Sunday, March 7, 2010

What's really important in life?

What a tough week. Bear with me here, folks, because I'm about to open up a big can of the crazies. Here we go:

Within hours of returning from Mexico, I began to feel tired and worn out. Exhausted. I chalked it up to some kind of jungle bug. And it most likely was. But along with the exhaustion, headache and aching muscles was something else.

An old enemy of mine. Self-doubt. Insecurity. A feeling of not being good enough.

I tried to get back to my novel and found that it didn't seem important. In fact, it seemed silly that I actually thought I could write a book and get it published. What the hell was I thinking? Who was I fooling?

I felt like a phony. A fake.

Now these feelings knocked me for a loop, since I'm generally a confident person. Sure, I get a bit insecure at times. Who doesn't? But deep down, I've always thought I could make it as an author. That I could succeed.

But this week, my confidence fled like a wronged lover. Add the fact that my old newspaper is laying people off right and left (my wife still works there! For now), and you have the recipe for a crappy week. I've almost felt depressed, in a literal sense. I can't seem to get excited about anything. Writing seems pointless and stupid. Or, at least, it did until today.

Ah, today. I woke up feeling just as lousy as every other day this week. But I got myself up early and showered and went to church, because our mission team was making a presentation about Mexico and my presence was required. Otherwise, I might still be in bed. Seriously.

And as the day wore on, through a very good Sunday brunch with the family and several hours of video gaming, I began to feel better. Not great. But better. I still haven't figured out why I sank so low this past week.

But I have a theory.

I spent last week in a very poor Mayan village with my son and a dozen close friends. We were doing good work. Important, life-changing work with some of the sweetest people (especially the children) in the world.

It was awesome. And there, in a nutshell, is the crux of my problems this week. My little life felt, well, pathetic. Useless. Pointless. Who the fuck cares if I write a book and sell it? Well, besides my family, of course. But does it mean anything in the grand scheme of things?

No. It doesn't.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm as big a material boy as the next. I love me some stuff, if you know what I mean. Cars. Nice clothes. Games. Electronics. Gym memberships. Expensive cigars.

So what the hell is going on here? I mean, am I turning into some kind of bleeding heart dufus who thinks he can save the world all by himself? Sure, I was a journalist because it always felt like a deeper calling rather than just a professional career. I mean, I could have made a hell of a lot more money doing something else. But what I did felt important to me, and that was always good enough.

I guess I wanted to write and sell this book now to do something nice for me and my family. Because it's been my lifelong dream. And now this whole altruistic crap rears its ugly head. What's a man to do?

Well. I'm going to keep on keeping on. I'm going to finish editing the book and do my damnedest to sell it. And I'm going to keep on writing books and trying to sell them. I'm going to make all the freaking money I can.

And then I'm going to use a big chunk of it to help others. Maybe a certain group of little Mayan kids.

And then I'm taking the wife on a cruise. To Europe.

Ah. Back to normal. :)


  1. I know that feeling well, Terry. But my advice to you is to keep on keeping on. Keep on editing and writing even when you don't want to. If you believe in it, it will happen.

  2. I've been in the same funk. I started out optimistic and hopeful, but this last week I am just BLAH with a capital BLAH. I sleep a lot, am neutral or passive on everything, and I wonder why I think I'm so important that I'll get published while thousands of others won't. It's not that there's competition, it's that there's other talent, and a lot of it is better than me.

    I'm trying to snap out of it, and it could just be that I had surgeries and my body is all messed up. I had a full hysterectomy by the world's most incompetent doctor (who I'm sueing) and first he had me on birth control pills to stop my bleeding (for three months) that didn't work. Then I had my surgery to stop the bleeding, and he told me I don't NEED hormones. Hello, I'm a woman. I need me some hormones. I think the lack of hormones is a culprit, as well as financial stress. Without those problems I would probably roll off the query rejections and keep truckin' but this past week, every time I get one, I go 'wtf am I doing? I'll never get published.'

    Okay, I totally unloaded on you. Sorry. Blame the hormones.

  3. Hey Terry, a lot of us in the blogosphere are having a hard time of it these last few weeks, so I don't really think it's just YOU. I think it's a phase that a certain number of us hit at a certain time of the it writer's block, depression, malaise...there are about 12 of us now that are going through it. I've been assured it passes, like the weather. Some have called it pre-spring blues. So don't take it to heart. Write when you want, or if you want, you'll soon get the creative spark back.

  4. Well, it sounds to me like you've figured it all out and answered your own questions.

    How many times have you read a book and it really made you think? Or it changed your life, even if it were in some small way?

    I know for me, there have been many a book that came into my life at the exact moment that I needed it. To be able to read it and relate to it was life saving. Or maybe it made me laugh at my situation and see it in a different light.

    You have no idea how much this book is going to matter until it's out there. And even then, you may never know, but it's something that you were somehow prompted to do, so git her done. ;)

    Your desires are there because you're supposed to fulfill them. And if that's not true, well, fuck it, at least you had fun in the meantime.

    Life is supposed to be fun Terry!!!

  5. Writing a book actually does matter. When I grab a book, I get to escape from my life for a while, and live vicariously through the characters in the story. Even when I'm depressed, a book can life my spirits.

    It may not be as immediately gratifying as helping the Mayan village, but in a million different ways, you'll make a difference. Sort of like blogging. I always thought blogging was silly, but the comments people make can actually brighten my day.

    Don't overlook the little differences we make in people's lives.

    Hope the funk passes soon... I've been there before, and it sucks. For me, it's similar, a post-vacation return to reality (though your 'vacation' was vastly different than mine!). Get back on that horse and edit!