I’m kind of scared.
I’ve got two weeks off lectures and tutorials, during which I’m going to write and hand in four essays, basically. And also start helping to pack up for the move to the new house at the end of May.
Oh, and find time to work on my novel.
It’s going to be fine.
No it will be fine. That’s not really what I’m worried about. What I’m worried about is the dawning realisation that, if I want to write for a living, then writing is actually something that I don’t know how to do. It’s something I’m going to have to learn to do.
And I don’t know if that’s what I want to do anymore.
I expect that this is just the first step of the whole “be careful what you wish for” thing, where I’ve fantasised about Being An Author for the past fourteen years of my life and, now that I start to really think about it, it’s going to take so much time and focus and organisation and I’m worried that I’ll have to force out ideas before they’re ready and end up submitting stories that I don’t really care about just to have something to give to publishers and *deep breath* it’s just like if I can’t do it and love it then maybe I don’t actually want to do it at all.
I mean, it’s not true. Not really.
Okay. Focus, brain. We can do this.
I do want to write. What I don’t know is if I want to do it for a living.
First of all: I haven’t worked on Tallulah for five weeks. And I mean this first half of semester has been a huge guilt-inducing shitstorm of things not getting done and really, really awkward scheduling, and that’s not going to change any time soon. I need to adapt to the weird schedule if I want any chance of forming an effective routine, and I haven’t done that, and so I end up thinking of how uncommitted I am to my supposed life’s passion and feel even guiltier and the cycle repeats. Fun times.
Second of all: I’m worried that I don’t have a fast-moving enough brain when it comes to making the right decisions. Which is both horrible and irrational: there is no right decision, but my whole life has been spent believing that there is, that there’s some Right Way to Do Things that I either know or don’t know, and this is stupid. Unless I’m doing science or something, but I’m not; I’m doing art. The whole point of art is meant to be that you get to make up your own rules, right? It’s a fear that I have every time I get to thinking that I’m Doing Something that Needs to be Done Properly, otherwise people will judge me or some other anxious crap that I can’t get out from under the shadow of. And I know it’s dumb. I know it’s stupid. I also know that the world is full of critcs and somebody is totally going to tell me how bad my ideas are no matter what the hell I do, so in that sense it’s not exactly irrational, but what I’m saying is that I am suffering under a combination of perfectionism and aimlessness. I have this very strong, pedantic urge to get this book right, to write it how it should be written, while having no clue what that’s even supposed to mean. It’s like complaining that I spilled a glass of milk the wrong way; I don’t know what the hell this book is supposed to be like. What I know about this book changes depending on whether I’m thinking about it or reading it at the time.
Which brings me to the third point, and what certainly feels like the most urgent issue to deal with: I have a hard time sifting out my “that would be cool” ideas from my “this makes the story work better” ideas, and that’s the main reason I’m so stuck. And I haven’t been taking my own advice and making separate notes on these things; I’ve been putting them into the notes I make on my revisions. And I know that’s bad. I know that I should probably go back through and make even more notes, just to get everything clarified and as objective as possible. I know that I haven’t been responsible with my revision, that I’ve read back over the manuscript and made one round of notes and then never came back to them again. And admittedly this was because I made them on the hard-copy and on the computer, so my notes are all scattered and split and it’s ARGH I’m so bad at this
DL;DR: I’ve felt really shitty about myself for the past five weeks and my lack of progress, both creatively and academically, makes me feel even worse – these are the recent memories that I have to reflect upon myself with, and it’s making me really negative.
I also feel – and this is unrelated – that I have a really hard time organising my thoughts, to the point where I feel like I actually don’t know what I think. And this goes from movies to books to social issues of the day to just myself, my life and everything that’s happened in it. I don’t know if it’s a time thing or a discipline thing or what, but mostly this comes from reading other people’s blogs. They all seem really clear as to what they’re “about”; I get a really clear sense of who those people are and what they care about, and maybe that’s as accidental as whatever the hell this blog ends up saying about me as a person, but it at least seems much more … controlled, I guess. It comes across that these people have command over who they are, because they know who they are, what they want, what they’re striving for, etc. And … does that mean I don’t?
