First Monday’s Reflections

I spent all morning today compiling the episodes of my NaNo vomit draft for Surge of the Soul Eater into one document and then saved it in multiple locations. I also printed it out for my baby brother to read. All 163 double spaced pages of it.

When I brought it downstairs our parents were in the living room to see it. Not what I had planned, but whatever. My brother seemed amused by it all.

Dad was like “What the hell is that?”

And I was like, “My novel. [my brother] said he would read it for me so I can revise it.”

He seemed… satisfied? Not sure how else to explain his expression but he has been aware of me writing again for quite some time. Mom’s expression is more difficult to explain. Almost a mix of nostalgia and surprise I think. So again I stand by my statement of just because I’m not doing whatever it is you want me to do doesn’t mean I’m lacking motivation. As it was it took me a long time to convince Dad that I wasn’t just fucking around on the computer. I’m actually trying to do things when I’m sitting here.

I would like to print myself a copy for my own read through but I need to buy more black ink. There is just something about having that physical copy and being able to write notes on it directly. I suppose one could say I’m old school that way. I have no idea but I do remember the time before the internet and home computers.

I still have my electric typewriter kicking around here SOMEWHERE. I miss the sound of the keys. You have no idea. If I could find the ink ribbons for it still I think I would be using it for creative writing. For one it would ensure that I would be unplugged from the internet while I write. Fewer distractions while you work is always a good thing. The downside is then you’d only have a hard copy rather than a digital one. ONE COPY. Anything that happens to that copy and *poof* your work is gone. Believe me I know. It’s happened to me twice now with half completed novels and once with a completed anthology of poetry and short stories. It’s gut wrenching and it really sucks.

So anyhow, once I gave my brother the copy along with a cover letter of what I’m looking for in feedback I walked away. Basically I’m looking for the reader’s first response as he goes along and just write it on the page of the draft – and I’ve already discussed some things I have issues with so he isn’t walking into it blind, like that damned info dump that happens at the end. There is a lot to be said for seeing the thought process of the reader as they read. What are they guessing? What are they asking? What’s exciting? What’s boring? What’s making sense and what isn’t? That kind of stuff is very valuable to me coming from a beta reader.

I am also aware that I was also very lazy with description while writing this novel oddly enough. Somehow I hit just barely over 50k words and didn’t really focus on description unless I felt it was pressing to give it. So I told my brother that and asked him to point out to me in the draft wherever he felt description was needed. I mean there are other things – many things actually – that I take issue with concerning my own novel. Such as two characters that were introduced at the very end of the novel. One was mentioned in the beginning and was actually planned in the outline to show up in the beginning but for whatever reason doesn’t show up until the end. My brain kills me with its betrayals sometimes. The other character… bleh. I know why that character came in and that character could come out without hurting the story I think if I planned other stuff better. Or in theory I could play around with things work that section differently. Bottom line is that character is not critical but that segment with the events in it sort if is.

I think overall things would be far worse if I hadn’t started with an outline to follow while writing this vomit draft. Ugh just writing all of this down is enough to make me exhausted. How does anyone survive the revision process? I don’t have a problem dissecting my work – if anything I can probably do that all day.

I just need to remind myself that I wrote this draft while in a hypomanic state. Now it’s gone and with it the energy. I’m paying for that in spades. Using the Spoon Theory to describe how I feel, I’m at this point in debt and I’m paying it back with interest. This is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of hypomania. I can’t speak of mania because according to everyone that knows me well, I have never been there. What I do know is when I’m hypomanic, it is way too damn easy to take advantage of the extra energy you have and push yourself too hard. And I knew I was doing that in November. In fact I did it on purpose in November. I worried about it during the first half of December, but all of November I pushed myself for all I was worth. Now my body hates me, feels sick, wants to do nothing but sleep, and I still have shit to do.

On one hand I’m grateful that I can go through the revision process while not hypomanic. I think if I tried to do this while hypomanic with my first novel would result in a mess. Later down the road I might have a deadline and not have the luxury of choosing when to revise but for now I had that luxury of waiting for a time when I have better chances of holding a single train of thought instead of multiple. I’m still trying to get a handle on trying to write while in a multiple threaded thought process state. I don’t really feel like learning how to revise for the first time while also in that frame of mind.

I don’t know maybe it would have been to my advantage. I will say once you learn how to think like that and function with it, you can’t unlearn it so there’s always next time. But walk first, then run, then fly – not any other way around. Any time my brain lies about this and I believe it, I produce garbage. And I’m not talking about artistic garbage where those rare few people buy into here. I’m talking about the kind of garbage where you look at it and say, “That’s not how any of this works. What the hell were you thinking?” The problem is during those moments I only thought I was thinking and making sense and being brilliant or helpful when in truth none of that was actually happening. It’s the last place you want to be in with your head when you are revising anything.

In any case, I’m exhausted. I’m grateful though that I have my new calendar up on my corkboard ready to go with this month’s appointments so far already written down. And I also have my freshly printed routines and daily schedule template pinned next to that calendar as well. Starting to feel like I have something to work with here. Whether or not it goes as planned is another matter entirely. We all know how quickly life goes to shit in a matter of seconds. Chaos is lovely like that, but the point is having a plan in the first place so you have an anchor to work from rather than flailing about in the storm.

