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Remember when I used to come to you with all my emotional posts? No? Well it happened. One of the interesting things about being in a relationship is both that I have someone to talk with about emotional things personally, but also that I have someone I don’t want worried about me. I don’t know if that’s working though, since I’m plenty worried about her, and she probably feels the same.
At the start of November, I wanted to participate in Nanowrimo by writing a book worth of “blog prose” in the form of a daily journal. I did it for a day and a half before realizing that it was depressing the fuck out of me to actually talk about all my anxieties and shit. I thought about publishing it on tumblr, but I didn’t want people worrying about me. But now I feel pretty much the same as then, and I realized that I probably just need to get these out there and off my chest. So, here’s the first parts of a November novel that never came to be. enjoy
It’s 7:40 AM On November First And I’m Too Anxious To Sleep
This will be rough. November’s mere prospect and the dregs of last night’s alcohol sitting low in my stomach whip a gale of old anxieties to the top of my head:
“I really hope none of my friends commit suicide or tragically die anytime soon!” (Advice: if you can find friends who aren’t depressed, gravitate towards them.)
“I hope my girlfriend won’t stop loving me!” (I know you’re reading babe, and I’m sorry this anxiety is still hanging over me.)
“I hope I don’t completely fuck up my budding career!” (Hello, dear readers! Donations appreciated!)
Ash told me to hug the Chibiterasu plushy and think of her; I’m hanging on for dear life.
My life isn’t a rollercoaster, and nothing so sheer as a rock climb, but it’s certainly a mountain hike, like the ones I’ve had two summers now: challenging, fun, exhausting; and scenic in a funny way—in how the views are nice, but most of the time is spent staring at my feet, making sure I don’t trip and bust my ass. I’m clumsy, and everyone in my life laughs when I fall, but half at least have the decency to help me up. I suspect the world wouldn’t hold their worth in trade.
You’ll be hearing a lot about my friends, ‘cause let’s be real: you’ve opened my book. My book is probably akin to a daily diary more so than any kind of novel. This book is about what’s important to me, and that’s why you’ll know the names of all the people I care about by the end of it. Most of my life occurs in a hypersonic blur, but if I can gab on about anything, it’s pop media and people—especially myself. Don’t pretend you had no idea what you were getting into; you’ve been warned.
There’s an odd orbit to my emotions, in that anxiety doesn’t need an excuse to crop up and spook me every so many days. It would probably be much worse if I couldn’t remember a time when I spent my days crying over it, followed by a time when, through medication and general life improvement, I got past it. I started feeling anxious again the other night, and the pivotal moment may have been when Victor got me to watch Annie Hall with him. A stream of consciousness that could only better approximate Victor’s mind if Woody Allen had been 20 when he made it—and not unrelatable for me as well.
I don’t want to relate to any part of a story of failed romance while I’m in a romance, and I don’t like looking at the connections. I’m nothing like Woody Allen or his character, or that movie, or anything, but anxiety doesn’t work in a linear fashion, or by way of logic, and it’s only my luck that I can power through with logic of my own. I know I’m doing okay when my paragraphs come out stilted at worst. Last time I tried to write a novel-length journal, the first paragraph was just the word, “blood,” written a hundred times.
But hey, don’t get me wrong. These days, I’m mostly fine most of the time. This isn’t an introduction, but an opening chapter, and it’s hardly my fault if November First comes right after Halloween night. I doubt this will be the weirdest chapter of this book, but I hope like hell it’s not the most normal.
Let’s Start The Month Off Right
“Institutions are inherently dangerous because every person is intrinsically different.” - Me
I hear that the straight, white, privileged male perspective is tired, but I only partly agree. More imperatively, it’s over-represented and overvalued. However, inasmuch as I think every person is a little different from the next, I think every viewpoint is worth a look—though given my profession, this could be a self-defense reflex.
Knowing what this month will entail, I thought it best to start my day off right. I cleaned my laundry, shaved my face, cleaned my room, vacuumed my floor, cleaned my body, and quenched my insatiable appetite for fast food at Hardee’s before jumping into a call with Ashley.
I should clarify, for those less embedded in the modern culture of trans-national relationships, that, “a call,” these days, refers to a Skype call. In our case, we’re on webcams, voices coming through one-another’s speakers, talking into microphones. We stay in calls most of the time that she’s home. (I’m always home.)
To clarify further, Ashley is in the Air Force, and she alternates between being at work for several days (meaning no Skype access, so we talk by phone and facebook), and being at home for several days. You need to know that because it means our calls literally last all day and all night much of the time, even if one or both of us is asleep or away from the computer.
