Not-Writing Update

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaa.

My life is bad.

But that’s okay! Because I have received confirmation that I will, indeed, be able to afford to continue seeing the psychologist I saw a couple of weeks ago, and that means that all of my problems will be magically solved soon! That makes me happy. I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to know what life will be like without all of the bad, deeply-ingrained, self-sabotaging habits that constitute my entire identity. That will be nice.

And then I’ll get my Hogwarts letter! Couple of decades and change late, but hey, that’s bureaucracy for you.

So I have agreed to cook dinner tomorrow, and part of that is because I felt like I had to say yes, which is unhealthy, but part of it is also because I’ve spent the last 3 days watching YouTube and wishing that I had a life. Shit needs to change.

Also, as is usually the case, I was actually thinking of offering to do it myself before I was asked to do it, and only after I was asked to do it did I start to feel all anxious and yucky about it and scrambling to find a coping mechanism to cover it. Good thing WINZ got back to me today to confirm that they will, in fact, be helping to cover the cost of my going back to see the psychologist. I clearly need it.

And, also, as I’ve learnt and forgotten and learnt again a few times over the years: doing everything all at once actually works for me, when I actually do it. So tomorrow, while my “free time” is “compromised” for about 3 hours, I will also be planning this fucking High Fantasy novel that I said I would plan …

Because I actually want to plan it, and write it, which you might not think is the case given that I’ve spent my precious “free time” over the past 3 days (also my entire post-pubescent life, but anyway) watching YouTube, playing the stand-alone Gwent game (actually really fun), and wishing that I had a life. This is one of those situations where, addled as it is, my brain is going to have to be the grown-up here and force me to do some stuff that is healthy for me.

As for all that shit about not wanting to have writing be the only thing that I ever do with my life – you know what, right now that’s just an excuse to feel bad about my plan for tomorrow, and I don’t need that shit. It’s important, but it’s also important that I not spend any more time in the way that I’ve been spending it lately, which is not only self-distraction, but also sitting on my intentions when the prospect of acting on them seems like a foregone conclusion, an inevitable failure. Gotta just do that shit.

One the one hand, I do feel like I need to get out of the habit of constantly managing myself. On the other hand, it’s good to be able to manage myself, sometimes, like when my really bad, default habits are out of control, which they have been for … well, let’s not kick that dead horse. Tomorrow (or later today, if you want to get technical) is a new day, and a new opportunity to break this habit, or at least punch a hole in it.

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Weekly Words 27/05-02/06/2019

27/05/2019

Writing: 1274

Mark and Jessie is getting WROTE.

Well, little moments that I have in my imagination are getting written at least, and I think that’s how I’ll strive to continue. After all, the entire inspiration for the story – and most stories I have ideas for – came from moments or events that I thought up after the initial broad premise. I realised last night – not for the first time, but as usual I keep forgetting – that a big issue for me when it comes to follow-through is that I have a tendency to think beyond the story, start getting hung-up on things like backstory and world-building as separate aspects of the project that “need” development in isolation from the “real” project – or that the “real” project won’t work unless these things exist in some robust form in their own right first.

Which pisses me off, because that’s not how I think stories work, and this therefore makes me a filthy hypocrite. I think stories work for readers when they seem like an elaborate puzzle being put together before your eyes; but for writers, stories work when there are no separate pieces, and there’s just the story. I don’t need to know how the economy of my fantasy world works unless that’s part of the story, and even then, that’s not the fantasy economy; that’s the story. I remember that I used to have a really holistic approach to how I thought about my own stories; all that mattered was what happened, rather than trying to account for everything that could happen, hypothetically, if this fictional reality happened to also be a sandbox MMO. It’s a really fucking bad habit, and I need to shake it for the sake of being able to write the way that I want to.

This is worrying me with regards to the writing I did today, too, because if I’m being honest that’s exactly the kind of writing it was: engaging in the hypothetic, conceptual exercise of “what if X were to happen/be shown”, as opposed to just telling the goddamn story. It’s what my various writing endeavours with the Wolf Gang reboot and the few bursts of effort I’ve put into my Suicide Squad response-turned-novel-project, and why they ultimately didn’t go anywhere.

I either have a story, or I don’t. And I can write stuff if I don’t have a story – but, for what should be much more obvious reasons to me, that stuff won’t be the story.

And I’m just missing out on so much fun, too, approaching my projects in this big-picture-for-the-sake-of-appeasing-hypothetical-overly-critical-readers way: it’s fucking fun to have a narrow focus, to think of exactly what’s going to happen with no regard to any consequences in terms of “well, if that happened, then that means that X also has to happen, otherwise it’s not realistic”, why am I paranoid about strawperson critics who haven’t read my unwritten books, why is this affecting my zero-draft-writing process, why is my brain so fucking inefficient, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

But, hey, knowing is half the battle. And writing got done, whatever its nature or the motive behind it. After two weeks of nothing, it’s a good enough start.

29/05/2019

Revision

After almost 3 weeks of no progress on the Wolf Gang revision, I finally dove back into it and, well, it’s not a good book – but to be fair it was absolutely never meant to be anything even close to a good book, so I can’t complain, really. I still do, to myself, but I know it’s kind of silly.

The last chapter I made notes on was frustrating because there were too many potentially good ideas for the core drama of the story, and in this chapter it was the same sort of thing, but this time with the Lowest Point – and subsequent Redemption – of the main character in his character-arc. I think I’ve finally figured out what it needs to be, though, so that’s … good?

The bigger issue with this project – how to keep the pulpy fun feel while not also compromising my morals as a human being – still has no solution, so in a way it’s all kind of moot. I still don’t know if I’ll do anything with this manuscript even after I go through the trouble of typing up these revision notes. But, since the manuscript is the result of a writing exercise taken too far, maybe I should look at this as a revision exercise, a test-drive on how to revise a novel. I don’t think I’m doing a great job of it, to be honest; it’s mostly just … commentary. Analysis, ideas, brainstorms … shit that I’m used to doing. Not actual revision notes.

I mean, I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway, considering that this is my no-obligations project that I just work on for my own satisfaction.

Also because Acrobat Reader wasn’t letting me save I had to give up on all of my notes that I made on that last chapter; oh well, I should probably have just been making them in my Word file anyway. I should really work on having a cleaner writing process.

