yesyesyesYESYESYEOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhh no …

An exact reenactment of my latest adventure in Revising My Novel. Fun times.

Honestly though it’s actually going great. The frustrating parts are just your run-of-the-mill ‘I wish this was better’ stuff, and the good parts make me look forward to the next set of revisions. Stuff actually starts happening at one point, even. I hear stories do that occasionally.

I don’t know sometimes if it’s the amount of YA that I’ve been reading lately or what, but it’s almost like I’ve forgotten what a well-crafted story reads like, and specifically what tight, crisp pacing reads like. I’m so used to the indulgences of the author, side-tracking and digressions all throughout the course of a book, that maybe I’ve built up a tolerance for it without realising it. It’s not a tolerance I want to have. Maybe it’s just a tolerance to my own writing, considering that I’ve been working with more or less the same manuscript for a full year now.

And I am a little less frustrated with my lack of speed. I mean I really don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, so stop-starting and stalling is probably totally reasonable for me to be experiencing as I teach myself the ropes by climbing them, without supervision. Just some YouTube tutorials and an article I read on Buzzfeed.

I wonder how long it’ll take for that joke to become dated …

But I am now convinced that these character-arc maps were the right idea, because they’re getting me to ask questions of the fundamental structure of this story and see things I hadn’t seen before simply as a result of the zoomed-in nature of this exercise. I’m reading the continuity all wrong for the story as a whole, but that narrow focus on each character’s arc really highlights where the continuity falls apart and the pacing screeches to a halt.

With this particular character’s arc I’m looking at currently, I only noticed that the pacing had screeched to a halt because it began, and then abruptly died back down, and then I realised that everything up to that point had felt pretty flat. Well, not everything, but you get the picture. Not only did it die back down, but the point at which it picked up and started to feel like it was finally going somewhere was like two-thirds of the way through the arc. It’s also pointed out to me that one of the huge fundamental changes I thought I’d made to this particular arc didn’t actually take root like I thought it had, and it suffers from what is essentially the exact same issue as it did before the revision. Which is good to know. And while shoddy continuity due to my lazily splicing together new and old writing is certainly a factor there, because of the pacing and placing of events in this arc even good continuity editing wouldn’t help it. And this is not something I may have noticed if I’d just been reading the manuscript normally, and had the rest of the story to camouflage this and other glaring flaws.

It’s also my solution – without realising it until now – for getting a new perspective on my work so that it doesn’t feel stale, which is one of the classic pitfalls aspiring writers are told to be prepared for because there’s really very little you can do to avoid it. So, for future reference: one way to keep things feeling fresh is to change the focus of your reading, when you go back over your own work. Character-maps are a pretty fantastic solution, because not only do they force you to see your story in a very different light but it also draws attention to details specific to each arc that you might otherwise miss when reading the story as a whole.

I’m also liking the new ideas I’m coming up with, stirred up by the energy going into this work: solutions to issues that change fundamental things about the story that might actually be fantastic ideas, and for now that’s all they need to be – fantastic ideas. I’m enjoying how generative this process is proving to be, letting my imagination run away a bit, and knowing that none of this has to stick. Not to shoot these ideas down prematurely, though. It may well turn out that I’ve given myself a panacea. Only time will tell. For now, I’m just going to enjoy the spontaneity. It’s kind of like writer fireworks. You don’t even need a permit for them.

The one actual regret that I have is not going back and looking over the notes I spent so much time making the last time I read over this thing, only a month or so ago. They were good notes, and I will make sure to go look them over after these maps are all drawn up. And I’ll probably re-read the manuscript from start to finish while I’m at it, just to be thorough, and for a second impression post-cartography. I’m looking forward to the results, seeing what all of this experimental focus-shifting does to my perspective on the story as a whole.

So basically it’s going well, despite the title of this post. It’s going very well. I think I can live with that.

