Call me a Necromancer

… coz I’m back from the dead, apparently. Has it seriously been 2 months since my last post? I’ve been having anxiety about not being able to write a good-enough new post almost daily, so I guess that feels the same as regular updates or something.

Anyway yeah hi peeps. Not a ton has happened since I made that Generic Blog Post. I mean, no, actually, tons of stuff has happened, but almost nothing related to writing, which is what this blog is supposedly about.

So what did happen so glad you asked let me tell you I saw Blade Runner 2049, and it was soooooo long. So long and not enough happened to warrant such a gratuitous volume of run-time. If they’d chopped about an hour off it, I would think back on it more fondly; as it is I don’t think I’ll be thinking about it much at all. The most interesting part of the film was Jo. No, I will not link any articles or anything to further expand upon this because 1) my opinion is the only one that matters and 2) I don’t need to spend any more time on this decidedly middling film than I’ve already paid money to do. I didn’t mind it while I was watching it, and now that I’m not, I have no desire to do so again. And no, I’m not a fan of the first one (mostly because I haven’t seen it, except for the ending).

I made myself re-watch season 5 of Teen Wolf, mostly because I was bored, but slightly because I remember being seriously underwhelmed by it and wanted to see if time might have changed my perspective. And to my surprise, the answer was yes. I actually kind of enjoyed it the second time around. It’s still definitely not my favourite season – that goes to seasons 1 and 3 – but this one did some things that I wish other seasons had done. Like giving Lydia anything to do, at all, ever. That was nice, when she wasn’t busy being subjected to her latest thinly-veiled-rape-metaphor sub-plot. Still waiting for season 6 to hit Netflix, and if it doesn’t … well, I don’t want to think about that.

I read a bunch of books, and decided to not read a bunch of other books. I can’t really argue that it’s because some of those books were more or less problematic than the others as the reason for this; I think it’s just because my tastes push me in certain directions. For instance, Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson I gave up on after the first few pages of chapter 1, because it starts off with [spoilers] our hero being introduced as a wiseass troublemaker who has god-like powers and uses them to rescue a teenage slave girl from being kidnapped and raped by her owner and then setting fire to his house and killing him and all of his staff – and it all happens off-page, too. [end spoilers] It’s not enough that this is one of the laziest cliches to ever grace the page; it doesn’t even grace the fucking page. And then the first chapter is about some angsty thief girl with trust issues, and my god if I have to read one more male author’s angsty thief girl with trust issues in a high fantasy novel …

Then there’s Every Which Way but Dead by Kim Harrison, which I gave up on when [spoilers] Rachel agrees to go out with whatshisface the sexy-in-a-stalkery-way vampire who has been in her room without her knowledge and is picking out her clothes for their date and he’s so controlling and dominant and alpha and god fuck off just fuck off no more. [end spoilers] Both of these books evoked that response in me; and it’s a shame, because I quite liked the Rachel Morgan books up to that point, though they were a bit less … punchy, I guess, than I was hoping for. I like Ivy and Jenks, and I will probably go back to it at some stage – right now, though, I can’t take any more of that shit.

However, here’s where I lose any ability whatsoever to claim that these books were too “problematic” for me, because to wash the bad taste out of my mouth I read Changes by Jim Butcher in an evening and a morning. God I love that fucking series. Not because it’s morally better than either of the other two I’ve mentioned, but because it’s written to be read, and I fucking obliged. That book had [spoilers] Harry Dresden finding out that he’s Susan’s baby-daddy, and is only able to save said baby that he is the -daddy of – and destroy the Red Court of vampires, whom he more or less single-handedly instigated a worldwide war against in book 3 – is by killing Susan once she becomes a full vampire, as she was bitten by the former leader of the Red Court – also his fault – but fighting the curse by not drinking human blood … so not only did he betray Susan by not giving her enough information about the situation they were heading into in book 3 (a vampire ball where all the vampires want him dead), but he also uses her as a justifiable human sacrifice in order to save the world and also their daughter, and yes it’s sad and tragic and that’s the point but I don’t care that it’s the point because it’s a shitty trope and it’s not about Harry the character it’s about the fucking story and the fact that it didn’t have to use this fucking plot to begin with that is the fucking problem [end spoilers] and I fucking lapped that shit up and I am definitely reading the remaining 3 published books in the series because I am a disgusting hypocrite there I said it it’s all out in the open now come at me.

