Tag Archives: Motivation

Drunken Writing Sucks

God, do I hate myself right now. I can’t do a damn thing with writing. My thoughts are a jumbled mess that I just can’t make sense of. I’ve had five beers already and nothing is inspiring to write about, but damn am I determined to get something out. It feels like a strange form of writer’s block which I’m sure I’ve already written about at least a few times in the past year. Like where you have a ton of ideas but no inspiration or motivation to actually put the puzzle pieces together into a coherent blog post. I’m going to write here and see what happens. Maybe it’ll break up the mental jam that I’m suffering through. Say what is in your soul, as I’ve been telling myself.

I drank yesterday. Only eight beers over the course of about six hours which isn’t really bad although I did break my “drink on Sunday” rule again. There is an exception to the rule: long car drives or big adventures. I drove to Davenport, Iowa yesterday to help my sister move out of her wife’s-but-soon-to-be-ex-wife’s home — only a two-hour drive — but once again I realized I hate car drives. Long ones at least. There is something uniquely exhausting about sitting in a chair for hours while driving that doesn’t compare to anything else I’ve experienced. Hell, I’ve been on this couch for the past five hours and don’t feel exhausted at all. Something about the drone of the road, the hum of the engine, and dealing with people that can’t seem to use cruise control on a highway wear you out; I don’t know what it is exactly but something about driving is exhausting. So I treated myself with some beers when I got back home.

I drank and then my mind went into hyperdrive. I came up with about five or six blog post ideas, all in the stream of consciousness where I found myself laying in bed and thinking out the posts with my inner monologue. Boy did they flow wonderfully and I felt there was some magic in the thought process. Something that made me think, “This is it, this is how you write!” but I couldn’t put it down on paper or on a computer. Something held me back from actually sitting down and writing the posts and I was happy to just “mentally write them” or some shit.

Which made me hate myself more than usual. I cannot get my mind in line. I cannot capitalize on the gifts that have been bestowed upon me. It almost feels like an uncontrollable power — all these thoughts tossed at me randomly that I cannot process or contain long enough to do anything with — that I should do something with and use but just can’t get around to it. I went and took a shower and continued to mentally write posts, trying to conjure up some way to contain the lightning of my brain into some sort of bottle. I didn’t find any, obviously. I tried to write something at 4 a.m. but it never pulled itself together into anything coherent. It’s a mess, my brain is a mess, and I can’t seem to do anything with 90% of the shit that randomly enters my head that I feel is a good idea.

I shouldn’t forget that I still need to write my Morrowind story for this week either. The past four weeks has only had two chapters published meaning I’m totally dropping the ball on my goal which leads to more self-hatred. Once you fail it’s so hard to pick yourself back up and get on your goals. I’m determined to write something today, even if it does end up being a mess, and I think it being a mess might make the story better in a way. I think that’s why I’m struggling my way through this post; I want something to show myself to say, “See?! You can do something if you only try hard enough!” I’m constantly telling myself, “You’re a good writer! Have confidence! Just write! Go for it! Say what is in your soul!” but it doesn’t work very well. I’m not depressed, just unmotivated. Wondering what it’s all for. Thinking of my past blog posts about motivation and realizing your goals and being yourself and wondering where the person who wrote that shit actually disappeared to. I know I wrote them, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like myself. It feels like the successful me that actually has things figured out wrote them and I’m not that person anymore. I know I’m still the same and I’m just in a funk, but it’s hard to convince yourself of that fact.

So the struggle to write continues. I suppose there is no need to bitch or whine about it (even though I just did) and the only solution is to get the fuck down to work. When you’re left with nothing else to distract yourself with the only way is forward. Progress because there is nothing else to really do. Another day is over, another blog post finished, and I’m progressing towards some unsatisfying conclusion or goal somewhere in the unclear and foggy future. Here’s to progress friends. Cheers.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

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Dark Souls in Awesome: Life Lessons from Manus, Father of the Abyss

Note: How the fuck did I have sixty views yesterday? Isn’t that a new daily record? I haven’t been doing a damn thing lately on this blog. Eh, I’ll take it!

If you’d like another Dark Souls post, I talk about how good the game is here, and how shitty the game is here.

“I totally used the pendant! How the fuck I die?!” I shouted drunkenly at the TV. My death was total bullshit this time. Manus had about ⅛ of his life left and I fought him nearly perfectly only to die to some bullshit glitch or oversight in the game mechanics. He shot his black jizz-orbs and I used the magic pendant to block them but somehow a few made it through the supposedly impenetrable magic barrier to one-shot me.

So I sat the controller down and took a drink of my second or third gin and tonic, but counting was becoming difficult at the time. I was about ⅓ the way through the bottle of gin and feeling pretty damn good about life and determined. I was hell bent on beating Manus and while sore about dying for the 20th or so time didn’t let it truly get to me.

I respawned and did the minute long run back to Manus and died for the 21st or so time. And then I did it again; the long trek back to the bastard. Then I died to the shitty sorcerer guy on the way to the boss. 22. And then I ran back again and died by some stupid fucking mistake I made: I dodged his attack a fraction of a second to early and had the shit beaten out of me by his six or seven-hit combo. 23. 24. And so on to about 35. Not that I was counting anymore.

Manus, Father of the Abyss. The fucker himself. Image from here.

I talked about video games and fun before, kinda hinting at the idea that we’ve lost the idea that video games are fundamentally supposed to be enjoyable to play. So during all the bullshit dying and running back to the boss I asked myself if I was having fun. No, no I was not. It wasn’t fun or enjoyable at all. Realizing this I asked myself why I was even playing it in the first place. Wasn’t the point of relaxing after work and drinking to have fun and/or relax? Why would I deliberately force myself into having a shitty time?

The only thing keeping me going was knowledge of the fact that I’d totally stomp his ass eventually. I had beaten him two or three times years earlier and it was only a matter of time before I’d beat him again. This is what kept me tossing myself at him over and over despite little to no actual progress at GITting GUD fighting him.

