I’ve noticed that I have begun to hinge my daily self worth on how productive I am. How many chores I get done. How much writing I am able to muster. Parenting fills up most of my life. I have to consciously detour from dadding in order to get anything else done, and often I put my children first, but at the end of the day I feel utterly worthless if the house is a mess and I didn’t write at least SOMETHING.
Parenting has become a rote action in a lot of ways for me, so a full day of parenting doesn’t feel like an accomplishment anymore. It’s just another day. Not that I don’t still enjoy parenting. It has it’s ups and downs. Plenty of downs, but the ups stand out more.
I feel obligated to keep the apartment clean, as it’s part of my job as a stay at home dad, and I feel a profound sense of shame when it’s a mess. However chores are a secondary priority, so sometimes they get lost in the mix of parenting. I know, I’m terrible. It happens. And I feel like shit when it does.
Writing is something that I want to do, and find therapeutic. It makes me happy. So when I’m not able to do it for whatever reason I loose that specific sense of happiness and accomplishment for the day. I find myself lacking, almost empty, like I’m missing a little spark inside that only comes after I write.
As you can tell I think about writing a lot. In fact, if I actually wrote half as much as I think/talk about writing, I’d have a book by now. Maybe more than one. I have the want, but often not the time. And when I make the time I often snakeeyes it. Can you see my frustration?
Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I’m not the best judge of that. Still though, I can’t seem to help it. At the end of the day I require a feeling of accomplishment to sleep well at night. Guess I better get out the vacuum then. This place isn’t going to clean itself.
On my current work in progress I had written myself into a corner, and for a good couple weeks I didn’t know how to get out of it. I had set up a duel, but didn’t want to write the standard sword fight. I wanted something weird, and funny. Then it hit me. Rap battle! Hipster Rumpelstiltskin vs. woke mistress of the Void in a rap battle to the death! It made me giggle just thinking about it. Then I wondered how well rap would translate to book form (I.E: without music), followed by the realization that I would actually have to sit down and write it. I’ve never rapped before in my life, nor do I listen to modern rap. So who the eff am I to write this?
So I started doing research. YouTube can be a great resource for writers if you don’t mind sifting through it for those little nuggets of gold. I watched everything from home video rap battles to the professional Epic Rap Battles of History. Finding my inspiration, I started writing. Just a little bit every morning at 5am. Some days I’d manage to find my flow, some days not so much. It’s super challenging writing rap. I have a lot more respect for talented rappers now, even though I don’t always agree with the subject of their music. It’s a lot like writing poetry actually, or at least it is for me. The difference is that I have to rap out loud to be able to hear the flow. Can you imagine me sitting in my living room at 5am rapping to myself quietly so I don’t wake my kids? It’s hilarious if you know me.
It has also helped my depression immensely to get over my writers block. Some days (like today) I only manage to get a couple lines down, but that’s better than nothing. It’s an accomplishment. It’s something. I can already tell this story is going to be a slow burn, but I think the idea is funny, and worth writing. I hope I can capitalize on a manic phase soon. Get some real writing done, like a supercharge. I’m definitely excited to be trying something new. It’s neat getting out of my comfort zone as a writer. I think that’s how good art is made. I hope I can live up to that.
Surprisingly I am acclimating to the 5am writing schedule pretty well. My alarm is the Silent Hill air raid siren, so you only really need to snooze once before you’re up. My wife encourages me with elbows to the ribs too. She likes to snooze a bit longer before getting up for work.
Anyways today I managed to get 776 words into a thousand word limit article I pitched a week ago and got the green light for. I should be finished with it after tomorrow morning. I’m struggling with the idea that anyone would want to read this article, as it is a personal story rather than purely informative. Like why would you care that Buffy the Vampire Slayer & the X-Files got me through the foster care system, and my parents imprisonment when I was a boy, then growing into a teen with just my mom…
I’m just not sure that’s interesting. I mean I know that it’s not normal, but why would you, the reader, care? I know that this fear stems from my bipolar disorder. This is exactly the kind of shit my anti-muse would whisper. Sowing doubt and discord in my mind until writing becomes a useless gesture. It wants me to give up again.
Well fuck that.
I’m stronger than my diagnosis. In a way, writing is helping me trudge through my depression by bringing me joy, and confidence. The more confidence I gain, the more I am motivated to write. The more joy I feel writing, the more I want to interact with other writers on social media to share that joy. The more I interact, the more writers I see out there absolutely killing it with their kung fu. Nothing motivates me more than seeing another writer hustling hard. It makes me want to work just as hard, if not harder. But not as a fuck you, more as a high five on the playing field. I’ll never understand why people get jealous of others hard work. Maybe they don’t like how it reflects upon their own work, or lack thereof. Whatever. We should be lifting each other up, not clamoring for the front of the line. Just my two cents.
