So Bright, So Beautiful

So I’ve decided to continue reading over my shitty YA werewolf novel manuscript. The description holds. Oh boy, does it hold.

But because of the order in which I wrote the chapters, two of the earlier ones are also two of the newest ones, and the change in tone and style shows quite strongly – the writing is better, the focus is clearer, and while I wrote these chapters in a real creative slump when I had no particular passion left for this project, these are, so far anyway, the best chapters in the book.

Especially the one I’m reading now, the Diagon Alley chapter, if you like, where our hero learns about the new world he’s stumbled into. It makes me really proud of this festering mound of refuse I have shat out of my brain, because it reads almost exactly like every other bad YA paranormal novel I’ve ever read …

Because I’m rooting for the bad guy.

And it’s exactly the same as actual published books I’ve read; this is of publishable quality, in that sense, and yes that is a real moral concern. But it’s also genuinely beautiful to behold, and for the first time makes me really feel proud of what I’ve accomplished here. In particular, I adore the fact that the bad guy, who is supposed to come across as domineering, arrogant and bullying, instead comes across as completely in the right for doing everything he’s done up to this point. Specifically, everything he’s done that has upset the main character, who is a whinging little shitstain that I want to see run over by a car and smeared across the highway like a tub of paint. Sure, the bad guy could probably do with some honest feedback about some of his behaviour, but all in all he’s not the one coming off as the problem. And that includes him shooting the main character with a gun at point-blank range.

I am that fucking good.

It’s awful; it’s despicable; and it’s the best fucking thing I’ve ever done in my life. I am so, so happy. I can’t even.

I might actually consider revising this book and, like, doing something with it, turning it into an actual writing project instead of just a writing exercise that got way out of hand. There’s something here. Passionless though I may have been during the second half of the time it took me to finish this thing, I think my writing might actually have improved because of it. And that seems like a valuable lesson that I shall strive to actually remember for future reference.

In the meantime, back to reading. I genuinely hope that it gets worse from here.

 

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As it turns out

If you actually force yourself to sit down and write THINGS GET WRITTEN.

So now I’m un-stuck again. I didn’t run out of creative momentum; I just had to manually rev it up again. I wrote more tonight than I have in the past two days combined. Take that lack of inspiration.

And thus, as it turns out, all of that writing advice saying to treat writing like a job and that you have to make yourself do it even when you don’t want to – it fucking works. Like, not all the time, obviously, but enough to make it worth trying when you get stuck. I wrote out that stupid character, wrote in a fight that turned into friendly banter (but was not replaced; always make copies!), and it’s all moving again; all the energy has come back, and I didn’t even have to plan anything – beforehand. You end up planning on the spot a lot when you write, but that’s good, because you’re planning based on what you’ve written. Obviously this means you’re planning from a very zoomed in perspective rather than taking a more macroscopic view of the overarching project, but until it’s down in writing it’s all only in your head anyway. Which doesn’t make it unimportant – just impractical to try and predict how it’s going to turn out, what adjustments it’s going to call for. You’ve gotta write it before you can respond to it.

So yeah. Can’t write? Just try writing. It works. Again, not all the time, but again, enough so that it’s always, always worth the shot. I will remember it.

I’M WRITING MY BOOK AGAIN WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

A really good start

So, upon coming back to Tallulah, things were going great for the first couple of days. The first chapter of the new draft was tighter, more like a story than a rant thanks to an unexpected but very welcome change in narrative voice; I started to see that I could practice my preaching and really use telling to good effect, instead of insisting that everything be shown. Sure, a bit of the viscera of the teen angst that fueled the first draft was lost, but clarity and a sense of flow and continuity came in to replace it, and it was a refreshing change of pace. Everything was going great.

And then it turned out that I was writing a fucking book and I got stuck FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

*ahem*

Today has been a shitty, grey-mood kinda day, and I blame myself for starting the day by playing videogames, against my own better judgment, because I know that when I start the day playing videogames it sets the tone for everything else that day: uninspired coasting.

