Weekly Words 19-25/08/2018

19/08/18: 667

All right. Back to writing.

My friend and I set a deadline for finishing this current (final) episode of our co-writing project, which happens to be the 1st of September – it’s a full 2 weeks, true, but as I well know a lot can not happen in 2 weeks, so I’ve made myself get a start on it. Today’s been a bit of a restart in a few ways: I got this writing done, I went for a walk this morning after three weeks of serious slacking …

Also I watched Ready, Player One at long last and it inspired me.

Not, like, the actual story or anything. The film is decidedly mediocre, though I also did not hate myself forever after finishing it. More the premise – the opening narration has the line: “The only limit to what you can do in the OASIS is your imagination”. This premise has been used in stories before, and it’s impossible to follow through on to a satisfactory level; but something about it made me realise that it’s actually exactly the premise of one of my own projects. I had thought it was something else; I thought it was about playing with high fantasy tropes, even though looking at high fantasy never really gave me inspiration for it, and then I saw Ready, Player One and realised that high fantasy is just the setting, and instead of looking at high fantasy for answers to my various issues with narrative and genre, I instead need to seek out stories within this “genre” of “anything you can imagine is possible because I the author wish I was making a videogame instead of writing a book/making a film” for advice. And while that seems like it will take effort, I find it a kind of exciting prospect, rather than an offputting one. Personal growth? You decide.

23/08/18: 43

Look, whatever, it’s not about the word-count anymore, or at least it really shouldn’t be considering the past couple of months.

I do want to write more this week, but I’m now starting to think that maybe Weekly Words needs to morph into Monthly Words. Part of this is the “perspective is good” element of Weekly Words; having the ability to look over things that I’ve done with my time across an extended period is definitely useful, but I’m now thinking that the focus on what I’ve done, focusing solely on past-tense, is also quite narrow, and that if I shift gears into planning my goals within the context of the span of a month as the window of time in which those goals can be achieved, it might help me to develop more robust forward-planning skills, which would be nice.

Especially since the main reason I haven’t been doing much writing lately is because I am very upset about things that I keep meaning to do and never get around to doing, and the despondency just leaks out into every other aspect of my life, especially something as self-directed as writing. I don’t have to do it, I have no obligation to do it, and so if anything’s going to suffer it’s going to be writing, because it’s just so easy to not bother when there’s other shit on my mind. I had a pretty major wake-up call at this week’s Youthline session, in a good way, but that’s just with this particular thing that I’ve been trying to get done for almost two years – lack of follow-through, and lack of sensible planning, is one of my long-term learning edges (a strengths-based term for “thing that you’re bad at”). Weekly Words has helped me a lot this year, but perhaps it’s reached the end of its usefulness …

Or just needs to be supplemented with something. Perhaps I just need to get more serious about my more long-term goals – such as writing goals for the month, for the year, etc. I think that this thought is a step in the right direction anyway, even if the exact plan is not quite there yet.

Weekly Total: 710

WHATEVER.

The thing is, I really do have so much shit that I need to sort out, and until I get it sorted out I’m not going to want to write. Which sucks, because I like writing, and I like wanting to write. But it’s my own fault; I’ve put it off and put it off again, and it just keeps getting in the way of everything else I want to do, not just writing. It’s time to focus on making sure it gets done.

But the writing is not going to stop. I don’t want it to be a matter of hitting pause on every single other thing in my life just because one big thing isn’t happening for me; I want to get used to making things happen all at once, managing the balancing act. It’s what I wanted while I was marking, and I didn’t get it – but I made a start. And I intend to keep the ball rolling, or get it rolling again, or whatever momentum-based metaphor is applicable to my current situation.

I don’t want to let one shitty ongoing obstacle be an obstacle to everything else in my life, yet I’ve done exactly that for the past … I don’t even want to try to count how long. Long enough. Sometimes you need a break; I needed a break last week. But this week I didn’t need a break – I just needed to do other things as well as writing, and those things didn’t get done.

Well, it’s time to get them done, and time to try harder to make my writing work for me in the way that I want it to. I hate this week. But it’s over now. On to the next one.

