Monthly Words June 2018

Monthly Total: 15089

That’s less than some good weeks I’ve had.

But, y’know … life.

That’s really all there is to say.

I had a bad month this June, looking back over the Weekly Words entries that I had. I do think part of it was a lack of commitment, like I recognised, particularly in the last week, but there was also a very strong theme of just not feeling confident or capable in any of the goals I had set for myself, or just myself in general.

I think this came down to three key points. The first was the issue of not having a project that “felt like mine”. I still don’t feel like I have that project, and I do think that commitment is the thing that I’m lacking – but, I also now think that committing to the projects that I have going now is only going to help get me there by eliminating my current projects as possible contenders for this ideal project that “feels like mine”. In other words, I already know that these projects aren’t working. Which is a shame, and there’s stuff about them that works and that I like, so while I’m not willing to give up on entire projects I am willing to take the good parts and find something else to do with them. This was also exaccerbated by having marking to do, which was the exact opposite of a project that felt like “mine” yet had to be my number one priority (and to be fair, I did keep on top of it pretty damn well), and I don’t think I accounted for how much that impacted me emotionally either, or my sense of accomplishing my personal goals that I tried to set and, consequently, felt ashamed for not meeting. TL;DR: work is hard, and that’s not a sign of personal failure.

The second issue – and these are all related, because problems often are – was not feeling like I had a distinct or identifiable voice as an author. I think a huge part of this, bigger than I was able to see at the time, was going back to read Mark and Jessie. I think it never occurred to me that doing this could even be potentially problematic for me, because it was something that I had made a priority for me to get done. But it’s so old now, so outmoded compared to the kind of stories that appeal to me in more recent years, and I think I have not done a good enough job of keeping that huge temporal gulf of not just writing style but writing values in mind. I’m essentially doing time-travel when I look back at that project, and that’s a perspective that I need to maintain while reading back over it – this is not the kind of writing that I would have produced if I had written Mark and Jessie, say, last year, or even five years ago, and I wrote it ten years ago. I think it led me to drawing conclusions about my lack of voice that are not necessarily, like, accurate, at all. So that’s a pitfall I need to be aware of going forward, and the age of this project is probably the biggest indication that, yeah, a reboot rather than a revision is the way to go in this case, if it’s something I still want to stick with. The vision that I have for Mark and Jessie does still feel like “mine” – not as strongly as it did ten years ago when it became pretty much my life-raft and defining existential purpose, but I don’t think losing that particular sense of importance is, like, a bad thing. I love the ideas, but at the end of the day it’s just a book. I can have a bit more purpose in life than just writing a fucking book.

And the third issue was just how much stuff I had going on, and how badly prepared I was to handle it, and that honestly is just a matter of experience – which, I have found upon looking back over these past four Weekly Words, is something that I have been getting. It’s just that experience takes time, and this month has been very valuable in terms of the experiences that I’ve had. I pushed myself – and allowed myself to be pushed – to try things I thought was too scared or incompetent to try, and even though I immediately went back to being scared of them after I was done, in the moment it felt not just doable, but enjoyable. And that was a bigger step than I think I acknowledge it to be. I also did get some me-time in; yes, it could have been better, but in a lot of ways, honestly, it was a first try. The last time I really took care of myself and gave myself permission to just chill – well, before I discovered UF novels anyway – was when I got the flu about eight or nine years ago and was forced to remain in my room for about a week. And besides the fact that I had the flu, that was one of the most comforting, contented weeks of my life.

And that’s just a bit sad.

This month was shit, and I don’t feel like that’s too harsh of me to say – because it was the kind of shitty experience that you need to have, and reflect upon, and come to recognise for what it was, so that going forward you understand a bit more about yourself and where you’re at. I tried a lot of new things this month, and it all felt exhausting and disappointing after the fact because I didn’t immediately find it easy to continue doing those things, plus having to prioritise marking over these various self-project experiments – but fuck, man, I tried stuff this months, and even if it was only in snippets and shorter-than-I’d-like jam sessions, it got done. I did write that difficult scene; I did just kick back and chill the fuck out and enjoy it; I did get all of my marking done and still managed to get some writing done.

Ultimately, I’m coming away from this month starting to recognise that I really do have as little experience juggling work and personal goals and R&R as I’ve always thought that I did – but, also, recognising that not only can I do something about that, but that I’ve already started doing something about it. I’ve said that I want more regular perspective check-ins, but I don’t think I could have come to these conclusions if I hadn’t stuck it out and played the long game, taking in this whole month in its entirety – or at least what I recorded of it on this blog. I did commit to doing new things and pushing my boundaries – it’s just that I don’t have experience with any of those things, let alone committing to them. I know that now. And that self-understanding is certainly worth the price of a shitty monthly word-count.

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