Idea Interruptions

I had forgotten that this happens: I’m trying to meticulously plan out a revision, tying pieces of disparate ideas together into a coherent shape of a plot, and suddenly I start going off in a strange direction with one of those pieces, and realise that I’m having an idea. I stop my meticulous planning, and go and write that idea down, because in that moment it is the best idea I’ve ever had.

It changes the entire story; it fundamentally transforms it into something else, takes the focus and flow and tone and everything and makes it be a different thing altogether. And it’s wonderful. It’s magnificent. It’s the Solution To All My Problems.

Until I’ve finished writing it down, wake up the next day and laugh at myself for being so ridiculous.

I love these ideas, honestly; they’re sort of like bubbles popping as they rise to the surface of a boiling pot, and while they’re distracting, they’re also symptomatic of something much more positive: my imagination being put to work. Engagement. I wouldn’t have these ideas if I wasn’t focused, ironically enough, so however much they might derail my train of thought for a while, they are still evidence that I’m on the right track.

I decided when this first started happening, while I was writing the first draft of Tallulah back in 2012, that I was just going to ride them out, rather than trying to shut them down – because who knows? Perhaps there’s something to them after all. This one has me taking a character so insignificant that they may as well not even exist and turning them into a major character, which oddly enough actually seems to solve the problem of character-bloat that I keep struggling with in this story. And I like the idea. It’s not a good idea, but it’s kind of funny, and as I’ve spent most of today unable to break through the brick wall of my current revision plans (where they stop about halfway through the story because at that point it turns out there isn’t actually anything left to happen to cause the story to continue), this is at least an energising detour.

Mostly, that’s why I ride these ideas out and indulge them rather than trying to block them out and keep working: they usually crop up when I’m stuck anyway, and even if they interrupt something more productive, they’re just too distracting. It’s a losing battle, and I only end up unable to focus on anything at all if I don’t feed them some of my time and energy until they’re satisfied. And it usually just requires writing the idea down. It can take a while – I’m still writing this one down – but it’s always been worth it. And, again, it’s one more idea I might be able to use somewhere down the line.

So yes, this revision process has hit a dead end. Oh well. It always happens; it’s just part of the process. It will hurt, it will drive me insane, and then suddenly everything will become clear and the story will be better than it’s ever been. So long as I keep at it. That is one thing, at least, that I have learnt from my experience with writing this book, something that I don’t feel like I have to re-learn every time. I remember that this happens, and I remember that it always works out. So long as I keep at it.

For now, though, it’s back to promoting the most useless character in this book, useless the point where it was a kind of in-joke with me and my friends who read the original draft, into the main villain. From a meta standpoint it’s probably the most hilarious idea I’ve ever had for Tallulah – and there is some merit to the idea. It ties together some disparate plot-threads – important ones – and lets me do a bit of subversive genre commentary. A bit.

But mostly it’s just a wave I have to ride out for now. Distracting it may be, but least it’s fun while it lasts.


Full Plan Ahead

Planning is occurring.

I have lamented multiple times the way in which I tend to use “planning” as a euphemism for “distract myself from commitment”. Seems counter-intuitive in a way, as if you set out to plan something then surely that’s an indication of commitment. But for writing at least, I find that planning is something that I do because I’m too anxious to actually start writing in earnest, afraid that once I start I’ll find that it’s not good enough, I’m not good enough of a storyteller, writer or human being to even attempt it, where’s the nearest bottomless ocean trench.

It’s different with a story I’ve already finished, though. Tallulah I’ve finished … I’m saying one and a half times, because the first/zero draft counts as one, but the manuscript I’m working from counts as about half because, while there is a ton of new writing in it (and tons more old writing cut out), most of the old writing – and old, scrapped continuity – is still there making a mess of things. But the point is that this is a book that I’ve already written, and have been in the process of writing over and over again for the last five years. Obviously “finished” is a contentious term for a manuscript that is still undergoing revisions, but my point is that I’m not trying to make something out of nothing with this project; I’m trying to make something new out of something old. And that’s all it takes to make my planning actually feel like planning, as opposed to procrastinating.

