Statement of Intent

Oh my GOD I need to start getting things done again.

Around the end of last year, I was getting close to having panic attacks around the very idea of going out into the world and looking for a job. Thanks again, social anxiety. Thus I have been on a sickness benefit for the past few months, and while anxiety has definitely been easier to manage as a result, shit gets pretty stagnant when you don’t have to do anything. I’d also love to not be on a sickness benefit and actually be able to have the capacity to deal with reality on a daily basis, something that my unschooling background didn’t exactly prepare me for. Unfortunately, getting help dealing with these lifelong issue means a lot of paperwork and emails and phone calls, all of which are kind of hard to do when you have social anxiety. Funny old world. What I’m saying is that, while I more or less know what the process of getting out of this slump should be, it doesn’t make it any easier to actually do it.

But it’s okay. I have a plan. Sort of a belated New Year’s Resolution, but it’s still a good plan. And my plans always work. So sayeth the Ubermensch!

While working towards getting financial and contractual stuff regarding finding a therapist over and done with, which is my main short-term goal, I have some long-term goals that need taking care of as well, and those are what I’m planning to work on. For starters, I’ve been waking up later and later for the past couple of months, and that needs to change. The last time I successfully changed my waking-up point was by gradually setting my alarm clock earlier and earlier until I reached my limit of earliness, which was around 10 a.m. I’d like to push that up to 7:30 a.m. so that I can eat and shower and then settle in to write for a long-ass time, like until 3 or 4 p.m. There will be an hour-long-ish break in there on most days for exercise around noon, which I haven’t exactly been slacking on in big-picture terms but has definitely dropped off a bit specifically for the past two weeks. And I need to get back into walking regularly, because I’ve been substituting it with going to the gym and, while gym is definitely good, they’re different kinds of exercise and I think I need both. Also exercise helps with sleeping better and holy shit I need to sleep better.

This is the long-term goal: better sleeping habits, getting back on-track with exercise, and starting to treat writing like a job in lieu of actually having a job, while I have the opportunity. And who knows, it might one day turn into something. I know what I’m writing, and it’s my D&D-inspired high fantasy thing that doesn’t quite work yet but is still a fun enough premise that I want to do something with it. I think I need to indulge in a little high fantasy of my own, rather than reading the stuff other people write that I generally don’t like. But another part of this plan is to get shit done that is not just working, and I have a massive backlog of books and computer games that I haven’t even started, let alone finished. I’m thinking about keeping journals for each, because I miss journal-keeping, and I think it would be good to write about things that I’ve actually done, rather than writing about all the things I feel like I’m missing out on. But regardless of said journals, reading and gaming is going to get done.

And World of Warcraft is not going to be one of them.

My subscription runs out in 2 days, the day before my birthday, and that’s too conspicuous for me to pass up – and even if it wasn’t, I think sticking with it for three years is about enough. I came back at a weird time in the game’s history, and while Legion is supposedly a sorely-needed return to form, at the end of the day it’s grindy as hell, and there’s the more general issue of WOW being, at its core, a social game, and having social anxiety keeps me from really getting into it the way it’s meant to be enjoyed: with other people. Also, I’ve gotten to the point with WOW where I’ll actually feel anxious about playing other games. I don’t think I need a therapist to tell me that shit isn’t healthy. So yes, definitely time to kick the habit. Again. I don’t need more of this experience, and I could probably have done with quite a bit less.

Also, WOW is very much the kind of high fantasy that I’m not really into. If it were a book series, I would not have stayed with it for as long as I have. Although I may well have made it up myself, and enjoyed it just because it was mine. That’s something else I’m finding recently, most notably after having written my shitty YA werewolf novel: I’m quite content, and even excited, to write things that I would never actually choose to read, just because I’m the one writing them. I wonder how much of a universal mindset this is for writers, because if it’s not just me then it explains a few things.

Indulging in my own high fantasy world is only one part of my writing plan, however. That’s just to get used to writing my ideas while I have them, even if in this case I’ve been holding onto them for a little too long already. The other part of my writing plan is that whole get-a-book-ready-for-publishing thing I talked about a little while ago. And it’s Tallulah, and I’ve finally worked out the super-obvious solution that was staring me in the face since before I even started writing it, and I just need to fucking finish something. Like, properly finish, the way I’ve been fantasising about for the past 17 years, my god I have been trying to Be A Writer for a long time. I don’t know if it’ll result in Tallulah actually getting published, but going through the process, I imagine, will be valuable experience for its own sake. As for working this into my new-year-new-me plan as outlined thus far … weekends? And it’ll just be reading to start off with anyway, reading and note-making as opposed to actually writing, so it should be easy enough to work in.

Okay. It’s written down, which means … I don’t know. Sometimes it means it’s more likely I’m going to do something; sometimes it means I’ll never get it done. But I’ve set my alarm, I’m uninstalling WOW tomorrow, and I have the manuscript for Tallulah sitting beside my bed. I’m about as ready as I’m ever going to be.

