Revision: 1 hour
Research: 1 hour
What’s this? A PLAN?!?!?
A plan WORKING??@?!?@>#*@(@?!L
Yes, something like that.
Today’s research for my potential PhD lit review (on the topic of werewolves) was one of those research experiences where you find an idea so similar to your own that you start to wonder if you should even bother. Well, this is why I’m doing the research: to find out if I should bother – with this topic at least. I do think a PhD is in my future one way or another, but even if it’s not, I actually want to put myself through this process of reading material that could be of interest/use to a potential thesis – after all, if nothing else, it’s something to do with myself until November.
I did end up just staying at home and moving to a different room in the house, and it worked fine. I do think I will branch out eventually, but today the slow and steady approach felt a bit less daunting. Adventure can come later – for now, I just want to know that this is work I will actually do.
So, that’s all well and good, and I’m feeling a bit productive after three weeks of very much not. With those areas of potential guilt assuaged, I feel comfortable now revealing my latest unexpected neurotic obsession: how to spot ghostwritten books.
I’m just becoming fascinated by the entire concept and enterprise of ghostwriting, particularly uncredited ghostwriting. It’s something that I suspect readers might look more kindly on in this day and age than in the past, if publishers and authors were more transparent about if and when ghostwriters are being employed. Yes, there is that “aura” of “authenticity” when you can associate a single authorial entity with the creation of a body of imaginative work – but if it’s not just one author, then what exactly does one lose by being open about that? Reputation? If you start off being transparent then that is your reputation, so I can’t quite buy that. Money? If it’s money then I can defiintely understand why to this day ghostwriters go uncredited, however wrong it feels to me as a business practice. Copyright? That might be tricky, but surely no trickier than having two named authors for a work? Like Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman co-authoring Good Omens?
It’s just interesting. It’s something I want to learn more about. And, I mean, as someone who wants a career as a writer, maybe this could turn out to have farther-reaching benefits than just sating my curiosity by following up on it.
I also, upon reflection, feel like I was rather ungenerous in the previous Weekly Words with what I had to say about Richelle Mead and the possibility of some of her books being ghostwritten – not because of whether it’s true or not, but because I made it seem like it would be a bad thing if it were true. Which, upon reflection, I really don’t think at all. Much like how I eventually grew out of my “book purist” mindset thanks to the Harry Potter films (though not, ironically, because I thought they were good films, because I really didn’t and still don’t), I think I’ve gotten over whatever prejudice I had against the concept of ghostwriters – which is mostly the sense of betrayal, of being “duped” into thinking “hey this author is amazing because look at all of this stuff that they do all on their own”, and never mind that no author does everything on their own to begin with (generally speaking) …
Although, having said that – there is still a sense of betrayal when ghostwriting goes uncredited and unacknowledged. Not just for us as readers for putting our trust in what, let’s be real, we should probably all be savvy enough at this point to understand is a brand more than an individual person who plays the role of creator for a work of art, but also for the ghostwriters, the people who do the grunt work. And from what I have gathered about ghostwriting, it’s not something that’s likely to change anytime soon specifically because publishers/authors benefit from the duplicity of their publicity being built on the image of the author as a solely responsible creator of art. And that does rub me the wrong way – especially since it just seems to me like such an unnecessary deception, if you’re just open about it from the outset.
All right, guess I totally contradicted myself there … I guess where I’m at right now is that 1) I think the entire concept of ghostwriting is fascinating and 2) while I’m not against the practice in the sense that I don’t think there should be a stigma around being a ghostwriter or even employing one (or more), I do think it’s shitty that there isn’t always transparency about it. There are some notable exceptions, like any new James Bond or Jason Bourne book that comes out these days – but I find it difficult to accept the notion that, in a world where it’s not only common but expected for any television series (or modern pop song) to have a writing staff where they’re all credited for their work and it doesn’t take away from the “authenticity” of the work, there would be some kind of huge public outcry if the book industry started doing the same when it comes to ghostwriters.
Partly because we all already know some of the biggest “offenders” anyway. But if I’m being honest – I don’t think there would be a big public outcry if this happened for new authors. Already established authors “exposing” themselves, however …
What I’m saying is that I guess I’ll hold off on announcing that this blog has been ghostwritten this entire time.