Also I have now got that psychologist appointment this Saturday and have to do a bunch of stuff to prepare for it that has nothing to do with the session or what I want to talk about and everything to do with getting people to fill out an application form so that I might actually be able to afford to see the psychologist after this initial session, and it’s fucking annoying. I do feel a bit better about myself for doing it, though. More able and competent, or something to that effect, which I won’t complain about. It’s pretty good as silver linings go.

30/05-01/06/2019

Life Shit

So, I saw the psychologist. I am glad that I went. I had to do a bunch of last-minute running around on Friday because of stuff that I realised on Tuesday (that I didn’t have the paperwork that I thought I did), and then on Thursday evening realised that I hadn’t sorted it out in time for the already last-minute running around on Friday and had to run around even more on Friday to compensate … but it got done.

Nothing else got done, but nothing else needed to get done.

02/06/2019

Reading/Revision

Making revision notes on the co-writing project, I think I definitely have an issue keeping my focus on making revision notes as opposed to brainstorming in the margins. On the other hand, this isn’t an urgent task or anything, and I do think I’m managing to make enough salient points amidst all the random tangents I go on to aid in the process of making revision notes that are actually useable.

Also I read the first Dragonlance book, and …

I had forgotten.

Because I’ve read Dragonlance novels before. I think I randomly read the third book not knowing where it fit into the overall story, and then I also read the second trilogy where the focus is on Raistlin and Caramon. And the writing is so … strange. It’s the tone; it never changes, whether the story is detailing the totally-not-a-hobbit Tasslehoff’s latest happy-go-lucky shenanigans, expositing on a one-scene character’s brief yet detailed backstory, or delving into Tanis the half-elf ranger’s existential angst over being a child of rape and a half-elf and being in love with two women (one’s human, one’s elvish, it’s really subtle). Perspective changes mid-paragraph with not so much as a line-break to indicate the switch; and to be fair, it’s very readable, and not at all confusing. It’s not bad writing, and it’s not the kind of dry, dense, prattling prose that I’m accustomed to with a lot of fantasy. It’s just weird.

And also, now that I’ve been playing D&D once a week for over a year, it’s a little too easy to imagine the story as the novelisation of a campaign being run by a DM who really likes The Lord of the Rings and treats it as the manifesto for how one is required to tell a High Fantasy story, right down to having the heroes enter the Elvish City to transition between the second and third acts, and played by a bunch of enthusiastic role-players who are committed to their characters but aren’t particularly imaginative with them. And also where no hilarious die-rolls throw a spanner in the works.

So, y’know, nothing that resembles the actual experience of playing D&D in any way.

Although, having said that, there is a point in the story where a character says the actual line: “We have a cleric now, and that will come in handy”, which is a pretty fucking D&D thing to say. Yes, it definitely broke my suspension of disbelief, and I’m actually glad that Dragonlance isn’t a self-referential half-parody of fantasy tropes that constantly lampshades itself in terms of being basically a D&D campaign (and given the commercial history of the Dragonlance franchise and its ties to Wizards of the Coast, and the fact that the original concept was inspired, in part, by the authors getting together with some people and playing D&D, I’d say that’s a pretty apt analysis), but this moment was still extremely welcome in an otherwise very predictable example of LoTR knockoff high fantasy.

Yet somehow it’s not boring, either. It clips along at a nice pace, and after spending the past 2 years reading pretty much nothing but Urban Fantasy I have embraced the fact that I really do care about presentation, and a good tight pace is part of that. The writing, while very strange, is still solid and clean (though someone was definitely overusing their thesaurus in places). The characters … a lot of their backstory and motivation is told instead of shown, and that is a shame, but at the same time they’re so generic that it’s almost refreshing that there’s no pretense of their life stories being interesting enough to warrant actual character interactions to bring out the information. And the fact that it’s such a large party of generic but instantly-recognisable character types … it works.

And yes, this was written in 1984 and fantasy has evolved since then and this sort of writing is very old-fashioned – but, honestly, it lends the story a certain charm. And I’ll definitely read more. I feel rather validated for making the choice to return to Dragonlance in an effort to see if there was anything in high fantasy for me – I think there is. And I think the fact that Dragonlance is so generic in so many ways is actually more helpful in that sense than it would be were it more original.

So much so, in fact, that I kind of feel like writing some high fantasy myself.

Weekly Total

Writing: 3634

It’s been a pretty eventful week for me, almost traumatically so. But I’ve come out of it feeling uncomfortable yet encouraged. I have a lot of things to consider, and some long-put-off confrontations to embark upon.

One of which has to do with writing. I do feel like writing me some high fantasy; in general, when I read books in a genre that I like, I want to write a book in that genre. I’m pretty basic like that, and I think that’s fine. But after seeing the psychologist on Saturday, I came away from it feeling extremely removed from my writing habit, the pressure I tend to put on myself to always be writing or thinking about writing or just concerning myself with writing in general. It felt amazingly unimportant, to the point where I almost felt silly for ever thinking it mattered at all.

I think that’s a sign that I need to have a think about the way that I write.

Which I know is something I’ve needed to do for a long time. I definitely put way too much pressure on myself when it comes to what I’m accomplishing with my writing efforts, and ultimately it only matters at all to me – and sometimes it just doesn’t matter at all. Those are the times where I’m most likely to make myself upset, run guilt-trips, back myself into a moral corner where if I don’t strive to do my writing I’ll have to live with being a bad person until I can overcome this severe character flaw. So the fact that a single one-hour session with a psychologist I’ve never met before could take me to a place of such radical apathy towards my writing suggests that, yeah, I could do with not just a break, but a total re-evaluation.

Having said that – I do still want to work on Mark and Jessie and Wolf Gang. I do still want to write. But as I figured out a few years ago, echoing what happened this Saturday, writing can’t be all there is to my sense of self and self-worth. Because, if I’m being honest, it never has been. The thought that it should be has been pretty all-consuming, but that’s just unhealthy habits and low self-esteem at work. Doesn’t make it any easier to deal with to know what it is, but it does make me want to actively seek ways of undermining that mental process, and I think the best way to break this bad habit, as always, is to replace it with a better one.

Like …

Uh …

… hey it’s Mark and Jessie Monday tomorrow that’s sort of high fantasy time to scratch this itch man I sure do love writing and doing absolutely nothing else with my life ever I mean that has to be why I do it right it can’t be because I’m afraid to try anything else in case I get it wrong and you aren’t allowed to get things wrong only bad people get things wrong and you shouldn’t be a bad person that’s disruptive to society what kind of a monster are you don’t you have any initiative what about the children in Africa you selfish fuck why do you even bother waking up in the morning we could use all that oxygen to save burn victims …

Honestly, a werewolf PhD isn’t sounding too bad right now.

