Thursday, September 15, 2016

Turn Around

I’ve finally turned it around. The latest book, written intermittently over the last couple of years, was a mess. I’ve said before how I just let myself go with the writing following plot threads that led off into the wilderness and then, on numerous occasions, tore the whole thing apart and put it back together again. This time I’ve again torn it apart, rewritten it and stuck it back together again. And it’s working.

I am now 9 chapters in and can get back to writing new stuff. I did my 2,000 words yesterday but am not yet contemplating going back to doing that five days a week. I don’t want to push too hard and find myself bouncing out again, which has happened before. Anyway, I have some other writing-related work to get on with and I have a life to rebuild beyond slaving at a word processor for you lot!

But on the subject of the new book, I can’t leave this post without a few obligatory teases. I decided to make the character who delivered something nasty to a weapons platform – one of many around a particular accretion disc – an expendable character who does not appear in the rest of the book. An entity I have dubbed ‘the wheel’ might be a Jain AI. I don’t know – I just write this stuff as it comes to me. Anyway, it certainly shows a great deal of interest in a Jain super-soldier. And Orlandine … why is she building two war runcibles?


Heh.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Polity Timelines

Thanks to John Lewis for these. Here are some Polity timelines he put together...






Thanks John!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Body and Mind at Work

Well, the exercise at the gym has been knackering me. I’ve done an hour plus in the morning seven out of the last eight days. I’ve then come back, done some work, eaten at about midday, then fallen asleep for one or two hours. Okay, I’m fifty-five so there’s that, but I am seeing quite rapid change to my physique and, over the last few days my knackerdom is decreasing. With this steady decrease my brain is picking up slack too and I’m working more…

Usually, when writing a book, I can happily record a word-count in my journal five days a week of 2,000 words a day. That is simply not occurring this time for … various reasons. When I started writing this book (this was maybe the year before last) it was while I was depressed, anxious and suffering from panic attacks. I would have periods when I would feel better and maybe do a few thousand words. Also I took the view that just getting words down was the main thing and would pursue any idea that occurred to me. This had always worked before and I could usually sew together plot threads, or excise those that added little, or remove characters I didn’t need or even meld them with others – do the work. It didn’t go that way this time.

The ninety plus thousand words I produced rather reflected the state of my mind. Disparate disconnect threads run through. Characters are subject to radical change, often illogical change and some of the things they have done just don’t fit a story arc, probably because I had no idea of their motivations.

You get the picture.

I have tried a number of times to resolve this, approaching the book with new brio and tearing it apart, making a fresh start, rewriting a lot, but such has been the state of my mind that my energy for this would leak away after a few days. I would gaze at the work in bewilderment and see absolutely no solutions. I was never actually blocked; just incapable of weaving together the complications as I had always done before.

State of mind of course.

However, over the last four months things started to change. Many of you have read here of my perpetual battle with my own mind. I’ve tried many things, some of which definitely helped, some of which might have helped. All I do know is that I started to beat the panic attacks, and that the anxiety and depression started to decline. I also got slapped in the face with a couple of things recently: I’ll simply call them reality wake-up calls. So I came back to England. And now I’m working…

I started on the book again and again felt things were unresolvable. I then, after working on it for most of a morning, just sat and thought about it for four or more hours, hardly making any notes – a level of concentration I have been incapable of for some time. I saw solutions but they were not easy – I had to dig them out of my skull. The next day I copied the book to a new file and started tearing it apart once again, and once again putting it back together again. And it is working; I am seeing my way clear to an ending. This, to go back to what led me into this ramble, is why I cannot record 2,000 words a day: I am rewriting, reordering and deleting. In fact today’s word count would be negative.

Something else happened too. This book is the start of a series of books – maybe a trilogy or maybe more – and I was getting the same feeling of where am I going with this about the overall story. I slept today, again, and when I woke up I started thinking about it all. Immediately I started having ideas about that overall story – they propelled me to my feet and to a notepad. Wow, I just love the way the mind keeps on working even when you’re snoring. The subconscious is like a bull terrier with a bone, it keeps gnawing on it till something snaps.

The way is clear now and I feel good about this.    

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back in England

I’m back in England early this year for a couple or reasons I either cannot or will not talk about here. What I will say, however, is that my anxiety and panic attacks have all but disappeared and I am getting my life back on track. This means that I am working on various projects including the next books. Again I must print out and read again stuff I did before (mostly last year), to get it running in my head again and get writing. Also other things…


While I was out on Crete I kept to a pretty severe exercise regimen. At the start of the year I was walking in the mountains from 8 to 12 kilometres every day. As the temperature rose I turned to kayaking and swimming and most days was kayaking 10K and/or swimming 2K. Back here I decided I needed something to replace that so for the first time in many years joined a gym.

