Well, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to stay on a two- or three-times per week posting schedule, so I’m sorry for (once again) disappearing from the blogosphere.
On the real-life side, work has been crazy, and on the fiction side, I’ve…not done a lot, but have done some.
Let me break it down.
I have a new project, and a sort of tight deadline. That’s fine, nothing new, except I’m completely and totally over my head on it. I have no idea how to even begin, what tool to use to begin, and whether there’s sufficient time to test one, back away, go for another if it won’t work, and still make boss happy. Happy boss is happy me.
On other fronts, the main order entry system we use to communicate our customer orders to the other divisions of my company, has been undergoing upgrades almost every weekend. Or is having some sort of mysterious issue, probably because of those upgrades, every Monday.
What this means for me is, when I come in on Monday mornings things haven’t gone well. The team responsible for the care and feeding of that particular beast keep giving me assurances that yes, all will be well by the time the updates/upgrades/muck ups are done. I will receive my nightly files without any interruption, we promise. We’ll manually run them if necessary.
And what I’m coming in to find, every time, is the files didn’t come to us, the routines we’ve based on those files didn’t run, the reports we generate from those files weren’t generated, and now the macros we use against those reports won’t work. The dominoes fall fast and furious.
So I send out a help desk ticket to have the files forwarded to a special location and then I have to manually rebuild the databases, which I wouldn’t have to do if we had a real RDBMS. You know, one of those that takes multi-thousands of dollars to build and requires specialized training of considerable expense and time investment to operate. Yeah, those.
Today, though, just to make things exciting, I was told the files were manually sent and we did manually receive them. Um, no, we didn’t. So I get a screen shot of the request to transfer the files, and I have to go back to my FTP archives and check to make sure everything is as I say, that I’m not stupid, that I didn’t miss something and speak out of turn.
Nope. We didn’t get ’em. Period.
So I have to explain – again – that if the files are sent the same day as the normal transfer job will run, those files will be OVERWRITTEN. You send them at 3AM on Saturday, and when the normal FTP job runs on Saturday night at 10PM, the 3AM files are going to be overwritten. Period. End of the story.
But, that’s not what happened this time. No, this time the files never transferred, because something on the corporate end didn’t work, and the files – BIG SURPRISE HERE! – didn’t come across.
See the domino effect above.
Then, I start getting IMs from my coworkers about macros not working, and can I look at them please. So I do. And what do I find today?
I find one of our major customers – of our entire company, not just our group – may have changed the format of the files they send us. So there are missing leading zeros on at least one field, and that’s causing one of our macros – which can only do the same thing over and over again and will break if you change something – break.
Now I have quite a bit less hair than when I started today, because…ripping it out.
But it won’t be Monday forever. Right? Right?
So, I really wanted to get something written this weekend. But every time – I mean, every frickin’ time – I tried to put something together, I couldn’t come up with anything. Nothing. I saw a blank white screen in my head where a movie should have been playing. I tried reading to refuel the creative engine. I tried watching Avengers: Age of Ultron to see if that would help. I tried relaxing with a nice Merlot on Friday night while watching the movie. I tried getting up early on Saturday to see if that would help.
And nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip.
So I gave up and played Mass Effect 2 for a while. A lot of whiles, actually. And then I started getting the guilts about not writing so I forced myself to fake it for a few hours on Sunday afternoon and evening.
My wife, bless her heart, kept trying to get me to just sit and stare at the blank screen of a computer (not the one in my head) but man…I just can’t do that. I hate that idea. I want to write, but I don’t like the blank screen. (That is, by the way, her plan: Make me hate it so much I’ll write something on it instead.)
Well, I forced a few hundred words out, and that’s the second week in a row I’ve done that. But only a few hundred. Nothing to write home about. (See what I did there?)
But I really wanted to be a two- or three-book a year guy while working full-time. Maybe four books a year. If I can’t manage that pace, I’ll never garner a readership of any size in today’s marketplace. Authors need to pump out books on a regular, and fairly tight, schedule, or they simply fade from public view and are forgotten.
But I’ve also learned you need a catalog. The Liliana Nirvana method of publishing works too well for too many to be random luck. So I have to have a catalog – that is, a list of items for sale – before I can do much of anything to promote my books and expect the promotion to pay for itself.
Those books also need sales blurbs, covers, and maybe print versions too. (Which means another cover.) Editing and formatting? Well, I can do one but not the other. No author should edit their own work. But I also know I have a good – and I mean, really good – team of beta readers who can kick some serious butt when it comes to shaking down a manuscript. So maybe I can skip the pro editor. (They tend to want to offer “content assistance” as well. Yeah, no.)
Anyway, there’s no catalog, and since I wrote “The End” on my last manuscript in July, I’ve written exactly zero new stories or books. I do have the skeletons of a few, but nothing has been started. The one I did last week wasn’t even the start, probably. I just wanted to write something. Anything.
I just seem to be…slumping. And I can’t remember if this is what I did last time I finished a book, or if this is just me. Am I just a one-book-every-five-years sort of guy? Or am I able to force production out of my fingers whether I’m “inspired” or not?
(Empirically, I have the answer so far.)
Anyway, today’s been a sucky day, but it’s going to get better. Right? Right?!
See you next time.