So Much To Do, Not Enough Time to Be Too Depressed to Do It

Sometimes, I think I do too much.

My wife would argue this isn’t the case, and she’s probably right, for the most part – in general, in life, I really don’t do much at all. I’m actually pretty freaking lazy most of the time, which is why it feels like there’s always so much to do – I never really get around to any of it.

No … what I really mean is that, in my creative endeavors, I overstretch myself frequently. The common trope of the writer is that they’re always writing – anything except their story. Sad, but true. I always have at least two trains of creative thought going at any given time: writing and music. Within that, my writing is split between fantasy (The Redemption of Erâth), which I haven’t touched in a long time, and young adult novels, one of which I most recently completed earlier this year. Music-wise, there’s always so much going on, including three nu-metal albums to accompany said young adult book, as well as grandiose orchestral suites and metal operas. I want to write a goth rock album, and who knows what else as my musical tastes change and evolve.

The problem is time. As in, there just isn’t enough of it. I started work on The Redemption of Erâth almost ten years ago, with the idea to write a seven-book series; so far only three have seen the light of day. I took time off to write two young adult novels, both of which were extremely challenging in their own right (mentally and emotionally draining), and for the past few months I’ve been working on a metal/orchestral suite of songs that I just completed on Friday. Still, I don’t think ten years ago I thought I’d still be trying to write my fantasy series.

To top it off, I’m not getting any younger. I’m not really old enough to be terribly concerned about my mortality (nor am I famous enough that I worry about leaving unfinished works behind to torment my adoring fans), but it does cross my mind that in almost forty years I’ve failed to make a career out of anything creative, and if I died tomorrow, I really wouldn’t have much of a legacy to leave behind.

The worst part is that, when I do have time to create, I’m often too depressed to be able to focus on it. This affliction that’s lasted my entire adulthood is truly a blessing and a curse – it gives me the inspiration to create dark and gloomy worlds, and at the same time prevents me from actually getting any of it down on paper. I want to write; I want to create music; and I don’t want what I’ve finished so far to be all that I ever make. I just find it so impossibly difficult to actually get any of it done.

If I think back on everything I’ve ever started, I’ve actually done pretty well; three fantasy novels, two young adult stories, three nu-metal albums and two metal symphonies are all under my belt, and I definitely didn’t think I’d have been able to finish any of them when I first started (in fact, my first young adult novel, 22 Scars, dates back to 2005 in its earliest iterations). But there’s still so much more to do.

With that being said, I think that now my second YA book is published, my metal symphony is complete, and I’m not overly concerned about writing more nu-metal, it’s time to return to Erâth. I started working on the fourth book in the series almost two years ago, and so far only have six chapters written. I need to clear my schedule, knuckle down, and get the rest of The Redemption of Erâth finished. And not just the fourth book; the fifth, and the sixth, and the seventh one, too. From here on out, this is what I’m going to try to complete.

After that … well, we’ll see. I don’t have any other raging ideas just at the moment, but I’m sure they’ll come along eventually; they always do.

For now – onward and back into the world of Erâth!

The Boring Side of Mental Stability

I have to admit, I’ve been on a good streak lately. No major ups or downs, staying (mostly) on my meds, and sleeping well at night, I’ve managed to get my second YA book published (released a few weeks ago), and I’m doing well at work and at home. No drama, no fights, no arguments – except maybe about those seedlings I promised to report and haven’t got around to you – life is good. I feel stable and well-adjusted, and even interviewing for a new position at work isn’t getting me overly stressed.

I also feel incredibly boring.

Not bored (although that’s a side-effect) – boring. I feel like I have nothing exciting about me to talk about, write about, blog about, or otherwise share with the world. Years ago when I started this blog, I was wildly unmedicated, and whilst it was incredibly unhealthy for me mentally – for my relationships as well – it gave me plenty of fodder for writing. It led to The Redemption of Erâth, in the sense that I wanted to write an allegorical tale about mental illness and depression, and it let to hundreds upon hundreds of blog posts, some of which garnered a fair amount of attention (one on mental illness was featured on WordPress’s front page).

But now, I just can’t feeling like day after day comes and goes without drama or excitement. I wake up, drink my coffee, go to work, come home, eat my peas, and settle into a routine that is far more midlife than crisis.

I don’t even find myself having particularly strong opinions on things that I otherwise would have had plenty to say about – mental health, racism, gun violence, or the blandness of most pistachio ice cream. It’s all just a blur of uninteresting blah, the world spinning rapidly around me while I just watch, idly interested but without significant input.

Of course, a lot has changed in the past almost-ten years since I started writing about things. Instead of dreaming about writing, I went and actually wrote three fantasy novels and two YA books, got them published, got them into readers’ hands, and learned from the process about what people like to read, and what they don’t. I’ve changed, too; I’m stably medicated, and despite dropping off from time to time (periods where I become more … interesting, at least), I haven’t felt like I’ve had a significant wagon-fall in almost eight months, if not longer.

The funny thing is that it leads to me feeling very dispassionate about life, even to the point of sometimes – sometimes – wishing I was a little less stable, and a little more crazy. It’s not that I necessarily enjoy feeling depressed and miserable, or in the throes of a manic fugue of whirlwind creativity, but at the very least it makes the days pass quicker, and gives me fuel for writing. I mean, look at this blog – my last post was almost a month ago, and the one before that was even longer ago. I used to write 2-3 posts a week!

