You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘stress’ tag.
The second hardest part of revising?
Battling my inner critic, Miranda.
It’s been 10 weeks since I started on this re-vision of my manuscript. Drafting new scenes, reworking old scenes into an alternate POV.
10 weeks of hearing Miranda say I can’t do this. Or it won’t be good enough.
She swore I’d ruin the book.
Every time she said I couldn’t, every time she made me fear I’d never write another decent word, I sat down at my laptop and faced the fear.
Just work on this chapter, this scene, this sentence.
Eventually, I got so immersed in the words, my characters drowned out Miranda.
I forgot to worry about failing. I forgot about finding the right way and let the story guide me. I fell in love with my novel all over again.
And I promised my characters that I would write the absolute best book I could for them.
As I proofread the manuscript for the last time, fear seizes me. What if it’s not good enough? What if it isn’t what the agent envisioned? I swear Miranda is cackling somewhere.
It’s the best thing I’ve written. And that counts. That matters. No matter what Miranda says. No matter what happens next, I’m proud of the book I have in front of me.
Kourtney 1 Miranda 0
This is what it feels like to write “The End” on my third novel. I see the entire thing clearly and am delighted by the ending. I’m ready to put it aside for a month or two.
Long enough that I can see the faults in my star. Then I’ll revise for a few months and pass it to betas. But right now, I just want to bask in the completeness of the story.
And this week, I’m taking a break.
Ten pounds of stress drained out of my neck on Monday afternoon when I realized that’s my ending. And the first draft is dunzo!
This is the book that refused to adhere to my outline. Each chapter was hijacked by the characters.
It was a terribly fret-filled and heart-jerking writing experience.
And it required an act of pure faith. To put aside what I thought should happen and let the characters tell me what happened.
I never had any idea how the book would end until I typed it. This was a source of massive writer anxiety. It was like driving on an unfamiliar road in complete fog. I could only see a few feet in front of me and never had any idea what was around the bend. Half the time I thought the book would careen off a cliff. The other half, I was sure we’d end up wrapped around a tree.
And it’s one of those things you don’t tell many people. Because saying it makes it too real. So I shared it with my crit partner but otherwise tried to keep it inside.
The last 15K were the hardest of my life to draft. I didn’t know where I was going. Because I wasn’t leading. I was being tugged along by the characters and made to tell the story as it happened to them.
And when I took that first breath after typing “The End” I knew this was how the book had to end. This was the only way the story could be told. And I felt that rush of joy in knowing I captured their story as they wanted it.
I’m not one to lose it in the moment. The more serious the problem the more composed I seem.
I’ll navigate through the hurricane…and collapse a week later.
The worst thing I’ve ever heard someone at the wheel say to me: I feel like I’m going to pass out.
My mind races with possibilities. A car slamming into us from behind. Her passing out and the car swerving into traffic. What to do. What to do.
I calmly tell her to pull to the side. She signals and brakes. I reach over and cock the wheel into a nearby driveway.
I get her to ease up on the brake. The car inches into the driveway.
I tell her to brake. Then I put the car in park and turn it off.
We sit there. I stay calm. Eerily calm. Because that is what I do.
I repress in the moment and deal when there is time to do so.
I wait until her dizziness eases and then we switch seats.
I take over the driving.
We have lunch.
I come home.
But I can’t get the emotions to surface again. I guess I buried them too deep.
And a week later, my neck is spasming and I’m having nerve pain in my hand.
I’ll panic later has its consequences.
Today we slept in until the workers awakened us at 10am banging. I did laundry in sink to expel some nervous energy. OL threw covers over his head.
I decided to buy the expensive silk scarf at Wanda plaza. We walked over there. I had my purse on my arm with my camera. Held onto both the entire walk to Wanda plaza. Through the two underpasses.
We get on express escalator from ground floor to fifth floor. One ginormous escalator. A couple Chinese people crowd us. Totally normal. They always crowd foreigners.
After two bumps, I step away and push OL up telling him they are crowding me. This happens so much in China, I don’t think much of it. Get off at 5th floor and go into McDonalds. I get in line. OL gets a table.
While I’m waiting a little girl stares and me and says ni hao. Then she says hello. Her mom is behind me in line.
When I order I go to pay and my purse is open. Weird. I never leave it opened. And my wallet is gone. Double weird. I get a bad feeling someone stole my wallet. But I am not 100% sure it was in my purse. Or maybe I just don’t want to believe this is happening.
I step out of line to get $ from OL. When I get back in line to pay mom is in front of me with kid. So I pay with OL money and we go eat.
I’m hoping I left my wallet on table in room when rearranging my money last night. We scarf down lunch and try to think of when it could get stolen. Escalator. Or McDonalds. Ugh.
But I only got bumped on escalator. Probably escalator.
Get back to room and turn it upside down. No wallet there. Fuck. I have a bout of diarrhea from stress. There was about $200 American dollars worth of Chinese currency (1200 yuan) and $60 American bucks. Fuck. The money however isn’t the worst part. Someone took my license, credit cards, ATM card. Everything in my wallet is gone.
