Weekly Words 20-26/05/2019

20-24/05/2019

I Did It Sort Of

Yes, it did indeed take me until today, Friday, to get in touch with one of the psychologists recommended to me by the first psychologist I got in touch with who wasn’t able to see me because they didn’t have any free appointments – but hey, at least I fucking did it, right?

Now to wait and see. I like to think I’m more prepared for a range of potential responses that normal human minds would be able to process and deal with, such as this psychologist also being too busy to see me, perhaps having to wait a bit longer for a response than I might hope – I think I’d even be able to handle it if, somehow, the email that I sent through the psychologist website I used to specifically get in touch with this particular psychologist gets sent to the wrong person and I have to start all over again. I’m feeling that robust.

I really need to see a psychologist.

And hey, I’m heading in that direction. I keep forgetting that emails exist; I keep thinking that getting in touch with a psychologist means having to use the phone, whether it’s because my panic response to an anxiety-inducing hypothetical situation is to frame it in as confrontational and anxiety-inducing terms as my mind possibly can, or because I have some sort of self-sabotaging compulsion to “prove myself” by doing things in the most difficult way possible so that it’s less likely that I’ll actually do it. But, regardless, the email has been sent, and …

I’ve done absolutely fucking nothing this week.

Well, some reading. I’m wrapping up my Anita Blake read, and after trying to write out my thoughts on the series up to this point (I’m almost done with book 9, the last “good” book according to many fans of the series) I realised that, actually, the problematic elements in the series are more than I want to stomach. I can stomach them, I just don’t want to anymore. I’ve also realised, much to my shame, that if this was a series written by a man, I would have given up after the first book for these particular problematic elements. Bloody Bones was more gritty than edgy, and I appreciated that – but from that point on, everything “dark” that has happened has fallen much more on the “edgy” side of things, and I am not about that. Also if I have to read about how a dark-skinned person looks “ethnic” one more fucking time …

Well, I don’t, and won’t, after this book, at least not in any series written by this particular author. But perhaps because of this, and perhaps because of taking this week off to chill and maybe doing more personal reflection than I’d thought, I’ve decided to try branching out in my reading again …

By looking into Dragonlance.

Full disclosure: I have in fact read the Dragonlance: Legends trilogy, way back in the day, and … well, I read the whole trilogy. This was back when I actually sought out high fantasy to read; that and it was all that my at-the-time-best-friend was reading, he had the books at his place, so I read them when he was done with them. I read not 1 but 2 full David Eddings sagas that way, too.

The reason I’m going back is not because I feel like high fantasy (especially high fantasy from 30 years ago) is somehow more … progressive, I guess, than the urban fantasy that gives me moral headaches every time I commit myself to reading it. It’s just because, goddammit, the potential of high fantasy is so great, and maybe there’s something in there that’ll inspire me to want to put things right, take the good and leave the bad … maybe it’ll actually make me want to write something.

Also because I could just use a change of pace. Sadly, my library doesn’t have the third book of the original Dragonlance trilogy, so I’ve just requested Autumn Twilight to start with. If that goes well … well, I’ll see if it goes well. I’m also subtly trying to get myself in the mood to finally pick up The Name of the Wind, which I have borrowed from the library twice and read neither time. Everyone says it’s really good, and it seems like it might even be good in a way that I’d agree with. But D&D seems like a natural gateway high fantasy book for me to ease myself back into the genre with, given my love of playing the game over the past year or so. Also my potential D&D-inspired book series that I still don’t feel up to writing; perhaps Dragonlance will shine a light on that problem for me and help in finding a solution.

Also I just got a reply to my email and it looks like I might have an appointment I am going to scream internally for a moment please hold …

26/05/2019

Revision

More work on the co-writing project … and this upcoming week I need to get back into gear.

At the time of writing I am still awaiting confirmation that my psychologist appointment is a-go; at the time of writing I am pretty confident that it will be, and maybe if I’d emailed on Thursday instead of Friday I might not have set myself up to wait for a whole 2 extra days before getting confirmation. But oh well, live and learn.

Weekly Total

Writing: 1561

This week has been boring as shit, by the way. The plan was to watch a bunch of Netflix and play some games and just kind of do things that help me to chill out; I did some reading, which is better than either of those things in terms of just chilling out, and I’m glad that I did. I’m also continuing with my Witcher 3 NG+ playthrough, in which I make all (or many) of the decisions I didn’t make in my first playthrough. I think that means I’m evil in this NG+, but hey, that’s what games are for.

