For a long time, one of my bylines (in addition to small hard details like rock candy) was, “Be prolific, not perfect.”
I gravitated towards the desire to be prolific and not perfect because my perfectionism was not doing me any favors with my writing.
I have since come to accept the desire to be prolific is/was also not doing me any favors.
I have fatigue from chronic insomnia all day every day. There are multiple things I’m told to prioritize by well meaning people in my life: my diet, my health, my movement, my living space, and more, but the reality is, I’m one person who frequently can’t make it throughout the day.
I don’t know if you struggle with fatigue. If you aren’t, imagine that you are as tired as when you went to bed, and that feeling never fades. It doesn’t matter how much coffee you drink. It doesn’t matter if you drag yourself out for a walk. You are so tired, you call fall asleep.
Then insomnia is being that tired, making it through until bed time, and either being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep.
So, if you are also lucky not to be cursed with insomnia, that hour or so you experience before bed, is my every day life with no reprieve.
Because on the few days I do get a good night’s sleep, my body just wants more of it.
I’ve decided, for so long, that I’m going to just power through, that I haven’t learned to accept that I am going to be tired all the time. And that reality comes with deciding what gets sacrificed. The day job, the main battery hog, can’t get sacrificed. At the end of the day, I’ll need to decide between chores, between eating, between derby/movement, and yes, between writing. And writing won’t always win out, and that’s okay. I greatly admire people who can seemingly write without flagging even with their day jobs, but I’m not one of those people, and I need to stop trying to bed.
I don’t know what my new byline will be. Maybe I don’t need one.
I’ve been writing off and on for about a decade. I have two short stories published, two novel length texts in need of editing and some decision making times about what to do with them, and a novella on submission that’s been rejected once or twice, and has been with a pretty major publication for 1.5 years.
I’m going to need to get two tattoos for that rejection when it finally comes around.
It’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which means the pressure to perform, to write, is extra high. I’ve noticed that I almost always completely check out during November, even though I wrote one of my novel length texts in November of 2020. For NaNoWriMo even. I mean, I had to take a week off work to do it, but you know. I did it.
I’ve never understood NaNoWriMo. It’s literally the worst month for a project of this magnitude. Not only is there a pretty popular holiday in the third quarter of the month, did any of the people who came up with NaNoWriMo work retail? Like, November is the month where things start to ramp up. Most times I tried to do NaNoWriMo I was getting burned out from my day job than trying to write 1667 words a day.
And for people who know that a 50,000 word novel isn’t really a novel in industry terms–some of those people are churning out a 90k-100k novel during this month. That’s what I did in 2020. And it was one of the hardest things I ever done. I don’t think it’s a surprise that 2020 was the last year I made substantive inroads in my writing. 2021 and 2022 have been pretty barren in comparison.
I know there are people in all walks of life who can do it, but I have never been able to. On top of the job, I also struggle with fatigue and insomnia issues, and I probably also have some form of OCD which, as everyone knows, is exhausting even when it’s not actively making it impossible for me to make a sandwich. Since I like having a place to live, the day job always gets first dibs on my energy. If I have any left over, it’s usually taken up by other stuff that needs doing like making sure those bills are paid, the house isn’t a death trap of undone chores, etc.
By the time November comes around, it’s just another reminder of how bad I am at writing every day, like I’m supposed to do, because you can’t be a writer if you don’t finish anything, and the best way to finish anything is to write every day, right??
November, more than any month, makes me question if I can actually do this.
So this year, instead of setting myself up for the inevitable NaNoWriMo failure, I just said, You don’t have to do it.
And I didn’t.
Now I’m thinking more long term about what I want to do, and more importantly, how I want to do it. Everything I learn about the industry is incredibly discouraging. I mean, how else am I supposed to take a novella that’s been waiting for a single publishing house to read it for over 500 days? Their submission guidelines still provide a 9 month timeline for submissions.
Self publishing is at least on your timeline. But then you’re running a business (and yes, you need a business to keep it all above board), and that’s on top of your full time job.
I still haven’t decided what I want to do in that arena, but I have decided that I miss writing (which is a big deal!), and I want to do it again in a sustainable way.
I’m going to try a seasonable approach to writing that I’m extremely excited for.
