I have written the first draft of an MA and almost a full novel in the space of 13 months.
I was made aware that this was, in fact, something that I had done when I went out to dinner with a friend. It still hasn’t sunk in; I still don’t feel like “that guy”, the guy who can Do Everything At Once without breaking a sweat. I still see myself as the WOW-playing procrastination champion of the world, where the world is my bedroom and it may as well be to me because I hardly ever leave it; I don’t Get Things Done. But apparently this self-deprecating perception I have of myself is, if not wrong, at least incomplete. Because while I certainly do play WOW and procrastinate, apparently I have also written the first draft of an MA and almost a full novel in the space of 13 months.
That’s … I should be appreciating that fact more.
A lot more.
I hate these kinds of revelations. They come with the kinds of angst that #firstworldproblems are made of, such as “the only reason I’m doing an MA is because I just don’t know what to do with my life and have no sense of purpose, is there anyone in the whole world more pathetic than me, yeah I didn’t think so either”.
In order to be doing an MA you need pretty fucking good grades; you get pretty fucking good grades by demonstrating a pretty fucking good understanding of relevant knowledge within your field of study; and you demonstrate a pretty fucking good understanding of relevant knowledge in your field by DOING WORK.
Also, you need to BE AT UNIVERSITY.
I study – and now also teach – at a WORLD-RANKED UNIVERSITY where I have DONE ENOUGH WORK to warrant my doing a FUCKING MASTERS DEGREE, as well as having written almost TWO ENTIRE FUCKING NOVELS OVER THE COURSE OF MY STUDIES TO THIS POINT, and I LITERALLY DON’T BELIEVE IT. What is WRONG WITH MY BRAIN.
No but I know what’s wrong with my brain, and that’s the really frustrating part for me. I’m hard-wired to focus exclusively on the negative, to the point where recognition of positive experiences instantly evaporates upon making contact with my cerebral cortex, the data fried by the energy it takes to create synaptic links that would, in a less poorly-constructed cerebrum, create a memory. Not only can I not remember positive things that I’ve done or that have happened to me, but I over-remember bad things, which are sometimes events that I actually have reason to feel shitty about, but are also equally random self-hating mind-rants that have no basis in reality yet still manage to take memorisation priority over actual events in my life.
Basically, not only am I super fucking privileged, but I’m also so psychologically damaged that I can’t even enjoy the fun stuff that comes with it. I can, however, feel guilty about it and continue to hate myself, thus perpetuating the problem that I am currently facing, so that’s something.
But no! The Ubermensch does not fall prey to such petty things as basic psychology and brain patterns. The Ubermensch will Ubercome!
That sounds wrong! I mean like overcome, because “uber” means “over”! I think!
The Ubermensch has spoken!
So what I’m going to do in order to drill out this mental plaque that is preventing me from feeling like the badass I apparently am: finish that fucking shitty YA werewolf novel, because goddammit it has long outlived its usefulness as a fun, frivolous writing exercise and it’s time for me to get with the times – the project has changed, and I need to change with it. I will give it a second purpose: to be the second novel I’ve finished in the past 3 years. Obviously this isn’t counting revisions – but, on the note of completing novels …
November isn’t too far away.
It’s kind of scary how fast this year has gone by. I think the same thing every year, but this one seems to have been especially brief.
I don’t want to still be writing this shitty YA werewolf novel come Nanowrimo.
I want something new to work on. And I think that something new is only going to come to me once I have put this shitty YA werewolf novel to bed. I might do a brief revision, but this isn’t going to be a Serious Project, because it was never meant to be. Although having said that, it has taught me a lot just by virtue of it taking so damn long to write. The obvious lesson, which I learnt very early on, is that novelty wears off really fast, and that this kind of writing exercise is awesome if you can get it done quickly. The second lesson comes from the fact that, despite allowing myself to use whatever ideas worked, no matter how problematic or cliche (which are often virtually synonymous), so long as it made the story “feel like a story” … half the time I have spent writing this novel has been putting off these last 2 chapters, because they suck. They don’t even have the twistedly seductive allure of being problematic-yet-effective-from-a-formalist-perspective storytelling; they’re flat and dull and just fucking blow. The lesson is that “cliche” is not, in fact, a synonym for “easy” when it comes to writing, and I’m glad I learnt it. As Jim Carrey once said, you can still fail at something you hate, so you may as well try to succeed at something you love. He also said that vaccines cause autism, or probably has since he’s an anti-vaxxer, goddammit Jim why.
Anyway. I gotta do this just to put more evidence on the board; my plan of gauging my personal achievements/progress in my self-project on a week-by-week basis rather than moment-by-moment is actually kinda working as well, so this seems like a good next point to put on the board. I sometimes wonder what this blog would be like if it wasn’t for my mental health, or lack thereof, colouring my attempts to get shit done. And my conclusion is that I would really rather like to find out.