For starters, there was something I wanted to say in this post, something that seemed important enough to justify making the post, and I've forgotten what it was. We'll see if it comes out in the writing of this post.
This is about the intersection of depression and NaNoWriMo, though I suppose I could add more. It could also be about how I lose contact with people and communities I care about, that came up in conversation recently and is clearly related.
We'll start with National Novel Writing month. This will be my ninth day with no progress meaning that I've had almost, but not quite, as many days with no progress as I had with progress. My first day without progress was the second day. My next was the eighth. All of the others are bunched together. It's been a week since I've made progress.
That seems to be too large of a gap for me to handle. It started simply enough. I had school work to do. I was tired, I was somewhat sick (I seem to have been sick fairly frequently lately) and I didn't get the words in. School's on vacation right now. (Technically it's somewhat more complicated than that, but for me the take away is that I'm free until a week from tomorrow.) I should have plenty of time to write, there's nothing standing in my way.
Except I can't seem to. I was stumbling a bit before I stopped, stalling even. But now I'm completely stopped. The engine is off, inertia has long since stopped helping, and nothing seems to be changing.
I sit down and I get nothing.
I don't think I can really describe what it is that lets me write. When it works, it works. When it doesn't I can either stare at an empty screen or find something else to do. The thing is, I can still connect to that. I can still write about Left Behind, or Nick Andes, or Twilight, or transgender high school Jesus on the day of the Resurrection.
What I can't do is write about Ryan and Erin. I've lost my feel for them. I've lost my drive, I've lost my ability to motivate myself or my ability to care. This is where the something important that I forgot would have gone. Still don't remember what it was.
The thing is, I still want to write it. I still know that if I were writing it I would likely enjoy it. It like the characters. They got to know each other in part by dueling with foam swords on one outing and squirt guns the next (Erin is stabby, you see, where Ryan is shooty) how could I not like them? But there's something that allows me to connect to characters and stories that has somehow lapsed with them. The writing just isn't happening.
In Twilight, Stephanie Meyer uses the beautiful phrase, “Finally breaking through my abstraction”. It is, unfortunately wasted because there's nothing abstract going on. Bella had no abstraction for Jessica to break through. I'm tempted to try to adapt the phrase to a story where someone in a very theoretical field, say a branch of pure math or obscure string theory or something like that, was called upon to save the world. They'd be faced with a problem and get so deep into abstractly looking at it that they completely lost contact with the actual thing they were faced with. Then someone would hit them with visceral down to earth real world details thus breaking through their abstraction and rerailing them.
Anyway, that's not why I brought up the example. I think I'm facing a problem of abstraction. I like the characters and the story in the abstract, but when it comes to actually doing the physical and mental work of typing the story that connection doesn't seem to be real anymore. The abstract desire to write doesn't translate into the feeling necessary to actually do the work. I need that feeling to become less abstract and more practical because otherwise it will not help me.
So, communities and people. I have a habit of drifting away from people and places that I like. I probably can't write a better description of this than what I already wrote, so here is that:
I have a tendency to drift away from places and end up alone for no reason whatsoever. They don't change, I don't change, everything should be wonderful, but I drift away and am all alone. And then the separation just sort of builds where the fond memories get more distant and I start feeling like I can't go back or I don't deserve to go back. And often times the result is that I never go back. And over time the memory fades.
I think that this experience is mirrored, at least some what, in what I'm now experiencing with NaNoWriMo. There is no way that I changed so much in seven days that I should have stopped liking the story. The story certainly hasn't changed. (That's the problem. It was supposed to be longer by now.) I know, intellectually, that if I could get to writing it I would enjoy the process. But somehow, in a single week, I've lost the ability to feel it.
Without that feeling I can't write. Which means that I'll drift sill further away from it. Which means that I won't write. Which means...
And so on.
I've lost friends like this, I've lost communities like this, God know's I've lost a lot of projects like this. (Which is why this, came out something like two years after people stopped paying that much money for puzzles. The miracle is that I ever got back to it at all.)
It seems like the solution should be simple: Don't stop doing something you like. Keep in touch with people you like.
For some reason it doesn't work that way. I couldn't tell you why.
