Last week I read the news and screamed. This week I’m reading the book I’m writing along with the book that the Girls are tugging me toward next. Also a book on Disney’s Haunted Mansion since there’s a Haunted House in Nita’s book and it’s the setting for three important scenes. Fortunately, Krissie is an expert on Disney, so I have a great source there, too. And then I’m going through a stack of bartending books and drinking posts from the AV Club. Did you know there’s a thing called Stout Muffins? That you make with stout? I did not. Reading expands your world, people.
I’ve been cooking and baking like a madwoman this week. Remember that pasta salad I had my doubts about? It was fabulous, so this week I swapped out the pasta for tuna and made Fabulous Tuna Salad which I promptly went face down into. Plus the usual: stroganoff, brownies, and pumpkin custard, and tonight a weird spaghetti layer thing. I love fall. It makes me want to cook.
Oh, and in my lust to cut the first act back, I wrote another scene for it. Clearly, I must get a grip.
I’ve been cooking all week which has the added benefit of giving me excellent things to eat. Also, Max and Button’s subplot. Also, the great Whiteboard Dilemma, which is still mostly in my head. And I’ve started about four different crochet projects and frogged them all. In other words, my work is ephemeral and ongoing.
I write on a computer. I love writing on a computer. There is no doubt in my mind that if computers hadn’t been invented, I would never have written a book. (I wrote my first master’s thesis on a typewriter. That was enough long -form-with-witeout typing.) Sometimes I have to diagram to see relationships, overlapping plots, anything that’s not linear and for that I have a mapping program (Curio, highly recommended). My relationship with my laptop is intense and ongoing.
Until I get to the two-thirds (roughly) point in the novel. Then I lust for colored pens.
I’ve always been a bug about pacing in fiction, not always mastering it but definitely obsessing about it. I have no idea why I never applied that to my life. I’ve always gone full tilt at what I wanted, swinging between exhaustion and hypomania, probably because of the hypomania, and then in June my heart said, “Fuck you and this madness” and tried to quit on me. Now I go full tilt at something for about ten minutes and then my body says, “We’re done here,” and I sit down. The weird thing is, I like it.
Studies have shown (some study somewhere always shows something) that happiness is relative, by which I do not mean your relatives make you happy. I mean that your happiness with an experience depends on what you’re comparing it to. Is right now not as good as the best time in your life or is it much better than the worst time in your life? There’s your relative scale for happiness. I’m wondering if that’s why older people are so often reported to be more content. We’ve lived through such hell that a stretch of relative calm and well-being seems like nirvana. My personal approach is to look at anything that’s making me unhappy and think (1) Can I fix/solve/stop this? and (2) If I can’t, is this worse than the worst time in my life? It’s never worse than the worse time in my life, so happiness returns.
Diaries are very important if only for entertainment; as Gwendolen says in The Importance of Being Earnest, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” And that’s before you get to the sense of nostaligic shame that sweeps over you when you realize how completely lame you were back then (“back then” being twenty years or twenty minutes). But the most important thing about keeping a journal is that it actually is good for you. The study I cited when I taught was done on college students; not only did their stress levels decline when they journaled for a month, months after they stopped their levels remained lower. That’s good stuff. I buy journals because they’re pretty and never use them because I blog, which is not the same thing because I can’t put my deepest thoughts and fears here.