I’m Just A Little Unwell

Actually I don’t think I am, which is what is frustrating me.  Or rather, I am a little unwell – look, children, near fifty you’re always a little unwell.  This body is one of those cars past warranty, with nothing much wrong with it, but nickel and diming me… well, hopefully not to death.  Not yet. (Honestly I don’t want to live forever.  At least I assume it would get boring after a while – hasn’t yet – and at any rate, with the changes that you undergo through time, I think it’s also not you after a while, so it’s moot.  Anyway, I don’t want to live forever, but I’d really like them to extend middle age to two or three years before you finally give out.  Diminishing vigor is for the birds and I can’t be having with that.)

But the truth is I’m coming up from an issue that has given me problems for three years and made it difficult to work really hard.  I finally figured out how to beat it, and it’s working.  It’s mostly eczema – though the secondary infections from that are no picnic – but eczema over 3/4 of your body means you don’t sleep well… and that in turn means all sorts of other things.  Also, one of the areas most heavily affected is my hands, so not only has typing been torture at times, but it has brought some of the housework to a standstill.  Since my first six years in this house I was too busy to even unpack properly, that means we’re living in makeshift quarters, rearranged to be less makeshift, but still not “right.”  It’s clean – I have to clean, being allergic to cat hair – but it’s not decorated.  The walls haven’t been painted.  I’ve never evaluated the furniture for the room.  My office is the best arranged room in the house, and it’s still not RIGHT.

I know this sounds too frufru for words, but I am very sensitive to surroundings.  Have always been.  Perhaps because I grew up with a mother who was a great housekeeper, and yes, who decorated very carefully and well, I feel odd if the house looks makeshift.  (Now, of course, I’ll need to set it up to show, and hopefully sell next year, since we have to move, almost for sure.  Well, let’s put it this way, if Dan still has a job, we have to move.  If he doesn’t, unless Indie REALLY takes off, we have… other issues.)

Anyway, so yeah, things are still not ideal, and I had to give up my remote office – the building, a large multi-story office building, is now mostly empty.  It’s not something I could have foretold, since when I moved in, it was full of small businesses, but it happened and I didn’t feel safe, almost alone in that empty building, particularly since the door is left unsecured during the day, because the only other business, across the building, receives clients. – BUT the point is, I’m better than I’ve been in years, and why am I not concentrating?  Why am I not writing?  Why in the name of heaven am I not even publishing?

I don’t know.  I read a younger writer who linked here and who talked about my work ethic and how hard I work, and it made me feel like a complete fraud.

Me?  Work ethic?  I’m the world’s laziest writer.  Consider, if you will that I can – and have – written a novel in a week.  Okay, give me time – consider I’m also supposed to be doing publishing and art and stuff – and give me three weeks per novel.  Do you see me writing 14 novels a year?  Weirdly, neither do I!  So, why not?

What bugs me is that I don’t know.  Everything will be going along fine, I’ll be getting in a rhythm, and suddenly I’m spending my days staring at the page, unable to write.  It’s not lack of inspiration, mind.  Most of the time, I know exactly where the story is going, and I WANT to write it.  It’s like there’s a fatal block between mind and fingers, an inability of concentrating, of falling into the story world.

Yes, there are times when it is a matter of recovering.  I always found the explanation of magic in Misty’s Valdemar series as a metaphor for writing – well, what else would she be going from?– when you push a novel through too fast and when it’s something you aren’t sure of, it “strips the channels” and makes you feeling raw and bruised, and you need to recover from that.  But I know those times.  Also that’s a productive “doing nothing” in the sense I usually do art or work on covers or something in that time.  Even doing a completely different form of story sometimes works.

What baffles me are times like the last four months or so, where I’m not recovering; I’m not particularly ill – no more than I’ve been for three years – there’s nothing particularly disturbing happening…  Writing just won’t come.

It used to be I assumed I was depressed: depressed about my prospects, depressed about the state of publishing… just depressed.

And that was true a lot of the time.  It’s not now.  Yes, I’m worried about money – still – and yes I’m still working towards fundraising.  But the way out of THAT hole is to write more, not to sit here like an idiot staring at the screen.

So, what the heck is wrong with me?  I’m not sure I’m a little unwell.  I might, in fact, in contravention of the lyrics of the song, be crazy.

Not that it matters much.  Insanity has never been a check on writing.

I’m going to try very hard – again – to work on the two almost finished novels, and to put up a few more short stories.  Life is too short to sit here imitating a guppy.

