The Facebook Time Travellers Support Group

NOTEBOOK: THE FACEBOOK TIME TRAVELLERS SUPPORT GROUP

I was at the pool today, slogging out my laps, but I was also thinking about my GOOD INTENTIONS book, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought I need to rewrite what I have of Chapter 25 from the ground up. It’s not that what I already have there is bad, but I can see how it can be much better.

So I was thinking about this. And one of the things I was turning over in my head is that this chapter is meant to be a glimpse into “Future Bastard” Rob’s “World of the Future” (ie, July-August 2017), and feature some of his extremely mundane dreary reality. I gestured at a few things in the first draft, but today at the pool it occurred to me that I missed one big thing, especially for a guy who spends a lot of time staring at his phone.

He’d be checking Facebook. I write that he hasn’t slept for three days, so what’s he been doing? One thing any regular person these days would be doing would be reading social media stuff on their phones, and most likely Facebook.

Then it occurred to me that there would be Facebook groups for time travellers.

And that those groups would be locked and moderated because trolls would use time machines to be even worse bastards than they would be otherwise.

Rob belongs to the Time Travellers Support Group on Facebook, which is closed and locked, and you have to apply for admission, and use a pseudonym. A group for people who have extremely complex feelings about “TT” and its presence in their lives. Rob has a lot to talk about, for and against. I am still trying to decide if Fiona would also be in this group, but thinking maybe not. Rob’s Fiona might have been, but the Fiona in the story is from a different timeline, so perhaps not.

Rob’s dominant theme in this chapter is (a) how he feels like a total failure who ruins everything he touches, yet has to rescue Young Robbie, no matter what. He’s desperately scared of Robbie getting killed.

He’s also desperately scared of Fiona, and is worried about her mysterious offer. He’s inclined to accept it, whatever it is if it means the boy goes free. He has no memory of his captivity, or his release. The entire period is a blank.

Also: there would be a lot of “micro-time travel” where your “ten seconds in the future” self, who would also have access to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, would scroll back and stop you posting that embarrassing photo or comment or remark that otherwise would cost you your job or girlfriend.

Thought, too, that some employers in an age of universal time travel would make workers work insanely long hours through the use of time machines, and you’d have to use them as well to get your rest. You’d always be in time-debt. Some employers would find a way to bill you or dock your pay for the time you spent sleeping on company-issued time machines.

I’ll write up the new version of this chapter later tonight or tomorrow, but I wanted to have something to show for myself today, even though am still feeling very Low Ebb, melancholy. It’s nothing serious, just glum. A head cold, but in my mind. The main symptom is a dampening effect in my writing circuits, which is bugging me. But there is also Family Trouble going on in the background of sufficient size and seriousness that my essential equilibrium is disturbed. Once that settles down again, I’ll be fine again, too.

Chapter 25 Time Travel Ruins Everything, Part 1, Now Available

NOTEBOOK: First Part of Chapter 25 Available

Have retired to bed to scribble, and produced this first wodge of chapter 25 (“Time Travel Ruins Everything”). The elder Rob goes to meet a certain retired and elderly policeman. I will be going over this scene again in coming days, so watch out. This is just a start.

I did this on a day when I worried I wouldn’t be doing any writing, and wouldn’t be keeping the streak going. I hated that thought. Hated the thought of the broken streak more than the thought of no writing because depressed. Make of that what you will.

In any case, message will self-destruct in five seconds, and new chapter thingy available in usual spot.

NOTEBOOK: LOW EBB

NOTEBOOK: LOW EBB

I have posted here from time to time to let you know I’m dealing with some moderate-level depression.

And here I am again. The surprising thing about these occurrences is not that they keep happening–honestly, it’s to be expected–but that I am always so slow to realise that I’m experiencing it.

And particularly so nowadays when I maintain what I only slightly ironically refer to as my “Recovery KPIs”. Five tasks I try to do each day, each highly meaningful. The more I can do, the better I feel. They are a sort of wellness indicator. Writing is one of them. And for quite a while now I’ve been writing loads and loads of stuff. But in the past few days? A lot less.

I’ve noticed. I have been puzzled about it.

But today I saw my doctor, and was talking about a recent major family emergency that stirred up some very deep concerns that have building for a while. There are big things in the air. It’s horrible.

So I suddenly realised I was depressed, at least in part because of all this. Anyone would feel depressed faced with these issues. There are other factors as well, notably to do with the continuing tragedy unfolding in the news, the way it simply goes on and on, and the way social media magnifies and multiplies it.

I don’t know what to do about social media at the moment. It’s my social life. I don’t get out much. Facebook has been where I live for years now, but since the presidential election Facebook feels like it’s on fire, and especially so now.

