Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: TBK1:UL

2018 Overview and 2019 General Goals

2018 was not a good year for me in a number of ways. One thing that really stands out is my embarkation as a DM in the D&D world, and admitting that I’d defeated myself with my leaping feet-first into a homebrew campaign. That was really hard to do, but I wasn’t having fun with it any more, and I knew if I tried to push myself, my friends wouldn’t have fun either due to my lack of preparation. I didn’t give up completely, however. My solution was to get an off the shelf game and speed-prep what I needed for it in a week or two so we could get to gaming as soon as possible. Half those plans fell through—we weren’t actually able to start the new campaign in December due to various people getting sick or not being able to show up. I myself spent a week with some weird illness where I felt physically drained and slept pretty much all day for something like five or six days straight. We are set to game tomorrow, though, which I’m glad about. Nobody’s ill, I think I’m as prepared as I can get, and we’re all desperate to play D&D together.

One thing that did go well, at least toward the last quarter of the year, was my writing. I made I don’t know how many false starts early on in the year, where I’d commit myself to completing something, then pretty much immediately failed to do so. Finally, at the end of August, I was fed up with that crap, and I decided I’d spend September reading through as many incomplete WIPS as I possibly could and then decide which one to work on. I focused more on those I had outlines for and eventually decided to work on Unwritten Letters starting in October. This I’m calling my Fool’s Errand, which I’ve been posting about on Saturdays here on AEP.

Also, I’ve made lots of new friends. So many people in my life now, I can barely name them all. I’ve started learning how to quilt, gotten more regular with crocheting, and have been cooking more. All because I have more friends in my life.

I continued using a Bullet Journal through most of 2018 as well, but to be honest, it was a struggle before the end of 2017 in some respects. Much of the Bullet Journal format is repetitive and labor-intensive, which made it seem like work, and thus not much fun, to work on. So I adjusted it. I don’t do the month overviews or lists of major things I want to get done every month. At about the same time I started reading through my WIPS, I decided to trim my Bullet Journal down to three primary things: Monthly Budget, Weekly Log, and Daily Log. I also obeyed an impulse I had and started listing completed tasks below the Task List, instead of just marking them as done. This proved to be a good instinct, because I find the act of actually writing out the name of the task to be more motivating than just marking the task as complete. I don’t just keep it to tasks I’ve listed as needing done, but also list things that I’ve done that weren’t on the Task List to begin with. And I don’t sweat the stuff I don’t do.

So those are the highlights of 2018. I’ll post more about my writing on Saturday. Until then, here are my general goals for the year, in no particular order:

  • Continue DMing for my Thursday Gaming Group.
  • Cook more frequently.
  • Continue pursuing my claims with the VA.
  • Read 12 books over the course of the year. More if possible, but at least 12.
  • Learn to play the flute. Poor thing’s probably rusted by now, it’s been so long since I used it.
  • Keep up with language practice for Spanish, German, and Norwegian.
  • Take walks more frequently, for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Pick up work on my homebrew D&D campaign again.
  • Draw more often, at least once a week.
  • Continue volunteering at the Utah Pride Center once a week.
  • Get back into my Tarot lessons.

And that’s it!

Another Two Weeks

My apologies for not posting last week. Two major factors prevented me from doing so. The first, and primary, reason why I didn’t post was because my internet was acting up. I’d had issues beginning Friday, and they went all the way through Sunday. Posting anything that required an image or an extensive online presence, as editing italics into my Wattpad posts, either didn’t happen at all or was fraught with unintentional issues due to the computer misinterpreting my keystrokes—for instance, in trying to delete the underscores I mark italics in my Wattpad projects with before pasting them to Wattpad, the computer often simply back-screened instead of just deleting the underscore. Frustrating, to say the least.