Do you run into these in your work?  Is it normal, or is it just my insanity?  I know I’ve asked before how to get around these, how to minimize the “blank” times.  I still want to know.  Keep in mind it’s not lack of inspiration or not having ideas.  (Right now if I live to be 120, I won’t run out of OUTLINED ideas.)  And it’s not JUST writing.  I’ve also not published.  And I find myself remembering plans I made with friends, never finalized, that I completely forgot…  and friends I meant to check on and forgot.  AND I’ve been unable to read new (to me) fiction, which normally means my emotions are too raw and I can’t enter into other’s emotions unless I know VERY WELL how the story ends.  Only I have no idea why my emotions would be raw.  There have been no personal upheavals, other than friends dying or getting sick, which I object to but I can’t stop them doing.

I’m hoping today I can finally break through and work.  But if I can’t, what do you suggest I do?

144 responses to “I’m Just A Little Unwell

  1. Shake things up. Go somewhere you’re not used to writing and try that, like a local quad, library, park, coffee shop, etc. Something different that will cause the neurons to align just a smidge askew.

  2. Tell yourself you absolutely can’t write a thing, no blog posts, no stories, for a couple of days or a week.You won’t make it. And then poof, you’re writing.

    • For those of us who are addicted this site this would be a suggestion of last resort…

      • Guest bloggers or open threads with discussion starters like, “If you’re a writer, what is your favorite sentence in a work you produced or, if you’re a reader, what is the best sentence in a book you’ve ever read?”

        Those can wind their ways past 100 comments fairly easily and would allow for some much needed downtime should the need arise.

  3. Sarah – one word- menopause.

    The clue? “Only I have no idea why my emotions would be raw. There have been no personal upheavals…”

    I can cry for no reason and then be back to my non-sentimental self. Plus the heat has not helped me much. I have felt a headache for days.

    Also you might be having hormonal changes through the thyroid. A regular test doesn’t always find the problem. You need to ask to see an endocrinologist. A childhood friend of mine had to have her thyroid removed last year because her emotions were up and down and all over the place. She wasn’t exactly sick except she felt unwell for days and weeks at a time.

    Don’t ignore the unwell feelings. They may be pointing to something other than unproductivity.


    • No. Bizarrely — though for ten years doctors assured me I was menopausal — I’m NOWHERE near it, yet. Now, I AM having hormonal issues (almost the reverse of menopause, though) and yes, we changed treatment, and that might be affecting me.

      • So your orgasms are broken? [heads for the exit]

      • Are you seeing an endocrinologist? And when we changed treatment for my disease, I had some real problems. It turned out that I was having extreme drug interactions with my high blood pressure meds. Check for drug interactions. It is a b-tch and can also cause that unwell feeling.

    • Menopause broke my brain. More accurately, it broke my ability to concentrate.

      • Sleep apnea broke mine — I swear I lost a full standard deviation of IQ (and it was a SD I really enjoyed, too — it let me read, write, watch TV and carry on two conversations simultaneously.)

      • Me, too – focusing, concentrating, and the emotional moods. My doctor couldn’t find anything through testing (they rarely do, according to what I’ve read, because the hormonal changes aren’t constant). But hormones made a huge and immediate difference – within three days I felt better than I had in years. First time in my life I got a decent night’s sleep, and that alone cures a lot of other problems.)

        It’s also still important that I eat very well – low carbs, high protein, and get a little exercise. Walking’s fine.

  4. I find that when I can’t write — i.e., create new stuff — it helps me to edit the earlier stuff.

    I am of the firm opinion that for the cast majority of writers (probably 90%), the daily well of creativity is not infinite. You need to allow your mind to reorganize, just like you need to allow your body to recuperate after heavy exercise (I think: it’s been years).

    If I’m hopelessly stuck, I re-read one of the classics (Dumas, De Maupassant, Stendhal, Hardy, Hugo etc) and draw inspiration from their exquisite prose. It seldom fails. Even a single chapter or short story of Balzac works wonders for me. (Writers of other genres may read their chosen classics for inspiration; I am not chauvinistic, although I would find thin gruel indeed in Heinlein, Lovecraft or Proulx.) Alexander Pope once wrote that without Suetonius as a muse, he would scarcely have written a word, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

    Sometimes, all it takes is a nudge. A little while ago, I was stuck while looking to create a convincing bad guy. Then I re-read the Bard (Coriolanus), and it all became easy.

    • “cast” = “vast”

    • I am SO bummed that the movie of “Coriolanus” isn’t being show in theaters. Strait to DVD and the red machines. And it looks so GOOD. I was looking forward to seeing it at the theater that showed “Titus.”

  5. I can’t write because I need money. All my readable stuff I wrote when I was financially comfortable. Sigh. At least I’m not alone in this.

