I've posted before here about Writer's Block and what a fraud I think that concept is. I'm not about to go back on that now, but I will admit to having slowed down my output lately, and I know why.
I'm in the second act.
I learned about writing stories by writing screenplays, so I still deal in the concept of acts. In the first act, you establish your characters, their world, and your premise. In the third act, you provide resolution to all the conflict and leave your characters where you have intended them to be (or where they have driven themselves during the process when you weren't paying attention).
Then, there is the dreaded Second Act. This is a devious, twisted, nasty little beast that takes up the bulk of your story. The middle areas, where nothing is established and nothing is resolved. The part of the narrative that requires you to keep juggling balls in the air, keep the reader riveted to the page, and never actually solve any of the problems your characters have, because then the story would be over.
Second acts are, by definition in the screenwriting bibles, twice as long as either of the other two components of your story. So you're keeping the story's end at arm's length, and you have to do so for twice as many pages as you used to set things up (when you were overcome with inspiration) or wrapping things up (when the light at the end of the tunnel can be seen clearly).
I hate second acts.
On top of the reasons I've listed above, I am intimidated by my second acts because I know this is where the reader should be getting the most bang for the buck. The big sequences, the biggest laughs, the biggest thrills, the shivers up the spine, all that stuff will be in abundance in the middle section of your story. Why? Because as you're not resolving the story, you have to keep the attention of your reader, and that means showing them shiny plot points, colorful character shadings, and attractive hints of where your story is going--even if you don't know.
So yes, second acts intimidate me, especially when I'm in their early stages, as I have been lately. But I'm back on the 1000-word-a-day diet, this time for two separate stories (so really 2000 words a day), and I'll hit those deadlines.
I've long contended that the "cure" for "Writer's Block" is to write something. Anything. Even if you think it's lousy, write it. You can fix it later. You can't fix nothing later--there isn't anything to fix. Sometimes, you'll surprise yourself and write something good, or at least decent, when you're just trying to hit the quota. Other times, you won't--but you'll have something to fix later.
So that's what I'm doing. I get stuck, sure. But I never have Writer's Block. You don't, either.
Cassette-to-Digital Conversion Project: I promised a couple of weeks that I'd report on the latest in my ongoing effort to digitize every sound I have ever recorded in my life. But this cassette thing is trickier than the LP project I undertook for the first seven months of this year. The cassette converter itself is run off power it takes from the computer via a USB cable, with backup batteries installed. But the speed of the cassette is suspect to me--it all sounds too slow. It is possible to hook the thing up to a DC power source (not included, natch), and I have been unable to find one. Nor am I absolutely positive this would solve the problem. I think it's possible the thing just can't handle 90-minute cassettes.
Still, I've managed to convert a few cassettes to Mp3s, but not nearly at the rate I was converting LPs. For one thing, it appears that the bulk of my cassette collection was, at some time or another, discarded as useless (or lost somewhere in the house, which is possible but unlikely--we don't have that much room that isn't visible).
So music cassettes are not plentiful. I have found mostly interview cassettes I used in researching my two non-fiction books on Asperger's Syndrome, which I probably don't need more than five years after the second book was published. I do also have some cassettes of telephone interviews I conducted for Hollywood Scriptwriter magazine, and I am going to convert those, since I'm really impressed with a lot of the people I interviewed.
At this moment, I've converted a total of 10 cassettes in the two weeks I've had the cassette converter. These include America's greatest hits, of which one or two are great and the rest boring; a Little River Band album that had a couple of good songs on it; ELO's Discovery album, which has not improved since I didn't like it in the 70s; Best of the Doobie Brothers, which includes more best than not; a Poco album with one interesting song ("Crazy Love") on it, the soundtrack to Paul McCartney's film (oh, yes) Give My Regards to Broad Street and a Pablo Cruise album. This is what's left after most of one's collection is lost or discarded.
And the first part of my (long) interview with the brilliant screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride), which is well worth having preserved.