I haven’t been posting much original content anywhere, lately.
I had a brief spurt of creativity at the first of the month but it was mostly triggered by some character generation fixes with friends. I loved that. Those sort of moments make me think that maybe, just maybe, a writer’s group would be helpful.
And when I’m fairly mainline to positive, I know it would.
I’m not lately.
I’m not what I’d call seriously depressed (with a small d, denoting not diagnosed, not chronic), at this point. And I can pretty much pinpoint most of the reasons why I’m feeling down. There are triggery dates (when aren’t there triggery dates?). I feel bad about my body in general, but also; I feel as though I’m not doing well on my exercise plans, I feel as though I should be doing better on my food choices (although I wouldn’t say I’m doing horribly as we try to keep our eating out to a minimum), and I feel like my expectations for my body are too high. I feel stress related to work that is compounded by knowing the things I am stressing about are not things I can control. Sometimes, the drift down is definitely due to cyclical hormones and there’s not much that can be done about that for another decade or so (based on extremely limited family history).
A lot of the time, if you’ll notice (because I do), it’s me getting stuck in my own head and yammering for a way out. When there’s not a simple way out, I chase my own conversational tail in a very unhelpful way.
I have small things that I do to try to combat this. I’m doing one of them now. I’m writing something anyway, even though it’s an annoying self-update post, which isn’t really how I want to spend my time writing. I’d rather be writing something creative, or expressing an opinion about something going on in the world today.
I should go ahead and write on creative projects. I know that. But I’ve also convinced myself I will hate whatever dreck I manage to get on the screen, so why waste my time with that? I could write about things going on locally or on a larger world scale. I do have opinions. But most of them are succinct and news bite sized. I don’t really want to add to the weight of those on Twitter, Tumblr or any other social thread.
Instead, I’m doing more basic things. I’m trying to remind myself that even if I have to start over on exercise, it’s better than not exercising. Even if I have homemade nachos for dinner one night, it’s better than not eating anything, or having something like dessert only.
And I’m trying other less basic self-care things.
I reach out to friends to say hi and ask how they are. And I genuinely listen. I care about my friends, and everyone likes to be listened to if only for a little bit. And it sometimes takes my mind off stupid yammering petty frets in my head.
I make monthly massage appointments. I really love my massage therapist. She is a neat person, and she has a varied set of training that allows for different treatments depending on the appointment. Nothing hurt last night, so we just tried a cranial-sacral adjustment. (Basically, I lie very still and practice deep breathing while she works her hands up my spine and makes sure I’m all lined up nicely.) And then she massaged my neck and shoulders a bit. It sounds like a very boring massage, but I actually felt more mellow and calm (my brain was quiet!) than I have in a while.
I make a hair appointment about once every 5 weeks. It means that my hair gets tamed slightly as I grow it back out, and the color gets freshened up. Sometimes, if I have the extra money, I add in a fingernail or pedicure appointment. But I don’t always, because I’m already spending money.
Those last two things aren’t cheap. But I budget for them. They help.
I also look at friends’ art; sometimes it’s drawn, sometimes it’s written, and sometimes it’s photography. Sometimes, it influences me to actually draw something or write something. There’s a 5 minute study of a piece of driftwood with stones stacked on top and the hint of a frothy wave drifting up in my sketchbook right now that was influenced by a photo of a submerged branch my friend Ant shared on his Instagram. I even noted it on the page so I’d remember.
None of this fixes me feeling down and grouchy. But sometimes it takes the edge off enough that I can squeak by another day without biting too many people’s heads off, or hurting anyone’s feelings. And that’s good not just because I don’t want to be mean. When I’m mean, I feel instantly guilty afterward, and it just adds to the downward spiral. It’s better for ME to be nice, not just everyone in general.
And look. I’ve actually written quite a bit. Even if it is all boring belly-button gazing thoughts.
When reading, I have a pretty consistent fallacy, especially the first time with a new author or a new series. I tend to assume the narrator is trustworthy.
