Didn't get a whole lot done over Memorial Day weekend, which my family devoted to the eating of various grilled meats. (Apparently Johnny Ray's, which became Baby Ray's after Johnny retired, because the best thing you can do with a name synonymous across the city with barbecue is to change it, no longer exists in any capacity at all. I feel like these facts are connected. We got our chopped chicken and pork at Jim & Nick's instead.)
However, I have been working through my pile of handwritten notes and drafts, because I feel like I can't move forward until I know what I wrote. A lot of them relate to traditional Chinese herbal medicine, which becomes important later in the series. A lot of times, my research approach is to go to Wikipedia (yes, shut up) and read up as much as I can to at least get a vague grasp of the subject--enough to know what I need to look for when I hit actual books or websites. I've found a book on Amazon that I think will get me through the TCM elements of the first book, once I have the funds to pick it up--plus, the idea that we're treating a supernatural ailment, which allows for some invention. But I've always thought that you need to learn the rules so you know what you're breaking, so.
(There's a new book on steampunk that I really want to get, as well as Judith Flanders' The Invention of Murder. I'm kind of glad I don't have the money for any of them at the moment, because this precise moment is not the time to stop and roll in books. I'll have a nice wallow after I get a few more things done.)
So I mentioned that manic phase last week; I think I'm on the comfortable side of that now. The thing about bipolar manic phases is that they are not necessarily the scenery-chewing you get in movies about how Crazy People Are the Only Sane People in an Insane World Omg. I mean, I'm sure someone somewhere goes through something like that, but the word "mania" and its attendant cultural baggage can be misleading. Basically, I had a really hard time getting to sleep and then staying asleep. Sometimes I was able to get things done (far more than when I'm on the sluggish ebb of the cycle); sometimes I couldn't focus. That's... pretty much it. The cycle has gotten less pleasant and more noticeable in the last four or five years, but what that means is I went from "I feel like I'm in love with no one in particular! yay writing all day" to "Do you have any Tylenol PM?"
One of the ways I decided to try to cope with this was to pull out my old collection of Black Phoenix Alchemy oils. (I dab it on the backs of my hands, because if I put it on my wrists, Lizzie's keyboard and touchpad would soon be scented with a dozen clashing smells. Instead, whatever I'm wearing wafts up to me while I type.) Someone had given me a bottle of Oneiroi they didn't want, and so help me, it works. I hadn't tried it before because I'd opened the bottle and immediately gone OH GOD WHAT IS THIS, but once I'd given it a chance, it mellowed out to a soft lavender-mugwort smell. (Apparently, it also has sandalwood, jasmine, and bergamot.) It didn't knock me out immediately or anything, but I managed to stay asleep and had really boring dreams, as opposed to my usual boringly unpleasant dreams. When I was having a hard time settling down
Mostly I wear Siren when I'm writing, because it's a really pretty jasmine-vanilla-apricot with a big wave of !!GINGER!! on top, and ginger is my wake-up-and-get-going smell. I used High John the Conqueror and Wolf's Heart when I was writing the Movies book, which is pretty much the only thing that got me through my OMG HELP I HAVE RUN OUT OF FUNNY panics. Although I did try an old sample of Block Buster (same page) the other day, and once the sweet grass wore off, it was a nice peach that seemed to help me focus. Seriously, if aromatherapy keeps me off the great hamster wheel of writer-angst, I will do it.
Speaking of angst--see what a nice job I'm doing of rambling in an organized fashion?--I am still working on "jealousy of other writers whose only sin was ACTUALLY FINISHING SOMETHING," as I put it earlier. I've noticed that spite or even righteous determination--"I'll show you! I'LL SHOW ALL OF YOU!!"--doesn't really work as a motivator for me. I work better when I feel positive and calm and centered. Honestly, righteous indignation is an easier state to reach, but I can't sustain it; I end up meebling, "I'LL SHOW YOU! I'LL WRITE BETTER THAN ALL OF YOU! omg I'm not good enough to show you." Because, when you think about it, "showing everyone" depends on the reactions of others, and you can't control that. That's just one more thing for you to worry about, an end point you might not be able to reach. Whereas, if you strive do to something for the pleasure of doing it well by your own standards, you are already succeeding. And if that sounds to you like it ought to be on a motivational poster with kittens, shut up and find me some kittens.
And you know, I do want to write something that people enjoy, that makes them happy, and that is a reaction I can't control. But there's no point in trying to publish something if the endeavor is entirely based on what I think of it. You do have to
Or, I can listen to the "Immigrant Song" cover over and over again and pretend I'm a Viking. OUR ONLY GOAL WILL BE THE WEST BOOKSTORRRRRRRRRE.