A day of rest

I’ve been juggling a lot at one time in the last few days and definitely have a “burning the candle at both ends” vibe going on. It’s nearly 11pm and I didn’t get edits done today, but I did write for pay. Which I need to do. If I didn’t need the money, and didn’t need to not blow money, I would have gone on a road trip today. The plan was to work on the book. Maybe I will still. I just finished a coffee and have a little steam left.

Not writing has been killing me. There’s a big difference between writing content for rehabilitation centers or spray coating companies and doing the work I need to do. Last night I watched the second half of the movie Franklyn (I’m a big Eva Green fan) and the whiskey I had while relaxing turned to sugar and I was wide awake until about 3am. I can’t do nightcaps I guess. I was able to write a little bit of character description for the book, which was beautiful and clean.

Today, after writing 1000 words of copy, I did dishes, caught up with a friend I hadn’t spoken with for a few weeks, and then decided to have a little downtime to watch Finding Forrester. Such a neat movie and really encapsulates a lot about writing, even though the main character is a bit too perfect. It’s the last of Sean Connery’s really good roles, in my opinion. It was hard to believe the movie was made in 2000. How the world has changed since then, and not necessarily for the better. Twenty-two years.

Sean’s gone, Anna Paquin is middle-aged, and I’ve got more grey in my beard. Hell, back then I didn’t even have a beard. But I did have hair.

They always say the years will flash by in the blink of an eye. One day you are 25 and have aspirations to be a writer, and twenty-two years later, you’re still chasing that dream. Maybe not noticeably closer. Three kids, a divorce, a series of relationship misadventures, and a dog later, I am now 46 and have a slightly better idea of how to get where I want to go. I’m not sure knowing what I do now would have helped me at that age. That’s pretty much what the movie is about anyway. The raw talent of youth meeting the temperment of experience. But you still have to do the work. You have to show up. You have to want it.

And today, I needed to rest.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and there will be no eggs or candy or chocolate bunnies this year. No fake plastic grass in a basket. It will be another day. Another Sunday. Life comes and goes in waves. Next Easter might be different, there’s no way of knowing.

Would I go back to 2000?

No. That was an awful year. Plus I kind of like having a smart phone and an internet connection that doesn’t go eerrrrrrr—boingboingboingboing!!!SCRREEEEEEEshhhhhhhh. I was a lot more insecure back then too. Easily led and blown about by every wind. I had a hard time understanding the difference between what I wanted, what I could do, and what I was supposed to do.

I’m still working on that, but at least now I know it’s something I can work on.

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways

A few days ago I decided to swear off social media. This was for a few reasons. Mostly, I watched the Netflix “documentary” The Social Dilemma, in which the creators of social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others explain that these programs were built to be addictive but no consideration was taken as to the long-standing effects of this addiction. How the algorithms used to mine your personal information also channel different kinds of information. According to the show, if you are using social media, you are the product.

I don’t like that.

I think that the creators of social media applications are no better than tobacco companies, quelling any controvery or research that their products are actually killing people. So I dropped off. Fittingly enough, I got a little bit of pushback from my friends who are on Facebook. Things like “You do this about every six months, you’ll be back.” So supportive. I wonder if AA meetings are like this. I know that bars are. That is why it is hard to quit drinking when all your friends are at the bar.

That being said, I have been a full on Facebook/Instagram addict, spending upwards of six hours a day scrolling through my feed, sometimes just staring at the same crap I’ve already looked at, hoping somehow that it will somehow refresh and I’ll either get that dopamine bump for getting a like or a notification, or something new will appear for me to comment on. Life for these last several months has been lonely. As with many of us, these might be our only outlets of social interraction. I think it’s time to get off that bender.

For the last few days, I have had a lot more time to work on my book. Last night, I finished a 10,000 word chapter. Written in around two or three days. It’s hard to determine how quickly I got it done, since it was a hard chapter and I wrote some other scenes. The writing for the last few days was hard, and sometimes it nearly broke me. But I’m pushing on ahead.

Sometimes I get the doubts that there is no reason for doing what I’m doing. Who will actually read it? Who will care? Then I’ll have moments like the other day when I was buying coffee and the barrista asked me what I was working on. When I told her, she said she had a similar experience. Even just the idea of it resonated with her. So, maybe what I’m working on is important. At least it might be important to at least one other person.

No, it’s not Harry Potter, though some have told me I should write something like that and get rich. Which is a myth. I’m not interested in writing stories for children anyway. There is enough of that out there, and God knows I’ve tried my hand at fantasy and nobody cared. This story is writing itself right now and I’m just holding on for dear life.

Without social media, I’ve been reading more too. I re-read Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and recently I started reading Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” Hemingway really wasn’t a novelist. He was a short story writer and all he did to get that novel length was to string a lot of pointless short stories together. But I have enjoyed the language and the glimpse into 1920s Paris.

I have a first edition copy that I’m working through. The smell of old paper, vanillin, the feel of a hardbound book in your hands. No eReader can compare to it. I’ve decided I dislike eBooks. Everything that I have read on a tiny screen fades quickly from memory. I can’t hold onto it. With a book it is an immersive experience. Much like how I got through college, you participate. You turn the pages, you hear the clock on the wall, you can associate what you are reading with what you are doing at that time. I can pick up some books and turn to a page and know approximately in the story where I have landed. I’ll also remember what was happening around me when I was reading it last. I don’t get that from an eReader.

If I want content, I’ll read an eBook. If I want a reading experience, I’ll read a real book. There is a difference.

Too long didn’t read for this one: I’m learning how to use my time better. Sometimes I get lonely. And I guess I’m still a little old fashioned. I’m still moving forward.

Plans

I have the whole week ahead of me, which should mean lots of writing, lots of working on projects, and all of that. But it’s Monday, which usually just entails getting my bearings and trying to get my life together. It’s always hard to see my son go back to his mom’s for the week. You can’t help but wonder if you have done enough, and it is exhausting dealing with his needs, school, keeping a ten year old mentally engaged enough to not be bored out of his mind. Especially since right now he has no friends, and the schools seem to be concerned only with making sure the state and the Department of Education recognize that the teachers are earning their cut. Hence the Zoom meetings peppered all throughout the day which demand that you are sitting in a chair, interacting with the general chaos of the classroom online.

There is no middle ground.

When he is gone, I miss him like I have lost a part of myself. The house is too quiet. That takes over for about a day and I experience a sense of loss until the evening when I can actually feel productive. Throughout the day, my body becomes an experiment in equilibrium. Enough caffeine to keep me moving, then enough food, protein, sugars, fibre, etc. to keep my moods in balance. Too much sugar and I want to sleep and then I get depressed. I gain weight too. Too much protein and I’m always hungry, and protein isn’t cheap. I only eat a couple meals a day anyway. When you are alone, meal prep is time consuming and pointless.

This week, my plans, once I get going again, are to try to write ten pages per day, seek out leads for travel writing, post at least a few times here and on my travel site, and hopefully get a podcast in. I have been paying for extra time and indexing on my podcast site, but with everyone on lockdown, I dislike the idea of sitting around talking to myself for any length of time.

Sometimes it feels like writing is just sitting around talking to yourself too. As with talking to yourself, you start wondering if you are crazy, if you are saying anything worth saying, and are you wasting your time.

When I did almost nothing during the day at my day job and they rewarded me with money, that was such a weird experience. Now I work my ass off, and not getting paid.

I also have that fear that once this project is done it will just reveal what a complete prick I really am. And nobody will buy it. And I might as well have been sitting around eating paint all day instead.