But taking this week off has given me some distance from the weekly grind that I’ve set up for myself over the past year-and-a-quarter, and I achieved my one goal: to get in touch with a psychologist. So that’s a success for me. Not just in terms of making the appointment, but in terms of what I’m doing going forward. Mark and Jessie is now a writing project more so than a revision project; Wolf Gang is now my revision-plan focus and, armed with my Anita Blake reading experience, I feel that if I put the brainpower in I can crack the code of writing pulp without it also being gross; my totally-not-a-Suicide-Squad-fixfic project remains impenetrable but I did make some headway a couple of weeks ago …

You know, it’s hard not having my Metamorphoses of the Werewolf to look forward to reading. I almost feel like just going back and reading it again. Sort of like how after playing Hollow Knight I immediately wanted to play it again just to re-experience the initial wonder and fascination and enthusiasm that I had for it. Also, werewolf lore is really interesting and I want more of it. I do have another werewolf book to read, and I guess I should be disciplined and just read that this Thursday, but man I want Metamorphoses back. I just want to not be finished reading it yet.

But maybe this is a sign that I need to be doing more, where I can, to push out of my comfort zone. I think this week has been proof that my comfort zone is pretty fucking dull – or that my actual comfort zone is a bit less comfortable than this week has been. I’m starting to see how a lot of my difficulties with writing, especially taking on new projects, comes from just wanting something familiar and safe and predictable to fall back on, and a really irrational fear of losing it if I stray too far from it. I wonder if that’s what my perfectionism is: a mask for my anxiety to operate under the cover of, and so when I’m reluctant to take on a new writing project (or a new anything) because I’m afraid I’ll fuck it up, it’s really just wanting an excuse to not extend beyond what I’m comfortable with.

What do I even need a psychologist for?

This next week, I am going to spend some time reflecting. I think I did this last year as well, just spent a weekend taking stock of my projects and getting really honest about what was and wasn’t working. I think I need that for my current projects. I need a retrospective on my entire writing career and habits; I need to game the weird, maladaptive systems that I operate on, figure out where things go wrong and brainstorm some solutions.

And do some writing, because yeah, it’s been too long. Just stuff. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s something I feel like writing. I used to do that, and it worked out, like 14 years ago. I pursued writing and the ideas that I had because they interested me, when they interested me. And it worked.

Maybe I need a little less retrospection, on second thought.

But I do need to write.

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Weekly Words 13-19/05/2019

13-14/05/2019

Revision

So seeing as I’ve basically given up on Tallulah again, Tuesdays are free, and I used this Tuesday – the day on which I write this section of this post – to mostly continue my self-care regimen from yesterday, but also to have a quick look at the Mark and Jessie notes, and to continue trying to come up with a revision/reboot plan.

It’s not going well.

Or at least the planning isn’t going well. But from struggling with it I’ve come to recognise that there is some base-level stuff in this project that I need to figure out before I can actually plan anything – and I’m starting to think that maybe a plan isn’t actually what I need. I’ve been saying that a full reboot is what’s needed to make this project work – so, maybe that’s how I should approach it, in my typical fashion: just start writing and see what I end up with. I have this bunch of ideas that inspire me and all the problems that I’ve had with the current manuscript, and maybe that’s enough to go on to start with. I can hold off on planning until I’ve got something to work with worth making a plan for.

This is pretty radical for me, and I’m eager to try it out – and, since this is now a writing project instead of a revision project, no need to wait until next Monday. I mean I probably will anyway because this week is one of those rare weeks where I have a social life, but I also have that fantasy of being super-efficient with my time and shit, so I can try and figure it out.

And with my Wolf Gang readthrough nearing the final stages, and my decision of whether to make it a reboot, revision, or just a bit of fun that doesn’t need to be revisited – I’m feeling a bit excited right now. Not to count any chickens before they hatch, but yeah, I’m a little hype at the minute.

15-19/05/2019

Nothing At All

Feels right for this week.

Did a couple of social things this week (took best friend out for early BDay dinner on Wednesday, then went to concert with two other dear friends on Thursday), which were very rewarding and I’m glad that I did them and I just had no energy or desire to do anything else afterwards, so I didn’t.

Next week, I’m preparing for a ton of self-care cushioning because I am going to make that goddamn psychologist appointment goddammit, and because doing that last time caused me to lose 2 days to just recovering from the shock of putting myself through that scenario, I have decided that this next week just needs to be a big fluffy fucking pillow for me. If I get some writing-related shit done then that’s fantastic, but it’ll be a cherry on top kind of thing. I’ll just have to let the project-writing excitement from Monday go for now, because in the short-term this is much more important for me to do. And if the excitement doesn’t come back … I’ll live.

