I Spend Way Too Much Time In My Own Head

Melancholy – noun.

1.  an abnormal state attributed to an excess of black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression

2.  a : depression of spirits : dejection

b : a pensive mood

My natural state is that of melancholy.  I have no idea where that comes from.  It isn’t a depression of spirits, however.  It is the pensiveness that dominates my personality.

That can be good or it can be bad.  Part of the definition of pensive is deeply thoughtful.  In the good is that it is what makes me want to write.  The notion of expressing all of the ideas that I think of is the main reason I want to write.  Occasionally have a good idea that I want others to read and think about themselves.  So, I write.

However, there are two ways that being melancholy and pensive can cause me problems.  The other part of the definition of pensive is “thinking deeply about something, especially is a sad or serious manner.”

So, I frequently overthink and I overthink in a sad or serious manner.  That often leads to stasis.   I stop worrying about getting things done and actually accomplishing something and instead worry about all the possibilities of failure as well as success.  So, I do nothing.

I go into a mood of wanting perfection.  Perfect conditions to work and perfect outcomes of the work.  One thing life should teach us all is that connotative ideal of perfection is a myth.  We think of perfection as something without flaw or defect.  In actuality, most definitions of perfection or perfect have some variation of the phrase: as good as it possibly can be.  That doesn’t mean without defect, it is a real world definition that acknowledges that we and this world we live in are imperfect, but we can and should get as close to it as possible.

What am I talking about?  I seem to be wandering all about today.  I have been thinking about this (there is that pensive thing again) as I have been trying to revise and edit the book I wrote during the NANOWRIMO Camp in April.  It is going rather badly.  I have been trying to work on it in the perfect conditions as I try to make it a perfect distillation of what is in my mind.

One of the things I did learn during the camp was that there are no perfect conditions and that the act of writing is writing and get something on paper (or computer screen).  However, I’ve been paralyzed by something that manifested itself in the search for perfection.  I think what my issue is, is that the story I wrote in April is only part of the story I wanted to write and it isn’t the most honest part.

Looking back at what I wrote in April, I see a nice start.  It is a safe start.  It is a start that doesn’t get to the heart of the story and ideas I want to express.  The story I wrote and the characters I wrote took me on their journey.  That is fine, where those characters ended up is a fine place.  The ideas those characters and their actions expressed are valid.  They just don’t say everything I wanted to say.

The best way I can put it is like this:  The characters that came to dominate this first draft are at best half of the story I want to tell and they are the nice and acceptable half.  The harder and darker half of the story is still waiting to be told.  Those characters are still waiting for me to talk to them and tell me how they see things.   I didn’t find that honesty that art needs to be vital.  That honesty is from myself and from the story.  Individual sentences and certain scenes had that honesty, but not the work as a whole.

The other reason I’ve been having trouble writing is (back to the pensive and melancholy) is the over thinking about the outcome of trying to achieve the thing you want.  If you say want something, but don’t try for it, you will always have the possibility.  You will always have the “what-if” story you can tell to some other sad sack in a bar.  If you go out and try something and fail, then you know you weren’t good enough and then you have to deal with that.

The problem with that thinking is, not knowing is worse than knowing.  At least if you try, something will happen.  It may not be exactly what you want, but something will happen that you will still like.


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