Shinjuku, Tokyo, at dusk. A group of pedestrians crosses the bottom of the frame, with neon-lit towers beyond, and the purple sky beyond that.


New policy here at the ol’ blog: if I can’t capitalize on an idea for a post in less than 3 weeks, I’m deleting the draft. As I just did, with 3 of these.

(Further to the point re: newsletters: when it just ain’t there, it just ain’t there.)

February was… February. It’s funny: in my year-end planning, I spend so much time psyching myself up for how much January kicks my ass that I tend to forget how February is actually worse. It’s absolutely the “Tuesday” of the new year.

(Tuesday, for those counting, is the worst day of the work week; any rest accrued over the weekend is a distant memory, and more than half the week is still ahead.)

I think I hit bottom, moodwise, about a week ago, and wandering through the mists trying to bring form and shape to The Last Alchemist (working title) probably exacerbated matters. Not to belabour the privilege, because that’s what it is, but creative work is so weird. So much weirder than I ever thought it could be. It’s less me turning into the prototypical neurotic writer, and more an awareness that, even with all the diligence and architecture in the world, I’m basically in freefall for months or more, assuming I’ll hit the ground at roughly when I’ve planned to hit the ground, and not burn up beforehand, or explode after. (Sorry. I’ve been bingeing For All Mankind.) Every idea I develop to the point of being able to write it is, even with as much rigour as I can put towards it, only a best-guess framework for the shape of a successful first draft. Chapter counts are WAGs. Story structure is like a mess of tea leaves in the bottom of a cup. No shit no one in Hollywood knows anything: there’s nothing to know.

It’s… wild. It’s teaching me a lot about the practice of uncertainty.

The pathetic fallacy of it all has helped, honestly. February came and went; it had its predictable (downward) curve and its darkest-before-dawn moment. Now the colour of the light has shifted pinker, and even as we head into tonight’s cold snap (my head is killing me), I can smell March around the corner. Nothing is fixed; everything passes. The days are longer. Movie hangs with friends are starting again. Every grisly day is one less before I’m under trees in a t-shirt again.

The only real gap in my life — again, a privilege — is around travel; I’m really getting squirrelly up in here. Some of my best trips (New Zealand; both Japans) were in March; it’s hard not to associate next month with Old Bilbo getting that light in his eyes again, and cooing “I think I’m quite ready for another adventure!”

It’s not on the cards this time around, and honestly, I’m lucky as an aviary full of cats to be dredging my way through these handful of writing projects to see them through to completion, so I’m not complaining. But the things I’d do for a bowl of anchovy ramen at dusk in Shinjuku right now, oh my!