Too much

There comes a point, “they” say, when you just have to call it. It’s not ‘finished’, it’s not ‘perfect’, but when the only way to get to the end is to decide that it’s arrived yourself – it’s a lot of responsibility to take on.

I’m feeling that responsibility right now, and lamenting how long it’s taken me to get quite honestly not very far with this novel. Because time does matter. It’s been two years of my life, give or take a few weeks, since I decided that I’d try writing this story about things I felt very unsure of my ability to write with respect and insight, and what took me two years to accomplish could have easily taken one, or even less, if I knew what I was doing.

I don’t know what I’m doing, is what I’m saying, and at this point it’s really grating on me.

These character-arc maps seemed like a good idea at the time, and I’ve learnt to roll with what seems like a good idea at the time because it’s better than nothing, and you can always learn from your mistakes. It’s just that, as much as it seemed like a good idea at the time, it feels like procrastination right now, and I don’t know what it is that I’m meant to have learnt from this mistake. Of course it’s also taken me longer than it could to get these character-arc maps done, and that’s certainly part of why I feel so uninspired about following through with it. I feel like giving up, and the frustrating part is that I honestly think the only reason I feel that way in the first place is because I haven’t tried hard enough to get it done to begin with, and the lack of progress is what’s dampening my spirits, a lack of progress that I have full control over. I’ve got nothing to peg this on but my own lack of commitment.

Writing is work. I talked a bit about how discipline isn’t what I should be striving for, just getting work done. Maybe that was a post I drafted and didn’t publish. Whatever; I did talk about that, even if only to myself, and I think it’s just that I need to reframe what I think ‘discipline’ is to begin with.

But more than that, I need to get this fucking revision done.

Perhaps these character-arc maps are a total waste of time, but perhaps if I’d gotten through them as quickly as I know I could it wouldn’t feel that way. I learnt the value of speed while doing the first round of revisions, and I know that if I can keep it up it all feels magical and amazing and basically gives me a sense of instant gratification, even though it’s only instant in the relative sense. But whatever works, right? Right. And speed does work.

I’ve got another 6 hours until midnight, which I’m going to call my cut-off point. I don’t function very well after midnight, old geezer that I am at age 26. I can get this map done by then. I don’t feel like I’m gaining anything by doing it, but this will be the test to see if that’s true. Speed is the key here.

And if it isn’t helpful, then I’ll find out quickly, and save time by moving on to the next idea which will, hopefully, work. It’s win-win.

And no, the irony of my taking time out of doing revision to blog about how much time I’ve spent avoiding doing revision is not lost on me, but I need to clear my head. And I still don’t feel clear.

All the more reason to get back to work – venting didn’t do the trick, so maybe speed will.

Only one way to find out.

Film to book

I think I’ve broken the curse of this goddamn song.

I spoke a while ago about how I spent a day or two casting actors I like as characters in Tallulah, as is the wont of a great many people. I tend to think of my stories in visual terms, so while I’m writing them as books, it is in many ways only because I can’t make them into movies, because money.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend (also a writer) about this, and once I started telling her about how the casting of actors as my characters ended up leading me to alter my ideas of the characters in small but very notable ways, I also started remembering what they used to be like.

And I also remembered how much I like the characters they used to be.

And then today, while running through the largest character-arc next to Tallulah’s in order to map it out, I ran into a scene that I love, as much for what it could be as for what it actually is, and it’s a scene that only makes sense with the ‘book version’ of my characters.

And it all came flooding back: how these characters felt about and interacted with the world and each other, their attitudes and values and beliefs, their blind-spots, their passions, their faults and virtues – all as I’d thought of them before casting actors in their roles.

It’s only for a few of the characters, really, and in some cases it actually just strengthened my idea of who they already were, but the main characters were quite seriously altered. So today I’ve decided to ‘revert’, to strip away the movie version of these characters – who are good characters, but not the ones I wrote this book for – and get back in touch with this story for what it is: a book.