Weekly Words 20-26/05/2019

20-24/05/2019

I Did It Sort Of

Yes, it did indeed take me until today, Friday, to get in touch with one of the psychologists recommended to me by the first psychologist I got in touch with who wasn’t able to see me because they didn’t have any free appointments – but hey, at least I fucking did it, right?

Now to wait and see. I like to think I’m more prepared for a range of potential responses that normal human minds would be able to process and deal with, such as this psychologist also being too busy to see me, perhaps having to wait a bit longer for a response than I might hope – I think I’d even be able to handle it if, somehow, the email that I sent through the psychologist website I used to specifically get in touch with this particular psychologist gets sent to the wrong person and I have to start all over again. I’m feeling that robust.

I really need to see a psychologist.

And hey, I’m heading in that direction. I keep forgetting that emails exist; I keep thinking that getting in touch with a psychologist means having to use the phone, whether it’s because my panic response to an anxiety-inducing hypothetical situation is to frame it in as confrontational and anxiety-inducing terms as my mind possibly can, or because I have some sort of self-sabotaging compulsion to “prove myself” by doing things in the most difficult way possible so that it’s less likely that I’ll actually do it. But, regardless, the email has been sent, and …

I’ve done absolutely fucking nothing this week.

Well, some reading. I’m wrapping up my Anita Blake read, and after trying to write out my thoughts on the series up to this point (I’m almost done with book 9, the last “good” book according to many fans of the series) I realised that, actually, the problematic elements in the series are more than I want to stomach. I can stomach them, I just don’t want to anymore. I’ve also realised, much to my shame, that if this was a series written by a man, I would have given up after the first book for these particular problematic elements. Bloody Bones was more gritty than edgy, and I appreciated that – but from that point on, everything “dark” that has happened has fallen much more on the “edgy” side of things, and I am not about that. Also if I have to read about how a dark-skinned person looks “ethnic” one more fucking time …

Well, I don’t, and won’t, after this book, at least not in any series written by this particular author. But perhaps because of this, and perhaps because of taking this week off to chill and maybe doing more personal reflection than I’d thought, I’ve decided to try branching out in my reading again …

By looking into Dragonlance.

Full disclosure: I have in fact read the Dragonlance: Legends trilogy, way back in the day, and … well, I read the whole trilogy. This was back when I actually sought out high fantasy to read; that and it was all that my at-the-time-best-friend was reading, he had the books at his place, so I read them when he was done with them. I read not 1 but 2 full David Eddings sagas that way, too.

The reason I’m going back is not because I feel like high fantasy (especially high fantasy from 30 years ago) is somehow more … progressive, I guess, than the urban fantasy that gives me moral headaches every time I commit myself to reading it. It’s just because, goddammit, the potential of high fantasy is so great, and maybe there’s something in there that’ll inspire me to want to put things right, take the good and leave the bad … maybe it’ll actually make me want to write something.

Also because I could just use a change of pace. Sadly, my library doesn’t have the third book of the original Dragonlance trilogy, so I’ve just requested Autumn Twilight to start with. If that goes well … well, I’ll see if it goes well. I’m also subtly trying to get myself in the mood to finally pick up The Name of the Wind, which I have borrowed from the library twice and read neither time. Everyone says it’s really good, and it seems like it might even be good in a way that I’d agree with. But D&D seems like a natural gateway high fantasy book for me to ease myself back into the genre with, given my love of playing the game over the past year or so. Also my potential D&D-inspired book series that I still don’t feel up to writing; perhaps Dragonlance will shine a light on that problem for me and help in finding a solution.

Also I just got a reply to my email and it looks like I might have an appointment I am going to scream internally for a moment please hold …

26/05/2019

Revision

More work on the co-writing project … and this upcoming week I need to get back into gear.

At the time of writing I am still awaiting confirmation that my psychologist appointment is a-go; at the time of writing I am pretty confident that it will be, and maybe if I’d emailed on Thursday instead of Friday I might not have set myself up to wait for a whole 2 extra days before getting confirmation. But oh well, live and learn.

Weekly Total

Writing: 1561

This week has been boring as shit, by the way. The plan was to watch a bunch of Netflix and play some games and just kind of do things that help me to chill out; I did some reading, which is better than either of those things in terms of just chilling out, and I’m glad that I did. I’m also continuing with my Witcher 3 NG+ playthrough, in which I make all (or many) of the decisions I didn’t make in my first playthrough. I think that means I’m evil in this NG+, but hey, that’s what games are for.

But taking this week off has given me some distance from the weekly grind that I’ve set up for myself over the past year-and-a-quarter, and I achieved my one goal: to get in touch with a psychologist. So that’s a success for me. Not just in terms of making the appointment, but in terms of what I’m doing going forward. Mark and Jessie is now a writing project more so than a revision project; Wolf Gang is now my revision-plan focus and, armed with my Anita Blake reading experience, I feel that if I put the brainpower in I can crack the code of writing pulp without it also being gross; my totally-not-a-Suicide-Squad-fixfic project remains impenetrable but I did make some headway a couple of weeks ago …

You know, it’s hard not having my Metamorphoses of the Werewolf to look forward to reading. I almost feel like just going back and reading it again. Sort of like how after playing Hollow Knight I immediately wanted to play it again just to re-experience the initial wonder and fascination and enthusiasm that I had for it. Also, werewolf lore is really interesting and I want more of it. I do have another werewolf book to read, and I guess I should be disciplined and just read that this Thursday, but man I want Metamorphoses back. I just want to not be finished reading it yet.

But maybe this is a sign that I need to be doing more, where I can, to push out of my comfort zone. I think this week has been proof that my comfort zone is pretty fucking dull – or that my actual comfort zone is a bit less comfortable than this week has been. I’m starting to see how a lot of my difficulties with writing, especially taking on new projects, comes from just wanting something familiar and safe and predictable to fall back on, and a really irrational fear of losing it if I stray too far from it. I wonder if that’s what my perfectionism is: a mask for my anxiety to operate under the cover of, and so when I’m reluctant to take on a new writing project (or a new anything) because I’m afraid I’ll fuck it up, it’s really just wanting an excuse to not extend beyond what I’m comfortable with.

What do I even need a psychologist for?

