Tag: May

In Which I Battle Myself to Write This

“You don’t have to write anything,” I told myself. “All you have to do is to open up a new tab with Google Docs in it.”

Yesterday, I wrote something like 4-6 blog posts, which started catching me up on my goal. I figured I could probably get ahead of schedule today, without much effort. But everything has been effort today.

It hasn’t been a bad day; it’s been an inert day.

I’m not in a bad mood; I’m just effectively paralyzed by… I don’t know what. My mind, I suppose. My ADD is full throttle, so I’m constantly distracted by stuff. I’ll sit down at the computer, and three hours will have passed. What happened during that time?

It’s a mystery.
I looked up obscure shit on Wikipedia. I argued with some twat who was wrong about something stupid, and who won’t learn anything from the experience of me walking them step by step through the echoing halls of their own ignorance. I watched some pointless videos on YouTube. I pissed most of my day away, doing nothing.

And even as I told myself that there was still time to accomplish something productive today, I told myself back that I didn’t want to do anything productive. I want to do nothing. I want to do glorious nothing all day, all week, and for the rest of my life.

It’s a trap that I’ve fallen into before, and it can be hard to get out of.

So I’ve learned to fool myself into being productive. I tell myself that I can always procrastinate later, that I need to do something, just ONE thing, then I can get back to the abyss of mindless online nonsense. Or I can watch something on Netflix. Or I can pet the dogs for an hour. Or I can stare out the window, or at a wall. But I have to do one thing first: I have to open a tab with a blank Google Document in it.

This is a trick, and I know it. Fortunately, I’m stupid enough to fall for it, and I’ve been writing non-stop for over two minutes now. I’ve battled me before, and I know a lot of my weaknesses. A blank page is one of them. I’m compulsed to put something on it, and once I have that something, I’m compulsed to add to it.

My ADD, and my OCDish tendencies can cut both ways, and against my worst judgment, I use them to cut my way slowly forward, to make myself do something productive.

My doubts kick in. Is this even a good blog post?
I parry with my own laziness: it doesn’t matter if it’s good. As I learned in school, “D” means Done.
My anxiety lashes out at me. Am I saying any of this right? What if it nobody knows what I’m talking about? What if it offends people somehow? What if….
I dodge the attacks, using my own procrastination to avoid even thinking about the questions, let alone answering them.

And here I am, 511+ words down, with a minimum goal of 800.

Things are flowing faster now, and I’m getting into the zone a bit. I’m able to type out my thoughts freely. I’m in familiar territory, because I’ve fought myself this way many, many times before. I’m fighting an enemy so familiar that we might as well share the same brain, except the enemy IS my brain, or parts of it.

I spend a few minutes trying to look up an applicable quote, something somebody once said about attaching a yoke to their own lusts. It was an eloquent idea, and a sound strategy, but all I’m getting right now are Bible quotes, and I’m pretty sure none of them are close to what I have in mind.

The point of the quote–and of this blog entry, if there is one–is that when you understand that you can be your own worst enemy, and when you study this enemy, you can adapt to an extent, and you can overcome yourself. I’ve spent depressingly close to half a century analyzing my own thoughts and actions, watching myself carefully to figure out how I’ve screwed myself up in the past, and how I’ll screw myself up in the future.
I suspect that I’m not the only one who has this kind of problem, the problem of self-sabotage, the problem of being my own enemy.

I suspect that I’m not the only one who uses this kind of solution, manipulating myself coldly toward my own agenda of self-improvement and productivity.

But I also suspect that there are many people out there that don’t have it down as well. I didn’t, decades ago. I get a little better every year. And I wish somebody had told me, had shown me, many years ago how I could fool myself into being more useful in my own life.

As a writer, the first step is always to look at a blank page.

That’s often also the hardest step, because the thought of a blank page is sometimes the scariest thing in the world, something that you’d rather kill your entire day–and even eventually your lifespan–than to face head-on.
So break it down, to the basics.
Set your goals small, starting with opening up a new document.
It’s an easy goal, and you can lie to yourself that it’s the only goal, something worth doing just for itself.

But when you get there, and you’re looking at that big, white Empty, push yourself to go just one step further, just one tiny step, and
Write.

One.

