Thursday, August 06, 2020


I (Donis) am feeling low today.* I'm tired and headachy and just plain tired. I've been fighting with depression a bit over the past couple of weeks, like so many people. I'm bothered by the news. I'm bothered by the fact that it's been over 110ºF for three weeks and not only can I not go out to eat because of the pandemic, I can't even sit outside on my porch. I want to work on my new book but I'm uninspired.

I typed a lot of words on my work-in-progress today, most of which I’ll either have to take out later or totally rework. But I did it, by damn, and I’m hoping I dug out a lot of slag that has a piece or two of gold in it that I can use later.

When I’m on a roll, I can produce several usable pages in a day, but today there were only one or two paragraphs that I feel confident about.

Some days I can slog along quite handily, but there are days like today when everything I write feels like pure schlock. When that happens, it causes me great agony and despair that I can’t whip up the will to do what needs to be done. I have a bad attitude.

On such days I sit at my desk for an hour staring at a pad of paper, or at the computer with my fingers poised over the keyboard, and … nothing. It’s not even that I can’t think of anything to write. I am always writing in my head, and have done for as far back as I can remember.

All I wanted to do today is clean something, or garden or dust or cook. Brawny tasks which take only muscle and no brilliant turns of phrase. But I have to persevere. So much of writing is just grunt work. Sit and type it out, choose the best way to say this or that, watch the repetition, find the right word, the right sentence.

Even when the world is not as messed up as it is these days, I never know why one day is better than another when it comes to writing. Why are some days so unsatisfactory? 

I can always blame a bad writing day on my sensitive nature. Earlier this evening I spent half an hour reading the news online and now I want to lie upon the couch and press the back of my hand to my forehead until my soul is soothed. People are capable of such awful things, and there is no sense to be made of it. Just the titles of the articles gave me the vapors.

Yes, that must be why I had such am unsuccessful day — the news, or the weather, or the stars. It certainly can't be my fault, because I did everything required of me, and yet I couldn't produce anything brilliant, or excellent, or particularly adequate.

But I can see that there is something good going on here. There's a story here that I want to tell, so what else is to be done but try and tell it? Tomorrow morning I’ll get up, invoke the gods and pray for intervention, sit myself down at the computer, and try, try again.
*On top of everything, I feel guilty for feeling low. So many people have it so much worse than I do.


Anna said...

You could have been reading my mind. Thank you! This post was your excellent story for today. Now you have cleared it off the top of your head and made room for what is coming next, feeling its way toward you, bearing a gift you weren't expecting.

Sybil Johnson said...

The world is a tiring place right now. I've been mad at myself for not yet finishing the book I'm working on. I would have finished it months ago had I had a set deadline (i.e. a contract to fulfill) or all of this stuff hadn't been going on. Right now, I'm just plodding along, a little bit at a time.

Donis Casey said...

Anna, thanks for your words of wisdom! And Sybil, I'm with you, darlin'.

Anna said...

Sybil, plodding is progress! (You already knew that, didn't you?)

Sybil Johnson said...

I know it's progress just not as fast as I want to be going. sigh.

Rosemary Simpson said...

We're all feeling the same, Donis. It seems to take tremendous effort to accomplish a fraction of what we routinely did before the pandemic and people's lack of commonsense compliance with basic safeguards became a daily reality we couldn't do much to change. What makes it even worse is knowing that we have months and months of this ahead of us. It will be well into 2021 before we can live life with any of our old confidence. Soldier on!

Tanya said...

Donis, thank you for giving voice to a struggle many of us are facing. I think writers as a group tend to be more sensitive than the average person, and while that sensitivity is a gift, it also means that we feel pain and sadness more acutely, and it stays with us for a longer period of time. I'm trying to combat distraction and sadness by focusing on small things that make me happy... petting my cats, listening to the beautiful song of a wren perched on my deck railing, watching other wildlife in the woods behind my house. Trying to find a sense of accomplishment in crossing even one thing off my to-do list instead of mentally scolding myself for the items still not done.
Hang in there!

Charlotte Hinger said...

Donis, I'm struggling to write a review of an academic book for a very prestigious journal. It should have been done weeks ago.

Everyone I know is hampered by the "low level depression" Michelle Obama mentioned in a recent post. You are doing fine. Only very unobservant people think things are just peachy, right now.