I think I sprained my brain. Woke up with a bizarre throbbing headache that I was certain would be visible to someone other than myself. Cranking out 2 short stories in 2 days left me breathless, exhausted, and tied up in knots.
Oh come on you wussy, you may say, what is so hard about that? It is if you think like me, that every little thing you do is an excuse to pick apart everything other thing you did or said in excruciating detail back to the moment of your birth. It’s a vicious circle. But, I learned some things about myself the past few days. If you are an experienced writer maybe you’ll chuckle and think back to that time when you ripped five hairs out of your head for every word you wrote. And I’d bet money you’re glad you past all that. Please don’t tell me that you never got past it or I might have aneurism.
One thing I learned is yes I can change something I’ve written after declaring it finished. This fear dates back to when hitting the send button on an email that someone took offense to could cost me my job. In the corporate nightmare you can recall a message, but you know everyone read it anyway and are already planning what they are going to salvage from your desk after you are walked out the door by security. That never happened to me, but I imagined it many times. And fear is fear whether justifiable or not.
Another thing I learned is, do not, under any circumstances, read a book like “38 Common Mistakes Fiction Writers Make – And How to Avoid Them, immediately after trying something new. I’m been torturing myself for days reading this damned infernal book from hell. It would better and less painful if I just smashed my thumb with a hammer and got it over with quick. Kind of like ripping off a band-aid. I do have to give myself some credit. Some of the 38 things I got right.
Maybe I remember more from that creative writing class in college than I thought. One of the criticisms I received was “your writing is too flowery.” Say what? What the hell does that mean? Turns out flowery meant, to this professor, that I referred to ladies as ladies instead of women. Excuuuuuuse me, but I’m from the south and there is a huge difference here between women and ladies. Women just happen, being a lady takes effort. But, thinking about it, I guess that is not obvious out of the south and unless I aim all my written efforts at the combination ladies cotillion, rummage sale, and church social, I need to weed that phrase out.
Another thing I learned is that, out of self-preservation and a strong desire to not be hauled away in straight jacket, is to let it lie for a while. Don’t sit there and reread your work 85 thousand times. All it did for me was turn me cross-eyed and question my sanity, although I question my sanity at least once a day anyway. I suppose that is OK really, but if it leads to others questioning my sanity as well, maybe I better calm down. Steven King mentioned the give your work a break for while bit in his book “On Writing” But did I take his word for it? NoooOOoo. I absolutely insist on making all the mistakes myself.
While writing this post my headache went away. Oh my God, what if I’m addicted to writing? Will I start burgling the neighbor’s houses in search of pen and paper?
Discredit Your Inner Idiot. Go on you know you wanna! I’m fixinta do it right now. (In case you haven’t noticed I’m experimenting with made up words today.)
It’s rainy day, so my decision to leave the house will just have to wait. Instead I’ve decided to find a pair of pliers and a hammer to go to work on my inner critic.
Inner Idiot: Why start a blog? You know you never finish anything?
Real Me: Shaddup! Been blogging for almost a year now. The only thing I’ve done this consistently in my life is travel and drink beer. OK, I also read Sci Fi and tend to scare myself to death reading Steven King books when I’m home alone.
Inner Idiot: Sooo you want to be a writer. Who do you think you are?
Real Me: Uh…me? Been writing all my life, just didn’t share it that often. Actually I’m a published writer. A story I wrote got published in a national magazine for kids when I was in the 5th grade. God, I wish I could remember what the name was. Also wrote stories for the school newspaper in high school. There has just been a brief 40 year dry spell. Now that I think of it, during the corporate years, I wrote entire books. They were non-fiction. Scintillating subjects like – User Manuals, Standard Operating Procedures, Employee policy, history of a company, successful proposals to fund projects, business plans, etc. Not edge of your chair, nail-biting, stay up all night kind of stuff, but hey! I AM a writer. So bite me!
Inner Idiot: Oh come on! Every time you fire up your Kindle you are confronted with pictures of fossilized great writers from days of yore. What makes you think you can stand on the shoulders of greatness?
Real Me: Seriously? Can’t those Kindle people put a picture in there of a person is has not been in the ground for 50 years? Why do you have to be dead to be considered creative? And further more, I’ll bet cash money that I’m every bit as weird as Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), just in different kinda way.
Inner Idiot: *Sigh, and rolls eyes* Everyone wants to be a writer. It’s an easy way to explain inactivity, if all you do is stay up late at night and stare at paper.
Real Me: Well…No, actually not everyone wants to be a writer. Percentage wise, not that many do. Come to think of it, I’ve never met anyone, in person, who wants to do this. And I’ve met a lot of people.
Inner Idiot: Well, maybe I’m beating a dead horse here.
Real me: Yea, you are. I shall sashay forth and do my thang. Nice talking to you, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
NaNoWriMo update: Fell a little behind the last day or 2, but I was ahead already so I have plenty of wiggle room.
“Don’t Should on Yourself!” People told me this all the time when I used to go counseling and Al-Anon meetings. It means don’t spend time beating yourself up over what you think you should be doing, according to other people’s definition of what you should be doing, or not doing.
Sometimes I’m the master at this. I learned it from a long line of shouders and then, of course, I married a Master Shoulder. The even uglier side of the shoulding is the dreaded Should Notting. Should not do this, want this, think about this, or even let it creep into dreams.
