So how do you avoid a similar fate?
So how do you avoid a similar fate?
I don’t know when exactly it started. The moment music no longer helped my creative endeavors and only served to slow me down, I think it was a gradual change that happened so slowly and without warning that by the time it took over it was already too late. Or maybe it was a sneak attack that I never even thought to try and look out for. One way or another, and seemingly inevitably I reached a point where the creative writing playlists I’d created on Spotify (and later Apple Music) were used less and less frequently, as the only sounds of creativity I could stand any longer were that of a light fan, some rain, and the tapping of my acrylic nails on my computer keys.
It’s been said that the background noises of a coffee shop can be very beneficial to creativity, and getting work done, and there’s a few websites that have been created for just the purpose of making you feel like you’re in a cafe. But somewhere that low hum of chatter, coffee creation, and light music never quite did it for me. I have never been able to successfully write anything in a coffeeshop, particularly any place really public, though I’ve tried on multiple occasions over the course of my life. I feel like the older I get the more I wrap myself up in this shell and just want to avoid the outside world while I’m creating. I can barely get any work done if my boyfriend/friends are under the same roof or in the same room. We talk, we watch tv, we do pretty much everything but work. If it weren’t for the fact that a podcast requires us to have a conversation I’m not sure I would ever be able to get that completed with anyone else around.
Toxic political nonsense has enveloped my every day existence . From dozens of political emails, to Facebook, Twitter, hell even Tumblr has become all about political debate, and at a certain point it becomes more than exhausting, it becomes white noise which is even more dangerous because the more overwhelmed we are with toxicity the more likely we are to normalize it and tune it out, and that sets a dangerous precedent.
Long before our current political climate, I had taken to trying to figure out how the hell I could hope to get off Facebook for good. There were a couple of reasons for this desire to get off the wretched site, not the least of which was of course political. The problem being was my author page. I had created it, just before the height of the 2012 election which had really been the start of the political drama that would plague my feed for the next five years and counting. I should have created it on it’s own, on another page, I suppose, but I didn’t think much about it at the time (actually I didn’t even know it was possible until recently), and over the last 5 years, so much of my content has been shared to my page that I can’t seem to think of a way to actually get rid of it without losing everything.
I’m doing more Googling as we speak, but in the meantime, there’s another more pressing issue that has to be fixed, because I don’t know if I can ever get rid of Facebook entirely, there’s people on there whom I communicate with and as much as I would like not to see some of the shit they post, I shouldn’t have to leave. The trouble is, I avoid Facebook 9 times out of 10 except to see what others might have said to me. I’ve been making a concerted effort to remove toxicity, unfollowing a lot of things, and unliking pages and groups, but it would be impossible to block everything, and I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to just get rid of the whole thing.
Update: That was easier than I thought, transferred the page, and now, to limit time on main FB. Woot.
Mid-2016, I found myself facing a frustrating creative crisis. I was struggling to blog, struggling to find anything to come up with. I wanted to post more than just the random assortment of things that I seemed to be able to post on an irregular basis. I wanted to showcase more. I needed to give myself more structure. Lately however this new structure has been limiting, so I’ve issued a challenge to myself. During the month of April I will be doing a Spring post-a-day in which I will be blogging, every day of April, without any particular theme. I would like this to become the norm going forward, but I figured I would start with a month and see how that goes over the course of the next 30 days before I make any plans for the future. Also during this month I will be temporarily suspending essays (to resume in May), and indefinitely suspending short stories. Shorts have never been something I’ve enjoyed doing, as evidenced by the 3, in a four and a half month span. Personally I feel the short stories take time that I could be using on full length novels away and have only served to add to my anxiety level once a month when it rolls around to being time for a short.
I would rather devote my time and energy to more fulfilling projects, and content. I still greatly enjoy writing essays so that isn’t something I want to suspend for the long term, but it is something I need to suspend at least for April.
So what comes next? I have a lot of projects that I’m working on currently, not the least of which is writing though in an ironic twist that almost feels as though it’s taken a back seat to some of the other things I have going on. I’m trying to balance everything, and needless to say I have my work cut out for me.
