I didn’t want to let the rest of the year slip by without an update, so here it is. As hoped for in my last post, things are good! Here’s what’s up:
I’ve felt mostly ‘normal’ since September, which is awesome. Unfortunately I’m not all the way ‘cured’ and I won’t be getting off anti-depressants anytime soon. I feel it there sometimes, seething below the surface. At this point I don’t actively experience the feelings of depression (despair, apathy, etc.) but it has made itself known in an unusual and difficult to describe way:
It’s really, really hard to talk about myself.
Just writing that sentence makes me cringe like fingernails on a chalkboard. But I suspect this total aversion isn’t ‘real’ and should be pushed through. Right? So here goes.
My brain thinks just fine. In fact, I’ve been enjoying a complex and growth-focused inner life, but communicating those thoughts and ideas is excruciating. I am fixated on the thought that everything I have to say is painfully boring to other people. I really can’t over-emphasize how much I am forcing myself to write this. It’s the emotional equivalent of sticking your hand into a bucket of wriggling eels and holding it there.
(Deep breaths. Practice ‘being with’ the discomfort. It’s only feelings. Let it go.)
I have a really hard time interacting with social media, especially Twitter. Going on there makes me feel so out of the loop, left out of the communities I once enjoyed, and ‘behind’ in the race of life. I know logically it will be easy to slip back in, but trying feels impossible right now. Couple this ‘left behind’ feeling with the difficulty of saying something I can convince myself others will find interesting, and I just can’t engage.
I want to reach out to my friends, but even composing messages to say hey makes me feel so worthless and trite. Isn’t that weird? I deeply desire to connect with people and hear about their lives and problems, but even saying, “Hey I can’t really talk about myself but I’d really like to hear from you” sounds so self-fixated, and just ugh. I think I also feel guilty about not being more of a presence in my friends’ lives, and now it feels ‘too late’ to reach out to people? It’s a mess.
But everything else is great! I myself am just hard to talk about :-) So do please say hi, because I love it.
Instagram is easiest to update, but I also feel guilty because I don’t interact with my feed. So I guess the guilt stems from wanting attention but being unable to give it. And it makes me feel so bad and selfish. I shouldn’t impose on others and ask for their time and energy, when it feels like I have so little to give.
It’s a perplexing state of mind, and I really hope it passes soon.
Whew, okay, done.
I’m working on Nameless again, and this time it has me super engaged and interested. The non-fiction I’ve studied this year has been SO helpful in showing me how societies, politics, religions, and technologies all interact with each other to create change. It’s made me realize that everything I studied in school was so myopic I didn’t really grasp the big picture of history. Now it’s fascinating to study political movements, and how societies change. I finally feel ‘grown up’ enough to finish Nameless out properly.
Injecting these new concepts into it has also helped me get over the stumbling block of the previously-planned plot. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve been working towards a particular plot line for several years, and now I realize it’s unrealistic both for the politics and the characters. Revamping the plot has allowed me to re-engage with the character emotional arcs in a more advanced way. I don’t feel bogged down by the weight of previous emotional plans, if that makes sense. Things are new, and consistent, and advanced. And awesome!!!
It’s also a wonderfully refreshing break from Shotgun Girl. I basically struggled with the same two chapters for six months. SIX. MONTHS. On TWO chapters. Miraculously I still love the story, and I don’t feel I was ‘hate writing’ (as I’ve done with Nameless in the past), but I just. couldn’t. get. the edits to connect. Finally I threw in the towel and passed the manuscript, schism and all, to a dear friend. Hopefully getting more brains involved with help me fix this plot snag.
I forget that lesson a lot: manuscripts need friends!! Everything is stronger with more minds and hearts aimed at it :) It’s just been hard with this self-isolation thing. If I hadn’t promised Shotgun Girl to this friend months ago I probably wouldn’t have been able to reach out and ask for help with it.
I’ve also finally set up a writing battle station in the new house, which is a huge mental relief. I hadn’t really settled on a location and it was definitely impacting my mental writing game. Trying to get work done in locations my brain associates with relaxation and entertainment is a surefire recipe to getting distracted, and more often than not taking a nap. BUT NOT HERE.
It’s been 6 years of Bella, and 1 year of Grace! I love these puppy dogs so, so, so much. They are hilarious and sweet and a constant joy.
I don’t usually talk about my work life on here, but I feel like I need to right now. While I’ve struggled with edits to Shotgun Girl over the past few months, I fed most of my creative energy to my day job. I made many beautiful plans, presentations, and projects. I am so proud of what I created, and it’s also so difficult to describe. For the first time I was able to create organization-level objectives and plans to execute them, then start putting my plans into action. Working on my degree has assisted with this type of thinking more than I ever thought it would.
I’m super pleased with my work-self, but it also made me feel guilty for not putting that same level of energy into my writing life. Thankfully, with the buck passed on Shotgun Girl and Nameless spinning itself up so pleasingly, I hope to assuage this guilt soon.
(Susan Dennard recently had a great article in her newsletter about the ‘cult of busy.’ I so agree, and I’m trying not to feel guilty. And to not feel guilty for feeling guilty. So much absurd guiltiness!)
I still love the house. I’m working on an art project for it I hope to be able to share soon. I am trying to create and live the life I want. This means more reading and less TV watching, more art and less passive consumption, eating for a healthy life, exercise through engaging with the natural world, and habits and cycles I’m proud of.
More and more I come back to what my goals were at the beginning of this year, especially the part about being my true self. In a way my disengagement from social media seems like it furthers that goal: living my life instead of documenting it. I am trying to be mindful of my actions and pursuits, and how they add to or detract from the person I want to be.
If you are interested in a Manifest session, Andrea is offering a self-guided course for only $20, though of course I also recommend her $100 over the phone consultation. She is a wonderful human being.
These are some of the non-fiction books I read this year that helped inform my view of history:
The Ancient Engineers
I love how this book demonstrates how governments, societies, and resources affected the development of technology, and in turn how those technologies affected society back. Super great overview of ancient technologies and how social systems used them.
The Life of Elizabeth I
I’m trying to get a better handle on UK history and politics, and I’ve always been fascinated with Elizabeth I. This book was great for describing the politics of the day and all the threats and opportunities for rulers.
Becoming Queen Victoria
Another amazing book summarizing the politics of the day. Survival is precarious, even for royalty.
Rumi: Past and Present, East and West
This book takes an incredibly deep and academic approach to Rumi’s life and philosophies. Frankly it’s wonderful to read just before bed, but I’m also loving the insights that come with it. It’s got me interested in other religions in a way I’ve never been before. It’s also helped a ton with interpreting the meaning behind Rumi’s poems, as I make my way through the big red book over the course of several years.
A People’s History of the United States
I’m not done with this one yet, but what I’ve read is fascinating (and hard to take. Sometimes I have to take breaks). This book has a reputation for being super leftist, which you may love, hate, or feel ambivalent about, but whichever way you slice it, it’s a fascinating take on history. Again, I love the summaries and showing how social opinion evolves over the years.
If you know of any other great historical non-fiction I am allllllllll ears!
A Special Moment
Recently my friend Kat Zhang gave me one of the biggest honors of my writing career by dedicating a whole book to me. I still melt when I think about it <3
This beautiful book is coming to you in May, 2018 :-)
Speaking of friends with books, I want to give a special shout out to Susan Dennard’s upcoming Sightwitch. As Susan struggles with some personal life stuff, her wonderfully creative project was itself dealt a critical blow. Let’s help get the word out that this multi-media, fun, special project is coming next spring, and we all can’t wait for it to arrive!
Until next time,