A place to lump all those efforts to create new neural pathways to replace the ones that die; serious efforts to stave off the dementia which runs through my maternal ancestrecesses who lived long lives; stuff that makes my brain hurt, and thus must be good for it.
I write these posts when I get an epiphany (and interestingly enough, it is set right before the real Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th, 2006).
I did what I always do, and gathered enormous amount of material related to the scene in progress – and went through my usual process of trying to turn the most important parts of what the Reader needs to know at this point into a coherent scene.
Almost always when I get to this point in my writing process (and I’ve written much about that), the scene almost self-organizes, includes some of the bits of dialogue I’ve developed during the process, and gives me trouble until I get it written.
Then I clean it up, check against my lists, run it through AutoCrit, and am usually happy to move to the next one.
And occasionally I get massively stuck
Which drives me crazy, and then drives me to picking apart what I’ve done, writing in my Fear Journal, and generally making a mess of everything.
Until suddenly the subconscious hits me upside the head with a ten foot Pole (to thoroughly mix metaphors), and I somehow figure out what’s wrong.
And then add it to another list: THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.
Or at least expected!
Which are embarrassingly obvious after that point.
Endings and beginnings are fraught
This scene is essentially the last one in this section of the plot. I knew I needed it, structurally, and threw it in, moved some content around, and left it as a stub in my very detailed Scene list in the Dramatica file.
But I did NOT have a rough draft (the very rough draft of everything I have has been proof of my ability to create a story from nothing, and still serves as an anachronistic paper map to the path) for this scene.
Because, in many ways, I was still learning plotting when I finished the first plot (for Dramatica initiates, had my storyform down to 1) and wrote the rough draft to flesh out the ideas. Only Sandy, my long-suffering writing partner at the turn of the century, has seen the rough draft – and I hope she’s forgotten.
The storyform was then revised permanently in the great Reorganization of 2007.
So, I had somehow known SOMETHING WAS NECESSARY HERE,
thrown it into the mix, and moved on to more important things, such as writing PURGATORY.
And of course that’s what landmines are for: to make you sit up and pay attention.
To put this all into something more understandable: my usual process led me to gather enough material for this important transition pivot, but I hadn’t realized it was an important scene.
I thought it was a simple ‘cleanup and move on’ scene.
And of course it did no such thing as self-assemble.
The important ones on whatever scale never do.
Because they’re something new, and you haven’t done it quite that way before, and your subconscious doesn’t know HOW.
So, no template. So, no assembly possible.
And then, in the wondering and thinking and journaling that goes about when I get stuck in these little quagmires, I suddenly realized that we had reached the top of one mountain, the view was spectacular in all directions (see image), and it was going to matter, a lot, exactly how we got down.
For specifics, and so you might recognize it later, we move from the Czech Republic to Ireland. Over the course of a couple bits in several scenes.
And it is a major turning point in not only this chapter, but this book, and the whole trilogy, because the bottom has been hit, and the Reader doesn’t yet know how the characters are going to climb out, because climb out they must.
Apologizing for the contradictory images and the many cliches, I go now to write this scene, somehow, because I have to.
And that’s not bad.
As a question, do you remember your turning points, and how wobbly they felt?
For my kind of extreme plotter, you might think everything would be planned down to the last jot and tittle – before writing.
It seems that way for some scenes I’ve written – I know exactly what I’m doing when I go in, and then I do it, polish a bit, and get out – and we’re done.
Because having the content and the outline and the knowledge of where a scene will go can make it easier to see what fits and what doesn’t, as I go.
Unfortunately, they’re the minority of my scenes.
Another set of scenes takes more work because there is a lot to include, and the correct path through all the necessary points can take me a while to organize.
And then there’s 32.2.
The sow’s ear of the title.
Oddly enough, a scene for which I had plenty of content.
But it came out of my head very oddly, as almost a single long piece of dialogue, a phone call no less, with the banter between Kary and her best friend writing itself as I eavesdropped.
Very realistic – I could SEE them talking, SEE the little connections, the friendship, the gentle poking when one person thinks they know better what the other needs, a scene you might overhear at brunch, or in a park, or while watching the children on the swings at the playground…
And it was wrong
Boring – to me!
And I could see a reader doing the thing writers dread: skimming. Skipping ahead to see where the meat starts again. Not seeing the content because it was in the form of a dialogue between two women.
Just getting to the realization of what was the problem took me days.
Because there was nothing obviously wrong, and I write dialogue all the time, and it wasn’t particularly bad.
Good dialogue doesn’t guarantee great scenes
Almost a thousand words of good, realistic but compressed dialog.
You hate to give that up – and it took quite a bit of practice to be able to do that in the first place, create dialogue that gives the reader necessary knowledge in the form of a story.
I almost did what I never do: let it stand, leave it to the beta reader, move on and come back to it later, live with what I knew was highly imperfect (in my standards) because I had no idea what was going on that produced it.
But I did know:
The brain fog was thick on the ground and I couldn’t see over, through, or around it.
And this is what I produce when I can’t think: ‘almost’ writing.
It depended too much on the reader’s previous knowledge.
There was not enough scene-setting.
And it repeated things the reader already knew – a capital sin if done in any quantity: do NOT give readers an excuse to start skipping!
I bit the bullet, lowered the dose of a medication I thought might be the culprit for the recent fog increase (it was), waited for a couple of days until, thankfully, the head cleared.
Then I took all of the scene except for the initial paragraph, and put it in another file in the Scrivener project, fully prepared to dump the whole thing if necessary.
And I was able to get back to work – because I was darned lucky.
My greatest fear in life is that I will reach one of these points, know something is wrong, and never more be able to do what I’ve been doing to analyze, understand, and, fingers-crossed, improve what I’ve written, from the first gasp to the final zinger.
I’ve had this happen before to a smaller extent – I had to learn to write every kind of scene (and there are more kinds, I’m sure) – and since I’m still writing, have emerged every time.
But brain fog is more insidious than exhaustion, and you can’t just rest it away.
Brain fog scares me
It alters my essential self.
This time I found the cause, and it was something I could change. There are consequences, of course – in this case more physical pain – but I have other alternatives for physical pain, even if I’m trying not to use them (to spare liver and kidneys from having to disassemble those molecules and get rid of them); in the worst case, I can just tough it out, do some of the physical things such as stretches or (in non-pandemic times) immerse myself in the therapy pool’s warm water, wait until it passes if it has a specific cause…
Do not recommend your favorite remedy for brain fog – thanks, but I’ve tried an awful lot of things over the years that didn’t work, and I don’t have the stomach to try more. Assuming you even have one – brain fog is a particularly difficult ‘symptom’ to treat because it is so vague and amorphous and non-specific.