This next week, I am going to spend some time reflecting. I think I did this last year as well, just spent a weekend taking stock of my projects and getting really honest about what was and wasn’t working. I think I need that for my current projects. I need a retrospective on my entire writing career and habits; I need to game the weird, maladaptive systems that I operate on, figure out where things go wrong and brainstorm some solutions.

And do some writing, because yeah, it’s been too long. Just stuff. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s something I feel like writing. I used to do that, and it worked out, like 14 years ago. I pursued writing and the ideas that I had because they interested me, when they interested me. And it worked.

Maybe I need a little less retrospection, on second thought.

But I do need to write.

Weekly Words 13-19/05/2019

13-14/05/2019

Revision

So seeing as I’ve basically given up on Tallulah again, Tuesdays are free, and I used this Tuesday – the day on which I write this section of this post – to mostly continue my self-care regimen from yesterday, but also to have a quick look at the Mark and Jessie notes, and to continue trying to come up with a revision/reboot plan.

It’s not going well.

Or at least the planning isn’t going well. But from struggling with it I’ve come to recognise that there is some base-level stuff in this project that I need to figure out before I can actually plan anything – and I’m starting to think that maybe a plan isn’t actually what I need. I’ve been saying that a full reboot is what’s needed to make this project work – so, maybe that’s how I should approach it, in my typical fashion: just start writing and see what I end up with. I have this bunch of ideas that inspire me and all the problems that I’ve had with the current manuscript, and maybe that’s enough to go on to start with. I can hold off on planning until I’ve got something to work with worth making a plan for.

This is pretty radical for me, and I’m eager to try it out – and, since this is now a writing project instead of a revision project, no need to wait until next Monday. I mean I probably will anyway because this week is one of those rare weeks where I have a social life, but I also have that fantasy of being super-efficient with my time and shit, so I can try and figure it out.

And with my Wolf Gang readthrough nearing the final stages, and my decision of whether to make it a reboot, revision, or just a bit of fun that doesn’t need to be revisited – I’m feeling a bit excited right now. Not to count any chickens before they hatch, but yeah, I’m a little hype at the minute.

15-19/05/2019

Nothing At All

Feels right for this week.

Did a couple of social things this week (took best friend out for early BDay dinner on Wednesday, then went to concert with two other dear friends on Thursday), which were very rewarding and I’m glad that I did them and I just had no energy or desire to do anything else afterwards, so I didn’t.

Next week, I’m preparing for a ton of self-care cushioning because I am going to make that goddamn psychologist appointment goddammit, and because doing that last time caused me to lose 2 days to just recovering from the shock of putting myself through that scenario, I have decided that this next week just needs to be a big fluffy fucking pillow for me. If I get some writing-related shit done then that’s fantastic, but it’ll be a cherry on top kind of thing. I’ll just have to let the project-writing excitement from Monday go for now, because in the short-term this is much more important for me to do. And if the excitement doesn’t come back … I’ll live.

Mark and Jessie is a new project to me; basically I wrote an entire 622-page manuscript that taught me the valuable lessons of 1) I am capable of writing a 622-page manuscript, and 2) sometimes you can spend a lot of time and energy doing a ton of work that doesn’t amount to as much as you want it to in the end – but still get something out of it. I feel like I know what I need to do in order to continue with this story premise that I’ve loved for so long: I need to start over. The manuscript can’t help me, really, except for being a long list of lessons of mistakes to try not to repeat the next time around. That’s definitely something.

Revision

And okay I did a little bit of revision. The co-writing project has been easier to make revision notes on ever since getting past the episode 1 roadblock, and I’m hoping to wrap up episode 4 next Sunday. Or maybe even over this week, since I’m suspending my obligation to work on my own writing projects.

Weekly Total

Writing: 894

I have also decided that I do actually want to write my The Wereling review/s, and also finish my Steel review. Hell, maybe finish a few much older book reviews that I started years ago and never got around to completing …

Or experiment with something other than a review or a rant. Some other format that lets me reflect on my reading experience but doesn’t come with so many pitfalls that I so easily and frequently stumble into. I’ve said in the past that I want to step away from being a snarky dick when I write about the books I read, while at the same time still wanting to be honest, and much of the time snark is how my honesty comes out. Maybe that’s the issue to focus on; maybe it’s just that I need to examine the reasons for why I’m such an asshole when I get into Review Mode, why it’s enjoyable at the time and then regrettable later on. If nothing else it’s something I can ruminate over while forcing myself to contact mental health professionals so that I can get help rehabilitating my brain.

Wish me luck!

Weekly Words 08-14/04/2019

08/04/2019

Revision

I almost didn’t do any revision today. Almost.

But then I kicked my ass into gear and spent the last hour getting through 20 pages of Mark and Jessie while making notes, and there’s still 115 pages left and oh god why.

To be fair, though, the ideas at this point in the book are actually getting better. There’s more stuff than I expected that I’d honestly consider keeping and incorporating into whatever reboot/revision I undertake as the next step in this story’s development. I am pleasantly surprised.

And I need to be done with this goddamn book by the end of this month, so that’s 115 pages to read over the next 3 Mondays. Just under 40 pages per go. It’s more than doable.

Now I just need to establish practical “work hours” for myself, continuing my plan of breaking down tasks into smaller more manageable goals. Having my alliteration-based organisation system for working on my manuscripts and other stuff from week to week is a good start, but it is too easy for me to just skip a day or two here or there altogether. I want to find a way to make sure that I’ll do the work I’m setting out to do … hmm, maybe combining hours spent and pages read for the revision stuff? Limit myself to one-hour sessions and have a daily page quota or something, so that if it’s going to take more than an hour to get my revision notes made that day I still have to step away and take a break and do something else and then come back to it until I’ve gone through my allotted 40 pages or whatever the number is …

Also I need to learn how to write numbers I am a fucking English major no I’ll probably never do anything with it but I did go through all that trouble so seriously come on self get it together.

Writing (1103)

Holy shit writing happened. Writing that I’ve been really not-confident in my ability to do, even.

Well, kinda – it’s the project that I feel not-confident about, but the writing tonight was … a distraction. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the project, though, something that does need to be explored and have a decision made about it: backstory. I’m leery of making this project too … I don’t want to say “good”, but the joy of it is how it kind of doesn’t stand on its own in any way, and adding backstory to it that could potentially give it its own distinctive identity just feels wrong.

Then again, I could just as easily solve this problem by providing super-generic backstory that has been done a million times before, right?

