Is it really possible to Work and Write?

I should have got used to it by now.

That dreaded ‘s’ word, where I fold within myself and only look at the dark places, the ones which cause me grief, making me shrivel to one fourth the girl I am. The bane of my life as a teenager and which I have never really surmounted through the years, where I berate myself, my destiny, the choices I made along the way and wonder why I don’t have the strength to jump before I look. A never-ending cycle from which I now realise I have never been released. That of self-pity.

Over the last few months I have been trapped in deadlines and all that practical day job, work stuff which funds my writing. Everything conspiring to culminate in a deluge of endless days of racing from one meeting to the next, and nights where every corner of my mind-space was overrun with the continuous, minutiae of excruciating detail from my work day, which I simply regurgitated in my sleep and transported straight to my work desk the next day; till I could not feel myself anymore.

I didn’t exist, not my words, my thoughts, the very originality of my personality seemed to have been called into question. I was sinking, not a helping hand in sight, everything and everyone in this world was looking the other way it seemed, while my soul crushed in on itself, reduced to a dot, not of the beginning but of the end.

Stuck in a nightmare which made no sense, had no form, but smelt and tasted of desperation, of hanging onto remnants of the picture I had of myself from a time long gone, but with no context to the future I had promised to create for myself. How was I supposed to carve out that coveted 20% of everyday I had promised to myself for my own self-expression, when the me had been swallowed, chewed and spat out so mercilessly?

Self-pity for this sickness overwhelmed me, loathing at my helplessness to be outside what I had become on the inside, anger at allowing myself to be stuck in a sequence of jumbled numbers, an equation gone wrong, resulting in a combustible chemical reaction, I was a disaster.

No, before you ask, I never did express my frustrations in words at that time. I call myself a writer?

Yet, I managed to draw up a mental check list to haul myself out of this dark hole, step by step. (That was my left brain kicking in to throw myself a lifeline, while the right brain was dissolving in shards of defeatism.) Here’s how it went:

1. Physical exercise—a must to clear the head and the heart! Go Bodypump, how I have missed your cathartic, adrenaline driving, releasing trapped misery from the strands of my miserable existence.

2. Cease, desist, lock down Facebook. Stay away from the shiny, happy faces in the world that only serve to bring home my own desolation. Focus on my own timeline, my reality, and the only real thing at this stage (Twitter though is non-contextual enough, its life agnostic, so that is allowed. Strangely Pinterest and its wonderful visual stimuli were weirdly uplifting.

3. Eat healthy—less coffee, more green tea, vitamins and wonder herbs—St John’s Wort (to uplift mood), Gingko & Ginseng (for all round energy)

4. Gardening—weird, I know, who would have thought, along with harnessing the power of technology, the healing power of flowers, just the focus of tending to them and watching them bloom! Sublime.

5. Staying off my mobile and email for the weekend. Tough, really difficult to achieve, but what a great test in self-preservation this is, when I do manage.

6. Writing it down, a couple of lines a day even on the way to work on the tube, actually taking a minute to breath and simply recording the frustrations, the exasperation, the helplessness of being buffeted by the waves of destiny. A must!!

7. Learning all over again, to hold myself back, not give everything to the outside word so I don’t have anything left for myself, my own writing—can I?

8. Hanging out with friends–this I believe is the best antidote to that dark, depressive space inside. Just letting my hair down, with those who I can be myself, has never felt better.

9. Retail therapy — vibrancy and dynamism of fashion trends, love it! The colours, the buzz of feminine energy among the beautifully laid out racks of delicious, new styles. Yum! Nothing like a new pair of really well fitting jeans, to help re-engage with life and everything important.

10. Taking the plunge. I am almost there, with this one. When I dive in you will be the first to know.

How about you? You my fellow writer, my author in arms, how do you do it? Balance the work and the write? Does this even exist or am I searching for something as mythical as the worlds I create in my books? Tell me.

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