From Winter Solstice 2022 through the Spring Equinox of 2023, I’m going to focus on strategizing: this will include plotting out what I want to accomplish for the year, plotting out individual novels, novellas, and/or anthologies. It will also include doing market research both for agents, publishing houses that will accept submissions without an agent, and also learning more about an LLC in the context of a writer. If I had anything to submit, it’d happen during this period, or I would make note of guidelines throughout the year that I would be appropriate to submit then.
From Spring Equinox to the Summer Solstice, I’ll focus on the actual writing. There won’t be any looking back, no editing, no self doubts.
From Summer Solstice to the Fall Equinox, I’d focus on editing what I wrote in the summer.
And from Fall Equinox to Winter Solstice, I’d give myself permission to rest. Nothing. No writing, no editing. Permission to not even think about writing.I’m also going to be following the lunar calendar. As the moon wanes from new to full, my efforts will be at its maximum. As it waxes from full to new, I’ll wind down so I’m ready for a full push next new moon. New Moon will always be a rest day. Full moon will always be a work day.
My starting goal for full effort will be 15 minutes. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but I feel even on my worst days, I can make time for 15 minutes of planning, writing, and editing. I have to plan for my worst day, not my best day.
This is extremely structured, follows a cycle that’s familiar since it’s based on the seasons (despite how hard capitalism tries to convince us seasons don’t exist, and we are not part of the earth), and furthermore, allows me to rest so I don’t burn out. It also avoids the write every day rhetoric that is so pervasive in writer spaces because that just does not work for everybody, it doesn’t.
I’ve tried to do something like this before, but I think I’m in a much better place than I was then (which was when I was living with my roommate who, if this is your first blog entry I’m reading, was likely poisoning me unintentionally).
Did you decide to do NaNoWriMo this year? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep working on something you love?
They said, You’re vaxxed? Boosted? You won’t get Covid. Probably.
They said, Stop worrying so much. You can’t just stop living your life.
They said, C’mon. You’re wearing a mask the chances you’re gonna get covid are small.
But the thing is.
I did get Covid.
Most likely on the flight home from my grandmother’s funeral. I was the only one in my little area of plane wearing a mask, and it was a five hour flight…then an hour flight. Lots of time to get Covid.
I wondered if going to a grandmother’s funeral counted as a reasonable excuse to travel. Had I given up, breaking my no travel rule? I guess, if I had to get Covid anywhere, it was appropriate I got it doing something for her, in her memory. She had scoffed at the Covid prevention policies last time we spoke. It was another thing to add to the list of things we couldn’t talk about.
I wore one of those silicone braces, for a tighter seal, against my black k-95 mask so I looked extra silly. Even at the funeral, where I was the only one wearing a mask, I got double takes. A family member said they would tell me I looked well, if only they could see my face.
But I got Covid anyway, despite the mask and the four total shots I’ve had and traveling when my bivalent booster should have been at its strongest.
Suddenly, everybody telling me I wouldn’t get Covid (probably) changed their position to, You won’t get Long Covid. Probably.
I’ve been very frank about my ill health as of late. Gut problems, probably from all the trauma and the stress of, you know. Being in a pandemic for nearly three years.
It could have also been caused by relentless dieting. Or that time my roommate poisoned me.
That’s unkind. She didn’t do it on purpose. Probably. But how else can I contextualize a roommate who failed to wash their hands after going to the bathroom, after scooping cat litter, or before preparing food? That she then fed to me? Obviously, I didn’t find out about the hygiene (or lack thereof) until much, much later. And then I moved out. But my gut hasn’t been the same since.
I am a worrier, though. That’s the kind way to put it. Some might even say, hypochondriac. It’s hard to take me seriously because I’m the kind of person who texts my dad to see if he thinks pre-cooked, vacuum sealed meat that’s still within the expiration date is good because it’s been “in the fridge too long.” Should I have put it in the freezer? The package didn’t say to put it in the freezer. What if I should have? Was that something I should have known to do?
I am exhausting to be around. I exhaust myself with my brain worms that never, ever shut up.
My worries about Covid was just me being me. Worry wort. Anal. OCD.
They said, You don’t have comorbidities you’ll be fine.
That we know of.
I haven’t been to the doctor in a while because they keep telling me my ailments are caused by fatness, but I can’t seem to lose weight, so I won’t go until I do lose weight and they’ll be forced to listen to me for once (real logical, I know). The only thing I know about my health is sometimes I can’t stop pooing, and that I’m tired all the time, but every time I try to exercise, I can’t stop pooing.