Tonight I think I will make a little offering to the Norse god Bragi, the god of poetry and song, for a little inspiration. Been a while.
Art taken off norse-mythology.org
Well I got up at the wee hour of 5am, turned on the coffee, and got down to writing. I was going to work on one of my old short stories, but my laptop died on me and I couldn’t find the cable in the dark of my room. So rather than wake my wife up by turning on the light I decided to write on my phone instead. I switched it up, and worked on an article I’d pitched last week to an editor friend of mine. 518 words later my daughter and son woke up and it was time for me to dad again.
Overall I am tired, but extremely satisfied with this little experiment. I don’t know if I can do this every single day, but maybe a few days a week at first just to see how I do. My wife gets up for work at 5am too, so it gives me an excuse to have coffee with her before she leaves for the day. (She has today off work, so I was flying solo this morning)
All in all I am happy, I feel accomplished, and the day has only just begun. Like even if I get nothing else done today (unlikely) I’ll have written 518 words, and that’s not nothing. I feel like, at least for today, I spit in the eye of my diagnosis. I can live with that.
My thoughts are a broken record today. Depressed because I’m too tired to write at night. Literally falling asleep at the keyboard. Wife talked me out of coffee. Probably a bad idea anyways. I have to wake up early with the kids everyday, soooooooo I dunno… i could try to get up when my wife gets up, at 5am to get ready for work. Maybe I could get up, have coffee with her, and write for a few hours until my son wakes up around 7am. My daughter is in bed with us around the time my wife gets up, so she’s up anyways. She usually just chills in bed with me, playing on the tablet, until my son wakes up, or I get up to go get him. Maybe I’ll try that tomorrow. I need to find my writing nitch. My time I can devote to writing. Sporadically writting throughout the day isn’t nearly enough, nor is it supportive of any flow I might get going. I constantly have to dad. It’s not even that my parenting responsibilities are getting in the way of my writing, it’s the other way around. If I have to choose, I will always choose my children first. So my writing suffers.
Uggh! I hate this feeling. Like my demons are whispering in my ear again. Trying to silence the stories I’ve yet to tell. I hope I find my stride soon. It’s getting harder to keep my chin up about it. I’m loosing ground to exhaustion and mental illness, and the coffee just isn’t strong enough lately. Anyways, I’ve complained long enough. I’ll see what tomorrow brings.
Feeling listless today. I took care of the majority of mundane tasks on my list. Spent time with my kids. I just can’t seem to get comfortable though. Like I’m waiting for a phone call with terrible news, or for the other shoe to drop, or whatever you want to call it. I know it’s because I’ve missed a couple days of medication due to being out after a mix up at the pharmacy. Gotta love it. So I’ve been on edge.
Thank the gods for coffee though. My liquid knight in shining fucking armor, oh how I love you. I felt like a marionette held up by delicious threads of creamy caffeinated delight this morning. Seriously though, as a parent, and especially as an autism parent, I literally cannot function properly without coffee. It’s just asking for trouble.
The kids are watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse and I’m banging my head against the keyboard trying to feel some sort of epiphany through the haze of the doldrums. I think that’s the only reason I’m even writing this, so that at least at the end of the day I can say I wrote something.
Writing truly is my soul balm. It brings me joy unlike any hobby I’ve ever had. Even when it sucks, which is often, I effing created something that wasn’t there before. It’s like magic! And you know what? If even one person likes my writing then it was worth it. Hel, it’s worth it even if no one likes it, because at the end of the day I’m writing for me, and my own mental health.
Anyways, I hope your day has been more inspirational than mine has. Hail to the fleeting muse! May she grace us with her gifts sooner than later.
I’ve been gone for a while, obviously. Dealing with mental health issues and writer’s block like a mother trucker. Over a year of just not writing. Feels strange to get back on the horse after so long, but I’ve been dipping my toes gingerly into the inky pool of inspiration. Doing a little poetry. Submitting a little thing here and there. Small stuff, but with momentum. All I have to do is stay hungry and motivated. Easier said than done, I know. I am lucky enough to have some awesome writer friends who are kicking me in the butt, and a very supportive family. Things might just be different this time.
That’s all for now. I’m going to try and update this blog at least once a month from now on.