It’s a Catch-22: you need to be able to think to work yourself out of brain fog, and you can’t think until you’ve worked yourself out of brain fog.
Sometimes the passage of time helps.
Sometimes the disappearance of a physical illness, or its successful treatment or management, helps.
Sometimes – the scary part – you’ve lost that part of yourself and it isn’t coming back.
And sometimes you figure it out.
Once that cleared
I took a hard look at what I had been ‘creating,’ that conversation that repeated things unnecessarily.
And I got to work.
I went back to process: I’ve detailed my Left Brain righT method before; I still use it, tweaked a bit but usually to add a detail, not change something already there, seven-and-a-half years later.
Step by step I followed my own prompts for considering, choosing, refining – including much smaller amounts of that big chunk of realistic dialogue – listening to the bits as I locked them in (to make sure the language flows), defining the structure, doing the work I call writing fiction, and little by little, 32.2 emerged from the shadows of a disaster.
It started doing what it was supposed to do, and I got less scared.
One of the hardest tasks a novelist faces is answering the question:
“What is your book about?”
And every writer will face that over and over and over.
I’ve saved this post from Writers in the Storm since 2013.
When the novel you’re trying to describe is going to be as long as Gone With the Wind, and tops out over the course of a trilogy at around a half-million words, reducing ‘about’ to a few words is a feat that brings most writers to their knees.
The lucky ones, traditionally published, probably don’t have to/get to make these decisions (for which they trade complete control of their work and pitiful royalties forever) – because their publisher makes the decisions for them (usually without much input from the writer), and then, again for the lucky ones, uses the results to market the book.
I’ve known since the beginning
Which is why I spent a long time learning exactly how to achieve the ending I wanted for Pride’s Children: and ran scenarios from beginning to end over and over until the beginning made the ending, in my mind, inevitable – and I was ready to write the definitive version.
The process is a time loop for plotters like me, and doesn’t determine the words readers will ultimately get – only the story that I want to leave in their minds, the life lived, the consequences of the choices, the necessary paths.
As in a play, what the theater-goers see as spontaneous and happening before their very eyes needs to be so completely memorized and rehearsed that the actors never say a word out ot of character.
Other people write differently; this is how I do it.
What I’m trying to say here is that I have many versions of tagline, logline, and pitch, created and struggled with over the years since 2000, but I’ve never comfortably answered the question of ‘about’ when asked, and stutter like an unprepared schoolgirl when it comes up.
But I hadn’t dared. Which seems silly.
Those who forget the past (or ignore it) are condemned to repeat it
All that happens is you have to keep doing it, over and over, like Groundhog Day or Russian Doll, because the question doesn’t go away.
Can’t go away – as long as there are readers.
Why now, halfway through NETHERWORLD?
Because I am exhausted from fighting this particular battle, and stuck in the deep chasm of having to write what I planned to write way back then.
Because challenges not faced come back to haunt you.
And because I think I got it.
Sidetrack for a minute into the writer’s greatest fear: Appearing ridiculous
Also sometimes known as biting off more than you can chew.
And choking on it.
But what I didn’t know in 2000, when what I’m about to post was almost as clear as it is now, except that I wasn’t sure, hadn’t put in the hard work to make sure, that I could come anywhere near to achieving what I was setting out to do.
As you probably know, mere appearance never works.
Failure is fine – there is no shame in attempting to become an astronaut, and not making the cut (I did, and didn’t). But you have to try, and you can’t skip steps. And you can’t wish for proficiency when what you need to do is find a way to learn (ie, the 10,000 hours trope, which is really a lot more hours if that’s what it takes).
Delusions of grandeur, Impostor Syndrome, Fear of Failing
They take their toll.
Why does it matter so much?
Because the world has removed so much of what I can do that what’s left is pitiful.
Because I have this one thing that I value, that keeps me sane, called writing.
And where I have all the control and all the responsibility, because not a word goes out without my say-so.
So I thought about all of this, and worked on it for months, and then let it sit.
I’m ready to let them be public, even though some will not be fully realized until the end of Book #3:
Tagline: Pride’s Children is
The Great American Love Story.
To safeguard a powerful actor, a damaged writer must first salvage herself.
When a reclusive bestselling novelist crosses paths with the rising actor of his generation, she finds her capacity for obsession is not dead. The friendship that develops when his next movie films near her rural refuge, and he fulfills his promise to visit, creates a challenging bond that threatens to destroy her. But when America’s Sweetheart decides she’s the one who will engender with him Hollywood’s supreme dynasty, can the writer navigate the razor’s edge from friendship to forever love, and save his unborn children?
Mission statement: what you are trying to achieve
To make the mainstream reader live three lives so closely from the inside, right behind the eyeballs, that reading Pride’s Children is a roller-coaster ride which makes the ending inevitable and utterly believable.
I just had to go through this – again – and other writers might need the same trick
When I woke up this morning and reached for something on my desk, I disturbed the page I used (photo above), scattered all the little pieces of paper, and realized I don’t need to keep them around forever, even if they did rescue me.
I’m an extreme plotter by nature and by practice and by brain damage.
Things have to be organized so I know what goes in each scene, because I can only work with the content of ONE scene at a time (and yes, if you’re wondering, I have used this trick on paragraphs, beats, and scenes as well, when my brain refused to do the organizing internally).
When I got to the current piece in the middle of the WIP, I realized that, inexplicably when I stared at it, the next scene was NOT ready for my ‘process.’
I came to a standstill
For several days.
Abortive attempts to write the next scene failed to make that scene gel, despite having a title and the usual nubs I use to attach words.
Since I was worrying about politics, and in the middle of getting vaccinated for the coronavirus, it took me a while to track down the reason: when I was doing the Great Reorganization of 2007 (GR07), I had had the same reluctance, created something that sort of worked at the time (a list of scenes covering what would happen in this part of the story), and decided to DEAL WITH IT LATER.
Unusual for me, but I was trying to get to the end of GR07, we had half the way to go, and I only had a few more days of the concentrated time I had been saving for the reorganization.
I believe in football American style they cause it punting.
In 2007 I moved on
Never thinking that it would be 2021 when I got to this point in the writing.
I was young(er). Naive(er).
Trying desperately to take that original rough (very rough) first draft of the whole story to the next level – which required the complete reorganization AND a committed devotion to upping the quality of my writing (no, you are never going to see that draft).
and it worked
I moved on. GR07 became the reality.
By dint of work, the writing problems got solved one by one.
Pride’s Children PURGATORY was written and published in 2015 (yeah, I’m slow), and I immediately moved on to NETHERWORLD.
I believe they call it a poison pill
Maybe not so bad.
But a buried little landmine all the same.
Because there was a reason. I know it now and I knew it then: this piece was going to be very hard to write.
And, as is usual with such, incredibly important.
