Weekly Words 26/08-01/09/2018

26/08/18: 1712

That’s a bit goddamn better!

I do actually have a bit of a plan for this week, the remainder of this month, to get the things done that have not been getting done and need to have been done long, long ago, for my own personal well-being. I have said before, numerous times, that I suck at self-care, and this week I had the astoundingly obvious revelation that I think about self-care in a very narrow sense, and it’s been fucking me up. I tend to think of it as “chilling out”, relaxing, doing nothing – but that’s not at all what self-care means. Self-care means making sure that we meet our own personal needs, whatever those are – and in my case, it actually means doing stuff. Lots of stuff, actually, specifically stuff that I know I’m likely to just sit on and let never get done, because anxiety.

And just to be clear: the thing that needs to get done is that I need to get my paperwork filled out so that I can finally get some fucking therapy for said anxiety, which has been ruining my life for the past 16 years, at least. It was probably ruining my life before I turned 15 and discovered that socialising is hard, and I just didn’t notice because I was a kid and my life was peachy. In any event, this shit cannot go on any longer. I need to do something about it.

So I will. This week.

And also this week I will continue writing, and as I did today, I will get it done by just making myself get started. Ready, Player One gave me the start of some ideas on how to approach one of my projects – my big author-insert self-fanfic high fantasy epic, to be specific – and that seems like the direction that I want to go in the most right now, so that’s going to be my focus, along with finishing up this co-writing episode that is supposed to be done by the 1st of next month. So at the end of this Weekly Words. Convenient.

And most important of all: I know now that I need to be doing things as part of my self-care as well as just for the sake of getting shit done that needs to be done. This also means that, when one thing can’t get done or doesn’t get done, I don’t stop doing all the other things as a result. These are my goals for this week.

So sayeth the Ubermensch!

29/08/18: 3085

Betterer and betterer.

It’s a razor’s edge, the difference between a productive week and a non-productive week for me. That’s what I’m taking away from my progress this week. The last two days I got nothing done: not writing, not my Plan, nothing except some gaming and half-hearted self-pity. Then today, I finished a very long scene that really needs to be broken up into 2-3 scenes when we get around to revising this co-writing monstrosity, took some tangible steps towards completing my Plan, and even got started on a bit of potential PhD research. What was the difference?

Decisions. Not mood, not mindset, not attitude. I just made different decisions today.

It doesn’t feel reliable to me, and that’s the part that bothers me. I don’t feel reliable to myself. But, regardless, I made good decisions today, and tomorrow I can continue to do so. Pep pep pep. Positivity and shit.

Anyway whatever it was a pleasing day and it is over now! Time for sleep.

30/08/18: 1368

THE PLAN.

IT IS HAPPENING.

HOLY FUCKBALLS WHAT IS LIFE.

Why yes, I am rather pleased with myself this week so far, if you must know.

I have watched all 2 seasons of Lucifer available on Netflix in NZ; I know there is 1 more and then a 4th being produced by Netflix, and I assume at some point or another I will get to see them both, though I have to be honest I don’t know if I can be bothered, regardless of how much of a trashy, problematic fave of mine it has become. Much like Wynona Earp, it’s basically an Urban Fantasy novel as a TV show, and that’s exactly what I want out of my television right now.

Partly because I have sworn off it in my books, at least for the time being. I am currently reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and I have ambitions of writing a book review of it … somehow. I don’t have the energy to make notes as I’m reading – mostly because I don’t want it to disrupt my flow of reading, or to feel like the only reason I’m reading is so that I will have a book review to show for it – especially not on my computer. But at the same time, I do have things to say about this book, even though I’m not even 50 pages in yet. They’re good things. It’s a good book so far. According to Goodreads, I am correct in this assertion. I guess I could just write a from-memory review and not take notes at all … or write them with pen and paper …

Or I could just read the damn book and enjoy it.

31/08/18: 444

I could end the writing week here, but I think I’ll push on. Not least because tomorrow is when I am supposed to have finished all of my scenes for the co-writing project. Although that’s more a personal goal than anything; and I’m almost done, so it feels like something to strive for.

01/09/18: 969

And it is done.

Weekly Total: 7578

Not bad! Especially given my recent efforts, writing-wise. I feel much more enthusiastic about writing at the moment, actually. Amazing what a bit of positive reinforcement based on personal experience can do for the old morale.

Also, getting onto my mental health “plan” this week, after well over a year and a half of agonising – I’m still not quite all the way there yet, but I’ve got momentum, and it feels good. All around, I just feel pretty good about where I’m at right now.

Not a bad way to close out the month.

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And Now …

I have finished reading through my manuscript of Tallulah.

