Unpleasant Possibilities.

Zero forward progress has me feeling down.

I’ll have to trunk Sharp Edge if I can’t get these rewrites moving. I don’t want to do it. I REALLY don’t. I’ve promised it to people. I have Rhiannon’s beautiful cover art. I have paid good money for fantastic, insightful edits, and I have plotted out the changes I need to make this already @#%$! amazing book absolutely %!&@$ AMAZEBALLS.

But none of that matters, because I know how the story ends, and writing new scenes into a story whose ending I already know is like trying to tow a loaded ore boat up a canal by hand, all by myself.

Once I’ve dug into a job I’m a strong and steady plodder, but right now I’m slogging through mud where I can’t get any traction, hauling away ay a massive DONE thing that’s sunk in place.

Stubborn determination keeps me sitting at this computer day after day–but every day I find myself working on ANYTHING ELSE during my creative time (like, oh, writing this blog post…) and I finish single paragraphs in Sharp Edge, if that.

If at this point you’re feeling the urge to share pious, sugar-mouthed chirpy cliches like “Just write for yourself/you have to want it bad enough/motivation comes from within,” please keep them to yourself, thank you very much.

I don’t write for myself. I never have. I’ve completed a half-dozen novels not writing for myself just fine, ditto for a dozen shorts.

I only put the swearing and sweat required to squeeze my non-linear thoughts into writing so I can tell stories to OTHER PEOPLE. Therein lies my problem.

At this stage with past books, I hadn’t worn out the few friends who liked seeing the raw pieces as I wrote them. I could convince myself they were urgently waiting and wanting the story. Believing I would disappoint them if I didn’t have something new FOR THEM was like having a whole team of helpers tugging away at me from the other side, countering the weighty DONENESS of the story I was revising.

I don’t have that any more.

Everyone is patient. And understanding. And busy with their own lives and problems, and honestly if anyone said they DID want to read my raw progress,  I would have to be convinced. Several years of experience with Support & Encouragement as Vague General Concepts have taken their toll. I now suspect it all as coming from a place of kindness rather than objective excitement about the story itself, and that’s quite the anti-motivator.

(Hi, my name is Karen, and  my writing kicks ass, but the way some friends get all tense around the eyes and swiftly change the subject whenever I talk about my books makes me sad…)

ANYway.

Anyone out there craving the next scene from this book I am utterly unable to work up any momentum on? Anyone willing to convince– as in NAG– me and insist on being given material to read weekly? Daily?

Anyone love Elena’s whiny teen angstiness and Valerie’s nervous conflict-avoidance that much?

I’m not expecting a positive answer. But I’m working up to facing the reality that if I can’t find someone to help me haul this load, pretty soon I’m gonna have to drop this rope and go find a different towpath.

Even if it breaks my heart to do it.

 

The latest in random activities

Lately I’ve been caught up in Totally Unnecessary Work.

What did I do? I changed the menu bar colors on my website.  Wooo, yay, right?

I had no business tinkering with the website. It looked fine, and I have zero applicable skills. Changing structural elements requires knowing CSS, an aspect of programming I never learned because I taught myself basic website HTML before CSS came into wide use. (Why, yes, I AM old.)

The project  started early in the week. I was doodling around online and discovered internet resources on changing CSS.  Since I have wondered, off and on, if I could change website colors off I went to investigate the possibility. It didn’t take long to find answers other people got from experts, and it looked simple enough.

So I copy-pasted the suggested codes into the CSS editor on my site.  Did it work as written? Of course not.

First, changing CSS gets complicated behind the scenes.  It’s full of what I’ll call dialects and accents and slang.  How a change works on a specific site depends on a ton of structural elements already in place. There are things like “child themes” and cascading consequences to changing a single element (hence the name) plus the order in which commands are entered can differ by site too, and some codes have to be overridden with other commands…

Second, I can’t see  any of the original code because I’m using a training-wheels/bumper-car/TOTALLY UNBREAKABLE website.  Basically I pay people to maintain the big, complicated chunk of programming that runs the site for me. The price is that I’m locked out of all the dangerous parts of the code and can’t see any of it. It’s a fair trade, but it does complicate an already-complicated process.

And third, there’s the ever-present finicky complication common to all computer programming: one wrong space or punctuation mark can mess up everything. True confession: I am Not Good at spotting finicky mistakes when I make them (whereas I am Very Good at making them.)

