Set adrift

Most mornings start with just trying to wake up and get motivated enough to start the day. Today, I woke up shortly before I needed to go to my weekly allergy shot appointment. I got showered, made a coffee, and then let my dog out. My dad was working in his shop, but he was talking with someone, and rather than go pee for the morning, Penny decided to bark at these people she didn’t know and make herself a general pain in the ass. I didn’t have enough time to deal with this, and this was the first moment she demonstrated that she doesn’t think she needs to listen. She pulled this kind of thing a couple more times today, and spent time in her crate as a result. She also ate the rest of the bathtub plug. She’s been a royal cow today.

Anyway, I struggled for most of the afternoon to get the motivation to either do some paid writing or work on my book. I came up with a big goosegg for motivation. At some point, I put together some samples I got for a website shop I am building for someone and photographed over a hundred shots of product. The pictures turned out great! I was surprised at how well they turned out. But the experience of positioning, staging, and shooting was also pretty exhausting. As I was sorting pictures, I ate a whole bag of Haribo gummies and wound up taking a long nap. I slept so hard I dreamt and it was hard to wake myself up for the rest of my day.

Though this sounds productive, it didn’t feel like it. I have dishes stacking up in my kitchen and no motivation to wash them. Without dishes, cooking is a pain, so that’s why I had gummies for dinner. Later, I ate some roast beef and cheese with mustard. Nothing else even sounds good.

Lately I feel like I am drifting. Some days I feel like I am failing. I know there are plenty of things I need to do (like the dishes) but days like today, it’s all I can do to do things. Taking pictures was a creative outlet, and it felt good once I saw the proofs after I downloaded them. But up until then, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell I was doing. I submitted edits last night for a paid post and also another post. I’m hoping they sell. I get tired of submitting stuff only to have it ignored for weeks and weeks.

Today was one of those days I feel like I came up here only to be forgotten. I don’t have many friends anymore. Sure, I talk to people in town I encounter, but for the most part I feel anti-social. I don’t have a lot to look forward to, and since money is tight, I just don’t make any plans to go anywhere and cure this wanderlust right now. I’m working for other people right now, (other financial obligations), and have to dedicate my resources to that. Without any hope or end in sight. Just another reason I want to shout at people who talk about absentee fathers when they discuss family law. Some of us work our guts out for children we never get to see, or worse yet, children who have been conditioned to hate us or fear us. But we still have to pay. As though trying to bring life into this world is an unforgiveable sin we have to atone for.

Just a few years ago, I had little things to keep me motivated. Little trips up to someone’s cabin, a hot tub weekend under the stars, hiking, road trips, adventures, weekends with my girlfriend, and even a grand road trip to meet someone I had gotten to know very well over the years. With gas prices nowadays, my stunted income, and being so isolated right now, I don’t have a lot to keep me looking forward to making plans. It’s halfway through May, and I can already see the summer barreling past, back into Winter, and then Spring.

My friends keep telling myself to be nicer to myself–and I’ve told them that plenty of times too–but it’s less beating myself up and just being apathetic. Like I hit the high-water mark of my life somehow and it wasn’t all that great. Right now, I’m just drifting. Getting by. I’m tired of just getting by, but some days it is like pulling teeth to find the energy to get that extra hussle that would put me over.

I spent twenty years in a workforce that gave me no skills. I just became more efficient at stuff I already knew how to do. I marvel at twenty-somethings who can fly airplanes or build things. They honed skills. I wrote. Though I am making some money from it, I lack marketing skills, I want to be able to do other things too, and just feel like a shitty marriage and a dead end job left me at the bottom of the hill again. I get so tired, trying to push up that hill.

Tonight, I make coffee at 10pm and started work on the next book. I got a good scene down and I wrote down the story and a sorta plot. Yeah, I know I complained I didn’t get good at anything over the last twenty years. Writing is different. You can be good at it, but some of the best writers in the world probably have books rotting on their hard drives that will never be published. It’s hard out there. The state of publishing right now is ridiculous. Everything has gotten so niche that nobody will probably take a chance on the stories I write.

Self-publish, you say? I tried that. I made $150 on my first book. Over the last eight years. It’s rough. Sometimes I feel like my whole life is shadowbanned.

Anyway, I’ll keep writing because it’s all I’m good at, and all I really have going for me right now. For now, anyway.

Being Better

The last few days were heavy writing days with the paid work. I have a little bit of an obsessive personality, which means that when I get focused enough to do the paid work, I tend to fixate on it until I nearly drop. In the last few days, I wrote nine assignments. Four on Wednesday, four yesterday, and one at 10pm on Friday. Friday was a little bit of a wash, since I was feeling a little bit of burnout from writing those first two days. You just get to a point where it feels like you are pulling teeth and the work creeps to a standstill. Today, I went to breakfast with my mom, played with the dog, cooked lunch and dinner (I made authentic English chips on the stovetop) and took a nap. I have been wanting to write all day today, but there has been something blocking me. At 10pm, I found an assignment I knew a lot about and cranked out 1000 words in about 20 minutes. I’m hoping they buy it. It gave me a little bit of a feeling of accomplishment for a day that felt mostly like slacking.

