Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve transitioned to working my day job remotely like so many others. In recent months, with the help of my psychologist, I have been trying to change my workaholic ways and no longer work after leaving the office. Most importantly, this means not checking work emails after I’ve headed home. I’ve been successful 82% of the time. But now that I’m working from home, I’ve found that I’m working longer days. Some of that is because of increased workload caused by the pandemic, but it is also because I am finding it difficult to separate work time from personal time now that I am no longer physically leaving an office. I’m working on it though.

Work stress along with the anxiety and depression that I’ve been trying to keep at bay during the unfolding of this crisis has made it difficult for me to write. It feels like I’m actively avoiding it and that just makes me more depressed. Until yesterday, I hadn’t written for nine days, and all I netted were nineteen new words. But that was something, and today I’ve netted 150, bringing this month’s total to 1,396. It’s far cry from the 6,000 I aim to write a month, but I just have to keep trying. Chapter Three continues to be a struggle, but I think the end is finally in sight.

A reader described a dream she had about Orly. With some slight embellishments, I’ve worked it into the new book as a surprise for her. I hope she likes it.

I’ve gone 90 days without checking reviews. Not checking regularly is something else I work on with my psychologist, as checking regularly hasn’t been good for my self-esteem. That’s not because of potential bad reviews inasmuch as it is when there are no new reviews. I might check soon though. I’d really like to know what people are saying about Scribbling the Eternal. Excluding friends, family, and a couple emails from readers, I really have no idea.

I hope you are all staying healthy and afloat and know that this strange world we are currently living in won’t last forever.

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Back on November 7, 2019, I posted that I felt disappointed when I went back to reread some of The Scribbled Victims. I mentioned how that always happens to me when I go back and reread my work after time has passed. That should have been such a happy day for me too, as it was the publication date of its sequel, Scribbling the Eternal.

On Monday, I told my psychologist something extraordinary happened in regard to this. I decided to listen to the audiobook version of The Scribbled Victims to try to keep me engaged with the series as I slowly write the third and final book. When I listened to it, I was no longer disappointed. I quite liked the story and felt myself loving Yelena and Orly. Sure, there were sentences I wish I could revise, different words I wish I would have used, but overall, I felt proud of it again.

I don’t know listening rather than rereading made such a difference. Maybe the credit is due to my narrator, Laura Bannister. Maybe hearing the words in her voice, rather than the one that reads aloud in my head when my eyes move over text, allowed me to appreciate it from a different and fresh perspective—as if the story was no longer my own, for I am certainly my worst critic. At any rate, I’m glad I decided to give it a listen.

I’m now listening to Scribbling the Eternal. Being so immersed in Orly’s thoughts as I listen, continually gives me new ideas and I scramble to jot them down on my reMarkable tablet. I hope this doesn’t sound egotistical, but as I write the final book, I may listen to the audiobooks over and over again, as it keeps me engaged, keeps Orly’s voice alive, and keeps the wheels of my imagination turning.

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For months I had been in stuck in a deep depression that frustrated my therapists, but I knew I just needed to wait out. At the end of October, I felt myself coming out of it, and was relieved. But for the past couple weeks, I think I’ve been in denial—thinking I wasn’t depressed yet again, but I am. And I’m despondent and angry that the respite was so brief. I’m seeing my therapists regularly and it helps, but it’s hard to even get out of bed. Yesterday, I slept for seventeen hours. I’m trying to write, but it’s hard. I have force myself to sit down to write despite how much I love writing Orly. The writing sessions are never long, but they do make me feel a little better—like the whole day wasn’t a waste. Depression is exhausting. It feels like such a struggle that I can only hope I’m able to finish this book. Right now, the pages are few, and the end so far.

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This afternoon, I approved the paperback version of Scribbling the Eternal. Within seventy-two hours it will be available on Amazon. My psychiatrist refilled my Klonopin prescription.