I may have taken advantage of my weight when it got me earlier access to the vaccine when it was first released, and everybody was like, maybe this can be over soon. What can I say? I’m only human.
I’m 220 lbs in a 5’3 body. Do you know how many times ailments are missed in fat people because the doctors think fat is always to blame? Apparently, my fat makes me ill but the same body in the Covid Pandemic is perfectly fine and you won’t get Covid (probably) because you’re healthy and young. It’s almost like, it’s not actually about the medicine.
They kept saying, during the Covid Pandemic, we really need to take care of this obesity epidemic!
If I sneeze on you, are you going to catch my fat?
My grandmother died. I didn’t want to go to the funeral.
It wasn’t just because she pretended things about myself she didn’t like didn’t exist. It wasn’t just because I had to listen Rush Limbaugh every time I went to her house because She Was That Kind Of Person.
But what if — what if she had changed. What if — the family who I felt never “saw” me for the person I am— who only saw the parts of me that were — had changed — just like I had? Should I not give them a chance instead of remembering them for their worst selves?
(Spoiler Alert — they haven’t changed. According to the preacher at the service, I’m going to hell and facing all of God’s wrath because I had the audacity to reject his love. Yay I’m so glad I crossed the country during a pandemic for my grandmother’s funeral to hear that old chestnut.)
My mask protected me in this way too: when everybody sang hymns that had been bird-vomited into my mouth since infancy, I did not even have to pretend to sing.
Because they could not see my face.
I texted a friend: If I get Covid on this trip, I’m going to be so pissed.
I will never stop wearing my mask. I wear it to the grocery store. I wear it for food pickup when the OCD is too much to cook. I wear it during roller derby practice (when I am feeling well enough to go), and that was a two hour cardiovascular activity in the height of summer. I wear it all the time, even when most people around me don’t.
Back in the spring, I decided to risk a work trip because there was a mask mandate. A week before my flight was scheduled to take off, the travel mask mandates were lifted. I was devastated. I was afraid. I was told not to worry. I went anyway because sometimes I can’t tell if I’m worrying about something valid or something a brain worm thinks is a threat.
I was afraid of Long Covid, because I cannot risk being more tired than I already am on any given day. I nap through lunch more frequently than I care to admit to make it through my shift.
I don’t know what not being tired feels like.
By some miracle, I didn’t get Covid on that trip, even though a lot of other people did.
I know I didn’t get Covid because I took a PCR test a few days after I got home, and it was negative.
Did you know not an insignificant amount of cases for Covid are asymptomatic, but you can still spread the disease, and it can still cause complications later on in the form of Long Covid? How is that not terrifying to people?
People told me, you were fine then, you’ll be fine now.
There’s another work trip coming up in winter. People are surprised I’m not going.
That everything would be fine wasn’t the message I got from that first trip. I buttoned down even tighter with a new no travel rule. I couldn’t do anything else because I was already avoiding spreader events, crowds (indoor and outdoor), indoor dining, and so on. What more can a person do, huh?
Break their no travel rule, go to their grandma’s funeral, and get Covid apparently.
Alright. Okay. I gotta come clean. A few days before the funeral, I did go see Moulin Rouge because my dad took me to see it, and I really wanted to see it with my dad. Seeing shows together is our thing. But I wore a mask when I did, and my dad wore one too because he knew how important it was to me and because he wears his in a crowd. And we both didn’t get Covid that time. We took at home rapids the morning we left for the funeral, so we knew we were fine.
I’m learning more about disability justice. I’m reading more about how post viral issues aren’t new with Covid — we’ve always had them, and we’ve always shrugged our shoulders at them as a society.
Why don’t we care more for our sick?
I am pre-occupied with the idea of being perfect. It’s another brain worm. For me (but not for anybody else), anything less than 100% on anything graded, analyzed, or reviewed is Not Good Enough and may as well be an F as in fuck you, you lazy, stupid piece of shit.
My brain worms whisper: Getting Covid is a big, fat F. Moral failure. Physical failure. Ethical failure. Couldn’t even get an A+ in surviving a Pandemic. What a fucking idiot.
Over a million people have died from Covid, and they’re still dying.
They said, the Pandemic is over, but I think I missed the memo. Pfizer is already talking about how much they’ll charge for the vaccine when the gov’t stops purchasing it.
