It's been so long since I've written a personal post, and to be honest, I'd like to do it a little more often. I talk so much about health and fitness but it's so easy to overlook mental health, and sometimes just talking about things - even to people who aren't listening - can be a big help to get thoughts in order. That's not to say I'm going to be doing it every week, but a personal monthly update wouldn't hurt, would it?
So, lately I've been working a lot on my book, and it's been going really well. I decided before I started that it would be a two-part story rather than one long book, and I've almost finished the first half of the story - so the first book. I have no intention of publishing it until the whole story is finished, though, because I have a tendancy to change little details here and there and I want to keep that freedom where I can.
It's late in the story, but I also just introduced the final character, and I was really worried about how she would come across. The first encounter is a vulnerable one but I didn't want first impressions of her to be weak and timid, and I'm surprised and proud to be able to say with great confidence that I've nailed it. Her introduction is, to my mind, perfect. The trouble with first impressions is that, while I can rewrite it for the reader, I can't rewrite it for myself, so a lot gets set in stone when I first meet her. So far, I've not introduced a single character badly, all have been as intended, and I think that that might be down to the decision I made to write a short story for those I felt the least comfortable with before I even started writing the book.
But while I've been working on this, I've been thinking over The Archguardians of Laceria a lot, and I'm seeing so many problems with it. But of course I'm going to find problems with it in hindsight! Because I can't take the book back and make changes, all I can see are the bad things, and I know that I'm just looking for them. I was so proud of it when I'd finished it, and I've lost that feeling now because of the fear of putting myself out there. Not that I regret it, in fact I just released the book as ePub for download on Nook, Kobo and other ePub ereaders!
Fortunately, however, while there are a few blaring mistakes I made in that book, I have absolutely not made them this time around. The biggest issue I had was that, at times, I worried the story was moving too fast so I started trying to drag it out, or that I'd forget that character development happens in the story, not outside of it. I'm hoping that these are things that don't stand out too much to the reader, but to me, they're now like enormous neon lights with megaphones shouting 'YOU'RE A TERRIBLE WRITER!'
But, as I've said, I'm very, very, very aware of these issues, and I can say with confidence that I've not succumbed to them this time around in the slightest. You just have to keep learning as you go along. I'm sure I'll learn a few lessons from the book I'm writing now, despite the fact that I'm immensely confident about it.
Christmas Shop Prep
Aside from writing, I've also been really busy with prepping my shop for Christmas. Last year I was able to add new pre-made stock because my gallery exhibit ended in October and I had a few leftover pieces, and while I made more sales last Christmas than any year before, I had less work because a lot of the pieces were already totally finished. I decided that that had worked out really well, so this year I've been trying to make sure I make at least one new animal a month, and a few of each, and fixing them in jars and everything so that, come October/November, I can list them all and have a hopefully easier December. And of course the less work for my shop, the more time for my book.
I'm trying to prep the blog, too - I've already started on gift guides - but while I usually participate in NaBloPoMo in November, I'm not sure it's happening this time. I'm not ruling it out, but it's always so hard to come up with good content every single day, so for the first time in 4 years I might give it a miss.
Fortunately, while I've been super busy, I've also had a good distraction. World of Warcraft released their newest expansion which addresses the biggest threat the story has faced, and it's a threat that has been present since the first Warcraft game way back in 1994 - unsurprisingly, a huge number of players have returned, and it's actually the prettiest and most interesting expansion yet. I'm not racing through it to get to maximum level like I used to; Seeg and I are playing it together, levelling our warlocks side by side, and after 12 days we are level 106 (Legion added 10 levels, raising max level from 100 to 110). I've been levelling my hunter by myself, but I refuse to let her out-level my warlock, so when she reaches the same level, I tend to back off and do something else.
And that's not the only wind-down news. Being a full-time carer for my mum, I still live with my parents. Yes, it is a bit awkward with my boyfriend living with us too, but we all get along well enough. But for two weeks out of the year they go on holiday and leave the house to us, and that means late night video games, takeaway pizza, decadent or complicated homecooked meals we can't usually make because it's tricky feeding my mum as it is (which means everything from spaghetti to okonomiyaki is on the menu for two weeks every year), and, of course, not having to look after anyone and subsequently be unable to get into anything in case I'm needed all of a sudden. Which does happen a lot. But this week they are away, and so I've got the time and space to breathe and just do whatever the hell I want.
And then in the first week of October, Seeg and I are going away! We're off with his parents - we see them probably twice a year for a week at a time, too - to Texel Island, one of the little islands at the top of The Netherlands. It's mostly sand, so there's nothing and no one there, so it's going to be a great little retreat. I can get away from my routine and clock-dominated lifestyle, and I'm looking forward to it so much. I'll get the chance to wind down and get my head in order before Christmas orders start coming in late October.
So that's been my life lately, a tangle of stress and well-timed distractions. And, to be honest, writing all this out and just updating the blog about it, relevant or not, has helped me to map out my head. I've been really stressed over my book and my shop, and they branch in so many directions that it feels like there's a lot more I'm stressing over than I am, so it's nice to know that it's actually simple and totally in my hands, for the most part, and it's a nice reminder that I have plenty of escapism - mental and physical. The getaway to Texel is a great thing, too, because I am the kind of person that just can't sit down and do nothing, so a holiday in the middle of nowhere, away from my priorities, will force me to slow down, and if things are going to speed up October-December like they usually do, I'll need the pre-Christmas breathing. Post-Christmas happens on its own.
How has everyone else been?