I’ve been beating around the bush with this for a while, but my writing has been pretty stalled for the last couple of years.
Yeah, I get things done. Sort of. I have a hard time starting things, and continuing with them. Lately the people I’m close to and I have been talking about my high levels of anxiety, and we’re coming to the conclusion that I probably have an anxiety disorder, and while I don’t have the emotional symptoms of depression, I seem to have the physical symptoms of it. The signs started showing up around puberty, when I was in middle school and I went from having lots of friends to having very few, and getting picked on a lot, and my grades went from awesome to embarrassing for everyone involved. Grades were always something I struggled with, usually passing my classes by the skin of my teeth all the way through high school, and college was a real test of not necessarily my abilities, but my emotional and mental endurance. It was hard. Not the classwork, really, but just being involved was exhausting. I skipped a lot of classes not because I overslept or couldn’t make it, but because I could not muster the emotional and mental fortitude to even get out of bed and into the shower. Going from my kitchen table to the car seemed like a daunting task. Sometimes I didn’t go because I had no clean laundry; putting things in a basket, walking across the parking lot, and putting my things in a machine was just too much for me to comprehend, even on a Saturday when I didn’t have to work.
I still deal with this. If I can handle the socially nerve-wracking experience of committing to a social activity outside of my home with someone who is not my boyfriend, it’s about a fifty-fifty chance – sometimes not even that good – that an hour before the activity I will come up with an excuse to back out; not because I’m busy, or don’t want to, but because the idea of leaving my home to see a movie, grab some lunch, go sit on someone else’s couch and read a book… “overwhelming” is the only word I can really think of. A couple of persistent friends will drag me out of my place anyway, and usually when that happens I DO enjoy myself, and am glad that I went out… unless overwhelming anxiety over whether I can find at seat at Panera while I’m waiting in line makes it necessary for me to leave, even though I can see an empty table for two from where I’m standing. (That actually happened last week, which is when I started to realize I have a problem.)
Socially and academically, I’ve been dealing with this crap for most of my life. My friends and family have learned what I can and can’t handle, sometimes better than I have, and accommodate me when necessary and push me when I need it. It has gotten worse in some areas and better in others, and I’m looking into seeing a psychiatrist to figure out what exactly may be going on with me, and how we can fix it. My trichotillomania, mild tachycardia, panic attacks, nightmares, and social anxiety are likely all symptoms of one thing, instead of being all separate issues by themselves.
The most devastating symptom of this, however, has been fairly recent, within the last few years: writing has become a struggle.
I remember in high school and my first few years of college, the words just spilled out of me, and I didn’t even have half as much to say as I do now. By my junior years, though, it was like a dam had been built up. The words were there… but they weren’t coming out. Trying to organize a plot – in my head, on paper, visually or verbally, any way you like – feels like trying to do pre-calc in my head in a room full of screaming toddlers. For the last three years, I’ve been writing and re-writing the same ten chapters of my novel – the ten chapters I managed to get down on paper before the dam set in. It’s not writer’s block – I’ve had that before, and I know what it feels like. I still love writing, and I can’t see myself doing anything else, but anymore when I sit down to write I feel the same way I do an hour before a pre-planned social engagement. I have so much that I want to put down on paper, I have so much to say, but if my brain had a tongue it would have developed a debilitating speech impediment. The process has become so slow and painful and frustrating, especially because I know what I want to say and how I want to say it and for some reason it just won’t come out.
So, that’s what I’m working on right now. If I can finally finish Resurrection this summer, great. If all I can churn out is one or two pieces of flash fiction a week, great. If all I have to show at the end of every Friday is one entry in my diary, then… that’s progress. That’s improvement.
I’ve got a lot of hope, though, and it’s in the realization that something in my brain isn’t working right. I thought the way I feel every day, my average state of mind, my “normal” was the same as everyone else’s “normal.” Now that I realize, no, it’s not… that means that it’s possible for me to feel better, to get better. And that’s pretty exciting. That means I’m just stalled, not totaled, to go with an automobile metaphor.