I say it’s getting done. Ubermensch out.

Too Early To Tell

So last night I finished writing as much as I could manage with my latest MA chapter, sent it off to my supervisor, and then went into autopilot. For some reason, my autopilot decided that, for the first time ever, instead of waiting a day before going to see my supervisor like I’ve done every single other time I’ve sent them a chapter update, I assumed that the next obvious step was to go see them the next day. So I went and saw them today, and they were a little surprised. Afterwards, I was as well.

It was good though; they hadn’t read my chapter because I had given them literally zero time to do it in, but we arranged to stop using deadlines for me submitting chapter updates and instead to meet up for supervision more frequently. As it stands we’re going to be meeting up once a fortnight, and I think this will help a lot with this final stretch of the project, seeing as I have no idea when I’ll be able to turn in chapters due to sertraline-induced bizarreness.

It is also too early to tell whether the sertraline is working. For those of you who do not follow my other blog that I’m not entirely sure I want to cross-promote just yet, I started taking sertraline for anxiety two weeks ago. The side-effects got really bad one day and I almost called it quits, but after talking to a couple of friends who have had more experience than I with medication of this kind as well as my doctor, I have decided to wait until I see them on Friday before I decide one way or the other. Because for one thing, the side-effects have stopped (perhaps because I’ve gone back to half a tablet per day instead of a full one), and for another it’s supposed to take anywhere between 2-4 weeks before I start seeing any benefits. Which, on the one hand, sucks. But on the other hand, I think it’s worth waiting for, because if it works … I mean, I have wanted a magical cure for anxiety for what feels like my entire life. This won’t be a cure even if it does work, but it could help tremendously, and that is worth playing the waiting game to find out. Worst-case scenario is that it doesn’t work and I stop taking it, and I’m back to square one. And honestly, while square one could be better, it also is a lot better than it used to be, and continued to improve. So overall, I’m not in a bad spot right now.

I’m still trying to get a handle on my whole “let go of old stories” thing, and right now it’s just not taking. I think that’s okay, because dredging up my old projects to mull over in my spare time is such an ingrained habit of mine that I’ll have to do more than write myself an inspiring blog post at 1 in the morning to break it. At the same time, I would do well to start doing more than just wait for it to kick in, because otherwise, experience tells me, it won’t. I’m just not sure where to start.

I was thinking about going back to my witch novel, because seriously I love the idea of the opening sequence, and just focusing on that. But every time I think about it I just end up falling into the same traps that I did with Camp Nano. It ends up being too dark, too heavy, too serious. I’m fine with all of those things in a general sense, but they feel wrong for this story. Really the main reason I even tried to make this story all of these things was because I thought it could fit. But it doesn’t have to, and I think I need to explore what else might work. Like the ideas I’ve already had about it and have not put into writing. One of the most difficult things for me to do, as I’ve said before, is writing things down exactly as they are in my head. It’s a skill I want to get better at, and maybe this is the optimal time to try that.

Then again, considering that I want to explore writing adult characters and moving away from my stomping-ground of angsty teenage protagonists – all of whom seem to be carbon copies of each other to begin with – maybe I need to try something more overtly adult to ease into it. I do remember being a young 20-something and writing this incredibly … I don’t even know the word for it, but basically a bunch of character-studies that were all in the same continuity and were basically writing exercises for me to get into different characters’ heads and try to write experiences that were not my own. And it’s one of the few non-genre projects I’ve ever undertaken, which seems particularly adult. Also boring. But adult. And the characters were adults anyway, so that’s some work already done for me.

The only issue there is that it’s another older project, and looking back at what I actually wrote … I mean it’s not exactly bad, but I also don’t see it going anywhere. So instead, I think I’m going to consider doing something I was considering at the beginning of this year, or maybe the end of last year, which is to write my Garden State. Because horrifying as it is, I think I have one in me just screaming for release.

Here’s the thing about Garden State: I used to like it. Or appreciate it anyway. Sad, lonely, atypical young dude finds the meaning of life and gets an incredibly supportive girlfriend who literally does everything for him. All of that is why I hate it now; but there is still some kernel of unresolved adolescent yearning for what turns out to be utter bullshit in real life, and I think it’s going to haunt me like a ghost with unfinished business – unless I finish that business.

The only issue is that I just feel utterly spent. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to experiment. But a big part of that is because whenever I think of writing something, it’s something old. Something I’ve already been working on. No new ideas are really coming to mind to inspire me. So somehow I’m going to have to get that mojo working. Starting tomorrow, hopefully. Or later today, as it’s just passed midnight. For now, though, I guess I’ll try and sleep or something, drug-gods willing.

I might just need a break, too. It’s been a weird couple of weeks. Maybe I just need some time to recover from medical side-effects and stressing about not working on my MA because of them.

But that’s a lot of maybes, and nothing I do now will answer them. Definitely time to sleep.