I couldn’t handle it in 2000, when the story came to me.
I couldn’t handle it in 2007, except to realize there was no way around it, and I would have to deal with it during the writing of the second book (nameless at that point).
And I couldn’t handle it at first when it got to be late 2020 and I hit the red flag marking the mine.
I couldn’t even have written this post.
You can’t skimp on the hard parts when you write
The hard parts are WHY you, and not someone else, is telling this story.
The hard parts are where your writing should shine, and, given enough work and time, where they will.
If your story doesn’t have hard parts well executed in it, it’s not going to be the best book you can write.
Because you shirked.
I don’t shirk.
I kick and scream and complain and try to find ways around the roadblock and hope some insight will just remove it.
And then I admit it needs the work, and I do it.
On this one I had to go back to Kindergarten
Yup. Basics. Writing things on single lines. And cutting the sheet into real-life strips of paper.
And rearranging those strips, edited as necessary (in pencil), into the RIGHT order, with the right words, plus any surrounding fill text, until the whole emerged.
That’s the level I have to go back to when things get really bolloxed up for whatever reason.
Eventually, it works, and I find it all amusing. Sometimes I blog about it.
But you’d think that by now I’d be out of Kindergarten, wouldn’t you?
I told myself that when the Electoral College did their thing, the stress about who the next president will be would lessen.
But not enough.
There’s a pandemic going on.
I had hoped the arrival of vaccines would help, and it did – until I realized that even though we’re over 70, and living in a care facility, those of us in Independent Living will not qualify for the vaccine for quite a long time. Staff will be ALL vaccinated first – not a bad thing, as they are the ones who DAILY go back into the community.
People in Assisted Living, Memory Support, and Skilled Nursing will be vaccinated.
We will not. Not at first.
And it will be a VERY long time before I don’t have to worry about my children (late 20s, early 30s), because they will be among the last vaccinated, which means their quarantines (and ours) will not end for many months.
I told myself that when I found a new doctor, completing the process of picking one more deliberately than how we found our first Primary Care Physician (PCP) when we moved here over two years ago, and met him or her, and things seemed more to my liking (the first physician was fine, but we are not, it turns out, on quite the same page philosophically as I had hoped), that I could relax.
It did – I had a wonderful first visit yesterday during which all we did was talk, and at the end. I had asked the nurse, ‘Could we do this at the end?’ when I got there, and she agreed with no hesitation (good sign), because I was so stressed about having done that horrible thing, CHANGING YOUR DOCTOR), so that when she took my blood pressure, it was fine (Note to self: make sure I send a note to the cardiologist).
I get it: they’re busy, and they have to process people through quickly. For most people it doesn’t matter much if the nurse talks to them continuously through the process, they’ve exercised (getting to the doctor’s office DOES constitute exercise) within the past half hour, or they’ve not been allowed to rest quietly – or any of the other guidelines.
But for those of us for whom going to the doctor brings up a whole host of issues, stress significantly raises the measurement taken under not ideal conditions – and that is the number that goes into your permanent medical record.
So that particular medical stress has been lowered – but is not gone. And the contortions I had to go through in my mind and in person left me completely exhausted and unable to write a word yesterday. I couldn’t even nap!
And, of course, my medical system still doesn’t have someone with expertise in ME/CFS I can talk to – I continue to be completely responsible for whatever self-care measures I can find and execute to deal with what, for convenience and so readers can understand because it’s FRESH, is exactly like what the Covid-19 long-haulers are discovering: no one knows enough to help them get themselves back after a virus, and for some it’s been almost a year.
Removing the stress isn’t a panacea
In many ways, it dumps you back into the situation you lived in before the stress started, but at a significantly lowered coping level.
There’s the long-neglected to do list.
There are the problems with money, which for some are an annoyance, but are a major new source of stress for those getting unexpected bills, do not have the expected income, or are even worried whether their investments will be ravaged by the stock market rollercoaster – and they will have to depend on their children to pay the bills because their nest egg will not get them through!
I won’t be able to relax completely about the election until Biden is IN the White House, either – too much nonsense has gone on.
There have been some new health challenges – notably the blood sugar rollercoaster (much better, thank you) – which consumed lots of time and caused much worry. The kind that RAISES blood pressure (yup, all stress reinforces other stress).
I don’t know how to get back to – or to – ‘normal.’
My resilience has been challenged by 31 years of chronic illness.
And we’re still in lockdown, not particularly conductive to relaxing, abetted by the news that California’s screwed up bigtime. If you look at all the graphs, it is likely much of the soaring covid and covid death rates were NOT helped by Thanksgiving, and we’re about to repeat that with the year-end holidays.
We take it day by day.
But it’s been incredibly hard to write. To create NEW fiction. To find a time during the day when the brain is functional (not just in survival mode) so I can use it.
And ignore the guilt that comes from not using some of that ‘good brain time’ to do things that really should be done, and which I’ve been planning to do in the evenings AFTER writing – something that just keeps not happening.
Be kind to yourself
And everyone else.
Be especially kind to those who have been working because they have to – we have an amazing staff here, but they are human, are working under plague conditions, and have had to live with weekly testing, knowing some of their colleagues have tested positive, and that a mistake on their part might severely damage one of the old people in their care.
And don’t expect to get back to normal easily or quickly.
Because we don’t.
Stress stays there, like a phantom limb, even when it’s technically reduced or gone.
For many reasons lately, I have been having trouble blogging, must less writing fiction.
It all came to a head about a week ago, when I realized I was having what I thought might be ‘attacks’ of very low blood sugar – and they scared me.
I’d wake up in the middle of the night, or realize after working for a while, and I hadn’t eaten in a while.
My body would be screaming at me, and I felt as if I would pass out if I didn’t eat something THAT INSTANT.
The process of getting food in me – any food in me – was fraught and frightening: I would start eating something easy like cottage cheese, and not stop until I had consumed a couple hundred calories, and then would sit there in the kitchen, shaking, until it took hold, or diverted the blood from my panicky brain to digesting what I had just eaten, or whatever – but it would leave me trembly for what seemed hours after.
So after several days of this, and on the weekend,
I promised my husband I would contact the doctor, and, as the online appointment page offered me a video visit at 9:45 Monday morning, I took it, and was waiting when the doctor tuned in.
Best visit to a doctor of my life: I hate doctor appointments after over 31 years of a chronic disease that I’ve never had help with, and this time it was in the comfort of my own office and computer, and, through some twist I never figured out, the video took up a very small fraction of my screen, and his head was smaller than a passport photo.
Long story short, as every doctor under the sun (it seems), he wants me to entirely change the way I eat.
I said no. It works for me.
