Well, I had a marginally effective day yesterday, despite deciding at 10:45 pm that I was just going to do maybe two hundred words of writing so I could keep my daily update streak going on the National Novel Month writing website. I wound up doing ten times that in about an hour and then decided to also write the blog update for today before going to bed as well, instead of waiting until the morning to do it like I’d planned when I’d decided yesterday was going to be a low-key day. Honestly, I really needed it. Yesterday was the only day I had that wasn’t stressful in one way or another since I got news that my grandfather’s cancer was back in a way that meant all the treatment options were more about making him comfortable rather than curing him. Also, I did enough processing around the video game playing to finally get my feet under me and get myself to a place where I can be open about what’s going on. All thing’s said and done, yesterday was a really productive, good day for me.
I was supposed to go back to my alma mater for the yearly important event for my social group (a fraternity that only exists at one college, basically). I decided I didn’t have it in me to spend six hours driving, three of which would have started around the same time I started writing today’s blog post. The worst part, aside from missing the event that was the reason I joined the group and continues to be my favorite part of the group, is that I suggested a group education activity for the active members of the group (the ones still in college who pay dues) that was supposed to happen today. It was supposed to be a talk about mental health focused on suicide prevention and how to support people who are struggling with their mental health. As someone with a lot of experience with both of those things and tons of personal experience with the latter, I was planning to be there as sort of “witness/personal experience” voice to help bridge the gap between the actives and the alumni who were sharing their professional experience working in the mental health industry. I’m sure they managed it quite well on their own, I have the utmost faith in the people who volunteered, but I was looking forward to a more literal approach to what I try to do here on this blog.
I’m not famous in the group or anything, but people who are active still feel the effects of some of the stuff I did while I was active (namely, I created a new position in the group and gave it such a rich fake lore that everyone just assumes it has been around for forever). It would have had a humanizing effect on a lot of the stuff the professionals talked about. I probably could have also shared some coping strategies because I’m great at those. Mostly, I would have answered questions and talked about what to do when nothing is working and you don’t know what to do next. I have a lot of experience with those moments, both in my personal life and as a member of the group that people went to when they were struggling.
Instead of doing all that, I took my own advice and spent a bunch of time and energy on my mental health. I did laundry, tidied up my room a bit, made myself a delicious meal, and played several hours of Pathfinder: Kingmaker. I also spent some time with my pet bird who is finally, after almost three years, starting to want to interact with me. I pushed my face up against her cage, my latest approach to trying to get her comfortable with physical closeness since she’s finally grasped the idea that nothing can get through the cage to her unless I open the door, and she came right over to me. She’s never done that before. It seemed like she actually wanted to be right next to me. She even went so far as to nibble my nose a bit and pull at my beard hair. It was adorable and the most time she’s spent in close physical proximity to me in the entire time I’ve had her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she spent more time voluntarily that close to me yesterday than she’d spent in all the months between when I got her and yesterday. It was a sweet, touching moment that reassured me that I still have a reason to keep trying to coax her out of the terror PetSmart instilled in her of every person who walks by her cage.
Yesterday was a good, relaxing day. I need more of those. It was nice to be able to get to a point where I wasn’t writing because I felt I needed to keep an obligation to myself. I actually chose it over the game I had running the background for an hour and a half. My poor computer, forced to split its attention between the game and greedy Chrome. I could hear its poor fans working to keep up with the processor demands of holding the game in stasis while I wrote in a web browser notorious for using extra processing power with a program that dynamically saves in such a way that it makes the browser’s load even heavier on the computer. I’m just glad everything ran smoothly.
I hope today is a good day for you! I hope you find the love of writing that lead you to this challenge and that you’re able to continue working with a renewed love for the craft as we work our way through the middle third of this month. We’ve got eighteen days left still, plenty of time to catch up if you’ve fallen behind. Just take your time, keep working every day, and you’ll get there. Good luck!
Everyone has pet peeves. My roommate’s pet peeve is people who make noise when they eat. One of my coworker’s pet peeves is when people ask for his help on something and then they let him do it all himself instead of assisting. My pet peeve is people piling dirty dishes on the side of the sink where we put the clean dishes. Does your protagonist have any pet peeves? If so, how tolerant are they when it comes to other people when they play into the protagonist’s pet peeve? Do they blow up or do they brush it off? Or do they just complain about it to a third-party and never address it with the person annoying them? Write a scene showing us how they’re respond to a pet peeve.
One of my favorite video games of all time is Majora’s Mask. I’ve written an entire blog post about it, which isn’t saying much, and I’ve considered using it as the basis for a master’s degree creative writing focused on storytelling in visual mediums like TV shows and video games. The complexity of the story is inspiring, especially considering they had one year to make and release the game and used mostly visual assets from the prior N64 Legend of Zelda game, Ocarina of Time. Time travel, the chance to reflect on and fix past mistakes, the opportunity for growth, and the final lesson that you ultimately need to move forward if you want anything to really change. It’s also one of the best stories about mental illness I’ve ever seen, let alone seen in a video game, so there’s that, too.
Everyone talks about finding the right music, or the drink snack, or the right drink, but few people talk about the right keyboard. The steady pound of keys is just as much a part of the soundscape of your writing environment as the music you pick to play. Something like a squeaky spacebar can entirely ruin what is otherwise a pleasant experience. The “chakt” of a mechanical gaming keyboard can really start to grind after a while. I don’t know how some people do it. Even my roommate uses a different computer to do most of his writing for his classes. He uses a laptop instead of his comfortable chair, custom keyboard, and top-notch headphones. Membrane keyboards may not be as cool or as fun as mechanical keyboards, but they make for a much better typing experience in my opinion. Everything from the sound to the feel of repeatedly pounding keys is superior. Plus, I’m less worried about breaking it. That’s my own paranoia, but it’s part of why I take special care to only buy keyboards I can use in a store first or that I’ve previously owned. I’m on my second iteration of my current keyboard. The squeaky spacebar drove me nuts for six months before I broke down and bought a new one.