Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stop the world I want to get off

We've all heard something like that plenty of times, and most of us have felt that way at least once (In my case, that's once a day, but I'm 'special'). But is it really a good idea to step out of the chaos and become an onlooker?

When you watch, you can see things you'd miss if you were in the middle of the action - but you don't get to feel it. Sometimes that's a hell of a lot easier.

So, right now, I'd like to get off the whirlwind tour of "things in life that suck boulders through coffee stirrers", but - me being a mad writer - there's a part of me that's still observing the emotional roller-coaster ride and taking notes for future writing. But I still want to get off. I'm heading to Australia in a bit less than a week, and I'm exhausted. I need time to step back a little and absorb it all.

Yes, I'm whining. I've had a hell of a time lately, and while I'm sure it's a very valuable experience to know how it feels to hear that your mother has had a stroke, and I'm sure that sensation of my stomach burrowing through the soles of my feet will find its way into my writing somewhere, right now I just want it all to stop.

Meantime - how many of you have wanted to step away from everything for a while? Do you think it's a good thing? A bad thing? Or am I just in meltdown and need to be kicked in the butt and told to get on with it?

18 comments:

Amanda Green said...

Kate, we all need to step back and take a deep breath from time to time. It's a coping mechanism and it is the only way to truly survive and not go stark raving mad -- at least in my case. Now, that usually means doing it after the current crisis is over. Sometimes it is by choice, sometimes it is when my body simply shuts down and forces me to stop. (Sarah, does any of this sound familiar???)

And yes, there will come a point in time when you channel all you've seen and felt and heard this past week or so into your writing. You can and will describe that awful moment when you heard -- and the news registered -- about your mother. It will be followed by how you felt to know it wasn't as bad as it could have been. You know the speech. But there is more. You'll be adding in those who were butt-heads, intentionally or not, in their reaction to you when you told them about your mum. And, believe it or not, you'll find the humor too.

In the meantime, hugs and take care of yourself. And allow yourself to step back and just turn off for a bit.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Kate,

I have two modes of "I need to get away for just two/three days". Right now and for the last six months or so, I've been feeling like that. I just want to run away for three days or so. It usually sets me "right" and I can then work/concentrate again. It hasn't happened, partly because of cons and family obligations.

The other mode is where I don't want to be here at all, "here" defined as the universe. Or if I have to, I want to be SOMEONE ELSE.
After 9/11 I had persistent daydreams about being someone completely different who was coping with this much better. For reasons peculiar to my history, it seemed there was no hope, no future, no reason to go on.
The feeling lifted, little by little. We went on. I can now look back and wonder at it. And no, I havne't been able to use it in a story yet.

Kate Sheeran said...

If you need to step away, don't feel bad about it! Sometimes I get caught up thinking I should be able to handle everything, never get angry, sad or jealous, never be irrational. But trying to keep going and pushing down those feelings never, ever helps. Makes it worse, actually.

The last thing you need to do is beat yourself up over how you feel. Instead, treat yourself, sit back, hide a quiet corner, write something silly that you can lose yourself in, have coffee with a sympathetic friend - whatever will make you feel better. There's no timeline for these things. You might be a little moody. Just allow yourself that space.

Take care of yourself!

~Kate

MataPam said...

Oh yeah.

I think that's where I developed my passive-aggressive tendencies. If it won't go away, just bare your teeth and don't let it budge you. With practice, you can shut it out or "Oops, forgot all about that!" pretty much as often as you want. This is probably not the best way to face life.

And it aids procrastination, when one ought to be polishing this manuscript, instead of starting a new one that hasn't even got a problem to solve yet, not to mention you aren't sure if the character you started with is the hero or the villain.

But wouldn't it be nice if the exterior world wold just mellow out and slow down and give you time to deal with it all?

Anonymous said...

Kate,

Wishing you the best for your mother.

In the meantime, yep, step back. I've actually spent this summer stepping back after a particularly hard five years. I needed it.

I feel ready to go now and I don't feel guilty about my time spent since it fueled the time to come.

As a wife and mother, I've set a new course. As a writer, I'm jumping back in refreshed and able to spend the time I need to advance my career. As far as the other roles I fulfill, I'm tending to those better also.

