Weekly Words 23-29/09/2018

26/09/18: 960

I think I’ve figured out why I can’t seem to make myself do things that I feel like doing.

I mean, besides talking about myself like some kind of unwieldy object that I have to manipulate into various positions for maximum feng shui or something – up until about 20 seconds ago, I was on my laptop, half-watching youtube, and also had my PS4 on, quarter-browsing movies because I never saw Solo in theatres (and at the time of writing there doesn’t seem to be an option to rent it, which is irritating). I’m not really doing either of these things – not committing. Look at me having continuity and shit.

I’m also not committing to doing something enjoyable, like playing one of several games I’ve bought over the past months because they were on sale and I’ve been interested in them for a while (never mind the ones I bought with the PS4 at full price because hey Christmas), or something productive, like reading Mark and Jessie’s Christmas like I keep telling myself – and anyone who actually reads this blog, which I wish I could somehow get statistics on – I need to and will do.

And it’s because I know that, if I start playing one of those games let’s say, I will have made the decision to not do something more productive, like read Mark and Jessie’s Christmas, and if I read Mark and Jessie’s Christmas, I will have started on the path to doing things that I can’t feel enthusiastic about because it feels like an obligation and it won’t stop with just my self-appointed mission for this month/year; it will be an endless slippery slope of expectations that I have of myself that I feel incapable of meeting.

Whereas if I sit in between two screens cluttered with tasks that I don’t ever have to fully commit to, I can remain on the edge of making either of those decisions; I can be just about to make those decisions forever. Which, somehow, makes me feel like I’m meeting my quota of “doing stuff” without actually, y’know, doing it. I assume it’s some kind of internal nervous process that operates on the principle of “it’s the thought that counts”.

This is stupid.

And now that that’s out of the way: Slice of Cherry (not “A Slice of Cherry” as I said in my last post) was an overall satisfying read, and while it didn’t delight (or bother) me as much as Bleeding Violet, it did make me question why, exactly, the depiction of a girl living with bipolar disorder in Bleeding Violet troubled me more than the depiction of two girls who literally go around abducting and murdering people in Slice of Cherry. My first response to this question was a moralistic chorus of assorted talking heads saying “we are all desensitised to death and violence because media”, which yes is probably true. We all feel pretty well-qualified to discuss death, joke about death, and in art represent death – but should we? Murderers in particular, I think, are such a trope in fiction that it feels very strange to even consider that there might be a problem with depicting them in certain ways in fiction because there are also real-life murderers. Then again, I felt uneasy enough watching just one episode of Dexter that it put me off the rest of the series (which by all accounts sounds like the sort of idea I might have for a character and story, projection much), so perhaps I care more about the representation of killers than my largely positive reaction to Slice of Cherry would suggest.

Speaking of killing: I’ve finally continued reading Mark and Jessie, and even finished a chapter – it finishes with the characters getting to the part of the story that I’ve been waiting to get to, because I remember it being, if not good, then at least considerably less shit than the rest of it, and dear god the shit I had to read in order to get to this point, it was like I left it there as a test to my own fortitude when I inevitably came back to read it over for revision purposes. There are characters in this book who kill … not other characters, really, but fictional people who exist in the same book as them. It’s done really badly. I hate this fucking book. The book, not the story. The story is great, but in its current form it is told so thoroughly badly that, once again, I am questioning whether or not it is even worth reading back over this thing to try and salvage any of it …

But I feel that I have gotten to the part of the story that is worth salvaging at long last, and that there is some writing to follow that I may actually want to preserve in the form of a copy-and-paste. Only one way to find out.

And in the meantime – I actually wrote something today. One of my numerous projects that I’ve been picking up and putting down all year, one that I really want to get going but keep stalling on. I just got rid of the stall – a third chapter that ran full-speed into a brick wall – and now, while I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have momentum, the runway is at least clear. I’m looking forward to the flight.

27/09/18: 1015

This is nice.

Weekly Total: 3126

Not this week, no precious, not this week!

