For the last two months I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, trying to push myself to write more, read more, exercise more, get out and about. I have been ignoring my body and it gave up at Easter. I’ve spent the last three weekends in bed. I haven’t written anything. In fact, it has taken a week to get up the strength to write this blog post and another week to post it.
I burnt myself out last year and tried with gusto to improve that by doing fun things and working hard to achieve what I wanted. I unfortunately prescribed to the mindset that I would fix myself by pouring myself into the things I love. And while it has helped, I took it too far. I went out too much, spent too much time pushing myself to write, to read and socialise when I needed to rest. I lost sight of why these things were important and they became things I had to do in order to be happy.
I’m about to go on holiday for three weeks for the first time in two years. I’ve released I’ve gotten too bogged down in my day to day life and I have forgotten what I really want. I can’t see the forest because of the trees.
I hope this is making sense because at the moment my mind is so foggy and exhausted I can barely function. I am taking a break for the next two months to focus on my health and reassess what is really important to me as a creator. I want to thank all the people who have been reading and supporting my blog in the last 12 months as it makes me really happy to know I’m not just shouting into oblivion.
Last year wasn’t the greatest year for me personally. I have been struggling with an ongoing health issue with fatigue being a major symptom. But it was the year I got serious about my writing. I launched my blog after being asked to be featured in Witty Title Here weekly newsletter. I had spent most of 2015 researching blogging and author platforms and did the Australian Writers Centre’s Build Your Author Platform Course at the start of 2016.
However, my vision for my blog stalled in September. I wanted do be able to do in-depth analysis weekly, but I struggled. Despite doing social media as my day job, my author social media was basic at best and still is at the moment.
Then I decided to do NaNoWriMo despite going through a major health crisis. I won, but it took everything I had.
I spent December exhausted and desperate for holidays. I finally got a reprieve between Christmas and New Year which I spent at the beach and playing video games. I’m still struggling with my health and trying to balance full-time work, writing, fitness and blogging. It feels like far too much at the moment, but I am still slogging on. I’m still trying to work out what I want for my blog but luckily for me on 10 people read it so I can experiment.
My primary goal for 2017 is to cultivate healthy habits so I can find balance in my life to be able to be the writer I want to be.
In the last 12 days, I’ve written over 20,000 words. But I let myself down on Thursday and wrote absolutely nothing. But instead of scolding myself for not writing, I’m treating myself with care. I didn’t write my 1667 words yesterday but I did write something and today was the same. Tomorrow I’ll probably write more. I knew this week was going to be hard as it is a busy time of year for me at work and it proved to be not as horrible as I thought.
I expected NaNoWriMo to be like when I first ran 10km. The first kilometre is exciting and fast as you run together in a group. You run faster as you’re excited about being with all these other people. Then you realise you can’t keep up the same pace the whole way. You need to slow down and feel dejected. As people run past you in the next few kilometres you feel bummed and feel slow. You’re not sure why you decided to do this. Maybe you should just walk as you’re not jogging very fast.
But then you hit the halfway mark and you suddenly feel your energies rising again. You can do this. You get into a good pace that you maintain until the last kilometre. Then you pick up the pace. Then you sprint as you hit the 500-meter mark and as you cross the finish line you’re exhausted, hurting and bursting with pride that you managed to finish much faster than you thought.
Right now I’m finding my pace to get me through the next 22,000 words without tearing my hair out or injuring myself. I’m finding that I write between 500 – 800 words in the morning and the same at night. However, the time it takes to get there varies. Sometimes I write for 45 minutes in the morning and an hour at night. Sometimes, I write for 2 hours at night to get to the same point.
And sometimes, like Thursday I do nothing because I am so exhausted I just need to sleep. When I first had to slow down and walk during my first 10km run I felt so dejected as it was so early on in the race. But then I realised, it was okay to take a breather. I would tell myself, you can walk to that tree then you need to start jogging again. And so there were times I walked during my first run. In my second 10km run a year later, I needed to walk less but if you’re body needs a breather, give it a breather. But don’t confuse give yourself too long of a break. Just enough of a break so you can get to the next milestone.
I have had my break and now I’m determined to get to the halfway point by next week. I’m sure there will be another break as I approach the 35,000-word mark and maybe again. But I know I have two days off at the end of November in which I will probably sprint the last 10,000 words. Maybe I’ll just scrap the 50,000 or maybe I’ll exceed it.
But whatever happens. I will get to the finish line in my own time. Because it’s not about how fast you run the race, it’s about finishing it.
I’ve been a bit quiet lately as I’ve been preparing for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which starts tomorrow. My idea for NaNoWriMo involves a lot of incredibly flawed characters exploring trauma and revenge. I’ve been watching a lot of anime to get into this headspace, specifically Code Geass, Death Note and Elfen Lied. I enjoy dark stories with flawed characters because it delves into the dark part of humanity we’re all capable of. There is a very slim line between the antihero and the villain depending on the type of antihero.
However, I’ve noticed the most popular antiheroes tend to be men and they tend to get more adoration than female antiheroes. Why is it as an audience and a society we are more forgiving of the things men do? For example, many people hate Breaking Bad’s Skyler White and root for Walter White despite Walter do far more despicable things than Skyler ever does. It got so bad that the actress who played Skyler, Anna Gunn wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times about the vitriolic response her character received.
Light Yagami from Death Note is another example of a character who does horrendous things and yet he gets a pass because he’s a handsome young genius. His supposed ‘good’ motivation of killing criminals is quickly thrown aside as he begins to play games with the Japanese Police Force. He’s a full blown sociopath and yet somehow I was still rooting for him to win for some bizarre reason. Despite the fact that every woman in the show was a sexy lamp I still found it a compelling watch and would definitely watch it again. There is something so addictive about watching Light indulge his darkest desires and god complex. His crazy laugh is also something to behold
Then there is Elfen Lied which is the most gut wrenching thing I have ever watched. Absolutely everybody in the show manages to be horrible but sympathetic at the same time. It was so dark I was depressed for days after watching it. Yet I’d probably watch it again as it is a very complex tale about identity, revenge, regret and the nature of humanity. It also features two female antiheroes which was a nice change after watching the sausage fest that is Death Note. However, almost everybody in the show is tragic and flawed so it takes a bit of the impact away from the female antiheroes as there is no morally superior person to contrast against.
There still seems to be a shortage of compelling, complicated women as antiheroes that are adored the same way their male counterparts are. There has been a lot written about female likeability and it will continue to be an issue in fiction as it is in real life.
As I contemplate my own work I’m about to embark on for NaNoWriMo which sees a female protagonist slowly descend into darkness. I want to know if there will be a point when writers can write complex morally dubious female characters and have them admired as much as their male counterparts?