Word.
If you’re like me, that’s the hardest part, the biggest demon you have to slay.
It’s a deceptively complex project (but don’t let yourself catch on to that!), because in order to write that one word, you have to have a sentence or a half-sentence ready. And once you have that first word written, it’s easier to finish that sentence than not. It’s easier to finish that half-sentence than not, and if you have half a sentence, it’s usually easier to finish that sentence than to not.
And once you have that first sentence down, the second sentence will come pretty easily, as will the one after that.
And before you know it, you’re at 1056 words, and even a D means Done.

The Nature and Nurture of Pain

This is quite a few years ago, and I’m sitting in a car with girl. I was giving her a ride, but now we’re pulled over on the side of the road. It’s raining, and the windows are fogging over. The girl is thin, and so is the fabric of her dress. She has pale blonde hair, a pretty smile, and a pleasing frame. We’re talking about sex, and there is zero possibility of us having it with each other.

We both have girlfriends that we’re committed to, for starts. I don’t know if she’s flat-out gay, or if she’s bi, but it doesn’t matter. Our excitement in this conversation, the gleam in each of our eyes, isn’t about each other–it’s about sex itself. It’s the kind of thing that happens when you get two enthusiastic and informed hobbyists together, and they babble back and forth about the object of their mutual interest. Strong mutual interest in a topic doesn’t necessarily translate into strong interest in each other.
In addition to being into BDSM, she’s a cutter.

I don’t find that appealing, but I do find it fascinating. I’ve never talked to a cutter before, not about cutting. She’s explaining how it works, the physiology and psychology of it, and she really knows her shit on this topic. She’s researched the fuck out of it. I’m learning a lot.

A decade or two into the future, I’m going to strain to remember the exact things she told me, and how she phrased them. I’m going to fail, and I’m going to just say ‘fuck it’, and I’ll fake it, writing this blog post as if I have the kind of mental precision of memory required to accurately dictate something that happened so long ago.

“It’s not just about the pain,” she’s telling me. “And it’s not just about the control.”

I’d brought up the subject of control, the idea that one part of self-cutting was that the cutters were looking for a way to exert some kind of power over their own life. She’d given me the kind of physical, non-verbal response that you get when you’ve said something that’s perhaps in the right direction, but only part of the answer.

“When the body suffers trauma, when it feels pain, there are physical responses that take place. Pain lets you know that there’s an emergency going on, and the body starts responding to that emergency immediately. As soon as there is pain, the body starts pumping out painkillers to deal with it.”

She mimes cutting herself, using a single long fingernail to draw a thin line across the pleasantly pallid flesh of her forearm.

She uses the technical terms, naming the emergency hormones and what they do. The specifics will get lost with time, but the lessons remain burned into my brain. I’d read any number of things about people who were into pain, but none of them had really addressed this kind of root cause. The simple truth of it all–or of one key aspect–was that when the body experiences pain, the body produces painkillers, and people can use painkillers for recreational and/or medicinal purposes.

“These painkillers not only help numb you physically, and to give you a physical buzz, but also help do the same thing on a mental level. That’s why cutting and BDSM are popular among people who suffer from depression–they’re using the chemical results of physical pain in order to battle their mental suffering. That’s why I got into it–I have pretty severe depression.”

I haven’t yet realized that I suffer from depression, because it doesn’t generally manifest as sadness, and I haven’t realized that sadness and depression aren’t the same thing. I know at this point that I have periods of inactivity where getting out of bed in the morning seems like a horrible fate. I’ve often felt as if life was hollow, pointless, and cruel, but it hasn’t yet occurred to me at this point that the problem lies at least partially in my own brain. At this point in my life, I’m still young enough and foolish enough to think that I’m the one who sees things clearly, and all those happy people are the ones who are wrong. This outlook will change over the next decade or two, but in the moments of this particular conversation in the rain, I’m taking notes on self-medications that I naively believe are applicable to other people. I don’t consider self-medication, because I don’t yet consider that I have any form of mental illness or disorder.

Time will pass, and this will change.