Weekly Words 12-18/08/2018

Weekly Total: 0

I haven’t written anything this week, intend to continue writing nothing this week, and it feels very correct indeed.

I’m not sure quite what the trigger was for me making this decision, but I actually think it was less of a trigger and more of suddenly realising that I’m really fucking exhausted. Like, okay, a bit embarrassing, I life about the most sedentary lifestyle it is possible for a person to live without being forced to do so by morbid obesity, but ever since that first panic-induced marking frenzy earlier this year – to be frank, I don’t think I’ve recovered. Not my energy, but my habits, my focus, my stability. I haven’t really taken the time to actually re-settle myself, get back into a healthy groove. I spent all of that time doing things that I was obligated to do, and since then have spent pretty much no time on myself.

And no, moping and feeling sorry for myself and fretting and procrastination does not count as “me time”, for what are hopefully obvious reasons. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am shit at self-care, and that is what this week has been about – or, it has been since yesterday, when after Youthline I realised I had gone 4 days without writing and that it felt good, and I was so tired after Youthline that I slept in until 12:45 PM this afternoon and it felt even gooder.

Which tells me that, at least for a little while, this is what I need.

And I’ve done some other things, anyway, important things. I completed my first mentor shift at Youthline, where I answered texts sent by real-life people and everything. No phone calls, because I probably would have had a heart attack, but the experience, while exhausting, was also incredibly empowering, and if I wanted a change from the morbid doldrums of last week then this was definitely a good start. I’ve spent this week feeling pretty optimistic, though also more aware of when I get tired; I can feel myself starting to nod off around 7 PM, and I’ve decided to start rolling with it – not to sleep, but to chill.

And by doing so, I finally finished Graceling, a book that I bought for myself 5 years ago (to memory) and, after reading 1 chapter, refused to finish it, despite having paid money to own it. Well, I’ve read it now, and while I can’t say I’m richer for the experience or that I’ve experienced any personal growth directly attributed to the content of the story itself, I do feel better about myself – and more competent at the whole self-care thing. After all, while I think my Urban Fantasy kick is well and truly over, it did put me back in touch with my love of reading, and I have to say that Graceling was actually a bit more of a challenging read than most of the UF I’ve read so far. Well, challenging in a way that I like. There have definitely been UF books that were more challenging, but not in a way that made me think so much as a way that made me recoil in anguish and horror and want to throw them across the room but stopped myself from doing it because they’re library books and also I don’t want to destroy my house because I read a shitty book.

Though to be clear, saying that Graceling made me think is a bit … strong. More accurately, Graceling proved to me that even a book that doesn’t quite successfully tell a story and has a truly toxic “romance” at its core can still have good points, and how frustrating that reading experience can be. It also proved to me that, yes, I really do love reading, because even reading Graceling was satisfying enough.

Okay I’m being a bit mean, and reflecting on most of my book reviews, honestly, I am quite glad that I haven’t done many over the past few years. I think I have the training – on paper at least – to be conduct critical analysis on texts, but not the temperament. I want to be harsh and shitty and make jokes at the author’s expense, because I’m just a bit of a tool. And I think that’s okay, honestly – I just don’t think, knowing this about myself, that I absolutely need to publish these personal expressions of my opinion to the internet.

Also there’s just not much I’d want to say about Graceling. I read it, it wasn’t great but there were good parts – I particularly liked Bitterblue, and if the whole book had been about her I would have been rather more enthusiastic – and at the end of the day, I feel satisfied that I not only got a book read and unlocked today’s downtime achievement, but also that I honoured a deal that I made with myself to start reading through books that I actually own before continuing to binge on library books.

However, I do rather enjoy the snarkings of other critics, and have been revisiting Reading With A Vengeance, which I used to frequent much more often when I actually, like, did things online, instead of just blogging and drowning out the noise in my head with endless DBFZ videos on Youtube. This has been another part of my downtime activity since I decided literally yesterday that I needed more self-care time, and it reminds me of that time I declared that I wanted to embark on an “internet world tour” some years ago – basically, to explore the internet and see just what, exactly, is out there. To be interested in things again would be an awfully big adventure. Also potentially a way to combat my rather uncurious attitude – I’ve always been aware of it, to some extent, the fact that I hear about all these writers who are known for being observant and getting really excited about little interactions that they happen to observe, people’s tics and patterns of speech and whatever other minutia us writers are supposed to be fucking junkies for, and I’m just not. But it extends to every area of my life, not just writing, and let’s just say that depression and social anxiety have not helped this habit to abate, exactly.

