Die Harder

I try to avoid clichés like the plague (…I’ll show myself out) but old habits really do die hard. It’s true.

Right now, my depression is biting again, hard (GRRR!), but there’s a tinge of deeper familiarity to this one. An extra edge of “freeze mode”-induced powerlessness that I haven’t felt for a long time and is making me feel even more useless* than normal.

* Note: I know for a fact that I am not useless. That’s just the main insult that the lying scumbag of depression likes to throw in my face whenever it can. I find if I just allow the word to sit in my head without engaging with it too much it’s easier to function around it…

This feeling is the reason why I can’t put MMus(Musicology) after my name.

I’ll elaborate.

Thanks to our worsening financial situation I have been a little more earnest about looking for paid work I can do from home. As luck would have it, a recent Daily Post email linked to the ProBlogger Job Board so I went ahead and checked it out.

I’ve been thinking lately that my future may lie in writing. I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it (like everything else I have a knack for!) but so far the low-pressure world of blogging has been uncomplicated and fun. I figured I’d see if I have the chops to do it for other people.

I sent out feelers for a few jobs and one lovely woman looking to start a parenting blog wrote back. After a little back and forth she gave me a topic and word limit to write to, I said I’d “get right on it!” and bounced around the house giggling for a while at the thought that I might have the beginnings of an actual career in my grasp.

That was last Wednesday.

Now we didn’t set a due date and admittedly the kids have been sick but so far progress has been patchy, to say the least. I have sketches and outlines and snippets and notes and links all gathered together but still freeze up and panic once I have to pin those squirmy words down onto a page in good order.

Why? Why does my brain consciously choose to do this to itself?

THIS ISN’T A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION, BRAIN! There are no tigers here. You’re not going to be hauled onto a stage and mocked for twenty days and nights if you don’t write the single most mind-blowing thing that anybody, anywhere has ever read in the history of everything! You do words good, kid. Just bang something out and give it over to the nice lady so she can figure out if we’ll be a good fit for each other.

This was what it was like for five agonising years of extensions and “special circumstances” while I desperately clung to my dream of becoming an academic. It was just a Masters thesis. 40,000 words, written over two years full-time or four years(ish) part-time. All I had to do was write something competent enough to pass muster then move on to bigger and brighter things.

But no. My brain fixated on needing to write the perfect thesis, the most unique, paradigm-shifting thesis ever submitted for a mere Masters degree. NOTHING was ever good enough. And I had to fit EVERYTHING in there – so had to chase up every source and citation until my head exploded from the stress of trying to keep track of all those cross-references and quotes.

Plus, of course, nobody could be seen to help me. I had to know everything already and nod sagely during papers and conferences, clearly already across the most recent research in my field, as knowledgeable as the freaking Doctors and Professors in front of me.

Whenever I did finally scrape together a draft for my supervisor to look at I would be a mess over the corrections and feedback. Clearly my writing was crap and I was crap and my supervisor obviously was too polite to call me a brain-dead moron to my face despite the evidence I just handed to her. I would have the burning compulsion to delete it all and start from scratch again, every single time anything I wrote was critiqued. It was hell.

I thought I was over this. I thought I was mature and self-aware enough to keep my perfectionism in check now. I thought I’d be comfortable tying my name to a published piece of writing without seeing it as an extension of myself and taking any and all feedback intensely personally.

So far it’s not looking great.

I won’t give up though.

Tomorrow is hub’s and my anniversary (well, today, technically). I really don’t want this hanging over my head for that! Time to go zen and just WRITE. I can do this.

(On the plus side, from what I’ve heard and read this is pretty much the normal state of being for most professional writers. So at least I’ve got that sorted. Yay?)

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7 thoughts on “Die Harder

  1. This all sounds familiar. I work for a small publisher and we write SFDs: shitty first drafts. Sorry for my bad language but it’s practically a technical term for us by now. Anne Lamott has an entire chapter by that title in her book Bird by Bird (that’s where we all first read about it). I actually have folders in Dropbox like “Anne Marie SFD March 2015.” This concept helps me a lot. I still freak out sometimes though. Good luck with your gig. That’s exciting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No need to apologise for bad language here. 😉 I really must get around to reading that Lamott book! Been on my list for a little while now. I’m slowly getting better at allowing myself to write below my ideal standard – it’s physically painful sometimes though!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The black dog bites you just when you need to be focused, it’s so bloody irritating, especially when your expectations of yourself go into over drive..grrrrr.

    I think you’ll write a great piece, your writing is pacy and I feel as though I’m talking to you and not reading your words which is a great gift.

    Happy Anniversary, have fun:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. It’s all like “oh, you’re trying to achieve something worthwhile, are you? Something that will make you feel good about yourself? Huh? KAPOW!! Have some crippling self-doubt and paralysis! Ha ha haaaa!”

      And thanks for your kind words (as always). I actually nutted out a pretty decent first draft after this post. Now I just need to stitch it together and give it the ol’ spit and shine. 🙂

      I have plenty of time to get it done since hubby couldn’t get out of the late shift and won’t be home for aaaaages. 😦 Ah well. We’ll just do champers tonight and go out for a date on the weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

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