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Recovery Time

Now, it is true that I am tough as a junket sandwich. Anyone telling you otherwise has never met ‘real’ tough. None-the-less I do some fairly hard and energetic things, somewhat erratically. I wouldn’t know a gym if it jumped up and bit me on the leg, and I always wonder how the energetic people who do get to regular gym sessions find the time. I admire them for their dedication, but between writing, failing to grow my garden (well, for certain values of ‘fail’) and harvesting our own seafood and wildlife, and processing them same, Ambos, trying to get the new farm sorted, not to mention the wasted time on such essentials as facebook…

Yes. Well I really have to cut back on the last one. But what I was talking about was the dive-trip I left for at around 5 AM on Saturday. I ended up spending around 5 hours down at 40 feet, swimming against the current, which is pushing my body and 29 pounds of lead around, into caves, cracks and crannies. I’m a fat old man, but I can still do this…

I used to be able to spend 8 hours in the water, clean the boat and catch, and still have energy left, and do the same the next day. Or to go rock-climbing. I must have been a nightmare to live with.

I probably still am, the only difference being if you asked me to go to and dive or climb or do anything more energetic (even mentally) than stare at facebook the next day… the spirit is willing, but the flesh ought go to the gym more regularly. Actually, to be truthful, I don’t know how much that would help. Despite not following a planned and regular regimen – which would be good – the sheer amount of physical labor I do keeps my pulse rate somewhat below 60. It’s not just needing to be fitter and less fat.

It’s just the grim fact that the older you get, the longer your recovery time is.

It’s kind of like why raising infants at 25 is physiologically easier than at 45 – although your maturity and experience may make the task easier – the interrupted sleep, or straight lack of sleep is easier to cope with when you’re 25, to say nothing of the hyper-awareness and constant running, carrying, soothing etc. that energetic toddlers add to your life.

So what does this all have to do with writing?

Well, especially if you want to write for a living… it’s honestly a young mug’s game. Success definitely comes at the cost of a huge amount of hours and work (unless of course you happen to be a favored darling getting an easy ride) plus a lot of stress.

Not that older writers can’t work, or can’t produce – but look at the lag phase between books. There is a clear linear relationship with how long and how much a writer has produced. It affects different people differently, obviously. Some are harder and slower to break down than others – we’ve seen that here on MGC – where several authors have come… and gone – at very different rates. And the old warhorses plod on. But it is harder yakka than it was all those years back when we started.

Look, we speak of an inevitable reality here – whether I speak in terms of diving, or writing. It’s going to happen.

What cannot be cured… must be coped with as effectively as possible. I’ve been going through a very rough patch, with writing myself – a lot of stress with Barbs being sick (and, um, she’s sick again. I am in fear of starting this all again. Fear of worse.) and my old dog… well, the vet and I not sure what the hell is going on there – but she’s waking me 2-3 times a night. She doesn’t appear in any major distress, or have any real reason. She just barks or cries until I come. just… I don’t know. Maybe she just wants dad. She likes attention and she sleeps most of the day. She’s old, loyal and… well, what else can I do? I sit with her, pet her and she goes back to sleep. Or she wants me to go out with her – the door is open the night is mild. She’s 18 and labby. That’s old and deserving of my care, and she’ll have it as long as she is comfortable and still enjoying her food and life, regardless of me losing sleep. But the broken sleep isn’t a help with writing – as most young parents with kids will tell you.

When I add Australia’s ridiculous-for-remote-rural-bureaucratic nonsense that I am wresting through with trying to build (almost entirely expensive and worthless rent-seeking) and the usual other joys of publishing (the endless waiting, the late payments etc etc.)… well, I’m fairly frazzled. Serious escapism has been very occasional. I’ve actually taken a day fishing and a day diving in the last 3 months – the freezer is getting low.

And my writing has slowed to glacial crawl. It’s good… when it happens. But it’s blood from a stone. And yes, I need to write – because that at least helps the finances, which add stress.