Mark and Jessie is a new project to me; basically I wrote an entire 622-page manuscript that taught me the valuable lessons of 1) I am capable of writing a 622-page manuscript, and 2) sometimes you can spend a lot of time and energy doing a ton of work that doesn’t amount to as much as you want it to in the end – but still get something out of it. I feel like I know what I need to do in order to continue with this story premise that I’ve loved for so long: I need to start over. The manuscript can’t help me, really, except for being a long list of lessons of mistakes to try not to repeat the next time around. That’s definitely something.

Revision

And okay I did a little bit of revision. The co-writing project has been easier to make revision notes on ever since getting past the episode 1 roadblock, and I’m hoping to wrap up episode 4 next Sunday. Or maybe even over this week, since I’m suspending my obligation to work on my own writing projects.

Weekly Total

Writing: 894

I have also decided that I do actually want to write my The Wereling review/s, and also finish my Steel review. Hell, maybe finish a few much older book reviews that I started years ago and never got around to completing …

Or experiment with something other than a review or a rant. Some other format that lets me reflect on my reading experience but doesn’t come with so many pitfalls that I so easily and frequently stumble into. I’ve said in the past that I want to step away from being a snarky dick when I write about the books I read, while at the same time still wanting to be honest, and much of the time snark is how my honesty comes out. Maybe that’s the issue to focus on; maybe it’s just that I need to examine the reasons for why I’m such an asshole when I get into Review Mode, why it’s enjoyable at the time and then regrettable later on. If nothing else it’s something I can ruminate over while forcing myself to contact mental health professionals so that I can get help rehabilitating my brain.

Wish me luck!

Weekly Words 06-12/05/2019

Revision

So I opened up the revision note document for Mark and Jessie. It’s 20240 words long.

Y’know, I feel when there’s half of a master’s thesis worth of notes made on a zero draft manuscript, it’s maybe a sign that there are issues with said manuscript.

I am not reading this shit.

Yes I am because THIS IS WHAT I GAVE MYSELF TO WORK WITH BECAUSE I AM A FUCKING MORON but them’s the brakes let’s hustle.

Ugh these revision notes need their own set of revision notes …

***

Okay, that’s quite enough masochism for today.

On the upside: I do actually have the beginnings of a plan now, and it’s even keeping some stuff – not necessarily writing, but stuff nonetheless – from the manuscript. Go me.

No seriously, fucking go me. I deserve twelve concurrent lifetime stipends for making any sense of this useless jumble of notes on this useless jumble of a manuscript. I regretted not moving on to the revision/reboot plan last Monday, but now that I’ve started I think I actually needed the break to get a clear perspective on what it is that I’m actually working with.

Thus, this week is off to a decent start writing-wise. Now for the rest of the week.

07/05/2019

Writing: 533

Hey, more writing.

This Wolf Gang prequel novella – I still like the idea, I still want to tell the story, but it’s not remotely tropey enough for my liking. Which in turn is making me think that I might be right after all in being worried about Wolf Gang losing its, dare I say it, identity if I follow through with my current revision notes as a revision plan. I think I’ve thought of some neat stuff, but I also think that I need to try and keep it feeling pulpy and trashy to some extent, because that’s kind of all that it has going for it in my mind – unless it’s a full reboot.

To that end, now that I’ve gotten started on making a revision/reboot plan for Mark and Jessie, I also think I’m getting a clearer sense of judgement as to which option is better for a given project. And to be honest, I don’t think Wolf Gang is due for a reboot. But I do think I’m a little more interested in telling a new werewolf story, one that’s not just a writing exercise. One where I put in, like, effort and shit.

Yes, last week any and all thoughts of putting effort into a writing project filled me with dread and despair and utter apathy to boot, but the more I think about what kinds of stories I want to spend my time telling, I don’t think I have a lot of room for stories like Wolf Gang – at least not where werewolves are concerned. I actually really like werewolves, and the more I learn about the stories and legends the more awesome I think they are. Trying to express my love of lycanthropes by focusing all of it into a trashy-but-fun YA urban fantasy novel series just feels like a wasted opportunities – actually, more like several wasted opportunities.

At the same time, though – fuck it, I do love pulp. I want to get good at writing it well; I want to push the limits of that type of storytelling and what it can be used to accomplish. And since I’ve already got a project in that vein with Wolf Gang, it seems silly to write it off entirely as a glorified writing exercise just because my first revision instinct is to try and turn it into a “respectable” story. I mean, pulp doesn’t have to be “respectable” to avoid the pitfalls of all the old problematic cliches and narrative devices, does it? Surely I, with my Ubermenschian mindbrain, can devise a solution to this seeming mutual exclusivity.

