Over the past few weeks, I've checked out of most media and entertainment sources due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. I've grown annoyed with the repeated fear-mongering on various news companies, the lack of intelligent commentary from the federal government, and an even slower uptake of facts and science from my state government. All of the commercials and PSAs about "Together Apart" and "Alone Together" serve only to remind me of how far from a factual response to this pandemic this country has traveled. Instead, debate on when and how to reopen has landed firmly in the trenches of emotional sensationalism and political divides. There is no common sense or reasoned logic to be found among the media or any of its sources or followers when it comes to the Covid discussion.
I'm going to keep this short and simple. Spring weather brings many people outside after a long, dreary winter, and right now, many people are visiting their local nature parks and other natural areas, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic has shut down other forms of entertainment. Because of these shut downs and the call for social distancing, many of the workers who typically take care of these natural areas have been told to stay home as they are considered non-essential workers. If this is the case in your region of the country/world, please keep in mind there is no one to clean up after you should you choose to go outside for some exercise. Be prepared to take your trash home with you should you generate any on your outings.
We're only halfway through March, but with all the pandemonium going on in the world right now, it seems to me that now is a great time to start planning for the April 2020 session of Camp NaNoWriMo. If you're stuck at home, there's no excuses for procrastinating on reading, research, or writing right now. And with the wide-spread encouragement of social distancing, we all have an excuse to blow off social engagements without the risk of getting guilt-tripped or feeling bad about it later. Welcome to a brand-new world of state-sanctioned introversion!
A couple of weeks ago I decided to restart my current WIP after getting four chapters into my first draft. Despite following my outline and keeping with my proposed character development, there was a major flaw growing in the storytelling which I did not want in my story. One of my characters was in danger of developing a mindset akin to Stockholm Syndrome, but that does not match up with who and what he is. So I started over and added a new character who would help alleviate this flaw.
So I'm going to get a little political this week due to some events over on Twitter. Apologies to those of you who avoid these sorts of posts, but for me, it does relate back to writing and freedom of expression. The cliff-notes version of the story is that an accidental misgendering of a transperson occurred in the midst of an unrelated and not-quite-heated debate. The transperson became upset because the debate opponent did not apologize in a "sincere" fashion. The entire thing was blown out of proportion from there and numerous side-debates, attacks, threats, and bullying transpired.
In any form of expression driven by public participation and desire for an audience, trends will develop. Whether you're talking fashion, artwork, music, slang, marketing, social media, scientific inquiry, or any number of other dynamic human forces, popularity and the desire for approval will affect what direction expression takes. One of the biggest areas of social life where trends can and do take over is in storytelling.
When it comes to setting and tracking writing goals, many of the websites and apps I've come across allow writers to measure their progress only by way of word counts, and while numerical word goals may be useful to many writers, I find it very narrowminded to limit users of these apps and websites to measuring progress via only word count. There are many goals writers may want to set and many types of writing where word counts will not provide an efficient way of tracking progress.
Beginnings are hard. For me, one of the most difficult parts of writing a first draft is deciding at what point I should start my story's timeline. What opening scene will catch a reader's attention? How early is too far from the action, leaving them bogged down with mundane character introductions? How late into the action will leave them confused rather than engaged? Is it worth throwing in a prologue to give readers background information, setting the backdrop of future events? Or should all of the pertinent background information get woven into the storytelling as exposition?
One of my favorite parts about starting a new writing project is doing research. My writing consists primarily of fantasy, and this allows for a wide range of research directions. Much of what I look into before starting to lay out a plot deals with history of technology and daily living in order to make the setting and characters believable. Sometimes during the course of this research, I'll run into some, little factoid I never considered significant before, and it will lead me down another trail of exploration that has significant impacts on my plotline.
For those of you who read my previous post, I would like to report that my mental state is somewhat better this week but still not back to normal. I spent most of the previous week working on presentation and demonstration materials for my day job for an event that has me lowkey excited. It's a new event, and it's always nice when my office is asked to participate in such things. However, the thing that boosted my mood the most as far as home life is concerned was buying new a new calendar and yearly planner. These seem like such simple things, but being able to look forward to the year ahead helps.