Except don’t actually come at me though because I don’t handle confrontation well. Please.

And on top of all of that …

I did actually start doing some writing.

It’s not “real” writing, though. But it’s a way of approaching my projects that I’ve never thought of before: looking at them as something other than books. I mean in a practical sense, there’s a reason I’ve never done that: I’ve got ideas for videogames and comics and films and even plays that I’ve never bothered to work on, because I didn’t have the resources to “really” do any of those things. I mean, those things cost money, and I ain’t got none of that.

However – I don’t need money to write a script. I don’t need money to write an outline. I don’t need money to write stage directions.

And so I’m heading in that direction with some projects now, and it’s really opened me up creatively – for one, because I’m actually working on things now, but also because I’m thinking outside the box. It’s always been books with me, because I am a very literal-minded person when it comes right down to it, and also a perfectionist, and if I can’t do something exactly the way I want to be able to do it, historically I just don’t do it at all.

This all changed, though, when a friend and I started writing … well, it was a very intentionally-thinly-veiled Teen Wolf tribute/fanfic, with some Buffy and Shadowhunters and even Twilight thrown in, though it is slowly but surely starting to become its own thing now. Co-writing is fantastic, and one of the reasons it’s fantastic is because it gives you surplus creative energy. We started this project because we were stagnating with our other projects, and thought this would be a way to try and jump-start our creative energies – so I decided to try it out, bringing out one of my older projects – the second-oldest, in fact – and seeing if I could do something with it now that I was all recharged and stuff.

Not only did it work, but it worked in a couple of ways that I hadn’t expected. The first unexpected thing was that I realised that the endless documents of planning that I have historically done for projects that I initially feel very enthusiastic about and then burn-out hard on because of said planning documents – they actually serve another purpose, one that might actually get me to be more engaged with those projects instead of less. Part of what’s great about co-creating is that you have another person, or a few other people, to bounce ideas off, and they’re bouncing their ideas off you as well. You can’t do that by yourself, for obvious reasons – unless you’re a writer, in which case you can write to yourself. And having made this discovery, I now see an opportunity in my planning that was, until this revelation, little more than an unhealthy habit that I lamented being unable to kick.

The second revelation was that I realised that I wanted this project to not be a book, because so many of the core elements of it are so intrinsically visual – so I decided to make it a comic instead. No, I’m not happy with my current drawing ability, but I don’t need to be able to draw – I can write panel treatments. Instructions, in other words; the screenplay of comics. I can do that until the cows come home. So going forward with that project, that is the plan.

This was so inspiring that I started experimenting with other projects, and lo and behold it kept workingRealm of the Myth, my adolescent author-insert self-fanfic high fantasy project – that’s a videogame now, and it makes sense in a way that it never has before. Particularly the magic system. Everything about that story rests on the magic system, and I realised that, being a videogame, the lore only matters insofar as it justifies having mechanics that work. Or it does to me, anyway, and that’s all that matters because I’m the one writing the fucking thing. I could have the most convoluted, batshit magic system lore imaginable, and as long as the mechanics are sound it doesn’t matter. It’s been so liberating. And inspiring. I’m starting to believe that, one day, this story might actually get published, in one form or another. And whether or not it does, I believe I have finally found the appropriate medium to tell it with.

And then the unthinkable happened. I went back to another of my videogame projects, and found that writing stat sheets and names and abilities just wasn’t tangible enough. I needed something more immediate, more direct, to interact with.