And as happy as I was to finish a book today and hop into bed when I felt myself drowsing out, I also want a wider range of self-care options to choose from than just “read something” and “play games I don’t really enjoy until I finally give up on finding any scrap of enjoyment at around 4 AM and fail to sleep due to over-stimulation”.

I think the main issue is that I tend to want to have multiple forms of stimulation going on at once. For instance, as I write this I have a Spotify playlist playing – I almost always have music playing, no matter what I’m doing, and a couple of years ago it was podcasts instead. I think this stems from growing up when “the internet” was a new and exciting invention, and particularly how much stuff I could find there – music in particular. I could find it, hoard it, yes I was a teenager in the early 2000’s you can figure out what I was doing. The point is that I was presented with this glut of stuff to do with as I would, too much to know what to do with, and I imagine that much like people who suddenly come into a lot of money they just want to use it all, because it’s so new and exciting and theirs, and they want to indulge in the sheer sensation of their ownership over it. All restraint goes out the window, and before you know it some very unhealthy, and potentially lifelong habits have been formed. I listen to music not because I always want to be listening to music, but because back in the day the way I tried to cope with the overwhelming availability of music was to find as many ways as I could to fit it into my everyday life, driven by a strange “use it or lose it” anxiety brought on by the fact that I could never actually run out. I dunno, brains are weird.

But that can go on the self-care list: one thing at a time. One thing that I enjoy as a downtime activity at a time. So rather than music and a book, one or the other, that sort of thing. Because I want to enjoy things more. I want to appreciate them more. And I imagine that requires focus, mental bandwidth that I have been trying to stretch between too many things at once. To the point where, like, the very idea of listening to a podcast and not doing something else at the same time gives me fucking anxiety.

All of this and more is why this week off writing is so important for me.

But also, I feel like I’ve gotten to a place with my writing where I don’t need Weekly Words every single week in order to keep up momentum – I feel like I’ve got a good enough foundation with it that I can fit in breaks and not have it completely demolish my momentum. Not so much that I feel confident about taking, say, 2 weeks off, but 1 I think will be not only perfectly fine but also pretty damn advisable, given that there are a lot of things that have been happening with me this year that I know I haven’t really made the time to properly, responsibly process.

As for saying that there will be no writing this week – that’s how I feel right now. It could change. I might mark it up next week or something; but for this week, my aim is that getting writing done is not the goal I want to have accomplished by the end of it. My goal is to get centered again, find a bit of the clarity and focus that I feel like I’ve been missing for a very long time, and make a list of all the things that helped me get there so that I can replicate the results.

And read. Lots. Hopefully lots of good stuff.

Weekly Words 05-12/08/2018

06/08/18: 3206

I really wasn’t going to write today. I watched the EVO DBFZ Tournament Top 8 for most of the day and have very strong feelings about it, and I was pretty sure that was just my writing efforts well and truly sabotaged for the day. Oh well, I thought to myself, it’s not like I can’t make up for it tomorrow – and hey, I can always write 1 word a day, right? After all, consistency is the main thing, not word-count.

Which is why I’m not bragging that I wrote 3k words in under 2 and a half hours, which to memory is faster than I usually write, I should really try timing myself properly more often …

And it was all one of my own projects. Mortal Foil, to be exact. My co-writing buddy and I did not work on our co-writing project yesterday, and instead I read over one of my more recently completed projects while she worked on her YA dystopian novel, and she was on quite the roll. It was incredibly inspiring, and at the same time made me so frustrated with myself for being such a smartass with my own writing, destroying all of my own momentum by giving in to my awful arts student habit of having to fucking solve everything, especially when it’s “problematic”.