And that’s cool. I went to a marae over the weekend for Youthline and it was intense, overwhelming, and very emotionally reward. However, what meager sleep schedule I have managed to cobble together over the years has been thoroughly destroyed, and the last time I got this little sleep despite being tired was when I woke up with some kind of stomach bug this time last week. Which still isn’t quite gone, I don’t think; I don’t feel sick anymore, but there’s still some gastro issues haunting me.

Also thoroughly destroyed are my writing aspirations for this week. All of my energy went into recovering from the bug, then straight into having lots of anxiety about the upcoming marae event, then into the actual marae event which, while positive and personal-growth-inducing and all the rest of it, made it very impossible to give energy to anything else while it was going on.

And like I say, that’s cool. Writing is an ongoing goal of mine because it feels good when I write things that I want to write. I got other things that felt good done this week, including finishing reading my 2 library books (Hex Hall was rather enjoyable, got the sequels in transit from the library) – and hey, the writing that I did accomplish felt good, too. It’s going good.

And it’s also light out for me, perhaps for the next couple of days. Return to me, electrolytes …

Weekly Words 16-22/09/2018

17/09/18: 1805 + uncounted freewriting

Today was going to be a write-off – ha – because “I don’t care about any of my projects” and “I should be focusing on reading Mark and Jessie instead anyway” and “I am doomed to a life of social ineptitude and spineless passivity how dare I try to convince myself that joy exists” …

And I was okay with that, because today I felt like shit for almost the entire time that I’ve been awake, stuck and guilty and frightened and resentful, and while I didn’t want to feel like that I also had no real motivation to try anything to stop feeling like that. Yay mental illness.

But somewhere between 10 and 11 PM, I made myself pick up that copy of Story by Robert McKee that I bought for myself as a late birthday present, and it just …

Spoke to me.

I’ve only read the introduction and first chapter, none of which have instructions or clarify terms or anything like that. But he talks about story, and how, in Hollywood in particular (at the time it was written, in the ’90s, though it sounds like how I feel about Hollywood two decades later), there is a dearth of story. He also talks about why story matters – and how it matters:

Rare as story talent is, you must have some or you wouldn’t be itching to write. Your task is to wring from it all possible creativity. Only by using everything and anything you know about the craft of storytelling can you make your talent forge story. (28)

While I already think Mr. McKee and I are going to diverge in a number of ways in some of our opinions and approaches, this really struck a chord with me – specifically, the “only by using everything and anything you know about the craft of storytelling” part. Everything and anything. I have never actually thought about telling stories like this. I’ve either not thought about it at all, or I’ve thought about it in that ultimately cliche and lazy way, where there’s The Way to do it and I just have to learn it. As soon as I read the words “everything and anything”, I realised that what I’ve felt has been missing from my writer’s life – giving a shit – is something that isn’t just related to the stories I’m trying to tell, but how I’m trying to tell them.

Everything and anything is exactly the way I want to tell stories – because that’s how I find out how to tell them. And what matters to me is telling them the right way for each story. That’s something I can’t be taught, but it is something that I can learn. By doing it, in every and any way that I can think of, and everything and anything I can’t but might find out from someone else, until something sticks.

I can’t remember exactly how much this book cost me, but for that sentence alone it’s already paid for itself, as far as I’m concerned.

Also, I made myself do some freewriting, on pen and paper no less. And it was a better idea than doing it on my laptop; I figured it out, actually, why exactly it’s better than doing it on a laptop: because on a laptop you have time to think and consider and easily correct yourself – so doing something where you’re supposed to not self-censor and break free of your inner critic and all that shit is not really what a word processor is for. Pen and paper is commitment, and since freewriting is committing to whatever happens, it’s perfect. You have to live with the slopping spelling, the nonsensical grammar, the fact that it takes up physical space and you did it – you have to live with it and be okay with it, and that’s why pen and paper is so immeasurably superior to digital when it comes to freewriting that it doesn’t matter I want my fucking word-count and I don’t have one because pen and paper doesn’t keep track of these kinds of stats for you this was supposed to make things better goddammit THIS IS WHY PEN AND PAPER IS DEAD.

