The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week: Blog (and Life) Update

Lately, I have not been feeling A-OK. I have not even been feeling just “OK,” nevermind the “A” part.

“Fine” as a back-up term is usually fittingly nondescript and noncommital but even it has not been able to save me this week.

Also, I ran out of coffee on Monday.

Not saying I was suffering from the lack of caffeine, but I was suffering from the lack of a warm cuppa in the mornings, that’s for sure, and I think my countenance lost its usual cheery beam on all and sundry as a result. I probably owe an apology to my coworkers for the general grump.

I’m brewing a pot now, at whatever o’clock in the evening, just to make me feel better. Sleep tonight? Who needs it. Bring on the weekend. Chaos and carousing till all hours are in order. <settles in for a quiet evening at home alone writing>

Are there other factors? Such as lack of consistent exercise? Too much mindless screen-time? Irregular eating habits? Shhhh. I suppose it’s not such a mystery why this week is one in which I haven’t exactly been peachy-keen.

Add to that a billion pounds psi of crunch-time at work, incessant stressing about getting tasks organized and done on time, coupled with stressing about other people getting certain of their tasks organized and done on time because, by nature of my position, it affects my ability to do my job (seriously, we’re adults, we should be able to work a deadline. Hint: it involves time-management skills), and distinct lack of energy once the day job has sucked it all into the insatiable cycle of futility… suddenly, I become a drained shell with barely the ability to keep up with the basics to maintain health, bodily and mental.

This is not an excuse; this is a realization. I can’t let taking care of myself slide. That way lies mounds of dirty laundry, depression, and tears. Which I have been holding back for three days.

Is it all in my head? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, it is. Which is just where I would rather it not to be, seeing as, you know, in my head lies my brain and mind which contain all the critical receptors and synapses that determine what my body will do and feel.

Can I change my head? Also yes, glad you asked. That’s what I’m doing right now, simply by writing this down.

The best cure

Writing. It’s always been a way of processing for me. And when I don’t do it, I feel accumulative pressures mounting from the inside; I feel something deeply wrong in my soul.

So here I am, doing the therapeutic thing by writing, imposing on the unsuspecting internet surfer the feeling that everything is wrong with my life. Encouraging all around.

Which need for encouragement is another reason why, yesterday when at loose ends, trying and failing to work up the mental acuity to stick to a task and do something that I felt I needed to do to feel “productive,” the decision to sit outside and touch some grass while reading Fahrenheit 451 was actually the best thing I could have hit upon.

Reading is also a tried and true medicine for the gloom and doom in me.

Aside from being a beautifully written and poignant read, in Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury does something that other comparatively prophetic futuristic works such as Brave New World or 1984 do not: he provides hope. (Of course, at that thought the tears decide they want to break through. After all my stiff-upper-lipped efforts.) <sniffles pathetically for a few moments>

Bradbury said his purpose was not to predict such a grim, bookless future as is portrayed in Fahrenheit 451, but to prevent it, which is a critical and deliberate distinction to make.

The image of the man bearing the fragmented words of Ecclesiastes and Revelation in his head to relay them to future generations is a powerful symbol of hope and the endurance of philosophical, religious, and intellectual life, even as others work assiduously to destroy the physical containers of people’s thoughts from the past: their written works.

I won’t go into it more here, as Fahrenheit 451 is due for its own more detailed review, but I wanted to communicate the effect it had on me, simply as a reminder that I can find a purpose and joy in creating.

And I create through writing. Which I have been distinctly neglecting to do recently, both on this humble blog and in my stories.

Coming back to writing here, this post is already a much different one than I had intended on when I sat down. But I gleaned something else from Bradbury, written in the Coda to the restored 1979 edition of Fahrenheit 451:

Digression is the soul of wit. Take philosophic asides away from Dante, Milton, or Hamlet’s father’s ghost and what stays is dry bones.

Ray Bradbury

Not to say I style myself the next great writer, but I can relate to a decided suspicion of writing advice that amounts to eliminating everything not directly serving the point of the story, completely disregarding the value of the beauty or profundity its presence might contribute to the text.

However, neither do I want to use it as licence to ramble on indefinitely (after all, Bradbury managed to write with extreme beauty but also constraint in a novel of only 160 pages). I do want to work around to the point of this post, which is ostensibly an update on what I’m doing, albeit one that is preceded at length with how I’ve been feeling about not doing it.


As I said, a review of Fahrenheit 451 is forthcoming as my most recent Classics Club read. I am behind on my reviews for the Classics Club, partially because, while I am very much enjoying the books that I’ve been reading, I am finding the expectation/pressure to write a review for each one a bit constraining.

