January 2024 in writing

Fixing all the arcs

In January, I continued drilling down into each of the arcs’ beats and structure, moving between index cards, spreadsheets, markdown tables, and good old bullet points. (Switching between these media also served as a way for me to review my previous work and ideas, often sparking ideas on how to fix or improve the old structures and scene ideas.) A number of the old Draft 2.0’s critical beats were weak, leading to my dissatisfaction while writing. I’ve shored many of these up but I still have open questions. want to get these outlines solid before I dive back into drafting.

After revisiting the weak 3rd POV and then shoring up the sagging middle of the 2nd POV, I revisited the 1st POV and found I had a lot of room for improvement there as well.

The story is living in my head again. It feels good.

Imjin War

I read The Imjin War: Japan’s Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China, which sparked so many ideas. I have a stronger sense of how the latter books in my trilogy might look now.

I already knew about the Mongol invasion of Japan in the 13th century in some detail, but very little about the Japanese invasion of Korea, other than that it was unsuccessful. The details were fascinating, the atrocities terrible. Both sides let politics and infighting nearly destroy their chances of success. There were stories of heroism, especially with the Korean naval leader Yi Sun-Sin and his sea battles against great numerical odds and the backstabbing of his own government. The book illustrated the trickiness of diplomacy given language and distance barriers,and how bearers of bad news often bore the brunt of the receiver’s displeasure, incentivizing them to modify demands for surrender into politely worded requests for trade relations. The tactics of land and sea warfare of the time painted vivid images that served as launching points for my imagination.

I borrowed my copy from Kindle Unlimited, but I suspect I may want to own this one.

Getting back to normal

I spent late December and all of January trying to get back to normal. I prioritized sleep and better exercise, trying to find my routine again. We weathered a cold snap, four days that got as cold as -11° Fahrenheit (-24° Celsius); now it’s hitting a high of 61° Fahrenheit / 16° Celsius and it feels like spring. Whiskey and I saw a bunny hopping around on one of our walks.

I spent some time continuing to improve my work ergonomics as well:

  • The iPad now works quite well with my external monitor, probably fixed by a recent iPadOS release (I previously had issues with fuzzy font resolution.)
  • I picked up a tabletop that mounts onto my tripod which lets me set up a temporary standing desk, allowing me to keep Whiskey company in the bedroom while still maintaining better ergonomics.
  • My Macbook also works quite well with my external monitor now (probably fixed by a recent macOS release.) I previously had to settle for tiny text, massive text, or fuzzy font resolution. The complexities of my outline edits have encouraged me to use my Macbook more, which feels good again.
  • I set up tmuxinator to shortcut my terminal layout setup, removing a point of friction.
  • I fixed my nvim tmux by switching to vim-tmux-navigator. With that papercut out of the way, I switched back to nvim as as my default editor.
    • My final pain point is finding wtf is still enabling autoindent… I will track that down and purify it with fire at some point. OMG I FIXED IT!!! The incessant, unkillable bad autoindent was a side effect of using the LazyVim starter template. I created a new config directory, installed lazy.nvim from scratch, and added pieces back in, testing autoindent along the way… I think the badness was from loading LazyVim, which I no longer use. Now I have a working nvim setup and I am the master of indentation rather than relying on a machine that constantly guesses wrong. As a bonus, I have my contrasty color scheme back and I don’t have that annoying status bar at the middle-top. WOO, I HATED THAT SO MUCH!!!


Again, fairly meaningless as much of my work was in spreadsheets and index cards, but for posterity:

Manuscript markdown files: 31
Manuscript words: 41780
Total markdown files: 432
Total words: 268559