On Procrastination

I have been going through a long period of writer's block. I have been strenously busy in other areas of my life, but with writing I have been at the mercy of Procrastination for a while now. I've broken free for small periods of time, but job demands or familial "obligations" have been my excuse for at least a year and a half.
My job has been stressful, but in a mostly positive way. I've been challenged much more than I ever have, and that's invigorating. It's reawakened my interest in architecture. However, it's also been physically demanding. I didn't realize how much until today. I've been planning to take a day off for my "mental health," but not managing to do it. I always feel too guilty. But today I had to take a day off. I've got a bad sore throat and I don't want to inflict it on the portion of the office that hasn't gotten it yet.
The day off, no matter that I must continually dose myself with tea and orange juice, since I'm not properly stocked up on cough drops, has given me a space to reflect. The judgemental among us (me!) might point out that I had exactly the same opportunity yesterday when I was home-bound with the same symptom, but it's not the same. That was The Weekend. Today is a Work Day and I'm not at Work. It's that paradox that allows for unstructured activity and thought.
So, this morning, after blessedly sleeping in, I armed myself with a pot of tea and a book. Except that I couldn't find a novel I wanted to read. So, I picked up the 5 or 6 books on writing that I have in various states of being read. I lay in bed and read selections from these books, sometimes from where the bookmark was, sometimes where a chapter title caught my eye. Then, I read a chapter called "The Myth of Procrastination" in a book called On Writer's Block by Victoria Nelson. A little background on books on writing. Most of them try to demystify writing, present it as a discipline and damned hard work. They are correct. However, it is also an emotional and deeply personal endeavour as well. I expected this chapter to say something along the lines of "sit down and write, it doesn't matter what you write, as long as you do it." It did not. Here is a quote: "Writer's block is far more frequently found in the presence of too much, not too little, will." This was arresting because I have frequently berated myself for lacking the willpower to get past the procrastination. I have successfully applied willpower to other areas of my life. Not success in the sense that it's gotten me what I wanted, though sometimes it has, but success in facing and defeating my fears. I have often been seen as a very aggressive person because of that willpower. So, you might see why that sentance spoke to me.
The author goes on to point out that writer's block is a reaction to the ego's demands. The harder you push, the harder the block becomes. Procrastination, which I have often seen as a beast I must wrestle with, is actually a weapon used against the self. A "failure of self-love, not in discipline."
Since I have been learning about self-love, it is natural then that I must take it that step further. I figured out what I was saying to myself about my appearance and turned it aside. I'm now listening to what I've been saying about my writerly failures, and it's not pretty.
When I took in that idea, that writer's block is not something to be powered through, I suddenly felt it melting away.
The next idea that I found, in the same book, but a chapter before. (I had skipped ahead, but on reading that about procrastination, I went back to where the bookmark was.) The author made an analogy between writing a novel and running a marathon. She said that one could not run a marathon without doing the training (see, we're back to the hard work) and without a fundamental love of running. I think I've been focusing too hard on the end product - a publishable novel - and not enough on the process, which I truely do love, of writing.
An artist once said upon hearing my sad tale of writer's block after successfully completing a novel of 50,000 words, "Ah, yes. Nothing puts up the blocks faster than success." He was right. It changed the rules and put the fear and expectations in a different place.
I now have a plan to regain something I enjoy doing. What results come, we will see. Regardless, I don't deserve the vitriol I pour on my own head.


Experiment in Online Publication

If you remember, a while back I said I submitted a story of a magazine on sci fi cliches and it was rejected. Well, the editor liked one story that didn't fit in with the others, so he paid the authors and posted it on his site.
I thought it was an interesting read, if not exactly to my tastes:
"Who Put the Bomp?" By Nick Mamatas and Eliani Torres


Mushroom Heaven

Grow your own mushroom kit:
A Christmas Present

100 Hail Sonys

It's official. Television is a religion and now they even have rosary beads.
Take a look at this fascinating remote control device.


My Life, As Usual

And now it's nearly 11 pm and I'm still trying to break myself of the night owl habits darn it. I worked until very late last night and woke up tired. I thought, "oh, it'll be easy to get to bed tonight." I even repeated this thought when I was driving home from tai chi class. Then I turned on the BSG season one DVD that I got over the weekend and listened to the commentary while I made my patented beef and mushroom soup. I blogged for a while while eating the soup (which turned out extremely well) and now I'm not fracking tired!
[sigh] So irritating.