So I’ll keep trying. I’m not going to give up on myself, or my stories. I hope you won’t, either, those of you who have stuck with this blog through it’s stops and starts and hiatuses and lord-knows-what-else I’ve pulled. Knowing that someone actually cares about what I have to say, and what I have to write, is what keeps me trying at this. 🙂
Welp, since The Techno Jesus has managed to beat me to a Gen Con 2012 post, I finally got up off my behind (or rather, sat down for once) and am getting this post written.
If you want to read about my wildly embarrassing but slightly tear-jerking (if you’re me) encounter with Wil Wheaton, then later I will post that but only if you REALLY want to hear it. It was actually pretty cool and he was really nice and kind of took my fangirling in stride, because he’s a bro.
Anyhow here are some pictures of me being a dork at GenCon. I stole most of them from my friends on Facebook, without permission. They’ll get over it.
One of those pictures may contain way more of a certain mercenary’s junk than I’m entirely comfortable with, but whatever. I kind of dork’d all over most of those pictures – I was super excited and running mostly on Diet Coke and glee (the emotion, not the melodramatic television show), and it was my first Con and I GOT TO MEET WIL WHEATON and I probably wasn’t getting enough oxygen anyway because oh my god breathing in that corset.
The Five Year Plan has more to do with my career than anything else, but there are some way more personal things involved in it, too. I won’t transpose word-for-word because I’m not sure that most of what I scribbled onto the napkin at work behind the register actually counts as WORDS anymore, more like smudges, but here’s the gist:
By December of This Year:
– DeAngelis: Resurrection done. No excuses. I had a light-bulb moment at work earlier that more or less fixed 75% of the issues I’ve been having with the entire freaking SERIES and so I’m ready to plow ahead. I turned in the first chapter to my fiction workshop I’m participating in this semester, and even people who don’t quite get it absolutely loved it. My biggest fan-boy right now is a pastor, which tickles me to death because I figured that would be the demographic the book would piss off the most. But, I guess you never can tell with bees.
– Be shopping for an agent. While I’m aware that ebook self-publishing has kind of opened up a whole new avenue for writers and authors, the fact of the matter is that the publishing houses still have a lot of power, and a lot of clout.
– Have A Short Story/Novella Done, or Nearly. I need to self-publish something, regardless, and I’ve got a few little ideas that I could churn out in a week or so and throw onto the internets.
By December of 2013:
– Book #2 Finished. There is actually a title for this one, I just can’t remember it at the moment, and I’m too lazy to go document-hunting. Regardless, after graduation, I’m going to have way more time to be working on my writing even if I’m working full-time. There’s no excuse to not have the second book of the deAngelis series finished.
– At Least Two Novellas/Short Stories E-Published. Can’t hurt to get my name out there.
– Professional(ish) Website. While a blog is great, a website will be even better, with a link TO the blog, or the blog being part of it. Something snappy, you know? That brags about what a great writer I am, and points people to the work I have available on e-readers, and points out that if someone WANTS to pay me to proofread or line-edit their stuff, then I am more than willing to do so.
– Get The Heck Out of Dodge. Terre Haute is butts. I will not get trapped here.
By December of 2014:
– Book #3 Done.
– Books 1 and 2 Published.
By December of 2015:
– Supporting Myself With My Writing. Or editing, or a combination of both. Either works for me, as long as people are buying my stuff.
By December of 2017:
– Own a House. Or at least have a house that I live in that the bank owns and that I am paying them back for. The house must have an office
– All Five Books Done, Published or very nearly all published.
– Studio. For various crafting adventures. Sewing, dying my own yarn, power tools. Lots and lots of power tools. I will accept an air-conditioned, well-lit, not-dusty workshop in the backyard with a great stereo and Wi-Fi.