The important thing is that I forced myself to do some writing of this project, and it worked. Tomorrow I may even write some of those scenes that I’m genuinely feeling self-conscious about because it forces me to confront the fact that I have no plan whatsoever and question whether this is all just a total fucking waste of time, why am I even bothering trying to put effort into getting this thing written, etc. And I think I could stand to tackle that issue head-on, so this week might be a good time to do it, as I’m working on getting my life-plans sorted out.

09/04/2019

Revision

Basically, today I watched the latest episode of Critical Role and tried to write a review of Steel by Carrie Vaughn. I think I’ve worked out why I hate my book reviews and why they end up as hateful rants instead of well-considered critical analyses: I labour the point waaay too much. Initially I was writing the review on Goodreads, as I ticked the “read” box and the website then prompted me to leave my star-rating (two stars, because I decided to use the actual Goodreads scoring system instead of the out-of-five rating system that everyone on the site actually uses because, let’s face it, it makes way more intuitive sense than the Goodreads system) and an optional review. So I wrote a review. It wasn’t bad; it was pretty sparse, and assumed that whoever was reading it had already read the book, but it wasn’t hateful or sarcastic or condescending or anything. I was proud of myself. I thought: “Hey, maybe this means I can actually write a proper, non-Goodreads review of this book”.

How wrong I was.

Writing (3275)

That’s encompassing both my Goodreads zero-draft review and what I’ve got as a draft post in my archives. As soon as I sat down to Write A Review, I went into full internet-critic mode, proselytising and generalising and honking every horn within honking distance. It seems like the more I deliberate, the more unpleasantly snarky my reviews become, whereas if I just go with the first thing that comes to mind (and consider that it’s going to be posted to a public internet forum as soon as I hit “save”), it comes out much more cleanly. I actually cut to the chase way quicker with my Goodreads review, too; with the version I spent most of today’s writing time drafting, I defaulted to trying to make a big production out of it, and it feels really … bad. I wouldn’t want to read it.

I’m going to finish this review, and I’m going to stick with the Goodreads version as the foundation, adding in details for anyone who hasn’t read the book so that my comments actually make sense and stuff. Hopefully, this will result in a book review I’m actually happy with – hopefully this will make me see that, yes, I am actually capable of producing those, and that my Wereling review can be just as non-vitriolic despite how much I hate the absolute shitting fuck out of that abhorrently basic trilogy.

Then again, considering how much hatred I’ve already spewed over The Wereling outside of any potential review, it seems a bit silly to worry about that. Perhaps I need to give in to my anger and let the hate flow through me with that one. Not being hateful is one thing, but I also want to be honest, and to be honest …

This is all just a distraction from how disappointed I am with how today went compared to what I had hoped for. It was all my decision; I could have gotten to work making revision notes for Tallulah first thing after breakfast instead of immediately heading over to YouTube, and saved Critical Role and my review-writing until after I’d done my allotted work, free to enjoy my downtime without the haze of guilt that now has settled over me. That’s the goal for tomorrow: Wolf Gang revision to start off the day, and I will not stop until all werewolf-related work has been completed for the day. I have another three hundred pages to go, so I could aim for, I dunno, thirty pages a day for the next ten weeks and be done in mid-June? I’ll see how it feels to actually read thirty pages tomorrow.

And I will also start drafting what I want to say to this psychologist in terms of making this goddamn appointment. I’ve spent the past two weeks deliberately not making it easy for myself to make this appointment at all; it’s going to happen before my birthday on the 27th. I thought maybe it would happen this week, but let’s be real, this is me, my anxiety is pretty bad, it’s not happening this fucking week. But it is happening before my birthday.

Now I’m going to stop typing for the evening, seeing as I cut my finger while trying to use a baby wipe to clean my razor this morning because I’m a fucking moron. At the very least, I don’t think I need a psychologist to tell me what’s wrong with me in that regard. Small victories. I’ll take ’em.

10/02/2019

Revision

So I didn’t get started until like 4pm, but I got through the whole thirty pages I wanted to get through, actually made some useful revision notes, and even had some ideas of how this shitty zero draft could be tweaked a bit to start to resemble a kinda-pretty-decent-ish story, at least in terms of the sequence of events.

This is weird. Wolf Gang was not, is not, supposed to be a serious novel attempt from me. It was supposed to be a self-imposed writing challenge. This is something else now; this is not the same Wolf Gang, because with the shift in intent – to actually end up with a story I would not be ashamed to shop around or let people who aren’t good friends or family of mine read – also changes the story itself, the intention behind it, the expectations I have for it and my strategy for meeting them. Which I think is fine. It’s just … different. Almost as though this werewolf book has transformed from one thing into another, even though it’s still exactly the same thing as it always was.

Yes, in case you’re wondering, that is about the level of writing quality in the current Wolf Gang manuscript.

What’s kind of hilarious has been realising that a lot of the issues that I have with The Wereling are also present in Wolf Gang, which I wrote like two years before I ever even heard of The Wereling. And, I mean, they’re both stories about basic-ass teenage boys who turn into werewolves with the primary supporting character being a teenage girl. How could there not be a few problematic overlaps? It just didn’t hit home until I started this read-through of Wolf Gang just how eerily similar the problems are with both stories.

But maybe that was because I wasn’t looking to actually do anything with Wolf Gang, not seriously at least, before … well, today, honestly. I saw things reading through it today that I didn’t during either of my previous read-through sessions; the way I could split and shift this one chapter to create a better narrative flow, while simultaneously providing much-needed opportunities for me to flesh out the characters and world and stuff. It’s been eye-opening, and now that I can see it I am rather invested in the idea of actually doing it.

11/04/2019

Reading

I read a couple more chapters of Metamorphoses of the Werewolf today, and holy unexamined misogyny Batman are ye olde werewolf stories beset with wicked women and their feminine wiles. Lycanthropy, it turns out, is the final stage of the lethal cooties virus, and the moral of the story is to always be alpha, lest the feminazis turn you into a beta soyboy cuck.

I mean yes there’s also the gods, but the gods are always framed as being justified in handing out divine curses of transfiguration, whereas women who discover their husbands are motherfucking werewolves are always quick to betray them, stick them in werewolf form indefinitely and either run off with another dude or just ditch them in general. If there is a story of a man who reveals his furry secret to his wife and she doesn’t immediately concoct a plan to trap him in wolf form so that she can hit the reset button on her relationship status, I have yet to see it. I would like to, but something tells me I’ll be waiting a while on that one.