Mostly because nobody would believe it; I probably couldn’t pay someone to write with my perfected brand of myopic narcissism, even if I had the money.
Mmm. Money. Could really go for some of that right now.
Revision: 1 hour
And even with two hours logged for revision this week so far, by far the most time and effort I’ve put into anything this week has been creating a playlist inspired by Georgina Kincaid’s … adventures? Well it proved pretty all-consuming yesterday, let me tell you. I still haven’t finished it.
Also: having a succubus character whose last name is pronounced “kink-aid” is the kind of genius I aspire to. I’ve been a fan of this series for, what, five years, and only just figured this out? You learn something new every day …
Like how my bookshelf really is more of an inconvenience than anything at this stage. Maybe it’s time for me to invest in a Kindle or something, whatever the hot new e-reader is now. If people are even still using e-readers; I feel like I missed out on that cultural moment. Isn’t it all just phones and/or tablets now? I did read the Dragonlance books on my phone, but 1) that was a lot of phone battery, 2) my phone is slow as hell so it wasn’t fun, and 3) the one time I actually had a go with a dedicated e-reading device it was actually rather pleasant because the screen was designed to be easy on the eyes, not as much glare – it was actually almost like reading off a physical page. I rather liked it. I don’t like the prospect of buying all my books all over again, though – but for future book purchasing considerations, maybe it’s finally time to join the digital revolution.
OH MY GOD I NEED TO WRITE SOMETHING.
I take it back: writing about myself? Not the problem. Writing about myself when I have nothing to write about is the problem, and hey, this is a writing blog – might help if I had some writing to write about, huh?
Well, I have been thinking more about Wolf Gang these past couple of days – in particular the horror reboot I was keen on last year after seeing It Follows for the first time. Though now I’m not thinking so much “reboot” as “I could be the werewolf dude who writes about werewolves and only werewolves ever”. YA book series? Werewolves. Stand-alone horror novel? Werewolves. Collection of essays about cultural imperialism and the fallacy of free market ideology?
Well no, I’d probably rather write about something else.
Like FUCKING WEREWOLVES so maybe this is the short-term answer to my writing angst, just indulge in the werewolves and let them happen.
Alternatively, I could have a crack at another one of those “I’ll never be able to write this projects” that writing Bad Guys inspired me to think about going back to. Only issue is that it’s not in a state where I feel like continuing the version of the story I’ve made a start on would serve the story well – which, fittingly enough, was exactly how I felt about Bad Guys when I decided it was going to be my Camp Nano project. And then I wrote it.
… okay, is this the point where it finally starts to sink in that I wrote an entire goddamn novel in two months? Really? Now?
I really want it to be November all of a sudden. I have shit to do, and I want to do it …
But yes. In the meantime, I do need to set myself some tasks to do or I will sink even deeper into the morass of frustration, procrastination, and stir-craziness that currently comprises my psychic environment. I actually wanted to have a look at some of my other projects and make notes on them, or at least record my thoughts about them – maybe this is self-sabotage, but I’ve decided to be open to the possibility that I won’t want to work on Bad Guys when November rolls around. I have other projects at the same stage of the revision process that I also want to have a shot at life one of these days, so I want to give them a chance to impress upon me their importance before I make my Nanowrimo commitment.
So, maybe it’s not werewolves. I’m certainly not crossing it off the list, though. In fact, I want to be pretty damn open to all possibilities.
But how to organise myself? Hmm. A different project every day? A loose commitment to a different project every week? And most importantly of all …
What alliteration will I use?
Revision: 1 hour
I definitely don’t think these co-writing revision notes are going to be completed before November – but hey, I was looking for things to do …
So, for future reference, myself: whatever the hell this “plan” was for exiting the zero-draft-writing process? Not a good one.
Honestly, what I want to do is just go right back to work on Bad Guys. My decision to wait until halfway through October before even reading it – I think I definitely have needed a bit of a break from it, but these feelings of agitation over the past couple of weeks suggest that maybe it’s been long enough now. It might be time to jump back in already.
And, I mean, that wouldn’t be the worst thing. I’m just a bit disappointed that in the interim I just haven’t really done anything with myself. It bothers me that every time I’ve tried to sit down and do something – writing, more often than not – I have waited for the desire to write and not found it. I feel right now like everything I learnt about generating my own momentum and enthusiasm during Camp Nano has completely left my brain, and I fear that the reason is because I didn’t try hard enough to make sure it stayed.