So I started drawing. For context, I don’t think I’ve actually drawn anything intentional – scribbles and doodles don’t count, and I’ve barely done those either – since I was in my early 20’s.

And it blew my fucking mind. It’s all-consuming. I couldn’t stop thinking about what other cool shit I was going to try and draw for a few days; I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit now, but god it was good to hop back on.

And all of this progess is stuff that I’m staggering out and sort of hopping between, and that feels good. I feel like I’m going somewhere here, like progress is being made, or personal growth or some shit.

And it’s gotten me a bit more hyped for Nanowrimo, too. I’m not sure what I’m going to use it for, but I am sure that I do, in fact, want to use it for something. Maybe several things. It’ll have to be a sort of side-project, as at least the first half of November is going to be devoted to marking final assignments for the comics paper I’m marking for – oh right that also happened – but I like the idea of using it as a way to experiment with this panel treatment idea. Or even *gasp* finishing my revision notes for Tallulah.

Which I feel like I’m going to put back down after I make these notes, because holy crap it needs so much work. I also think I’ve put myself in a ridiculous position with it in other ways, certain creative decisions I’ve made, and I would at the very least need to seriously re-evaluate those decisions before I’m able to finish it in good conscience. But, hey, I’ve got other projects that I’m enthusiastic about now, and could easily transfer my efforts and energy into them. While also continuing to work on this not-a-fanfic-anymore co-writing project, because seriously it is astounding just how enjoyable it is to co-write something. I had forgotten.

 

I have not been this pumped about writing since … yeah, since 2015. My shitty YA werewolf thing was the last time I really wanted to write something until this co-writing thing, and now my own projects are getting a new lease on life because of it. But I think the thing I’m happiest about is that I’ve got energy for projects that aren’t just writing-related, which I’ve wanted for quite some time now. Ever since I had that whole I-am-not-a-writer epiphany that went absolutely nowhere. Well, maybe now it is.

I am looking forward to finding out.

Also to the next update to this blog being in slightly less time than two months from now.

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More Like It

This evening I met up with a friend to do some writing. She had a whole bunch of brainwaves while we were discussing our respective current works-in-progress, and I was very happy for her and very excited to be there as she was having these flashes of inspiration – it even rubbed off on me enough that I forced myself to go back to Tallulah and make some more notes, after about a week of putting it off after the grueling slog through those past 2 chapters.

It got better this chapter, I have to admit. It was pretty much exactly the opposite experience that I had with the past 2 chapters, because I actually enjoyed this one quite a lot. But the things about it that worked – clear focus, decent enough pacing, lack of filler – brought into keen focus the stuff that wasn’t working in the earlier chapters, and makes me worry about what I’ll find going forward. There’s a part of me that wants to put Tallulah aside until I’m done with my UF kick, because I’ve got the bug and Tallulah is not a story that should be told in typical UF fashion: it’s not about action, it’s not supposed to be fast-paced, it’s not about witty banter, simmering sexual tension and/or domineering alpha males claiming women like insurance, and I am in the mood to write me some of that. Perhaps it would be best for the story, and myself, to instead get this out of my system so that I can come back to Tallulah sometime later down the road in the correct mindset to make it work.

Then again, after the chapter 2 rant I made a couple of weeks ago, I went and read over a re-imagined chapter 2 that I wrote back in 2015, just before I decided to take my hiatus, and I really liked it. It did everything that I wanted the current official chapter 2 to do: it was coherent, it felt like the things that were happening were happening for a good reason, it seemed like there wasn’t any distracting filler, and it felt like there was a clear focus in terms of where the story was going and what I, as a read, could expect to get out of it. All of which is part of the allure of these UF novels I’m currently addicted to, despite how many, many ideological tensions as I have with them. So perhaps this is actually the best time I could have picked to get back to work on Tallulah. 

