Facing the Work in Small Steps

I didn’t participate in a productive way in NaNoWriMo this month. No surprise there. But I did use the month as a form of motivation to concentrate on what it is I actually want to write. I received the same answer I have given myself before: put the fiction away for now, and work on the personal essays. The world around me, the world of my novel, will still be there when I get back to it.

Those of you who also write will not be surprised when I tell you that I then promptly started plotting a short story. Right. But it’s making me finish something, that’s the point. So I told myself. I have some time off from work these next few weeks, and I will either come out of it with one, great, well-thought out, short story, or with a lot of essay topics flying around my head. Of course I have no end of essay topics to start with, so picking one will be the first step. 

To paraphrase, and totally steal from, the astronauts when they landed on the Moon for the first time: that’s one small step for me, one giant step for my writing process.

Make Stories out of Swamp Tomatoes

I can’t pass up a great, ridiculous idea like this. I am imagining: why she’d be the swamp, are they heirloom tomatoes, or Roma? Is the zebra a pet, or an imaginary companion? And what’s the deal with the machine guns?? 

The answers are coming, slowly, and as I map it, the plot intricacies come to me. If this goes anywhere, I can see a short story, and I see mind map-charting as a part of the narrative.

Spending today, Sunday, mentally fiddling with this idea helps fill in the blanks in my already in progress novel. It’s been a year since I started that, and I have stalled in major ways, but I haven’t given it up. 

And so it goes.

The Smell Of Rain

The warm sidewalk
Rain falling
Releases the scent of
Hot summer asphalt
Washing away with
The guttering leaves

Rain on 880
Big rigs kick up
Storms all their own
Bay Bridge misted
Cars fly past

Water all around us
In the element
Rain comes fast upon
Us when its
Seasons first storm

We forget so quickly
In July that this
Will come if
We are patient
Raincoat ready,
Boots in the hall
Weatherize our
Lives and we can have it all

A Sleepy Situation

Why do I sleep when I could be writing? How will I ever succeed, if I constantly sabotage myself? 

Here’s what I know: 

  1. I sleep a lot because my anti-anxiety medication makes me fall asleep after breakfast. 
  2. I watch a lot of TV, which takes up the time I would like to be writing.
  3. I think stories a lot more than I write them. 
  4. This is all very frustrating.

I would never want to stop taking the meds to be less sleepy, because then I’d be anxious and depressed all over again. And still not writing.

At first, the meds made me write. They gave me energy, and I felt excited by the prospect of getting back to the typewriter. I had avoided taking anything for my depression because I had believed that my creativity would be cut off. So I had great hope.

But now, a year later, I’m just sleepy, and at least 15 pounds heavier. I don’t mind the extra weight, but I do mind the sleeping. 

Why not try to fight it, you say? I feel like I do fight it, but I am not winning the battle.

I know. I seem to be a broken record, from post to post I write about the same theme, that of writing about not writing. I am hoping to work it out, and I guess it will take me a while. I see my doctor next week on an unrelated matter, and I plan to bring up this sleepy situation. 

I do know this: I will never stop trying to write. I surround myself with notebooks, and am always writing my outlines and ideas in them.  I am sure I will succeed soon. In fact, this is a better goal than writing a certain amount of words a day: to keep on trying. 

That’s what I’m doing. Just let me take another nap first. 

I Know I Should be Writing My Truths

Say one thing, do another. Or, rather, don’t do anything. 

Every few weeks or so, I announce to my writer/artist/coworkers, that I have started another exciting project. I excitedly tell them the particulars, as they praise my ideas and creativity. At the time, I may even intend to actually do the project. But I don’t. Sure, I some times start it, plan it, outline it, read up on the idea, take notes, even begin to write it. But then I stop at some point, fairly early on. I let it sit, and I think of it every day, and of how I’m not doing anything towards its completion. My coworker, the graphic novelist, asks how it’s going. Some times I’m honest and tell him it’s stalled. Some times I say it’s coming along, oh so slowly. 

But I know it’s DOA.

Now, this morning, it has started again. I wrote for awhile, picking up on a topic I’d been knocking around in my notebooks for awhile. I call it my “feminist manifesto,” but it’s really more of a musing on my self as a woman.

I’m  all over the place. I feel the pressure lifted a bit since getting some words written, but, now, I’m on this newer topic, and not working on the story I’ve been writing about a time traveling little girl in San Francisco. 

I constantly think of new stories and outline it, plot character arcs, and know the whole thing.  Then, after the above-described writing stalling routine, I’m back where I started. Then, along comes another idea, and the whole process starts again. 

Why do I make myself feel like I’m failing,  when I am obviously able to keep writing,  but just not what I want  feel I should be writing? 

