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…