Since I’ve already spent much of the winter deep in edits, I’ve decided that I might as well at least spend the rest of 2017 giving this whole seasonal creation thing a fair shake. I realized sometime last week that when I’m not at my day job 8 hours a day 5 days a week, I’m working on any one of the following (or sometimes a combination of these):
-recording/editing a podcast
-writing/editing blog posts
-writing/editing an essay
-working on a short
-editing/rewriting my work-in-progress
-posting any of these things to social media and my website
-working on a new design projects
-thinking about new podcast/essay ideas
-brainstorming various things
-attempting on occasion to write something new
-somewhere in there, read.
I love everything that I’m doing, I love podcasting with friends, and I love blogging, writing essays, and even working on new design stuff, but unfortunately what this all leads to is that things like reading fall by the wayside. I’m several magazines behind, I’m at least a dozen Book of the Month books behind, and honestly, I’m just generally behind on reading, listening to podcasts and doing anything that isn’t writing or further working on my brand.
I need to take a writing sabbatical, so that I can recharge my creative juices before I burnout (because I’ve been there and it’s so hard to come back from).
So what does all of this mean?
A few things. I still intend to blog at regular intervals. Starting around April-ish, I’m going to be taking a sort of Spring break if you will. For those of you who jumped ship from my previous blog onto this one, you likely have seen how this works before, but since I think a lot of my followers are newer I thought I’d explain how I have done this in the past.
I’ve usually given myself about a month or so off in the past, in which I have pre-scheduled all necessary blogposts for that given month. Now that I have essays and podcasts that come every other week as well I’ll have to either pre-schedule those essays (unlikely) or just write them on the sly and throw them up at their given times. I certainly have enough essays written that I could probably get away with having this stuff ready before this vacay but given how Wix works I don’t exactly have the option to schedule when a page goes live.
I actually really enjoy podcasting and recording with friends, even if editing is tedious, and honestly, I’m getting better at it, however I would like episode 13 to be the sort of season finale for the show. It happens to coincide with RuPaul’s Drag Con, and part of me would love to do some crazy podcast there (although would anyone talk to this no name podcaster?) so all of that is to be determined.
Ultimately the main idea is to give myself ample time to just catch up with everything not currently to do with writing (like design, and reading, and recharging my creative juices) and then jump right into starting the sequel for my current work-in-progress. If I’m honest I’m not sure I entirely believe that I’ll actually not end up writing something of this story during that time, but the idea is to try my best not to.
This week, I read an article in the New York Times, entitled the Myth of Quality Time, the crux of which can be surmised in this short but telling paragraph from its author:
There’s simply no real substitute for physical presence.
We delude ourselves when we say otherwise, when we invoke and venerate “quality time,” a shopworn phrase with a debatable promise: that we can plan instances of extraordinary candor, plot episodes of exquisite tenderness, engineer intimacy in an appointed hour.
The premise of this article, which is made clear in its title, seems to suggest that the only way to truly have deep and meaningful moments with someone is to be there, as much as possible. It’s the idea that the amount of time you spend with someone means more than the quality of the time you spend with that person. So let’s break this concept down.
In the article, the author explains that he spends a week with his extended family during the summer in which they all stay in a large beach house. This, he seems to surmise, is an instance of ‘quantity’ time versus quality time, even though by his own admission, save for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, this would be the only time he spends with said extended family. Throughout the article it is said that it was only when he stayed the full week (rather than leave early as he previously had) that he was able to have meaningful conversations with members of his family at random intervals. His supposition being that had he not spent the same length of time, these conversations would simply not have been possible, and on the one hand that is true. By the mere reality of him being there the conversations with him were made possible. Yet these conversations could possibly have taken place at any time. As he goes on to say later in the article:
We reach out for help at odd points; we bloom at unpredictable ones…
The problem is, simply being in someone’s presence is not a clear indicator that you will have any meaningful conversation with them at any point in time. There are many people you may see many times a day whom you have absolutely no desire to speak to, and while family is slightly different, there are many members of my family who I see fairly often, whom I still don’t have many conversations with. Insightful or otherwise. Conversely, there have been several occasions in which I’ve spent a mere weekend with a family member, and had more deeper conversations with them, than I would have, when we lived mere miles away instead of a state away. It is a dubious at best premise to suggest that simply being in the presence of a person or group of people more often will make them more inclined to open up and be vulnerable with you.
