2.21: I Appear Missing

This was going to be a much different post.

I trashed the first draft because it felt too harsh against one of my only vocal critics. It was completely unfair to them. I love critics, and they’re an integral part of being a writer. And it was inaccurate to blame a critic for my own bad feelings.

The second draft was a list of what I had come to dislike about this story. Pacing, handling characters, lore, and Joanna’s role. Paragraphs of it. It was not coming together well.

I wanted to post this on April 1st. Surprise, surprise, no new chapter at all. I couldn’t finish my second draft at all by the time I wanted this to post. So instead of working hard, I followed the buzz behind Missing Richard Simmons and listened to all six episodes. It’s a podcast/documentary about fitness celeb Richard Simmons’ retreat from the public eye and trying to piece together the story.

First off: I highly recommend Missing Richard Simmons. It is a combined three hours across all six episodes and it is a marvelous piece of investigation and learning how to accept someone in your life peacing out on their own terms.

The final conclusion was that Simmons’ disappearance was him being burnt out from being someone who exuded so much energy and empathy. He wanted to leave and retire, maybe was forced to out of tragedy, but it would break his heart to face his fans and say good-bye. All the evidence points to him still being well and fit in his older age, but being the Richard Simmons the public knew was too much. And he’s been gone. And by the most reliable of accounts, happy.

I’m not about to compare myself to Richard Simmons.

But it turned out to be the best soundtrack to writing about burnout.

If someone does the math, I finished Annette’s generation in less than a year, averaging over a chapter a week. In the same period of time, I’ve gotten 21 chapters into Franco and barely scratched the surface. It’s been marked by hiatus after hiatus and lots of excuses.

But it’s burnout. And it got to the point where writing even one chapter was too difficult. Where I would have TS3 open for hours and get zero screenshots because I wanted to avoid it. I felt sick, distressed, and disgusted with my own work. I got hypercritical, and that hasn’t stopped. I almost wanted to frame this is a cry for help. I can discuss those reasons at length, but they’re only part of the issue.

I haven’t worked on Eight Cicadas in two months. And writing-wise, those are the happiest two months I can remember from the past year.

When it comes to discussing story-driven SimLit, I always rely on CitizenErased14, of Ashes to Ashes fame. We have been talking daily since late last year, I think. We’re close in age, live a mere couple hours of driving away from each other, and appreciate a few common alt. rock bands. We also have similar goals we want to achieve with SimLit, at least in a broad sense. For that reason, I think she’s the only one I ever elaborated on this issue to.

Cicadas has become too big and difficult for me to handle as it is right now.

The thing is, I know people enjoy Eight Cicadas for its long chapters and abundant, detailed screenshots. I felt wrong with the thought of changing that. But it is beyond difficult to keep up for a length, especially as I got more ambitious. I’ve been dreading chapters ever since some time in Annette’s arc, but it took a while for it to become absolutely unbearable.

I told some other people, on vague terms, that I wanted to end this story. I got a near-unanimous “don’t”. I told them that I’d make a decision by April 19th, this story’s second birthday (and my 23rd), I guess with some vague hope that I’d change my mind.

But what have I learned taking an extended break from Eight Cicadas? I confirmed that, if nothing else, I still enjoy writing. No Stars over Uptown, my unrelated TS4 mystery/romance, is an absolute joy to write. It has been my savior for this bleak hiatus. And it’s comforting to know that the only thing I hate about writing is writing Eight Cicadas.

I learned how good it feels not to think about this.

And tonight, I learned that Richard Simmons might have the right idea. Learn when to step away.

I might be giving myself until April 19th, but I’m pretty sure I know what my answer will be.

Much love,

– Trip

32 thoughts on “2.21: I Appear Missing

  1. I really enjoy your writing. While I’m sorry to see this story go, I do understand very well why and I think your well being is much more important. I’ve read some chapters of your other story and I’m enjoying that one also. Take care and do what you enjoy. ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  2. While I’m going to miss Cicadas if you do decide to leave it, I think it’s more important that you’re doing what you like and what doesn’t cause burnout. I’m glad you’ve found another writing project that you enjoy now. All the best for you. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. So much love to you and so much respect ! As the work stands, it is monumental and artful, and in my experience as a reader , it’s complete. All your characters became integrated into my imagination , and I hope you know how much they taught me about compassion . Decades from now, when all the stress is not even the faintest memory in the most secluded synapse , I hope you look back at this story with love and respect for your work , talents, and generosity . Thank you !

