Tom Waits knows his stuff. And I haven’t even discovered that he’s a horrible human being yet, and I’ve been checking. So that’s nice.
I mean at some point, if you really care about who you throw your support behind, there are things you’re going to have to give up. Certain films, songs, books – relationships – that to endorse through your support of them would be a betrayal of your morals. Which also means you have to go looking for this stuff, and while Google is useful, it’s not a police archive. Even if you do what research you can and can give somebody your seal of approval, caring about this sort of thing (like we all should) brings with it a constant awareness that there may be something you’re overlooking, something you’ve missed, something you can’t bring yourself to find out – or something that’s just too well-hidden for you to find out, even if you are looking in all the right places. I don’t believe in separating the art from the artist for this reason – or wait, does that mean I do believe in separating the art from the artist?
Anyway I’m writing a book.
Specifically, I’m writing a now post-Nanowrimo project and it’s going … well, it’s going. That’s good enough. The reason I’m writing it is because it’s a way that I can justify taking time off from working on Tallulah, a book that, for those of you who are new to this blog (and there have been a few of you recently, so hello and thank you very much, hope you’re enjoying it so far), I started writing in 2012 almost as a dare to myself because it was the most un-me-ish story I’d ever thought up, with characters and situations that I felt writing would take me totally out of my depth. It was a story I didn’t think I could tell, and I wanted to see where I’d end up by trying.
Well, it turns out that I was right; I got a first draft and a first revision done, and don’t get me wrong, they were pretty good for a first draft and first revision. A story was taking shape, and it looked like I could actually accomplish this impossible task – except for the fact that the story that was taking shape was not the story I wanted to tell. For one, the idea that I started out with came with some very specific conditions: I specifically did not want this story to turn out a certain way – two and a half years later, it turned out that certain way, to the letter. That was one (very big) disappointment and red flag for me. The other was that, accepting for the fact that it is fine if a story looks different at the end to how it looks at the beginning, particularly in the drafting stage, just as a story in its own right I was not very fond of it, other than the fact that I’d spent so much time and energy on it, and that’s never justification enough to continue an unhealthy relationship. In fact it’s all the more reason to get out. Two and a half years is a long freaking time to devote to something, and the sad truth I came to terms with was that time does not equal progress. And so I came to the very difficult conclusion that I needed to basically start the story over again from scratch, reconnect with my original ideas and allow new ones that I actually felt excited about to take form. In order to get my mind off it and spend not just time away from it but mental activity as well, I tried doing Nanowrimo. That didn’t work out as intended either, but it still worked, because I haven’t been thinking about Tallulah very much at all.
So when, last night, I did finally turn my thoughts back to it, I found that those thoughts had changed quite significantly. If my thoughts at 4am are any indication, the story I want to tell is a lot funnier than it was originally, less crushingly heavy without losing the dark edges that I think give the story a lot of its flavour. It’s got more people in it, and while twelve hours later I’m getting a bit snobby about that idea, I need to try and bear in mind that that’s the first place I went last night when thinking of this story I might like to tell. There is something there. Never mind that one of the last things I thought about this story was that I needed to cut out a bunch of the characters – that was then, this is now.
And I’m still not going to go back to work on it until the new year. I want to finish this post-Nanowrimo project first, write it to the completion of a first draft and get my mind nice and good and vacationed before returning to Tallulah. There are some things I need to learn, but first and foremost I just need the change in perspective. And if last night’s early-morning check-in was any indication, spending time apart from this story is one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.
So now I’ve just gotta write this post-Nano thing and … I dunno. A lot of the fire has gone out of me for it; writing with a friend really does help, and trying to write by myself really proves that for me. But I do wanna finish something before going back to Tallulah. Part of that is a time-trial, seeing that I can get something written from start to finish in a short period of time. Maybe I’m relying on too scant of a plan to make that happen. I know what I want to happen, and I know that it’s doable. But it’s also a bit vague and I’m already taking liberties with it, though that’s mostly just to make myself write the damn thing by cutting to the parts that are actually interesting for me to write. There’s a lot of fun in this premise that I’m not having though, and I’m not sure what that’s about. The wrong time, maybe. Maybe I need to pick this up next year as well. I feel like I should be enjoying it more than I am; I really like this premise – but maybe I don’t like it as much as I think I do.
I don’t seriously need to take time off from this project I’m using to take time off from another project, do I?
Oh well. On with the show.