The third character-arc map has been completed, and I did it all in one day.
It was, to be fair, MUCH less involved than the first two I did, and the next three are similarly light, two of them quite a lot more so. Progress is being made, and while there have been days where I’ve completed a larger volume of work, being able to start and finish a set objective in one go is hella rewarding.
I also rediscovered the joy of making narrative playlists today – basically just music playlists that centre around some theme, be it a mood or a current event – or a story – and the progression of the songs serving as a sort of narrative itself, or signalling pit-stops along the path of the narrative that the playlist represents, highlighting key events or themes. I’ve been listening to my music on shuffle for the past … I dunno, four years? It’s been refreshing to start listening to my music not just in linear fashion but in an order that was deliberately organised that way to be listened to in a linear fashion. It’s fun. It’s way too time-consuming, but it’s fun. And it’s even good for writing; it’s the same as organising a story by chapter, or scene, just on a much smaller scale and with other people’s songs instead of your own prose. It’s an exercise in using arbitrary limitations, and if you are interested to see just how generative that can be, give it a go. Plus you get to listen to music at the end of it (and throughout). Win-win.
Hell, you even end up drafting and editing playlists as you go, because inevitably some songs don’t fit where you thought they did initially, once you actually listen to them play in sequence. Some have to be moved, some have to be replaced, some turn out to be redundant. And while there is certainly merit in playlists that you create specifically to listen to on shuffle, which is what I’d suggest you do if you’re actually writing a story, if you’re setting out specifically to listen to music then having it play in a specific sequence is really rewarding. A sonic theme-park. A DIY concept album.
It’s fun; go do it.
And I am feeling more like a real-life grown-up since making myself stick to schedules and stuff, so that’s nice. We bought a new house yesterday, and I’m freaking out a bit because of money and general massive life changes, but it’s a super-nice house, and it will be fantastic once we’re actually there, I feel. I just hope it’s a little further down the line so that I don’t have to juggle moving and essay-writing. But we’ll see. Extensions exist for a reason. And the stress and uncertainty also makes me feel like a real-life grown-up.
And I’m just really content. I’m glad that today happened the way it did. It was a chance for me to prove to myself that I can juggle study and writing and still have time to do other stuff, like make narrative playlists, and read this selkie novel that hits all the toxic YA notes that I’ve come to be so familiar with. To be fair, the selkie mythos does lend itself to such things, but when it’s not done cleverly or critically it’s just more of the same Bad Romance crap.
I don’t know if I can bothered finishing it, and if not then this weekend I will get those reviews written, and probably read Frostbite at long last. Or I might see if I can’t finish these character-maps over the next three days, and move on to the next stage of the draft, which is …
Making a lot of tough decisions about characters and plot and stuff.
I keep thinking: ‘Look, some really bad books have been published and done really well. I don’t have to make this book really good in order for it to be published, or even really successful.’ I could just slap a fresh coat of paint on what I’ve already got so that the continuity, like, continues, but I want to provide a better service than that. Best foot forward and all that.
But at the same time, I want to write other things. And I want to finish this before I move onto them. Maybe that’s unhelpful, but I don’t know that. I know that there’s so much I could do to make this book better, but also that there’s got to come a point where enough is enough, and I have to be the one who makes that decision. I don’t know if it’s true that a book is never finished. But I do know that I can drag things out forever, and I don’t want that to happen to Tallulah.
I’m at yet another halfway point of yet another micro-task in the ongoing process of my writing, and I’ll be at many more in the days and months and years to come. That’s fine. That’s good. I look forward to it.
I’d just like to speed it up a little …