Maybe it’s this: I know I should be writing my truths, and instead I avoid it by plotting fantastic  voyages, but I never complete my trips to the end destination,  i.e. The End.

Sure,  that’s it. And I  still feel the failure of not finishing what I’ve started, ad nauseum. My best work has always been personal reporting,  essay writing, opinion pieces. I wrote press releases in high school for a public relations firm, and articles for the high school and community college papers. These were where I learned to really write. I wrote fiction and poetry at home, in my notebooks.  

I’ve always felt like an incomplete fiction writer, when I’ve had the writing going other places. I’ve let myself stall in the circle of idea-start-stop-failing motivation = no progress.  

My efforts are hampered along the way by depression,  procrastination, and severe anxiety.  I now take anti anxiety/depression medication. It is wonderful not to be constantly anxious, worried, and fearful of the unfixable things in life. The irony is that the medication makes me sleep. A lot. But I need to not be depressed and anxious.  The naps and sleepiness can be avoided on the days I go to work, it’s my days off, when I feel this drive to be writing, and making, and doing,  that get backed up when my eyes get blurry and the cat and I settle in for a good two hour nap. 

I just woke up from one of these naps, and here I am writing. For today at least, that is. 

Saturday Night’s All Right for Procrastinating

I actually have written more than 690 words. This stat is from April’s Camp NaNoWriMo project. I started the project during last November for NaNoWriMo.

Even my writing app, Writeometer, knows I’m no good. I am horrible at keeping any kind of writing schedule, and this app is happy to let me know it. Because of the subject matter of the project in question, I’ve set a goal date to be finished with a first draft for April 18, 2017.

I missed that. Now, the app is glad to tell me that I’ll be missing that goal for years to come if I don’t buckle down.

See? Here I am not writing my novel draft, yet I have plenty of motivation to write a post about my friend Procrastination. I have also just updated my journal for the past week ( I just plain don’t have the energy most nights to keep up) and now I am ready to read before crashing in a few hours.

All the while, the writing project is in the back of my brain, muttering and wringing its hands, wondering if I am am ignoring it on purpose. I suppose I kind of am ignoring it. But the project ought to be used to that by now. Yet I feel the waves of failure wash over me. 

If I had a secret that would let me sit and write, I’d be a happy, productive soul. Of course, I know that secret: sit your ass in the chair and do the work. I have heard that voice for so long now, it’s really become an old friend.

Or a frenemy.

Either way, I think I will delete that damn app. Who does it think it’s talking to, anyway? 

Maybe I’ll write for an hour before lights out tonight. Don’t judge me, Writeometer.  I think I know me better than you do. 

I’ll live another day to (think about/attempt to/take a weak stab at) this writing thing. And to heck with your word counts. Word counts are for Wrimos, and I have proven four times over that I’m not a Wrimo. 

I’m just a depressed creative type who needs to get her mojo back. I’ll just be over here, looking for that. I am sure I lost it somewhere nearby.





Always at War With My Words

I am always fighting a war against myself. I want to fight back, I am tired of the battle. What better way for a writer do that, than with words? 

I am starting this blog because it seems I am very able to write about not writing much better than doing the writing I long to be doing. 

I really feel that I am at war with myself, with my words. I fight them every time I succeed in distracting myself from writing by doing anything else but my writing. 

I know that it’s partially because of my depression. But I beat myself up nonetheless. I want to stop being so hard on myself, but it isn’t my first instinct to give myself a break. 

I’m working on a novel I started in November of last year. Yes, NaNoWriMo lured me into telling myself I could achieve the impossible by pressuring myself to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I have only written half of what I have in my head. Every time I start a new idea, I never stick to it, and I end up with many projects that didn’t click with me.

This new novel is different, it does click with me. But I still have to fight myself to make the time to sit my ass in the chair and get the words out. One word at a time, for days, weeks, and months at a time. It’s exhausting to think about.

And this is my plan: start a low pressure writing place. Here I can vent at myself, my writing, my lack of ability to get my life where I expect it to be. Hopefully I will learn to give myself a break a little. I am also curious to know what role my depression takes in my process, and I am trying learn more about depression and writers, creativity and anxiety, and other fun, similar topics.

 I lost both my father and a childhood friend in 1993, within three months of each other. I have never been the same person I was before they died. This is another issue I am trying to make peace with. I now struggle to make most of my ideas happen, and before, when I was younger, you couldn’t stop me from creating.

Now I am fifty, only a few years younger than my father was when he died. I want to recover some of the passion I was able to channel into my creative life before I just give up and give into the naps the anti anxiety meds make me fall into.

I will march forward, then, and bring back regular reports from the front, and updates on my battles at the enemy line. I feel less brave than I wish I did.