Monday, October 26, 2015

NaNoWriMo '15: The Scholar Returns

Trigger Warning: references to death and suicide

Like a beacon unto the shadows, National Novel Writing Month has returned, and in the process drawn me out of hiding. To be sure—for those of you who follow me on Twitter or know me personally—I haven't exactly been "off the grid". But as a friend recently observed, there's less of myself in what I do post these days, and I think that's a fair assessment more often than not. Truth is, in the time since my last blog post, a great many things of transpired—wonderful things and terrible things and at least two full seasons of the year. So before the veil between Now and Beyond winnows to mere gossamer, and our purviews turn irrevocably away from the warm season that was, allow me to close the gap between entries and bring the Fane back into the present. 

I've been dreading the writing of this post for some time. In the wake of the struggles referenced in last year's two-part entry, The Times That Try: A Scholar in Crisis, 2014 ended on a discordant note at best. As 2015 began, it seemed that the arbitrary boundary between years had done little to keep that string of hardships in the past. By late February I'd decided I'd had enough. I couldn't continue living in perpetual reaction—I needed to exercise some agency, starting with walking away from unnecessary pressures and obligations. This is how my blogging/writing hiatus began.

In the year leading up to that point, life presented me with no small number of indicators that perhaps I should become more health minded. Not the least among these was the fact that my summertime stress eating had led me to my highest recorded weight, just shy of 300lbs. Add a few weight-related health scares in the family, and it became imperative that I enact some lifestyle changes sooner rather than later, and hopefully before it was too late. 

What began as a light breeze in a more favorable direction soon became a whirlwind. Leisurely strolls gave way to determined hikes, simple home cooking became "clean eating", and while I should very much like to explore this particular journey in greater detail allow me to summarize in a few pictures: 

Now, the "Before" shots here are from 2011 and 2013, respectively; there are no pictures of me at my peak weight, but the difference is hardly significant in light of the fact that I am now 80lbs removed from that dangerous height. To say I have become obsessed with healthfulness seems an understatement, but I can at least assure you that it has not been to my detriment in the least. I'd long planned to return to the blog with professions of devotion to the websites and apps that helped facilitate this journey, even before reaching my current fitness level seemed plausible. For the first time in my life, I was intentionally losing weight. I felt more in control of myself and my destiny than ever before, more sure of myself, more optimistic about the future, more positive and fulfilled in general.

After nearly two full months of tracking meals, and exercising almost daily, I decided I deserved a cheat day. They aren't the most advisable of practices but it helps me to recharge my willpower if I give in to a craving every now and again. I worked out hard, made room in the day's caloric budget, and ordered a pizza. I ate the entire thing while marathoning the latter half of Daredevil season 1. I made dinner date plans with friends. I reveled in my recent successes. I went to sleep fatted and contented and happy. I don't think I can say I've been truly happy since.

That night, around 2:30am, I received a call from my brother. At 10:16 the previous evening, while I was basking in my triumphs, our father—who had for so long struggled with alcoholism, depression, and hardships innumerable—had called the Help Hotline for what might have been the thousandth time. It was also to be the last. By the time they'd sent someone to check on him, he'd already hanged himself. The attempts to revive him failed. My father was dead. 

