Here is a snapshot of my life: It’s 7:20am. I have a teleconference for work with my manager in New York at 8am. I can’t seem to shake the remnants of the cold from weeks ago and I feel like I’ve been in kind of a daze for weeks. I had a very energetic period where I was focused, trying to figure out how to work on my writing, as well as organise the rest of my life. I was catching up with friends, exercising. It felt dynamic.
Then my ex came and visited and we had a great catch-up. It was an intense few days, all my attention was focused on him (with a little leftover for the boyfriend). I got sick right away, and fought with the illness, unsuccessfully, for over a week. But since then, I haven’t quite snapped back into place. I still feel physically off, and it’s affected my mood too. A little depressed, frankly. I can feel the edge of it, that slow, open sadness, reminding me of other times in my life I’ve been down, and I wonder where it’s coming from. The season has changed too. It’s dark when I leave work and ride my bike home. There’s less light in the morning. That would have something to do with it.
I wondered last night if there was some disappointment that I have been unable to do what I hoped to do, and wrote about in the last post: write regularly, 1000 words a day. Yesterday, I did word counts on my two books of short stories, and come up with 54,500 and 56,000 words. So, about 2 months of daily writing could produce a manuscript. I don’t actually write like that though. I write short stories, in short bursts, and edit as I go, rather than just produce the work and finally look back at it. If I do want to write a longer work, I perhaps need to change this pattern, just so I can get out some words and ideas. Meanwhile, I managed… oh, dare I admit: once. That’s it. One morning of writing 1,000 words. Of course, there are excuses: the illness, the mood, work is busy. I was thinking of reducing the aim to 500 words (then it’s 4 months of writing…). It also competes with one of my other long-ago set goals, to write a daily journal – which this blog (writing) and my other blog (morning pages, private) help me to do, and which I’ve succeeded not badly in doing – perhaps once a week or more. Life, of course, is the main excuse, as I’ve mentioned a number of times in these entries. Last night, my simple list of things to do included writing. But I got stuck on the vacuuming item of the do list, and when, after five minutes of cleaning my shedding red carpet, the vacuum cleaner made a loud, rattling sound and started to smell of sweet electrical failure, and then did so again after I let it cool (and tried it in a different socket), I got distracted, looked for a warranty, sent an enquiry to the online dealer who I bought it from, and decided I felt annoyed and sluggish and would replant some of my succulents and it would make me feel better. Which it did, but it didn’t help my writing.
The best excuse is that I HAVE been writing. So, it would be ludicrous to berate myself (except I’m doing so now). Work has started in earnest on edits on my poetry manuscript, and the level of editing is far greater than I expected. Which is great, really, since each poem will be all the better. But it’s already an intense process, sending each poem back and forth, up to four times. I’ve generally been spending half an hour to an hour on this each day, so there’s my writing, my thousand words, or equivalent thereof.
The problem is in valuing this work. I get little sparks of excitement that I’ll have my fourth book out by the end of the year, and wondering what it will look like. At the same time, I know the majority of my friends won’t read it, even if I give them a copy! It’s such a small audience. I don’t expect to be a mass author, it’s just that it would be nice if a few more people read poetry, and there would be a bit more understanding and support if I tell people what I’m working on, or of my good news. Rather than that blank “poetry?” look that I can see even if someone manages to recover with a positive expression or word.
Finally, let me remind myself of the continuing cool things about being a writer. An amazing woman just wrote who discovered my writings on my website – a performer/comic/writer who looks at issues of Asian identity and stereotypes. “I think you’re cool,” she said. Which is rather affirming. And another fellow wrote just this morning with an intelligent and substantial response and thanks for one of my other pieces of writing. So there! I say to my self-conscious, negative, worried about achieving, worried about not writing enough self. So there.