Intrusive


Lately, I’ve been beset by intrusive thoughts. They come into my mind unbidden, and wick my attention away from my work. I wouldn’t mind so much if these were just distractions or daydreams- my mind might wander, but I’d find my way back to the well lighted path without to much struggle.

Lately my thoughts have been made up of hard edges and sharp corners. They push their way into my mind leaving bruises and cuts in their wake where my emotions well up and seep out begin to pour through the weak spots. I try to distract myself with work, with writing, with music, with anything I can, but nothing seems to keep the thoughts at bay for long: The fear that nothing I do will be noticed. The frustration at being unable to make meaningful changes in my life. The discouragement of dozens of cumulative setbacks. The futility of trying.

I find myself reeling between anger and frustration and resentment and sadness and envy like the Belle of the Malheureaux Ball: everybody wants to be on my dance card. I’m doing my best to pace myself: to keep my blood sugar level, to be constructive in my thought patterns, to acknowledge my rational side, even if my better sense mostly seems to get drowned out in the noise. I took myself off of social media for a forty-eight hour hold, which is a double edged sword because on the one hand I’m not getting wound up about what other people are doing or saying, but in the other hand I’ve suddenly lost ninety percent of my most effective distractions. (A phone gets a lot less interesting when there’s no social media on it.)

So I’m muddling through.

I’m better than yesterday at least.

I promised my Muse that I would get back to work on my writing today so I spent the morning commute considering my next move on my novel. It’s official that if I want to finish this by the end of the year then I need to complete two chapters per week, every week from now until New Year’s, leaving no extra room for holidays or sickness or travel or the inevitable writer’s block, but otherwise is *just barely* within the realm of possibility.

So naturally, today I did not write a word.

Instead, I found myself taking a look at the structure of the remaining chapters. I felt like I was getting mired down in action that wasn’t really leading to the next plot point and I still had quite a lot of this action planned before that plot point happened.

Did I really need it all? There were some fairly major story events happening, but I realized that they didn’t have to be happening right then in the chronology, and actually would work just as well, if not better, if I kicked them down the road.

And once I moved one chapter I had to move the other chapters that it effected. And once I moved them then I realized I could consolidate some things I’d just written and could group these actions there and that action here and… and… and…

So most of my *writing* had actually been restructuring, and it actually “undid” about two chapters that I finished last month, and probably added a bunch of work that I haven’t yet incorporated into my equation for Progress-Needed-to-Finish-By-Year-End, BUT it also feels like a giant step forward over all.

Which, I’m choosing to believe, is what is happening in my life right now: that this sudden sense of directionlessness and demotivation is actually a symptom of my life being restructured to better move me forward to the next plot point and to give me a more compelling arc. Which is likely to be more work than anticipated. And will probably be an ordeal to live through. But should pay off in the end.

I hope.

Christ, I’m a character in my own novel.

Recently I Tweeted a “How You KnowIf You’re A Character In A [Writer’s Name] Novel”, and mine was:

  • The universe suddenly seems to have a perverse sense of humor (check)
  • Your internal dialogue has internal dialogue (check)
  • You can’t win for losing but still come out on top (check… I hope)
  • There’s an unexpectedly lot of swearing. (At least internally- check).

So I guess it’s art imitating life imitating art.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on September 5, 2018.

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