Justin Cawthorne (dot) com

read, write, ramble

An update on those goals

Way back on January 2 I posted about some goalsnot resolutions–that I wanted to aim for during the course of 2017. I’m not necessarily planning to do a Wil Wheaton style check-in every month, but there’s little value in setting goals if you don’t reflect on them once in a while. Also I need to somehow get four blog posts out of the door this month, and I’m running out of days!

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February 12

I manage a huge editing session first thing. Nearly 3,000 words. This brings my short story almost to a publishable state.

Feeling the cabin fever from being shut in all day Saturday, and without even a storm to provide an excuse, I suggest that we head out for coffee. We know a place that does great coffee, and has plenty of space for the kids to run around. While there we are also secured by the Cheesus Crust toasted sandwiches. It’s only when Rach speaks the name out loud that I get  the pun, as I’m chewing down on my Dear Gouda.

We’re determined to do a few more family things with the day, so we set up a game of Pandemic Contagion when we get back–not too good for the Kinderbeast, but he plays a round of Story Cubes with us first and then occupies himself with his iPad. Then it’s time to make banana bread, and then it’s finally time to build the LEGO Yellow Submarine that we bought ourselves for Christmas, in the middle of which project we have a surprise visit from the in-laws, who bring lemon tart and therefore are allowed to stay.

I make an enormous cauliflower curry for dinner and we catch up with Luke Cage. I’ve got a new story buzzing around in my head, which needs a remote setting, so I go to bed to do some research on isolated Scottish hotels. This proves suitably inspiring.

February 11

Saturday is Designated Lie-In Day, and yet no one has told the Kinderbeast, who awakens me at at 5:30am. He declines my weak entreaties for him to return to bed, and instead settles on the sofa in front of the TV. Yes, we parent the best. I return to bed. It seems that everytime I drift back to sleep he returns: “Daddy, I want some breakfast.” “Daddy, can you tuck me up please?” “Daddy, I’m thirsty.”

After some hours of this I admit defeat and get out of bed.

How To Train Your Dragon.

Roasted veggies for dinner.

Watched The Martian.

February 10

I finish the new first draft of When The Darkness Comes (which is actually a fourth draft, but has enough new material now that I’ll consider it a first). I’m excited to read it and see how the bits affect the shape of the story. But first: to work.

The week seemed to be lasting forever, but suddenly it’s Friday! It’s a fairly low-key day, not least because another office plague has torn its way through the team. I’m feeling particularly lacking in energy and wonder if I’m to be the latest victim. Nevertheless, I survive the day.

We make the very wise decision to have takeaway pizza for dinner (the joys of a 50% off incentive) and then it’s time for Fridate. We finally catch up with Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer sketch from last week’s SNL and it’s every bit the classic that the internet has made it out to be. The evening is capped off with Tash Sultana’s astounding Like A Version from earlier in the day. I may have found a new favourite artist.

I desperately want to finish my week by wrapping up my reread of The Martian, but I’m only slightly over halfway through. And I am very, very tired. It’s not to be.

February 9

Today it rained.

A lot.

February 8

I added the forest library dream I had the other night to my short story. It definitely feels right. Now I will forever wonder if the dream was some form of subconscious editor at work, or if it was simply a fortuitous case of random inspiration. Either way, I’m not knocking it.

It’s Wednesday, which for the next ten weeks means Rach and the Elderbeast disappearing for the early evening for their ice skating lessons. You might imagine this translates to a few hours of post-work peace and quiet for me. You might imagine that, but you’d be wrong. In between wrangling the Kinderbeast and trying to coordinate a dinner that needs to be edible somewhere between 7 and 7:30pm there’s little respite to be had.

It doesn’t matter though. The family have enjoyed their return to skating lessons. Nobody has starved to death, and we end the evening with a bit more Luke Cage. At the pace we’re going with this show it’s almost like being back on terrestrial TV. Binge-watching is no longer something our packed evening schedule allows.

February 7

I have a Big Meeting to start the day with. This is how it works:

  • The Big Meeting is supposed to start at 10am;
  • We have a presentation slot at 10:30am;
  • We get to the venue at 9:30am to make sure we’re all prepared;
  • We wait outside and witness meeting attendees still turning up at 10:15;
  • We eventually get called in about 10:45. Presentation goes excellently, so all is well;
  • Finally, at 11:40 we make our way back to the office. Plus, I finally get to have my morning coffee (!)