Someday I will address this tragedy as thoroughly as it deserves, but for now I'll share what I'd written in the immediate aftermath:
I feel as if I should be writing to capture the feelings as they happen but there's either too many or too much or something about the timing seems off. I'm not sure what to do with myself and so I just sit here and it seems wrong, so I get up and move around and it seems wrong, and in either case the thoughts flare up and subside, visions of what happened, intangible imaginings of the loneliness and despair that must have preceded the act, and always this sadness not for my own loss but his, the loss of the last of whatever fledgling hope had kept him going for this long. His had been a long-endured suffering, from his earliest memories to his final moments, with only glimpses of happiness like starlight bright shimmers amidst a black sea of night sky. His pain was constant and total, so frequently all consuming, and his long-term degradation at the bottom of the bottle only deepened his capacity for more. Displaced and broken, downtrodden and alone, it's only too easy to see from this vantage how he could have lost sight of his own agency, only too readily comprehensible that he could think that this was his only escape. 
His final status update—the last I heard from him—was an assertion that no one would care whether he died that night. My comment—the last he heard from me—was that it wasn't true, but that it didn't matter whether it was true or not because HE needed to care. I'll no doubt spend years torturing myself over whether or not I should have taken a warmer tack, whether I should have called the Help Hotline for him long before he'd called them himself only too late for them to prevent what happened from happening...but it was also true. I couldn't do that caring for him, none of us could. 
I don't know what the future might have held for my father had he soldiered on long enough to outlast the mounting troubles which led him to this tragic choice. It's my belief that suicide isn't a wish to die, it's a wish to stop living life as it's being lived at the moment. When one can't see another means of affecting change, death begins to appear the only option. He'd rallied for a time, after surviving a first attempt on his own life back in January. But he fell back into old habits, his choices caught up with him, and he couldn't see a way of escaping them. Jobless, facing eviction, had he asked me to find a solution I would have been at a loss. I couldn't have painted a picture of a more successful or easier life ahead, or drawn a map of how to get there. But I believed in general that he had a future. I hoped, at any rate. I knew there was a chance he'd try again, and I was prepared for it, but one can only prepare so much for something this hard. 
We don't know yet whether or not he left a note before he departed. Maybe we'll never know what went through his mind that final, tragic day. It's easy enough to guess, but we have no business trying to know. For us, it is enough to know that one of our own felt so irreparably damaged, so hopelessly alone, so impossibly powerless, that the sum of his available agency was expended exiting a life of pain the only way he thought he could. I will never not miss him. I will never not wish that he had chosen life. But I hope his suffering is at an end now. He endured more inhumanity and degradation than anyone I have personally known, and right now all I can wish for him is that his pain has finally come to its end. 
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, dear father. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Robert Craig La Salandra, Oct 30, 1955 – July 25, 201

There was no funeral for my father. These are the only words that were ever said for the occasion of his passing. Instead of a service or memorial, there was me, alone, viewing his body in the back room of the funeral home, just before it departed for the crematorium. There was no interment, either, at least not yet; at present his ashes sit in a makeshift shrine of sorts, next to my writing desk. Someday soon, I'll find a way to properly lay him to rest, and then the matter will be finished. That, sadly, will have been the story of him.

What does one do under these circumstances? There are no guidebooks. I'm sure there are a fair few volumes on the grieving process, but they can only ever treat the subject in a general way. Last year I remarked that Robin Williams' suicide had hit me hard, for if he couldn't make it what chance did I have? How much closer to home was this, now, for my own father to succumb to his demons? 

I'd like to say I did the normal thing, flailing about until the loving support of friends and family helped set me aright, but in reality all I could do was cling firmly to the simple fact that he had been proud of me, in the end. I think people kept expecting that I'd fall apart, but it never really came to that. We'd had our differences, sometimes violently so, but we'd found common ground and ultimately repaired our relationship as best we could. To be sure, there were weeks of depression, and I'm not entirely certain they've come to an end, but early on I realized I had to accept that it happened, that these were his choices and not mine, and then carry on as I'd been before his death. It's what he would have wanted, I'm sure; for the loss to undo so much hard work would've been adding insult to that final injury. And so, if a bit shakily at first, if a bit coldly even now, I did just that—I've carried on. 

I still miss him, of course. I still grieve and mourn. As his birthday nears, he is more in my thoughts than he had been in recent weeks, but progress yet continues apace. Most days, I remember to dedicate my efforts to him, to continuing the work that made him so proud of me, even as his own life deteriorated into a miserable chaos. I think he'd forgive me the days I forget. What I do for my daily exercises, I will now do for NaNoWriMo. I'll dedicate this year's novel to him, and forge ahead. I almost didn't sign up for it, I wasn't sure I had it in me, but I realized I really couldn't stand for that. While his death will forever be a part of my story, I can't allow it to become a negative influence. I can't let it stop me, no matter how tempting that may seem. The most fitting tribute I can imagine is for me to win the day over those same demons which for so long assailed him, for his legacy to be found in the perseverance of his sons, and for his name to grace the dedication page of what I hope will be my first completed manuscript.

While there's life, there's hope. And so it goes...

In Memoriam: R. Craig La Salandra, 1955-2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Quick Update from the Fane

Spring is nearly upon us and I haven't blogged a thing since the aftermath of last year's National Novel Writing Month. It's been a struggle just making it through most days; sometimes, that's just the way reality rolls. 2014 was a rough year, and 2015 hasn't been doing me many favors, either. But, after a few months spent in search of a firmer footing, I finally feel like I'm back in the swing of things. 