If you’re wondering why we leave the calls open when we aren’t saying anything to one-another—sometimes muting our microphones while the other sleeps in total darkness through which we can’t even see them—I ask that you participate in a thought experiment. If you have any loved ones, then this should be easy; if not, then imagine you have someone you really, truly love. Now imagine that they live further away than you can affordably travel with any regularity, and you can only see their face three or four days out of the week.
Distance is a brutal beast, and I’ll get into that later, but for now another thought is imposing. Namely that this morning, the thought of distance brought me to anxiousness, which I wrote my way out of with chapter one. Now, I’m deliberately writing about distance, but with almost a dash of excitement. Maybe you can understand the passion I have for introspection (doubly so for writing) in that the ability to describe my pain is the very mechanism by which I cope with it.
I Hate Singing
This chapter header could be misleading, as I really hate singing in the way that, “love,” and, “hate,” are two sides of the same coin. Singing is something I love and think I can do well, but half the time can’t do well and hate myself for trying. Every time I film or record myself singing, I can’t perform under pressure. Every time I do perform well, it turns out I didn’t hit the record button, or the audio levels were wrong. It’s happened more times than you’d need to believe that my singing voice is cursed.
It sucks, because I think that if I could get my voice right on a recording just a few times, my musician friends would want to work with me. They know I want to work with them—they say they’ll put me in the works for something, but damn if all of them don’t put out a hundred projects with other singers while I never get a callback.
But I hate writing music, and I have no musical sensibility, and everything I manage to record is weird, and listenable to only myself, and I’m tone deaf, and I don’t know how to sing, and I don’t care, fuck it, I’m done.
I Love Ashley
And the funny thing about our relationship is that I’m highly analytical of everything, while she isn’t analytical of anything. Our moment-to-moment experience of our relationship is almost the same, but I see everything coming a mile away, while she’s taken by surprise.
Even though we met online, as soon as our relationship started I knew that we needed to be together physically. Much of our relationship is expressed less in words and actions, more in feeling, and feeling is easier to convey with our bodies and intimacy than it is over a Skype call that keeps crashing. I wonder how much of us playing Pokemon together was a coping mechanism for our distance—and dear god did I ever just realize that we need to get into an MMORPG together STAT.
She doesn’t need to analyze anything to know how badly she wants me back with her, and if I shut my brain down completely my body would remind me all to blatantly how much I need to find my way to Montana post-haste. Neither of us is patient beyond a facade by which we trick ourselves into coping, and I suspect if we didn’t want to keep one-another from worrying, we’d be sending emo poetry back and forth saying, “this is how I feel without you here.” I think we mostly say, “I miss you,” in text because we don’t want the other to see us upset.
You’ll get used to this ambivalence between the intensely romantic feelings she and I have for one another, and the heartbreaking reality of our distance, because this is a November novel, and I can’t move in with her until Spring. This book should have a happy ending, but I promise it’s already looking bittersweet.
I’ve Really Gotta
I’ve really gotta do another two videos on Pokemon Y before the hype dies down, and I’ve really gotta do some more videos on My Little Pony because that’s my only source of income right now, and I’ve really gotta play some Zelda games this month, and I’ve really gotta write this novel about how I’m playing a lot of Zelda games this month, and I really oughtta make something about how fantastic the Nausicaa manga is, and I REALLY gotta get these Patreon rewards done, and I really oughtta lose some weight, and I really oughtta rank all the Pokemon designs ever, and I really gotta figure out what my top albums of 2013 are, and I really gotta—
Two Wakeups (3:30AM)
After a strong windup this morning I proverbially passed out all at once—now I’m staring into space in that miserable way. Ashley was too tired to talk two hours ago, but she’s still reblogging stuff on tumblr. I’m almost certain she’s been upset with me the last few days, but in the way that my inability to be with her is infuriating. She keeps mentioning how she’s been emotional the last few days, as if to say, “look, don’t ask—I’ll see your face when I want to.” Besides the point.
Not horny enough for porn, not tired enough for sleep, not inspired enough to write a video, not energetic enough to hook up the Wii, and it’s way too fucking humid to do anything. Kind of ridiculous, considering it’s November fucking second. It rained all day.
I took another shower, because why not; thought up five random topics to add to this book, but all of them were tangents, and I’m way too spent for that shit. Why does my phone keep randomly vibrating? I hate this phone so fucking much.
Put the AC on, but it’s made the air pressure worse. Let’s face it—I’m in no mood to stop listening to Hokey Fright any time this hour. I’m gonna take a nap, and as completely fucked up as this sounds, I’m gonna try not to think about Ashley right now. My heart is in pain, and this anxiety is sitting rather comfortably on my chest. I love you, Ash.
[Addendum: totally failed the not thinking part.]
