Ch23C Dad Rule Number One now available

Chapter 23C Dad Rule Number One now available

It’s nearly 2:00 am, and I feel as if I’ve been writing all day to avoid looking at news and Facebook where so much of the content is unbearably sad. So I’ve been trying to keep busy.

In this section Rob reads more of Dad’s astonishing letter from the Time Capsule, and we learn more about liquid reality. Also more about Dad and Rob’s life once Dad becomes homeless. Dad also makes an extraordinary request.

New chapter is in the usual place on the website.

Btw, the SSL certificate I mentioned earlier is all installed and should not affect how you use the site. Carry on. As you were!

Chapter 23B Now Available

Chapter 23B Down and Out at Trigg Beach Now Available

I’ve just completed work on the first draft of the second part of chapter 23. I’m expecting there will be a third part as well. 23 is about a big letter to Future Bastard Rob from his 1979 father, and covers a lot of ground, much of it shocking or surprising, and there’s a lot in 23B that does that in spades, but 23C will be even more so.

Look for it in the usual place on my website.

Speaking of my website, I’m in the process of buying a SSL certificate to improve security for the site, which will mean the site address will use https:// rather than http:// as it does now. Once it’s implemented I will say so here.

WRITING BLUNDERS: 6am (Updated, Better)

It is 6am and I surface like a submarine from the dark of sleep because I had an idea for a Writing Blunder essay (about writing advice, for and against), and I don’t want to lose it the way I lost two other ideas recently by choosing to stay submerged when the ideas showed up on sonar.

I did get one of those lost ideas back, and wrote a 1200-word piece last night, but it came out poorly, not at all well. Misshapen, asymmetrical, a funny pot standing there on the potter’s wheel. Nothing for it but to run the wire under it and start over. I have no idea where that second idea went.

The idea I got back was titled “Lucky Undies”, and was about the Blunder of getting caught up in the idea of not being able to write unless everything in your work environment is just exactly so. I got caught in this sort of thinking early in my “professional career”, and I had this coffee mug that I couldn’t bring myself to wash because I had been using it when I received news of my first book sale. It was bad and disgusting–but mostly it was a sign of the mental illness I live with. It was magical thinking. It was a Writing Blunder.

Because the truth is, as far as I’ve been able to determine after all these years (it’s 20 years since I sold ORBITAL BURN), you can write anywhere, in pretty much any conditions. This is something I’ve had to learn. It’s true that a quiet, peaceful environment is ideal. Your home, a library, a quiet cafe, are all good. But I’ve had equally good results in very noisy, busy, crowded cafes. The thing I need to have in order is not the outside world at all: it’s my inside world. I’ve had quite an ordeal these past few years, and especially this past year (see my recent memoir posts). For a while last year I lost contact with the creative part of my brain. I did not know if I’d ever write another word. As it has come back, as my mind has come back into focus, I have found that I can write perfectly well on my iPad, using the onscreen keyboard and two quick fingers (sometimes just one careful finger if my dog wants an inconvenient cuddle), sitting on the couch, in bed, out in cafes, anywhere at all I might be. The iPad is portable. I don’t need Lucky Undies that I don’t wash until the book is done, or a Magic Coffee Mug that I likewise don’t wash until the book’s done.

(The only thing I would add here on further reflection is that I do still sometimes have problems with certain sorts of sound, usually very small, quiet sounds, but not always. It’s called misophonia, and is something I discovered I had last year in the course of the medication change ordeal. It means that tiny noises can trigger involuntary fight/flight responses, and have done. I was at a cafe on Monday. It was lovely. Quiet, peaceful, excellent food, I was writing, it was all good. But a woman sitting on a metal stool nearby was wearing boots with a metal buckle. She jiggled her foot in such a way that the buckle would hit the metal of the stool, ding-ding-ding-ding, etc. I just about had to step outside for a while.

For some people, finding an environment they can work in is a profoundly difficult problem. I did not mean to suggest, in my 6am glibness, that it could be so easily accomplished.)

All I need is a willingness to surface from the dark at inconvenient hours, when I’d much rather be asleep, thanks, to make sure I don’t lose the fleeting thoughts that show up on sonar.

WRITING BLUNDERS: 6am

It is 6am and I surface like a submarine from the dark of sleep because I had an idea for a Writing Blunder essay (about writing advice, for and against), and I don’t want to lose it the way I lost two other ideas recently by choosing to stay submerged when the ideas showed up on sonar.

I did get one of those lost ideas back, and wrote a 1200-word piece last night, but it came out poorly, not at all well. Misshapen, asymmetrical, a funny pot standing there on the potter’s wheel. Nothing for it but to run the wire under it and start over. I have no idea where that second idea went.

The idea I got back was titled “Lucky Undies”, and was about the Blunder of getting caught up in the idea of not being able to write unless everything in your work environment is just exactly so. I got caught in this sort of thinking early in my “professional career”, and I had this coffee mug that I couldn’t bring myself to wash because I had been using it when I received news of my first book sale. It was bad and disgusting–but mostly it was a sign of the mental illness I live with. It was magical thinking. It was a Writing Blunder.