But that’s also quite unfair. For instance, I am able to write this blog post quite easily; I actually tried writing another one before this that spurred this one into existence so, obviously, my creative faculties have not all been numbed by the nuclear bombing that is saturating my brain with videogame flow. This is fairly creative; I’m taking stock of what I’ve written, comparing it to how I feel and letting it change my thoughts and my mood, creating a new context of perspective for me to work from and, thus, a shift in topic as my priorities change as I work through them. Which is how writing works – and, really, applying yourself to anything.

Which makes me think I could force myself to go back and continue writing this first chapter, which up until I started writing this particular post I thought I was too stuck on to continue. Which is because, up until I started writing this particular post, I was too stuck to continue with that chapter. All the humour I was inspired to inject into the story was invisible to me, perhaps because it wasn’t there at all, and when I tried to think of how I’d go back and put it in I couldn’t bring myself to have faith in any of my ideas enough to even try them out and see how they worked. All the interesting changes in character due to the change in narrative voice started to make me question my own motives, my own certainty in what I was doing, and in the vein of any good self-fulfilling prophecy I then began to lose that clarity and slip into potholes of doubt and pessimism. And when I wrote in a character I was sure I was going to let just drift away, a character I was kind of looking forward to letting drift away, I think that was the nail in the coffin, because upon writing them back in yesterday I found myself unwilling to write any further, and it’s been that way ever since.

Until now.

Because I’ve realised that, while it’s certainly an issue to address, it is only part of the much larger issue at hand: this new first chapter is incredibly ambitious, far more ambitious than I’d given it credit for. And I like that, a lot, but it also means that it deserves a little more attention than I was planning on giving it.

Or not, alternatively. Perhaps part of what made it ambitious was the fact that I didn’t have a step-by-step plan for it – or, more specifically, that I hadn’t put one down in writing. I knew what I was doing while I was doing it, this exciting new thing, and it was working. And then I made myself do something familiar and it all fell apart; well, it happens. And if I can force myself to write even when I don’t have to, I am sure I can work out a solution to this non-essential problem as well.

I want this chapter to be huge, it seems, and I’m okay with that. I want it to do a lot of heavy lifting; this first chapter is to be the cornerstone of the story, the genesis from which all of creation springs forth. So it has to do a LOT of work to live up to that level of hype, and pressure.

A couple of thoughts I’ve had upon writing that:

  • I’m going to revise it anyway, so I may as well just go back and erase that one character and then continue as though nothing happened – no plan, no reconsideration, no lengthy plotting-out of the exact sequence of events and words. Just continuing with the wild energy that was driving me to begin with, and letting it lead me to wherever it goes
  • could plan a few things, get some key points in there, because if this is the part of the story that informs every other part of the story that follows it, I may as well put my best foot forward now. Because I can, and I think it would pay off
  • Maybe I’d use up too much energy doing that and then not want to write the rest of it

And that third one, I think, hits the real problem on the head: I want to write this first chapter.

… and that’s about it.

It’s not like I want to not write the whole story; it’s that I don’t want to write anything beyond this big setting-up chapter. This is what I have energy for, and there is nothing beyond that yet.

But that’s okay, right? Because how could there be anything beyond this when “this” isn’t even finished yet?

I have some images that could be turned into words, moments that could become events. I don’t have a story. To date I have never had a story for Tallulah that I actually liked enough to commit to; it’s always been a collection of ideas sieved out of the slush of a bigger group of ideas. And the one time I did have a story – the last revision – it was a story I didn’t like.

That’s just the nature of this project. And I’m okay with it now. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It just means that I’m going to have to accept that this is the way it works; it’s not clear-cut and precise ahead of time, only in retrospect or in the moment, and that’s it.

That sounds horrible and impossible, actually.

But whatever. Not like I’m getting paid for this shit.

And given that, I may as well do anything I goddamn well please, whenever I goddamn well please. Right now I want to destroy that stupid character for daring to come back into my presence. So I think I’ll do that.

If they come back after that, then I’ll consider them. They’re gonna have to prove they belong here.

Man. Writing really does work.