Writing Reflex

In one of our earlier sessions, my therapist introduced me to the term “righting reflex”, which pertains to the urge some of us have (often coded as a “male” urge) to solve problems. A reflex that spurs us on to try and “right” a situation that we see as “wrong”. This is where you get those conversations where, to be super stereotypical, a woman is telling a man about something that’s been bothering her, and his response is to immediately start running through a “have you tried this” checklist. It’s great in situations where the problem is, uh, the problem – less so where the problem is that the person presenting it hasn’t had anyone to just hear them. And often they have tried X, Y and Z, too, so the checklist can become patronising as well as dismissive.

I bring this up because I finally finished Everything Is F*cked by Mark Manson, and while I think I got what I needed from it just slightly after the halfway point, it was a thought-provoking read all the way through. His thesis that treating people as ends in and of themselves, never just as means to an end – well, that’s the concept that ruined my Bad Guys momentum at the start of November, but right now it might just be the concept that helps me get back on-track.

Because it has helped me to more clearly recognise that my “righting reflex”, when it comes to my writing, tends to be treating myself as a means to the end of “getting writing done”. And this dynamic is at the heart of everything that is wrong and ineffective about my attempts to get myself to write, in all their various incarnations. I’ve said before that I feel uneasy trying to manipulate myself into writing, and now I better understand why.

But the key question is, now that I do know this: does this actually improve my writing habits?

Well, I don’t know. On the one hand, I do think that not being a manipulative asshole to myself is a better writing habit than being a manipulative asshole to myself. On the other hand, just being nicer to myself doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be doing more writing. But, that’s not the point, is it? If I’m only being nice to myself in order to make myself write more, that’s just more manipulation, treating myself as a means to an end, and that’s defeating the purpose of this whole taking-therapy-seriously thing. I’m supposed to be nice to myself for its own sake.

And therein lies this potential solution! Because what’s behind this drive to always be writing? Well, it’s to produce the stories that I care about telling, to get them out of my head and into the world. The problem is that, when I set out to write these ideas, often I end up “tripping up” – I’ve recently identified this as being the inevitable result of working with ideas that I haven’t tried out yet and having to wing a lot of it, which is fair enough; but when it comes to having an awesome idea that you want to get down in writing, there is nothing more hype-killing than watching said writing go completely wrong as you write it. It’s not just that it’s going wrong: it’s that you’re the one making it go wrong. Hope turns to despair, and it becomes very easy to not only give up on yourself in that moment, but in future moments when the writing-bug bites you and demands that you scratch the itch it leaves you with.

This, I now realise, is what’s behind every regret I’ve ever had at feeling inspired to write but “sitting on it” and not following through with the feeling: the assumption that I’ll mess it up. I’ve assumed in turn that, in order to counter this regret, I need to develop a habit of pouncing on these moments of inspiration when they come and throw caution and fear to the wind. I think I’ve been right to assume that … to a point. Because there’s another side to the fear that keeps me from following through, and that is the hope that I have for what I’m going to achieve by doing the writing I feel like doing. And, very frustratingly, it is hope, even more than fear, that has been letting me down.

Or that’s my thesis at the moment and here’s why:

Hope is sort of the cornerstone of Mark Manson’s thesis in Everything Is F*cked, specifically how, according to him, the things in which we often invest our hope are doomed to failure. He has many things to say on the subject and I’m not going to try to cover them all here, so instead I’ll try to sum it up in a context-specific example: in these moments of inspiration, I’m hoping that when I sit down to write out an awesome idea I’ve had, I’ll be achieving the feeling of satisfaction and gratification that comes from having the idea itself. In short, what I’m hoping for is not really that I’ll get the idea “right”, it’s that I’ll receive instant gratification as a reward for doing this writing. I’ll be rewarded for my writing with something that isn’t the writing itself, but a feeling about the writing.

In essence, I’m hoping that my writing will be the means by which the ends of instant gratification are met.

And for those of you who are fellow writers, you know as well as if not better than I do that, by and large, writing is a terrible method for achieving instant gratification.

So what has been happening to me all this time is that 1) I’ve been doing less writing than I might have been if I knew all of this before now, and 2) I’ve been doing less writing for the wrong reasons. If it was just that I was bad at words or something, then that would be a straightforward (if infuriating) problem that I could address. But because it’s a bunch of psychoemotional crap that I couldn’t parse on my own, well, it didn’t get addressed.

Until now! I hope. And speaking of hope: look, I’m not trying to sell this book to you or anything, but while I am certainly wary of being too excited about the solutions it offers, I would be lying if I said they didn’t make sense – at least enough sense to try out with something relatively “safe”, such as writing.

On the subject of hope, Manson basically argues that hope is what causes us to treat people – both ourselves and others – as means to ends. We are nice to certain people, do things for them, put ourselves at their disposal, in the hope that they will reciprocate in a way that we want. Classic stereotypical example: the “nice guy” who makes himself friendly and available to a girl he’s interested in in the hopes that, eventually, she’s going to realise that what she’s looking for has been here the whole time and will want to “upgrade” their relationship status from platonic to romantic/sexual. It’s not just that this manipulative, deceptive behaviour is despicable because of the emotional harm it can cause (which is plenty good enough of a reason to condemn such behaviour, to be sure), but is also despicable in and of itself because it is a way of reducing another person to a means to an end, rather than treating them always as an end in and of themselves. And while this isn’t a specific example that Manson uses (he does give a fairly similar one involving a married couple), the gist of his message with Everything Is F*cked is that it is not fear, but hope that serves as the justification for people to treat each other – and themselves – in such manipulative ways. Obviously there’s more than one way to interpret this: you could say that it’s fear and wanting to keep other people at a safe emotional distance from us that leads us to treat them like objects rather than subjects; maybe hope-bashing just isn’t your thing and, hey, fair enough – bur for my purposes, this way of thinking about hope has helped me to get a grip on this specific problem of mine: what I hope to get out of writing, and why I never seem to actually get it.

Well, not never, but nowhere near as much as I set myself up to expect. And that’s the problem, because every time I set up those hopes only to see them dashed by my own efforts to achieve it, it perpetuates a pattern – and expectation – of failure that I associate with my efforts to write. And, as a self-proclaimed writer, this is not ideal.

So you can see what the solution is, right?

Rather than hoping that my writing will prove the successful means to some tangentially-related end …

I have to place my hope in writing for its own sake.

And “have to” is very harsh wording, and I’ve also had this brainwave about being hard on myself (the most common observation that my therapist makes about me during our sessions) and how I really don’t have to be such a harsh taskmaster and, hey, it’s all connected. But one step at a time – and this step I’m quite excited to take.

Hopeful, you could say.

Which is actually very scary, and now that I have a new insight into the “mechanics” of hope – or hoping, I guess, is a more accurate way to talk about it – I’m very wary and skittish about all of this … but I also think this makes sense. Writing for its own sake. Not as in “don’t ever feel excited about what I could achieve with my writing”, but as in as far as my hopes are concerned, keeping them focused on the writing itself.

Because, like, I like writing. It’s enjoyable. It’s an awesome feeling to be In The Zone with writing, regardless whatever it is that I’m actually writing – the proof of that is in the fact that both Wolf Gang and Bad Guys were really satisfying to be writing, even though when I went back and read them they were not, content-wise, particularly “good”. And no, it’s not always a natural high, but that’s fine – my hope is for writing, not good writing, or even fun writing. Not to exclude those things, but to include the possibility for really shit writing, dull writing, writing that is an absolute slog to get through – because that’s all real. That’s all part of the process. It really just depends, and if there’s a way to predict what experience of writing I’m going to have in any given session, it’s a skill I don’t have. Though thinking about it, I don’t know that I’d actually want that skill if I could have it.

So, that’s that. I’ve spelled out my thoughts about how I’m going to make future writing attempts. Rather than trying to “correct” my “bad” writing habits, my “lack” of motivation or whatever, I’m going to try placing my hopes somewhere not just “practical”, in terms of “not getting my hopes up” or whatever – but exactly where all the rest of my attention is going anyway. It just makes sense.

And hey – if this transforms me into the Ubermensch, all the better. But that’s not the point. The point is that, as far as I can figure, it’s the right thing to do, something worth doing for its own sake. So I guess there’s only one question left …

Is writing the right thing to do?

And answering that question – that’s writing. The process, the discipline the way of life; answering that question, differently in different situations, is writing. Is this new, enlightened, means-in-and-of-themselves way of thinking to to cause me to suddenly become more productive than I’ve ever been? Well, if I’m right about all of these assumptions and theories, then it’ll at the very least eliminate a lot of the toxic garbage habits that stop me from writing a lot of the time, and therefore it stands to reason that I will get more writing done. But how much writing?

The thing is, again, it’s not the point. And this is still pretty shaky for me, because this is a very radical break from the mentality about writing that I’ve sustained and maintained faithfully for almost two decades – and not just about writing.

But if it works with writing?

Well, let’s find out. I haven’t written anything besides this blog post this week, but I’ve got a writing session with my co-writing friend in the morning, and I plan to stress-test this theory then. I have some stuff that I’m excited to write, that I hope I’ll “get right”. I’m going to try taking that enthusiasm and keeping it to serve as a compass to direct my writing, to take it as the sign that, yes, writing is the Right Thing To Do (in this instance), while fueling the writing with … well, writing. For its own sake, whether what I end up writing is “right” or not. Will it work? Will my “righting reflex” be “cured” with this revolutionary new treatment that I found in a totally-not-a-self-help-book that I paid actual money for and am therefore statistically likely to have an unwarranted level of emotional investment in? Will I go even further beyond and become the uberest mensch to ever transcend humanity’s need for emotional validation?

Here’s hoping.

It's Been

Two weeks since I wrote a word, this is called writer’s block that’s what I’ve heard; okay that’s a little lie, I actually wrote some new stuff for Bad Guys; but since then it’s been Dragon Age: Inquisition to distract me from my outrage of: not having an epiphany of how the hell to write this book someone tell me …

I’m certain I’ve done this “bit” before, actually … man this blog feels old …

And hey, sinking hours of no-refund life into DAI has been fun in the way that binge-gaming always is: a satisfying moment-to-moment experience that leaves you feeling guilty as soon as you find yourself with some free time with which to reflect on your life choices – which incentivises not giving yourself said free time, and hey you know what’s a great way to eat up free time, gaming, rinse and repeat.

But it’s also starting to trick me into thinking that I’ve “lost” my enthusiasm for Bad Guys, which is not true. I did a bit of word-sprinting with my co-writing friend last week and it helped a lot, got the gears moving – I got stuck on the same problem that I’ve been consistently having, which is the whole this-is-new-writing-and-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-yet roadblock, but I wrote over 2k words in one session out of a combination of 1) having a writing buddy and 2) actually wanting to write Bad Guys. And this has been a valuable reminder that, generally, if I have some interest in a project and actually take the time to work on it, I get into it pretty easily. I just haven’t been taking that time with Bad Guys, because lately what ends up happening is that I write myself into a corner and try to think my way out, because writing my way out means more writing and, in those moments, writing has “let me down” by not being the kind of writing that makes me feel good about myself as a writer, so I go into avoidance mode and use thinking as a substitute.

It’s not a very good one.

And now I’m here with this backlog of doubts and what-ifs that are obfuscating the clarity I once had for this project, not in terms of what it would end up being but in terms of what I, as the writer of this book, needed to bear in mind while doing said writing in order to make it a successful endeavour. And chief among those things is that if I put the time in, I’ll get a story out of it.

Which is a conclusion that makes me feel very disappointed in myself, and it’s something I’m going to have to find a helpful way of countering going forward, because I think I now understand that this is just part of the writing process. It means that all of these doubts and fears and anxieties that I’ve built up over the past month, all the energy and time and consideration that’s gone into trying to hone them to a point of perfect potency with which to attack the perceived weaknesses of this project, break down the weak foundations and, in so doing, give myself the opportunity to put it back together better than it was before …

It all means nothing. I’ve been spending my tie and energy, for a month, doing nothing.

Never mind the gaming; this is the definition of doing nothing with your life: thinking about shit that literally doesn’t matter because it isn’t true.

This isn’t a wasted project. This isn’t a failed attempt. This isn’t hopeless or pointless or too hard to figure out or any of the other predictable, doom-merchant bullshit that the past five weeks of my life have been committed to cultivating …

All because I got a little sore that my attempts to write new material weren’t turning out flawless gems that filled me with a sense of complete satisfaction that I had done my job, and nothing further needed to be done.

I’ve written a zero draft. Not even a first draft; a zero draft. That’s where I am.

OF COURSE EVERYTHING I WRITE IS SHIT RIGHT NOW.

