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I finished reading my shitty YA werewolf novel last night, and have come to a pretty solid conclusion: no way in the hell am I ever, ever going to try and make something out of this thing.

It began life as a glorious writing exercise passion project, and that is how it should end its life as well. Especially having read it. There’s so much that’s set up and then never paid off, so many unfulfilled promises, and it’s not like they’re even good promises to begin with but it just hurts. The ridiculous awfulness of those first early chapters was pretty great, and throughout the manuscript there’s a few moments here and there that I legitimately think have potential to be part of something actually pretty decent. But once I got to the chapters that I wrote during Nanowrimo 2015 – the ones I skipped ahead to write instead of slogging through the info-dump chapters I didn’t feel like writing at the time – it all just kind of descends into garbage.

And it’s salvageable. I just don’t want to salvage it. Not for any reason, really, other than that I simply don’t want to. I mean specifically it’s because the central conflict is so weak and ever-shifting, the central relationship between the main character and his best friend so indecisive and self-contradictory, that it is both very simple to fix and incredibly annoying to fix. It’s a lot of pedantic busy-work, hopping between chapters and trying to match up two different continuities so that it all gels together. If I actually gave a shit about this thing, it would be easy enough.

But I really, really don’t – other than as what it currently is, which is a testament to a year and a half of my life being spent in the pursuit of starting and finishing a book, proof that even after the passion is gone, I can get the work done (and in this case, done better than when the passion was actually there). It’s proof that if I just write, no matter how I feel about that writing at the time of writing it, I can actually produce something pretty decent.

Having said that I don’t want to salvage this thing – there are some ideas that I’m actually pretty into, lore and shit that I came up with for this world that I’m a little bit sad to let go of. Not that it was particularly good lore, but still, I did put some time and energy into it. I liked how it all fit together. I liked the overarching plot that I had for the next 4 books, and I’m also kind of sad to let that go.

On the other hand, now that this is done and dusted, I now have the opportunity to write the original idea that I had for this werewolf passion project, which was very different to this – the core premise (werewolves) was the same, and the broad plot points were as well, but it was a very different story. Most notably it was not a YA story. I’m honestly not sure I’m cut out for YA. But maybe that’s something for revisions to take care of.

On the other other hand … I did what I set out to do. The book is finished; the writing exercise is completed. I think it’s time, at last, to get back to business. I needed this reprieve from serious work, and a more frivolous counterweight to my MA, and it served both of those purposes well for a long time.

But in the end, it was a distraction from the work I’ve been putting off for 2 years now: finishing Tallulah. I was going insane trying to wrap my head around the second revision; I think now is at least a good time to test the water and see if I’ve had enough time away from it to come back with a fresh perspective. I have a solution to the biggest plot issue I’ve been having with Tallulah from day 1 as well, and I would really like to put that into action.

It’s just that it’s so much work. It was enough work to put me off for 2 years, to start an entirely new book just to take my mind off it. I’m kind of dreading starting it up again.

So, actually, maybe I could just go and fix a couple of typos in this shitty YA werewolf thing first.

And I guess, really, those continuity errors wouldn’t be too hard to sort out. A day’s work, maybe, once I have a solid idea of which continuity I actually want to pursue.

And I guess I could add in a couple of scenes that feel like they’re missing. I mean there is potential here. It could be something relatively solid. It would just take time. And if there’s one thing I definitely have these days, it’s time.

So maybe I’ll do that. Maybe I’ll just touch it up a bit, and then get started on Tallulah again.

In fact, why the rush? I wanted something to submit for publishing by the end of this year, but it doesn’t have to be Tallulah, does it? I mean maybe I can put Tallulah off for another year, get this thing out the door and then use the time to polish Tallulah to the standard I’ve always wanted it to meet.

And hey, maybe I’ll start another new book too. I mean, you can never have too many things going on at once creatively, right? Hell, maybe Tallulah was just a writing exercise too, I mean the entire reason I was motivated to write it was because it was unlike anything I’d ever written or even thought about writing before; that’s weird enough to count as a writing project instead of an actual book project in retrospect, right?

I don’t actually have to go back and get started on the third draft that I don’t know where to start with, right?

Right. I can just write about werewolves some more. Werewolves today, werewolves tomorrow; werewolves forever.

I DON’T WANNA WRITE A THIRD FUCKING DRAFT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND IT’S SO FUCKING HARD IT’S LIKE I’VE FIXED ALL THE BIG OBVIOUS PROBLEMS AND NOW IT’S ALL TINY SUBTLE PROBLEMS THAT ARE HARD TO IDENTIFY AND FIND SOLUTIONS TO AND JUST ALL THE OTHER THINGS I COULD BE DOING WITH MY TIME I CAN’T FUCKING TAKE IT I CAN’T GO BACK THERE DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK THERE PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME

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Okay.

NOW my shitty YA werewolf novel is finished.

And no, this was not the writing that I was excited to get done that I mentioned in the last post; this was just gruntwork. I’m glad that I did it, though. It gave me some ideas about what I might do if I ever decide to revise this thing – stranger things have happened, and I did after all devote a year and a half of my life to writing it, dear Christ I had better things to do – and there’s nothing quite like the underwhelming satisfaction of actually being done-done with a writing project.

And it’s only ever underwhelming, at least in the moment. The fact that I’ve finished a first draft. The fact that I’ve finished another first draft. The fact that, once again, I have proven to myself that I do have what it takes to at least get this far in the writing process, and even with a project that I burnt out of passion for fairly early on in the process. But eventually it sinks in. And after a lot of consideration over the past week or so, I have decided that I am in it for the long game.