  6. Sometimes things just don’t come. You can call it bio rhythm or Mercury in retrograde or writer’s block or a lot of other things but the important thing is not to stress out over it. I think you are doing the right thing by turning your attention elsewhere or do as Kim suggests and read classics, when the time is right the dam will burst.

  7. And here I thought that the whole “having the story in one’s head but still staring uselessly at the screen because the brain won’t get into gear and the words just won’t come” was just a n00b writer thing and not endemic to the craft. Sounds like I better get used to it.

    On a slightly more serious note, I’ve thought that in myself this inability to get a known story started was mostly due to the whole “internet brain” phenomenon where avid internet readers tend to have several pages open at a time, reading several paragraphs from one page and then another ad nauseum. I have a bad case of that and so when the words aren’t coming (which is almost always at first) I have to resist the urge to open up a web browser and start looking. Okay, okay, sometimes it’s more like close the doggone web browser that I just reflexively opened because I’m going to take myself someplace mildly interesting and waste time if I don’t stop that train at the station… you get the idea. In my case that’s probably a factor, especially when it comes to the difficult bits that require getting into uncomfortable head-spaces.

    As for what to do I think Starhawk and Kim have it right, or at least that’s been my experience. Reading good writing or listening to proper mood-setting music has really helped me to get to actually writing but personally I feel like even when I’m just staring at that blank screen and closing web browser windows as fast as the impulse to open them hits me I’m still doing good work because I’m re-training my brain to stop seeking stimulation and allowing for creative time is a good habit to cultivate even if I can’t necessarily make use of said time on any given day. Or week… 😉

    • I can’t have music on because I’m an active listener, not a passive one. (That means there’s no such thing as “background” music; it’s ALL in the foreground, always.) Blame decades of semi-pro and professional musicianship for that one. I can tune out a TV, right up until a jingle comes on, and then it’s over, she wrote. Gawd help me if somone in the house starts playing Beethoven; I might as well be swimming laps for all I can write then.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        NOT being a musician, background instrumental music is good for me, but being obsessed with understanding the words, music with lyrics is not.

        • I recommend lyrics in a language that doesn’t come easily to you. French works, for me. Russian too, actually, because I don’t know it at all.

          • Oh lord yes – there have been several bands whose music I really liked but their lyrics were so banal we wished they would sing in another language. I think one factor in the popularity of Heavy Metal is the honesty of their lyrics. Singing “I wanna get drunk and laid” is for more credible than all the “Peace-Love-Happiness” that fills so many songs.

      • Have you tried white noise or nature sounds? I find that if writing is “on” for me, having one of those (generally rain sounds for me, though ocean waves, stream, or waterfall work too) my production rate actually goes up.

        Aside from finding vids on Youtube:

        Of course, if writing is not “on”, white noise makes me feel nauseated and I’m not exactly more productive on anything else with rain noises. But the mild distraction does keep me from the “internet brain” habits mentioned above. (And my “internet brain” is getting to the point where I can and have had our hostess’s blog open, while reading or replying to an email, chatting with someone, and switching to another tab to do something else, just because I feel like there’s “something I’m not doing” so I keep switching tabs until I realize what I’m not doing is, well, whatever I started first.)

  8. And good grief: I just figured out subconsciously how to write a passage that’s been giving me fits. See y’all tomorrow.

  9. Maybe you could try composing or retelling the story out loud? It might get you into it again.

    • It’s several stories — and as I said, it’s not exactly writing block — unless you count in cooking block (I don’t feel like cooking anything), art-block, publishing-block and … well… I feel like cleaning. Uh. Okay. I’m deathly ill. I’m going to write my will now. You read that right — I FEEL LIKE CLEANING. Even — GASP — the litter boxes.

      • Check your temperature. GASP

      • Nope, sounds normal to me. Many years ago, after I was laid off, many years ago, I cleaned the whole house, top to bottom, re-organized, did stuff on my To Do list (and, given my normal level of cleanliness, there was a lot of cleaning to do.) It was very therapeutic.

        Unless, of course, it’s procrastinating. ^_^

      • Your welcome to come over to my place and clean; after a couple of days of cleaning here I GUARANTEE you’ll feel like writing 😉

      • Yep – that happens with me too. I feel awful, and I want to create, and so apparently I decide the reason I can’t is because something is dirty/disorganized. So at the very least I’ll clean my toilet. It can and has lead to me scrubbing my entire bathroom or rearranging my bookshelves, or so on. (Which ends up exhausting me and kicking up dust allergies, but at least it’s generally worth it in the end since those are never the cleaning projects I do a “good enough” job on.)