This is dangerous. The fact that I just totally give in to this way of thinking, this “solution” to the problem of feeling bad about my zero-draft writing that has to be bad because I haven’t spent enough time on it to be good yet – it’s disheartening enough on its own. But then I start buying into these inevitable thoughts, turning them into narratives, blowing them out of proportion, and I just let it happen and …

Well, that’s what Weekly Words is for: perspective. And to be fair to myself, I do always get perspective, even if it takes a while. Here, I’m getting it after a month – let’s be real, not even close to the longest stretch of time I’ve spent in the doldrums. This month hasn’t even been the worst case of it that I’ve had: September this year was much worse in terms of how it made me feel about myself. This month I didn’t feel bad, just aimless, which … I mean actually maybe that is worse? But it didn’t feel worse. Especially since, while my writing was suffering, everything else has been going reasonably well. The PhD stuff, I feel, is progressing quite well, and I’ve even had a brainwave about my thesis that could benefit Bad Guys.

And I kind of just needed a break. I had the goal of learning from last year when I did and didn’t need to take a break, and making sure that I acted accordingly. Well I think I did need a break, after the massive stumble that I made right before the start of November and, more to the point, Nanowrimo. I feel like it’s been a long enough break now, and it’s time to get serious again.

Which means, honestly, just a straight-up do-over. Gonna read Bad Guys for the third time and see what I come away with, gonna take more notes, and compare them to the notes and ideas I already have, and see where that gets me.

Easy.

And if it turns out that’s the wrong approach? Well, then I’ll do something else.

Fuck it let’s do a quick Monthly Words here, too, and send November packing.

Monthly Totals

Writing: 29675

Brainstorming/Planning: 6 hours

Co-Reviewing: 4 hours

And my little synopsis of November is that I made a lot of big declarative statements about how good and true my intentions towards drafting Bad Guys and also writing some High Fantasy shit were, realised on some unspoken level that I was seriously burnt out and desperate for an escape from the pressure I was putting on myself to perform, and spent the fortnight following my final post in November playing the shit out of Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Honestly, if I’d just been more honest with and accepting of myself, I would have realised that November was a fine month, just one that I couldn’t make all about writing to suit the needs of this blog.

Which is making me think that perhaps Weekly Words has reached the limit of its usefulness.

Again.

Seriously I’ve come to this conclusion at least twice before now; maybe it’s time I took the hint?

But hey, the year is almost up, and I intend to do some writing in the near future anyway. May as well use it for what it’s good for.

There is also a new development. How new?

This was published in June of this year, and I started my zero draft in July.

A book, with more or less the same premise as mine, more or less the same central character archetypes as mine, that is published already and, honestly, looks like a book I’d want to read. Shit, I say, shit and fuck and balls forsooth.

Nah it’s fine.

I mean, for starters, it’s not really the same as Bad Guys – yes, it’s in the same niche sub-genre focused on the same sub-topic, but the way I want to explore these ideas is quite different – I think. I’ve put in a purchase suggestion to the library so that I can find out for myself.

Secondly, even if it is more similar than I think it is, Bad Guys is not an idea that I had in a vacuum. There have been plenty of stories told from the bad guy’s POV, with varying levels of seriousness and variations on tone and intent. There’s so much that’s already been done, and if I could think of even one named example I would give it, but a lot of what I’m thinking of is more stuff that happens as part of a story, rather than being a story in and of itself. Suicide Squad is only the most recent notable example; you could count Ocean’s Eleven and The Godfather here, too, depending how wide you want to cast the net. What makes a villain tick? Why do bad guys do the things that they do? Were they always this way; did they have a choice?

How hot do they look while they’re doing it?

We’ve all been there and done that, and it’s the kind of topic that comes up, invariably, when having conversations with friends about stories with villains in them – why didn’t they just do this; why do they always fall for that; what would have happened if they just … so on and so on. It’s something that we’re all interested in, so it’s not surprising that other stories on the subject have been told, long before I even considered throwing my hat in the ring.

Finally …

Especially if it’s more similar to Bad Guys than I think it is, it actually solves a problem for me: the question of how the hell to write this book. The universe may be telling me.

NOT LIKE THE BOOK THAT ALREADY EXISTS ON THE TOPIC.

Which is actually very refreshing, and during my initial freakout over the existence of this other book, I was actually more excited than I am now at the prospect of not being able to tell the story in a particular way, of having to give up on certain ideas and move on to others – to push myself further with the ideas that I currently have, and find a way to configure them that made a story I would be happy to tell that wasn’t what I had originally planned and, honestly, hoped for.

Which is maybe a sign that I should think about doing exactly that, regardless of what this other book is or isn’t like.

I think I need to wrap this up because I don’t really want to spend too much time mulling over all this stuff: I want to do things. So I’ll close out by acknowledging something important, and while it’s mostly for my benefit, as is everything I do on this blog let’s be real, I hope it’s of some use to my fellow writers (and humans in general) as well.

This idea that “if I’d just done X I could have kept writing” is, at times, acknowledging a difficult truth, a misstep, a moment of deliberate self-sabotage where we chose avoidance and evasion over commitment and, to use some super-loaded moralistic language, integrity. A moment where we chose to take the easy way out and, now looking back on it, realise that we squandered an opportunity to not just get some writing done, but improve ourselves by doing so, set another precedent to fall back on when things get tough in the future, prove to ourselves and the world that, yes, we can do this.

And sometimes that idea is bullshit.

Sometimes that idea is something we give ourselves as fuel for shaming ourselves because we don’t want to own up to whatever it is that we actually need in that moment, where we choose something else over our writing. Sometimes we need a break, we don’t want to admit it because it means admitting failure, and so we insist that, because we could have made a different choice, we should have.

I have spent the last two weeks doing pretty much nothing but playing games, and that is exactly what the fuck I needed to do.

Not because it’s gaming and there’s something specific to gaming that made it the correct choice, but just because I needed a goddamn break, a real break, a breakaway from writing and thinking and fretting and feeling about writing, because I had turned it into this huge, insurmountable problem that had no solution and it was all my fault. It was what I needed to do because, honestly, not being able to write was only a symptom of the real problem, which was being unwilling to give up on shaming myself. That was the real project I was working on in November, and one I’ve been working on for a very long time. Far too long.

So the next time you end up doing something “unproductive” instead of being a good little writer and making words happen, really get honest with yourself about why you did it. It may well be that you just took a quick fix over a slog with unpredictable results; it happens we all do it, it’s inevitable – and nowhere near the end of the world. But it could also be that you just needed a break, and this was the only way your mind and body could make you take one. And you should appreciate their efforts to that end.

Writing is something that ought to fulfill us. Obviously I don’t write for a living, and I’m not here to say that every single moment should be a celebration of joyous ecstasy or whatever. I just mean that, if we’re not able to write, sometimes there’s a really good reason for that, and we owe it to ourselves to figure out what that is – even if we do have to keep writing in the meantime, because we’re getting paid for it or whatever. Just don’t let the problem sit there, tricking you into thinking that you’re a bad person for not doing more writing than you are when the real problem is that writing shouldn’t be your main priority to begin with, at least not right now.

Having said that – I think that, right now, writing is one of my main priorities. This break has been fantastic; it’s over now. I’d prefer a nice balance of writing-to-recreation going forward, rather than veering from one extreme to the next. I may still not have fully recovered from that July-August writing period, honestly; but I’ve recovered enough that I want to be writing again.

So let’s get writing again.

Weekly Words 18-24/11/2019

Well, it’s a trope of mine to add a “Nanowrimo Edition” tag to my Weekly Words headings during the relevant month – but at this point, is it really still Nanowrimo Edition?

Well actually I’ve been writing more days this month than not, so yes, it is still very much Nanowrimo Edition – just not in my heart. And being an emotion-based organism, that’s the determining factor.

I’ll be honest, though: I’m not expecting to get any Nano-related writing done this week. As highlighted last week, I am in serious need of some Real Talk time, with myself. Bad Guys is a source of self-doubt and shame for me when I feel like it should be fun, that I have to either embrace it for the problematic mess it’s inviting me to indulge in or scrap it entirely, because none of the attempts I’ve made to find a compromise have worked so far – and I will not know how to move forward from this creative crisis until I find the way through this mess.

Then again, that leaves the door open for other things, like this High Fantasy project, and my statement of research intent. I’m feeling really stuck right now, this week in particular but all throughout November so far, where even though I have things that I know I can put my time and energy into it all feels wrong, and I’m pretty damn sure, rationally speaking, that it’s not wrong. But something’s wrong.

And it’s Bad Guys, how I feel about it, and how it makes me feel about myself. So that’s what I need to focus on this week.

22/11/2019

Well, I think I’ve made a decision.

I mean, I have made a decision; I think I’ve made a decision that will stick. Bad Guys has been a project that didn’t want to be pinned down, but yesterday I had a great chat with my dad and came to the realisation that, actually, the decisions that I have already made with this project – the zero draft – they work. And they work well enough that I am willing to invest in building the project around them, and just pushing them a bit further, to close up the gaps in the story, the premise, the general plot.

Feels good to sort of know what I’m doing with this story now.

That being said, I think this month is kind of just a bust for project work. I do want to get back into writing regularly after this botch of a week, but for now I think I’ll finish this week off as it was intended: by not doing any “serious” writing – maybe a touch of planning, maybe giving this long-awaited chapter revamp a go – and then getting back to the High Fantasy workshopping to close out November and re-reading my zero draft before committing December to the kickstarting of draft 2.

24/11/2019

Co-Writing Revision Brainstorming: 2 hours

Well, I haven’t gotten anything else writing-related done this week, but this was a good one to make the effort for.

We did some really good work, but the big thing of this session was actually getting very stuck on one of our characters, and the fact that at the moment, he doesn’t really have a part to play in the story.

Well, that’s what I in particular got stuck on. My co-writing friend is much less pessimistic than I am on this point, and I’m pretty much relying on her to find a way to make it work, because I can’t think of one that feels right. I’ve tried. I keep coming to the same conclusions, and despite feeling obvious, they also feel wrong. Or maybe it’s because they’re obvious, just obvious for reasons that I feel shouldn’t be there – at least not in our final draft. This is the preliminary planning for the first draft, so perhaps I’m just finding it difficult to get into the proper mindset for this stage in our process. Which is a frustrating thought, and I much prefer to think that it is instead the fault of this character. Given that this co-writing project began life as a Teen Wolf fanfic, this character was the Jackson (and for those of you not up to date on your MTV’s Teen Wolf lore, time to hit the wiki), but while the character quite quickly took on a different personality, agenda, and significance to the plot, his role in the story remained the same – and now doesn’t work anymore. We haven’t updated him to reflect the current direction that our story is moving in, and I’m personally of a mind to just cut him.

The good thing about co-writing, though, is that there’s another person working on the story with you who brings their own perspective. My co-writing friend feels that we need him in the story, is consistently optimistic about identifying a purpose for him, and it’s rubbing off on me. It’s also making me aware of how pessimistic I’m being, and giving me cause to reflect on why that is. I think it’s probably just that I like being right, and it’s frustrating to not be able to think and express that without any sort of, I dunno, response. But also good. Because, astonishing as this would surely be, perhaps I’m not right in this matter at all! And I hope I’m not, really – if we can find a way to keep this character, then I think that’d be better than just cutting him completely.

Weekly Totals

Co-Writing Revision Brainstorming: 2 hours

Writing: 1699

This has been a very light week in terms of what I’ve got to report here on the blog. But it’s been significant in the sense that I have been forced to confront some difficult facts and uncomfortable truths about myself and where my head is at in various areas of my life.

And then disappointing in terms of how much self-distraction I’ve undertaken to avoid looking at those facts and truths.

Not surprising, however, and perhaps it’s high time I took some initiative there, made some plans for what to do when, inevitably, I do turn to distraction and procrastination and all other manner of avoidant habits when there’s some Real Shit I need to handle. I think I’m poised to find success again with Bad Guys and potentially continued success with this burgeoning High Fantasy … thing. Poised, but not yet ready to strike, because I still feel pretty raw from the events of this month – or the lack of events that I was hoping for.

I feel like I’ve let myself down by not only not following through with my intended plans, but for deliberately going off and doing something else just as I was about to start. I’m finding it very hard not to judge myself for it, and at the same time I want to maintain accountability to myself. This was supposed to be a big, huge step that I was going to take with Bad Guys, and my writing in general – most of this year has been spent not writing, and feeling really bad about it, not because of guilt so much as letting fear win. I feel like I’m past that now – my decisions suggest otherwise, but they’re decisions I know I didn’t have to make. I’ve chosen, repeatedly, to sabotage my own efforts this year, and this month was just the crowning achievement so far. And now that I have something resembling a new plan, to move on and give it another go, I’m not feeling confident at all that it’s going to work, or that I’m going to earnestly try to make it work. And I don’t think it’s because I need to be doing something else; I think it’s because I needed to be doing the thing that I promised myself that I would do, and I can’t go back and do it over, and that’s paralysing me.

