Force Majeure, they call it in law. External factors that make it impossible for the original terms of a contract to be adhered to. There are things I’ve achieved against the past month’s proposal, there have been things I’ve failed to achieve, and there have been force majeure circumstances to do with supporting someone close to me through some surgery and convalescence that mean that some of the goals I had for the month were write-offs.
Then again, some weren’t, and I should have hit them. Let’s try and sort out which was which.
Day job, steady as she goes, I said. Well, steady she has gone, and I have the notes from my end-of-cycle performance review to show me that my bosses apparently have a pretty good opinion of my steady state. It hasn’t been without its share of stuffups and bad habits, but I’m getting through the work, I’m keeping up my attendance (flex balance improving even with another week wiped out by illness), I’m putting in on the overtime, I’m getting compliments from users. We’re horribly busy right now, and so the job is eating more of my day, and particularly of my energy, than ideally it should, but I think I can put a tick next to it. Acquitted.
Personal fitness. Over May and June it was up and down a bit, owing to being off bootcamp for periods owing to illness or weather cancellations. That in turn led to some rather punishing sessions when I went back – I’m learning how much my fitness can atrophy in startlingly short amounts of time. However, my goal was to attend solidly through the month and make it through to the end of each session, and I’ve done that. I’m consistently at bootcamp (although I admit that the last one I did have to pull up before the end – the running-heavy ones just utterly wipe me out), and at the dojo I’ve restarted my “own” kyu syllabus in earnest. I’m methodically working through all the techniques, learning and performing them to general instructor approval, and being up for receiving both my own techniques and even some from the blue belts. That’s a second tick. Acquitted.
I had items in the May and then June proposal for resurrection of the social life and for construction of the dismembered bookcase in my spare room. Here I’m going to plead force majeure. With commitments relating to the surgery and recovery, plus overtime on multiple weekends, there’s been zero capacity for the friend catchups I’d been planning. Ditto the bookcase stuff – over the past few weeks I’ve barely even been in my flat, let alone had time for the assembly of spare furniture. I’m not exactly happy about not having that stuff done, but given what else has been going on I don’t feel a great weight on my conscience from it. Writeoff.
Writing paperwork. The Writers Centre and ASA membership issue has not been addressed, and can’t be acquitted for June. The WorldCon membership and accommodation is sorted, and can.
Non-prose writing was listed in the proposal as “probably going to be kept on a bit of a simmer this month”, and a low simmer it was. I’ve not been able to make it to any more of the ACT Comic meetups, although I did get some excellent feedback on the sample script I took along to the last one. Getting feedback on my script was a goal, so I can acquit that. I’ve not done any polishing on the script as a result of that feedback, so no acquittal there. No contact with my collaborators on media projects. I can’t call that force majeure, not with a straight face, since all it’d take was a single email, so no acquittal there.
Writing. I did rack up some achievements this month writing-wise, just not quite the ones I laid out in the proposal. The straight word count is nowhere near as close to the goal as it should be, but the excerpt is now nearing pitchable length and I can start thinking about beta-readers and polishing for what I have. I’m also feeling more satisfied and confident with the story than at any time since I first started seriously wrestling with it last December: the characters have taken on lives as I’ve been writing the early chapters and I now know them, how they talk and move and think, and how they’ll react to what I throw their way later in the story. Working to plot the later chapters now feels like telling a story, rather than forcing a bunch of arbitrary names through arbitrary hoops. I’m not going to sneer at that, that’s a breakthrough.
Also, some demands on the writing time that weren’t so much on the radar when I did the proposal at the start of the month. I had short fiction as an extra-credit item in the original proposal, but during the acquittal period two short projects got moved up to the main stage when editors asked for them, so both those proposals were finished, polished and submitted. I don’t count the last month as an outright failure on the writing front, but the fact remains that I need to be able to hit higher word targets than I’m hitting. I have progress, but not what I should have to be able to acquit.
I’m going to try a slight change in tack for the coming month. I’ve noticed that over the last couple of months I’ve fallen short of acquittal targets in part because I’ve only remembered them when it’s come time to blog about them and I’ve looked at the proposal post and gone “shit!”. By which time it’s too late. I’ve been told that reviewing goal lists regularly is almost as important as making those lists if you want to get closer to them, so this month I’m going to review my proposal post each weekend, modify the goals if necessary and remind myself of what I need to do.
And that, apparently, is half a year gone. Bloody hell. Best not to think about it.