June 7th, 2005

bear by san

The heart rebels against the mind / I swear to God I'll win this time

I am thinking about joy. Specifically, I am thinking about how joy is something I've learned, something I've had to train myself to. This week's bout with chemically-induced generalized anxiety disorder has brought home something I'd forgotten--how it felt to be viscerally miserable all the time, tense and unhappy and physically ill and unable to stop fretting over and over and over all of life's myriad little problems, like a mouse running on a wheel.

I've somehow found a way out of that, and the revisitation was unwelcome. Being stressed and anxious doesn't feel good.

What was odd and new was how clearheaded I was about it. I knew it was stress, and it was physical, and it wasn't my true emotional state, but a chemical reaction, but I couldn't set it aside. It was distracting, a nagging presence that didn't want me doing anything else--except watching the hamsters run on the wheel. Whirr whirr whirr.

Once upon a time, I thought I wanted serenity, unflappability. I worked very hard to get that, to bring myself to a level keel.

Last night, when the anxiety broke, and I felt myself again, I realized something. What I wanted wasn't serenity. It was comfort, physical and emotional comfort. Not to feel awful and sick and stressed. I wanted joy, where joy is defined as, taking pleasure in what there is to take pleasure in, and dealing with the rest as best as possible.

It was a very practical revelation, and it made me feel much better. But I'm not sure I can claim to be a Buddhist any more, even a bad one (Erisianism is a form of Zen. No, really.) because I'm no longer all that interested in getting off the wheel. Mitigating suffering, however--that, I can get behind. Choosing joy. Because it is a choice. The chemicals can make me feel awful, but I'm also smart enough to know it's the chemicals doing it, and endure and mitigate it, the way I would a head cold or a sprained ankle.

I'm back to feeling a little stressed this morning, but not the twisting weasel of anxiety in my chest. I think I'll go do some yoga and see how that helps.


The New York Times's Literary Map of Manhattan


kristine_smith is evil


John Scalzi and wild_irises present differing and detailed views on the fine art of panel moderation: where there's a whip, there's a way. (I suspect I'm the "fairly new writer of military SF" mentioned. Which is more than fair, I suppose, although I don't really think of those books as military SF, unless that means "they have people in them who are in the military." I'm not sure where the "admittedly hasn't thought much about women and the draft" comment came from, though, but charging to the defense of my slightly bruised ego is outside the scope of discussion over there--so I'll do it over here! Bwa ha ha!)

ob. peanut gallery: I've never seen scalzi moderate. I suspect, from watching him manage large groups of people, he'd be good at it. wild_irises, however, was one of the two best panel moderators I dealt with this last convention.


The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any
--Russell Baker

Oh, if only. Clever, but for me, and for most writers I know, patently untrue. I mean, writing is fun. I love it. Even when it's kicking my ass, it's the best job in the world.

But it's harder work than anything else I've ever done, and the best part is, your mistakes never go away! Ever!
  • Current Music
    The Tragically Hip - At The Hundredth Meridian
bear by san

I'm not good; I'm not nice; I'm just right.

I may have just written the best sentence of my life. It's not quite the Sondheim lyric quoted above, but I love it with an unholy love.

Unfair, but not untrue.

nihilistic_kid piles onto the panel moderation debate

Progress notes for 7 June 2005:

Whiskey & Water

New Words: 2,506
Total Words: 110,091 / 123,250
Pages: 493

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
123,250 / 160,000
Reason for stopping: work, alas
Mammalian Assistance: Paladin was needy today. So he got snuggled some.
Stimulants: tropical green tea, Republic of Tea Vanilla Almond. Which is crack.
Exercise: gothercise, yoga
Mail: nomail
Today's words Word don't know: coir, muskier, microsleeps, Herod, disenthrallment, celadon, tasseomancy
Tyop du jour: a black wold waited for him at the edge of the woods (or) rattle and thumb of a weather-swollen door.
Darling du jour: Ian delivered a grimly determined Jewels into Autumn's hands before breakfast, when the sky behind bare trees was transparent golden, and cold birds sang in their limbs.
Books in progress, but not at all quickly: Dorothy L. Sayers, The Unpleasantness At The Bellona Club;

Interesting research tidbits of the day:
tasseomancy. I gotta say, if you're seeing all this stuff in your tea leaves, you hardly need their help in percieving visions.