Because the truth is, as far as I’ve been able to determine after all these years (it’s 20 years since I sold ORBITAL BURN), you can write anywhere, in pretty much any conditions. This is something I’ve had to learn. It’s true that a quiet, peaceful environment is ideal. Your home, a library, a quiet cafe, are all good. But I’ve had equally good results in very noisy, busy, crowded cafes. The thing I need to have in order is not the outside world at all: it’s my inside world. I’ve had quite an ordeal these past few years, and especially this past year (see my recent memoir posts). For a while last year I lost contact with the creative part of my brain. I did not know if I’d ever write another word. As it’s come back, as my mind has come back into focus, I have found that I can write perfectly well on my iPad, using the onscreen keyboard and two quick fingers (sometimes just one careful finger if my dog wants an inconvenient cuddle), sitting on the couch, in bed, out in cafes, anywhere at all I might be. The iPad is portable. I don’t need Lucky Undies that I don’t wash until the book is done, or a Magic Coffee Mug that I likewise don’t wash until the book’s done.

All I need is a willingness to surface from the dark at inconvenient hours, when I’d much rather be asleep, thanks, to make sure I don’t lose the fleeting thoughts that show up on sonar.

Chapter 22 (Reclaiming Territory), Now Available

This morning I’ve been going over the work I did on chapter 22 last night, mainly spackling and patching and general engoodening, but with some significant new bits of actual chewiness. What’s there is 1500 words. I thought of continuing on to the letter Future Bastard is going to get from 1979 Dad, but decided instead, since I have a lot of material for that chapter, to make it a chapter by itself, which I’ll work on today.

Today’s ch22 is available in the usual place on my website.

Thank you, too, btw, to the people last night who helped me out with the weird problem of why, on the page listing all the available chapters, chapter 18 wasn’t displaying properly. I’m none the wiser as to the nature of the problem, but I rebuilt the entire link and entry from scratch, and now it seems to work like the other ones. Huzzah, and again, thank you! Most appreciated!

First part of chapter 22 now online

Here I am in the middle of the night again (2:35am, ye gods!) and I’ve just banged out 1200 words on new chapter 22 as Grown-Up Rob goes to see Robbie’s 1979 Mum and Dad about the boy’s kidnapping and everything. It’s all getting tangled in a way I quite like.

I will most likely be finishing ch22 tomorrow, maybe in the morning. The next scene is a letter from 1979 Dad to his 2017 son, so might pack in quite a few feels.

Anyway, new chapter fragment available in usual spot.

Little Known Author Asks Small Favour

Could you possibly do me a small, technical-troubleshooting-type favour, please?

I am informed that the page on my website where you can find the big list of all the chapters of my novel-in-progress is, at least in some circumstances, refusing to show more than an inactive link to chapter 18. This is puzzling. Here on my iPad, in Chrome, it works and loads as it should. But as I say, on other platforms it’s not working.

So, if you DON’T use Chrome, and you’re NOT on iPad, would you please check that link for me?

Note that you don’t even have to read my ghastly prose. I just need to know whether or not the link works on platforms other than iPad/Chrome, and if not, what on Earth I might do about it.

Thank you!

Chapter 21: No Bullies in Heaven Now Available

It’s taken me much of the day, but have just completed chapter 21 of GOOD INTENTIONS, in which Fiona explains a few things to her prisoner Robbie. And in which things get more complicated. It seems Fiona has a weird ex who is looking for her, thinking she owes him money, and might not react well to finding out she’s torturing a teenage boy.

I am feeling tired lately. I have slowed down in my work-rate, and haven’t been producing quite the same volumes of material that I was while working on my memoir. I’m hoping I’m just tired after three months of continuous daily work on two different book projects (plus the other things I’m doing, as well as serious weight-loss) rather than a sagging of interest in the novel compared with my feverish interest in the memoir. That said, I am in the dreaded “middle” of the novel, the grim death-march that comes after the excitement of the opening and development, and the later excitement of the build-up to the climax and resolution. Between these patches of excitement lies the dead wastes of the middle, where the story must advance, become more complicated, where significant piece-exchange must occur between the two sides of the chess match. All authors, or the ones I’ve read who have expressed a view, hate the middle. Sometimes it does feel like a dry game of chess rather than a battle of human wits with human stakes. In my book, what’s at stake is the human life of young Robbie. How is he going to finish up? Is he even going to make it to the end? And if he doesn’t, what happens to his future timeline? What happens to Future Bastard?

One of the main things concerning me at this point in the book is the character of Fiona. A lot of bad stuff has happened to her, but I don’t want her to be a victim character. I want her to have a sense of agency. I want her to be an interesting, intelligent, compelling figure in the narrative who defies expectations. I’ve not written anyone like her before, so I’m very nervous about her. If anyone has any feedback about Fiona and her portrayal, I would greatly appreciate it, thank you!

