Writing

Writing Goals – September 2017

Hello, and welcome back to my blog!

So we’re heading right into prime productivity season, as I try desperately to get everything done that I need to before NaNoWriMo rolls around. How successful I am at this remains to be seen, of course, but hey.

I’ve been struggling this summer. A rather problematic sensitivity to heat and an absurdly warm summer means that I’ve spent the last couple of months feeling very ill. My mental health hasn’t been all that great, either. My productivity has suffered quite a bit because of this. I want to use the coming months to get caught up on stuff and get back on my game.

So. I present to you, a list of my current pre-NaNo writing projects, some of which will probably become NaNo projects later on:

  1. The Illusion of Perfect Things: A chosen family fights to stay alive and together as a tyrannical government power seeks to create the ‘perfect’ society by disposing of those they consider imperfect.
  2. Before The World Goes Dark: In a world ravaged by overpopulation, climate change, and rapidly dwindling resources, one man plots to save the lives that others dismiss as worthless.
  3. The Voiceless Ones: After a suicide attempt as a teenager left them with the strange ability to see ghosts, a group of young queer adults offer closure to the spirits of those lost to anti-queer bigotry.

In addition to these, I’m making a goal to write at least 500 words per day. Once I can get myself up to that level, I’ll work on boosting it to 750, then 1,000. If I can do that before NaNo, I’ll be good.

Thank you, and I hope to be around much more often as we head into NaNo season!

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Writing

Being A Modern-Day Dystopian Writer, or, Help Me I Can’t Keep Up With This S**t.

As I was coming up with the title for this post, I was suddenly reminded of an old bit from a Lewis Black CD that I had a long time ago. It was talking about George W. Bush’s time as president, and how hard it was for a comedian to keep up with all the bullshit that was going down. I can’t remember how it goes exactly, but it was something along the lines of “I just can’t keep up with this shit anymore. I see something on the news, I think ‘I’m gonna make that funny’, and then the next day, THIRTY OTHER THINGS FUCKING HAPPEN.”

I feel that. I feel that so much.

I’m a dystopian writer. I love to write scenarios in which something bad about our society is ramped up to the furthest possible degree as sort of a hey, this is where we’re gonna end up if we don’t knock this shit off. Granted, I’ve yet to publish any of it, mostly because of my own insecurities. But I do it.

Lately, though, it’s gotten so hard to write. There are times when I see the latest breaking news and all I can really do is sit there with my mouth open because how in the hell is this thing – and that last thing, and the thing before that – actually happening right now?

Writing has always been my escape from a world that can be so very cruel. It was a coping mechanism when I lived with toxic family members. It’s been a means of venting my thoughts when battling mental illness. And while I’ve embraced the idea of using my writing as a tool of protest, my voice in the world, sometimes I just don’t want to sit down and write about fighting bigotry when my social media throws that same bigotry at my face the moment I load up anything.

I have ways out of this, of course. No one says I have to keep writing dystopian fiction if it hurts so much. I can change genres. I can offer the service of writing about diverse characters in stories where the diversity isn’t the point of the story. I finally broke down yesterday and closed the Scrivener file for my main dystopian WIP in favour of writing a fluffy, silly romp about two non-binary ace people who look for ghosts and get into a lot of trouble. I can keep doing that, and it’s still a valid contribution.

But that feels like cheating, to me. It feels like the equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing lalalala until it all goes away. I started writing The Illusion of Beautiful Things at a time when it seemed like the situations in my story – racism, queerphobia, misogyny – would never reach the point they’re at now. I feel like I have to write this, even more than I did before. Even if it has to be shelved as contemporary fiction by the time I’m done.

Anyway. That’s a little bit of rambling that’s been in my head for a while now. I hope getting it out in writing will help me process and deal with it.

To everyone who needs it today and every day: stay strong.

Life

[Trigger Warnings: this post will talk about depression, suicide, and emotional abuse. Please keep this in mind and take care of yourselves.]

I honestly don’t remember how I first heard of Linkin Park. Maybe a friend introduced me to them, maybe I just happened to come across their music videos and decided that I liked them. But at some point, I heard them, I liked them, and I bought two of their albums (Hybrid Theory and Meteora) in close succession.

The part I do remember is just how viscerally I connected with the lyrics to the song Numb. Everything about that song just seemed to be speaking directly to me, about me. I was living with my parents at the time, recently diagnosed with depression and barely able to function because of it. My parents, for the record, subscribe to the belief system that any mental illness – and probably physical illness – can easily be overcome if you just stop being so lazy. Yep. Words actually spoken.

Here’s the thing, though: when I did try to do things, they were always the wrong things. Didn’t matter what I did. It was wrong. I applied for the wrong jobs, I picked the wrong hobbies, I hung out with the wrong friends, I was into the wrong fandoms. I was trying to be my own person, trying to figure out who I was, but everything I was doing was wrong.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I played that song, singing along with the lyrics (and screaming along with the lyrics when no one was around to hear me). Sometimes, I would play it on a loop for hours, just to distract myself when my head got to be a dark place.

Linkin Park’s music hit home in a way that not a lot of music did back there. Sure, I listened to plenty of angsty bands because that’s where I was emotionally. But most of them seemed to sing about ex-partners and broken hearts and the loss of romantic love. Not my thing, even back then. I could put on a Linkin Park song and scream along and feel it in my gut because they sang about things that I knew.

So when I heard that Chester Bennington had taken his own life, it hurt. I remember just staring at my Twitter feed as more and more tweets appeared. I had to pry myself away. I made myself some grilled cheese – my go-to comfort food – and just kind of sat there for a long time. I loaded up Google Play music and found a Linkin Park playlist. And then I pretty much just cried for the rest of the night.

I’ve seen so many people since then talk about how Linkin Park’s music and Chester’s way of making the words he sang sound so real and raw helped them to deal with their problems in the past. I’m glad he was here to help them, and I’m glad he was here to help me. So I just want to say thank you, sir, and I hope you found peace.

~ Charlie