bad boy

Sorry for the suggestive title. 🙂

I meant to post something last week. I had something I really wanted to share, but… life. Which, I guess, leads to what I’d like to share today.

We make bad decisions sometimes. I make bad decisions a lot. And when it comes to relationships, I seem to make nothing but bad decisions. I’m just coming out of one of those bad-decision-relationships. It’s weighed heavily on me for almost two months, and every day just added to the burden. It didn’t help that I put off rectifying that bad decision. And it really didn’t help when–after finally fixing things–I went ahead and made the same bad decision that started the whole affair. Twice.

I admit, it’s a little odd for someone who keeps a blog to identify as a private person. But I am pretty private. I don’t share much, I definitely don’t talk much. I don’t engage in gossip, and I do my best to avoid becoming the center of attention. All that to say I chose to share my unfortunate relationship experience with friends and co-workers, though the transparency was more to cover my ass if things exploded like, say, at my workplace. (Yeah, things got pretty icky.)

Obviously, telling that many people your personal laundry opens the door to a cornucopia of opinions. My favorite (really my least favorite) came from a friend: “It’s okay to be alone. You don’t need to be with someone.” To her, I say thanks and thanks to everyone else who would like to dish out that little tried-and-true nugget of wisdom. (Do you sense some sarcasm? My apologies, but that one really gets me.) Also, I’ve been “alone” since 2006, and I’ve been okay for seven out of those eight years. This year, I felt like I was ready–more than ready–to spend some time with someone. And that’s okay, too.

But I didn’t quite think things through. Not only am I the quiet, private guy, I’m also the mildly anti-social one. If I’m going to spend time with someone, it better be someone I can get along and someone who understands the unique challenge that is me. 🙂 Alas, this was not that someone. I wanted her to be, though, which is what led to repetitive bad decision-making.

Piece of advice, folks, though none of you asked for it. 🙂 Don’t settle, not for the first person that comes along, not for the pretty face, not even for the great personality. The odds are against you if you settle, and you should expect no pity when/if it goes awry.

The stress of things pretty much disabled me from pursuing my other goals. Writing, catching up with friends, clearing my DVR (though I did manage to keep up with a select few shows), all of it fell by the wayside because I was so consumed by this relationship–first in a good way (the excitement of something new!), then in a bad way (the struggle to end it). Does she read this blog? A good question. I don’t know. She is aware of it, though I seriously doubt she ever really looked at it. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I wanted to get this off my chest the best way I know how. By writing about it.

And not a moment too soon! NaNo is coming, and I plan to be part of it once again.

take a breath

So over the weekend, I had the opportunity to meet someone who showed me a fantastic way to calm my mind and ease my stress just by modifying my breathing. I had heard of techniques, but I always believed them to involve some sort of meditation that I just wasn’t interested in exploring. But this didn’t require anything except a willingness to try. Sadly, I only had about a minute to go through the process (I was at work), but I may set up a longer session. The results from just one minute were… undeniable.

It’s no news flash that these are stressful times. Though, as a writer, I spend most of my time in my own head, I’m well aware of the real world problems I face everyday. Maybe you’re good at compartmentalizing your life and, like me, you can put all of those concerns in the back of your mind–almost forgotten. But they’re not forgotten. They’re still there, accruing mass like a series of black holes as time goes on. And it starts to wear on your mind–and your body.

My one minute experience was an eye-opener. It reminded what it was like to truly have a clear mind. Clear to think, to process feelings, to enjoy. It’s impossible to understate the value of that kind of freedom.

This week I have already been proactive in reclaiming my writing self. I’ve taken mornings to explore new writing havens in the area in the hopes of finding a place I can go to where I feel comfortable enough to write productively. There are some candidates. And I’ve reconnected with my old writing partner in a totally unexpected way. She invited me to join her in a project that she’s been working on for a while, and I think it’s a fantastic idea. It also relieves me of a lot of… mm, guilt, at asking her to work with me on my project though she was always willing to do so. It’s relaxing to be able to invest in someone else’s work, too.

I was going to talk about how it’s important to take a breath. Get it? I’m clever. 🙂 But I realized that it’s more than just taking time off. They’re not really the same thing. For whatever reason, some of us have forgotten how to take a breath, how to relax, and some of us have never really learned how to clear our mind. I know how to distract myself, sure. I’m pretty good at deflecting pressure, but I’ve never been good at “turning off” and just being. If we’re going to put in the effort, take the time, and invest in taking a break–from whatever it is (not just writing)–we ought to make the most of it by taking a breath.

As I said, I’m going to explore this breathing technique further, see how I might be able to integrate it into my daily routine. It’s a wonder. And I recommend we all explore our own ways to clear the mind. See what happens.

the wall

This isn’t the first time I’ve been here, but it never gets easier. Creatives and non-creatives alike know what I’m talking about: that frustrating inability to (figuratively) put one foot in front of the other. We writers call it (quite cleverly) Writer’s Block. When getting words down on the page is like the spilling of your own blood. If it’s not writing, it’s a homework project, or a career-related project, or a home-improvement project or self-improvement or so on. We run into a wall that seems impossible to get through.

I’m not even creatively dry, though. Ideas constantly bounce around in my skull like a lotto drawing, and I’m just waiting for the first number to pop out. Well, it does, but that doesn’t seem to improve anything. Because I still can’t transcribe any of my thoughts into a coherent narrative piece.

This is my situation, my condition, where I’ve been for weeks. Maybe months. Just… wandering my own personal Sinai. And I’ve looked outside myself. Television, people watching, reading, navel-gazing, scribbling notes, conversation. I’ve collated a ton of information, there’s still a process between acquisition, assimilation, and expression. The divide among those can be as small as a crack in the sidewalk or as daunting as the Grand Canyon.

There’s no getting through the wall.

Until, one day, you get through the wall. When does that happen? Who knows? How does it happen? For me, it’s a mystery, the difference between being healthy and falling victim to a cold. (Which, btw, I am currently experiencing.) How did I catch a cold? I don’t know, it happens.

My synopsis continues to stare me in the face, mocking all my preparation, notes, and previous draft efforts. Meanwhile, other story ideas have logjammed against the wall. Yes, I’ve considered putting the synopsis on hold, but it seems like a bad idea. The synopsis is all that prevents me from querying agents and publishers. So I really don’t want to put it on hold for anything, even another story idea that’s ready to be hammered out.

I would really love some feedback on this phenomenon. How do some of you respond to it? Have any of you had to just buckle down and weather it until it passed? Leave a comment.