I always say I’m going to go to bed at a decent hour but I seldom do for example. And I pay for it. It messes up my internal clock – assuming it ever had a regular rhythm to start with. However the boys go back to school tomorrow so I NEED to get back to a fixed routine. It doesn’t matter what that routine looks like as long as it is the same every day so my brain will just regulate itself. My sleep will go back to my normal. My thoughts will go back to some kind of normal speeds.

Right now I feel like I’m trying to attend multiple concerts at once and there was a time that would have been thrilling. Now it’s just fucking exhausting. Too much to pay attention to and keep track of and I don’t really feel like I have it in me. Hell last month I had the energy to do it. Now I don’t. Now I want to pull the plug on all the speakers, tell everyone to shut up, and just go home. And people wonder why we cycle from being super social to super anti-social. This is why. It’s one extreme or the other. Very seldom is there ever any in between. Well at least for me. Honestly can’t speak for anyone else so I shouldn’t make that kind of assumption here.

So these are the thoughts that I’m having as I skid into January. I seem to recall one of the pediatric doctors over at the med clinic say once that Topamax was good for keeping one out of depression, but not so good at managing mania. I wasn’t really paying much attention to that at the time because A: we were discussing med options for Scholar Owl, B: when they put me on it at the time I was still struggling with the postpartum shit and I was desperate for ANYTHING to just fucking work, and C: Scholar Owl ended up choosing Lamictal because it isn’t known for the brain fog the way Topamax is. And well here we are pretty much right on schedule actually when I look at things and I get hit with the hypomania. The med clinic in the adult wing was so worried about depression hitting due to the season change, etc. but I knew this was coming. Seven years prior to Little Bear’s birth: hypomanic/baseline. After he was born? That really scary postpartum depressed psychosis mixed state shit. He turned seven this year.

So I think I’ve only enjoyed half a stable year on the Topamax at best – maybe? Quite honestly that’s fine. It’s better than I have ever been on anything else. I know how to manage with the hypomania better than I do with that creepy ass postpartum shit and with depression I’m truly just not functional at all. If the Topamax can keep me out of that then I’m good. If I start climbing past hypomania then I’ll need something else to go with it. That’s all there is to it.

Once again, like just before Christmas, I’m not sure if I’m done being hypomanic and now baseline or if I’m just skimming the water. I do know that my body is tired as fuck. I’m having a hard time staying focused on any one thing or topic. This time it isn’t because of too many ideas so much as not really wanting to think at all and when I pick up the threads of thought again I’m not always certain it’s the same ones I had before.

It’s taking me forever to write this post and I’m not sure what all I wanted to say other than I’m excited to get started on the revision process of my novel but I’m concerned about my mental health right now. I’m hoping that by having plans and goals in place to stay focused on that I can stay ahead of it rather than getting mired in whatever is coming. Because I do feel like something is coming – like with my brain. I just don’t know what exactly. I’m hoping I’m just being paranoid. I would like a rest and feel like I’m normal for a while before having another episode. If only life would be so kind.

8 thoughts on “First Monday’s Reflections

  1. I was thrilled to read your post. I’m hypomanic at the moment and writing like a mad man but am having difficulty focusing on one thing at a time, half starting one thing before starting something else, and so on, until I’ve got dozens of ideas going at once. I’m very happy for you that you got to the revision stage with you novel. I really enjoy reading your posts and can tell you’re a very talented writer. Good luck and keep fighting the good fight 🙂

    • You are completely fine. <3 I hope for my blog to be a safe space for conversation. And you did convey affinity. It's difficult to describe what hypomania is like, isn't it? Especially to those who have never experienced it. I told someone once that I have tried cocaine and speed and found it calming compared to what hypomania is like and they didn't believe me. It's why I don't do either of it now. Why bother when my brain does better? Pretty sad, no?

  2. I agree with how you described hypomania but disagree that it’s sad. I think if it makes you productive it’s a good thing, but I think it’s sad that it comes at such a cost. Perhaps it’s just the price of productivity? I just try and enjoy the highs and manage the inevitable lows. One day I might even get it right 😉

    • I have talked with my siblings about this often on the concept of “equivalent exchange” that is explored in an anime we are fond of called Full Metal Alchemist. Everything has a price. It’s just the way it is. The grander the thing, the bigger the thing, the greater the whatever it is, then the bigger the cost it must be. Look at some of the greatest minds in history and look at the price they had to pay for the achievements they made in life. It’s something that the history books don’t really talk about unless you study their personal histories. But it always comes with a price. Nothing ever comes for free.

  3. It’s an idea that’s preoccupied me for some time. One of the many story ideas I haven’t seen through was about a “what if” alternate reality where everyone was tested to see where they sat on a creativity spectrum. Those at one end, the Bipolar and Schizophrenic, were classed as “Gifted” and given free reign to be manic and creative or depressed and recharging with the support from the rest of society, as they were seen as of value to everyone else. Those around the middle of the spectrum – Bipolar 2 and what have you – were their assistants or “Lackeys”, and those at the other end, “Norms”, basically paid for it all with their taxes and reaped the benefits of a more interesting world. Wouldn’t that be wonderful…

    • It’s an interesting idea but at what cost I wonder. I know that it is believed that back in the Dark Ages – or was it before that era? – that people like us were the oracles, shamans, and other such spiritual leaders. There must have been a reason for the massive societal shift away from that, and not just because of Christianity. It wasn’t the leading religion in the beginning. And “stigmata” has a place in Christian faith if I recall. So what happened in our global society? Not only are we no longer embraced, but spirituality as a whole isn’t really openly accepted either. I’ve always wondered why.

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