I spent all of … Friday? I think it was Friday. Well, I spent some day within the past three just reading stuff I’d written when I was 16, namely my sprawling postmodern self-fan-fic story, Realm of the Myth, and feeling incredibly inspired. Like, a lot of it was actually incredibly useable, and really solid in many vital areas. I can imagine that these bits of solidarity were things I pulled out of my ass while I was caught up in the writing, but looking back on it 12 years later you’d never be able to tell that, because they just made sense. An example: the main villain of the piece – who also died exactly one thousand years ago when the story begins – was an elf, and after his death the elves put a lot of energy into just being super-awesome to the rest of the world to make up for it. I know for a fact that I never put any thought into that little snippet, never had any plans to flesh out or explore it when I wrote it 12 years ago (I couldn’t even remember writing it), but seeing it there it just felt right. Of course they’d be nice to everyone; they’d want to distance themselves from that dark chapter in their history as much as possible.
Unless they’re like a nation in real life, in which case if they’re powerful enough they just let everybody affected deal with it themselves.
See? Getting the creative juices flowing already.
I tried to get right back into it and more or less pick up where I left off, but I found, as I have found before, that even thinking of trying to write that self-insert author avatar main character again feels like the emotional equivalent of stubbing your toe. The ideas are all there, the setting feels good, but the problem is that I have no investment in the story itself, especially the main character. And it’s gotten to that point with my fun little werewolf thing; I have ideas that I like, I have the sense of excitement at the thought that I could finish it really quickly, but I just don’t care about the story itself anymore. And I never thought that that would be an issue, because the “story” was so thin and predictable that, upon trying to get back into the mood after my hiatus, I just assumed I’d never cared to begin with, that it couldn’t have been a factor. But I was completely wrong, because it’s the only thing I’m missing, and I’ve never been able to write without being invested in the story before, so it stands to reason that this project was no different. How could I have invested in something so iterative though? It threw me off when I thought about it, and it made me realise just how far off-track I’ve gotten with this whole “write without thinking” philosophy of mine.
Because it’s not true. “Write without thinking” is actually the opposite of what this philosophy is. You think a lot, it’s just that you think on the fly, and you intentional barricade your mind from the kind of thoughts that halt your creative momentum, like considering political correctness or representation or how many times X has been done before, and especially any thoughts of “but that’s not original enough”. I think a more accurate title would be “writing quickly, predictably and impulsively, all without shame”, because that’s all it is. And it means that I have to allow myself not just to write shitty iterative regressive shit, but to like it. Kind of. It’s actually a fine line between allowing yourself to like something and forcing yourself to like it, and it’s an important one. If I happen to like a story idea that isn’t iterative and cliche and regressive, I certainly shouldn’t try to make myself dislike it or alter it so that it becomes worse in order to fulfill my criteria for being “allowed” to enjoy it. But it is to allow myself to substitute a potential original idea for a definite predictable one if it keeps things moving, and if it makes the story progress in a story-like way.
Like all inspired moments, this one eludes me now that the moment has passed; I didn’t get the formula bottled and written down and now I’m trying to re-create it after losing touch with what made it work. I just really cared about werewolves about a month ago, and I don’t anymore. I wanted to steal and copy and re-create on my own terms, and now I don’t. I mean I saw Ant-Man twice, maybe I can rip that off or something.
But maybe I don’t actually have to finish this werewolf story to prove that the strategy of writing quickly, predictably and impulsively, completely without shame actually works, because I got 20k words written in 2 weeks by doing that. I still kinda like the idea, and maybe one day I’ll go back to it, but for now the spark is just gone, and I think part of this philosophy is respecting that. It happens, and if, like this werewolf project, it wasn’t something I really deeply cared about to begin with, then letting it sputter out is actually okay. I needed to write it while I was really invested; I left it too long and got too clever for it to be manageable. It’s kinda sad, but there it is.
As for Realm of the Myth: I really do want to do something with all the material I found so inspiring. I’m just not sure what. The Nano reboot version is still on my to-do list, but it’s also become pretty unmanageable. I like the ideas that have gone into it, but it’s a lot of work, and it kills the passion. I think that’s indicating that I actually need to think harder about it, rather than letting it sit, and it’s not like it’s going to get any easier. But I think writing a few more super-iterative semi-fanfic kinda things couldn’t hurt. In fact maybe it’d help this project out immensely.
In fact seeing as borrowing, stealing and outright copying other ideas and stories is part of my new philosophy, it would be silly not to do that, right? I mean this story was already super-fan-ficcy to begin with, and while that certainly didn’t help because I kept updating it to reflect my evolving tastes and influences, it was also what made it work to begin with. It was what made everything I used to write work.
Dear god, I actually do kinda want to write an Ant-Man ripoff.
I don’t know where I’m at now, or where to say I’m at, but it’s not a particularly good place for writing. It might become one, though.
In the meantime I’m kinda tempted to make a new category for posts like this where I just try to talk myself into writing when I’ve hit a brick wall. I have a lot of them. Like, maybe 50% of this blog’s content.
I did say I wanted to write about writing …