November has come and gone, and while a lot has changed in a month, a lot still seems the same. I tried and
failed didn’t finish NaNoWriMo, but that’s ok, because November was a pretty insane month even for 2020. I left my old job, and while it’s terrifying to step into the void right now, I also knew I couldn’t continue where I was. And maybe this was the break I needed to start something new, and find whatever is coming next.
I’ve also just launched my new editorial services website, and I’m proud of how it’s turned out so far. I’ll still be adding to it, and adapting it depending on how my first few projects go, but I’m happy it’s out in the world, and I feel like I have a direction now.
Day-to-day though, my partner and I are still sheltering at home because it’s just not worth the risk for us. We’ve gotten used to being hobbit hermits, and we’re so grateful we’ve been able to stay home so far. We’re doing different organisation and DIY projects at home, and hanging/reframing new artworks, and I’ve set up a standing desk on top of a dresser for myself. I know these are all very little things, but this is the only way I’ve been able to keep my anxiety at bay lately—focusing on the positive little things.
I had a bad depressive episode last week where I really couldn’t see any way through to the other side of all this, even despite the good news of the vaccines being rolled out here and in the US. My brain couldn’t stop catastrophizing, and panicking about what the world will be like now. (Will things only get worse? What kind of world will our kids inherit? If the next generation absolutely despises us, I can’t blame them for it. Will there be any point at all to anything we do?)
It took a few days to drag myself out of that dark place again. Everything felt completely pointless, and yet. . .and yet. The days kept coming. Mornings blurred into afternoons into evenings. Somehow I slept, even with weird dreams. I’d find one small thing to do each day, and once I finished it, I’d distract myself with finding one more thing. And now, about a week later, I’m feeling better. Not great, but definitely better.
I realise I’m just rambling here about the inevitable march of time, but man when you’re deep in the valley of shit and can’t see the sky anymore, it really feels hopeless, and like you’ll never feel happy again, or even curious about what might be next. So now that I’m on the other side, I know how hard it is when you’re deep in it. I know how fake and earnest these kinds of things sound when your brain has convinced you there’s no point to anything.
But damn, here I am, standing on the other side of the valley, and while I’m not frolicking around in a daze of carefree joy, I’m doing ok. And even that felt impossible last week.
So if you’re there, if you’re feeling the dark fog envelop everything around you despite your best efforts to shake it off—even when you’ve gratefully counted your blessings and you know others have it so vastly, unfathomably worse, and yet your brain has still dragged you back to that bad place—please hang on.
I won’t preach any other -isms and coping mechanisms, because I’ve used all of them, and even my tried and true ones aren’t working anymore. I’ll only ask that you just hang on.
This has still somehow managed to get preachy, so I’ll switch it up by venting about my writing projects, because even though my other coping mechanisms aren’t really doing it anymore, my brain still finds ways to think about writing in between all of the despair. For a little while now I’ve been waking up in the wee hours of the morning and lying there unable to fall back asleep, and my mind has decided that’s a good time to try and replot my first novel, or figure out how to amp up the emotional intensity in my Venice book.
I’ll think up new alternatives, and file them away in my head until I’m in front of my computer, and hopefully, maybe, some of them will actually work. For my first novel, I’m starting to get drawn back towards my original idea for it. Some really kind feedback I’ve received suggested that I cut out all other character points-of-view besides the main character, so in my most recent rewrite in September, I did just that. And I like it now, I feel like it’s definitely strengthened the main character’s POV, and simplified some things for the better.
BUT—it’s now getting further from my bigger picture idea for it, and for the next two books in the series. I always envisioned it as a GOT-style family saga, where we bounce around the different siblings and see them on their own adventures, and everything ties together at the end. My vague outline/ideas for Book 2 and 3 have POVs from other characters. So now Book 1 as it is currently will be an outlier, and those new POVs in the other books will be jarring, if I still write them that way.
I’ve been grappling with what to do, and I’m still feeling drawn back towards rewriting Book 1 again, and reincorporating those other character POVs, but in a new way. Which will involve rewriting and re-plotting most of the book. . .which is terrifying. But also necessary it seems, since I just can’t seem to get this book right, and I want to. I’m not giving up on it yet.
However, my plan was to let it rest so I could figure out what to do with it, and in the meantime I’d work on my Venice book, and get it polished up so I can send it to my CPs. (If you guys are reading this, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long. . .) So that’s my post-NaNo plan for now, to finish revising my Venice book before Christmas instead, send that out, and then return to my first novel and see if I can finally get it right. Or at least, to where I’m confident in it, and all my decisions about it. When I think of all the writers I look up to, I most admire how confident they are in their ideas, and how they trust their instincts and their process. I want to be them when I grow up.
But for now, I’m grateful to have a plan, and to have some projects to occupy the rabid weasel thunderdome in my brain. I hope you’ve got something you’re excited to work on, or even just curious about how it might turn out. If anyone wants to chat coping mechanisms, writing projects, or about whatever is keeping you going, I’m always here!
Stay safe, and thanks for reading,