Category Archives: Writing

Project: Fail Better (Take 2)

I am trying this again since it clearly didn’t work for me at all last time and doing things that clearly don’t work for me at all is definitely a pattern of mine.

How this works:

  • Timeframe: November 1 – December 31.
  • Word goal: 60,000 words of rough draft by end of timeframe.
  • Project: Death Drive.

Extra credit:

  • Try to rope other people into doing this with me.*
  • Fully outfit my freezing deathtrap into a functional writing garret.
  • Devise a writing schedule I can commit to.

Incentive:

  • 100% completion: the cheapest bottle of champagne I can find and I blow some cash on a one week vacation/writing retreat at a seaside cabin sometime in 2016.

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*Because I’m super-into rope?

NaNo 2014: Day 1

I’ve started writing a book that I know is going to hurt me. I think it will be good for me.

Tomorrow, after sleep and caffeine, I will start for real and add to this tentative/fragile attempt to conjure down some words/any words/anything just anything now right now or I’ll end the month having written nothing again and then I’ll keep writing nothing forever and ever.

Words: 92.

Unrealistic Expectations

Today is the first day of the sixteenth incarnation of National Novel Writing Month.

By now everyone on the internet has chosen sides of either “You should totally write a novel! Anyone can do it!” or “Writing a novel is impossible magic and implying that anyone can do it, especially in the space of 30 days, is tantamount to pissing on the literary greats.”

Fuck that. Fuck everyone on both sides of that. Because the truth is that you won’t end NaNoWriMo with a novel, you’ll end it (if we’re being optimistic) with the first draft of a novel. If you want an entire nooovvelll, well… there’s a lot more work you’re going to have to put into it beyond forcing out that first chaotic attempt.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo because you’ve always wanted to write a novel and/or you have a story you need to tell and/or you’re going through (or have been through) some really awful shit and you can’t afford therapy and/or you just want to see if you can do it and/or you want to be able to tell everyone who keeps asking when you’re going to write that nooovvelll you keep talking about to stfu, those are good reasons (for certain values of “good reasons”) to do this.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo because you want to get rich quick or because you think the steps to writing a novel are something like

  1. Write first draft in 30 days (hopefully less).
  2. ??????
  3. Fame and adoration forever.

then that is, at the least, a prelude to bitter disillusionment.

NaNoWriMo isn’t a seekrit cheat code for writing. It’s not a hack or a glitch or that hidden warp zone that lets you go straight to the final boss without playing through the rest of the game first. It’s not a threat to Literature™ or an insult to Real Writers™ or a misguided attempt at encouraging fake writers to playact The Writing Process.®

It’s just a deadline. It’s a deadline and a goal and the knowledge that a lot of other people are trying to do the exact same thing right now.

That’s all it’s ever been. Let that be enough.

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Disclaimer: This is a (much belated) response to a request on the NaNoWriMo forums for a demotivational pep talk option as a counterpoint to the positive/sanguine tone of the official NaNo pep talks. This is not official in any way as I am neither NaNoWriMo staff nor has this been reviewed or vetted by the Office of Letters and Light, the parent organization of NaNoWriMo (because why would they care what I do?). 

I hope those who need this find it—and if you’re looking real NaNoWriMo bubbly nonsense, visit NaNoWriMo.org.

Project: Fail Better (In Retrospect)

You go into it with the best of intentions but then there are problems at work and problems at life and that all gets tangled up in the pervasive/constant emotive bullshit you’re always dealing with* and illness because your immune system demonstrably wants you dead for some reason and beyond that there’s the paralysis of potential inflicted by all the shiny new ideas you’re having that you should really be either documenting for later or just ignoring because they are not even this story for godsake.

And time. Insert your favorite cliche here about how it doesn’t wait. It just doesn’t.

So now you’re at the end of this brilliant/gorgeous idea you had with your brilliant/amazing writer friend and you don’t know how it went for him—you’re guessing not well, since the daily progress emails stopped coming after you had that conversation towards the middle of last month that was something like: “I’m sick and I kind of want to die. Fuck writing. Fuck everything.” / “No. That’s not cool. I’m sick too. Why do our bodies keep trying to kill us? What is this hideous evolutionary detriment I can’t even.”—but how it went for you is you have yet another scattered collection of half-formed ideas and another butchered storycorpse to throw on the pile with everything else you’ve started and never finished.

When failure stops being a useful motivational tool, there’s no point in failing anymore.

End of Day 61: Fuckall accomplished.

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*In my head this sounds roughly like I hate my job I hate my life blah blah chemical imbalance blah and I realize other people have real problems but we’re talking about me right now.**
**Which is obvious since I began this post with “you.” That makes all kinds of sense.

Project: Fail Better | Day 6

There will always be distractions. There will always be heartbreak. There will always be thoughts that monopolize your time, your attention, your subconscious braincycles, despite all intentions to save those things for the writing.

The so-simplistic-and-oft-repeated-it-borders-on-cliche advice is to Write Through It. That’s never worked for me. My emotive unrest is so all-encompassing it is impossible to graft it onto another context convincingly. Oh dear god I think the utter magnitude of my ego may be about to collapse in on itself and form a black hole. (How embarrassing.)

Let me try that again: the emotive unrest I’m experiencing is too raw to incorporate into fiction like an experienced truth because I’m still experiencing it. And without a compelling perspective and necessary emotional distance, it’s all just goth poetry.

I desperately need to sever ties that are binding me in discomfortable ways but I’m conflicted or reluctant or both because of history or obligation or some vague misapprehension that maybe things will eventually get better and everything will work out (somehow!) if I can only hang on a while longernevermind it’s been years and I’m just realizing how stupidly wrong my perception of the supposed connection has been this entire time.

Inertia is not an alchemy one can use to force a worthwhile and fulfilling relationship from someone who has made it entirely clear by his words and actions that what you have was never that, was never going to be that, could never be that.

Tl;dr: I’m 30 years old. I don’t need this shit.

End of Day 6: 378 words.*

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*Mostly story notes rather than actual fictive output but at this point I’ll take it.

Project: Fail Better | Day 3

Despite every intention of starting this on the first to establish a pattern in my own head/reinforce my commitment to doing this project, I managed to lose all track of time* until I was staring at my laptop screen last night at something like 2ayem and noticed it was the third of May already.

So I did what I always do: I idly read things online** and listened to music*** and set up a document to track my wordcount**** and emailed back and forth a bit with the other person I agreed to do this with. Part of the last email I sent was this long excuse about how I couldn’t focus enough to write, not even 350 words, because I was just too tired/wired to manage it. After I sent it, I was like Wow that looks like a really long email and I copy+pasted it into my preferred online word counterand it was 783 words long.

Anyway. I’m still improper-sleep-fucked but only real writing is writing (also this) and if I can bash out 783 words about how I can’t write, it’s absolutely fucking pathetic if I don’t at least take a shot at 350 words of real writing today.

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*This isn’t so strange, I haven’t been sleeping right the past few days and time tends to go sideways on me when I don’t sleep.
**If I was being overly generous, I’d call this “research.”
***I found out about Aesthetic Perfection about a week ago when I happened upon the video for “Antibody.” I watched it like half a dozen times, then bought all their albums and have been listening to them on repeat since then.
****It seemed like a good idea?