Not Very Writey Right Now

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:09 pm

Had ourselves a pleasant if totally under-trick-or-treatered Halloween. For all our work with Fernando and the Jack O’ Lanterns and stuff, our grand total of candy moochers was….one lousy kid. Another one came to the door only to have his picture taken with Fernando; then he booked outa there before I could foist any candy off on him.

We spent the evening eating leftover Spanish Rice and gorging on our remaining silo of candy, watching the third annual Ghost Hunters Live Halloween special. All in all, a sedate yet enjoyable All Hallows Eve.

I’m really not sure what has happened to put such a damper on my blogging as of late. For no particular reason, I have been in a particularly “low power” mode since wrapping up this year’s catalog. I think there are a lot of things contributing to this, the first and foremost being plain laziness and entropy. I stopped writing regularly due to my workload. Then some fairly heavy family-related shit started to bubble up, taking up not only my actual time but a goodly chunk of my psychic energy. Over time the intervals between posts just kept getting longer and longer, until it’s pretty much all I can do to sit down and come up with anything of note to immortalize in bytes.

The fact is, I don’t glean any inherent pleasure from the act of writing this or any other lengthy prose. I mean, of course I enjoy coming up with a clever turn of phrase, or perhaps—much more rarely—presenting a concept or piece of information that someone else might find novel or useful. But the physical act of writing is about as personally rewarding as the physical act of racquetball. It’s bracing in its own way, and anything this discomforting must surely be good for me, but it’s hardly something I’d choose to do in my spare time without a damn good reason.

I’d say the last time I really enjoyed writing was when I was cobbling together lyrics for my music, back in one of my previous lives as a home-studio one-man keyboard band. (I can’t even actually play the piano: I followed the path of such luminaries as Gary Numan and just threw interesting-sounding notes and chords together and let Master Tracks Pro handle the whens and how longs. I commonly referred to myself as a “note technician” rather than besmirch the loftier designation, “musician”. I’ve contemplated getting back into note tech—even went so far as to pick up a new USB keyboard to replace my old MIDI equipment—but I just haven’t found the time to buy, install, configure and perfect all the newfanlged software that comes with a modern digital studio. Last time I was really plugging away at this stuff, I was recording to a Fostex 4-track cassette recorder; I’m about three generations and any number of alternate realities behind.) I haven’t done that in—what, fourteen years?—and banging out stuff on the ol’ glass teletype hardly gives me the same positive-feedback loop. It’s a labor. Occasionally of love, but mostly just a labor.

To quote one of my favorite authors David Rakoff, “Writing is like pulling teeth….from my dick”.

As a result, I only tend to do it when I have built up either a really good head of steam (i.e., some truly pernicious mental pimple that will just keep zinging painfully away until I pop it) or a compelling momentum. If for whatever reason the chain is broken, my motivation tends to wind down pretty quickly. Which is what happened to me sometime last month.

Add to that the two or three days I pissed away crafting and ultimately discarding a scathing editorial against one of author and sociocultural curmudgeon Orson Scott Card’s recent online tirades—in which I ruthlessly plundered hundreds of innocent words basically saying, “I haven’t cared for his last few books and I really hate his politics, so I think I’ll spare myself further exposure to either”—and I began to feel that I’ve been not merely spinning my wheels, but actually gnawing on them. Which is good for neither wheels nor teeth. Nor a sense of accomplishment, for that matter.

What’s interesting this time around is it doesn’t seem to bother me much. My usual MO is to fail to do something useful, then spend an inordinate amount of time berating myself for wasting away my life/God-given talents/Sunday afternoon instead of doing something useful. (Which of course is, in itself, not very useful.) This time around I’m just not doing anything, instead of not doing anything and then feeling bad about it.

Amazingly, my utter failure to berate myself for failing to do anything useful has not—as of yet, anyway—caused me to feel bad about failing to berate myself for not doing anything useful. This is unprecedented.

Yes, yes, I know; my head’s spinning too.

I think I’m going to attribute this bizarre twist in my normal behavior to the fact that I recently started on antidepressants. Margaret has been nudzhing gently encouraging me to talk to my doctor about this for years, and this Fall I finally gave in. There’s an appreciable history of chemical depression in my family, and I’m fairly confident that I have been raising snakes under my hat for a good portion of my life. I’ve just always taken the view that a) My particular problems are so minor in comparison to those of so many other people that I have no right to complain about them, b) I should be able to bear such a comparatively meager burden without chemical intervention and c) that which does not kill me makes me stronger. I know, quasi-macho horseshit of the purest ray serene, but whatchagonnado, huh? I don’t go trophy hunting or join Iron Man competitions or get drunk and punch people out in bars, so I have to take my opportunities for pointless exhibits of testosterone poisoning where I can find them. It was this or become the reigning world champion in some online game or another. Failing to treat my depression was a lot easier.

