So I’ve decided to put Tallulah down again.
It just wasn’t going anywhere good, and that frustrating thing happened where I could see solutions, but not think my way across the synaptic chasm between my current neural pathways and the potential new ones to be formed on the other side. Also, after chatting with my soon-to-be-known-as-Dr. best friend (congratulations again, dude!), I have realised that Tallulah is not the conventional story that I’ve been trying to mold it into – perhaps it should be, or perhaps not, but regardless it’s not what I’m in the right head-space to write just now. So whether it’s just for now or for good, I am doing something else for a while.
That something else is my previous passion project, Mark and Jessie’s Christmas. I have mentioned it a few times before: it was one of the first stories I came up with during the end of my friendship with Wickham that felt truly like it came from me, my tastes and ideas and values, rather than an attempt to win Wickham’s approval of my ideas. It’s probably good that all of that feels like a lifetime ago now, instead of the recent past. I’ve been waiting for this to happen. It’s sort of anticlimactic, but I suppose that’s also a good thing.
But yes, it’s about two kids who travel to the king of the elves in order to get presents because he’s sick of giving them out to people who don’t deserve them – which is more or less everyone, in his eyes. Said kids are very angsty, because this is a thing that I wrote, and along the way … well, stuff is supposed to happen, but what ends up happening is not that stuff, and that’s part of why I’m going back to it now. The other reason is because it is just a bit more conventional, and therefore seems like a good way for me to exercise these urges to tell a more conventional story than the prospect of returning to Tallulah offered me.
So I sat down to take some revision notes and make a broad summary of the story, chapter by chapter, that I could then use as a springboard from which a revision plan could launch.
And then I actually started reading it and was compelled to utter the sentence “no bad die” while swiping my hands at the intangible yet omnipresent threat to my very sanity that this decade-old manuscript presented me with.
It’s not great.
I really, really do want to look into livestreaming my writing one day, because I feel like getting to witness an author’s reactions to reading their own work could be quite entertaining. It’s such a personal thing, and weird in the way that while it is deeply personal, because all of these ideas and thoughts and decisions came directly from you, once it’s down in writing it’s also now this totally separate entity that you can interact with and not be accountable for anymore, while the entire interaction is emotionally fueled by the fact that you are totally accountable for it. It’s very existential, confronting your own writing, and something that I would love to see on camera.
But for now, I’ve put aside the revision notes to give myself the chance to just read and process and swipe at my computer screen some more, because I feel that I have received a few signs that this is a thing that needs to happen before any productive work can take place. It’s so bad, and it’s grossly fascinating because it’s not just a bad thing, but a bad thing that I created. I think this means I’m a narcissist, but that’s only really surprising because there should be far more evidence of that for me to pick up on in my day-to-day life anyway.
But I think it’s also because, by exposing and identifying flaws in myself through my writing, I give myself the chance to correct those flaws. And that’s powerful. Not just that, but to do so in private, without having to worry about the judgment of others. I mean I’m telling you about it here, but not the specifics. And the specifics are the real issue.
Whereas the broad strokes of this story … I’m honestly finding those hard to find, because the little things seem to be so densely packed that each individual instance of god-awful writing pulls me in with an inexorably powerful gravitational field, forcing me to fixate on each of them in turn for far longer than it takes to read any one of them – though that is also less powerful of an urge now that I am no longer making revision notes. The other issue is that, so far, the key narrative beats that I’m expecting to see in each chapter are not there. It would be very convenient if they were, but it seems like important moments are going to take a little more effort to isolate and identify when I do eventually start making revision notes for this thing, because they seem to be spread out over the chapters in a sort of haphazard way.
Then again, I am only one and a half chapters into this thing, and already I have felt the need – and given in to it – to write this blog post in order to distract myself from the process of actually forcing myself to read this garbage of my own making. I can only hope that things will get better as the manuscript goes on; I have changed the page format from A4 to A5, to make it feel a bit more like a real book as I’m reading it. Upside: it’s kind of working.
Downside: the “real book” I’m reading is 622 pages long.
Well, if you’re going through hell, keep going …
Also this manuscript has a lot of ellipses and I fucking hate myself right now because it means I have to read them all …