It’s not just shame, though that would definitely be enough to stop me. It’s experience. I have proof that I’ve fucked up my commitments to myself, so why expect that this time will be any different?

So, clearly, I need to actually clear my schedule – which does exist, it’s just that it’s filled with addictive, avoidant behaviour and I hate admitting that that’s the truth so I pretend that it doesn’t exist, wow therapy is pretty effective – and sort my shit out. No Weekly Words next week. I need a week off holding myself to these particular standards: they’re not going to help me right now. I need this time to myself, to commit to myself, confronting and critically reflecting upon and analysing the decisions I’ve made, the stances I’ve taken on certain things, and the reasoning behind them. I need to be rid of this ridiculous cycle – which probably isn’t going to happen after just a week of trying. But I can make an effort. A real effort, one that I won’t sabotage.

I feel very keenly that I owe myself something better than what I’ve been giving up til now. I also feel that there’s something else behind these decisions I’ve been making, obviously not just this month or year, but for so many years, something that I haven’t truly confronted or acknowledged yet, despite many attempts to do so. I don’t know if they just weren’t good enough or sincere enough attempts, or if I needed help that I didn’t think I could ask for (or didn’t feel like asking for), but the point is that it hasn’t happened. Therapy really is helpful, but it also ends up posing more questions than it answers a lot of the time. Which is part of why it’s helpful, but also means that it’s very much an ongoing process, and unfortunately can cause clashes with other ongoing processes. Such as writing.

But, that’s life, and the trick is to find a way to be okay with it. Even happy with it. Sometimes being uncomfortable and frustrated is healthy: if it’s honest, if it’s real, rather than something we’re putting on as an act of denial or penance. And I think I’ve figured out what I’m frustrated with.

Time to find out.

Weekly Words 11-17/11/2019

11/11/2019

Man I wish it was 2011 today. I think I did capitalise on that opportunity in 2011, started a journal entry with the date 11/11/11, at 11:11 (probably PM) … I hope I did anyway. Just for posterity.

I have had fun being in panicky, speculation tunnel-vision mode over the past couple of days, despite the sense of setback and stalling that came with it, because while I feel like writing has been going terribly so far this Nano – which I think I’ve changed my mind about again; I might just stop bringing it up to save both you and myself the annoyance of my constant back-and-forth about it – when I reflect on what I’ve actually accomplished writing-wise, I can’t deny that it has in fact been going extremely well. I don’t have enthusiasm anymore, because there’s been too much doubt and indecision and goldfish-brained self-distraction to sustain any kind of excitement or momentum in an emotional sense. But I do have commitment, and I have been pleasantly surprised to find that I actually feel very secure in my commitment to making Bad Guys work. A little less secure about whatever all this High Fantasy stuff I’ve got happening on the side might be, but I do actually feel a bit excited about it, which is a nice consolation prize.

Now I just need to settle on a plan and stick to it.

Because there are so many different things I could do, and that’s never going to change – I’m a writer, of course I could do any number of things. But in order to hit my writing flow, I need to make a decision to try it one way out of the many and just see it through. Back to the whole means/ends thing I got stuck on right before Nano began, and in no small way contributed to my stumbling into November feeling far less prepared than I would like to have been; but in this case, like, I know that’s what works for me, and it works well, and whatever I’ve got going on now …

Well, actually, I don’t know that it’s not working. Maybe all of this doubt and indecision is actually quite healthy, and I just can’t see it yet. Perhaps it’s my mind telling me that I’m not being open enough to my priorities shifting, or that I’m not putting enough time into exploring these multitudes of ideas as much as I really want to. Maybe just taking a full day to do nothing but write would help me find a way through this imaginative mire I feel stuck in lately; maybe just spending a bit of time pursuing some of these hypotheticals and pushing them into the spotlight of actuality would give me some much-needed perspective on what to prioritise right now. I mean, it sounds like a lot of work, and I’d probably give up on it and get disheartened long before I got around to exploring all of these ideas …

But in saying that, I actually think that would be helpful. I would love to just narrow down my options by actually trying them out and seeing if they are things I’m interested in when they’re not just hypothetical.

Maybe it’s time to up my self-imposed workload.

… starting tomorrow! Because stress.

But in the meantime:

Brainstomring: 2 hours-ish

Got a whole bunch of High Fantasy ideas, and yes I definitely want to get to writing them and taking them out of the realm of the purely hypothetical before I get bogged down with possibilities. But that takes more energy than I have the brainpower to provide at this time of the night/morning, so … let’s consider this warm-up. Nothing wrong with a bit of brainstorming – it’s just not the same as storytelling. And I do want to give this story, or these stories, a fair shot.

13/11/2019

God today’s just shit.

Like, not bad, just utterly unproductive. Just like yesterday. I had plans, you know. I was going to not only do a bunch of exciting High Fantasy idea-exorcism writing, but also keep chipping away at this long-since-overgrown prologue for Bad Guys, and send a draft of my statement of research intent to my supervisor. All of this has been the plan since Monday.

That didn’t happen, though, and I guess it’s not going to happen today, either; I should just give up, I’m never going to be as disciplined or committed to my writing as I would like to imagine myself being, it’s a fantasy, not even practical probably, not for me at least, Stephen King can write his goddamn 5k words a day and just be better than me, both as a writer and a human being, why do I even bother …

Writing: 2352

Oh right because I’m a fucking boss.

It’s not quite 5k, but I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be like if I wrote 5k words every day, or even regularly. Scratch that, I do want to imagine it. And one day maybe even aspire to it. But for now, hey, I’ve got commitment in the long run even if moment-to-moment I more often than not feel like a lazy slob, and I’ve reminded myself of it today.

Also finally sent off that statement of research intent draft, PhD ahoy!

Good habits, I’m learning, aren’t there to stop you from making bad choices – although they do certainly help with that. But everyone slips up, intentionally or otherwise, from time to time. What good habits really help you with is getting back on the wagon when you inevitably fall – or jump – off. When you’re circling the drain, forgetting valuable lessons that you’ve learnt, forgotten, and learnt again countless times before this time, when it’s all the same old unhelpful shit and you’re not growing or changing or making progress in the way you want, probably need to do, good habits are there to remind you that you have a choice to make while all of this is going on. It reminds you that you have tools for dealing with this stuff, and it might not make it any easier to feel, but it can make it so much easier to find your way out again.

So I’d like to take a moment to express my gratitude for the good habits I’ve manage to cultivate so far. I do get bogged down and frustrated and circle the drain like anyone else; but I used to just do that. Now – eventually – I remember how to pull myself out, that I have made myself do things to change my mood and mindset and attitude before, and it’s worked, and I know how to do it again, and know that it will work again. Sometimes you just want to wallow – sometimes that’s fine. But not all the time. And it’s having the choice, to wallow or not to wallow, that makes it work.

I’ve been wallowing all of this month, ever since I failed to kick Nano off the way I intended. I’m not sure if I’m done with wallowing yet. But I know that, when I am, I’m going to un-wallow so fast it’ll be like it never happened.

I guess I’m in a pretty good place right now.

And I have got to get through this fucking prologue, seriously I just need to force myself to write anything the fuck else just to give myself a change of scenery, stretch those brain-tendons, get some fresh goddamn air, I cannot spent another consecutive day just growing this freaking thing with no end in sight, it’s not even a fun character voice exercise anymore I think I’m only still writing it because I haven’t caught my perfectionist tendencies at work up until now and god just no fucking more of this fucking prologue for fuck’s sake.

High Fantasy tomorrow, and maybe some other part of Bad Guys. That’s the plan. I like it.

Let’s make it happen.

14/11/2019

Writing: 1482

Well, the plan is at least underway.

I have the will; now I just need the execution.

High Fantasy writing today, and I’m glad I did it. I was afraid of starting and then stalling, which is what happens every time, but I made myself do it and, well, I did 1482 words worth of it. A good start.

As for the fear of stalling: it’s what always holds me back from getting started, and I realised today that it’s not really the fear of “getting it wrong” so much as it is this specific anxiety – that I’ll get sidetracked. It’s what’s happening with the Bad Guys prologue, for example; it’s a legitimate fear, because it keeps fucking happening, when all I want to be doing is writing the things that are in my head down in words, and shouldn’t that be abysmally easy?

But I had a dream last night, and without going into too much detail (which would be hard, because dreams don’t make sense), it basically got me to reflect today on all the ways in which I am disingenuous with not only other people, but myself – and it all starts with how I do it to myself. There’s all sorts of personal issues bundled up in that, but once I started thinking about it, I realised right away that, of course, writing was included. It comes back to all that means-ends shit, too (also I finally got that book, look forward to me getting real preachy once I get around to reading it) – specifically, the fact that whenever I set out to “write something”, I am going in with really specific, rigid expectations of myself, first and foremost the expectation that I will Get It Right – first try. Yes, it is ridiculous, and yes, I know it’s ridiculous, yet that’s my mode, and while I’ve known about and been battling against it for some time now, until today I didn’t really understand what was behind it all.

Because when I end up “stalling” with something I’m writing, “devolving” into “tangents” and “filler”, it’s because I’m stopping myself from doing something that I naturally do – and, actually, as a responsible writer, should be aiming to do.

Workshopping.

Because these things that I’m setting out to write are new ideas. They’re characters whose voices I haven’t developed, or motivations I haven’t quite settled on; they’re worlds whose history I haven’t fleshed out or brought into contact with events that might change that history, or shape it in ways I couldn’t have foreseen while dealing purely with hypotheticals. I “stall” when I find myself deviating from the broad notion of what I was intending to accomplish when I started writing, and try to bring myself back on-track – only there is no track to be brought back on to, because what I’m writing is new and I have no clue what I’m doing.

Which I wasn’t really able to see before now.

But I can see it now! And armed with this knowledge – well, to be honest, it changes everything I think about writing, and specifically my writing, why I keep doing the things I keep doing when I don’t want to be doing them. In this case, it’s because they’re necessary.

And this clashes with a fun agenda that I’ve had ever since Wolf Gang became a thing, which is to be able to pump out a fun, not-very-serious story in no time flat and have instant gratification for my efforts – an anti-stalling project. In fact I now realise that this particular design of mine is something that I came up with explicitly in response to my history of “stalling” with projects that I “cared about” – my answer was to not care, intentionally, as though it would help. Bad Guys was supposed to be that, but it’s turned into one of these “stalling” projects, because 1) I’m writing some new stuff and 2) the goal of writing a book through the power of “not caring” is so transparently futile, and I’m finally starting to understand that. Of course I have to care; I don’t have to care about the thing I’m writing being good, but I have to care about writing it. Because it’s fun, or because it’s challenging, or because it’s important to me on a level so deep that I can’t even put it into words to explain why.

I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough, come to a place of fuller self-understanding, and I have some pretty high hopes of where I can go from here.

But it also means that my priorities are shifting – and, salient to the context of Nanowrimo, I’m not sure where Bad Guys currently sits on my list of priorities anymore. I know that if I stop fighting myself on this prologue, it’ll get easier to write. But it has taken so much energy, it’s been such a slog to keep up momentum – and I think it was the same with the zero draft, and that worked out fine; but I know this has happened before as well, where the first try was a success where I was able to dig myself out of a rut and fly through the rest of the project, but trying to repeat the same success with a subsequent project didn’t work. I said a few months ago that I didn’t want to force myself to take a break if I didn’t need one. But I also don’t want to force myself to write if I’m not ready to write, or not ready to write a particular story.

I’m not sure where I’m at right now. I think I need to try out a few things tomorrow and gauge my own response, be really honest with myself about what’s working and what’s not.

I think I can do it, though, and that’s the key thing I’m taking away from today. I’ve learnt something very valuable, and I intend to put it to good use.

15/11/2019

Writing: 399

I think it’s time for me to return to an old standby of this blog, and the writing philosophy I developed over the course of maintaining it: my first rule of writing. It comes in two parts: 1) commit totally to whatever you’re writing, and 2) reserve the right to change your mind at any moment, for any reason, always.

This High Fantasy “bit” I’m writing – I can tell it’s not what I want. I’m not sure if it’s more helpful for me to force myself to finish it just so that it does get finished, or to start on the second draft. Same thing with the Bad Guys prologue. They’ve both already proven their value to me for having spent time writing them: they’ve gotten me started with a bunch of ideas that I’ve been too scared to test out for a very long time, and they’ve helped me … well, they’ve given me the opportunity to build up some momentum. I haven’t really taken that opportunity, but that’s because I’m still operating by my old habit of committing to really trivial, arbitrary rules that I set for myself, like “I started this, I have to finish it”.