Today, so far, I’ve managed 400 words on GOOD INTENTIONS. That was in my psychiatrist’s very stressful waiting room, and the wonderfully peaceful cafe we went to afterwards. 400 words isn’t much compared with some recent days I’ve enjoyed, but some days you would kill your own mother for a lot less than 400 words, so I’ll take it.

Fixing Stuff (especially Chapter 23B)

NOTEBOOK: Fixing Stuff

Today I’m going through chapters 20-24 (bearing in mind that 23 comes in three chapter-length pieces) in light of what I decided and changed in 20 before pressing on with the all-new ch25.

I’m nearly finished the middle section. I’m starting to get a clear sense of what I want the final act to be like, and where I want it to go.

Just now I did a big bunch of work on ch23B (the middle part of Dad’s big letter to Rob), which you can see at the usual place, should you feel so moved.

The Irresistible Urge to try to fix a broken thing (ch20)

The Irresistible Lure of Trying to Fix a Broken Thing

Am in bed, but have just been slogging away at the ransom note scene of chapter 20 to make it work properly, after all the thought I’ve been putting it. This, after four rounds of rewrite, is at last getting there. Will tomorrow start looking through the later chapters, where I expect similar changes to be needed.

Usual place.

New version Chapter 20 Photos

New version Chapter 20

I’ve spent a lot of today and this evening working more on this chapter, and in particular the ransom note section. It had been bothering me because the whole notion of ticking-bomb story devices simply don’t work in a world with universal time travel. Hero can lollygag about for years and years before bothering himself with the deadline, no matter how urgent it might seem. So I needed something else there. And that led to other things, and lo.

See what’s new at the usual place.

POSTSCRIPT

POSTSCRIPT

No sooner had I launched off my piece about the three months of keeping this writing thingy going than I realised something that struck me as perhaps more personally interesting.

I’ve stopped keeping track of Time Since Leaving Hospital last year. I had been carefully noting each Wednesday, each 9th of the month, and so forth, thinking about how much of a gulf of time I was accumulating. After the first I lasted only about ten days: after the second only about three weeks. I was determined, after the third, to “stick the landing”. I did not want a fourth hospitalisation for more medication madness. (Though when my weight seemed out of control, I was up for anything that might work, including going back in for whatever.)

But I had not realised until today that I have long since stopped keeping track of these milestones. I’m no longer watching out for the 9th of each month, or thinking Wednesdays are anything to note.

Now I think about May 19. The day I wrote again.

Arguably, the day I began looking forward rather than back.

NOTEBOOK: THREE MONTHS TODAY

NOTEBOOK: THREE MONTHS TODAY

Three months ago, on 19 May, I followed my psychologist’s suggestion and my own nagging inclination, and started keeping a regular writing notebook/journal/habit thingy. I sat down one afternoon in a café in Subiaco (rain pounding down outside) and wrote a short piece about an artwork that had just sold in New York for a stunning amount of money. Said artwork seeming to capture the madness of our times.

Since that day, and that modest beginning, I have written every single day, often in great volumes, even on weekends. In sheer wordage I’ve produced around 170,000 words in these three months, tangled up in a completed memoir volume, and a novel that is about two-thirds done, plus a wide assortment of notebook pieces and blog posts like this one.

I’ve written while sitting on the couch at home, while lazing about in bed early in the morning and very late at night. Also in the car while queuing for coffee at a drive-through place. In various cafés, like the one I’m at today (Viazza, at Greenwood Shopping Centre, where the iced coffee is excellent).

I’ve published 99% of what I’ve written online, on a website, and on Facebook and on Twitter. Some pieces have received a lot of response, and some have gone unnoticed. No trolls have shown up. I’ve learned a lot about working online and web publishing. The guiding ethos has always been that I’m a writer in a department store window, sitting at a desk with a typewriter, only you can see everything I produce, all my drafts, the lot. As a writer, you get taught that nobody wants to see your “shitty first drafts”, and probably you don’t, but I’m putting them up anyway, because why not? It’s radical transparency. This is how the sausage gets made. This is what drafts look like. Some bits are good, and some bits are bad. You get to see it all. I’m not aware of any other writer doing this–and it does occur to me that there might be sensible reasons why that is! 😉

My psychologist suggested I take up writing again as part of an effort to write my way back to being well after what happened to me last year, and the long years of depression before that. After these three months, I don’t know if I’ve “arrived” at the bus-stop of wellness just yet, but I think I’m definitely on the bus that goes by there. I hope you’re following along.

Chapter 20 Updated, Better

Chapter 20 Updated

I’m working on chapter 25, but to do that has meant revisiting chapter 20, where adult Rob gets the ransom note about young Robbie, so I’ve just been going over that chapter again, and in the process have rewritten the final pages of chapter 20. I think it’s a bit better now.

Am not sure if I’ll be getting to chapter 25 tonight. Things are a bit busy here, but I will if I can manage it.

This new version of chapter 20 can be found at the usual place on my website.