Lindsey Ellis, the whole reason I became interested in watching youtube, made a video regarding this issue, discussing the way it ruined (for her at least) Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. It was a really valuable watch for me – I’ve been aware for some time that just because something in a story is problematic doesn’t mean that it isn’t still working in service of that story, and hearing her put it so succinctly and in-depth really hit home how much I get in my own way when I’m trying to write something in a genre that I associate with particularly problematic tropes. I generally highly recommend Lindsey’s videos, but this one in particular I recommend for any other writers or creatives out there who struggle with this problem and want to be able to put more coherent words to it, as I did until I watched her video.

Of course, the way I framed it to myself back in the day was something to the effect of “ripping shit off is fucking fun”, which is only part of the story, but an important one, and one that I’ve been depriving myself of since deciding to return to this story. I think part of the problem is that I just don’t really like the tropes I’m ripping off, they do legitimately bother me – but it’s also because I just can’t tap into whatever kind of attitude, feeling, or mindset I need to write it sincerely. Which tells me that I may have to go back and read City of Bones again for tips.

Or, if I need something new – well, I never did finish Graceling, did I …

07/08/18: 1788

It was going to be less than this – and I was going to go to bed before 3AM – but fuck it, I watched The Kissing Booth today and actually kind of enjoyed it in a non-ironic way, all bets are off.

Although full disclosure, I am indeed That Guy and mostly find the film an invaluable new source of so-toxic-it’s-hilarious glee and joy in my life – sarcasm aside for a moment, I found myself liking Joey King a lot in the lead role, and sincerely hope that she goes on to bigger (and better) things from here, but fucking seriously, this film

The reason I persisted in writing more than I planned on today (I was going to stop at 247 and like it) is partly because of this film, and what it’s given me to reflect on regarding why I’m finding it so hard to get back into writing Mortal Foil. Here’s the thing: I found writing Wolf Gang to be one of the easiest and most enjoyable writing experiences that I’ve ever had, and to start off with Mortal Foil was the same. But ever since I came back to it a couple of weeks ago, it’s just been kind of a slog. It’s also been pretty rewarding, but only in the moment – the next day, or sometimes even just a couple of minutes later, I regret everything and see no way out.

And it’s because of the tropes that come with female-led YA stories.

And no, it’s not because the stories are all girly and I, a manly man, cannot stoop to the level of writing such drivel.

It’s because, as a man, I lack the emotional fortitude to withstand some of the shit – most of the shit, let’s be real – that female YA protagonists have to endure. And that’s just when I’m reading it. So when I try to write it …

I mean, I can’t. I physically cannot bring myself to do that to myself; I can’t take it. It’s too damn much. I can’t write about how shitlord fuckboys sneak into my protagonist’s bedroom, “for her own good” because of some kind of even-creepier paranormal threat that wants to get into her pants that makes their actions acceptable and justified and even necessary; I can’t write about how the such-a-nice-guy platonic pal slut-shaming the main character is just because he cares about her so much and could’t live with himself if “something happened to her”, which she would be too stupid and naive and stubborn to take any measures to protect herself from and, even if she did, it would still ultimately be her fault for trying to be too empowered or whatever; I can’t fucking do it. I can’t write it and make myself believe that the given explanation for this atrocious, abusive fucking behaviour is the actual explanation; I cannot suspend my disbelief. And it’s driving me crazy, because that’s what the tropes are in this fucking non-genre, and the joy that I take in aping tropes has driven me into this catch-22 creative cul-de-sac, and until tonight I haven’t been able to see a way out of it.

But then I realised – I don’t only like aping toxic horseshit tropes.

Honest.

So rather than trying to force myself to write these abominable cliches and plot contrivances that end up with me steering the story so far away from them, for the sake of “deconstruction” and “critique”, that the story goes off the rails, I decided I’d try to think of some tropes to ape that don’t make me sick to my stomach.

And as it turns out, I actually could think of some.

So I’ve thrown out the last 2 chapters I wrote (they still exist, they’re just in a different folder for discarded drafts, never throw any of your writing away) and started over, taking things in a new, better, and honestly more YA direction than it was going in before. That was the other revelation: stepping away from the problematic tropes actually makes this story feel more like a recognisable YA novel than trying to stick it out with them.