Then again, I also think that trying to jump into another project right away would have been unwise – and perhaps that’s why the past few weeks have been as infuriating as they have, because writing-wise that’s kind of the only option I’ve given myself. All new stuff; all requiring a whole new commitment from me of time and emotional investment. It probably would have been better to identify some already in-progress projects to tinker with, or do something writing-related that wasn’t telling a story. Maybe I should have planned for a series of posts on this blog about some writing topic or current issues in the writing world or a book review or something.
I think the main issue has been that I haven’t been very open to feeling out what it is that I want and need, and have fallen into the same old pattern of telling myself what I should be doing, what I will be doing. I think the next Monthly Words is probably going to be very helpful to me, getting an overview of what I actually did this month, because while I’m aware of the general sense of unease and agitation that has pervaded the past four weeks, I am at a loss to actually remember what I’ve done – or not done – with my time, what my plans and intentions were.
I think it also didn’t help that I had a pretty intense therapy session (not that the therapy was intense, just my emotional state afterwards) that I still haven’t really processed properly, so I’ve been feeling very sensitive and avoiding things that might be a bit more stimulating than sitting around and watching YouTube or re-reading a favourite book series of mine. And I know that this sense of disquiet has to do with not doing things; I really want to be doing things – and at the same time I’ve been avoiding doing anything, really, or anything that I “count” as a thing that I’ve “done”. So maybe I’m just being a bit picky, and a bit demanding of myself in the wrong ways.
Well, all right, let’s try and fix that then, brain. What have I done this month? Fuck Monthly Words; that’s days away, and I need a goddamn pick-me-up right now.
- Week 1: Wrote over 16k words across two days at the start of the month, then couldn’t write anything creative until … well, now
- Week 2: got excited about brainstorming and writing out lists of scenes without trying to turn them into a blueprint for a story, survived two back-to-back parties without dying (but felt very raw after the second one), uninstalled WOW (a smart move, glad I remembered I did that)
- Week 3: had aforementioned intense therapy experience, started rereading the Seattle Succubus series, read The Princess Bride, found enjoyment in the writing of others when I was too creative exhausted/agitated to produce any of my own, noted down a few more scenes that I have had in mind for years and never written down, rediscovered the joys of applying Freudian psychoanalysis to popular media texts
And along the way did a bunch of revision, did some exercise, brain-dumped some ideas for various projects, listened to my synthwave playlist ad nauseum, and thought about doing a whole bunch of shit, including:
- Working towards preparing a PhD proposal
- Doing more scene blocking/brainstorming/worldbuilding for my various projects
- Writing short stories
- Reconnect with the storytelling strategies I learnt by playing D&D
- Getting back into morning pages
- Self-directed therapy homework (I bet I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t do their therapy homework)
- Reading The Name of The Wind before I have to return it in a few days
- Writing book reviews on this blog
- Finding places that aren’t my bedroom to use as writing spaces
- Getting into yoga (my dad found me a book on it, I have it, haven’t used it yet)
So, really, the options are all there. I just haven’t been doing … well, I haven’t been doing all of them. And having said that, I’ve actually done quite a bit – mostly downtime activities, but hey, this is supposed to be my break from Bad Guys.
I think, honestly, what would have made this restless month less restless is if I had just done more of those things, and left myself plenty of time to do absolutely nothing. I do think that I am in desperate need of some de-cluttering when it comes to my list of time-killing habits; I want to spend my time, not kill it, even if all I’m spending it on is R&R. And, for the millionth time: I want to get better at downtime. I suck at self-care; I want to not suck at it anymore.
And I think that requires a schedule, which is one of those really counterintuitive things that you think can’t possibly be How It Works but totally is how it works – so now I just have to figure out what the hell a downtime activity is for me. Because I actually don’t think that I know. It’s not Netflix, because that always feels like a chore; if it’s listening to music then I should actually probably not listen to music except for during downtime (or working out, because I’m not that masochistic); if it’s reading then I just need to stock up on a ton of trashy shit to read …
I know that the answer to ridding myself of this feeling of wanting to do stuff is to just do stuff – but all the things that I’ve listed, or many of them anyway, just feel so meaningless. And I think that’s been the big issue for me: I don’t have any meaningful work to do. I just have stuff to do to fill the time until I’ve taken a long enough break from Bad Guys, according to the completely arbitrary self-imposed limits that I set a month ago, to go back to it.