Once it was clear that changing colors was a complicated issue involving skills in which I had zero expertise,  did I stop fumbling around in the dark like a sensible person?

OF COURSE NOT. I kept tinkering. Partly because I’m stubborn–but mostly because I knew I had that nice, cushy safety net. I can poke and play with code all I wanted without ANY fear of breaking my website. Freedom to play and learn is priceless.

So I played, collecting tools,  finding more code online and comparing the pieces to see how they differed and making minor changes to see how they connected. Then I went all  hyperfocus on it and hammered at things until they WORKED.

fireworks-1953253_1280
Huzzah!

 

Now, instead of a white menu bar with black lettering and blue/white highlighting color scheme, I have a gray menu bar with black letters, with a black & red highlighting scheme.

Was that worth 20+labor hours? Of course not. The defaults were fine. SERIOUSLY. They were fine.  So why did I bother? I have a list of reasons. (Of course I do.)

1) In the future I can change menu colors to anything I want. Black/red/white is a horrible highlighting scheme from a design standpoint. Honestly.  I know that. But I’m leaving it like this for a while.

2) It was a nice lesson in CSS vocabulary, names of elements & operations etc. The knowledge may come in handy again someday. Who knows?

3) I learned a ton about how the CSS codes interact too. Once again, new skills are never worthless.

4) Working out hierarchy, coding grammar, naming quirks & overrides for my site’s theme by brute force experimentation WAS FUN.

I had fun and made a thing and learned things: these are the justifications I throw at my conscience, which is muttering about the wasted time. Not great excuses, perhaps, but they’re what I have. (And I like the colors, too, boring though they be.)

Anyway. That’s a wrap.

Winter Checklist 7

Lessee, what did I do today? I’m sure I must’ve done something to get to 14,129 steps and 67 active minutes.

1.  GOT UP EARLY. My doctor’s appointment was at 07:30. Getting there counts as an accomplishment. I know many people are at work before that hour of the AM every day, but I am not one of them. So I drank lot of extra Scottish Breakfast tea, and took advantage of being out & about during hours I would be sleeping to get a lot of errands run.

2.  What kind of errands? I bought all the things in the world. (Not really, but it felt like that and filled up my wee tiny car.)  At one point I sent Spouseman a text  saying, “At Target, waiting for Costco to open so I can do the pantry-foods restock. Not impulse-shopping tho.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Big lie. Is it possible to visit Target without impulse shopping? Not for me. No guilt though,  since I only impulse-shop sale items that are either shelf-stable consumables or already on a needs list. Still, I had to smile when the cashier went all poker-faced looking at my cart. A snow shovel, a Christmas sweater with a llama on it, drain cleaner, a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats, a pack of metallic Sharpies, Tostitos, cat treats, and a leather belt. Among other things.

(I am not listing all the errands I ran or things bought because oy. It was just groceries and etc, but…So. Much Etc.)

3.  Getting stuff is only half the battle. By the time I got home and carried All The Things in, unboxed & put everything away, cleaned up the debris, and finished all re-organization that goes along with seasonal Big Purchases Day, I was exhausted & hungry.

4.   So I made myself a festive, celebratory lunch of New Snack Foods & Fresh Fruits.

4.5 And a fresh pot of tea. See: point #1.

5. Performed some overdue authoring maintenance and posted “I sell books” reminders to social media. And thing happened that’s never happened before: it resulted in a sale.  (I mean, I’m sure sales sometimes happen as a result, but immediately?  For the title I promoted? That’s unprecedented. And a happy thing.)

5. I also did make an itsy-bitsy bit of progress in Ghost Town between lunch and library time. And based on past performance, I’ll finish the short-story verbing project tonight before bed.

6. Oh, by the way, if anyone is wondering why I waste time blogging instead of getting more writing done, welllllll. It’s simple. I can blog while dead tired & distracted by other activities, so it’s easy to dash these off in the half-hour or so while supper is cooking.  Writing while supper is cooking is a Bad Idea. That way lies ruined food and charred pots at best. Creative immersion is…not compatible with worldly attention. So that’s a thing I don’t do.

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures later this week.
(I meant to be a hermit all month long, but life has decided otherwise. Good times.)