And in the meantime, perhaps I can use this prequel novella as a testing-ground for how to do exactly that. Because at the moment, this prequel is … well, it starts as sort of pulpy, but then devolves into dry-as-sandpaper … stuff. Stuff’s happening, the plot is progressing, theoretically at least, but it’s just so dull. I had the same issue with Wolf Gang initially; that’s why I decided to skip the boring stuff I knew I would have to eventually write and got started on the second half almost immediately – though it did then take me another year to write the final 4 chapters. 2 of which were already using bits and pieces I’d written and not found a place to put at the time.

I would ideally like to use the Suicide Squad-inspired project for this, but being real I haven’t had a great track record with getting it written, and going hack-mode on it hasn’t produced results that I liked. I ran into a wall and couldn’t get over it; now over a year later I’m still stumped, and besides a few quick writing sessions to try and get the ball rolling again it’s just ground to a halt.

Maybe I need to take more of my own advice than I’ve been doing so far; maybe I need to skip ahead in the story. I mean, that’s actually the part of the story that I feel the most confident about …

God, are all of my problems this stupidly easy to fix? I hope not. I hope I have legitimate reasons for not being able to figure basic shit out.

08/05/2019

Revision

Okay. My ambition, starting at 3:19pm today, is to complete my revision notes for Wolf Gang by the end of the day. I have 160 pages left to read and make notes on; I finished about that much across 2 days with Mark and Jessie, and could have done it in 1 if I’d really put my mind to it …

The difference, though, is that I was skim-reading with Mark and Jessie, and Wolf Gang is very simply a better-written manuscript that I won’t need to skim-read just to remain sane. Although, having said that, it might be good enough that I don’t need to make a ton of notes, either.

Okay. Let’s revise that ambition in light of this dawning realisation: my ambition, starting at 3:22pm today, is to see where I get to by 4:30pm and take it from there. I’d also like to do some writing today, but my revision projects are my main focus right now, so if I don’t have enough time to write without cutting into my revision momentum then I will forgo writing today.

All righty, parameters set – let’s revise this thing.

***

So, taking a break now at 4:27pm because I’ve finished reading and making notes on a chapter.

I’m lost.

This chapter is where the core tension of the story comes to light, which is good – except for the fact that there are, like, 5 different ways I could take the story in, and all of them work. Just not together. In addition, it also tells a bunch of interesting story elements that are never shown or even hinted at (because the previous 4 chapter were written about a year after this one), and they’re distracting me, like an enticing field of wildflowers waiting just off the beaten path through the forest. So, I’ve got a lot of thinking to do between this and the previous chapter in terms of what direction to take this project going forward, and a lot of potential darlings to smother in their sleep – or build a reboot around.

The good news, though, is that I’m pretty sure the remaining 4 chapters are incredibly straightforward and actually probably don’t need to be changed so much as tidied up. I’ll still read them because there’s no need for me to assume when I can just read them, and I can probably read them really fast, too.

I might just be able to fit in my writing today after all.

Writing: 1711

Yusss.

I didn’t bother skipping to later chapters, either; this glorified Suicide Squad fix-fic is continuing from where it left off, and I’m becoming excited at the prospect of completing another zero draft this year, the last one being Wolf Gang at the start of 2017. It took waaay too long to write Wolf Gang though, and the main reason for that was that I left the least-fun stuff to write until last. This time I’m going to try and power through it – for now anyway – and let the Hack guide me.

Which is the general gameplan with the Wolf Gang revision notes, too – I was torn between “pulp” and “good” yesterday, but reading that chapter today made me realise that if I want a “good” werewolf novel, it’s not this one, no matter how many scenes I shift around or pieces of dialogue I de-problematise. Which is not to say that I don’t want to write a “good” werewolf book – at some stage. Maybe even this year, concurrently with Not Another Suicide Squad and Mark and Jessie‘s reboot/revision pass, but definitely not a priority for me right now.

Well, I think I’ve managed to sustain the momentum that I gained last week pretty well so far; I’m feeling good right now. And tomorrow is Thursday, which means I get to read scholarly writing on werewolves, which has been one of the highlights of my week ever since I started. Last week though the chapter I read – for most of that day – was super long, so I think I went from about 40% to 70% in that one session, which means I’m almost done. Which is sad. But, I did buy more than one werewolf book last Christmas, and I’m interested to find more after reading through this one. Regardless of whether or not a PhD comes about as a result of all of this time invested into researching werewolves, I think I’ve found myself a new hobby.

09/05/2019

Reading

79%, as it turned out.

And now I’m done and I feel a little bit sad. That was a fun book. I will definitely return to it.

Until then, I have other werewolf books to look at – 2 others, to be exact, one of which contains 2 books, one of those 2 books being the same as the other book I have on werewolves because I should never be allowed to buy anything online ever. Maybe just not on the Kindle story; they looked like different books, but are in fact not. One has nicer formatting than the other; sadly it is the book that only contains one book, so …

Bottom line: I have more werewolf shit to read, and I’m interested in finding more to add to my collection.

