Yesterday, I made a decision. I was going to start work on the project. You know, THE project. Everyone has one, some kind of equivalent. The idea, the goal that manifests in a moment of absolute clarity. Something brilliant, life-affirming, something that speaks for who you are.
Conversely, it’s the project, the concept that’s just too much to comprehend. So far from completion that you’ll happily come up with reasons to put it off. You’ll keep it in the back of your mind, but go no further, just because of the sheer magnitude of work involved in its formation, let alone its creation. And every time you think of it, you’ll hate yourself for not following through. But you’ll still delay, delay, delay.
For me, I’ve had the plan ready for over a year, but I’ve been unable to put any words to the page. And I’ve had many reasons for why I’ve been able to procrastinate.
This idea is an old one. I came up with it back in 2010, an idea for my Master’s dissertation that came to me too late, too much work already done on my eventual piece. That piece was called The Crossing, and it was a mystery, a horror about dark wishes and lost family that was fairly well received.
But you know what? It wasn’t right for me. I knew it as I was finishing it, my head lost in a painful, post-break-up blur. I should have shelved it, started from scratch, and damned the work already done, damned the bureaucracy of vague plot elements given in as preliminary paperwork. Damned the final mark. It wouldn’t have been important. Because even as I handed in my finished script, even as I saw my grade for it when the marking had been finished, I didn’t feel anything. I felt like a fraud, a cynic. I had used my last free time, my last moments in the creative hub of the university system, those last months with the catalyst of those talented people I shared lessons with, to finish a project I didn’t truly believe in.
Well, at least I didn’t believe in it as much. Back then, Original Form was nameless, just a thin concept, a half-paragraph. But it had that much more impact than the ninety minutes of film script, the hundreds of man hours that I handed in, back in September 2010.
I didn’t forget about it. But I moved on. It was more important for me to work. So I did. And my spare time had to be filled with getting fit, healthy, getting into a good frame of mind. So I did. I found other work. I moved into a flat with a friend, a stranger, and a mouse. I fell seriously ill. I spent my energy getting better, trying to find other work when I was able to, spending time on other projects, the countless musical acts, the short stories, the failed NaNoWriMo attempts, working on novels that were never going to be as good as this one.
And I kept telling myself that I would do this. It would just have to wait until the time was right. So I applied for PhDs with the project, got a lot of positive feedback, got an offer but no funding, and the time passed. So I told myself I would come back to it, when the time was even better. And I kept working, and writing other things, and playing other music, and starting podcasts, and watching, reading, listening to anything I could grasp, a cultural sponge. And truth be told, that has been my worst flaw. The time spent waiting for .gifs to load, the time spent waiting for YouTube videos to buffer, the time spent reading pages titled things like “You Won’t Believe What These Ten Cats Think About ObamaCare!”
Some things I don’t regret spending time on. The short stories I have written, I believe, have pushed me to this point, made me ready for taking on Original Form, the labyrinthine plot map, the shifting sands of its narrative voice. The bands I have played in may not have satisfied all my creative urges, that bizarre mixture of the substance addiction of creation and vain self-aggrandisement, but it sure as hell has been a lot of fun. I don’t regret writing for this blog either, even though the most steady hit-machine is still a throwaway post about dinosaurs in the frickin’ nineties.
But at the end of the day, this has always been calling to me. And it’s time to do something about it. I wish I could tell you more about Original Form. But I’m keeping it close to my chest, for now. A few of you have already heard all about it, but here’s something for the rest of you. It’s about a man who works in a video store. VHS. It involves the end of the world. Not the apocalypse, but the end, a finite point where the universe just…stops. It involves a black-and-white woman. At some point it may involve singing and dancing. It may also involve monsters, a dark void, and it involves the Original Form itself. I’ll let you think about what that might be.
So screw it. Here’s to lost evenings, writing until sleep comes at three in the morning. Here’s to sitting on the train, typing away, collecting funny looks from other commuters. Here’s to realising nine months in that one of the characters really adds nothing to the plot and will cause complications within the story arc later on, and painstakingly removing any trace of them from existence. Here’s to stopping and starting, creative fatigue, the mood swings, the frustration of trying to get the project as perfect as it can possibly be.
Here’s to doing something for the sheer love of it.