Hello, good morning, and welcome to the first Thursday of August in 2021. As is self-evident, it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.
I’ll start with the writing-related material this time, which I’ve tended lately to push to near the end of my posts, since—unfortunately—during the editing process, not much of substance changes from week to week. In the Shade is proceeding well, however. I’ve already passed my initial goal for story compression, i.e., the reduction in total word count, which hopefully is a good proxy for tight writing and quick reading, and thus a more pleasurable, gripping story. I hope to do significantly more trimming as I go along, but I don’t know that I’ll reach my secondary “goal” of twice as much reduction. Since I’m more than halfway through my editing iterations, it seems unlikely. Still, setting a lofty goal, so to speak, usually means that even if one falls somewhat short, at least one will have achieved more than if one had set a low goal. Only those who attempt the “impossible” can achieve the unbelievable.
I don’t know how I’ll learn whether I’ve achieved the desired overall improvement of my writing. It’s difficult to tell from my own experience, since I always enjoy my stories when I reread them (so far, anyway). It would be amusingly ironic if future generations of literary scientists analyzed my drafts compared to the final products and found, in some objective sense, that they were uniformly better in their longer, original forms. I don’t know how that could possibly happen, but I can’t rule it out. I take comfort in the fact that, should such analysis ever be done, I will likely be long since dead when it occurs.
I came within a hare’s breadth* of writing a post for Iterations of Zero this last Sunday. I even loaded up Word for the first time on my newish laptop at home, but I unfortunately failed to clear the mental hurdle of putting the device on my lap in my bed (which is where I spend almost my entire time on weekends) and actually starting to write.
This fact is particularly frustrating because I so often come up with ideas that I would like to explore either in writing or verbally. I often toy with the idea of keeping my phone handy—it is always handy, now that I think of it—and using it to record myself rambling about these thoughts. They often occur in traffic, unfortunately, especially when my Bluetooth is acting up and I can’t listen to music as I go, which is my preference. I sing along for the most part; I tend to get quite absorbed in it. For instance, earlier this week when I just missed colliding with the very large vertical remnant of a semi-truck tire just over the top of a slight rise on I-95**, I didn’t even break the phrase of the song I was singing—even as I narrowly avoided going head over heels at nearly seventy miles an hour.
It’s weird; I tend to be stressed, confused, and sometimes almost panicky or enraged, in purely social situations, or when my daily routines or interests are interrupted. But real, serious physical danger—to me or to others, as when I was in medical practice—just tends to focus my concentration. I didn’t even need to stop to calm down after my recent “brush with death”, though I was very annoyed by the possibility there might be functional damage to my vehicle that I would need to address. Thankfully, there wasn’t, so I can continue my daily routine as before without disruption.
Still, I really want to work into that routine a pattern of writing down or otherwise recording the various weird thoughts that meander through my head, on subjects from physics and mathematics to psychology, philosophy, sociology/politics/economics, technology, energy, climate, the nature of complexity, etc. Also, I could use it as a kind of “therapy”. I definitely “need” that, in the sense that my mental health is far from good and is probably worsening.
I have at least taken some baby steps in seeking help, using an unexpected disappointment that at least presented an opportunity: When I clicked an offered link for help after repeatedly taking the online AQ test and getting consistently quite high results, it didn’t take me to any Asperger’s resources, but brought me instead to the “Better Help” site, which is a resource for online therapy. After much hemming and hawing and false starting on my part, I’m trying to make arrangements for such therapy, but it’s been difficult because of my schedule, my innate aversion to doing anything to help myself***, and my discomfort interacting with new people, even over video or text. I’ve finally got something moving, but it looks like it’s going to be only every other week or so; I work long hours, and I’m not going to do online therapy while other people are in the office, even if it’s during lunch. It’s almost inconceivable that I could manage “in-person” therapy, though I’ve done it in the past.
Well, life is complicated. I frequently doubt whether it’s worth the effort, but since we can’t test the alternative and then change our minds, we keep putting our shoulders to our Sisyphean boulders and hope that maybe, at the very least, this time we might get a tiny bit of rest at the top of the hill. Though, honestly, I don’t know what I would even do with such a break.
Still, I have Outlaw’s Mind to look forward to finishing once I’m done with In the Shade and thence with Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Writing new fiction—and usually even new nonfiction—is always a boost. I’m not sure why, but it is.
*Which is larger than a hair’s breadth, of course, but hares do tend to be svelte, so it’s still pretty close.
**A smaller bit of debris to the right ripped a panel loose on the side of my bike, but I have a cool head in times of stress. Though I wobbled back and forth for a few subsequent seconds, I never came very close to going over. Sometimes I honestly regret such “coolness”, but a motorcycle accident on the interstate is not how I would prefer to die, especially since it might not kill but merely maim me. That would be such a pain both literally and figuratively.
***Who among us would not have mixed feelings at the prospect of giving aid to his greatest enemy?