  10. Advise? Since there are so many things to get done why not set a time limit on non-productivity. Then switch off to editing or other non-new-composing task that is waiting. If all else fails move to a short task that will get the house closer to ready for whatever the future brings. (Then at least something will be accomplished.) But PLEASE always come back to the screen with intention of writing — We’ve become accustomed to your words, you almost makes the day begin, We’ve grown accustomed to the phrases, that you weave night and noon…

    • ROFL on making the day begin. ROFL. 🙂 I used to sing that to my elderly cat, when he was missing an eye and looked like Pratchett’s Gaspode. Sigh. I still miss that ball of orange fuzz. Hopefully in the ever-after there’s room for a cat who thought he was human and who was always a gallant and true gentleman.

  11. I don’t know what would work for you … but backing away from the computer and doing something different for a while, like a long road trip to somplace interesting ususally works for me. If I drive, or even if my daughter drives, I can look through the window, and think about things…

  12. Live forever? Not with my knees. And I swear that I don’t think I can make it through more than two more presidential elections after this one, and this year I am in a (supposedly) swing state, meaning campaign lies in every TV program. It is less a matter of getting bored than it is of getting frustrated with the surrounding dumbness.

    As to what to do if you cannot generate salable copy, try a mental reboot. Go for a mountain picnic, pick a favorite TV series on DVD and do a popcorn fueled blow-out marathon. Fritter away huge amounts of time answering blog comments.

    • You’re in a swing state? YOU’RE in a swing state? If the President visits my neighborhood more often, we’re going to make him a member of the neighborhood watch. Take today (please) I’m not even putting my nose out of the house, even if I SHOULD cover it for PJMedia, because we’re up to our hairy nostrils in helicopters, security people and — ARGH. I think we should choose a president by giving the contestants a gun and twenty paces. May the one with the best aim win.

      • We have a beautifully repaved road between the airport and a nationally certified green four star hotel. Our airport is the only one in this region that can handle Airforce One.

      • RE: the POTUS and Colorado. I was supposed to go to a big meeting in Denver this fall. Guess what? A mildly panicked announcement came out last month because there is a presidential debate scheduled for the night before the conference opens, a debate that entails shutting down all of downtown Denver. So we are supposed to try and get there at least a day early. Oh, and partly because of the debate, a union is going on strike and picketing the conference hotel. Guess who is no longer going to the conference?

        • GAH. Like our economy wasn’t in enough trouble!

          • You are, of course, aware of the problems that are mounting in Charlotte with the forever shrinking convention?

            • Actually, no, I’m not. We were in Charlotte for a visit two years ago. First time in twenty years — it’s grown beyond all telling, but our neighborhood, about eight blocks from Eastland mall is unrecognizable, and of course Eastland mall is closed. WEIRD.

              • They thought having the convention in Charlotte would help carry the state a second time. Then the GOP, after trying for over a century, captured both houses of the legislature in 2010. (Tea, anyone?) Then Governor Beverly Purdue’s regime cratered over the dual problems of corruption and incompetence (as well as incompetent corruption.) Then the state Democratic Party chairman had to resign due to personal/personnel issues (IIRC, it involved sexual harassment issues, but really, who can keep up with such things; he resigned, then refused to resign, then … oh heck, Google “NC Democratic party chairman scandal” and you get almost 4 million hits) Then the state passed a constitutional amendment against gay marriage (you would have wet yourself laughing over the sanctimony of the yardsigns against that amendment) … an amendment with very high support in the state hyphenation community.

                Oh yes – fund-raising for the convention has been so seriously lacking that they have even reportedly considered cutting it back from four days to three. AND the unions are notably unenthusiastic about the convention taking place in a Right-to-Work state.

                Then there is the … brilliant … idea of holding the coronation night events at the local NFL arena, which has them referring to the stadium as “Panther Stadium” rather than its official (and naming-rights purchased) name: Bank of America Stadium. There are also reports of increasing numbers of House members suddenly finding themselves too busy campaigning in their districts to attend, and empty seats in the stadium (not that the MSM cameras will expose those) and and and …

                • Aside from the DNC screwing up the stadium name (par for the course), I’ve grown pretty intolerant of name changes on major icons. None bothered me nearly as much, as a Chicago native, as finding out my Sears Tower was bought and renamed the Willis Tower. It’s not even a cool name. It’s just awful. So I did what any author would do in such a situation.