But ultimately, as I said a little while back, I really do feel like the main thing I want to do is just read, rather than write. I’m going to keep going with making revision notes with Tallulah – it’s mostly reading anyway, and I want to make a decision about this book. Because if I decide I am going to leave it for another little while, then I’ve got some options to explore if I want.

Or I’ll just continue to enjoy the most reading for pleasure I’ve done since my year-long YA kick a few years ago, and more reading than that entire year by several times already. I’ve branched out from the 2 series I was reading to start off with, and have gotten a bunch of first books of various different series out now to get a taste for what other fantastic beasts are lurking in the urban fantasy jungle. Thus far, I think Ilona Andrews is my new favourite, with her – or their, as I discovered, and I have to wonder if the co-authorship is what gives it a slightly more solid, well-realised feel than some of these other books so far – urban fantasy setting that is strikingly similar in premise to ideas I’ve had over the years. I’m not bitter that they did it before I did, though; it’s just inspired me to revisit that idea with some new vigour.

I may not have much motivation of my own to write these days, but more and more I’m finding that other people’s work is inspiring me, and I appreciate that a lot. It’s always nice to not have to just rely on your own steam to get things moving.

One weird trick to get any task done

No okay seriously I keep seeing these fucking “one weird trick” articles at the bottom of other articles that I read; the fact that I see those articles at all may clue you in to the kind of shit I read on the internet, but that’s besides the point. “One weird trick to make women obsess over you” seems to be the most common, with two different versions showing up right next to each other at the end of the last article I was reading (about the Justice League movie; trash begets trash I guess). I mean, guys, “obsess” is a very broad term. I’m sure you can get any woman to obsess over you by shaking her hand with one of those buzzer things they used to use in movies to establish a throwaway comic relief character, or by never showering ever. This would work because it would make anybody obsess over you, regardless of sex or gender, because they would find you repugnant. “One weird trick to continue your already rampant objectification of women” doesn’t sell as well I guess. Small miracles?

Seriously though, getting shit done: you just fucking do it. I’ve been on this particular ride before, veering between two philosophical poles in an attempt to establish some kind of solid foundation upon which I can build a functional, reliable and predictable work ethic: finding motivation on the one hand, and ignoring it on the other. Right now, I’m on the other hand, because motivation is like any feeling: it comes and goes. But I, on the other hand, am always here. I may as well take advantage of it.

I don’t know what it says about me that I have adopted popular Twitch streamer and YouTuber Day[9] as my unofficial life guru, but he does give some pretty fucking solid advice when it comes to getting shit done, and the best part is that it lines up with stuff I already believe. “You just show up” is the condensed version of his personal philosophy for getting shit done, but you don’t really need the extended version to get the point. Come hell or high water, whether or not you are motivated to do so in the moment, you turn up to do the thing that you are supposed to be doing, whether that is a task set for you by an employer or something, or a goal that you have made for yourself. That way it becomes a habit, and as somebody who has lived with moderate anxiety and probably mild depression for the majority of my life, I can tell you first-hand that force of habit is the most powerful force in human existence. Habit makes us do things all the time that we would rather not, like clockwork. That’s not a bad thing; that’s a cheat code, if you approach it the right way. Turning a weakness into a strength is always a good move, so if like me you are somebody with deeply ingrained bad, unhealthy habits, the good news is that the power behind those habits can be yours and mine for the taking, enabling us to do whatever we want, whether in the moment we want to or not. It just takes practice.

This is the strategy that I’ve been trying to employ since last year, focusing in my case on regular exercise – and although I still feel like I’m not doing enough or not progressing as fast as I want, when I step back and look at it I see that, very clearly, I have established a new, enduring habit. I even took 3 months off between the end of last year and the start of this one, and that wasn’t enough to put me off. Yes, it did take me a whole year to get to a “fire and forget” point with this habit, but that’s a year I’ll never have to spend again trying to make it stick.

