Yesterday, I made the brave decision to pick a project that’s been sitting on the back burner for a very long time. It’s very ambitious, a story that requires a lot of clear and critical thinking on my behalf: at its best it is a biting social satire that interrogates the toxicity that is bound up in male and masculine identity, particularly the issue of male entitlement. I wasn’t sure that I had the chops to pull it off, but I thought: fuck it. You only live once, and if I keep waiting until I’m ready to tell this story I might never get it written.
I created my novel.
I went to sleep.
I woke up this morning thinking “um NO” and replaced it with my shitty YA werewolf project yaaayyyyy
… no but seriously I am really looking forward to diving back into my werewolf project. It’s the most invigorating thing I’ve written in years, and I’m including Tallulah in that. Tallulah needed too much consideration from me, a level of consideration that, while I may be able to conjure up in an academic context, I find it much harder to do when writing creatively. When writing creatively, it only seems to get done if I have the perfect blend of appropriation and copycat tactics with just enough of a slant to make it seem like a creative twist.
And already I’ve run into a problem: partly because I’m “cheating” with this werewolf story because I’ve already written over 20k words for it, I am no longer In The Zone with it. I’ve known this for a long time, certainly since I tried to pick it back up a month or so ago and the excitement and vigor was nowhere to be found for me to pick up again with it. And even the prospect of a looming 30th of November end-date hasn’t given me the sense of urgency I was hoping to lean on for support and mind-clearing duty. I’m not sure if I feel too comfortable or just utterly resigned to failure – perhaps both – but I’m not off to the best start with my return to this write-as-fast-as-you-can experiment.
Then again, Nanowrimo is about getting something written, yes, but it’s also a chance to explore how you write. If a time-limit isn’t giving me urgency, then perhaps I can do something else to get myself back in the zone. And thankfully I have a precedent with this particular project: it’s the first novel I’ve written out-of-sequence. About a third of the 20k words that exist happen much further on in the story than the rest, and while I may not be able to write as fast as I can think, I can at least write scenes in the order that I think of them, rather than forcing myself to write from start to finish and inevitably ending up with a lot of filler. I don’t want filler. I’ll have filler regardless, I expect, but the less I have to cut out later the better. And also my experiment relies on having zero filler, because my experiment is one of seeing how coherent of a story I can tell with the least amount of consideration and maximum writing speed possible. So if I don’t have an idea, I shouldn’t try to discover one – I should let the story write itself. Or, in other words, the ideas I want to have, ideally, are really predictable and generic ones that seem obvious to me because I understand narrative convention. This is really a test of how much I’ve learnt about storytelling in the past 28 years, and I have high expectations of myself in that regard. Maybe too high, but hey, reach for the stars and all that.
Fingers crossed. The point is not to try and be generic; the point is to try and not stop myself from being generic. It’s to say yes to the most obvious thing, even if the most obvious thing is incredibly offensive. Because that’s something I can deal with later – if there even is a later. I may never touch this story again after November 30th. But I don’t want to think about that, either. I just want to think about the story.
But most of all, I want to tell it, as fast and as spontaneously as possible. I want to force myself into tough decisions that need to be made quickly, to corner myself and break out of it with a “oh well obviously X stereotypical plot event has to happen because That’s How Stories Work”. That’s what I really desperately want. I really do think I’m putting too much pressure on myself.
But I also want the pressure. Because it fucking works. And this is the perfect excuse to see just how far I can push it.
For now, though, sleep. When I wake up I know exactly what scene I want to write, exactly how it’ll pan out, because That’s How Stories Work. I hope I enjoy it.
Either way, at least I’ve got something to blog about again.