Triggering hypomania in search of the muse.

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, until I got an email invitation to participate. The atmosphere for camp events appears more relaxed than November’s nano. You can set your own word count goals.You can continue an existing manuscript.  You can revise and/or edit, as long as you can come up with a fair equation for comparing such work to raw prose generation.

2013-nanowrimo camp fb cover

At the time, I was thinking, “Hey. My work schedule has mostly settled down to 3 nights a week. The boy seems to have a handle on school. Ogre likes his new job. The days are getting longer … yep, it’s time to settle down and do this.” I carefully examined my available time and set an ambitious but manageable goal: to spend the month of April editing the complete Lizzy novel. I figured the pass I intended to make would require between 80 – 90 hours. (This goal, btw, required me to actually finish writing the ending to Lizzy’s novel in March.) I set to work with a will.

In the last year, I’ve been counting on one of the two effective strategies for generating content: slow, steady, consistant work. I managed to get 50,000 words down in Novemeber 2012 by carving slots of time from my schedule so that I could put my butt in the chair every day for a set period of time. I planned to schedule my way through editing the Lizzy novel too.

Then my boss called to tell me he’s going out of town … three times in March and April. Consequently, I will be back to working more than full-time for three of the next six weeks. And a lot of it is bad: Seven days in a row. Nine days in a row. Working until midnight, then back at the desk by 9:00a the next day. My available time was obliterated.

Then I had a melt down, which I didn’t post.

Then I made a decision to suck it up, which I did post.

Then – the good news – my daughter (of recent button-making fame) called to tell me she is coming home from North Carolina for her friend’s wedding. And she’ll be staying with us for 16 days. I was ecstatic until I remembered the insanity of my work schedule in April. I checked the calendar and discovered that most of her visit does not overlap with my boss’s trips.

Then I called my boss. I explained the situation and told him I would abide by the schedule he’d made for the weeks he was going to be gone, BUT that I wanted a total of four days off on the other weeks. He balked at first, but I held my ground. It’s complicated, but I will only have to work five of the sixteen days she’ll be here. (He’s still pestering me about one Saturday, but I will not yield. What’s he gonna do? Fire me?)

Then I sat down with the calendar again, and recalculated the month. This time, instead of looking for available writing slots, I assessed the big picture.

Spring is coming. My family will be together. My mood is likely to be positive. I figure, maybe it’s time to return to my old ways … to the OTHER effective strategy for making prose happen … getting caught up in the story and succumbing to the muse. (Am I the only one who thinks “the muse” is just a romantic way to describe the hypomanic state?) In my schedule, I blocked out additional space for sunshine, exercise, flirtations, adventures, nutritious and delectable foods, and copious amounts of caffeine, chocolate and liquor. 

So now, I have decided not to drop out of Camp NaNoWriMo, but I have revised my goal so I won’t go insane. I will not likely finish a complete editing pass in April, but I can make a big dent.

I’m heading out for the gym. Then I’m going to have a date with my husband. Then I’m going to stay up late and write.

Let’s see if this works.


Rising from the sickbed.

It’s alive!

In the last week,  my life has been very, very simple. I have worked at the hotel, come home and watched some TV (until my brain relaxed enough to allow me to drift off,) slept for many hours, awakened, tended to basic needs (like eating food I couldn’t taste and taking long, hot baths that my husband had to supervise so that I would neither scald myself nor drown,) then headed back to work.

It was nothing serious, just a cold from hell (stacked on top of a down-swing in my mood.) I still don’t feel 100%, but I can breathe again. I  am fully dressed. And, for the first time in a few weeks, I am getting started on a full two-day weekend that does not include working.

My plan is to aggressively re-engage with Halloween, the blog and life in these last few days of October.

Hunting Halloween:
This weekend, my son and I plan to go to Pinehaven Farm in Wyoming, MN. It’s a petting zoo and pumpkin farm we have been visiting faithfully for more than ten years. They also have a Dead End Hayride in the evenings. Right now we’re thinking we’ll go to that on Monday. As for Halloween night itself, we were pleased to find out that our building allows trick-or-treating. Our intention is to create a haunted treat station – complete with fog machine and spooky music – just inside our door. I’m tempted to buy a cheap set of basic makeup too, so that we can cobble together some spooky characters for handing out treats. Beyond that, I have a couple of pumpkins to carve and some traditional movies to watch.

One of the Pinehaven goats.

Here at the blog:
Getting back on the blogging horse always feels awkward, but I have the advantage of (too) many planned topics to choose from. The Courting Creepy movie lists have been popular and I have a couple that I really want to get up before Halloween. Tonight or tomorrow I will pick up where I left off – with zombies. My daughter’s beau agreed to construct the list, because I just had to concede that I am no zombie expert. Jason, on the other hand, is a connoisseur. All I have to do is format his work, which will be an easy task. It makes for a smooth transition into getting my head back in the game. (Thanks, Jason.)

