Goals from Last Week – How Did it Go?
- work on Moonchild (writing project) all seven days – only two, more on this later
- work on blog at least five days – DONE.
- at least seven sessions of digitizing old writing – DONE and then some, had more like THIRTEEN, more on this later too
- work on disability letter for the school – minimal progress
- seven guitar practice sessions – did TEN, making up for last week, not quite fully caught up yet.
- get up through song 100 of Book One of my Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition book (catch up from last week) – which means FINISHING BOOK ONE! – and move onto songs 1-4 (all very short) for the first lesson in Book Two, which focus on the Am chord – DONE. Yeah for starting Book Two!
- seven piano practice sessions – did TWELVE, to catch up from all the missed ones last week.
- Finish last week’s keyboard goals – catching up on Technic and Composition sections – and move forward, getting through page 61 – DONE.
- sleep without the phone (a struggle you can read about here) – this will put me at 196 nights (28 weeks) in a row – DONE.
- write Morning Pages every day – four.
- don’t look at phone until after Morning Pages – for the days I did MPs, I held off on the phone for two or three, honestly not surenot sure.
- do an Artist Date – yes, did my seminar at Corporeal Writing with Mitchell S. Jackson (a seminar I first talked about in the Synchronicity post) and counting that as my Artist Date and it was GREAT.
- clean my apartment – it’s gotten totally out of control and I have to move in a month so yeah – minimal progress.
Reflections on the Week
This week, it felt like the focus was just getting back on track and catching up from last week when I took the week off and read an epic book.
Digitizing and Moonchild – Changes in the Writing Goals
Early this week, I got to a stopping point with Moonchild. Before that, I couldn’t stop what I was doing without putting myself in the position of having to re-do the work later. I wanted to get to a stopping point that felt natural, and finally I did.
So instead of working on Moonchild first thing in the morning after Morning Pages, I’m going to swap it out for an hour of digitizing. I also plan to work in other digitizing sessions, as I have been, so that the amount I’m getting done per week can increase, and maybe I can eventually make some progress.
I’m not happy about this. I don’t want to put Moonchild on hold. At all. But it is something I could do later, whereas if something happens to my notebooks, they’re gone forever and I’ve lost most of my life’s work. So it feels like it’s what I have to do, especially after the wildfires a few weeks ago.
I’m trying, hard, to put a more positive spin on it, because it is tedious, and voluminous, and it feels like this task is robbing me of my creative time and energy and I resent anything that takes away from my creative time and energy. Plus, it’s just fucking miserable, and endless. I wrote for two hours a day by hand for YEARS and I’m a very fast writer. There are probably like ten books in there, mostly unfinished but still.
So, I’m trying to think of it as an act of service to my younger self who did all that writing. I’m trying to think of it as a way of valuing my writing in a way I couldn’t do before, either because of time (med school, pre-med) or because the technology wasn’t there. During most of the time I wrote these notebooks, especially the first few years, I didn’t have my own computer or much access to a shared one, and then, it’s just now that the OCR apps are just terrible, which is better than what they were before, but not by a whole lot.
I’m trying but it’s hard because that’s not how I feel, much as I try to tell myself those things, and much as they may even be true. Also true is that I hate this, and I hate, hate, hate that it’s taking away from other creative work I could be doing. I will probably resent every freaking second that this huge, cumbersome project (which feels, hopefully wrongly, that it could take years) takes away from other things. And those words don’t even feel strong enough to express the intensity of how I feel about it.
So, this is a decision that I am not happy about. It is resignation. It is a reluctant, resentful yes. It feels soul-crushing and soul-killing and like it’s taking away from a lot of the other writing-related progress I’ve made this year. I know I keep coming on here and complaining about it, and I feel bad about that, but if I’m being truthful, which I do strive to do here, I will probably hate and resent it and complain about it every time I think about it. It makes me miserable to do, and even more miserable to think about how much is left to do. I want to throw a tantrum every time I think about the immenseness of the project and how terrible the OCR app is and it feels like it’s burying me alive.
But, being somewhat practical and overriding every emotion about it, I come back to what I said in the beginning, that other things can be restarted later and this is more fragile, so it has to be done first. So I’ll do it but I’ll probably never be happy about it.
As for where the project is at, I’m getting close to having everything scanned into the OCR app. Just the amount of hours I’ve spent in the last month or so just taking pictures, and not doing anything with them other than saving the converted file, should give you a sense of the volume we’re talking about. Even with maybe half of what I wrote already having been typed up back in the day, over years, by me and others, it took that long just to take pictures of the remaining pages. We are talking about probably ten years worth of work, with the early years having long daily writing sessions. I have one 5-subject notebook left to scan to finish this phase.