I think I did not give myself enough credit yesterday; I can actually remember things pretty well. At least in the second half of the book. The second half of the book is definitely the tightest, though it is also often the most abrupt and unsatisfying in terms of tying up loose ends and tying the threads of the plot together effectively. A lot of key moments are rushed through and don’t have any sort of emotional payoff; the climax is kind of exciting but also comes right the fuck out of nowhere and doesn’t have nearly enough build-up and thus feels unjustified; the supporting characters need bigger roles …

In other words, there’s potential here.

I am very glad that I decided to come back to it after all.

I might read it again, but for the most part I actually feel like I know what I need to do. I have a much clearer sense of the structure and what needs to change than I thought I would; and what is clear to me is that a lot of stuff needs to be thrown out and replaced. The stuff that happens at the end of the book feels like it needs to happen around about the middle instead; and once again, I am faced with the dilemma of designating antagonist duties. This has been the eternal struggle with this story, and a little while ago I thought I had a good solution. The right solution. But now it feels a bit thin. Mostly because the story itself feels a bit thin.

But I can take care of that, and I’m starting to see how – yes, it’s going to be a lot of work, but I think it’ll be worth it. It’s time to make a revision plan.

It’s been a while, but it is good to be back.

An endless cycle

About an hour and a half ago, I was settling in to write a big ranty post complaining about how there was all this shit I hadn’t gotten done that I’d said I was going to get done. In there would be some kind of resolution to get it done as soon as I’d finished said rant, but even the thought of that felt like another failure, an excuse on top of excuses removing me from the sense of obligation I have been trying to instill within myself.

So instead, I didn’t write it. I deleted it, and went and did the things that I was going to complain about not having done. Making a doctor’s appointment and writing, to be specific.

It feels a lot better than writing that post would have felt.

I mean the doctor’s appointment isn’t until next Monday, and the writing I’ve done is bad writing at a time when I’ve fallen out of touch with whatever magical, utopian psychology I was operating under while writing my shitty YA werewolf novel that let me embrace and even enjoy writing badly – but still. It got done.

And finally, it feels like I’ve started the year.

Not a moment too soon, either, because it’s my birthday tomorrow and I’m turning 30 and holy FUCK I’M GOING TO BE 30 YEARS OLD HOW DO YOU EVEN DO THAT WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL.

Like, I’m supposed to have a couple of kids as part of an unsatisfying marriage, secretly but predictably engaged in an office affair equal parts sordid and banal, trying to get a promotion so that I can use a bigger paycheck to compensate for my untenable desire to live a life that I actually choose to live rather than being forced to adhere to societal expectations just to pay rent and be accepted as a real person. That’s 30 to me. I’m pretty unimaginative when it comes to 30. Probably because that is nothing like what any part of my life had been like, let alone 30.

I mean I’m glad that isn’t going to be 30 for me, but at least it’s intelligible. What I’m doing right now … it just isn’t. It doesn’t feel real to me. Or maybe the better word is “official”. I don’t feel like an official human being; I haven’t quite filled out the form yet.

But hey, there’s opportunity in that, right? I can still be a real person without wedging myself into a cultural stereotype that, I mean fuck, just read that shit. I should be over the moon that that isn’t my life, that nothing up to this point has set me up to live anything remotely like that life.

Grass is always greener, I guess.

And anyway, I guess I am actually enjoying what I’m doing right now – now that I’ve started actually doing it. It’s been a shitty couple of days in particular. After trying to set up my alarm to wake me up super-early so that I could fulfill the spontaneous, romantic promise that I made to myself a couple of posts ago about writing for seven hours every morning, I actually ended up waking up around 1pm both today and yesterday. Which was very demoralising; and then my back went out, and it’s better today but still not great, and it’s happened twice in quick succession and it’s been 11 years with this fucking injury and, yeah, a shitty past couple of days overall.

Until just now. Because something as simple as making a phone call to take responsibitlity for my own well-being, and doing some writing for the sake of breaking out of a rut, can make such a ridiculously huge difference that it’s almost embarrassing. In fact, it is embarrassing, but only if I look at it from the outside. From the inside, I’m reaping the benefits of having gotten some momentum back, and everything before this point just doesn’t matter anymore.

And this is the perpetual cycle of life, I think: you complain about shit you haven’t gotten done and feel really down and hard on yourself, until you actually take steps to start getting it done, at which point it’s almost like you were never even upset about it to begin with. It’s pathetic, even despicable, from a certain moral vantage-point. But it also works. And while there will always be problems that take a little more effort to deal with – or a lot more, often more than you can manage on your own – there will also always be these little, niggling problems that always feel insurmountable because of how guilty you feel for not having confronted them, until you actually confront them, and all of that guilt and angst and shame just rolls off your back, like water off a duck’s wing.

It’s oil, you guys. Oil is the solution to all life’s problems.

And the thing that I wrote is bad, and I like it, and it’s so bad that I’ve left myself a note in the document itself to rewrite it as part of a conversation rather than an info-dump, and I’m actually looking forward to spending some time tonight or tomorrow making the last thousand words I wrote utterly redundant, because that’s also bad writing. And I’m excited about it.