                  In the story, as the first-ever actual alien ship crashes into the Atlantic, it’s 60×15 meter cannon detach and do their own crashes to Earth, though its a controlled, Mars Rover-type landing. One smacks into a four-story parking garage in Chicago at the corner of S Clinton and Van Buren. As it rolls to a rest, it goes off, destroying the JP Morgan Chase building directly northeast, taking down the “Willis Tower” and taking the top of the AT & T building off behind it. In the weeks afterward, as the SHTF globally, survivors make there way to the parking garage because they find, accidentally, the damned thing will recharge dead electronics in close proximity. In the interim, a survivors community sprouts in/on the garage and someone paints a very big “I SAID SEARS, BITCH” on the side of the massive cannon.

      • Laura Runkle

        I fully expect to have Mr. Romney serving meals for a faith-based charity in our neighborhood, followed by Mr. Obama building houses one neighborhood down, followed by every-silly-body else. Why, yes, I also live in a swing state.

        • I know we are getting Gov. Romney followed by V.P. Joe Biden this week. It costs us police man hours and messes up the traffic.

          The Daughter complained vociferously when, in the last Presidential campaign, the Democratic candidates choose to appear at The Depot. It is a lovely site. It was the former train station, built in the hey day of train travel. It is now the public transportation hub AND once again train station. But of course all those services had to be shut down for the day — as well as many businesses.

    • Ours is swinging too… at the end of a fine thread.

      • Gasping and blue in the face? Yeah. I think every state is, except maybe TX.

        • I feel that the liberal public education is responsible (but we let them get there)… Course I can’t complain… it started before I knew any better. Plus in the 80s we were going into business instead of into hallowed education. Ugh.

        • North Dakota is doing very well.

        • North Dakota can’t toss up housing quickly enough to handle the oil boom there. But as we are repeatedly advised, we can’t drill our way to oil independence. Not because we don’t have the oil, but because — thanks to the EPA and Environazis — we can’t effing drill.

          The only drilling that side of the polity supports is drilling into our wallets. (Well, and insert tasteless Bill Clinton joke here.)

        • I wish the Texas housing economy would pick up enough so that my mom would get more real-estate sales! 😦

  13. You are almost my age. I am fiendishly envious of your productivity, but as someone who’s done the perimenopause/menopause thing, and as someone who has strategies for productivity, I can offer some thoughts.

    The first, and, weirdly, most important one, is the physical. You get a lot of the symptoms for about 6 years before actual menopause. There’s more of those than just hot flashes. I get migraines, and they became pretty fierce about 13 years ago. A lot of things are triggers for me–caffeine, sulfates, cheese–that weren’t when I was younger. I felt a lot better and a lot clearer when I figured out what those were. I think you’ve mentioned migraines in past postings. David Buchholz’s Heal Your Headaches really saved me. Anyway, because of the migraines, I have to avoid lots of stuff, including medicines because they’ll set me off. Instead, I exercise a lot. When I don’t, I get depressed/down. Exercise makes you feel better emotionally. When I get the “downs,” it’s usually because I’ve gone an extra day w/o a workout of some kind.

    On the tactics, I recommend a list: 500 words, workout, laundry, call school, whatever. You don’t get to do the thing you want (e.g., read accordingtohoyt), until you’ve done a thing you have to do. Even, no laundry until you’ve ticked off 500 words. (Weird, but it works for me.)

    But, I think the exercise is the saver here.

    • MIGHT be. I’ve lately craved running — I need to get a treadmill that allows me to do so. Mine is pokey.

      • Running is great. I do about three runs a week and a couple of other things, but it’s the running that makes a noticeable difference in mood, sinuses, sleeping, all sorts of stuff. Other people tell me that weight lifting is another one that works really well.

        Also, it sounds like the move is weighing on you. Do one thing about it a day, and you’ll feel more in control. If you call Purple Heart or Goodwill or whoever else does pick-ups in your area, you’ll acquire a deadline for filling three boxes with stuff to get rid of.

        At work when I have a huge boring document to review, the only way I can open it sometimes is to tell myself that I’m only going to read 5 pages. Start small on whatever is bothering you the most.

    • Also – I found that cheese was a trigger for my migraines. This week it has been the heat. Yes—perimenopause can start many years before the actual event….. So Sarah.. menopause could be a factor even though you are not yet … *bouncing off Laurie’s post

  14. Wayne Blackburn

    I haven’t refreshed the page to read the comments yet, so I don’t know if anyone else has said something similar, but yes, I do have similar problems at my work, and that’s a definite problem, working for someone else. I have times when I just can’t bring myself to focus on the problem at hand, and sit and stare at my screen with no clue what I’m going to do, and little to no motivation to do it. Once I can shake myself out of that, I’m ok and can go on, but sometimes it’s pretty difficult, and for something that’s not an external, well-defined requirement, I wouldn’t know what to suggest.