So: it’s what to do to try and get the writing going and flowing?

I can’t really alter the stress factors. Taking a major break, with lots of sleep and no worries – well, Hell might freeze over regularly first. I can’t relax while these things hang over me.

The best I can do is occasionally indulge in counter-stress (diving or climbing are both good. I don’t think about writing, or Barbs, or the dog, or the #$@ing bureaucrats then.)

But I have decided on three other steps.

  • I’m going to take a week’s break from the internet.
  • I’m going to try and read a few novels, and not in snatches.
  • I’m working on a disciplined ‘writing time’ again.

I’m up for any other ideas.

32 Comments
  1. paladin3001 #

    Think the biggest thing for me was cutting out facebook. Still check in there from time to time, but it’s now open, scan, comment or post, and close until the next week. I have a minimum amount of writing I must do per day. Most times I hit over it and there are some days I get nothing done. Evens out.
    As to what you have set out to try and do I can’t think of anything else really.

    November 27, 2017
  2. Will hold Barbs in prayers, here. Take the time you need to recover, the internet will undoubtedly still be here when you return.

    November 27, 2017
  3. I’ll add my prayers for Barb to Cedar’s. If you’re able to, please let us know what’s wrong; if you can’t, that’s OK. Generic prayers are like generic antibiotics. They still work.

    I understand what you mean about getting older and writing. In fact, you’ve given me pause for thought. I may address the subject on my own blog soon, with acknowledgment to you, of course.

    As you and I doubtless heard so often we were sick of it, in our younger days . . . Vasbyt! Min dae!

    November 27, 2017
    • Short version – major recurrence of pain, possibly connected with liver damage or an underlying problem, or something going wrong with the stent due to come out on the 8th. BIG plus side – just heard liver-function tests are 100%.

      November 27, 2017
  4. I think a break from the internet is probably a really good idea. I would love to do the same but sadly my work requires me to be on the thing. A break from social media might be possible though

    November 27, 2017
  5. Yep, cut out most of the social media. I think we all agree on that. I think one of the most critical things, though, is regular sleep; something that I am struggling with. (Not something you can do right now, for sure – one is faithful to faithful companions, or one is not human.) Stress also disrupts sleep, which causes more stress, which…

    I think we all tend to plan things the same way as when we were younger, then feel as though we have failed when the plan doesn’t work out. It is hard to realize that it can’t. We have that longer recovery time after a burst of effort. I’m trying to work around that by planning shorter bursts, with shorter recovery times afterwards – but my lifestyle permits that, YMMV. The season is helping right now, too, for me, as it is “winter” here, for as much as that means for Tucson, Arizona… Yard work in the morning when it is mid 60s, then tackle the sedentary work later when we have been warming up to high 80s (92 yesterday, ugh!).

    November 27, 2017
    • I have to wait for the yard work until the frost is gone and it warms up, early afternoon at this point. Finally got my killer lawnmower fixed, so the fields of leaves are going to get mulched before the snow flies. Yay! You can’t rake three acres, mulching is The Way Of The Lawn.

      In other lawn news, my big oak tree fell over a couple days ago in a wind storm. Over six feet across at the trunk, 14 strides tall, a little over 80 feet. It was mostly dead already, lightning strike ten years ago, and with great mercy and good fortune it didn’t hit anything when it fell. Still, the back yard looks weird without it towering above everything. Funny the things that are sad when they happen, eh? Who would have expected the falling of a dead tree to be sad?

      On the bright side, free firewood. I can be happy about that.

      November 27, 2017
      • Mike Houst #

        Firewood is never free. It requires cutting (chainsaw, sharpners, oil, gas). It requires splitting; either a powered splitter, or an old fashioned hand operated maul. It requires transport. Even if you have it fall in the yard next to the house, you still have to move it around. And finally, it requires stacking. I swear the calories burned from a cord of wood are actually doubled when you add the ones you burned just to get the wood.

