August 10th, 2014

crossed heart

Snowpiercer and Arrow and hopes and dreams

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

So, under much duress, I decided to take this past weekend off. (I did not really want to, however people I cared about didn’t give me much choice :P.)

Friday night I went out and saw Snowpiercer with friends. It’s been awhile since I talked about my kind of ultraviolence here but as you might imagine from my books I’m quite fond of it — and in that sense, Snowpiercer totally totally delivered. The axe fight was so lovingly reminiscent of the hammer sequence in Oldboy (the original, of course!) — I loved all the close in fighting, the surreal changes from car to car, it was like an anime come to life. And even the heavy handed moralizing worked for me. If you’re going to be shameless, there’s no point in doing it halfway! I loved it.

Saturday I went into SF with a friend and walked around and looked at Fluevogs (oh, please self-publishing gods, pay out more and faster so I can buy more shoes ;)) and when I got home I finished off season 1 of Arrow…and then bought season two on prime and spent the majority of today watching the first ten episodes.

I heard people didn’t like season 2, but it’s still totally working for me, I’m very pleased so far — although I’ll probably have really weird dreams tonight. (And it was odd to ride on BART after having watched Snowpiercer the night before, ha.)

I needed the time off because I was feeling burnt. Not as burnt as I have been in the past — I remember wandering the halls of my mind thinking, ‘Really? So this is what I’ve decided to do with my life again? Am I sure I can’t go back to school and become something — anything — else?’ and it took me a long time to come back from that last time….

But this time was just as valid, and I’m glad I was able to be talked into doing a little self-care before it became too bad. (Not to mention my husband thinking that if I work too hard, my heart will explode. :/)

I’ve got a short story to do for a friend (which is stressful because it’s a friend and I want it to be amazing and perfect) and then I’d like to do a novella (um, we’ll see) and then I have two weeks off to edit the YA project of my dreams up in. The YA project that I think will put me back on the map in a big way — it’s important to me, and I think maybe to readers (when I’m not too scared to admit it because saying you’re writing something Important sounds silly, even if you’re pretty sure you are.)

That’s sort of the problem right there. All these things on my plate with hopes and dreams pressed into them, like thumbprint cookies. If I didn’t give a shit, I wouldn’t stress, and the quality of what I did would probably be much less. But by giving too much of a shit, I deny myself the normal joys of life — not having an exploding heart, walking around SF with friends, and watching roughly 8 hrs of Arrow on the couch with my husband.

When I was on nights, it was easier to chop my life into segments, I had no choice, I didn’t be social as often, I had never ending nights to write in and get stuff done. But now that I’m working less, and I expect more of myself…finding balance is hella hard.

The last time I was super burnt out on writing was when I finished Deadshifted. I was sure it was the worst book I’d ever written (it wasn’t. Book 1, way back in the day, totally holds that title.) I can remember laying in bed at my parents house, staring up at the ceiling, desperately clicking from site to site on my tablet having an existential crisis, trying to find something that’d give everything meaning again. That’d pay me back for having devoted sixteen years of my life to this thing that I currently didn’t enjoy. The irony of the fact that I was reading other people’s words for solace was not lost on me then, or now.

And here’s what I read — because I snipped it out and saved it for myself for other times like these:

“Sometimes everything seems pointless, sure. You can’t be a writer and not stare down the barrel of that gun regularly. When Philip Roth recently said in an interview that he sat down and read all of his work, from earliest to latest, to see if it was worthwhile, that gave me a shiver down my spine. I imagined myself as a very old woman, re-reading my extensive coverage of “Paradise Hotel,” and then pulling out a shotgun and blowing my brains out.

But fuck that. Why should our lives be deemed “significant” at all? What if we’re just doing what we do reasonably well, and working to get a little better each day? What about focusing on enjoying your fucking craft, and leaving it at that? Our culture has been so fixated on psychology and happiness for the past few decades that we all have bloated expectations. Our days are marked by the neurotic dissatisfaction that comes from a constant examination and reevaluation of what really, truly matters in the big scheme of things. We must upgrade every dimension of our lives and ourselves constantly or reveal ourselves as mediocre. Even the common exhortation, repeated from parent to parent, to make every moment count with your child, has the unique ability to suck the joy right out of every moment. Does this moment count enough? How about this one? Each moment cannot be so important without inducing a coronary.

When I accept that it’s all pointless and it will all end far too soon, I can’t see any reason not to enjoy it. I kiss my kids a lot. I stick my neck out more. I don’t mind that my ass is showing. I try things that I might never be any good at. I appreciate breathing the air, listening to the crows. And that salted caramel tastes so good.”

That’s from the Ask Polly column on The Awl. Her columns are always fantastic, and that one in particular gave me some sort of hope then — even to start the long gray walk back from the bottom of the Abyss I was slowly drifting into. And it gives me a whiff of hope now, when I need it again, so that I might not tumble down quite so far.

That, and hell, the fact that I’m writing this post, which is a suspiciously writing-like activity for someone who is supposed to be taking a day off (and someone who’s husband is calling from the other room, to remind her to be taking it off, at that ;)).

I love words, words love me, it doesn’t have to be meaningful to anyone but myself, and everything’s going to turn out just fine.

Plus I still have 12 episodes of Arrow left to look forward to :D.