right now, some decent sleep would be nice.

So, yes, the writing is going well.

Starting is the hard part, because it’s like that wince you get when you expect something to sting. Touching a hot stove.