But afterward, I got to thinking, and sent him an email suggesting that since we had a blood glucose meter, I could take measurements for a while at different times of day, and maybe figure out what was going on. Other alternatives would involve a hospital stay – something I’m hoping to avoid right now – and the effort required to change my entire system of eating is not something I would undertake unless all else has failed AND he guaranteed it would work. Not likely.
Let the games begin
I spent the next morning after husband picked up some new supplies (his were from 2013) getting the system to work.
I called our nurse. Took the meter down to her office.
She took it down to Skilled Nursing, where no one is allowed right now who doesn’t work or live there, not even friends and family.
She said the meter didn’t work – gave errors – BUT she brought me back in a tiny plastic meds cup a single drop of the control solution (glucose in solution at a particular concentration), and Maggie and I brought it back to the apartment.
Courtesy of good planning (and luck), I had one of the lithium batteries the device needed, and it worked, and I was able to test the monitor with the control solution drop!
Now for individual measurements
I learned the whole make a hole in yourself and gently squeeze a drop of blood out of your finger thing, which I hope not to have to do ever again after this, and started recording both the measurements, and the things which might affect my blood sugar levels: when I ate, whether I felt particularly shaky, how long it had been since I slept (I take at least three naps a day lately), what I ate (though I’m not planning on altering that, and it was mostly low carb stuff).
It’s a real racket: the test strips are $1 apiece, and you need a new one for each drop you test (unless you mess the drop up, and then the spare works sometimes). The little lancets (poky things) aren’t supposed to be reused. And the control solution (I have some coming in the mail from Walmart) was $15 for two 4oz. bottles. And here’s the kicker: you’re supposed to test your meter once a month (or when you think the results are messed up), AND discard the opened bottle after three months, and I defy anyone to use up that much liquid in three months!
I don’t see how diabetics manage their testing.
In any case, I now have a solid week of about 5-10 measurements a day, and I will sort them out in Excel, graph them, analyze the graph and notes, and send a copy off to the doctor.
But the answer is
that although my blood sugar IS lower when I’m feeling very shaky and unhappy, it is NOT low enough to be classified as clinically low. Even when I felt I had to respond this very instant, it was probably me overreacting.
Now I measure, and then I eat if necessary, but I’ve also relaxed enough to realize it is very uncomfortable, but I’m NOT going to pass out, and even at the worst, I can actually breathe through it and handle it rationally.
Which is where the accumulation of tiny things comes in:
This has not been a normal year.
I needn’t list the things that have happened, or the continual stress of being locked down or the reason for the lockdown.
The worry about whether loved ones were okay has been huge; some were not, which was even worse.
And I’m sure this was my version of covid fatigue: the stress level got so high that a slightly (okay, it was scary and not little) exaggerated feeling of doom accompanied the more frequent occurrence of something uncomfortable and frightening of episodes that have been happening all along.
And I’d been making them worse without realizing it.
Because my brain stops working when I eat, and then I have to take a nap to restore it to even remotely usable conditions, I was postponing eating as long as I could, hoping to get some writing done.
Which led to
So when I finally had to admit I had to eat, we were at full-blown hunger – and the lowest of my normal range blood sugar range – and it took time to recover. A lot of time. Even after eating.
I might have been able to shorten that time had I been willing to eat something with sugar in it, but that also messes with my brain, with consequences sometimes lasting more than 24 hours, and I didn’t want to start down that path. So I accidentally made things much worse – and then freaked out over it.
I told the husband. I told no one else until I talked to the doctor.
We all try not to worry the offspring, right?
But I have been in a high dudgeon state, and of course incapable of writing fiction. OR blogging. Or, indeed, anything except wondering if this was going to be it.
I’m not even sure they would check for low blood sugar if I ended up in an ambulance, and husband wouldn’t be allowed to go in with me. Which added to the worries, as, if it’s really low, and not corrected, you can literally die.
When I had to deal with it because it happened at 3-4am, I was not in the best state to be rational – sleep deprivation does that.
And, as usual, the solution, eating, was putting on weight – and I already have to deal with that, and no, I do NOT seek help from doctors for that: their success rate, long-term, is 2%, though somehow EVERY SINGLE TIME you see one they mention you should lose weight, as if it were something you could decide one night, and have done with by the morning.
So I also have not much to write about or post about.
Us being in the middle of an unchanging physical, global, and electoral nightmare.
And California, which had seemed to be doing okay, is now having most regions almost to the highest pandemic status, including the Greater Sacramento area, and is no more free of covid problems than the rest of the nation.
If you’ve ever done a stress inventory (you should – find one online), I know my stress levels (with an easy life in a nice place and people bringing me dinner every night) are in the DANGER ZONE. I can only imagine what it’s like for others who don’t have our resources, who have to go to work, whose children are in school, who have a relative or friend in the hospital or who work in one.
I apologize for the self-centered nature of the above half-assed post.
It’s all I got right now.
That, and watching the sales graph at Amazon: sold two ebooks this month! After nothing for several months before that. And it isn’t going to get any better until I finish book 2 and revisit the complete marketing problem – from website (prideschildren.com – don’t go; it’s very rough right now), to ads, to finding more reviews (pretty please – if you’ve ever planned to write one, now would be very nice).
I’m really trying to get to the VERY good end of this volume. Can’t wait.
I am glad to put this scare behind me, and hope to be able to create more than a few words of fiction every day, because I can’t wait to get to the end of this one.
Let me know how you’re all coping with stress, and if you have stories of how it’s pushed you far out of your comfort zone.
Recommend PC to a friend if you were always planning to do that.
Bye for now. I have no idea when you’ll hear from me again, but I really miss you.
The instructions for getting to shore safely when caught in a riptide are to let the current take you where it will, while swimming slowly across, until you’re out of its grasp.
If you try anything like fighting the current, you will drown after you become exhausted, unless one of those nice fit lifeguards sees you and gets to you in time.
Because the current is stronger than you are – by many orders of magnitude.
What is brain fog?
If you have to ask, you haven’t had it. I’m glad for you.
It is feeling, within your own skull, that you just can’t think.
That your brain is in there somewhere, maybe, but you can’t get to it. Other names are chemobrain, fibrobrain, stupor, …
No matter what you seem to try, you can’t get out of the fog – and you can’t think.
It can be caused by illness. By medication. By sleep deprivation. By eating or drinking too much or the wrong thing.
It is a huge part of life with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomielitis/chronic fatigue syndrome).
It robs you of hours of time.
Healthy people may have ways of exercising through it. Some people can take a stimulant like caffeine to focus and wake up, or ADHD meds.
Rest SHOULD help, but for people like me is often not restorative.
And what is this thing you’re calling a vagal wave?
The vagus nerve enervates much of your body, from the spinal column up to your brain, and out to your limbs. Including innards you don’t have conscious control over, such as your digestive system.
