Friday, June 7, 2013

Productivity, and Mania

I really hate self-diagnosis. I'll say it again, I am not a fan of self-diagnosis. I cannot tell you how many people I've met though my academic career (one that I probably should have been fired from) who would enjoy amongst other things, toting phrases like "oh my god I am so ADD, like seriously." They would then proceed to list an example of them doing something - like cleaning, and getting distracted.

Now clearly I'm not a doctor, and I don't imagine many of you are either, so forgive me if I am mistaken as believing getting distracted while cleaning is not a clear indicator of ADD. However, hopefully you see my point and understand that in my own diagnosing of what I would consider what is "wrong with me" I am extremely nervous to come to anything certain enough to say "this is what I have" lest I be lumped in with all the ADD cleaners. And of course, going to an actual doctor is out of the question, as Maggie Nelson states:

"What use is a diagnosis but a restatement of the problem?"

or something along those lines,

But to get to the point, I have a problem very often. This past year at BSU had me in one semester being drunk nearly - well - all the time outside of class, and the other half studying for fun and constantly working on a number of large projects outside of the curriculum just for the hell of it. I was consumed by second semester by a degree of productivity and detail yet unseen in any of my work or even lifestyle for that matter. Everything that I did, eating, showering, going to class and walking home was all spent considering revisions, draft ideas, storyboarding, or writing that next stanza. I simply could not turn my brain off - often leading to an inability to have real conversations with people as I found them incredibly distracting to what I was working on in my head at the time. I found this time, instead of using alcohol as my inspiration, I would use it to calm my head down, (only having a few) in order to really absorb the day and slow down before starting the whole thing over again.

At its worst, this "mania" which I tentatively researched as "hypomania" would have me shaking to the intensity of shivers while sweating profusely and talking to myself while writing. This is of course, terrifying  And I would be more concerned if I didn't feel so in control while like this. It's no longer a matter of snapping fingers to try and lure the word from the tip of my tongue, but rather a gushing spigot where I am attempting to fit a wet slippery water balloon over and fill as much as I can before I fear it bursts and I lose sense of all the words I wasted while getting to a computer or piece of paper.

Thus, the majority of my life is spent thinking about writing, talking about it, or actually doing it. I fear it is the only hobby I am incapable of escaping - because I hate when I am without it.

The first few days I've spent here in Colorado have been wonderful in the respect of productivity, I've managed to add on more projects to my list, and get a good chunk of them squared away. The biggest problem I had however, was how almost alienated I felt in comparison to my peers. As a member of The Bureau and a very active member on the forum, a good deal of my morning - breakfast to lunch - is spent reading and revising my friend's drafts on the discussion board. What I found however, which was perhaps more obvious to someone else, was that people work at different speeds.

This would then lead me to inexplicable guilt as I pasted in another thousand words onto the forum atop the many other threads that showcase if anything that I have had a lot of time on my hands. And while I feel it is beneficial to encourage my colleagues to write and participate, I worry that instead I am like an over eager puppy who circles around you while on a walk, tying up my owner by the leash before darting off after a rabbit. I fear I am much too enthusiastic and manic, but at the same time I am terrified of losing this edge of productivity - I am even more fearful of becoming bored.

Cut to two days ago, where I took a trip with my sister and her boyfriend to Moab, where we camped out in the desert and sweated in the 95ish degree heat. Did I enjoy myself? Of course I did, I got to walk around with a knife on my belt and a survival pack on. I got to indulge in the finer points of listening to Mum while watching the sun rise over the desert landscape, collecting rifle shells and stringing them together in the hot evening sun. I free climbed large outcroppings of rocks and drank beer under the clear prussian sky, hauling rocks to the seams of my tent to prevent the dust storm from blowing more paprika colored sand onto my dusted sleeping bag.

In other words I had quite the cathartic experience, one that I was understanding enough not to expect per se that I would be writing during it, but that indeed I would write about it, and if worst case scenario  happened and I was left alone in the desert to die from exposure my last chapbook and poem were copied down in a red notebook in my pack, just in case. (who even does this?!)

I returned from the desert expecting a manner of things - one of which would be the forum for The Bureau would be filled to the brim with new things and (believe it or not, I was actually hoping) that I would need to scramble atop my shit just to get something coherent out compared to the sheer volume of creativity - I suppose if anything, I missed reading and thinking about new things. I also expected that my cathartic experience in the desert would lend itself to the 51 line epic in Eating the Beached Whale or at least to the fiction story Whale. It did neither of these, in fact I spent the vast majority of my time back here resting feeling rather inexplicably exhausted.

And not even a good kind of resting, good resting is reading Vonnegut and Kerouac (I am attempting to finish both of their collected works in a month) and I was not doing that. I sat around in bed drinking soda and watching movies in the dark, I also spent a good deal of time researching different kinds of guns for my upcoming purchase.

It is at a time like this I am compelled to remember the words of miss Becca Jackson, who in a mildly recent blog attempted to consol the world's writers with the idea that we must live as much as we must write, that we cannot always contort the perspective of our own lives with the idea of how it will inevitably fit into a narrative.

Which is a wonderfully beautiful point, and at the same time, incredibly difficult when you were born traveling and happen to adore Kerouac.

But I suppose what my major concern relates to is the definition of balance. As I am a person of excesses, I am incredibly consistant in my overindulgences - and in another conversation with Miss Jackson it was determined that some creative minds need a proper outlet in order to not destroy themselves with their potential energy. The easiest way to describe this literally is to use quantum physics and the shape of a taros, but I will spare the allusion and suffice to say that if I am not busy doing something I am incidentally going mad.

Previously my solutions to this problem would be to indulge in distractions - drinking, videogames, and otherwise. But I am incapable of doing this. I am on a sabbatical where my computer and notebooks sleep next to me in bed and are always there, they are nudging me like hungry lovers - asking me if I am still awake. Indeed, I am still awake.

Perhaps the solution is indeed finding that balance between living and writing, taking a break every once in a while - but at the same time, as I stated, I am an overindulger -  there is hardly anything in my life that is ever really balanced, hardly anything visibly interesting behind a pane of glass that I will not throw myself into wholeheartedly.

I can only hope this is a self-diagnosis that will not disappear with age.

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