I enjoy writing reviews and definitely want to continue, but it also takes a lot of time and concentration to do it to my own satisfaction. Nor do I have the desire to write a detailed review for every book, but I feel as if I am obligated to. When I’m finished the book, with a review left to write, I can’t feel a sense of completion as though I am really finished the book. It’s a bit frustrating and I’m not sure how to rectify it.

Other bloggers have established a system of mini-reviews, or rounding up a few books briefly in one post, which is something I would definitely like to try and workshop for my blog to see if it helps. Every book would get a passing blurb according to its dues as part of my Classics Club list, but only certain books would get each its own dedicated, full length review.

That may also be the way to relieve my feeling of the pressure of writing reviews, leaving a balance of energy to write reviews of books that are not on the list but that I still want to talk about, which till now have been relegated to the backburner. We’ll see.


Back on the subject of feeling a renewed purpose in creativity from having read Fahrenheit 451, I was reminded of a quote I saved from last time I read The Lonesome Gods:

Man must deal with himself. It is his reality he must face each morning when he rises. It is his world with which he must deal. Perhaps his end is only years away, or even months, yet he cannot more than acknowledge that, for it is the now with which he must deal, unless like a spoiled child he is to fall on his face and beat his fists against the earth. He must be, he must move, he must create.

If man is to vanish from the earth, let him vanish in the moment of creation, when he is creating something new, opening a path to the tomorrow he may never see. It is man’s nature to reach out, to grasp for the tangible on the way to the intangible.

The Lonesome Gods, Louis L’Amour

It struck me as an important quote at the time, and moreso as I rediscover and read over it today. The key I didn’t want to gloss over by cutting the quote shorter to focus on the creation bit, is the fact that we all must deal with ourselves, with our own reality. I’m trying to deal, so enough beating my fists against the earth, I guess: more getting on with it and making something.

On that note, I have recently been thinking about how much I love quotes and sharing them. I still collect them religiously from the books I read, although it sometimes takes a long time for them to migrate from pictures of pages on my phone to actual transcriptions in the Word file that I use to store and organize them.

I would like to get back to posting regular quotes, but the way I did it back when I posted them once a week for a stint there was a lot of unnecessary work and killed the joy of it. Hence, why I stopped. Oh, the cleverness of me! (Bonus points of absolutely nothing whatsoever if you know what that last exclamatory sentence is a quote from.)

While I haven’t hit the eureka moment on how to return to posting quotes, I have been ruminating on, a) the fact that I would like to, and, b) a few ways I might be able to do it. So there may be developments in that area down the line.

Et cetera

Other than book reviews and quotes, what exactly do I do here?

Well, I like drawing out elements of books I read and discussing that aspect of writing or story-telling, using recent reads as examples in a comparison. Near the start of my blog I wrote a post that compared the personified desert in The Lonesome Gods with its appearance All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. It is not strictly a book review, but more of an analysis of a certain aspect of a couple of books.

It allows me to be selective of what to talk about in a given book, rather than having the pressure to examine every aspect, character, and construction to do it justice. It also brings out creativity in the ways I incorporate elements from the books into formulating my own ideas, rather than just summarizing and paraphrasing the gist of the story, as is the main point of a review. Nothing wrong with that, but I’d like to mix it up again.

I have plans for a post I’d like to do, considering the evolution of the perspective throughout The Queen’s Thief books by Megan Whelan Turner and how it affects the understanding of the main character. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an idea like this that I was excited about, so hopefully I can work on that one and get it out soonish. I’d like to get back into doing more of those types of posts as I think they’re the most fun, both to write and to read.

And with that, it’s about time I wrap up this admittedly digressive, hopefully somewhat entertaining post. If you stuck around this long, I appreciate your patient indulgence.

Let me know what’s going on with your reading, blogging, or life journey in the comments if you’d like to share! It seems only fair I offer to return the favour and listen after holding forth about myself for so long.

2 thoughts on “The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week: Blog (and Life) Update”

  1. I love your rambling style, I have to say! I think I agree with you on being suscipicous of writing advice that tells authors to strip as much away as possible. That said, I think since I error on the side of verbosity, it is probably more helpful for me to listen to.

    Also nice references to That Darn Cat.

    Hopefully your next week goes better. If you post the Queen’s Thief review please ping me or at me in the comments so I see it! I’d love to read that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind comment! Also love that you know That Darn Cat! I enjoyed the excuse to share that quote–though the whole movie is incredibly quotable.

      Definitely will let you know when I get the Queen’s Thief post up! I’m hoping I can do it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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