Speaking of having werewolf shit to read, I am continuing with my Anita Blake read, and this book (The Killing Dance) is, so far, very much about the werewolf side of things. A lot of what differentiates one brand of urban fantasy werewolf/shifter from another boils down to what, exactly, they can transform into, and under what conditions – but in effect, the difference tends to boil down to character names. The Anita Blake shifters, however, have a couple of characteristics that set them apart from (what I can remember about) their UF kin. For one, alphas can control their shape-shifting so perfectly that they can alter their body more subtly. Not sure if there’s going to be an instance of them using this to, say, impersonate some political figure or something, but it’s neat nonetheless. Also it’s an idea that my friend and I came up with for our co-writing project long before I got around to reading Anita Blake so that’s kind of funny and I hope not a copyright issue.

For another, bloodlust and plain old lust seem to be one and the same for shifters. At the very least, the sight of violence turns them on, and when they’re in the mood they also become more violent.

Given the extent to which urban fantasy explores the intersection of sexuality, violence, and power, this is a pretty fitting characterisation for UF shifters. It also means that, unlike a lot of modern depictions of “good” werewolves, they’re not just humans but stronger and furrier: these are monsters, and I appreciate that a lot. Sure, our werewolf love-interest Richard hasn’t really done anything monstrous to date (that I can recall), and has huge, infuriating compunctions about taking a life, any life, including those of people (well, actually, other shifters) who repeatedly and unrepentantly abuse, torture, and murder the people around them, including people that Richard has sworn to protect. I say “infuriating” in the context of this being fiction, of course; the fact that a person isn’t willing to take a life shouldn’t be a sign that they’re weak – but in fiction, it often comes off as sanctimonious and selfish, especially when expressed by people who supposedly want to protect the innocent from those who would do them harm.

However, Richard does eventually explain why he’s so hesitant to take lives: it’s because he’s a werewolf, and he’s afraid that if he starts he won’t be able to stop, because he’ll like it too much. Which, I mean, you could say that of certain humans as well, but given the unique psychology and biochemistry that lycanthropes in the Blakeverse possess, it seems more like a physiological concern than a moral one – or at least as well as a moral one. And more to the point, it means that the Blakeverse werewolves are, like, monsters. This isn’t Teen Wolf, where any threat werewolves pose to humanity by virtue of being werewolves is hand-waved away by season 2. Yes, that is my favourite TV show of all time, but I never said it was perfect. Losing the monstrous aspect of what it means to be a werewolf, to me, loses a core part of the appeal of werewolves: engaging with that monstrosity – which Anita Blake does, and I am very appreciative.

However, I am a little leery, let’s say, of the fact that this is how the story offers Richard a valid reason to not want to kill people: it being immoral isn’t enough of a justification, especially since the people Richard has made enemies of are serial killers, rapists, and abusers of all shades (and are also shifters), and much is made of the fact that he has sworn to protect the people they’re victimising, yet is unwilling to do the one thing that would guarantee their safety. He’s also challenged the current alpha and defeated him, but not killed him, which according to werewolf law means he isn’t now the new alpha, leaving the pack in chaos – and antagonising the alpha and his (of course) more dangerous and sadistic mate, putting Richard’s allies in danger. He puts me in mind of a protest voter back in 2016: ideals over reality, and fuck the consequences. As far as the events of the story go, I’m not on Richard’s side here.

But that’s a problem in the sense that the story frames Richard’s reluctance to kill a bit like Superman’s in Man of Steel, like he should want to kill because don’t you know genre tropes dude? The tension is less what’s going on in the story and more what’s going on, and has been going on, in the entirety of the Western literary canon, every time the good guy refuses to take the life of the bad guy and makes some self-righteous speech about “sinking to your level” or “there’s a better way” or “revenge isn’t justice”, while the audience knows that the bad guy is going to come back, kill more people, be caught and not dealt with in any kind of permanent way, rinse and repeat until it’s no longer profitable. It’s a very meta problem, and it’s a bit transparent – and a bit concerning that it’s so pro-killing-people. To be fair, though, Anita takes this opportunity to reflect on the fact that she feels literally nothing when she kills people, and I’m interested to see if/how this develops over time.

I’ll say this: everything I’m reading at the moment is definitely holding my attention. And it is nice to be reading some dark shit for a change. It’s been a while.

Weekly Total

Writing: 2244

A quiet week, all told, but I think maybe I needed it.

