I wouldn’t claim that my plans in the second half of last year were especially well laid.
I worry about burnout. When I look back I would say that I’ve had several phases of being burned out in the past, although they also coincided with episodes of depression. Last year I was not depressed in any meaningful way: anxious, certainly, because there were things going on that made me fret far more than I usually would, but I was not undergoing the numbness that depression usually brings to me.
Not depressed, but definitely burned out. Burn out city, man.
Hence, while I planned on continuing my monthly goal update posts during this hiatus, I have not been following my personal planning routines at all. While I expected to focus on my writing, I instead found myself flapping around loose, too exhausted to focus on anything at all.
In the midst of that flap I went to the Willamette Writers Conference. I like that conference, and I like the people I meet there. I found several like-minded writers who I wanted to stay in touch with… but then my burn out took away any hope of actually maintaining contact. Everything seemed hard, from sending email to making words. I felt like I had been given a gift but then squandered it.
My gut feeling on this is that I was trying to do too many things at once. I have always been someone who starts new things readily, but I don’t have the time or energy to do all of it and while I can sometimes manage to juggle six or ten things for a short period of time, something has to drop. Last summer, I dropped everything.
Two things this year have helped me drag myself back to something approaching a functional creative life.
Firstly, my wife and I took a mindful self-compassion class. I am not someone who has ever had any kind of mindfulness practice, although one of the goals of my exercise routine is to shake my brain away from its loops and whorls, and I now identify this as a kind of mindfulness. The tools I learned in that class have been very helpful in letting myself be kinder to myself.
Secondly, the pandemic pause. This time of forced separation from the world has allowed me to retrench, to recharge some batteries that I didn’t even know were drained. It has got me back to making stories because I want to rather than out of obligation.
With that, I will say that this blog is still on hiatus from any kind of regular posting, but I expect to put things here a little more often. There are stories and projects I want to talk about, and this is where I do that.