THE MID-YEAR CHECK-IN

Time. It keeps passing, no matter how many times I take hold of the hourglass and demand the sands stop running. It just won’t listen to me.

It’s fine, though. I’ll take my revenge by getting older and older, and when time no longer recognizes me… uh… well, it will keep passing. That’s just what it does. The git.

For July, since we are now officially halfway through the year, I thought I’d check in with my 2021 goals to see how things are shaping up. Fairly sure I will score 0%–but we’ll see.

Writing this entry is cutting it a little close. I waited until after June 30 had passed (instead of writing it a week or two ahead) so that I could give an accurate count of the things that needed counting.

PROGRESS…?

Here are my writing-related goals for 2021 and how they progress:

1) 134,000 words. As of June 30, I SHOULD be, based on the 250 words per day metric, at 45,500 words. As usual, I am failing spectacularly, landing at 14,474 words, a whopping 31,026 short. Were I to do a 50k Camp NaNoWriMo project, I could conceivably catch up in July, but I know me better than that.

FAIL.

2) Publish ONE book. I’m going to call this one a FAIL before I even try to justify anything. I’ve re-read some of my finished things, but nothing that currently exists is likely ever to see the light of day. It looks unlikely that I will meet this goal even by the end of the year.

3) Write at least one book OUTSIDE November. There was progress in April and May! Unfortunately, things have taken a turn that I will get into in the Writing In Public section. I do not know if I will hit this one by the end of the year, either. However, because there WAS progress, there IS still hope, so for a half-year check-in, I will call this one…

WIN.

4) Write at least TWO short stories. (LOW PRIORITY) Using Math, for this one to be in the Win column, I would have to have written one story by now. That has not happened. I’m not losing sleep over it.

FAIL.

5) Read 11 books. Depending on how you define “reading” when it comes to a challenge, I am either CRUSHING IT or BITING THE DUST HARD.

Caveat #1: I have been listening to audiobooks. I have become somewhat visually impaired in my old age, and I cannot read physical books. The pages are too bright, and the type is too small. Kindle helps sometimes in Dark Mode, with its variable text size, but I still need the text-to-speech to augment. Personally, I have ALWAYS counted audiobooks. Regardless of the next Caveat, I have at least 1 book read. It was an audiobook, and I will not apologize for that.

Caveat #2, and the reason Crush v. Bite is a question: I have previously read 6 of the books on my list at other times. It has been at least three or four years since my most recent read of one (more for the rest), but I did internally debate putting them on the list. A Personal Facebook debate later, and people I know out in that world place have convinced me that re-reads count. Especially since there are multiple years between now and the last time I read them.

As of June 30, based on my criteria for the number 11, I should have 6 books read. I have either 1 (first-time read) or 7 (6 previously read), depending on how you define. I am defining as above, so for me it’s 7. It would have been 8, but the one I just finished was on July 1.

WIN.

6) Dip my toe into advertising. (LOW PRIORITY) Last month’s promotion (June is Audiobook Month, which got me no extra audio sales, but no big deal) does not count. It was a promo, not actual advertising. Yes, I shouted it from the rooftops here, on Facebook, and on Twitter (even got a couple of retweets — one from a total stranger, which was weird but cool)… but going back to the January entry, I believe my intent was to pay a tiny amount of money to Amazon, Facebook, or Bookbub to see what happened. I have still not investigated how that works. I have also lost zero sleep over this.

FAIL.

VERDICT

Out of 6 goals, I am on track or have made significant progress on 2 of them. Weighting the results to account for lower priority items, I get a score of 40%.

Abysmal, but hey. At least it’s not the 0% I thought it would be.

WRITING IN PUBLIC

All right: True Confession time, but I have to try to do this in a way that will lay the blame entirely at my own feet and not sound like I’m blaming someone else. (Particularly because that someone else reads this blog.)

I had started a new novel about a mom who decided to be a costumed hero. However, there were certain things I knew the story was missing, and I have found myself at a standstill. I need these missing elements to continue.

One of the great things about having writer friends is that you can commiserate with them. And sometimes you can ask them for input and/or help. On those occasions, those friends are invaluable, because they help you look at your story in ways you had not thought of before.

Unless you just want to vent. And your helpful friend is, without meaning to, pointing out every single flaw in your story that you are already uncertain about.

Here’s where I get to let you in on another one of my Little Secrets™: I’m insecure. Although I tend to act cocky and sure of myself, I have a fragile artist ego. Not to the point where if you hate Seeing Red or Comedy of Terrors I will hide under my bed crying for a year… those are done and out there.

