Reconcidering

man in shocked pose
Does this man look happy? Maybe not, but I frequently have negative feelings mixed with the good ones. This could have been me dealing with positive feedback.
Photo: imagerymajestic via freedigitalphotos.net

I have been having some rather mixed emotions this week. Maybe this is common, but I’m a person where fear and joy usually walk hand in hand. It’s like joy has to pay a price and fear can never really leave joy alone. I suppose I’ll learn to deal with this interaction as I get more experience.

I decided to write less on my blog so that I would have time to work on one of two ideas I have for a book. That was a difficult decision to make, and it made me sad when I had announced it on my blog. I don’t know if I can explain it. I’m not sure I understand it myself, but I think I need this blog. I can’t give it up completely because it feels like it’s keeping me sane. I need to focus/obsess about something, and my garret seems to give me exactly what I need. It relaxes me, keeps my mind occupied, educates me and helps me communicate.

My plan was to write one or two posts a week, and as I also have a Norwegian blog, I suppose that means one post on each blog, maybe not even every week. I received many very nice comments after my latest post, Wasted childhood, which surprised me. I want my words to reach other people and mean something to them of course, but when it happened for the first time after about 3,5 years of blogging, I was both glad and startled.

We have an expression in Norwegian that means you are frightened and happy at the same time. The best translation I can think of is frightful joy. These two emotions clearly contradict each other, but nevertheless I think the description is correct. I can appreciate something, but it also makes me nervous. I feel like that in many situations, when I accept an invitation to something for example. The invitation means someone wants me to join and it should make me feel flattered, but the negative usually overshadows this completely. It’s not exactly pleasant, but what can I do? It’s a fact of life.

When I send my words out in the world, I am hoping for the reception I’ve had this week, but it’s not something I expect. It’s not something I’m used to. I’m trying to make sense of this, but I’m not sure I am making any progress.

I’m starting to wonder if my decision was hasty. We’ll see, but I think it might be better if I work on my book two days a week, but also allow for some more work on my blog when that is what I need. The important thing is that I work on my book every week. This isn’t how most writers work, but I think it’ll work for me. This blog is about more then letting people know what’s on my mind. Writing about my childhood was hard, and publishing it made me just as uneasy. I appreciate the nice comments, which also helped me understand myself better, but I need to recover from this. It took a lot of energy, so I think I’ll be doing a bit of “light writing” the following days.

I have done some work on my book this week, and I believe I can find time for both if I follow my own schedule. This blog is my favourite way of communicating, and I’ve gained some new readers lately. Some that have been friendly. Much to my surprise I have reached out and made a friend. That is intriguing because people tend to walk into your life for a reason, and if they stay, I guess they sort of like that interaction. Even if they choose a more peripheral role, there is still the possibility of positive influence.

I thought it was just as well I didn’t have friends, apart from my wife. It’s hard to find those few people that fascinate me and that I want to get to know. I never understand why, but there are many people I dislike without being able to identify the reason. When it feels right I should allow it, I guess. I’m thinking now that I want these new acquaintances (Heather, Jay and nomemoleste) to stick around. I like this interaction. I guess I just had to find my people. How could I possibly leave my little garret?

By the way, this has been a good day. I found an interesting study on highfunctioning autism and NLD, and spent hours trying to understand it. I guess we have ignition confirmed and go for launch.

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10 thoughts on “Reconcidering

  1. John,

    I like the word you used to describe how you are feeling: “frightful joy.” What an interesting word. I have felt the way you are describing. Good things, happy things, success, etc. can bring with a sort of fear or anxiety or anxiousness, especially when it is unexpected. It is sort of like the fear my son has expressed with regards to graduating high school. He is excited and happy that he has “made it” and school is almost over, but he is scared, very scared about what all he will be facing in the adult world. Another situation your “frightful joy” seems to fit is how people can feel when they are getting married: joy, and yet fear and anxiety regarding all the changes that are happening in their lives, all the new expectations they have and their spouse has of them…and so forth.

    The mixed feelings you are describing with regards to your blog, your writing plans, and your reaction to sudden increase in comments, make sense to me that you would feel like that. From my talks with your wife, I know you had been discouraged by the lack of the sort of response you wanted. So the effect on you does not sound unusual or surprising. Like excitement that people are engaged with you and your writing, but also fear or anxiety about now…what do they expect of you? (I really hope the joke/comment I made on the “addict” post did not contribute to the anxiety or nervousness! It really was a joke.)

    With regards to the frequency of your posts and your writing schedule, I am confident that you will find a plan that works for you, though that plan may change a bit from time to time depending on what your focus is. I wouldn’t worry about whether it conforms to what other writers do. I have read the description of many different writers’ schedules, and none were quite the same. The thing they all had in common, though, was that they set aside time to write each day ( though not necessarily on the same project every day).