As for the plan itself … it’s getting there. It’s actually quite exciting, except for the prospect of all the new writing I’m going to have to do. But that’s just the prospect; the process itself will probably be fine, and perhaps even enjoyable. Though neither of those things are important right now. What’s important is that I tell this story again, better.

I had the plan of scrapping everything and just starting over from scratch, but I decided to give myself the opportunity to try and take what I had and put it together in a new way, and see if it looked like the story I needed to tell. And it’s actually kind of turning out that way. I’m finding it hard to keep myself from directing these plans back to the current structure of the plot, and that’s caused some frustration. I think I need to make a few different plans for the book as well, because there’s a huge problem with plot bloat – but at least it’s tied to certain characters, which means that at least my characters are, in fact, central to the plot, even if that plot is badly executed. I’m hoping to get one version with the problem character done (the plan I’m currently working on) and one without them (the next plan) just to see how they feel in comparison.

The very first, OG version of this story, when it was still in its conceptual infancy, I think is too removed from what I actually want to do now. At the same time, I’ve tried to cling to it and maintain it even as the story evolved and outgrew those humble beginnings, and the result is a story whose vision is incredibly compromised, contradictory, and impossible to see clearly. I think the story that I needed to tell is not the one that I need to tell now.

I am thinking probably too much, all in all.

But the planning is going well, because unlike my procrastinatory planning, this planning is clearing and ordering my thoughts in a useful and constructive manner. I’ve already drafted the plan once, and in committing to working on it as a process as opposed to trying to get it right in one go, I’ve found solutions to problems that I thought were going to kill my momentum dead.

And above all else, I do plan to get this done. This story will be told. It will be told as well as I can manage it. And it will be the story that needs to be told, rather than a bunch of ideas jammed together because I couldn’t make up my mind which ones to keep and which ones to keep for later.

I think the last time I was working this hard on Tallulah, I came to the conclusion that trying to rid myself of my bad writing habits – holding onto “darlings” instead of killing them, agonising over the perfect way to write a sentence, holding my story ransom to the demands of my censor – is futile. And also impossible – because now I realise that all of that is just an inevitable part of the writing process itself. You never “get rid” of those habits, because those habits are writing. And you “rid” yourself of those problems by writing more. By committing to the thing you’re writing until you reach the breaking-point and it’s impossible to continue without writing better than you have been – and then you do that. It’s like magic; you’ll just do it, if you stick with it, and the story – the good story – will seem to write itself.

Or that’s how it seems to happen with Tallulah. So I guess that’s a sign that I’m doing the right thing by sticking with it. Which already feels like the right thing to do.

I am here to write. I haven’t been here to write for a long time. But it’s good to be back.

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.

Just Read It

(Read it read it read it read it)

I have, after like 6 months, finally read past the halfway point with Tallulah. In fact I’m almost three quarters of the way through.

It’s so bad.

There’s this mentality of scarcity that I am used to having when thinking of storytelling, and particularly revision. I tend to think of cutting things out, tearing down all the writing that I’ve spent so long constructing only to build another different structure in the exact same place, losing whatever magic might have been in the original creation for the sake of “clarity” or “focus”. I know that stories are good when they only include what matters. But if they only include what matters, then they’re just utilitarian, by-the-numbers, bare-bones skeletons, not fully-realised stories.

That’s what I think, anyway. And I do mean that’s what I think; it’s not what I believe. I believe that the word “only” is what’s tripping me up here. If, instead, I was used to thinking that stories are good when everything that happens in them matters, it’s not about scarcity anymore. It’s about substance. It’s about how much of what happens in the story matters, rather than about how little needs to actually be there for the story to work. Which I think is a more useful way to think of things.

