The How

I’ve eaten too much sugar today. Not only did I have an inch of honey on my toast this morning, but I’ve been snarfling a random meringue here and there, and I bought a cinnamon bun (although they’re called custard buns here, which is odd. There’s no custard in them) from the bakery. And then I made more meringues. I’ve been a meringue making machine recently – they’re kind of my tax, for living in this house, for being given lifts to the station, for couch beds in Wellington…. First I made my way through all the apples that Debbie had in her fridge, and made apple crumbles for EVERYONE! I actually had one day when I had crumble for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I didn’t feel very well that week. Now I’ve moved on to the only other dessert that I *know* I’m amazing at, which is meringues; handily, the main ingredient of meringues also happens to be the other plentiful, free food source that I have access to.

So. Meringues for Michelle (Office Manager, gives me a lift to the shops and back), Lisa (Debbie’s sister, picks me up from the station and veggie market) and Alex (Ari’s sister, lets me sleep on her couch). And diabetes type 2 for Erin.

I don’t think I can blame the sugar for my main dilemma today, however, which was ‘what to write about’. I knew I needed to write *something* today, but I wasn’t sure what.

Starting the Shame Project, and knowing that I’ll be writing something, has already changed things – I’m thinking about what to write, and I’m not dismissing it, or shrugging and saying ‘If it’s not clear what I want to write about today, better not to write anything.’ This belief arises partly from a) fear of not wanting to be shit and everything I write needing to be perfect and therefore really well thought out and written a while ago and then re-drafted with some distance and edited and only then actually judged whether it’s *good* enough to go up cos it’s probably not seeing as I can’t even think of the second sentence once I have the topic so let’s just leave it – and partly from b) the romance. You know. Writing will come when it’s ready. Don’t push it. If it’s not flowing, then it’s not going to be good. So don’t even start unless you’re *definitely* feeling it. Oh, and a garret. You’ll need a garret. Preferably with a draft.

There’s some truth, or usefulness, in both those thoughts. But that’s how I’ve been doing it thus far. And, er, it’s not really working. Also, a lot of the time, when I read articles or blogs about how other writers write, or what advice award-winning writer X would give to those that want to be writers – they almost all say something along the lines of, oh, what was it again, yes, that’s it – write.

How do you know when to push yourself, and when to leave it? I lost all my internal compasses, barometers, dowsing sticks, crystal balls and even mood rings in the wasteland that was the Great Depression of 13/14, which, actually is a whole other post (the fear, the complete sense of loss, of direction, of movement, of sustenance that comes whenever you have no idea WHETHER YOU’RE EVEN HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION). So it’s a genuine, desperate problem.

Throughout the day, I’ve been considering subjects to write about, and several actually came to me – this is already a vast improvement, and A Cool Thing. In no particular order:

– my problems, and my delights, with Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman
– how I, in particular, shouldn’t be allowed to meet my heroes/ines, even the ones that aren’t heroes/ines anymore, incorporating an apology to Neil Gaiman for my behaviour when I met him at dinner last year, in the secret hope that he might one day see it, and I can stop being mortified every time I remember it.
– the oddness of my Mum, who walked out the door when I was 16, giving me Bridget Jones’ Diary as a ‘leaving for uni’ present.
– being a feminist, finding certain parts of Geordie Shore so horrific that I start shaking, but the next day I’ll watch it again.

Andrew Ducker had also given me several suggestions off the top of his head – bastard – and I considered them, too.

With all of them, I felt a bit like the equivalent of a desperately-wanting-to-please 13 year old, shuffling their feet, and saying ‘Yeh… maybe. I dunno.’

I’m really confused about The How of writing, and I’d like to work it out. The obvious answer is ‘find what works for you’. See the bit above about having no internal systems functioning in that department at the moment. Or rather, they’re all sitting in the red zone, the one that signifies ‘SOMETHING’S WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG…’ All my nudges tell me to do *anything* but writing. I just don’t trust them or their motivations anymore. And now I’m going down a wormhole. Back to the question.

Do I set myself a word limit every day? A time limit? – obvious problems with this kind of ‘factory’ outlook, as if I fulfilled my quota, I can happily toddle off, even if said quote consists of ‘All play and no work makes…’ over and over again.
Do I make myself write *every* day, or every week? Or some other arbitrary schedule? – won’t that make me hate it more? Won’t that lead to me writing any old shit, like this, which will lead to me feeling even worse about my self and any skill I may or may not have?
Do I just write when I feel like it? – immediately thrown out, as that’s what I’ve been doing so far, and I never feel like it.)
Should I only put things up when they’re all nice, and rounded, and neat, and have been proofed, and are Real Life Blog Posts, such as Famous Blogger would write? Or do I just keep making sure that I put something *anything* here? But then how do I make sure I’m developing? Isn’t re-drafting and editing just as important? Or is me being me, and raw and honest and splurgey, even better? Or have I ingested too many ‘How to be a VJ!’ moments off MTV in the 90s?
These ones I really don’t know about. So I’ll ask one more.

Am I massively over thinking things? – almost certainly. I do, with everything. I find it very hard to identify when I’m doing it, which is the first step to stopping doing it. Everything I’ve ever really wanted to do, I’ve become stalled at The How bit, so this is pretty normal for me. It’s just this is the first time I’ve gone to grind through it; for someone that’s intelligent, I find it *immensely* frustrating that The How doesn’t come more easily to me. The sulky teenager inside me finds it immensely frustrating that The How of EVERYTHING EVER isn’t just immediately apparent to her, but she’s slowly getting over that (see previous post about the damage telling your kid ‘You can do anything!’ vs ‘If you want something, you’ll need to work at it’ does).

I don’t know. I’d very much like people’s thoughts. Maybe I’ll just try all of the above, in order, and see. I don’t know. I just hate not knowing before I embark on things.
All of which just leaves me a bit deflated, and grumpy, and unsure, and feeling like an asshole.

TLDR: Erin is angsty, and it’s boring.

 

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