Can you imagine profiting off of illness? Off of sickness? Doesn’t it make you ill we live in a society where that’s not only allowed but encouraged?
I got what I needed from the funeral: there’s no need to regret what could have been because some people aren’t gonna change.
I would have preferred not to have gotten Covid getting that closure but like the song says….you don’t always get what you want.
I’m actually the first person in my family to get a Covid diagnosis, even though I’m the most careful. One of my child parts wailed at the unfairness of it all.
I decided to get tested because I had been traveling, and it was the responsible thing to do, although I almost didn’t go because I was so tired that day. I was fully expecting a negative result. I had already taken two at home rapids and they were negative (check those expiration dates, folks! mine were two months expired, which I found after trying to figure out why my PCR was positive but my rapids negative).
I told myself I should be responsible and test with a PCR which is more accurate than a rapid.
When I saw that positive result, lots of thoughts went through me, none of them nice, charitable, or even neutral. Why couldn’t I be someone who gets their diagnosis and be like, welp that finally happened.
Because someone who didn’t wear their mask gave me Covid, even though I was doing everything humanly possible not to get it and not to spread it.
How is that fair?
Then I remembered the short little trips I made (while unknowingly sick with Covid) when I got home: quick runs to the grocery store, the bakery, the liquor store, the coffee shop. I calculated how long each trip had taken. Within fifteen minutes. I was wearing my mask the entire time. As usual, I was the only one masked.
Hey. Wait a minute.
For the first time in this entire pandemic, I felt relieved that everybody had stopped giving a shit, because that meant I didn’t have to give a shit either. I was finally released from my burden, from my fear I had given it to somebody.
Well, for a few minutes at least.
I’m only human. Sometimes I’m a hypocrite. I’m not proud thinking that, in that moment.
The only symptom I had was fatigue.
But I am always tired. I am always exhausted. I am always fatigued. It was only more because of the trip, which was one of the hardest trips ever, and put me through the emotional wringer. I was sleeping in the day after I made those errands, but that’s not unusual, not for me. The need to do so happens so frequently I failed to recognize it as a symptom.
How many other people didn’t realize they had Covid as they spread it?
The person who gave it to me, maskless, on the plane probably didn’t realize they were sick.
And if they did and traveled anyway? Man, I really hope people aren’t doing that but because everyone has moved on, and Covid isn’t a legitimate excuse to get plane tickets refunded…it’s not like they make it easy or convenient to stay safe, right?
Guilt for my errands still whispers in my heart. Anger that I didn’t know I had it returns in increasingly ebbing waves.
Frustration that my mild case will only reaffirm cavalier attitudes towards Covid is ever present.
Sonja had it and they were fine. Covid’s not a big deal if you’re vaxxed, boosted, and healthy.
What about everybody else? Not having a bad case of Covid felt like a slap in their face. Disrespectful to the dead. Not being a lesson to be learned felt like a moral failing on my part.
These are the brain worms talking.
I have to remind myself that Covid isn’t a metaphor for my life, and that it’s a thing that happened to me. That’s it. The chances I’ve had it before and didn’t realize are probably higher than I think they are.
You can’t control disease. You can’t control how you’ll react to a virus. Or if you’ll get a post viral syndrome afterwards.
My friend reminded me of this when I told them I never should have gone to the funeral. Reminded me that we look for ways to imagine we have control. My brain worms try to tell a story, casting me in different roles so it makes sense, so it’s fair.
My non expired rapid tests are showing negative, but I’m afraid there’s a ticking time bomb in my body called Long Covid. I am afraid I will not be able to work if I have Long Covid.
The prevailing rhetoric around masks is that it’s a matter of perspective. People should do what feels right and what they’re comfortable with.
But this concept falls apart when it comes to public health, and it always has. People have accepted this for many other aspects of their lives — except when it comes to Covid, which is just wild to me.
Smoking areas have been significantly legislated to minimize exposure to second hand smoke because it’s now well known that second hand smoke can inflict health issues on non smoking bystanders. Why should they suffer because of someone else’s decisions?
Similarly, I think most people are expecting that food they’re served was made safely. Meat was safely dethawed, hands were washed prior to cooking and serving it. Is it a matter of perspective when you’re shitting your guts out because somebody accidentally poisoned you because washing their hands is about their personal choice? See, that story with my roommate had a point.
