The Quicksand of the Holidays

Good lord what a crazy week. Good and bad crazy. We are in full holiday season mode now that Thanksgiving is now treated as Christmas’ conjoined twin. And it is absolutely burying me in things I am not doing. This pretty much sums up how this week has me feeling.

I am starting a new part-time job. I went to visit…family? People? We’re related? But not by blood? I don’t know. …super extended family on Thanksgiving, so Thursday was out. The day prior was chores and food prep and helping out anyway I could in preparation for Thursday. Wednesday was also spent doing all the homework. Tuesday I was on a trial basis for said new job and the entire evening was spent helping shop for Thursday. Monday was school work and the gym and dinner and chores and the typical struggling for leads for freelancing. Friday and Saturday was family time. So here we are; better late than never I suppose.

So pretty much no writing has been done this week. None. And that just cripples me. The joy of having depression caused by anxiety is being able to very easily tailspin into a downward spiral and beating yourself up for the smallest things. And the anxiety side makes sure to let you know that everyone hates you for it.

The single most important thing I can say right now, and for you as well if you are going through this, is simple; it is simply difficult for someone like me to believe it. Ready?

It is all going to be fine.

Wait. No, that can’t be right. How can it be fine? I’ve only rewritten a third of my book and it needs at least one more revision. Things are very much not fine.

It is all going to be fine.

I wanted this done by the end of the year and now the end of the year is here and I’m spending more time with family and I have no money to hire an editor so I took a job but now I don’t have time to write in this O. Henry hellhole nightmare scenario and now all my friends and family will be disappointed and I’m never going to finish and and and and….

The second most important thing: breathe.

I am writing this for me first and foremost. I am not guaranteed a dime of profit from this story. I am doing this because it is important to me. No one has said “Hey Chris do me a favor and write me a book”. I am doing this because this is my sweet precious fictional boy and I love him and he’s going to grow up big and strong. Whether or not he’s able to put me in a nursing home later in life depends on how much people enjoy it. But the deal with having anxiety is the constantly needing to remind yourself that there is no angry mob of people behind you. And that’s what it feels like; before I started taking medication, the closest thing I could compare anxiety to was having an invisible angry man behind you just outside the corner of your eye constantly yelling. That is what it feels like: the constant walking on egg shells, the constant anger and being on edge; it is exactly like having someone constantly shouting. It is exhausting.

I’m not a real boy writer yet, just a for pretend writer. I have no hard deadline. This gets done when it gets done. It is not paying the bills, therefore as much as I’d love to just have an IV of coffee coursing through my veins for the next 72 hours with my wrists and ankles chained to my chair until it is knocked out, I have other obligations. December is a crazy month; my birthday, my sister’s birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s. I am always working, this year is no different. I take courses online, leaving me at home where there is always dishes and laundry and grocery shopping and cooking to do. My parents are my roommates, and I am their son with son-based obligations. My sister comes home about every other weekend, and I go play good guy big brother. I am still trying to lose 10 more pounds, which means more time at the gym, especially as I gorge myself on turkey and stuffing and pie and seasonal booze and God knows what else.

This is important to me. This is the single most important thing I have ever pushed myself to do. It is crucial to me on so many different levels, least of which is simply challenging myself and proving that I am capable of doing this. This is me putting my foot down and no longer saying “Oh I have no earthly idea of what I want to do with my life” simply because this job is a creative one and I was afraid of people saying it was not a “real” job. I was born to write. I love it. I enjoy it. And I never do it. So I will, I will write the living Hell out of this book. But if it doesn’t happen until I take care of me and my family first, that is okay. And why is that?

BECAUSE IT IS ALL GOING TO BE FINE.

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Do or Do Not, There is no Try

So with this, my first actual post about writing, I open with the famous quote from Yoda from what is arguably the best Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back:

“No. ‘Try’ not. *DO*. Or do not. There is no ‘try’.”

So the first thing you’re going to learn about me is I’m a huge nerd. And I don’t mean the “Oh, Star Trek? Yeah that’s my favorite Chris Pine movie” sort of nerd. I’m from the last generation of nerds who were bullied over liking nerdy things and not being obsessed with football and blonde women like every RED BLOODED MURRICAN BOY should be. We didn’t have Chris Hardwick to be Ryan Seacrest’s hot nerdy younger brother to guide us through zombie-related emotions and Star Wars jokes. We had a Game Boy Color and emotional scars.

So with this, my first actual post about writing, I open with the famous quote from Yoda from what is arguably the best Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back:

“No. ‘Try’ not. *DO*. Or do not. There is no ‘try’.”

I’m in that transitional phase between that quiet kid who likes to scribble in his notebook at the back of the class and that kid who actually sent their stuff in to magazines and newspapers while you were at home playing Super Smash Bros. I am “trying” to go from writing just for the heck of it because it’s a hobby and putting together something that I think people will enjoy, something that hopefully they would be willing to pay real actual money for.

It’s scary for a few reasons. One, you become proud of what you’re doing but at the same time (especially if you have diagnosed anxiety like me) you have a constant sense of doubt about what you’re doing. Hey man you’ve spent months of your life working on this, are you sure it’s any good? No. No you are not sure. But you have to BE sure. The Internet has become a welcome place for people to crank out bad fanfic; if you are working on a legitimate story to be published it has to go beyond bad dialogue leading up to graphic gay fantasies involving Benedict Cumberbatch.

Second, you are going from just an obscure nobody to someone who will be putting themselves out there for all the world to criticize, some of whom you are actually going to be paying. The thought of handing my story over to an editor petrifies me. I am so worried they are going to go “You spent actual time from your life that you are living producing this garbage?” I also have some very strong writer friends who, as tough as they are, can’t help but reel from a super negative customer review of their work. Creative works are more than just “stuff”; they bear the creator’s soul. To criticize a work is to criticize the person themselves because a part of them lives on inside what they made. And it’s hard for me to take negative criticism, so that part scares me as well.

Finally, it scares me knowing some of my friends and family are going to read what I put out. The people closest to me are going to have a window to my soul. I stay fairly aloof; it’s hard for me to get close to people. So to give them an in into my mind, to let someone go John Malcovich on me and see part of who I really am, is really personal and intimidating.

Now, as for the “doing”; that is hard. Some days I can easily crank out 2,000 words without batting an eye. Other days, maybe 3 sentences. I’m assuming I’m not the only one. The main factor I have seen, however, is going beyond “trying”. I used to wake up and go “Well, maybe I’ll try to get some writing done today.” NO. TRY NOT. Because on days where I would “try” to get “some writing done”, I never did. How much matters less than actually doing it. Now, obviously, more than two or three sentences are preferred, but it doesn’t have to be five-chapters-today-or-else-you’re-a-failure. Some days are harder than others. Some days you just aren’t feeling it. Listen to your body and your mind and your heart; if you “literally can’t even” today, recharge. Go walk, read a few chapters of a book, drink some water, and try again. But as long as you follow Yoda’s and Shia LeBouf’s advice, you can do it. And I have discovered a few tips that help me:

1) Set the mood. Sometimes the lighting just isn’t right. Sometimes it’s too hot. Sometimes it’s too loud or too quiet. You’re going to be settling in for a while so get comfortable. Play some music to help block out the world around you, which leads to :

2) Listen to the right music. I love a lot of different music, and this includes rock and metal. Now, is it generally conducive to try to write when I have RAWRFAWRGWAR screaming into my ears? Sometimes, but rarely. You may want to opt for something lighter. Classical, jazz, I even find EDM helps my focus. I can’t confirm it, but I heard listening to video game boss battle music helps you focus. I have tried it myself, I say it’s inconclusive.

3) Focus on the here and now. It doesn’t matter what others are going to think. You need to write this ultimately for you. If you do not enjoy your writing no one else will. You have to love what you do. And if you honestly can’t stand your story, scrap it and write something different. I have, and it’s really freeing. It’s like quitting a job you can’t stand going to anymore. Do what you love and success will follow.

4) Write right now, edit later. DO. NOT. EDIT. WHAT. YOU. ARE. CURRENTLY. WRITING. Bang it all out, and then edit later. If you write a paragraph and then go back through it and then back again and then write the first line of the next paragraph and bounce back to editing the one before…it’s exhausting. And you won’t get anywhere with the story. Edit it later. It’s like writing a paper for school: set up the outline, write the first draft, and then edit the whole thing. You’ll thank yourself later.

 

Thank you for reading! Feel free to leave a comment and if you feel so inclined share with a friend!

Welcome to My WordPress Blog!

My name is Chris and I’m an aspiring author, as well as a freelance writer. I decided to start to this page for a couple of different reasons. One, to give me an outlet to write outside of the story I am working on (which can be tedious), and two, because my friend Ashley R. Carlson (an amazingly talented writer and editor in her own right) is a fantastic friend and mentor and she is constantly pushing me to start thinking as a real author.

I know what you’re thinking: what do I mean by that? Well, up until now writing has just been a hobby that I pursued when the fancy struck. But now that I have decided to go full steam ahead and finish a book, I need to carry myself as a writer. Because it does not just stop at one story; going down this path I know there will be more. And so if I am to pursue this as at minimum a side job I need to actually own that that is what I am. You would never say “Oh, me? I’m just really good at cutting people open and sewing them back together.” No. You are a surgeon. Own that you are a surgeon.

I will be 29 in a matter of weeks and I am just now at a point in my life where I am discovering who I really am. So this blog is going to dive into that both from the perspective of becoming a writer, as well as some deeper personal themes. I hope you enjoy it, I hope you get something out of it, and I would love to hear any and all thoughts. So let’s connect and share and get to know each other!