Just this past week, I managed to write an entire story with a beginning, middle, and end, an accomplishment never before achieved despite years of writing. It's nothing earth shattering, and won't be longer than a thousand or so words when all's said and done, but that's the plan for this year: No more Great American Novel, no more trying to make an impact or leave my mark; I just want to get some completed works under my belt, a few practice runs so I can develop the necessary discipline and fine-tune my understanding of the fundamentals of writing. 

That having been said, I'm not sure I'll be blogging with any appreciable zeal, at least not for a little while. I might even wait until the site proper has been built. It's a delicate time, and I'm being patient with myself. Whatever comes of it will hopefully have been worthwhile, in the end. Thanks to anyone who still checks back for updates every now and again, as well as to those who might be happening across the Scholar's Fane for the first time. Things'll be moving and shaking eventually, in their own due time. See you back here when they do.

—James La Salandra

Friday, December 5, 2014

NaNoWriMo '14: Trials, Triumphs, and Take-aways—Reflections on the WriMo that Was

By all accounts, this post would've been better served by having been written earlier in the week, but the final days of National Novel Writing Month were such a challenge that my fingers still ache from the number of keystrokes necessary to earn this:

As was evident from my previous post, every WriMo has been unique for me. Of course each year differed due in part to the fact that each year featured a different story, but on a statistical level, too, has the experience been varied. 2011's steady climb was capped off by a down-to-the-wire flurry of words I still don't remember writing; 2013's effort would have been completed within the first two weeks had it not been for my taking a week off to watch a marathon of Doctor Who episodes leading up to the 50th anniversary special. 

This year's WriMo, however, was nearly a disaster. After building momentum over the course of Week 1 that left me feeling perhaps a bit too confident, I languished terribly. With only three days left in the month, I had written barely more than 20,000 words. I took Thanksgiving off—to celebrate, decorate, and summon as much literary fortitude as I could possibly muster. The run-up paid off, and by the morning of November 30th I'd crossed the 50,000 word mark, and successfully completed NaNoWriMo for the third time.

Now, obviously I wouldn't recommend this course of action. It's much, much better to maintain a steady effort; covering so much ground within a span of so few days was an exhausting experience, and i'm sure to some extent the work suffered for it near the end. And I'm certainly not boasting about my success here, but I do think it's worth noting that the feat can be accomplished. One of the biggest obstacles to reaching the end of NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words—and, indeed, to reaching the end of any writing project—is yielding to the sense of hopelessness that plagues nearly every work, especially for beginners. The lesson here is simple: Don't give up. If you want to be a writer, all it takes is the sometimes seemingly Herculean task of never giving up. You must see the work through. As Neil Gaiman has said, "It's that easy, and that hard."

With another WriMo in the books, it's time to turn an eye toward the holidays, and the spirit of reflection they so often inspire. Looking back on the past month, and 2014 as a whole, I'd have to say the most important lesson for me has been that regular writing begets better writing. As I'd observed in June, it takes a fairly consistent writing schedule to elevate my work to a quality I dream of maintaining as a writer. This proved true during NaNoWriMo as well, with the best work of the month coming after—and only after—I'd been writing for a few consecutive days. 

There's evidence elsewhere to support the claim—science fiction author Jamie Rubin recently reached the milestone of having written for 500 consecutive days, and noted that the benefits of his discipline include increasing his rate of sales from 1 story every 3 years to 1 story every 45 days. It's not that a higher volume of output leads to more frequent sales, he explains, but that more frequent work leads to better work. As it was his blogging that inspired me to establish The Scholar's Fane, I can't help but consider taking yet another leaf from his book. I've seen it evidenced in my own work, on a small scale, and in his claims on a much larger scale. Writing daily must become a priority for me in the year to come.

The other major take-away from this year's NaNoWriMo is this: I need to trust that I've chosen this path for myself wisely. Part of what bogged me down through the middle of the month was pressure I'd been placing on myself to compose an almost perfect first draft, despite every assurance that first drafts are inherently, more or less awful. Everything had to be properly organized, continuity had to be maintained, the writing had to feel right or I'd despair and flail. At some point, I completely lost touch with myself as a writer, given the poor job I'd been doing. What saved me was trusting that, having set myself on this course long enough ago, and having worked at being a writer for years, I must have had good cause to do so. Maybe I'd lost my way—maybe I'd lost my will—but I owed it to my more confident former self to see things though as best I could. And that's how the WriMo was really won—throwing myself into the work, almost mindlessly obedient to the decision to sign up back in October. I discovered I had faith, not in my current self, but in the self that had led to this one, and the one that will undoubtedly follow. 