Besides, the main reason for me officially restarting my YA kick – I started reading Graceling again last night after 5 years off and, seriously, I must have somehow read an entirely different book the first time where I gave up on it after the first chapter, it’s actually pretty okay so far – is because there is so much good YA out there, and I can take inspiration from (read: rip off) those stories and tropes, too. The more challenging, self-aware, progressive stuff, not the basic, unapologetically problematic Urban Fantasy mush I’ve been binging on for the past year. It goes down easy, but so does McDonald’s. Now I’m not just looking forward to reading it, but writing it, too.

All because of a kissing booth.

Like seriously, I might have to write a review of that film just to process all of my reactions to it, it’s fucking wild. And by wild I mean so grossly cliche and generic and artless that it’s both utterly redundant and one of the most important artifacts of popular culture of our generation. It’s the next step in the trend that started with Twilight, and whatever you think about that franchise (which Lindsey Ellis also has some very important commentary on), it has defined our cultural landscape to an extent that I truly feel we have only begun to scratch the surface of, because it continues to do so, not least through the likes of 50 Shades of Grey and, now, The Kissing Booth.

Or I’m just still reeling from the psychological trauma resulting from willingly subjecting myself to this viewing experience – but I still don’t regret it. Hell, I’m going to watch it again on Sunday with my co-writing friend. I would recommend this film to everyone. I do recommend this film to everyone, just because I don’t want anyone to be deprived of the response that they will have to it.

Life’s too short not to watch The Kissing Booth for yourself. That’s what I’m saying. For some reason.

09/08/18: 1496

A bit of a flail day today, but I am very aware that the writing is going better this week than it has for a little while, and that is nice to be able to take credit for.

I had kind of a shit day yesterday – I have noticed that I feel particularly anxious and low on days when I have Youthline lately, and yesterday it was as bad as it has been so far. Had a chat with my facilitator today and feel like I have a few more options, a bit more perspective – and this year I’m all about dat perspective – so it’s looking up, i guess. I have to say that, because I have to acknowledge that it’s true, even though it doesn’t feel like that, because feelings just kind of do what they do, regardless of whether it’s helpful or not. But you can feel shit and still get shit done.

And in the midst of dealing with said shit, you can get writing done, too.

10/08/18: 876

Good enough!

And if I do about 3k words tomorrow, that’s 10k for the week. Possibilities.

Needed a self-care day after the past couple of days, and probably more to follow, honestly. I have the beginnings of a plan, though, for all of the life shit that I need to address. So, overall, this was a good day, a day that needed to happen.

11/08/18: 0

Slightly less than 3k words today – for a grand total of:

Weekly Total: 7366

Overall … well, overall I’m glad that there was more than just this last week to judge my life by. I had some tough weeks this year, not just writing-wise but life-wise, and arguably they were objectively more difficult – I had more that needed to be done, I felt the time-crunch really keenly, I had to work around circumstances beyond my control to meet deadlines – but this past week, I think, has been the worst one I’ve had this year. For a few years, honestly.

And, I mean, if this has been the worst thing that’s happened to me in a few years, then my shit is trending upwards. What was hard about this week was reflecting on not just things that I had to deal with, but also having to deal with myself in the midst of it. The things that I fret over, my anxiety, my exceedingly unhealthy tendency to distract myself into a stupor whenever I have anything even remotely thought-intensive on my to-do list – having to experience my own psyche this week was harder than I can remember it being in a long time. Like, there have been one-off days where it’s been hard, quite a few of them, but they are days. They’re isolated, spaced out, and on the whole those shitty days are not the norm for me. But this week, it was very much the norm.

I do feel a bit more motivated to make changes as a result of this week’s general awfulness, but it’s not even about motivation. Motivation is not what gets me to do things. I get me to do things – or not. I have done things without motivation and found it along the way; I have (countless times) ignored motivation when I had it and felt like a failure afterwards. I’ve had days where I’ve felt sad, angry, hopeless, ashamed, and I’ve been able to ride all of them out to wake up the next day able to laugh about it. It’s never been a week. Not since I was a teenager, and fuck knows I ain’t going back to that …

Actually, maybe I should.