I have also been continuing my Anita Blake readthrough; I spent the majority of yesterday evening and about an hour and a half of the wee hours of this morning reading Bloody Bones, and after The Lunatic Cafe – basically it takes every single issue that I had with The Lunatic Cafe and fixes them completely. The twin sub-plots twist their way into each other to set up the climax; there is a clear focus in the story and the sequence of events; everything that happens feels necessary for the story to progress and make sense; and best of all Jean-Claude is not as much of a predatory stalkery alpha male shitlord in this one. I actually started to get why so many people are into him, albeit with a healthy amount of eye-rolling throughout. I almost feel like Bloody Bones should have been the first book in the series: it introduces us to Anita and what she does, her various relationships and supporting cast, and sets the tone pretty strongly right from the start. About the only issue I have with it is the lack of Ronnie, or literally any important female character besides Anita who isn’t a villain or a victim, but that’s as much of a staple of the genre as jealous, manipulative, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer love interests – and while that has been enough to make me stop reading certain series for a while, I’ve eventually come back to them. I like the genre, the potential that it has, and Bloody Bones makes good on a lot of that potential.

14/04/2019

Revision

I have started making revision notes on the second episode of the co-writing project, which is the first episode I wrote – and kind of the start of Weekly Words. Just reading the first nine pages was quite eye-opening in terms of reminding me of what my creative process was when I was in the middle of writing it, where my energy was … how much I had of it … how much I don’t have it twelve months later …

Okay I’m making it sound like a downer experience; it wasn’t. I’m glad to remember that; I was riding a freaking wave last year in terms of creative energy, and all of this year it’s been like the tide’s gone out. But, from trying to make my alliteration-themed plan to organise my writing on a weekly basis, I’ve also remember that my energy comes from using it, not from resting and waiting for it to come back. This is a vicious cycle for me, where I know that this is how I work yet keep defaulting back to a “I’ll just take it easy and wait until I’ve recovered enough energy to do X thing”, falling into a pattern of holding back and hesitating and procrastinating so that I don’t, I dunno, burn myself out on doing things that I want to do? Don’t ask me. Mental illness does not help with higher brain function.

I was more excited for my writing projects last year, that’s true, but that was just to get started. Once I get started on a project, if I keep it up, I end up generating enthusiasm without needing an external impetus for it. The other issue is that aforementioned mental illness actually consumes a lot of energy, diverting resources that I could be using to do shit with my time that I’d probably enjoy and find fulfilling into brooding and being a perfectionist and terrified of literally everything. And those external triggers, like co-writing a project with a friend who is just as excited about it as I am, helps me to override that bad wiring and get the energy flowing through the channels I want it to. And I think it’s a lot more apparent that the enthusiasm and creative will is there when you’re actually writing, as opposed to making revision notes; it’s not quite as helpful to feed off in terms of getting the creative juices flowing. Which means that it’s up to me to do it for myself.

I’ve wanted to do that all of this year, to be my own energy-generator, to make myself put in the work so that I’ll get back to that place of being enthusiastic and motivated to make shit happen. And every week that I look back on my efforts and see that it’s just not happening that way I get more and more discouraged; and every time that I resolve to push through and “just do it” it doesn’t work the way I want it to. In short, it sucks, and it seems like there’s nothing I can do about it.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week, and the way that it feels like everything I do lacks … something. Conviction, or power, or meaning, or just some essential thing that makes shit stick that my resolutions just don’t have. I tried to think of a time when things weren’t like that, and I ended up thinking back to eleven years ago when I parted ways with my at-the-time best friend, and felt like I had re-discovered myself. I wanted to hold onto that feeling, but it eventually faded, and now looking at how I feel and the way I’m living my life, it reminds me of the final stages of that dysfunctional relationship, where I just didn’t want to do anything, felt like I couldn’t do anything, that would make any kind of impact on my life or circumstances for the better. At the time I thought it was because I was weak and useless. Now, I realise that it was fear.

I need to make that goddamn psychologist appointment.

And I’m going to do that this upcoming week. I’m going to write an email; I’m going to send that email. It seems pretty clear to me that I can’t handle this shit on my own.

But for the other portion of this week, I’m going to try. I’m just going to see what I am actually capable of if I make the effort to insist on getting my work done, and committing to doing quite a lot of work. I spent the weekend just chilling and gaming, and I realised that I’d feel so much more invested in having a good time with it if I had spent the rest of the week getting shit done. That’s what I want for this week. Even if the week after is back to business as usual, I want it for this week. I want to really try and see what I can manage on my own. It would be nice to find that it’s more than I think, and I know I’ve proven this to myself in the past – I just need to do it again.

And if it doesn’t work out, well, that’s something a mental health professional might be able to help me out with.

Weekly Total

Writing (7428)

Weekly Words 01-07/04/209

01-03/04/2019

Revision

Had a look over Tallulah and Wolf Gang while skipping Mark and Jessie this week – I think I’m slowly getting past cope-mode and am really craving some more dedicated work-on-my-shit time on the days where I’ve given myself shit to work on. Something like generic working hours, if not exactly 8 hours per day plus an hour and a half to get to and from work plus whatever isn’t-in-the-contract-but-if-you-won’t-do-it-they’ll-hire-someone-who-will unpaid overtime is included …

In short, I want to make this stuff happen.

The March 2019 issue of Monthly Words – it’s the kind of blog post that makes me really glad that I don’t often go back and read my own blog posts, while simultaneously making me think that I probably should. I was in a very dark place, and today I’m in a better one. There are some non-writing-stuff frustrations causing me some … frustration … but I think a good night’s sleep will do the trick on that account.

Also, I have been feeling like I want to try writing for reasons other than storytelling, as my ideas don’t always conform to the format of a novel – so why should I try to force them to? But I still love writing and find it very useful, so along with being more specific about my goals this month, I want to get specific about what I do and do not find rewarding about writing – the reasons that I have to write, versus the reasons I try to implant into my brain because I dunno I really need to see that psychologist.

Tomorrow is Theory Thursday, so let’s see if academic writing is something I might be interested in.

04/04/2019

Reading

I have so far been keeping up a trend of reading one chapter a week of Metamorphoses of the Werewolf by Leslie A. Sconduto, and I’m very happy about this. It’s fascinating, definitely the deepest dive into werewolf lore I’ve ever made, and a book I feel I will keep on-hand to refer to whether or not I do undertake my werewolf-based PhD. I like lycanthropy.

