In which I discuss my lack of writing updates …
So, without turning this into too much of a journal type post: it’s not been the most productive start to the year, But it’s fine. I remarried at the end of 2022 and the priority since then has been settling our new merged (double yolk) family (me, my wife, and four – count’em! – four kids). Plus we added a puppy to the mix and Puppywatch took up many of the scraps of spare time that were left for a while (albeit in the cutest way). The good news is the puppy needs less and less direct supervision by the day and the merged family is settling well, so I’ve recently been able to get back into something of a writing routine.
Inevitably with a big life change like this there are ripple effects and my writing routine was one of the things temporarily caught in the wake. For the last several years I’ve written at a small desk in my bedroom for about 40 minutes each day before leaving for work. However, with twice as many people sharing the house now, the environment is just a little too disruptive for me to be able to focus properly. The [obvious] solution ended up being to leave the house early and find somewhere else to write before starting work for the day. Fortunately I work in a university, which has numerous spots that are conducive to activities such as writing and study and, after trying out various locations, I found the one that worked best for me was [less obviously] a table near the canteen area of our library’s main study level. For various reasons, I’m now writing on alternate weeks but the main thing is that I have a routine again, which means I can get back into some of my writing projects.
I have two main projects that I’m hoping to focus on for now (well, three if you count finding an agent to help me get my novel published). I also have several short stories that I’m in the middle of working on—none of which have anything to do with the above-mentioned projects: I’m nothing if not all over the place.
The main project is one I alluded to in my last post: a collection of stories based around a common plot point: that plot point being the end of the universe. I’ve always wanted to write a collection of short stories that fit together into a larger whole—where each story stands on its own, but you also get something of an overarching beginning, middle, and end—and it seems that this particular idea of people on different worlds facing the impending end of existence in their different ways is The One. I have a few of the stories in the bag already, as well as a decent grasp on major ‘plot’. For the rest I have a shortlist of story prompts (13, including stories already completed) to work from. Maybe this one can reach fruition sometime next year.
Naturally I have been distracted from this project by various other ideas along the way. The second potential project is a short set of stories that might be considered “What If …?” tales inspired by the first Terminator movie. I watched Terminator: Dark Fate in the recentish past (a perfectly good Terminator movie that was perhaps a little too bogged down in the franchise’s iconography) and it prompted me to wonder: how do you tell a fresh story when the original is so effectively self-contained. And how do you avoid—unlike almost every spin-off and sequel— having it revolve around yet another terminator going back to a different point in time.
In the end I came up with three or four ideas that proved interesting enough that they wanted to be turned into stories. I’ve started one of them, but I’m currently debating whether I have this collection openly based on Terminator (and its characters); or whether I change the names and make the source of inspiration a little more vague. I’m leaning towards the latter but since these stories will be pretty transparently based on Terminator (and the reading will likely be more satisfying if you know that) I’ll likely just end up publishing them on my blog (as fanfic) rather than trying to do anything else with them.
And this leaves the two other stories that I’m working on, which I can talk even less about. One is a simple tale of an astronaut stranded on an alien planet with something hunting them—this is my ‘easy’ story that I return to when my mental capacity isn’t really up to solving major plot riddles. The other is a more complex tale about someone uncovering a dark secret from their civiliation’s past. This has been quite a challenge to develop but it’s been a lot of fun discovering the twists and turns of the plot. While I haven’t written a word on this one since last year, I did come up with an interesting twist to take me through the next section of the story which I’m really looking forward to writing.
(Author’s note: I had completely forgotten about these two stories until I came back to edit this blog post, which I started back in February – talk about getting distracted!!)
And then there’s also that unfinished science-fiction novel …
Anyway, there we go: a few projects on the boil, a lot of distractions, and limited capacity to get stuck into them, but I take the view that having some limits on my available time for writing means that I will be a bit more disciplined about taking up the opportunities that do fall across my path, and making the best use of them. Check back in a month or so to see how well that’s going …