Month 2 Report

a pencil drawing a line on a page

Long and Winding Road

October was an uneventful month. I’ve been trying to keep my head down and pen to paper as I finish the last batch of drafts for this semester’s creative writing projects. The ideal would be four hours of steady work every day, but I struggle to make this a habit. I even acquired kurzgesagt’s new HABIT JOURNAL to help me get into the groove. I’d love to tell you it’s been helpful, but it takes more than a book full of motivation and direction to enact persistence. I believe that I’m coming around to regularity, but so far it has been a hard road.

I last wrote with consistency during the eighteen months from September 2010 to March 2011. I had a habit of spending at least two hours producing upwards of two thousand words a day, every day. It was in that time that I documented the independent game development project DARK ACRE and drafted seven novels. It’s this memory that now haunts me: knowing how productive I’ve been, and how unproductive I’ve become, and how much further along in my literary journey I would be today if only I’d kept up the pace.

The only remedy is to reestablish that old habit and then work hard to double it. Four hours of concentrated effort a day is reasonable. As this is now my only pursuit, it shakes out as a luxury in comparison with anyone who has to work a full-time job (or two!) doing something they may not like, nor have envisioned for themselves as a dream fulfilled. I’d wager that’s the majority of the people who make any economy go, therefore I should be counting my lucky stars that I’ve wiggled myself into this position of relative comfort.

Yet I’ve come to understand the dangers of liberty and freedom. It is all too easy to slip into a slothful mode where, instead of seeking creative production I instead find myself seeking base and fleeting pleasures. Self-discipline is a hard trait to cultivate without external pressures, but it’s one that’s necessarily acquired to have any hope of achievement.

This is where I’m at. I have a quantified, measurable goal and a clear path. I’m recording my progress, daily. All that remains is to move forward at a sustainable pace and one day I’ll find myself where I wished to be when I wrote these words.

Game Passes

It’s been a slow month for video games. When I’m under pressure to write for school I tend to spend most of my down time paralyzed, staring into space, with thoughts of all the games I have yet to play wrestling with those of all the words I have yet to write. That said, I did play a lot of Elder Scrolls Online. I’ve launched the game and collected the daily log-in reward for years, just out of habit. But I felt the urge to consolidate my characters and clear the quest log on the main. So, I did. Despite the fact that the vast majority of activity in massively multiplayer online games devolves into “go here, kill that, come back”, I find ESO possesses a certain richness of narrative that’s missing in others. Which, I find, is not an issue for the average MMO enjoyer, who tends to gloss over or outright skip narrative elements. For me, though, it’s a point of appeal. Whatever the case, my interest in playing lasted a week, in which I leveled up most of their Archaeology skill lines while watching the horribly written For All Mankind—a show that deserves its own detailed analysis, but I think it’s enough for now for me to say that I’m not part of its target audience.

The new Forza Motorsport provides mindless enjoyment. I’m glad it’s part of Xbox Game Pass, as I’m certain I’d have buyer’s remorse if I’d paid retail price. The same goes for the remade Dead Space, a game I completed more than a decade ago when it first came out. While it’s exceptional, and a certain treat for anyone who didn’t have the pleasure of the original in its time, I could never justify a seventy-dollar (Canadian) ticket price. Those days are long past.

A surprising bit of engagement came from Arkane’s Deathloop, a game that I thought bombed on release. It had critical acclaim but mixed response from gamers, and I think I understand why. It’s a complex, mentally busy, big brain, “play your way” game from a studio that’s spent the last twenty years refining the formula first popularized by Ion Storm and their seminal Deus Ex. It’s a shame they dropped the ball so hard with this year’s Redfall, an objectively terrible game that felt rushed and overproduced. Deathloop is excellent if you enjoy figuring things out on your own and don’t mind having your brain twisted by time-travel paradoxes. Because of the joy I extracted from that game, I returned to a shelved playthrough of Death of the Outsider and managed to overcome the mechanical blockages that had turned me off of the title. It’s always surprising to me how game studios can be so inconsistent with their passions, but that seems to happen when massive corporations acquire them and start meddling.

November to Come

Once I submit the drafts for this round of work, all I have left is revision. It’s been the best semester of university so far, and to anyone struggling to round out the credits for their education I recommend connecting with the best professors in your discipline and putting together some directed studies courses. At the university I’m attending we’re able to take most courses twice for credit, and since that includes directed studies, I’ve engineered my year to leverage that to the fullest. No in-class time, minimal direction, and curriculum that I designed. It’s the definition of getting one’s money worth out of school.

This also marks the last two months in the current 365 project. I’m looking forward to posting the final entry and writing the postmortem of this years-long endeavour. It’s taught me so much about not only my craft, but also social media and the trials of independent self-publishing in 2023.

I need to write reviews for some twelve books that I read last month, including Chambers’s exceptional collection of stories The King in Yellow. I also need to write more about my physical fitness journey: I feel like I’ve entered a whole new era of healthy living, one that comes with as many caveats and pitfalls as it does benefits. There’s just something about living under academic deadlines that makes me very reluctant to put work into other “hobbyist” literary projects. This is another thing I have to work on and overcome.

That’s it for the month, now the second of CMON1975. I hope your November 2023 rewards you for the effort you put in.

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