I’ll remember the girl and the conversation many times in my life, particularly when I get my first tattoo. I’ll sit in the chair for an hour or so, having my flesh punctured repeatedly, enduring the pain, and I’ll ride a kind of semi-euphoric high for the next several days. I’ll feel like life is good, like things are right, and like it all makes sense. After the direct chemical high fades away, I’ll look at the tattoo from time to time, and I’ll have an echo of that high flash through my memory because there’s a Pavlovian link in my brain now between that particular piece of art and those feelings of well-being. I’ll remember this conversation, and I’ll understand what’s happening to me. I’ll wish that more people could have that kind of education into the nature and nurture of pain.

The Rubik’s Cube solver runs in your web browser and it finds easily the solution for your puzzle.

May Challenges, Past And Present

In 2015, I issued myself a personal challenge: write one brand new erotic short story every day in the month of May. I set myself a 700 word minimum per story, and told myself that the stories didn’t have to even be GOOD, just not horrible.

It was a struggle, but I succeeded, and I turned those stories into my “Short Strokes” series, which is available on Amazon (I suggest “Short Strokes: The Complete Collection,” simply because it’s the best value for money by far).

I did this challenge for a number of reasons. For one thing, I wanted to have more titles for sale under my name. The more titles I have, the bigger chance somebody stumbles onto one, and the bigger the chance that they fall in love with me as an author. Or, at least, that they enjoy what they read enough to pick up a second title.

Also, I did it to improve my writing.

One of the problems that I had as a writer early on was my own perfectionism. I could–and did–sit and tinker with a single short story for years. I had trouble knowing when a story was finished, because I could always revise it to be just a bit better than before. As an author hoping to make a living with my work, I needed to be able to actually finish my work, and to do it in a timely manner.

That’s the other issue–time. I wanted to practice meeting deadlines. I wanted to be get better at not only finishing a story, but finishing it within a specific timeline.

My first May challenge was a good growth experience, one that sharpened my skills as a writer in both of those areas, and more.

In 2016, I issued myself another May challenge. This time, I’d again try to write a short story for every day in May, but I’d up the minimum word count to 2,500!!

Again, I succeeded.

It was rough, but I hammered out 31 new short stories in one month, and most of those are up for sale on Amazon.

On the final day, late at night, I still had one story left to write, and only a couple of hours left before midnight. I was completely out of ideas. I was fried. I was damn-near brain dead. I’d learned that the only way to do this kind of challenge was to force myself to get out of my own way, and to

Just
Fucking
Write!

Desperate for an idea, ANY good idea, I went to twitter and started reading through the tweets by @MagicRealismBot, a plot-generating bot that I follow. Almost immediately, I found an idea that I knew I could work with.

From memory, it was “A game-show host is climbing an octopus. She will never make it.”

About an hour and a half later, I’d finished writing “The Octopunishment,” my first tentacle-erotica story, a pornographic Greek myth about an afterlife of sexual torment for a woman who dared insult a god.

I’m particularly proud of that story, especially considering the pressure that I was under. It turned out damned good, and I’ve gotten quite a few compliments on it.

In 2017, I again issued myself a May challenge. Same as before, but this time I swore to have a minimum word count of 5,000 words!!!

And I utterly failed to accomplish my goal.

Like, it was pathetic.

I wrote two stories that month, and only because anthology submission deadlines were due. My life upheaved, and I found myself in the midst of several crapstorms that I won’t even get into.

The point is, WOW, did I fail!

So here we are. It’s May again, and I’m going to try another challenge. I’m low-balling it a bit, because my defeat last year stung, and because my life is pretty busy due to my current Fucking Day Job.

This year, I’m going to focus on my much-neglected Blog that I started in 2015. Currently, I have something like five posts. If I meet my challenge, I should have 31 more blog posts to add to that by the end of the month.

Starting today.

Starting with this post right here.

I’m thinking that I’ll aim for 800 words minimum per post. Word-count usually comes pretty easily to me, so I should probably have a ceiling as well.

What’s a good limit? 1,200 words? 1,600 words?

I guess I’ll figure that out.

Got any other advice for me?

If you’d like more information on my previous challenges, I did a couple of interviews about the subject with my friend and fellow erotica author Angora Shade for her blog back in 2016. I encourage you to check both interviews out, along with the rest of Angora’s blog!
http://angorashade.blogspot.com/2016/04/story-day-may-challenge.html

 

http://angorashade.blogspot.com/2016/06/story-day-in-may-ends.html