500 Days and no NaNo?

If you know me (and I find it fair to presume you do to some extent if you read this blog) then you probably know I love arbitrary numbers. Let me tell you a little about it. When I look at a digital clock, I try to work the numbers, be it by adding, multiplying, factoring, whatever, to make the resulting calculation be an even 0, 5, or 10 multiple. When numbers start to get pretty big, I like to look for factors of 2, which is why I harassed my friend Lance to let me see his score on a game when it turned out to exactly equal 65,536. (Unfortunately, this incident turned out to be just sloppy programming, as the game’s score did not update past 2^16 for some reason.)

I do not find 365 to be a particularly appealing number. Oh, sure, it’s a useful number, because it gives us an idea of how long we have to wait until the next Thanksgiving (36 days until the Glorious Revolution of sweet potatoes, taken out of the oppressive casserole dish and placed into the freedom of my mouth). But 365 isn’t a particularly round number. Couldn’t we, like, I dunno, strap some rockets to the earth and decrease our orbital period to 350? That’s only a 15 difference. We can have 14 months with an even 25 days then, and the sunscreen industry will boom.

Right, Stoffel, back on point. So, as I have hopefully demonstrated, I’m all about the even numbers. Today represents a pretty nice even number and I’m going to share it with you.

500 days.

That’s 500 days since the last accident in the workplace. In this particular workplace, an accident entails going a day without missing work on my writing in one format or another. Repeat offenders readers of the blog are probably tired of me going on and on about this, but it is really important to me.

It’s important to me that I acknowledge my accomplishments, because I am bad at that. For me, it is so easy to take reasonable accomplishment and sweep it under the mental rug as not really worth much. Even typing this post, I have to resist the niggling urge to just say, hey, forget it, because what you’ve done is not worth the minor effort it takes to self congratulate.

That’s just one of the fun aspects of depression. Similar to its cousin anxiety (or are they half brothers or maybe both that might explain a lot), no amount of logic applied to it makes it any better. Sure, I can logically understand that 500 days of straight effort is a pretty significant contribution to my career. But the other side of that is that it is only 1.37 years, which is hardly anything and enough of those days have been wasteful compared to others and and and and…

Sometimes it helps to get the message out there before depression can get off its keister and start poisoning the stream of consciousness. And now that it has arrived, we shall divert the stream and leave it standing there like the sad sack that it is, holding rat poison pellets next to a dried up river bed.

So first, the currently paying gig: still currently paying. The work available varies depending on what clients are offering, but I’m usually able to find at least a few questions within my ken to answer when I get onto the site. Hopefully the supply of clients will continue to generate fresh topics. As far as alternative income, I went through a second interview in which they expressed interest in hiring me as a credit card pusher slash cashier but then it did not work out. Such is life. I am to the point where it seems pointless to continue slinging out applications (a fair verb for it, since I’m getting so good at it now that it goes faster the less I think about it) because that is a waste. It’s a waste of my time that I could be spending doing something that will pay off later. It’s a waste of my emotional energy, too, for I always find the experience stressful, no matter how much I claim to maintain extreme pessimism. (The insidious hope!)

Now time for the writing checkup. Well, folks, it ain’t great, I can tell you that. I’ve stalled in all my projects and have been barely scraping by to meet my basic requirements. This isn’t cause for too much concern, because in all creative endeavors there will be drier times. I get that. I also get that I need to get over it really soon.

NaNoWriMo is on the horizon, and it taunts me. I wanted to write two novelettes during that time, but I’m having too much trouble wrapping my head around the first story in the series. It will take a lot longer to do it than I previously thought. I thought that this would be a good approach to NaNo for me, but I just don’t think I can afford to add the pressure of the competition. The counter to this is that I feel like I would enjoy mixing it up with q new project, because that did help last year to rejuvenate me.

But that’s the thing. Last year’s NaNoWriMo novel remains unfinished. Don’t get me wrong, it’s close. So close. I’m even in what will be the final climactic occurrence. (If what I’m writing isn’t the climax if this book, then I don’t know what will be.) The problem is I don’t entirely know the ending, and I kinda need to know the ending to, y’know, write the ending. I may just write a really horrible ending just to get it done and start smashing it to pieces to write my second draft.

The second draft will be basically a different book, I can already tell you that. It will be different because I’m going from a single point of view to three primary POV characters with potentially an occasional look at what is going on in other parts of the world through a fourth or fifth, I mean, it’s fantasy, so that’s not so dramatic as it might be for other genres. I do look forward to getting better into the heads of my other two main characters.

I actually like my characters in this fantasy novel really well. I think they are the most distinct protagonists I’ve written so far. Maybe that will make the rewrite less painful.

My first project, also a NaNo slow-goer holdover, is technically finished with its first draft but also needs a pretty serious rewrite. I’m not changing the POV, but increasing the importance and involvement of formerly secondary characters that now play a more central role.

I’m theoretically excited about the next few months, but actually sort of terrified, because I don’t know how to do this stuff. Editing a novel is so, so different from editing, say, a college paper. Even editing a paper at 80,000 words, you know that it needs a certain neutral tone throughout. A novel needs characterization to come through in tone, it needs the right amount of information flow, the right amount of everything and not too much, either. So yeah, exciting times all around!

Happy 500 day anniversary to me. Hooray.

Back to writing.

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