A matter of motivation

Whenever I get like this, blogging is the last thing I want to do.

I hate fessing up to my drag-ass spells and it doesn’t matter at all that I realize they are part of the process for any big project—especially one that expects to have a book pop out at the end. I just want to be above them, okay? I want to be such a skilled, motivated, energetic and passionate craftsman that such mundane matters are powerless to trip me up. Is that too much to ask?

Actually, this was worse than just an ordinary drag-ass spell. It was two weeks of nasty self-doubt and an unbidden journey into the whole “what does this all mean?” territory. Since the timeline correlated pretty closely to the completion of my first draft, it was interesting that a girlfriend married to a successful biographer told me he always experiences a dark couple of weeks after he’s done with a book—and before editing and revisions. She likened it to post-partum depression.

Perhaps that’s what I experienced, and I use the past tense because one day last week I woke up and I just felt better. For no good reason. Things just kind of shifted back into a glass-half-full mentality, and I’ve maintained an upswing ever since.

Isn’t it weird how being in that negative spin cycle just feeds on itself? And it’s so crippling. When I’m in the midst of such a spell, I know I should reach out and call a friend or make a run to the grocery store or attend a yoga class, but I’m unable to locate a single molecule of energy to make it happen. I’m lucky to go check the mailbox, much less fix a good, healthy meal. The routines of my normal life suddenly appear impossible to sustain.

Not surprisingly, feeling inadequate in my simple daily routines makes me insecure, and that in turn complicates all the relationships in my life. If a friend forgets to call back, I obsess over all our recent exchanges to discern what I said to make her angry. If an editor doesn’t return an email, I decide I’m the worst freelancer they’ve ever had to deal with. Every event is reflected through this ridiculous prism of negativity. And though my rational mind sees the absurdity of what I’m doing, I can’t figure out how to get back to a better frame of mind. I have no tools to help me crawl out of the abyss—perhaps partly because I don’t often fall in.

Anyway, as I said, my trip to Crap Land is thankfully past. I’m gradually regaining my enthusiasm for various activities, from exercise and cooking to writing and maintaining friendships. I told one friend that perhaps two weeks is my limit for focusing on my shallow, first-world problems and feeling sorry for myself.

This week I’ve completed a package of stories for my former newspaper about women’s friendships that begin in mid-life and I’ve also done all the phone interviews for another piece that will run in October. Today I spent an hour going over editor Tiffany’s notes on the Kiss and Tell manuscript, and that was good medicine. I can see I need to get together with Dr. Mo for a session so we can discuss some of Tiffany’s recommendations and how to best incorporate them into the book.

I’m still trudging to the gym twice a week; I managed to do that even while depressed. But now I’m back in yoga and also actively trying to get back in a regular riding pattern with my biking pals. South Florida’s weather pattern is ridiculously wet right now, however. Multiple rain-outs have occurred and it’s getting annoying. My tires are aired up, the headlight battery is charged and I’m ready to go.

Or not.


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10 Responses to “A matter of motivation”

  1. Ken Steinhoff Says:

    I feel your pain.

    I’m rushing to complete a photo book, photo calendar and a presentation for a museum exhibit. I keep feeling like someone is turning up the treadmill. On top of that, I’ve had some computer glitches that have made me happy that I have backups on external drives and off in the cloud.

    I’ve bailed on several bike rides with you, partly because of weather, partly because of self-imposed pressures to get projects done.

    I thought retirement was when you were supposed to take life easy. The worst part is that I can’t even gripe about the boss. I’M the boss.

  2. Osa Says:

    I had one of those spells a few weeks ago. I’m blaming it on menopause. Supposedly that can be one of the “symptoms”. Think I actually felt better once I figured that out with the help of a great book on the subject… : ))

  3. Dianne King Says:

    Refreshing honesty!

  4. Alice Shukalo Says:

    So glad you’re out of Crap Land. I’ve been living there all summer, and my bags are packed! I am so impressed that while you’ve been working on Kiss and Tell, you’ve also been staying active with freelance work. I would love to be a fly on your wall to learn your ways of managing to do so much. As I have always suspected, you are brilliant!

    • annerodgers Says:

      You are too kind. My former editor at The Post has been wonderful about using me freelance. She’s a godsend. I hate that your summer was spent in Crap Land. I have such sympathy. It is a wasteland that’s much too easy to get lost in.

  5. Diane Porter Says:

    You described exactly how I felt for the better part of two or three years. It is such a dark, apathetic place. So glad it was short-lived, doll.

  6. Alina Macneal Says:

    Hi Anne,
    I came across your blog when googling adult braces, and found your descriptions of the tortures of adult orthodontics so accurate and reflective of my own experience that I kept on reading. You captured my dismay and misery exactly.
    How great to find out that you’ve written a book on women’s desire! I look forward to enjoying your excellent writing on that topic too.

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