I’ve felt pretty guilty about not having anything to report about Tallulah over the past … almost a month now. I mean yes assignments do take precedence, but I could have planned better, and I could have gotten more done. I particularly feel guilty about it because this blog was originally started not even to talk about being a writer, but to talk about writing Tallulah specifically. I always had the idea that I’d bring in other things, but as I’ve been doing such a crap job of having anything to say about Tallulah at all that wasn’t just incessantly repeating myself, especially this year, it doesn’t feel like I’ve quite earned that privilege of moving forward yet. Trying to work on Tallulah just to get to a new phase with this blog would be absolutely ludicrous, but it does feel like that sometimes, and it makes it all the harder to actually get anything done, because it feels like it’s for the wrong reasons. And I feel that Tallulah deserves better than that.
Although on reflection I’d probably just say ‘whatever gets you to write it’. Do what works, after all. I can always go back and add in the artistic integrity later.
However, today I’ve finished revising two more chapters – the one I didn’t quite finish I’m just going to let sit, as it has instructions on what to do and I can fill them in later. Maybe later today. I’m quite eager to see how far I can get in one sitting. I have the sneaking suspicion that I could finish it all in one or two days tops, given that some of the chapters are literally just copy-pasting chunks of other chapters into new documents in a new sequence.
Being a Good Writer can get to be more of an occupation than actual writing, and that’s not healthy. The idea of a Good Writer to me is somebody who finishes what they set out for themselves to accomplish by way of writing goals and deadlines and such, somebody who reflects on what they’re writing, what they’re influenced by and what kind of message it might be sending to potential readers to have such a story presented to them, and somebody who values getting the work done over how good that work is, at least initially, able to ‘just do it’ and not only be at peace with the idea that anything can be fixed later down the line, when there’s something to work with, but who sees it as an advantage, something empowering and enabling.
And all of that is something I can turn into procrastination.
I can go: well, look at this area of my self-set standards that I’m not living up to, what a failure am I, let me just take a few hours of playing Dragon Age for the second time to deeply reflect upon said failure and allow for the germination of an intuitive solution that will sprout out of my non-interference with this idea.
Or: gosh, there’s more work not done when I determined it should be done by, how’s about I just give up altogether because if it’s not done by now, after 13 years of trying to get good and consistent at this Writing thing, what’s even the point anymore.
Or: hey, I’m a really prejudiced person with a whole bunch of unassuming biases and archaic preconceptions about other human beings, let me write about what a horrible alienating person I have become and how I can’t write anything because I don’t deserve to. Let me write the hell out of that.
It’s really bad is what I’m saying. Having the idea is not the same as getting as wrapped up in it as I am, but it does open up that opportunity for me, and perhaps because I just have a habit of trying to get out of things that I don’t absolutely, in the strictest sense of the word, have to do, I use it to shoot myself in the foot as it were. Only I don’t really see it as shooting myself in the foot, because I’ve still weaseled myself out of some kind of commitment that I’ve changed my mind about on the spur of the moment. Like I like to remind myself that I can change my mind, like if I don’t keep copping out of things I’ll lose my ability to refuse to do things, even if they’re just for me.
And that’s the thing. I don’t tend to cop out of things I say I’m going to do for other people. I may well forget, but not very often. I’m much better with commitments to others than commitments to myself. True, they’re often very different kinds of commitments, but I still feel bad about it.
Well, no, not really. I feel I should feel bad about it. Because if I don’t feel bad about it, then maybe I don’t have any urgency, maybe I don’t see my writing as important enough to be worried when it’s not happening. Except that trying to make myself worry for the appearance of the thing isn’t actually doing anything to get me to care any more about it.
The really difficult thing to get your head around is that the thing that makes you care only happens while you’re doing it. Not before. It doesn’t pick you up and put you in the right place at the right time, but meets you when you get there. And sometimes only a bit after. It’s a retrospective act, getting satisfaction out of writing. Like most things, really. It’s getting it done that makes it worth it, not building up to it.
Because I feel good about those two chapters. They took almost no effort, even given that I wrote 2104 new words today for one of them, which is over my former daily quota for Tallulah. It all just came together; it was easy. And I keep asking myself why I can’t remember how easy it was, how effortless and painless the process is when I actually get down to business, and why I’m not happier with that, more content to just have that as an incentive to do it.
And my conclusion has to be that it’s because it’s just not enough incentive. Maybe even the incentive only comes afterwards. Once I’m done, then I’ll feel motivated, then I’ll feel like my time with this project is well-spent. For now, all I get is the lukewarmness of ‘painless’ work, and yes, the satisfaction I take in looking back and having evidence that I’ve done some work, ticked off a couple more boxes, somewhat reduced the workload to come.
I think it also has to do with the way I approach and invent stories nowadays, especially compared to how I used to, but that’s for another post. For now, I’ve revised two chapters.
That’s not bad. That’s great, actually.
I will go and do some more.
And I’m expecting to have a new plan and another revision after this one, probably just as slapdash, but I don’t know that. I’m looking forward to it, because it feels better than my current plan, but maybe it’s not. Or maybe it will be, but not until after I’ve finished this one.
In any case, it’s nice to have something to report at last. Here’s to more of that.