Writing Overdose

Writing, normally, is something that I have at least a moderate urge to do every single day. Whether it’s just sending a witty tweet out into the ether or sitting down and writing a long piece, most of the time, I have some drive to move my hands across a keyboard in a way that produces intelligible words. However, after completing NaNoWriMo with only hours to spare, I was completely and utterly drained, devoid of all will to produce any content whatsoever.

Most of this probably comes down to the way in which I completed NaNoWriMo. Despite my earlier post asserting myself to staying on track even though I was behind, I found myself increasingly distracted and busy during November. A substitution job that I thought would only last a couple of weeks turned out to last the entire month – there were hours of potential writing sessions, gone. I even managed to pick up extra work, which further whittled into my writing time. I also found various excuses on each day itself, justifying why I didn’t have to write that day. “I’ll just catch up on the weekend!”; “I can’t complete a chapter, so I might as well not write at all!”; “Oh no, I overslept!”; these were among the more justifiable of the ‘reasons’ I found to write little or not at all on multiple days.

As a result of this procrastination, I was left with the dubious task of writing over 30 000 words in the last five days of November. If I had kept pace with the recommended daily writing goals of NaNoWriMo, I would only have to write 1667 words per day. Instead, I needed over 6000 words per day to reach the finish line. And yet, somehow, I was determined to make it. I sat down, every day, churning out chapters for at least five hours every day. I finished the construction of my world, worked through the disasters and resolutions, and completed the story, all in less than a week. I pasted my text onto the submission form to confirm my victory and completion of 50 000 words. I was just over 600 words short. Somewhere in the 30 days of updating my word counts, I messed up big time. I added in some more detailed descriptions and additional dialog, and resubmitted. I hit 50 000 words exactly. I was done.

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That’s what my word count graph ended up looking like once the dust had settled. I was incredibly proud of myself, particularly for pulling up my socks and getting the words out in the end. I also resolved to never fall behind like that when I do NaNoWriMo again next year. You hear that, Future Jodi? That doesn’t happen again!

Once the feeling of pride faded, I was left feeling completely devoid of will to write. I wanted to write a follow-up blog boasting about my victory, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Now, after days of playing HearthStone, Dota, and generally just resting my writing brain, I’m back and ready to share my experiences with you all again. With a trip home, a new year, and my own wedding coming up soon, I’m sure that there will be tons to share!

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One Week to #NanoWriMo2016

November as a month is one that normally means two things: my brother’s birthday and my father’s birthday. Apart from these two significant events, it is a wholly unremarkable month. There are no Korean holidays. It is not the beginning or end of any season, but it does mean the end of the ROK-U Ultimate season (sniff). November 2016 is set to be drastically different, all due to one simple hashtag – #NaNoWriMo2016.

For those who are wondering if I my mind has finally succumbed to the numerous pulls on my sanity and I have begun spouting gibberish, fear not. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, is a movement that began in 1999. Its goal and purpose is simple – every year, aspiring novelists all around the world take up the challenge to complete an entire 50,000 word first draft of a novel during the month of November. It is a concept that caught my attention a couple of years ago, and was always one of those things that I said: “I should do that next year!” but never got around to. Until this year.

This year, I decided that the stars have sufficiently aligned in order to give me the highest possible chance of success. So, a week ago, I committed on Twitter to conquering the monemental task of 50,000 words in 30 days. Since then, I have been immersing myself in as many videos and articles about writing and NaNoWriMo as I possibly can. Yesterday, I sketched out the basic storyline and did character outlines for five characters. I am giving myself as few ways out as possible.

I do all of these things because I know myself. I have seen the story so many times. I begin with an earnest, heart-felt committal to better myself in some way. This could be achieving legend in Hearthstone, becoming a gaming streamer, or making myself into an eSports journalist. And yet, when things get a little tough, when I reach that first hurdle, I will turn around and say, “Well, I guess that wasn’t for me after all.” I’ll quit. And I’ll generally feel fine with myself for a little while afterwards, until the next hot idea burns its way into my head.

Not this time though. I have had the honour of a loving fiancee working hard full-time while I mess around in part-time work with the excuse that I am following my dreams. For the month of November, that will actually be perfectly accurate. Even if nothing comes of the novel – it can sit on my computer in first draft forever – but when I sit on the 31st of November with at least 50,000 shiny, new, creative, probably moderately unreadable words forming what I hope to be a coherent story, I will have proven that I can actually do the things I set out to do. I will show myself that I am more than just a lazy ass who plays games all day and sometimes writes about them and life and stuff. And with a few months left of part-time work before I have to re-evaluate my priorities for next year, that motivation could be what I need to take the next step and complete those goals I’ve failed to do up until now.

November will be a long, hard month. Although I only have to write about 1667 words per day to stay on track (about 3 times my usual blog post on here), I know that having to do so every day will be a challenge unlike any I’ve faced this year. There will be times when I want to kill my characters. There will be times when I don’t want to kill my characters but I’ll have to. There will be times when my cat will walk across the keyboard and delete my last half hour’s work and I’ll want to punt him across the room. And yet, I know that if I push through the hardships, I will have created a story that I’m proud to share (after many edits, of course). More importantly, I will have given myself something I have doubted up until now – the knowledge that I have the drive wthin me to complete my lofty goals after all. So bring on #NaNoWriMo2016. I’m ready. I think.