Even before Covid, people complained about people who didn’t cover their mouths right when coughing or sneezing because they didn’t want to get sick. Remember use the elbow posters? A shocking concept, I know.
Yet when it comes to Covid, this concept goes out the window.
The decision to wear a mask does not just affect you.
It affects you and everyone around you.
“Just a cold” can mean a lot of different things to different people. What might be just a cold for you can kill or disable the person next to you.
There seems to be this preconception from people who don’t mask that the people who are still masking are perfectly content with the way things are.
I can assure you, we are not. I am just as tired of Covid and the endless precautions as the person who has abandoned wearing their mask. I am just as tired as hearing about the new variants as the person who has decided the pandemic is over, and it won’t be a big deal, and can we please talk about something else for a change. But — I’m also tired of how people have stopped caring. How they have given up.
I am ready to get back to living my life, but I cannot, because people are pretending this is over when it’s not, which is causing more variants, and dragging this out for who knows how many years. When the government has decided that the economy has taken enough of a toll so let’s just say it’s over so everybody can get back to work to line the pockets of millionaires and billionaires.
We only have ourselves. We only have our family. We only have our neighbor. We only have that random stranger beside us on the plane. Yes, I’m talking to YOU anonymous, maskless person who gave me Covid — I had your back, why didn’t you have mine?
For every person who says they would rather die (from Covid) than stop living their lives — you are actively keeping people from living their lives.
There are people who have illnesses and comorbidities whose lives would be devastated if they caught Covid. There are people who don’t want to risk their health or the health of their loved ones. You are saying that you would rather live your life unencumbered by a simple cloth, than make an accommodation so they can leave their house and join you? Really? Isn’t that lonely — for everybody?
I’ve been accused of invalidating people’s feelings when I point this out. But I do respect their feelings. I know they’re tired, and I’m tired too. Wearing a mask is uncomfortable and frustrating, but we do uncomfortable and frustrating things every day — or is my forty hour a week grind for funsies instead of for surviving?
Feelings are different from actions. Feelings are valid, but judging whether an action is valid or not is reductive. An action is tangible. Concrete. An action can help, it can be neutral, or it can harm.
This is just to say, it’s valid to feel anger when someone ate the plums in the icebox you were saving for breakfast. Choosing how to action on those feelings is way more complicated than “valid.”
Choosing not to wear a mask is an action that actively causes harm, even though your feelings about the pandemic are valid, your frustration is valid. Not wearing a mask says you are perfectly okay with giving Covid to other people — people who could die from it, or be disabled from it, or, luckily, be fine from it.
Thanks for that, Person on the Plane Who Wasn’t Wearing Their Mask Who Gave Me Covid Without Having Any Idea How I’d React To It. I’m really glad I didn’t like, die or have to go to the hospital, or something like that. Was everyone else you came in contact with as lucky as me? Guess we’ll never know.
Too soon to know about the Long Covid, though. That’s the bitch of it all, am I right?
You may say, I won’t go out when I’m sick.
But what if you don’t even know you are sick? What then?
You may say, well people who are at risk shouldn’t go out. What happened to the concept of living? Are only the healthiest of the healthy supposed to go outside, go to the movies, go to the sports game? I will be deeply grieved if people truly think that.
Do you really think health is a simple equation where if you’re healthy you’ll be fine and if you’re not too bad? Diseases can’t be predicted like that, and Covid, especially, is unpredictable.
I am grateful that my case of Covid was literally a best case scenario, especially considering my ill health, at least for now. I believe being vaccinated to the max plus consistently wearing my mask protected me significantly, even though I still became infected.
Wearing a mask would do so much for society, outside the bounds of Covid 19. People who have health issues where any kind of illness puts them at risk and keeps them housebound would be able to participate in their community more. Fewer people would become sick and suffer complications from those illnesses.
Even if you are the only person in the room wearing a mask, and you don’t want to be the weird one, the one people are laughing at behind their hands, don’t succumb to the peer pressure. Wear the mask. Even if it doesn’t protect you 100%, it might reduce the severity of your illness. And it communicates something to those watching.
It says that you still give a shit, and that means something.
The only people we have is us, and we have to take care of us because we are the only ones who can step up to the plate and dance like our lives depend on it — because our lives do depend on it.
