Despite everything going on, I managed to be reasonably productive yesterday. Better than that, I decided to just go to bed at midnight, which is why you’re getting this post rather later in the day than I’d like to be putting it up. Unfortunately, despite those good things, yesterday still wasn’t great. I was busy all day trying to get my head out of the stressful holidays and back into anything resembling a productive mindset. It took most of the day and while I did have adequate time to zone out while writing without it compromising my ability to finish the day’s writing, it was still an uphill battle to get anything done. As today will be. Additionally, if that wasn’t bad enough, I may have been in bed by midnight, but I couldn’t fall asleep until after one. It was the worst, lying in bed and staring at the darkened ceiling while I waited for my mind to wind down for an hour.
To be entirely fair, I’m not exactly surprised. It’s been going on for a while and last night was just the latest in a long string of issues sleeping. As my stress level goes up, I start to struggle with sleeping. I’ve used some games in the past to keep me engaged enough that my mind doesn’t fret over pointless stuff but not so engaged that it can’t wind down (any Pokemon is my go-to since it has done that flawlessly my entire life), but that hasn’t been working lately. This is the first time in years that I can’t just shut down my mind when I need to. Or it’s the first time I’ve ever had something on my mind that I don’t want to just ignore. It’s difficult to tell the difference, sometimes, and I’m willing to be this is one of those scenarios where something isn’t happening because I don’t actually want it to happen.
I haven’t done a lot of thinking about my grandfather’s health, my aunt’s rudeness, and my relationship with my family in general. Or my relationship with my past. I honestly haven’t really been doing a lot of self-examination lately, which was a poor choice because I know just how cluttered my mind can get without it. Since my breakup, I’ve had a lot of stuff going on, some by choice to lessen the sting and some by circumstance that has added whole new elements to my anxieties and frustrations. The flood, a wisely abandoned but rather persistently reexamined decision to ask someone out, my grandfather’s health, a huge pile of things at work–participating in planning for the future of my team, a six-week period of crazy business as we tried to get a project done, and then leading the charge on a whole slew of new processes and best-practices for my entire team–and then I went straight from all that into National Novel Writing Month with only a week off to recover which pretty much all went to hell immediately because of my shitty neighbor’s music and the fact that I found out my grandfather was dying the weekend before I had to spend a week outside of my comfort zone in every possible way at work. It’s a lot and my few attempts at sorting myself out weren’t enough. I’ve been journaling every day, but that’s almost always surface stuff and my therapy visits have had quite a bit of time between them lately because of how busy the holidays are.
I really need to take some time to self-examine and process everything that’s been going on in the past six months (because I also went semi-viral on twitter and learned a lot about how I think social media should be used), but it’s difficult to get that time when there’s still so much going on. Numerous events in my friend group, we’re moving to a new building at work, the Christmas holidays coming up, new year’s, trying to figure out what comes next after National Novel Writing Month is over, and the ever-persistent issues of my health (mental and physical) and debt situation. It never lets up! Which is an unfortunate fact of life. The only time and respite I get from all of the chaos of life is the time I make and even that comes with a cost. There could be a lot of important things I miss in my life if I’m constantly pulling myself away from it to get the breathing space to calmly reflect on things. At the same time, taking a break from life to reflect once every six months clearly isn’t cutting it. I’ve been trying to work it into daily life, but enough Big-Deal stuff happens in my life from one year to the next that I need more than the casual reflection I can fit into my day-to-day life.
I really miss summer or winter vacations. I haven’t really had one in almost a decade since I worked every break during college, but I still miss them all the same. I miss the weeks of decreased responsibility and relaxation I had to recover from the mental rigors of studying. The US seriously need to address the shortage of vacation and personal time infecting most of its… everything. Infecting every part of its wage-earning culture since this is a systemic issue from the bottom rung of the job later to all but the top. The top gets to do whatever they want so they don’t count. Except, you know, they do because they’re the ones causing most of the problems. This is not where I saw today’s blog post going. I had notes to talk about how sore my back is from sleeping on an incredibly firm mattress for three nights before returning to my very soft and comfortable mattress but now that just doesn’t seem like something worth complaining about more than I already have in the face of corporate and governmental corruption’s impact on the economic health of all but the upper class.