New Experiences and Post-Guest Normality

On Sunday evening, we bid my aunt farewell after a truly refreshing and heart-warming nine-day stay. My girlfriend Kris and I did our best to try and entertain her. We showed her as many of the sights, sounds, smells, and experiences as we could. After her stay, we were exhausted and saddened. By showing her Korea, we were reminded exactly what we enjoy about the country. Despite this, while she was here, I was expecting to hit a wave of productivity after she left. Now that she has gone…it just hasn’t really happened.

My aunt’s visit was definitely one of the highlights of our time in Korea so far. Like the rest of the visits from relatives that we’ve had, we spent the time showing my aunt what we love about Korea. We visited Seoul multiple time to explore the city as best we could. We saw Nanta, the fantastic Korean cooking musical dance comedy show. Yes, I was picked to go up on stage again – I maintain my 100 percent participation rate in Korean theatre. We ate all of our favourite dishes.

This visit, we chose to go one step further. Because my aunt visited for so long, we had more time than usual that we needed to fill. So, we did a few things that even we hadn’t done before. My aunt and I visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Kris, my aunt and I went strawberry picking. Finally, we saw some new films that none of us had seen. This combination of old and new made my aunt’s visit one to remember for her and us.

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Now that she’s left, I should be rapidly progressing with all of my endeavours. Even though my teaching schedule has become more full, I still have a good amount of time to devote to other interests such as writing and streaming. Disappointingly, it hasn’t really happened that way. I have largely been very lazy and content to derp on the Internet and just play games. This blog has been far too long in coming. I haven’t written much for GosuGamers. I haven’t even managed to keep my fledgling stream schedule.

However, the last few days haven’t been entirely without achievement. I applied for my first credit card (approval will hopefully come soon). I did manage to stream a bit of HearthStone yesterday. I was quite happy with my technical performance, even if I was the only one watching myself. Most notably, I have arranged to be the official GosuGamers media rep at a HearthStone tournament in Seoul this weekend. I am nervous to talk to some of the players that I’ve been watching for a while, but I am also excited for my first event as an interviewer, photographer, and journalist.

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My time in Wonju continues to be filled with a mixture of adventure, fun, work, poductivity, and laziness. I am still struggling to find the balance between producing content and enjoying the freer schedule of part-time work. Luckily for me, Kris has been behind me all the way. She might come home and be jealous of my free time, but she has been the support that I need. She has given me space to find my own motivation, but also pushed me when I really needed a push. The coming weeks and months look to be more of the same rollercoaster. I can’t wait to ride.

 

So, I Have a New Job

After a week of unemployment, I managed to secure myself a job in Wonju. I count myself rather lucky indeed. Why? While I may still be teaching, I am doing so on much closer to my own terms than my last contract. My new job is far more suited to me for a number of reasons: it is a part-time job, I am generally teaching elementary students, and, unlike my previous contract, I will have the ability to take time off to go on holiday, cover Dota events, and generally be more flexible. Most importantly, the job will provide me with a visa to stay in Korea for another year. Having this job takes me one step closer to being able to write and create gaming content full-time. I hope that it is the next step down a road that I truly want to walk down. For now, it’s just another step.

I was put on to the job by a fellow South African who is now learning to play Ultimate in Wonju. Kris, ever concerned with my well-being and ability to be a funcitonal human being, managed to find out that the friend’s school was looking for a part-time employee to cover some classes that were currently being taught by Korean teachers. I later confirmed this with the friend, and messaged the head of the academy in hope.

I waited a few days. There was no reply. I spoke to the friend again, explaining that their boss had not got back to me. On the outside, I was playing it cool. On the inside, I was a molten, swirling mass of emotion. I really wanted the job. It sounded almost ideal for my needs. My friend politely explained that the boss was overwhelmed with the beginning of the school year, and that the boss was very keen to have me. Heartened by this news, my emotions cooled, and I began to wait once more.

A day or two later, the boss replied. She was sorry that she had not responded to me sooner, and arranged a meeting at a nearby coffee shop for the next day.

At this meeting, I was not sure who was more nervous – me or her. She seemed to be warm, kind, and thrilled at my interest to join her crew. We discussed details of the job. We drank our separate beverages. We shared a little bit of our respective life stories. After about half an hour, the meeting was done. I was to start work the next day! Whilst I was saddened that I could no longer spend my days entirely at a nearby PC room or in the house, I was happy to once again be earning an income. In my brief moment of unemployment, I felt deeply castrated by the fact that Kris would be working hard whilst I sat around in search of employment. Now, I will be able to work shorter hours without taking too much of a pay cut compared to my previous job. I am much more comfortable about the situation.

Kris and I are still in the early stages of our new start in Wonju. There are a number of significant events ahead. The Ultimate season starts soon. In about two months, the next Dota Major event will take place, which I am hoping to travel to and cover. Later today, I leave for Dubai to spend a weekend with my mother. All of these things are bright lights that we look to if we are having a mediocre, frustrating day. Around these events, we both need to work hard. And we will. We know the rewards that await us. We also know that there is one place in which we can find limitless energy – one another. Now, I must get off my lazy butt and pack. Thanks for listening. Chat again soon.