I’ve wanted to get better at thinking of my books as books, rather than substitutes for the movies I can’t make, for a long time, and now seems as good a time as any to get started.

There’s less time in a movie, and that results in characters being written a certain way for telling certain stories, and when I think of actors playing roles, even if it’s a role for a book, that style of characterisation inevitably seeps in.

I’ve got a book, which means I’ve got time. Or, rather, space. There’s more space in a book.

It’s time to get re-acquainted with it.

Progress? What’s that?

GARGH.

I need another wall-planner, it seems. Having a wall-planner actually seems to keep me on the straight and narrow. I need some other kind of measurement now though, seeing as I’m no longer working with a word-count, and that makes it difficult because I don’t know what measurement to use anymore. ‘Did revision’ is kind of … broad.

I guess this is when I break out the deadlines again.

I generally hate deadlines, but they do work. I think that’s part of why I hate them.

I had the idea that I’d get these character-arc maps done by the end of last week, and I got one done. It was very helpful (actually not being sarcastic, it was very helpful), but it’s so much work, and it’s so repetitive, and having the narrow focus of one character’s arc out of the network of character arcs that comprise my story skews the focus – the way events play out might not make sense if the story’s just about X character’s interactions with Tallulah, but then again the story’s not just about X character’s interactions with Tallulah, and it can be a little difficult keeping myself from being hypnotised by the elaborate illusion I’ve crafted for myself.

That’s not really the main difficulty of this exercise though; and the repetition of reading over things multiple times isn’t all bad – it gets me to see the same chapter in different ways, because I’m focusing on different aspects each time I read through, and that is interesting. The main difficulty is in keeping my notes concise, because I am very used to picking things apart – deconstruction and all that; it is a useful skill, and especially with editing, but it’s hard to switch it off. I’ve somewhat managed to compensate by making notes as I go, and as always, always take notes when you write, but it’s still a slog, and of course ends up taking longer than it would if I could just focus on doing one thing at a time.

It’s venting, really. I see something, hate it because it’s bad, and then have to articulate said hatred or I’ll just be thinking about it bitterly for the next however long.

No. That’s not really why. I do it because I’m afraid that I’ll forget it later on and it might actually be helpful. Which is, like, legit. First impressions aren’t always wrong.

In any case I’m going to do as much as I can with this second character-arc mapping – it’s the biggest one by far – and then finish reading the second Sweep omnibus so I can return it to its owner tomorrow. I’m sort of on the edge with this series; I liked it initially because I like Morgan, I like the Wicca stuff and I liked the fact that Cal was not just your typical YA paranormal romance bad boy love-interest, he was also framed by the narrative – in very subtle ways – as actually being bad. I appreciated this, but now it’s getting to the point where it feels like maybe it was all just wishful thinking on my behalf and he’s never going to get called up on it because it’s actually not wrong within the logic of the story and just ugh I don’t know what to think. I’m trying not to worry about it but I just really need this, after so many Edwards and Jaces and apparently even my beloved Peeta, which doesn’t add up for me, although I was easily enamoured with him enough to not notice …

I need to see one of these controlling, manipulative jackasses to get their karmic comeuppance. I need to believe that some YA authors are aware that the way male leads are often written in these narratives serves to normalise toxic, abusive behaviour from men towards women and that they’ll do something about it. I need that.

Regardless, I certainly like Morgan enough to keep reading, and I’m currently hoping she and Bree will find a way to make up. And I don’t believe that Bree was lying about her and Cal sleeping together. That might just be me being vindictive but whatever I HATE CAL I WANT HIM TO DIE if he does turn out to be as awful in the story’s eyes as he is in mine then I’ll actually really like him as a character. We’ll see.

NO SPOILERS.

And as for that deadline …

The 2nd of March. I will have finished all character-arc maps, read the manuscript a second time and have come up with an outline for the second revision by the 2nd of March.

I also have this idea to start waking up at like 7am every morning and going for a walk to start off the day before coming back to write for a few hours to prepare myself for a routine I can get into while studying and BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA oh my god I should go back to writing comedy.