And if that isn’t interesting to ponder, that despite not having fun and having a really terrible time something kept me going back. Some blind determination of a goal that I’d see through to the end no matter what. The first few times I played Dark Souls I would get really depressed — thinking ‘is this the boss that I’ll forever be stuck on?’ — would I have to quit the game and give up forever being a Dark Souls failure? I kept playing and eventually cracked the Dark Souls formula: hard work, persistence, determination, a total unwillingness to accept failure, and being emotionally detached from your failures. Dark Souls taught me to not be too hard on myself. To keep moving forward. A bland pursuit towards some shitty goal that you weren’t sure you’d even succeed at but you’d keep working at the goal anyways. Dark Souls taught me to just do whatever you want to do, suffer through the shit, and you’ll eventually get that tiny and addictive taste of victory. 

The first Dark Souls boss you beat makes you realize why the hell people play the game so obsessively; it gives you an immense sense of satisfaction when you finally win that I haven’t gotten from any other game. You used to suck, you used to get stomped by the boss instantly and you bested him through dedication and persistence. And that instance of victory when you toss the controller on the couch with shaking and sweaty hands and start jumping around the room cussing at the TV is a feeling you’ll never forget. It’s a pure adrenaline rush during the fight that fuels the glory of the eventual victory. It’s the taste of accomplishing a goal through weathering massive hardship.

But then you inevitably feel good, cocky, like you’ve finally ‘gotten it’ and won’t have any other problems for the rest of the game. Wrong. Soon you’ll run into another wall and your past victory seems like a joke. An accident. A fluke. Luck. That one was easy but now it’s not easy anymore. You try to tell yourself to remain positive and be persistent and learn (just like before, desperately trying to keep your positive mindset) but eventually that starts to wear thin. The next challenge is harder than the last and your mood deteriorates and you crave, no need, the next victory to keep you going. And if you keep at it you’ll eventually get there, but hell if it isn’t difficult to continually fail over and over again with little to no progress to show for it.

I was walking to Manus and got hit by the shitty sorcerer guy again and had to heal. Instead of 20 estus flasks (the healing item in the game) I only had 19, a seemingly minor issue that could end the successful run; you never know how the boss fight will go down and single estus might mean the difference between dying and surviving. But my drunken mind knew that even if I did fail and it wasn’t the successful run that I might learn something during the fight anyways. I might finally learn to dodge to the left instead of the right. Or I’d finally learn the perfect distance to keep him from spamming dangerous mid-ranged attacks. Even if the run was a likely going to end in failure, maybe I’d learn something along the way. Gain the tiny puzzle piece that would eventually lead to completing the puzzle that is beating Manus, Father of the Abyss.

And fuck learning is hard. True learning is hard. We’re all wired to do things a certain way and in Dark Souls it’s difficult to stop yourself from reflexively blocking certain bosses when you need to dodge. The more ingrained your habits are the harder they are to break, the more lessons you need beaten into you to fundamentally change yourself. Change and progress is slow but if you keep tossing yourself at the boss, even ten, twenty, or 100 times you’ll eventually beat it. You fail over and over, tweaking your technique slightly each time until you stumble blindly on the magical formula that somehow works. And sometimes it’s counterintuitive to what you initially though would work. Take Great Grey Wolf Sif for example: at first you want to stay as far away from him as possible — he’s a giant fucking wolf so it makes sense — but you eventually discover this technique is suicide. Sif is ultra aggressive at mid- to long-range and will beat you to a pulp. Counterintuitively, Sif is almost harmless if you stand right underneath him. You never would’ve realized this without failing countless times and trying new techniques. Eventually you realize you were doing it all wrong, but without doing it wrong you never would’ve discovered what to do right.

BEING UNDER HIM IS THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE? YOU SURE BRO?”

So lying in bed drunk trying to think of a thought provoking blog post I found myself thinking about Dark Souls and one of the final bosses I hadn’t beaten yet, Manus, Father of the Abyss. What a dickhead. What a goddamn roadblock. I was almost done with the game but he was in my way. I couldn’t end the game without beating him because that would be giving up and bitching out. Manus was my way forward and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I quit that night in failure. I was a loser. I didn’t have enough points in GIT and GUD. So now what? Nothing. I’d fight him later. I’d let my brain make a few connections and keep tossing myself at him in a few days. Manus was as good as dead, but dead in the future where the time to conquer him simply hadn’t come yet. I still had to learn. I still had to grow. I still had to deal with my personal flaws in the game. But progress is progress and I tried to not think about, to let thoughts not useless thoughts and self-hatred wither away. Then in a drunken haze it clicked why Dark Souls is such a good fucking game. It’s a perfect analogy of chasing your goals, growing as a person, and conquering the real enemy during your quest of life: yourself.

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Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

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Streak Day #28 (and some stuff about not caring)

Day twenty-seveneight. Christ. I’m getting so burned out here. Three two more days until thirty. And five more days until the end of March. No, six. Next Tuesday. Less than a week. Shit. March has thirty-one days as I’m well aware by now. I’ve never been able to recall which months have thirty-one as opposed to thirty days but if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that. March Has Thirty-One Days. I’ll never forget that fact.

Years ago I took up a project like this with running. I began January 19, 2015 and set out to run at least a mile everyday for a year. And I did it. Rain, snow, bitter cold, burning heat and humidity, day or night, sick or drunk or hungover, I ran at least a single mile everyday. I even kept going when I had my wisdom teeth removed which was totally against their recommendations, but I did it anyways. In 2015 I ran 1,236 miles over 189 hours. I kept it going in 2016 running 1,041 miles over 171 hours. This was seven days of running each year!

I kept this up until (apparently, I still have the spreadsheets I tracked everything in) February 25th, 2017, two years and a month after I started. I gave it up because it was mentally taxing to continue running everyday. I dreaded it. It wasn’t fun anymore. It didn’t feel like an accomplishment. I felt like everyday had this dread hanging over it that I had something to do — run a fucking mile — and towards the end I started doing the bare minimum. I’d run a mile slowly around the neighborhood, clocking some totally pathetic 11 or 12-minute miles. Just not giving a fuck about it until I finally threw in the towel.

