I’ve had this blog for many years now — since about 2008, albeit it has gone through a number of iterations. It also started out as a blogspot url, but that’s irrelevant information caused by a sudden spate of reminiscing about my romantic first endeavors with the blog; by romantic, I mean they were heady days when I wrote about history (18th C) and books and waited patiently for my first blog comment. This was before I was on Facebook or Twitter. Blogger was it in those days, and I had no idea how to attract people to my site. I never really learned, to be honest. However, every time I’ve let it lapse, I’ve picked it up again because it’s my space to write, an open and public space, unlike Facebook. Thus, I won’t beat myself up about how busy I was over the fall semester, enough so that I dropped this old blog like a hot rock. I can pick it up now, if I so choose.
To give an update on my life, the busy fall led into the holidays, which then led into a serious funk I haven’t quite recovered from. It’s still there, caused by the start to a new year and not finishing all I’d set out to accomplish over 2019. I began asking myself what the point was to having all these life goals. I suspect the answer is that they’re inherently meaningful, but it’s difficult to convince the brain of that when it comes to doing work without a fixed, known payoff. Does anything have a fixed, known payoff? No. But there are more direct lines to success than writing books or creating paintings or sculpting statues on spec. The writing career wasn’t the only problem, though. I simply lost interest in all the things that I used to enjoy — reading, exercising, going to church (more on that in a minute), even walking the dog. I’ve been there before; it’s impossible to maintain a high level of interest in life at all times. I suppose I suffer from being too curious most of the time, which leads to burnout.
After doing nothing but the most basic activities for the first couple weeks of January, I determined to carry on in life: 1000 words a day on the novel I’ve been trying to finish for the last two years; exercise a little bit; take the dog for a walk; find some print books that would infuse my life with new ideas. And I’ve managed this. I’ve now written 20,000 words toward my end goal of completing my novel. It’s become a daily habit to write those words. The book is currently at about 95,000 and will need another 10k to finish it off. For the record, I will cut a good bit of that length. It will probably end up around 90k, which is a solid length for a novel. And yes, the exercise is happening at 30 minutes a day, along with a 30 minute walk outdoors. Oh, and I went back to history for my reading, which brings me joy. Yes, I still read spec fic. Yes, I probably have read yours and need to review it (way to keep it vague, right?). But history well-told is my particular happy place.
Habits are easy to make and difficult to break. Thus, I will slowly work my way to folding in more than 1000 words to my habit. I would like to post here more often, for example. I also have my cyber-punk break-dancing story I’d like to bring back from the grave, along with a book of short stories I’ve loosely titled Finding Jesus. I don’t mean for this to be a gospel tract type of book — I’m not even sure why I decided to call it that. It was inspired by a story I tried to write as 2019’s Christmas tale (it was too dark to hand out to family), which was about a man who’d grown up in a Christian home where his parents allowed him to be sexually molested as a child. The story is about his adult sexual fantasies and combatting them and eschewing evil. I know. Some Christmas story. That’s what all the stories are about, people who already know the gospel but “find Jesus” by turning away from darkness, such as the outright evil of pedophilia to abject pride. They aren’t morality tales, per se. Well, they might be a little bit. More so, they’re character-driven stories with a literary flair about human struggles. There was a time when literary stories were obsessed with dark subjects such as incest or pedophilia; my stories are along those lines, except they don’t dwell in postmodern darkness, but in the objective right and goodness that still exist in the universe.
Now to return to the subject of church. Losing joy in church is inevitable. Anything that’s practiced by rote becomes rote. On the other hand, I was actively going to Mass and then a Protestant church service with my family. I got burnt out on this exhausting combination rather than the churches individually. I still enjoy Mass because it’s quiet and reflective. I don’t know what to do about the latter, though it’s not much of an issue right now, as my family is burnt out on church, too. So I will continue to go to Mass. And that brings me to my final update: I will finally be confirmed in the Catholic church this Easter season. It’s finally going to happen! Perhaps 2020 will end up being a different kind of year, a year of adventures, rather than the middle-aged funk it was setting itself up to be.