So my decision to scale back the dayjob?
It was a good one. The next two months are looming ahead a particularly dense forest. We’ll get through just fine – we know all the wolves by name – there’s just a lot of brambles waiting to snag on the way.
But that’s pretty par for the course. I’m hunkering down; I can feel the reptilian part of my brain kicking in and triaging things.
(If I’m slow to respond to things, my apologies.)
And I’m relying on old hacks. Cooking in batches to eat through the week; working on the train (that’s where I’m writing this post!); prioritising choir, so I have some decompression and social time.
And then there’s the clothing.
This is a weird one. We’ve all seen the cartoons about freelancers, yes? Pyjama-clad, food-spattered, wild-haired?
I can’t do it. Not because I take any particular interest in clothing, but because I use it to shift between modes. The dayjob is business casual – for me, that’s usually dress pants and a button-up or cardigan. In an ideal world, I’d add oxfords, but the gravel roads eat them.
So that works through the day. And then the moment I get home…
It’s the writer outfit of tee-shirt and jeans. Physically changing what I’m wearing helps transition my brain from one sphere of my life to the other. It’s a bit doing mask work in theatre. Very subtly, mostly unconsciously, the face beneath the mask starts to assume the same expression.
The inside starts to mimic the outside. That’s really the heart of it. That’s why I fully dress and wear makeup even when I know I’ll be home all day writing. It’s a ritual; prepping the outside preps the inside as well.
Of course – as with everything in creative fields – it totally depends on the individual. If writing in pyjamas works for you, rock on with your bad self.
For me, I just need a way to navigate the different areas of my life. Especially right now, with so many threads interweaving! (At the fundraiser for CANTICLE, I went with my convention wear: jeans and blazer, tee underneath. It got me into the right headspace – and I felt like me.)
What about you? What are your sartorial preferences?
What I’m Listening To This Week
I’ve been drafting hard and fast, so I’m living with a lot of long instrumental pieces. Mostly early twentieth century. I’ve quite enjoyed exploring the works of Rimsky-Korsakov, a Russian composer. This one is a new favourite for obvious reasons. 😊
I am pretty comfortable in the world of Strix/Hapax. At this point, it’s like being a native Torontonian or Dunedinite or New Yorker: you know how things work. I feel like I’ve carved myself out a nice little niche in this fictional world.
So it’s a bit strange to be exploring a new one. In my slightly confusing and apparently hereditary manner of code-naming projects, The Next Next One has become simply The Next One—the Victorian-feeling dark fantasy which has nothing to do with Hapax, and about which I can’t really say more because it will fly right out of my head.
It’s a bit like baking bread, really. You can’t go around showing it off to people while it’s rising, or it won’t turn out properly.
But I digress. After so long thinking about Angels and Seraphs, aither and dimensions, it’s exciting to dive into a new world with new rules (though technically, I’m not done with Strix yet: there are still edits to be done). Crafting magic systems (on which I may do a separate post later) is ridiculously fun. It’s a thought experiment, basically. “If this, then that. And if that, then this other really cool implication too.” And so it goes, asking questions and gradually exploring all the little tucked-away corners of your new world.
Because this one is set in a Victorian-ish milieu, I do have a head start. “Hmm, I wonder what a nineteenth-century country inn would be like… OH HEY, I’M IN ONE ALL DAY, MOST DAYS!!!”
As is probably quite clear, I love my dayjob. Times like this, I really appreciate it.
That being said, there are still specifics that I don’t know yet. I had a decently detailed map of the Ecclesiat and a rough idea of the City’s layout. In this new land, I’m not quite there yet. Oddly for me, I don’t have the theology totally worked out. I’m not sure where things stand in relation to each other.
That’s all world-building, and that involves more research and mulling. In terms of plot, I think of my outlines as roadmaps. I know where I’m starting and ending, and key landmarks along the way so I (hopefully) don’t get completely lost, but there’s still room for side trips. In that way, starting a new novel, especially one set in a wholly new world, is a bit like embarking on an expedition. I have my map (sort of). I will know the terrain. And, very importantly, I know the people with whom I’ll be journeying.
PLUS: NEWS AND SUCH
Speaking of dayjobbery, I’ll be adding “blogger” to my list of job titles and contributing much more frequently to the Black Creek Growler. It is a blog about beer, brewing, and beer history. It makes me happy. You should read it. 😉