In the beginning it felt like I had something I was working towards. I had a grand goal to run 365 days in a row and I was also working on training for half-marathons and actually improving my times. My first half-marathon took longer than two hours, and in the midst of my running streak I set a goal of a sub 2-hour half marathon time. I did and pulled off like a 1:40 time or something. I felt great. I felt accomplished. I went on to shave my 5k times down as well, sometimes placing in the top three of my age group. Making this adventure even more epic; I ran barefoot. Yes, barefoot. Why? Because I could. I had nothing to prove besides that it was possible. If I abused my feet enough to where I got blisters, I’d put on some Luna sandals, but nearly every run was done without footwear. The half-marathon, the 15-mile trail run at rock cut. Blistering 5k runs at a sub 7-minute mile pace. I don’t brag much but I’m definitely bragging here. I was a barefoot badass and it felt amazing.

But then I realized I was not cut out to be a runner, genetically, and that no matter how hard I worked I could never be first place or even in the top ten overall. I’m not built to be the perfect runner and no amount of practice or dedication or heart could make me run faster. There’s this thing called VO2 max that basically measures how much oxygen you can use during exercise. This is mostly determined with genetics and dictates how fast you can run. If you’re not born with exceptional VO2 max, you’re not cut out to be a runner. Sure, you can improve it somewhat, but there is a limit to how far you can go. It just isn’t physically possible if you’re not born with the genes. Once I discovered that there is some inherent limitation to what you can be as a person, albeit in terms of a physical sport, it kinda crushed my spirits. I always talk about shit like “am I born to be a writer?” or other bullshit like that, and I don’t think it applies to the arts — you can do whatever the fuck you want — but with running. Yes, you totally can be born to not be a runner. Even if you love running and it’s your passion, you’re simply not cut out to do it. It’s depressing.

I like to say I learned something from that grand adventure but I don’t think I did. If anything I learned how shitty it is trying to do something consistently everyday. It wears on you. You start to not care. You wonder what it’s all about. You wonder if your time and motivation is better spent elsewhere. I don’t have anything grand to say about feeling this way because it caused me to mostly stop running and I still have no regrets about doing so. When I stopped, suddenly I had so much more motivation. I started to write more. I started to play video games. It felt like every ounce of my being was expended daily to run a mile, and when I stopped I felt reborn in a way. Like one chapter was closed and I was ready for the next. I felt like a failure, but also like I chose to be a failure. I made a conscious decision to stop, and I did, and while there was some slight pang of regret and failure, I knew it was time.

Big rant about running aside, this is how I feel about blogging and this 30/31/33 day streak, whatever it turns out to be. I think I’ll finish March off, if I can, but I’m really starting to not give a shit. I have that same dread of waking up and forcing out a post before work. Or the dread of forcing out a post after work. I haven’t even thought about my fiction stories or the Morrowind story this week. I haven’t written in my journal .doc in three weeks. Each day is focused on thinking of a blog topic and churning it out. I feel mentally sick when I open the computer screen, the same as I felt walking outside and taking the first few lethargic steps on my mile run. But it isn’t so bad once you warm up. I’m having fun with this post, and I know I’ll have a wonderful sense of accomplishment when I tidy this thing up and post it. And I know I’ll continue on to the end of March and feel another sense of accomplishment. And then I know I won’t post more than a few posts in April. As the books I’ve been reading say, “The wheel weaves as the pattern wills.” Or something like that. Yeah.

Like with running, I’m wondering what the hell all of this is for. Am I learning anything? Am I gaining some sense of routine? Am I turning into a better writer? Am I writing more without thinking of what I’m writing? I’m getting a ton of views this month which is nice — I might break my monthly viewer record today — but is that even for anything? Is my slow decent into madness obvious to everyone that reads these or am I holding it together enough to fool people? Maybe that’s the point of this: a case-study in burnout and giving up. *big sigh* I’m rambling again and I always seem to ramble about shit like this. I don’t even recall the past three weeks of posts. What have I already talked about? What is new? Has anything been insightful? My mood today is one where I could carry on and on about everything. My antidepressants and how I’m wondering if I’ve always felt this way or if I’m somehow changed. Wondering whether this is good or bad. Pondering how March with the virus has been a great time to do this streak thing, how everything is working perfectly somehow. How I still feel trapped in limbo by something. Something about anxiety and insomnia and synesthesia. Yes, synesthesia. And cough medicine. And serotonin. Okay, I’m done with day #27. Onward!

Motivation Sucks

I always think I’ll end up writing about the same topics over and over until I simply run out of stuff to write about. A good example was that first sentence; I know I’ve already complained running out of topics a handful of times on this blog even if there hasn’t been a dedicated post about it (or has there?). And motivation, the supposed topic of this post, haven’t I already complained about that?

The way blogs work, being sorta in the social media sphere, is that people forget. I could take a post I’d written months or years ago, copy-and-paste it into a new post, and no one would notice. I’m not going to do that because it’s corrupt and shady but if there is nothing directly wrong with doing so, what would be wrong with writing about the same topics again? I doubt what I said in earlier posts is somehow fundamental truth that cannot be changed, altered, or added to so beating the same topics over and over isn’t really that big of an issue. I think I just overthink things in case you didn’t notice. There’s always the fact that life is all about learning, so each post about [certain topic] should have some insights that the previous ones didn’t have.

So motivation. My sister mentioned (and I don’t know where she heard it from) that motivation is like a muscle; you can only use it so much before it’s worn out. Makes sense, kinda simple and obvious really, but we seem to think we can muster motivation out of the ether and do whatever the hell we want/need to do with little care if we can actually accomplish our goals. You’ve heard the motivational stuff: do what needs to be done, don’t think about it, progress, hard work, goals, just fucking do it!

But there is this thing called “Burnout” that you have to be aware of. That’s my problem lately: I’m burned out with writing.

