I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything new and a few people have written me to see what is the matter. It’s nice to know that I’m missed so I thought I’d update everyone. I’m just tired and took a little unscheduled time off to spend with the family and, hopefully, recharge my batteries. I traveled a bit in October and November and the last three Novembers I was working feverishly on novels as I participated in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, where you challenge yourself to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days (and which I managed to be successful at each of the three years). I wasn’t able to do NaNoWriMo this year because I was in Germany for two weeks the first half of the month and I think I missed out on all the energy that enterprise produces. It’s hard to explain, and a bit counter-intuitive, but writing that constantly (at least 1,700 words per day) doesn’t really make me tired, but instead is more exhilarating because I’m creating something out of nothing. I guess that’s why I chose to be a writer, because even though it can be hard mental work it’s also very satisfying. It feels more like something I have to do rather than just something I can do. It’s been that way since I made up stories as a kid, when I wrote for the school newspaper and when I plotted out the endless books I never wrote. So that’s probably part of it.
The other part is I’m feeling more than a little ennui, which is common for me at this time of year. The holidays have been difficult for me for some time now. Most of my family — mother, father, grandparents, etc. — are all gone and have been for a lot of years. What family I have left is in Pennsylvania. My wife and her family are all out here and they’re great plus I now have the added joy of seeing the holidays through my kids’ eyes. I wouldn’t trade my life now for anything. But for some reason I always feel a touch of sadness at this time of year. Some years it’s better than others, but for this year it’s been tough. Also, over the last few months I’ve gotten a number of very unpleasant comments and e-mails from strangers (and organizations) who just don’t agree with my unfettered opinions. That’s to be expected, to be sure, but it is wearing me down. Many folks on the internet often don’t seem to realize that there’s another person involved and without the social cues of face-to-face communication seem to feel no compunction about treating their fellow human beings with appalling cruelty. It’s often so bad that even the most loathsome among us would never dream of treating even a stranger in a similar fashion if they were right in front of them. There’s a term for it, too: deindividuation, which essentially means “if we reduce our sense of our own identity we are less likely to stick to social norms.” That’s from an illuminating article in New Scientist and there’s some more good info in a Guardian opinion piece. There’s also another nice article at Salon by Gary Kamiya on manners online (for more about this, see Netiquette and RFC 1855). Of course, I’m often pretty obnoxious myself so perhaps I have it coming, who knows? Anyway, It’s gotten a little hard to take lately. I don’t mind disagreements — in fact I relish a good debate — but being called names and worse may not break my bones but it sure can drag down a mood and chill my enthusiasm for my fellow man.
Writing is, of course, a solitary endeavor so I find myself alone a lot of the time. I work from home, of course, so apart from my kids and the odd neighbor, I don’t really see, talk or interact with adult people all day long. My friends are all pretty spread out and rarely does anyone just stop by for the hell of it. Do that long enough and one does tend to go a little stir crazy. To everyone who wrote to inquire about my well-being, thanks, I appreciate it. It really helped to get me off the couch. So enough of my pathetic ramblings, tomorrow a new month begins and I’ll try my damndest to get back to pissing people off as best I can. Happy holidays.
N is for Neville who died of ennui.
From Edward Gorey’s wonderful Gashlycrumb Tinies.