It covers so much territory, it’s hard to know exactly where the sensations are coming from sometimes.
I get periods of time, long ones, when it feels like a wave motion is going on in my body, and all I can do is sit there and let it do its thing. Sometimes painful (the meds after stents caused a horrible case of constant waves of pain in the gut), sometimes not.
When I sit in front of the computer screen, ready to write or focus or think, but the waves are going, all I can do is to grit my teeth and live through them, hour upon hour.
But I’m a problem solver by nature and training
and I finally was able to pay enough attention to the combination of not being able to think, and feeling as if I was in an aquarium (the modern kind with waves).
Data is essential for problem solving, both to identify what’s going on, and then, when you come up with solutions, to see if you’ve managed to change something.
And I finally collected enough data (over months of not being able to write very often), to see some correlations.
I have to eat. We all do. And I can’t think starving, so I can’t postpone the eating TOO much, plus I seem to get these shaky periods of low blood sugar if I put off eating too long, and then it’s an emergency to eat something.
I don’t eat many carbs, so it baffled me – sugar messes with my brain, and the day after eating sugar there’s no way any thinking is going to happen. I don’t even bother trying any more.
But I FINALLY noticed
that 10-30 minutes after I EAT, the waves start, and the brain fog.
I used to try to push through – and the only result of that was to spend hours in that state.
I tried taking naps when I got tired – but they weren’t organized or planned, and the effects didn’t seem to correlate with anything; it was just something I HAD to do.
And I finally figured it out:
My damaged and severely limited energy metabolism doesn’t have enough at any given time to do BOTH: keep me awake and functioning (or even get there), and digesting my food.
It took some tweaking, but I have found a system which takes advantage of my need for napping and my need for food, and times them so that they don’t conflict.
So now I run a time-share
I get up, drink First Diet Coke, and try to get a bit of writing or organizing done before I eat anything.
When hunger tends to shut me down – anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours later – I prepare for the next phase: I eat something (mostly protein), but I start getting ready for the changeover from thinking to digesting. I take notes so I can pick up easily when I come back.
And when I feel the waves starting, I get into my jammies, pull the shades, turn the lights off and add an eyemask to block external stimuli, and get in bed.
I set a timer for 35 minutes.
If the wave approach is gentle, I’ll do a quick range-of-motion set, a couple of minutes worth.
If the approach is sudden and severe, I just crash. I used to fear this part – now I just realize I dragged my feet too much.
Lights out. Body temperature drops abruptly (ergo, the jammies). Sometimes deep sleep, sometimes a coma-like state.
The digestive part of the vagus nerve’s control takes over – and I don’t get in its way. No reading. No TV. NO COMPUTER. No trying to think, or push through it, or ignore it.
Just give in.
And when the alarm goes off
I get up, stretch a bit. Get some water, and Second Coke, and NO FOOD.
And within minutes I’m functional again (inasmuch as I’m ever functional), and I can usually work/write for an hour or two until I’ve used up my nap energy, and need food again.
I try not to do Third Coke after Second Nap – that’s too much caffeine for the day (each can is about 45mg of caffeine – peanuts compared with a cup of coffee or an energy drink, but it’s about as much as I can tolerate at a time without getting scarily shaky).
What I should do is not drink First Coke until after First Nap, but that has other physical problems related to it that I prefer not to go into here.
For years I’ve taken 3-5 of these 35 minute naps every day.
And I ALWAYS wake up in a better state than I laid down in.
But this is the first time I’ve coordinated all the pieces, and added the realization that DIGESTION TAKES PHYSICAL ENERGY.
And that my energy supplies are so low, I can’t afford to have the processes of thinking and starting digestion going at the same time.
I’ve been testing this system for the past week
I’m only taking 1-2 naps most days – probably because they are at the right time.
Eating is the trigger – every time. I hadn’t realized how strong it is as a trigger. Though it makes perfect sense: you eat, your body starts digestion. Duh!
Not having a good night’s sleep can cost me the first workable period, and, on a bad sleep night, I may not be able to recover the following day at all.
If I exercise at all – and right now we’re only allowed to use the pool in a predetermined half-hour slot during the 8-11am time – even if it’s the gentlest possible stretching in water – most or all of the rest of the day is shot, because I can’t make up that energy. So the two swim days a week are going to be non-writing days, most likely. Evening would work, but the county rules for the pandemic require a staff person supervising, and the facility is only providing that on weekdays in the morning. Before, I used the pool alone whenever I wanted to, and it was usually in the late afternoon or evening.
If I try to defeat the system and push through, all I do is foul everything up, and get neither rest nor functionality nor good digestion. Timing is critical, as is diversion of energy from one stream to the other.
I might have figured it out sooner
if I had a readout somewhere on my body of both energy usage and remaining stored energy.
I’ve been fighting this battle for years, but I never got quite the data until I noticed the crash after eating – and thought about it. And then it made sense: I’m broken, but I still have some small amount of control.
What I need was all this pandemic isolation and time, and the frustration of the crashes, and some insight that I still don’t know where I got. I have time – lots of it – but was not making much progress in writing NETHERWORLD, except what felt like randomly.
And when the brain was there, I could write for a while – and then it would go.
The PRINCIPLE is the key
I have only enough energy for one process at a time.
I’m lucky I do. I think aging takes its toll, too, and I’m probably producing less energy, total, every year.
Many people with what I have don’t have even this amount to work with – and spend their days playing catch up, with task after basic task barely getting done.
I’ve written this in the hopes of saving someone else with this kind of severe energy deficiency management the years of figuring out how to make the most of their energy creation and storage capacity.
Please let me know if this is of any use.
And pray it makes me a faster writer – I really do well with my brain on!
My thanks to Stencil for the capacity to make interesting images for these posts. Give them your business if you need to produce this kind of image – they have lots more stuff available than the free accounts use.
I decided to give myself a few more words than the 100-word limit of the Drabble – it takes time to shorten, and I’m in the middle of NETHERWORLD, but her prompt inspired me, and here it is:
She went every day to visit the baby egg. Through its translucent shell, her first child grew peacefully, with her heart sound piped in, and a gentle periodic rocking to simulate her walking around the kitchen.
Protestors screamed outside the lab that it was unnatural.
But it had finally removed Eve’s curse: no birth. No stretching the body out of shape. No pause in the ability to work. No pain. No surrogates wanting to keep the babies they carried for others.
She’d have to be in town when the baby ripened, but, other than that, she couldn’t see why she wouldn’t bond perfectly well with her offspring – after all, adopted babies did fine, didn’t they? There was the oxytocin nasal spray, and the hormones for lactation, and the nanny to do all the changing of dirty diapers.
It should be a hoot to play with when she had some time.
