Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive

I Hate Procrastination

Specifically, I hate how often it decides to take the wheel. Because while I remember it being kind of funny and cute when they introduced the concept to us in elementary school, it is in reality a terrifying fucking beast.

It makes everything too big. Too impossible. Simple things -- like making a blog post -- linger in the background for a week.

It's bad for sanity. Bad for business.

It's like every goddamn day is a trip to the dentist.

So hey, here's to ripping the Band-Aid off when you can, and doing your best in general when you can't.


Depression looks like…

Three missed days in my BulletJournal.

Spent making/writing/drawing almost nothing, or doing procrastination busy-work tasks that take very little brain work (e.g. sorting beads). Spent not leaving the house. Spent playing Stardew Valley while podcasts blare.

I hate it.

Today I'm making a stab at being a whole person. It's hard, because I'm broke enough everything is fraught and hard, but tonight I'm going home with some potatoes and canned veg and some freshly-filled prescriptions and half a tank of gas because someone bought a pair of earrings, and because some folks supported my Patreon.

Not dead. Stressed and hungry and a little crazy, but not dead.


Getting the Fear

So the last couple of weeks have brought with them the first mental health disruption of 2018. And it's scary, because I've been running pretty well since mid-December, but around 3-4 of the last seven days have seen my ability to Do Things(TM) legitimately compromised.

Naps are great, but not when they eat the whole day. And not when being awake is an exercise in emotional distress in the panic and/or despair category.

Still, I made some stuff. I gently promoted that stuff. I've written a little. And this week I get the confidence boost of sending things out to my patrons. What I am resisting, though, is bullshit victory narratives.

A friend posted the video for Andrew W.K.'s "Ever Again" on their blog earlier this week. And I clicked it, and spent the whole time experiencing a kind of weird, creeping horror.

Now, I have never done stimulants harder than the stuff you can buy in a gas station, but I was briefly on Valium, and let me tell you a thing: crashing from a belief that you have Figured It Out(TM) because The World Is Not Like That(TM) is worse than that crash. Not just in terms of the intensity of the experience, but because it breaks my ability to hope. There's so much appeal to that idea that things will never be wrong again after figuring something out. That I can learn or do a thing and everything will be fine. But after years of trying to spin bad things into good things, to force things to work out like that, I realized how toxic that attitude was for me.

No win is permanent. No process is foolproof. And after a while, when every magic trick and process has failed to solve things for good, how am I supposed to trust any solution?

Which brings me back to this first stumble of the year: It's happened/happening. I will do what I can within my ability to manage it. And when it is gone, however long that takes, I can be proud of managing it. But I can't make the mistake of believing that somewhere in there I did a magical thing that makes Everything Okay Forever(TM). Not just because that's not how my brain works, but because that's not how LIFE works.

And man, that lacks allure in every possible way, but it's way less toxic than trying to shoehorn recurrent major depression into a toxic positivity narrative. Real hope comes from knowing I can handle a thing, not from lying to myself about bad things being gone forever.


Thinking about Work-Work-Work Balance

So this time of year is panning out to be a lot of what I need: Lots of open time blocs to manage things like household and self-care stuff, as well as time to focus hard on the shop and writing while still getting enough hours at the sustaining part-time gig that I'm unlikely to starve.

Get tired of sweet potatoes and chicken, maybe, but not starve.

And what I'm noticing is that it's Very Easy for me to grab the jewelry stuff, or the embroidery, but hard to sit down to the writing. Part of that is a matter of where the proverbial chair is -- Starbucks -- but part of it too is that the tangible stuff is tangible. I can assemble it, hold it, look at it. I can put it up on my shop and look at that. I can get buttons with my art on them in the mail and then hug that parcel because I'm proud of it.

Writing is slow. So slow. The doing is slow, the revising is slow, the path to a thing I can hold is slow. The payoff is different -- a necklace I can sell for $20-30 and make more back from that than I ever would for a traditionally published paperback, or a sale on an ebook -- more "real" somehow.

It's easier to justify my choices to people with the shop. Oh sure, the Skunkworks has only been live for about a month, and I've sold nothing, but I can point and say, "Here. Here is evidence of my effort. I'm not lazy. I'm working."