My problem isn’t going too hard at a single goal, but having the inability to focus on a single goal in the first place. I’m trying to do this blog. I’m trying to work on two fictional stories and a Morrowind fanfic. Toss in all the other random shit that life involves and I feel so scattered around mentally that I can’t even think straight. When is that Comcast bill due? Did my dad/mom pay me money for the phone bill yet? Did I even update the spreadsheet to reflect that? Did I reply to that comment on my blog yet? Did I update various autopay accounts with my new credit card number? Oh, I need to fix the car again — find problem, diagnose problem, buy parts, fix problem. What should I write about for my subconscious story? What kinda ending should it have? Nevermind that, what about the story about work? And what about the Morrowind fanfic? I need to have the next part posted today! I haven’t written on Everything Sucks in a few days, better do that even if I have nothing to write about…

This obviously leads to a type of paralysis where you can’t do anything. I want to say it’s like writer’s block, but it’s definitely different. It’s not so much that there isn’t anything to write about, it’s that I haven’t thought about anything long enough to actually finish the thought. There’s about ten blog fragments in my mind and my Google Doc is 53 pages long but nothing is solid enough to make progress on. You might’ve noticed the low-quality and sporadic (more sporadic than usual) posts here that haven’t really went anywhere. I feel like I’m limping along. I was hoping maybe I could rake in record viewers this month, but it doesn’t look like it’ll happen. Hey, #2 most viewed month isn’t that bad, right? I’ve sacrificed progress here to make progress elsewhere. It’s a zero sum game. You take from one area of creativity to put it elsewhere. Motivation is like a muscle and you can only do so much before you wear it out.

Big shout out to creative writing for especially being a motivation murder. That takes work; I used to think blogging took work, but I’ve found myself writing blogs here to procrastinate the creative writing process. Blogging is easy compared to creative writing! Who would’ve thought. Even in my scattered mental state I’m sure that I complained about that in the last post. So I won’t continue on.

And as always, thanks for listening to my rant.

Being Sick Sucks

What’s going on guys? As is standard here, I’ve been slacking again. It’s a typical process really: I write a ton of stuff on Sunday and Monday and usually panic-post something on Tuesday, and feeling achieved I slack off for the remainder of the week. Repeat this weekly. But as you can guess given the title, I have a reason for my slacking over the past week: I’m sick. And not just sick, miserably so. Being sick is something so universally terrible and being one of those “low-hanging fruit” posts it should be really easy to write. That hasn’t been the case. Why? I think because being sick is so universally terrible that it’s hard to complain about it without adding any new information that people don’t already know. Everyone knows being sick sucks, and so what?

I was trying to churn out a post like this about six or seven months ago when I was crippled for over a week with bronchitis. Bronchitis was awful. I was used to the common cold where you feel like trash for a day or two and then get along with your life relatively easily. Where you can still summon enough motivation to survive day to day life with minimal issues. Bronchitis was a whole other level of misery that I wasn’t aware of or prepared to deal with. I physically couldn’t do anything. I’d lay in bed for hours needing to use the bathroom or make a cup of coffee but not having the willpower to actually get up. This is how my current sickness has been. A total lack of energy.

When I was beginning to get sick I tried to remain positive. I told myself I would take it easy, watch some videos, read some books, and do some writing. To be productive without being physically productive I guess. Sounds like a plan, right? Wrong. Apparently this type of sickness brings along with it such complete and total exhaustion that I found I couldn’t do anything. The task of writing seemed too strenuous somehow. Watching movies and reading requires focus and was also too strenuous. Hell, even listening to music was too much to undertake for some reason. So over the past five days I have done literally nothing. This is why there hasn’t been a being sick sucks post until now: having the common cold isn’t that bad and is nothing to write about but anything serious wipes you out to a degree where you can’t write anything at all. And once you get better? It’s hard to channel those feelings as clearly as when you’re actually sick, miserable, and exhausted.

By far the worst part of being sick is the mindset that it brings with it. Something about being sick puts the fact that you’ll eventually get old, your body will fall apart, and you’ll die directly into conscious thought, although maybe that’s just me being dramatic. Being sick to me is like a temporary version of dying, where your body falls apart and stops doing what you need it to do but in a temporary way. Isn’t this what being old is like? You see older people constantly sitting, limping around, and generally looking like shit and they usually say it’s because their bodies feel like shit. I always seem to blame something vague on them like a “lack of willpower” for not tackling a staircase like a 20-year-old, but are they even physically able to do so? No. No more than I am able to go outside and run a mile because I’m so physically fucked right now. My body won’t allow it. Being this sick makes me feel old, and it being the inevitable future that awaits me (and everyone else) is depressing as fuck. What would I do if I felt like this all the time? It’s scary to think about. I understand why people want to kill themselves in old age. If you consistently feel terrible and your quality of life is degraded far enough life might end up not having anything enjoyable to offer you at all.

I’ve found I’ve always favored a “mind-over-matter” outlook in life. Like if you have total command over your brain you can overcome anything. This was especially prominent when I was an avid runner. Running is as much of a mental task as a physical task and it’s easy to think it’s all a mental task. Like if you will something enough, or put your mind into a unique enough state you can do anything. Like the Buddhist monks that protest by self-immolation without screaming or flailing, surely we all can learn to perfectly control our bodies given perfect mental control. It’s the belief that anyone can run a marathon without practicing if they just “focus enough” or some bullshit. (If I recall correctly there was a How I Met Your Mother episode where Barney decides to run a marathon saying something like “How hard can it be? You just keep running and don’t stop.” He actually wins too.) If you really want a new PR during a race, you just do it. Sure training is important, but the most important thing is mindset. And if an 80-year-old wanted to tackle a staircase like a 20-year-old, all they need to do is “focus” or some stupid shit like that.

But this isn’t true, and being sick makes it so obvious. Imagining being sick I would think something like, “Even if I do feel bad, I can still ‘be tough’ and make myself be productive.” Like if I just put enough mental power into thinking about feeling well that I could actually be well. Or that I could minimize the effect that being sick actually had on me. But when you’re physically sick and exhausted you just can’t bring yourself to do anything. I would sit on the couch for hours feeling miserable and while knowing I could get up and take some medicine, I didn’t. Sitting on the couch was where I was and taking the tiny bit of physical effort to get medicine, even if it would bring me near instant relief, was beyond me. This is how it was with everything. I didn’t write. I didn’t read. I didn’t watch movies. I just existed in the past five days feeling like shit and just hoping to feel normal as soon as possible. It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough motivation or willpower; it was the fact that I had none at all.

I also like to imagine the opposite of being sick where you are physically okay but mentally not well, i.e. depression or other mental health troubles. Being sick your physical body won’t let your motivated mind do anything, while being mentally sick your mental state won’t let your physically healthy body work properly. The body needs to work harmoniously together and you’d be tempted to even think that the idea of mental health being separate from physical health is wrong; health is the interplay between the two and trying to separate one from the other is impossible to do. Obviously having a distinction between the two is helpful, but it’s also fun to think that it could just be a useful construct created by us humans.

