Building Back

When you haven’t been able to do something for along time, it’s bloody difficult to get back to it – or rather, it’s easy enough to pick up and do a little bit, but building the habit again… not so much.

Writing-wise I’ve been having trouble for a while. I’ll get the occasional break-through that insists on being written now, but then there’s nothing for ages. The nothing for ages is actually worse than that: I’m not at my best if I’m not letting it out, and it means I’m not in the habit of writing so the need to do so goes dim. If I let it go too long I can get myself into a rather unpleasant downward spiral.

It’s a bit like exercise that way, or practicing a musical instrument, or drawing, or pretty much any other endeavor, really. If you don’t do it regularly, you lose the knack. You may still be able to do it, but the near-instinctive grasp of what to do when and how just isn’t there.

So, I’ve been keeping up with writing really crappy fanfic. Very, very slowly.

Some days a sentence is as much as I can manage. Other days I might get a paragraph. Occasionally I’ll get on a bit of a roll and I might manage a page or more. Alas, the ability to slip into writing trance and leave scorch marks on the keyboard appears to have been lost in a hormonally induced haze (I’ll take it. It beats the complete collapse my mother suffered at about this age, and it really beats the way her mother wound up committed to a mental institution for over a year at about the same age. Hormonal haze and functional will do) at least for now. I remain hopeful that the haze and the hot flashes and the complete lack of ability to properly maintain my own bloody body temperature will settle down. It’s kind of maddening feeling like it’s way too hot from the shoulders up and having cold feet at the same time. Just saying.

Anyway, the crappy Harry Potter fanfic is making very slow progress. There’s a plot hidden in the rather stodgy prose and the gratuitous shoveling of fanfic memes into the thing to see how many I can fit there. The plot probably won’t really show itself for a while, though, since I’m playing a meme-cluster that should more or less follow canon for a while yet.

And that, dear fellow Mad Geniuses, is evidence that I should not be allowed out without a minder. When I start going meta and talking about meme-clusters in fanfic, it’s definitely time to tell me to shut up and go to bed.

After I push a few sentences out so I keep making some progress, no matter how slow.


  1. Yas, this getting old thing sucks. I’m there with you. Worse for you than me today, so you’re winning ~:D

    We have an ice storm today, and no internet, so I’m surfing with my phone. Rest of the day I’m going to make sawdust in the barn because my characters are having a party. Without me. 😕

    1. Yeah, getting old sucks. Although when you look at the alternatives it’s just fine…

      Where I live it’s unseasonally warm. As in more than 10 degrees above the norm for this time of year. I ain’t complaining – unseasonally warm means not bloody snowing. There are times I regret getting work in PA… Growing up in the Oz tropics makes for a “fun” transition.

      1. Internet is back!!! Woohoo!

        Also, the ice melted enough to move the car and spread some salt. Just in time for the Breath of Frost Giants, coming later this week.

  2. Hugs… It happens to all of us women, and some of us have bad stuff in the family history.

    Apparently it is good for all the symptoms if you eat adequate amounts of magnesium-rich foods (along with a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, avoid too much of anything, etc.).

    So get some unsweetened cocoa powder and have some hot chocolate every day! For health!

    1. I can really get behind chocolate for health. Unfortunately, so can my behind – it expands when I do that.

      1. Typos happen… I’ve been grousing about the time of life issues to my doctor for a while. Apparently there’s nothing to be done while it remains “nuisance” and I haven’t officially “finished” as it were (apparently the cutoff is a year without the unwanted visitors – current record is 3.5 months and counting – you bet your boots I”m counting)

  3. Yep, I know this problem. And (barring sheer lack of time) losing the habit isn’t the cause. The first time was when my thyroid deficiency was finally getting serious, and the second time was when the damn doctor underdosed me. “Needless” brain functions, like creating stuff, seem to be early on the metabolic chopping block when you’re energy-deficient (at least it’s so if you’re using up a lot with inescapable physical labor, not just sitting there in front of the screen). You still can write, if you slog at it, or do little else, but the easy joy and tumbling progress just isn’t there.

    1. Yep. When the spoons are limited, luxuries like creativity get tossed in favor of essentials. Doesn’t matter if you’re doing physical labor or not: braining is apparently rather more energy-intensive than one might think.

  4. Could be worse. At least people still read Harry Potter fanfiction. I am plugging away at a crossover work of fanfiction where the Venn Diagram of the two fandoms would, I am quite sure, overlap at one point only: me.

    1. They still write Harry Potter fanfiction at speed, too. Crossovers can be fun, when they work. I prefer the silly crossovers, personally, but meh. If the whole world had the same taste it would be so boring.

  5. For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on editing and rewriting. That’s important and difficult work, and it definitely needs my full attention, but there’s a part of me that’s still thinking about the work-in-progress that’s sitting there, stopped in the middle of the chapter, where I have absolutely no idea what the next line is going to be. I’ve told myself that I’ll pick that back up in March, but will I be able to? Having not made anything new for so long, how tough is it going to be when I try again.

