Many people in my life don't understand why I get so discouraged and frustrated over missing self-imposed deadlines. But nearly everything in our lives is structured around dates and deadlines, whether you're talking work, school, appointments, sales, applications, or even taxes. There are deadlines or cutoff dates for everything! And by setting deadlines, I am trying to elevate my writing and creative pursuits from a hobby to something more serious.
During the past couple of weeks, I have woken on several occasions to the sound of rain rustling the new tree leaves outside my window. Sometimes there have been low grumbles of thunder accompanying the rain. Sometimes only a light breeze adds to the sound of the drizzle. If I have the time to do so, I will lie in bed and listen to these natural melodies for thirty minutes or more before deciding to get up and start my day. This type of spring rain puts me in a mood to create, and the peaceful atmosphere gives me the patience to pursue complex or challenging projects.
If there is no rain to envelop me in this peaceful atmosphere, I tend to listen to music to achieve the same mood and focus. I have several soundtracks and go-to albums of instrumental music which I can use as background noise while I write. If I'm working on paintings, sketches, or photo editing, then I may choose to listen to select singers or groups instead. Music doesn't create the exact same atmosphere - lighting quality, temperature, and humidity play a part too - but it can help.
Much of this weekend threatened rain, keeping me inside where I spent most of my time editing my novel manuscript. I'm hoping to pitch or query it this winter, but putting the final polish on it is difficult for me, perfectionist that I am. I realize some other writers have the same problem, but such knowledge is not enough to silence my inner critic.
I've just come back from another convention weekend, and once again, the timing of this event fell into the perfect place to help me handle life's stresses. But one thing about this con which makes it better than previous ones is the friends I've made. Some of those friends I knew prior to the con, but others I met there. And coming back home, we all are riding the energy of the three-day party and continuing the fun.
I apologize for not posting a new blog entry last week, but between putting in over 25 hours of overtime during the weekend while dealing with a cold and bad cough, I had little energy to spare. Last Monday I also had afternoon and evening classes to teach, so my typical blogging time was usurped by job duties. I had Tuesday off and thought about posting something then, but I ended up asleep on the couch with the dog all day. And I definitely needed that rest.
This weekend, western Pennsylvania and the surrounding region had to deal with some relatively common winter weather. So most people in our region spent the weekend at home, avoiding the cold as much as possible.
I took advantage of the long, uneventful hours by working on some fanart. I know I should have probably spent part of the weekend writing or editing, but it's been nearly a year since I took time to work on a piece solely for my enjoyment. And the time spent on sketching, painting, and coloring helped distract my mind from other things.
Holidays can be an overly busy time with little wiggle room to relax and take care of oneself. There are social events and associated preparations to be made on top of typical work and home life. For those inclined to creative pursuits, we run short on free time. Long-term projects often get put on hold, but sometimes smaller projects pop up in the way of making gifts or helping others with their own giving.
Despite having a long weekend to go with the Thanksgiving holiday, I have gotten very little done in the past few days, at least in the way of writing or photo-editing. Early in the week, the cooling fan for my laptop decided to go on the fritz, and I'm afraid to do too much work on any of my files due to the warning messages I keep getting about the fan. I often run through hardware before my software becomes obsolete, but each time it happens, I always wonder if it's worth getting repairs done or if I would be better served buying a new computer.
I spent most of last week feeling pretty lousy. Between humid nights, stressful days, and a stomach bug that left me unable to finish my meals, I had a hard time sleeping at night. Work kicked my butt in ways I didn't even notice; I started training a new employee, making my office hours fly by, and I clearly was not drinking enough to stay properly hydrated. Then on Thursday evening, I drove to Cleveland straight from work. I had spent most of the day feeling half-sick, but once I got to my hotel room, I finally started to relax and unwind. I knew it would be a great weekend, because I was attending my third Supernatural convention.
This past week, I began editing the abandoned novel manuscript I mentioned in last Monday's post, and for the first time in several months, I feel like I am making progress on a worthwhile project. While this feels amazing after so many weeks of struggle and frustration, I also want to keep in mind the other goals I set while on vacation. It's easy to get distracted by my old habits and to fall back into my routines, but these won't allow me to move forward.