31 January, 2017

Writing With My Old Friend Epilepsy

Well, my episodes are back.

Last time this happened, between about 2010-2013, I became fat, I accomplished nothing, and I forgot many useful skills I'd learned.  Treated at long last, I woke up hardly remembering those three years at all.

Here's hoping that doesn't happen again.
Image result for cheers

Already I find myself sleeping too much, perpetually a bit tired, and forgetful of even the most basic things.  As I write this there's a pile of cat sick outside my study door that's been there for a day now.  I intend to clean it when I get up, but will almost certainly forget within the next 90 seconds.  Isn't it grand?  I lose my zest for life, in short, and I find it very hard to force myself to be a hardworking, healthy professional.

But people who suffer with a disease have to learn to find the good in things.  I really think people with a neurological disorder have to learn to master themselves, in a weird way.  I know exactly how to use schedules and alarms to trick myself into acting like a healthy person, and how to look at things to keep my chin up. 

This latest bout has actually taught me something pretty neat.

A lot has happened in 2017 already for me, and I won't let the post get unfocused, but suffice to say I've felt compelled to edit a few adult novels into shape.

For me, writing is fun, and editing is work.  I know it's the other way around for some writers, and I envy those who find everything fun, if they exist.

Now, for weeks I was beating my head with one of these books.  I found no joy in editing it, wound up getting very little done, which made me more depressed, which made me more tired, more lacadaisical, and the cycle perpetuates itself.

People in my position must take very active steps, and be very self aware, to avoid falling too far.  I've allocated myself 30 minutes per day for "professional development".  That means either writing for my blog, or editing my book.  Odds are strong that when I sit down for 30 minutes, I'll want to stay longer, but it's important that I don't have to.  Yesterday I sat down at 3:30 and stopped editing at 7pm.  I got plenty done and felt great.

It's not the first time in my life I've learned the importance of those little tricks, but it is the first time I've learned this:  you don't rule the creative mind.  It rules you.  It's of tremendous importance to spend each day writing something that makes me happy, whether that's reading some favourite adult fantasy books for inspiration, or writing a midgrade idea that came to me in a dream a couple weeks ago.

I always maintained that art doesn't happen when writers write, but when readers read.  It isn't in the pianist's fingers pushing keys, but the listener's ears.  But there's more to it.  I think art is found in the love of the creation, whether it's the artist's love or the audience's.  It's in the spark of joy that teases the pianist's fingers to life, too.

Less eloquently, I've realised why so many artists become childish, diva bastards.  It seems I have to let myself join the ranks just a little bit.  I have to follow that joy, especially now, or else succumb to the depression.  I'm inspired to link to an old Radiohead song.  Not sure why but screw it.  It's a good song.

DO NOTE:  This incredibly weird and arguably naff video must be viewed through the lens of 90s playful sarcasm, or else it's nauseating.  We did it first, hipsters!  And in the right spirit!  Stop sullying our good name with your sleeve tattoos and "ironic" t-shirts!

Here's to you, epilepsy.  Even if you make me forget something every day, I guess occasionally you help me learn something too.


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