As I’m sure you’ve all heard, Brexit has been delayed. So that’s one thing off the collective national back, at least until January.
My relationship with my work is… improving, lately. I’ve managed to do some hobby non-fiction writing, although very little of it is suitable to see the light of day anywhere. Think in terms of lengthy letters to the editor and a lot of thinking aloud to myself about things like why FTL in sci fi novels and movies acts so differently to FTL in video games, that sort of thing. But, added up, it’s close to 20 000 words of work for the month which… I haven’t achieved in a long, long time. Be nice if more of it was fiction, but the fact I’m handling a keyboard again regularly feels really good.
I think one of the major problems I’ve had – and one of the major problems it’s possible to have when writing – is the feeling that it’s no longer possible to work on large projects. That some difficult-to-define magic that makes it possible is gone. Personally speaking, I have a lot of emotional investment in writing fiction. Its success or failure matter intensely to me – and that makes working on it really imposing. Especially when I have expectations of myself that are, perhaps, a little unrealistic.
One of my friends (you know who you are) occasionally passes me articles from the world of sports, and more than once I’ve found myself reading about and sympathising with an athlete’s recovery from a potentially career-ending injury. Maybe the perspective I should be taking here is something like how if a football player injures their knee, they don’t rebuild their knee strength by playing football. They go and work out, maybe start with some gentle jogging.
Writing fiction is very different to writing non-fiction. When writing fiction, you need to balance factors like the aesthetic you’re writing with and word choice, while still holding onto a fictional world and the people in it, their motivations, their feelings… it’s a lot. Especially when on top of that you’re trying to remember/relearn how to compose a sentence on autopilot and express an idea clearly. In a sense, non-fiction reduces the mental workload to expressing an idea – because the ideas involved in non-fiction do not necessarily need to be invented as they’re expressed.
This may also be why it’s easier to work with a fictional world one’s already very familiar with – and why it can be difficult to start a new one, or switch to working with one that hasn’t been used in awhile. Much as I might have notes and world bible information for my works to get me back up to speed… it has been a long, long time since I lived with those characters in my head day to day. Trying to relearn who they are, while getting used to composing text? Difficult. But maybe the non-fiction hobby writing is going to help, as with knee exercises, by making at least one component of getting back to writing at full capacity that much more achievable.
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