I’m still sick and trying my damndest to tie all of this shit together into a good blog post. It isn’t working. I feel like I’m at about 50 or 60% maximum health here and I’m pretty sure it shows. I feel like I’m rambling. I feel like I’m stating the obvious. Do I want to delete it and start over? No, because that’s a lot of work. Even proofreading this was difficult as I discovered I repeated like two or three paragraphs without knowing it. But this is what being sick does to you I guess. I’ve always wanted to write a post about how much being sick sucks, and if it turns out to be awful, well, it’s because being sick sucks. Maybe the next post will be better. That one might be about being sick too, but more on how I brought it on myself through bad karma. Or something.

Drinking Sucks: 10 Reasons to Not be a Drunkard

Lists of ten, top-ten lists, or whatever you want to call them kinda suck in their own right, but I want to write one anyways. It seems fun, clickbaity, and will be a challenge putting together ten individual items to discuss here. Since my slew of vacations and my mental meltdown I’ve had one hell of a time with alcohol, and in a way I think I’m writing this post mostly for myself to get back on track. So what better way to make a “top 10 list” than to bitch about alcohol abuse. So I hereby present to you ten reasons to quit drinking!

10. Save Money $$$

The best motivation to do almost anything is to make money/save money; it’s the driving force behind everything in a capitalist society. Despite this, I put saving money as far down the list as possible. This is due to a few reasons. Firstly, people don’t change addictions based on cash savings; no one would smoke, drink, or shoot heroin if this was true. Addiction is one of the few things that exist outside the motivation to make/save money. Secondly, alcohol is actually pretty cheap! Smoking a pack a day will leave you out literal thousands of dollars in a year. If you are an alcoholic you simply won’t save a ton of money by quitting. The benefit it in everything else.

While alcohol is cheap (and probably the cheapest of any substance addiction you can have) it still isn’t free. Even if you won’t save as much as a heroin-addict would by getting clean, you still are saving a bunch of cash. Consider a six-pack, three-days-a-week sort of drunk: a cheap six-pack can cost about $5 (if you’re not buying utter trash beer that is). This would be $15 a week, or about $800 every year! If you drink every day of the week this cost obviously doubles to well over $1,500. While saving money shouldn’t be your primary reason to not drink, it also shouldn’t be forgotten.

9. Not Be Hungover

Anyone who has drank moderately/heavily in a single sitting should be familiar with the dreaded hangover. I don’t need to explain it too much because if you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with the symptoms: the dehydration, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, anxiety, jitteriness, hunger, nausea, lethargy, light sensitivity, and the pounding headache. I mean what else can be said of the hangover? Sometimes I find music sounds better when hungover, but besides that they’re fucking miserable and horrid affairs. Obviously if you don’t drink, you don’t deal with a hangover.

8. Eat Better/Lose Weight

A serving of alcohol (can of beer, shot of liquor, glass of wine, 5 pumps of hand sanitizer, etc.) has some calorie content to it. This varies greatly, but the fact is that alcohol itself has calories means there is no “diet alcohol” or whatever you’d want to call it. By simply drinking you’re consuming extra calories than you normally would. Consider that a shot of vodka has about 70 calories: six of them would have 420 calories! This isn’t a whole lot but it’s the bare minimum you can get drunk from. A can of beer has over 100 calories (usually) and anything with added sugar is even worse. The fact is if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably consuming a fuckton of calories and probably packing on weight. The term “beer belly” has reasons behind it.

This is considering that you’re not exercising or lowering the amount of food you actually eat. If you’re drinking heavily it probably means that you’re not exercising or taking good care of yourself: in fact I’d assume you’d probably be eating horribly! Everyone knows alcohol, greasy burgers, and fried foods fit together perfectly (shout out to pizza here) and the alcoholic isn’t usually stereotyped as deeply athletic. This stresses the point even further: if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably also getting fatter. So if you quit drinking you might lose weight.

7. Sleep Better

While alcohol can knock your ass out in heavy doses, it doesn’t seem to give you a good night’s rest. Even if you pass out drunk and are unconscious for eight hours you’ll wake up feeling like you only had an hour-long nap. While this might not be detrimental here and there, dragging this shit out for weeks and months of fully-fledged alcoholism, you will end up feeling like shit. Even though you’re sleeping enough your body simply isn’t repairing itself and recovering like it is supposed to. By not drinking, you just rest better and feel better during the day.

6. Stave off Insomnia

This is probably a subset of what I talked about in number seven (sleeping better), but fuck you because this is my top ten list. I can break it down into as many or as few sections as I want! I separated them not only to add more numbers to this top-ten list bullshit, but because insomnia usually occurs a few days after bingeing. Since your sleep quality is trash when you’ve been drinking, when you stop you do get a few days where you’re so tired and worn out that you sleep really well. I’m talking nights where you sleep 10-12 hours and wake up feeling energized and refreshed.

The problem occurs after those restful days. I think, and I don’t really know for sure, this is due to alcohol being a depressant and “slowing your body down” or something. The human body adapts, or tires to adapt, to things; if you’re drinking a depressant your body “upregulates” everything to keep you moving. It’s like the reverse of drinking caffeine, a sort of “inverse crash” or whatever. As your body finds itself without alcohol, you find yourself “upregulated” and your mind just constantly keeps running, especially at night. This is especially bad because you might turn to drinking just to sleep normally. Another downside to insomnia is that you’d think if you couldn’t sleep you’d be awake, but you’re not. Alcohol insomnia leaves you tired, exhausted, and unable to sleep. It sucks.

5. Have a Better Memory/Focus

Drinking puts you into a haze while sobriety clears things up. If you drink a lot, you’re basically entering and exiting hazes daily (or whatever) and this makes reality get kinda…confusing. You start to forget what you were actually doing in regards to life planning/projects you’re taking care of. Take writing a book for example: you need to remember what the hell you were actually writing about to make progress at it in the future. I, like many others, have found that drinking greatly improved my ability to write at the expense of having no idea what I had actually written. This leaves you feeling lost in the grand scheme of whatever you got going on. It becomes hard to tie thoughts together into a coherent project.

