It truly was only a matter of time. Given that I had just achieved a major life goal, I shouldn’t have been surprised when it happened. I just hoped to find some way of channeling the forward momentum of completing my Senior Project, and finishing my degree with such high marks, that perhaps I could prevent the onset. Nothing I’ve done so far has helped. Depression has descended.
For those blessedly free of this condition, let me fill you in on a few things. 1) It is not something I can just snap out of. 2) It has been the most constant companion of my life. Depression, as I experience it, is like wearing lead sneakers while trying to run through molasses. Every movement, every thought, sometimes just breathing is a massively exhaustive task. Crying helps, but sometimes, I’m so sad, I can’t even cry.
I’ve heard depression described as the state of being emotionally exhausted. There is a deep seated sadness within my soul that never goes away. It will grow smaller, fade to the background, but it is always there. Distractions – like entertainment, and socializing with others, are both helpful and not helpful. They can make the experience bearable, but they also extend the length of the episode when it finally hits. No, depression will have its time and its attention from me. Each bout is a little different, and each has a particular course to run.
No one interacting with me right now would believe I’m struggling with this. As I said, socializing can be a distraction. In the face of fun, I can smile, converse, serve, and focus on something other than the emotional black hole sucking all the hope out of me. When I’m alone, however, it’s a different story.
Speaking of stories, this has brought progress on The Prince and the Pirate Princess to a near stand still. I have added a few hundred words to the writing in the last couple weeks, but it’s been difficult to motivate myself to live, let alone be creative. The creative activities I’ve felt any desire to do have been anchored in other modes of expression (jewelry making, watercolor painting, etc). I plan to persevere through this, and continue to write, even if at this much slower pace. This, though difficult, will help with the depression. Failure after trying and failure from lack of trying are two different things. One feeds the depression, the other starves it.
Persevering in my goal to add another 12,500 words to my story by the end of July is not the only thing I can do to help with this process. I have other coping mechanisms. None of these coping mechanisms, though, would offer any comfort at all if God did not will it as so. Therefore, I also pray through my depression and seek the Author of all earthly comfort. I give thanks to Him for the help these techniques offer. I will increase the number of hours I sleep and listen to music designed to help with depression. I will laugh. I will watch lol cat videos, and cute furry critter videos, and squee-worthy baby videos. I will lift my head and continue to look for the rainbows of life. These always appear after the rain.
If you’ve been paying attention (and I don’t think anyone actually is), you’ll notice my word count hasn’t jumped since I achieved my goal of 25,000 words in 30 days. Ah, the SoloWrimo, good, stressful times. Drafting on the Prince and the Pirate Princess continues, and the word count will be updated shortly (it currently stands at 25,557).
It will, no longer, however, show as a goal. Though I have no insanity inducing, grade-dependent goal in mind, what I have is a writing process I enjoy. I’ve returned to the original process of writing a few pages by hand, then entering those pages, and I have to say I believe the writing is better for it. For those efficiency experts out there, this might seem incredibly in-efficient. It might seem like a doubling of the work. The more I think about it, though, the less I’m inclined to agree.
When an artist creates an image, they start with what’s known as “Broad Strokes,” where the general shape of the image is defined on the pristine, blank sheet of paper. I tend to think of these intial, handwritten drafts as my “Broad Strokes.” When entering my text, I can then refine those strokes by a second pass over the same material.
This process has really brought to life the phrase “Writing is Re-Writing” in that it has become my everyday writing plan. I review my outline, make notes on how the draft deviated and it’s execution, then handwrite the next portion of the story as noted in the outline. I will then re-write that same portion as I type it in. Clarity, plot-holes, loose threads, these elements are all address in that second pass over the same material which is all fresh in my mind.
I’m not only writing my novel, I’m re-writing it, bit by bit, scene by scene. It isn’t inefficient because my typed draft actually becomes the second draft of my novel. When I have this fully written second draft, the edits I make to it will result in a third draft. I come out ahead in the long run.
So, the project been submitted for grading, and now I’m just waiting. Waiting on the grade. Waiting on a somewhat unclimactic ending to completing my BA degree. The last few days has not seen any new words added to my project. I haven’t been resting, rather, I’ve been completing the assignments for my other classes. Today is the first day I’ve really rested.
But it’s not resting. I feel like I’m waiting on something, and I’m not entirely sure what thst is. Seems strange, even to me, and I’m fairly strange. Perhaps, and this seems very likely, I’m just waiting on my final grades. Do I have a 4.0? Only time will tell…and it won’t be too long of a wait. The grades have to be in by a certain time.
I don’t want to just wait, though. Rest, maybe, but I feel my life has a good, positive momentum, and I want to keep moving forward. I’m just not sure how. I am a writer in waiting, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to wait around. There is a lot to do, I’m just not sure what to do next.
At just before 6:00 pm today, I reached, and slightly surpassed, the goal of 25,000 words I set for myself not quiet thirty days ago. I feel an incredible sense of achievement which, quiet frankly, could prove to do more harm than good.
While I have successfully crafted nearly 30,000 words on a long-form story, the novel isn’t complete. As it is, I have worked my way through about half of my original outline. This means I still have, likely, another 25,000 words to go. Without the impetus of a goal, and the consequence of a grade behind it, I’m wondering if the last 25,000 words will actually make it onto the page. Knowing I can do something, isn’t the same thing as being motivated to do it. Once a mountain is conquered, do people really feel the desire to conquer it again?
Camp NaNoWriMo starts in just over a couple of weeks. While I am not, at this moment, inclined to attempt another 25,000 words again, I believe setting a goal of 12,500 words will allow me to keep that lovely pace of writing a few pages by hand, then revising them as I enter them into my word processor. I will of course, need a new goal, something tangible.
Perhaps I can decide which of my friends I’m going to look forward to torturing with the completed rough draft? Or perhaps, I can make a wager of a significant amount which will motivate me to plant my but in the chair, and put my hands to the keyboard. I might pledge to provide $100.00 dollars to a worthy cause if I do not complete this story. The point is to attach a consequence to either doing, or not doing, the work to tell this story in full.