For the next two weeks I’ll be on vacation from work. I hate the newspeak work “staycation” but that’s basically what will be happening. Much like the past few years, I haven’t really been in a good enough position mentally to plan, much less go on any substantial vacation. After the debacle last year where I waited and waited until I finally snapped at work I knew this year what I had to avoid. So about a month ago I just scheduled two weeks in the end of September with some vague notions of what I might want to do. One of the things I’m really hoping to do is get some really great writing done for this blog! I’m also hoping to try again at writing my book.
I came up with the basic idea for the story way, way back in 2005. I was still writing a lot even back then, but it was mostly blog posts and poems. So many poems. Eventually, I stopped writing poems. I don’t know why I stopped, it was like my brain shut off to doing it. At the time though, I did try to just jump in head first and write the story. This was probably in early 2006. I got a solid chapter in and then things really degraded for me. Between a tumultuous last year of high school, and a painful first year at college, the story was the last thing on my mind.
I mostly forgot about it until this past winter. It just sort of popped into my head. Seems like quite a few things have been randomly popping into my head over the past year. Anyway, I don’t know why, but it just seemed like a good idea to really think about the story again. Could I really take this idea and convert it into an actual novel? I managed to find the original copy of the story I had started almost 10 years before and looked it over. It was pretty bad, but bad or not, it jumpstarted my memory of what I had wanted to write. I grabbed my laptop, sat on the couch and just brain dumped a few thousand words. I started describing the characters. A few of the terms. The history and description of this future world I had envisioned. Then things naturally progressed into a plot. By the time I was done, I had what felt like a solid outline of a story I that was cool, and something I would want to write. I hadn’t noticed, but during the brain dump, the main character turned out to be so much like me. Or at least, how I imagine my ideal self.
With outline in hand, I decided to take a crack at writing the story. I mean, everything was done, all I had to do was write it. I am a good writer. I know I’m a good writer. I’ve had people telling me my writing was really good for almost a decade. Yet when it came to writing this, a story I genuinely believed in, and felt such relief from my daily life just imagining it, I completely psyched myself out:
“You’ve never written anything this big or complex.”
“You’re not a writer. You’re just like every idiot fan-fic writer on the internet who thinks they’re the best thing since sliced bread.”
“You don’t know how to write a book.”
“Everybody thinks they can write, most of them can’t. You’re no different.”
…and so on.
If I talked to you the way I talk to myself, I guarantee you would take a swing at my asshole face. I don’t care if you’re the biggest pacifist since Gandhi. I don’t know why I talk to myself like that, or why I listen (and I do). I started writing the story, but I couldn’t shake those stupid thoughts. Writing became a chore, rather than something I enjoyed. It literally became the best sleep aid I’ve ever used. I started obsessing over word counting, and reading things I wrote the next day and thinking they were absolute juvenile trash. Though I started with a set schedule, and even planned on giving my dad the first few chapters by the end of February, within a few weeks, I went from writing 3-4 nights a week to 1 night a week, and soon to none.
Naturally, I blamed myself. After all, I was the one who failed to write it. Those criticizing thoughts were coming from my head, not anyone else’s. So the whole thing ground to a halt. I’ve worked really hard on myself in the intervening months. Really hard. If I myself had told me in February, that I’d feel the way I do now, and am ready to start writing this thing again, past me would’ve scoffed and thrown some kind of hot liquid in present me’s face. I’m very hopeful that a break in routine will help me get the jump on writing the story, and my unhelpful thoughts. I even treated myself to a new laptop (replacing one from 2006) as a symbol of my belief in myself that “yes, you can write this. I do believe in you.” I don’t have enough cheerleaders like that in my life. The least I can do is try to be one for myself. I also feel more relaxed writing on a laptop because it’s lighter, and I can sit with it anywhere. Sitting at my computer at a desk just feels like work.
So here’s to my vacation. Let’s see what great stuff gets written.