I’ve also realized that I’d forget what I’ve talked to people about even if I was sober at the time. Like I’d tell a coworker a story and repeat the story days later without remembering initially telling them. I found myself prefacing every conversation with, “Not sure if I told you this before, but…” just to acknowledge that I was at least aware that I might be repeating myself.

This is related to drinking but I don’t know how to explain its direct relationship to it. Obviously you forget shit when you’re actually drinking, but a general effect on memory seems to exist and is especially scary. Everyone expects to forget shit when drinking, but when this effect spills over into the weeks after drinking it is especially frightening. Quit drinking and you might have a better memory and won’t feel like you’re on the verge of Alzheimer’s.

4. Have Better Teeth

I don’t know if this is really a thing, but whenever I’d go to the dentist for a routine six-month cleaning they’d always ask me if I drank a lot of pop. I’d always say “no” and they’d give me a look of complete and total skepticism. The dentist and the hygenist know exactly what the effects of sugar look like on teeth so they’re the last people you want to lie to about what you actually drink, but fact is fact: I didn’t drink pop hardly at all. I’d have a can of pop once a week, maybe twice, but this wasn’t nearly enough to cause dental trouble. And I’d brush everyday! What the hell was going on here? Why were they looking at me suspiciously like I was telling a lie?

It might be alcohol. As we know, alcoholic drinks have sugar and starches and whatever else and this can’t be good on your teeth in heavy amounts. This is another one of these “I don’t know this for a fact but I assume it’s true” things: drinking probably fucks your teeth up just as much (if not more) as heavily-sugared sodas do. I did tell the dentist/hygienist that I did drink a lot of beer but that I didn’t, in fact, drink soda ever. I mean if they’re going to accuse me of dietary habits that were fucking my teeth up they need to at least get it correct: beer was fucking my teeth up.

3. Anxiety

I was sober for a span of 5 months this year, and holy hell, I didn’t have any anxiety. I mean there was still a background level of anxiety, but it was nothing like the physically-shaking-before-going-to-work style of anxiety that I was used to. This was surprising because being a total alcoholic lead me to believe that maybe I just had anxiety that badly naturally. Sobriety made the anxiety just disappear. It was a slow and easy-to-miss process, but after a few months I’d find myself not worrying as much about stressful upcoming events. I’d still be stressed and worried, but for some reason this didn’t translate into anxiety. You might drink to help relieve your anxiety, but in reality it is probably making it worse. By not drinking you might find that your anxiety slowly vanishes, or turns into something manageable.

2. Motivation

I like to think alcohol works by moving happiness from one point of your life to another, usually from the next day to the present. You drink and you feel better, but you pay for it the next day by feeling miserable. This “sum of happiness” never changes but it’s just shifted around and isn’t a scientifically quantifiable amount at all, but it makes some sense I guess. I think this happens with motivation too.

Drinking for me gets my ass in gear. I love drinking on the weekends and doing dishes, cleaning the house, work on blog posts and stories, and generally just knocking out projects I need to do. The problem occurs the following day when I seemingly moved motivation to the previous day: I’m lazy, uninspired, and don’t want to do a damn thing. This can obviously lead to problems where you drink just to get your motivation back and this snowballs quickly into alcoholism.

By not drinking you can have motivation!

1. Not be Depressed

This one is very similar to #3 (anxiety) in that drinking probably makes a problem worse that you’re trying to cure in the first place by drinking. I think many people have a sort of “background level” of depression and if a notably shitty day happens, they drink to make themselves feel better. But like with anxiety, you end up shooting yourself in the foot because over time drinking just makes you even more depressed where you need more alcohol to feel better. And so on.

And like anxiety it’s hard to notice it happening. Over months and years of periodic drinking you accept your current depressed state as just how things are, and that not drinking can make things worse for you, and even make you feel suicidal. It’s this that keeps drinker hooked and coming back for more with almost zero choice in the matter. While it’s true things usually get worse when you initially stop drinking, hanging in there can prove beneficial.

Months after not drinking your mood is just lighter and you feel better. And like anxiety, it’s hard to realize this and one day you discover that your perpetual depression has just kinda melted away. You stop thinking that people hate you and are trying to avoid you or that everyone talks bad about you behind your back. You stop feeling bad for the shitty state of your life, and with no alcohol to feed the self-doubt and self-hatred, you find yourself making progress towards improving things. I know this might not be true for everyone, but after not drinking I have found zero downside and all upsides to it. And when you find yourself in the clear you wonder why you tortured yourself for so long, because sometimes you realize that life isn’t too bad and in some ways it’s downright enjoyable.

So if you’re a drunkard, maybe consider these ten items and maybe attempt sobriety. It’ll take some effort and it won’t be easy, but usually immensely beneficial things take time and effort and this is certainly one of them. Drinking sucks.

The “Valley of Despair” Sucks

I sometimes frequent the blogging subreddit, but not too frequently. The sub seems to focus mostly on increasing viewers, finding topics to write about, and doesn’t seem too concerned with the “art” of blogging. It isn’t too active of a sub with most posts getting at most between 20 to 30 comments. Compared to some subreddits (like the famed r/wallstreetbets) it isn’t really active even if you can find some decent information from time to time.

I still check it out sometimes and one comment resonated with me this past week. The actual discussion was about how many blogs actually “make it.” (which is an unexplained victory condition: what the hell does “making it” blogging mean? Make money? Keep it running for more than two years? I mean eventually you’ll die and your blog will end but that doesn’t seem like you’ve “failed at it.” Anyways, /rant #1.) There were varying answers but the one that stuck with me was one that mentioned “the valley of despair.” [Big Fucking Note here: I went and found the thread I was alluding too and the poster in question referred to it as “the dip” and linked to blog describing “the dip.” I really have no idea how I came upon the term “valley of despair” in regards to blogging, but apparently the term is real. Who fucking knows. Maybe my mind just connects dots on its own and doesn’t notify me that it’s doing so. Or maybe I’m losing my damn mind. I just wanted to stay accurate with what I’m actually writing.] I didn’t officially know what the hell the valley of despair was but something in the back of my mind knew it too well. Even if it wasn’t explained to me I already knew exactly what it was.