I did have a plan to revisit some of my old journals, just to mine them for material/hilarity. I don’t know if it’s “been long enough” for me to read them safely, but it may have been long enough that I don’t care that much anymore. I just need to get my head out of this week.

Not that this was all bad as far as weeks go. In fact, some stuff that happened this week was more noteworthy – and good – than other weeks I have had. Highs and lows this week, I guess, but of course mental illness and perhaps human nature dictate that it’s the negative I have to fixate on.

But yes – this week is over, it needs to be over, and I need to get over it. As quickly as possible.

Weekly Words 29/07-04/08/2018

31/07/18: 713

Progress is being made.

It’s slow progress, but I’m continuing to realise that my expectations of myself are, let’s face it, utterly ridiculous and unrealistic, so really I’m just going to say that it’s progress. Which is good. I like progress.

I’ve got a potential Urban Fantasy story to write – well, I’m calling it Urban High Fantasy, given the setting, but the salient point here is that looking back over old projects is still paying dividends, except in this case it was just an old character who I realised fit the Urban Fantasy heroine archetype really well, so, she’s got a project now. Potentially. I haven’t written any of it yet, because I feel like I need to do a lot of research first about detective work – she is a detective, kind of; this is what I’m going to call Urban High Fantasy, and she is in fact a ranger – same diff at the end of the day, though. It’s also continuing an older project of mine that I was super-enthusiastic about when I first came up with it, and then it fell apart when I realised that I didn’t give a shit about any of the characters. Well, now I’ve got a snarky, hard-boiled UF heroine to write, and that prospect is much more appealing to me than I had anticipated it would be. What can I say? Tropes rock.

As for my YA urban fantasy novel, Mortal Foil – well, I finished another chapter, and a whole new chapter. It’s short, probably doesn’t deserve to be an entire chapter on its own, but for anyone who has read (or tried to read) Divergent, you know that YA gets away with some shit. And when I say I like tropes, I’m not just talking plot and characterisation.

02/08/18: 2185

Well shit, I actually wrote some of that damn Urban High Fantasy novel I had ideas for.

What’s happening to me?

I’ll tell you what’s happening to me: I’m feeling good about the writing I did today, and for following through with my plans. How did I do it?

I mean, I just fucking did it. I’m realising that part of my over-analysing of my own thoughts, actions, reactions, second thoughts, second guesses, pre-emptive doubts and etcetera – a big part of it is just trying to rationalise to myself how I manage to actually do things when I do them. I second-guess my own intentions, motive, ability to make decisions as a sentient human being – it’s pretty fucking horrible. Like, who the hell second-guesses that sort of shit? It’s not like I’m in denial about why I did it; it’s more like I’m trying to gaslight myself into thinking that I misremembered my own fucking decisions. It’s quite scary, actually.

But it also wasn’t enough to stop me, and I’m glad for that. I don’t think this is a particularly serious project, but just like Wolf Gang and Mortal Foil, all the fun is coming from the fact that it doesn’t really require a ton of thought or planning for me to just get writing done with it. I had a huge brainstorm about it yesterday and came up with a bunch of far-too-interesting ideas and lore for it – but I might use them. We’ll see. Maybe not for this; maybe for a slightly more serious project. But then again, this might be a neat workshop environment for them.

Or who knows? Perhaps this will actually go somewhere.

In any case, I got some fucking writing done today, and I am happy about it.

03/08/18: 1871

I’m on a roll here, what the hell is happening?

I’m happening, that’s fucking what.

This Urban High Fantasy thing is … enjoyable. It’s not the wild ride of rollercoaster exictement that Wolf Gang was, or even the giddy appropriation of Mortal Foil, but it’s so nice to be writing something that feels rewarding to write. I think it’s also the first time I’ve ever written something with a magic system and not completely tripped up over myself trying to write it into existence on the fly.

I watched City of Bones, the 2014 movie, tonight. After watching season 3 of Shadowhunters and coming to terms with the fact that I’ve lost another 10 hours of my life that I can never get back, I wondered how the movie would hold up in comparison.