I'm just going to write random stuff about the NaNoWriMo thing now. Maybe something will be helpul to me, consider it a sort of Status update.
I've noticed that the story skews female. I've noticed that in several of my stories actually. I seem to have some difficulty in writing males who are not the viewpoint character. Perhaps it isn't a difficulty exactly, but a tendency not to. Not sure what's up with that.
Anyway, on the male side we have Ryan, the Beacon, and a male city council member who shows up for one scene and has not much in the way of dialog. Of them Ryan is the Hero, the Beacon is the Antagonist, and the male city council member is a jerk who Ryan would prefer hadn't been elected to represent him.
On the Female side we have Erin, a female city council member who initially is pretty quiet and a nameless background character but that's because she knew enough not to get in the way where male city council member was pompous. Then later on she makes a principled stand against the Beacon appointing himself the final word in Justice, gets thrown in jail for it, is broken out, and after that I'm not sure but I think she acts in ways that are non-action awesome.
Then there's the human shield. She's only around for one scene but it's a long scene and she's got character. She's planning on opening up a shop that sells steampunk and clockwork gadgets, she's already worked out the gearing for her clockwork four function 8 digit calculator (integer division only.) She's figured everything out, she just needs start up capital, and if that means letting Ryan hide behind her so that the police won't shoot him, well she volunteered, didn't she?
And that's basically it. Ryan actively avoids getting to know people, everyone else remains in the periphery.
Ryan is the only male who isn't presented in a negative light. None of the females are presented in a negative light.
Of course the numbers are equal, which is probably an improvement over some of my other works. In a story I started writing in high school which was to be my magnum opus (or something like that) almost everyone was female other than the narrator. There was his girlfriend (the angel) his two best friends (who were in a relationship with each other) the witch the found in their high school (who was single) two separate mother figures (a Greek goddess and one of the best friend's biological mother) and that was it for the main cast. The periphery did include some males, but I think it included at least as many females.
Back to NaNo, it'll probably fail the Bechdel test. Ryan is the narrator which means the only conversations included are one's he's a part of or that he overhears. To pass the test we'd want the second on, the only place I can see that happening is when Erin meets the city council woman for the second time, at which point there would only be two topics of conversation that would make sense, both of them are about men. One is that the Beacon has gone overboard, the Beacon is a man. The other is that as a result anyone who wants to stop him has to side with the villain, the villain is a man.
Though maybe Erin could work something about the need to upgrade the sewer system into it, because she is Erin after all.
I'm also thinking that I need a new crime, I'm not sure what it would be. It opens with Ryan pretending to steal art when he's really just trying to do enough property damage to make the questionable accounting damages at an insurance company show for all the world (especially stock holders and potential stock holders) to see.
After the breakup he's going to rob a bank, targeting a specific individual's accounts, to get back to his roots as someone who actually stole things instead of his more recent work involving stock manipulations. I have him reminiscing about a kidnapping he once preformed (the kids didn't even know they'd been kidnapped [they thought it was a security drill, which being children of the rich and powerful, was not an unheard of thing for them], the ransom was never collected, the point was to boost a news channel's ratings) but I'm not sure if I should keep that because, even if the experience is not traumatic for the children it would be for the parents and Ryan tries to avoid causing trauma the way Edward Cullen avoids being nice.
Sometime between the insurance company and the bank, while Erin and Ryan are dating, I think I want Ryan to pull a job. I have no idea what that job should be.
I think part of my problem with the way the book seems to be incorrectly subdivided (he seems to stop being a supervillain the moment he meets Erin which makes no sense ) is that I've got a gap in what he's working on that's too long. So when he should be preparing for as yet undetermined job I've got him doing nothing supervillainy related, which makes it look the the supervillainy is confined to the time before he met Erin.
I'm also unsure exactly what awesomeness city council woman can do. It was only when I realized that of course Erin and Ryan would break them out that I realized she and those with her should have some part in dealing with the situation.
I don't know if I have enough ideas to finish, but I'm pretty sure I have enough ideas to at least take a stab at writing. If I could write. Which, at the moment, I can't.
Another song that does a good job of describing depression is Desperado:
You're losin' all your highs and lows, ain't if funny how the feeling goes away?