And I want to continue being creative, and writing, and thinking of things to do; I really do. But I’m not willing to sacrifice my mental health and stability for it, nor my relationships at home and at work. A couple years ago I was calling out of work weekly because of the severity of my depression; now I look forward to being at work and the challenges each day brings. When I’m off my meds, I turn into a rage-monster, constantly fighting and arguing with my wife over the most trivial of things; now I feel like we’re actually able to get along like, well, you know – a married couple.

It’s frustrating, because I typically see myself as an inherently creative individual. But with no inspiration from strong feelings about things, I find myself with very little to create. My first YA novel about depression and self-harm was largely fueled by my own teenage years and the life I lived into my early twenties; my second, largely based on my love for music. The Redemption of Erâth, as I mentioned above, was all about describing depression in a fantastical setting. Now, I just feel like I’m … running out of creative juices.

So while I come here to WordPress from time to time with all the intention of keeping up with this blog, more often than not I find I just … don’t have anything to say. Even here, we have an 800-word post about how I can’t think of anything to write! I feel bad for seemingly abandoning the world I created, and I don’t really think of it as such, but if I’m absent more frequently these days, know it’s because I’m doing well, rather than the opposite.

So here’s to many more years of blogging, whether it’s every day, every week, or a couple times a year; fear not, for I will always return.

It’s Funny How Time Slips By

I had the strangest sensation earlier (it might have been the hallucination of a pre-wake dream) that April was almost over, and we were barreling toward September. A kind of grand perspective of the year, a notion that with four months down, it really isn’t that far until most of the year is gone, and then not much further until all of it is. And in that thought, it occurred to me that the year is really only made up of days, and it doesn’t take much for a day to go by without consequence – so that by extension, the rest of the year can go by without us really even being aware of it.

Time is a strange beast, gnawing away daily at our lives until there’s nothing left. Even into the minutes that make up the day, they can pass like treacle – so slow that you hardly notice, and it seems an endless moment until something else happens – or they can fly by like the Flash circling Superman. For example, I woke up around 8 AM this morning, and I didn’t have to leave for work until around 11:15 AM. That’s a lot of time to do stuff – theoretically. Here’s how my morning played out:

  • 8 AM – 9 AM: Lie with the cat.
  • 9 AM – 9:15 AM: Have coffee.
  • 9:15 AM – 10:30 AM: Nap.
  • 10:30 AM – 11:15 AM: Write this post.

And trust me, I almost didn’t write this post – mainly because I couldn’t think of what to write. I was lying in bed, cozy and warm under the covers but wide awake, and thinking to myself: What on earth should I do now? It was one of those moments where it felt like I had all the time in the world, and nothing to do with it.

But the scary part about that is that the attitude of “there’s plenty of time” is also what leads to lost time. A kind of procrastinator’s curse, if you will. It’s one thing if you put off until tomorrow in order to get something else done, but when you put off something in order to get nothing done, not only does it feel like you’ve wasted your time, but it also feels as though you’re wasting your future time, knowing that you’ll now have to do something when you might not really have the time to do it.

For what it’s worth, I’m not saying that having a warm, cozy morning nap is a waste of time; sometimes it’s exactly what you need. I’m no stranger to self-care, and dealing with mental illness most of my life has taught me that I really do need that ‘me-time’ – at least from time to time. But this morning was different; I wasn’t feeling depressed, stressed, anxious, or really anything negative at all. Instead, I think what happened is I fell into a routine, a habit that has spawned out of the need for sleep and self-care, which led me to, if not ‘waste’ time, at least not use it productively. I could have done any number of things this morning, and I actually would have felt like doing them. But I didn’t.

This sort of philosophy, this kind of behavior that I know I fall prey to really quite frequently, I think, is why I feel like time is slipping away. The more I think about it, the more I wonder how many months – perhaps even years – of my life I could have back had I not spent them sleeping, or moping, or feeling like there was no point doing anything. Not that any of that was really under my control – depression is a real villain, sometimes – but it makes me wonder if, for example, The Redemption of Erâth would be complete by now if I was some other person. Or perhaps I would be further ahead in my career at work.

All of it amounts to the thought that my life is really very limited, and having lived through a decent chunk of it already – all of which is time I’ll never get back – I worry that there isn’t enough of it left. I mean, I could die tomorrow, of course, but assuming nothing untoward happens to me, I still only have maybe four or five decades left. Which, right now, sounds like a lot. But I know me, and I know that I’m going to wake up one day and find that I’m actually old, and that I’ve wasted my life.

Maybe this is all coming across as a kind of midlife crisis rant, and perhaps that’s exactly what it is. I’m certainly not here to commit to ‘doing better’, or not wasting my life anymore, but at the same time, I’m very conscious that every day that goes by without an accomplishment – however small – is a day I’ll never get back.

So here’s my accomplishment for today: I wrote this post. Perhaps no one will read it, but if you do, let me know what you think about life, and time, and whether sleeping the day away counts as a waste. I’d love to hear your thoughts!