So after a stressful week, I was hoping for a more chilled out weekend. Yesterday had ups and downs. The ups – well, there was one up: finally getting myself, sometime in the evening, to finally kick back and just play some Rise of the Tomb Raider, which was very satisfyingly blobtastic The downs, on the other hand, included thinking I would be able to get some marking done only to find that I couldn’t access any of the assignments online (lecturer is working on a solution) and that fucking up my plan for the day, feeling unable to relax until around 6pm when I started playing Tomb Raider, which was a monumental effort that made me write a huge ranty post that has now been deleted about the suffering I experienced just trying to figure out why the hell it was so hard for me to relax; feeling sick after playing Tomb Raider for about 3 hours (actually kind of a good thing as I did want to do something else but was forcing myself to stick with the game, listen to your bodies readers); and generally just not knowing what the fuck to do with myself all day.
Today has been some more of the same, but with less guilt-sickness. Still couldn’t access the assignments, still had no clue what to do with myself – and then, I had an Idea. A really powerful idea that I really liked, thought about for a good half hour just concocting this story around it that felt organic and natural and powerful …
And I just can’t fucking write.
Like, yes, this is perfectionism speaking. But it’s more than that. I actually feel like I have lost the ability to write. I can put words on a page, but I can’t write. I can’t find my way to the word that make sense, the important words, the ones that tell the story of this idea in its particulars. I have my ideas visually; I think in terms of movies in my head. They say a picture is worth a thousand words – well, right now that seems particularly true for all the wrong reasons, because there are a thousand ways I could take one of those images and put it into words, but there aren’t a thousand right ways to do it. There’s a tone, a feeling, an aura if you will to this idea, to every idea, and the wrong words will fail to convey it. And it feels like all I have are wrong words.
The solution that I can think of is just to write and not care about how it turns out. Practical, aspirational in a utilitarian sense, a skill that I have been desperate to develop for the past couple of years.
But the problem with that is that I already care about this idea. I care about it quite a lot, actually, not so much for the idea itself but what it represents to me, as a writer and just as a person.
I miss caring.
Reading Mark and Jessie has been a revelation, and a really upsetting one upon reflection. It’s been all the things a first draft can and probably should be: bad, sluggish, overwrought, over-written, under-developed, flat, morally abhorrent … it’s shit. And it’s the necessary kind of shit, the shit that fertilises the grounds upon which better storytelling can be done. I’m working very hard right now to bear this in mind.
Because I’m reading this 622 page monstrosity, thinking about returning to it as a project to start revisions on, and I can’t see my ideas anywhere in this manuscript. I can see the vague, basic premise of a setting and plot, and I recognise the characters’ names. That’s it. But that’s all. I can’t understand how I let myself write 622 fucking pages of this thing that isn’t my story. That is the part that is so upsetting to me; when I read back over Tallulah for the first time, it was frustrating, dense, inconsistent, embarrassing – but at least it seemed somewhat similar to the idea, the original concept, the story-seed that inspired me to spend 7 months writing it to life. Whereas this thing … I just don’t get it. I do not get it at all.
So when it comes to this new idea, this one that I find myself caring about, I am terrified to start writing it for fear of not just fucking it up like any normal writer does during a first draft (something I’m also trying to convince myself is perfectly normal right now), but of that being proof that I lack the ability to write my ideas down the way I have them in my head, beyond the normal difficulties of translating imagery into text. I am afraid that I will start writing, and discover that I do not have this skill that I have been exercising for the past 18 years. And what this tells me …
Is that I need to see a therapist, for the love of god I need that sweet sweet therapy, fucking hell just chill the fuck out for a second dude.
Because this is ridiculous. I care about an idea for a story, not even a very clear or developed idea, just one that I care about, and it’s scaring me to care about it. If that doesn’t scream unresolved emotional issues, I don’t know what does. It’s not even a person that I’m afraid of caring about or something; it’s an idea, it’s my idea, and I can’t even just fucking enjoy it, I can’t let myself even interact with it for fear of discovering that I am somehow inimical to it.
The one good thing that happened yesterday – this morning, to be precise – is that all of that stress brought me really close to the wall. As in the one you hit your head against sometimes when you’re out of options, hoping to stir a few nascent brain-cells into action from the impact, never mind how many others you destroy in the meantime. And I think I need to hit that wall hard. I remember writing Tallulah and finding that hitting my head against the wall, over and over, actually was a really good way to figure out what I was doing wrong, and how to go about finding a solution for it. I feel like I’m close to that breakthrough here, writing about this ridiculous existential fear.
And anyway, I wrote this thing like a goddamn decade ago; all of my recent writing has been, like, awesome. Maybe I just need to not write for a week or something and go back and read over some of my stuff. I did want to keep reading over my older stuff and just never got around to it; I think maybe it’s time I read some of my newer stuff again, and just give myself a bit of a morale boost. Yes, Mark and Jessie is dogshit in its current written state, but I haven’t touched it since 2008.
And actually, that’s not entirely true; I did read back over some of my newer stuff, it’s kind of crap but it’s a hell of a lot better than Mark and Jessie.
I need more perspective. That’s what I need.
So sayeth the Ubermensch!
And right now, the Ubermensch is going to do some fucking writing, because it’s been too fucking long since I fucking cared about an idea of my own this much. Fuck this inane neurosis. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly, and if I’m destined to do it badly then hack powers fucking activate. Shit’s getting written tonight.