NaNoWriMo Day 13 (11/13)

Well, I didn’t do much writing yesterday again. I’m seriously starting to wonder if I’ve doomed myself since I can’t seem to make myself actually prioritize my writing. At the same time, I did some wonderful prep for my D&D campaign that lays the groundwork for many sessions to come along with figuring out some of the murky details for the plot arc my players are pursuing. I also fleshed out the DMPC I’ve created to round out the party (weekly attendance is at three right now, so I’m just adding a safety on top of adjusting their encounters) and created a few instant encounters for the environments they’ll be heading through. I should be good on prep for the next half-dozen sessions if we stick to 3-4 hour sessions (instead of the 5+ hour sessions we’ve been doing lately).

I really enjoyed the session, even if it dragged on longer than expected. It gave me the opportunity to insert a random new element to the world and challenged me to come up with something effectively homebrew (rules for an entire new creature type along with the source of said creatures) on the fly. One of my players did the unthinkable and rolled three 1’s in a row on an attack roll, so I gave him the option of accepting the instant accidental death (house rule on three 1s in a row on an attack roll) or taking an unknown other result that could be worse than death but would give him the opportunity to possibly avert the problem. I decided that the sword he used, a longsword with the “vicious” trait (it does damage to him every time he hits something with it but deals extra damage to what he’s hitting), animated and started using vampiric style attacks to suck out the life force of whatever living creatures were near it.

Thankfully, they managed to kill the no-longer sword-shaped aberration (it looked like a 15 foot long caterpillar made of metal) and thus the whole crisis has been averted (for now). However, the addition of this powerful creature to what was already a tough fight (12 zombies and a mummy for a level six party) wound up dragging the session out so that, as 11pm passed and 12am approached, they finally wrapped things up and returned to their basecamp outside the dungeon to recover from their drained life force and wounds. And they leveled up!

This is why I love Dungeons and Dragons. As a DM, it can force me to be creative at a moment’s notice, encourages player participation in story-telling, and a good player will always take the unknown but interesting if they have a choice. I get to incorporate things from other stories I loved (the no-longer-sword-shaped aberration was an idea i got from a comic I love) and I get to see the reactions to my story-telling as it happens. The suspense and wonder, the dread and weary joy, the fear and bravery. I have, and probably will again, write entire posts about why I love Dungeons and Dragons. There’s just so much there to enjoy if you’ve got a good set of players and a good Dungeon Master.

Even if I don’t finish my NaNoWriMo writing goal this month, I’ll still have written more this month than in the past several thanks to my daily blog updates. I’ll have done story-telling I enjoyed every week. I’ll have fully committed myself to creating once again. I still plan to try and I’m confident in my ability to pull the necessary words out of my ass over my holiday next week if it comes down to that, but I think I can already count this month as a win no matter what else happens.

 

Daily Prompt

As a human, we can be wildly emotional. All you have to do is turn on daytime TV to see stories and reality shows of people doing incredibly irrational things as a result of entirely emotional decision-making. People who struggle with mental health issues often have first-hand experience in how emotions can entirely overrule reason and common sense.  Even if your character isn’t strictly human or not even sorta human, the emotional side of every race/species depicted in story-telling tends to overrule the intellectual side. Write a scene in which your character’s emotional response to an event overrules their common sense or intellectual side so that they wind up acting when they probably shouldn’t. It can be anything from them leaping into action to protect someone, entirely blowing their cover, to them being unable to hold their tongue when they are being chewed out by someone.

 

Sharing Inspiration

One of my favorite musicians, who I listen to for just about every reason in the world (though the most common are because I need to de-stress and chill out or because I need something to make me contemplative but still action-oriented), is Andrew Bird. The absolutely breadth of genres he’s played over the years is surprising and his evolution as an artist is inspiring. He mixes wonderfully calm and meandering music with vocals that match the music but will make you think once you start to hear them past their part in the musicality of the song. He plays the violin, sings wonderfully, whistles, and plays the guitar, often using electronic delay and repeat recorders (they record what he plays when he holds down a pedal and then loop it back until he stops it again) to combine all four of those things at once during live performances. He’s a wonderful showman and an amazing musician. My biggest critique of him is that he can be hard to understand sometimes, when he’s singing, because he tends to blend the vocals with the instrumentals so much. If you need a little push, I recommend looking up his music (live recordings, if you can find them) starting with my favorite song, Take Courage.