If anything can be said of this year in general, it's that persistence pays off. Oftentimes, under duress of the many challenges life throws one's way, Perseverance is the name of the game. That's held true for most of this year, more so than in years past. And while reaching one's goals takes more than mere survival, there's no climbing to the top without occasionally hanging on for dear life. This year I've learned i'm capable of doing just that and, it is hoped, with the insights gleaned from NaNoWrimo and earlier fits of writing, I'll soon be able to resume my ascent toward the realization of my dreams. 

It seems so simple now, but I'll no doubt need reminding as time rolls on. Though it's 11 months away, I'm looking forward to the next National Novel Writing Month, which I expect will present whatever lessons I'll have forgotten by then, as well as a host of new insights that will once again spur me on to an ever better future as a writer. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

NaNoWriMo '14: Hobbling into the Home Stretch; Flying to the Finish—Recapping Week 3

It's been two long weeks since my last blog post, recapping National Novel Writing Month's first week. I wish I could report that this lapse has been due to a preoccupation with this year's novel—and it wouldn't exactly be a lie if I did. However, if I'm to be completely honest, there just hasn't been all that much to say. The truth is, I took my eye off the ball, and I've been chasing after it in tragicomic fashion ever since. The writing seemed a little flat after the initial burst of progress, the thread had gotten lost; whatever the reason, I stopped writing. There's still more than a week left in the WriMo, and I'm not without the necessary amounts of hope and determination to see the month through to the close. It will be an uphill climb, though—there's no mistaking that. I'll put the challenge in proper perspective, but let's have some good news first: a few days after my last post, I put up an excerpt for my novel, and the response was almost alarmingly positive.

The Excerpt

As is perhaps too often the case, I began a night of writing by venturing onto Twitter; more often than not, that's as far as my nights have gotten. During 2013's WriMo, I would have been lost without the camaraderie and writing sprints afforded by the writing community on Twitter, but only in these last few days have I realized that this year's novel is a much more solitary effort. That's as far as the writing's concerned; for my own well-being, there's still been nothing like the support we give each other throughout this challenging month, and I highly doubt I'd still be in the hunt at all if it weren't for the friends I've made there. 

Case in point:  I'd logged on to Twitter one night in the second week of the WriMo, and found a group pressuring each other into sharing excerpts from their novels. I'd been extremely reluctant to do so—even posting a synopsis seemed counterproductive, somehow. Maybe it's the risk I would have been taking by exposing a severely rough draft to public scrutiny, or worse yet the pressure I'd experience should the reaction prove positive enough. Both of these results eventually came to pass, and it took me at least a week to recover. Having recovered, though, it's the positive responses that stay with me, and help me to continue on despite having fallen so desperately behind. 