And technically, writing is already a habit that I have, an even longer-lasting habit than my bouts of anxious, depressive self-loathing, which is good to remember every now and then. Of course the two are linked as well, as one of the main ways I tried to escape/cope with my issues as a teenager was to channel it into writing, which changed the way that I wrote. With my shitty YA werewolf thing, I have started to test the strength of those habits, and it turns out they’re pretty strong – but not unbreakable. I want to have a habit of writing regularly and with an aim to entertain, myself primarily for now as I don’t actually have an audience (certainly not a paying one), which is part of a bigger habit that will have to include reading and thinking. The shitty YA werewolf novel has worked as well as it has because of my copying, stealing and appropriating ideas from other works just as a way to get it done – and have fun in the process, sure, but in the end the enjoyment that I get out of it and the ease with which this strategy allows me to throw a story together are just two sides of the same coin: the job gets done as a result. As for when I am not having fun? Like right now? Or for the past several months seriously how the hell did I let this stupid writing exercise drag on for a fucking year and a half?

Well, that brings me to habit-breaking again. I just put another dent in my habit of pathological procrastinating right now by finishing marking the second assignment for this paper I’m tutoring on; there are still a few late assignments, but there always are – mentally, I’m finished. I showed up and the job got done, and that means that I now get to be done. It feels good. True, I could have done it earlier in the day, but that’s nitpicking that I don’t need and isn’t going to actually help. If the aim is to make a habit of getting shit done, then things are looking good. I just made myself stop watching YouTube, forced myself to open up the assignments, and from there it was like rolling downhill. Not necessarily fun, but definitely easy – so long as you make a start. It is as simple, and as infuriating, as that: you just get started on the thing that you want to get done and, if you keep doing it, it will get done. No motivation, or even enjoyment, necessary.

Although I will concede that there is something about marking assignments that makes it particularly well-suited for this kind of strategy, treating motivation as completely optional. For one, it’s my fucking job and I have to do it, no matter how I feel about it. For another, I was never going to really “enjoy” marking to begin with, so that possibility is a moot point anyway – I do enjoy it at times, and it is satisfying to do, but it’s not like how it was with the shitty YA werewolf novel, the giddy high of appropriation and starting something new, though at the same time rekindling something I had thought I lost – an old habit, and a good one, the one I’m trying to bring back to replace my shitty writing habits that have largely taken over from it.

And that’s a bit different. And in my case also kind of counter-productive, because back in the day my habit was enjoyment. If I enjoyed writing, I would fucking write, and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t. That was the habit. In my current mode, that’s not a sustainable habit – or at least not one I’m interested in sustaining. I certainly do want to enjoy my creative writing, but I also want to fucking get it done – there’s writing, and then there’s the satisfaction of having completed a project, plus the new opportunities to develop that project once the zero draft is complete. I don’t get that without finishing; and I don’t finish without showing up.

I resent the fact that, for this part of the story, I can’t find anything to steal for my shitty YA werewolf novel. I’m coming up blank; and surely there has to be something. Having said that I did have a brainwave the other day, or maybe today – it’s been a long day; on top of finishing marking my sister and I also trimmed the hedges, a long-overdue project (she did all the trimming; I held the ladder) – but on the whole this section of the project has been difficult to deal with precisely because the process I was using to get it done just stopped working when it got to writing these two final chapters. I only managed to force my way through the one I just finished by showing up, over and over again, over the span of 2 months. I would like a higher turnaround than that; to be fair I do have a ton of other things that I’m working on as well, though – but that’s all the more reason to throw motivation to the wind as a productivity strategy, and stick with “just show up”. The more shit I get done, the more shit I can get done. And how do we get shit done?

By showing up and fucking doing it.

I am all written-out for the night, but tomorrow I will attack this final chapter with a purely utilitarian fervour, minus the fact that the one idea that I do have for it is one that I actually like quite a bit. There’s also the pesky issue of finding little bits of this story that could lend themselves to something much more substantial; I was hoping for pulp, and there’s all sorts of stuff that could lend itself to pulp, don’t get me wrong – but still. It’s tempting, and temptation is always an obstacle.

