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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.