I haven’t advertised in ages, because I haven’t figured out exactly how to do it when you write in a 1) smaller niche (mainstream love story), that is 2) usually NOT indie (and you write indie), and are 3) slow (so there won’t be another book for readers for a while longer).
As an expected result, sales are slow (but someone bought a paperback this month – Yay!).
And, under certain conditions, you can SEE a reader take your book out of KU and read a few pages (first yellow bar – around 10, maybe 11 if the next bar was right after midnight).
And then read a few pages every once in a while.
From a later graph and adding all the page reads (PC is just under 400 pages), I think the reader finished by May 19th.
Slow writers take our encouragement where we can get it
But it is amusing to watch a graph like this one (and the speeding up at the end) go by when you are doing your daily check.
And to decide what you’re going to assume about the reader (since you have no data but the few points on the graph, which you assume come from the same borrow) based on NO OTHER INFORMATION.
In this case, I assumed a busy life, and a few pages read at bedtime by someone who KNEW they had to get up in the morning to work. Fair enough?
READERS owe writers NOTHING
I will say that as many times as necessary.
Once the book is on the open market, buying – or borrowing from KU – is more than enough for a reader to give the writer.
At that point, we hope they will enjoy it.
Anything else, a rating, a review, a recommendation – is above and beyond, and a gift.
If a reader buys the paper book, we usually don’t even find out if they read it unless a review shows up (these can really make your day; the absence is just normal reader behavior, because few review).
Between the reader and the writer
This has been the contract (a one-way contract) almost forever: I will read.
Going to the next level of writing a fan letter was very rare, even in the olden days.
Doing anything else other than having a warm feeling for the experience (if that happens) nowadays is as rare.
When you see a book with many reviews, it is usually because the book sold many copies – and the usual percentage (tiny) of readers left their impression.
Occasionally, a very good (or very bad) book may solicit a higher percentage – meaning it hit readers in the gut.
Writers don’t expect much feedback
Our readers are mostly not writers – they are the people we hope to serve entertainment to.
But it is possible (probably unconsciously) to torture your writer – by proving you can put the book down, over and over.
If you need to do that, please go ahead. It does require you borrow the book from Kindle Unlimited first – and then read it a tiny bit at a time.
Know that the torture is even better because Amazon pays authors not when the book is borrowed, but as the pages are read.
PS: I’m going through my files of draft posts I never finished to see if any still tickle my fancy. This one did.
I waffled – there were two ways to write the thing, and there were pros and cons for each of the ways.
Until I hit the right question.
The two ways were:
for a character to stew all day hoping she could achieve her goal that night
to be confident all day that she would achieve the goal, and spend the time planning how she would enjoy it.
The first way is more dramatic – for the character.
What is worse – for the READER?
The actual plot will go to the same place: either she will or she will not get what she wants; that was predetermined in 2000 when I started this.
But now that I’m writing the scenes, I need to shift a bit from ‘what happens’ to ‘how do I PRESENT what happens’?
I know where it’s going – the reader does not.
I created the rollercoaster – the reader wants a good ride and a thrill.
My virtual teachers (writing books) teach me that the reader can handle the centrifugal force from being thrown around curves in the plot.
More than they can handle being on a nice calm piece of exposition which is BORING.
Once I asked the right question
the answer was obvious.
The ride for the reader is MEH if they see her seethe all day – they can hope she won’t achieve her goal, assume something will come along, again, to defeat her.
Instead, if I write it right, the reader will see her confident – and reviewing all the reasons she is sure to get – what they don’t want her to get!
And that will torture the reader more than the feeling of ‘she has failed before, she will fail again’ READER certainty.
Can’t have the reader comfortable, now, can we?
This is why I spend the time arguing with myself, in writing, and asking myself why my brain isn’t letting me go ahead with the writing – because it needs to know which plan we’re following here before it will set out the tea lights in their little tin holders and illuminate the path we’ll walk.
I never get much lighting beyond what I need strictly not to tumble over roots and rocks. Then I pick my way along.
It works better for me to know – and the reader to have to guess – where we’re going. I already discard great gobs of ideas and executions which are not what I need. I can’t afford to make decisions on the fly.
I like my shiny new toy. I’ve been using an intuitive version of it for a long time, but I love having the tool be something I am conscious about, in the top tray of the toolbox. Makes it more likely that I’ll pick it up.
If you’re a writer, do you do this?
If you’re a reader, admit it – you want drama, not a smooth ride. You want that ending EARNED.
It has become common for writers to tell other writers how to write.
Unless they are discouraging other writers deliberately to keep the competition down!
And every writer who has any control (beginners can often see only one way to do things) constantly makes choices:
Is this word the best word for this use?
Will MY readers think this is pretentious – or the reason they read ME?
If I use a sentence fragment as part of my style, or this particular character’s mental processes, or [select reason] – will MY readers get their panties in a twist?
Can my intended readers follow plot complexities?
And – most importantly – am I limiting myself by the way I prefer to write?
All of these are valid questions, all have to be answered regularly, all have many answers.
How to choose?
I’m asking myself these questions, as usual, because I just finished the last two scenes in a chapter, and it took me two whole days of using AutoCrit (my online editing program) to get the text the way I wanted it.
Two whole days of whatever brainpower I could muster is still a lot of hours.
And they are hard work. Choices come down to nuance, nuance to familiarity, familiarity to everything I’ve ever read – and processed.
For an example, I’ll put up a section of these scenes, and show the differences:
There are hundreds of little changes between when I’m finished with the story and when I’m finished with the language.
The original was fine, with nothing hugely wrong.
But I’ll find I overused a particular word or phrase.
Or a piece of dialogue doesn’t sound like the character (Cecily, like Andrew, is Irish).
In fact, just as I finished checking the above comparison, I realized I’m missing two places where my tiny intimation of the speaker being Irish is incorrect (I use ye’re – but still have you’re) – and that will be checked several more times before publication.
This section comes from Scrivener – and is missing italics. I’ll have to check to make sure those are as I want them, as discussed in a post on my stylistic choices.
I do my own editing
This is a statement of fact, not a battle-cry.
I found early that my brain is too damaged to do the negotiating, arguing, back and forth, discussing – that goes with having someone else edit your work.
And that it was easier for me to take on the task, plus it forced me to improve my bad habits immediately.
I like the control. I accept the responsibility. And the mistakes I make will get corrected asap if egregious, with the next major revision if minor.
And there isn’t an ant’s chance with an anteater that I’ll have to defend my own choices: nobody can possibly know my style better than I can.
I have the sense to use an excellent beta reader – and always pay attention to what she catches or notices (she’s usually right).
For someone like me, it even saves a lot of time (a relatively expensive commodity for me). Because I handle a single scene (up to maybe 3k) at a time, and it’s familiar to me because I just wrote it, so I don’t have to reload anything into my memory.