    From what you have stated about the work you are working on, and from what your wife has told me, I really “get” why it is more difficult to focus on it. With that project, you are not generating new material, but revising, editing, proofing, and I know as person who majored in writing, that THAT is JUST NOT FUN compared to creating a piece of writing. You probably noticed as a teacher that the revising/editing stage was the one students were most resistant to. That is because it is just more work, and doesn’t have the same excitement that goes with creating something new. Also, it is rather more solitary task than what you are doing on the blog. The idea of alternating working on the book and the blog sounds balanced. If you abandon what brings you joy in writing, it might burn you out more quickly on the whole editing/revising thing. Writing is work and fun. Keeping the fun around may inspire in the revision area, as well.

    Something else that really stood out to me from your post was this statement:

    ” I thought it was just as well I didn’t have friends, apart from my wife.” ,i>

    Yesterday when your wife and I were talking, we discussed the blog and the comments, and she said, “You are getting to know John exactly the same way I got to know Jon.” I had heard her talk in the past about how you two got to know each other, and she had told me on many occasions that it was much easier for you to communicate with the written word, but I really did not “get” it until a week or so ago when I joined your commenting readers.

    So, John, I am so happy that you want us to “stay around awhile.” Thank you for creating his little community with your blog. I am so happy you are “finding your people,” and I am honored to be counted among them and to be named a friend.

    P.s. I’m sorry I did the long post thing again. Please let me know if the length of these is overwhelming.

    1. It’s like with class assignments … best not to distract those that need to work on their courses.

      My “free-ranging” childhood was spent in the midst of a city of 80,000 including many siblings, cousins, and friends enough. We had numerous overlapping family businesses that kept me more than preoccupied, including working in recreational centers and miniature golf courses. So I don’t know what it’s like to explore a rural area with plenty of access to nature.

      In my early twenties, I joined the Navy, and that certainly always meant folks were around, and again plenty of friends. So my times of solitude didn’t really come till I moved into an area later in life, where I’m a minority and culturally the language of home life is hard for me to hear fluently. At the same time my employment became a constant overload, with an immediate supervisor who just keeps adding things to our workload with no regard for how much overflows and is never completed. So I crave isolation at home to de-stress.

      Writing has been a pleasure for me in the past when I had no back problems. When I’m “in the zone,” the shadows of the day pass acros the walls like distant spectators, as the sun travels its risings and settings, while caught up in creating and refining. But I’ve enough back problems still that it’s difficult to use a computer all day long at work, even with a standing desk, and then continue on into the evenings writing sitting or standing, on a desktop.

      So, much as with a professional musician — a writer must attend to proper ergonomics and posture. Such as not using overstuffed chairs made for much heavier folks. And not hunching over forward in a way that results in “text neck” and mid-back problems. Lessons I’ve learned the hard way. I’m cautious of involving others in long written exchanges now. My responses to you tend to be via my android phone using Swype while lying in bed — quite different than my daytime work posture.

      There’s another side to it. I’ve found book writers do so “paid by the pound” with so much meandering and repetitIon that I no longer like reading books. And especially not paperback books that I can’t extract from and reference easily online. This is very different from most of my life where I’ve been a voracious reader of hardcopy books.

      I now much much prefer the ability to cross reference web links to clarify or fact check others. And as with advertisements, the ability to skim over the redundant materials and filter out the noise is wonderful. Noise, such as a book author whose blog I’d frequented for years — because of those who comment with much more engaging interests than his. He’s still stuck on the same old oft repeated set of topics, sold as large volume coffee table style books now. Not something I’d ever buy.

      Printed book libraries are too much to carry through life. It’s like dragging around a dead corpse — difficult to share with others. We all have massive online libraries now to share, including rich multimedia content. Print media is just so much dead wood. I wonder how an author can make money these days? Many do of course, selling hardcopy books by the millions. But I’m no longer a customer for them. And much as with other media — I have more than enough free content — including interactive live exchanges to keep us fully occupied.

      There’s another side to it regarding copyrights being antiquated… But I’ll leave that to another thread. I’m not trying to dissuade you from publishing a book, but it’s no service to you for me not to observe that printed books are a dying art — from my perspective. And I don’t know how an author or artist can protect their content online or offline — in an age where we can even print copies of objects like weapons?
      We all know I’m atypical as an aspie and a consumer. The markets would collapse spectacularly depending on me. I’m about at the point of cutting my web provider and going strictly smartphone access. I’ve long sense cut out cable tv and wired phones.

      If I could talk to Siri or Cortana subvocally for dictation — then I’d also seriously consider ditching the desktop. We have to do away with sedentary lifestyles and the evils of text-neck screen ergonomics. As the computer age folks enter their twilight years — all that head down hunching over catches up.

