burning the candle at both ends

I meant to post a writing update tonight, but I spent so much time writing that I’m too tired to blog about it, so I’ll just leave you with my favorite sentence of the night:

If I’d known I was going to meet the most amazing woman in the world outside my dad’s office that afternoon, I wouldn’t have asked for extra garlic on my pizza at lunch.


On Writing, Self-Discipline, and a Parade of Cheese Melts

I’m a vegetarian.

It’s not a huge deal in my day-to-day life. I do my thing, shop at the hippie grocery, and make jokes about bidding people ‘so long, and thanks for all the fish-flavored soy protein crumbles’. I live and let live, and most people don’t know unless I eat with them on a regular basis. Thing is, I work at a decidedly non-vegetarian restaurant, and the only item on the menu I can eat (besides the occasional meatless salad, which doesn’t offer much in the way of sustenance or protein) is a cheese melt.

Now, cheese melts are all well and good, and this particular cheese melt is quite tasty. But ask even the biggest cheese-melt aficionado to eat a cheese melt between four and six times a week every week for two years, and—well. Let’s just say that if hell exists, I firmly believe it is, in fact, an all-you-can-eat buffet that serves nothing but cheese melts.

I’m pretty over cheese melts, is what I’m saying. But I can’t say I’ve ever been tempted to try out the chicken tenders or order the Philly cheese steak. Being vegetarian’s a part of me, so ingrained that it just wouldn’t occur to me to try out a meat dish.

A while back I had a brainwave: if you ask me, I’ll say writing—or at least the urge to create people and places and stories—is just as important to me as being vegetarian, if not more so. I only gave up meat five years ago, and I’ve been making stories since I learned how to talk. Giving up writing forever would be impossible.

And yet, although I’d never thought twice about sticking to my vegetarianism even through a never ending parade of cheese melts, I didn’t have the remotest sense of self-discipline about my writing. Although I would occasionally try to keep to a schedule or manage to meet a word goal for a couple of consecutive weeks, I never really tried to be professional about my writing goals or stick to a serious plan.

It wasn’t easy to change my attitude towards my writing, but it’s been worth it. I’m still not perfect about it, and, as I do have a mental illness, I have to be very careful about balancing my work/free time balance. However, for the first time in my life I am within an arm’s length of actually finishing a novel, and I have managed to keep to my goal of updating this blog at least twice a week.

Sometimes, after a long shift on my feet and a dose of meds that cause short-term memory loss and fatigue, I feel like writing about as much as I feel like scarfing down an entire plate of cheese melts. But the more I force myself to work through it even on those days, the easier it gets to sit down and write every day. It’s not much, but it’s a start.