However, it’s also hard to think of it that way when my reading experience so far is very much defined by how little of what happens actually feels like it matters, and how much of it is utter filler garbage. There is so much pointless interpersonal drama that doesn’t really serve any purpose except to make it take longer to finish reading the fucking book; there is so much stuff that seems like it should matter to the plot, but is then either resolved too quickly or not at all, resulting in a feeling that the story doesn’t know what it is or wants to be. Sections of older and newer writing are spliced together without any regard for continuity between revisions, making the already clunky and distracted storytelling feel even more pointless. And yet somehow, for all of that sharp, jagged, traumatising contrast, it’s all just so … indistinct. Everything blurs together, because while so much of it stands out from everything else for all the wrong reasons, so little of it actually matters. It’s full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I am not happy with what I’ve written.

I guess this is what note-taking is for, eh?

Yeah, my plan to not make notes worked to get me started, and I do find that it’s easy for it to become a distraction from reading the manuscript itself – but at the same time, I need those notes, because there is no way I’m going to be able to remember this fucking thing when I’m finished with it. I mean I wrote this, and I’m having a hard time remembering it, immediately after reading it. I need to take notes of key plot points – or events that should be key plot points – so that I have something to build a second revision out of. I can’t rely on my memory for this one, because the way this manuscript reads seems scientifically optimised to disrupt the human memory process.

This is worse than my shitty YA werewolf novel. Which is awful, but not in terms of structure; it makes sense, even if what makes sense is repugnant. I wish I could say that Tallulah at least has better content, even if it’s not put together very well, but the thing is that with storytelling, in any media form, presentation and content are the same goddamn thing. This is obvious for me with Tallulah in its current state, because it’s presented so poorly that what it’s “about” is very difficult to identify or recognise. Which is because what is presented to you in a story, regardless of what the plot may ostensibly be, is what the story is about. If your plot is about two attractive young people getting to know each other in Vienna on a time-crunch, but what you present your audience with is nothing but descriptions of Viennese architecture, then your story is about Viennese architecture. If your plot is about a badass vampire slayer trying to solve a murder mystery, but what you present your audience with is a woman caught in a toxic power struggle between two domineering alpha males fighting over breeding privileges and the mystery gets solved off-page, then your story is about an abusive “love”-triangle. If your plot is about traumatised teenage soldiers who pilot giant robots to fight against an evil galactic empire, but what you present your audience with is endless scenes of uninteresting supporting characters bickering about space politics while drinking tea, then fuck you Gundam Wing I thought you were going to be cool when I was 16 and you betrayed me.

Tallulah‘s plot is about the daughter of a selkie mother living in the wake of her traumatic departure and coming to terms with the reality of her family’s legacy and her place in it, but what I’m presenting my audience with is laboured, repetitive, pointless interpersonal drama that leads nowhere and does nothing to progress the story because nothing sticks, even though plenty of it seems like it should stick, sometimes intuitively so. I think that’s the hardest part of reading this, really: the missed potential, conservatively sprinkled in tiny chunks throughout a layer cake of portentous tripe. It just makes it so punishing to read.

But one of the first things I learnt about professional writers – and I can’t remember where I heard this – was that they could never read their own work. It wasn’t for them; it was for their readers, and once they had finished writing it, they moved on to the next thing. It sounded so unfulfilling to me, and part of my dream of being an author when I was 13 came part and parcel with a mission to prove this information wrong. I would be the writer who loved reading their own work; I would be the writer who told stories that I wanted to read, hear, see, whatever. I would tell the stories that were missing, the stories that I wanted told to me.

It only occurs to me now, struggling through this manuscript that makes me want to chew my face off just to break the monotony, that either this is a stupid idea, or I don’t fully understand it – or didn’t keep it in mind while I was writing this. Because while what I wrote felt good at the time, it didn’t really come from any place of need for that kind of story. That’s what’s missing here: hardly anything in this story feels necessary. And the kind of stories that I want to exist are the ones that I feel need to exist.

I wonder now if Tallulah ever was that story for me. Once I started working on it, it certainly felt necessary, but mostly because it was just exciting to be telling it in the first place, because it was so different to anything I ever thought I would try to write. And that’s still a kind of necessity for a writer, I feel, but not the kind of need that I want to fulfill through my stories. Maybe it was just another ambitious writing exercise.