That phase was the easy, quick part, by leaps and bounds and whatever other thing could signify stark contrast. All told, I’m probably still not at 1% of project completion.
Next comes correcting the scanned pages. And since the OCR app, the best one I found, is just terrible and not worse, most of it comes out pretty gibberish. Correcting it is going to be painstaking and even more tedious. I’ve got to up my hours to make any dent in this and have any hope of ever seeing the light at the end of this tunnel through hell. So we’ll see how it goes at that point, I may have to adjust again for sanity’s sake.
It’s hard not to feel so much anger at myself for not having done this sooner, for having put it on the goal list for years and not doing it, for not having done more myself back in the day, not having gotten more help with it back then when I could have (as I did have help with a few chapters here and there).
All these years, I’ve lived with the fear that something could happen–a fire, a flood, a meth lab explosion in a neighbor’s apartment–and I would lose my life’s work. But in not doing anything about it, I pushed that ever-present fear into the background.
Now that I’ve embarked on this, that fear is there, every day, breathing down my throat like fire It is so immense and overpowering that it’s a struggle not to be totally paralyzed by that terror. It gnaws at my heart every minute of every day. It makes me want to pray, like an atheist in a foxhole, and it makes me feel hopeless because it seems like it’ll take so long there’s no way that some disaster won’t happen before I finish, maybe before I even get started, and I don’t think that’s a loss I could survive. It feels like the terror of losing a child or something (though I don’t know for real since I’ve never had one) because this is what I made to bring into the world, and it’s all on paper, and paper is so fragile.
Partly I hate doing it because every moment that I do, that terror, that feeling that this could all blow up any minute and would I want to live it did, is all-consuming. When I’m not working on it, or thinking or writing about working on it, that terror isn’t in the background–it probably never will be again until I finish or give up–but it’s at least lessened. When I work on it, the terror fills the space, the time, the me.
I still need to do the disability letter, it’s due a week from today, so that’s a non-negotiable. And I’ve got to clean this place and start packing. And somehow find somewhere to live.
It feels like every time I write anything on here, I’m just realizing how deeply miserable I feel. How everything feels like hopeless drudgery, and this is one of those times. I feel bad about it because who wants to read endless–and it does feel endless–unhappiness and misery? Who wants to be around that person. I really hope that eventually my posts won’t be so full of ire and dread. But that’s where I’m at these days, full-on, in the thick of my blown-up life.
Goals for this Coming Week
- work on blog at least five days
- at least fourteen sessions of digitizing old writing
- finish disability letter for the school
- seven guitar practice sessions
- get up through song 8 of Book Two of my Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition book – the new lesson focuses on the dotted quarter note
- seven piano practice sessions
- get up through the first exercise on page 64 in my Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner book
- sleep without the phone (a struggle you can read about here) – this will put me at 203 nights (29 weeks) in a row
- write Morning Pages every day
- don’t look at phone until after Morning Pages
- do an Artist Date
- clean my apartment – it’s gotten totally out of control and I have to move in less than a month so yeah
PD: The pictures shows a spiral-bound notebook with GOALS written at the top, with a pen, glasses, a clock and a bit of a plant nearby in the corner of the picture. I liked the spiral-bound notebook and pen since I’m struggling with so much handwritten material, and the clock felt like it fit too.
- Morning Pages, referred to in the lifestyle section of these goals, is the practice of writing three long-hand pages right after waking up in the morning.
- You can read about them in this post where I introduce what they are and my history with them, and you can find all posts that mention Morning Pages here.
- The practice comes from The Artist’s Way, the seminal creativity book by Julia Cameron. I’m doing a weekly column called The Artist’s Way Reflections, which was introduced here in my blog re-entry post.
- Artist Dates, the practice of doing a solo activity to take time out and connect to your creativity, also comes from The Artist’s Way.
- Moonchild is the name of my memoir project, which you can read about in more detail on my Memoir page or on this old post with a rough sketch. You can also find LOTS of other posts about it here.
- digitizing my writings is first introduced here.
- You can check out other posts about goals (goalposts?) here.
I know the digitizing really sucks. It may feel like you‘re barely making any progress on it, but the fact that you’re approaching the end of Phase One is still significant…at least it’s that much farther along than you were before.
And even with all that, you’ve still been able to pursue at least some of your other creative goals, especially your blogging and music. That counts for a lot too.
I really love the way you’re trying to reframe this as a service to your younger self who did all that writing…I think that’s a very self-nurturing and heathy way to look at it.
Thanks Claire! I’m trying reeeeeal hard at that reframing, to shall we say “varied at best” success!