Finished a scene today, a difficult one that I felt super uncomfortable writing and kept tripping up over silly little technicalities, so I gave myself not just permission but a directive to write the most unrealistic things I could think of just to get it to end.
Surprising nobody, it worked really well.
This, of course, got me to thinking about my shitty YA werewolf novel, Wolf Gang, and I read another hundred pages today in what felt like half an hour. It was probably more like an hour and a half, but the point is that it was easy to read, and rewarding. The manuscript is trash, yes, but that’s just the specifics, the fine print details – with a bit of tweaking, I now see, it could actually be a perfectly adequate book with a functioning and coherent narrative. It still wouldn’t be good, and I doubt there’s much I can do in that department, which is also the main reason why I’m not sure if it would be worth it to revise it …
But I kinda want to.
And given that this book was a glorified writing experiment to begin with – well, why not continue the experiment?
Because to be perfectly honest, I think it’s the best writing I’ve done in, like, ever. Excluding my academic writing, which is measured along a different metric of quality than my creative writing. I could potentially see the value in putting more effort into it – beyond my personal satisfaction – if the premise was just a bit more original, because the premise at the moment is just “boy becomes werewolf and has to learn to deal with it also the pack leader is evil”. The main issue is not so much that I can’t think of a way to make it more original – which I can’t, but I know I could if I put some effort into it – but the fact that, in my heart of hearts, I just don’t want to make it more original. Ironically, the actual original premise of this book was more original – but I don’t want to write that version of this book anymore, either. This pretty much guarantees that this is never going to become a “real” project of mine.
But that’s fine with me. I like it for what it is, and for whatever reason I seem to not be overtaken with my usual neurotic crap at the prospect of just enjoying it for that and not trying to turn it into something else, something “proper”, something “worth” working on. I want to, and that’s the only reason I’m working on it right now – and as far as I’m concerned, it’s working out well.
But what’s even better is that the ongoing Mark and Jessie read-through is actually turning out to be very insightful and helpful and, my favourite writing-related word, generative as well. Normally I have a passion project and a heartless slog labour project, but in this case I just have two projects to work on that I find pretty fulfilling in their own different ways. I’m getting so many good ideas for rebooting Mark and Jessie from reading it and making notes; they’re much more in-depth than I was planning for them to be, but that feels right to me now – I am planning a full-on reboot, after all, so getting a comprehensive set of notes to build a future plan around seems like a very practical thing to do.
And I’m excited to reboot it. I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t even hoping for that. I used to, during undergrad, when I wanted to work on it but just didn’t have the focus or energy – or vision, honestly – to do so. After three years of getting nowhere with that, I sort of just resigned myself to not being able to make it work. But now it feels not just like I can, but I will, if I just keep at it.
So that needs to happen this year. Because this is the year, as I have said many times by now, that I have the opportunity to focus on my writing without having to worry about other shit. It turns out that I do have other shit to worry about, but I also know it’s not stuff that will get in the way of my writing. I have a clear shot, and I am taking it.
And also my friend and I made a deadline for finishing the first draft of our co-writing project, which is also exciting.
It’s excitement all around up in here, and I won’t lie, I could get used to it.
Today was an important day. I got some necessary life stuff done, which included getting up at the ungodly hour of 8AM so that I could meet my supervisor and talk to him about potential PhD ideas – apparently he thinks I’m on to something, so that’s encouraging, and now it’s up to me to put in some legwork and see where my thesis proposal stands and oh god it’s all up to me I have to decide whether or not this is worth doing it’s my responsibility I am the one who has to make the decision why why dear god whyyy.
… as a result, today has been very much a self-care day, because while I am very glad that I did this (and got to hang out with my bestie for a bit afterwards, as she was also at uni) and it was not at all stressful once I actually got there, all of the lead-up to it did a number on my nerves, and was followed up by me coming home and getting in touch with WINZ just to double-check a few important details – including how exactly I am supposed to apply for the disability allowance, which will help me to cover the cost of seeing a psychologist, and it turns out I have to do a bunch of other stuff before I can even do that. Which is all good to know, definitely, and again actually taking care of this stuff was not that stressful once I got around to it, but the lead-up is what takes it out of me.
