This week was another challenging week because of all the events swirling around us with the election.

I live about fifteen minutes from Washington, DC.   The street I live on can turn into a celebration parade or a protest.  Even though I shut off all news entirely for the week, I could still fix the toxic pull of the events in the air.

Monday was a holiday, so I hopped down to the University of Maryland for research.  Not hitting the books for research.  I’ve been writing an action scene for Book 1.  The character goes to visit her father, who works at a university as a math professor.  But when I wrote the action scene, I had trouble nailing down the setting.  That’s prettty important for an action scene. 

So I needed to actually see a university campus to make a scene map. 

Map of university campus showing the East Field.  On the left is Linden Hall, Magnolia Hall, and the snack bar in the corner.  Bottom is Bradford Hall, Spruce Hall, and Loblolly Hall.  Right is a building being constructed
This was done in PowerPoint

That meant I had to cross from Virgnia, through DC, to Maryland.   All the off ramps to DC were blocked off with snow plows and a police car.  I doubted if anyone was getting into the city unless they lived there or were emergency workers.  The Federal government declared a holiday on Wednesday for anyone in DC, Alexandria, or Arlington.  DC prepared for violence.

I started the story on Tuesday using a series of pictures as a prompt.  I thought it would be a time travel story, but I always wanted to venture back into deeper emotion.

That was probably not a good idea for this week.  It immediately went really depressing and the story stalled out.

Inner critic pretty much panicked.  It actually wants me to succeed on this.  I’m on Story #20.  That’s more than I’ve written on any challenge on the past.  That’s only a few away from the halfway point.

So I went on Wednesday morning  to think about what I was going to do.  I went out early, just in case there were protests or other chaos.  I walked down a steep hill, listening to the wind shake the trees.  Maybe a try at literary?

My only goal at this point became to meet the minimum word count requirement of 2,000.  I could do that with a literary story and get some of that character I wanted to explore.

I wrote about 300 words, and it stalled.  Same problem.  Just too depressing.  I think my muse doesn’t want to ever revisit that dark place that Desert Storm left me.  And no reader really wants to read depressing stuff!

Inner critic is now pretty scared that I was going to drop the ball on the story.

I went back to the Pinterest folder and started taking out images until I had enough for one row (so it could fit on my screen).  I’d originally had eight images, but curiously, removing some of them forced me into making decisions.

I plopped a screen shot into Word and started the time travel story again, reminding myself I only needed 2K.  That’s two 1K scenes.  I also told myself that I wasn’t going to work on anything else until this got done.  So no Book 1 of any kind.

I started writing again and ended the night with 700 words.  Went to bed and dreamed that the story wasn’t working.  I re-signed myself I might have to do something different in the morning, and it was going to have to be in a hurry.

And I looked at the story in morning on Thursday.  The scene was better than I remembered. I could work with it.  I added some more, but I didn’t have the evening time, so Friday would be the push.

Friday evening, I sat down and pushed through the rest of the story.  I had to stopped halfway, to think about what the overall story was.  Inner critic kept pushing in and saying “The train needs to go through the portal!”  I stepped back from that and focused on what was already in the story.  Finished it at 2,200 words.  Inner critic squawked.  “The story is terrible!” it said.  “It doesn’t work!”

So I ignored the story entirely on Saturday and revisited Sunday morning.  I knew I needed to add some more setting and five senses in the second scene and tie up the ending better.  The problem with the ending I expected.  That always needs a second go-round to clean up.  So I cycled back through the story, added some things, took a few things out.  Then I reread the whole story, found something I’d put in initially and forgotten, added it at the end, and called it done.  Final word count is 2,400 words.  It’s a time travel story called “Time Portal.”

This is a starting board for the next one, which I think will be a mystery, set in the Shenadoah Mountains.