emotional weight

I’m about 3/4ths of the way through the draft of this short story, and I am quietly having a panic attack over how much it is all about FEELINGS.

I mean. This is the story I described on Twitter this afternoon as having an emotional arc of “you left our boyfriend and you didn’t call me for twenty years and FUCK YOU (also I’m a demonic city now and you can’t fix it, you idiot)”.

Which honestly is a story I want to read — I wouldn’t be writing it if I didn’t want to read it, and tell it, and it’s actually an emotional dynamic I’ve been playing around with for years, and I’m really pleased to have found a story it actually fits in — but I am nevertheless kind of freaked out about how much it is feelings.

People having feelings at each other.

See, I came from fanfic. And I love fanfic. Fanfic taught me how to write, and I still love it, and I still do it. Fanfic is what I use to give my friends presents, to play with shared worlds and aesthetic pleasures, it’s where I go when I want a hit of emotional catharsis. It’s no-stops-on writing. It’s id-driven, even when it’s highly technical (and I’ve written some highly technical fanfic which I am damn proud of), but it comes from a place of desire for me (whether or not this is an erotic desire is another blog post entirely; this anxiety over fanfic is not anxiety about sex in fiction). When I write fanfic I write what I want.

This shouldn’t make me feel like when I write original work, I oughn’t write what I want, but somehow it does. I look at this story and I see that same emotional catharsis: two people and the dregs of their relationship and what betrayal means to them — and I think, I am getting visceral aesthetic pleasure out of writing this, surely it can’t be serious work. Surely it is too much like fanfic. No one will ever take me seriously as a writer unless I get these squishy, over-the-top emotions out of my fiction.

(The last time I felt this way I ripped the end of a story out and wrote a kind of overwrought poem about bridges, because in poetry you’re allowed, right? Right. Poetry is all rawness on the page.)

And yet. I want the emotional weight. My favorite stories that other people write make me feel the same shaky horrifying feelings that I’m looking to produce here. So I’m not stopping. But goddamn, I meant to be done with this draft today and instead I am looking at the argument between my two POV characters and wondering if I should tone down the part where they shout at each other. Even if I really like it.

darling du jour: “Sogcha,” Ammar said, and I stilled. “I came back for what can be salvaged.”

you know. like that.

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sudden employment.

So I got slightly distracted this week by suddenly becoming Employed In My Field Of Choice. This was extremely unlikely; I had a fun (definitions of ‘fun’ may vary) first year on the academic job market, in which I got five interviews — one which involved international travel — and zero resultant jobs. I was preparing to spend a year writing in New York City. Then one of my last-ditch stabs at not being vigorously broke decided to not only interview but actually hire me, and barring misadventures with the Canadian immigration authorities, I am moving to the province of New Brunswick for a year. You can now call me Visiting Assistant Professor Other Name.

This is extremely cool.

This has also not been that conducive to getting a lot of writing done. (Neither has reaching the point on the Slightly Less Hypothetical Than Before Novel where I have to sit down and worldbuild strenuously, because otherwise my politics are going to fall very flat.)

Nevertheless, weekly metrics.

novelthing, or MAHIT & THE CITY: 640 words, a bunch of scenery-related exposition, secondary lead being annoying even while (also because) he’s dead, realization that I have to define a whole bunch of secondary characters and find out who my antagonist is, and immediate subsequent backing off to write —

short stories: “City of Salt”, outlined, 400 words; “All The Colors”, revision started, which is closer to a full rewrite since there is no good reason for this to be in second person. I wrote it in second person to see if I could. I can. It doesn’t actually help the story much. I’m trying incredibly-tight-third instead, to try to preserve the intensely unreliable narrator and the linguistic register; “Ruin Marble”, stuck like being stuck is what I do for a living, took the ending I thought I had and turned it into

a poem: “Cloud Wall”, the first actual poem I’ve written since university.

okay, not horrible for a week in which I am doing an intensive language course, in an inhospitable climate (don’t live in Arizona, kids), and Suddenly Employed.