    • I think I’m going to clean. Maybe two hours of cleaning will help me focus. If not, then if I can focus tomorrow, I don’t have to clean. (Friday is normal cleaning day.)

  15. One word, Menopause. You are the right age to start the process. Befuddled mind, not sleeping well, small illnesses, just not feeling right, aches, lack of enthusiasm, all early signs. See your OBGYN or your primary care Dr. and get yourself checked out.

    • Did. Nowhere near near it yet — though my issues were diagnosed as such for years. But I am trying a new hormonal treatment for my issues, and I suppose the first week is rough

  16. When I hit the blank screen wall, I catch up on reading non-fiction, usually hard science material or non-US history. Or I work on a non-fiction article. Or if it one of those days, I just say “oh, chuck this” and practice voice and piano, vacuum the cat, make stew or saffron buns. Whapping yeast dough into submission can be very soothing and inspiring. It is also a good biceps and shoulder work out, depending on the stiffness of the dough. 🙂

    • The problem is not not feeling like writing — it’s not feeling like doing anything. I haven’t picked up art in four months either. EW.

      • In theory, this falls under the umbrella of “depression.” (In practice, yes, well.) Things I would suggest include checking levels of Vitamin D, Vitamin B, and ferritin, because those are my go-to vitamins for a first-order “cross off the things that are relatively easy to address.”

        Has Witchfinder stripped your channels? 😦

        • No. I need to print witchfinder, though, to write the end — because I need to tighten, etc, before I can (writing this slow is a problem for me.) And my D*MN printer isn’t talking to my computer.

          • As I tweedled on my Twitter yesterday, “Universe, this is NOT positive reinforcement!”

            (I’d been noodling around unproductively on the computer. The kid was in the same room, quietly noodling on her computer. I flipped to the Word document for the story I want to work on, and within seconds the kid is standing up and offering me the tail-ends of my-dessert-that-I-gave-to-her, breaking my nascent concentration. Universe, this is NOT positive reinforcement!)

            Good luck with the printer!

            • Sorry, but as I read this someone on the television was explaining the Rep. Paul Ryan enjoys the sport of noodling. What is the sport of noodling? Wiki says:

              Noodling is fishing for catfish using only bare hands, practiced primarily in the southern United States. The noodler places his hand inside a discovered catfish hole. Many other names, such as catfisting, grabbling, graveling, hogging, dogging, gurgling, tickling and stumping, are used in different regions for the same activity.

              No, the Universe is not necessarily about positive reinforcement.

  17. ACHHHH, I didn’t mean to post so soon. I know several others have said the same thing, so I won’t berate the idea. Another thought came to mind, Mid-life Crises. That doozie comes in many forms, but it seems like depression at first, been there done that. At 57, I am, at last, truly through all that nonsense and working on being a eccentric, grumpy, cat lady.

    • Honest to G-d? I think it’s the election and knowing I’ll more than likely have to move next year, which when it’s the first time Dan and I are planning to live alone (sans kids) in twenty one (or two, since Robert made his presence known in advance) and since we need to get rid of 80% of the household stuff (well, it’s different when you’re raising kids, and we only gave up on having more last year and haven’t — fully — given up on adopting. So, we have strollers and all somewhere in the garage or basement or attic.) it’s a labor of Hercules. Add to that the money issues, and I think PART of what’s afflicting me is “so much to do, don’t know where to start” so I do nothing. HOW to defeat it is something else.

      • I think PART of what’s afflicting me is “so much to do, don’t know where to start” so I do nothing. HOW to defeat it is something else.

        When things seem overwhelmingly large it is best to slice it into small manageable portions. Or so they say. I find it sometimes works, other times I am knocked for a loop trying to figure what would be a small manageable portion… Clean litter boxes are good. Maybe repack a box from the previous move?Finding a long displaced dragon footed mug makes for a pleasant moment.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        …“so much to do, don’t know where to start” so I do nothing. Oh, my how I understand that. Add in that I’m naturally a procrastinator, and it piles up until there’s too many things to do, but something HAS to be done, and ofttimes I get overwhelmed into a sort of paralysis.

      • Sarah, I understand the worries you have about jobs, money, moving etc. I have been married nearly 41 years, (our anniversary is next week.) and we have moved over 20 times. Sometimes, thinking too much about what has to be done to be prepared can stop anything from getting done. I have learned to take everything one task, or one room at a time. I had to go from a type A to a type B personality in, literally, a heart beat. After spending most of last year either in hospital or in bed at home, I have finally learned to take everything one task or one room at a time. Get a few boxes, put one in the rooms that bother you the most, and every time you walk through, put something you MUST keep in the box. You will be surprised how little you really need to survive until life settles again.

