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e_moon60

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Multi-factorial Progress Report [Sep. 10th, 2016|10:37 pm]
e_moon60
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[Current Mood |thoughtful]

NextBook, Cold Welcome, is in production and will be released in April, 2017.   New new book (untiltled so far) is sitting just over 55,000 words and rocking along nicely, this first draft somewhat under half done.  It's another Vatta book, following directly on Cold Welcome.  The story for an anthology is started, but was derailed for quite a while by illness and partial recovery.  When the new new book reaches 60,000 words (by the end of next week, I hope),  I will put it in second place for the six weeks I will have left to finish the story.  (A short story takes me as long as several chapters of a book because there's no momentum built up, and I can't let it run free.  It has to stay short.)  That's the writing part of the progress report.  The prescribed rest has helped--after two months without being able to write, but concentrating on recovery, including getting enough sleep, the words came back into my head.
Recovery from hitting the wall is taking longer than I had hoped, but if you run yourself into a wall, it often does.   The Lyme Disease (the tick that bit me shortly after I'd hit the wall)  and its treatment slowed things down, and then weather (daily rain followed by an abrupt change to very hot, very humid weather when outside exercise was impossible and I still could not drive as far as a town with a mall) prevented re-conditioning.   I went to WorldCon, tried to stay on my new, prescribed schedule, but it was still an exhausting trip.  I have not sung with the choir since April and want very much to get back to it--but I have to be able to handle both the rehearsals (drive 50 miles into the city, rehearse, and drive 50 miles back at night) and the Sunday morning services.   Planning to try making rehearsal next week, if nothing else goes wrong.   My vision is slowly (fortunately very slowly) decreasing, too, in a way that nothing can be done about.

Knitting also had to go, when I couldn't knit even one needle without mistakes.  I got back to it a few weeks after starting to write again,  but this year's planned knitting is now impossible to achieve.   I can't knit as fast (or write as fast) and if I skimp on sleep for any reason, I make stupid mistakes (lots!) in the knitting.   But I'm knitting, more slowly, socks I like while I'm knitting them and once they're on my feet.

Because writing at the rate I was writing takes enough time that I can't get enough sleep, and therefore risk hitting the wall again (do not want to do that, and have all the words and ideas and joy in life evaporate from my head leaving me unable to do the things I love)  I'm redesigning the rest of my life, with the understanding that plans made do not lead to what happens...necessarily.  But still, if you want to get somewhere, you start in that direction and prepare for the detours and blockages and necessary rest stops and plan also to enjoy the detours as much as possible.

So: I can write if I don't push it too hard.   I can have energy to spare for the other things I love--singing, knitting, cooking, gardening, work on the land, photography, etc.--if  don't have commitments to meet deadlines that mean it's all I get to do.  And if I can re-condition as the weather cools this fall, and be better prepared for the heat next summer.  I'd like to go back and paint a few more pictures.  Write some more poetry.  Go on the Central Texas Yarn Crawl next year (can't this year: deadlines.)  Sing the Mozart Requiem one more time.  Spend more time actually with (not just in the same piece of land with) my husband, because you never know for sure how much time you've got left, and more time with friends, ditto.  I was told about 20 years ago that I was pushing too hard and would wear out and should take better care, etc, etc....and I saw no alternative to what I was doing, which was whatever it took to keep us afloat and me sane.   In local vernacular,  "back your ears and pull that plough."  Took awhile for the wearing out to happen, but it did, and now that is what has to be dealt with.  So I am.

I'm in better shape in several ways than I was in April.  The words are flowing.  The stitches are getting made.   I'm cooking more again.   Progress.   Always before "making progress" meant push harder, work longer, dig deeper...but now that whole "just stay up and work until it's done" thing is off the table.  Making progress without losing ground is the new goal and it's not the way I've ever tackled a problem...so I'm trying to learn the new skills required.  But...there's progress.  I brought two horses back from the brink of malnutrition and (in one case) overwork; they both had extended lives and some good years after.  So surely I can do the same for myself (even if my malnutrition was in the other direction.)