This brings me to a revelation that I had yesterday, which was another self-care day, for reasons I can’t actually remember very clearly but I know had a lot to do with the stuff I got done today – that, and the fact that WOW’s current expansion ended today, so yesterday and today I was catching up on some limited achievements that are tied specifically to this expansion before the next one hits, and I got all the ones I wanted to do done and then some, why am I still playing WOW, what is wrong with me, why am I such a sucker, why why dear god whyyy.
… But anyway, the revelation: gaming is important. It was the first time I had ever had this thought, and I still completely believe it the day after. But here’s the important part: it’s important – for the specific role that it serves in my life, which is to say, a part of my self-care routine. Some people have a favourite TV show they like to watch, some people have comfort food, some people like to read a book – I like to read books and eat too much, but TV doesn’t really do it for me as a go-to source of stress relief and self-soothing mechanism. For me, it’s gaming. The only issue is that, historically, I have used it as an escapist crutch, fallen into addictive habits with it …
And realising that it’s actually important for me to do, within a specific context, has actually helped me to confront a lot of those bad habits. Because it has a role to play in my life; it’s how I relax, decompress, wind down after being wound up. And I like that. Much like I spend a lot of time uselessly fretting about not being productive enough as a writer, I spend a lot of time uselessly fretting about being a bad adult for enjoying gaming. And now I know what’s behind it: a lack of purpose. Historically, it’s just been a habit – a bad habit, you could probably call it an addiction, certainly at some specific points in my life (like when I discovered Pokemon and WOW for the first time, respectively) – a compulsion, something that I’ve done without thinking about it, without choosing to do it. I mean, no, not literally, but that’s how I’ve seen it, felt it, and thought about it.
No more! It is now an integral part of my life, that I control, and saying it over and over again will absolutely make it true and immediately eradicate and replace years of unhealthy, unadulterated over-engagement with games, so there. So sayeth the Ubermensch!
No but seriously, this has been a huge revelation for me – an exciting one. I’m starting to feel like an actual, honest-to-fuck adult. A bold claim, to be sure, but hey, we all have to start somewhere.
As for the writing and reading – not a hell of a lot in that department this week, but it’s okay. Self-care has been needed, and it has been done, so that’s good. I do need to find a way of mixing it in with the stuff that I need to do – but then again, as I proved to myself today, I am very capable of doing it. Just gotta keep it up.
Yes, there is a reason I am writing about days I didn’t write. Namely, because they are days I was supposed to have been writing – or at least working on my writing projects, not all of which involve writing at this stage in their respective processes.
So what was I doing? Games. Lots and lots of games.
“No but like dude it has a purpose it’s totally healthy and necessary for my self-care regime. It’s important.”
Shut the fuck up, brain.
Mind you, it hasn’t been just a case of games distracting me from my personal priorities; it’s been everything else that I’ve been doing – Youthline starting back up, talking to my masters supervisor about PhD stuff, getting my final job payment and disability allowance info sorted out with WINZ (spoilers it’s a lot of paperwork). I never really bounced back from marking, I don’t think, because even besides the writing not getting done, and before this week’s gaming binge, my shit has been on a consistent downhill trajectory ever since I started marking that final assignment. And it’s been downhill straight into a big pile of very important stuff that I have no experience or confidence in doing, requiring me to do such horrible things as make appointments, have something of a schedule for getting all of this shit done, learning a bunch of new bus routes so that I can sort out transport for getting this shit done …
I’ve never quite been in a situation like this. Unprepared doesn’t begin to cover it; these past two months have been basically the antithesis of the formative experiences of my entire existence. I’m not playing games to get away from doing this stuff, because I’ve been doing it. I’ve been playing games to recover from doing this stuff. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t for the fact that I still don’t feel recovered, don’t know how the fuck to get to that point, and in the meantime not only is nothing else getting done, but the good habits that I’ve built up around getting them done are atrophying from lack of use.
It’s bullshit, basically. My life is bullshit right now.
I don’t like it.
But, we work with what we’ve got, and right now I have some self-awareness and a Weekly Words installment that runs from the 15th to the 21st of this month. And while I’ve said that I want a full weekend to focus on doing fun things with, in practice this idea has never worked once since its inception. It’s a fantastic idea – but the problem with it is that it’s an idea that assumes I’m spending the rest of the week writing like a maniac and, consequently, need a couple of days off every week for sanity.
Which I do think would still work, if I was writing like a maniac every week. But I’m not.
So, in light of this – it’s time to improvise.
