Old Bugs Can Still Bite

Ah, the joys of trying to write something that you have outgrown. Or have you? It’s always possible that you haven’t; it might just be that you’re not trying hard enough, not committing enough, lack the discipline, just need to find that spark of creativity that you once had but have lost to the ravages of time … the “what if” is what keeps you coming back, even though you know, in an objective, intellectual sense that you will never, ever get it done because 1) you haven’t done it yet despite having ample time, and 2) it’s been such a long time that the original idea no longer exists anymore, and if it did you would not even want to write it because you are now a totally different person.

But what if you could just find a way to tap back into that inspiration, that time, that taste? What if all you need to do is give in to that old indulgence; what if all you have to do is just let yourself be embarrassed for the sake of having fun?

What if?

Yeah, what? I don’t have the fucking answer; I’ve been trying to provide it for 16 years. But it still hasn’t stopped me from thinking, fantasising about and planning out this story in various forms for all that time. It’s an addiction. It’s a problem.

It’s a passion project.

My version of this “passion” project, as I’ve mentioned a few times by now, is called Realm of the Myth, a self-insert fanfiction about myself, mixed up with various formative media that I have consumed over the course of my life such as Harry PotterFinal FantasyThe MatrixPokemonThe Lord of the Rings, and, of course, Dragon Ball Z. I was 14 years old when I came up with this thing, and reading over this now I think that this is perhaps the most 14-year-old thing in the history of ever. 14-year-old so hard motherfuckers wanna fine me.

I have been trying to write Realm of the Myth for around about 16 years now, in one form or another. I’ve “given up” on it at least 3 times during those 16 years, and most recently I supposedly gave up on it less than a month ago. It felt good for a few days. I reminded myself that it wasn’t real anymore, because I said so, and I enjoyed a brief period of creative bubble-bursting, spurring me on towards newer projects, stories that felt more relevant to me as I am now, and a sense of finally leaving this 16-year-old anchor stuck in the abyss where it can just rust into nothingness, and I won’t have to know about it.

And I’ve always known on some level that it was never going to work, though it has never stopped me. I probably should have taken the hint that this wasn’t going to work out when, even when I was 14 years old, I gave up on it as unwriteable because there was absolutely nothing interesting that could actually possibly happen in this clusterfuck of a creative cul-de-sac. But it’s like eating too much on your birthday; your stomach is full, but your mouth wants more, and in the moment the mouth almost always wins. I guess Realm of the Myth is something that my … mouth? … wants to write, even though my … fucking whatever; you get the point. I know it’s bad for me, but it doesn’t seem like it’s bad, because I still have the urge to write it.

Until a couple of nights ago, when I opened up a Word document and started making some notes about what keeps drawing me back to RoTM. It’s pretty basic fanfic stuff; the term “power fantasy” would be just as appropriate as “self-insert fantasy”, and I wrote out the list of things that kept drawing me back to this outdated, unworkable project, thinking that maybe, just maybe, if I just let myself enjoy these adolescent power trips once again, I might actually find enough enjoyment to finally write this fucking thing so that I can stop yo-yoing back and forth with it and get it the hell out of my system, once and for all.

But the exact opposite happened. The more I identified the things that I did still get out of RoTM, the more I realised that they actually didn’t do very much for me – in RoTM. It was the characters, interestingly enough, or perhaps not remotely interesting considering that they’re characters designed to fit a self-insert power fantasy fanfic about myself. I found myself yearning for other, better characters – newer characters. And that realisation brought an empty feeling with it, and while it was a bit of a downer, I thought that perhaps this was it, that I might finally be able to move on. That emptiness was the disconnect between who I was when I first came up with this story and felt the appeal of the ideas that I put into it, and who I am now, the tastes, standards and storytelling needs that have developed in the 16 years since then. It was the disconnect between me as an adolescent and me as an adult. It really put me off, but though it was sad, it also felt right.

At least, it did. But now I’ve flip-flopped; the adolescent void has sucked me into it. It is as though disturbing the corpse of this story has brought the old bug out of hiding, and it’s bitten me again.

Everybody has to learn sometime. But apparently, that time is not now for me.

I want to find a way to make this work, whether that’s by finding whatever flash of brilliance that I need to finally get this ball rolling, or by finding whatever resolve I need to drive a stake through this vampire’s heart once and for all. There’s the part of me, the rational part, the part that’s already experienced a “successful” giving-up-upon of this project, urging me to do it again, and do it properly, because I’ll save myself so much time and totally avoidable mental anguish. There’s also another part of me, the idealist, the perfectionist, the hoarder, that insists that there must be something here, since I keep on coming back to it even though I supposedly know better, which means that surely, if I can just clear my head, I will be able to find that something and make it work, at long last.

I’m pretty sure that’s not true. I mean, I made my list of things that I still liked about it, and even added up together they still didn’t amount to enough of a motive for me to try to tell this story again. But I do keep coming back to it. Is it just habit, or something more? How am I supposed to tell? Do I just live with this infuriating, first-world problems dilemma and accept the fact that my brain is far less efficient than I’d like it to be?

How do I squash this fucking bug?

I don’t know. All I know is that I’m stuck on this project, just like I’ve been stuck on it for the past 16 years – there’s not enough here to make me want to actually write it, but there’s too much there for me to want to give up on it. It’s disgusting. It’s unhealthy. It’s clutter. But there is something about that clutter that comforts me – and I guess that’s the main thing. This slightly panicky feeling of my younger self, panicky but eager and even optimistic – adventurous, in a sense – is seductive. And the prospect of not having to give up on this project is perhaps too seductive. It certainly is easy not to fight it, even if it doesn’t actually lead me anywhere.

But – perhaps it’s not for RoTM. Perhaps it’s just in response to my efforts to more clearly identify the parts of it that I like. Perhaps this is a sign that I need to give up on the parts of this project that don’t work, take the parts that do and give them a new home – or use them as the foundation of something entirely new.

I mean, that would certainly be the most mature option, where I get to finally move the fuck on from this fucking fan fiction about my fucking self. I’m so ashamed.

should be so ashamed.

Oh who am I kidding it’s awesome. Narcissist so hard …

You get the picture.

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