In the interest of embracing those fears and the rewards I may still reap for persevering despite them, here now is that same excerpt. From my NaNoWriMo 2014 novel, A Stranger in the City of Dis:
It’s 6:30 in the morning, and I am obnoxiously awake. Sleep and I have never been on the best of terms, but lately the relationship has bordered on abusive. After lying on the couch for about half an hour, waiting for sleep that spitefully refuses to come, I sit up and scowl at the still-black sky outside. We haven’t even set the clocks back yet, but sunrise is still a long ways off. As fitful as the night’s sleep had been, at least it was sleep. I resign myself to another long and exhausting day, and get up to fix some breakfast.
By the time the sun begins poking through the hazy gray remnants of last night’s storm, I’m fed and caffeinated—overly so, as the machine once again dumped grounds into the pot and I, bleary eyed and too irritated to care, likewise dumped most of those grounds into my over-sized mug. I think of that cliché boast, “You have to get up pretty early in the morning…” and it brings a bitter grin to my face, because Life certainly did today. Got me real good, the bastard.
I sit at my desk, looking out onto the dimly lit strip of lawn that separates the complex and a stretch of power lines that skirts the edge of the city, and I wonder—how has it come to this? I’d had such aspirations, once. I’d been young and full of hope despite countless obstacles and stumblings; I thought I’d made so much progress away from those darker days, and yet here I am, alone with my books, this flea-bitten cat, and day after damnable day of impossibly malignant luck. Everything about this place feels wrong—not just the apartment, but the whole of the city itself. But what could I have done? Dis is no normal city; there’s a gravity here that makes escape velocity nigh-impossible to achieve. Nothing seems right about it, it’s incapable of salvation. It’s a fact that stains every single citizen, each of us doomed by virtue of our having been spat into the world here.
It seems too much, to blame an entire city. Maybe it’s just me that’s wrong. Maybe I’m just not right for this place. Maybe I never have been…
Dis is not, or rather was not, an inherently bad city, in and of itself. These days, it seems a fell poison hangs in the very air and depresses the souls of the city’s denizens, much as real poison once gushed from the smokestacks of its infamous mills. I imagine there was a time in which life flourished in a hopeful spirit; by the time I was born, however, the damage had been done.
The city had long since earned its reputation as a modest crime capital, and the effects of the steel industry’s collapse had dealt the town a mortal blow. It’s something the city has never let itself forget. To this day, one can still hear people bemoaning the loss of the mills, and though the cries have lost something of their intensity, there’s little reason to expect them to end until the city is wholly populated by those too young to recall the days of factories and forges.
It’s just the sort of town this is, filled with unfocused anger, seething bitterness; a town that rehashes 35-year-old bad news on lousy anniversaries just to remind itself why it feels so perpetually shitty about itself. This grumbling has become the reminder that my birthday draws near, as I was born two years and one week after the day Dis still calls its Black Monday.
The shape of the space that envelops this city is strange, warping its gravity, bending time. Though I took my first steps in the dawn of the ‘80s, much of my childhood was set against a particularly ‘70s backdrop. Even now, it’s clear that Dis will forever be roughly ten years behind the times. It’s as if the rest of the country is forced to drag us along at the end of a ten year length of rope, while we kick and scream and cling to anything that might keep us in the dismal past. 

The Recovery

After far too many days spent floundering in the aftermath of the excerpt's posting, I did some soul searching and found the courage and resolve to pick up where I'd left off and redouble my efforts. The first step was to contend with a sense of vagueness that had begun to plague my writing; I felt relatively lost within my own story, unsure of its direction or purpose. It was time to make use of the timeline I'd mentioned in my NaNoWriMo Day 1 post three weeks ago. The result, though helpful, also made the novel seem all that more daunting: 

Each "hash mark" represents a major event, to be chronicled in as much detail as I can manage. I numbered them, and jotted a brief summary for each on another sheet of paper. By the time i was finished, I had a list of 83 "episodes" to write about; as of today, that number is closer to 103. To say I'd overwhelmed myself would be an understatement. I discovered an entirely new problem—how do I decide which moments are essential to the story I'm trying to tell?

As it turned out, the real crux lay in the fact that I have been, in truth, working on what could easily be four separate volumes. Whether or not I'll continue to work toward a single, complex work or divide it into its individual thematic components is something that will take longer than the remaining 10 days of NaNoWriMo to decide. The most immediate problem, that of divining the key scenes to be written, is also something that can wait for the editing process. Working toward the writing of as many words as i can muster by month's end, it would behoove me to simply work on all of them. I can separate wheat from chaff at my leisure, in December. And January. And so on...

The Comeback

I know this is a lot more thought than one should be putting into National Novel Writing Month—I've always been an over-thinker. To any newcomers reading this: Don't do as I've done. Just write. For the love of literature, just write. I've made such a mess of my run this year, and while I resolve to regret nothing, and this all may prove beneficial in the end, it's surely not the easy way to go about reaching the 50k mark. It would have been better had I been able to keep more or less steadily on track, as I'd done in 2011:

By this point in the month I was behind, but only marginally so, all things considered. Though I lagged further behind the pace as the deadline approached, the rally of the last three days put me across the finish line. 

It's almost unfair to compare this year's struggles to 2013's WriMo success, which was easily a freak of nature in its own right:

This is the one year anniversary of the day I ended a week-long dry spell by going for broke, writing just under 17,000 words to reach the goal by the day's end. I don't think it's a feat I should ever like to duplicate, but if ever I needed such a leap in productivity, it'd be now:

At my current pace, I'll reach the 50k mark on New Year's Eve. This is misleading, of course, as it factors in all those days of regrettable inactivity. The real take-away here is the last three days' progress. 500+ words per day won't get me to the goal by November 30th, but they're merely the seeds of things to come. 