I told the guy who did my induction what I had been doing before which is probably why each of the four circuits I am taking on (one each day) start with 20 minutes on a cross trainer and end with 2000M on a rowing machine, with lots of work with weights between. The induction lasted 2 hours and I felt shell-shocked afterwards. The next day I did my first circuit and found that using the weights rendered me incapable of doing the two sets of 25 standard press-ups and two sets of 25 press-ups with the hands directly under the body. I managed 14 standard press-ups and gave up. Giggling.

After doing this I came back home and felt energised. Amongst other things I wrote 1,000 words – this was all good. The next day I found it difficult to get out of chairs and there were few parts of my body I could touch without them hurting. Today I did my second circuit. This was hard but I managed it all. Afterwards I sorted out some bits and pieces in my local town and returned to a big breakfast. My body then demanded an hour and half of sleep but now, as you see, I’m back to writing.

I should settle into this over the next few weeks … either that or I’ll have a heart attack on the cross-trainer. But now it is time for me to print up the start of a book…  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Late Update

I see that it’s been two months since I last blogged. So, time for an update.


I’ve been doing plenty of walking in the mountains and I’ve been taking my kayak out for runs up and down the coast. It’s not yet been warm enough for swimming and frankly I haven’t had the energy. The weather here has been odd: clouds and sunshine interspersed with periods when we have been swamped by Sahara dust. A few times outdoors it has looked like a sepia photograph. The stuff gets everywhere and with it continuing there seems hardly any point in cleaning my car, though occasionally I wash down my terrace to stop tracking the stuff into the house. Today is windy and cloudy and everything is covered with that dust. Even my Greek neighbours are now saying, ‘Come on, it’s the end of May, where’s the sun?’

Though I have been walking and kayaking my energy has been low. This is due to the panic/anxiety attacks. They now mainly hit me in the morning as I try to catch an extra forty winks. It is almost as if my mind is fleeing from something that occurs while I am asleep. I have noticed I’ve been having more nightmares. Some do involve Caroline but generally they just involve fear. I had a couple that I used to have decades ago – involving a flood I am trying to escape and then seeing a mountainous wave approaching and thinking, ‘Fuck it, I‘m dead.’ Apparently nightmares like these are quite common. Anyway, since I am of a scientific turn of mind, I started to recording my ‘bad moments’ and plotting them on a graph. Thankfully the trend is downwards.

About seven weeks ago I got book III of the Transformation trilogy back from the editor and have, intermittently, been going through that. I would normally bang through this stuff in a week or so but, for perhaps the first time ever for me, I saw a deadline looming. However, I’ve finished with the edits and now there is a just a little wrangling to go through about the title. Hopefully, after I dispatch this back to Macmillan, I’ll be able to get back to some writing.


That’s all for now. I’ll try to update this more regularly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Walking and Mindwork

While I ramble away here, let’s enjoy some pictures...


Anyway, I’ve been back on Crete now for two weeks. To begin with, because of all the shit I’ve been going through, I haven’t had much energy. I’ve done a couple of big walks but mostly small ones, gardening, and some other jobs I needed to sort out.


One of those jobs was getting my car here legal. I neglected it last year and emissions and mechanical tests were out of date as was the road tax which, the system here being fucked and Greek, can only be bought one month in the year. The result of that was that in all three cases I had to pay double.


Paying my road tax was interesting. I saw a guy in Makrigialos who found my details on the internet and printed me something to take to the bank where I could pay my road tax. I couldn’t pay at the bank. Maybe the post office? No, the tax office.


A lady in the post office showed me where this was. There they wrote out a note, which I then had to take back to the bank. The bank issued me a cheque, which I then had to take back to the tax office. By the time I got back they had found I owed taxes on my house, which I then had to traipse back to the bank to pay. By the end of that day I was €1000+ out of pocket.  



Anyway, I’m not unhappy about that because that was a bunch of worries out of the way. Also, if you refer to my previous post, the ‘shit I’ve been going through’ and my lack of energy is changing. It is spring now and some nice days are occurring. And now I’m walking properly...


Just letting my panic attacks happen and, when they happen, actively encouraging them has had an amazing effect. They’re dying away, and they’re dying away fast.


As I write this I have ‘walked to Voila and back’ (about 12 kilometres) eaten a second breakfast and had a snooze on my sofa. Boring? Yes, unless it is the first time in months you have managed to do that without panic attacks and without fearing what state you will wake up in.


It is almost as if letting those attacks happen and pushing them is the same as crying: unpleasant when it occurs but letting out some inner stress, with the result that you feel better afterwards.


Consequently my stress/anxiety levels have been dropping. This has enabled me to apply, thoroughly, some of the stuff in a book by Richard Carlson ‘Stop Thinking, Start Living’, and the mindfulness from the Williams and Penman book.



But enough of that. Now it is time for me to open up a file marked Jain1 and set to work.