Saturday, January 24, 2015

Practicalities of Living Life in a Hard Season, Part Three: A Narrative

Practicalities of Living Life in a Hard Season, Part One
Practicalities of Living Life in a Hard Season, Part Two: High Sensitivity

Okay, so Parts One and Two explained my main dilemma, with two especially resonant links. Musings on the line between excuses and reasons, what self-care looks like and how hard it can be, and what happens when you throw high sensitivity into the mix. Keep in mind that, as I mentioned in the beginning, when I feel like my life is spiraling out of control, I tend to numb myself out in various ways, to gain a sense of pseudo-control. So not helpful. But not something I want to be beating myself up for either, because it IS understandable, and beating myself up just makes me feel more out of control.

I've been thinking about that sense of control and the narrative I tell myself. Why I really, really want a good narrative, one that makes sense of me, one that tells me how to work with myself.

Let's take all of the above about my difficult year, and apply it to writing. There are a number of people out there who encourage anyone who wants to be any good at writing to write every day, NO MATTER WHAT. Because life will always get in the way, better to get the practice, down with excuses, you'll always be busy, there are successful professional writers who are mothers to small children too, and so on and so on.

Very true. But the there-will-always-be-life-and-hard-things argument... okay, some things are a lot harder than others. I've also seen professional writers talk about how the words dried up for a while, during a confluence of hard things (there might be better links of him telling that story, but that's the one I found), or how that can happen.

Writing-this-post selfie.

Yes, yes, yes. Trouble is, it seems like I haven't been writing much for years now. At least in the fiction department. And true, I've had some really good and valid excuses for years now, too! Ikes. I mean, in the last several years, the easiest and calmest of the bunch was the one where I often took my new baby with me to my stressful part-time job. The job that I was so happy this Christmas to have been laid off from. This Advent season, I could breathe! Oh glory hallelujah, and I don't mean that flippantly.

Anyway, I was saying?

Life, it's hard. Getting better, I think. And I want to write. Ideally every day. I guess for now, I need to slowly develop and strengthen those muscles. A few minutes a day at the very least, and go from there.
But...? Sometimes I need to go to the extreme and obsess over a thing to get it done at all. I'm not super balanced, and maybe no one is as such -- there's no way to be in motion and have ALL THE THINGS balanced simultaneously, there's a give and take. You pedal down on one side, then the other. Shift your weight back and forth. Balance requires a time axis, no one moment can truly encapsulate it.

So what do I do? Say "screw all of that" and try to do NaNoWriMo again this year? (Er, um, okay, obviously too late for that now. I wasn't talking about this next November, in ten months. Caveats from Part One about times mentioned and when I wrote this apply throughout the series.) Go on an editing binge? If I stop for a bit, how long, and what should I do instead, how can I work back towards writing again? If this is something that's SO IMPORTANT to me, how do I act like it, live that out?

The narrative I want is one that tells me exactly what type of writer I am, that tells me it's okay I don't put out a lot of words at x times, because I will totally make up for it with y. Some kind of life calculus that balances everything out perfectly. Something kind of like this, or like this, but with instamagic to tell me which one I am on each axis, NOW. Okay, so I have a decent idea of which ways I lean, if not a certainty of which actually work ideally for me; maybe it's just that bit of uncertainty combined with hard seasons combined with what she says at the end, "I do keep experimenting with alternative working methods, though, even after thirty years at this. I keep hoping that something will turn out to be ever so much easier than what I’m doing…"

And now we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to photoblog The Cute Type. Because.

The puzzle-piece type things, with the letters? The pairs of them connected at right angles? Those are "so many compewers!" The closest one, with the V, is "one compewer for Mama." A lot of her play right now has to do with various sorts of pretend computers. Which I'm sure has nothing whatsoever to do with imitating me, nothing at all. >_>

"One compewer for baby food." Because even the baby food has a story to tell, to type out on its little computer.

And we interrupt to photoblog because sometimes, writing is simple, childlike joy. Though not always.

Anyway, as I was saying, if I can figure out my, um, less photogenic type, figure out the narrative and express it in words here on the page (I guess as I'm attempting to do in this series with my year and personality and life in general), I can gain some feeling of control. Not because I'll have figured out the tools to work with myself and have made it easier, in and of itself, although there's definitely that. Just because of expressing it, having a story, saying "Look! See, light!"

The narrative puts me back in control. Maybe. Just having one.

I started thinking about the power of the narrative when I read that Writer Unboxed post"Why does this make me feel jealous? I shouldn't feel jealous of depression! OH. Because she's now FIGURED IT OUT. Okay."

Even when trying to work out the practicalities I mentioned earlier in the series, and to figure out how much I should be accomplishing in areas other than writing, sometimes it isn't for the sake of getting things done and practicalities in and of themselves either, but out of a longing for Story. It's not about productivity or my lack thereof. It's about the Story.

Who-am-I-and-what-am-I-doing-on-this-earth kind of stuff. You know, those eensy tiny things that only I care about. Yet which I'm the only one to not have nailed down.

Or at the least, it's about both the productivity and the Story, and they feed each other, but it's harder to talk clearly about narrative for its own sake when you're much more obviously talking about narrative for the sake of tips and tricks. ("There! Now that I know what kind of writer I am, I know what to do.")

I think maybe I'm trying to find the line between excuses and reasons for the sake of a Story.

P.S. January interjection: Okay, so I'm now reading The Artist's Way, and it's helping. Some of these questions are becoming at least slightly less pressing, in real life, real time. But I'm building in this series to other points. Work with me, here.

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