A very strange gestation period

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Just had a talk with my sister wherein she told me various signs that I’m doing poorly, mentally.  Things I didn’t even realize, things I wouldn’t notice unless someone else said them to me.  Like I’m not bathing.  Like I’m wearing weather-inappropriate clothes (sweatshirts when it’s warm).  And other things.

I’ve stopped taking one of my medications.  I just decided to do this, because it was expensive and I didn’t want to cost my sister any more money.

I sleep twelve hours a day.

It feels scary to not know how badly you’re doing until someone tells you.  I hate being this person, who is jobless and maybe losing it.  I thought I was doing better, thought I was maybe good enough that I needed to start looking for work and stop bumming around my sister’s house.  The government rejected my disability application, so there maybe is a suggestion that I should be working.  But I’m appealing it, talking with a lawyer to see if they’ll help me, on Monday.  And what’s that for?  An amount that I couldn’t possibly live on, even if I got it.  At best it would help me continue to live with my sister, or in some other type of situation like that.

I wish I was back in the hospital, where they asked every day if you had bathed or washed up, noticed how long you were sleeping and did something about it.

And yet, so much of this problem is economic.  If I had money to live, bathing once a week and wearing sweatshirts in the summer would be eccentric, rather than crazy.  My choice to stop taking Lamictal could be seen as exercising a right, rather than shirking a responsibility.  If I had money, I would have access to better doctors, and better access to doctors, different techniques for dealing with depression and anxiety and mania.  In a sense, my lifestyle is ill, not just me.

But in the middle of this, I have my writing.  My 2,000-word-a-day project, that consumes me, that lets me forget that I am a doppelgänger in my sister’s life, that lets me imagine all sorts of lives that are not mine and people who are not me.  People who are not ill, people who are ill glamorously, and yes, people like me.  If I didn’t have that, I’d be dying.

My life is sad in some ways.  Maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m getting worse, maybe I’ll never work again and maybe I’ll be a burden to my relatives.  When I think that, then suicide becomes a very real option.  So I don’t think that way.  Instead I like to think that I’m a special kind of creature, an alien, who has a very strange gestation period, and that all this is me on the way to becoming my greater self.  I have to believe it that way, because the other way is just too dark.

I think I’m starting to feel that trazodone kicking in even though that’s a redundant statement

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  • I ate a hamburger almost raw tonight.
  • I found sleeping pills and took one, so I’ll probably sleep well.   I had thought I was out.  Will have to ask my psychiatrist to prescribe more.
  • I bathed tonight.   Yes, this is news.   Ever since the hospital I’ve been bathing less, I think because the bathrooms there were gross.   But I’m not in the hospital anymore, so I’m trying to bathe more often.   I really like doing so.
  • I’m both done with twitter and in love with it.   Twitter is like my air, in some ways.   I’m a constant reader, occasional Tweeter, and I have no desire right now to delete my account (as I sometimes have in the past) but I also wonder if taking a break from it would be healthy.  At the same time I can’t imagine myself taking a break from it since I’m so active with it atm.
  • Same thing with blogging.  I’m not going to delete my blog (this has been a temptation in the past).   I’ve had it long enough to know that sometimes I like blogging, and it helps me, and sometimes I don’t.   Right now is one of those times where I’m not doing much blogging.   I don’t have much to say, or it’s all the same stuff as before.   So I consider “officially” going away from the blog for a while, but in the end it doesn’t matter, I can just blog when I want to, not when I don’t, and it works out fine.
  • I read some writing rules posted online tonight.   Well-meaning, but terrible.  a) You exclude great pieces of writing with any set of rules, such that if you had followed these rules you would not have arrived at such-and-such great piece of writing.  b) There is no b.  Writing rules suck.  You can’t start with a set of rules like that as a major ingredient of your writing and end up with something good.  It’s almost always a mistake to write or post writing rules (though occasionally there are good ones) so please, note to self, don’t ever get cocky and start putting out your formulas for making good writing.   Don’t do it.
  • I am writing these days.  Tomorrow is June 30, that will be one month of writing on my current first draft.   I have more than a month to go, so I’m deep into it and at the same time not even halfway there.  I realize some people write much slower, and maybe I’ll write like that someday myself, but I have never felt the luxury of time with my writing.  I feel like I need to get out as much stuff as possible before I die, which could be at any time.  That is how I operate.   It is a terrible way to operate, and I hope someday I am able to live in a more relaxed way.  For now, though, this is the way I am.  Anyway, I’m writing, and it’s hard when I have an off day, which I had today, and it’s easy when I have an on day, which has been many days so far, and it’s even easier when I just do my job, which is to write my words and forget about everything else but writing my words.  I’m writing 2,000 words a day, and I’m writing during my nephew’s nap time each day, because it’s a convenient time where I can have time to myself, but it’s also pressure because I have to write quickly, to try and finish before he wakes up, so it’s not a relaxed schedule.  But it is forcing me to be disciplined about starting on time, and writing when I’m supposed to write.   That is my life right now, writing during nap time, editing on the iPad the rest of the day, on and off.   I can read/edit well while watching or keeping an eye on Daniel, so I work on the iPad to spot check what I’ve written.   Tomorrow I will have 60,000 words.  I hope I can meditate through the chaos [of my own mind] and get into a better writing space tomorrow.   I need to be 100%, pure, in-the-moment.  This is what I want to do, what I love, and I want to give my heart and mind to it in a deep way every time I do it.