        November 27, 2017
        • Now you’re just making me tired. ~:( Not looking forward to the stacking part, or the moving. Maybe if I get a Bobcat…

          Still, all that calorie burning exercise will save me the cost of a gym membership, and I get an excuse to play with shrieking, smoke blasting power equipment whenever I want. Yes!

          [All the ladies are now shaking their heads and marveling, “and he said that like it was a -good- thing!”]

          November 27, 2017
          • It’s not? [Blastard. CAF EOD, proud user of power tools]

            November 28, 2017
  6. “I’m going to take a week’s break from the internet.”

    This is an extremely good idea when things are tough. If I may suggest, also cut out TV and broadcast radio. Any easily removable irritant is worth getting rid of.

    Set the iPod to shuffle, and listen to your favorite play list. Or just listen to the ocean, and do what’s in front of you to do. That’s what gets me through a day when things aren’t breaking right. I can’t fix Problem X, then I go beat Problem Y with a three pound hammer until it stops being a problem, and turn my fiery eye upon Problem Z which is hiding in a corner hoping I won’t notice.

    Stories come when they come. Characters get sulky and won’t play for a while. In other news, water is wet, and being old sucks. I’m right there with you Dave. Like the kidney stone, this too shall pass.

    November 27, 2017
    • Music is good. Both to sing and to hear. Could the time spent on the Devil’s social media spawn Facebook, be banked and spent sitting with your canine pal watching the sky and thinking/praying?

      November 27, 2017
  7. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    I’m fairly strongly convinced that social media is a bad practice.

    November 27, 2017
    • But these blogs are social media as well.

      November 27, 2017
      • BobtheRegisterredFool #

        Blogs don’t fool around with the order of things the way Facebook et al do. That fooling around seems to feed more into the psychological addiction to checking for updates. That addiction feeds into the distraction that saps mental focus.

        tl;dr: I suspect Facebook is optimized for being worse.

        November 27, 2017
      • Respectfully disagree, Chocolate Person. These blogs are 99.5% troll free. Farcebook is like the God’s petri dish of trollosity. Trollitude. Trollidinousness.

        You take my meaning. ~:D

        November 27, 2017
  8. C4c

    November 27, 2017
  9. Thoughts and prayers, good sir. Radio silence is good practice. I do it every so often. Things that help destress for me are, well, simple work. Things that you do that have a definite start and finish point. Heck, clean stuff if you can’t do much else, at least you’ll have a clean kitchen and bathroom. This season, it’s cutting wood for winter (yeah, got central heating, but the wood is free, therefore the less power I use, the less I spend…).

    Talk with friends, make someone laugh, have some laughs yourself. Catch a sunrise or a sunset, and watch (it is easy to distracted, need to do this, need to worry about that). People watch a bit. You know, the usual things people tell ya to do when stressed. Some folks do yoga. I do tai chi (and my form still sucks after twenty years. Better than I was, though).

    Take care, and be well sir. Keep battlin’. We’re pullin’ for ya.

    November 27, 2017
  10. Prayer flag raised for Barbs. I third (fourth?) getting away from the internet and social media. Doing something mind-filling but not mind-draining helps a lot, as does something completely out of my usual work (getting my flight instructor license renewed. Much school work but none of it related to Day Job or to writing.)

    November 27, 2017
  11. The traditional remedy for puppies’ broken sleep is either to give them a loud-ticking clock (or other soft rhythmic sound), or to sleep next to them.

    Since it’s an old dog, the dog could be getting stiff in the middle of the night (in which case it’s pain pills or that glucosamine stuff, or maybe eating more fish/eggs), or the dog could be having bad dreams (loneliness, getting cold, some weird sound reminiscent of a bad experience, bad digestion at night). But you never know. I’m certainly getting fond of sleeping to soft rhythmic sounds as I get older! They’ve got those 8-hour mp3s of soothing noises….

    Sometimes a softer or warmer bed can help an old dog sleep better. (Or given that you’re in the Antipodes, maybe overheating is happening?)

    Sorry I can’t help much, because I don’t know your dog!

