Sweet Fuck All
I’m writing this on Thursday (the 13th) because it’s the first day this week that I’ve actually tried to Do Something. What thing? Why, the plotting out of a High Fantasy novel. Why was it difficult? Why, the same reason it’s always been difficult for me to stick to a plan: I couldn’t make a fucking plan in the first place.
I did try to make a plan, and I may even have made some headway. But none of the ideas that I thought were going to serve as the foundation of a story turned out to work; they were all a bit too high maintenance, required too much consideration for me to feel comfortable just diving in with them and seeing how it all turned out – or, put another way, nothing that inspired me with some cool idea that I needed to start writing right away. It was all a bunch of hypotheticals, a lot of what-ifs that had answers that lead to some potentially interesting world-building, but not a story. By the time I had finished cooking dinner and whatever brainstorm I’d managed to get stirred up had fizzled out, I was left without a plan – but I did have a clearer idea of might make a plan work.
I owe so much to that shitty YA werewolf novel …
This can’t be a book, basically, in my frame of reference; this has to be a writing exercise. Which, I mean, I could have cottoned on to that as soon as I came up with this plan to write a High Fantasy novel, because the reason Wolf Gang worked for me is because I knew the tropes of … werewolf stories? The werewolf genre? Well whatever I knew the tropes of Teenage White Boy Is Special stories and how to deploy them – and it’s the same with High Fantasy (partly because, if that’s a genre, High Fantasy definitely falls under that umbrella). Except I probably know the tropes of High Fantasy even better than urban fantasy YA novels about kids who are, become, or encounter supernatural creatures, not least because my major complaint about High Fantasy is that it’s just the same tropes and cliches over and over again, with superficial differences. Oh, your elves are different, you say? Are your orcs not evil? Is that a non-princess woman I see in the main cast?
Well, not with this High Fantasy. The same philosophy that I took into Wolf Gang will go into this one: I don’t have to use the most cliched idea that comes to mind, but I do have to use the most obvious idea, holy shit I think I actually have a story this is going to be so ludicrously easy oh my god.
And no, I don’t know how this figures into my plan to have a manuscript ready for submission by December 24th, but you know what that’s a different project and I can spend different time on it …
And, as for this one, it’s taken up enough of my day already. Time to do something else for a while.
I wrote a scene. It’s set in a tavern, where a mysterious stranger arrives and the patrons don’t know what to make of them and then weird things start happening and the word “coin” is used an indecent number of times.
I think the experiment is working.
Here’s the issue: yesterday, I actually did try to plan out this shitty High Fantasy novel, but what tripped me up was 1) forgoing my actual plan and trying to Make It Good (it didn’t go well, but perhaps it didn’t go badly either), and 2) I realised that the reason I feel so well-qualified to write a shitty High Fantasy novel due to being so familiar with the tropes is because I fucking hate all the High Fantasy tropes and want them to die, and as it turns out this feeling of animosity extends to my desire to spend any amount of my time writing such a story.
These shitty insert-genre-here books that I’m thinking of making a regular writing exercise out of – I think it’s a great idea, and if it’s the sort of thing I can knock out over the course of, say, a month, then I think it’s perfect. But when I have this much revulsion towards the very idea of even embarking on such an undertaking, it throws a spanner in the works; maybe High Fantasy is just a little too upsetting for me. Then again, I did write a scene set in a tavern where a mysterious stranger appears and causes the word “coin” to be repeated ad nauseum, so maybe I’m not as sick of the tropes as I think I am.
Also, the scene is done, but the chapter it’s a part of isn’t. That’s the part I need to finish – and to be honest, it’s still me trying to Make It Good by using ideas that I have that I actually kind of like and just letting them fall into a more generic setting than I originally had in mind. Which mightn’t be a bad thing if this turns out to be a project that I can morph into one of my more serious writing projects, I guess, but after going through the difficulties of taking Wolf Gang and trying to turn it into something Actually Good, I’m wary of taking that approach rather than starting how I intent to finish.
I think this exercise is worth a shot, though – it might just be that I need to broaden my awareness of the tropes I’m so supposedly sick of, and maybe find some that I’m not so sick of to work with instead. The idea of completing this book-writing exercise in a pretty short amount of time, like the writing process for Wolf Gang was supposed to be, is appealing to me for the sake of having a sense of accomplishment and follow-through, so I’m not giving up on this enterprise. I’m just trying to remain aware of the things that are making it difficult for me, and being open to the possibility that the fantasy of this project might be more fulfilling than the reality.
And, yeah, I do need to get back to Wolf Gang and Mark and Jessie. No, I don’t want books to be my be-all-and-end-all anymore, but I do still like writing them. Or at least fantasising about writing them. And it’s something to do.
Onward and upward.
Finished making revision notes on episode 4 of the co-writing project, and if I want to be done making revision notes before the year is through … well, it’s not a huge priority time-wise, but still it would be nice. It would be something I’d have to work into my weekday schedule, rather than just doing it on Sundays for a couple of hours.
Still, it’s getting there, and that’s what counts …
It only occurred to me once I went into my drafts to edit this post that I hadn’t done my Weekly Words for last week, and I honestly can’t remember what I did last week, but I do know that I did absolutely no “real” writing, so in terms of the purposes of this blog I didn’t miss out anything.
This past few weeks – honestly, since the beginning of May – I’ve felt really out of sorts. I think this is what might be called a state of depression, in fact; nothing is really bad or upsetting, but it’s not really anything else, either, and the only real disruptions of this emotional flatline have been the bouts of stress, panic, and uncertainty regarding trying to get myself to make a psychologist’s appointment and then, once it had been made, sorting out all the administrative stuff that would ensure that I could actually afford to do it – happily it’s all worked out, but I never really recovered from the ordeal. I fell out of my newly-formed habit of doing regular exercise at home; I well and truly fell out of the habit that I built up over all of last year of doing regular writing; and in general it’s just been kind of a shitty few months. It’s honestly just been kind of a shitty year, all things considered. Not bad, or even unpleasant, but just kind of sub-par. I’ve definitely enjoyed myself at times, Sundays being the things I look forward to most each week, but beyond that … yeah. I got nothing.
So, for this upcoming week, never mind my aspirations to write a shitty High Fantasy novel just for the hell of it, or keeping tabs on my in-progress writing projects that I was once so ambitious about getting ready for submission by December 24th this year – this upcoming week is all about getting back into my groove. I had such a good thing going last year, and it’s sad that it just kind of stopped dead in its tracks around November. I feel like part of that was just fatigue with such a samey, self-imposed schedule, but I know I also could have tried harder to keep it going, shaken it up a bit to keep it fresh or just stuck to my commitment – but whatever. It’s done now, and I can’t try just to recapture my success from last year. I have to focus on finding something that works for me not even this year, but just right now, and see how that goes. And I’ve got my writing plan. I’ve got my projects; I set that up months ago, with my alliteration-based schedule each week that I have well and truly fallen off the wagon with. I’ve got the shitty High Fantasy novel. It’s all there, if I just go back to it; that’s not what I need to focus on right now.
I need to focus on me. I don’t work well with a rigid schedule or tons of micro-management, but I also don’t do well with too much freedom. I think quotas work for me, flexible quotas that can be filled across a period of time – like a week – so that’s what I’m going to experiment with this week. I know I will need to push myself into action, and I know that I really, really don’t want to – and I know that’s because I have over two decades’ worth of bad habits on autopilot making me feel that way. I need a little nudge – or a big one – and I’m the only one who can provide it.
Heave ho …