The enervation of being unable to plan


I signed up to refresh my French at Duolingo.

Every day they nag me to do the 5 minutes I signed up for.

I usually do more once I get there, but it is like lifting boulders to get myself over there and start.

Yes, I will look back when this is over (assuming I survive), and wish I had spent my time better, but…


I will be better once my head clears.

Two days ago, I was struggling with a scene. This is normal for me: they don’t come easy, but I don’t care – it’s work I love.

Getting started writing every day requires a brain, and I struggle for hours most days trying to find something (other than time) which will encourage that brain to turn on.

And yes, I’ve tried writing when the brain isn’t on – pretty similar to making mudpies, for all the results.

Back to the point:

Two days ago I had a reasonable working day, got half the current scene into shape.

Yesterday, after two days of NOT riding the trike, I decided I had better get out there before I start making monkey noises, and went for a short trike ride around the greenway.

Except that we’re into a hot week, which means I can’t even go down to the garage to hop on the trike after about noon – because the garage is so hot I can’t function.

So it had to be in the morning.

And riding in the morning meant I was severely brain fogged the rest of the day, and could simply NOT focus.

I haven’t had carbs in days

Eating carbs usually results in me being brain fogged until the residue is out of my body, and I’m once more working on fat and protein. I haven’t been as strict with myself in the past, and it is REALLY hard not to have the only good dessert the dining staff sends in a week – after all, food is our only comfort provided by the facility now, and the lack of choice is getting me down.

But I’ve made the effort, and I can’t blame the current situation on carbs.

Today is merely the result of yesterday’s trike ride, as was all of yesterday afternoon and evening: having ME/CFS MEANS there is no way to get the energy back.

Not being able to do anything is also a sign of depression

in normal people.

We’re used to it, but I have to ask myself if I’ve let the situation and my limitations bump me into that territory.

And then I have a day in which no interruptions occur, and I keep my nose to the grindstone until it finally sharpens enough to write with, and I know it’s not discipline – it’s the disease.

What it is is a sign that I can’t expect to get a writing period on a day I go out for a mentally-necessary trike ride, which is in itself frustrating.

I can’t plan around it.

There is no plan C. I ride OR I write. And if I go longer than a day or two without writing, my brain seems to think we are doing something new, with all the Resistance to starting that comes with new things.

If you wonder why it takes me so long, that’s part of it.

The pandemic is just more of the same. A lot more.

Don’t worry about me, because I’m still doing this: there isn’t anything else.

But it gets pretty frustrating each day to have all this time – and not be able to plan or to count on myself. For purely physical reasons I can’t control.

I just hope I finish these books before the virus gets me.

Oh, and put on the list somewhere the end of the story – for those who might care – if I don’t make it.

Can’t plan that, either. Making it.

It’s hard writing one of the most emotionally powerful scenes in the novel from a place of such flat affect. The first half is great (IHNVHO), but I want the second half to hit you in the gut, too.

So no trike ride for me.



13 thoughts on “The enervation of being unable to plan

  1. joey

    I would say you’re one of the spoonier spoons I know, and that’s your reality, so Riding or Writing seems legit to me. Writing is more valuable to me, even when I’m not blogging, I’m writing. Can’t read fiction at all right now, can’t focus. If writing gets your focus, all the better for you and your book.
    I think it’s fair for anyone in the world to be depressed right now and how, let alone someone who feels at risk, let alone someone who is already limited.
    I can’t bear heat, and I often tend my garden at night, or do the shady side, because heat takes many spoons all at once.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’ve missed your posts, but recovery is hard.

      Thanks for letting me know you’re still out there.

      Don’t push it! Everything we have learned about recovering from viruses in my groups tell us that recovering properly, with adequate extra rest in the beginning, and not overwhelming a healing system, may be the key.

      Please take care. We all need you.

      Fiction will wait.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynda Dietz

    What a balancing act each day seems to be! I’m glad you’re still writing, because I’m selfish enough to want to read more of your stories. Especially the next portion of this one.

    Maybe soon there will come a time when you’re able to manage both things in one day. Even if that doesn’t happen, I hope you’re able to find some un-foggy balance somewhere so you can at least feel like you have a choice in your day’s activities.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I spent five hours today putting the first scene of the just-finished chapter through AutoCrit, letting it count all kinds of things I don’t wish to have too many of, and making the necessary editing changes.

      It’s slow, but the scene is dialogue-heavy, and people speak more repetitiously than they realize, but you can’t portray actual speech in a book!

      Getting that balance is tricky because readers KNOW when things are off, but usually don’t know WHY, and it bothers them. It bothers ME as a reader of my own stuff.

      Writing is my lifeline right now. Seeing the work get done, following the process, having a scene finished I thought I’d never be able to write… those are what keep me going right now, since there are so few others I can do.

      And I LIKE this chapter, and love the way it ends, and can’t wait to write the next one.

      So today was a good day, even if AC pointed out how many times one of my characters said ‘good’ – and I figured out how many I could leave, and how many to replace, and how many to reword…

      As you know, editing is a pain.

      And tonight I took a shower, and then rode Maggie2 to the rose garden. I planned to sit and enjoy the flowers for a while, but several residents had their windows open, and they must be deaf, because their TVs drove me away. I even put on a new dress for it.

      But the trike takes more energy; that will be tomorrow – and I hope it’s cooler in the evening.

      You do what you have to do.

      Thanks for saying you’re looking forward to it. That helps.


  3. acflory

    I have a similar problem with carbs, but not quite as severe. I understand the lack of momentum as well. You’re not alone, and things will get better…one day. I aim to do one productive thing a day. If I can do more I reward myself. Ahem, usually with a spoonful of Nutella. Don’t judge me!


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          She does take life on HER terms, where she can. I’m about to get to several of her scenes – I am looking forward to it.

          I’m never going to be that young and beautiful, and I’m going to enjoy it. And talented. Even her detractors have to give her that.

          Liked by 2 people

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