2nd of March. Let’s do this.

Jigsaw paint

I finally managed to finish one of my character-arc-mapping projects. ONE. One of SIX.

Hence I have also banned myself from facebook and Tumblr until March 1st at least, and by then hopefully I will have found other ways to occupy my time that don’t feel so One Ring-ish. Such as writing – specifically, trying to improve my writing.

I haven’t really made the goal of improving my writing a priority for some time; part of that has to do with university eating up a good four years of my life, and working on this novel for the past two years has also been part of that. I have noticed that I’ve gotten better at writing through the process of writing said novel though, so that’s cool.

There is something about specifically setting yourself the task of actually getting better at doing something, though, that I miss. I read half of this long-ass article about how being a talented English student results in writer’s block because you’re so used to ‘coasting’ on your natural talent that you’re afraid of really testing yourself and finding that you actually ‘don’t have what it takes’, and while I have a lot of problems with this framing of the issue, it certainly reminded me of how it felt to actually want to be better at writing, and making a conscious effort to consider my own prose and push how far I could go with it.

It could also be that I’ve just gotten better at getting better at writing, where I’m not stressed about it and can just let the words come out without really worrying about it – I mean it’s not entirely true, but it’s far truer than it was before I got used to drafting. I’m still not used to drafting, really, but it’s getting there. And the idea that putting something out is better than putting nothing out is a very useful attitude to have, and attitude is just another skill, which means that, with application, you can get better at it.

I do think, though, that a lot of writing advice is based around one way of doing things, which is a way I’ve found very useful but at the same time recognise as something that won’t work for everyone, and that is the way that drafting works. You write ‘anything’, just to get something out there, and then spend your time and energy refining it in stages – the allegory I’d use is painting a fence: it requires multiple coats before the whole job is done.

The other way of doing things that I’m used to is to edit as you go, sort of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together; you find that certain pieces don’t fit where you thought they did and have to adjust them on the fly, rather than assembling the whole puzzle, seeing all the wrongly-placed pieces and then going back and correcting every mistake.

I am not really comfortable with either of these. The ‘paint a fence’ method is the one I’ve been using with Tallulah, but it gets really easy to lose a grip on specifics and become overwhelmed by the big picture, to the point where continuing to forge ahead starts to seem like an insurmountable challenge and testament to your cerebral ineptitude. Which is not fair to think of yourself; it’s just a pitfall of the method, and the one that’s kept me from going as fast as I’d like with this book.

The ‘jigsaw’ method has the weakness of taking a really long time to get anything done, to the point where you can get stuck on one chapter, passage, plot-point or whatever and then flip a table in frustration, leaving the tea-stained ruins to be submerged in the sands of time. It’s the opposite problem to the paint method, basically: it’s easy to get snagged on the little things when you’re so intent on ‘getting it right’ the first time through.

In practice, I end up doing a bit of both, with an emphasis on the paint method. Obviously sometimes you just have to start over because you’ve dug yourself into a bottomless pit of narrative despair, but in those cases I’ll save a draft copy of the version of the chapter I’m about to ditch just in case it proves useful in the future (which has happened already, and I’m only one revision in). But this is such a necessity that I don’t really know if this counts as a hybrid method; if you literally just wrote whatever came to mind, stream-of-consciousness style, I imagine there would be a fair few plot-holes you’d have to deal with overlooking when you could easily just tidy them up along the way.

On the other hand, sometimes what seems like a plothole at the time, especially if you have some sort of outline of events in mind, can turn out to be, on reflection, actually an integral part of the plan that you had. This is a consequence of being ‘in the zone’, caught up in the specific thing you’re writing and losing sight of the bigger picture, as well as essentially replicating retrograde amnesia: you can easily forget your own plot-points, so that’s another reason to take notes as you go, and always make backups – never delete anything.