Technology may be the cause of society’s moral deterioration, but at least it keeps things tidy.

Oh well. I estimate it was probably somewhere around 700 words – not that words actually matter with freewriting. Frequency and duration is what matters, and frequency much more than duration. The way I’ve learnt to freewrite at least (and seems to work) is to use a timer; I’ve tried just filling up a page instead, but I’ve found the timer more effective – the main point is that it’s an arbitrary cut-off point, because you’re not trying to neatly tie it up or reach a conclusion, just to write, everything and anything you can think of, until it’s time to not write anymore.

 

18/09/18: 819

I definitely need to keep reading this book.

I also need to read my remaining library books, which I’ve already renewed once. Next on the list is A Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves, who wrote Bleeding Violet, a book that I read, really liked, wrote a review for and then took the review down because the book is … difficult to talk about. For me, at least, seeing as the thing I was most iffy about was the depiction of bipolar disorder in the book, and it’s something I really don’t know anything about. Specifically whether the depiction was respectful, accurate, etc. So thank Christ A Slice of Cherry is just about teenage serial killer sisters.

I have a lot of shit I need to do. Yesterday’s little pick-me-up was just what I needed, but there’s so much more I need to get on top of, some important decisions I need to make. Commitments that need my attention.

For me, what McKee meant by “using everything and anything” was commitment. I felt so jazzed yesterday because I’ve been lacking in commitment for a while now, and what it made me realise was that the feeling of being stuck, of things having no meaning or importance to me, was all a lack of commitment on my part.

And, I mean, some of it is just kind of dull, but the things that I enjoy doing that felt flat – I think now that I would have felt differently if I’d been more committed. You get out what you put in and all that. It’s as much about what I bring to the things that I do as what I get out of them on their own.

20/09/18: 1254

I have been such a fucking hippie this week.

Maybe that’s why I woke up feeling sick today; I don’t think my nervous system is equipped to handle such unadulterated earnestness as I have been experiencing over the past few days. That or I ate something weird, but it is far more amusing to think that my body cannot physically handle anything other than an attitude of permanent snide, deflective irony and cynicism.

Also, I have found the actual downside to all of this kick-up-the-ass motivation: the impossible expectations that come with it. “Wow, I was so inspired that day, now I’m going to be that inspired every day for the rest of forever because it happened once“. My brain is an idiot. But I guess I can’t blame it; it’s not like I’ve raised it to be anything other than that. Anything that looks like The Answer to my problems I just tend to jump on and try to drag out for as long as possible; if I were to think of my moments of inspiration as friendly and lovely dinner guests and I treated them this way, the reason for why they never seem to want to stick around suddenly becomes much clearer.

Though having said that, the thing about commitment – I know it’s true, and I’ve known it for a long time. It’s putting it into action that I flake out on – yet I’m still excited to see where I can go with it, now that I’ve got the bug, so to speak. Also potentially an actual bug, because I still feel kind of sick.

Weekly Total: 5896

So as it turns out, it was an actual bug. Yay.

Or maybe not a bug, but fever and chills and gastrointestinal issues, oh my. I didn’t get any sleep on Saturday night, and while I think I got about 2 hours of sleep (altogether) last night, I was made to directly encounter my own brain on sleep deprivation, and it is a confusing, distressing place. I think I was on the verge of sleep for most of the night, but kept from it by the unending loop of not-remotely-lucid thoughts about the different metaphysical governing laws of the 12 universes from Dragon Ball Super. None of these metaphysical governing laws are actually part of the show, by the way; my sleep-deprived brain just decided it would make up fanfiction game mechanics for this god-awful show that I’m still watching. I would think up some random set of rules that frustrated me because they were annoying, think them through, finally have them all worked out and then my brain would go: “no but wait, they work this way”, and then that would frustrated me and I’d have to work through those rules, and then once I figured them out my brain would go “no but wait, they work this way”, and this turned into an endless loop because eventually, once I had exhausted my two or three sets of rules that I had to rationalise to myself, I just looped back to the first one and started again. I am not quite sure how it is that I was unable to realise that I was doing this yet had the energy to keep fucking doing it for the entire goddamn night – and actually that’s not true; I did realise that I was doing it – and kept doing it, because I dunno I’m a fucking insane person or something. Which is what it felt like, honestly: it felt like I was seeing into the terrifying hellscape of the brain of a really mundane psychopath who for some reason had a lot of thoughts about Dragon Ball Super, which is the worst kind of psychopath by far.

