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A Process Challenged

When technology fails you, adapt and overcome.

J Alex Morrissey
July 17, 2022


What a week! Thursday I picked up my laptop after four nail-biting days without that necessary and troublesome device. Turns out my laptop wasn’t “fixed” so it went straight back to the boffins and I hope to get it back today. At first I felt trapped at home using Molly’s laptop, not going to my co-working space for morning writing sessions— just in case she needed it. But my amazing wife was away all week making Irish music with friends, so on Wednesday I returned to my shared desk and made a breakthrough on writing the new book. Why now? What happened? What changed?The answer was at my fingertips. I was using a different laptop, the same computer I wrote the initial drafts of my first novel, BLACKFIRE.

In art college I often plateaued in classes—at times my work in figure drawing classes felt flat. Whether by chance or suggestion I began changing my drawing tools to break the blahs. Pencil for charcoal, and then the magic stopped, charcoal for conté—you get the idea. These new tools restored a life in my drawing line, ending the plateau. Years later I learned this action challenged the established pathways in my mind, forcing me to overcome the new variable. Science aside, I incorporated this into my illustration, design, and writing processes. For the visual work the new tool usually did the trick. But my writing tricks were less tool based and often location based, as I dared not write long hand or on a typewriter. But this week I had to write on a blank Google doc, on my old laptop, instead of the Scrivener file with the entirety of the new book’s outline. Once again my brain carved new creative pathways to resolve the many problems faced in writing a novel.

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Persistent technological angst aside, the largest matter that plagues me with no accesses to my computer has been my detachment from the Clarion West Write-a-thon 2022 community and honoring my side of the donation Stretch Goals. Chiefly an inability to upload the BLACKFIRE chapters unlocked by your generosity. Believe me this is a priority for me. So to all who have donated, I will send the private link to the secure page the first chance I get.

Now please don’t think this has been a terrible work week, it hasn’t. Writing breakthroughs, discovering ways to evolve my process, and some great new directions for my podcast, Big Story. Plus, I ended the week with an appearance on the WordPlay program on 103.3 Asheville FM. (not sure when the episode appears on-line) My good friend and author, Jacqui Castle invited me as she was co-hosting this week. we played music, discussed the importance of music in our creative processes, and I read some passages from BLACKFIRE. Any day I can talk writing with engaged people is a good good day.

And this week will be better. Today I get my laptop back (this is me visualizing) and Tuesday I host the second-to-last Drafting Sprint Session for this Write-a-thon 2022fundraiser. The people attending have supercharged my experience this year. I’m humbled that they show up and impressed with their dedication to the craft. I am fortunate to say the least.

If you haven’t already, please consider a donation in my name to Clarion West.

Please donate to Clarion West

Clarion West is an amazing organization dedicated to support emerging and underrepresented voices by providing writers with world-class instruction to empower their creation of wild and amazing worlds.

Write-a-thon 2022 ends on the 30th, so two more weeks, two more newsletter about this subject, then it’s back to normal. Meaning, I do the same thing, but don't hit you up for donations.

Till next week!