I don’t. I really fucking don’t. Especially if there’s no real reason to other than I decided that I would, and it feels bad to not live up to my own expectations of myself.

But, as I figured out yesterday, I have a lot of workshopping that I need to do with these ideas, tons of familiarity to develop and establish before I’m confident enough, clear enough, to sit down and commit and get it more or less “right” in one go.

I feel like the commitment I’ve had has been useful, and I have this idea – proven by experience, to be fair – that it’s always best to finish a piece of writing so that, looking back on it, you get a whole package of information to learn from. And because this package is a story, if it’s an unfinished one, it’s missing some key information in that regard.

At the same time, these past two weeks have been some of the longest weeks of my life, and if time flies when you’re having fun then I dunno I’m pretty stressed about this Nano stuff, it kind of makes sense that I’ve lost the plot and everything feels like it’s taking forever.

But – that’s okay. I’ve done the committing. And I can follow through; I’m a writer, I can end either of these pieces of writing with “rocks fell and everyone died”. I can do that, if all I want is to just get them done and move on. But there is something that I want out of each of them – I’m just not sure that I’m being honest or intentional enough to know what that thing is.

So, that’s my mission for the remainder of the week: figure out what the hell it is that I actually want to get out of continuing to write either of these pieces, besides a sense of, I dunno, fidelity, like I’ve been a Good Boy by doing all the stuff I promised myself I would do, because that kind of thinking is not worth it. Not for this.

16/11/2019

I think I’m going to finish the High Fantasy piece, and move on with the Bad Guys one.

I also think I’m going to read Bad Guys again.

Because, at this point, Nano is absolutely not the thing that I’m doing this month. My dad suggested that I could use it to just write a chapter or something, and I do think that’s a good idea – there is a chapter that I want to write/revise for Bad Guys, and I think I’d feel good if I managed to do that this month. It would be a good start on this second draft.

Yeah, I’m sort of not counting what I’ve done up until now as the start of the second draft, but maybe that’s a bit harsh. I’m of the mind right now that, as I’ve thought before, what I’m trying to accomplish can’t possibly be done in a month, let alone half a month when I’m working through a backlog of old, clingy, unhelpful writing habits and trying to extract not myself from the pile, but some helpful lessons that I can apply going forward. So in that light, I have definitely made a start on this second draft. It’s just that this second draft might take a while. Like, longer than the zero draft …

If I just count Camp Nano’s writing output that finished in August as the entirety of the zero draft, and discount the year-and-a-half leading up to it where I made several attempts to get a zero draft started, and stalled out on all of them.

Maybe Bad Guys is just a much more complex project than I’ve been willing to give it credit for.

Because, on paper – I mean, I’m calling it Bad Guys. What more do you need to know? But that’s the whole problem. And I’ve ranted about this before so I’ll spare you the reprise, but yeah, thinking about it now, I have no excuse to even imagine that this could possibly be a straightforward undertaking. This is actually pretty ambitious, however much I might privately joke to myself that the concept is “basic” and “derivative” and “so two decades ago” in terms of what makes it work. Yet it is the project that I have chosen to work on … and it’s been hard. It’s been very hard. I had a fantastic two months of writing, a couple of stand-alone pieces that I’m varying degrees of satisfied with, a stop-start zero draft from last year that has nothing to do with the one I have now, a bunch of notes … and it’s been two years.

This is not an easy project, and it’s time that I got the memo.

And acted accordingly; because if this isn’t going to be easy – well, shit, I want something easy. And maybe if I’m committing to working on something that’s hard, it’s not this thing. That’s actually been the big doubt that I’ve been having these past few days: if it’s going to take a ton of commitment and effort and labour on my behalf, then is this the investment of those things that I really want to make? Or if it’s going to be such a slog anyway, would I rather drive myself headfirst into something else? Something that I don’t have a sort of snide, mocking attitude towards, however much I might enjoy it?

Well …

Maybe that’s the problem?

I mean, good job brain, only took you two years to figure out; could have been longer … we have experience with that …

Yeah. If I don’t actually respect this project; if I’m constantly lowkey ashamed of myself for working on this project, believing in it, wanting it to work, then of course I’m never going to fucking make it work.

So the question now is: can I find something to respect about it? Can I find a way to respect myself for writing it? And more to the point, am I really justified in feeling so … uncomfortable, I guess, with this project? Or am I being disingenuous? Is my shame a means to an end here? A way to keep me from being “that guy”?

This was not the direction I saw this post going in when I started writing it. That was some dream I had …

I owe it to myself to figure all of this out. That “first rule of writing” that I have – I think it’s still good, but as I’ve been saying for ages now, I want to fucking care. I crave some hardcore commitment to something I’m truly excited to work on.

And I do think it could be Bad Guys. I just have to figure out the “why” that, so far, I either haven’t found, or haven’t been willing to own.

And in the meantime, finish that High Fantasy “bit”, because I think there’s something big starting with that, and I don’t want to miss out on it.

17/11/2019

Co-Writing Co-Review: 2 hours-ish

Just when the existential funk of dealing with my own projects reaches a peak, the good old co-writing project swoops in to save the day. Specifically, my co-writing buddy pulled a heroine and sped through the remaining episodes that she had yet to make revision notes on, giving us the opportunity to begin the process of going over what we’ve written so far, and the notes that we’ve made on it. It’s slow going in terms of how many pages we’re getting through given the time we’re spending on our co-review – but it’s day one, and honestly the rate of progress feels right. We have a lot of ground to cover, two sets of ideas to work through and hundreds of pages worth of story each to cover together.

It’s a lot of fun.

And I needed this pick-me-up today, closing out this otherwise very open-ended creative week with a new beginning and continuation of a project that I really enjoy working on with someone I enjoy spending time with.

Also both of our D&D characters died today and we rolled new ones, prompting our (first-time) DM to suggest that we have backup characters prepared. Not a bad call.

Weekly Totals

Writing: 8284

Co-Review: 2 hours-ish

Brainstorming: 2 hours-ish

Creating Backup D&D Characters: don’t look at me

Hey, it’s Sunday, I can do what I want.

Alas, I will not finish Words of Radiance this time around – too much going on for me to even want to think about reading library books; but perhaps that’s all the more reason to make time to do just that with the ones I have remaining. Gotta get better at downtime, as I keep on saying.

This next week is evaluation time for me: evaluating what the hell I’m doing with Bad Guys and, more importantly, why; continuing to explore this High Fantasy thing that I’m undertaking and seeing where it leads; and following up on the PhD front. It’s looking promising so far. I doubt I’ll be getting started in the very near future at this rate, but I’m hopeful, and feeling hopeful in general is what I’ve taken away from this somewhat turbulent week. I call that a win.

Here’s to more winning.

Weekly Words 4-10/11/2019, Nanowrimo 2019

Okay. It’s Nano. I’ve given up on it – but having gotten that out of my system, I now feel much freer to consider what I could do with it, even if it’s not what I had originally intended.

Given how my current priority is Bad Guys and, due to the volume of ideas I have for it right now, it is basically a rewrite – well, I could just use it for that. I think I’m going to be recycling plenty of my zero draft (and earlier) already-written material throughout this second draft, but hey, that word-count-counter doesn’t have to reflect new words written.

Also, being real: there is no way I’m going to be finished with this second draft by the end of the month. Like, no way in the nine layers of hell is that going to be a thing. So I can afford to set myself a nice comfortable word-count goal that seems both achievable and useful for building up the momentum I’ll need to keep going with this second draft.

Herein lies my current idea-that’s-going-to-solve-everything, though, and I want to take a moment to consider it. During the zero draft, I just wrote. I tried not to stop to think or consider what I was going to write next; I just wanted the thing to be written, and I was willing to de-prioritise things like “quality” and “taste” and “continuity” in order to achieve that goal. I think it worked pretty beautifully, to be honest.

But this time, I care a bit more about what I’m writing. A lot more, actually. I care about what’s going to end up in this draft; I don’t want to repeat the experience of the zero draft, of putting things on the page that don’t necessarily reflect my ideas, the ones that I’m passionate about, and lose sight of my vision in the rush of speed-writing for the sake of pumping out a foundation to work from going forward. I’ve already done that. The zero draft – honestly, it doesn’t matter a lot. It does have some interesting ideas in it that I’ve come to be quite fond of, but it was a means to an end, and it’s served its purpose.

I don’t want this second draft to be like that. I want to put all my ideas out there, and I want to have the energy to do it.

So I think this time around, I’m going to be more deliberate. I’m going to write slowly, thinking of exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it, unless it’s so clear to me that I don’t need to wait for the right words or the right idea to fall into place in my thoughts, ready for transcription. I think that’s the right approach to take.

Only one thing is holding me back: momentum. What if instead of too much momentum, I lose sight of the big picture because I’m taking too long to deliberate over individual scenes? I don’t really have a plan; I’ve pretty much given up on working from a completed plan – it’s plan-as-I-go this time, just like with the zero draft. And I think that’s the right thing to do, even being more deliberate, because I have a lot of ideas and they don’t all necessarily add up to a story when put together. And that’s fine. I just want to be able to look back on this process and know that I did everything that I wanted to do with it.

Yet still, there’s this “big picture” I’m afraid of losing. I think it’s more of a feeling than a story outline, this “big picture” of mine. When it comes right down to it, what I’m afraid of is that if I take too long, I’ll stop caring. I care right now, and that’s great.

But what happens when I stop caring?

Well …

I think that’s also a risk I’m going to have to take.

And hey, I can just experiment today, write this one scene that I’ve got a lot of thoughts and excitement about and see how it goes. I also did record my zero draft experience on this very blog specifically so that I could refer back to it for future reference, so hey, there’s that option, too. I seem to recall something about “making my own momentum”, which might be just what I need to alleviate this fear of mine.

For now, though, the only momentum I need to build is the sit-down-and-write kind.

Let’s get moving.

Writing: 2143

All righty!

That’s more than I expected, but kind of less than I’d hoped – overall, though, I think it’s what I needed today. A healthy start without overdoing it, and leaving me wanting to do more.

Part of the trepidation that I have with not doing more today was the fact that tomorrow is Tuesday, and Tuesday is “get nothing done day” for me. Doesn’t mean that’s going to happen, but it often does. This is due to the fact that Tuesday is when Critical Role‘s YouTube channel updates with the latest episode, and, yeah, that’s my day’s productivity gone.

But then again, I did keep up with the show throughout the zero draft. I think it’s just going to take a while for me to get back into the swing of things; I had enthusiasm today, and I’m still feeling it, but that’s not the same as momentum, which can carry you when enthusiasm runs out. I’m worried that, after starting strong today, after starting really not strong last week, I’m just not going to get my momentum up tomorrow like I need to.

Still, this is all more speculation, and as I’ve become aware of recently, I can get very stuck on speculation. I know there are temptations coming up tomorrow that could knock me off-course, will knock me off-course if I let them. And the thing is that I want to let them. Instant gratification and all that. But I do also want to keep writing – all I have to do, then, is make time for all the things I want to do tomorrow. Maybe spread them out across the week.

This is such a simple problem to fix, it’s just the fact that it’s going against how I feel, and man do I not have a good track record with that. That’s what I’m afraid of.

I suppose the real solution here is to compromise – and work towards setting myself a good example to follow in future. There’s gonna be a few more Tuesdays in my future.

5/11/2019

Writing: 2033

Wonderful.

Except that I’m pretty sure I’m going to replace all of this wonderful writing I’ve done. The only question is whether to do it now or later.

My gut tells me … well, it’s actually telling me two things; or perhaps I have two guts. Perhaps I’m actually a Minotaur. Regardless, on the one hand I’m getting a “just keep going” message, for the sake of momentum. That’s what I did for the zero draft, and, hey, it got written. To go more in-depth with why this is significant: I don’t think it would have gotten written if I hadn’t “just kept going”, even when I wanted to rewrite certain bits.

On the other hand – this is the draft where I want to be more deliberate with what I write, rather than speeding my way through. I want to take my time to find the right words, or at least know what I’m trying to say with whatever words I can find. I’ve already done my “don’t give a fuck” draft – now, this is my “do give a fuck” draft. I care about how it’s written.

And right now, it’s written wrong.

Though having said that, there’s a lot that I’ve written that I like – I’ll find a way to keep the bits that work; and hey, as I say: never throw anything away. I’ve gotten quite “lost” with this current bit of story I’m writing – it’s a prologue, because while Bad Guys is primarily a satire/parody/comedy, it is still Fantasy – and a big part of that is because I’m writing it from the POV of a character who was meant to be really central in the zero draft, but ended up getting left behind for most of it. So my ambition of writing “deliberately” may be challenging given that I’m currently writing a character I have only written from the POV of on two other occasions – neither of which felt right, either.