When it comes to ghost stories, I feel fully qualified to make recommendations, so expect that list soon too – and it will be escorted by the long-delayed telling of what I saw in room 217, at the old hotel.

Obviously, I failed NaBloPoMo miserably. (Literally.) Still, I feel good about what I achieved, and I’m eager to continue a consistent – if less demanding – posting schedule.

And for those that worry about my bipolarity:
As the mad month of October winds down, I know I have to turn my attention to surviving the winter. Even though things haven’t settled as much as I’d hoped, and nothing big has been resolved, I have to establish some healthier routines. I need regular sleep, decent food, sunlight, exercise, social time and music. (Right now I’m listening to an old playlist. Yes, I’ve caught myself dancing in the chair as I write. It feels good. How dated – and ridiculously appropriate – is it that the current song is Wheel in the Sky by Journey?)

Perhaps more important than all those things, though, is writing – especially returning to writing fiction. I am contemplating a run at NaNoWriMo. Considering the experiences I’ve had at the hotels, I think that getting 50,000 words down, of an entirely new story, might be possible. Lately, while folding sheets, I’ve been putting together a straight-forward story in my head. Historically I’ve worked best with a detailed outline, but maybe something crazy like this would be an invigorating change. Or maybe it’s just insane. I’ve got a few days to think about it.

Who amoung you are thinking about plunging in? Are any of you veterans with advice to share?


Take your pick.

Shiny paranormally pictures here:

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Not so shiny bipolary naval-gazing here:

I try not to write too much about my mood swings here at the blog. Still, my tagline does include Finessing bipolarity, so I’ll allow myself a post on the topic.Tonight I find myself unable to work up any enthusiasm for a paranormal- or Halloween-themed post, which is a little weird, because I did have plans in place, and I do have (just enough) time to craft something. I simply don’t want to.

That attitude has been creeping up on me, I think, over the last couple of days. Remember that night I didn’t manage to post until after midnight? That really took the wind out of my sails. Or it was an early warning sign that the wind was dying. I don’t think I’ve been manic in these last weeks. (My energy levels haven’t been that high; the writing hasn’t been coming to me easily, the way it does when I’m up.) I am concerned, however, because today’s crash does feel like the coming-down-from-manic stage.

I think my mood has been even (“normal”) for weeks. I’ve had a few awfully happy days – mostly when I’m out and about and taking pictures, but I’ve settled down as soon as my day off was done. I’ve had a few days where I felt tired and/or under the weather, but I’ve bounced back. (Sometimes a depressive skid pretends to be an illness, so I watch that sort of thing carefully.) Perhaps today will be like that. The problem is that I don’t have any physical complaints. I just feel … mentally tired. Also, my anxiety is eager to rise up, if I give it half a chance. (I’ve had a couple of long drives lately, and that seems to enable surges of anxiety. Drives gives me time to think about the legitimate stressors in my life.) Rising anxiety is a clear indicator of an impending depression for me.

Tonight I am mentally sorting through the factors that have been known to trigger sudden mood shifts. Alcohol is supposed to be a depressant, but I had barely a beer last night when we went out. I’d be surprised if that’s enough to mess me up. The weather has turned cold, and a little gray, but it hasn’t been terrible. Weather must remain a contender though, because I tend to be very sensitive to it. In fact this might be more about sliding toward the dreaded winter season than the actual temperature. There’s no way to deny that fall is past its peak now, here in Minnesota.

Maybe I am just depleted. My husband, who is a classic introvert, seems to think that I’m a natural extrovert, but I know better. Last night, at the zombie pub crawl we attended, I had to approach strangers to ask for permission to take their photographs and for them to sign a publishing release. (I’m paranoid about getting sued someday.) Everyone was friendly and receptive and cooperative, but each encounter took more out of me than anyone knows. As for other energy sappers, we all know I’ve been working a lot, and I’m only just now starting to feel competent at the new hotel. In the last months, there’s been an awful lot of me stepping out of my comfort zone and a lot of being on my best behavior … for readers, for guests at the hotels, for coworkers, for my bosses, even for my friends and family, who don’t need to have me falling apart during this 9+ month time of stress for us.

So, it’s really no mystery what’s going on – I just have to figure out what to do about it. For now, tonight, I’ll give myself this break from being “on”, as well as permission to see what happens tomorrow. I almost didn’t post at all tonight, but I don’t want to lose the pretty-darn-good streak of daily blogging I’m on if this is just a bad day. There’s nothing that keeps me even and grounded like achieving something I set out to do.