    2. I keep trying to convince my wife that I’m a delicate creature; a fragile flower that needs to be handled very gently. She doesn’t seem to believe me either, and this morning I woke up to you utterly shattering my dreams and hopes.

      No, seriously. This was quite interesting. I thought this sounded bad at first, and I was glad I didn’t receive this message face to face. That would have been bad. But as I was rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I read your comment 3 more times, and I see your points. Not sure I agree with, though.

      I have thought about some of this, and I may in fact share my thoughts in a post. There are too many books being published, in genres like crime and fantasy for example. I’m conflicted about this myself. I like the idea of information being free, and of media being independent, but at the same time I feel I should be rewarded if I do succeed in creating something people want to read.

      I feel that I have run of out options, and writing is the only thing left that gives me any joy or hope. It might be the best for my family if I abandon my writing, at least for a period. But I haven’t come that far yet. I need to think more about this, and I might give a better reponse in a new post.

    3. An artist will be compelled to create a work of beauty simply because it exists in his heart.
      If writing is a source of joy, and helps you to better interact with the world, then write.
      If not, then perhaps it should be set aside until you can better see the path you need to take.

      Regardless, don’t fret about the matter of publishing if that is creating stress in your life. Walking that road will destroy you and the ones you love will suffer as they watch you hurt. I did it to my family when I got sucked into the void. It’s ugly, and I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone.

      Praying for you all.

  2. It’s like joy has to pay a price and fear can never really leave joy alone.

    Experiences which push us out of our comfort zones can create a lot of emotional turmoil. It can be easy to bounce from “Hey! This is actually rather pleasant” to “Ack! What am I doing?!” in a relatively brief measure of time.
    This can be a good thing, when managed well. But, Jay mentioned the issue of “expectations”, and I know one of the biggest joy killers for me is when someone says they think I could make money doing something I enjoy as a hobby. Suddenly, the anxiety over possible failure overwhelms the interest in the activity. Hopefully, you won’t feel that kind of pressure to perform.

    At any rate, I’m also glad you’ve decided to continue to maintain contact here, and hope you will continue to grow in confidence as time passes.

  3. John, I’ve been considering your comment to nomemoleste, and have been saddened over your remarks.

    I stand by my earlier comment, but have been thinking that depression has a way of embedding a feeling of hopelessness which distorts one’s view of life in general and himself in particular.
    A while back, I took the liberty of looking up your Facebook page, and assume the lovely little girl you have featured is your daughter. There is no way anyone could look at that child and honestly conclude that your life counts for nothing.
    As a wife, I can say with certainty that my husband is not perfect, but that I am a better person for having known him for over 20 years. I suspect your wife is grateful for you, as well.
    Speaking for myself, it has been a privilege to be given the chance to meet you here. Through your blogging, you’ve given many the opportunity to view the world from your perspective…something we otherwise would have missed.

    When we measure our sense of self-worth by the world’s standards, we often become blinded to the value which God has placed on our souls and to the intangible riches we impart to those we encounter. In this life, it is likely you will never be able to accurately assess such things.

    As I’m on my phone, I need to end this because I also tend to lose comments this way. But I do hope you can learn to see yourself as someone who was created for a specific purpose and has already touched the lives of many in a positive way.

    1. Thank you for your words. It’s nice of you to take the time. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it directly (I’d be surprised if I had), but I guess you figured out that I struggle with depression and anxiety. Not serious, but it feels bad enough. You are right about my view being distorted, constantly. I think I’ll write more on my computer later.

    2. No, I don’t recall you directly mentioning it. And it’s subtle enough that I doubt most casual readers would notice.
      But there is a familiar echo of sorrow in much of what you have written.

      My life circumstances are obviously different from yours, but I’m well acquainted with anxiety and depression.

  4. John,

    Plenty of books are published both in hard copy and electronically. I, for one, would never read a BOOK in an electronic format. I read over 250 books last year, and so I assure you, there are still people out there like me who actually read books, and since many books you can get on Kindles, too, I think there is a market for what you are doing. There isn’t any reason why you can’t publish to Kindle and/or hardcopy.

    If you can, get a copy of the book, “On Writing,” by Stephen King. This is the only book he published I actually like. He addresses much of the sort of angst and turmoil you are going through. I laughed all the way through it; it is the only book he wrote that is non-fiction. He tells the story of his career as a writer, from childhood up to the last book. You should also read about Pat Conroy’s experiences as a writer. You are walking in the shoes of many writers before you, and agonizing over the same things that every writer agonizes over.

    If you love writing, don’t stop! As your wife’s favorite writing professor (and mine) always told us: JUST KEEP WRITING! 🙂

    So, don’t give up! Your readers will howl in agony and burn you in effigy!

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