I love the way people assume that when I’m not writing, I’m doing editing or promoting or some other author-centred bit of business. They’d probably have a lot less respect for me if they knew how much time I devote to Candy Crush.
After all, writing is a Serious Business, and if one isn’t Dedicated to Working Hard, then one isn’t a Real Writer at all, and just a Waste of More Important Writers’ Time. While that last sentence is bursting at the seams with bullshit, I’ve met many an author/editor (or person who thinks they are an author or editor) who holds that opinion. What I take away from that is that my writing ‘street cred’ isn’t as high as it should be.
I suffer from a combination of depression, anxiety, and general laziness, and I’m never sure which one has the most influence. I know what Serious Writers would say, and I’m unable to prove them wrong. If it was just laziness, however, I could get over it and get on with things.
A typical day in the life of Tim happens something like this – get up, feed the cats, go to work, come home, Candy Crush and bed. Somewhere in there, I write. Most of my best writing comes during the half-hour before work, which these days is a temp job that barely pays almost what I need to survive. During the work day, I’ll look forward to all the writing-related stuff I can get to when I’m home. When I get home, however, my energy and motivation are gone.
Well, I must get so much done during those long employment gaps between temp jobs, right? If only. I’ll get up, feed the cats, go back to bed, sleep in, get up again for food, feed the cats again, think about doing something useful with my time, take a nap, try and get myself out of the condo to do some writing, come back, do something about supper, Candy Crush, bed. It takes an herculean amount of will to get me onto my computer to do some actual work. Or, you know, look for a job.
I don’t like talking about this side of me, because what are people likely to say? If I want things to get better, I should do something about it! Stop the pity party and pull myself up by my bootstraps, because success won’t just happen. Stop feeling sorry for myself, and using my mental health as an excuse not to succeed. If I point out they wouldn’t say the same thing to someone living with cancer, I’ll get: “Are you really comparing your mental health to cancer?”
Yeah, I do use my mood disorder as an excuse. Doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I don’t know where my depression ends and my laziness begins, so when I’m accused of not putting the effort in my critics are never entirely wrong. Trouble is, getting on with things is extremely hard, and getting harder every day.
I could have had Apoca-Lynn out months ago. Same for Closets. I could be having great success with my other projects, if I could only get to them. I want to get my work back out there, into the hands of agents and publishers. I want to have a solid marketing campaign on several social media platforms. All I can manage, though, is what I’m currently doing.
Sometimes, I beat the laziness. I send out some resumes, I fix a problem in a manuscript, I do something that matters. It’s never enough. Not if I want to succeed as an author.
I do what I can. And feel badly about what I don’t. I’m sick, and I am lazy. But I wasn’t always this lazy.
The world doesn’t care about mental illness, only about results. You won’t succeed at writing by playing Candy Crush, Tim! Stop making excuses and work! What do you think you are, a cancer patient?