One that I will deal with tomorrow, when I will show up and get shit done – until then, though, I reserve the right to remain exactly where I am. When you’re done, you should be able to enjoy it.

Great Success

Chatting with my best friend the other day, we were discussing the fact – hopefully more of a truism than an actual fact – that you can either be a good person or a good academic, but not both. Specifically, you can be somebody who treats other people with respect and enjoys your life while losing out on academic achievements, or you can treat everyone around you like shit and force yourself into academic tunnel-vision in order to succeed. Hufflepuff or Slytherin, basically, although we did not put it that way.

And it got me inspired. I’ve been carrying around the infuriating thought that if only I could manage my time more effectively, I could actually get all the things done that I want to get done without having to sacrifice anything I would miss. I wouldn’t have to choose between, say, having an academic career and having a career as a fiction author; I could do both and still have time to socialise. If only I had more discipline. If this sounds familiar to any of you reading, then it may also sound familiar to hear that none of this has come to pass as of yet. I’ve been nudging at the brick wall that is my collection of avoidant, procrastinatory habits, but I have yet to actually bring it down.

But hearing about these miserable over-achiever gave me a goal: to succeed in every area, to get all the academic kudos, write all the shitty YA werewolf novels and get my social life in order; to not succeed by blocking things out, but by letting more things in.

And then to take that multitude of successes and rub it in those shitheads’ faces. The worst thing about shitty people who succeed in some given area is that you can’t even say that their shitty behaviour has been a detriment to them, at least in that field. Just imagining how satisfying it would be to succeed in that same field, even more than them, while also not being a raging asshole is pretty delicious. Though I do wonder if the fact that it seems so appealing to me just makes me an asshole of a different colour, but it’s my power-trip and I’ll frame myself in whatever ideological light I want.

I’m typically not one for doing things out of spite, and I think if spite was the only thing driving me this wouldn’t work. But it really is making me think: if awful people who are kind of miserable and insecure despite their achievements can succeed, surely somebody who is actually happy can not only do just as well as them, but even better, because they’ll have a healthier mindset. It’s a theory. And now, it’s a goal.

So I’m going to finish that goddamn shitty YA werewolf novel, while I’m still tutoring, and also start getting serious about this whole leaving-the-house-and-meeting-people thing. I’m going to ramp up my exercise routine and, I dunno, start keeping a food diary or something, one that I can carry around with me for instant accountability – and instant feedback. Food should be enjoyed, and having food because you’re bored or sad or whatever makes it that much less enjoyable. Academia, art, socialisation, health and fitness: these four elements shall combine to create the foundation upon which I shall ascend to the level of Ubermensch.

Starting tomorrow. It was meant to be today but I just really didn’t feel like it. BUT, I did cook dinner and do some exercise so, y’know, baby steps.

Also I’ve been reading The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell and it is a) incredibly engaging and interesting and b) hella sexist and literally not even about storytelling it’s just psychoanalysis hang on psychoanalysis is all about storytelling so maybe this is a psychology book? But I’m thinking I might review it when I’m done, if I can. I want to do more things with this blog, too, than just ranting about my weird epiphanies and life-changing resolutions that last for about an hour. I want to spend more time considering how I use this blog – to blog with intent, just as I had the resolution to use the internet with intent. I still kind of want to do my internet tour, investigate parts of the internet that I’ve never thought of before and just see what’s out there. I want to do a lot of things.

And so I shall.

UBERMENSCH.

I need to do some writing today

Got my second chapter for Masters to continue with, got my shitty YA werewolf novel to finish up, got another couple of novels I’d really love to make some headway with, a novel to kill for the third time and absorb the life force of to fuel my other writing – I’m busy. I’m just not actually doing any of the things I’m busy with.