I am writing this on the 13th, which I will outline in the next post, but it’s been a day off. I’m planning to compensate by migrating my schedule for this week forward by one day, starting tomorrow – I think today was basically an extended weekend for me. I had a pretty shit night mental health-wise on Saturday, and I don’t think I recovered as well as I thought I had. Generally I just wake up the next morning/afternoon and actually feel better for having ridden out the dark wave, but this time not so much.

And no, I still haven’t followed up with the whole psychologist appointment thing that I said I would definitely do this week, and yes, it is definitely continuing to take a toll on me the longer I leave it. The joys of looking for help dealing with mental illness while living with mental illness are pretty fucking indescribable, and if I don’t want to feel any worse than I already do, they’ll stay that way for the time being.

Ugh. Whatever. The week is over, and overall I am happy with what I accomplished. This week started on a bit of a low-energy note, but I do think that I needed it. And now I need to take advantage of it.

Also, the little bits of writing that I did this and last week remind me that, actually, I do miss writing regularly, as much as focusing on reading and revision-notes has been good for my mindset. Time to get back into the old habit, I think.

Weekly Words 29/04-05/05/2019

29-30/04/2019

Life Is Hard

So, got a reply text from the psychologist. She’s got a full slate and can’t see me; I imagine this is probably a relatively common occurrence for psychologists and that’s fine. She recommended a couple of other psychologists I could try instead and that’s my next step.

Well, no, my next step is to regain my balance after being so emotionally thrown by this incredibly easy-to-prepare-for scenario that I in no way shape or form prepared for, and both yesterday and today have been spent waiting for myself to un-lurch, basically.

Be prepared. A lesson that I learnt the hard way last year, and a great Disney villain song to boot. I did consider possible outcomes yesterday, but I also knew that if I spent too much time doing that then I’d lose whatever spark of energy I had that allowed me to actually make the phone call in the first place, so while I know I can plan better in future, I think I did the right thing going in less than fully prepared for the outcome. In other words: I think I learnt a thing.

As for writing things: not so much, not even revision notes. I haven’t even started on the revision/reboot plan for Mark and Jessie, and as today was Tryhard Tuesday I consider it a failed experiment because, well, I didn’t try very hard at all, on anything. I might have to narrow down what it is exactly that I’ll be trying hard to do on Tuesdays, but it’s also possible that, given that I keep coming to this exact same conclusion, I really shouldn’t be trying to write anything new right now. With the possible exception of finishing my Wolf Gang prequel novella thing, which really does need to be wrapped up.

I’m considering turning to short stories to try and fill the void going forward; there aren’t any big, “real” writing projects that I feel compelled or competent enough to try and tackle at the moment, but I do have a lot of small ideas, and short stories seem like a good way to bridge the gap between wanting to get some writing in for the sake of good habit-forming on the one hand, and not making myself commit to huge, unrealistic expectations on the other.

And I’m also considering, not for the first time, whether maybe I should go take a writing/publishing degree from … someplace. I mean, I love the fantasy of being the autonomous ubermenschly autodidact who tackles every challenge independently and without external input, but it’s been 32 years and shit hasn’t exactly panned out that way for me. It’s not even that I think I’d learn anything valuable that I couldn’t find out on my own; it’s that I feel like I won’t find out on my own unless I conscript myself into a course of some kind, intentionally place myself in an environment where that’s expected of me – otherwise I’ll just continue to wallow in existential angst for the rest of eternity. This is not how I want things to be, but it’s what I’ve spent my life learning how to do.

Well, I can either let this week continue to play out according to a fairly predictable off-the-rails procrastination marathon, or I can make a plan.

The Plan

Tomorrow is all about werewolves, specifically Wolf Gang, and I’m sticking to it. I’ve already lost 2 days to having my mind blown by embarassingly trivial things, though I suppose after 17 years of my particular neuroses I should probably adjust my parameters for identifying “embarrassing” outcomes for myself, shouldn’t I? My point is that, yes, I have some life-management shit to take care of, but I also have these good habits that I want to keep going as strongly as possible, so let’s compromise.

Friday and Saturday are my days off from my self-imposed “work” schedule, so that’s when I have free time to continue with the Psychologist Appointment Saga. Over the course of those two days I will formulate a plan of attack, consider some potential outcomes that I need to be prepared to deal with, and set some limits around doing these things so that I can also have some day-off time. Until then: business as usual. These shitty werewolf novels ain’t gonna write and revise themselves.

01/05/2019

Reading

Limits? What are those?

I started reading my Wednesdaily chapter of Metamorphoses of the Werewolf at about 3:30pm today, and have finally finished now at 9:15pm. True, that is because I was also taking frequent breaks to read random Rolling Stone articles and continue editing my main Spotify playlist, but that is because this fucking chapter is stupidly long – but interesting enough to keep me engaged for a good almost-6-hours.

Honestly, while I do want to be able to put time aside each day to do things other than my self-imposed writing-related labour, I really enjoyed just getting stuck into this chapter and spending the day on it, so it sort of counts as both work and downtime for me. Love what you do and all that; this only further serves to validate my belief that werewolves are the best.

I’m also starting to have some more interesting and comprehensive ideas about a Wolf Gang reboot, which wouldn’t just be fun pulpy trash and, for that reason, will probably never get written – but still, I’m liking these ideas. Metamorphoses is starting to get into the witch trail era of European history, and I’m starting to see some possible links between the modern depiction of werewolves as working-class vs upperclass vampires and how poor people were accused of witchcraft/being werewolves and eating people. I would of course need to do a lot more research to see if this holds up historically, but even if not, I write fiction, and poor people have gotten the short end of the stick throughout history.

Also shit today was supposed to be my Wolf Gang day; alliteration is supposed to help me remember my arbitrary schedule, dammit! Oh well. It is an arbitrary schedule. And honestly I think I needed today after how this week started out for me.

02/05/2019

Revision

Wanna pick up the pace with this revision-note-making process, so I might actually forgo my days off this week just to get around to it. And no, not as a way to put off having to deal with looking into the two psychologists I’ve had recommended to me; I will still be doing that. But this was another all-day affair, and …

Well, part of it was because this latest chapter, chapter 5, was quite tricky to make notes on. I came to the conclusion that I could 1) shift half of the scenes to another new chapter that I have decided needs to exist and then merge the remaining half with the following chapter, or 2) take certain elements of this chapter and turn them into their own chapters. I feel like option 2 is the “better” one, but besides having to write a whole bunch of new material – well, this book is over 80k words as it is, and I hear YA novels are supposed to be between 50-80k words in terms of submissions. Then again, they’re probably going to tell me to add/cut/change a whole bunch of shit if it ever gets to that point anyway, so I may as well do whatever the hell I want while I can, right?

It’s also the chapter that forced me to really start grappling with the glaring holes and inconsistencies and just plain bad writing in this glorified writing exercise … which, I mean, I have to grapple with that, too. I’m committed to treating this as a serious contender for the project that I pour my energy into for the rest of the year, getting it ready for submission to an agent. All the excuses that were totally fine when it was just a writing exercise don’t hold water anymore – and that means that a lot of the charm of this project also doesn’t hold up to this new scrutiny. Which makes me wonder how wise this decision is. Perhaps I should be trying to make it even “worse”? I mean, the “shit” in “shitty YA werewolf novel” is basically the entire appeal of this project, and I’m starting to wonder if it has anything at all going for it without that element. Which is the element my revision notes have been working towards eliminating, to make it “good”, to make it less “problematic” …

Might I just as well write an entirely new werewolf novel (the werewolf part is non-negotiable) from scratch?

Because I do have some ideas for that, ideas that would even fit pretty smoothly in the event that I do decide to stick with Wolf Gang as is and “make something of it”. Besides my It Follows-inspired horror reboot attempt from last year, Metamorphoses of the Werewolf continues to inspire me as well. It’s just …

God I’m tired of trying to make new things lately. There is something about my approach that puts me off my own ideas, and until I figure out what that is I doubt I’m getting much of anything done. I’m getting worried, actually; I already flaked out on starting my revision plan for Mark and Jessie this Monday, and I know that I have to hit that nail on the head next Monday or risk losing my momentum altogether. It’s so easy to just keep putting things off, and I have a history of doing it with my long-term writing projects in particular. I now worry that even if I do make a real push to get these revision notes for Wolf Gang made, say, by the end of this Saturday, I’ll come out of it on the other side with absolutely no desire to continue.

But then maybe that’s not my process; maybe it’s the project itself. Already the seams are splitting; if it’s not pulpy trashy fun then … what the fuck is it? Reading chapter 5 today I realised just how dark the story actually is, which clashes with the tone something fierce, and …

Shit. Honestly, this is stumping me harder than I thought it would when I sat down to write this. I think I can’t worry too much about it right now, but once I’m done I’m going to have a decision to make between either choosing the pulpy-trash-fun tone or the more serious, darker, more … mature? themes and events of the manuscript – or finding some way to reconcile the two. Or of course just reboot, take the general werewolf idea and do something more substantial with it, which I don’t want or have to do so why would I even …

Argh.

Maybe what will come about as a result of me making all of these revision notes is the realisation that I need to do something with my life other than focus on writing, capital “W” or otherwise.

Oh well. What’s a Hero’s Journey if you don’t go on it?

03/05/2019

Writing: 2001

Holy shit I did some writing.