NOW for the next thing.

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I have copy-and-pasted all of my shitty YA werewolf novel chapters into a single Word document, and that is the final total word-count. I do think I’m going to add in a little bit more, just because now that I have it all in one document it feels official and the fact that there is a rather jarring link missing in one of the chapters bothers me. But other than that …

I wrote another book.

I have been circling the drain of post-holiday procrastination since … well, since it became the post-holidays. I am very aware that I need to get some balls rolling, otherwise I’m going to remain stuck, and I can’t afford to do that for the sake of my mental health. So this is the first nudge towards getting something started.

And despite feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing, I have to concede that it is quite something. 82.6k words is nothing to sneeze at. I might have felt like I’d accomplished something if I still gave a rat’s ass about this obnoxious fucking book, but for my own well-being it’s probably good for me to learn to acknowledge the shit that I do get done, and 82.6k words is a lot of shit that’s gotten done.

I don’t think this story has much of a future; it’s probably classified as YA Urban Fantasy, and I have no idea what the publishing trends are like now (or ever) but I do remember hearing that YA was moving towards more “contemporary” material about a year ago. Also, it is really fucking shitty. But the next step is to read over it, add in the bits that are missing – possibly not in that order – and then, hopefully, find that I’m inspired to move on to work on something that I actually feel like doing. Something new. I have such a massive backlog of old stories, and with each new project I come up with and don’t follow through with that backlog grows larger. I don’t think it’s worth trying to work through my backlog before moving on, because if I do that I will never move on. It is absurd how many unfinished projects I have.

Not this one, though. It is almost done at worst, and finished at best. I’m going with the former, because seriously the way I left that chapter is unbearable to read, but it’s definitely not in the backlog category. I wish it could have been something else, or that I could have finished it in a more timely manner. But it’s momentum, I suppose – I just don’t feel like I have the right to claim it. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I just kind of don’t want to, because I haven’t wanted anything to do with this thing for a long time …

But, momentum it is, and momentum is what I need. For what? Well honestly it doesn’t matter; I just need it. But something new would be nice. I think I need to re-learn how to think, because my brain has just been sludge lately, which is not good for storytelling.

One step at a time.

Getting It Over With

I have finished my shitty YA werewolf novel.

I finished it last Thursday, and I did it by copy-pasting the ending that I knew I wanted into the document of the chapter I was working on, the last chapter I had yet to write. It was about as climactic and satisfying as it sounds.

I took way too long with this book.

And the thing is, while I’ve finished it, it doesn’t feel done. It feels patched-over, covered-up. Because it is.

But I just can’t be fucked. It took too long, it veered way off-course, and I honestly got what I wanted to get out of it in Nanowrimo 2015 – over a year ago. It was a fun little writing exercise that I dragged out for too long, and now I’ve finished without finishing and it feels like absolutely nothing.

Then again, it’s felt like nothing since probably Nanowrimo 2015. It’s just been one goal that I’ve cornered myself into reaching after another; and hey, I got it done. It doesn’t feel like I got it done “properly”, because I didn’t, but it is done.

It’s done because I already fucking hate writing it and if I’m being honest there are at least another couple chapters that need to be written to make the story and world feel coherent and I CAN’T BE FUCKED ANYMORE. I have already forced myself to write more of this story than I wanted to; I have already persevered with this unfulfilling, unrewarding project long past the point of any semblance of enjoyment, and I fucking finished it. I didn’t give up; I accepted the fact that I had given up a long time ago, when it was fucking time to give up, and this is just me finally actually committing to that decision.

And now it’s done.

But fuck it, I might still work on it once I work out what the other shit I need to write actually is. I have disjointed scenes and ideas at the moment; I need chapters before I do any more work on it. And stopping now might be the kick-start I need to push it over the “proper” finish-line, to make it feel complete and done and finished in a way that feels right. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone and all that. Kind of. It might apply here.

I don’t care.

And even if I might care later, I don’t care now. It’s done. I’m done. I feel disappointed and uninspired and it’s basically like this book doesn’t even exist to me right now. I had hoped for a sense of satisfaction upon finishing it, but I don’t feel one. Just in case you missed that part.

I want the sense of accomplishment that only comes from a solid narrative, and that’s the real issue here. I want this to feel like the end of a story for me. But life isn’t a story, as I keep saying to myself because it sounded smart the first time and I have no imagination, and in that sense it is poetic justice that this project feels so unfinished. I feel unfinished. And I guess that’s always going to be the case, because there’s no story going on here; there is nothing to finish. Life goes on, whether you like it or not.

However – that also happened for my MA. I’m pretty sure it also happened for the first draft of Tallulah. In fact I’m pretty sure I got to exactly this point during the first draft of Tallulah: it felt like nothing. Only when I went back to look it over again did I start to feel some sense of a shift, a transition from one part in the process to another.

And regardless of what I do or don’t feel right now, however “properly” it feels I have or have not performed this task – I finished another fucking book.

I wrote a goddamn book and a goddamn MA in under 2 years.

Even if I can’t feel the kind of narrative satisfaction that I want to right now – or ever – that’s something worth acknowledging. I did some fucking work over the past 2 years.

And you know what I want to do, now that I’ve gotten all of this off my chest?

Go back and finally finish Tallulah. Because I recognise now that it will never feel done, but that doesn’t mean it will never get done. It’s just a matter of doing it.