An Overthinker Sitrep [CQ2]

Hello, potential audience! I have no idea whether anybody actually reads this thing yet; I haven’t bothered looking at my stats, because until I do, there’s the possibility that I might have billions of readers, which would be exciting. Or none. It’s a sort of Schrodinger’s Readership situation. Anyway, I continue to write, because I’m mainly doing this for me. If somebody else does stumble upon Overthinker Y and find that they enjoy it, then so much the better.

I’ve been quite active so far, posting almost every day since I set this blog up. That’s not saying much, to be honest, I’ve only had it a week, but still. I doubt I’ll keep that pace up, since I’ll run out of things to say before too long, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to keep coming up with enough content to post at least every few days for a long time. Here’s a little trade secret: I’m actually doing most of my work on the Overthinker while I’m supposed to be doing work at… work.

I work as a pensions administrator, which is… even more fun than it sounds. Right now is kind of a quiet spell, so I don’t have an awful lot to fill my time, and I happen to have a desk right on the end so nobody’s sat behind me looking at my screen. I’ve taken the opportunity to spend probably three or four hours each day so far this year working on creative enterprises instead of doing pensions stuff. It’s actually not bad, and I’m feeling much better about my life in general for it. Towards the end of last year, this job really started to get me down, and I’m still not planning to stay in it much longer if I can help it. But I figure: why not make the most of having eight hours each day during which I’m obliged to be sat at a computer and only about two or three hours of actual work that needs doing?

I am slightly limited, of course. I can’t exactly compose on this computer, since I can’t download any programs and… well, for some bizarre reason, whoever set the system up decided that pensions administrators didn’t need composition software pre-installed. So I’m basically confined to things that can be done using Word and a bit of sneaky Internet usage (WordPress itself is blocked, but I can email files to myself and upload posts from my phone or laptop when I get home). That suits me alright for now, though. I’ve been rewriting Stargirl, the novel I started as part of National Novel Writing Month 2015, and getting through about 1,500 words a day, so that’s a big positive. Plus I’ve managed to write a blog post most days, and those are coming out somewhere between 800 – 1,400 words on average (possibly, although I might just be inflating the figure in my memory to make myself seem more productive).

So that’s kind of the situation as it stands. I’m able to write, although I have to be a little bit sneaky about it lest someone spot that I’m not doing work and get me in trouble. I can also sit in my car at lunchtime and compose tracks for Chiptune Chaos, which is good – I bring my laptop along, so I can do anything that doesn’t require an internet connection. I usually end up playing Undertale.

Speaking of, I’m starting work on the first new track for CC now. I’m not exactly using professional software, just a free notation program called MuseScore. I don’t expect any of the tunes to come out sounding anything like the kind of quality that an actual game soundtrack ought to be; the point is more just to make some music, regardless of whether I’ve got the capability to process it into anything better than a crappy MIDI output. Remembering how to write music is harder than I remember, since I haven’t done it for a while. I can read which note is which, but I always did suck at figuring out rhythms; right now, I’ve got a rhythm in my head, but I can’t for the life of me work out how to actually write it down.

Look forward to the first true instalment of Chiptune Chaos in the hopefully not-too-distant future, anyway. It’s not going to be as regular a series as I’m hoping some of the others might be, because writing music takes a long-ass time. I’ll do a sort of prequel post some time soon talking about the four tracks I wrote for Michelle, Ma Belle, just to get things rolling.

Meanwhile, Stargirl rolls on. I think Creativity Quest is an appropriate place to chart how things are going on that front, even if most days the update is just ‘did a bit more of draft 2’. Really, it’s more like draft 1.5; I’m taking the first draft and writing out the whole thing again, making changes where needed. Most of them are relatively small, at least in the first half, but the second half is going to get pretty heftily rehauled, so that’ll be when it gets interesting (I’m about four-fifths of the way through the first half now, I reckon).

Draft one was fun to do, and it felt like a heck of an achievement once it was done. I got a little bit of feedback – not too much, just enough to give me some idea of whether it actually worked or not – and it was generally positive. I think people enjoyed reading it, but there were definitely some structural changes that needed to be made. The first draft was kind of half-planned, in that I knew what some big moments were going to be, but not how things were going to get to that point. As a result, there are points with too much padding as well as points where things move way too quickly because I couldn’t be bothered to pad it out any more. The pacing of the story is probably the biggest thing I wanted to work on during revision, and I’m hoping that it’ll show when I send this next draft off to a few people to have a read over (including some different people to the ones who read draft 1, if it matters). I am finding that it’s harder for me to make changes than I thought, though. I keep thinking ‘that scene should just come out’, then getting to it and finding that there are sentences I really like and don’t want to get rid of, so I have to find some way of wangling them in and it probably doesn’t quite work.

I also want to make the story a little more… meaningful. The first draft ended on kind of a negative note: the main character was alive, but his two best friends were dead, another of their friends was dead, another was paralysed… I don’t know why it ended up getting so dark! That was never the intention, so I think things will work out a little bit better for everyone this time. Plus I want to emphasise some of the themes that came out. The story is, broadly, about a star who comes to Earth and lives with a couple of goofy inventors, so there ends up being a lot of talk about the meaning of life and the nature of the universe and so on. It never really led to anything, though, so I’ll be trying to introduce a bit more of an overarching thematic…ness.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I really do hope to be able to continue being as productive as I have been, churning out posts and words of a novel and all sorts. This is some sort of step towards being the person I’ve always thought I was meant to be, but never bothered to actually try becoming.

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