I suppose it’s easy to see in retrospect, as everything is. This blog right here had a “dead period” (actually two of them) not too long ago and since I’ve gotten my act together I’m finding some success. It feels like I’ve hit a stride where all I need to do is to keep working at the blog and it’ll be successful. I’m quietly confident about it and while I don’t think it’ll ever be a super-popular monetized thing I know it won’t be a “dead blog.” Looking back at those dead periods when I wasn’t writing, wasn’t posting, and felt about deleting the damn thing was, obviously, the dreaded valley of despair. And according to that one resonating Reddit comment, is the primary obstacle to successful blogging.

I didn’t want to make this post about blogging though because I’m in a new valley of despair in another area of my life: creative writing. To sum it up quickly, me, lost without any major goals, decided to take up creative writing about three weeks ago. I attempted this years ago and just didn’t stick with it, but this time it’s different. (Really. I’m fucking sticking to it this time.) I took my old blog and started collecting some short stories and chapters to a “book,” made a Facebook author’s page for myself, and started posting and sharing my work (please go check these out if you’re interested). Initially I was met with some warm reception from a few friends and, holy fuck, I was actually doing it! I was going to be Jeremy the Author Guy and sell books and shit. I was riding the wave and on top of the world was king of the world.

It’s funny what two weeks can do to you though. My last few “chapters” haven’t had shit for readers/viewers/likes/feedback at all, and I’m fundamentally wondering if I’m actually cut out to be a writer. Do I even have that “gift” that creative writing requires. (It doesn’t. I’m convinced, logically, that all anything takes is hard work and “talent” is just some bullshit idea people who don’t want to do hard work use as an excuse to not try anything. /rant #2.) Even if I know in my mind that it’s just hard work and dedication, I still feel in my heart there is some vague thing called “talent” that I might not have and will never have it even if I don’t believe it. It’s like some festering, subconscious fear I have, like being scared of the dark knowing well you’re perfectly safe. Hell, and maybe my stories are just terrible. This is a really scary thought because if they were no one would say it out of kindness. I’d like to really know how bad I am so I can either 1. give the fuck up or 2. know what I’m bad at exactly so I can improve on it. But pestering friends and family to read your shit is a whole new level of cringe that just comes across as attention seeking. BUT I JUST WANT FEEDBACK GUYS.

Let’s define this a little bit more though as it makes total sense with writing/blogging/whatever new project you’ve started. Some uninspired Googling has given me a bunch of charts and websites talking about “emotional change” and while that isn’t exactly what starting a project is, I think it’s close enough to actually be the same thing. Like maybe starting a new project is a subset of “emotional change” as you’re adjusting to having an entire new part of your life you’re dedicated to. There also is apparently a Dunning-Kruger valley of despair, but that doesn’t seem to be relevant to the topic at hand.

Since I couldn’t find a site that seemed legit or non-clickbaity enough, I just screencapped everything Google tossed at me. As you can see most charts show the same sort of trend when faced with “change.” It’s kinda like a sine curve or something.

Close enough, right?

And then I went and drew my own so I can talk about each point I labeled, as well as not get any sort of copyright bullshit tossed at me.

Current Mood vs. XP Points Gained at your “project” or whatever you’re doing. It seemed general enough.
  1. This is usually called “uninformed optimism” or some shit like that. Basically this is the point where you’re high off actually making a decision to progress forward at something. You have a goal that you’ve set upon and you start working towards it. Actually doing work towards a goal feels fucking amazing and even if you’re scared of the future, at least you’re taking matters into your own hands.
  2. This is the start of the valley of despair also called something lame like “informed pessimism.” This is where you realize that your goal isn’t going to be all fun and games and that, holy hell, sometimes doing a glorious and noble task like writing a book is actually not that fun sometimes. And sometimes it’s actual work that you dread.
  3. The pit of the valley of despair. I think with creative writing I’m somewhere between #2 and #3 (although I’d like to be closer to #3 so I can actually get over feeling awful about it. I don’t even know how to explain this spot on the chart because it’s like an unexplainable pit in your stomach. It’s a total feeling of shit, like you’re not meant or cut out to do what you’ve set out to do. Like the universe itself doesn’t want you as an author/blogger/artist/whatever. It makes you want to quit and many people do give up their project in this phase. The project feels like a mistake: a mistake that you continue to put time, effort, and resources towards that also feels like a waste of all of these. The general feeling of being shit is also kinda shitty. There doesn’t seem to be a way forward and you’re not happy doing what you’re doing. It’s a feeling of being lost and of wanting to toss the towel in and give up.
  4. “Informed optimism.” After hard work and giving up all hope you find some success but you’re not letting that shit go to your head because you think you still fucking suck at what you’re doing, but there are clear signs of progress if you quit being pessimistic enough to notice them. I like to think you make progress continually at this stage because of giving up in the valley of despair. You simply don’t care if you make it or not and your project just becomes something you do without attachment anymore. There’s something very freeing about not giving a shit, and this allows you to do what you do in the most genuine way possible. I say this so clearly because this blog right here is at #4 I think. I don’t give a fuck if no one reads it or if I fail, and contrary to what you’d expect, I’m actually have some success with it.
  5. Success! (whatever that actually means) I don’t even want to get into this because I don’t know what it’s like to be at #5. I’m assuming this is the point where you feel confident at what you’re doing — a quiet confidence that isn’t cocky — and your project has become a facet of who you are and part of your life. You accomplish things in a determined but carefree manner. I get this impression when I visit successful and mature blogs as well as many YouTube channels. Like go watch a newer SmarterEveryDay video and tell me Destin isn’t at #5 on this chart. That man is in the zone doing what he’s doing and he’s confident and enthusiastic with what he’s doing.

“Hey Black Haired Guy, got any tips for us bloggers/writers weathering the storm in the valley of despair?” No, no I do not because, like I said, I’m not at #5 so don’t think I am qualified to give tips and am kinda hoping for tips myself. But if anything (and maybe to just get myself fucking hyped the fuck up to continue on creatively writing) don’t give up! Because what else are you supposed to do besides not give up? If you give up in the valley of despair you’re fucking giving up. The whole thing this chart hints at is the fact that success might just be making it through the valley in the first place. Like maybe this is where the 80 or 90% of blogs that “don’t make it” go to die; what if the valley of despair is just the great filter between you and success? I just don’t see what you’d gain by giving up because giving up is giving up!