        One thing moving so much has done, is remove my need for ‘things’ and any attachment I had toward most of them. Some are vital, like my boys photos and such, some aren’t, like that ugly vase great aunt so and so gave me. When we moved to Hong Kong, it would be 3-5 months before our shipment would get to us. So we jettisoned everything but our art, music, and books. We rented a furnished flat, and learned to bargain like demons at the open markets to get what we needed to cook, eat, clean, and be comfortable. All it takes is the first step. Get the boxes.

      • Laura Runkle

        Garage-sale time,

  18. I’ve commented before about my physical problems, so I won’t cover that ground again. One thing I’ve found that helps ME is to get away from everything that’s ordinary, every-day for about five or six hours. I’ll simply drive up into the mountains, find a rock to sit on or a place to walk, and “get lost” for awhile. Usually, the quiet, the animals, wildflowers, and the flow of clouds is enough to re-settle my soul, which gets a tad irritated spending every day inside the same four walls. Fishing is another way for me to recharge. I can sit beside a lake for eight hours without a single fish bite, and call it a good day. I always feel better for about a month afterwards.

    The human animal wasn’t designed to spend the majority of its life inside. Take a day and go out and let your soul be refreshed.

  19. I tend to do nothing when I feel overwhelmed. Finding _more_ stuff to do (like, say, getting preparred for a move next year maybe) doesn’t really help.

    Try making a list prioritizing it. Then slash the ones that don’t matter for the rest of 2012. Then the ones that have internal deadlines go to the bottom of the list. Look at the two(?) books under contract. Flip a coin to chose one and write the next scene. Not the rest of the book, just a single scene. No big deal.

    So says the woman who is designing new book covers because she doesn’t want to edit the contents.

  20. masgramondou

    Well it looks like someone else already suggested most of the ideas I had.

    I will reiterate a couple though.
    1) It is very easy to get stuck in the too many deadlines situation where you can’t concentrate on naything because all these other things keep bobbing for you attention. In my experience the key is to be utterly ruthless and declare that you will work soley on project 1 until done. Then project 2. etc. And to be even more ruthless in how you treat people who ask you for project 13 and/or suggest they’d like you to also do a brand new project…
    2) go for a walk in the hills. I know you get up relatively early. So get up. Make breakfast. Eat it. Go (by car) to a decent spot of wilderness. Find a nice path and walk for a bit. Come back to the car no sooner than 2 hours after you left.
    3) close the browser tabs marked facebook, instapundint etc. Don’t open them for a couple of hours. Or ideally until after the next meal

    And er yes despite being male and a few years younger than you I totally recognise the problem… so I don’t think it is just the dreaded menopause

  21. Diminishing vigor is for the birds
    My birds would say otherwise. ^_^

    Seriously, though, you sound like me when I’ve been through a bad time (right down to reading old friend books), and you have been through a bad time recently. Friends sick and dying? That’s about as bad as it gets! The wildfires coming toward your home – and if they didn’t hit your home, they hit people you knew, or came close enough that you worried about them, too. And weren’t you very sick only a month or so ago? And that’s on top of money stress, moving stress, possible-loss-of-job stress, entire life upheaval stress. I’m not surprised at all that you’ve having these troubles focusing.

    (And I’m the same way about surroundings. I can function with things topsy-turvy for a while, but not for the long term. I had to pack up a quarter or so of my house last winter (had to replace all the plumbing) and I still haven’t put everything back and it’s been bugging me no end, so I’m letting myself take August to work on it. It’s a way of taking back control. When the surroundings are a mess and disorganized, they leach out and destroy everything else.)

    You sound like someone who’s used to running marathons who was forced to take a lot of time off because of a serious injury, and, now that the injury is healed, is surprised because she can’t run marathons right away. That runner is going to have to rebuild all those muscles, start slowly, force herself through some agonizing first training sessions that hurt a lot and aren’t very productive but which establish patterns again. (And on top of that, aren’t you dyslexic, or something similar? That means you’re going to have a really hard time with imposing structure; it’s just part of it, the price of the extra creativity you get with it.)

    So start slow, give yourself easy goals and allow yourself a reward when you’re done – preferably a fill-the-well reward, like reading a good book or watching a fun movie that might inspire you. Though chocolate is also good. ^_^ And yes, get your house in order, you’ll feel better.

    Take care.

    • I think Laurie’s marathon metaphor nailed it.