Things have a way of turning themselves around if you do make you a priority for even just a little while.

Linda

Brendan said...

One of my occasional recurring dreams is one where a major fantasy epic of good against evil is being played out. Despite the drama, excitement and action though, the most important scenes are where I am watching a man by himself, completely unaffected by the events, walking along a beach coastline that gently curves off in the distance. He is going somewhere but doesn't seem to mind how long it takes, and he is by far the most important person in the dream.

I have been told by a dream analyst that this is my subconsience telling me my life is too hectic.

One day I am going to try and write the story of this dream and I will probably choose a time when I have a lot of other things on so I can dream it again and again and take notes:)

Kate said...

Amanda,

Amazing how different it is knowing all this and being told it by someone else - it seems to make more sense when you tell me :)

Kate said...

Sarah,

The "I need to relax for a few days" one is - I think - normal overload. The other is more dangerous. The last time I started that line of thought, I wound up fighting off suicidal episodes. Not my idea of a fun time. On the plus side, I could probably write a suicidal character pretty bloody convincingly. Not that I want to, but... I could.

Kate said...

Kate S,

Welcome to the madhouse. Are you sure you're not me? That list sounds awfully like what I'd do (except the coffee, which I don't like. I substitute hot chocolate or tea).

Or maybe it's just a sign of some kind of existential Kate-ness?

Dave Freer said...

Dear Kate, I hope you are still coming to our island. The world has pretty much stopped here anyway (part of the reason I like being here).
Dave

Kate said...

Matapam,

It would be lovely if the rest of the world would shut up and give me some time to rest and sort myself out. Sadly, the Uber-Author seems to think I do better when I'm stressed off my brain and a couple of steps shy of meltdown. I hope it's because I offer comic relief in that state, because I really do not want to be anyone's hero, thank you.

(Seriously, if you start with the proposition that God is an Author - and a pantser at that - everything makes so much more sense)

Kate said...

Linda,

It's great that you were able to take that breathing space - wife and mother are very much full-time jobs all by themselves.

My "me" time is the few days I'm spending on Dave's island. I just have to last that long!

Kate said...

Brendan,

I want to be that person on that beach. There's something wonderfully peaceful about just walking along a beach.

And yes, it probably is dream-speak for "you're overloaded, take a break!"

Kate said...

Dave,

If it wasn't for the time I'm spending with you and your lovely wife, I don't think I'd be as coherent as I am now.

I am so looking forward to a few days of peace and not being left to pick up after everyone else's idiocy.

Penelope said...

Thanks for saying so, Kate, and sorry about your mum. I couldn't help thinking of Sarah's excellent posting yesterday: the 'purpose' of sci-fi might be to limber up our minds so we can manage our own evolution. I think many things are limbering us up, including life asking us to skip faster and harder and with more complexity than we've done before. It's happening all over. But it's okay to skip out from under the rope for a while; just count and breathe and watch the others jumping. Hope Aus gives you that breather.

Kate said...

Penelope,

Thank you for the kind thoughts.

I think you're right about SF and evolution and stretching and complexity - there's only so far you can stretch before you need to step back and consolidate a bit, take a breather, and maybe sit out a few rounds before you dive back into it.

Evolution is a tad slower than social trends, and we didn't evolve to "always on" and "hyper-complex". We might eventually get there - but by then who knows what society has changed to?

Oh, and I don't think I've seen you here before, so welcome to the madhouse :)

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Kate,

There's a number of points you can award yourself for life changing events either good or bad and when you get enough points you are entitled to a nervous break down.

Sounds like you are due to have a Tizz!

All kidding aside, hope your mother pulls through. Before Christmas my uncle spent 6s days on the floor of his flat before he was found and we didn't know if he would pull through. He's back home and picking up.

And remember, if you were your own best friend, what advice would you give her. Now take your own advice and look after yourself!

Kate Sheeran said...

"Or maybe it's just a sign of some kind of existential Kate-ness?"

Absolutely a possibility!

Tea or hot chocolate - probably better for relaxing than coffee, anyway :) Hope you're able to indulge in a quiet corner or something similar asap!