 

Helpful Tips

If you’re struggling to get your writing done because you can’t focus when you sit down with a couple of hours to work, try breaking your time up into 5-15 minute chunks (10 is usually a good number). Set a timer to go off in ten minutes and challenge yourself to write as much as you can before the timer goes off. Once the timer goes off, record your results, take a short break to get a drink or check twitter (no more than a minute or two, timer-enforced if need be), and then start another. This time, challenge yourself to beat your previous record by as much as possible. Keep repeating this process until your reach or surpass your daily goal. These little sprints will help keep you focused and productive, giving you the bursts of creativity we’ve all felt where we write a couple (or a few) hundred words in only a handful of minutes because we’re very aware of how much time we’ve wasted. This way, though, you get the benefit without feeling like you’ve been failing.

 

Conflicting Emotions

I’ve had a bit of a week. A lot has happened since June 13th (Okay, a week and a day), and I’ve been doing my best to deal with it. I tried writing (*cough* last week’s blog post *cough*) but wound up being unfortunately busy most of the time I thought I’d be able to write and entirely too tired for the rest of it. Throughout it all, I’ve had another major bout of depression come and go with a frequency comparable to bipolar disorder (and yes, I’m certain it’s not that) as a result of some of last week’s events.

I’ve never been terribly good at handling conflicts on my own behalf. If someone I know needs an advocate or someone to intercede on their behalf, I’ll dive right in with barely a second thought. When it comes to initiating conflicts on my own behalf, I would almost certainly rather suffer for weeks and months than start an emotionally charged conflict. Specifically emotionally charged conflicts.

Need to decide where to go for dinner and no one can agree? No problem, I can argue my suggestion with the best of them. Need to tell someone that their callous, disrespectful, and down-right negligent behavior is having a severely negative impact on my mental and emotional well-being? Fuck that, I’ll bring it up when it gets to the point of being nearly crippling.

As a result, I have a tendency to stay in shitty situations far longer than any reasonable person would. For example, my roommate and I definitely shouldn’t have re-signed our lease together, even if it was only going to be for 6 months. I knew then that we were not good cohabitors. The problem is that I’d been trying the subtle and conflict-less resolutions to our problems for 9 months at that point without result and even done a few more direct attempts that resulted in small conflicts, again without result. In his eyes, things were not that bad yet. In my eyes, I couldn’t really afford to live alone and we hadn’t tried everything yet.

So I tried being more direct and more forceful, all to no avail, until things came to a head and I told him we wouldn’t room together after our current lease expires. As a result of the conflicts leading up to that moment and all of the conflicts after that (because the issues have only been growing as time goes on), I’ve probably been more frequently and severely depressed than I was before I left my horrid, soul-sucking job in January.

That’s what conflict does to me. It stresses me out, makes me worry about having taken things too far despite knowing I pulled every single metaphorical punch and let the other person off too easy, it cuts into my ability to sleep properly, and makes my depression flare up with a vengeance. The more emotionally charged the conflict, the worse I get. The more often I’m in conflict, the worse I get. When you get both together, I wind up in a misery and depression hole it takes two or more weeks to actively climb out of (usually after two or three weeks of trying to make myself want to climb out of the hole).

I want to blame my roommate for my recent issues and I know a certain amount belongs to him for not respecting me and not respecting the agreements we made when we moved in together, but it’s not his fault I’ve got issues with conflict. He wouldn’t even know since I’m good at hiding it from people I want to hide it from and he’s already pretty oblivious on his own. I’ve told him a part of it now and I’m probably going to tell him the rest in an effort to encourage him to develop as a person and learn to respect people within his inner circle, but that’s another emotionally charged conflict right there and I’m still reeling from last week’s.

I know whose fault it is and I know how to make progress on resolving the issue as much as I’ll ever be able to, but that’s a big ol’ therapy journey and I’ve been procrastinating on getting a new therapist on my new insurance. It can be hard, to have to spend 6 or more months of sessions just working on getting comfortable with a therapist and familiar enough that I can talk about my big issues without needing a 15 minute aside to tell the entire story. Ultimately, it’s just another excuse to avoid something I find difficult. Like the phone call I’m going to make tomorrow (during business hours), sometimes you have to do something that makes you feel worse in the moment in order to feel better in the long run.

All I really wish, I suppose, is that this idea of misery now for a potential lack of misery later wasn’t a major theme of every aspect of my life. Kinda sucks to be a responsible adult sometimes.