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Multi-factorial Progress Report [Sep. 10th, 2016|10:37 pm]
[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.)

[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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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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