Writing Big Year: Call me happy

Happy face?

Over the first full fortnight of our second lockdown, I put in 108 writing hours, just what the Writing Big Year requires. Drafting time only amounted to 58 hours, not the 84 hours I’d prefer, but hey, there has been plenty of friction. So I should be happy and you can call me happy and I took a selfie in which I tried to look happy, but you know what? The photo is fake news. Happy I’m not – the world is sick and I know people who have died and I know people struggling mightily.

Mind all over the place

Fractious mind

After yesterday’s fine, get-stuff-done effort, I wake and rise early, heft a hired-during-lockdown dumbbell, and then discover that thoughts leap and leap and leap. I can’t sit still, either physically or mentally. Sparks fly. I’ve learnt to appreciate times like these, to be gentle with myself, to indulge and drift and live.

Rewarding myself for solid work

Guided By Voices

I jogged in the dark, then chained myself to this desk. Late afternoon I need a break. Why not catch Guided By Voices, whose lockdown concert (price US$25) I’d missed live due to timezone difficulties and need to watch by midweek? It’s not quite the same watching “Moses on a snail” (from Robert Pollard’s 2010 solo) in my workspace as it would be on the Corner Hotel’s grippy carpet, but it’s wonderful!


Daily progress

My work week kicks off on Monday, so today is the first real week of Lockdown #2 (we’d already had four days). A very positive start: real energy, daily goals, and a steady work ethic. May every day of this week follow suit.

Fragile but

Jason Isbell lyrics

Day two of working alone. Half productive. Often terrified. But, you know, just staying at the desk or at least reading hard when distracted, something slithers forward. It’s mid-afternoon and a grey sky outside looks peaceful. Soon I can relax and I might eat in or pop out, and I might have a glass of red, and I might watch Proxima or Lost Bullet or ZeroZeroZero, all dark and hopefully truthful and smart.

Another week


I’ve always found bamboo fascinating and snapped this image in Japan last year. It encapsulates the latest week of the Writing Big Year, a week after I’d said I’d try to lift hours to 54 per week, 42 of them on nothing but the core manuscript. Well, the week proved to be impossible to stare into and make sense of. We’re about to do our first pack carry hike (in the Little Desert, a marvellous place, but oh, it will be cold) for a long time and I’ve had to buy boots and try to prepare the legs and toughen up the feet. Two grandparenting efforts rather than the usual one also sapped time and energy. None of these impositions was anything less than wonderful, so complaining is beside the point, but my week’s hours only hit 37, and I only managed 22 hours (that is, three hours a day) on Reactor. Next week will only be three days (four days of hiking), so I’ll hang out for early July to push harder.

Writing Big Year: Performance numbers

44/28 performance numbers

4 weeks into the new Big Year. Should I sing or weep? I’m aiming for 54 hours of writing work in an average week, with 42 hours being on the nuclear book. I’ve achieved 44 hours/week overall, a shortfall of 20%. I’d give that a B+ (there was an interstate driving trip). Core book writing, however, sits at 28 hours/week, a third under the 42-hour target. Call it a C rating.

Let’s see if I can lift this week to the 54/42 numbers, eh?

Monday, June the Fifteenth

June 15

Outside, at 11 AM, gum trees sway in wind under sun-split clouds. I woke early and enjoyed mild quiet streets, feet pounding concrete. I decided to simulate lockdown, so, after a recorded stretching session and shower, haven’t been out. Work palette: Chapter 3 editing, Israel drafting, Japan finalization, reviewing albums, daring to start a new chapter on outlier reactor designs. In the wings: catch-up research books, Bosch Season 6, a book on birds within humankind’s history. Left-field music, louder than usual. Black bitter coffee. No lunch (fasting). All is well.