Tired? Me, too!
It seems that I’m tired all the time. I’ve noticed a small but significant number of posts recently from people saying that they’re stepping away from genre or from writing. This may be something that happens all the time but was just not something of which I was aware. But, just like when you hear a new word or an unusual name for a baby, all of a sudden you start seeing/hearing it everywhere.
You know where this is going, right?
I’ve felt worn down a lot lately. I’ve become tired of writing and editing in general and more specifically of the genre field for the better part of six months now. It’s to the point where I do not enjoy reading genre and I barely enjoy watching genre. At least with watching it’s something I can do with my family so that’s still fun.
I haven’t gotten tired of reading genre to my kids. It’s fun to experience books again through their eyes.
But I rarely feel like writing. Once I get started I’m good and ideas flow on to the page. But it takes a lot of doing to get myself in the chair.
I wrote a fair amount in genre in 2014 and 2015. I started using Trello to keep track of ideas and my progress as a writer. I buckled down on writing and got some words on the page. In August of 2014 I wrote six short stories, outlined the first book of a quartet and the synopses of the other three books in the quartet. Over the rest of the year I made good progress on a novel. NaNoWriMo helped me get a nice chunk of the novel on the page.
I attended my first writer’s workshop last summer so leading up to it I was finishing up my novel (it didn’t happen) and reading/editing my co-attendees manuscripts (happened to some degree but not fully). I continued to get short story ideas down and revised a few stories. I bought some software specifically geared towards writing and cleared my desk of clutter and made it a clean work space for writing.
I was energized coming out of the workshop but I knew that my novel needed major revisions. The main protagonist and antagonist didn’t have clear motivations, there was a lack of tension, and some of the major plot points were muddy and unclear. The good thing was I had a ton of great ideas from the workshop that would help these issues. The bad thing was I had too many ideas to know where to start.
I was overwhelmed. Since I had no deadline other than something arbitrary I set for myself I decided to set the novel aside. I needed a break from it. I continued to roll the big ideas around in my head, but I wasn’t making any real progress on them.
NaNoWriMo rolled around again so I dusted off a manuscript that was more than ten years old and started bashing it into shape. It is not genre. It’s two friends on a road trip. It’s very personal. I doubt that I’ll ever share it with anyone. So why am I writing it? I’m hoping to have that figured out by the time I finish it.
What does that even mean?
Who knows? Writing this book is very therapeutic. It doesn’t feel very complicated—we’re not talking David Foster Wallace—but I find that it suits me. I continue to have short fiction ideas—even revisions to existing short stories—so I open Trello and input my thoughts. I can’t bring myself to open a document to work on a story, but why lose the idea?
Mostly though, I’m just tired. I open Twitter and just feel this crushing weight as I scroll through what people are saying. Facebook is alternately angry and cats; sometimes angry cats. There’s a reason I’ve been reading about Mr. Rogers a lot lately. I’d given serious thought to deleting my social media accounts but there’s a piece of that I need for work and there’s another piece that’s people I want to stay in touch with so I kept it.
I didn’t write a post about my feelings because I’m not looking for sympathy but that’s what such a post would evoke in people. And then I saw more and more people talking about how they were tired of genre or writing or some such thing that they used to be passionate about. So I decided I wasn’t wrong in what I was thinking and that maybe I should share my thoughts.
So what now?
I’m keeping up with genre at a minimum. I’m picking up novels and short-story collections from authors I like. I’m not reading them. I can’t motivate myself to do so. I listen to a fair amount of short-fiction podcasts and I really enjoy those. I also devour literary fiction these days. I can’t get enough of it.
Maybe it’s just a change of pace. If I ate pizza at every meal I’d eventually get sick of it and want something, anything, else.
I haven’t gone to a convention since World Fantasy in 2014. (I don’t count the writing workshop or my annual day trip to Wiscon; if I don’t stay overnight it’s not like I’m at the convention) Before that I was attending at least two conventions a year if not four or more. That’s certainly given me a chance to view the field from a distance at the same time that it creates some distance between me and the field.
It’s not a bad thing. While I miss the people a lot I do not miss conventions.
I need to finish my road trip novel. I have to know that I can finish a novel. No matter how bad it is.
After that? Who knows, maybe some more poems!
My personal life
You may notice that I don’t talk a lot about my personal life here. Sure I talk about the fact that I have two kids, but I rarely mention my job or other things about my life. I have a steady, well-paying job that I love. I know that a lot of people aren’t that lucky. I work with a lot of amazing people. That plays a lot into my current feelings. There’s a big part of me that just wants to drop everything else and focus on my job.
Not that there aren’t issues with work. It’s a job. There’s going to be ups and downs. Right now one of my co-workers is out for an extended period of time so I’ve picked up his work in addition to mine. We’ve had a series of IT issues (which is my responsibility) that have been going on for months.
Even with all that this is the best job I’ve ever had.
My wife accepted a full-time teaching gig this past fall which meant that everyone in the house had to pitch in considerably more on maintaining the household. We all have less time together now than we used to but that’s the way life goes. Weekends tend to be running errands which isn’t always fun but you need food in the house.
We also recently listed our house for sale which adds a weird type of stress while you keep your house spotless and hope that some stranger likes it enough to buy it. You know, because there wasn’t enough other stuff going on.
It all adds up. It adds up mostly to me being tired and not motivated to do more than turn on Sportscenter and fall asleep waiting for highlights for my teams.