Of course, taking an SSRI is also not treating my depression; merely treating the symptoms. But in all honesty, it’s all I have the time and energy to do. And frankly, it’s a lot better than doing absolutely nothing.

At least, I assume it’s better than doing absolutely nothing. Because, though Margaret assures me that such is so, I have not been able to tell with any degree of certainty that these things are doing anything to help. It was not until I sat down to write this post that it occurred to me to credit the happy pills for my newfound ability to let things slide without beating myself over the head about it.

So, to encapsulate: from my perspective, the only tangible sign that the medication I am taking to treat depression is actually working is a drop in my editorial productivity, coupled with a noticeable decrease in my motivation to do anything about it. Oh goody!

Hm. On the other hand, I did just write over eleven hundred words about not being motivated to write. That’s something, I suppose….

I’d try to figure out what, but that would probably require actual therapy.

7 Responses to “Not Very Writey Right Now”

  1. Steve Says:

    Congrats on trying something new (not easy, I know)… you don’t say how recently you started, but I’ve found that SSRI’s take a month or two to really kick in (as do their side effects). Trying an SSRI is a big step, but it’s worth noting at the start that different ones work have better results for different people. Myself, after pinballing between a few I’ve wound up with a nutrient-centric approach which seems to alleviate most of my neuochemical issues, without any side-effects.

  2. Dalek Says:

    We too had a serious dearth of trick-or-treaters this year, as did everyone I’ve talked to. Dunno where all the kids went, but I suspect the young ones were taken by their parents to trick or treat at the mall, and the older kids were all at parties.

    The toy spiders in the candy bowl did get a rousing roar of approval from the four kids who did turn up at our door, though.

    As for not feeling motivated to write…um. I’m a writer by nature, so I’m not very well qualified to comment on the “want to write” part. On the one hand, I’m glad you’re more comfortable and feeling better able to let things slide. On the other hand, the idea of being tranquillized into being okay with just doing nothing gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies. I’m not saying that latter is true in your case, as you seem perfectly productive, and certainly your general level of creativity (as demonstrated by Fernando and the pumpkins) is doing just fine. Getting the medication you need is a *good thing* and I’m glad you’re doing it. There are a few thoughts in your post, though, that inspire my imagination to go into horror overdrive. :-p

    Then again, we all know that *I* am not particularly sane.

  3. Uncle Andrew Says:

    you don’t say how recently you started, but I’ve found that SSRI’s take a month or two to really kick in (as do their side effects).

    I’ve been on them for about two months now, so whatever benefit I’m going to get out of these things, I’m probably getting right now.

    I’m intrigued with the idea of a nutritional option, but I’m already on such a Nazi diet that the idea of making it worse just chills me to the bone. 😯

    On the other hand, the idea of being tranquillized into being okay with just doing nothing gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.

    I can see why such a concept would paralyze you with fright, seeing as how you’re something of a shark by nature: stop swimming for even a minute and you’d drown. 😀

    As for me, I’m a natural-born slacker. Beating myself over the head for my indolence was the indication that something might be wrong, not the indolence itself. 😛

  4. Gavin Says:

    Buck up little camper, at least one of our fellow Puns, (Poons? Punahouians?) is our next president.
    Say, aren’t you due for a midlife crisis anyway? Go buy yourself a car (skip the girlfriend. Their too expensive). 😀

  5. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Buck up little camper, at least one of our fellow Puns, (Poons? Punahouians?) is our next president.

    You know what’s the first thing I think of when I consider the fact that Obama is a Buff ‘N Bluester? Do you remember that old Frank De Lima song “Caucasians”, set to the tune of “Short People”? In the video to the song he stops in front of this total blala lounging in a beach chair at Lanikai and asks him, “Excuse me Sir, what high school did you graduate from?” The moke replies, “Punahou,” and De Lima turns to the camera and says, “Caucasian!” 😀

    Say, aren’t you due for a midlife crisis anyway? Go buy yourself a car (skip the girlfriend. Their too expensive). 😀

    My midlife crisis indulgence would probably be more along the lines of a Core 2 Extreme gaming rig with dual NVidia GTX 280 video cards in SLI mode, a killer 7.1 audio card and a 52 inch LCD TV to play it on. A real geek would have known that, sports cars and girlfriends both being way out of our comfort zone. 😛

  6. Gavin Says:

    My bad. So go get the hardware so you can get a sports car and a girlfriend in Second Life like the rest of us geeks. 😀 😀

  7. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Ooo, now yer talking!

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