13 April 2019

The Author is in Much Better Spirits Than When He Last Wrote and Discusses This Fact


Good god that post about contemplating suicide has been sitting here at the top of my blog for over a week now. Some people must have thought I'd taken a swan dive off the Golden Gate Bridge. And if you were among those who thought the worst, where was the concern? You could have checked in on me. Especially you Bethany Q. Cattlepuss of Lincolnshire, Vermont. You, my most faithful reader (that is to say my only reader), surely you were worried sick. Anyway, at the risk of being obvious, I did not do myself in. As I write these words I'm alive and well. I struggled through a few more days of depression and then felt fine AND dandy for a few days, then took a dip in spirits again and now I'm enjoying excellent mental health. For how much longer I do not know. I take it one day at a time.

You may be wondering what I've been up to these past few days. Then again you may not but I'm going to work under the assumption that you're positively obsessed with knowing the latest about little ole me. Funny you should ask. I've spent nearly a third of every day recently sound asleep. I make a point of indulging in an eight hour nap from about 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM everyday. I wake up refreshed and ready for come what may. I recommend a similar course of action to everyone else. While slumbering I get to enjoy dreams. I love dreaming and feel sorry for people who never remember their dreams.

I generally have a great deal of fun in my dreams. Sometimes I'm a young man again. Often I am successfully pursuing a romantic relationship and occasionally "get lucky" in my dreams. I've even dreamt of "being with" my own wife. This is convenient because I can tell her about those dreams. Many others dreams I refrain from mentioning to the better half so as to keep on her good side. Having taught for one 30 years it should come as no surprise that I often have teaching dreams. They come in all variety but typically involve something going terribly awry. In many I have an impossibly large number of students or have to detail with errant behavior (these, of course, are more reflective of my middle school teaching days). Some are comical and some bizarre (what ho! bizarre antics in a dream?) and many emphasize particular kinds of students or indeed a particular student I once had or colleagues I had the pleasure or rotten luck to work with.

Some of my dreams barely involve me or I do not feature in at all. These are like stories that I have created and can be full of action, adventure, mystery, romance or high drama. War is sometimes a feature of my dreams and so too are crimes. I always wish that I had clearer memories of these dreams as many would lend them self to the type of short fiction I like to write -- when time permits.

Time has not permitted much "other" writing at all recently. While I'm stacking up rejections for one novel I'm plugging away at another. I'm not one to quit easily, or for that matter, at all. I see a hand up there in the back. Have you got a question, sir? I see, good one. The gentlemen in the last row with the gamey leg just asked "what is it like to write a novel?" Well, sir, I can, of course, only speak to my own experiences. It is like a lot of things that one works hard at. There are days when everything just flows and other days when everything just sits there staring right back at you. Most days are somewhere in between. But for different days one might have different goals. Some days are more about structuring and deciding where you're going, others are just about putting words down on paper -- or rather on computer screen. Still other days are for revising and some are for editing and cleaning up. When all goes well it is damn exhilarating and well doesn't it can be mighty frustrating. The key is to keep at it which is easy enough in principal but can be bloody difficult if you're in the throes of depression and the idea of answering a simple text message seems daunting. Were I a successful novelist it would be damn good work, especially as I would then no doubt be provided with deadlines by publishers. As it is there's nobody (except you Mrs. McGillicutty of Osborne, Idaho) waiting for what I've written. I have to be self-disciplined and my record in this department is somewhat spotty.

So I'm writing and sleeping, what else? There's eating. Again this is something I do on a daily basis. I find that in retirement it is much easier to eat healthy than while working. The missus and I are eating well, limiting sugars and highlighting greens, nuts and the like. I also try to meditate daily and if not beset by the miseries, manage to. Every other day I go to the gym and am consequently looking Herculean these days. The odd thing is I'm doing slightly less reading in retirement than when I was working. I would read on average 30-40 pages a day on my commute in addition to whatever I read in the evening before beddy bye time. I'm not quite maintaining that pace these days in large part because of all the time I spend watching movies. My film addiction has gotten even worse since last Monday when the Criterion Channel launched. Oldest daughter bought me a subscription to said channel for Christmas. It is a cinephile's dream and with it, Netflix, movies I DVR on TCM and my own extensive DVD collection (which numbers over 240 titles) it's hard to make it through a day without watching a bushel of movies. I'm not one known for restraint.

So I'm a happy lad these days except -- of course -- when depression grips and then I'm a miserable old man. Ya just can't have everything. But you can certainly have some things, some of which I have -- so to speak.

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