And that happens regardless of whether you’re working with paint or puzzles, unless you’re only ever going to write synopses (and hell, it even happens then).

I had a point, I know I did … see? It happened right there. Proof of my irrefutable truthiness.

*ahem* when it comes to trying to improve your craft, the paint method is still good, as being able to look back over your whole, completed manuscript is invaluable feedback as to where improvements are needed, but it lacks the immediacy of the jigsaw method, and the reward-centre of our brain really only responds to immediate stimulus. It’s why it can get really disheartening to spend two years on a book and only have one draft and a revision to show for it. But it’s also why I felt so rewarded when I read it over this last time, because it had been so close to the point where I’d written it that I felt the feedback, even though I actually waited about a month before reading it after completing it. Fast work leads to a quicker reward with the paint method, and while some immediacy is nice, you will still get that rush of gratification so long as you make reasonable progress.

And, again, you get to see your writing in action. I remember reading the manuscript I wrote before Tallulah, the story I’ll probably be working on after I finish Tallulah, and recognising how my writing evolved over the course of the writing process – it did take me about a year to complete (and clocked in at over 180k words by the end), and I saw myself improving. With Tallulah, the revised manuscript is really clunky in a lot of places where my old writing juxtaposes with the new voice I ended up adopting, with varying results. And the other thing is consistency; I realise that I just said that within one draft I went through three different writing styles, but imagine how much more pronounced that would have been if I’d done it via the jigsaw method. In terms of getting a feel for your voice, it’s not that the jigsaw method won’t give you that feedback – it’ll just be delivered to you differently.

I’m certainly not suggesting that if you use the jigsaw method you never go back and re-read what you wrote, and for that reason alone I would advocate the paint method over it, but that still doesn’t quite solve the issue of how to find a decent middle-ground. I guess for me it’d be combining the paint method with having a solid plan – not a fully fleshed-out one, just something solid and clear enough to work with. And that’s essentially what I worked with while writing Tallulah. Particulars changed as I wrote and dipped in and out of stream-of-consciousness enthusiasm for passing whims, but the overarching plot remained the same.

It’s just that planning itself may require edits, if you’re a stickler for twists and turns like myself, and especially anything involving magic or science – magic because you have to think up the rules and then stick to them, and science because you can’t make it up (unless it’s sci-fi, in which case you just have to decide how much criticism you are happy to endure in response to your actions). And then we get into the muddy territory of drafting your plan, which is supposed to help you get started, not hold you back, and we get into the situation I’m still in with Realm of the Myth, my overblown fantasy epic that’s consumed almost half of my life, was picking up momentum and showing promise at the start of this year and has since stagnated again. But oh no, precious, oh not! I will finish it. I will make it work. Even if I end up breaking it in the process.

It makes sense, shut up.

And just thinking of that story again – it tells me just how comfortable I’ve gotten with the paint method, for all that I hate how long it takes, how delayed the gratification. It does actually suit me, and it helps me to feel like I’m making progress, so long as I stick to it. Which, yes, is easier said than done when the gratification is so delayed, and when I just don’t want to continue for the sake of the process when I feel like I’ve messed something up …

And then I remember my own damn advice and just save a copy of the chapter I’m about to discard and everything is fine. Sigh.

It suits me because it gets me out of the never-ending spiral of ‘no I can’t start yet until I’ve done X’, because X is not the priority. For the process, not me. If I were doing things ‘my way’ I’d be fretting over X forever, and that’s the jigsaw method to me. So this has been a pretty useless attempt to try and find a comfortable middle-ground. But I will keep trying.

For now, I think tonight I’m actually going to try to get to bed before 4am, and spend my pre-sleep time reading rather than staring at a computer screen. These Wonder Woman comics aren’t going to read themselves …

Keep on keepin’ on

I wrote that synopsis of an alternative version of Tallulah and I’m glad I did, and surprise surprise, I prefer my manuscript.

It’s actually better. There’s a few gaping holes, but it’s closer to the story I want to tell than the thing I spent most of yesterday writing, and the thing I spent most of yesterday writing wasn’t bad. It just strays really far away from what I’m interested in at a few crucial junctures, and while there’s some cool character stuff early on it’s also very simplistic, and I’m not here to be simple. Plus it devolves into yet more action about two-thirds of the way through and anyway the point is that it was something I needed to do, and I did it, and I’ll actually probably go back and polish it up to make it work better because there is some stuff there that I could develop and put to good use.

So the moral of the story is: drop what you’re doing and indulge when the mood strikes you, even if it means deviating from The Plan. You’ll come back to your Plan with even more clarity of purpose, and that can only ever be a good thing.

And having said that: I’ve screwed up my Plan and need to go back and do it over again.

Thank Huginn and Muninn it’s the weekend.

It’s also the first day of the seventeen I’ve got left before semester starts, so I really need to …

Actually, no, I don’t need to motor. I just need to keep going. I managed to keep going last semester, and this semester I have an entire day free every week, so I’ll be fine.

I spent too much time criticising my manuscript instead of recording the events that happened, and that was the entire point to begin with: mapping character-arcs. Yes, there’s plenty to criticise. Plenty. Some of this stuff is so ridiculous I’m amazed it’s part of the same story; and this is new stuff, too. This was a really good idea, because isolating specific character interactions and charting their progress really highlights how many issues there are with characterisation and continuity – not to mention the points in the book where characters are just kind of forgotten about.

The synopsis I wrote certainly kept track of all the characters better and incorporated them into the story more, and that part of it was incredibly helpful to me. It also altered one of the core aspects of the plot and … I think it works okay? I’d need time to adjust to it but it opens up a lot of neat possibilities as well as closing a lot of glaring flaws. Essentially that synopsis was a response to all of the plot-holes and the lack of ‘tightness’ that the current manuscript contains, but for what it could be I really do prefer what I’ve written to what I could hypothetically write.

I guess those lemons came in handy after all …

A lemon to pick

When life gives you lemons, and more to the point when those lemons come from a lemon tree that you specifically planted in order to acquire said lemons, remember that you got what you wanted at the time and that that’s okay, even if you don’t actually have any use for lemons at the present moment. Or perhaps you only had the option to plant a lemon tree and you decided that, in the decision between lemons or nothing, lemons were probably the way to go. Who knows what you’d be able to do with them once you had them? Compared to nothing, which is guaranteed to give you yet more nothing to work with at a later date. Lemons, in this circumstance – probably the better option.

It doesn’t change the fact that the lemons you are now presented with and charged with finding a use for fit none of your current needs nor desires, and while that doesn’t mean you should write lemons off altogether just because they’re not showcasing their full utility now, it also doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in to lemons. You could go and buy some oranges, for instance, or even kiwifruit. Yes, all of that effort spent planting and watering and checking the weather and monitoring for pests may feel wasted right this minute, but it was a labour of loving intentions, and nothing can take that away.

Try to find some solace in that as you curse the lemon-gods, the evolutionary process that led to the realisation of lemons to have even been an option for you to take however many seasons ago, because if lemons never existed, you would have been spared the option to begin with. Yes, obviously some other citrus fruit would have ultimately stood in for lemons as the source of your present wrath because this is all a matter of symbolism to begin with, but right now in the midst of your ire it’s far more satisfying to take things as literally as possible, in order to better envision all the ways you might exercise your bitterness upon these hapless lemons laying at your feet, mocking you with the perfection of their lemonitudinalness, and utter lack of being anything other than what they are, which is useless, useless, useless goddamn motherfucking lemons.

WHY ISN’T MY BOOK GOOD YET

I’ve spent most of today doing what I call ‘going insane’, which is not actually going insane; it’s procrastinating by doing work I wasn’t planning on doing in lieu of the work I was planning on doing because I’m tired of waiting for my story to be the story I want it to be. Said work is taking the form of a synopsis of what I currently feel is a better, superior, all-around just plain correct version of my novel, which has only had one revision, and it’s taken me over two years to get to that point and that makes me incredibly frustrated just now, actually.