In every endless cycle, there is always an upswing, and right now I’m in the middle of one.

 

82669

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.

Camp Nanowrimo 2016 Redux: 3506

I started today’s Camp Nano writing expecting that I would run out of steam after 800 words. 2705 words later, I’m fairly impressed with myself.

This chapter is coming together pretty well; it’s at a point where I could finish it and start the next one, but that really depends on whether I want to split the events I have yet to write into two chapters or keep them in a single chapter. Since it would go against my efforts to train myself out of editing as I go to go back and read over it to see if it ends at a natural stopping-point, I’ll have to try and intuit what the right thing to do is. But regardless, the point is that I am over 1k words ahead of schedule to win Camp Nano with my new and improved, way-reduced word count goal of 20k. And I’m even starting to kind of get back to the giddy excitement I had when I first started writing this thing.

But I think the main reason it feels different now is because this chapter is quite a different beast to the sorts of stories I’m used to borrowing tropes from. Nothing seems quite the right fit, at least nothing that has that “so bad it’s classic” feel to it. This chapter is actually reasonably original, or at least that’s how I feel about it right now. Time and wider reading will tell, obviously, but for the moment I’m pretty happy to break with tradition – if that is in fact what I am doing – and follow this to its own conclusion.

And even if it did take me until the final week of Camp Nano, it really is nice to be writing something that I actually enjoy writing.

Camp Nanowrimo 2016: 1915

Well, that worked. I could actually easily make it even less info-dumpy, but it’ll do for now. It might actually be a good thing to leave it this way so that I’ll have something fun to do when I come back to revise it.

The point is that, 1915 words later, I have my momentum back and I like where it’s taking me. I need to write an average of over 4k words per day to hit my word count goal of 60k, but I might readjust that to something closer to 40k, just so that I can actually get it done. Or even 30k, and make it a “part one” kinda deal, and finish the other 2 parts in the following months. I don’t know if I’ll want to write this book for that long though, so for now I’ll keep my word-count at what it is and just bite the bullet if I don’t win Camp Nano. The whole point here is to write quickly. Tonight I got my speed back, so now I just need volume to back it up and we’re in business.

It’s interesting – and frustrating – to work with characters you don’t really know very well. One of my main characters is already a walking cliche, the sensitive, thinks-he’s-been-scorned-but-really-hasn’t “nice guy”, while the other one is the supposed scorner, his former best friend and current crush – a girl, because when you write fast you keep things normative, or I do anyway – and at the moment she has precisely zero personality. That might be because she’s the info-dump character as well, at least for this chapter. Either way it bothers me, and while I know there’s plenty of time to fix things during the revision process it’s just … disheartening. I’d like to think I could expect a little more from myself, even in the first draft stage. But I guess if I’m being honest this story really is more about the concept than the characters, and I’ll just have to roll with it.

And at least it is rolling along, and it’s getting a little bit exciting. I’m hoping that this is a sign that I’ve forced myself over the hump and that from here on out, whatever my issues with this project are, momentum will not be one of them.

Camp Nanowrimo 2016: 1532

This was not my word-count for today; this is my word count between yesterday and today. But I have finished the first chapter, a chapter that I already know I’m not going to use in the final edit but, stuff it, it’s already written. And if I can write 3232 words per day from here on out, I will finish Camp Nano and meet my 60k-word count goal. Sounds doable. Maybe not probable, but certainly doable.

I think this chapter was one that I needed to write just to learn from it. It wasn’t what I wanted it to be, and it starts the story off in a direction that I’m not interested in continuing in. That doesn’t mean I should go back and edit it right now though, because I’ve got momentum going now and I don’t want to spend it on retcons. Instead, I just push ahead with what I’ve got and pretend it’s what I want it to be, because at the end of the day this is a speed trial, and the most important thing is momentum, not where it comes from. And it’s only the first chapter, and the things I’d need to change are pretty minimal to begin with. So all in all, this isn’t looking so bad.

It’s still not what I imagined it was going to be, and I’m wary of writing myself into a corner by not having more of a plan, or by not writing exactly what’s in my head. So I might just do that. I might just write out all the scenes that I do have and then hope that, at some point down the line, I can find a way to string them all together into a coherent story.

I’m still not loving it either, but this is the discipline experiment, so …

After this, I think I’m going to take a break from writing though. I need to explore some other avenues and see if something takes, because much as I love writing, it became a crutch for me a very long time ago and I’m definitely not weaned off it yet. I don’t really want to prevent myself from writing or anything, but I definitely use it as a sort of excuse to not try other things, which tends to be when I find writing the least enjoyable. And I wonder if that’s part of why Camp Nano just isn’t doing it for me, whether it’s less the project itself and more the fact that I’m just pushing myself to be writing again when I could be doing something else.

But it does feel good to have gotten over this hump, whatever I decide to do next. On with the show I guess.