Sunday, March 29, 2009
Back Into Shape and Back To Work
When one deviates from their normal, day-to-day schedule (due to unforeseen circumstances, sickness, or, in my case, a two-month and counting work lay-off) one of two paths may be followed. Either enthusiasm at the new opportunities that present themselves or a slow decent into mediocrity.
I'm afraid I've experienced the latter lately. Oh, it didn't start out that way. After my voluntary lay-off from my job, I had visions of the wellspring of extra time that presented itself and the wonderful things I would be able to accomplish. And, actually, that was how it turned out... at least in the first two or three weeks of my unemployment. Then the gravity of demon slough began to weigh upon my shoulders and I began to make allowances and excuses that detoured me from that strict regiment of daily writing that I intially set for myself.
I reckon it all started with the release of my short story collection, Midnight Grinding & Other Twilight Terrors in mid-February. Amid work on several projects, Cemetery Dance released the book out of the blue and I was deluged with contratulatory emails and phone calls, interview requests, and favorable reviews. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the attention. This was the first major literary release I'd had since returning to writing after a decade-long hiatus. Those days following the release of MG were a 100% adrenalin rush. I spent alot of time promoting the collection and way too much time hopping from message board to message board in cyberspace, keeping track of what folks liked and disliked about the book (thankfully, the likes outweigh the dislikes 10-to-1). I started feeling right proud of myself, in fact. But you know what the Bible says ... about "pride goeth before the fall" and all.
Around the beginning of March, I began to lose sight of my original vision and slacked off from my writing something awful. A couple of my kids suffered bouts of sickeness and I took care of them and the eye surgery I had scheduled for mid-March was postponed until early April. But that wasn't it entirely. Plain and simple, I just got lazy. Where I once got up early in the morning while the household slept, to get in a couple of hours of solid writing, I began to hit the alarm clock snooze button more and more, until I pried myself out of bed fifteen minutes before time to rouse everyone else. Also I began to take full advantage of our Netflix subscription. I began getting alot of movies and TV shows that my family have no interest in seeing... horror flicks and TV series I'd missed or was nostalgic for (X-Files, Heroes, the Twilight Zone, to name a few). And I began to snack more. While my family has been away at work and school, I have ashamedly carried on an illicit love affair... with junk food like Snickers, Little Debbie cakes, and Goo Goo Candy Clusters ( if you don't know what those are, its a Southern concoction of chocolate, marshmallow, caramel, and peanuts decadent enough to lead any candy-loving fella down the road to a serious confection addiction).
So, in the wake of this laziness, two things have taken place. I have steered away from the strict regiment of writing I originally had set in motion and, well, (he says, grinning sheepishly) I've sort of gained a little weight... ten or fifteen pounds, to tell the truth. Maybe more than that. Think Alfred Hitchcock with a couple more chins and a Southern accent. "Good evening, y'all."
Okay, maybe I'm not quite that bad. But I believe I've come to my senses now. The vision is back in sight again. I'm determined to get back to the projects I abandoned for the past few weeks; an edit and critique of an extremely good novel by a pal of mine (sorry for the delay, JHJ!), a new novel proposal for Cemetery Dance, one for Leisure (keeping my fingers crossed on that one) and a few short stories and such that I've agreed to write for magazines and anthologies. And (moan!) I'm giving up the junk food. I've filled the fruit bowl with apples and bananas, the pantry with 100 calorie packs, and the fridge with bottled water. And I've dusted off the treadmill, too. I'm averaging a mile and a half per day, with a goal of two miles by the end of this coming week. I'm bound and determined to shed twenty pounds or more by Hypericon in early June. I'm a short fella (got that from my mama's side of the family) -- 5-foot-7 -- and my "fighting weight" is around 155 lbs... so that's what I'm shooting for.
So, for what it's worth, Ol' Ron is back on the straight and narrow. Both writing-wise and health-wise. Time to get off my Doritto-chomping, movie-watching butt and back into the cockpit again. Back to the business of working out... both in body and mind.