Getting there, take [insert relevant number here]

I am ridiculous.

Either that or I really need to talk to a counselor, and I’m gonna do that I think, just to be safe.

I’ve been really struggling with assignments for the past … well, three weeks now. Currently I have two essays to write, one of which I haven’t even started, and both of them are at least 2 days late. I felt physically ill yesterday at the mere thought of writing them, and as time goes on I just feel more and more hopeless. I don’t want to turn in a half-assed attempt, but I don’t have the focus or desire to actually do any work. Which I assume is good old depression and/or social anxiety reminding me that they’re not quite done with me yet, yippie.

So what better way to cope than sink into a hammock of self-pity and prolong the process even further?

The one good thing that’s come out of it is that I’ve been reading. I’ve finished the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black and … I have thoughts about it. I like it, but it could – and should – have been better in following through with some of the ideas it presented. Although to be fair it would be very hard to have done that without taking it firmly out of the YA category – but that’s a topic for another day.

However, the book I’m currently reading, Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins, is perhaps the most unnameable-longing-inducing book I’ve read since The Magicians. It feels more … disposable, I want to say; a lot of YA stuff I’ve been reading has felt that way – spend a few (hopefully) entertaining hours with it and then never think about it again – but Rebel Belle has a certain vibe to it that really makes my sehnsucht flare up. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it’s possibly something to do with the whole “a simpler time” feel, being that it’s set in the South and everything’s a little more traditional and small-town community-feeling and no there has not been any horrible unintentional racism unlike a certain other YA paranormal novel set in the South that I still can’t quite find the right words to talk about (a large part of the reason I haven’t posted anything for coming up on three weeks is due to that particular problem) – not yet anyway. Just the good old-fashioned “everybody in the world is white” kind of racism by exclusion. Which is still bad.

I think there might have been an Asian girl at one point? No wait that was Curse Workers … (which also has a brown-skinned lead protagonist, which I didn’t know until the third and final book … guess it just goes to show how much whiteness most definitely is assumed to be the default …)

And it’s not just set in the South; it’s freaking Alabama, and before the end of the first chapter we get to hear Alamaba’s national anthem playing at the high school prom. So I’m not saying this book doesn’t have its share of issues. It most certainly does. But something about it really resonates with me. It’s also quite funny and smart, and addresses a lot of questions I’ve wrestled with in my WIP novel regarding how the discovery of supernatural powers is handled – I wouldn’t say it’s given me The Answer; it actually gives me an example of precisely what I don’t want to do, but it does show me how it could work if I went down that route, because it works in this book.

And the most impressive, surprising thing about Rebel Belle is that after eight months of reading plodding, meandering, directionless self-insert erotic fantasies in the YA world, I’ve finally found a story that actually tells a goddamn story. It has a plot, and that plot progresses, and the characters develop along the way. It’s fucking astounding. I’d forgotten for a little while that stories were actually real things that could happen in the world, that narrative progression was supposed to be the norm. I’m all for non-linear narratives and even stories that aren’t really “about” anything, or at least aren’t plot-driven, but dear jasmine tea it’s nice to have a return to the good old-fashioned Hero’s Journey once in a while. This book has restored my faith in YA paranormal stuff, and the only downside to that is now I’m waiting for it to go bad, but it keeps being good, and it’s torture.

Speaking of torture: I really need to go and finish one of these goddamn essays so that I can stop freaking out about them. Because I have four more essays to freak out about after them. I was supposed to revise my novel tonight – and the past two nights – but didn’t because I was freaking out about not writing my essays while stubbornly continuing to not write them and just …

I have a problem. That much is clear. I just don’t know what it is.

But I think part of it is that I haven’t finished these freaking essays yet, and I was doing so well with the whole “just hand in something” approach for a while there.

And I can get back on the horse. I can hand in something. And then forget about it, and move on to the next thing. This has been my most psychologically unpleasant semester ever, but I’ve also had some of my best grades ever this semester, so … I dunno. There’s something in that.

Just hand in something. Hand in a list of bulletpoints. Hand in a sandwich. Get it over and done with.



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