I only have $450 in cash hidden in suitcase. Ugh. Not much I can buy now.
Go to tell front desk and they are so confused. Only one girl speaks English. I try Chinese and they don’t seem to get it. Finally, English speaker comes over and I tell her to call the police because my wallet was stolen. She asks from the hotel in a voice laced with not again. I say no from Wanda guan Chang.
She ask what is missing. I say 3 credit cards. 2 bank cards. And 1200 yuan( about 150$).
Then i cry a bit.
She calls police and tells us someone from foreign office will call back. Says go to room and wait.
So we ask how to call credit cards and cancel all of them. She opens phone for international calls–8 yuan per minute. Way to rape someone who just got robbed.
OL and I get to room and start calling credit card companies and bank. Takes about 30 minutes to call all those places. Luckily wrote down the account numbers and non US phone numbers for each company. No one used my cards. Thank goodness.
Reissue all cards to CT address. Except one credit card sent to Beijing hotel.
I luckily have 88$ American in my purse still and 450$ in my suitcase hidden.
But not having access to cash freaks me out.
Also being victim of crime, even a non-violent one leaves me shaken and feeling unsafe.
Especially since I know Chinese people robbed me and I’m surrounded by them. Now logic says anyone can be a thief, but it just happened in China, which has a really really homogeneous population. So how can I possibly feel safe?
I finish card canceling and go downstairs to see what is going on. It’s been over an hour since I reported the wallet stolen. 2pm now. Front desk girl tells me foreign office of police department will come at 3pm. So I should wait in room.
At 3pm, she calls and tells us to come down stairs. She brings us outside and we are put into the police car. The driver speaks little English and takes us outside the city gate to the police station. Driving is intense. Airconditioning doesn’t work.We get there and he leaves us outside building to wait.
Finally comes to get us and bring us to 18th floor. We follow him around to office where people are supposed to speak English but no one does to us. They tell me to fill out form and then walk away.
No one asks what happened. No one cares. Or rather all they care about is the exact amount of money stolen. Because they ask me half a dozen times about that. I’m not sure if it’s because there is a certain threshold where they must investigate or if they are calculating their kickback from the pickpocket ring.
Ol watches. One woman instant messages on computer, one stays on cell phone and another browses Internet. The only competent person gets harassed by everyone else. We are waiting for her to read my report. She laughs when gets to part about being bumped and jostled on escalator being a common occurrence.
She stamps and signs off on stuff. Give me confirmation of filing. Refuses to give me copy of report. I’m so frustrated and upset. And this felt so pointless.
I cry as we leave in elevator. Then I cry in car ride back. I’m just so upset at having my property stolen. Now I feel like I cannot trust anyone and have to be on constant guard. My default is to spit kick and hit if anyone touches me now. Which pretty much ruins the rest of my time in China.
OL comforted me and gave me tissues. Finally I calmed down.
And I realize we are in the middle of nowhere. The cop has taken us to some back road with broken down buildings. I’m thinking he’s gonna get rid of the foreigners. Then he puts the car in park but leaves it running. He grabs two bags and says just a minute.
He brings something into one of the houses. OL and I burst out laughing. This is the kind of shit that happens to us.
He comes back with two cokes for us. I open mine and almost spray myself then his driving nearly spills it on me. OL wisely refrains from opening his.
The sugar helps.
We continue on a rip roaring ride back to our hotel. The police man drops us off and wishes us well.
Lol. So since I’m technically penniless we decide to hit the bank and convert $60 American dollars. This takes 20 minutes. Ten or so stampings of papers. Four people. A review of my passport and visa. My signature on something. And two counting machines.
Finally I get 379 yuan. Ouch US dollar at all time low. I do make jokes about not using ATM since I got robbed.
We decide to rest a bit and salvage the day with some night photos. Ofc it takes forever to get dark here. At 7:20 still light so we wander down an old calligraphy road I read about.
OL gets some more paper cuts. We both get this flute thing we can’t play.
Head back to nan men still no lights on tower. So we go to Subway for dinner. Then we walk outside at 8:30. Nan men is illuminated.
Pretty. We walk up to the bell tower and drum tower and take some pics.
Then walk back to hotel. Get a little turned around and end up at the park.
Cute. Flying electric kites. Neat.
We come back to room.
I had a pleasant time walking around tonight but I’m angry and I’m hyper vigilant. I don’t feel like I’m on vacation anymore. I feel homesick for the first time. I put a luggage lock on my purse so no one can slide it open ever again.
I kinda hate this city right now. I hate this country right now. I wish I wasn’t here. It’s a lawless, filthy place without any redeeming qualities. At least in my eyes. The people live in filth and squalor.
The retched smells seeping out of the ground indicate it’s a bad bad place. Nothing good ever came of something that smells rotten and rotted to the core.
Maybe it’s because I was violated and I’m still reeling from it. But I cannot see this place as anything but a hotbed for evil. The corruption the Communists tried to extinguish is thriving in their pseudo-capitalism. Congrats. You’ve brought back everything wrong with the original republic.
Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t on a two lane road in the desert. Nope. Nor in the crazy high twisty roads of Yosemite with altitude sickness. It was the move. Maybe it is because I lived in that apartment 6 years. Maybe because I had a good salary and could afford to purchase furniture worth keeping. Maybe it was because I accumulate stuff. I don’t know. But this move was the hardest of my life. And I’ve moved about 10 times in my life.
But this one was the roughest. The weather was monsoon like. The movers underestimated the time required by oh 6-7 hours. Yeah, not sure how that fuck out happened. But it did. And nothing went smoothly. NOTHING. It must be nice to screw everything up and still get paid. I thought that was only with weathermen. But nope.
Packing up your life takes about 117 boxes. Or my life did anyway. Leaving that apartment was hard. Weird because I had the worst neighbors who played loud music every weekend–and by loud I mean like standing in the middle of the biggest club you can think of. Bass blaring. Until 2 am.
I also had so little space. 650 sq ft. Sounded so good when I moved in. But I outgrew it.
Anyway, these thoughts ran through my head. I was exhausted by the move. Bone tired. Emotionally spent. And of course, the night before I couldn’t sleep. Not a wink until 4 am. And I had to be up at 7AM. Hell. Pure hell.
Everything changed this summer. And it caught up with me when I saw the empty apartment. I felt completely lost. Like I no longer belonged anywhere. Like everything was gone. For weeks I had been saying goodbye to the city and I wanted a nice clean break. No more dawdling. No more dwelling on the past.
Then I got to my new home and I started setting things up this weekend. My desk is here, my books are partly unpacked. My bed is made. The DVD is hooked up for Dallas. I’m starting to feel grounded again. Thank goodness for my parents, who once again saw me through a move. Especially my mom, who took an entire week off work to help pack and oversee the move out and in with me.
Do you ever feel tuckered out? You don’t have to be doing alot. Or you could just be coming off oodles of stress. But I feel like I’ve been burning my candle at both ends for months. So I am going to scale back the blog to 4 days a week for August and September. I’ve got a move to plan, conferences to attend, and a friend staying with me. I also have to submit queries and prepare proposals, and keep up on my reading.
I have decided that my weekday blog posts will drop back to four a week and the fifth will be my mental health day, when I don’t blog. I love blogging, but I think I am stretching myself too thin. Moving is way more stress than I remembered. Well my whole entire life is changing and that’s exciting and scary. I am worried. I hope I’m doing the right thing. You never know until way after the decision is made. Hindsight is so freaking useless. But I’ll do what I always do–push forward.
Do you take mental health breaks? How do you cope when everything gets to be too much?
Have you ever had to deal with absolute jerks and felt your neck muscles locking up? That was yesterday. I have a lot going on-planning a move, novel writing, doctor appointments, physical therapy, MRI, blogging, preparing for conferences, sending in proposals for auctions I won, doing my chores, taking care of the dog, etc. I don’t ask for anyone to make it easier.
But please don’t make it harder on me right now. Unfortunately, no one seems to have gotten the memo. So people keep coming at me with shit. Right now, I have about 10 ongoing projects to deal with each day. Toss a few more in and I’ll start dropping balls. There’s just so much I can handle with my own two hands. Multi-tasking is fine with a few tasks, but the more tasks you have the less attention each gets.
I feel like the picture above. I’m surveying the land and I know if I make it through all those sand dunes, the ocean is there. But I know that making it through the sand dunes is almost impossible. And I freeze up. Suddenly, it’s all too much. I’m completely overwhelmed by my own life.
My neck tightens up and I end up getting a migraine. Great. Another impediment to accomplishing my tasks. I lay down and try not to think about what’s getting to me. Of course, all I do is think about it. Finally, I go do my neck stretches. It helps a little. Then I sit down at my computer with my Mac Dictate software and draft some new scenes for the story. 3000 words later, I’m exhausted. Still feeling ill, but at least I got something done.
Do you find anger is fuel for your writing? Or does it exhaust you and leave nothing for the writing?
Have you ever noticed how your body has a way of telling you when you’ve taken on too much? For me, I tend to get sick or have an old injury suddenly flare up. The past few days have been very stressful. And suddenly the dormant muscle knot in my neck is acting up. It traps nerves and makes my right hand pretty useless. Not cool.
Especially when I have a mega writing conference starting Thursday. So I slept most of the day. Took some anti imflams and other meds and wait for them to work their magic. I do some light stretching and I avoid everything that could worsen my neck. Which means less typing, no sleeping on my side or stomach. No dancing. No weights. Just waiting.
And I always get the twinge warnings before it acts up. Kinda like the aura before the headache. But I never stop to listen. It’s like when your mom says don’t touch that, it’s too hot and you ignore her and touch it anyways.
What about you? Do you find your body has ways to let you know when its had enough and needs a break? Or are you able to stop and listen to the warning bells before something goes wrong?