Well, okay. This is where I’m at now – and I think that, rather than trying to supply an answer to this dilemma that I’m not really ready to provide right now, I’m just going to leave it here for now. I’ve got D&D and co-writing tomorrow, as we seem to have shifted from Sunday to Saturday (which certainly makes the bus commute easier), so until Sunday I’m going to put this shit out of my mind.
And then, on Sunday, I’m going to start really trying to figure it out, because I have way too many months like this one, or worse, and I need a better plan.
Yep, I needed that.
There is a Netflix movie called Falling Inn Love about a Latinx-American woman who wins an inn through an online competition – and the inn is in New Zealand. It is one of the most profoundly lowest-common-denominator-driven films I have ever seen, in that special way that only New Zealand films can be, a bad impression of a bad Hollywood production.
It was pretty funny.
My co-writing friend and I, along with one of her flatmates, watched it after D&D, and added it to our continued commitment to watch every bad made-for-Netflix film there is on the platform. I still have to see Sierra Burges is a Loser and The Perfect Date, but after that I think I’m all caught up … oh and the Christmas Prince duology, of course. Though I hadn’t considered those part of the commitment initially, because we were mainly looking at what we consider to be the “YA” Netflix features like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Kissing Booth. Still waiting for something to knock The Kissing Booth off the top spot.
I also brainstormed a selection of activities that I can occupy myself with in between periods of intense writing, downtime activities – and I’m going to have to bear in mind that I really can’t set a specific amount of time to stick to the regimen with (also there are things on this list that I should probably just be doing regularly regardless of whatever else is going on with me). I have to be open to exploration and change; I have to be adaptable, ready to roll with it. It worked for Bad Guys, and it seems to be pretty much essential for coping with life in general – so, it’s time for life to imitate art.
Today – well, yesterday, because I’m writing this on Monday – I got a whole bunch of activity done, I won’t say “work” because I don’t think this qualifies – but then again, maybe it does.
I rolled some characters for a book of mine as D&D classes, with the ambition of running them through a little scenario, doing some role-play, feeling them out as individual personalities and as a team. That part didn’t happen. However, just working to fit them into the existing D&D class system gave me some really helpful ideas about how I could write them, flesh them out both on their own and in relation to one another. Now I have some backstories, goals, motives, and flaws to build on, so in terms of a character-building exercise, I think it was a success.
Research: 1 hour
Revision: 3 hours
All right, I have survived the week, and I don’t want to repeat this experience.
Weekly Words has been a great time-management tool at times – most of 2018 for instance – and over time has sort of morphed into just another chore on top of the pile of expectations that I place on myself because … well, I need something to do.
I am working in a broken system of my own making and it is time for this nonsense to end!
This first week of October, I’m going to be looking at Bad Guys and making notes and all that fun stuff, but in terms of this blog I’m going to feel it out. I might take a week off to just focus on getting my shit together, so that weeks – and months – like this one become less likely to happen, where I drift aimlessly and seething with frustration from one day to the next and the only thing I have to talk about for my trouble is how aimless and frustrated I feel.
I’m starting to think that Weekly Words might have run its course – again. I’ve felt this way before, and have shifted my parameters to find a way to keep it going. I think this was the right decision at the time, and right now I think it’s worth taking a step back and evaluating what I actually need/want to get out of continuing with it. At the very least, in its current form, I think that Weekly Words has reached the limits of its usefulness. If I’m working on a writing project, then it’s fantastic – if I’m not, then it’s enabling me to indulge in my worse nature, complaining about things I’m not doing instead of, like, doing them. And while it’s great to check in every day/week just for my own purposes when I have something going on, when I don’t – well, there was a theory I had that having to find something to write about might motivate me to actually do that, and so far that theory has not resulted in confirmation. Unless you count finding things to complain about … well, actually, there’s my answer: it does work – I just don’t like how it works.
So, it’s time for a change. And I need some time to figure out what that change needs to be. Until then …
Hmm. Seven years of running this blog and I don’t have a sign-off.
Putting it on the list!