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I finished reading my shitty YA werewolf novel last night, and have come to a pretty solid conclusion: no way in the hell am I ever, ever going to try and make something out of this thing.

It began life as a glorious writing exercise passion project, and that is how it should end its life as well. Especially having read it. There’s so much that’s set up and then never paid off, so many unfulfilled promises, and it’s not like they’re even good promises to begin with but it just hurts. The ridiculous awfulness of those first early chapters was pretty great, and throughout the manuscript there’s a few moments here and there that I legitimately think have potential to be part of something actually pretty decent. But once I got to the chapters that I wrote during Nanowrimo 2015 – the ones I skipped ahead to write instead of slogging through the info-dump chapters I didn’t feel like writing at the time – it all just kind of descends into garbage.

And it’s salvageable. I just don’t want to salvage it. Not for any reason, really, other than that I simply don’t want to. I mean specifically it’s because the central conflict is so weak and ever-shifting, the central relationship between the main character and his best friend so indecisive and self-contradictory, that it is both very simple to fix and incredibly annoying to fix. It’s a lot of pedantic busy-work, hopping between chapters and trying to match up two different continuities so that it all gels together. If I actually gave a shit about this thing, it would be easy enough.

But I really, really don’t – other than as what it currently is, which is a testament to a year and a half of my life being spent in the pursuit of starting and finishing a book, proof that even after the passion is gone, I can get the work done (and in this case, done better than when the passion was actually there). It’s proof that if I just write, no matter how I feel about that writing at the time of writing it, I can actually produce something pretty decent.

Having said that I don’t want to salvage this thing – there are some ideas that I’m actually pretty into, lore and shit that I came up with for this world that I’m a little bit sad to let go of. Not that it was particularly good lore, but still, I did put some time and energy into it. I liked how it all fit together. I liked the overarching plot that I had for the next 4 books, and I’m also kind of sad to let that go.

On the other hand, now that this is done and dusted, I now have the opportunity to write the original idea that I had for this werewolf passion project, which was very different to this – the core premise (werewolves) was the same, and the broad plot points were as well, but it was a very different story. Most notably it was not a YA story. I’m honestly not sure I’m cut out for YA. But maybe that’s something for revisions to take care of.

On the other other hand … I did what I set out to do. The book is finished; the writing exercise is completed. I think it’s time, at last, to get back to business. I needed this reprieve from serious work, and a more frivolous counterweight to my MA, and it served both of those purposes well for a long time.

But in the end, it was a distraction from the work I’ve been putting off for 2 years now: finishing Tallulah. I was going insane trying to wrap my head around the second revision; I think now is at least a good time to test the water and see if I’ve had enough time away from it to come back with a fresh perspective. I have a solution to the biggest plot issue I’ve been having with Tallulah from day 1 as well, and I would really like to put that into action.

It’s just that it’s so much work. It was enough work to put me off for 2 years, to start an entirely new book just to take my mind off it. I’m kind of dreading starting it up again.

So, actually, maybe I could just go and fix a couple of typos in this shitty YA werewolf thing first.

And I guess, really, those continuity errors wouldn’t be too hard to sort out. A day’s work, maybe, once I have a solid idea of which continuity I actually want to pursue.

And I guess I could add in a couple of scenes that feel like they’re missing. I mean there is potential here. It could be something relatively solid. It would just take time. And if there’s one thing I definitely have these days, it’s time.

So maybe I’ll do that. Maybe I’ll just touch it up a bit, and then get started on Tallulah again.

In fact, why the rush? I wanted something to submit for publishing by the end of this year, but it doesn’t have to be Tallulah, does it? I mean maybe I can put Tallulah off for another year, get this thing out the door and then use the time to polish Tallulah to the standard I’ve always wanted it to meet.

And hey, maybe I’ll start another new book too. I mean, you can never have too many things going on at once creatively, right? Hell, maybe Tallulah was just a writing exercise too, I mean the entire reason I was motivated to write it was because it was unlike anything I’d ever written or even thought about writing before; that’s weird enough to count as a writing project instead of an actual book project in retrospect, right?

I don’t actually have to go back and get started on the third draft that I don’t know where to start with, right?

Right. I can just write about werewolves some more. Werewolves today, werewolves tomorrow; werewolves forever.

I DON’T WANNA WRITE A THIRD FUCKING DRAFT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND IT’S SO FUCKING HARD IT’S LIKE I’VE FIXED ALL THE BIG OBVIOUS PROBLEMS AND NOW IT’S ALL TINY SUBTLE PROBLEMS THAT ARE HARD TO IDENTIFY AND FIND SOLUTIONS TO AND JUST ALL THE OTHER THINGS I COULD BE DOING WITH MY TIME I CAN’T FUCKING TAKE IT I CAN’T GO BACK THERE DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK THERE PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME

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Time, time, time

Tom Waits knows his stuff. And I haven’t even discovered that he’s a horrible human being yet, and I’ve been checking. So that’s nice.