Welp, I’ve managed to keep myself up until a ridiculous hour of the morning, but there you have it. My plan. Lets watch me stumble through it!
You’ll notice I don’t mention QoS at all, that magazine plan that didst crash and burn most predictably. Honestly, life kind of hit me in the face like a trainwreck right about when the critical workload needed to get done, and I just couldn’t handle it. Also, having experienced what needed to be done, I realized that the whole project was a bit too lofty for just me and Sam to handle. I would need a part-time staff of four or five people, at least, and that just wasn’t going to happen. So, maybe one day, when I have mountains of cash to just throw at hopeful young interns, but for now it’s a failed experiment that I can learn from. If you submitted work to QoS, all the rights hereby revert back to you. I release you! I’m so sorry to have gotten you all excited for nothing, but think of it as a learning experience and enjoy the opportunity to go submit your work to someone who has got it way more together than I do.
And with that, I think I shall head for bed. I got hit with a mild case of food poisoning earlier this evening and I definitely need to rest up before the three (ugh) exams that I have tomorrow… all before noon. Good night, all!
WORDCOUNT GOAL: 8,333
CURRENT WORDCOUNT: 7,667
Despite the less-than-glowing review I gave Scrivener several months ago, I am in fact giving it another shot. I’ve been wanting to branch out beyond yWriter5, which I’ve been using for some time. There’s nothing particularly wrong with yWriter5, but it’s reached the point where I’ve used it long enough to know what I really want out of a word-processor that’s geared more toward noveling than your vanilla Microsoft Word or Notepad or One Note or whatever.
I’ll be honest, one of my main complaints about this program was how complicated it seemed. I will still stand by my statement that the manual or tutorial or whatever is overly wordy and makes the whole thing like a bigger pain in the ass than it really is. It also helps that I had a clear mind of what I wanted to do, instead of typing “butts butts butts” everywhere I could and coming up with characters named “Butts McGee” and “Butticus Buttpherson.”
It’s got some nifty features, for sure. I can’t get over that nagging feeling that something’s missing, but for now, this is good. It might be that what’s missing is something to do with me, and not the program. So yes, I am pretty stoked about the 50% discount on Scrivener that winners of Camp NaNoWriMo will receive. Woohoo!
I’ve also started reading another book, this time to participate in the Geek Girls Book Club book of the month thingymadendum. I follow them on Facebook and Goodreads but don’t really do much else but occasionally comment on a status. However, they announced on June 1st (or somewhere thereabouts) that the book they’d be reading this month would be Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan, and I thought, why not?
My goal is to read two chapters a day (allowing me to finish up a bit earlier than the end of the month… I have some breathing room, even after managing to get hold of the book a bit late). I was too poor to buy it, but my lovely friend Ellyn was gracious enough to lend me her copy – and to deliver it to my apartment herself! So much thanks to Ellyn for perpetuating my nerddom.
Westerfield’s writing, by the end of chapter two, is compelling enough to keep me reading, although it’s not yet blowing my mind. However, I’ve also got to keep in mind that this is YA lit, and not the kind of YA lit I’m used to, either. I had to keep myself from reading ahead of the schedule I’d set for myself. Since I don’t have a job, I’ve got a list of tasks for each day I’m assigning myself. So far… (not in any particular order)
- Work on NaNo novel
- Do dishes (either from breakfast or the day before)
- Take care of business (QoS or ISU-Con)
- Apply to at least 7 jobs
- Read Leviathan chapters
- Laundry/other chores
At some point I will work in “trip to the gym” in there, but until I can get caught up with all the laundry, that ain’t happening.
I’m a bit behind on my wordcount for NaNo, but less out of not being able to write and more out of putting off writing. I got a bit swallowed up by, erm, Facebook games. Whoops. I’m actually going to finish up before I go to bed (which, although it won’t count as “winning” on the last day, is good enough for me here in the first week), which will be here soonly.