    Maybe I need to take a leaf out of your book and add a bit to that Harry Potter fanfic where Neville is the chosen one. If nothing else, at least it would get me back in the habit.

    1. It’s better than not writing anything, that’s for sure. I’m going a variant on the “powerful/gray Harry” with “light is not good” “dark is not evil” (they’re all kind of gray, really, or at least Voldie would be if he wasn’t barking mad) “Dumbles means well but is way too wedded to his Greater Good”. I’m pretty sure I”ll be throwing in badass Neville (because I *like* badass Neville) and some gratuitous hawt males in leather pants for the fun of it.

  6. I read fanfic when I can’t muster the give-a-damn to do anything else (and wasn’t it a weird surprise to find that reading a story is easier than watching a movie!) and I write it occasionally, when a plot jumps up and bites me. Even writing lousy fanfic is usually better than writing nothing- at least it keeps your hands in the habit of typing and your mind in the habit of putting words on the page.

    I use it to rest from writing, without actually resting, and recently broke my words-per-day record because of a Lord of the Rings fanfic that Would. Not. Go. Away. It lets me get the ridiculous/absurd/ unpublishable ideas out of my head, leaving a less cluttered space for the real writing. I mean, where else would I have the chance to write from the perspective of a Ringwraith’s horse?

    1. Exactly! Fanfic doesn’t have the kinds of constraints original work does. You can be gratuitously silly. (Ringwraith’s horse – which site, because I would SO read that for the crackiness)

      1. I sometimes miss fanficcing; I just haven’t ever gotten into something enough ever again to come up with story for it, not since my Slayers / Megatokyo days.

        I still get the occasional “This fic is amazing, I hope you one day come back to it!” comments and follows on for Dragon’s Cycle, so I do wish I could write fanfic again. But these days I have less spoons than I used to, and just have to cope with that.

      2. Eh, some of us find it constraining. Perhaps it’s just the habit of filing off serial numbers, but the idea from Harry Potter that’s in progress shed a lot more than names. . . .

      3. Kate- it’s on In Darkness by apprentice wordsmith. It’s not exactly cracky, more of a hopeful story (I’m a sucker for happy endings).

  7. You’ve got my 100% sympathies on the suckitude of that phase of a woman’s life. My body’s apparently still sorting itself out, 18 months after The Last One. And the last couple of months, I got some sharp reminders that I’m not young any more, and can’t just assume my body will bounce back. It got so bad, we were seriously thinking that (given my family history), I’d developed hypothyroidism.

    I’d been going in circles on my writing pretty much all of last year, but I’d chalked it up to still mourning my mom. And then, after I helped my husband through his total knee replacement surgery in November, I discover that I’ve lost enough strength and stamina that I simply cannot maintain the necessary pace to get through a convention. The December one felt like a forced march, and I got home so exhausted that I was pretty worn out at Christmas. Tired, sore, brain-fogged, sensitive to cold, the whole nine yards.

    So then I had to endure the hurry-up-and-wait of trying to get a clinic visit and the necessary labs, during which I really didn’t get a whole lot accomplished. And I finally get my lab results, and they’re all within normal range. TSH is on the high end of normal, A1C is a little high, although not into the danger zone, and albumen is toward the bottom end of normal. So I now have orders to cut back my carbs, increase my protein intake, and get some more labs before my next visit, including a test for thyroid antibodies, in case I do have one of the weirder forms of thyroid disease that don’t elevate TSH, or at least not as much.

    So now I’m thinking that I may have picked up a mild bug while I was with my husband at the hospital (way too easy in a place full of people with various illnesses, especially since I was using the Emergency Department entrance to get to the parking lot). Just enough to lower my energy levels, but not make me obviously sick. So when I was caring for my husband during his two-week homebound period, it became way too easy to become inactive, to just sit around and putter on the computer between doing things for him. And I didn’t take it seriously when I went to load the van for the December con and everything seemed heavier than I remembered, so I didn’t make an effort to exercise and rebuild my strength, which meant I really paid for it at the con. Combine cold weather with menopausal temperature-regulation issues, and it’s not surprising my dad thought I might have gone hypothyroid, given both my mother and maternal grandmother were.

    So now I’m working on an exercise routine to get myself back in shape before my next convention next month. It’s down in Branson, Missouri, which means a fairly long drive, so I definitely need both strength and stamina to do the show. And I’m going to have to keep watching myself in the future, so I don’t have things creep up on me when I’m busy.

    1. I hear you – and my deepest sympathies. These days I double-up on the multivitamins when I go to a con (which happens maybe once a year) and if it’s a fly to, add an extra day on either end of the trip. The days when I’d drive for ten hours then go straight into the con sessions are long gone.

      May you stave off con crud and have a good and profitable convention.

      1. Thanks.

        My biggest problem right now is not getting discouraged when I don’t get immediate results. I keep telling myself this will be a marathon, not a sprint, and reminding myself how tiny some of my husband’s first gains were in physical therapy, when just bending the surgical knee at all was an accomplishment.

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