So for the past 3 days – including today – I have been adding to the world-count of an Actual Thing, in this case my MA, and it feels really, ridiculously good.
In fact it feels so good that I’m starting to suspect that the easiest way to get something written is to, like, just write it.
I know, right?
Kidding aside, I need to put this newfound empowerment to use in writing one of My Things, and while Just Do It is very fair and valid advice, you’ve gotta actually want to do it in the first place. Therefore, I know that if I’m going to transfer this skill to one of my novel projects – and I really want to, because if writing one thing every day is awesome, writing two things everyday should be twice as awesome – it’s gotta be one that I actually want to write.
I’m thinking it’s not gonna be Tallulah.
And that’s simply because, honestly, I don’t want to write it. I want it to exist, but I don’t want to write it. I will, one day, if I feel I can do it justice, but I think that actually I need to put it down again, even if it is just as I was finally starting to get somewhere with it. The thing is, I’ve been “finally starting to get somewhere” with Tallulah for the past 3 years, yet I’m still not there. So I’m thinking it’s time to learn a lesson and just stop trying to write it, in my half-assed, totally unenthusiastic way that I have when I’m trying to force myself to make something work when I don’t care whether it works or not.
At the same time, writing something else might actually turn out to help get Tallulah written. For one thing, when I’m “writing Tallulah” that’s not just counting time spent actually creating a word count; that’s including time spent agonizing over how I’m not adding to a word count, wishing I was done already so I could move on to the next thing without feeling flaky and guilty, wishing I could stop myself from over-planning and destroying my own momentum, and doing everything else that I do when I’m not literally writing. For me, “writing something” is a mode, not an activity. I really do want that to change. And a huge part of that is because “writing Tallulah” includes NOT writing Tallulah, in the literal sense of the word “writing”. And that is a habit I really badly need to break.
The other thing is that I need to remind myself that I can, in fact, just drop Tallulah and move on if that’s what I want to do, because I learnt the very fucking hard and long way that sometimes that is exactly what you need to do with a story that you just can’t seem to tell. I spent almost a decade and a half trying to get one story to work, and only after completely, officially resigning it to the scrapheap did I start to find a way to make it work. And if I hadn’t committed to that decision, if I hadn’t embraced not just the possibility of never writing it again, but insisted that there was no possibility of ever writing it again, I never would have worked that out, and I’d still be agonising over how I couldn’t get it to work. I had to let it go with no intention of ever seeing it again in order to see, when it did end up coming back to me, that there was actually something there worth persisting with. But the important, vital first step there was letting it go, ditching it, giving up completely, and COUNTING on that being the only step in the process. I have to be willing to give up on shit that doesn’t work, to quit projects that require me to corral and ply and plead with just to make any kind of progress, because I do have other stories that I want to tell, and they’re stories that won’t wait.
Which brings me to the new problem: identifying what – if anything – I want to write. I have a story in mind, and it’s a little over-planned but that’s nothing that can’t be solved fairly easily – if I find some things that I desperately want to rip off. And happily, I have found one such thing: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
I’ve only seen the film, and I enjoyed it, but I must admit that it pissed me off in the same way that every “sad white boy learns an important life lesson because of a manic pixie dream girl” story pisses me off. Only in addition to the low-level misogyny of the basic premise (though at least she wasn’t *really* a manic pixie dream girl, Hollywood is very slowly learning something it seems), there was also the fact that Earl was in it. The reason this made me angry is because Earl is the best character in the fucking film, and he’s in it for like 5 minutes. It’s probably more than that, but given what he actually contributes to the film, it may as well be 3 minutes. I wonder if he would have gotten more screen-time if he’d been white. But regardless, he wasn’t in it as much as he should have been.
And that is something I can make a story out of.
So while I have one piece of my book-writing puzzle in place – namely the piece where I can actually write shit – other pieces are needed. I need motivation. I need something that pisses me off that I need to set right, or something awesome that I have to commandeer. I think I need to go back and read The Changeover and The Magicians, after I’m done reading Bleeding Violet which, aside from one gross transphobic scene, I am really, really, enjoying and almost forgiving every shitty YA novel I’ve read in the past 2 years based on the merits of. I may even need to go back and finish reading the last 4 Harry Potter books, to pick up where I left off in 2012.
I think it’s time for me to take that Harry Potter fanfic idea and see if I can’t turn it into something that stands on its own.
And who knows? By the time Nanowrimo rolls around, I may be ready to devote an entire month to finally getting Tallulah over the finish-line. But for now, I’m going to make the big decision.
I am done with Tallulah.
And I need to find some ideas I want to steal. Stat.