However, there is also another main priority for me with Bad Guys draft 2, and it’s from the POV of the current lead character, who’s most likely shifting to co-lead with this other character, which is pretty much how I originally envisioned the story being. So if I’m in want of something a bit “safer” to dig into while still building up momentum, I might go for that tomorrow.

I also think I’m going to experiment with shorter writing sessions throughout the week – or, if not throughout the week, then as a strategy that I can employ some days. I’m feeling like I need to get some High Fantasy writing done that isn’t Bad Guys, which is High Fantasy but I don’t count as High Fantasy because it’s not really fitting my fantasy of the genre, what I want to get out of it. I want to scratch my specific itch, and Bad Guys is not the tool for the job. Yet I also don’t want to lose momentum with Bad Guys.

So, tomorrow, I’m going to try and limit my writing sessions to, like, half an hour at most, and see how that goes. My theory is that I’ll find a sweet-spot between speed and deliberation with a shorter, predictable timeframe, not so long that I end up spending a whole hour trying to put one sentence together, but long enough so that I can build up some momentum. Maybe forty five minutes; my point is that I want it to be pretty short – but also frequent – and to swap between projects, scratching multiple itches. I’m apparently very itchy at the moment. Maybe I should find some kind of spray.

And one of these itches is that of finding a way to use Nanowrimo for its intended purpose, even if it is starting a week late. Maybe that’s not practical, but maybe it still has some use for me, and it would be nice to find one. Not vital, not even important – just nice. And I like nice things.

6/11/2019

Writing: 2362

Okay, maybe this tomorrow.

I had such a lazy day today that I was pretty close to writing off doing any … writing … until my co-writing buddy messaged me and I realised that I had the power to define this day for myself through my decisions, and decided to do some writing.

Some rewriting.

It was supposed to just be a 5-minute edit, just to see how it went, because I was afraid that starting to rewrite what I’ve spent the past two days working on would kill not just my momentum, but my passion for this second draft. Two and a quarter hours later, I know a bit more about dresses than I did before this evening …

And I feel even more motivated to continue with this second draft, because it’s closer than it was yesterday to being what I want it to be.

Deliberation for the win!

Not that I did a lot of deliberating really; it was more like the last couple of days’ worth of writing was just me cleaning the gunk out of my system, because tonight it all came to me pretty smoothly – and didn’t go off-track. Mind you, it was also coming pretty smoothly the past couple of days; but I did go off-track, and right at the start, too, so it’s a little frustrating to think that I could have avoided this scenario if I’d just corrected myself right then and there. But I’m not upset, because at least I know for sure now that a bit of backtracking is not only not going to set me back with this second draft, but is actually exactly what I need to do – and, of course, now I know to be aware of when I’m setting myself to want to do it, and to be able to make sure I stay on-track going forward. That’s the theory at least. One way or another, though, I feel like I did what I needed to do tonight, and that’s what matters.

Tomorrow, I’m going to give this multiple-short-writing-sessions-throughout-the-day experiment a go, because I really do want to get suck into this High Fantasy … something that’s consuming part of me lately. I was particularly frustrated about it today, because while I know what works when I’m just imagining the sort of scenario I’d like to experience in my mind, when it comes to trying to think of how I’d write it, or why it matters to me that I write it, I come up blank. This always happens with my High Fantasy ideas in general: I have an idea or scenario that feels exciting, but when I sit down to write it the excitement is replaced with confusion – where do I start? How do I set this up? Do I even understand what’s going on or how it works? Is this going to matter to anyone?

But I’m going to have to be aware of and fight against that kind of doubt, because it only has to matter to me right now. I am also worried that once I get started writing, the second that magic is involved, I’m going to want to start deep-diving into a magic system, and I’m going to go off the rails. Well, I’m going to have to fight against that, too, and trust that if it’s interesting enough to stick with me, then I can figure out a magic system – after I’ve written the scene, or chapter, or whatever it is that I want to write out of my system.

And I’m going to do it tomorrow, to prove that I can do it, because it’s been like this for years and I really don’t want such a stupid problem to persist any longer than it already has. It doesn’t have to be a problem. Because I can be the solution.

Big day tomorrow, it looks like.

7/11/2019

APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING.

Look, this idea of using sprints to enable me to bounce between different projects – it’s a good idea. But it’s not what I need right now. And after however many years of trying to force things to work, only to inevitably learn that trying to force things to work doesn’t work, only to inevitably try forcing something else to work a little later down the line, rinse and repeat – let’s try and get ahead of the curve this time. I’ll use it when I think it’ll help, and it is now “when” right now.

That being said: it’s taking too long to write this second draft. I know that now, and that’s fine. I still want this deliberate pace – but I realised today that, actually, I’m writing so much new stuff that being “deliberate” can only take me so far. What I’m writing at the moment for Bad Guys draft 2 is all experimental, making this basically another zero draft with a few recycled and revised bits from the current zero draft thrown in.

Which means that, actually, I can afford to write a hell of a lot faster than this. The sooner I get these experimental ideas down in writing, the sooner I’ll have the opportunity to take stock of them and think about whether or not they work for the story I’m trying to tell.

… on the other hand: I’m not sure I really managed that with the zero draft I already have. Like, it’s fine, and I am actually keeping a lot of the ideas – and the fact that I’m not keeping others isn’t a sign of failure. It’s a sign of them not being the ideas that I want to use. But my god it’s been hard to gauge whether or not I’m doing this … properly. Properly? Maybe not properly; maybe just, I dunno, healthily. I’m not sure that I’m doing the best thing for this story and my telling of it. And I’m not sure that writing at full-tilt is actually the best way to write a zero draft.

Which I’ve been considering all throughout this year, and it comes from exactly this issue of not keeping a ton of ideas after I’ve spent time bothering to write them down. In a sense, aiming to write a zero draft super-duper fast makes sense, because if I’m just going to discard a ton of ideas anyway then I’d rather have it over and done with in a month or two, as opposed to waiting a year or more, like with Mark and Jessie. I spent time writing that damn thing, and while in broad strokes I like the kind of shape of the story, the actual events are not at all what I want – they’re actually pretty far off the mark. From that experience, I took away the lesson that, no matter how hard I try, I’m always going to be discarding some ideas throughout the revision process. Sounds obvious, is obvious on paper, but I’ve had to go through it first-hand to figure it out, as you do. And if I’m destined to be discarding ideas, again, I don’t want to be spending a lot of time on getting them down in writing.

… except that, if I write too quickly, then I’m running the risk – the high risk – of not getting my ideas down in writing at all, and the ideas that I’m discarding aren’t being discarded because I thought they’d work and they actually don’t, but because they were random shit that I just threw at the page for the sake of keeping up momentum and had no intended longevity beyond that purpose.

Which is not to say that some random shit isn’t, sometimes, actually really good for a story – but after Bad Guys take 1, and after Mark and Jessie, I really don’t want to spend time and energy drafting a novel full of events that I don’t even care about. If I’m going to discard ideas, then I want it to be for the right reasons, not because they were disposable to begin with.

Or maybe that’s exactly what I want and I don’t know what I’m doing aaarrrggghhh.

Well, that’s been the story of this week, and these first seven days of Nano: I’ve just been really lost. Yes, the writing has been going well, but I am going to run out of energy for it if it keeps taking me this damn long to move on from a single scene. Like, at the moment, a single interaction between two characters. It’s taking so damn long and it’s not meant to be long. Maybe it’ll be shorted when I read it, but I doubt it. It’s tons of exposition and filler and, I mean, it’s because it’s a new POV that I’m working with and so on and so on; I know why it’s taking so long, it’s actually fine that it’s taking so long in that context …

But in the wider context of me just wanting this second draft to just move already, I need to pick up the pace.

Which was the whole reason I had the idea for using sprints to allow me to shift between projects in the first place: so that I could keep my “deliberate” pace with Bad Guys without feeling like I was devoting all of my time and energy to a project that moved at a glacial pace; so that I could put some time and energy into something that just goes without abandoning the second draft that needs a bit more thinking before acting. But on reflection, I think I overestimated just how slowly I need to go with this second draft. I can go fast. I just need to take enough time to make sure that the ideas I’m working with are actually the ideas I want to be working with – and then start building up speed.

And …

I do think I need that second project, actually. Now that I’ve said all of this, I do definitely think I’m getting a bit fixated and frustrated with this one project not being everything I want it to be; that’s not fair to the project, and it’s not fair to me. I need more than it can give, and I know that if I try to make it fill in for all of my needs, I’ll ruin the project. That happened with Realm of the Myth; I don’t want it to happen to another project of mine, ever.

Today is a write-off; I need to get some distance from this rut of mine, and come back to it refreshed. Also, I have a statement of research intent to draft! This PhD enrollment isn’t going to apply for itself.

But I think I am actually going to use Nanowrimo for Bad Guys after all – I’m not counting only new words, just however many words the project is currently at, which seems … really obvious, because it’s supposed to be a measure of the size of the project …

I need a break. Let’s start now, shall we?

8/11/2019

Writing: 648

So, because irony is not only inevitable but incredibly predictable, today is the day I finally used a sprint. Not to jump between projects, mind you, just to get started with picking up the pace. It worked well. I did delete about two-thirds of what I ended up writing and then rewrote back to roughly the same point, because this draft is all about being DELIBERATE and how long before I get sick of using that word well let’s find out together.

The point is that I got some writing done, I feel good about it – and I’ve been very silly this week, I feel. Not in a way where I feel bad about myself, but just acknowledging that the huge amount pressure and stakes-raising I’ve done to myself over the past few days for the sake of trying to seem like I’m Taking This Seriously has been pretty ridiculous. And also hasn’t helped, either, which is the key factor in this “silly” verdict.

Speaking of silly things: I think I might actually be read to write Realm of The Myth now.

Yeah, I’m not going to stake my name on it or anything; I’ve been here before more than a few times by now. But having managed to balance both writing fast and writing deliberately in the same session, being willing to walk back bits that don’t work while still embracing how useful it is to just write a whole bunch of something for the sake of momentum and warming up … it’s got me feeling optimistic.

And if there is any project of mine that requires optimism, it is the behemothic High Fantasy epic that I started writing when I was 14 and refused to give up on for over a decade afterwards due to sheer bad habit.

Besides, if there’s a project I want to “not care about”, it’s Realm of the Myth. In theory it should be like Wolf Gang times a billion, but it does require a bit of deliberation – some scenes for this story I’ve had in mind, practically unchanged, for almost twenty years now, god that is a bit sad given the nature of this particular project, anyway the thing is that now I feel much more prepared to tackle a project like this, and make it work. I do think the most recent strategy that I came up with for writing it still makes sense, which is to write it in the spirit of every other vehicle for an authorial self-insert main character that has ever been written by someone who never got over their yearning for the classic teen experience narrative that they never got to live out, plus a healthy dose of shonen anime sensibility.

I’m feeling pretty ambitious right now. I think that’s the essence of what I’m getting at here. Let’s see how it plays out.

9/11/2019

Writing: 3186

Well.

I’m impressed.

That’s all for Realm of the Myth, by the way. It was my intention to finish this chapter/scene of Bad Guys I’ve been stuck on all of this week today, but I think I’ll save it for later, finish it after I’ve done something a bit more fun and immediately gratifying, like updating one of the zero draft chapters I’ve been wanting to update basically since I wrote it.

And write more of this High Fantasy novel that, well, I’ve managed to write some of today.

Thinking about it today, looking over some of my notes for various High Fantasy projects and ideas that I’ve had recently, I’ve come to a conclusion: I’m a bit tired of the tropes – elves, dwarves, orcs, the whole Tolkien playground – in terms of what I want to give my “real” focus and effort to. But I do still like them – and I realised that, if I’m going to use them, then I actually just have to embrace the fact that whatever I end up writing, it’s not going to be original or interesting or innovative at all, and that’s why I’m using these particular tropes and cliches. Because if I want it to be original and interesting, I’m going to use something else.

Well, that’s been my thought today anyway, but we’ll see how it goes. It’s also given me some food for thought on Bad Guys, which is ostensibly a High Fantasy … well, the setting is pretty High Fantasy. But I wonder now if that’s actually the best thing for the story – and if it is, if I am leaning into that enough. I don’t think I am. I need to think about this, given that this second draft is all DELIBERATE and stuff.

But shit, I wrote a whole thing today, a High Fantasy thing at that, which is such a spectre of failure for me: every time I try to get myself to write some High Fantay I find some excuse to stop myself before I even get started. But not this time. Not this time, precious. Perhaps partly because I spent an ungodly amount of time between yesterday and today fleshing out a magic system so that I wouldn’t be going in blind, and had tools to improv with if I needed them. I think it’s worked out okay – and considering that, if this goes anywhere, it’s most definitely a zero draft, it probably actually worked out really well.