Starting this week, I am giving myself up to 3 days off per week. When I’ve got a nice solid rhythm and doing lots of writing that I will need time to recover from but also want to maintain momentum with as much as possible, I get a “weekend”, which is Friday and Saturday, or possibly Monday and Tuesday, plus an optional just-in-case day off. But during bullshit weeks like this week, those 3 days off can come at any point in the week. This is to allow for the fact that, well, I have a lot of growing to do, and I still want to be committed to my writing as a discipline, as well as a passion.
But it is also to allow for the fact that, sometimes, life gives you lemons, and you can’t make lemonade, so instead you need a bit of time to cope with the prospect of eating those suckers as nature intended. It is to acknowledge that this does happen – and that even when it does, you can still get your shit done. Some of it, anyway. And there is no way I can’t get some shit done this week, however disappointed I am with how the past four days have gone in that regard.
To be clear, I don’t regret the last four days in general. I just want to see myself succeeding in the ways that I’m setting out to. I want more evidence to show that, actually, I can commit to doing things, and my commitment means something. I need that knowledge. And to be fair, all of this other life shit that’s been causing me so much stress that it’s driven me to gaming in a way that I haven’t felt driven to it in quite a long time – and away from my personal-time priorities, more to the point – I have been relatively on top of said life shit. If I’m looking for evidence of being able to commit and get things done, even things I’m not prepared for, I have some. I’m doing okay. It’s not the romantic ideal, it’s not even what I think is realistically my best effort, but if it wasn’t for this weekly commitment to writing there wouldn’t be a problem.
But I do have that commitment, and I fucking want that commitment. It does mean something to me. And I do not want to see myself letting it slip just because I can, and just because I need some time to recover from other shit going on. Which I do. But the balance needs to be healthier. I don’t just want to recover from stress; I want to get better at handling it. Like increasing your weights at gym, I need to step up my game if I want my efforts with Weekly Words (which is basically now shorthand for “getting my life sorted out”) to build to something I can be proud of.
The week’s not through yet, and neither am I. All I need is a plan.
See? Nothing to worry about.
And yes, that statement is, in fact, for my sake, I need a bit of reassurance right now – and there it is. A glorious word-count, which even goes into quadruple digits. Go me.
And I was actually going to do even more writing, but today my Word subscription died and I am now waiting to coordinate with my family members and see if we want to get the 5-person Office deal between us, which is stupendously better value than the only slightly cheaper 1-person Office deal. So that was a bummer momentum-killing moment …
But on the flipside: we finally got fibre internet installed, and it’s … better? At the moment the most notable change is that we can watch Youtube videos in HD with no issue, and to be fair that’s very nice. Download speed doesn’t seem to be as phenomenal as it could be, but it is at the very least better than it was, the amount of betterness ranging from slightly to quite substantially, but nowhere near the stratospheric advancements we were all advertised at the beginning. I think the ultimate message here is not to get internet, period, because just like a cult it’s never all that it’s cracked up to be.
Good. Much improved.
I’m getting very invested in my reading projects lately – I was invested on principle, but now it’s actual emotional investment, so that’s always nice. I foresee a few more weeks of less-than-10k words worth of writing done per week, at the very least, because I have lots of revision-related activities to undertake. However, I also have these writing exercises and scenes that I want to force myself to write – writing homework, I guess, that I really want to make sure that I make myself do, because it is very clear to me that I need to push myself comfort-wise. That whole “finding my voice” thing that I wanted to do so badly a couple of weeks ago. Still need to do that.
But this week was a good experience, a nice stress-test, for Weekly Words in the end. I messed myself up halfway through the week, but then brought it back around, and that feels a hell of a lot better than it would have been to just let it sit. I have this whole romantic idea about letting the consequences of your actions teach you important lessons and not making up for a messed-up schedule – mostly so that I can train myself to just let things go when I need to and not be constantly trying to catch up to my plans when things inevitably go wrong – and I do think that’s practical and good and healthy. But I now realise how ridiculous that is as a one-size-fits-all approach – because sometimes, I think, what the consequences of our actions teach us is that we can make up for lost time, often without very much effort on our part at all, and in the end if it’s something that we want to hold ourselves accountable for doing – well, we should do it.
Lots of learning this week, basically. Valuable learning.
And as for that less-than-10k word count …
Weekly Total: 3314
Honestly, I was expecting quite a bit less than that, so go me! And that seems like a good note to end this particular week on – so, let’s end it, and get ready for the next one …