I like this synopsis, a lot. I like it because it feels like a more cohesive story that includes lots of elements and ideas that aren’t in my current manuscript, or which are not developed as much as I’d like. I’m writing it not really because I believe my manuscript is unsalvageable, because I know full well that it’s actually pretty great for only having had one revision and is a perfectly fine foundation for a story, but because I just want it to be better, and I want it to be better right the fuck now.

So this synopsis I’m writing is all the things I feel my manuscript currently isn’t, all the necessary missing parts that scream to me, at this specific juncture in time, as being the only things keeping my story from working the way it should work. Don’t get me wrong; I know this is just frustration talking. I’ve had the exact same feelings before and I’ve written other synopses before, and they’ve felt exactly right as well, and they were completely different to this one. I know, objectively, that what I’m writing is not ‘correct’, any more than my current manuscript is ‘incorrect’; it’s just what I want right now.

But goddammit, it is what I want right now, and if I’ve learnt anything about writing it’s that you can do far worse than to indulge your inner 3-year-old’s perfectionist tantrums – because if they’re there in your system, then they’re there, and it’s up to you to take responsibility for them. Let yourself get tired out. Let yourself splurge. Like any act of spontaneous creativity, you’re even bound to come up with a few great ideas in the process, even if you look back on them later and they don’t work for this story.

That’s not the point. The point is not to fix. The point is to do exactly what you want, to get it right when everything’s so wrong, to do what you know is the best thing, toss conventional wisdom to the wind and just go way off the deep end, lose control, all that stuff. Because that stuff is only good for building habits. It doesn’t help you stay sane. It doesn’t help you vent your frustration. And sometimes you’re frustrated because you know you can do better, and you just have to go and do it, and commit to it, decide that yes, this is the new plan, this is what shall begin work starting tomorrow. You must get over your predisposition to call yourself a flake with non-existent impulse-control, stop telling yourself that ‘real writers’ would never explode like this and lose the plot because they’d be happy with what they’ve got because they play the long game – you need to stop all of that administrative bullshit and just piss off into the great blue yonder, because it’s better than what you’ve got right now, and you know best.

Because of course you’ll come back. Of course you’ll feel better having vented your spleen and return with a fresh perspective now that the haze of vitriolic regret has been blown out of your system like oxygen out of a crack in a spaceship’s hull, and realise that, actually, what you’ve got to work with is a lot better than you gave it credit for. But you also don’t think about that right now, don’t remind yourself of how practical and smart you will be after you go and ‘be silly’ for a while, because then it won’t work. Because if you do, you’re treating this thing you actually need to do, for the sake of your writing, as a joke, and that’s treating yourself as a joke, and you can’t, cannot make good art by thinking you’re a joke.

So that rational, nervously laughing voice telling you to remind yourself that no, of course you’re not actually giving up on all of this hard work you’ve done, this is just a result of pent-up frustration and will pass once you work it out of your system – that voice is your worst enemy right now. Because while that’s all true, it’s not helpful. You know you’re not actually going to destroy all your progress up to this point, because you’re not actually insane; there’s no need to tell yourself that. Right now what you need to do is let yourself decide that, yeah, actually, you will flip a table as you tug back the end of your rope out from under it, and bugger off somewhere else to start over with a clean slate.

So you won’t come back, remember? You know better than to come back. You’ve got this great new idea that will solve all your problems that isn’t silly; why would you ever go back to the shitty, malfunctioning, time-thieving mistake you’ve been slaving over for two years with no results? You wouldn’t. Because that would be the silly thing to do.

You’ve gotta commit to allowing yourself to be right.

Because you are right. This is art. It’s your art. You are the only one who can be right about it. So go be right about it.

Go give those ruddy lemons what for.