When the new new book is done, I'm going "off-task" for as long as it takes to reach the new equilibrium.  Of course I will write, because it's what I do (but so  are the other things I used to do as well as write.)   I don't consider it "retirement" (because that would mean not writing, which is...ICK!)  but I do consider it switching modes.  (And I really, REALLY, want to go on that yarn crawl next year.   And learn to deconstruct and repair the pumps that circulate water in our system.   And get back to making our bread.  And knit more socks and maybe even (gasp!) a sweater.)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: draconin
2016-09-11 09:32 am (UTC)
It will be lovely to have another installment in the Vatta 'verse. I've been thinking of going back to reread that series from the start and this gives me added impetus. :-)

Do take it easy and give yourself time to recover. Best wishes.
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[User Picture]From: ann_mcn
2016-09-11 01:25 pm (UTC)
I started reading your LiveJournal, and then your other blogs, and Twitter, because I liked your books. Because of all those, I like you as a person, and enjoyed meeting you at Dragon*Con last year.

Which leads to this. You are a writer, but you don't owe me any of that. Please do take care of yourself with the same analysis and attention and problem-solving that you apply to your books, and knitting, and land.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-11 02:44 pm (UTC)
I read an essay on the difficulties of "self care" this morning--was mentioned and linked to in a tweet--and yeah, all that pertains to me, too, and yeah, it comes from (in part) the conditioning we get as children and our reactions to that conditioning. Asking for help is hard. Not pushing for the last ounce of strength is hard. Admitting "Can't Do" is hard. Because the cost of admitting limitations or weakness--or being weak/sick/unable--was so great. Because my role model was pushing hard to stay alive and keep me fed, against brutal odds. Having to scale back--having to make myself quit to take prescribed rests--before the staggering/falling stage of exhaustion--feels like FAILURE in big red letters stamped on the front of my folder.

Here's the post I read today: https://themighty.com/2016/09/self-care-how-to-take-care-of-yourself-when-you-have-depression/

And it's not just about depression, but about the difficulty of doing good (effective) self-care in any situation where your ability/need has changed.

However, little steps do help. I'm not working on the book today (made the week's words yesterday) and despite waking up at 5am with the 9/11 gloom cascade...and I made the decision after the Wall turned out to be harder than my head that I had to admit the situation to more than spouse. My mother used to say (more often than I wanted to hear, sometimes) that if you can't admit a mistake/problem and define it, you can't fix it or prevent it. (You see the Engineer in that, right?) Accidents don't "happen," they're caused. Etc. Including (the time I was stuck up a tree as a small child) "You got yourself into this; so you can figure out how to get yourself out of it."

I will do my best to take care of myself. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: ann_mcn
2016-09-11 03:43 pm (UTC)
Ooh, good article. I think I am dealing with depression as part of aging -- situational, rather than clinical. Once I admit that I just cannot do what I used to in the manner in which i used to, there's a tendency to want to crawl into a hole and pull it in after me.

But having to do differently isn't failure, and I need to figure out what I can do now.
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From: sheff_dogs
2016-09-12 12:40 pm (UTC)

One of the things I have found it important to recognise is that while my head understands the necessity of self-care, of the changes necessary due to my chronic condition, my heart most emphaticaly does not understand or at least it didn't at all and is now starting to. I have found I need to do a lot of telling myself the same things repeatedly to start to get the message through to my emotions. My emotions still do not entirely agree with my head, but there are days when they do not waste energy raging against what is, days when they are resigned even and the very occasional day where they are content. Changing emotional pathways is hard work, they can feel like they are set in stone, but even when they date back to our childhoods it is possible.
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[User Picture]From: stitchwhich
2016-09-13 10:19 pm (UTC)
"Not pushing for the last ounce of strength is hard."

Too, too, true. I'm learning how to structure my days so I don't end up taking a 5-hour "nap" in the middle of them but sometimes I feel as though I need a rubber band wrapped around my wrist to remind me that it is time to stop doing activity A and start doing something less stressful (activity B or C) for a while. resent it. That doesn't help. I hope that isn't something holding you back too.
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[User Picture]From: anais_pf
2016-09-11 03:41 pm (UTC)
It sounds like you've got a good plan.

