I’ve been diverting a lot of my time and energy to working on my novel lately. I had thought, around Christmas, that I would commit to posting every day in the new year, as a way of honouring my faithfulness to writing. But then it dawned on me that my novel draft was written, and I got excited to type and revise it. And then I found out there was a novel writing contest whose deadline was yesterday, and I got excited to prepare a submission. And then I submitted, and got excited about typing and revising again.
I’ve still had lots of ideas emerge that I’d like to post about, but the novel train simply has more momentum right now. As much as I love click-clacking my words into this particular box, I don’t have any notion of where, in particular, it could take me. Meanwhile, my novel, I think, may have legs, and a destination in mind.
Immersing myself in writing in the way I have been these past few weeks has been an exaltation. At a level rivalled only by one other point of light in my life.
It’s a relief to find that exaltation in an activity that is not tied to somebody else. To be free to indulge in the majesty of it – the divinity of it – without worrying it creates a burden upon another. To be able to fully invest myself in the power of it, not needing to hold back for anybody’s sake. I have been waiting for this for a long time. Yet it was right there all along. Glaringly obvious, surely, to anyone with half a brain cell.
It gives me hope that there are other forms of exaltation waiting for me. Forms that will open and welcome me, inviting me to give myself to them in reckless abandon. It gives me hope that my life will, in fact, deliver to me all the things I have been dreaming of.
That is quite an incredible feat, and not something I expected in the first half of January 2022. But there we are.
I have a weirdly vivid memory of being obsessed with the 2009 Eurovision winner, Fairytale, by Alexander Rybak, for a few days after he won. It was a weird time in my development, as I had all but left my goth stage, but I hadn’t quite emerged into the wider world, so I didn’t like to admit to myself that I enjoyed things like that…but at the same time I kind of wanted to admit it to everyone, as though they should be equally fascinated by the novelty of it.
I think it was the celebratory energy with which he sang “I’m in love with a fairytale, even though it hurts, ’cause I don’t care if I lose my mind, I’m already cursed” that truly hooked me, though.
I hard related to that declaration. That was my mantra. That was the meaning of my life, as far as I could tell. Every single word of it. A weird mix of brutal, unblinking self-awareness and determined, romanticised, exultant masochism.
I played that mantra out to completion. For many years it was, truly, my life’s work. It lost me my mind, and I had to build a new one. And standing several years to the other side of whatever portal it sent me through, I can see that it’s still true for me, but it’s different now. I can’t articulate what the words of the mantra have changed into yet; that’s something I’ll need to sit with. But the core of that journey is there in me, and always will be. It’s part of what makes me who I am: That fatal flaw in my ego has been transmuted into what I believe to be strength.
I will always be willing to lose my mind for the sake of saving my heart.
I wrote a few months ago about how I started writing a story sixteen years ago, and how, despite thinking I was incapable of finishing it, I realised recently I had in fact written much more of it than I remembered. After that point, I decided to get serious about the story. To commit to it. And then I realised how much more work there was to do on it to get to where it needed to be. With an uneasy mixture of disappointment and determination, I resolved to complete my first book in 2022.
And then, yesterday, on the second day of 2022, I realised that, actually, I already have.
So that was a weird paradigm shift.
I have in no way completed the story. But I have passed the natural conclusion of the first book, and sunk my toes deep into the fertile soil of the second. And, contrary to what my very serious self had been telling me, I don’t need to fundamentally change that first book. I had convinced myself I needed to fit the vision of the entire story into the first book, rather than just allowing it to be what it is. But, of course, the first book has its own vision, and it declared it to me quite cheerfully over Christmas. Once I accepted that, I was able to see that it already has all the pieces it needs. It is, at its heart, complete.
So I’ve written a book. First draft anyway. Well, more of a first-and-a-half draft. Well, okay, some bits are already a fourth or a fifth draft. I started it a long time ago, okay?
I don’t know exactly how long it will take me to finish typing the fucker up, let alone buffing all the dents out. But it is clear that my timescale has drastically reduced from initial projections.
Happy New Year.
Fucking trust me to add something like ‘serum’ to my word game. Fuck knows what else I have lying in wait to shoehorn into relevance.
When it comes to skincare, I like serums. High concentration, minimal residue.
For many years I had no skincare routine at all – I didn’t even wash my face – and I greatly preferred it that way. Partly, yes, because I couldn’t be arsed. But also because any time I did try out something in the way of skincare, it messed shit up. It disrupted the balance. I could feel it, and it felt worse.
Serums though, are my kind of skincare. In, out, no-one even knows that they were there. They have allowed me to believe I am finally exploiting the miracle of modern science to preserve my countenance. Because I can use a serum, and my skin is still my skin. I have now built an entire regime around having my skin still feel like my skin.
When it comes to relationships, I think I prefer serums too. Give me the good stuff, but don’t fuck with my life.
For a long time I’ve mostly avoided them, because all the ones I ever had disrupted the balance, and I realised being in them felt worse than being alone.
But I’m exploring other options.
I’ve decided to play a game.
I’ve written a bunch of random words on teeny tiny pieces of paper. Well, maybe not random, exactly. Just whatever the fuck came into my head as I was writing, really.
They will live in a box with an elephant on. Not relevant, but true nonetheless.
Every day (edit: okay, maybe not EVERY day), I will pick a random word out of the elephant box.
Then, I will write a blog post, using that word, on a predetermined topic or theme.
That’s the game.
It’s a word game.
Don’t tell me it’s not.