So this evening I have taken the seed of inspiration I discover under the fertile dirt of my re-read of The Magicians by Lev Grossman, re-located it to the mound of soil that is my boredom-starved imagination-sponge (brain), and sprouted a tree of planning.
Not over-planning. Just planning.
I am cautiously optimistic about this.
I have an arc for this Nanowrimo project now; it’s the first episode of an intended series, though I only intend it to be a series because of Reasons, i.e. the fact that I was weaned on High Fantasy novels and if you aren’t writing High Fantasy in trilogies or sagas then you may as well write sci-fi, you fucking hack, why don’t you go back to sucking Philip K.’s yes well anyway MY plan is, um, it works. It works in terms of taking my first car of frustration with Quentin’s male ego being constantly reinforced throughout the The Magicians trilogy – though nowhere as offensively as in the third and final installment, which I honestly would not be surprised to hear announced as a first draft that got submitted and published by accident because it is not only offensively patriarchal but so fucking uninteresting – and taking it for a joyride, careening through the streets of my thoughts and experiences, not going fast because there’s some specific place I’m trying to get to but because I have a car and I can make it go fast.
I likened my engagement with the problem of Quentin’s ego to a story’s progression: there’s a narrative to the solving of a problem, and so far this narrative is also serving as a pretty decent, well, narrative. There’s a story I can tell here. It’s solid, it makes sense, and it’s even something that makes me angry. During my undergrad years I was given the advice that if you’re stuck for something to write about, find something that fucks you off, because you’ll have a lot to say. Having also lived on the internet for 13 years, I can attest to the truth of this.
The only problem is that this is still not quite a story; it’s just like a story. Very like a story, to be sure, but if I’m honest this entity does not scream “TELL ME” as I’m used to Real Stories doing. Which doesn’t mean this can’t become a Real Story. It’s just that, right now, it’s not, and the main reason I’m wary is because I have a track record of ruining these almost-stories by trying to over-think them into being, instead of, like, writing them down as stories. My excuse for this is that if they were stories that I wanted to tell, I would have written them down, and because I didn’t, they weren’t.
I’m not sure if I want to be comfortable operating under this kind of logic anymore.
It’s a kind of logic that I apply to many things: if it’s meant to be, it’ll just, like, be. And if not, it won’t. This is a coping mechanism, because living with depression and anxiety demands compromise from me, and this is it: don’t get hung up on shit, because it’ll fucking rupture you. Let it go. Don’t care.
To be fair, this actually works really well. It’s just that, sometimes, it’s not the best strategy. It’s not necessary. It can very easily get applied to situations where it becomes smothering rather than supportive. There are times when I can actually afford to get hung up on shit, power through and find that I can actually make it work just by trying.
I’m thinking that this Nanowrimo project may be one of those, and I don’t want to miss out on it.
And thankfully Nano is almost here; at worst I’ve got another 10 days to over-plan, but due to how minimal my conception of this story is at present that’ll probably barely be enough to plan to regulation, let alone go over the limit. So, yeah, cautious but certainly optimistic.
The other issue is that this story-like thing I’ve got taking shape just isn’t very pleasant.
Like, I have a little ball of sick in my stomach just from having thought this shit up an hour or so ago. I’ve driven myself to a dark place in this I-hate-Quentin-and-the-patriarchy car of mine. Some of it is from what I’ve thought up, but most of it is from what I haven’t, the gaps in my knowledge that have big placeholder placards covering them like band-aids, but because imagination-logic is kind of like dream-logic I know that what’s under there is god-awful.
But getting specific is hard, because I’ve cornered myself into going for a very specific outcome. Which, actually, I think is very good. I want to do something specific. It may be something that I don’t know I’m actually capable of doing well, but it’s what I want to do. Still hard though. Hard less because I don’t know what I’m doing than because I know too well, and it just kinda hurts to do it. And despite being quite drawn to the idea of going down this darker route, I don’t know that it’s actually the best option. Also it clashes with most of the world-building I’ve done up to this point, but then that world-building was done for something that wasn’t a story so maybe it deserves to be thrown out the window.
Don’t get hung up on things. Don’t care.
Well, I kinda do.
More work is needed, basically. I haven’t found the point at which this story-like problem turns into an actual story, or yields me an actual story, or whatever it’s going to do – if it’s going to do such a thing at all. I may just keep poking and prodding and find that nothing’s ever going to come out. I’m definitely not being specific enough, and I’m afraid of chickening out and getting specific in a really tame, watered-down way when I have the desire – for better or worse – to go hella dark. Not to end there, but to go there, definitely. I have Something To Say by trying to solve this story-like problem, and it requires venturing into the darkness to retrieve this Something and expose it to witnesses.
I think that perhaps the reason this remains a story-like problem rather than a story is because I haven’t found what I’m looking for in the darkness yet, and I don’t like spending too much time there. I hope I’m looking in the right place. I’m wary that all of this darkness is actually just straight-up unpleasant, and has nothing else to offer. In which case I should get out. But how do I tell unless I stick around for long enough to …
Ah. One of those things.
At some point, you just have to call it a day. After a point, some causes become lost. And it’s up to you to call it, sadly, because you could just go on pursuing them forever. Some people do. And it’s very sad.
Well I’ve only got 10 days to find out of this is a lost cause or not, and I think that’s enough time to find it instead.
Look at me and all these disjointed metaphors. I’m on a roll tonight.
Tomorrow, gonna do a lot of writing, and a lot of film-watching and academic-stuff-reading, because it will be fulfilling. And fulfilling is what this story-like problem is fast becoming, on top of everything else.