Sometimes, if I’m reading critically (as opposed to lazily), I’ll catch on to my mistake pretty quickly if it’s indeed a mistake. Not all writers use unreliable narrators. Some narrators don’t even know they are unreliable, and figuring out they are is part of the story.*
Sometimes, I am too literal. I think this is how I enjoyed many allegorical fantasy for umpteen re-reads, but now I occasionally feel that the author was using a large cricket bat lined with very specific translations of various religious texts to get their point across.
Right now (well, this month) I’m trying to write a story. A snippet of the story has been in my head for a couple years now. Last year, the character’s name popped in my head. Sometime in the last year or so, another character in the same world (for lack of a more concrete term) wanted to be drawn. Just a simple portrait. When trying to write a quick 100 word drabble for a completely different part, a scene that is probably much later in time (but probably within a book’s distance) popped out involving the original character. So I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo and have been randomly poking at it.
I haven’t been poking at it as hard as I should be, in my head. I mean, theoretically the rules are you write on that project daily. You set a goal and try to attain it. Just like NaNoWriMo in November. But, it’s a lot more flexible in that you set your own goal. And you can work on existing projects. I’ve really only sat down to write twice. Both times, I spun out over one thousand words. The first time, I think the words were better. The second time, well… I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that only one paragraph in that mess is really good. There are other bits that are useful. They set a scene. You get a bit of a better feel for how the characters react to an odd moment just before. But it’s pretty crappy writing. I could feel it when I wrote it.
Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I haven’t decided if my protagonist is a reliable narrator or not. Or if she’s an informed narrator. I do know she’s keeping secrets from at least one of the other characters we’ve met. And I suspect she’s keeping secrets with a character who just literally stepped out from behind a trashcan.
But at this point, I’m trying to stay out of my way and just write one word and then another and then another.
Because the advantage is, I’m finding I can write other snippets here and there of other things. A slip of erotica there, a personal blog or essay here, a commentary about something going on in the world or even sketch a scribble of a puppy or other thing in the paper world. Even if I don’t know where the story is going, and I’m almost certain chunks of it are horrible, it’s helping me be creative.
I just need to keep out of my own way.
*I feel this way about the Mockingjay books. I don’t think Katniss realizes she’s unlike many others in her life/broken/reacting in unusual ways until somewhere around the third book. And even then, I don’t think she completely understands why everyone else saw it in her and used it to their advantage, not really. It made it very hard to get through the first book for me, because I pretty much wanted to shake her hard every 5 pages or less. It doesn’t make her less strong in her own way, but it does mean she’s got enormous blind spots, and sometimes the reader might not catch things either unless they are reading closely.
My 2014 opened with a proposal, which was wonderful.
There were moments of hope, when my sister applied for jobs in-state and a state nearby.
There was the excitement of getting a new car for the first time in 12 years.
There were moments of sadness, when my sister lost her cat, who was her baby, and my nephew.
There was a new life welcomed to the world, a new human niece to another sister.
There was the cool convenience of being able to help my sister apartment shop via Skype.
There was the joy of welcoming her here in advance of her belongings, and helping her shop for and find a car that works for her.
There was the joy of getting married to my sweetheart of many years.
There was the relief (and sadness) of having to admit that my secondary job, while useful for funds, was not useful enough and definitely not useful enough to offset the stress that was making me miserable.
There were moments of hope as my primary job seemed to experience a slight uptick in work and sales.
There have been good moments of reconnecting with past friends, strengthening bonds with current friends, and sadly realizing that a few friends are perhaps better suited as acquaintances.
There have been moments that were better for writing, baking, cooking, and drawing. Creativity has overall been good, even to starting a new game with friends.
There have been moments where I have not been all I would have hoped, health-wise, and in fact made no advancement but rather backslid in terms of exercise.
There have been moments where being socially aware and critical has been depressing, overwhelming, and frustrating in the extreme as I watch humans as a whole Not Do Well.
There have been a few shining exceptions to the nastiness as some things are more accepted in my corner of the world.
Still, being hopeful, I am declaring my personal 2014 to have been a good one. I hope that 2015 is as good and better, that I continue to improve as a person in my health, my creative self, my interactive self and my working self. I wish everyone the best year that they can have as well!