Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dithering at top speed

I may or may not have mentioned that I am of the opinion that I have at least a passing acquaintance with manic-depressive tendencies. Or rather, I acknowledge that my moods and energy have a marked pattern of moving from high to low and back again on a pretty regular and mostly predictable basis. It's not debilitating, and I therefore don't treat it as a disease so much as personality tendencies that I've learned (with varying degrees of success) to manage. (Disclaimer: I'm talking about my personal experience with this. Obviously, there are others who are on much less civilized terms with this disorder--to the point where it is a disorder and not just tendencies. A matter of degree and all that. I do not make light of their situation; I speak only for myself, and sometimes I speak with humor because that is also part of my coping mechanism.)

Having just dragged myself through a decidedly low stage, I'm not surprised to find my engines revving again this week. Dozens of things I want to/should accomplish started buzzing in my brain and would happily chase each other into exhaustion if I allowed them, with the end result being that I start dozens of things and finish nothing-IF I allowed that to happen. Being all too familiar with the high-pitched white noise sound of my manic phase kicking into gear, I immediately instigated one of my usual tactics and sat down to make lists of projects and steps required to complete them and estimated time required (severely padded, because I know I'm prone to overestimating my abilities at times like this). And then I sat down with a calendar, reminded myself that there are only 24 hours in a day and that a certain portion of them are already allotted to sleep and taking care of kids and minutia like that, and scheduled a portion of those projects into the next couple of months. It's the equivalent of giving a toddler a basket full of building blocks to distract him from pulling other stuff out at random and making a big mess.

The other advantage is that I have things on my calendar to work toward, which provides a focus for my manic days. ("It's on my calendar! I need to finish it before I allow myself to run off and do anything else!") AND, it's a motivation when those days wane back to depressive days of much less energy. ("It's on my calendar. Crossing it off my list will make me feel better. I guess I can manage to do that one thing.")

My other tendency on manic days (OK, on any days) is to constantly feel like I've accomplished nothing, even when I objectively know I have. The daily rough tally I keep in an attempt to stay objective indicates that I've put in 10-12 hours a day for the last several days on either writing or household-related work (with probably 2/3 of those hours landing on the household side). I have:
  • Done the weekly cleaning of the bathrooms (2.5 of them). Hate bathrooms. Hate, hate, hate.
  • Plunged two different toilets on three separate occasions. Hate stopped-up toilets. Hate, hate, hate.
  • Painted the new patch of drywall in our bathroom, scoured our shower, and moved all our shower stuff from the boys' bathroom back to ours.
  • Started a new painting for my mother.
  • Done the usual dishes, cooking, laundry, running kids around, grocery shopping, homework helping, etc.
  • Measured the living room/kitchen/dining room area of our house (which includes 2 hallways and a half bath) which are sorely in need of a real paint job and calculated how much paint I'll need to buy for that job. (They still have the flat cheap primer, which holds onto every single speck of dirt and scuff marks aimed at it.)
  • Dealt with my annual physical and the bi-annual bloodwork that goes with my thyroid condition. (Hate bloodwork. Hate, hate, hate.)
  • Done a big block of revisions to "Pale Roses," which is now only in need of typing in proofreading level stuff and a final prep for submission.
  • Researched magazine markets for "But He Had Wings," which is now ready to come down off its Honorable Mention pedestal and get back to work finding a real home. (Or maybe re-researched, since I'm familiar with most of these markets and only need to touch base with them again when I'm making the "where do I send it first?" decision.)
  • Re-researched children's/young adult magazine markets and added them to my writing schedule in lieu of more WotF stories. (I've been itching to write some speculative fiction for kids, so I thought this would be an acceptable switcheroo for a few months. It's also the field where I've made my only pro sale so far, so, you know... Maybe following up on that success, even belatedly, is not a bad idea?)
  • Made great strides in finding a fresh angle on Crowmaker and even wrote a new (small, but new) scene for it yesterday. (I have not updated my progress meter for it. I've done some shuffling around from one software to another and from an old file with stuff I know I won't use (probably) to a new file with just the stuff I'm sure I will use (probably), so I'm not sure how accurate it is at this point, or what my real word count is.

Today, I will type in the mostly-final revisions for "Pale Roses." Tonight, the boys and I will clean up the basement play room. Tomorrow I will do a final proof of "Pale Roses" and prep it to send out. Tomorrow after school, we will entertain a dozen or so fifth grade boys with video games and pizza.

Come on, manic self. Surely even you have to feel we're doing pretty well this week?

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