And that’s where the morning went – entirely sucked away by a 20 minute presentation. Amazing.

I realise at some point that the dream I had over the weekend (the forest library) is potentially the missing piece in the story I’m rewriting. This excites me enormously. There’s a particular joy that comes from the pieces of story finally sliding together.

Rach is still plagued by a migraine, so it’s the solo evening show once again. Once I’ve wrapped up my duties I decide to have a little review of which stories I’ve got that might be submittable, and which new ones might be ready in the near future. I’m excited to note that Nightmare Magazine is opening for submissions soon; I might have one or two stories ready for that. I also find an anthology that’s looking for Supernatural Horror stories. I send them a story I self published for Halloween last year. Even if it’s not for them, it’s my first submission of the year and it feels damn good.

February 6

I wake up from the oddest dream. It takes place in my school library, which was always big, but my dream renders it in almost unfathomable scale. It’s cavernous, stretching as far as the eye can see. The decor is like the set of a fantasy movie: all grass, wispy trees, mist, but with a layer of artifice. And yet, it all seems perfectly normal–this is exactly how the library is meant to be. I have no idea what I’m doing there. I don’t browse any books, or read anything.

And then I wake up.

Rach comes down with a migraine later in the day, which means the evening disappears in a melee of dinner, baths, bedtimes and lunch-making. I don’t feel like watching anything so I tinker with the blog for a while. As a would-be author I feel I should be making more effort to promote MY STORIES–GET THEM HERE!!!–on these pages. I fruitlessly search for a plug-in to make it easier to stick some cover images in the sidebar but, as always, nothing quite works the way I need it to. In the end I realise that I’ll just have to build it in the old-fashioned way.

But it’s late, and I’m tired. And I have The Martian to catch up with.

February 5

I’m still staying off the wine. Much to my dismay it feels like it might be working. I’m not exactly an unstoppable force of nature, but I don’t have the general, low-level inertia that seems to hang around me most days.

I start the day by going back to a story I wrote last November. It was one of those stories that was just missing something. I haven’t yet figured what it’s missing, but I at least know where the gap is and–more importantly–I’m excited about revisiting it. It’s a story that, at least in part, was inspired by the deep funk I found myself in last November in the wake of Trump being elected: work was a daily horror show; sleep seemed the only respite; and my youngest was waking me up at least once a night. I decided to pour some of this into a story. It’ll be interesting going back and playing with some of those darkest of dark building blocks.

February 4

I begin the day with an epic lie-in. Saturday is Designated Lie-In day, but it’s gone 10am before I eventually get up, shower, and get dressed. I’m hoping that an extended lie-in will help kick the deadening fatigue that hit me the previous evening. I get up when required, generally to make breakfast for the Kinderbesten, but then return to my comfy lair each time. I don’t fall back to sleep, but the warmth and relative peace inspire a result, almost meditative state. The cats, who I have fed but purposely neglected to let out, join us one by one. Eventually all four cats are sprawled out in a line along the middle of the bed. It’s almost like a collective sleep-in, but the Kinderbesten are too young and naive to understand its glory.

Anyway, the lie-in doesn’t really work. I’m not exactly tired, but I am plagued with a dull headache for several hours after surrendering my bed. A combination of coffee, Panadol, britpop (mainly Portishead) and pottering around the house seems to do the trick. After much delay we manage to leave the house for the promised birthday trip to Lollipops (one of those indoor playground type places). We’re both dreading it–big open space, lots of people, lots of kids, lots of noise–but the Kinderbesten are excited. So excited in fact that it takes almost half an hour to persuade them to get ready and leave the house. In the end, Lollipops is a bug bundle of Just Fine. The kids play, we drink coffee and eat potato wedges. After a few hours the kids are as ready to head home as we are, which caps off the afternoon nicely.

We watch Apollo 13. Carter, predictably, announces that he’s tired and wants to go to bed about halfway through (right before things get interesting). It’s times like these that I should remind myself how hard it used to be to get him to go to bed not so many years ago.

I start reading The Martian again. It seems the right night for space disasters.

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