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Watch me talk about my debut as an author, Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays, in this Q&A with my publisher Thought Catalog Books

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guiltsomnia

In the course of less than ten minutes, I have piked up and looked at and read a little bit of three books (Dragonbreath: Lair of the Bat Monster by Ursula Vernon, Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman and With a Little Luck by Caprice Crane, if you want to get a taste of my ADD style of reading totally disparate books), as well as flipped open the US Weekly I've mostly read, save for the cover story, an interview with Sara Leal. As I was reading an interview with Seth Godin in Brand Thinking, I paused to tuck my bookmark into the start of the interview with Virgnia Postrel, but it was only when I paused from reading the Seth Godin interview again to look through the book to see which interview I wanted to read next that I realized I had a problem. It's 5:05 am and I should actually be reading a book I'm planning to write about.

Maybe part of why I've just read four things that aren't that book is that I'm nervous about the piece. I'm nervous about pitching new venues, already foreseeing my eventual rejection, along with every major failure I've had over the course of my career, every opportunity I was given that I managed to fumble. Those ideas were lurking in my head when I fell asleep, but as I awoke to people yelling in the street and cold air blowing through my window that I'm never sure if I should close to stay warm or keep open for the benefits of fresh air, they resurfaced with a vengeance.

One bonus to not having a full-time job, aside from not battling the crowds in the morning and evening, is being able to "make my own hours." That would be wonderful, except that what it's meant is that even more so than before, I wind up feeling that every hour should be my own hour. If I happen to wake up in the middle of the night, I should be grateful that rather than spending my time doing something pitiful, like sleeping, I should be awake, either reading, with the intention of writing about what I read, returning a book to the library, or purging a book from my overly full apartment.

For me, often the result of feeling that I must do-do-do things at every moment is that I wind up paralyzed by inertia, by the knowledge that any one thing I choose to do will, invariably, mean that at that moment I'm not doing anything else. For a brief wonderful four days, I was enjoying Vyvanse, and it helped me get over all those humps and set in motion some events that, while extremely difficult, have helped me face some of those self-created problems in ways that feel positive. I should have pushed harder to get more of it, but instead after spending a lot of money on sessions with a psychiatrist who I found via Google and very much liked but was not in my health insurance's network, I started using Ritalin, which may or may not have helped. The benefits were not as clear and crisp as Vyvanse. I didn't feel quite as invincible, quite as sure that everything would be okay. I certainly don't feel like anything is guaranteed to be okay these days, and I think that's in part why I prefer the relative quiet of the dark early hours, or late ones, if you prefer.

I know I need to both figure out how to get done whatever is in front of me, rather than lamenting things I will never have the chance to do, or ponder what I could be doing instead or will be doing five minutes or five hours from now. But longtime mental habits are hard to break. It's more comforting to think I can somehow control everything that might happen to me if only I stay on top of it all 24/7. I am grateful that my new working situation has forced me to carve out more time for myself, though, more guilt: I've spent too many daytime hours not working this week that I'm calling a halt after today to all non-work meetings during the day unless I'm out of town. I am hoping I get in to a coworking space I applied to because that, ideally, would give me the structure and, because I'd be paying for it, motivation to park myself there and spend solid time writing, rather than assuming I'll never get caught up, or that everything I write will be stupid so why bother anyway.

As Hendrik Edberg writes in "How to Get All The Way to Done" at Positivity Blog:

It is also very important to be aware that nothing will ever be perfect. Striving for perfection can be pretty dangerous. Because you will never feel like you are good enough.

You have set the bar at an inhuman level. And so your self esteem stays low even though your results may be very good.

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