The pitfalls of that are obvious: the mistakes will get overlooked because they are so familiar. So I have many passes for just one thing. I have checklists. I keep a list of the things I haven’t mastered.
Nothing’s perfect, but that does get a lot of the little typo buggers.
Is it ‘good enough’?
Yes – after I put the hours, the work in.
Is it getting easier? Yes – if I still put the hours in, and the work, and don’t try to shorten the editing phase by getting impatient to finish.
I think it matters.
It does make me very slow.
I think it’s worth the effort.
Does lack of editing in published work irritate you? Do you notice it?
Thanks again to Stencil for the ability to create graphics – and their free account. If I ever need more than ten a month, I’ll get their paid subscription!
And I’m not going to tell you the size or the significance of the one I just wrestled into submission. Just how.
It’s in Chapter 29 of the WIP, Pride’s Children NETHERWORLD, the second volume in the trilogy, and you will have to remember this AND suss it out yourself when NETHERWORLD is available.
That’s not the point.
The point is that I’m pleased as punch with myself for finding out how to deal with one, and my struggle may save another writer some angst – and amuse readers who wonder if this ever happens and how writers deal with them.
It is almost impossible to invent a world – and not run into a few.
In fact, in the world I’ve built, I’ve been surprised time and time again when the plotting does work out, or a small change in a relatively unimportant date or fact renders everything copacetic again.
Because you do know writers make an awful lot of fiction up out of whole cloth, right?
No matter if ‘inspired by a book’ or idea (even fuzzier) decorates the credits of a new movie, or if ‘inspired by characters created by’ [name] is attached.
And if it did actually happen, there may even be apparent plot holes.
But if it didn’t, well, a writer does the best she can, and leaps into the void with a ribbon between her teeth attached to – a plot.
It depends on when you find the plot hole
If before you write a word, and you can’t find a way to get around it, you can dump the whole project.
But that usually entails dumping a lot of good stuff. Just with a plot hole or two in it somewhere.
However, your options are more limited if you find a reasonably-sized one (for your character’s definition of reasonable) in the middle (almost literally) of the second volume of a trilogy, and it is supporting a plot point you are not willing to change.
What to do, what to do?
First of all, OWN IT
Do not leave it there for an astute reader to find it, not if you’re planning to leave a legacy to the ages.
Readers blab. They leave reviews (if you’re very, very lucky). They tell each other. And for some reason feel they have to mention it when they recommend it: “It’s a lovely book, you know, but it could never happen because it has a few little flaws…”
And, if you’re an extreme plotter like me, it’s plausible – it’s just that it isn’t quite possible or true.
Or the author would have noticed it sooner, and taken care of it in development or plotting or outlining or the calendar or… You get the idea.
So I did what I do with a lot of problems:
I gifted it to a character
And that’s where I’m rubbing my hands with glee.
Because now the CHARACTER has to come up with a solution. And once the CHARACTER has a solution, they have to deal with the problem of whether to cough it up right away and admit they screwed up, or to keep a good and almost logical solution tucked away in their head to be used if someone else notices.
And you then get extras: You can have them get away with it – for a while.
And have it bothering them.
And then, if you’re evil enough, you can have it come up at a most inconvenient time, force them to do their little song and dance, and let another character realize they’re not being entirely truthful.
Which has been kind of delicious.
And is exactly what I mean by profiting.
My readers will tell me
If it worked.
I’m assuming most of them will not be through my gleeful blog posts about writing – I can think of nothing worse to destroy the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ than lifting the skirts and showing readers the machine under the table.
But what I’m hoping will happen is that any reader who happens to notice that little glitch will also notice that somewhere very soon, before they got too worried by it, a solution popped up to take care of the problem – and the itch is scratched.
And they hurry along, reading, to see what other little problems might crop up – as that is the way of fiction, problem/solution/problem/solution… until the final happily-ever-after, mostly, solution at the end.
So that’s what I spent the last three days on
And a couple of thousands of words in my notes.
And images and calculations and links to places where I got my data from Mr. Google.
And then this tiny little hand-polished paragraph which will get read, absorbed, and left in the reader’s wake.
After all, one must tell one’s readers the truth most of the time, so they will not notice the occasional little lie we have to sneak in – or this wouldn’t be fiction.
On to the next author problem!
If you’re a writer, have you ever had this particular little problem?
If you’re a reader, have you ever noticed this problem? What did you do?
This morning, while the husband had gone to the grocery store on the URC bike to get the few things we need to supplement the dinners here, I spent a half hour singing.
With Kate Wolf, on Green Eyes.
And with Gordon Lightfoot, Sundown.
The first I had never sung; the second, I remember singing so many times back when it was new, I was in college and grad school, and had joined the Columbia Record Club, and had several of his records.
It is easy to let things slip when under a pandemic
I didn’t realize how long it had been since I sang.
Apparently, going to church on Sundays, plus starting an hour-long, twice a month folk-singing group here at URC had been enough to keep my vocal chords in working order, even tired. Each time, after an hour, I had used my voice, and it seemed okay and I was happy with the quality of the sound, happy enough not to give it another thought.
Well, it has been months since I did that kind of regular singing (forgive me, Carol, singing teacher, for not singing every day).
And when I tried to sing about a week ago, it was as if someone had stolen my vocal chords and left someone else’s unused ones in their place.
It was scary. The singing voice was almost paralyzed, and nowhere near what I had come to depend on whenever I wanted it.
So there’s one more thing I have to maintain consciously
The list is getting very long.
Every day, before I can get to sleep, I have to put all my joints through my little stretching and range of motion exercises – or I twitch so badly sleep is impossible. Literally. For hours. Lying there in bed, twitching as if hit by a cattle prod every 5-10 seconds. And now I also have to get up and eat something so my stomach will let me go to sleep.
None of this body stuff used to be my responsibility (except weight: as I’ve said many times before, I do not understand why I should have anything conscious to do with maintaining the right body weight – I don’t have to remember to breathe or make my heart beat!).
I’ve given up complaining – it doesn’t help. When I realize I’m twitching because I didn’t do my exercises, I force myself to lie there – and do them.
When I realize what has woken me up at 3am is that my blood sugar is crashing, I get up, eat a half cup of cottage cheese, and then, while my brain’s blood is diverted to digestion, quickly lie down and get back to sleep.
The demands of the body are nonnegotiable
And a pain in the neck.
But I develop another heuristic, another shortcut for dealing with the new problem, pay attention for a few days or weeks, and put it on the list of ‘things that must be done.’
And I fear when someone else must take care of me, because they’re not going to have the ability to do the necessary actions the instant I need them, and I’m going to spend a lot of my time uncomfortable and not able to do a thing about it.
