Perhaps it’s because it’s currently 1:34 a.m. and I’m staying up because my mp3 player needs its playlists updated, but I’m going to try treating this blog like an Actual Writing Blog for a change. This is a progress report.
The last time I wrote Tallulah, the book I’m Supposed To Be Working On, was over 2 months ago.
The last time I wrote something (outside of thesis stuff, which I’m not counting) was exactly 1 week ago. I guess I did write stuff tonight/this morning, but it was going back through the most recent version of Tallulah chapter 2 and tidying up some of the writing. Nit-picking, in other words, and so no, I’m not going to count that as “writing”. But I am going to count it, because I’m not supposed to do that. I’m supposed to leave it alone until it’s all finished, and then go back over all of it and revise.
How did I get this way?
How did I become so simultaneously pedantic and impotent with my goals? DO THIS DO IT THIS WAY DO IT NOW OR YOU ARE A FAILURE *proceeds to avoid doing thing and thus avoiding failing doing it and becoming a failure*
It’s … it’s not ideal. I know what to do about it, I’ve been doing it on-and-off for years, it’s been getting very, very gradually better …
You know what the most telling part of all this is?
I actually don’t care that I’m not writing Tallulah. Like, I actually couldn’t care less about it. I don’t feel guilty. I come to this blog with these “updates” about nothing happening and going nowhere for the billionth time all prepared to either blast the blogophere with my own personal brand of self-loathing, or to defend myself from it. I come prepared for guilt. But honestly, I don’t have any. I have zero fucks to give. I don’t fucking care if this fucking book never gets fucking written.
And I’m starting to think, at 1:42 a.m. in the morning, that maybe I’ve got a point there. Maybe I started writing Tallulah for the wrong reasons – the wrong reasons to found a whole from-conception-to-publishing novel-writing process anyway.
I wrote Tallulah because it intrigued me that the idea had ever even occurred to me. It was, as I’ve said many times before, a story that I never imagined I would come up with. You know how there are things in the world that, when you come across them, your instant reaction is to go “that is so me”? Tallulah was like the exact opposite of that, and that’s what made it interesting. Throw in some existential gender-perspective writer angst, post-university euphoria and a year and a half free to do whatever the hell I wanted, and you have the conditions under which I wrote the first draft. It was a fantastic, amazing, life-changing process that I would never dream of dismissing as a waste of time, even if Tallulah never does see the light of day beyond its current, unfinished manuscript state. I learnt a hell of a lot from it, and yes, a lot of that had to do with coming to terms with a whole ton of unexamined attitudes I held on gender, and for that I will always be proud and grateful for the experience. I can take that forward into every other story I ever write.
I just … I don’t know what I can do for Tallulah at this point. It’s become a burden, and it’s not getting any lighter. And I think that’s my fault – not like I intentionally sabotaged it or anything, but as in I have such horrible time-management habits that it was kind of inevitable that this would all eventually come crashing down around me. That I’d be unable to keep up with my own thoughts, unable to separate the wheat from the chaff and just have it all mixed up together in a bag that keeps growing until it’s impossible for me to hold, let alone dig through for the good stuff. That I’d lose control over this project, because I have exercised little to no control over myself since the first and only revision of a first draft I’ve ever completed, for Tallulah. I tried so hard, I got so far, but in the end, while it certainly matters, I don’t know if it’ll result in a finished story. I don’t even know if it can. It certainly doesn’t seem like it. I don’t seem to have the focus, inclination or skill to make it work.
I want to hate that, and I don’t. Maybe because it’s late and I just don’t have the energy to care; maybe because I’m used to sealing off my feelings so that I don’t drown in them when they come flooding in. I’m in a perpetual low-level rut, and have been that way ever since some traumatic event happened in my youth that made me stop trying. It’s pretty cliche, and I can’t even remember said traumatic event, but I assume there was one because it makes narrative sense and narrative explains everything, right?
What I actually want to write is the silly, under-developed shit I came up with right at the start, way back when I seriously (maybe put some quotations marks around “seriously” there we go) thought I was going to write a book every fucking year to come out between installments of Harry Potter. The ultra-iterative, self-insert power fantasy shit that I think ashamed of but feel, in the present moment, actually kind of ecstatic about. Or as ecstatic as I can be while actively suppressing every emotion trying desperately to register in my depression-blunted psyche.
Whatever the fuck I had when I was writing my shitty YA werewolf thing is well and truly fucking gone, and it sucks, because it was working. I looked back over my records (really want to keep better records as well) and I was writing that thing for a straight month. I was committed. And then I went to Malaysia and couldn’t pick up the momentum again. It was such a massive experience – and a worthwhile one – that I can’t regret it, but goddamn could I do with the drive I had between May and June.
And I know, as I’m writing this, what the lesson is: routine is important. It’s one of the most important lessons for people with depression or anxiety, and not one every one of us learns: you stick to your goddamn routine, because it will save you, keep you going, and actually lift you up and out of whatever hole you’re in, but only if you stick to it. And that’s the hard part, because depression and anxiety are kind of anti-doing-stuff disorders. That’s kind of precisely what they’re antithetical to, the getting done of things. I should have made no excuses and made myself write that fucking thing all the time I was in Malaysia, kept pace with my ideas, restricted my ideas so that they wouldn’t run ahead of me the whole time …
I don’t know if any of this is actually doable, but it’s what I think. Again, not really feeling much of anything, and that is the kicker. That is the pain, because if I felt something then I’d have a starting-point. I’d have some fucking clue as to what’s going on. But then again, feeling nothing is a pretty big goddamn clue when you have depression. It means I am in the grasp of a depressive episode and I need to do something to shake shit up real quick-like. And maybe if I succeed in doing that everything else will fall into place, and I’ll get my mojo back, realise that I actually can make Tallulah work, or that there’s something in particular that I am passionate about writing and then write that, or realise that I don’t give a flying fuck about writing right this second and would rather do something else and do that instead.
This is totally how you operate a writing blog, guys. Don’t look at me like that.
Shit ain’t happening tonight, regardless of what might happen later down the line, so I may as well go to bed. If I could find something that I enjoyed, I could just do that. And that’s the real issue with feeling absolutely nothing: how the fuck are you supposed to know what you enjoy? You can’t just think about X thing and go “oh yeah, I like that” except in a hypothetical, removed, objective sense, and that doesn’t help anything. I don’t need hypothetical enjoyment; I need something that fucking moves me. I don’t have that right now. I am worried.
There we go. I am worried. I feel something. Mission accomplished.
And now feeling sick so I will disclaim this entire post by saying it was a huge rant during a visitation of depression and that it doesn’t matter in the long run and everything will be better in the morning, because that’s what I need to hear right now.
And the fucking writing …
Fuck it. Author-avatar self-insert power-fantasy ahoy.