Tomorrow I have a few more paid assignments, but hopefully I can get through this block and work on edits or maybe do some new writing. I’ve been needing to do some actual writing for a few days. There’s something about it that is nourishing to the soul.

I think the block that I’m feeling is post-book letdown. There is a part of me I have discovered as I edit that thinks the book I have written is a complete and total waste of time. So there is that resistance that says I am complete crap at something and need to stop. There is also that part of me that just is tired. I mean, I wrote a giant ass book. Sometimes you have to just sit back and catch your breath. And then of course, there is that space between the two of them.

I have been thinking about starting a YouTube channel, but between the imposter syndrome and the anxiety caused by the learning curve on that, I got about ten minutes into a tutorial online and decided I needed to take a nap. I wonder about things like storyboarding, how I want to say things, how I want to film these things, and even what I would even say. Honestly, what contribution would I have? And then I remember that people get views just for opening their mail. I have almost no experience at vlogging or videography. I didn’t even like videorecording times I spent with my kids because it was better to be in the moment than documenting it. So, like I said, the learning curve is steep, but the idea of doing this is interesting and might be a good creative outlet.

My podcast was short-lived for a few reasons. I discovered too late that anything longer than 20 minutes of a podcast was going to cost me money in storage fees. I only ever got a few dozen hits so I didn’t think that $30 per month was worth it to continue, but I do have sound equipment and now a decent camera, so maybe I can try my hand at YouTube. I know the format isn’t what it once was, but it could be fun.

Anyway, the point of tonight’s post is that I hate myself on days that I don’t get things done. I need to be better. I need to work through the Resistance and feel somewhat productive. There are just days when I want to do something else, I suppose. Lately with the wind blowing down off the mountains and gasoline being so expensive, I think I’ve been in a bit of a funk and instead of wishing for something to change, I need to work with the time I’ve got keeping me at home. In other words, if I can’t afford to go anywhere right now, I might as well work. Sometimes the old brain can only produce so much content until it needs a break. But I do still need to be better at managing my time.

Now what?

Today I got to spend a little time being an actual writer. The last week has been full of distractions and though I did have an assignment for the last several days (it wasn’t due until the 15th) I decided to get it out of the way so I can focus on other things, such as building a website for a business, and working on more edits, submissions, pitches, and queries.

I’ve been checking out a lot of YouTube videos lately about things like digital nomads and vanlife. I’m kinda thought about starting a YouTube vlog myself about this weird life I have chosen. This writing life. I’m not exactly sure what I would do or say. I mean, unlike someone driving around to cool locations and hanging out with their dog or talking about their philosophies of solitude, my channel might be things like “So I’ve been depressed the last few days, feeling like a complete imposter and so I decided to do dishes for the first time in four days.” Or the time-honored screwing around and binge-watching a Netflix show, or taking a nap, or deciding to cut my own hair, or a billion ways to procrastinate before I actually sit down, probably drink some whiskey, and hammer away at the keyboard for a couple hours. I’m sure the time lapse on me eating Cheetos or pistachios would be mezmerizing.

I can hear the comment section already, “He just ate Flamin’ Hot Crunchy Cheetos and a Carmello for dinner.” Coffee too. Don’t forget the coffee.

I could sit and type about strollers or fancy pocket knives or the Heat Affected Zone in metal fabrication. That’s for the paid gigs.

Or they could watch me curl up into a fetal position for when I sent out queries to agents, telling myself I’m a fraud and I am likely insane because I think I actually have something to offer readers. Or see me have an anxiety attack because I got a notification that I have a package waiting for me at the post office but I didn’t order anything.

I dunno, could make for an interesting channel. Especially when I let me dog out to pee every few hours or she brings me the squirrel to throw for her.

I started watching a YouTuber who is a writer…and I gotta say, I watched her make coffee and then transplant a succulent. I suppose I could do worse. But it’s just another learning curve I would have to beat. I know almost nothing about vido production, other than when my son needed to make a video on how to make nachos for school. Again. Fascinating.

I might get some writing done tonight. I haven’t decided yet. It’s midnight. So, sure, anything is possible. Everything is possible.

I’ll have been unemployed from the university for two years this coming week. I don’t miss it. I disliked working with those people, I hated the microwave fish dinners in the breakroom, the arrogance of the professors and admins, the lassitude of the other administrative assistants, and the whole settling for crumbs attitude we were conditioned to have. Fuck that place. I know a lot of people don’t understand what I am doing (some days I am included in that) but this is a great opportunity to live the dream. Even if I have to eat Cheetos for dinner once in a while.