Ugh. I am trying to run two competing processes at all times lately: there’s Writer Brain, which keeps going YES GOOD IDEAS WE NEED WORDS WE HAVE CHARACTERS, and there’s Depression Brain, which goes “omg no opening a word processor is an unreasonable amount of effort to ask of anyone, how dare you,” and keeps on clicking the same browser game we’ve been stuck on for the last hour. Sometimes I manage to make a little progress! Yesterday I took some good advice about quick-and-dirty character building and managed to work out some important things about the main character for one of my on-deck projects, and how the action plot ought to intertwine with his personal growth arc. Last night I had an unsettling epiphany about why I’ve been having trouble with female protagonists (as a writer you really can’t afford to be in swooning-early-crush mode with your characters; you need to look at their flaws and look HARD, because that’s where interesting things happen). So there are some flashes of insight in there between the flopped-over-doing-nothing periods.
And I’m hoping NaNo kicks me over to that side of the fence more thoroughly. I’ve signed up. I’ve just put the widget on my sidebar so people can see how I’m doing (accountability helps, I hear). I don’t expect to win, and I’m pretty zen with that. The pace of NaNo is still pretty high for me, and I have a day job and family to visit and ideally kind of a social life. But if it gets me back in the discipline—write every day; keep writing; put the writing first and then screw around AFTER—then it will be a success even if my ending word count is 10k instead of 50k.
…Okay no if I’m honest I would be disappointed with myself if I bailed at only 10. But 20k, maybe. If those words are going somewhere. That would be a good start.
Bring it on, November. I’m ready for you.
I woke up this morning to both of my cats investigating me curiously, purring in the hopes of coaxing my hands out from under the blankets and into petting range. I got up and went to turn on the computer & make coffee. I stood there in the kitchen assembling my delicious caffeine delivery mechanism and I thought, “I really like my life.”
I really like my life.
It’s so good to have that feeling back. I have chronic depression; I’ve lived with it to more or less success for the last twenty years. I finally started managing it with medication when I was 31, and the difference it made in my quality of life was staggering. Suddenly I could spend all of my energy on doing things, instead of having to reserve about a third of every day’s processing power for just “no, we’re not going to give up.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I started submitting work for publication the next year. All was going great, right?
And then I lost my job in November. I probably started going downhill within a few weeks, after the elation of “I don’t have to keep doing that anymore!” wore off. Looking at it now I’m pretty sure I was in trouble by the end of December, when I slept through a doctor’s appointment and then couldn’t summon the energy or the determination to call and reschedule. I missed a New Year’s party with friends because the idea of being in a room full of people made me want to cry. I felt like I wanted to sleep all the time, no matter how much I’d just been sleeping or how little I’d done since I got up. By late January one of my friends was asking if I’d considered talking to my doctor, since it was pretty obvious I wasn’t doing well. I kept telling myself it was fine, though, or if it wasn’t fine then it was understandable and I should just tough it out and it would get better. It was all in my head!
Then it got bad enough that I couldn’t write. My head was still full of stories and I had no problem coming up with new scenarios I wanted, but I’d sit down to turn any of those stories into words and just despair. Every sentence felt like I had to drag it through knee-deep toxic sludge just to bring it to the page. Being unable to produce words made me miserable. When my (extraordinarily patient) friend asked about the doctor again, I finally made an appointment.
I got a prescription for more exercise, more vitamins, and a little tweaking in my pharmaceutical assistance. And today? I’m awake, I’m pleasantly sore in most of the major muscle groups from my shoulders to my knees, and I really like my life.
Time to open one of those stalled documents and make exciting things happen.