To the inevitable person who is going to crossly mention that even if the person who gave me Covid had been wearing a mask there’s no guarantee I wouldn’t have been infected anyway —
Then at least we were all doing the best we could. We can’t choose to get Covid, but we can still choose how we act in the face of Covid. We can choose to wear the mask, knowing we have done everything humanly possible to keep ourselves and the people around us safe.
In my case, they had stopped trying, they had given up. I and who knows how many others paid the price…just like the person who gave it to me originally paid the price because another (probably) unmasked somebody gave it to them…and on, and on, and on.
Yes, I joined a roller derby team! It’s been something I’ve wanted to do every since I saw Whip It well over a decade ago.
So why did it take so long?
Because I truly believed I could not do it.
My twenties and early thirties were rough. In my twenties I was recovering from my childhood, a bad marriage, living paycheck to paycheck, and then moving to a brand new state where I found financial security but then also collided with another bad relationship that I’m still suffering the physical toll of.
My childhood instilled in me a deep dislike of exercise, creating a disconnection between my self and my body. Exercise reminds me I have a body which is….distasteful. This disconnect was created by various factors: physical “discipline,” becoming my mom’s best friend, the obsession with weight loss. Exercise was never done for the simple joy of it. My body remembers more pain than it does love.
These factors created an expectation of perfection. Mom icing out adult acquaintances as they cycled through our lives for disappointing her eventually extended to me as I also grew up into an adult and inevitably did the same with some of my decisions. Now I have a incredibly hard time not being good at something–or being good as someone. My back stiffens. My internal walls go up. In the past, I avoided anything that caused me this discomfort until I knew the time was right. Spoiler alert…the time never became right, and I drifted through my young adult life not doing things for fear of failure and disappointment, instead of embracing the possibility of joy.
In some ways, joining the derby team was one of the bravest thing I’ve ever done, but it constantly exposes me to this discomfort. Taking up space, getting a drill wrong is abhorrent. Having a more experienced skater suggest holding hands because that’s how they learned is unthinkable because I don’t want them to reject me for being a lost cause when I still won’t be able to get it even with their help.
Also, I can’t stand to be touched. Joining a full contact sport makes perfect sense — from a certain point of view.
In skating, it’s not really about your feet or what they’re doing. It’s about the movement. A transition needs to start at your head, and then your shoulders, and then your hips, and then your feet. But I’m someone who sees their body as unwanted and troublesome parts, not as a cohesive whole. Learning to integrate my intention and my body is essential, and skating is a great sport to teach that–but it’s hard and uncomfortable.
That’s not even getting into the other health issues: the insomnia, the gut problems.
The gut issues were officially diagnosed (after three doctors and a three month wait for a gut specialist) as “stress.” However, I later learned my roommate was not in the habit of washing her hands even after going to the bathroom, and my issues started shortly after we had an arrangement where I grocery shopped and she cooked. It wasn’t just my roommate though, easy as it is to blame her. I was also on the keto diet, a diet that is notoriously hard on the body and really shouldn’t be used unless medically necessary. No matter the reason, my gut hasn’t been the same since, though it has improved to a manageable level.
Insomnia, as most people know, just makes everything worse.
Derby triggered a lot of insomnia, and a lot of gut issues. Bad gut days on practice days became infuriatingly common. If I could go to practice, I spent my nights on the toilet in the days after.
But still I tried. I didn’t want to wait until I was “better” because I truly don’t think I will ever be better. Also, I had already recognized that “waiting” was a maladaptive strategy that used to keep me safe but isn’t needed anymore. Anyway, the gut-insomnia cycle is self sustaining, and it made participating in derby extremely difficult. I still don’t know how to let my body know that derby is a safe place, and that we need this.
I haven’t been to practice in so long. I miss it, and I miss my teammates.
If you are looking for a new sport or new experience or a new way to make friends, I do recommend joining derby. Many teams are rebuilding due to the pandemic, and the vibe in derby, at least on my team, is just so good. It’s very queer friendly, and my particular team is very welcoming to new skaters, even if the first practice is your first time lacing up skates. Even if you don’t skate, there is a place for you as a non skating official (NSO) and other volunteer opportunities. For a physical sport, it is very friendly to disabled skaters or people who can’t or just don’t want to skate for whatever reason.
As part of my healing journey and/or practice, I am trying to celebrate things more often. The focus is to create more good memories.
