My Challenges as a Queer Female Time Traveller: 37,162 words

Last week, I breached 20,000 words. This week, I smashed through 30,000, and I’m well over half-way to my 70,000 word goal!

37,162 words!

My Challenges as a Queer Female Time Traveller - Ulysses project, 37,162 words

Good week, bad times

The week kicked off (as it often does) on Monday morning. I woke up bright and early and — good lord — I could barely move. I’d had sharp pains pinging around my ribcage since Friday, and they’d become unbearable.

I went to see my doctor. I didn’t call ahead to make an appointment; I just rambled myself up there, camped up outside, and waiting for the clinic to open. I figured I’d just wait and hope for an early appointment, rather than call in from home and be told “Oh, she’s free now — shame you’re not here to take it.”

So I waited 15 minutes for the clinic to open, then I only had to wait an hour to see a doctor.

She poked me. She prodded me. We talked about my respiratory infection. And… it looks like I threw up so violently on Friday, I tore a muscle in my abdomen.

And — just like the respiratory infection — there’s literally nothing she could do to help. She sent me home with guidance to stay hydrated and pop ibuprofen.

Monday was a write-off. Tuesday was worse.

I figured I’d try to make it into the office, and I felt pretty good… until I got on the bus. Oh boy, I’d never noticed how much those things bounce around until I was trying to hold a torn muscle together. I was thrown into the walls, slammed back and forth by the brakes and acceleration, and I could barely cope.

After a couple of minutes of it, I was so close to just getting off and walking home. But a voice in my head told me I’d got this far and the office is just down the road.

And yeah, I got to the office. And yeah, I was in so much agony, I couldn’t work.

I booked the rest of the week off as holiday. I knew I wouldn’t be able to work, but I also hoped I’d find a few moments of peace between ibuprofen shots. I’m never going to take sick time off work then go and write my novel instead. Too sick to work means too sick to work. So, holiday was booked.

I wasn’t super-productive for the rest of the week. I still needed to go out for grocery shopping, so I still needed to jostle my poor, healing muscles up and down the street. But still, sitting on that sofa and plodding through the scenes at my best pace was the best medicine I could’ve hoped for.

It felt amazing. I feel amazing now.

Well, I mean… I’m still throwing up my stomach twice a day, but apart from that: amazing!

What’s new?

I’m still just working through the scenes, adding a bit of detail to the outline, and making sure the story fits together. I finished detailing out the first act last week, and this week I’m about two-thirds through the second act.

And I think it’s going great!

There was a death, which was so depressing that it wiped me out for a few hours.

There are a couple of fun flashbacks to clarify the stakes and add a bit of foreshadowing.

And while the first act was primarily set in Exeter, the second act takes our heroes around the globe to Cardiff and Chennai, which is kinda interesting!

Flashbacks

I want to acknowledge that flashbacks can be a bit cheap and disjointed. I know, I get it. I’ve read some awful attempts myself. I’m being cautious.

For example, a captain — in the defence arm of the global agency monitoring and licensing time travel — threatens action against our heroes. He’s done it before, and he’ll do it again if he has to. But rather than have a scene of dialog, where he sits down and tells our heroes all about it, we read a flashback of it.

A lot can change this early in the draft, but I’m absolutely aware of how confusing a time-travel story can be when there are several points-of-view across several timelines. I’m keeping any truly heinous confusion down to a minimum.

And hey, maybe I’ll make my editor really work for his money.

The line between argument and abuse

If there’s one scene I know I’ll need to go back and do a lot of work on — or maybe totally rewrite — it’s an argument between our heroes.

They’re tired. They’re stressed. They’ve had their inner-most thoughts exposed in an unusual way. They’re treating each other the way they’d want to be treated in return — but there’s the rub. One needs a little tact to cushion the intense situation they’re in, while the other finds that tact gets in the way of directly understanding the problem.

The scene flowed onto the screen almost as a stream of consciousness. I could see both points of view. I absolutely got how they were pissing each other off. But then… their arguments started getting a bit too personal. They were punching their opponents weakest spots. Then it devolved into victim blaming.

I was deeply uncomfortable with what I wrote.

I needed to take a timeout. So, I had the victim-blamer take that timeout. I gave her an introspective scene, where she realised that she always reacts that badly. But why? I had her figure it out. I had her think about why this time was different. I had her think about what she needed to do next, and how she needed to change. I made myself figure out why that change would be difficult for her.

Then I put her back in the room, and gave them a scene where their emotions are laid out and the air is cleared.

Frankly, I don’t think I can pull those scenes off. Not right now, with the (lack of) experience I have. I really don’t know if I’m going to work on them, or drop them.

I’m not worrying about it right now, though. The scenes have been outlined and detailed, and I’ve moved on. I don’t need to think about it until I start the next start-to-end review.

But since I’m being honest here, I’ll telling you; I really, really don’t know about those scenes.

Goals for next week

I’ll be back at my day job full time next week, so I’m setting some reasonable expectations.

I reckon 1,000 words a night Monday to Thursday is good. I’ll take Friday off, so I can spend the evening with Alex. I’ll have Saturday evening free, so I’ll try for 2,000 words, and all day Sunday, so let’s say 3,000 words.

That comes to 9,000 words added up, but I’m going to round up to 10,000. It won’t be easy as this week was, with my day job and all, but I reckon it’s a healthy goal.

Plus, if I can keep up with 10,000 words per week, then this first draft will be done in less than a month — and that’s an awesome milestone to hit!

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