I am trying to console myself my explaining this as a combination of being awake for too long and not doing enough physical activity during the day to actually get tired enough to just conk out – I have never used that phrase before, feels weird – but it’s also potentially given me a very interesting insight into my own inner workings. My brain is always on, it seems, and interested in solving problems, but doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone, doesn’t have an off switch. It’s distressing because it feels true, regardless of how much of that was just due to being very sick.

What? Writing?

Well, as you might have guessed, I didn’t really have it in me to do any. I was actually expecting to do that yesterday for me and my friend’s co-writing session, but she had a lot of stuff to do that day and I stayed at home in case I was contagious/because I was exhausted, so I think it was for the best. I did get to video-call in to play our D&D session, though, where I finally got to be a real paladin, and it was good.

This might just be another week off, because whatever transcendent commitment-high I was on at the start of the week has most definitely been ended by this stupid maybe-a-bug thing. But I suppose this could also be seen as a test of said commitment, to follow through because I said I would instead of just because I felt like it at the time.

Right now, though, the only thing I care about committing to is drinking too much water to flush this crap out, and hopefully get a proper night’s sleep tonight. And beyond that, my brain is too destroyed to comprehend anything beyond that. Peace.

Weekly Words: 09-15/09/2018

09/09/18: 2596

To continue in my new strategy of cheating I mean counting my word-count a bit more purposefully, I have counted these words that I wrote approximately half of – because, today, my friend and I finished the final scene in our co-writing project of 10 months! We wrote it together, which was an interesting (and fun) experience, as up to this point we have written this entire show either episode about or scene about, so this was new territory for us. We also watched a bunch of intros to old ’90s TV shows, and our show definitely needs one. Particularly one like Animorphs or Big Wolf on Campus. Which is to say like any of the predecessor shows to the likes of The Vampire DiariesShadowhunters, and of course Teen Wolf. We are continuing a proud tradition here. We will do it right.

12/09/18: 924

Why is freewriting so hard? Oh well, at least it’s getting done.

13/09/18: 0

Seriously, why is it so hard? I did get stuff done today though, and important stuff. Mostly paperwork. But I also finished The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee, after putting it off for, what, 3 weeks after going out of my way to get it from the library? Not because I didn’t enjoy it; I actually put off reading the other two library books I got out, before this one, just to read it. I enjoyed it. To be honest, I enjoyed the first 50 or so pages quite a bit more than the next 450, but that isn’t to say that those 450 pages were bad. I still enjoyed myself – I guess I just thought that the story was going to be about something other than it was, and skimming Goodreads reviews tells me that I’m not alone in this. As for what it was actually about – basically, it’s a very modern, overtly liberal Bildungsroman, replete with diversity and empowerment and calling out problematic behaviour … Which is my bag, baby, even if it was a bit less, I dunno, meaty than I would have liked – the diversity and ethic of acceptance that drives this book was great to see, but it was a little … uncomplicated. The main character, Monty, is a privileged white boy (also bisexual, and that is explored regarding how it intersects with his privilege in other areas), and serves as, if not quite an audience stand-in, a privilege stand-in. Of the three central characters (Monty, his BFF/longtime crush Percy, and his younger channeling-Hermione sister Felicity), Percy is the most privileged and the most self-centred, and the various facets of diversity are represented through the lens of his percpective on them. In that sense, there is definitely some exploration of the problems people can face when, for instance, they suffer from a disability and/or social stigma and their privileged friends don’t understand, in the slightest, what it is like to actually have to live with these imposed social burdens, and that is good. But perhaps because it’s a YA novel, perhaps because the author just didn’t want to “go there”, or perhaps because whatever other reason, that’s about as bad as it ever gets. Percy and Felicity are much more likeable than Monty, but they’re also much more boringly perfect, the kind of Strong Character that gets criticised more and more frequently these days for not having much in the way of depth or complexity – although having said that, this book is all from Monty’s POV, and since Felicity is getting her own novel I am definitely keen to be proven wrong about my reading of her as a character who endures hardship as a substitute for having character flaws/depth. If Percy also gets his own book, I will be similarly eager to get my hands on it. Whether or not a character gets to take the perspective spotlight in a story can go a long way towards establishing their character, so while I’m not overly enthused about Felicity and Percy in this book (though I still liked them!), I would definitely be interested to see if that would change if I got to see things from their point of view. And despite my quibbles, Gentleman’s Guide has well and truly validated my choice to swear off urban fantasy for a while and bring YA back into my life. While I wish that perhaps there had been more depth and complexity in this book, it was more depth and complexity than I’ve had the pleasure of reading for a good little while, at least more of the kind that I’m particularly interested in.