115.5 Kilograms

If you’ve been reading my website here since I’ve been posting every day starting back in May you’ll know I’ve been locked in a titanic struggle of wills with my weight, largely because of the weight-gain side-effects of some of the psychiatric medication I have to take for my bipolar disorder. I’ve written about this quite a bit especially in my memoir posts (scroll back to May-June-July). One of the drugs I take is Nortriptyline, part of the tricyclic antidepressant family of drugs (so named because the key molecule is three hexagons in shape), which, while very effective at keeping me in good emotional shape, comes with two nasty side-effects: weight-gain and increased appetite.

I was first put on Nortriptyline last November, and my weight started climbing immediately. I have been steadily losing weight since December 2012, and managed to get it down from 165.5 to 114.5 at the time I started Nortriptyline. By mid-May this year, with my weight seemingly out of control, and me feeling wretched, the news coming out every day not helping, and me engaged in all kinds of bad emotional eating, and generally speaking Off the Program, my weight returned to 127.1 kg. So that was quite a gain from 114.

I always thought the worst thing in the world would be to see my weight come back. It was so hard to lose, I couldn’t imagine having to lose it all again. I might be able to do it once, but twice? And here was a quarter of it back again in seemingly no time at all. I was panicking. It was, I told myself, the medication. I told my doctor to find another way. I didn’t care what it took. At the time I was eating a lot of emotional chocolate and junk food, but the problem, in my mind, was the medication. I lost faith in it. I wasn’t thinking about the chocolate.

The day my weight hit 127.1 was awful. I felt disappointed with myself, like I’d failed myself. I’d always been so proud of my weight-loss results, that it had gone so well, and had such excellent effects. I didn’t have to buy clothes in Kingsize Menswear anymore. I didn’t have to feel humiliated over the slightest thing. I didn’t have to feel guilty about the physical space I occupied. It was marvellous. But then it wasn’t so marvellous. It was coming back and it felt as if I couldn’t stop it, because of this drug.

Funny thing, though. When I lost all that weight before, I was taking a tricyclic antidepressant then, too. I was taking Clomipramine. It was in the same family, and had the same diabolical weight-gain and appetite-increasing effects. But I still managed to lose the 51 kilograms. When I was in hospital last year and told people I had done this, they were all gobsmacked that I had lost any weight at all while on a tricyclic, because of that reputation, let alone so much. So it was possible. You just have to really work at it.

The day I hit 127.1, I asked myself what I could do, if I were to really try. If I were serious. I sensed my doctor was too pleased with the improvement in my mood and stability to want to mess with the Nortriptyline, so that meant finding other ways. I was still eating quite a bit of chocolate, so I started cutting that back. And started cutting back food generally. I first tried the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, but found the “feeding” days led to weight gain, so tried just staying on fasting days all the time, every day–and that worked. The weight started to shift.

It’s brutally hard. I fast most of each day. I get about one decent meal a day, and some treats, and that’s it. Works out to about 3000-4000 kilojoules. I’m almost always hungry, but you can live with that. My doctor also has me on a drug called Topamax, partly because it’s a mood-stabiliser, and works against anxiety, but it has an unusual weight-loss side-effect.

I’ve been on this “low-food” program since around the middle of May. Every day. While I’ve also been writing every day (writing a lot every day), and getting plenty of exercise, and learning the Korean language, and reading books. I have terrific clarity of thought such as I have never known. I feel as if I’ve gone up a level.

As of this morning my weight was 115.5 kilograms. My Personal Least from last year, 114.3, is in sight. And from there to my original goal of 100 kg now seems achievable. As long as I can keep doing what I’m doing. I’m not sure I can, because the “low-food” thing is very hard. But it’s so close, so very close. I hope I can hang in there just a bit longer. It’s taken three months to go from 127.1 to 115.5, so that’s 12 kg. One hundred kilos by Christmas? Possible? This is the first time I’ve even formulated the thought. It’s a bit scary. Maintaining this program for such a length of time represents a stern challenge. But I’ve been on the overall program since just after Christmas 2012. It would be the fifth anniversary of the project. That thought gives me pause. I’d like to try that. Wish me luck. Fifteen kilos of ugly fat would make a great Christmas tree ornament! 😉

Chapter 20 of novel now available

Today I wrote chapter 20 of GOOD INTENTIONS, which came out pretty well. 43,000 words. Things going very poorly for both versions of protagonist. Heh. What’s particularly nice is how all the terrible things going on are entirely consequences of things the protagonist has done out of the very best of intentions, which, hello, theme! 🙂

With a little bit of luck, this link will take you to the chapters tab on my website, where if you scroll down you’ll come down to chapter 20. Am thinking of rearranging these links so they are listed in reverse order, highest to lowest, because it’s all getting a bit unwieldy.