Was one of the books my mom had to get for a class. I’d thought about picking it up a couple of times, especially since it’s only a little over 100 pages. I did so tonight and found the writing style splendid, so I sat for 2 hours and plowed through the whole thing, and here’s the results:
Leaving aside pleasantries about how the book was ‘sooo right’ about this and that, the most important section to me was when it talked about ‘canons’ of activity that one performs while creating art. The most interesting example was Earnest Hemmingway who would situate his typewrite on a counter-top and did all of his writing standing up.
The author goes on to mention that they had a personal formula of always writing at night time, and then at one point decided to switch it up and write during the day. This didn’t work; writing all but stopped, and it became a necessity to go back to formula.
I’ve always been one to play around with the formulas I use for creative work, constantly looking for whatever might trigger my inspiration.
Early on in the course of writing my novel, I realized that it was difficult for me to write it on my main computer. Something about using it was like a natural distraction, so most of my writing got done on my dad’s laptop.
The author stresses the importance that if a canon is necessary to work, then it shouldn’t be disturbed. It’s not hard to see why someone would think to change things, since these canons usually seem pretty nonsensical, but the fact is, what works, works.
There’s a very clear common factor in all the work I did on my novel—it was done in concentrated bursts of insanity while facing incredible self-imposed deadlines.
The first 5000 words were done when I swore to myself I’d have 5000 words done by the end of the first day. The next 5000 were done in two or three days while I realized that my novel wasn’t going to be anywhere close to how long I’d miscalculated it as being. The sudden lack of need to write fast took away my desire to write at all.
Somewhere around the 20th, a conversation with ghostlightning rekindled my motivation, and I resolved to lock myself in a bathroom all night and get writing done. Thus, another 5000 or so words came about.
Then, finally, when time was running out on the 28th and passion was mounting, I creamed out 20k words in one day, and capped off the remaining 5k words or so in the following day or two.
By the looks of it, I can only really work when I’ve got pressure on myself to do things with absurd speed. This is basically true for everything I do—I’ve always been an absurd procrastinator who holds things off until the end and then bursts through them in one sitting. Just now at the end of the semester, I had a project for typography which we’d been given at least 3 weeks to work on and I did it entirely on the day before it was due (and still got a B!)
I love setting big goals, because I love the feeling that comes with accomplishing big goals. Smaller goals don’t feel like enough of a stunt or ‘challenge’ to catch my interest.
The reason I haven’t resolved to set stunt goals for myself all the time is that from a rational perspective, it seems unhealthy. Most people would not advise writing 20k words in a day. Then again, most wouldn’t probably recommend doing 50k in a month, but there are nanowrimo participants who complete 500k words in that span. (A friend of mine from school that I challenged to do Nano with me wrote 85k.)
One author talked about in Art & Fear was obsessed with producing at least 7000 words every single day, to the point that if he finished a novel early into that chunk, he would immediately start on the next one to fill out the 7k.
Maybe I’m just simply like that. Maybe regardless of what seems like a good idea to others, I’m just the guy who has to write in ridiculous spurts of fury. It’s most certainly an avenue I’m going to proceed to explore, effective immediately.
Almost a week ago, I came up with, for the first time, a complete idea for a novel. I’ve always had ideas in pieces, usually knowing the beginning and ending of my story with a couple of vague middle details, but could never really decide how to get from the start to finish and have it make sense. This uncertainty is a lot of why I haven’t ever finished anything that I’ve tried to write in the past.
So this time, I pretty much have it all figured out, which is where I have to conquer the second demon - perfectionism. One of the things that NaNoWriMo tries to teach writers is that actually writing is the most important thing about writing. Revision, editing, etc. are all great, but if you never write anything then, well, nothing will be written. I’ve always fretted way too much about these things. I get caught up in, like, writing an opening sentence that isn’t too cliche, or trying to perfect every sentence in the first paragraph, and that won’t get me anywhere, especially because there is no perfect way of doing it. By the time the novel is done, I’d probably end up changing everything like that anyway.
So what I need to do is just plow through everything, no matter how shitty it may sound at first, and just have it all there.
But man, that is hard. It really does bug me, writing a paragraph that I know should be heavily revised, and then just continuing on. It hurts. I’m used to writing in quick bursts and correcting everything on the spot. As a blogger, I write all of my posts in one sitting. I transfer everything from brain to word, then I go back and make sure it all makes sense, and send it out. It hurts to not be able to immediately go back. So I end up losing confidence. After just writing the first four pages of my new story over the course of a couple of days, I was already wondering ‘will this really be okay?’ but then I had to slap myself a couple of times and remember that it won’t matter if it’s okay if I never finish the fucking story.