The beginning of a book is so dangerous, from a writing point of view.

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Maybe it’s all dangerous.  But the first sentence matters a lot, and the first page matters a lot, so I feel better now than I’m 8,000 words into my current book.  I can go back and fix the first sentence later, if I want to, but now, at this point after the introductory part of the book is done, I can feel ok about characters doing whatever they want.  Of course they’ve already been doing that, but somehow it feels so much more homey, so much more interior, to be at this part, because a precedent has been laid out and in some ways I’m now operating within a pattern that’s been set up.

I have seven parts to my outline and I’m now on part two.  My story is about a girl who moves to LA and she is now in LA.  So my main outline can unfold.  I’ve been observing how I, as a novelist, choose what parts to expand and which parts to contract.  Which parts do I talk about, and which parts to I show.  I only want to show the parts that involve my main character doing critical things to herself and with herself (even though she may be with others when doing these things).

This novel is highly made up.  It’s also highly autobiographical.  It’s a mix of the two, with some elements being one and some elements being the other.  Right now I’m in areas that are made up, with less biographical source, so I’m hoping I’m doing a decent job at creating and characterizing it.  I’m writing a female protagonist, and even though I feel I’ve done well at this in the past, I am in difficult territory, doing this.  But it’s important to the story, so I’m doing it.

One of the other things I’ve been noticing is the punctuation I choose.  At the beginning of each piece, I make decisions about which punctuation symbols I use, and how.  In this one, I’m not using any elipses, em dashes, semicolons, or colons.  I use periods and commas, that’s it.  This has implications for how conversational interruptions are rendered, for instance.

I’m pushing further into the domain of unattributed conversation, having dialog lines where there’s no “he said”/“she said” to tell you who is saying what.  I’ve been pretty extreme about this in the past but I’m going further into this territory.  Sometimes there are group conversations where there’s no attribution at all in an entire conversation, because it doesn’t matter who said what, just what was said.

My writing life is boring/simple.  I’m surprised I’m even writing a blog post during it.  I have a schedule I write by.  My schedule for this book is to write during my nephew’s nap and to write 2,000 words a day.  So I write during his nap, quickly, to try and finish before he wakes up, when I will go back to watching him.  And the rest of the day and night, I try to maintain as clear and drama-free a headspace as possible.  Avoid the news.  Avoid arguments.  Avoid my emotions being drawn out by anything other than my writing, especially negative emotions.  And that’s what I do.  It’s very monk-like.  I’ll try to keep this going for the next six weeks or so, so I can finish this draft.