Monday, November 5, 2007

The Wall

I'm going to try to write this post without sounding like a crazy person. I really would like to think of myself as a non-crazy person, but sometimes I feel like that status is severely challenged.

I've hit a wall. A big one. Lots of walls all lined up to make one big wall.

Two months ago I decided I was going to do something about the weight I'd inexplicably gained over the summer. I was already exercising regularly, but it was time for a major overhaul. I have religiously worked out daily, dieting the best I can (with only a few Halloween flubs). If anything, I can say my clothes are tighter and my flab is flabbier. Really great for the motivation. Wall number one.

In August I was asked by people at my church to play the piano for the children's program happening this coming Sunday. Even though I'm not a terrific pianist, I was given eight songs to learn which I have practiced regularly and while vast improvements have been made, I'm still seriously screwing up these songs. I'm terrified to accompany the children in front of my whole church's congregation. I feel like I could practice for forever and I will still suck. Wall number two.

I've been so looking forward to NaNoWriMo. It was my chance to give up all excuses about becoming a novelist and just go for it. I pictured it being exhilarating and I have really committed to the process. Right now my word count stands at 8,246 words. I had my husband read it back to me today and realized that even though I had given myself permission to write crap, I didn't really expect it all to actually be crap. Rationally I can realize that this is a process and that only by experience will I get any better. Emotionally, I feel like a big fat joke. My 8k words are pretty boring. I'm realizing my story must not be starting in the right place. And I'm not scrapping my 8k yet because I need that word count. But, alas, here I am, eye to brick with wall number three.

I realize that these things are pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But I can't help the feeling that no matter how strong an effort I give something I'm bound to fail. Little successes can do wonders for the ego. No success at all makes me wonder why I even try.

I know how whiny it sounds. Just writing it makes me want to puke. But I'm feeling so totally alone right now and I'm desperate for encouragement from any voice at all. I tried to tell my husband how I was feeling, but he was asleep before I even finished my sentence. He is not an insensitive man, he just doesn't get the magnitude of my feelings. In general I feel things quite strongly, so he seems, unfortunately, desensitized.

I apologize for my gush of self indulgence. But it was either this or find a sharp object and make myself bleed. And that folks, really does make me sound like a crazy person. God help me.


SzélsőFa said...

Don't give up.
There are walls. There always be.
First of all, I'd like to send some virtual hugs, but most importantly, some love-y vibrations.
The great fog of self depreciation almost always find those who are working towards a better self. And THAT is a huge thing to do. You do care about the things you do and accomplish. That's just adorable. Perhaps, you're a perfectionist also. Well...seen it, been there...

Let me break down to your points of dissatisfaction. Let me write a 'what would I do, if I were you', which I am not, so you are kindly asked to discard my advice, any of them that are not suitable.

1. Eating
You probably DID achieve something. You've started watching your food, and've been doing healty exercises. You care about how you look and that is one good starting point.
Perhaps you should check the source of food, too. Processed food contains a lot of unnecessary additions. You body does not need them. Perhaps, you should switch from one exercixe to another. Perhaps you should even change the TYPE of exercise. If you've been doing aerobics, do yoga or thai chi. Try walking in a safe neighbourhood. Walk each day for at least 30 minutes. Get hungry each day. After having gotten really hungry, you can eat, of course. Drink when you feel like eating.

2. Piano.
Well, I'd ask sensible and HONEST people about my playing style. Ask them to be really honest.
If most of them said I played quite fine, I would keep on playing. and finally, if there's no one else to play that instrument, and you play it with all the love of your heart than so shall it be.
You are not supposed to be next to a great pianist, are you? This is a lovely group of people who gather to feel God, they are not coming to listen to music, are they?
If your music ruins the feeling of attachment and makes the gathering uncomfortable, than you should stop.
But if it's only that it does not sound like those professionals on CDs, than why not?


I assume you already have a sort of outline and/or plot to rely on. Consider the lines you have written as a draft. A starting point.
You know, some of the things I write sound great right after finishing, but sound crap later on. Perhaps it's just that you have become familiar with what you have written. I suggest going on with the story, to explore other things about the plot and characters.

And finally, I would definitely set myself a few small goals. Goals I know when and how to achieve.
The main point in getting through this phase is seeing some achievement.
Think about doing some extra situps tomorrow. Like doing 50more than you did yesterday. Write them on a postit paper. Put it beside the screen.
When finishing with the extra 50s, tick it off on the paper.
Also, try practising a 9th song. Write it down, tick it off.
Think about going to Chapter (whatever's next). Write it on paper, work on said chapter, tick it off.

