I realised something this morning, as I fantasised about one of my many soon-to-be-a-thing novels, about all the time and effort and love I’d put into it because despite what I said in my last post sometimes you actually do have to force yourself to care in order to get the ball rolling and there’s nothing wrong with that, and then it dawned on me – I’ve already been putting time and love and effort and energy into a book, for a very long time. That book is Tallulah, the book that inspired this very blog so that I could vent about and celebrate the process that has been the writing of it.
And I realised something so mind-blowingly interesting that I had to share it today.
Tallulah is almost finished.
I have recounted time and again how time spent on a book does not equal progress made. I mean fuck, I’ve been trying to write Realm of the Myth in some incarnation or another for the past 14 years, for exactly half my life, and okay actually I did write a full draft of that about ten years ago BUT MY POINT is that Tallulah has felt like an ongoing project because there was always something “more” that I felt I wasn’t reaching, some higher plane of Good Writing that I was unable to access – and yet I had to access it, had to reach it, otherwise all of my time and energy would Be For Nothing because it wouldn’t be Good Enough. And I mean that in a moral sense, which should give you some idea as to how fucking deep down the rabbit-hole you can go when you’re writing and you care.
What I’ve realised – in large part, I like to think, because of my new “write fast, predictably and impulsively, all without shame” philosophy of writing – is that all of these higher planes and states of Good Writing are very real. They are. All skills can be improved upon, and if you stick with anything long enough you do absolutely get transcendent on that shit. But that doesn’t mean that Tallulah is meant for any of them. It doesn’t mean anything I write is meant for any of them. What I realised is that, actually, I already have a deliciously predictable, cliche, iterative, by-the-numbers version of Tallulah that I can work with and still stay true to my vision, vague and rambling as it is – which just means that, like I said, it’s almost finished because a lot of the work has been done.
And I’ve realised that I am actually happy to think that Tallulah could be finished soon, even if it’s not the transcendent uber-narrative I dreamt it would be. I wouldn’t just be content with it, I wouldn’t just tolerate it as a necessary step on my path to greatness; I would be happy. I would like it. Hell, I started thinking about Tallulah not living up to my ridiculous standards and suddenly I was thinking about turning it into a series again, like because I was allowed to use less than my absolute best ideas suddenly the floodgates opened and now the possibilities are endless, it’s pretty fucking awesome.
It also means I can probably use a lot of the first draft, too, because there’s a lot of cliche shit in there, though not as much as the filler. The filler is the main issue, and also that the characters evolved over time while I was in the process of thinking about rather than actually writing Tallulah for two and a half years, leave anything long enough and bacteria starts congregating, my point is that now that I’m embracing my capacity for being a total fucking hack it’s like I have fucking superpowers or some shit, is this why people write shitty cliche stories that take literally no thought whatsoever to create because if so I totally fucking get it this shit is fucking rad, yo.
When I make myself get back to writing Tallulah, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I know that I can finish it really quickly. I know that I can bring back the original draft and maybe even *gulp* read it … again … so much filler … and then cut out chunks of cliche goodness (and actual goodness) to use. Or just do my own thing and rely on memory to reconstruct the parts that I liked. I know that maybe I’ll get back to work on it and suddenly be seized with the desire to make it the best most amazing story ever told and try my very hardest to peak early and have everything else I write only go downhill from here, in which case it’s probably not almost done. But it could be almost done. That is within my grasp, and holy crap would I like this thing to be done. In whatever state. Good enough really is good enough for me at this point. This was never a solid story; it was a good idea wrapped in a bundle of attractive padding that changed with the seasons of my inspiration. Right now I’m inspired to write fast, shamelessly and use the oldest tricks in the oldest books I can get my hands on without leaving my desk. And that’s okay. I can have a not-the-best-thing-ever-written first book. I’ll live. I’ll get better.
And, like I said, I truly believe I’ll be happy for it. Because it’ll be a real first step, not just fantasising about it and what it’ll be like. Maybe Tallulah won’t be my opus, but I’m starting to remember that it was never meant to be. It was just a story I never thought I’d be able to tell, and now I feel like I can. Maybe not to the ambitious heights I have often dreamt of attaining, but I can still tell it.
Also it’ll take my mind off the academic bureaucratic bullshit I’m currently wading through like fucking seriously can the university and the institution that provides financing for said university not have a little better communication between the why do I have to be your fucking errand-boy why can’t you just make shit easy for me oh GOD why did I decide to do Masters …