Though I don’t have the energy to celebrate Halloween (this October has been a month, ya’ll), I did take a moment to celebrate one of the novels I finished (back in 2020 oops) and my birthday.
I’ve been getting tattoos celebrating finished writing projects for a while now, but I’m trying to get them in a more timely fashion. Unfortunately, the novel is not editing because editing my own novels scares me, even though I’ve done editing work on Upwork and honestly have a pretty high rating there.
My second celebration was my birthday. My grandma died the week before my birthday, so I didn’t pick up the cake featured until I was back from the funeral in October. And then I wondered, is there anything stopping me from celebrating my birthday on Halloween? So I’m going to try that next year.
An image of my sphynx cat, Sayre. He’s peach colored, and sleeping in a blue blanket with one paw outstretched and the other curled close to his chest. He has an orangish nose. Beside him is the book “Nona the Ninth” by Tamsyn Muir. Its predecessor, “Harrow the Ninth” is in the background beside a purple and teal plaid blanket.
I’m always hesitant to restart this thing because so many presenters at writing conferences are like, if you have a blog, you have to be consistent! But who can be consistent in times like these, I ask?
Ignoring the state of the world (pandemic….you’re still here??? why–rhetorical question, we know why), this has been quite the year for me:
Promotion at work
Cross country move say what. I like my new location way better.
I joined a derby team — but I’m a very slow learner combined with some health issues so it has been Hard for me
I’ve had a novella out to a pretty major publishing company for almost a year and a half. 495 days to be exact. Though we are far outside the estimated time frame on the publisher’s site, I’m still slowly moving down the Moksha timeline so I have decided not to reach out to them for an update. I’m not too fussed because I have no idea what I’m going to be doing with my writing career. I’m fully expecting a rejection, and that’s okay. Trad publishing is as competitive as ever.
Though I don’t have an official diagnosis, I have a lot of symptoms for contamination OCD, so I am treating it like OCD, which is sometimes not very fun for me as it requires extending discomfort cycles
I am also easing into some other healing practices
My grandma died around the same time Andor was released, and I was recovering from Covid (caught on the plane ride home from said funeral) around the time Tales of the Jedi was released. This is the first time I haven’t been able to write about newly released Star Wars content for BSR which makes me sad.
We’re all watching Owl House, right? And reading The Locked Tomb, right?
Hoping to stay here longer. I also believe I have a TV addiction, and I’ve decided that this WordPress will be replacing some of that.
This summer has been a doozy. Heat waves, incredible drought.
It’s also the summer I’m on anti anxiety and anti depressants and let me tell you: wow.
After work, I would be so exhausted I would simply collapse in bed and nap for a few hours. That still sometimes happens, but generally I feel I have more energy, and I’m less likely to turn to tv binging or food to self medicate instead.
I’m excited about writing, including attempting to launch a freelance career as an editor. I don’t know if it will work out but the key word is try-try-try.
As such, I’m thinking about pursuing a hybrid career and have been watching a lot of the Courtney Project on youtube. My first two novels I think would do better via traditional publishing, but there’s some weird stuff I’d like to write that I think would be better served self-publishing.
I’m very excited to see where my writing career goes. I feel sky’s the limit, and I don’t feel that way very often. The fact I do feel that way is remarkable considering how many rejections I’ve received, but hey. Rejections are part of being a writer.
Imposter Syndrome comes up a lot for writers. For those who may not know,
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.
Moving forward, I’ll be using the term established writer to indicate someone who has consistent publishing credentials and non established writer to indicate someone who doesn’t.
In my own writing group, I have seen established writers discuss their Imposter Syndrome (sometimes by name, sometimes by symptom). I actually hear more self doubt from established writers than I do from the new writers in our group, which makes sense based on the definition above.
Though I don’t want to dismiss anyone’s feeling or internal distress, I do wish established writers would take more care in how they discuss their Imposter Syndrome, especially in a public or widely open space (such as a writing group) where unestablished writers may feel the need to validate established writers. That is not inherently wrong. One of the great things about a writing community is how writers can support each other beyond the words put down on the page. But there is a line, and if an established writer establishes a pattern of talking about their Imposter Syndrome with an expectation of validation, that is taking advantage of certain boundaries, where other participants may feel the need to put forth the emotional labor of validation without necessarily consenting to that because they may feel they have no other choice in order to remain true to the purpose of the group, which is supporting other writers.