Well, my little notebook plan has worked so far.
I woke up with pain in my legs -- nothing to worry about, just that pain that comes from being in one position too long -- and so I moved about, as I often do, to relieve the pain. The cats were very intelligently lying on the other side of the bed, not near my legs, as they usually were.
I immediately thought "I wonder if it's bad circulation that creates that pain?" I put it together with another experience of bad circulation and thought it might be something to write about. The other experience is actually a series of observations. I've noticed that when my fingers get cold, usually when I'm driving at night in the winter, the tips get numb. Just recently, I actually saw them and they were scarily white.
So, I put these circulation related items together and thought I could write about it. I don't know WHY, but I think that'd be asking a bit much, don't you think? ;)

Edited to Add: In response to urging to consult a doctor, I did look this issue up on WebMD. The symptoms sound exactly like Raynaud's Phenomenon. It seems to be non-life threatening, especially in the absence of other symptoms. I will mention it to the doctor, but am not planning to make a special trip. :)


The Difficulty with Blogging

I know I've complained about this before, but I'll say it again.
It's difficult to maintain a thoughtful blog while working full time. I have great ideas for what to write about, usually in the morning while getting ready for work, but by lunchtime I've forgotten the idea. I can take mini breaks during work to read a little here or there, but to compose a blog post, I need at least half an hour and the first opportunity for that is lunch. There are two alternatives - carry a little notebook and write down the basic idea, hoping I wouldn't lose too much of the content before lunch, or get up early so I have half an hour between getting ready and when I have to leave. At this latter idea, I laugh heartily. I'm a night owl by nature, so I'm lucky to get to work on time, much less get up early. I'm going to have to try the first idea.
Why don't I blog at night? Good question. I've come to the conclusion lately that one only gets a finite amount of brain power per day. Some have a lot, some a little. Lately work has been consuming an awful lot of my quota and it's tough to even get household chores done. It doesn't help that I've been getting home at 8 for the last week, between tai chi classes and grocery shopping (a major excursion, admittedly). I wanted to get the house shipshape this week so I can move forward on getting more writing done. Hasn't happened. I had a rough day on Wednesday, after which I opened a bottle of Gew├╝rztraminer and ate guacamole with Fritos and fresh mozzarella with bread while watching TV.
If I'm going to get anywhere on my writing career, I'm going to have to find a way to solve this emotionally drained feeling I've been getting lately after work.
(And it appears I found something to write about after all.)
Fight the Apathy!



Here lies much silliness:
Hard SF Take on a Moon Made of Cheese

I just watched the season premiere of what may be the best show ever: Battlestar Galactica (new version, of course). I had forgot how thrilling it is and how well written. Every two minutes there seems to be a new dilemma that you can't imagine how they'll solve. I would follow Edward James Olmos anywhere. Tricia Helfer plays the Cylon temptress and also does a superb job playing a tortured prisoner.

I watched a little of Stargate: Atlantis, which doesn't really turn my crank (too self-conscious). Mainly I was looking for the "next week" promo because Connor Trinneer (a very good actor from Enterprise) is supposed to have a guest role -- well, I thought it was next week, but on reflection, I think it's in February. Anyway, I had forgotten there's a delightful Scotsman (the actor is, I believe, Scots-Canadian) in a secondary part. Yummy accent!


Good times for TV

I used to despair of ever finding good TV shows. It seemed like every show that I liked was cancelled shortly into the first season. I'm thinking "Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992)," "Brisco County, Jr. (1993)," "Due South (1994)," "Space: Above and Beyond (1995)," "Legend (1995)," "Strange Luck (1995)," "Pretender (1996)," "Sports Night (1998)" and "Firefly (2002)." (Those last two I only *really* got to know and miss on DVD.) Other shows I never really got to get to know: "Covington Cross (1992)," "Roar (1997)," "Magnificent Seven (1998)," "Now and Again (1999)," "John Doe (2002)," and "Blind Justice (2005)."

NOW there is so much good TV on. Why? I have no idea. My favorite shows:
"Medium," "Prison Break," "Without a Trace," and "Battlestar Galactica". All are wonderfully written in character or plot or both. "Lost" is also very intriguing, but is losing a little ground lately. Maybe because I missed a few episodes.
And all of these are popular shows in no danger of being cancelled.
I think the turning point was when I got hooked on "West Wing" (lost a little interest in the last couple years, because I couldn't watch consistently one season). It was good *and* popular.

So I'm enjoying it while it lasts. :)

Unrelated aside: I need an automated house so I can fulfill my real purpose in life - providing a lap for my cats. Maybe a little robot designed to retrieve the remote or get snacks from the kitchen. Somebody work on that.

Inaugeral Mix

I figured that since the Kitchen Aide mixer I grew up with got so much use while making chocolate chip cookies, it would only be fitting that the new mixer begin its career doing the same.