This was basically a writing exercise, so I’m not sure if I’ll count it for the weekly total, but for now it’s momentous enough that I actually did some goddamn writing, for the first time in … like, four weeks? Well that’s what my document that exists to track such things tells me anyway; and that’s worth tallying right now.

It was, without going into detail, a sex scene. The question of how to write a “good” sex scene is one that I am aware many, if not most, writers struggle with – which, really, is the same as trying to write a “good” scene of any kind. What works? What doesn’t? How much is too much/little, and why? What is exactly the right word/phrase to evoke the appropriate response/set the right tone? I don’t know if I figured out any of the answers to those questions during this writing exercise, but more important to me is the fact that I pushed through the anxiety-wall and actually got some writing done.

This also tells me that my idea of focusing on writing short-story-style projects, rather than trying to funnel my energies into huge projects that I don’t feel ready to commit to, has some merit. I am also comfortable with the idea of just not writing anything new for a while – but only to a point. I do actually want to, like, continue learning and improving as a writer, and I can’t do that if I don’t actually write, right?

Valuable learning has happened today. That’s worth recording, even if the word-count isn’t.

04/05/2019

Writing: 2654

WHAT IS HAPPENING.

So, this was another attempt at getting my Suicide Squad snapback project off the ground, and I realise now that my approach so far – writing little excerpts, stand-alone scenes – works well with my plan to do “short stories”. At the very least, this is a step up from compiling planning notes, because actual project-writing is happening here: dialogue and characterisation and plot and shit is being written, and it’s all stuff that I could actually, potentially, put into a zero draft manuscript.

It’s all still an experiment, though. I haven’t settled on a continuity that I’m happy with; the big problem with this project is that it could be so many different things, and I’m incredibly reluctant to commit to any of them – none of them feel quite enough to me. I don’t know what the correct way to handle this kind of problem is, because it’s a problem that I only ever seem to fail to address with my projects, but I do know that my response so far with this one has been to just write these little snippets of action and … well, yeah. Just write it. Not even “write it and see what happens”; I’m just writing this stuff and moving on.

Well, maybe that’s the next step. I’ve got a few of these now; maybe I should write a few more and then read them over and have a think about how – or if – I want to move forward with the project.

Well, in any event, actual fucking writing. And the only reason I can think of for why this is happening is that I’m making an effort to do regular exercise again, because it makes me feel like I’m actually a living human being that exists and can therefore do things. Maybe that’s the secret: if you have writer’s block, go work out. I don’t know if that’s how it works, but it is also possible that exercise has benefits beyond breaking writer’s block. Definitely possible.

05/05/2019

Revision

I started making my revision notes on episode 3 of the co-writing project today at a quarter-past 2, and finished about 5 minutes ago at 5pm.

What is with this week?

After spending the past couple of months feeling like shit, this one week feels … well for one pretty long, but more importantly reminded me that, hey, I am capable of doing the things that I set out to do.

Of course I did that over the past couple of weeks as well, just without the positive mental outlook, and that’s what’s changed this week – good timing, too. I think if you’re ever due for a mental reset to get into a better frame of mind, your birthday is the time for the universe to deliver. I think I have to take some credit, though: I did intentionally make a big effort to get shit moving this past couple of weeks – it’s just that this week is when it all seemed to start paying off. There are still things I need to do (psychologist appointment still needs to be made for instance), but fuck it whatever, this week is better than the last bunch of weeks, and I feel good about myself, this isn’t a positivity blog but it is about the writing process and, holy shit, sometimes writers can feel good about themselves? What blasphemy is this?

Weekly Total

Writing: 7597

Time goes slowly when you’re doing lots with it, and that’s how I wanna live my lyf, fam.

Yeah no more of that the point is that this week has been pretty damn great, in my humble scientifically objective assessment of reality. Knocked many of my goals out of the park, made starts on a few initiatives that I was ready to give up on, and updated the fuck out of my main Spotify playlist because, well, why not?

Now I have next week to work with – I had a plan for this past week, and after losing momentum on Monday and not picking it up again until Wednesday I am not keen to repeat the experience tomorrow. This psychologist appointment stuff can wait until Friday, when it’s not going to throw me off my game – also means I can use Monday through Thursday to prepare myself emotionally, physically, spiritually, lycanthropically …

Speaking of which: I really want to get my revision notes for Wolf Gang finished this week, as well as the prequel novella, as well as to at least start a revision plan for Mark and Jessie. It’s going to be a big week. Maybe too big; maybe I’ll spread those out over the month …

Anyway. I have lots to do, but am feeling more optimistic about actually being able to get it done than I have for a long time. Just goes to show how much you can get done when you have a plan, take care of yourself, and I dunno the universe rolled a natural 20 on your behalf. I’ll take it.

This feels like a wave – time to ride it.