Questions about imposter syndrome come up a lot in contexts like writing conventions as well. I’ve heard various answers (two common ones that I’ll address later), but one that I’ve yet to hear is that people who struggle with Imposter Syndrome should speak to a therapist regarding it.
That’s it. That’s the answer. Talk to a therapist.
For those who don’t have the funds to do so, there are online resources that can help. The wiki link actually goes into some detail. Internet searching how to manage imposter syndrome brings up a plethora of links with guides as well.
I attended a writing conference, where the keynote speaker was a widely well known author and the inevitable question about Imposter Syndrome popped up.
Two answers were given:
Channel the confidence of a mediocre white man
The con man theory — which is basically just Imposter Syndrome under a new name since it relies on the idea that the person suffering from Imposter Syndrome is grifting those around them.
These are actually the most common answers I’ve heard. I’m sure there are others but these are the two I’m focusing on.
Confidence of a Mediocre White Man
As a white nonbinary lesbian, this does not speak to me. When I learned about feminism, it was presented as equality with white men, essentially gaining the equal opportunity to oppress communities alongside white men without impunity. You can read more about white feminism here.
A really good visual of this also was in a recent episode of New Amsterdam when Dr Goodwin tried to solve systemic racism at the hospital. He gathered the top paid doctors, white men and women, to see if they would cut their salary to address pay imbalances to their Black peers. Lauren Bloom’s response was to get back to her when they talked about pay discrepancies based on gender, even though only white people of various genders were already in that room. Her salary was greater than Floyd’s, a Black surgeon, top of his field, but she did not care about that.
Real life proof of this can also be seen in the hype when that white woman, ceo of Bumblr, became the first female billionaire. Yay. Feminism.
I know this sound bite of channeling the confidence of a mediocre white man isn’t supposed to be drawn to the conclusion that I have drawn it towards–and yet, as a white person myself, I feel this is the only logical place for it to end. The confidence of mediocre white men is what created the Joss Whedons of this world, and I know that I, as a white nonbinary lesbian, can just as easily become a Joss Whedon myself simply because I am a member of an oppressor class. Though I cannot change my whiteness, I can choose not to align myself with white masculinity, and I don’t think the confidence of a mediocre white man can be separated from said man’s whiteness.
Pretend You’re a Con Man
Like I said earlier, this is basically just imposter syndrome repackaged. Even if it wasn’t, I have to question if self deception or pretend is the right answer.
I do think there is a place for fake it until you make it, but I don’t think it should be the end all, be all. Imposter syndrome is created from legitimate issues regarding the self. This brings me once again to therapy, or self driven research to practice healthier and more positive thought processes.
What truly frustrates me about the con man approach is that it encourages hiding and putting away the Imposter.
The Imposter Inside You
When I thought I had IBS, I did a ton of research on it, trying to find ways to manage it. One site, I wish I remembered which one, posited that I had to address my situation mentally: you are going to be uncomfortable, don’t resist the discomfort and the pain.
I know this is hardly a new philosophy, but sitting on the toilet, gut in agony, it was new to me.
I’ve since attempted to extend this thought process towards the rest of my life.
The Imposter inside you needs kindness and compassion, not tricks designed to hand wave it away. What you need to tell the Imposter within you, who is also you the Writer, will depend on who you are, and what you need. But don’t hide it away under a grift or channel it into someone you don’t want to be.
I need to tell my imposter it’s okay I don’t write every day because I am busy managing an OCD flareup. That it’s okay I’m struggling editing my 90k word draft because I’ve never done it before. Of course I’m still struggling. Of course I don’t know what I’m doing. This is my first time, after all, but I will learn from it as long as I keep trying.
I tell my imposter I know they’re just the whisper of self doubt built up by years of everyone expecting perfection and great things from me during my childhood, instead of acknowledging that I was a child, and that sometimes I will fail, and that failure is natural, it’s okay, it’s the best way to learn. I still remember me as a child, dressed in my best dress because they wanted to look and feel nice, but became rigid with embarrassment while Mom yelled at them because they had made a mistake. Their brain looped with shame that they had failed while wearing their best dress, and why did they choose to wear it when they were so undeserving to look nice when they weren’t nice on the inside? Is it any surprise that that child secluded themselves in the caves of their heart, only to grow into the Imposter?
That kid deserved a hug, and so I hug my imposter, and tell them that it will be okay. We will get there together.