Weekly Total: 4702

This has not been a writing week. Just putting that out there. It has, however, been an important week where I got some important stuff done, and having written this much at the same time is quite gratifying. I have more thoughts about Gentleman’s Guide than I initially thought so there may be a proper book review at some stage. Morning pages are just … maybe if I wake up in the actual morning they’ll be easier? I like the idea, I always feel better for having done them, but I think I need a more structured approach to them right now. I do think pen and paper is the way to go; typing means that you can type more or less at the speed of your thoughts, whereas pen and paper means your thoughts skip ahead to the next thing while you’re still writing the last one, and having to just pick up wherever your thoughts currently are is part of the reason that freewriting works. I actually think I need to differentiate between morning pages and freewriting, and that doing both is a good idea. Morning pages to get in touch with my thoughts, and freewriting to break out of over-thinking. Tools. It’s about tools, and having the right ones for the job. It’s also about me not stressing about how much I write so that I can focus on reading and the reading just isn’t happening. So that’s next week’s primary focus. The year is almost out, and I had a plan at the start of this year to have not only re-read and made revision notes on Mark and Jessie, but to actually revise it and have it read to submit to publishers. Short of finding a time-machine, I don’t think that’s a realistic goal anymore – but I may be able to do one revision pass on it this year. It just depends on me picking up the pace, and having a revision plan ready to roll. One step at a time. I haven’t read it all yet; I certainly don’t have good revision notes. I don’t even know if I’ll have workable revision notes this year, if I’ll have to read this pile of hot garbage again before I can parse it clearly enough to do so, or what. I just have to finish this read-through and see where things stand. Which means finishing this read-through. Am I Getting There? It doesn’t feel like it right now. I guess I’ll just keep going until it does.

Weekly Words 02-08/09/2018

07/09/18: 1445

I guess I’m having a reverse weekend this week in writing: I’m taking two days on, rather than two days off. Today and tomorrow I will do writing, and for the past five days, I will not.

Time means what I want it to mean.

As does my writing progress, and I have come to a decision. Since I am not writing for a living, yet would like to, I need to get into the habit of doing things that writers do for a living. This would include focusing on my priority projects – and writing. Not always the same thing. It so happens that I find myself in such a position right now.

Mark and Jessie is my writing priority, and I have been neglecting it. I think it’s because of the word-count thing; there is no way for me to measure my progress with the Mark and Jessie project, because right now it is a reading and note-taking project, not a writing project. That’s fine, but what’s less fine is the way that I’ve been trying to force myself to only write projects, to contrive reasons for why I “should” be working on a project that I can measure in word-count, as opposed to the project that I’m actually supposed to be – and interested in – working on and moving forward.

At the same time – measuring the progress that I make in terms of regular writing has been very rewarding, and has helped me get perspective in all areas of my life, not just writing. I want to keep benefiting from this, but the way I’ve been trying it – well, it worked out for the first 3 months, and then for the next 3 it’s been pretty dire. The novelty has worn off – this is stupid.

But that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to write every day.

