52 Weeks of Writing: Week 36—Burnt out like burnt toast

52 Weeks of Writing: Week 36—Burnt out like burnt toast

Oh boy no. Last weekend was a blistering run of success, at least in terms of writing out a somewhat decent first draft of an account of Amnar, thanks to a Deck of Worlds prompt. But, as is typical of my life, the minute I get up to speed, I crash into a wall.

This will be short but hopefully honest. I almost tried out doing a video entry, because I can do that on here. But the first time I ever put a video of myself on the internet, in 2023, I should not be doing it when I'm curled up in bed with my brain on fire.

I'm going to blame it on the weather, partly. We have a heatwave here in the UK, which is highly unusual for September. It's been hot and muggy, so even though the temperature says it's about 28C, which is bad enough, it feels like 33C.

According to the Met Office, we're sitting between a high pressure zone over Scandinavia and low pressure out in the Atlantic beyond Iberia. It's bringing a lot of hot air north, which explains why—geography nerd kicking in—we had a short burst of rain this week packed with dust from the Sahara. We had the briefest of hard showers, but it was enough to coat the whole town in a layer of yellow-brown dust.

The video I've linked was put out three days ago (the 5th), and it's still incredibly hot as I write this after 8pm BST—25C.

I'm also aware, as I write this, that Hurricane Lee is advancing on the US East Coast. It's not expected to make landfall until it pushes further north, so hopefully it won't be as devastating as it could be with that kind of rating. If you read this and you're anywhere affected by that weather, I hope you're all right.

Since I was diagnosed as autistic, I've been learning that it affects me in ways I'd never imagined possible before I asked for the assessment. The weather is hard work, especially when it's hot and humid. I have to rearrange my schedule, there's no room for options if I can't run early because I haven't slept. Which, as you know, it's incredibly difficult to sleep in this kind of heat.

T was in Atlanta for DragonCon over the weekend, but came back on Tuesday morning. All of this week has felt very hard, as he settles back into work, and we prepare for our holiday at the end of the month.

But what does this mean for writing?

I've hit a wall. I can't hold onto plot threads the way I used to, and it's made it incredibly difficult to remember ideas I'm working with. I've reached over 80k words, and I realised I would have to extend my total expected words to 140k at this stage. But since then, I've been in a pit of struggle. I haven't had time to think about writing with T back from Atlanta, there's been a lot going on and...

The weather in my head has been really bad.

I've been in therapy for a while. I've written about having EMDR to treat PTSD and CPTSD symptoms in the past. This has been not unlike that. Intense emotional reactions, memories, all coming up all the time. I've been very busy in the day job. I've been trying to keep going because, obviously, I have to work to earn any money. It makes it harder to make the best health choices.

The other thing about the writing block right now is that now I'm into the second half of the novel, I have to concentrate very hard on how the story unfolds. Everything becomes critical. Over the week, I was finishing off The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, and it was a reminder that really good writing isn't just conveying beautiful ideas in excellent prose, but developing plots with serious twists and turns.

This has sent me off in search of something to help me think through what I need to do to make my own book work. I've gone back to Story Genius for this, and in particular, Lisa Cron's Wired for Story course. I felt like I needed something where if I wasn't up to reading a book I could listen to a video, which is why I decided to go for the course while it was on offer. The other reason is that even though I have the books, I cannot stand the story she uses as an example throughout.

I don't care about this woman who doesn't like dogs and for some reason decides to kidnap one. I've never been able to understand why that's the example, and it's a little bit maddening because I struggle to read the examples. You know how you make the audience appreciate an unpleasant protagonist is to save the cat? Well, why would you have a character prove they're unlikeable by having them kidnap a dog?

And yes, yes, I know it's all justified in the book, and I get it on an intellectual level. But I couldn't do it on an emotional level and it made it very difficult to really absorb a lot of the most important lessons.

I'm going to give it another go with the book over the weekend and try out the course when T is away for a wedding on Monday.

Until then, I'm going to go and rest.