Matthias I "Corvinus" Hunyadi, King of Hungary. I've been interested in this guy for years, ever since he turned up as a tangent in the Vlad III research lo, these twelve or thirteen or fourteen years ago now.

...aw, drat, I think the penny just dropped on another Promethean Age book. Maybe the first one, chronologically speaking, unless I go way back and start chasing ancient Asian history.

Because I'll have to write the 15th century one eventually, and I was resisting, because nobody needs another fucking book about Vlad. Let's be frank: the world would be a better place if half the books about Vlad vanished in a puff of sensationalism.

But a book about Matthias Corvinus....

Oh yeah.

And, I mean, how can you not want to write a book about somebody named Matthew the Crow? A name like that, dude, you earn.

Other writing-related work: I have notecards. I actually don't have all that many notecards, and most of the remaining plot is on them. But I suspect it will take many pages to get through them, because the stuff that happens is complicated.

And there will be more notecards as things go on, I'm sure.

It's pounding along right now, though.

Maybe I'll bring it under 160K. Maybe. But I am not holding my breath.
  • Current Music
    Peter Mulvey - St. James Infirmary
bear by san

But here you are in the ninth, two men out and three men on, nowhere to look but inside--

I contemplated for a long while posting this under a lock, because it's more personal than I usually get online, but I figured it's pretty decent insight into the stresses of your average writer's life, and it might be helpful to somebody.

I made myself a little list tonight, in the midst of my three-day anxiety attack, about why I might in fact be justified in being stressed out (although I never seem to actually think I'm under much stress), which include good things and very good things and slightly annoying things. Most of which I have not been taking seriously as sources of stress. But.

Perhaps I should have been.
  1. Cross-country relocation probable for some unspecified date this fall or winter, but still very much up in the air
  2. Working a 20-hour-a-week job on top of the writing gig, which is something like 70 hours a week
  3. Currently fretting about a minor cash-flow crisis that involves waiting for money I am owed to arrive, hopefully in time to cover the large chunk of bills due at the end of the month, which must be paid, and all very much up in the air
  4. Major personal upheavals, most of them not particularly interesting, but related to (1), and all very much up in the air
  5. Various other major and minor expenses expected in the next six months, which I can afford, if the checks come at the right time, always a burning question in the gig.
  6. Second novel deathwatch. T-20 days. Will they hate it? Did I mention, very much up in the air.
  7. Whiskey & Water deadline Oct. 1 (firm)
  8. Carnival deadline Nov. 15 (firm)
  9. Blood & Iron rewrite on hold pending Liz's comments, air
  10. Stratford Man rewrite on hold pending Jenn's comments, air
  11. Judging the CHIZINE fiction contest. Which is fun, but it's also something that takes time and mental power. Likewise my slush duties at IDEO. Not that I am complaining about either: it's volunteer work, and I really do love it. But it's a ticky box.
  12. Campbell Award deathwatch. I'm reasonably certain that I'm not going to win, mind you. But the miniscule but real potential that I could win keeps me from dismissing the entire thing as silliness and not thinking about it at all. Thank the deity of your choice that it's August this year, instead of September. But that's still two more months that it's up in the air. Did I mention that I am, generally speaking, the sort who prefers a single exquisitely painful rip to a series of agonizing jerks?
  13. SFRA (firm)
  14. ComiCon (if I can afford it) (air)
  15. Book signing thing in Minneapolis and Toronto first two weeks of July, assuming that I'm not too broke to afford the plane tickets. (should be firm, but is sliding into air, and I do not want to cancel those dates, dammit.)

The funny thing was, I was actually doing all right until I got back from WisCon and the check I was hoping for wasn't here yet. Which money I rather need in about a week. And I suspect that was the tipping point, along with the ugly Hot Dog Incident, that sent me into a full blown anxiety attack.

So if I've been a twit to anybody in the last three days, I am terribly sorry. It wasn't intended. And it certainly wasn't personal.

The good news is that between making the list, thus justifying myself that it's not unreasonable to be a little freaked, as I really do have a lot of things going on this month, and an email from the editor in charge of the publication that I was hoping would send me money soon, very politely inquiring as to whether I had been paid, and my own spiritual maintenance routine, I may have convinced my limbic system that the sabertooth cats are not about to eat us. Just this second. Yet.

We'll see how I feel in the morning.

In other news, truepenny tears August Derleth a new one.

In other other news, thank God that writing is not a performance art.

  • Current Music
    Jethro Tull - Said She Was A Dancer