Okay, so that didn’t go as planned

All right, never mind what I said on Tuesday. I have struggled to write much this past week.

Putin’s unjust war in Ukraine, the devastating floods in the Queensland and New South Wales, the disappointing Kumanjayi Walker verdict, and all this talk of Japanese Encephalitis in Australia has my heart in a very heavy way. As if the pandemic, climate change, Afghanistan, pre-existing social injustice, and this country’s asylum seeker situation weren’t already depressing enough.

I keep thinking of something a friend said to me a couple years ago—that we’re already living in the dystopian future. His comment was more to do with the fact that today’s society resembles cyberpunk economies sans the AI revolution, but I think the “life imitating art” sentiment could cover a broad concept of dystopia. (And if I ever turn this blog post into a proper essay, I’ll make more of an effort to qualify that statement.)

Thing is, I don’t think all is lost. But in terms of humanity’s story arc, we’re probably approaching an All Is Lost Moment, which every reader and writer knows will be over once we can shake off our distractions and find a way to work together.

I’ve sought solace in small wins like painting my nails, completing boring life admin tasks, doing a little hobby coding, watering my plants, and working towards my daily 2L water intake. Oh, and donating to relief funds when pay comes in, which is something I think everyone who can afford to should consider doing. Making a contribution, even if it’s not much, can make a person feel less helpless in the face of all this.

Two things I haven’t done are scrolling social media feeds and writing. The former is probably for the best, especially since there are far less incendiary ways to consume news and converse with people. The latter, however, is probably just me developing a bad habit of anxious avoidance and procrastination. I need to do something about that.

Actually, I will do something about that. Tomorrow, I’m starting Camp NaNo early. If the camp counsellors won’t let me in, then I’ll sit in the forest and yell at clouds. Stay tuned for the odd update on Project Clay between now and the end of April.

500 words is fine today

After giving up on writing over the weekend, I fired up the old word processor today and cracked out a healthy 500-word session. Granted, it took about an hour and a half, but I reckon I’ll use every one of those 500 words and then some.

500 is looking to be about my average for a reasonable writing session. That’s not bad considering about 3 years ago, I was aiming for 350 words. Last year’s NaNoWriMo saw me hit up to 2000 words per day, but numbers like that make it easy to hide the amount of planning, preparation and perspiration that goes along with it.

It’s hard to let go of the high-pressure unsolicited advice the well-intentioned “experts” will throw at you—that you should smash out a mega word count everyday otherwise how can you call yourself a professional writer? Maybe that’s the go for journalists and content mill bloggers, but maybe—just maybe—there’s also another way to exist? This is a big, diverse world with many ways to hustle. Surely “publish or perish” and toxic productivity narratives are on their way to becoming a thing of the past?

This year, I’m (practicing) giving myself permission to be okay with a lower word count (until the next NaNo challenge). Six years is enough time to observe that perhaps I do have a process that works for me when I lean into it. 350 words worked back when it was the season for it. Last year’s NaNo worked during NaNo month. And 500 words works just fine today.

A big, deep breath

I’ve finally come to the end of a long run that wasn’t the best for me. For months and months, I took on too many projects and constantly lived an overloaded lifestyle. My justification? I didn’t have one.

In hindsight, it was probably a combination of a work ethic that favours intensity and the lack of a well-calibrated filter for input. I understand this is not uncommon for people in Team Neurodiversity, which I have also recently learned is indeed my team.

Of course, being the kind of person who believes we make the choices that seem like the best idea at the time, I embrace the notion that “that unhealthy lifestyle” was actually very good for me at some point. Sometimes we need to struggle before we experience gratitude. Sometimes we need the rain before we get flowers.

Well, to continue the metaphor, I still need to tend to my garden before anything will bloom, but I have finally dug my way out of the mire 🌻 Here are the seedlings I’m currently tending:

WIP — “Sunset”

Act 2 of “Sunset” is done. I had a lovely break over the weekend, involving computer games and Thai food 😄 in preparation to get cracking on Act 3. This book has been a work in progress since 2018, and I’ll be over the moon when I finally get to share it with you.

Coming soon — About Henry: A Novella

About Henry: A Novella is now up on Amazon, pre-ordering is open, cover has been revealed, etc. 🙌 It feels great to have both stories, About Henry and About Her, in a single device-friendly ebook format.

This blog — a refresh

So here I am now at my new blog home, blog.jlperidot.com. I should have done this ages ago, as the new setup means easier maintenance and less faffing about every time WordPress releases a new update.

I hope you’re still with me and, if you are, that you’ll excuse any broken links still pointing to my old domain. They’ll get fixed in due course.

A bowl of Thai beef curry noodle soup and sweet Assam tea
Thai beef curry noodle lunch from the other day 😋

Being busy happens when life makes plans for you

I reject the idea that being busy is a badge of honour. If anything, being too busy may be a sign that we’re not being kind enough to ourselves, giving ourselves time to rest, which is hardly something to brag about even if it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

We may not mean to be busy, yet life happens and we end up that way. Maybe in our pursuit of meaning and happiness, we took on one too many enjoyable things and overdid it a little—or a lot. Or maybe we got caught up in the hidden tasks, the unpaid labour, the little extras that project managers need Gantt charts for.

