It’s the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday. While many Americans are out starting their Christmas shopping, I’m not because I’m almost done. All eight of my nieces and nephews are bought for and wrapped. My children are done, and we have them half wrapped. The family gift exchanges are purchased. We’ve bought the gifts for our extended family.
I have one gift left to get for my ninety-year-old grandmother. Yeah, she’s hard to shop for.
So, yes, I’m one of those people. I plan ahead. I like things to be organized and predictable. When you combine this with my crazy work schedule from mid-November until the end of the year, I want my shopping done so I’m able to enjoy the holidays as much as I can. And, I like to have the best possible selection of gifts available so what I’ve planned to buy isn’t back-ordered.
I do, indeed, make an Excel spreadsheet of everyone I have to buy for what, I plan to get them, and whether it’s been purchased and wrapped yet. Making a list, checking it twice…
While Christmas shopping has followed my plans, the rest of the year hasn’t. From my daughter having some medical issues we’re still working through, to a more recent job loss and the potential loss of medical benefits, stress has been a constant companion.
My muse doesn’t much care for stress, and she takes a vacation to a tropical island at the first hint of trouble.
Of course, my response is pretty predictable. I keep looking for her, trying to get her to come and play, before the realization sinks in. She’s left me, and she’s not coming back.
No, she’s not terribly reliable, especially when you need her. I guess I don’t blame her. When I’m that tired and anxious, I’m not much fun to be around.
But I’ve still been writing and reading. Maybe less of both than I should.Especially reading. I can be a critical reader, and have been trying to train my brain to do a better job of dissecting why a book is good or why it isn’t.
When I’m stressed, however, my ability to handle stupid characters drops to almost zero. If the characters are too stupid to breathe, I’m done with them. I don’t care if they get their happily-ever-after. I was 30% of the way through a book last week, and I just put it aside. I didn’t need to add to my stress or frustration with fictional characters.
Despite all of this, I’ve managed to finish two novels this year, and I’m working on revising them for publication. Then comes the really awful part of querying them, but that’s still a ways away.
My work isn’t as inspired as it would be if my muse would hang around more, but I am pushing through. I need to prove to myself that this endeavor is worth the time commitment, even when things aren’t going as planned.