The second reason why I didn’t post anything last week was that I was at the tail end of an odd illness that exhausted me. I literally slept most days between the 16th and 22nd. This was so bad that I came out of my bedroom, did kitty care, started my computer so I could have music, and then I went to curl up on the sofa to sleep some more. I was lucky if I could get half an hour vertical. Though we were supposed to start the new D&D campaign I got on the 20th, I had to cancel that ’cause I could barely get 30 minutes upright without falling asleep. So between that illness and the difficulties I was having with my internet, I didn’t actually get a chance to write a post. I was more concerned with trying to get my Friday stuff done first, and I had to give up on that too and finally called my internet provider to see about getting it fixed.

Much to my relief, they had a guy come out Monday. He did some techy stuff, set up a new modem, and got me back on the internet.

And the illness that drained me had another side effect. I didn’t write every day I could have that week. I think I wrote three days, and barely got my minimum word counts before having to crash again. And those three days, I basically forced it out of myself. To the point where I was dozing as I finished up the scenes.

This past week was better. I’ve written four days so far and should be getting my 250 words for today a little later. Also, I’ve done a plot card on Unwritten Letters. One of this week’s writing days got me over 800 words.

I have good news about TBK2 (the sequel to UL). Earlier this week, I looked at the plot cards for it and started work on it in earnest. It’s slow going, but I’m making progress. The first several I already had needed rewriting, which I was happy to do. Having a firmer idea of how things should go helps. I’ve decided to include both Merolén’s and Paroté’s points of view in this book, but honestly, Merolén has more cards at this point. Looking forward to digging into this, but I’m not sure I know enough about the story to make it work. I feel like there’s something missing, and I can’t tell if it’s just doubt speaking or if there really is something missing, so I’ll probably shelve TBK2 if progress doesn’t start happening faster, as I don’t like pushing through when I’m uncertain about something. That usually ends up biting my butt when I start writing, even if I don’t do a full outline.

So that’s where things stand with my Fool’s Errand here at the end of December 2018. I hope y’all have a Happy New Year!

10Oct18: Productive Wednesday

Wednesday was wildly productive for a day that I spent most of away from home. Part of it was getting stuff done in the wee hours before going to bed. I actually edited 3 chapters of DH03 and wrote my Fool’s Errand post before going to bed.

After I slept, I wrote yesterday’s AEP post, a plot card for UL, and practiced my languages. Went to play MTG and Pathfinder, but nobody showed up for MTG. Had a good Pathfinder session, though. I think I also chatted with my mom on the phone. All in all, a good day!

Note to Self

The depression I was in a week or so ago seems to have lifted, for the most part. I keep telling myself that my writing will come back, when it wasn’t really with me throughout most of last year and the only time it really flowed well was in November—until I got sick of it and gave up. Yeah, I’m owning that. I gave up. Even though I could have pushed on through and made it to 50k—I had plenty of time to hit it—I just threw in the towel because I was sick of my story. Don’t even know what about it I was sick of any more. Maybe just the act of writing daily. No idea.

Anyway, I’m giving it another try. I started off this month with a bang—five scenes on one new project. Five scenes that go absolutely nowhere. I wrote a sixth scene, and that’s it so far. Torn between reverse outlining and trying to get more plot cards on it and just giving up on that one for now since I don’t even know what the fricking story is. I know it’s a mystery. What’s the mystery? No bloody idea. But I like, for the most part, what I have. As always when I pants things, conflicts and stuff I don’t even know about beforehand have been popping up in the scenes I’ve been writing. Go me?

So, on the 4th, I wrote 610 words on UL. Can’t say just how much I dreaded doing so, but I did it. Also can’t say as I precisely enjoyed the process of writing. I did, however, like what I’d written immediately after finishing it. That’s something that hasn’t happened in so long, I’ve forgotten the last time it did. It’s my goal to write at least 500 words a day on this sucker until it’s done.

To be honest, I miss the inspiration-driven writing days. I think, though, I’ve been sliding away from those days for at least a couple years. Having the epiphany that my writing was inspiration-driven was just the final knife in the back so to speak. It was also, I think, an absolutely necessary realization for me to make, because without it, I’d never have seen the way to fix my writing habit. So what I’ve got now is the knowledge of what the problem is and the way to fix that problem. All I need is to inject the discipline into the whole thing, and that is what I’ve had difficulty with, even without a creativity-killing depressive phase. I mean, I wrote the first four days of January, just at the beginning of that depressive swing, didn’t I? A little discipline, and I’d have written every day of January, and finished Unwritten Letters in the process!