This evening, I experienced one of the worst things about being a writer—hating your own work. I thought of something that may have been inconsistent between The Scribbled Victims and Scribbling the Eternal, so I read some of Chapters Eighteen through Twenty of The Scribbled Victims. Fortunately, what I was looking for was consistent between the two books, but the much of the writing looked foreign to me as it had been so long since I had written it. I saw so many spots I would write differently today, and that hurt because I love Yelena and Orly, and their story together so much.

This has always been the case with me. I can be happy with something I’ve written shortly after finishing it, but after some time passes, I’m no longer satisfied with what I was once happy with. Maybe that shows I’ve grown as a writer, but it’s still unpleasant to feel such disappointment. Because of this, I generally avoid rereading my work. Right now, I feel very proud of Scribbling the Eternal, but know that months from now I won’t love it as much.

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During my cabin stay in Idyllwild-Pine Cove, I didn’t write the 30,000 words I had hoped for. I only netted 3,779 new words over five days. But I still think the retreat was a success for four reasons. The first is that I completed the first two chapters of the book. The second is that my beta readers loved the chapters (and they didn’t dislike Orly for what she does in Chapter Two). The third is that I’ve created momentum to keep going. The fourth is that I only needed extra anxiety medicine on one day during my stay.

I was supposed to be there for seven nights, but I only stayed for five. The isolation got to me. Even though I don’t generally interact with strangers in public, I still like to see that they’re there. I wanted to write where it was familiar—Starbucks store 20537. And so I left Thursday morning. It’s Sunday now and I’ve added 1,215 new words. I also began writing a story about Orly before she meets Yelena and her friendship with Abdul-Samad who is mentioned in Chapter Twenty-Two of The Scribbled Victims.

I also sent out a newsletter for the first time in a long time. I received many responses from readers which made me very happy. I’m going to try sending a newsletter once a month. Click here if you’d like to sign up.

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Late this afternoon, I arrived in Idyllwild-Pine Cove where I rented an A-frame cabin for a week so that I could write without distraction. I plan to work on the third book in the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy, although I also have a short story on my mind about Orly before she meets Yelena.

My goal coming here was to write 30,000 new words. I looked back at entries in my personal blog from the end of July 2015 when I took a similar trip to Bainbridge Island, also to write in solitude, also from a Saturday to Saturday, and noticed I also had a goal of 30,000 words. I remember I went on that trip because I had eight chapters of The Scribbled Victims and was stuck. I was struggling to figure out the mechanics of how Yelena would be able to adopt Orly. By Monday, I wanted to trash the story. But Tuesday, I spent a day in nature and then sat back down Wednesday and kept at it. On Thursday I had a breakthrough: Yelena would not succeed in adopting Orly. Once that dawned on me, I was able to keep going. I didn’t come anywhere near 30,000 new words, but by September of 2016, I finished writing the book.

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, my depression has been bad lately. My psychologist and psychiatrist are concerned about me being isolated for so long. My anxiety has been bad as well, but my anxiety was also bad in Bainbridge, and on that trip I succeeded in taking only three Klonopins and as I said, I had the breakthrough I needed. So, I’m hoping for a very good and serene writing week, even if I don’t hit 30,000 words. It’s just a number. It’s just a goal to keep myself motivated. I already have a good start. On the winding mountain road that brought me here, I acted out a scene, and when I arrived, I wrote down the last lines of a character who won’t live to see the end of the third book.  

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Though sessions with my psychologist have been helpful, I continue to slip deeper into my depression. When it gets bad like this, I just don’t want to do anything but stay in bed, so I’ve been struggling to push myself to do things—to go to work, to exercise, even to read.

For a long time, my daily writing goal had been thirty minutes. I find it effective to set easy goals so that it is more likely that I will complete them. With having a day job that often leaves me mentally exhausted, it’s more palatable to contend with a goal of thirty minutes than one of three hours. The aim is just to get myself to sit down and start writing, because once writing I usually lose track of time and, consequently, I exceed the goal.