Uh, eat the rich, I guess? Down with capitalism as a government policy? We should definitely get money out of politics, though, and probably ban anyone over retirement age from holding public office. That seems like a decent start, but we should also consolidating voting to one day every year and make that day a national holiday instead of “Columbus Day” since we’re trying to move away from people who ruin everything and then insist they didn’t do anything. While I’m talking about it, we should also institute a living wage, actually put money into gun violence research, limit the sale of fire arms/enforce conscientious ownership using reasonable gun control laws (Chesus fucking Jrist, can’t we just treat them like goddamn cars or something? With tests, licenses, and ownership certificates? This doesn’t seem like that difficult a fucking concept to work with), put limitations on banks and the whole “move money around to magically make more of it” economic sector to prevent the kind of abuse that led to the subprime mortgage crisis, and ban anyone who is a white supremacist/white supremacy sympathizer from participating in reasonable adult society like the job market and politics? And a million dollars for me, while we’re at it. Since we’re talking about impossible dreams that aren’t likely to occur in my lifetime.
On that depressing note, I’m going to go work on my writing for today. I hope your day is going better than mine is (and I kinda hope you don’t read this blog and my summation of a lot of the catch-all problems in the US). I hope you’re making good progress on your National Novel Writing Month goals and I wish you the best of luck when it comes to finishing strong! I believe in you!
A person’s musical taste can say a lot about them. I like music with big words and complex lyrics that is also usually indie rock or some kind of alternative or folk, which says I’m pretty much a hipster. I also like punk, hip-hop, older country, jazz, and electric rock, which says so many different things that it kind of clouds the picture a bit until you realize I actually like anything that incorporates instrumentation and vocals well, which means I just like melodious music. And that I’m still kind of pretentious and hipster-ish. What kind of music does your protagonist like and what does that say about them? Write a scene involving music that lets your protagonist reveal a bit of themselves that might otherwise keep hidden.
The book series that probably impacted me the most as a writer (aside from, you know, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings inspiring me to actually be a writer), is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Not only does a read through his incredibly fun, clever, and quick books make me want to write, but his style of writing has shown me there’s room for writers with a voice like my natural one. His series and his writing is directly responsible for me starting to write like myself rather than as a mixture of my favorite writers. As anyone who has made the transition can tell you, that’s a pretty big deal. Also, as one of the biggest Fantasy series that isn’t full of giant tomes, it made me appreciate the value of a story told in three hundred pages, give or take fifty. There’s an elegance in simplicity if it’s done right and Terry Pratchett was a master of it.
As we approach the end of the month, there are probably more than a few of us who are behind on our word counts. I’m so far behind I’m going to be behind until the very last day when I finally hit fifty thousand words. For those of us trying to catch up or find a way to squeeze more words out of the day, I have a suggestion. At this point in the month, it should be relatively easy to get your regular words out. The issue is usually the extra words you need to catch up. For that, I suggest using what I call the “Milestone Method.” The idea is that you tell yourself “just another hundred words until I’ve rounded my total up to the nearest thousand” or “if I do three hundred thirty-three more words, I’ll have two thousand words done for today.” until you reach whatever your actual goal is. Try to pick amounts that you can easily reach in a short amount of time because that’ll make it feel more like sprinting toward the finish like rather than adding another lap to the marathon. I’ve gotten so used to this method that I have to consciously stop myself if I hit my writing target before I’m falling asleep at my computer. I only needed three thousand words yesterday, but I got myself up to thirty-five hundred so I could stop at a nice round thirty-six hundred. If you can break it down into smaller bites and track your word count accurately, it’s worth trying to slowly work your way forward.