Well, it’s a trope of mine to add a “Nanowrimo Edition” tag to my Weekly Words headings during the relevant month – but at this point, is it really still Nanowrimo Edition?
Well actually I’ve been writing more days this month than not, so yes, it is still very much Nanowrimo Edition – just not in my heart. And being an emotion-based organism, that’s the determining factor.
I’ll be honest, though: I’m not expecting to get any Nano-related writing done this week. As highlighted last week, I am in serious need of some Real Talk time, with myself. Bad Guys is a source of self-doubt and shame for me when I feel like it should be fun, that I have to either embrace it for the problematic mess it’s inviting me to indulge in or scrap it entirely, because none of the attempts I’ve made to find a compromise have worked so far – and I will not know how to move forward from this creative crisis until I find the way through this mess.
Then again, that leaves the door open for other things, like this High Fantasy project, and my statement of research intent. I’m feeling really stuck right now, this week in particular but all throughout November so far, where even though I have things that I know I can put my time and energy into it all feels wrong, and I’m pretty damn sure, rationally speaking, that it’s not wrong. But something’s wrong.
And it’s Bad Guys, how I feel about it, and how it makes me feel about myself. So that’s what I need to focus on this week.
Well, I think I’ve made a decision.
I mean, I have made a decision; I think I’ve made a decision that will stick. Bad Guys has been a project that didn’t want to be pinned down, but yesterday I had a great chat with my dad and came to the realisation that, actually, the decisions that I have already made with this project – the zero draft – they work. And they work well enough that I am willing to invest in building the project around them, and just pushing them a bit further, to close up the gaps in the story, the premise, the general plot.
Feels good to sort of know what I’m doing with this story now.
That being said, I think this month is kind of just a bust for project work. I do want to get back into writing regularly after this botch of a week, but for now I think I’ll finish this week off as it was intended: by not doing any “serious” writing – maybe a touch of planning, maybe giving this long-awaited chapter revamp a go – and then getting back to the High Fantasy workshopping to close out November and re-reading my zero draft before committing December to the kickstarting of draft 2.
Co-Writing Revision Brainstorming: 2 hours
Well, I haven’t gotten anything else writing-related done this week, but this was a good one to make the effort for.
We did some really good work, but the big thing of this session was actually getting very stuck on one of our characters, and the fact that at the moment, he doesn’t really have a part to play in the story.
Well, that’s what I in particular got stuck on. My co-writing friend is much less pessimistic than I am on this point, and I’m pretty much relying on her to find a way to make it work, because I can’t think of one that feels right. I’ve tried. I keep coming to the same conclusions, and despite feeling obvious, they also feel wrong. Or maybe it’s because they’re obvious, just obvious for reasons that I feel shouldn’t be there – at least not in our final draft. This is the preliminary planning for the first draft, so perhaps I’m just finding it difficult to get into the proper mindset for this stage in our process. Which is a frustrating thought, and I much prefer to think that it is instead the fault of this character. Given that this co-writing project began life as a Teen Wolf fanfic, this character was the Jackson (and for those of you not up to date on your MTV’s Teen Wolf lore, time to hit the wiki), but while the character quite quickly took on a different personality, agenda, and significance to the plot, his role in the story remained the same – and now doesn’t work anymore. We haven’t updated him to reflect the current direction that our story is moving in, and I’m personally of a mind to just cut him.
The good thing about co-writing, though, is that there’s another person working on the story with you who brings their own perspective. My co-writing friend feels that we need him in the story, is consistently optimistic about identifying a purpose for him, and it’s rubbing off on me. It’s also making me aware of how pessimistic I’m being, and giving me cause to reflect on why that is. I think it’s probably just that I like being right, and it’s frustrating to not be able to think and express that without any sort of, I dunno, response. But also good. Because, astonishing as this would surely be, perhaps I’m not right in this matter at all! And I hope I’m not, really – if we can find a way to keep this character, then I think that’d be better than just cutting him completely.
Co-Writing Revision Brainstorming: 2 hours
This has been a very light week in terms of what I’ve got to report here on the blog. But it’s been significant in the sense that I have been forced to confront some difficult facts and uncomfortable truths about myself and where my head is at in various areas of my life.
And then disappointing in terms of how much self-distraction I’ve undertaken to avoid looking at those facts and truths.
Not surprising, however, and perhaps it’s high time I took some initiative there, made some plans for what to do when, inevitably, I do turn to distraction and procrastination and all other manner of avoidant habits when there’s some Real Shit I need to handle. I think I’m poised to find success again with Bad Guys and potentially continued success with this burgeoning High Fantasy … thing. Poised, but not yet ready to strike, because I still feel pretty raw from the events of this month – or the lack of events that I was hoping for.
I feel like I’ve let myself down by not only not following through with my intended plans, but for deliberately going off and doing something else just as I was about to start. I’m finding it very hard not to judge myself for it, and at the same time I want to maintain accountability to myself. This was supposed to be a big, huge step that I was going to take with Bad Guys, and my writing in general – most of this year has been spent not writing, and feeling really bad about it, not because of guilt so much as letting fear win. I feel like I’m past that now – my decisions suggest otherwise, but they’re decisions I know I didn’t have to make. I’ve chosen, repeatedly, to sabotage my own efforts this year, and this month was just the crowning achievement so far. And now that I have something resembling a new plan, to move on and give it another go, I’m not feeling confident at all that it’s going to work, or that I’m going to earnestly try to make it work. And I don’t think it’s because I need to be doing something else; I think it’s because I needed to be doing the thing that I promised myself that I would do, and I can’t go back and do it over, and that’s paralysing me.
It’s not just shame, though that would definitely be enough to stop me. It’s experience. I have proof that I’ve fucked up my commitments to myself, so why expect that this time will be any different?
So, clearly, I need to actually clear my schedule – which does exist, it’s just that it’s filled with addictive, avoidant behaviour and I hate admitting that that’s the truth so I pretend that it doesn’t exist, wow therapy is pretty effective – and sort my shit out. No Weekly Words next week. I need a week off holding myself to these particular standards: they’re not going to help me right now. I need this time to myself, to commit to myself, confronting and critically reflecting upon and analysing the decisions I’ve made, the stances I’ve taken on certain things, and the reasoning behind them. I need to be rid of this ridiculous cycle – which probably isn’t going to happen after just a week of trying. But I can make an effort. A real effort, one that I won’t sabotage.
I feel very keenly that I owe myself something better than what I’ve been giving up til now. I also feel that there’s something else behind these decisions I’ve been making, obviously not just this month or year, but for so many years, something that I haven’t truly confronted or acknowledged yet, despite many attempts to do so. I don’t know if they just weren’t good enough or sincere enough attempts, or if I needed help that I didn’t think I could ask for (or didn’t feel like asking for), but the point is that it hasn’t happened. Therapy really is helpful, but it also ends up posing more questions than it answers a lot of the time. Which is part of why it’s helpful, but also means that it’s very much an ongoing process, and unfortunately can cause clashes with other ongoing processes. Such as writing.
But, that’s life, and the trick is to find a way to be okay with it. Even happy with it. Sometimes being uncomfortable and frustrated is healthy: if it’s honest, if it’s real, rather than something we’re putting on as an act of denial or penance. And I think I’ve figured out what I’m frustrated with.
Time to find out.