I came home from my trip and turned into a vegetable. I should not have done that HA! See there it is again. Now I realized that what I was doing was taking the time to grieve grandson’s poor choice to leave the Guard and thereby forcing me to eject him from my home. Got past that and spent the next week feeling like I should be doing…something.
Finally, I put my foot down and said. OK dammit, Self, stop it right frigging now! Give yourself a chance to figure it out. You are retired and now you have all the time you need to let it all bubble and boil in your subterranean thoughts. It will come, you don’t need to force yourself into an activity just because you should be doing something. Sez who!
Then I got to investigating the annual NaNoWriMo contest coming in November. All you have to do to win is write a 50,000 page novel in 30 days. The purpose of doing it in 30 days is to force you to just bang it out without editing or rewriting or any other way fiddling it to death. The mere thought of this paralyzed me so severely that I didn’t write a single word for 5 days.
What happened? Well I know exactly what happened. The inner critic that sits on my shoulder started whispering in my ear. “Bleh, you never finish what you start.” Not true. “Anyone who reads the first draft of your novel will shout ‘what utter drivel’ and organize a nationwide draft burning party.” Yea, hows that for insecurity and hubris in the same fear? I will be invited to speak on CNN as the world-renowned author of the worst novel ever written. English lit teachers will buy it with the purpose of using in class as an example of how not to write.
I guess it is obvious how ridiculous my fears can get. The thing to do is switch from should to “so what?” So what if I write a 30 day novel and don’t even read it myself. So what? Just doing it is the accomplishment.
Yesterday, Mr. Husband and I went shopping and bought a tent and 2 sleeping bags. On the way home we stopped at the bookstore and bought travel books. Then home, lunch and a good hearty argument for desert that lasted a while. Evidently, we had some festering issues to air out. Washing everything in a gallon or two of tears always works for me.
We eventually became exhausted from this silly endeavor and collapsed in bed, rested for a while and squabbled some more. The upshot of all this is that he “worries” when I’m gone. I’m going to interpret this as he will miss me. I used to view it as him thinking that I can’t be trusted to navigate my way out of a soggy paper bag without some sort of calamity
To cheer ourselves up we went out to dinner just the 2 of us, no grandson. He’s 23 after all and should be able to feed himself on occasion. Our destination – a fabulous seafood restaurant, Vincent’s, here in Big D. It’s where we went on our first date. So romantical. We get a good laugh because we are always the youngest couple there. Youngsters just don’t appreciate good seafood and there is no TV in there. After wards we went to a sports-camping type store and bought a book of road maps.
Unfortunately, right before I went to bed I developed an extreme case of self-doubt and the starting singing the “who do you think you are” blues. It’s a long trip, I will have a melt down. I’m not up to this, what was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking at all. Yada Yada.
All this self talk invaded my dreams and turned it into the nightmare, wild ride, merry-go-round from hell. There were monsters on the ceiling, monsters under the bed, monsters knocking things off my nightstand. I got lost in Tennessee, took a wrong turn, and ended up in Libya. Tarried too long in a greasy spoon and when we came out the truck was up on blocks with all 4 tires gone. In a storm our tent collapsed with us in it, turning us into a burrito that rolled down a hill into a raging stream and we were washed out to sea. Never mind that our tent was 400 miles inland at the time. Anything can happen in a dream.
All of this nonsense exhausted me so much that I ended up sleeping until 10:00 am. That’s really late for me. I’m usually up with the birds.
I realize once again that I am human and just as prone to fears as the next person. I just have to refuse to let them paralyze me and stop me from doing what I dream of doing. Tally Ho!
Felt weird and uncertain the last few days. Sometimes stuck between dimensions. Other times, panic like I have one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat and it’s starts to drift away from shore. If I don’t jump one way or the other soon I’m going to rip my pants and end up in the water. Doubts and fears are raising their ugly heads. ”You are going to turn into a couch potato, you won’t do anything you planned.You’ll end up being a greeter at Wal-Mart (where did that come from?)
The past few days I haven’t had much to say. My husband will probably claim other wise, but nothing I felt like sharing because it was too nebulous to put into words. I’m paralyzed because the brain is working overtime. I say the brain instead of my brain because it took off running without me, like a horse that takes the bit in its teeth. It will be interesting to see what comes out of it.
Last week and this week, did a work 3 days and off 4 days schedule to ease myself into a new lifestyle. It sounded like a good idea at the time but it is enhancing the “stuck between to worlds” feeling. So far, for the first 2 days I perform a good impersonation of a 2 toed sloth. Watched 3 seasons of the Big Bang series, back to back. Then on Sundays, I wander around bumping into walls thinking I should be doing something, but what? All of this with a vague uneasy feeling that someone is going to yell at me for not doing something I “should” have done or forgot to do. Then Monday, the entire day is consumed with the dreaded return to work on Tuesday and watching the clock to make sure I go to bed early.
While all this waking confusion is happening, my dream world is off the charts. Since I loosened the reigns on the “what if,” my brain kicked into high gear. I dreamed an entire movie last night. Not a movie I’ve seen, although there may have been scenes borrowed, but the plot unfolded in the dream. I watched from the perspective of someone involved in its creation. Even had a name for it, but I can’t remember what it was.
To say this is exhausting is an understatement. But it’s a good kind of exhaustion. I’m working hard, I just have to endure the indignities of this not being visible to anyone looking at me for the time being.
- Physicists investigate lower dimensions of the universe (physorg.com)