Growing the pack

My YA werewolf impulse-writing project has grown to be just over 14k words in the space of exactly seven days, which is basically 2k words every day for the past week of creative writing. Not essays (which I have actually been – slightly – working on during that time), not blogs, not status updates on various social media platforms – creative writing.

It’s amazing what the right motivation can do for you.

In my case, said motivation came from a combination of being excited at how awesome it was to spend all day writing on the first day, for the first time in years, the thought that I might actually have found a project that I’d be motivated to see through to completion while Tallulah continues to be something I’m struggling with, my recent fascination with werewolves as a storytelling premise, and the fact that Teen Wolf is both very watchable and kinda shit.

I mean not to devolve into a rant about a TV show I found on Netflix NZ, which is like real Netflix only about a billion times shittier, but seriously, I was enjoying myself during the first seasons, which was generic and predictable but at least it was satisfying. And then the second seasons rolls around and it’s like the writers just couldn’t think of anything for about 60 percent of the main characters to do so they literally just removed their personalities, bumped up the roles of some of the supporting characters (not a bad decision, I like a lot of them), throw in a few new characters who by and large are not even remotely interesting or important to the story, and then end the seasons with what looks to be a really huge, exciting development with one of the main characters only to cut them out of the fucking show from season three onwards. It didn’t help that the character in question was one of my two favourites. (Jackson, for anybody else who watches or used to watch this infuriating program.)

I only really started watching Teen Wolf because I’d come off Wolves and Ginger Snaps and was interested to see how films treat werewolves. Media in general I guess, but movies in particular because werewolves are all about the transformation. And I have to say, as painful as it is to have to live with some of the choices I’ve made in this zero draft I’m currently writing the shit out of and having a blast doing it, they’re at least kinda solid and coherent because they’re really generic. Teen Wolf was exactly that in season one and it worked really well, and then in season two they got really weird, and now I just don’t know if I can bear watching season three. I’m starting to remember why I stopped watching television as well: because it’s serialised, it’s written in such a way that it drags things out for as long as possible, less for the purpose of storytelling than making money, and while some shows disguise it better than others, when they don’t it’s just infuriating. Teen Wolf is starting to feel like that. As many issues as I have with Game of Thrones, at least I know it’s going to end with season seven.

It had better fucking end with season seven.

All of this is making me reflect on my own storytelling habits, as they are manifesting in my writing this werewolf thing: it wasn’t planned, it wasn’t prepared in any way; I just saw a couple of werewolf movies and The Maze Runner and thought: “You know what might be fun? Ripping off these things that have given me two hours of entertainment apiece”, and so I did that, and it was fun and has remained so up to this point. And as a result, I’m running headlong into brick walls and, granted, I am actively trying to avoid planning as much as possible, just to test myself – my storytelling reflexes, I guess – but at the same time I’m finding that it’s hard to keep things both interesting and coherent. It’s making me wonder who I’m trying to keep interested: a hypothetical reader, or myself? Because if it’s just myself, it might be easier, but it might also be more mortifying to see what I actually find interesting. At least in this context of writing as fast and as much as I can without going back and editing things, while simultaneously trying to create an intelligible narrative that is actually entertaining.

It’s an experiment anyway; what does it matter if it turns out being shit?

Well, aside from the fact that I’d actually like this thing to be good. And by “good” I really just mean that it makes sense as a story. I’m trying not to worry about being offensive or anything, because having to rely on whatever storytelling tropes spring to mind as I write a full-blast is bound to end up being highly problematic. I’m trying to see how fast I can go while still putting together an end product that holds itself together in a way that feels solid and coherent. I just want to see how far I can get; and I want to get to the end.

On the other hand, I also do want it to be good, and at the moment it’s not the kind of story I’d permit myself to write normally. And if I end up writing the whole thing without worrying about the problematic elements that are bound to arise – and have already well and truly arisen – then that’s an entire story I have to backtrack through in order to fix if I want to give it my seal of moral and political approval, in which case I may as well make things easier for myself and start writing it with a bit more consideration.

But, then again, I don’t actually like this specific idea enough to do that, either. I could think of it differently, like a really stereotypical author-insert fanfic, only not based on anything specific. The closest thing would be Teen Wolf, and honestly I do not want to write fanfic of that show, however much I may have enjoyed season one. Because this isn’t a premise I’m particularly attached to, maybe it’s okay that it’s basically destined to be tossed in the garbage at the end of the day. And who knows? Maybe it’ll surprise me.

Ultimately, I’m writing, and writing a lot, and I’m enjoying it. I do feel a bit like everything else in my life is screeching to a halt, but it’s not because I’m writing this story. This story is one of the only things keeping my spirits up right now. Though that maybe because I spent all day today watching Teen Wolf season two, which as I’ve been saying I was not exactly thrilled with, and it took up my whole damn day.

Maybe I just need a hard reset tomorrow; go out and get some fresh air or something. I did go for a bike ride today, and felt at least morally healthier for doing so. A testament to the strength of my convictions.

I’m pretty convicted about finishing this werewolf thing, too, so I want to do that. And it’s the writing it that I like, not so much the thing itself. I really just want to write it so that I can prove that I can write something, fast, and make it solid. I’m hoping that it’ll reconnect me to my passion, if I can accomplish this admittedly very impulsive task. So it doesn’t really matter how embarrassed I’d be to put my name to this project as a story. It’s about how awesome it would feel to be able to say that I wrote an 80k novel – zero draft – in a month. Which is what I want to do. And it seems like I’m doing it.

I guess that’s okay then.


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