But when it comes to a story I’m still fleshing out? One where I am aware that there are missing elements? When the glaring flaws of an incomplete work are spotlighted in a conversation…

Again. I need to be clear. This is MY WEAKNESS. My friend was trying to help. In another universe where the foundation of the story was slightly stronger, less ready to collapse on itself, her help would have been welcome. Invaluable, even. (Already used that word, but it still fits.)

Instead, I’m questioning whether this story even needs to be written. And the more I think about it (well, she was right about that part — I have been thinking about all of her suggestions), the more I realize that my story… just doesn’t work.

I don’t want to scrap it entirely. I want to try to rework that foundation so it is less cracked. Sturdier. I need to strengthen the cast of characters. The setting. FIGURE OUT THE DAGBLASTED STORY so I know what the heck I’m supposed to be working toward. Does the threat HAVE to be giant robots? I don’t know. Does she HAVE to be a stay-at-home mother of three? Yes… but I don’t know. Are the backstory elements I’ve written down going to remain her origin?

Honestly? I don’t know.

What I do know is that with my first two books, I’ve kind of pigeonholed myself into being a “horror” writer. While I do enjoy horror and writing gruesome, bloody death scenes, that’s not what I want my sole genre to be. (Though the other two books that are stewing in my head are also brutal and bloody. One is even a sequel to one of the published ones.) Moving to heroes seemed like a logical departure for me, because I am a bit of a comic book nerd.

If I don’t write this story, if I write one of the other two, I feel like that’s going to seal my fate. I will be Darren Blake, horror writer.

I just don’t know what to write instead. That same friend keeps telling me to try my hand at romance. Okay, that one is not happening. Ever.

Regardless, the Curse is back. The only words I have written since my last blog post are the ones for this blog post.

GAMING THINGS

This section took a weird turn in June. The session I mentioned in the last entry, where one of our members said she couldn’t make it? At the last minute she did, and (as predicted) we suffered our first loss of the campaign. Time ran out. No one died. We immediately started it up again, knowing we would not have time (in the real world) to finish a second try. Another of our group has set up his work schedule so that he is able to join in every other week. HE agreed to wake up early (he works overnight) to play the following week, an off week. I don’t like doing that to him — it’s like asking me to wake up at midnight to fit in a game before I go to JOB. But he’s much younger than I am, so I have to trust his judgment on what he can handle. Funny thing was, though, that on the FIRST TURN in that off-week session, we finished the scenario. (I found that both humorous and annoying.)

We spent the remainder of that session playing Jackbox. (Trivia Murder Party for the win!)

The person who was supposed to miss that previous session then said she would need to miss the next week’s session, so we had planned on Jackbox again. Then she was able to make it again, but the THIRD member of our group had last-minute plans to go out of town. He joined us for a couple of Jackbox games, but we were not able to play Pathfinder. More Trivia Murder Party, Blather Round, Dictionarium, Split the Room… seriously, these Party Packs are so much fun!

Last week was also an off-week. But Worker Bee said he was taking the day off to belatedly celebrate a family member’s birthday. So we got in the first session of Adventure 1! And it went much more smoothly than it did in my solo game. It’s one of the rare set-ups that are weird and have to be explained on the scenario card. Try to let the Tabletop Simulator script do it, and it doesn’t know how.

Without meaning to, we ended up having four gaming sessions in consecutive weeks, which means I do not feel bad about skipping an on-week (Can’t Make It can’t make it… again. Plus, it’s someone’s birthday weekend, and I want to take him to lunch or dinner to celebrate if I can) and the usual off-week. Our next session will be on the 17th.

Oh, and by a unanimous vote, we have brought the Rise of the Runelords Holy Candle into the game. If we ever encounter it, we are all to throw cards at it to try to obtain it. My prediction is that the person least equipped to acquire the card is the one who will encounter it. If we ever encounter it at all. We shall see.

WRAPPING UP

If you are in the land to the north of me, I hope you had a fantastic Canada Day on July 1. If you are in my country, I hope you had a safe and happy Independence Day yesterday (as this posts). If you are in the UK, I hope your Treasonous Colonials Day was spent however you usually spend it. (Probably like any other day because it holds no special meaning for you.)

I will be spending the upcoming month examining various things and stuff and trying to decide how best to proceed. As intimated in the Word Count section of the check-in, I will not be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. Just not in the mood to lie to myself this time out.

Meanwhile, although many places are opening back up from pandemic-related restrictions, please remember that the threat has not been eliminated. Use caution. Use sense. Vaccines are awesome and widely available in many places, but not everyone can get them. Think of those folks (younger kids, immune-compromised individuals, etc.) as you go about your resumed lives.

Be kind always.

Talk to you next month.

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