My writing has encountered many roadblocks the last four weeks. Some of these I was able to ram through, others impeded my progress. And a few required me to stop and find a way around them.
We had to get taxes done. We had car troubles that cost us time and money for repairs. The switch to daylight savings time disrupted my circadian rhythm and sleep schedule. My day job remains a stress factory.
But the biggest disruptor has been the growing Coronavirus Pandemic. My wife has a preexisting respiratory condition that makes a COVID-19 infection potentially very dangerous to her. Therefore, we were taking the threat more seriously than many others had until recently. We’ve been doing what we can to plan and prepare for it. I’ve talked about that in a different post.
I’ve decided that— at least for the time being— my day job is also a wack job. With my anxiety levels through the roof, I’ve stopped trying to keep up with my “small” projects on weeknights. After work, I’ve been too drained of energy and in need of rest. And everything has been made worse by the Coronavirus Pandemic. I’ve started devoting all my Saturdays to small projects instead. It reduces the amount of time I can spend on writing Azure & Indigo, but I’m unwilling to let my media presence crash as the alternative. The good news is that repurposed and refocused, my Saturdays have been performing well in their new task. Things are on track.
This has left me Sundays to continue revising A Contract in Azure and Indigo. There was a weekend where I took a Sunday off because I couldn’t focus after the stress of the week. On others I haven’t been as productive due to interruptions and exhaustion. But I am making decent progress considering the circumstances. Not stellar progress, but decent and forward moving. Given the unfolding events outside of my control, I’ll take that as a victory.
The section of text from Azure & Indigo’s 6th draft that now serves as 7th drafts third chapter got heavily retooled. It grew from 2,400 words to 3,200. Large chunks of the old draft— including stuff tracing all the way back to the original 2014 version— were cut and redone. Original remnants are in lines here and there, yet hardly anything escaped being reworked somehow.
I haven’t killed so many darlings in one go for a long time.
It’s tough when you’ve put a lot of prior work into a piece— like, years— only to toss much of it in a revision. However, some days you need to writer-up and do what’s best for the story. Sometimes that means your favorite pet lines and ideas get the axe for the greater good of the tale. Doing that sucks, but I try to find solace in this truth: It doesn’t mean they were bad lines and ideas. It just means they are no longer good lines and ideas for what the story is now.
Chapter three, in monomyth terms, is about Crossing the Threshold. In it, the titular contract’s magic is evoked by the antagonist who has just enough knowledge to meddle with powers dangerously beyond his ken. Although no one present has any idea how the spell will manifest, from the moment it’s cast it seems to have gone terribly wrong. The last half of the chapter is frightening, with all facing an enigmatic, incorporeal and seemingly malevolent entity summoned by accident. It’s a Threshold Guardian in a literal Campbellian sense: This scene is the moment the protagonists exit their ordinary world and enter a special one. Things end with a last second revelation and fade to white.
As I mentioned in January, chapter four is a brand-new expansion and starts Azure & Indigo’s second act. I’m excited to add it and have been rewriting the opening chapters to accommodate it. As initially planned, it was to contain three scenes.
The chapter opener is grim. I spent two days detailing the suffering of a girl with a severely broken arm and a boy with a concussion trying to keep her from bleeding to death. Not the cheeriest thing to write. Yet it’s emotional and wrenching, and works well to reveal an important part of the story.
After another Sunday of additions and hefty editing, the opening scene reached 1,800 words and I’m pleased with it. Unfortunately, I was not happy with the transition between it and the second scene. Not at all. It was jarring, like having a sudden POV shift. Now, the story is written in third-person, objective, so there isn’t an actual POV character to shift from. But if felt like a POV shift, because the story focus moves from one character to another.
This required a plan to fix things. Because it felt like a POV change, I did what I’d do for actual POV change shenanigans: Spin off the first scene into its own chapter.
It was a straightforward and easy change that didn’t cost me any momentum. The remaining two scenes both focus on the same character and are sequential, so they’ll work fine as a new fifth chapter. Doing this even provided me an opportunity to set up an upcoming plot point better than I could have before. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a narrative break in the right spot.
As of this week, I’m still pushing forward on Azure & Indigo. I lost my Sunday to more Coronavirus disruption and interrupted sleep, but I’m still trying. Next weekend is my social media setup, so I don’t expect to make great strides on the story then either. However, devoting Saturdays have been helping me keep up on the monthly setup and I’m not dreading it or feeling overwhelmed by the task.
I also expect, with sadness, that PortCon 2020 is going to be canceled this year because of the pandemic crisis. Conventions much larger than PortCon are getting cancelled left and right, and COVID-19 isn’t going to be gone in three months for the end of June. However, the flip side of not gamemastering there this year is that I could repurpose the time I’d be using to develop the games for writing instead. That would definitely help me make up for lost time due to disruptions.
Take care everyone. Be safe, and keep writing!
~Jason H. Abbott