      • As happens I USED to run marathons, when I was young. I was a lousy sprinter, but give me long enough and I got to the end ahead of all the faster at the beginning people. It is that I miss — the discipline of running.

        And I know what you mean about writing. It took is a discipline as I told Wayne.

    • I’m mildly letter dyslexic, severely number dyslexic. And yes, you could say the last three years have been, if not h*ll at least a severe trial. We got through them, but… This is just the year of changes. Publishing. Dan’s job is transforming itself. And of course younger son is starting college and older son is waiting to hear on his MCAT and hopefully applying to medschool. If we move — and we will unless it’s much worse — it will be on our own, which is both dreaded and anticipated. We love each other, but we’re one of those families that enjoys time together and where our kids contribute markedly to our fun. (We took vacations alone for a year, then realized it was more fun with them.) Going off alone again is sort of like getting married and leaving our families behind all over again. It’s exciting and fun and the littlest bit scary.

      BUT these are all normal things and I shouldn’t be going nuts.

      … and I should definitely get a treadmill.

      • BUT these are all normal things and I shouldn’t be going nuts.
        I disagree, you have every reason to be going nuts. And while these things may be normal events for a human to experience in a lifetime, they aren’t normal for you. All kinds of things that are “normal” human experiences are incredibly stressful.

        Your life is being overturned. No wonder you want to organize things. I’d be more worried about you if you WEREN’T going nuts.

        So don’t stress about stressing out. 🙂

      • My husband and I couldn’t wait to be on our own. But we had been raising kids since I was 19 and he was 21. Then, we ended up raising our granddaughter, who is now 18 and expecting her first child. I think, if we want to be on our own again, we will have to move far away. Grandchildren, however, keep pulling us back to our family. So, we take trips together. We especially like to cruise.

    • Even good things can be stressful. You are hoping that R will get to pursue the next step toward the dream he has worked so hard and so long to reach. There is little you can do to make it happen for him. Your goal, as a responsible and loving parent has been to see the boys move on. It is hard to have them go. While you can celebrate that you have grown a family you really enjoy — you have a family you really enjoy, so they will be missed.

      You had to adapt to one thing after another, as mentioned before. All of a sudden those things have changed. For example you aren’t waiting, fearing a dreaded diagnosis — great relief. Instead you are waiting for the treatment to work – or to be worked out. This requires a whole new adaption.

      BUT — you are a survivor. And time and again you have proved not just a survivor, but a victor. We’re rooting for you.

  22. Other than saying ‘me too’ (and yes I am sure I have menopause. More like mandeadstop, though) I think a part of of it the sheer exhaustion of a long long long war, with very small victories and diminishing resources, and a lot of grind grind get nowhere, but leave our dead unburied and rat-eaten in the mud of trenches with us. Up to fairly recently I figured it was stress robbing me of productivity. But I find even when the stress eases (it does, from time to time) all I want to do is be comatose. I think it’s too easy to think that the stress and constant struggle leave no damage, yes, take it away… and you will recover, but it can take long time, just like getting over a bad illness. Nil carborundum, Illigitimi.

  23. I think I’ve been mentioning in our emails that I’m going through the same thing right now (at least the, “have plenty of ideas, want to work on them, don’t actually feel like writing” part).

    Still learning, so right now there’s no magic bullet that works with me. I think sometimes those work like placebos anyway. So sometimes it helps if I focus on one of my other pastimes (meaning gaming or watching movies/tv) or other hobbies (art or crafts or game creating). Or sometimes it’s researching or looking through art/photo blogs/books. Sometimes it’s travel or doing something out of norm like driving across town or exercising or doing a “proper” clean.

    Right now, I think what my problem is with the story I’m working on, I haven’t entirely figured out one of the heroes. I can’t tell if he’s a manslut and has a healthy attitude about it, or if it just LOOKS like he’s kind of a manslut but is actually quite monogamous aside from a little experimenting while drunk. I feel like something about this particular story is jealous and doesn’t want to share me with any of the others I have sitting around that I could work on while I puzzle things out, and that “something” is probably the character in question demanding I figure him out before I’m allowed to move on. (Which is probably sensible because it drives the plot and if I misunderstand him, it’s going to take pulling walls down to build it properly.)

    So – yes. Another ~K ramble that pretty much just says, “I agree with your experiences/thoughts and here is how it applies to me and hopefully you’ll have a spark of an idea from it.”

  24. I’ve never thought of you as being lazy. Particular, yes. Lazy? Nope.

  25. 'nother Mike

    Spend a half-hour watching this video
    and fall in love with the world again?