After you've done 3 ticking offs, you'll be surely feel better and more motivated.
Don't give up.

Vesper said...

Hoodie, you're not alone and you're not crazy. We all hit walls, all the time. Sometimes, I feel bricked inside a tiny room, with barely enough space to breathe. There are days when nothing works, when I feel that everything is pointless.

Don't be so hard on you. It seems like you're going through a period when everything seems dark.

This NaNoWriMo is not such a big deal, is it? Why waste your time, writing 50000 words only to discard them later? Write 10000 words that you really like - that's what I would do. I think it would be time better spent.

Weight loss - again, the more you try, the more you expect, the more the results will seem feeble to you. Do not worry so much!

Piano playing in front of all the congregation - I must admit, I couldn't do that. Bravo to you for even considering it! But you've done it before, haven't you?

For all it's worth, I'm with you and sending many hugs your way... :-)

Anonymous said...

Hoodie, I'll address wall #3 since I have the most experience with that one (although I feel for you with #2). This is your first novel. If you didn't feel the way you are feeling, I'd worry about you. You haven't hit a wall at all. You've simply hit the reality that writing a good novel is spectacularly hard. I'm still trying to get it right.

The only way you fail is if you stop improving, or stay at your current level and believe that you're Tolstoy.

Keep writing the novel. The point of Nanowrimo is to get something on paper. You can improve it later. If you see specific issues, you're doing great. The danger is when you don't see them at all.

I know it's hard and painful. Keep going anyway.

strugglingwriter said...

I know how you feel, how everything you do seems to come up short. I was there probably a month ago, work wasn't great, I couldn't score a goal in hockey, and I was losing every writing contest I entered.

I still haven't scored a goal this season but I stuck with everything and it improved.

My advice for writing that helped me make things interesting is to put your character in some kind of "dangerous" situation, that seems like they have no way to get out of. Make conflict. Interest flows from there.

Michelle said...

Hang in there, and don't give up. As to #3, I wrote 50,000 words last year , none of which are ending up in these final drafts. I started in the wrong place. Or wrote extra scenes that didn't belong. Or wrote about things that shouldn't have happened. You name it. But if I hadn't written THOSE 50k words, I wouldn't have gotten to the point where I knew what the story should be. So, I chalk it up to a month-long writing exercise. Hopefully, you come out with more usable stuff than I did, but whatever you get written is not worthless. My advice is don't read anything you've written until after November is over. (Maybe even wait until January to get some distance.) Just keep writing.

Jaye Wells said...

Expecting to write a brilliant or even decent novel in 30 days is what's really crazy. I just finished a book that took me a year to write. That's four or five drafts. And I write almost every day. Give yourself a break. Don't go back and reread what you've written. When you're already down, you should never read your work. You lack perspective on it right now.

And for goodness sake, woman, treat yourself to a piece of chocolate. Diet be damned.

Church Lady said...

Everyone's said such nice things, I don't think I could say it any better. I agree with all of it. And the part about writing 1000 words you like versus putting out 2000 words of crap sounds like good advice.

I am completely with you on the diet thing. I've gained weight since I started writing/blogging. I'd love to lose 35 pounds. I'd be happy with 20. I think it happens in little steps. And don't be so hard on yourself!! Focus on a couple of positive things, or you *will* make yourself crazy.

The Quoibler said...

I can definitely understand all of your concerns, but like everyone else, I urge you to be kind to yourself.

Just the fact that you are attempting NaNoWriMo is impressive, regardless of what you do with those writings. However, I truly believe that you'll find some kernel of a future novel, short story, or perhaps poem in the 50K you write this month.

As for the diet and exercise, I know how hard it can be. When I hit 34 1/2, things started to really change for me body-shape wise. I've heard some people say that every seven years a woman's body shape changes (ages 7, 14, 21, et cetera). I have no clue if that holds true for everyone, but it has definitely been somewhat true for me. So I feel your pain.

As for the piano thing, you may just have to admit that you're over your head if that's really the case. But before you do so, why not ask for some second, third, and fourth opinions? It sounds like your hubby is open and honest and will tell you the truth, so perhaps he can give you some direction. On the other hand, these are just kids. Blame it on their lack of ability and say it wasn't the piano. (ha ha ha) Just kidding.

Chin up! We support you in bloggerland!

Nothingman said...

my word count is somewhere around 6 k maybe 7. don't have a comp at home, so i just write on paper....but gonna pull it through, got some holidays coming up. cheer up, life is like this...ah don't get me started :)

Take care and write write write!