I hadn't realized we have more than SF and knitting and cooking in common -- you are a chorister as well! Alto or soprano?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-11 05:34 pm (UTC)
Alto. Though my director insists I'm really a mezzo who just never had good training and was put in alto because I can sing that (and most of second soprano and used to hit high notes but thought it was a fluke.) I sing low alto when the altos split except when he moves me over to bolster a weaker first alto. Which I find scary, but kinda fun, too.
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[User Picture]From: anais_pf
2016-09-11 07:33 pm (UTC)
I think mezzos can find themselves in either section depending on their comfort level, or where the director needs more voices. I'm a mezzo who sings the low alto part when we split, but I can sing as high as the second sopranos (a bit screechily). I hope you can get back to singing in your choir soon!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-12 03:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you. The amount of "grace" is variable from day to day and hour to hour, but I'm not-working-too-hard on it.
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2016-09-12 01:06 pm (UTC)
Just echoing anais' comment, it sounds like you have a good plan. Especially the part about spending more time with loved ones, and planning for doing the things you love, and some good rest between. Life is for the living, and I'm glad for the care you're taking.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-12 03:59 pm (UTC)
I watched the PBS program on the end of Churchill's life last night--it's definitely on target for picking priorities, not measuring yourself against past accomplishments. Sad for his wife and children.

So reining in this old gray mare that's not actually going to win the Kentucky
Derby no matter how fast she gallops, and is on the wrong track for the Presidential Sweepstakes, the Opera Derby, the National Geographic Photographer Stakes, the NASA race...and convincing her that a quiet canter around the pasture with pauses to stop and graze and hang out with the others is, at this point, just as challenging and fun...getting her to quit hanging onto the bit and pulling like a mule team and just relax...is in progress. I have a husband, a son, some friends. And parts of myself that have been set aside for years and would like to peek out again now.
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2016-09-13 12:35 am (UTC)
Yes. But don't be sad for you, either. You have accomplished so much, and the care you're taking will see you have abundant time to keep on accomplishing. You've long reached the point of being known, loved, respected; which means even simple acts (such as sharing an opinion, or a work of art) achieve something in the minds and hearts of others. I believe you'll find a way around some of the barriers (the ones that allow for compromise), even if it's to breach the fence once a year and lead the others on a reasonably distanced amble. You have a mind and personality that will shine brightly until it's done.
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From: 6_penny
2016-09-12 03:04 pm (UTC)
Having grown up on ocean water, I keep having to remind myself of the art of tacking against the wind as I age. Can't get there by heading straight up wind - up hill - charging ahead against all odds and fatigue, but tacking now, and enjoying the zigzags - that just might be possible. Eventually I might get somewhere. Of course when its heat, air pollution and Lyme that I am tacking against its can get harder to hear that argument. (and sometimes I have to repeat 'what would the Kaukgan say')
Take care and be well. I want to be able to read new things from you for many years yet.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-12 03:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks--and I want to keep writing the new things you want to read. The new book's going more slowly, but well.
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[User Picture]From: blueeowyn
2016-09-12 04:57 pm (UTC)
I'm going to join the chorus of people who are happy you are taking care of yourself and who understand that re-setting your life can be challenging. The old mare in the photo wasn't too eager to slow down when she should have but she learned that life was good in retirement and seemed very content with her lot in her later years. I hope that your writing becomes less of a 'job' and more of a 'profitable hobby' so that you can enjoy the other aspects of your life. I enjoy reading your musings here and want to see them continue for many years (not expecting any sort of scheduled posting). It makes me happy to know that you are celebrating living rather than wearing yourself out in the traces.
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[User Picture]From: filkferengi
2016-09-15 03:36 am (UTC)
I wish all these happy, creative, reclaiming-pieces-of-yourself things for you. Sounds like you have good, workable plans to achieve them.
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[User Picture]From: draconin
2016-09-19 01:46 pm (UTC)
Quick question re the release of Cold Welcome: Do you happen to know what the delay is before it appears as an audiobook? I tend to listen rather than read these days. :-)
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