I mean at some point, if you really care about who you throw your support behind, there are things you’re going to have to give up. Certain films, songs, books – relationships – that to endorse through your support of them would be a betrayal of your morals. Which also means you have to go looking for this stuff, and while Google is useful, it’s not a police archive. Even if you do what research you can and can give somebody your seal of approval, caring about this sort of thing (like we all should) brings with it a constant awareness that there may be something you’re overlooking, something you’ve missed, something you can’t bring yourself to find out – or something that’s just too well-hidden for you to find out, even if you are looking in all the right places. I don’t believe in separating the art from the artist for this reason – or wait, does that mean I do believe in separating the art from the artist?

Anyway I’m writing a book.

Ish.

Specifically, I’m writing a now post-Nanowrimo project and it’s going … well, it’s going. That’s good enough. The reason I’m writing it is because it’s a way that I can justify taking time off from working on Tallulah, a book that, for those of you who are new to this blog (and there have been a few of you recently, so hello and thank you very much, hope you’re enjoying it so far), I started writing in 2012 almost as a dare to myself because it was the most un-me-ish story I’d ever thought up, with characters and situations that I felt writing would take me totally out of my depth. It was a story I didn’t think I could tell, and I wanted to see where I’d end up by trying.

Well, it turns out that I was right; I got a first draft and a first revision done, and don’t get me wrong, they were pretty good for a first draft and first revision. A story was taking shape, and it looked like I could actually accomplish this impossible task – except for the fact that the story that was taking shape was not the story I wanted to tell. For one, the idea that I started out with came with some very specific conditions: I specifically did not want this story to turn out a certain way – two and a half years later, it turned out that certain way, to the letter. That was one (very big) disappointment and red flag for me. The other was that, accepting for the fact that it is fine if a story looks different at the end to how it looks at the beginning, particularly in the drafting stage, just as a story in its own right I was not very fond of it, other than the fact that I’d spent so much time and energy on it, and that’s never justification enough to continue an unhealthy relationship. In fact it’s all the more reason to get out. Two and a half years is a long freaking time to devote to something, and the sad truth I came to terms with was that time does not equal progress. And so I came to the very difficult conclusion that I needed to basically start the story over again from scratch, reconnect with my original ideas and allow new ones that I actually felt excited about to take form. In order to get my mind off it and spend not just time away from it but mental activity as well, I tried doing Nanowrimo. That didn’t work out as intended either, but it still worked, because I haven’t been thinking about Tallulah very much at all.

So when, last night, I did finally turn my thoughts back to it, I found that those thoughts had changed quite significantly. If my thoughts at 4am are any indication, the story I want to tell is a lot funnier than it was originally, less crushingly heavy without losing the dark edges that I think give the story a lot of its flavour. It’s got more people in it, and while twelve hours later I’m getting a bit snobby about that idea, I need to try and bear in mind that that’s the first place I went last night when thinking of this story I might like to tell. There is something there. Never mind that one of the last things I thought about this story was that I needed to cut out a bunch of the characters – that was then, this is now.

And I’m still not going to go back to work on it until the new year. I want to finish this post-Nanowrimo project first, write it to the completion of a first draft and get my mind nice and good and vacationed before returning to Tallulah. There are some things I need to learn, but first and foremost I just need the change in perspective. And if last night’s early-morning check-in was any indication, spending time apart from this story is one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.

So now I’ve just gotta write this post-Nano thing and … I dunno. A lot of the fire has gone out of me for it; writing with a friend really does help, and trying to write by myself really proves that for me. But I do wanna finish something before going back to Tallulah. Part of that is a time-trial, seeing that I can get something written from start to finish in a short period of time. Maybe I’m relying on too scant of a plan to make that happen. I know what I want to happen, and I know that it’s doable. But it’s also a bit vague and I’m already taking liberties with it, though that’s mostly just to make myself write the damn thing by cutting to the parts that are actually interesting for me to write. There’s a lot of fun in this premise that I’m not having though, and I’m not sure what that’s about. The wrong time, maybe. Maybe I need to pick this up next year as well. I feel like I should be enjoying it more than I am; I really like this premise – but maybe I don’t like it as much as I think I do.

I don’t seriously need to take time off from this project I’m using to take time off from another project, do I?

Oh well. On with the show.