Which is a shame, because I enjoy being busy. It’s frustrating to know that I enjoy being busy and then doing all sorts of things to prevent myself from getting caught up in and enjoying it. So today I need to actually do some of this stuff, start spending time instead of saving it, I’m sure I can think of a few more catchphrases if you give me a minute but no I just want, and need, to write.

Also to read. Just maybe not the stuff I bought; I need to read for research. I’m very invested in these two other novels I want to get started, and in order to write them as well as I’d like I need some material to work with. I need to learn about fencing, the reality of fighting with swords; I need to get more familiar with witch tropes and conventions and general literature; I need to learn how to write a decent sex scene – I need a lot of stuff to go right before I can write. And I want to do it. I hate having to fight myself to do the things I actually enjoy doing. Yay general self-loathing, depression and anxiety.

No. Not yay. Very not yay.

But it’s still fine because I’m going to write stuff today. And when I kill that novel for the third time I expect it to be a satisfactory charm. I need and want to move on from that. 15 years of effort can’t go nowhere, even if the object of that effort doesn’t. The object has become an obstacle and needs to be removed and, once it is, the effort will come flooding back out to me and I can do something else with it – that’s my hope anyway. I just need to find a way to get rid of it that feels real.

Anyway. Writing today.

Large Headron Collider

I have had an epiphany.

I have this MA chapter due for submission by the 13th, so 6 days from now I need to have finished writing it. This is because it was originally due today but my supervisor had mercy upon me and gave me a week’s extension. I have done some work on it, but the more work I’ve done the more I feel like I’m just not getting it. Which is frustrating. When you don’t get your own argument, what’s the chance anybody else will? But such is the way of academia, at this level at least: it takes a while to nut everything out.

The problem is that “taking a while” is very much my MO, a habit I learnt in the same way that you learn to jaywalk: it’s not safe, but it also tends to work out fine, and it requires less concerted effort than intentionally going out of your way to, for example, cross at an actual crossing, or start writing more than two hours before the assignment is due. Instead, I have cultivated a habit of waiting until the very last moment, where I forfeit all agency and allow myself to be propelled along by a combination of fury and panic, much in the way that the ancient Greeks would get smashed in order to allow the god of wine, Dionysus, to possess them and use them as his vessels.

But unlike the ancient Greeks, the all-nighters that this habit forces me to undertake are anything but full of revelry and carnal delights. I also swore an oath to myself, after my last all-nighter, that I would never pull an all-nighter again. And despite having been granted an extension, it has felt like I’ve done nothing but delay the inevitable all-nighter that forever dominates my destiny.

Until.

This morning.

When I actually woke up in the morning, which I used to do for a fair bit of last year and appreciated doing again today, and had this thought:

I hate all-nighters because they feel horrible. They feel horrible because they are full of stress and panic, and even though a lot of my best ideas and idea-wrangling occurs during these frenetic rites, a lot of much-needed pruning and wider perspective is not really possible. As such, there will be a lot of good ideas combined with shoddy delivery, and while this is all revision and revision is allowed to be messy, I’d rather have a mess with a coherent narrative throughline.

But it is undeniable that I do have a lot of my best ideas when and only when I pull an all-nighter. The cocktail of stress, determination and frantic searching of my brain for ways to extend bridges between isolated idea-islands tends to result in some pretty amazing material, and I only wish that there was a way to get those ideas without having to pull it out of the mire of pain and misery that is the all-nighter.

And there is.

And it’s so obvious that I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.

Instead of pulling an all-nighter the day before my chapter is due, I’m pulling an all-nighter tonight.

Here’s my logic: my brain is like the Large Hadron Collider. The particles that it sends hurtling towards each other at impossible speeds are my ideas. And that’s where the analogy breaks down, because unlike the LHC, I can’t just switch on my brain and have it automatically resolve in an inevitable exciting result. I have to power this thing manually. To get these ideas to smash into each other and create interested quantum results, I have to expend my own energy to turn it on, and keep it turned on.

