Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bark: Turning off the autopilot

If you're a regular reader of my blog or Google+ posts, you'll probably be aware that I've not been terribly well for the last six months or so. Over the last few weeks I've been signed off from work to get my head back together, with the aid of a few tweaks to my medication and the freedom of the time and space to reconnect with myself and doing the things I love.

I've been reading a few books on ACT (acceptance commitment therapy) and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and I've been applying the techniques I've learned to take my brain off autopilot and actually experience things again - even the simple things like the taste of a home made ragu sauce. By concentrating on the experiences I'm sensing in the present, it's really helping alleviate the mass of anxieties that have been clouding my brain and feelings since the tail end of last year. It's essentially a form of meditation, but not one that requires you to sit down in the Lotus Position for five hours a day going 'ommmmmmmmm...' - it's far quicker and simpler than that (and probably more rewarding, too).

So the good news is that while I'm still a work in progress, as I go about re-wiring my brain, I am feeling much more like my old self again, and part of the reason for that is because I've been able to devote quite a lot of my time to writing. After finishing my Elite: Dangerous short story trilogy, I went back to an old novel I finished drafting a couple of years ago to re-edit it and apply a further layer of polish, using what I'd learned from writing my E:D stories. There are still a few things that I'm not entirely happy with about it, and people who've read the whole of the Aemon Roche may find a few thematic similarities here and there, but in my own defence, I did start writing the book nearly four years ago - so perhaps you can't blame me for recycling a bit.

I have enjoyed getting reacquianted with the characters in the novel again, and refining the dialogue and plot, but I've reached the stage where I really want to move on to another project. I had originally intended to email out PDFs of the second draft to my writery friends, but given their already heavy workloads, I never quite got around to it, as they're freelance writers, so it would be a bit of an imposition for me to ask them to critique a 100,000+ word novel and give me feedback. I did also briefly consider self-publishing it as an eBook, but (as I mentioned in my previous post about the novel) I'm still really not sure if it's good enough to be worth charging people for. And I never really intended making money from the process, anyway. It's more of a practice novel - as while it's "original" in the sense that I've created the setting and the characters, it is highly derivative of pretty much everything I love in science fiction and space opera. Kind of a love letter to the genre, really.

So I've decided that I'll publish a chapter a day here, and if people like it and tell me they'd like a properly packaged eBook edition, I'll do that. And if they don't, well... at least my blog will have daily new content for the next month and a half!
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