I’m really writing this blog post in an effort to be blunt with myself. The fact is, I like to lie to myself about my writing habit, and I’ve gotten away with it because my writing friends I hang out with most have been very accommodating about my excuses. And that’s all I’ve been doing. Making up excuses not to write. This blog post is my command to myself to get to work. I have way too many stories to write for me to dally any longer. Too many incomplete stories to be finished.

So, Ashe, stop making excuses, and get to work.

Depression and Writer’s Block

In a way, I don’t know where the past few weeks have gone, though I can tell you what I was doing for most of them since my last post here. The essential thing is that I’ve been in a depressive funk and struggling to do pretty much everything from rising every day to writing on anything to indulging in hobby activities like crocheting. I’m not out of the pit yet either.

What I’ve been doing is getting out of the house a lot. Between Christmas and the beginning of last week (the 7th). Most of the time, I’ve either been going to the offices where the Utah Pride Center moved their therapy services, or, even more often, to Oasis Games, which bought the pride center’s old building and fixed up the first floor. I’ve been going there mainly to read Dungeons and Dragons books; I finished reading the Player’s Handbook and have been making slow progress on reading the Dungeon Masters Guide since about the first week of January.

I’ve also been continuing crocheting. My primary project is now complete, and I’ll be giving it to my friend who I decided to give it to soon if I get an opportunity. To be honest, I’ve done most of the work on it at the pride center’s therapy offices.

But even with those things, I’ve been in a depressive funk. The main reason is because I received a decision from the VA on my Compensation claim. I’m not sure if I mentioned it last year, but I started the claim in order to try and connect my bipolar disorder to my Naval service. Well, they didn’t even bother opening a case; they simply denied it without investigating. I’m fairly certain that is what threw me into this depressive funk.

It’s still with me. And, unfortunately, it’s not a state of mind I’ve been able to simply write through. I’ve tried. The first 4 days of this month, I wrote at least 500 words a day. Managed to complete, I think, 2 scenes on Unwritten Letters. But I didn’t feel like writing. Even with plot cards, I had trouble grasping the ideas. I felt no joy in getting the words down. Even though the quality was up to my standards, I hated what I’d written because I’d written the words when I felt bad. Gah, talking about it is dragging me down again. Enough.

Anyway, I haven’t touched my writing to do more than read stuff since then. Most days, I haven’t even been able to read my writing. I will not go into detail about how that makes me feel—it’s even more depressing than my description of writing, and I really don’t want to get as bad as I was last weekend over it all.

So, I foolishly thought writer’s block was a myth. That people who had it were undisciplined and lacked initiative in their writing. Well, since September or October, I’ve seen what it’s like to be undisciplined and lack initiative. And now I’ve been treated to my own grand case of writer’s block thanks to this depression.

Let me go over this again, to make it clear. Reading my writing depresses me, primarily because I see all its potential and am not actively capitalizing on it. Writing on anything depresses me any more because it’s not THERE—the ideas are vague, no matter how well-prepared I am for writing, and I hate the act of writing, and having done so makes me feel horrible because I didn’t enjoy doing so and I think I should. So it’s easier to just not write. I’ve gotten to the point where I dread writing, and I figure when it’s that bad, there’s no point in torturing myself.

Oh, I won’t be this way forever. I have faith in that. Maybe I’ll tuck myself into the inpatient mental ward at the VA, maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll get by and this depression will pass. It’s already started to lift—a little—the past few days. I have a good long-distance friend I can chat about this with, and if that doesn’t help, I can always call the Veterans Crisis Line, and I’ve already notified my mental health care team about where I stand emotionally. All I need to do is stick it out long enough for the clouds to pass, and I’ve done that before and know I can do it again. In the meantime, I’m getting out, cuddling with my cat, and doing what I can to distract myself from my depression so I don’t do something stupid.

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