In other words, I have to manually push these particles towards each other, transferring my own energy into them by running at impossible speeds myself. Which, in this analogy, is me writing.

My brain is a Large Hadron Collider powered by a dude on a treadmill. And that dude is me.

And the theory is that, by Colliding my Large Hadrons now as opposed to the night before this chapter is due, I will benefit from the interesting sub-atomic explosion data without also having to deal with the potential of creating a black hole that will swallow the universe.

If I write fast and furious enough right now, instead of when it risks being too late, I might find a way to take the good parts of the all-nighter while avoiding the bad ones.

I might have just created my very own life-hack.

But of course that is dependent on whether or not it works, and boy howdy do I have a plan for testing it. My plan is to spend the next hour working furiously on this thesis, and then when that hour is up or I’ve written 1k words, whichever takes longer, I’m going to run old WOW raids for gold so that I can continue to feed my toxic, toxic habit of continuing to play WOW.

… and then once I’m done with that I go back to writing intensely, and then run another set of raids on another one of my 4 max-level characters, dear god what is my life …

And just do that, over and over again, until I’m out of raids to run I guess. Depending on how late I wanna go I might find other things to do – other games to play, like maybe finally getting around to continuing with The Last of Us. Though maybe not in the middle of the night, but you get the picture.

Because there is another side to this plan – I won’t say half because it’s not that big a part of why I’m doing this to begin with – which is that I have a desire to start making myself enjoy myself when I have the opportunity to, instead of spending my time not spent working on my thesis or fulfilling various other social and literal contracts sulking and angsting about how unproductive and lazy I’m being. So combining hard, intense work with playing videogames sounds like a pretty decent plan to me.

Let’s see if I’m right.

Nanowrimo 2015: Are You Telling Me I Might Actually Finish On Time

So after my big kinda self-pitying pep talk post a few hours ago I sat down and made myself work on my Nano project, just to prove to myself once again that, yes, doing something does actually make me feel less like shit. I wrote another 3708 words. My stats tell me that if I write 1433 words per day, I will finish on November 30th 2015.

And that’s now my goal.

I had plans for this project to come in at around 60-80k words, and I might allow myself to go up to 60k. But honestly, it’s not just that I want this done quickly; it’s that I feel like there isn’t enough story to warrant using more than about 60k words. I think that I can tell this story, completely satisfactorily, in between 50 and 60k words.

And I’m shooting for 50k.

Less is more, and I’m not gonna get hung up on this or anything but, considering that this is already far more of a writing exercise than an actual earnest attempt to tell a story I care about, I may as well make it especially writing-exercise-y and put a solid word-limit on it. And since Nanowrimo has provided me with one anyway, I may as well take advantage of my situation. Limits foster creativity, folks. Have fun with it!

And I can’t wait for this story to be finished, for me to look back over it as not just some writing I did, but a book that I wrote. In a month. Kinda cheating, because I’d written 2/5ths of it before Nano started but, since I am trying to start a habit of being aggressively nice to myself, I don’t care if it’s cheating. At the very worst, I can say that this is the second novel that I finished within six or seven months, which is still pretty great – and I can objectively claim that this is the most words I’ve written for any of my stories in a single month. In fact I think that even if I didn’t write another word of this story for the rest of the month, that would still be true.

I think.

Anyway the point is that I’m finishing Nanowrimo this year and it feels good.

And this story, or writing-exercise-turned-story, still feels good. It feels like a story. A really predictable, iterative, cliche, problematic story, and that’s fine. That’s definitely acceptable, because what I’m shooting for – all I’ve ever shot for with this story – is that it gets written, and that it feels like it’s not just holding together but progressing. And it does. And it’s wonderful.

Maybe even progressing fast and concisely enough to finish at around 50k words. We shall find out soon.