The solution is elegance itself – successful authors who write for a living write every day. Specifically, I have heard, they do this thing called “morning pages”, which is not only writing, but writing that helps them to do more writing. They keep focus on their work; they maintain their skill and focus, their discipline.

So, from next week on, my Weekly Words count is going to be, first and foremost, a count of my morning pages.

Because it’s still writing. It’s the exact kind of writing I want to get better at, too: writing without a filter, without worrying about making it “good” or it having to “count” – just writing. It keeps your hand in; it’s regular exercise.

And it’s not a project.

Which works well for me. In fact it works perfectly, because 1) I don’t want to focus on any writing projects other than Mark and Jessie right now, 2) it allows me to continue to benefit from the perspective that Weekly Words has given me, and 3) it enables these two things without forcing me to spend more time than I want to writing, or feeling guilty about not writing. It frees me from some of these ridiculous mind-trap constraints; it gives me a clear reason for why I have to focus on the things I think I really do need to focus on, for both my own well-being and that of my current main writing project …

And it means that, the rest of the time, I can use this energy and motivation that I have to do other shit … doing that other shit.

It’s crazy, but it just might work.

08/09/18: 916

Well, it didn’t happen in the actual morning, but it did happen, and that was in 10 minutes. So that’s, what, 91.6 words per minute? Of utter nonsense, sure, but not as much as I was expecting – or hoping, honestly, I kind of need to loosen up more – and that is a lot of words per minute as far as I can tell.

It’s hard doing freewriting digitally; the urge to go back and spell words correctly is amplified significantly by the fact that you are so used to having autocorrect step in to pretty up all the uglyinvalid spellings you do that when it doesn’t happen it throws you entirely off-balance. That’s one of the reasons I was hesitant to do it on laptop, but at the end of the day this is where I write, and I simply don’t have the physical space to house non-digital morning pages, or pages of any kind for that matter.

It’s given me some insight into “real” writing, too – so much of what I write, and what I assume most people write, during a first or zero draft is waffle. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to the end-of-year wrap-up of Weekly Words is to see how many words I wrote overall, and to think about how that could have translated into a Thing. But, the thing is – would it have? I did write a full draft of a novel – Tallulah – in about 8 months, and that was roughly 120k words long. But I cut it in half and wrote another 28k new words to fill it in again over the course of the next roughly 8 months. Word-count only means word-count; it doesn’t mean “progress towards getting a manuscript ready for submission”. That is something I learnt the hard way with Tallulah, and it was a valuable lesson. Right now, I’m appreciating the valuable perspective that today’s freewriting session has given me: yes, I can write a lot of words, and it’s fun to see how many I can write, and how quickly. Like, if I kept up that pace, I could have about 5.5k words written in an hour. If I wrote at that pace for 8 hours a day, treating this like a job, that’s about 44k words. That’s 6k words off a Nanowrimo’s worth of writing.

But while I could produce that number of words, how many of those words would actually matter? The first time I try out a story – and part of the reason why I’m so hesitant to get started on new projects – most of what I end up writing is story-math. I’m writing out my computations of my world-building and its consequences for the plot I want to have; I’m writing out my improvisation and revision of characterisation and motivation and foreshadowing; I’m over-explaining things for my own sake because all of the ideas are new to me and untested and I want to feel secure in my understanding of them. And while I think that’s fine and natural, it also translates into a lot of filler. Such as the filler I’m finding takes up about half of the total 160k word-count of Mark and Jessie. Having a whole bunch of words written does not mean you’re close to having a story told, no matter how fast you write them.

But.

It also tells me that shifting my focus to freewriting is exactly what I need to to.

Because that’s about as meaningful as any of my writing is going to be at this stage with most of my projects; and for those that are farther along, like Mark and Jessie and, when I eventually return to it, Tallulah, word-count is going to, well, count for even less. In fact I wonder now if it’s even something I want to keep track of. It’s taken the pressure off when it comes to getting writing done, because I now have a clearer perspective of what words are “worth”, I guess – the one exception to that is the co-writing project, but I feel that’s a clear exception because it’s not just my project, and the level of investment from both of us writing it came with a fairly comprehensive planning phase for me to refer back to. Also, external accountability. Mainly external accountability, actually.

