25 Aug

State of the Revision: Week 4 of 13(?)

I’ve tried hundreds of chocolate chip cookie recipes and spent countless hours trying to perfect my own version. This week, while others were once again writhing in ecstasy over a batch from a bakery recipe that didn’t impress me, I began to wonder if the problem is… I just don’t like chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies everyone else assures me are amazing.

I could eat the dough all day. I have a molasses cookie, a peanut butter cookie, a sugar cookie, and shortbread I can point to as good, so it’s not the cookie format that’s the problem. I acknowledged 40 years ago that I can’t stand snickerdoodles, so I don’t know why I’ve held onto a fantasy of chocolate chip for so long. TODAY, I SHAKE OFF THE SHACKLES OF CONFORMITY.

“What the hell do cookies have to do with the revision, Ren?” Well, you can measure how well the revision isn’t going by how many hours I’m doing literally anything else. Given the amount of “anything else” that’s necessary for survival, I really ought to be devoting every other second of my life to this book, but I had a shortage of will this week and did only about half the book work I should have.

I lost the last of my “ahead” days… and then fell a day behind. Cue additional chorus of “WHY DO I WRITE SUCH SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS?!?!?!” I’ve broken into the second act, though, up to 26,000 words. They’ve passed the Stuck With Each Other stage and moved onto the Might As Well Enjoy Making Out stage. It wasn’t a good week, but progress was nevertheless made.

Part of the problem is I’m now obligated to describe things, and if I had any interest in doing that, I’d have done it in the first draft. Me, writing fantasy in a world you’ve never seen: *easily writes 10,000 words about fashion, hairstyles, architecture, social structure, culture* Me, writing about contemporary America: “Assume they’re not walking around naked and the buildings have walls and roofs. WHO CARES?!” Contemporary was a bad choice in so many ways.

I had been taking two classes of antidepressant and an atypical antipsychotic in a last-ditch attempt to put a dent in the juggernaut of my mental health. The effect this time was all the physical symptoms (chest pain, lethargy, flinching at movement and noise, etc.) while rendering my brain incapable of acknowledging that these were psychological issues. It was like blindfolding somebody, holding a match to their feet, and telling them it wasn’t happening because they couldn’t see their flesh smoking. Chemically induced denial. Given that the best treatment options medicine has to offer have progressed from “ineffective” to “demonstrably worse,” I’m ready to accept that what’s “wrong” with me is my personality, and everybody who doesn’t like it can just fuck off because, honestly, I feel pretty damn all right in the absence of other people.

Things I’m Supposed to Like But Don’t: chocolate chip cookies and people.

4 comments on “State of the Revision: Week 4 of 13(?)

    • Oh, sweet summer child. Make a list of all the things you do in a day that you wouldn’t do except to appease someone else. What you put on and in your body, where you go, what you say, what you waste money on so you “can’t afford” things YOU want. Marketing 101: You’ll DIE without the herd. Capitalism collapses if you don’t accept this tenet, and then EVERYONE DIES, and it will be YOUR FAULT. Here, buy this thing you don’t need or want, FOR THE GOOD OF HUMANITY.

      Since I’m in a job-searching situation, survival actually does depend on me NOT “being myself.” Speaking from experience, telling people “If you’re this evasive during an interview, working here must be a nightmare, I’ll show myself out” makes for a looooooooooong quest. A little drug-induced apathy makes it easier to accept that there’s a 99% chance you’re going to have to put up with employer-related bullshit in order to keep a roof over your head.

      I’ve done it unmedicated, but I was younger then. Now that I’m older than most of the people interviewing me, “Who the fuck do you think you are, you little pissant?” is RIGHT on the tip of my tongue, waiting to fall out. Now I’m actually relying on my anxiety to keep my fed-up in check, and they’re pretty evenly matched.

        • “So you want, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience to answer phones, part-time with no benefits, for $7.50 an hour? Are you actively evil or merely stupid enough to pass, ya sack of festering dicks?”

          “Look, it’s going to take a long time for me to name a wage consistent with national standards for my credentials, and you to counter with something way less, and me to laugh in your face, so how about you scrounge up a shred of dignity and spit out your ridiculous lowball number so we can all move on with our lives, ya pestilent twatwaffle?”

          “In five years, I see myself laboring in drudgery like everybody else in this building because there’s no career path here that leads to any other future. That’s a question for jobs where ambition can result in something other than moving on to a better employer, so you maybe want to strike that from your interview script, ya ambulatory cumstain.”

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