This is another Day23 -related event, so I’m going be cryptic. I have trouble allowing myself to be angry at people and actually dealing with the anger in a direct way. It seems way too complicated to confront someone when you could just push the frustration away until you explode at unlucky clerks and other innocent bystanders.
One thing that I’ve learned from this blog project is that when I’m really struggling with doing something new, it is useful to go back to basics. So today when something at work made me so angry I could spit nails I decided to treat myself like an unhappy preschooler and give myself a time-out until I could function. I went to my desk, ranted quietly for a few minutes and took a few deep breaths. Then I went out and explained quietly to the person in question why his actions resulted in stress and complications and suggested ways he could accomplish the same goals in a more efficient manner.
Then I showed him the effigy I made of him and lit it on fire.
Or something like that. It was a productive conversation, I remember that part.
I’m taking a creative non-fiction class. I’ve always been attracted to creative non-fic pieces, but I’ve never taken a class in the form. I loved our first session and I felt very comfortable with the instructor’s style. We went over the general and instructor-specific guidelines for workshopping (be specific, be honest, but be civil and if you make someone cry, you have to bring brownies at the next class session). We read a short piece and workshopped it and did a few writing exercises. I volunteered to read (because I’m that kid in class) and got some very useful feedback.
I’m terribly excited.
I come from a a family that works through sickness, partly because their jobs require it, partly because they all have the work ethic of Protestant drone ants that grew up during the Great Depression. I also have not had sick days built into my jobs (the fun of being a part-time and contract worker). These two experiences have formed my tendency to work until I’ve become much sicker than I might have been, had I taken time off to rest and get well.
On Monday I woke up feeling– oh what’s the medical term?–like utter shit. I still wanted DO ALL THE THINGS so I gave myself three small goals then crawled to the couch and watched geeky chick flicks. This was particularly infuriating because it was my day off and I didn’t want to waste it being sick.
But, over the next several days I went from feeling like Utter Shit to Slightly Shitty to Occaisonally Sneezy and Smelling of Throat Drops.
So, I’ve just finished my first retreat and it was incredible. One of the most frustrating things for me is finding large blocks of time to write. I find it hard to keep up momentum when I have to stop before I feel like I’m at a good stopping point. I’ve gotten better at writing as much as I can when I can but it was wonderful to have hours of uninterrupted time to…just….write.
It also pushed me to write through a few blocks and bumps. I’ve been working on a short story off and on for about six months and had hit a bump with it in October and hadn’t touched it since. Having a long stretch of time to sit and wrestle with it helped me get to another draft of it that I’m planning on finishing within the next month. Hooray!
I also discovered that the Association of Writers and Writing Programs is having their 2012 conference in my city and their workshops look a-freaking-mazing. I can afford a one day pass and plan on going to as many free off site events as humanly possible. Viva palabras!
To date, I have only shown my writing to people with which I have some familiarity (friends, family, writing group) or to faceless strangers (editors). Today I pushed myself and read an excerpt of a short story to people I had met only 24 hours ago at the artists’ retreat. It was very scary but the group was supportive and I got some good feedback.
The past year has been an interesting study in opposites when it comes to writing. On one hand, I’ve been valuing writing more and investing in it by taking classes, making time in my life to write regularly and finishing drafts rather then letting them languish on my hard drive. On the other hand, I’ve been allowing the work to become less precious. I don’t feel like I have to save every word and I can’t completely rework or throw out a draft that isn’t working and I can deal with the small rejections without letting them derail me. By reading to near strangers, I had to value it enough to consider it worthy of reading, but also be less protective.
I rewarded myself for my bravery by reading an article about schools for butlers and eating crackers in bed. Without the Husbandit here, there is no one to complain about crumbs.
One of the effects of working in customer service and logistics is that I’m both more critical and more understanding of other customer service workers and operational systems. Amtrak could be much better organized and communicative, but I didn’t fuss at anyone because it isn’t the clerks’ fault and they are not being paid enough to listen to me bitch.
Other than the lack of signage and some disorganized queues, I liked the experience of being on a train better than flying. It was easier to nap and read, I had more room, I liked watched the scenery pass buy and I could use my phone’s WiFi to my heart’s content. I hate driving in general and driving in inclement weather at night in particular, so it was nice to sit back and be transported through the snow and not worry about sliding or windshield wiper fluid freezing on the glass.
I haven’t been doing very, very new things this past month. I think the holidays exhausted me so a lot of my new stuff has been more internally focused. Still new but less outwardly dramatic. Today I started feeling more up to doing externally focused acts so I purposely went to a new class at my gym, got ready to take my new writing class next week, and decided to ride the train this weekend instead of driving. I’ve never purchased or ridden Amtrak and it is going to snow like the devil tomorrow…so train it is!