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Author Archives: Jason
I’m at a Safeway in Aberdeen, Washington and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. It’s getting late and I’m starting to get tired and I’m searching the aisles for dinner and I can’t stop smiling. My legs hurt and my sight is blurry and I’m practically euphoric.
Maybe it’s because I’m seriously considering buying a toilet bowl scrub from a Safeway in Aberdeen, Washington.
I have my deli sandwich and she has her coffee and salad. We go back out to my car and the sky is a deep red to the west and a dark blue to the east. We are heading east.
We get in my car and my body can’t decide if it is sore from driving all day or sore from hiking all day. It is probably both.
She opens her salad dressing and it goes flying. Was it ranch? Blue cheese? I forget, but it is everywhere and all I can do is laugh. It is on the dash, the seats, all over her, and we just laugh.
Well, she wipes herself up too, but there is a lot of laughing. More so on my end.
We clean up as best we can, as best as we are motivated for after such an exhausting day, and continue our drive back. We are still a few hours from Seattle. I still have half a sandwich.
I talk about how the weather reminds me of December. Except warmer. And less snow. And more leaves on the trees. And the grass is greener. And it actually isn’t like December at all and we laugh about that too.
So much had happened that day. I was pulled over by a cop. I tried to fix a headlight. I navigated through fog. I was in the rainforest and I was in the snow. I was at the top of a mountain and at the edge of an ocean.
But here I am in a car heading down 12 and it is now completely dark and I still only have one headlight. We aren’t talking anymore, we had done a lot of that earlier. We are both tired. The only sound is her music playing that I don’t understand but enjoy nonetheless.
And I haven’t been this happy in many months. I am comfortable. I am content.
This week I am trying to get back into writing on a consistent basis. It had been a couple weeks since I did any substantial writing. I wrote on a Monday,was on vacation from Tuesday to Tuesday, took Wednesday off, wrote Thursday, then continued to be burned out Friday. So this week I’m trying my best to get back in the groove.
Monday was challenging because I had just completed the second major portion of my novel without a clear direction of what the next section would be. With the first two parts, everything was fairly straight forward. For the remaining pieces of my novel, it is a little murky.
I had been debating how to divide up the rest of my novel, into two or three parts. Ultimately, I decided that there are three parts remaining, making five total parts. Four would have probably been nicer, but if divided that way the final part would just be unyielding. And thematically it is just going to work better with five parts, especially with the third being a transitional element.
This is all a long way of saying that I still had a lot to think about in terms of how my story was going to be structured, and especially part 3, because that was what I had to write.
I sort of cheated on Monday and mostly just wrote an outline for part 3. I still wrote about 1,000 words, but hardly any of it was actual novel stuff. A lot of it was where the characters are at, what they are doing, and what they are going to do. I had always known where this part would begin and for awhile had known where it is going to end. It’s how to get from A to B that is the hard part, so that’s what I worked on.
Today was my first real day back writing. I finished the introductory chunk to part 3 and I feel pretty good about it. The novel is certainly taking a darker turn and the scene hopefully sets the tone for the rest of this section.
So this is me, trying to get back into a good rhythm. I only have a few weeks until I am gone again on vacation, so I need to get as much writing in as possible.
No matter what you are doing, there will always be easy days and there will always be hard days. The easy days are wonderful. We all welcome them. But they are meaningless. That might be a strong statement, but in the grand scheme of things they just aren’t that important. Anyone can do something they want to do. Everyday we do things we want to do. It is the hard days that really matter.
There are days when I wake up and just know it is a bad day. Writing is going to be a chore. I sleep in, I procrastinate, I put off sitting down in front of my computer for as long as possible. When I finally open up Word, I just stare at the blinking cursor. All I want to do is close the window and go back to doing something else.
It is most important to do something when you don’t want to do it. When it is the last thing you want to do, but you do it anyways. Those are the days that separate someone who runs from a runner, someone who paints from a painter, and someone who writes from a writer. As soon as you stop, as soon as you say, “I’m not in the mood today,” that is when you have failed.
No one is hardwired to have all “easy days.” No one wakes up everyday excited to run X miles or write X words. We are humans. We have our ups and downs. But it is the downs that define us. Our “hard days” reveal who we are.
And it takes practice. It takes dedication. Just as we aren’t hardwired for “easy days” we also aren’t hardwired to power through “hard days.” I’m not pretending that I don’t sometimes give into my “hard days.” Because I do. But I also have to accept that it isn’t okay to do that. That I failed that day. That I will just have to work one day more to make up for that lost day.
You need to create the habit. You need to feel that if you don’t do it, something is off. Anyone can be passionate about something for a few days or a few weeks and then get tired of it. But if you really want to do it, whatever “it” is, you need to do it on the hard days.
I am a few weeks into writing my first novel. I’ve written around 24,000 words at this point, which is a lot of writing for sure, but also leaves me with a ways to go. A novel is, on a very rough average, about 100,000-150,000 words, or so I surmise from some quick Googling. I will write until the story is complete, but yes, a ways to go.
My main goal is obviously to finish, but secondary to that it is to avoid burnout. I set myself a pace of 2,000 words a day because it seemed like a nice line between “easy to do” and “fast enough to not take years.” The first week or so it was a fairly easy task to complete within a couple hours. But already it seems to be taking longer. It is simply hard to be that creative on such a consistent basis. The level of output is hard to keep up. I have made a few concessions here and there, but I’m trying to do my best to meet my goal.
Some days are harder than others. Sometimes the story is getting slow or I hit a dead end. Sometimes I’m just not in the best of moods. Those are the hard days. Sometimes though, the story just comes to life before you and you don’t even feel like you are making things up but just writing down what is happening. Those are the easy days.
No matter what day it is though, it is always nice to hit that 2,000 word mark. It is a feeling of accomplishment. That you did something.
It is surprisingly easy to lose control of a story of such stature. I find that I often have to jot down facts about my own story just so I don’t forget them. What day is it again? How many of those people are there? What did he say again? I’ve never written anything so expansive. The story grows larger and larger than I am used to. When I write, I have four word documents and an excel spreadsheet open just to keep track of information.
And that’s not even mentioning the things I want to change. I already know of some big rewrites I’m going to do, but I’ve decided to plow forward for now and do them all at once. I’m not sure if that is the best idea or not, but my goal is to get a draft done and work on it from there. I’m worried that if I start going back and doing large edits now I will never finish. Onward and upward.
All in all it has been a challenging, but rewarding experience thus far. I knew it was going to be hard going in. So far that is true. And I’m sure it will continue to get harder. Luckily, I’ve tried to put myself into a position where I have to finish it. So here goes nothing.