It’s worth noting that a week a year, not including a few holidays, would not be what many consider to be quantity time spent either. Perhaps it’s possible that what the author is noting in his family is his increased engagement, rather than simply his mere presence. It’s very possible that his young niece/nephew that are mentioned in the article simply have reached an age where they feel more comfortable talking about things that bother them, because you are finally willing to treat them like an adult.
The biggest problem I have with this idea that the amount of time you spend with people is more important than how you spend that time, is that it seems unfair to suggest that the only way in which people can grow in friendship and love and family is by osmosis of being in one another’s company. I don’t see my friends everyday, sometimes I don’t even see them every week or every month, but I live in an age where I am able to communicate with them through Facebook, text, what have you. I talk to my boyfriend every day, even though I only see him twice a week. Same goes with Adrianne, I generally talk to her several times a week and usually see her at least once a week, and yet we can have more deep conversations in a few hours recording a podcast (and afterwards) than we might even if we spent a month in the same house (which we once did).
What are your thoughts on the subject of quality time versus quality time? Is there something to be said for the sheer amount of time you spend with someone, or is the quality of time the most important?
I am by no means the most positive person in any room. I’ve always considered myself more of a realist, but perhaps all things considered I would be more accurately described as something of a catastrophist. Whatever you want to call it, you know that something is severely wrong when of all of the most positive people I know, I seem to be the most positive out of everyone.
The sad truth is, the last month and a half (going on eternity) has been excruciatingly bad for everyone, and it feels as though all of my most hopeful friends have lost that as of late. I know that I’ve said that self care is so important in these times, but when we’re too tired to care for ourselves sometimes it is essential to have someone else who can help care for us. Because sometimes the best care you can give yourself, is asking for someone else to help you. I learned that this week after a particularly hard breakdown I had myself on Monday, where my boyfriend was there to pick me up when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pick myself up. I’ve been so used to caring for everyone else for so long, that when I needed to be cared for it was the most difficult thing I could ever think to ask for. Luckily, I really didn’t have to.
Now that I am back on track though, it means that in the absence of the positivity my friends and loved ones so desperately need, I will have to be positive enough for everyone. Or at least try to be.
After my quarter-life crisis took off last Sunday, I decided to do a little retail therapy, in the form of shopping at Barnes and Noble, where I picked up the latest issue of Writer’s Digest among other things, and there was a particular article that struck me as an interesting concept.
The idea was simple enough, creating in seasons, rather than simply writing all the time, non-stop into eternity. What a novel thought, actually taking a break to give oneself the opportunity to read and replenish their creative juices? For as long as I have been writing, I have never been able to manage such a task for more than a few minutes.
Not writing is surprisingly difficult at times, but after the work I’ve put my current work-in-progress as of late, I think I would enjoy something akin to a mini-vacation from writing. I’m not entirely sure what that would look like for me exactly, probably reading a lot, still doing blog posts, and essays, and shorts, but not jumping straight into the next novel, though I can’t picture any of it lasting for particularly long. Still I’d like to see what that looks like.
I’m not particularly known for being an optimistic person overall. I like to consider myself something of a realist, but I realize that I lean towards the more pessimistic side of things and honestly I’ve come to accept that about myself especially over this past year. Still in spite of everything, I can’t help but want to be, if not optimistic then cautiously optimistic about this coming year. I’m not altogether sure why, I’ve certainly never felt this way that I can remember.
Ironically or perhaps paradoxically to my credit, I have come to surround myself more and more with positive people. My best friend and co-podcast host Adrianne has always been an optimist, my boyfriend is an optimist, even my mother to a large extent is an optimist, as are some of my favorite co-workers. So there’s always a lot of positivity and optimism coming at me from all sides. Which is both nice and a bit odd.
I’m not sure I can ever be an optimistic person like they are. Whatever inspirational/motivational quotes would like to believe about the matter, I don’t think everyone is genetically predispositioned to be optimistic or even happy all the time. Prior to the year before last and even some of last year admittedly I didn’t think I was capable of being genuinely happy for more than a brief period of time. What I’ve learned however is that I can be, with help from those who love and care about me. It’s an odd thing to be a pessimistic person surrounded constantly by optimism, and maybe in some way it’s started to rub off on me, which is why I can feel even cautiously optimistic for the coming year. It’s refreshing, and I want to believe that it’s also a good thing that won’t disappoint me in the end, for now however I’m learning to live in the moment, and take things one step at a time.