It’s awful.

But also infinitely better in certain regards. Shadowhunters has better supporting characters; in particular, Alec and Magnus are worth paying attention to throughout the series, with Maya and Simon coming into their own as the series goes on, Izzy always good but never getting enough to do, and Valentine being rather deliciously vile. But the leads – well, Jace I like just fine actually, but Clary is … superfluous. And that really annoys me, because this story is supposed to be about her.

Clary is the one thing that City of Bones does right, or as right as it gets anything. To be fair, I actually like Jace a lot in the film, too; but everyone else is eminently forgettable, except for recognising them from other, better movies. Jarred fecking Harris is in City of Bones, and okay he’s good as well, if utterly wasted, and a hell of a lot more memorable than Hodge from Shadowhunters. But anyway, Clary – when I read the book years ago, I liked Clary, too, but as time has gone on my impression of book Clary has soured, because pretty much every single character in that book is a humungous, semi-fascist asshole, and they’re clearly not supposed to be. Whereas film Clary holds up fairly well; the writing and direction is meh, to be generous, but Lily Collins is fantastic, and the balance leans more in favour of her performance than the material she’s given, IMHO.

The reason this is sticking with me, I think, is because of the missed potential. I feel haunted by it. That film might not have been able to be great or anything, but goddammit it definitely could have been good, a solid popcorn flick with sequel potential – if only it had all looked and sounded just a bit more distinctive, for instance, or if they had not cast Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine (or just given him a better wig), or if they had left out the goddamn incest plot-twist … it irritates me. I want to like the film, the show, hell even the book more than I do, and the main reason that I don’t is because the missed potential is every bit as noticeable – sometimes even more so – than what actually happens.

But I also think, kind of like how looking back through my own old work has been inspiring and generative, looking back at some of my old sources of inspiration might also be a plan. I have been thinking of re-reading Vampire Academy – I do have the whole series, after all, so I may as well do it at some point. Hopefully after reading some of the unread books I’m still working my way through – I still haven’t finished Temeraire, and that’s my current deal with myself: I can read something “safe” only after I’ve finished it. I need to keep pushing at the limits of my comfort-zone. It’s good for me.

But it’s also good to go back sometimes.

04/08/18: 1442

Speaking of going back, it feels like a long time since I’ve worked on the co-writing project – it hasn’t, but I guess that shows how much more writing I’ve been doing recently, and how many projects I’ve been spreading it across.

Well, let’s not stand on ceremony …

Weekly Total: 6211

Not bad at all.

In fact, I remember a couple of years ago I had the ambition of writing, like, 500 words a day, and thought that was insurmountable. Now, I’m in a position where I consider that a disappointing day’s writing. How times have changed.

I feel like my life is slowly getting back to something resembling a healthy equilibrium, after what feels like three months of being on the back foot. I still have some very important things that I need to do that haven’t been done, but I guess that’s just life in a nutshell – and only part of it at that. I’ve also done a lot of other important things, like focusing a bit more on my personal writing projects, keeping up momentum even with lower-than-ideal writing-counts per session.

But it occurred to me the other day, reflecting on the existential, self-doubting, metaphysical introspection I fell into after my big burst of writing on the 2nd, that the only reason I got it done is because I got it done. What made me do it was me. It wasn’t finding an emotional trigger to set me off; it wasn’t going on autopilot; it wasn’t me somehow manipulating myself into writing – which I’m only now starting to realise is kind of just how I think about myself normally. Which is not healthy, I’m fairly sure.

But no, it was me, and I cannot handle that. That is how bad my thought-patterns get sometimes, and explains a hell of a lot about why I find it so hard to do anything, follow through with my plans, commit to my decisions – I treat myself like I don’t have free will, basically.

It’s fucked up.

And it has not stopped me from doing a fuckton of writing this year, nor any other year. It’s just that, as with City of Bones, all I can think about now is the potential I’m missing out on, because if this is how much work I get done with my shitty, toxic, maladaptive thought patterns …

How much work will I get done once I get better?

I think I want to find out.