As for academic writing – well, I did make a deal with myself to just read this book and not make it part of a plan for doing a PhD or whatever, and I think that was a wise choice. It’s certainly interesting, but the bug (or wolf) hasn’t bitten me yet just from geeking out.

This also tells me that I need to look around for more stuff to think about, not just for potential PhD topics (which, again, I’m trying to chill out about), but just to feel a bit more … connected, I guess, to the wider world. To have interesting things to think about and say. To maybe make more use of what I’ve already got going on in that regard. A huge issue for me in terms of social anxiety is feeling like I have nothing to say of any importance, relevance, or interest to anyone else – but I can at least be interesting to myself, right?

Also my Urban Fantasy kick is back in full force. I’m currently wrapping up this latest phase of my YA kick with Steel by Carrie Vaughn before diving back into a bunch of series I’ve quit and am now picking back up again – as well as Conan, yes that Conan, he who wants to know what is best in life, because I just want to see how very wrong all of my assumptions about Swords and Sorcery are – and to see if there’s anything useful in there in terms of my own “pulp” writings. Also what “pulp” even means in this case. It’s research.

Not least because the book, containing several stories, is fucking huge.

No writing today, besides jotting down notes in my Kindle app. But I think I did what I needed to do today, and that’s the important thing, oh shit I haven’t made any progress on making that psychologist appointment oh well there’s always next week …

Ugh.

05/04/2019

Writing (2054)

Okay. NOW I’m almost finished with my Wolf Gang prequel novella.

Had to do a bit of rewriting to make it flow a bit better, but it should be smooth sailing from here to the finish line now. I still don’t feel confident enough to write either of the two big ambitious projects that have been on my mind for the past year or so, which is what I initially sat down to get started on tonight, but I’m pretty shattered this week. I was up until some ungodly hour last night literally crying about how miserable my life situation is and how there’s no hope, I’m a failure, everything I do is meaningless and cowardly, etc. …

Be a writer kids, it’s super fun.

Well, to be fair, the writing itself is often fun; the mental health issues – which have nothing to do with being a writer, in case you’re wondering, so don’t worry about that – not so much. But if nothing else, last night was sort of the final straw in that regard. I do have to get my shit sorted. I didn’t set myself up for it well this week, so I’ll do it next week. I will do it next week. I want this psychologist appointment made before my birthday, which is on the 27th. Well before then.

And resolving to end this week doing things that I know are good for me to do has gone … fairly well. Yesterday’s werewolf research went very well; today was more lax, but to be fair Fridays and Saturdays (and kind of Sundays) are supposed to be my weekend – I just now have the ambition of using the rest of my week for knuckling down and doing some serious literary labour, so that when my weekend comes, it feels good. Four-day work week followed by three-ish-day weekend sounds doable to someone in my position.

Reading

The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton is … well, so far I’ve crossed the 100-page mark, and I can’t lie, it’s sort of a mess in terms of set-up and payoff. She’s supposed to go and do X thing, and a bunch of shit ends up happening that not only gets in the way but also doesn’t actually change the situation at all – filler, in other words. Yes, it’s an old book and still quite early on in the series, but I can’t not notice things like this. It’s not enough to put me off or anything, but I’m definitely taking note.

What’s almost enough to put me off is Jean-Claude. Yes, I know, Jean-Claude is an undead Adonis and all that, I’m a straight man and obviously the specific fantasy that Jean-Claude is designed to fit into is not marketed towards my demographic; I’m not trying to hate on any Jean-Claude fans. But, as a man, in the year 2019 – no. Just … no. None of this possessive, jealous, alpha male shit thank you very much. We already have men’s rights activists, pick-up artists and the alt-right at large for that.

The thing is, at this point in the series Anita doesn’t even like Jean-Claude, so that’s not the problem; the problem is that I can’t even appreciate the fact that she doesn’t like him right now because I know they’re going to end up together – or as “together” as Anita gets with anyone, going off what I’ve heard about how the series pans out as it progresses. I’m just going to wing it and see if the books themselves put me off; who knows? Maybe I’ll be super into it when I eventually get to the whole ardeur thing. I own the entire Seattle Succubus series by Richelle Mead; I’m up for a good time.

Maybe not the statutory rape bestiality kind of good time, but whatever floats your boat I guess.

Weekly Total

3753

Slow week writing-wise. Also goals-wise. But I think my general pattern is that I’ll commit to doing something, feel too anxious to make a start on it for the first week, and then eventually the paralysis will fade and I will regain control of my faculties. I feel that this coming week my faculties will be, if not back in full force, at least much recovered from the past fortnight’s near-hysterics.

I’m about ready to be done with being too afraid to write. Like, what the actual fuck? I’m also ready to start branching out into other areas of creative expression; I got a demo of Artrage 5 that I’m keen to play around with, since I remember that, hey, I have a wacom tablet that I can use for digital illustration funtimes and I have at least one idea for a comic series. The game ideas – I think I’ve been way too critical of myself for spending time on those, but now that I’ve got my plan for the year starting to take shape, specifically with the time I’m setting aside to work on my three finished manuscripts (there are actually four, but the fourth one doesn’t count) and potentially a PhD proposal, I think I need to put effort into giving myself permission to indulge my ideas without trying to make sure that I also feel appropriately guilty about doing something that isn’t directly related to building my writing career – because on top of everything else, it’s not like I even know what the fuck one does to build a writing career. I’m hoping that submitting stuff to agents is a good enough next step for me to take, because I have no idea what else I could do. I keep setting myself new goals and then immediately resetting to a tense, self-critical mental state – I need to be more aware of and push back harder against that, stay positive, let the plans that I’ve put in place to get shit done be enough and let myself spend the rest of my time in whatever way I feel like.

But yeah I do still need to do that whole break-it-down-into-smaller-chunks thing, so that’ll be the focus for next week. I know it was the focus for this week, but it didn’t take, and it is something that I need to do. Just gotta do it.

One Step Closer

(TW: suicide, self-harm, depression, anxiety)

It’s been almost 3 weeks since I last made revision notes on Tallulah, and about a month since the last post I made here. I see the semblance of a pattern.