I am not getting my hopes up.

And, in fact, I think that while I’m very, very happy that I’ve succeeded in writing some High Fantasy today, probably happier than I’m actually able to recognise right now at 1:13 AM, I also think that I’m not going to be restricting myself to Realm of the Myth and it’s unimaginative use of elves and orcs and maybe dwarves. I’ve got other ideas, too, and I like them, and I’ve wanted them to exist for a while now – and maybe I was right the other day. Maybe I am capable now in a way that I wasn’t before. Maybe it’s finally time.

Maybe I’m really, finally ready.

But whatever I may or may not be in that regard, one thing’s for certain: I got up at 8:30 today and, while I’m legitimately enjoying how early I’ve been waking up lately, I am very bloody ready for some sleep.

10/11/2019

Writing: 1439

Brainstorming: quite some time (probably like 4 hours)

I had some angst today.

I wrote that big chunk of oh-my-god-is-this-actually-getting-written writing last night, and felt good about it. I still feel good about it, because it felt like I was finally breaking a vicious cycle of self-doubt and self-sabotage; it was written, I had done it, I had succeeded, also all of these ideas would be way more interesting in this other project I should just stop this one now before I commit any more time and energy to something I know I’m just going to abandon eventually and oh god DAMN it I haven’t done it the cycle isn’t broken I still can’t fucking write this fucking thing god fuck it.

And yeah, that was my day.

No, okay; I had a good long rant about it to myself – along with how the difference between coming up with my magic system and then actually writing it made me realise that it’s a fantastic magic system, hence why I thought it would be way more interesting in another project that I might actually care about, but anyway – and came to the conclusion that, even if it is a project that I’m only going to abandon …

Well, that’s all it really need to be.

Because Realm of the Myth is not the song of my heart; it’s this project that I keep thinking should be, but every time I set out to write it, it just doesn’t feel enough – and I don’t want it to be, if I’m honest. It’s become an idea factory in practice, where if I write something interesting for it, I’ll immediately start thinking of how much better it would work somewhere else. But it is something that I keep coming back to, keep thinking “hey, maybe I’m ready to write this thing now” – and now I see that the problem is that I just don’t want to commit to it. Which is a fine problem to have, because it’s just not very good – or at least this current version of it that I started writing last night isn’t.

But I think I’m going to stick with it anyway, because it can still serve a purpose. Dual purposes, in fact. It can help me get it out of my system, and it can also help me workshop this super interesting magic system that is interesting not necessarily because of how the magic works, but because of how it’s written. It’s a system where none of the characters in the story actually understand magic properly, and have their own beliefs and assumptions and taboos around how it works, none of which get at the full picture. It turned out to be way more fun and engaging than I’d anticipated.

And given that I’ve been thinking of RoTM as basically a shonen manga crossed with a shameless self-insert YA fantasy novel for the past year or so, this is not the magic system I’m looking for. I’m looking for something a bit more … basic. Like the good old, tried-and-true “four elements” system (though there will obviously be a fifth, superior one that the hero learns to use that the villain can also use); or something like the Harry Potter system where you do things and magic happens, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it, really; or the ubiquitous “will”-based magic system, where everything is a matter of willpower and that’s that, it’s basically the Force only with flashier visuals … something that you don’t have to think about, something that doesn’t detract from the shiny explosions and righteous entitled teenage male fury happening on-page.

Yet in saying that – “getting it out of my system” includes taking it way too seriously, making a bigger deal of what I’m doing than it actually is – it’s more sincere that way, and hey, I’m trying to do things that I care about even if they’re embarrassing over here; I think this fancy magic system that doesn’t really fit with the story I have in mind is actually incredibly appropriate for this particular project in that regard.

So, I have options. I solved that problem.

Which left me with Bad Guys, because holy hell did I get a good dose of self-doubt about this project today …

The thing is, it’s all stuff that I’ve been uncertain about from the very beginning, and it’s taking me back to Tallulah, the conflicting ideas that I refused to resolve for way too long and it ended up making it impossible to continue with the story because I had to give something up. Until I figured out how to combine them … and then didn’t write it down anywhere, and forgot … and I’m sort of at that point with Bad Guys now. There are so many things this story could be about, and I don’t want to choose.

Maybe that’s actually for the best, though. This is the draft where I want to make sure that I try out all of my ideas, and that’s more of a priority than telling a coherent story by the time I’m done – that’s what revision is for, and this is not a revision. This is me getting Serious about this shit.

Which means I’m also applying my write-what-I-care-about-even-if-it’s-embarrassing ethos to Bad Guys now, which I wasn’t planning to. Mostly because I was cocky enough to believe that, the premise being so simple and basic and pulpy, it would all sort itself out without me having to care. Not quite, as it turns out.

And it’s gotten me to the point where this whole plan to revise Bad Guys over Nanowrimo has gone totally out the window. I’m still doing it, but I don’t think Nanowrimo is helpful this year. I’ve gone back and forth on the idea, and ultimately I’m doing this for me now, and Nanowrimo is not the accountability tool that I hoped it would be, because it can’t keep me accountable for the thing I want it to, which is commitment. You can’t really measure commitment with a word-count; you can’t cheat commitment, and I can cheat the Nanowrimo word-counter, really easily. I write a lot of shit. I could just copy-and-paste all of my D&D 5E “this is how rangers should work” rants and win Nanowrimo for the next decade.

But, having said that, even if it’s not going the way I hoped it would I do have some momentum, and I want to keep it. This second draft might be a longer haul than the zero draft, and I’ll need to adjust my mindset to compensate for that – but I think I care enough about this story to try and make it work.

Either that or I’ll jump over to Mark and Jessie, which I have slightly clearer ideas about restructuring, and either ditch Bad Guys – for now at least – or pull a Wolf Gang and just work with what I’ve got instead of trying to make it better/different and fitting the grand-yet-vague vision that I have for what it could be – well, not so much “vague” as “multiple mutually exclusive options”, at least until I figure out how to combine them. Which, I mean, that would just be lovely.

Until then, though …

Weekly Totals

Writing: 17232

Brainstorming: probably 4 hours

11811 words of this week’s writing were devoted to actual writing projects; the rest has been this honestly quite fraught blog post.

Still, it’s a change of pace from the doldrums of the past couple of months, and that has some value in and of itself – and this is all without even getting into the PhD thing, which I aim to put some time aside and get sorted out tomorrow – or start getting sorted out at least. Thankfully my proposed supervisor is super supportive and helpful and is there to guide me through this new, alien process – and I have some library books to read, too. This next week might be quite light on the writing front, and maybe that’s a good thing. I have some things to consider and evaluate.

And while I want to keep my momentum, I am unhappy with how all of my fretting and worrying and second-guessing has taken up valuable self-care time, including reading those library books. I did get a lot of exercise done this week, so that’s a big bonus; now to reintroduce reading to my activity planner as well. That’s the next step.

This has been a long week for me. I think back over the amount of things I feel have happened to me, and it seems more like a month’s worth of … well, drama, to be honest. Not all bad drama, but definitely drama.

I kind of like this, though; I’m not quite in The Zone yet, but my commitment to this second draft and experimenting with other projects is holding up, even with things feeling like they’re taking way longer than I want them to – all this week has been spent writing and rewriting a single new chapter/prologue for Bad Guys, plus I’ve been waking up way earlier than usual while keeping a similar bedtime, so I guess it’s also just literally been a longer week for me in terms of time spent conscious.

But it also feels like I’m getting more things done, that my life is a bit fuller. And even with the ridiculous, histrionic drama I’m going through with these writing projects, I am grateful for this sense of fullness. It feels right.

More of this, please.

Monthly Words October 2019

Monthly Totals

Writing: 18458

Manuscript Readthrough: 19 hours 44 minutes

PhD Research: 3 hours

Revision Notes/Planning/Brainstorming: 39 hours 40 minutes

Caring Too Much: maybe it’s time to move (even further) beyond DBZ memes

This “totals” format I have is super messy and I am definitely shifting focus next year. Progress and “place”, I think, is more important to me than just making a number really big. By “place” I mean a “where I’m at with project X” sort of thing, which I probably don’t need a whole categorisation system to record.

But do I want one? That’s the real question.

Writing this post after yesterday’s report on the pitfalls of having my brain for a brain, I have a sense of anticipation and dread, waiting for the floor to fall out from under my feet when I finally come fact to face with everything I’ve been doing this month – because I think I screwed up a good thing. I had momentum, I had a plan, I had a freaking vision for what I was going to do with myself, and then I had to go to stupid therapy and learn things that changed my perspective on my life and values for the better and it ruined everything.

Or did it?

I was hoping to get perspective with this post, and looking back over the past five weeks – yeah, I can see the problem.

There isn’t one.

This was a fucking great month! There were frustrations along the way, yes, and I must acknowledge them because it would be disingenuous not to do so and being disingenuous harms my soul; but seriously on the whole I did so many things this month, and they were all things that I cared about doing. They didn’t all work out the way I might have liked them to – but thankfully they also didn’t do any harm by virtue of not working out the way I might have liked them to; and hey, some of them did work out nicely.

Like going to see my old masters supervisor and hearing that 1) my PhD topic sounded “very interesting” and 2) he’s very interested in being my PhD supervisor based on it.

Like re-reading both Bad Guys and Wolf Gang, even my thought-to-be-hopeless revision notes on Mark and Jessie, and finding that, hey, there’s some really good, promising stuff here – and also, more importantly, finding which of these projects I do and don’t care about right now.

Like finally, finally completing my revision notes for the co-writing project, which I was in fact hoping to accomplish before the end of this year – and would you look at that, I fucking did. Go me.

And like learning this whole “means and ends” framework which has been equal parts useful and infuriating, just like everything I’ve gotten out of therapy so far; but each time I learn more and more about the “frustration” side of things and how it comes from me more than anything else, and through learning this I’m also learning how to make things less frustrating for myself.

Also, as I found yesterday – sometimes it’s kinda fun to be frustrated. Sometimes, mind you; but during those times I think it’s important to just acknowledge that, hey, it is one of those times, and everything’s okay.

The big problem of this month was tunnel-vision and stubbornness, and not being able to see my stubbornness because I had tunnel-vision. Bad Guys in particular has suffered from this over the past few days; in trying to focus on getting ready for Nano, I moved farther and farther away from what I learnt during the zero draft, about what worked, how I got through that zero draft, which threw plenty of its own obstacles at me – obstacles that, as it so happens, are pretty much the same ones I’m facing now.

And the most important one for me to remember right now is that, however much I can think of solutions to problems that I can see with the story … at this stage of the project, both the problems and the solutions are all in my mind. They’re not on the page. And if they’re not on the page, then there’s actually nothing I can do about them, because they’re not there to have anything done to them.

In a sense, the way to solve these problems is to cause them – but the more accurate way to put it is that I have to write, risk causing these problems, trust that I will be able to handle them if they come up …

And actually acknowledge that there is such a huge gulf between thinking of a story and holding it in my mind and actually writing it down that, for all I know, these problems won’t even come up at all.

Also, on the flipside, while I definitely got stuck in the prep/planning phase over the past three days due to a combination of taking my latest therapy lesson a little too far (again, it’s been fun, regardless of how frustrating it’s also been) and prioritising my speculation about what this story will be over what it currently is … I’ve kind of enjoyed getting so speculative, opening up new possibilities for where I could take it, how I could mash things together. I think I’ve actually come up with some new solutions to problems that do actually exist by doing so.

I think, while it hasn’t solved the specific problems I intended to try and solve, this process has actually helped me get a better handle on this project.

It’s helped me to realise what it is that I actually care about with Bad Guys. And how so much of that stuff has yet to be written.

I think it’s time to write it.

Weekly Words 28/10-3/11/2019

29/10/2019

Manuscript Reading: 1 hour 45 minutes

So, I read through Bad Guys in, all told, 3 hours and 45 minutes. That’s a pretty quick read.

Seems a little too quick.

And I have discovered something kind of depressing, but only because it’s so, weirdly, validating: this story feels pretty soulless.

But yes, validating, because in writing this book – as with Wolf Gang before it – I was pretty much trying to write a book that was a bit soulless. A giddy, unapologetic recycling of tropes and cliches for its own sake – and it reads like that. It reads like a book that has nothing to offer that hasn’t already been offered, and probably better, in some other book. So, basically, I succeeded in doing what I set out to accomplish with Bad Guys.

And now I have to decide if that’s good enough.

Because it could be. It could be fine to have this hacktastic story just be hacktastic, to not try and find ways of making it more interesting or original or whatever the opposite of “soulless” is, and just embrace it being a pretty cheap, derivative bit of fluff that you might buy to read on a plane. No substance, all someone else’s style.