    Praying for Barbs.

    November 27, 2017
    • Oh, and you can give your dog melatonin, just like a human. It helps sleep and is soothing, as long as the dog is sleeping in a dark place. The difficulty is that the doses are a lot lower.

      “Your vet will help you determine the correct dose, but, in general, dosage depends on your dog’s size and the condition you’re treating. According to Dr. Aronson, these are safe recommended dosages:

      Dogs under 10 pounds: 1 milligram
      10-25 pounds: 1.5 milligrams
      25-100 pounds: 3 milligrams
      Over 100 pounds: 3-6 milligrams”

      You should start low. A high dose won’t hurt the dog, but then he won’t go to sleep until it gets processed out!

      November 27, 2017
      • Oh, and you do have to watch out for ingredients humans tolerate, but dogs don’t (like xylitol). So chatting to your vet about it might be a thing.

        Other thought — Maybe the dog is lounging around enough during the day that he’s not tired enough at night, and therefore he maybe needs a long walk at night? (And of course, if he is getting a long walk last thing, maybe he stiffens up at night and then wakes up?)

        Other thought — weird potassium levels causing Charlie horses at night? That can happen to dogs, and they don’t know to wait it out like humans.

        Anyway, my parents’ old wolfhound gets glucosamine and has several comfy dog beds throughout the house, because she’s prone to get stiff otherwise. During the day she moves and stretches, but at night she can get very stiff.

        She doesn’t get Charlie horses, though, because we always have given our wolfhounds a bite of banana in the morning since we noticed that sometimes happened. (My dad has to eat bananas every day for his potassium, so sharing is caring!)

        November 27, 2017
        • Wednesday – the dog – is on various meds including anti-inflamitories and glucosamine. She has 3 comfy beds – but these days only uses one. It’s very comfortable – I know I have spent a fair number of hours lying or sitting next to her on it.
          I’ll try the banana. Melatonin is not something that easy to get.
          She gets too sore if she walks far – and then she cries and then she needs meds and then she does too much…
          sigh.
          Some of it may well be ASD

          November 27, 2017
          • B-16? Some older dogs get help from that, including pain stuff. Only problem is that, if it’s high dosage, you really have to make sure they are getting enough iron, potassium, etc, because it soups up metabolism and promotes bones making more blood cells. And obviously, you want to give that in the morning!

            Vitamin D’s another one that can help with pain. Older dogs aren’t as efficient making it, so sometimes they need it.

            Some dogs like massage, too. As long as they’re not in so much pain that you can’t touch them, they seem to think that it’s just some weird form of getting petted. If you feel a tight muscle, I guess that would be the thing.

            Wolfhounds are kind of weird, because you can usually give them anything you can give to a human, and in the same doses. It’s heart disease we’re always worrying about, with them.

            But yeah, dogs like bananas… and oranges… and anything else they can con you out of, as long as it’s not something they’re really not supposed to have, and as long as it doesn’t give them the runs. Which is why our dogs usually just get a bite or a segment.

            November 27, 2017
            • Read an interesting article. Said some older dogs get scared in the middle of the night because they are just groggy and unsure what’s going on, or because their brains are slowing down a bit and their senses are less sharp. This can also cause or encourage nightmares.

              They suggested trying to retrain the dog to stay awake during the day so they’ll sleep better at night, and maybe giving the dog some dog-version of puzzle games or interesting/new experiences.

              Obviously this sounds a bit more fun for Wednesday than pills do!

              November 27, 2017
  12. Prayers for Barbara.

    Writing under stress . . . I started writing shorter pieces, without complicating side threads or too many set backs. I could hold a novella in my head. Novels just didn’t happen. I’m trying to train myself back into writing novel length again, because they pay better, but last year they just. Weren’t. Possible.

    November 27, 2017
    • Just remember, 2 or 3 linked novellas = 1 novel!

      November 27, 2017
  13. Prayers to you and yours, Dave. And I can definitely relate on the growing older part.

    November 27, 2017

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