This chapter is one that I originally expected to cut completely, for its utter irrelevance to the story. Having gone back through it – I’m still not finished, and have given myself one hour a day to revise exactly so that I get used to doing it systematically rather than just on a whim – I have found that there’s actually so much key information about the characters and the overarching themes of the story that I’m very relieved I didn’t just write it off without even looking at it first. Not that I was planning to do that, but I feel like in another life I would have just scrapped it based on memory and started my revision using a manuscript that didn’t have it included and accounted for.

This book needs so much work before it’s ready to be submitted. I wanted to submit it at the end of this year, but I think I’m going to have to set my sights on maybe around this time next year – and, thinking a bit about it, that’s actually probably a better plan. Not so much because it gives me more time to revise (I certainly don’t want to over-revise, and a shorter deadline could help with that), but because from what I hear the end of the year is a really busy time for publishers and agents, being flooded with manuscripts. So if I wait for next year, after the rush, I might have a better chance of getting noticed and picked up. I’ll definitely need to do more research about this stuff along the way, too.

There is actually a reason I decided to go back to revision today. Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, died on the 20th from suicide by hanging. That kicked me right in the guts. I know people like to talk shit on Linkin Park for being melodramatic, angst-ridden, and weirdly sanitised despite their subject matter, especially in their early songs. I got less and less involved with them as a band as I grew older and discovered other forms of emotional catharsis through music other than the anger of metal, but I had always been hugely emotionally invested in the band, even when I wasn’t a huge fan. I didn’t realise just how much I still cared about them until I heard the news, and I have no shame in telling you all that I am absolutely going to go out and buy those two albums of theirs that I didn’t really like. I’m a sentimental mushball and proud of it.

It hit me like no other celebrity death has – maybe Carrie Fisher. They were both such huge parts of my life, especially my childhood and adolescence, but I felt more familiar with Chester, just because I kept up with the band ever since they released “One Step Closer” and made me the happiest little angry kid on the planet, along with all the millions of other angry kids exactly like me. Carrie Fisher I knew as Princess Leia, and that was about it until quite recently. I definitely wish I’d kept up with her as well in hindsight.

But the point of all of this is that Chester’s death was a wake-up call to me. People talk about this sort of thing all the time, and there have been times when I’ve felt like I should have felt it but didn’t. Somebody famous and influential dies, and people get motivated to get their shit together. I hate that I’m getting motivation from somebody’s death, especially one as horrible as this. There’s something morbid about taking inspiration to live your life better just because somebody else’s has ended. But it’s because it’s pretty relevant to me. I lived with depression for a long time; I still get depressed every now and then. The bigger issue for me is social anxiety, but both of them come with a lot of feeling stuck and unable to do anything about it. I realised when the news broke that I needed to fucking move. I’ve known that doing things is the best solution to the problem of feeling stuck, yet I just consistently don’t take that solution because, well, I don’t feel like I can when I’m in a rut, which I usually am. Anxiety and depression are paralytics, and they’re hard to fight against.

But I have to. I have to get this shit done. I don’t even know what book I want to work on, if I even do, or what my other options would be, but goddammit I need to figure it out, and the only way I’m going to do that is if I actually do it. It’s basic logic; it’s nothing I didn’t already know. But that could have been me, and for all I know it still might be one day. I hope not, and I feel like I’m in a much better place than I have been for a long time, better enough that it is probably quite unlikely. But I also know that I have a history of suicidal thoughts, and that this sort of thing can come back sometimes. It’s just life. I’m not feeling grim about my prospects; I actually feel better about them than I ever have, however much of a slog this year has been in terms of motivation.

What I’m saying is that I have some now, and for the first time possibly ever I am determined to jump on it and make the most of it, turn it into a routine while I have the energy to support my initiative. I don’t know what I want to write, I don’t know if it’s anything I’m currently writing or if I need to find something else. So I’m going to write what I’ve got and see what comes of it. Every day. I have alarms on my clock set to remind me to revise, write, and even look at my CV throughout the week. I haven’t been using them, really, but I’m going to start. I have already started. I made some revision notes, and it turned out to be a very fruitful endeavour. But I need more than rewards. I need habits. I need to get into a whole bunch of new habits, and to stick to them as hard as possible, to keep going even when it’s not immediately rewarding because there’s a long game to play as well, a big picture that will make all the little, momentary frustrations worth it.

I’m also putting in forced breaks. That’s why I didn’t finish making revision notes on the chapter I was looking at today: my alarm went off and told me to stop, so I stopped. I need to get good at getting work done regardless of motivation, but the same goes for taking time for myself to just do whatever, including absolutely nothing. And from experience, arbitrary time constraints work pretty damn well for that.

I feel like I’ve taken a step today, towards the way I want my life to turn out. One step closer to something I’ve only ever fantasised about, occasionally following a burst of inspiration to move towards it for as long as the motivation lasts and giving up as soon as it gives out. No more. Motivation can kiss my ass. From here on, I’m here to work. I’m here to do better by myself.

So here’s to doing better. It would feel very wrong to link “One Step Closer” here, not just because I made the pun already. This song is one whose meaning has changed for me, and not just because of Chester’s death. I’m just in a different place now. Back when this first came out, I sort of dismissed it because it wasn’t the same tense, viscerally angry music that I loved LP for. Now that I come back to it, it’s basically a really corny, really earnest motivational track, and I am so happy to see it in this new light. I never thought I’d appreciate LP for being corny, but I really, really do. And I can only see it this way because I’m in a different place to when I was when I first came across it. Just like leaving Tallulah to sit for 2 years, I can see that part of my past with a new perspective, and see the path forward. And to walk it, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

(There is always a burst of discussion around mental health awareness when a celebrity figure commits suicide, which is kind of insulting to me, because it reminds me that this is still kind of the only time the discussion enters into mainstream consciousness. The fact that this discussion is still so stigmatised is hugely symptomatic of why mental illness is so much more difficult for people to seek help for than other kinds of illness. So to anyone who needs someone to talk to – please talk to someone. It doesn’t matter why. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant or irrational of a reason you might think it is, and you probably do, if you’re anything like me. Treat it like a strange lump that suddenly turned up on your body: get it checked out, because it might be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Treat it as a practical, personal responsibility that you have, like paying rent. Look up hotlines you can call for free; look up options for counselling that you might be able to afford. If you have friends or family you know you can trust, take advantage of a shoulder to lean on. Look after yourselves. I’m not just putting my latest life-changing plan into action because I want to write more. I want to take care of myself, because for the longest time I just haven’t, and I’m only recently starting to learn how. I want to learn how to do it better, and the best way to do it is to, well, do it.)