But in this depression, even thirty minutes felt daunting, and as such I hadn’t written any new words since August 25th. So today I decided to reduce my daily writing goal to just ten minutes. It worked, at least for today. I put on music, sat down, and wrote for hours. I finally had to stop as I was running late to have dinner with my friend Brie. (Again, I’m pushing myself to do things, and seeing friends helps.)

I’m still very early in the new book and the sentences are not coming easily. I’m trying to content myself with how the passages are building—one upon the next—but already I can see they’re made mostly of sentences I will later rewrite.

Orly feels more mature though. And that was I wanted.

But the point is, I’ve responded to my depression in a way that worked, in a way that allowed me to write—at least for today.

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I never begin writing something until I know how the story begins and how the story ends.

Now that I’ve begun writing the final installment of the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy, I’m kinda sad knowing that it’s coming to a close (especially with the way the third book ends). What will life be like without Orly floating through my daydreams? Losing our daily conversations will create a void.

But there is a reason I’m not printing the word “Trilogy” on the book covers. I don’t want to commit to letting go of someone I love so much.

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Yesterday I finished reading Native Son by Richard Wright. It was difficult to read because of the blatant racism depicted on so many levels and I know that the depiction was accurate. I believe America has made progress since the release of that book, but know we still live in a racist society. Worse I know that many people in America today look back at how things were in that book as favorable and as a time they’d like to get back to. I believe those conditions are included for many when they don Make America Great Again caps.

As for the writing of the book, what struck me as profound was that in its four hundred plus pages, there were very few plot points in the book. Very significant things occurred but in terms of plot points, they were limited in a book of this length. And I see that allowed for the genius of the book. The majority of the text related the internal thoughts of the point of view character, Bigger Thomas, and the subtext of the actions that surrounded him.

With Orly Bialek, I try to devote a lot of her narration to her private thoughts, but someday I would like to write something that really plunged so deeply into one’s thoughts (perhaps even my own) that the thoughts themselves become the true story. But that is hard to do. It is not as easy as just sticking to an internal monologue. It has to be understandable, relatable, and still possess the things a story requires—a progression of character, a movement of circumstances, a reckoning, a realization, a change. I referred to this as the genius of Native Son and that is what it is.

Native Son by Richard Wright

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I’ve been busy as an author lately. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was interviewed by two websites. The Orange County Readers website posted my interview and a review of The Scribbled Victims this week. You can read it here.

Also in my previous post, I mentioned doing a photo shoot for new author photos. I finally selected one and posted it to my social media. I intend to use this photo for the interview with the This Is Writing website as well as the back cover for the redesigned cover of The Scribbled Victims and the cover of Scribbling The Eternal, when it is released. I decided to go with a black and white image this time.

Author Robert Tomoguchi
My New Author Photo

Speaking of new covers, I will soon be releasing a new cover for The Scribbled Victims. I had been very happy with my current cover as it looked like literary fiction. However, as my designer had become too busy to work on my projects in a timely manner, I had to make the very tough decision to find a new cover designer. As I am working with a new designer, I decided to go with a new look for the entire trilogy. The new covers will feature an image of Orly, but I have high hopes the covers will still look like literary fiction or general fiction, rather than paranormal or fantasy.

Because I had find a new cover designer, this also meant I had to find a new designer to typeset and design the interior of Scribbling The Eternal. (My original designer had designed both the cover and book interior.) Because this is a trilogy, it was important to me that the interiors of all three books matched, so I had this new designer go back and re-typeset and design the interior of The Scribbled Victims. This new design will be used for all books in the trilogy. I just reviewed the second proof of the interior today and only had one change request, so I think the new interior will be finalized very soon.

The text for Scribbling The Eternal continues to be edited, but I am still hopeful for an early fall release.

Finally, I’m now writing the second chapter in the yet to be titled fifth installment of the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series.

More to come.

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