    And it’s cool to change , grow, and follow what feels rewarding and enjoyable .

    Liked by 5 people

    • Your support has meant TONS to me.

      Things can change. I can fall in love with this idea again, but the dissonance between how I saw it and how a reader like you does always made me feel weird and wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well…. Hmmm. Maybe I didn’t understand the story the way you intended: and if I contributed to the weirdness or made you feel awkward, I apologize. I found such goodness in it and it truly changed me in positive ways, so for me it was a gift that I’ll always feel grateful for, and I’ll always admire your insights and talents! I also am a huge fan of dissonance: for me, cognitive dissonance (and even emotional dissonance) create the space for grace to enter, so I will always see dissonance as a sign of power and life.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This story was one of the first sim stories here that I really fell in love with. It was fun and different, and your characters have really grown on me, that being said I wouldn’t mind it even if the chapters were shorter and the screenshots less detailed. That all being said I know I am going to miss it but if you don’t feel like it is coming together, or more importantly if you don’t enjoy writing it then of course I am going to support you! We are all lucky you have found something else you enjoy writing and I am sure we will enjoy reading. 🙂 Good luck and all the best! If you ever decide to go back to this immortal family hopefully I’ll be there!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Ang,

    You know for yourself how amazing I think your writing is. I’ve always been very vocal about it, both here and on Carl’s. That being said, as much as I’m sure we will all miss this story, you need to do what is right for you! I’m sure I’m not the only one who was noticing a slight disconnect in recent times. We all love and adore you, and as such, who gives a crap if we’re gonna miss this! It’s still just words at the end of the day! YOU are what matters! I consider it an honour that you have shared this story with us for as long as you have. I have been following it since the first on Carl’s and I know that you would never consider something like this unless it was necessary!

    I have been reading the other story, and I love it. I will see you there ;-D

    Much love and blessings and all that other fuzzy-wuzzy stuff ❤
    Steph/Magpie/Raven (also known as "Hey, you!")
    Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww Steph. ❤

      Funny enough, I've made a bit of a return to Carl's. They need my help with dynasty rules again. Otherwise it would be just Marian and she deserves better than that. 😛

      Cicadas has been more than words on a screen to me. It’s felt like an identity, which is normal when it’s your only project, but it makes it harder to let go of too. Believe me, I’m as tormented as the most mourning fan! But if the signs of disconnect said something to you, well, I felt all that and more. 😦

      Like

      • Oh, I didn’t mean the “it’s only words” quite the way it came across… It’s just, in the long run, we would rather have you be happy and healthy and all that, than to have you force yourself to finish this. I know that your identity as a writer was fully caught up in this story, I just wanted you to know that this is not your only value to us! And, your new story is pretty damn brilliant too ;-D

        I’m glad you’re more involved there again ;-D I know a lot of people (myself included) moved over to TS4, but, I also know a lot of people stayed with TS3 and they’ve been missing you over there! As you say, right now it was only Marian, and that’s a helluva lot to put on 1 person.

        I’ve been AWOL a lot lately. RL has this annoying habit of… Happening… But, if you don’t see me around, know that I’m sending you lots of fuzzy feelings and joy ❤ we all need that nowadays!
        Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think everyone’s going to miss Eight Cicadas, but YOU are what made it awesome. Remember that. At the end of the day, the writer is the one who gives the words life and meaning, not the other way around. ❤ You're something quite a bit more than just a word machine built for our amusement.

    If you need time, take time. If you're just done, be done. Your happiness and health are a helluva lot more important than a story, no matter how good that story may be. Although it's great that you're still writing and have another project, and I'll definitely by checking it out!

