Yesterday was one of those days.
Unable to get any traction with my book, I decided to reread the first 100 pages to check the flow, maybe work on taking out the 20 pages of cardboard I know are in there.
My bane tends to be unfocused conversations—when the characters take 3 pages to sort of hint at something, instead of 1 page to actually say something. Well, unfocused conversations and repeated conversations. I found my heroine wandering off to shoot billiards twice with the same person to have fairly similar, team building conversations, and I think my twins must have sat in their upstairs bedroom half a dozen times to powwow.
I cut out 20 pages no problem, but then I was right back to staring blankly at my draft. So I tinkered with the opening paragraphs for 2 hours.
Yes. 2 hours on less than half a page.
And then it was 4 o’clock, so time to fold the laundry, get in a work out, shower, pull together some dinner (meatloaf, carrots, mashed potatoes, and biscuits. Wintertime comfort), leaving me all evening to feel morose about my lack of progress.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m performance driven.
And I loathe it. I know it makes me miserable, this way of setting standards by clocking my best time EVER and then expecting every day to be similarly triumphant. It’s like dominos set too close together: push over just one and suddenly your whole sense of worth and well-being collapses. Then you fight the feeling of panic by lecturing yourself and demanding better.
The funny thing is that the very attempt to change this behavior is just an extension of the same pattern: I hate being performance driven because it makes me unhappy. I will change my behavior patterns, thereby resolving this unhappiness; I will perform better at not being performance driven.
The irony, it stings.
“You should take a break,” Carl says. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
I say I’m not trying to build Rome, I was aiming for a modest shack in the swamp, but even that’s looking pretty jacked up, and every time it rains the roof leaks and—
“Refill the tank,” he says. “Read some books. Relax.”
EVERYTHING IS BAD, I say.
We both have our phrases of self-deprecating misery when the final straw has been reached. Carl says THE UNIVERSE IS AGAINST ME. Usually when his coat falls off the hanger after a terrible day at work. I say EVERYTHING IS BAD, but it means the same thing.
Just one of those days when you have no answers.
Also known as being human.
When I was really little, I remember devoting a significant amount of my prayer life to asking God to turn me into an animal—preferably a shapeshifter, so I could keep my options open. Now I mostly want to be a super hero. Ideal powers would be laser insight into any situation, regenerating self-esteem, stretchy compassion that could cover any situation, and the ability to turn clay into gold.
Weirdly, these prayers aren’t being answered either.