So much of what I say on this blog ends up being really repetitive; I’ll say in one post that “X happened this week and I feel that means I need to do Y in order to change that”, and then like two posts later it’ll be literally the exact same thing, because nothing will have changed. It’s stagnation, and knowing that this is the pattern that this blog follows makes me feel stagnant, and I hate it.
Predictably enough, this changes when I’ve been writing a lot. Something always comes up; I’ll have new ideas because of new perspectives and I’ll get all jazzy and euphoric with whatever it is that I’ve discovered is this week’s secret of life. Which means, I guess, that it is an observable fact that writing makes me happy.
Therefore I’m going try a new tactic and just trust that once I get going again everything will be sweet, rather than obsessing over how shit everything feels right this moment. I went and saw Divergent again, this time with the whole family … I really like it. The issues that I had with it the first time through are all there, but I think my inner critic was all exhausted after analysing every single little detail (and also trying three times to write a review of it on my Tumblr blog, for which I am very, very slowly reversing my shame over the continued existence of) and all that was left was enjoyment. I mean I definitely think it’s squicky that a 24-year-old is making moves on a 16-year-old (this is according to the Divergent wiki, correct me if I’m wrong), and the whole mind-control serum thing and who is and isn’t immune to it raises a lot of questions that don’t seem to have satisfying answers, but it’s jut really fun. No, not just really fun, actually; I think this is genuinely a good movie, and finally, finally a YA novel-to-movie adaptation other than The Hunger Games is doing well. And I like Tris a lot, though I think that’s mostly because I like Shailene Woodley a lot, having seen her play Tris. I may get the books out of the library, though I get the feeling I won’t like them – or her – as much.
But nein! Enough with negative thinking. I want to know what the books are like. I am interested to find out.
And I want to get Tallulah finished so that I can start shopping it around and get started on the next thing. Which I’m not entirely sure about. I’ve had the feeling before that a lot of my older stories – not even that much older, but anything I came up with before I started university, basically – may be impossible for me to write now. I’m just a very different person.
Although – and this is kind of silly, but also nice – I shaved my head a week or so ago, really short, and not only was it a really good result for my first time just buzz-cutting my own hair, but I’ve been feeling a lot more confident lately. And a few years ago I might have gotten really angsty over the fact that all I had to do to feel better about myself was shave all my hair off and I could have done it earlier – but then again, I didn’t want to shave all my hair off a few years ago. I think it’s the combination of wanting to do it and then following through, plus the fact that I did it myself.
I’m feeling a bit more reconnected with myself. And being able to write about how I don’t feel like I’m as clear about who I am and what I want as I think some other people are actually makes me feel a lot better. I don’t need or want anybody to tell me not to worry about it; it’s how I feel, and I guess I’m at a point where I’m a lot more comfortable about being honest with myself about how I feel when how I feel is not how I think I should feel.
Guess I belong in Candor.
I will have a crack at that Beautiful Creatures review, simply because any book that hooked me in with such a mixture of disgust, outrage and amazement is worth my talking about it, but I looked at the notes I made on it and it’s 18 pages long. It’s over 9k words long.
If I can put in that much effort for a dreadful book, these assignments are toast.
But – no promises. I don’t know how things are going to go. I never do. I don’t know when I’m going to update this blog again. I don’t feel like I do a particularly good job of being a blogger. I don’t feel interesting or informative or useful a lot of the time, and heaps of what I end up writing about feels really forced. Those are my honest feelings. And judging by how relieved I feel to have written them down just now, they’re feelings I’ve needed to externalise for a while now.
What I do know is that I’m gonna get up tomorrow and work on my essays, because that’s my plan, and I want to follow through with it. It’ll make me feel good, and give me something productive to mill over for a change. Positivity through sheer force of will. I like it.
“Positivity” is a word goddammit WordPress; stop telling me it isn’t …
I feel like my book – and life – should be a certain way, and that I’m too indecisive to make it that way. The truth is that I just don’t know what I’m talking about, literally. There is no way it’s supposed to be. But there is what feels right, so I’m gonna trust that. I hear trust is good.
Let’s test that theory.