What a life!
One more consequence of the lovely gift we’ve all been given is to watch it go away.
How to deal?
ME/CFS? Aging? Luck of the Irish? Who knows.
I try to let it take as little of my time and life as possible.
Not complainin’, just sayin’.
And I do whatever I need to keep writing.
While watching the appalling stuff burbling out in our society that has long been suppressed. And trying not to cry.
What is on your list? What are you in charge of that you never had to worry about before?
Thanks to Stencil for the ability to create graphics that are more interesting than the words I throw into them.
The poem Maud Miller was quoted in Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.
John Greenleaf Whittier died in 1892, but his words have resonated.
There is something valuable in using the current world crisis to do things you should have done, now, before the opportunity is taken from you.
This week I wrote a ‘thank you’ letter
I have been mulling it around in my mind for months, because it had the potential of turning into something else.
I finally gave up on the ‘something else,’ which has been, and still is, an unformed request for help of an indeterminate kind.
And that was the holdup: I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to ask for, and it wasn’t clear how. Sometimes that confusion means something: don’t do it.
But eventually I realized that right now, a thank you note out of the blue, when someone is quarantined and disconnected from office routine and usual sources of affirmation, might make the day bright for a person who, through his work, has made my life easier, and my writing better.
With my slightly increased brain function and the pressure of ‘what if something happens to either of us,’ I had a moment of energy, and quickly sat down to put words to page. Added a short handwritten note (the handwriting had been held up by the damaged right shoulder – thank you notes should probably be written by hand), and sent it off.
Now every time I remember the help, I can feel good about having sent the note – instead of guilty that I should, really, and haven’t figured out what to say. It’s DONE.
This week I sent a tough letter to someone
My, how many ‘somes’ are showing up in this post!
But the writings are private, though the insight might be useful, so they cannot be replaced by proper nouns, and can’t even be granted common nouns, so you’ll just have to see if this is still useful.
One of my favorite parts of the John D. MacDonald Travis McGee stories is Meyer’s Law, which for my own purposes I usually remember as ‘Whatever the hardest thing to do is, that’s the right thing to do.’
My ability to quote correctly is legendarily bad – here’s the Google result:
John D. MacDonald — ‘In all emotional conflicts, the thing you find the most difficult to do, is the thing that you should do.–Meyer’s Law‘
And I am dating myself! The stories are from the 1960s!
Detour aside, this was something that, if our positions were reversed, I would have appreciated getting from the other person. But the contents were very deep, and I greatly feared adding to the other person’s pain.
But Meyer would have been proud of me: I decided it was her RIGHT to know, and that she could deal with it however she wanted to, but I couldn’t forgive myself for not giving her that choice, however painful.
I’m glad I did and she thanked me, and it will probably be the last time we ever communicate, not because of anything bad, but because the contents were the result of our two lives touching over something (here we go again with the somes) which will never happen again.
I promise not to forget, as long as I have memory. And that has to be good enough.
The results are that now I can move on
Every time in the future either topic comes to my mind – which will happen – I have closure. I did what I needed to do. The actions are in the past instead of in a vague future.
And I did the right thing.
For the reference: it hurt as much as I had expected, maybe more – and I can take it.
I see too many books now with this as their foundation
A person in the present turns out to be haunted by something they did or didn’t do in their darkest past, and the future is forever colored by avoiding the sore topic – until something explodes.
I don’t like this trend in novels – everyone has a horrible deep dark secret. An event in the present (usually a death – or a missive discovered from someone who died) results in digging into the past, and explosions ensue.
It is true that times were different before, that things that can be revealed now – a secret marriage, a child given up or adopted, a wrong to someone’s life or reputation – might have had much bigger repercussions ‘back then,’ and we’re more able to survive the revelation now than when it happened.
‘Do it now’ stops future pain – for me
But the present state of uncertainty in our real-life lives makes me hope I don’t get to the end without doing what I should have done.
I have a few more of these to clear up, and then I’ll be free of that particular kind of regret.
THEY TELL ME JUNE WILL FORCE USE OF THE NEW EDITOR
So I’ve decided to test it out while I still have room to run and scream if I don’t like it.
So far it seems very much like the old editor, except with new controls – which I don’t know yet.
I don’t even remember creating the graphic above, but it’s in my media file from my days in New Jersey, so I probably did.
I’m getting a bit more energy from my low-dose naltrexone.
ldn works differently from medicines.
It blocks opioid receptors in your brain for a couple of hours, during which your brain decides something’s wrong – and creates more of them.
This leads to more endorphins, and other things happen, so you find yourself dealing with generalized inflammation as well.
Some people even think it will help deal with the coronavirus; I’m not going to test that deliberately, and don’t know how I will tell that I have or haven’t, but it’s a good thought. Anything that helps.
I’m also getting, a lot of the time, less brain fog
This is the main reason I’m interested in it: in these thirty years I’ve had ME/CFS, I haven’t found anything I can DO to reduce brain fog, and have had to wait every day to see if my brain would kick on and be usable.
Then I’d have to make sure whatever functionality showed up that day wasn’t needed for something critical in life, which is why I did very little writing when we were moving and packing and sorting and dejunking and dealing with real estate agents (theirs) and lawyers (theirs) who didn’t do what they said they’d do or when they said they’d do it, even though the contract clearly said we could dump the whole idea if they didn’t.
My top level functionality hasn’t improved
but I think the bottom level may have come up a bit.
The most notable effect, after taking a year to slowly titrate the ldn up to the therapeutic dose, is that I seem to spend more time every day toward the higher end of the functionality my brain is capable of, and get more done in that time.
And it seems to come every day, which was something I couldn’t count on before.
In fact, I was doing prep work for today’s writing around midnight last night – something that, trust me, never happens. I’m usually dead by 8 or 9 pm, even though my brain refuses to admit it and allow sleep.
Four finished scenes in the last two weeks – absolutely unheard of.
It still takes a lot of time to do what I do, but I’m spending more time per day doing it, so it is taking fewer days to get in the necessary time.
As my friend MT would say, Woo hoo!
And other than finding it slightly annoying, I’m not having any trouble making the new block editor do exactly what the old editor did, which is a few headings, some paragraphs of text, and image or two, and
Wait a minute. Where did the categories and tags go?
There they are, under a tag ‘Document’ up at the top of the page.
So far it is twice as many steps to select a heading style for a block of text. Annoying.
There is still a link ‘Switch to Classic Editor,’ which I will use until it disappears, but this was not that hard to figure out – for my simple blogging needs.
Which I’m pretty sure won’t change until five years or so from now when they decide to edit the editor again.
Oops. WAIT. Where’s my horizontal separator line?
This exercise has taken me to the ONE UNFORGIVABLE SIN of an editor, eating my text.