Or maybe I do need to tell this story, for reasons that I could not have predicted when I started, and I need to adjust my storytelling philosophy.

But, at the end of the day, speculation is cheap. For now, I just need to read it.

Yes I will read it, you read that right. Read it all day and all through the night.

I’ll read it.

Goddammit May

May, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the major characters in my book, Tallulah. About 50% of my internal commentary while reading, writing and generally considering the mere existence of Tallulah is taken up with repeating this phrase to myself. May is quite possibly my greatest creation, in many ways the character of whom I am most proud out of all the characters I have invented over the years, because she is an embodiment of weaponised angst and neurosis to a level I have never experienced in fiction before. I love her, because she is the purest incarnation of the part of my writer persona that wants nothing more than to inflict pain upon his characters and readers alike – fun pain, mind you, the kind that makes you wince and squirm and enjoy it; not pain out of malice, but because it’s just so validating to elicit an earnest emotional response out of people. Mind you, I don’t know if I’ve succeeded in that attempt – I just know that that’s the exact effect that she has on me.

I’ve missed this.

I am revising Tallulah again. I said I wasn’t going to make notes unless I felt the need to; I felt the need to tonight, so I made some. Either taking a few months off has changed my mindset with regards to revising this book, or I misjudged the extent to which note-making was interfering with my ability to commit to this revision. Whatever the case, I have fulfilled my solemn oath to myself to return to this revision endeavour and get it moving again, and re-acquainting myself with May and the squirm-inducing suffering she still inflicts upon my psyche, I’m glad that I did. But for the next revision, I might make myself a printed copy and print it on something smaller than A4 pages so that I can read it in bed rather than having to sit at my laptop. And make it feel more like a real, published book.

As for Nanowrimo – you know what? I got something out of it. I don’t need to finish this year. I also can’t be fucked finishing this year, but that’s not the point. It got me moving again, and I’m grateful enough for that that I feel satisfied to not try and work myself up to go on a writing sprint. Then again, I have finished marking and have nothing left to do for the rest of the year except revision …

And reading. Lots of reading. I have taken the opportunity to punctuate my continuing-with-increasingly-diminishing-returns Urban Fantasy kick with a detour into Historical Fantasy Fiction, with Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories series, this being the fourth book in the series, Valour and Vanity. This series belongs to a genre and tone I would quite comfortably say is “not really my thing”, and is also a series I will quite happily count among my very favourites. And it is rather a breath of fresh air after the grittiness and holier-than-thou sanctimony that pervades a fair portion of Urban Fantasy. It’s part of the charm, but a part that can very quickly become grating. I highly recommend it to anybody who – actually, I just highly recommend it, full-stop. It’s not my thing, and I really like it, so I encourage you to give it a go, whatever your readerly inclinations.

But I am glad that I made this decision to just read Tallulah without having to feel obligated to make notes, even though I’ve ended up doing it anyway. These are some of the more fully-developed characters that I have, characters I’ve spent years with not just in my head, but on the page. I’m familiar with these characters in ways I’m not with characters that I’ve had for longer, far longer in some cases. I still think of Tallulah as being a new story of mine, even though the initial concept was something I came up with in 2010 and I didn’t actually start writing it until 2012. I guess it’s a testament to how much your relationship with a story changes once you’ve actually written it, when you have something … literal to work with, something actual, instead of abstractions and hypotheticals sustained by however much memory you can devote to them. These characters exist beyond my imagination now, and that makes the relationship different. I see these characters and think of how much still need to change for this story to work, but it’s no longer a matter of just changing my mind; I have to physically delve into their inner workings and rearrange them. I am actually transforming them into something that they were not before every time I decide something has to change, rather than just thinking a different set of thoughts about them, because they are no longer just my thoughts. It’s more … consequential.

I had forgotten there was this much gravity in writing.

I’ve missed it. I’m glad I came back to 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.)

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.