Get a writing buddy, guys.

The point is that since I know now that word-count is not actually a measure of progress so much as it is a measure of commitment, as long as the things that I am using my word-count for are meaningful, the word-count itself doesn’t matter. I can just check off my “I did writing at all today” box every day I do it and be done with it …

But I spent a good portion of last year revising the ranger class in D&D 5E for my own … entertainment? Well I did it, anyway, I hope it was entertaining. I grew up with Dragonball Z. I like numbers. And big numbers, numbers that I made, I like especially.

Should I keep track of my word-count going forward, now that I know that word-count is basically pointless?

Weekly Total: 2361

Oh wait, this blog post counts, too. Because for one, I wanted to count my blog post writing when I started Weekly Words, and for another, if I’m just counting my commitment to making words appear on a computer screen, I have no excuse not to. This is like how much I bench-pressed today.

With my mind.

Actual Weekly Total: 3868

I have discovered the future, folks. And it’s looking pretty okay to me.

Monthly Words: August 2018

Monthly Total: 21865

I’ve gone through a number of emotional states this month. I mean, it’s been a month, hopefully my emotional state would not have remained exactly the same for a whole month – but it’s been more up and down and various other directions than I’ve been used to experiencing of late. Reading back over the weekly entries for August, I saw a lot of soul-searching, and an important recognition: that I tend to second-guess my reasons for deciding to do things. I’m used to knowing that I second-guess my decisions, but realising that the rabbit hole goes that much deeper has been a revelation. Also very disturbing. Like, I feel you have to be some special kind of fucked up to not just question whether you made the correct decision, but whether or not you can actually take credit for making the decision in the first place.

Naturally, I only go through this toxic determinist mantra whenever I make a decision that I agree with and feel like I’ve benefited from. If it’s a bad decision or one that causes me some kind of upset, there’s no credit I won’t take. It’s just the useful, helpful, contribute-to-my-mental-wellbeing decisions that I have to disavow any part in actually making.

It’s not okay.

But that’s okay. Because throughout this turbulent month I have made good decisions, and have even started to feel like I am actually responsible for them, because I can see how the process works a bit clearer. My own mind is less of a mystery to me in terms of how it is that the mechanical components coordinate in order to produce decisions – because I’ve started thinking about it less. It’s that simple.

In terms of writing, I covered a lot of ground this month, and that’s exactly what I want to be doing. Not as much depth as I’d like, but it’s more scope than I think I’ve explored up to this point with Weekly Words. I also did some life stuff that I am very happy I did, and happy I got the opportunity to do, with the people I did it with. It’s left me with a strange feeling, one that I haven’t felt for a long time.

Purpose.

I haven’t had this feeling since I was 20 and came up with Mark and Jessie’s Christmas, a story that truly felt like it came from me. I don’t have a new story like that right now, but the feeling is there – I feel like there’s a point now. To being. I’ve realised that, for a long time now, I’ve just sort of been coasting, not really having a sense of purpose or intent or anything. Which I think has been good in some ways, like getting into reading again and starting to be able to just do things without them having to serve some kind of larger purpose (though I’ve still felt like that), but I definitely wanted a sense of purpose a while ago. Having it now … I feel refreshed. Reminded. Of who I am, or can be.

Which I’ve wanted to feel for …

Well, it’s nice, and it’s what I’ve got to work with, and I’ve got plans for what I want to work on with it. I think that sets me up for something pretty good.

And the writing wasn’t bad, either.

Weekly Words 26/08-01/09/2018

26/08/18: 1712

That’s a bit goddamn better!

I do actually have a bit of a plan for this week, the remainder of this month, to get the things done that have not been getting done and need to have been done long, long ago, for my own personal well-being. I have said before, numerous times, that I suck at self-care, and this week I had the astoundingly obvious revelation that I think about self-care in a very narrow sense, and it’s been fucking me up. I tend to think of it as “chilling out”, relaxing, doing nothing – but that’s not at all what self-care means. Self-care means making sure that we meet our own personal needs, whatever those are – and in my case, it actually means doing stuff. Lots of stuff, actually, specifically stuff that I know I’m likely to just sit on and let never get done, because anxiety.

