(Note: the following is adapted from an email I sent a friend on Tuesday, but I felt like it expressed well where I’m at, and where I’m headed for a bit.)
I seem to be getting to that point of “too many things on my plate” where I need to stop everything, step back, and get things in order. There seem to be a few different levels of trying to do too much that I find myself in.
Well, actually there’s the “trying to do only as much as is reasonable” thing – I tried that for a while, but since I never seem to be able to do everything I plan to do, that’s just disappointing. Not stressful at all, very relaxed, doesn’t take much, if any, effort, but the results are … only reasonable. Not great.
Then there’s “a few too many things” which is fine, almost stress-free, since it has that natural “it’s okay if I don’t do everything” built into it, and then I get a very reasonable amount of things done. Well, reasonable for people who aren’t Teel. I feel like I could do better than this when I work at this level.
Then there’s “way too many things” – somewhere around trying to write a book every month and still go out with friends and/or family three to four nights a week and work a full time job and have a (romantic-type) relationship as well. Very do-able. A little stressful, but just enough pressure that I
come into focus as deadlines approach – like being able to finish Book Two over three long days after spending two months making slow progress. I was running at about that level from probably October through February. I get a lot more done than normal people would believe possible, even though I don’t get as much done as I was aiming for. This is my preferred level to be at, trying to do several times as much stuff as seems reasonable.
And then there’s where I seem to be lately. Not sure how to refer to it, but it’s like I had as much stuff I was trying to do as “way too many things” and then through March and April and now May I’ve just kept adding things and adding things without taking anything away. Trying to write two novels by the end of the month, plus trying to paint a couple of paintings, work on a comic/graphic novel, upgrade my website, workout an hour or two every day, trying to get a higher-paying job, learn two programming languages (one for personal use on the next item, one for the previous item), trying to code a couple pieces of Mac OS X software I’ve had brewing in my mind, reading two or more books a month, trying to get things together to and begin to learning Japanese again, and all this on top of going to Willow House Mondays & Wednesdays, going to the movies on the weekends, and the increasingly common spending almost all day Sunday ‘socially’ with my family. It’s like … I don’t know, but it’s started to fall apart.
I haven’t been writing, I’ve been lax in my exercising (doing only ~150 crunches instead of the 500+ I determined were necessary to make real progress, and skipping two or three days a week), I can’t seem to concentrate or make plans … I didn’t even go watch any movies this weekend. None. My dad was in town, we spent most of the day Saturday tearing apart and insulating the West wall of the house. East wall this weekend, maybe South, too. It’s always a project when he’s around. My only free time seems to be before and after work on weekdays, but I can’t get my mind corralled enough to get anything accomplished. I haven’t even been ironing. So.
I’m trying to wrap up the projects I can reasonably wrap up and postpone the ones I can postpone without giving up on them completely, trying to clear my plate and give myself some breathing room and then re-build a plan from scratch. Something between a few too many and way too many things, probably. And I’m sure a little social life will be able to fit in there somewhere.
Since I wrote that, I’ve wrapped up dealing emotionally with Jennifer, which – though I didn’t mention it above – takes a load off. She can remain a living corpse in her fantasy world, eternally tortured by her prince. I’ve returned to the outside world. If she ever resolves to seek freedom, my door is always open to her, but I’m not going back into that shadow play – I’m not the one who’s drowning.
I also did my ironing tonight. Which is good. And after getting a heads-up from my boss that she knows I haven’t been applying myself at work, I’ve begun to get back in form there. I have no clue whether I’ll get the job I interviewed for last week, but regardless of that, I need to do good work at whatever job I’m doing. If I can get a few minutes of her time, I’m going to ask my boss to put me back on four 10s again, suggesting that it will help improve my productivity (it will, if I feel I’m getting ‘enough’ done on my days off.)
That whole message was part of an email exchange where we were discussing the end of regular meetings at the Willow House – I admit it would have been better to get to this point three months ago, but I’ve began to reach a point a couple of weeks ago where each meeting made less sense than the last. It’s usually just Pat and I by the time I get there, and Pat hasn’t written much of anything (that I know of) in six months, and I only seem to be able to write at the meetings when … well, when it’s not a meeting, when I’m alone or we’re ignoring each other… Which is not to say that Pat hasn’t given me valuable feedback on my writing, especially in February and March when I needed it most, nor that I feel I have been totally useless for trying to help her get things in order to write… Just that … yeah, I stopped going a week and a half ago, part of the stopping I wrote about, to step back and see whether I ought to be going. I discovered that the things that the people I’ve been meeting with hate or dislike about the Willow House are things I either really like or am oblivious to. For example, I appreciate the bulk of the open mic night musicians, and almost never notice cigarette smoke unless I’m downwind of particular brands. So, depending on how things go, I may go back time and again, but … not for the old reasons, or out of habit.
Though I have resolved to find a library or book store I like and am comfortable in, perhaps to write. I shall see if the County library around the corner that I spent so many happy hours of my youth in is reasonable anymore – they’ve changed a lot of things since I spent much time there. I’d like to write and/or research while ensconced in a world of books. If that and the Mesquite branch of the Phoenix library don’t work, perhaps a BN or Borders with a cafe – they won’t notice if I rarely buy the books I’m reading through, right? If my local Starbucks had free internet access and/or thousands of books, I’d keep going there, and perhaps I’ll keep going there to work on fiction, but … I’ll have to see. I think I’ll head down to the County library before work tomorrow morning.
Postponed projects include: The sin eater novel, the graphic novel, the diet book, and Untrue Tales Book Three. I’m going to work on making the diet book more narrative, AND more choose-your-own-path. It should only be a month or two before it goes Beta. I’m thinking of turning the graphic novel into a ‘novel with illustrations’ or dropping it altogether. That’s a long, long, long term project. Okay, not so long. Perhaps I’ll have a good start on it by the end of the year. The sin eater novel is already 15%-20% done, I expect to be able to finish it as soon as my mind and time get back in order, though edits may take longer than usual on that one. Untrue Tales Book Three should be a quick write, though I’m planning on reading Books 1 & 2 before I write it, and I’ll need some long, free days to work on it. Think ten, twelve, or fourteen hours of nearly-continuously writing. Book Three is a story I have been telling versions of since I was twelve years old; it will come out FAST. I still expect it to be in print by “Summer 2005” though that’s just as vague as when I put it in the ads.
I’m going to try to paint two new paintings soon. Someone half-commissioned them months ago, and was nagging me about not working on them the other night. I’ll go ahead and get them done, then see if they still want to buy them. I have a couple of ideas. It’ll be nice to do some art, after so long without. No real deadlines, no goals, just … work on painting. Last year I set the bar at 24 (expecting 12 was reasonable) new works of art, and produced 14. Four paintings, one sculpture, four t-shirt designs, and five pieces of natural-form furniture. Plus countless unfinished projects. This year, I don’t care how much I do, as long as it makes me happy.
I ought to be sleeping. Obivously, I’ll write more later. Sorry if it’s been too much, lately. I keep trying to tell you I’m a writer.