Nov 13, 2018 | Brain Tumor, Writing
I’m blogging on my phone from bed again because I’m feeling kind of low today. I’m not apologizing for it, but I am offering something of a warning. In case any of you are feeling less than content too and need to postpone reading more not-happy stuff.
First, I feel mostly sad and anxious today. As is usual with these kinds of things, I can’t clearly articulate why. Maybe the margarita I had last night to celebrate our five year anniversary has depressed me? One drink has never made me feel this way before, but I am still in the habit of internalizing the thousands upon thousands of messages I’ve received since I became chronically ill–messages that tell me everything bad that happens is the result of some choice I made. I had bread instead of Brussels sprouts last week. No wonder I hurt everywhere. I colored a drawing instead of riding the FitDesk for 30 minutes. Of course I can’t move my joints. I drank a margarita instead of water with dinner. Of course the whole world is closing in on me.
Or maybe I’m just having a harder time than usual pushing the stressful stuff out of my mind because sometimes that happens to people.
I do know I’m worried about the book. It’s the same kind of mental yuck I’d get as a kid the night before I had to give an oral presentation at school. Only the big difference is I’m not being made to write this memoir. I’ve chosen to do it.
It just feels so huge an undertaking, and I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes. (Not, like, do I have the talent, but am I able?) ‘Cause if I don’t pull it off, there will be even bigger financial worries in my future. And, hello, Universe? I don’t know if you noticed, but I already have a brain tumor. I don’t really need any more personal struggles. I’m good. I have built soooo much character in my 38 years.
But I feel the self-imposed burden to finish what I started, when it would be so much healthier for me if I could say to myself, “It doesn’t matter if you finish this,” and then really mean it.
Also? I have an earache, which has more to do with me being in bed than run-of-the-mill depression. I could pout for days. And winter hasn’t even started.
Oct 23, 2018 | Brain Tumor, Writing
I packed up the memoir in a neat little Scrivener file and emailed it to Dan. It was much harder to do than I thought it would be. I know that in its current state it’s awful. It’s a first draft. I keep telling myself that. It’s a first draft. But I also know that without Dan to help me make sense of the chaos, I won’t get beyond first draft. I am well and truly stuck, incapable of even opening the file right now. (The last time I tried to take a look at it, I only got a few sentences into the first scene and cringed so hard I was practically paralyzed.)
So, yeah. Being 100 percent honest about the whole situation, I’m a little nervous Dan’s going to look over the existing manuscript and be like, “Em, this is not salvageable.” Even though my rational mind knows he wouldn’t say that even if he really did think it.
It’s weird, because I thought I was over getting apprehensive about my writing years ago. But this is different somehow. I mean, it’s not any more personal than a lot of my blog posts, and I seem to have no trouble hitting publish on these puppies! But it’s big, and it’s important, and I actually kind of need this thing to work because I’m relying on the income.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a first attempt at a book, and I know it’s not really fair to the project or to me. But, well, here we are anyway.
I’m not sure when Dan will have a chance to look at the file. I kind of sent it at a time when I knew he’d be busy with getting-us-ready-for-winter projects. I’ll post an update after he’s had a chance to look at it though.
Oct 18, 2018 | Brain Tumor, Writing
I hit the the 50,000 word threshold on the memoir last week, and then I put the manuscript away. It’s very nearly ready to hand off to Dan for structuring feedback. However, there are a few reasons I’m waiting:
- My postcard writing for the Midterm Election has been moved to the front burner. (I’ve written nearly 240 to date with address to write at least 100 more.)
- I’m not “feeling it” at the moment, and pushing forward before I’m ready will only result in wasted effort. (Ask me how I know.)
- I want to print the manuscript, because I need a tangible thing to craft at this stage. But my printer’s out of ink, and it’ll cost about $25 to print the current MS at Staples or Kinko’s. So, next paycheck.
While the memoir is on hold, I’m working at making videos for my YouTube channel.
Sometimes I can’t tell if things are genuinely hard (and would be for anyone) or if my brain is slower because of the cancer and treatment. For example, it took me three long, crank-filled days to figure out why my phone kept forcing videos to record in portrait mode instead of landscape.
Anyway, if you’re interested in looking at the progression of my work, watch my videos on coloring and Zentangling. They’re going to get better, I promise!
Oct 16, 2018 | Medical Cannabis, Writing
This is a picture of the end table next to me right now. It’s a little chaotic, I’ll admit. It’s maybe not how I’d keep things if I were perfectly healthy. But maybe it is. I don’t really know. I’m not the most organized person in the world. Anyway, this is the current state of things.
- Mountain Dew goes really well with weed. (See #6.)
- My phone case/wallet. It’s a really ugly imitation of suede. It’s hideous, but it’s functional.
- My only prescription med right now, and it has nothing to do with cancer. (I know, that’s amazing, right?)
- The earrings Dan picked up for me three days ago at Meijer “just because”. The are cats wearing witch hats.
- The double-sided Sharpie I use to write postcards to voters. One side is fine point. The other side is ultra-fine point.
- My MMJ vape. The changes in weather got me all like “OUCH!” I try to remember to take it every day just in case it feels like shrinking my brain tumor. But some days I forget.
- Vitamin D capsules. The doctor wants me to keep my levels up, and I just don’t spend a whole lot of time outside.
- The Sibley Guide to Birds. If you look closely, you can actually see the bird feeder out there in the back yard.
- An almost empty basket of Halloween candy. It only contained a partial bag of treats, but still. I’ve consumed way too much sugar in the last couple of days. (See #6.)
- Windex electronics wipes for cleaning my laptop and cell phone screen.
- Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir. I’m using it as a desk reference while I continue writing my memoir.
- The Sassy Bottle™. Izzy likes to be a little jerk and scratch at the furniture. Turns out she likes being sprayed with water too, though. So now it’s a game and we’ve taught her to claw the upholstery for attention. Cats, man.
Sep 26, 2018 | Brain Tumor, Writing
I can’t focus on the memoir today. Yeah, I made it to 40,000 words this morning, but only because I was able to copy and paste some years-old writing. While I was in Scrivener poking around, I looked at a few previously written scenes and immediately became depressed.
They are horrible.
I know this is what first drafts are like—particularly for someone like me who’s never written a whole freaking book before. But, ugh. It’s depressing to feel like you’ve got 40,000 words and a month worth of your life invested in something that is completely unsalvageable.
Dan tries to console me when I get like this, which is about three times a week. “Neil Gaiman, or someone, I don’t remember who, posted a few lines of their first draft on Twitter once to show how hard he had to work to get it right.”
“It was one of the worst things I’d ever read. Everyone’s first draft sucks, Swiss. That’s why first drafts are never published.”
“Yeah, I know. I guess.”
It doesn’t help that I’m reading a couple of really great books (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green and Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover) right now, and both are kind of brilliant. As far as Green’s novel goes, you couldn’t compare two more different books—his YA novel and my memoir—but that doesn’t stop me from doing it anyway. However, Westover’s memoir fits squarely in my book’s genre and the writing is better and her life is about 10,000 times more interesting than my own, despite my once marrying a compulsive liar and then later being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Anyway, it is just as they say, comparison is the thief of joy.