Susannah Conway posted an intriguing piece about being tired of the Shiny Happy Factor of many blogs -- to which I'll add that I'm tired of not only the Shiny Happy Factor, but also the marketing, the Lessons Learned approach, and the blogging-as-science shenanigans that have been rolling around in my universe lately. (I touched upon this in my Remembering Livejournal post, to which I received many a comment from LJ veterans who felt similarly, as in, Where do we go from here?) What her post, which I partially related to -- but only partially, as we come from very different Internet backgrounds, and she has a much larger, and one could even say, "cult" following, than I do -- reminded me of is that this is my space. And you (yes, you) are a part of my audience, but I want to sound like myself and not like a performing monkey.
& it saddens me that I even have to remind myself to "Be Myself" and "Be Authentic" and all of that tripe, but it's true: the Internet has changed and is changing all of the time.
On the mental health front, things have been a mixed bag around here lately. The last two months have been a bit of a struggle and a slog, with a few high points here and there -- right now my body's old patterns of stress reactivity have been arising, to my dismay, and I keep thinking about my old therapist's maxim: "Accept it and do the work anyway." He was an ACT therapist; he believed in Acceptance and Commitment. I liked him, and I think that radical acceptance is an interesting idea, but ACT can be a brutal method of responding to traumatic forms of mental illness (i.e. psychosis). At present, I still don't regret quitting therapy, and not having that appointment weekly or semi-weekly is a weight off my shoulders. I'm stepping gently into working with a life coach at the moment, and though at least one friend has expressed nervousness about life coaches potentially being charlatans, I've had largely positive experiences so far with the coaches that I've worked with -- you can see the ones I love most in my Resources page -- and so I'd like to work with someone around the issues of decreasing phase blindness, actively working on healing from old trauma, and reducing escapism/increasing distress tolerance -- which are all things that I've tried with therapists, but never made much headway in.
It pleases me to see the development of The Long Work as I've been chronicling it here, so here's an update: it's 400 pages (double-spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman; much longer in Courier, of course) and 126,000 words. Structurally, I'm in the last leg of Part Two, which leaves Part Three as the final section of the book -- then I'll have a full, sprawling, disarmingly tidy draft, at which point I'll have to dismantle and rework for at least a year, maybe two.
The end of Part Two is giving me a headache, though -- TLW has been leading me around by the nose, and I've tossed in salient elements that are a bitch to research, including Liberation Theology, piano-making in the 1940s, Greenpoint in the first half of the 20th century, and charismatic Christianity in rural Northern California. I suspect that the hard part about writing the final chapter of Part Two is that so much of it is based outside of my so-called realm; the book is very un-autobiographical, but extrapolation helps, and living in a ministry-slash-commune is. Um. Way out of my depth. I decided to break the ice by "planting a bomb" in the chapter, i.e., deliberately inserting heated autobiographical content in a foreign scenario. I did a major Find/Replace and used Real Names for characters. We'll see if it works.
I'm also paring down an excerpt into a short story, which instinct tells me will have to go through many more drafts before I let it near this particular solicitation. I have a tendency to, in a jolt and flurry of anxiety, shove my babies out the door to school before they've got their pants on.
So, the Rapture, huh?