Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On Limits, Exhaustion, and Burning Out

So I've hit that interesting point of tiredness. I'm so tired that I sleep poorly. My eyes hurt. My head hurts. My body is in that tired state that I feel almost sick but I know that it isn't sickness but a great weariness that has settled deep down into my bones so entrenched that I can barely see it for what it is.

I've never felt better.

I've come to recognize certain things about myself, and one of them is the fact that I'm a sucker for my own forms of punishment. Not in a hugely masochistic, self-destructive sort of way. Don't get me wrong. But I like the adversity of things. And when I create my own adversity I don’t have to go looking for it.

I've been writing hard and long, lately. I know some writers make it a habit, but I've been writing anywhere from 2500 to 4500 words every day for the past seven or eight weeks. The days I've taken off can be counted on one hand. While I've been doing this, I've been working my day job, reading, trying to keep a social life, gaming, watching movies and anime, and starting up my blog and providing for my future plans. Not to mention getting involved in the NaNo community locally, meeting writers and forming bonds. Not to mention getting ready to move this Saturday.

This is not my typical state of being. I'm a lazy fellow. Or I always have been. Left to my own devices I tend to settle into well-known, poorly reaching patterns of thought or action. I lounge. I sloth. I letharge. I invent poorly conceived verbs.

But lately that hasn’t been the case. I was worried, a while back, that I would eventually reach a point where I became devoted to my art. Where I would become the 'crazy writer' who was all about his books and his dreams and ideas. I saw this as some sort of self-destructive behavior. Something to be avoided in favor of 'grounding' in that thing people call 'reality.' But somewhere along the way, I became that thing.

Not on purpose! I just resolved to write every day sometime in the middle of MS. And then I did. And it got worse and worse. Now when I don't write every day, I feel terrible. I feel like I haven't showered or brushed my teeth. I feel like I haven't eaten. It's something completely essential from my day missing. So I write, at least something. And specifically I write my novel. After writing no more than … oh, 30,000 words a year for the past four years, this year I've written somewhere to the tune of 250,000. That's a staggering jump. I finished Margot early this year. I started and completed Marton Syan. I began and just crossed the 70,000 word mark on WTC.

It's like some sort of burning torch in my mind driving me. And the more things I take on, the more I want to do! What seemed like an impossible time demand a year ago has become something that I do without blinking an eye. I write every day. I don't think I'll stay that way, but I'm going to try. And I find myself with so much more mental energy! So now I want to do all of these other things. My enabler, Tony, has labelled it my Ever-Expanding List of Wonder. In that I'm always reaching for something new with a crazy, manic sort of exuberance. I like that label. I've accepted it. Because it's true.

And so I'm tired a lot. And I keep pushing myself to this strange place where I'm so tired that I find energy everywhere. I have a few days left until I move, and that will probably very nearly wipe out the last of my reserves, but I'm looking forward to it. Each time you push yourself to your limit, your limit expands to accommodate. And you become that much stronger the next time. And so I push. And I will continue to push. And when the long-coming, inevitable burnout comes, I doubt I'll fall too far. And I will have all that potential at reserve to build back up to. I'll keep writing until it kills me. I'll keep adding to my EELOW until I'm a whirling tempest of idea and intuition and insane notions and aspirations.

I've become that crazy artistic fellow. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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