Given that Contact is on my mind these days, I can't help but be reminded of the running theme in the film where Ellie's dad instructs her to take small moves on the short-wave radio she's trying to dial in. It comes back later in the film in a much deeper and more metaphorical fashion.
As a stay-at-home dad who can't help but be a storyteller, it can be pretty tough to muster up the energy to focus and write. I have my days where I feel incredibly drained. My daughter is well past the 3.5 mark and has an incredibly strong will. I know it's going to serve her really well later in life (heck, in many cases it serves her well now). It takes a lot of energy keeping up with her, but she's quite sharp and quite capable of exuberant displays of affection (she also does amazingly cute things like try to read my books). It's great! It's also a full range of emotions everyday ... for both of us.
No easy thing to deal with when you're an introvert like me who has also been dealing with anxiety and depression for some time now. The meds help, but I need lots of coffee to counteract some of the fatigue and help me focus.
The other thing I regularly need is to remind myself to take things in small moves. That's why I have been working on developing the skill of being able to jump in and do a quick bit of writing on a project and then get out. I'm generally writing during naps and nights, so if I waited around to have large chunks of time to write, I'd mostly never write.
The thing is, writing is a life-giving activity for me. It legitimately recharges my batteries. So if I have to cram in writing where I can between games of Candy Land and Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, loads of laundry, freelance video work, trips to the library, making dinner, and cleaning the bathroom, so be it. It can be tough in the middle of a project to think that all this chipping away is amounting to much. And yet, eventually it does.
I was reminded of that today reading this blog entry by A. C. Hachem, a fellow sci-fi author, whose first novel I've picked up and need to read (time, man, it's a hard thing to come by these days). Hachem talks about the reality of taking a novel through many drafts before publication. Staying motivated is import throughout.
So I've been chipping away. And there's some good things to report.
Today, DoxaNoûs Media published a short story of mine, a little sci-fi story set in deep-space called "Amnesiac". This is a story I first wrote years ago and then faced the usual struggle submitting it to sci-fi magazines but racking up rejection letters. After a while, I didn't know what to do with the story, so I shelved it. I've been quite busy making short films for the last several years, so it just waited. But now that my focus has returned to writing prose, I have loved being able to revisit some old projects and bring to them the experiences I've gained in storytelling by writing and directing short films. I pulled up this old story and got to work polishing it anew. Here's the blurb for "Amnesia": Junior crew member, Ross Andrews, never signed up for this kind of mission. A dangerous secret lurks in the empty halls of a deep space research vessel. Now, his search and rescue crew must uncover the mysteries of the abandoned spacecraft before their lives are claimed. What went wrong on this ship and where have all the crew gone? Feels great to see it out on Kindle today! If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can check it out for free.
Meanwhile, I've also been working on a very intense re-writing of a novel that's been through many draft (again, see Hachem's post, it's so true). Last night, I was able to finish this long re-writing process that included a major change to the main character that affected many themes and subplots as well as a completely new last chapter and epilogue. Why do this? Well, I've grown as a storyteller and as a person. I realized that I couldn't just put the novel out there in the form it was in. I knew I could do better and tell a more meaningful story if I took the time to really develop my main character in a whole new direction that included a shift in gender and sexual orientation.
I'm pretty excited to see where this novel goes. The novel is called Sleepwalker, and I'm hoping I can publish it later this year. Even though it's been through many draft, I still need to give it one more polishing pass. More chipping away to be done still.
Maybe you're not a writer, but do you find you have to chip away at things? What helps you stay motivated? I seriously love hearing from people. It's helpful to learn about how others keep moving forward in life.