I’ve been nursing a bruised ego for nearly a week now. I’ve been telling myself that I just need to immerse myself in my writing, use the emotions I’m experiencing to give my characters more realism. It’s the same advice I’d give anyone else, but I can’t seem to focus.
I would try to read, but my thoughts were too distracting to be able to see the marks on the page as words. I’d try to write an article for Creative Writers and end up writing about the pointlessness of existence instead.
Yesterday, I had every intention of writing some more of my short story for Monolith and found myself turning on the Xbox and playing Diablo 3 all day instead.
This morning something rather wonderful happened. My Grandad asked me to help him paint the deck in the garden. At first, the thoughts of hopelessness and failure were still trying to get my attention, but soon the work took over.
It helped a lot that Grandad and I were chatting as we worked. He’d noticed all the Amazon packages that had been arriving lately, and I told him I was researching police procedures. He told me about two relatives that would be able to help with my research, and I hadn’t known either of them had been involved in police work.
It was also great to be out in the garden, feeling useful, instead of being shut up in my room feeling sorry for myself and punishing myself for not writing.
I started to form a better idea for my Creative Writers article too. I may go back to the other topic when I can trust myself to be less existential about it. It’s hard to feel motivated to do anything right now, but the story submissions for Monolith are piling up. Luckily I’m not the only one working on it. I’ve got a great team and we’ve just added another admin who’s very enthusiastic about the project.
Since I’m currently lacking any enthusiasm to do anything, this couldn’t have happened at a better time. I’m forcing myself to write this so I can work through this funk brought on by a compounding list of minor disappointments and listening too much to a self-proclaimed nihilist.
I’ve been trying to listen to self-empowering music, soliciting pep-talks from friends, and anything else that usually helps me ignore the very thing that this man seemed intent on reminding me. Even if I do succeed in becoming a successful author, helping many others to become successful in the process, and leave a small library of books after I’m gone, it won’t matter.
I’m going to die. The people I’ve helped are all going to die. My family, friends, exes and enemies, and anyone else who knew me, at least in passing, are going to die. The books themselves will fade, decompose, burn, or otherwise be deleted from existence. The entire planet could be destroyed, and the rest of the universe would keep spinning regardless until it doesn’t anymore.
It’s almost enough to make me adopt a religion, or become a flat-earther, but I’m aware that it would be just a desperate attempt to pretend my life had real meaning. Which it doesn’t. Don’t worry though, I’m aware that even dying is a futile gesture. At least while you’re alive you can enjoy the ride. Live for the small stuff. Make the most of it.
That thought hadn’t occurred to me until after I was outside painting. I was in full no-hope mope. I’m very grateful to my Grandad for giving me something practical to do, getting me out in the sun, and just talking to me. He even got me chicken and chips from the local chippy.
I’m still not all the way out of my slump. I want to sleep until it’s all over and the bad feelings go away, but I can’t. On the plus side, I had been aware, prior to being hit with an emotional building, that I was spending way too much time engaging with people in the Creative Writers group, and not enough time actually writing. I’ve been forced to take a step back, let the other admins take the wheel for a bit because I just couldn’t be bothered.
It’s a great group, but as an admin, you have to deal with complaints, fights, and intolerant behaviour and do it all with a smile. I couldn’t face it. I’ve still had to respond to a could of issues that I was tagged in, but I haven’t been looking for more. I need to make more time to write.
Working in the garden today reminded me that some of the best ideas come to you when you’re doing physical work. I need to do more. I also need to follow up on the research leads Grandad gave me, and find some others, to help me do the ideas justice.
I need to regain my defiance. I can already feel it returning. The next time a voice in my head tells me “It’s all pointless. You’re going to die alone and be forgotten.” I’ll be able to say, with conviction “Oh yeah? Watch this!” instead of my current “So?”.
I’m tempted to scrap this article and start over. As I’m looking over it to do editing, links, images, etc. I find that I’m not really upset about the recent stuff. My brain is still replaying the day I let everyone down. The day my life fell apart. The day the doctor told me I couldn’t have kids.
In that moment the fantasy died. Up until then, the marriage had had some hiccups, but we’d always worked through it. An absolute certainty that the two of you are meant to be together and have a family together (a girl and two boys, we named them) can help keep you motivated. In that one moment, it was all gone.
I’ve been painting her as the villain in all this, but honestly, I think I started pushing her away after that. Outwardly, I kept trying to make the best of it, but inside it, all seemed so pointless. Maybe if I’d talked to her about this, instead of trying to put a brave face on things, we’d still together. Yep, that’s definitely the button. I’m bawling my eyes out as I’m writing this.
I’d still have the big house, and a garden, and my cats (and probably a few more animals), and my wife if I hadn’t given up. We might even have adopted. Obviously, there’s nothing I could have done about being infertile, or even the likely complications if she ever got pregnant (she has scoliosis). We might have been happy if I hadn’t let my disappointment poison the relationship.
I’ve been my own worst enemy for a long time. I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m worried that if I don’t overcome this habit, everything I attempt will likely fail due to my own sabotage. If I have to exist I may as well enjoy it, but that’s not going to happen if I keep pushing everything that’s good away from me.
I need to get back on track and finish writing Hermes925. Stepping back from Monolith and allowing more experienced writers to take over the project may provide me with the perfect opportunity to do so, and reduce the risk of me sabotaging it. In the meantime, Grandad hinted that he might have something else that needs doing. I’m looking forward to it.