In the absence of the word sprints (which I still wholeheartedly recommend, by the way) I've recovered some of the passion behind that excerpt, the first paragraphs I composed for this year's novel. I've replaced the needle that had been missing from my compass, and my voice has found its way back into my writerly throat. These last three days have been the most consistent—and consistently fulfilling—work I've done all month, and suddenly I feel entirely unlike someone who's struggled three long weeks at the keyboard. I feel as if I'm starting anew, entirely refreshed, and ready to tackle the challenge of not only reaching the 50k word mark, but 100k and beyond. I'm ready, that is to say, to write a novel.

I have 10 days left to reach the goal for this year's NaNoWriMo, which means I have to meet or exceed a daily goal of 3,249 words. It seems like a lot—nearly double the standard daily goal of 1,667—but for someone who flirts with 2k-word hours, it isn't nearly so bad as one might think. And unlike the beginning of the month, I finally have a firm grasp on the novel I'm writing. I finally have the voice I'd lost almost immediately after the month began. I'm ready to tell this story, and it's going to be told. I have a steep climb ahead of me fly instead.

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo '14: A Fly in the Ointment—Recapping Week 1

The first week of National Novel Writing Month is drawing to a close, and I'm not going to lie—it's been a rough one. After what felt like a terrific start at the stroke of midnight November 1st, I experienced a few days of painful floundering. Thankfully, I have gotten some writing done—this isn't going to be a repeat of 2012's colossal failure—but I have yet to catch up to the cumulative total of daily goals:

7620 words written so far; Day 7's goal—11666
I know NaNoWriMo is meant to be an exercise in discipline, that it's not about the story or its quality so much as putting in the hours, but I find it exceedingly difficult to throw myself into work I don't fully believe in. And while I do believe in the idea behind this year's novel, the writing has been dreadfully stilted. There's no art in it, no color or flavor. I think this may speak to a larger issue, stemming from the challenges I've faced over the past several months. I've often said that I would consider my life a success, regardless of outcome, so long as it could be said I lived my life artfully. Unfortunately, it's become increasingly obvious that I've lost something of that zeal. To put it in clinical terms, I believe I'm suffering from a blunted affect, a diminished experience and expressiveness of emotion; to put it in simple terms, I am depressed, and it's killing my literary mojo. 

...which might just be fitting for a novel named after a city in Hell.

This doesn't mean this year's WriMo effort is in jeopardy, at least not yet. During the few productive bursts of writing I've managed to put forth, I've found it easy enough to get about 2k words down each hour. This means it should only take two hours to catch up, and so there's little anxiety to speak of—at least for today. As the month progresses, I do worry that this sense of discouragement over the "flat" nature of my writing will increase, slowing my efforts, leading to days like those first few, in which I wrote nothing at all. The easiest solution is to ensure that doesn't happen, to continue chopping away steadily, however I might feel about the work I'm doing. I'll still be left contending with the overall problem, but that's nothing new, especially not this year.

On the positive side of things, I have been having a terrific time during these productive fits. It took a few days, and setting up a few time-honored traditions, but it finally feels like a proper NaNoWriMo. All it took was a few word sprints on Twitter and their accompanying shenanigans, a pot of Earl Grey tea, and a few boxes of Fruit Delights—a seasonally available confection comparable to Turkish Delight, an absolute favorite of mine and essential to my Novembers. 

In addition to these WriMo rituals, I added a first for me—the purchase of this year's participants' shirt, "The Magic Equation":

Picture from the National Novel Writing Month Donation Station & Store, courtesy of The Office of Letters and Light
I also pre-ordered my winner's shirt, and there's no way I'll allow myself to own that without having earned it. I'm in this for the long haul, even if it winds up feeling longer than I expected. Week One hasn't been a bust, and the month won't be either. 

Part of what I love about writing is how much I learn about myself in the process. It's from this recent spate of work that I learned the extent of these recent struggles of mine, and hopefully this new-found awareness will be the first step in resolving matters. That would, in turn, help me improve my writing. As writing and my life feed into each other this way, I continue to grow, and I really can't be depressed by that at all. The writing may be slow and, at times, painfully dull, but it's for a good cause. I'll keep writing the good write, and hope anyone else out there who might be struggling will do the same. 

Drink Tea and Carry On