Or it could be that, as has happened before, the second readthrough is always quite a bit harsher than the first one, and considerably more harsh than the third.

Having said that, though, I know that I had ideas that weren’t soulless and uninspired for this project – I just didn’t push myself to write them, because I was afraid of getting them ‘wrong’. But that means that this might actually be the perfect time for me to write them, when I’m looking for an opportunity to write something that I care about even if it’s potentially going to embarrass me that I wrote it.

It might be a sign that I should go with a rewrite instead of a revision.

Then again – it’s nothing super detailed, but I have started having ideas for little scenes and events that could potentially evolve into stories. And even if not, I’m finding that I care about these ideas, which says to me that I should take the opportunity to write them while I have the passion for them, before it runs out. So it could also be a sign that this is the perfect time to just follow through with the original plan of revising Bad Guys, letting it be kind of trash, and simultaneously be working on these bits and pieces of potential story material that, regardless of their potential, I do actually care about.

Basically, I see two options for Nanowrimo: full focus on Bad Guys and striving to make it a story that I care about on the one hand, and on the other a “just for kicks” revision exercise to compliment a series of writing exercises to get me in the habit of writing down my story-like ideas when I have them, while I care about them, and giving them the opportunity to grow into something larger (without trying to force it to happen).

They both seem like pretty good options.

I have two days to choose – either way, though, I’m doing something with Bad Guys, so I guess it’s time to make a decision.

In the morning. Because it’s like 1:30 in the morning right now and I want this decision to count.

30/10/2019

Revision Brainstorm: 1 hour 20 minutes

You know what I discovered/rediscovered today? The Dungeons and Dragons cartoon TV series from the ’80s. Man I am not excited to watch any more of it than the 4-ish minutes I committed to the first episode of this show – and yet …

Reading Dragonlance Chronicles earlier this year, I found myself presented with an unexpected reading experience that, broadly speaking, I would describe as “weird”. It put me in mind of a D&D game session that someone turned into a novel, but it also reminded me of The Lord of the Rings, both in terms of blatant copy-and-paste events and stakes throughout the story, and in terms of the pacing – not so much the books, but the Peter Jackson film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Because everything that happens, happens very quickly. They’re in Solace; they escape Solace. They get to Qualinesti; they leave Qualinesti. They go to some temple; there’s a dragon in the temple; now they’re not in the temple anymore but there’s this old ruined castle and there’s a sword and a giant spider and hey wait another fortress with another dragon and just …

The Fellowship of the Ring is my favourite of the LoTR film trilogy, and that’s even despite the fact that, in terms of pacing and especially editing, it often feels like a 3-hour-long trailer of itself. This may be due to the fact that I read the books before I saw the films (specifically to prepare for seeing the films), but regardless, the first time I saw the film I was very unexpectedly aware of how the pacing and editing coloured my perception of the story. I still loved it, and as time went on only grew to love it more, though now thanks to a certain prequel trilogy that love has been more than a little tarnished, and yes I am bitter as hell about it.

Dragonlance, I suppose, might have the same effect upon repeat readings, wherein spending more of my time on the events and characters in the hit-and-run series of events that constitutes the trilogy makes it seem like the stories themselves are devoting more of their time to fleshing them out, when really it’s me doing all the heavy lifting. And to be clear, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I just definitely don’t think it’s a good thing. If you need to read a book again to really enjoy the experience, then that’s not the book for me – neither as a reader or a writer.

Which brings me to Bad Guys, and how upon finishing my second readthrough the other day I concluded that it felt a bit “soulless”, because that “soulless” quality came from this same issue of pacing – or, perhaps more accurately, the issue of nothing that happens feeling like it matters in the grand scheme of things. Though to be fair, I’m trying to meaningfully compare an edited and published series of book to my zero draft manuscript completed in two months. I suppose the fact that I saw such a strong similarity to begin with reveals my general opinion of Dragonlance – and yeah, it’s not my favourite.

But …

There is something about it, something about this sort of by-the-numbers High Fantasy trope-peddling that appeals to me at a core level. I like elves and dragons and wizards; I like evil empires, and chosen ones, and princesses provided that there are other women characters who are afforded meaningful participation in the story and aren’t restricted to being sultry temptresses – I like the trappings of High Fantasy, and I even like some of the cliches of High Fantasy.

As a writer.

And while I’m busy trying to decide whether to stage a full-on rewrite of Bad Guys or instead take a more conservative, safe, stable option in the form of a second draft/revision, while simultaneously not really feeling like I care that much about the story at this exact moment, this High Fantasy shit is getting me kinda hype. I am relishing the prospect of starting off a story where all the central members of the soon-to-be-fellowship are gathered at a fucking tavern, where some kind of mysterious stranger shows up and brings news of unsettling events happening closer to home than anyone cares to acknowledge, where one of the characters is the subject or inheritor of a world-saving prophecy/object/power and they’re Called to Adventure, and then they go out into the fucking woods and there are monsters and they meet a princess and there are some kind of ringwraith-stubstitutes who chase them, basically I want to write Eragon it sounds like …

I am about that right now.

And this is not the first time I’ve felt like this right around Nano time, or even during it. Today I was having a look at my Nanowrimo page and, after finally discovering how to look at all of my projects (yes, I did click the “projects” option but it only showed me my very first one for some reason), decided to take a trip down memory lane and look at some of my older blog posts. Specifically, I wanted to look back on my experiences of Nanowrimos past and see how I was doing at the time. In so doing, I was reacquainted with a particular moment in my 2017 Nano experience where I had decided to create a story that existed within the story I was telling, a film franchise to basically stand in for Star Wars. And this “moment” was me deciding that, actually, that story was so much better than the one I was writing, and I should write it instead.

This story-within-a-story was, in fact, a High Fantasy story about a young boy who was transported from the modern world into a High Fantasy world that he was Chosen to save because he was good and brave and true and look you get it, right, this was not original, nor was it intended to be. Not in terms of the plot anyway – I actually am still very invested in the particular world-building I did for it, the magic system, the aesthetic – the SFX, in other words, which tells me that, in terms of creating an ’80s High Fantasy film trilogy, I am right the fuck on the money. I spent a day devoted to writing as much of this story as I could, testing it out, getting the ball rolling, and letting myself get hype about diving into this High Fantasy world, writing tropes for the sheer giddy sake of writing High Fantasy tropes, and just generally setting out to have some goddamn fun.

And the very next post, I was there to report that, after trying exactly that, the new story actually wasn’t that interesting and I couldn’t take it anymore.

And this reminds me of the way that, when I was fourteen years old, I came up with another High Fantasy story that I called, super-imaginatively, Realm of the Myth, and it turned out to be about as imaginative and original and, how can I put this, worthwhile as that title might suggest, which is to say that even at the tender and impulsive age of fourteen I could tell that this story just didn’t have anywhere to go. I indulged in some tropes, even tried to play with them and do something original with them, and at the end of the day I just couldn’t keep caring after I had started out so excited.

And this is what tends to happen every single time I set out to write High Fantasy. The initial investment is there; I like staring out in a High Fantasy world, getting the ball rolling – there’s something quite satisfying about it. Yet once it comes time to actually set out on the Adventure, I lose all interest. I foresee the rest of the story and, for some reason, those particular tropes don’t appeal to me as much as the ones that kick off any self-respecting, blatantly derivative High Fantasy narrative.

But maybe that’s because I don’t actually want to write these tropes; I just want to experience them. Like, right now, I want to indulge in some good old-fashioned High Fantasy feels – and I’ve had LoTR ruined for me, plus I’ve already seen it well over a hundred times by now …

Well, there’s a Netflix show called The Dragon Prince. Not being super into CGI TV shows not called Reboot, I kind of wrote it off as soon as I saw the trailer a couple of years ago, but today I feel like giving it a go. Maybe this will scratch the itch.

31/10/2019

The Dragon Prince did not, in fact, scratch the itch.

Here’s what it did do: made me very keenly aware of how far we haven’t come, when the creators of Avatar, who are outwardly all aboard the woke-train, create a High Fantasy world in which the king is black, two brave rulers of a neighbouring kingdom are lesbian queens, and proceed to kill all three of them off within an episode of introducing them.

… and okay to be fair I did watch both currently-available seasons, and while it’s literally just reskinned, less-interesting Avatar it is absolutely watchable …

But come on, guys. Come the fuck on.

It’s also … I mean, yes, it’s a series, but the episodic feel just really isn’t doing it for me. Perhaps especially so after being reminded of Dragonlance and how I wasn’t exactly in love with the episodic nature of the story there, either.

I guess, though, all of this reflection upon High Fantasy narratives and my own recurring urges to start a High Fantasy story, even if I can’t bring myself to finish, is giving me a clearer idea of what it is, exactly, that’s going on with me here.

Oh also therapy.

Which is, basically, that I tend to approach many things in life – maybe everything – as a means to an end. If I’m trying to create a writing “plan”, it’s the means by which I meet the end of having written a book. If I’m trying to make a schedule by which to organise my life, it’s the means by which I meet the end of feeling less anxious and guilty. If I’m angsting about having nothing interesting to say or anything to offer another human being by way of an interesting interaction, it is the means by which I meet the end of either 1) trying to figure out how to manipulate some person into giving me emotional validation by acknowledging my existence or 2) excusing myself from a social situation in which I feel uncomfortable so that I can justify hermiting it up in my room.

Which is pretty miserable and unsatisfying, even though the logic is clear. Doing X results in Y. Sure.

It’s just that X is kind of shitty, and Y isn’t even necessarily what I want – and that’s what I’m thinking about my predicament with High Fantasy. Also my life in general, but I am sticking to the thin excuse of this blog being a “writing blog” as the means by which I meet the end of justifying not going TMI mode in this particular blog post.

Wolf Gang was, I now realise, such a pivotal moment for me as both a writer and a human being because I wrote it for its own sake. I was interested to play with the tropes for the sake of playing with the tropes; and the reason that, after skipping the “boring” chapters that I “needed” to make the story “feel complete”, I found that it took another full fucking year to complete those chapters after finishing the majority of the project, is because those chapters were the means by which I met the end of having “finished the book”.

But finishing the book wasn’t really what I wanted. What I wanted was to enjoy playing with tropes, and by the time I’d written the first two-thirds of what is now the completed manuscript, I had done that already. Much like how with Realm of the Myth, when I first set out to write it at age fourteen, I had my fun writing the bits that I wrote, got to the part where the “real story” was going to begin, and realised that, actually, I’d gotten everything that I wanted to get out of the experience, and anything beyond that would be pointless – in terms of being honest about what I actually wanted.

But because that also wasn’t a completed book, and I had this dream of being a published author as a young person because I was in fact a young person and was really feeling myself, this lack of interest in doing something “more” with the project became a problem – because I made it a problem. I conflated “writing a novel to completion” with “writing being worthwhile”. And I’ve been realising over the years that this kind of thinking is wrongheaded and the source of so many of my ongoing issues, but not until today’s therapy session, where my wonderful therapist recommended – and read a bit from – a book called Everything Is F*cked by Mark Manson, yes I’m taken in this shit is so appealing to me I am a total sheep etc. …

It’s a really useful way to think about it.

Because now I realise, where my High Fantasy itches are concerned, that the part of the High Fantasy formula that I most gravitate towards – the start – is the part that I most gravitate towards, and that’s enough.

… yeah that does feel unsatisfying.

I mean, no, I don’t think that I should continue the habit of shaming myself into “believing” that finishing novels is more important than enjoying them, and I do think that being able to acknowledge that, even if it seems like only an incomplete part of a greater undertaking, my getting enjoyment and satisfaction out of the start of a High Fantasy story is fine as an end in and of itself. It’s great, even, because it’s actually not like I even have any ideas that I like for a complete High Fantasy story. Maybe I can’t monetize this shit – but then again, if I put my mind to it, maybe I can! And regardless of that, I can enjoy doing it for its own sake.

But at the same time – well, it’s actually another end in and of itself, to be fair. I like the challenge of getting stuck on a story, of having gotten to the point where I’ve had all the fun I set out to have, and then pushing myself to go farther. I relish that – certainly looking back, if not in the moment itself. But it’s a moment of challenge and tension, of meeting my current limits, and that is also a moment of immense creative energy to take advantage of. Writing Bad Guys over Camp Nano and August was the best of both worlds, where I had a ton of fun writing it for its own sake, and also got the opportunity – many times – to push through periods of doubt and frustration, finding creative solutions to the problem of, simply, running out of ideas.