And just to be clear: the thing that needs to get done is that I need to get my paperwork filled out so that I can finally get some fucking therapy for said anxiety, which has been ruining my life for the past 16 years, at least. It was probably ruining my life before I turned 15 and discovered that socialising is hard, and I just didn’t notice because I was a kid and my life was peachy. In any event, this shit cannot go on any longer. I need to do something about it.

So I will. This week.

And also this week I will continue writing, and as I did today, I will get it done by just making myself get started. Ready, Player One gave me the start of some ideas on how to approach one of my projects – my big author-insert self-fanfic high fantasy epic, to be specific – and that seems like the direction that I want to go in the most right now, so that’s going to be my focus, along with finishing up this co-writing episode that is supposed to be done by the 1st of next month. So at the end of this Weekly Words. Convenient.

And most important of all: I know now that I need to be doing things as part of my self-care as well as just for the sake of getting shit done that needs to be done. This also means that, when one thing can’t get done or doesn’t get done, I don’t stop doing all the other things as a result. These are my goals for this week.

So sayeth the Ubermensch!

29/08/18: 3085

Betterer and betterer.

It’s a razor’s edge, the difference between a productive week and a non-productive week for me. That’s what I’m taking away from my progress this week. The last two days I got nothing done: not writing, not my Plan, nothing except some gaming and half-hearted self-pity. Then today, I finished a very long scene that really needs to be broken up into 2-3 scenes when we get around to revising this co-writing monstrosity, took some tangible steps towards completing my Plan, and even got started on a bit of potential PhD research. What was the difference?

Decisions. Not mood, not mindset, not attitude. I just made different decisions today.

It doesn’t feel reliable to me, and that’s the part that bothers me. I don’t feel reliable to myself. But, regardless, I made good decisions today, and tomorrow I can continue to do so. Pep pep pep. Positivity and shit.

Anyway whatever it was a pleasing day and it is over now! Time for sleep.

30/08/18: 1368

THE PLAN.

IT IS HAPPENING.

HOLY FUCKBALLS WHAT IS LIFE.

Why yes, I am rather pleased with myself this week so far, if you must know.

I have watched all 2 seasons of Lucifer available on Netflix in NZ; I know there is 1 more and then a 4th being produced by Netflix, and I assume at some point or another I will get to see them both, though I have to be honest I don’t know if I can be bothered, regardless of how much of a trashy, problematic fave of mine it has become. Much like Wynona Earp, it’s basically an Urban Fantasy novel as a TV show, and that’s exactly what I want out of my television right now.

Partly because I have sworn off it in my books, at least for the time being. I am currently reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and I have ambitions of writing a book review of it … somehow. I don’t have the energy to make notes as I’m reading – mostly because I don’t want it to disrupt my flow of reading, or to feel like the only reason I’m reading is so that I will have a book review to show for it – especially not on my computer. But at the same time, I do have things to say about this book, even though I’m not even 50 pages in yet. They’re good things. It’s a good book so far. According to Goodreads, I am correct in this assertion. I guess I could just write a from-memory review and not take notes at all … or write them with pen and paper …

Or I could just read the damn book and enjoy it.

31/08/18: 444

I could end the writing week here, but I think I’ll push on. Not least because tomorrow is when I am supposed to have finished all of my scenes for the co-writing project. Although that’s more a personal goal than anything; and I’m almost done, so it feels like something to strive for.

01/09/18: 969

And it is done.

Weekly Total: 7578

Not bad! Especially given my recent efforts, writing-wise. I feel much more enthusiastic about writing at the moment, actually. Amazing what a bit of positive reinforcement based on personal experience can do for the old morale.

Also, getting onto my mental health “plan” this week, after well over a year and a half of agonising – I’m still not quite all the way there yet, but I’ve got momentum, and it feels good. All around, I just feel pretty good about where I’m at right now.

Not a bad way to close out the month.