    Relax, have fun, enjoy life, and I'll see you around! ^_^

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I have been enjoying your new one as well. When writing becomes a chore I think that that’s when we have to step back and say enough Is enough. Yes we should listen to our readers but in the end writing must bring us joy. If the new story brings you joy then all of your readers will have that joy with you. Hugs and good luck as you make this courageous decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know I haven’t read in a long time. It takes long enough for me to read novels by writers I adore, and when I read simlit I’m really mostly into short and easily consumed. But your writing has always stood out to me as some of the most high quality in the community and I have immense respect for your work.

    I totally understand your desire to just drop it and leave. Most of us simlit writers don’t do this for money or fame, but because we love doing the stories, and when it becomes a chore, it’s no good. I respect the decision and I’m glad to have read along for some of the time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • (Tongue in cheek) Wait?!? There’s money and fame to be made from this?!? I know there’s infamy lol but honest to holy fame? We talking about people like Pinstar and Deligracy and James Turner and the Simgurus right?!?

      (Seriously) y’all are famous in my book! You’ve all inspired me in one way or another, hence my attempt at my own simlit lol (aside: I really need to get a new update for that… Oops) it’s one of the reasons why Carl’s will always be my “home”, it’s the first place I ever read a sims story (one of Schipperke’s if I’m not mistaken, I’ve read so many of hers that I can never remember which one was first lol) the first place I ever made an online friend (Schip as well)… And too many other firsts to mention (although, my first sims forum was actually Boolprop)

      Why is she telling us all this? (they ask with befuddled expressions)

      I actually have no idea lol I just got home after a hectic day at work and my brain hasn’t quite caught up to me yet lol although I love our internet at work because I could go vote on the new Stuff Pack for TS4 and it didn’t kick me out of the Official Forum 🙂 (go vote! The order should be: 1- dangerous, 2- eco, 3 – starter home, 4+5 wedding+arcade I’m not fussy which takes 4th place lol) can’t wait for the 10th when we get to vote on the next stage 😀

      Aaannnddd… She’s off on another tangent again…

      Apologies 😀 like I said: my brain hasn’t quite caught up 😀

      Anyway, Angela, we will miss this story, but (don’t take this the way it sounds lol), we won’t miss you! Why? Well, because you’re busy with the other story… Duh! #JustSaying #NaughtyGrin #WhyIsSheUsingHashtags #TheReasonIsUnknown #YupEvenIDontKnow #AndImTheOneUsingThem

      *brain explodes and Steph is now outta here ;-D
      Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

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  9. Do not worry, you can only write what you can write. I highly support stopping when it’s not working. You have an amazing world and amazing characters no matter what you write.

    Maybe you’ll pick up a cicada character dust them off and plop then in another story, maybe not. I know I hit a point….Pre simlit…When nothing I was writing excited me anymore. It all felt meh.

    I’m glad we got to read as much as we did and I will be returning here to read what I’ve mussed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you haven’t had a chance: Samira has a spot in the other story Trip mentioned. And she’s all growed up too 😀
      Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

      Like

      • Oh crap! Shows how present and accounted for I’ve been lol so which is the new story then? It sounded familiar, so not sure if I’ve started reading it or not O_o
        Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hold thumbs my crap BB opens the page lol it sometimes does this freak out thing where it says the WordPress certificates are out of date or something 😦
        Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lol it opened enough for me to follow the blog 😀 I’ve jumped over to my Samsung to use the WP app for reading it lol yup, I have waaayyyy tooo many phones and crap data/signal on all of them lmao
        Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • At least you have a plan. If my phone doesn’t work well somewhere (it’s old and my office’s wifi has issues) I’m stuck until I get home.

        Like

      • Lol it was a good plan… Until I realised I was dozing off with my data on O_O that shit is expensive! Anyway, long story short, I’m loving it and I’ll continue reading when I’m more awake (it’s 04:00 here and I have no idea why I woke up now when I’m more than half asleep!
        Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

        Liked by 1 person

    • In hindsight, Franco’s generation had its bright spots that are worth reading. I missed you for a while but here you are anyways.

      Earlier last year, I tried writing a spinoff with Harwood that tried to answer how his elder years would play out if he didn’t meet Annette. So if I was to revisit a Cicadas character, it would be him. Whether serious or how he’s my resident crossdresser in TS4.

      Like

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