Or setting goals and moving on from failure
I’ll be #overlyhonest up top and start with the fact that – after beating Persona 5 – I did some research and bought the then recently released Persona 5 Royal… and dumped another 108 hours into THAT as well – which were totally worth it, I highly recommend it – and this time I went for Oracle.
Now that that is out of the way…
July 2020 was an interesting month. The new job that I had moved to the East Coast to start back in March had finally allowed me to start coming onsite to actually do all the experiments I had been planning all Spring! It was an exciting and turbulent time full of meeting new colleagues, learning new equipment, and beginning new projects. I was able to grapple with driving in a pandemic-mode Boston – something I’d done precious little of previously – and could finally feel like I deserved the pay check I’d been getting since the beginning of March! As one might imagine, this left me with precious little bandwidth to write a story…
But dammit I tried anyhow!
And not only did I try to write a story with all of this other shit going on… I decided that this would be the month that I also generated a world map for this world I had been building! And this story was going to introduce a new character and layout some political and trade stuff and-
Yeah I’d bitten off way the hell more than I could chew… even if I hadn’t had a new job to contend with.
There was a lesson in here for sure: something about not half-assing multiple things etc etc. But mostly… cartography is really… really fucking hard! Like wow I seriously underestimated that process. I will likely make that mistake one or two more times before getting it right…
The story I was attempting to write – Insight: The Hummingbird of T’telira – was going to be something of an origin story for Reina, but was really going to be the introduction to Reina’s oft mentioned mother: Lyra Tethas. Taking place about a year after the appearance of The Mouth in her right eye socket, the story was to be a rotating perspective between an 8 year old Reina and First Lieutenant Aponde Kastalum. Aponde was an old comrade-in-arms of Lyra’s and had traveled to T’telira – where Lyra had taken up residence with her family – to try and bring her back to the front lines against the Fae. A bit of a slice of life where we study the dynamic of the Tethas-Keera family unit and gain some insight into how Reina managed to turn out as well adjusted as she did.
I’ll get to it some day…!
The main thing I want to reflect on for the next 400 or so words is actually this first ‘failure’ and my response to it. Now obviously – as evidenced by the 10 stories sitting projects section – I did not quit when I hit this first failure. As a scientist by trade, I am a firm believer in the old adage that “losing is the only way to learn and learning is the only way to win.” I felt that even if I did not achieve 12 stories in 12 months, it would still be worth it to get as far as I possibly could. After all, “12 stories in 12 months” was just the challenge. The point was to improve as a writer enough to communicate the cool ideas I had in my head in such a way that others would find them to be cool as well!
It sounds easy now, but it actually took me a bit of time to come to this notion. Mostly because I just had so many excuses to stop writing: finally going onsite at the new job, failing to meet my own self-imposed deadline, and Insight: Your Biggest Fan being – in my eyes at the time – a tremendous, half-assed flop. But for some reason… I just didn’t. Maybe it was pride? I knew the next story was going to be another Silence & Vanity and I hadn’t been terribly satisfied with the first one at the time either. Or perhaps it was because part of me knew that Hushpuppy was going to change the game for me overall.
I suppose all of that sounds good in retrospect… But really I just kinda… didn’t stop. So come the next month, I just accepted that the failure of July happened and kept writing. I learned a lot about ‘scope creep’ and keeping the number of objectives for each story I wrote down to a minimum. I also definitely learned a shit ton about not introducing too many concepts in a singular story. In the Hummingbird of T’telira, I was trying to introduce: Reina’s mother, Reina’s Father, the general geo-politcal landscape of the world of Solbalim, the mechanics of the Fae, details about how a youth learns and applies Psychic Energy… etc. etc. etc.
Way too much.
But I lost, learned my lesson, and then did an even better job in every subsequent story I wrote so… fuck it, I’ll call July a win too.