That’s certainly how my last few years materialised, anyway. My rearview looks like a long, dark tunnel, stretching so far back that I can barely see the pinprick of light at the entrance. But the road ahead looks brighter. April has been a raging nonce of a month. A heap of big, demanding long-term projects converged at once, which was intense but came with the silver lining of getting them all out the door.

Actually, no, they’re not quite out the door. At the moment, they’re still in the foyer putting their shoes on, but it’s progress and I feel better for it. I’ve caught up on a huge backlog of filing and admin as well, and am now getting closer to catching up properly on email, unsubscribing from ancient spam, et cetera. It’s been a productive time, even with all the recent pandemic business that’s been going on in Western Australia. Looks like when things go awry, I deal with it by buckling down, focusing local, and taking comfort in things I can control. It’s left me with room to rediscover things I love that I’d let fall by the wayside.

This week, I’m working on “Sunset”; I’m working on a novella release of About Henry; I’m working on maintaining work-life balance as we head towards the light.

And it feels good.

The pain you choose

There are only 26 days left until the new year. I don’t know about you, but this winds me up a bit, especially when I think about all the things I meant to do since January, but haven’t done yet 😬

Self-pressure is not the greatest thing, but I saw this quote yesterday:

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

— Jim Rohn

It makes me question which kind of pain I’ve embraced this year, and which kind I’m now facing as we count down our sleeps to the end of the month.

I have many regrets about this year. Like the unfinished WIPs I need both hands to count. I regret the times I stressed over how many there are—to the point where I couldn’t muster the energy to just start working on one. I regret taking on so much work and letting everything get unmanageable. I regret neglecting self-care and mental health matters. I regret worrying so much about stuff that just wasn’t that important in the end.

I know I have workaholic tendencies. But doing more work isn’t the same as being disciplined about work. So, lesson learned, hey?

I’d like to be able to say, “Next year, I choose the pain of discipline,” but it’s never that easy. This isn’t the sort of choice you make once and live happily ever after. It’s a choice you have to make, over and over again, every time you hit that fork in the road between The Thing You Gotta Do and Some Other Thing.

Well, here’s to making better choices in 2021. It’s hard to feel too bummed when you still have the power to change.

Status Update — Sep 2020

Writing has not been a priority of late. Instead, I’ve been making time to tidy my dwellings, reconnect with my feelings, and try and knock over all the stuff my mind tends to wander to when I’m supposed to be working 😅

And so my things have been thus…

Writing and such

Writing has consisted mostly of boring stuff, aka. non-fiction stuff for work. My bread-and-butter writing isn’t especially exciting, but I must admit, it does bring some relief when I’m anxious or stressed. I suspect it’s because there’s no emotion in it, not like there is in romantic and dramatic stories.

None of my big fiction projects have seen much love in the last couple of months, but I’m working on a couple of short bits and experimental pieces. My “weird fiction” story got accepted for publication—yay! It’ll appear in the Autumn 2020 issue of the Kyanite Press journal.

There’s a teaser excerpt coming out in next month’s Dot Club. Plus more information on this blog real soon.

Tidying up my digital life

Which means closing accounts and retiring profiles I’m no longer active on. It’s funny how many things get “left open” out of FOMO or nostalgia or the fear that we won’t have it at some arbitrary point in the future when we might want it again. I’m in need of some proper cleanups at the moment, though, and that oh maybe approach is standing in my way.

As of today, I’m no longer on Wattpad, Noveltrove and Lushstories. Thank you, readers, for following me there. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my work in the spaces where I’m active. Like this blog 😊

Health, fun & other vitals

Self-care means working on my goal setting and time management, as this is proving to be super important while trying to get all my adulting out of the way 😅 I’m also really enjoying nice smelly things (candles, soaps and oils) and delicious tea.

Currently consuming:

Recently finished:

Playing:

  • Gloomhaven
  • Merchant RPG

And recently on the socials…

A sweet piece of my culture.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CErFumegRUb/

Riding the wave

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

My mental health has not been amazing lately. It doesn’t feel right to complain about it, as I very definitely have nothing to complain about. I live in an area with very low COVID-19 case numbers, where we can walk around safely without other people wearing masks, where even our gloomy weather is quite beautiful.

I kept my job; my industry has not suffered immensely (touch wood); I have a roof over my head, a partner who does not subscribe to domestic violence, and friends who check in on me out of the blue. I’m under no illusions here: I am very lucky.

And yet, there are times where words escape me or I stutter and mumble even when I know exactly what I want to say, where even the simplest questions are too hard to answer, where leaving the house is too unfathomable, where everything seems pointless or contaminated even when I know it’s not, and I laugh at jokes I know I’d normally find funny even when I don’t feel the laughter building from within.

It’s irrational and it’s odd. I wonder if it’s neurological or hormonal or nutritional. I wonder if it’s the cold or vitamin D or protein or hayfever or cabin fever or emotional contagion from others. It makes sense to blame workaholism and burnout, but in reality, I don’t know. The anxiety and depression—they’re just there.

Sometimes this just happens; the tidal wave sweeps through me and I have to ride it out.

A surfer rides a wave under a pink sunset sky
Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash