Weekly Total: 0
I haven’t written anything this week, intend to continue writing nothing this week, and it feels very correct indeed.
I’m not sure quite what the trigger was for me making this decision, but I actually think it was less of a trigger and more of suddenly realising that I’m really fucking exhausted. Like, okay, a bit embarrassing, I life about the most sedentary lifestyle it is possible for a person to live without being forced to do so by morbid obesity, but ever since that first panic-induced marking frenzy earlier this year – to be frank, I don’t think I’ve recovered. Not my energy, but my habits, my focus, my stability. I haven’t really taken the time to actually re-settle myself, get back into a healthy groove. I spent all of that time doing things that I was obligated to do, and since then have spent pretty much no time on myself.
And no, moping and feeling sorry for myself and fretting and procrastination does not count as “me time”, for what are hopefully obvious reasons. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am shit at self-care, and that is what this week has been about – or, it has been since yesterday, when after Youthline I realised I had gone 4 days without writing and that it felt good, and I was so tired after Youthline that I slept in until 12:45 PM this afternoon and it felt even gooder.
Which tells me that, at least for a little while, this is what I need.
And I’ve done some other things, anyway, important things. I completed my first mentor shift at Youthline, where I answered texts sent by real-life people and everything. No phone calls, because I probably would have had a heart attack, but the experience, while exhausting, was also incredibly empowering, and if I wanted a change from the morbid doldrums of last week then this was definitely a good start. I’ve spent this week feeling pretty optimistic, though also more aware of when I get tired; I can feel myself starting to nod off around 7 PM, and I’ve decided to start rolling with it – not to sleep, but to chill.
And by doing so, I finally finished Graceling, a book that I bought for myself 5 years ago (to memory) and, after reading 1 chapter, refused to finish it, despite having paid money to own it. Well, I’ve read it now, and while I can’t say I’m richer for the experience or that I’ve experienced any personal growth directly attributed to the content of the story itself, I do feel better about myself – and more competent at the whole self-care thing. After all, while I think my Urban Fantasy kick is well and truly over, it did put me back in touch with my love of reading, and I have to say that Graceling was actually a bit more of a challenging read than most of the UF I’ve read so far. Well, challenging in a way that I like. There have definitely been UF books that were more challenging, but not in a way that made me think so much as a way that made me recoil in anguish and horror and want to throw them across the room but stopped myself from doing it because they’re library books and also I don’t want to destroy my house because I read a shitty book.
Though to be clear, saying that Graceling made me think is a bit … strong. More accurately, Graceling proved to me that even a book that doesn’t quite successfully tell a story and has a truly toxic “romance” at its core can still have good points, and how frustrating that reading experience can be. It also proved to me that, yes, I really do love reading, because even reading Graceling was satisfying enough.
Okay I’m being a bit mean, and reflecting on most of my book reviews, honestly, I am quite glad that I haven’t done many over the past few years. I think I have the training – on paper at least – to be conduct critical analysis on texts, but not the temperament. I want to be harsh and shitty and make jokes at the author’s expense, because I’m just a bit of a tool. And I think that’s okay, honestly – I just don’t think, knowing this about myself, that I absolutely need to publish these personal expressions of my opinion to the internet.
Also there’s just not much I’d want to say about Graceling. I read it, it wasn’t great but there were good parts – I particularly liked Bitterblue, and if the whole book had been about her I would have been rather more enthusiastic – and at the end of the day, I feel satisfied that I not only got a book read and unlocked today’s downtime achievement, but also that I honoured a deal that I made with myself to start reading through books that I actually own before continuing to binge on library books.
However, I do rather enjoy the snarkings of other critics, and have been revisiting Reading With A Vengeance, which I used to frequent much more often when I actually, like, did things online, instead of just blogging and drowning out the noise in my head with endless DBFZ videos on Youtube. This has been another part of my downtime activity since I decided literally yesterday that I needed more self-care time, and it reminds me of that time I declared that I wanted to embark on an “internet world tour” some years ago – basically, to explore the internet and see just what, exactly, is out there. To be interested in things again would be an awfully big adventure. Also potentially a way to combat my rather uncurious attitude – I’ve always been aware of it, to some extent, the fact that I hear about all these writers who are known for being observant and getting really excited about little interactions that they happen to observe, people’s tics and patterns of speech and whatever other minutia us writers are supposed to be fucking junkies for, and I’m just not. But it extends to every area of my life, not just writing, and let’s just say that depression and social anxiety have not helped this habit to abate, exactly.
And as happy as I was to finish a book today and hop into bed when I felt myself drowsing out, I also want a wider range of self-care options to choose from than just “read something” and “play games I don’t really enjoy until I finally give up on finding any scrap of enjoyment at around 4 AM and fail to sleep due to over-stimulation”.
I think the main issue is that I tend to want to have multiple forms of stimulation going on at once. For instance, as I write this I have a Spotify playlist playing – I almost always have music playing, no matter what I’m doing, and a couple of years ago it was podcasts instead. I think this stems from growing up when “the internet” was a new and exciting invention, and particularly how much stuff I could find there – music in particular. I could find it, hoard it, yes I was a teenager in the early 2000’s you can figure out what I was doing. The point is that I was presented with this glut of stuff to do with as I would, too much to know what to do with, and I imagine that much like people who suddenly come into a lot of money they just want to use it all, because it’s so new and exciting and theirs, and they want to indulge in the sheer sensation of their ownership over it. All restraint goes out the window, and before you know it some very unhealthy, and potentially lifelong habits have been formed. I listen to music not because I always want to be listening to music, but because back in the day the way I tried to cope with the overwhelming availability of music was to find as many ways as I could to fit it into my everyday life, driven by a strange “use it or lose it” anxiety brought on by the fact that I could never actually run out. I dunno, brains are weird.
But that can go on the self-care list: one thing at a time. One thing that I enjoy as a downtime activity at a time. So rather than music and a book, one or the other, that sort of thing. Because I want to enjoy things more. I want to appreciate them more. And I imagine that requires focus, mental bandwidth that I have been trying to stretch between too many things at once. To the point where, like, the very idea of listening to a podcast and not doing something else at the same time gives me fucking anxiety.
All of this and more is why this week off writing is so important for me.
But also, I feel like I’ve gotten to a place with my writing where I don’t need Weekly Words every single week in order to keep up momentum – I feel like I’ve got a good enough foundation with it that I can fit in breaks and not have it completely demolish my momentum. Not so much that I feel confident about taking, say, 2 weeks off, but 1 I think will be not only perfectly fine but also pretty damn advisable, given that there are a lot of things that have been happening with me this year that I know I haven’t really made the time to properly, responsibly process.
As for saying that there will be no writing this week – that’s how I feel right now. It could change. I might mark it up next week or something; but for this week, my aim is that getting writing done is not the goal I want to have accomplished by the end of it. My goal is to get centered again, find a bit of the clarity and focus that I feel like I’ve been missing for a very long time, and make a list of all the things that helped me get there so that I can replicate the results.
And read. Lots. Hopefully lots of good stuff.