Emotional Clutter

The last time I worked on my memoir (or this blog) was over 2 months ago. 

There are several reasons why I’ve gotten so off track, but most aren’t valid. Yes, balancing my writing with grad school while I teach homeschool and try to keep up with the housework is tricky, but it didn’t stop me from writing my first 100,000 words of the book. 

It’s the emotional clutter.

The little dick invaded my life in February, wreaking havoc on both my productivity and creativity. Consequently, my commitment to this memoir slipped away from me momentarily. 

Then my wife and I hit a “rough spot” just as I was struggling to wrap up the last part of the first draft (you know, the happily ever after part?) Actually, to be honest, it was more like a nose dive off a Cliff. The kind that makes you both begin to doubt that whole happily ever thing. It happens to the best of couples, of course. But, when it’s you and when it’s with the person you can’t imagine your life without, no matter how mad you are at them, it sucks ass. 

 By now, she’s used to hearing me call out to her from my office that “I’ll be done in a few minutes!” when we both know what I really mean is “I’ll be done several hours from now.” Getting me through grad school is a priority for both of us. So, she understands the commitment I’ve made and what it means as far as our time together. Still, it can be hard on our relationship. 

We were just getting used to the routine again when the Utah legislative session hit, which ended up becoming my priority for the remainder of the month. Per usual, some pretty shit anti-LGBT+ bills were circulating the floor (they really outdid themselves this year with the whole bigotry thing).

I am not built to let things roll off me. It’s something I’m aware of and have tried to make peace with. This year was especially hard, though. The session offered no relief for me or anybody else in the Utah LGBT + community…Or, really, anyone who is a decent person.

It was a mixed bag. On the one hand, I was highly emotional and angry most of the time. Ranting and raving to an audience of one who had no idea what to do to calm me down or comfort me. On the other, a non-profit I’ve worked with in the past offered me a research opportunity. Anyone that knows me well knows research is my life’s blood. It’s what I eat, sleep and dream. So, I jumped at the chance to help out. 

So, that’s what I did for almost an entire month. Everything else in my life was set aside for the “greater good,” including my wife. I became self-absorbed and emotionally unavailable, to say the least. Everything in our home revolved around the day’s politics—something she isn’t nearly as passionate about.

The toll was evident by the time the session was over, judging by the twitch I had developed in my left eye (which happens whenever I’m stressed and not getting enough sleep). I was hanging on by a thread, barely managing to keep my depression in check. For a moment, I thought my mood was going to crash so hard I’d have to withdraw from the program. 

The toll on our marriage was worse, though. The rough patch we had started to go through before it all began got a hell of a lot worse. In fact, there were times I wondered if we’d even get through it. Thus I found myself unable to write a single word. As a result, I abandoned my memoir.

Luckily, things started to turn around at the beginning of this month. We’ve both grown and made some changes. I can even feel the “spark” from the beginning of our relationship coming back. 

However, I’m still struggling to find make the time to write. And, no. I still haven’t figured out the right stopping point of this memoir. 

So, this week I had to make a decision or risk losing the last of my writing mojo. Something I’m not willing to do after all the blood, sweat and tears I put into that first draft.

Instead of struggling against the cock-block that is chapter 30-ish. I took a new approach. I decided I don’t have to write anything new; I just have to work on something that has to do with the book. Anything that will at least keep me connected to it. Right now, that means completely reorganizing my workflow and files. I’ve also gone through and done a rough cut and taken out some small sections that just didn’t “feel right” when I went back and re-read them. I’ve even started story-mapping (I think that’s what it’s called?), using a Hero’s Journey structure, which I had no idea existed until a couple months ago. I’ve also started working on scene and character profiles, which I was apparently supposed to do in a pre-draft (according to a bunch of Pinterest posts and youtube videos on writing).

All that has given me at least some sense of accomplishment as I wade through the last remaining pieces of emotional clutter while I’m waiting for a bit of inspiration to come back.

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash