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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My depression persists. I believe it’s actually gotten worse. Down the spiral I go. Every day it’s a struggle to get out of bed. Yet somehow, with my new daily writing goal of just ten minutes, I’ve been able to make myself write every day this past week. My daily word count is minimal, but that’s not the point.

Yesterday I watched three videos posted on the Patreon page of an artist whose work I admire a lot—Elly Smallwood. She talked about doing your own thing as an artist and the importance of not comparing yourself to others. It helped to be reminded of those things, as I’ve been feeling like a failure as a writer. For some time I’ve been measuring my success by number of readers—something Elly would refer to as external validation. I need to relearn that the success is in the doing—in the writing and in the completion of work. Everything else comes second or not in any place at all. I think I often forget this because I spend too much time looking at social media, where it’s easy to compare myself to others and subsequently put myself down.

I need to stop looking around me and pay more attention to what I’m working on. Later this month I’m going to spend a week in a cabin I rented in Idyllwild for a writing retreat. I hope by then I have a better handle on my depression so that I make use of all that quiet time by writing my new book and not sleeping the days away.  

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It’s a big day for me. I feel very accomplished. I finished the final reading of Scribbling The Eternal and am now ready to turn it over for editing. The final word count of the 35 page chapter sequel was 125,146 words. 

As I neared the ending of my read, I was overcome with the feeling that I was agreeing to permanence. That this would be the final version, the final words, the final phrases, the final descriptions. A draft is a hard thing for me to let go of because then there’s no more rewriting. It never fails that after months have passed since I finished writing something, that I find things that I would like to go back and rewrite and say in some other way. But publishing makes things so final. You have to live with it. 

Regardless, after twenty-seven months of writing and rewriting, it feels great to step away from the writing process and move to the publishing process. 

Video 2019-03.17.19

 

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Around 4 p.m. today at Starbucks, I finished writing Scribbling The Eternal. It took twenty-six months to write and was completed at just over 125K words, so it’s significantly longer than The Scribbled Victims which was 82K words. 

I feel excited, but the feeling of relief hasn’t hit me yet. 

I’m going to not look at the manuscript for a couple of weeks and then do one final read through before I hand it over for editing. 

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Many writers give the advice that you should write every day. I’ve even given that advice to other writers, and with all my heart I believe it to be the best advice for any writer. However, as I still have not fulfilled my dream of writing for a living, I still have a day job that often leaves me mentally drained at the end of the day, and so writing every single day is not something I have been able to master myself. 

The main reason I think it is important to write every day isn’t because you’ll finish faster, rather it’s that doing so keeps you engaged with your story so that it is always fresh in your mind. 

Though I don’t write every day, I do keep track of my word count on an Excel spreadsheet and set a minimum quota of new words that I must write for the month. I say new words, because I only count the words that add to the total word count. Many times when I’m editing, I throw away more words than I have written, so I actually end up with a negative word count for the day.

Constantly opening my word count spreadsheet inspires me to write frequently and ensures that I am always on track to finishing my next book. It’s also a nice way for me to see the progress I’ve made and it gives me a rough idea as to when I will finish my first full draft.  

My original quota was 10,000 new words per month, but as my doctor, psychiatrist, and psychologist all believe I have too much stress in my life, I lowered it to only 5,000 new words per month. It wasn’t easy for me to cut my quota in half as I knew it would only slow the progress of my book. I already consider myself to be a slow writer, and am jealous of writers who are able to put out multiple books per year. But the flip side is that 5,000 new words per month is such an easy goal to achieve, that it never feels overwhelming to sit down and write. 

I may write slowly, but I do finish, and that’s what’s most important. The Scribbled Victims, which was 82,000 words took me two years to write and rewrite, and its sequel, Scribbling The Eternal looks like it will take just as long, if not longer. Below is a screenshot of my word count spreadsheet for this month. You’ll see that today I wrote 581 new words and that I’m well over my 5,000 words for the month. You’ll also see Scribbling The Eternal has surpassed 100,000 words. If you saw how far the monthly tabs go back you’d see I started writing the sequel in December 2016. I highlight the weekends so that I focus on them as they are my most productive days since I spend them at Starbucks instead of my office staring at the financial spreadsheets I’m paid to work with. 

-Robert Tomoguchi

 

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