Possibly it doesn't help that my current writing project is wholly unsalable -- it's fan work, drawing on properties that are Very Fucking Owned By Other People -- and the parts of me that aren't good at being okay with impractical things want to devalue that, or feel like it's not valuable to the people with whom I live (and therefore owe money to), and that it is therefore Wrong. Like, where do I get off calling myself a writer when I'm just some dude who makes jewelry in his friend's basement between bouts of churning out wish-fulfillment slash?

And honestly, the only useful answer to that is a resounding Fuck Off.

Creativity is creativity. My job is to keep working, keep grinding even when I feel like an impostor, and do the work of figuring out how much of what work needs doing, both in the fiscal sense and the sense of keeping my artistic fire burning. The part-time gig doesn't take ALL the financial pressure off, but as I get more into the groove of doing creative work that should fill in the gaps via Etsy and Patreon, my real job becomes the work of keeping on, and refusing to let those internal voices let me feel like an impostor.

Nobody has to like what I'm working on, or think it's worthwhile for me to be a real writer or a real artist. I just have to do the thing. That's it.

And that? I can do.

(Even if I should probably get over the anxiety/procrastination thing with the writing.)


Thinking about pacing, disruption

So coming into 2018, I laid some groundwork. Supports, basically, to try and keep me active, functional, and productive. I got the shop back up to spec in December, made sure I had my Patreon ducks in a row, etc.

And I resurrected my bullet journal habit.

For a lot of people, a bujo is an unambiguous positive. It's a space for fun expression and organization, it makes people feel (and helps them actually be) productive. And that's amazing. For me, though, it's a bit more like playing with matches.

I think most of us still have a part of ourselves that is trained into wanting to be good, get praise, etc., and conversely does not want to be bad, disappoint, and so on. What I'm not sure of is whether everyone has a problem with those forces in themselves quite the way I do. Combine that with the near universal habit of rearranging shit in the name of procrastination and/or having a thing in life one can control, and I can get...well, out of hand with these things. I'll burn myself out, or I'll aim too high and have to keep postponing things day after day after day until opening my bujo is an exercise in anxiety, frustration, and despair.

That my ability to easily visualize a task is not the same as being able to do it instantly or easily is a lesson I've always had to fight with.

And so every day I use this thing, I am trying to be careful. To leave breathing room instead of overloading myself. To try and set goals that won't overwhelm me. To give myself the flexibility that my life requires in order to remain functional. Like, I'm hitting my goals, and feeling pretty good about that, but I am aware of my own capacity for bullshit. I am aware that I can burn myself by doing absolutely nothing at all.

It's hard. Not quite two weeks in, I'm still learning. And while I'm not a fan at this point in my life of assigning success narratives to things -- i.e. "this is hard, but if I power through it will be great later!" -- I do want to hope that this experience will result in a net positive.

Just, uh, don't ask me to pencil it in.


Hey. Hi again.

I vaguely remember, somewhere in the jumble of my early childhood, a trip to a timeshare my grandmother had at Table Rock Lake. I have no recollection of the trip other than the drive being long and boring, and peering out of the car window at what might or might not have been the lake. I don't even know if we stayed, or for how long.

So when I say posting here again feels like opening up an old cabin for the first time in years, I have literally no idea what I'm talking about. But I did do some work fixing up a house in my twenties, letting out the must, and making some cosmetic changes. So that'll have to be close enough.

So hey. Hi. This is me.

I do a jumble of things. I'm a writer, and that takes a long time, and a lot of what I've written is small, or is out of print at this point. I'm an artist, and that takes a little less time, and is easier to show off. I'm a crafter, which sometimes takes the least amount of time, but doesn't always share as easily because everything is a one-off.

Deciding what to do with this space over the past few weeks has been tricky. I share my progress every week over at Patreon, so that's not really what this space is for. And my shop isn't here -- I keep it on Etsy -- so I'm not exactly doing e-commerce here. Which, hey, I'm good with that.

What I really want to do here is to make a space where I can keep folks up-to-date about how the work is going, where to find it, and thoughts about things that relate to it/are adjacent to it.

That should be enough, I think.