I ran out of ideas with Realm of the Myth when I was fourteen and left it alone – but a year later, I got more ideas and came back. To be fair, I also ran out of steam that time because, actually, I was coming up with too many ideas to comfortably fit into a single story, or at least too fast for me to be able to effectively process those ideas with my writing strategies at the time. And that just became overwhelming. I refused to give up, though, because I saw my inability to fit every single goddamn idea that I had into the story as a failure on my part, and the whole project became an exercise in trying to maintain enough shame over not managing to find a way to “make it work” to keep trying to “make it work”, even though absolutely nothing that I did actually worked, and I knew it – that was what kept me feeling ashamed of myself, after all.

And actually, this is the first time I’ve been able to see it this way. I didn’t fail at the project because the ideas were bad, or the story was weak, or it was too self-indulgent: I failed at it because I became so fixated on the problem of “how to write this stupid fucking High Fantasy series that is supposed to be giving me joy” that the cycle of self-shaming and refusing to “quit” became the project, the goal of “finishing” an unsatisfactory end that I employed the means of treating myself like a malfunctioning robot in order to reach. I moved away from writing for the sake of writing itself, having fun with the ideas that I did have and liked, to something utilitarian and utterly divorced from any actual desire to do it in the first place.

And also because I didn’t have very good strategies of managing the onslaught of ideas; to be fair I don’t think they’re too much better now, either – but at the same time …

They might be good enough.

I keep coming back to this project, this general concept for a story – at least the start of one. I keep getting this feeling, this uplifting swell of possibility and excitement and, I dunno, romance when the story finds its way back to the forefront of my mind, or when I have an idea that I think would fit with it. I gave up on it “for real” back in 2011, and I gave it up for the right reason: it wasn’t working, hadn’t been working for years, and insisting on keeping the project alive while feeling utterly hopeless about it was only making me miserable. I gave up for the right reasons – but still without actually understanding why it wasn’t working. I think I do now.

And if I know why it wasn’t working …

I’m writing Bad Guys.

Revision Planning: 5 hours-ish

I had to make a lot of executive decisions with this Nano plan for Bad Guys. I’m still actually not quite ready, because I’m so close to making a bunch of ideas that I thought were incompatible, uh, compatible, and I feel like diving into the second draft process (different to a revision process, in my mind anyway: revision is editing, drafting is somewhere between revision and rewriting) with the plan I have currently means giving up on bringing those ideas together.

Yet at the same time, I am not here to sabotage myself. I gotta get started – the means by which I meet the end of yeah look it’s really useful, truly, I am having so many epiphanies right now, I am really happy that my therapist put me on to this, and sometimes you just need to employ some ends-justify-the-means thinking to get shit done.

But, having said that, I think there’s actually a solution here that lets me have my ends-cake and eat it, too.

I just write this thing out of order.

I know most of the plan – let me call it what it is: a novel outline, not really a plan because I’m still figuring that part out – for this second draft; I know that most of the scenes/chapters that I want to include actually don’t impact this big crucial could-solve-everything decision. So if I jump ahead a bit in terms of the chronology of the story, or just kick myself off by writing the parts that I know I am definitely keeping, then I can buy some time to come up with this genius will-solve-everything plan and get started on this second draft.

I mean …

It’s smart. It’s practical. It’s a compromise, but it gets me two things that I, on paper, want.

But if I’m being honest, I just want to solve this goddamn problem. I want to know what, exactly, I’m committing to, in terms of what to expect out of myself, in terms of setting up a plan to make it easy and achievable for myself, and in terms of what I’m looking forward to achieving by undertaking this Nanowrimo process. Which has already frustrated me a little bit by not being as flexible in its goal-setting system as Camp Nanowrimo, so my goal is 120,000 words rather than a certain number of hours, when I wanted a certain number of hours for a goal. I should probably just not even bother with the Nanowrimo goal-tracking process and use it solely for … well I don’t even know. No cabins this time around so group accountability/support is not the same as it was in July, though my co-writing buddy is participating as well to revise her novel and I’m glad we have each other to lean on …

Yeah, I have to sort this out before I start. Or, rather, I’m going to sort this out before I start. Yes I’ll miss out on one of those fucking badges or whatever, but my goal is bullshit anyway, this isn’t the year that I win Nanowrimo. Maybe next year. This is the end that I want, and there are no arbitrary means that I need to undertake to achieve it …

And now that I’ve said that, I kind of want the compromise, because I like the feeling of being efficient and practical sometimes, and …

You know what? I’ll do something, and I’ll get there. It’ll be fine. But only once I wrap up this part of the post.

Okay. Nanowrimo 2019 Day One – let’s roll.

2/11/2019

Writing: 1240

So I’ve got two Nanowrimo projects now.

Yesterday I just gave up on, and I think in a sense I was right to do so. I want to resolve this conflict with my plan for Bad Guys, and it’s not so that I can clear the way to get started – this is how I get started. Because whatever the resolution to this conflict ends up being, it is the answer to the question of what story I’m telling. And I want to feel clear with this project. All this ends/means shit – it’s useful, it’s enlightening, and I’m way too new at thinking about it to employ it casually.

However – while my Bad Guys plan is a bit ends-justify-means-y and I’m actually happy about that at this stage in the process, I do also want something to write just for its own sake. And after reflecting on Realm of the Myth and the feeling of possibility that I get from High Fantasy – a feeling that gives me a hope that the genre itself very rarely, if ever, actually lives up to – I realise that there’s no need for me to stop myself from just indulging in some High Fantasy writing.

Specifically, world-building, and writing first chapters and/or prologues that never get a follow-up, and just random little scenes and events that take my fancy. I’m about that right now.

So that’s my “real” Nanowrimo project – because it’s the one that I can measure with a word-count and have it feel meaningful.

Bad Guys, on the other hand, is … well, I could do it that way, but it would feel dishonest. This is a second draft, which means to me that while there’s a lot of re-using and re-purposing existing things that I’ve written, for all intents and purposes it is a new story. I’m even thinking that one way to solve the current conflict I’m facing is to make it longer, make it a serial story – yes, “episodic”, but episodes that all serve to tell a single, coherent story, rather than each episode feeling pretty self-contained and isolated from the rest. I think it’s probably too much work, but given how much stuff I have with this story that I feel attached to, it might be the right work. At the very least, it’s good to have the option in mind.

But being honest, I like this story as a novel, it feels right – and I am sure that I can find a resolution to this story conflict I’m having. I just need time to do it …

And, yeah, I need to get started. The sooner the better, because it feels bad to have skipped day 1 of Nanowrimo, not because I’m a horrible person for not doing it, but because I made a commitment to myself that I would do it, and I have failed in that commitment. I have let myself down. It’s not the end of the world, but still, it doesn’t feel great.

But whatever; I enjoyed doing my little worldbuilding, scene-setting High Fantasy writing today, and I do think this will probably end up being my opportunity to explore this concept of “High Urban Fantasy” I’ve had in mind for a while now. It’s weird – I’m generally frustrated with High Fantasy that focuses on the worldbuilding, but I think that’s just because it’s often at the expense of characters and meaningful events. If I can have all of that … well, that’s what I think I want out of High Fantasy, and if I can’t find it “out there”, I guess I’ll have to provide for myself.

I’m rather looking forward to this.

Second Draft Brainstorming: I dunno a lot

Probably over 5 hours at this point because I keep going around in circles and this is stupid and I just need to write what I’ve got, even though it doesn’t quite make sense and the sequence of events is all wrong, I just need to get started or it’s not going to happen. And I want this to happen.

Besides, I can just draft it again, right? Or maybe I’ll come up with solutions as I go. It’s been known to happen on occasion.

But yeah, I’ve almost come to a solution so many times just today, only to have some other fiddly detail trip me up, and it’s gotten to the point where I’m pretty sure that the problem isn’t actually meshing my ideas together comfortably, it’s being unwilling to let go of some really iconic moments that I want to have happen that just don’t work together. So, essentially, the same issue as the zero draft.

I guess that means the same solution has a decent chance of working here, right?

It’s better than just going around in circles – and at least now I have this secondary project to work on when I need a break from the self-made mindgames I’m getting caught up in with Bad Guys. It’s such a simple, beautiful premise, and I’m ruining it by being both a perfectionist and completely indecisive. I’m too afraid to get it wrong.

And what’s my whole thing these days?

Care, and show that you care, even if it embarrasses you. Time to take my own advice.

3/11/2019

Second Draft Brainstorming: 4 hours

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T STICK TO THE FUCKING PLAN.

Weekly Totals

Brainstorming/Planning: 17 hours-ish

Writing: 7333

No, let’s be precise: this is what happens when you don’t have a plan – or when you do have one, but it’s very vague, and then you learn all this philosophical shit about “means and ends” and you get really obsessed about achieving ideological purity because you’re a fucking lemming and apparently going through undergrad wasn’t quite enough to get the taking-theories-about-how-to-live-a-perfect-life-way-too-fucking-literally out of your system because in this day and age even evolution has to cut corners somewhere …

I have to admit, though, I actually don’t feel bad about this. I just feel frustrated with myself, but that’s just out of principle.

I’m kind of enjoying myself, gotta be honest.

I have spent over ten hours this week just trying to write and think my way to a successful, perfect, foolproof plan for the Bad Guys second draft. Nanowrimo’s stupid rigid goal-setting parameters threw me off-course; therapy threw me off-course; and the optimism that I had – and still have – for being able to “figure it out” and have my cake and eat it too with this project has thrown me way the fuck off-course. Every time I feel like I’m getting close to a solution, I somehow end up veering so far in the other direction that it makes the overarching problem of “how to get started with this thing” even worse because I just end up finding a new obstacle to getting started that needs its own solution, rinse and repeat ever since I started trying to make this fucking revision/second draft plan.

I’m intelligent, but it seems I’m not very smart, because I’ve been spending the past three days making the same mistakes over and over and over the fuck again. But hey, it’s time for Monthly Words; maybe upon reflection and taking a step back to look at the bigger picture I’ll finally be able to see what the pattern is, and put a stop to this nonsense.

I am just pretty done with Nanowrimo right now, and it’s barely even begun, just because all of my plans and preparation for diving headlong into it have been completely destabilised by this new “I must only ever do things that I see as ends in and of themselves and always avoid doing things that are means to other ends” thing, because I’m desperate for a quick fix to the inane baggage carousel that is my life. Ironically, but more importantly predictably, it has only made things harder to deal with.

I am seeing a pattern.

And yet, again, I don’t feel bad about myself for doing this. I think it’s important, more important that Nano, even more important than upholding my commitment to myself to do this fucking revision or second draft or whatever the fuck I’m not doing because gotta have that plan, that perfect goddamn plan that will solve all the problems, which I’m constantly trying to sabotage as I try to make it probably because the plan is a means to an end and not an end in and of itself which makes it evil or whatever …

But you see, the irony is, brain, that you are now using this whole “only do things that are ends in and of themselves” thing as a means to an end. You fool! You have become the very thing you swore to destroy!

FOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL!!!!!

So you know what?

Fuck Nanowrimo. This year at least. I thought it was going to be something that it turned out not to be: useful to this specific stage in my writing process with Bad Guys. I really need a Camp Nano for what I’m trying to do here; the zero draft, ideally, would have been “real” Nano – but I was not about to wait four months to get started when I’d worked myself up to it.

I’m a bit pissed that I did work myself up to this revision only to stall out when push came to shove, but I also just was so wrongheaded about my decision-making this week in general. I wasn’t decisive enough with Bad Guys to build up meaningful momentum; I haven’t been honest enough with myself about what’s really holding me back from choosing a “plan” for this draft …

Which is that I don’t have one to choose, and I just need to start writing and fucking deal with it.

I used to detest that phrase thanks to the frequency with which a certain ex-best-friend of mine used to say it to me; it’s so fucking condescending. But now I realise that, since I’m the one using it and I can read my own mind, I know that it comes with a level of trust, trust that I can deal with it if I throw myself into it.

My expectations for Nanowrimo were not met and that makes me angry and upset; but overall I’m actually in a pretty great mood. I’ve enjoyed being a stupid giddy naive looking-for-a-shortcut philosophy undergrad student for the past few days, even if it’s fucked everything else up – because I can deal with this.

And I’m pretty done with my High Fantasy writing exercises for now, I think …

But kind of ready to just write some High Fantasy, for its own sake. I think planning for “writing exercises” wasn’t enough of a commitment; I actually want commitment, as I’ve been saying over and over for the past … year, I think. Might pay to listen to myself.

As for Bad Guys? Well, I have enough of a plan, I have enough of a vision to get started at least. I’m open to planning as I need it, as I go, which is an idea I’ve had and felt very excited about many times – and hey, it kind of worked with the zero draft! But no more stalling. Even if all I end up with is a bunch of disconnected scenes that don’t fit together in the shape of a story, I got some ideas and I’m eager to get them out of my head and into writing.

Okay. No more stalling.

… after Monthly Words at least boom gotcha … myself … well done …