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The Write Life: Time for a Break

Sometimes you just have to admit you’ve reached the end of your rope. Which is where I am right now (and why this post is much shorter than usual). I’ve been pushing myself through deadlines, frustrations, responsibilities, dropped balls, anxiety attacks, creative blocks, and every kind of doubt known to writers. It’s not healthy! And I need a break from all that.

Rather than continue to push myself and draft a lackluster post that makes little sense, I’m taking a break and I invite you to do the same.

If you’d like a suggestion for what to do with your new-found break time, I recommend taking a walk. A couple weekends ago I wandered around a local cemetery (as any good vampire-steampunk should do on occasion) and took pictures of the water features. What might you find when you go exploring?

 

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The Write Life: Escaping September

September was another long, weird month that seemed to drag so much more than the summer. (I’m still constantly thinking it’s the end of July or August.) But the slog of September also brought my usual escape from the stress and frustration of the year: DragonCon.

DragonCon was of course a virtual experience for 2020, and despite attending several successful virtual conventions earlier in the year, I was a little worried about what it would be like. Others have done the work experimenting with formats and troubleshooting technology, and attending social events virtually is now a well-rehearsed skillset, so I wasn’t concerned about them pulling off DragonCon. I was concerned about whether or not it would feel like DragonCon.

DragonCon is a special brand of weird. It’s wandering the lobbies of the Marriott and Hilton and freezing in place while a conga line of Deadpools circles. It’s hugging friends, celebrities, and strangers you’ve been queueing with for an hour. It’s admiring the growing shrine to FedEx Jon on the walkway to the food court and celebrating when you find an enamel pin of the Marriott carpet tucked inside a planter. It’s following up a season recap panel for your favorite show with one about queerness in Batman or how artificial intelligence in science fiction traces back to Frankenstein.

It is being surrounded by nerds celebrating being nerds in a thousand different ways.

And I was concerned it wouldn’t fully translate to an online format.

(I was also concerned about my waning tolerance for video meetings, but that’s a secondary issue.)

My friends and I banded together for group chats during live panels, met for the parade Saturday morning (a mix of submitted footage/photos and parade video from previous years), and even had “lunch” together for a final hurrah on Monday. We had spontaneous video chats with whomever was available, catching up on what panels we went to and which ones were worth watching later (virtual convention means you can rewatch some of the content!), and we introduced each other to new shows and memes. We talked until bedtime every night and were frequently the first people we communicated with in the morning—not unlike con at all.

I watched panels about steampunk, Victorian death customs, and the pyramids of Giza. I moderated a season recap panel about The Umbrella Academy. I watched Q&As with present and past guests like John Romita Jr., Richard Dean Anderson, and Carrie Fisher. I stumbled into unexpectedly hilarious panels like Bar’d Talk, which was a combination of Whose Line and Shakespeare. I shared stories and photos from past DragonCons with my friends (I’ve been going since 2003, I have a lot to share). And I got to step away from the stress of 2020 for a weekend and just… breathe.

Maybe I had to work a little harder this year to feel immersed in DragonCon—I certainly exercised my imagination every time my friends and I joked about saving each other seats in panels or going to the food court when breaking for lunch—but I still got to celebrate being a nerd with other nerds. When it comes to DragonCon, that’s all I really need.

(Well, that and the name of that Peter B. Parker cosplayer from 2019. I really should have proposed marriage.)

 

 

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The Write Life: December 2019

I hesitate to say that in December I took a break. (I mean, my to-do lists are intense, and a lot of community planning happens in December, so it is by no means a light month.) But, no, yeah, I took a break.

In November, I wrote more of my nonfiction project than I had planned, never taking the time to do the other thing I meant to—devote some hours to actually finishing the in-progress short stories I have on the drafting table. And when I got to December I just… didn’t… want to? I also wasn’t feeling too terribly interested in adding more words to the nonfiction project, or planning the next novel, or… anything, so I decided to take the hint, do myself a favor, and cut myself some slack.

I still had 15,000 words to go in my year goal to hit 250K, so I did write things, but mostly I solicited prompts from friends, wrote some silly things that made me laugh, and made some headway on things like this post, Writer Resources, and a few other projects and assignments due in January. I was pretty careful to balance play with work and to emphasize play over work, to read more than write, to watch a bunch of movies (StarWars marathon, am I right?), and to rest. Like, just in general, to rest.

2019 has been a very long year. For me personally an uncle and an aunt passed away this year, I’ve been plagued by a series of minor inconveniences which are funnier when you’re not dealing with grief, my workload and therefore income has been uneven and unpredictable, and my anxiety has been spiking and helping trigger bouts of depression. And a lot of this came to a head in August and has been a railroading me into exhaustion day in and day out since then. August to November was a very long four months. I needed a nap. So I took one.

My December was not about creativity by any means. The month was about recharging. I read five books, watched at least nine movies (oh, Star Wars), and I even sometimes went out just to be somewhere else.

I don’t have a happy, satisfied wrap-up to this because I still have so much to do and I’m still overworked, exhausted, and anxious, but I can feel a difference between how I started this month and how I ended it. My problems are still there, but a breather has helped me feel (sort of) more equipped to deal with them.

 

For full access to The Write Life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.