Being slightly more specific maybe I do have more ways to get myself siked up more tips for those in the valley of despair. Make small bits of progress: a book isn’t going to write itself in a few days and a blog won’t be successful in the first few months or years. Take things one tiny bit at a time. Write a chapter every two days or post a blog post every few days or every week. Maybe make a schedule and hold yourself to it like it’s a job? Try to summon memories from when you first started and we’re enthusiastic about your dream/goal. Find that passion that surely still lives deep within you. And if you’re really lost? Write down a plan. Writing seems to be a large part in marketing yourself so try doing that for some possible success. Ask people to read and critique your writings and learn from it. Or, to sum up what I said before: don’t fucking give up!

My Post on Watermelons Sucks

…and Purposefully Writing a Popular Post

Sometimes as a blogger you write a post (or posts) that you’re really proud of. Personally, I’m fond of my recent 4th of July post (the banner image is amazing…) as well as a few others. There are also a few posts that you don’t really think are that good, especially in retrospect. Usually the posts I make about daylight savings time, calendars, or other shit are kinda lame and boring; I understand why these posts aren’t that popular. Sometimes I find myself writing posts such as those just to post something. They’re posts I’m not that into and know they’re not going to be popular, but since they fit in well with the theme of this blog there isn’t a reason to not post them.

I’ve noticed a strange thing checking my WordPress user feedback data over the past few months that I never would’ve expected; somehow my post on picking out watermelons is continually the most (or one of the most) read posts week after week and month after month. At first I thought it might just be a fluke as if people in the world somehow decided to look up information about watermelons and stumbled upon my post. I even thought it might be a summer thing where, naturally, people might Google watermelons more than they would in December. This didn’t seem to be right and after a couple of months I just accepted it: my watermelon post is somehow my most popular post.

Here’s an example of the screen I’m talking about. As you can see, it is ranked second after my stupid post about Apex Legends, but it’s still up there. Making this even more pronounced is the fact that the Apex post is relatively new as it was written in March 2019. The goddamn watermelon post was written two damn years ago! In third place is the Little Mermaid post which might still be experiencing a boost from it being a recent topic on social media. I expect that to be completely forgotten in a few months though. So why is the watermelon post so popular and why does that suck?

As hinted at earlier, us bloggers have certain favorite posts that we’re proud of and other posts that we’re not so proud of. I think this is true of any artist; the musician has songs they like and the painter has artwork they like. One theme that seems to come up when you hear about artists with options of their own work is that they seem to consistently misjudge what is popular and what isn’t popular. Artists like works of theirs that the general population doesn’t while the general population likes things the artist themself isn’t fond of. It’s a well-known example that the band Black Sabbath recorded the song Paranoid as a quick-and-easy album filler song; the song has with time become one of their most popular songs. Kurt Cobain famously said that Smells Like Teen Spirit was just a Pixies rip-off song.

I suppose that’s how I feel about The Watermelon Post (although I don’t mean to imply it’s a masterpiece like the examples above). I went back and reread it to see if there was any sort of magic behind the post: I couldn’t find a damn thing special about it. I recall that I did have fun writing such a stupid post and I ran with it’s subject matter in a ridiculous way, but I don’t think that qualifies as “magic” at all. Maybe my lack of giving a shit slightly altered the tone of the post and made it fun and light-hearted? Maybe it hit that magical middle-ground of being both fun and informative? In the grand scheme of how I feel about my blog posts I’d put The Watermelon Post in the middle of my writings: I don’t hate it but I don’t think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever written. To me it’s kinda a mid-tier, meh, so-so sort of post. Just like the example with musicians, it’s a post that I didn’t expect to be popular but somehow is.

I don’t know if there’s any sort of lesson to gleam from this fact or not; for the most part I find it amusing and fucking stupid. It’s hilarious to spend hours making a “good” post only for it to receive lukewarm reception whereas a quick “throw-away” post can find long-term success. If anything I guess it cements the fact that you can’t really write something good on purpose seeing as you are not the intended audience. While the blogger can have a fairly good idea of what will be successful we are not our own audience so there is some disconnect that occurs. You can’t totally get out of your head as a writer/artist to see how your art will be received. You can’t be sure what will be successful and what will fall flat on its face. If anything this somewhat stresses being passive about your work. As a throwback to my last post on publishing ebooks, if you get your hopes up too high about a project you risk disappointment if it fails to meet your lofty expectations. Conversely, you could have a project that you’re not really into turn into a huge hit for some unforeseen reasons. At the end of the day you need to just keep writing, blogging, making music, or whatever the fuck it is that you do. Because while you think you’re making a shitty Watermelon Post the world might actually find something of worth that you overlooked. It’s this inability to judge how your work is from an outside perspective that really sucks.

Publishing (and Selling!) ebooks Sucks

Last week I was on vacation and as an attempt to save myself the self-hatred and directionlessness that I feel while on vacation I made it a goal to finally finish and publish an ebook. I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished this but at the same time any actual “victory” seems to not be much of a victory at all. While I’ve finally published a book, it really doesn’t mean much in the long run and surely isn’t an instant ticket to success even though I wasn’t really expecting it to be.

What did I write about? I wrote about Facebook. I elaborated in a few recent blog posts about how I was thinking of collecting my Facebook Sucks posts into an ebook: it would be easy to do and I wouldn’t have to feel any pressure for it to be perfect. Perfection is always a hurdle when doing anything for the first time. For my first ebook why would I want to spend months or years making it perfect when it would surely end up as trash and not sell? By gluing blog posts into a book I wouldn’t be making a masterpiece but I could take the first step needed to actually be a writer.

I want to cover two things here: how it was actually writing an ebook and how it was publishing that ebook. Luckily (for this blog at least) each aspect sucked giving me plenty of content to write about!

You’d think that gluing individual blog posts into a book would be really easy but it wasn’t. Each blog post was written as its own stand-alone format; when you try to smash them together as “chapters” in a book you’re left with a really disjointed book. It sounds like what it is: a bunch of shit just tossed together. While most of the content was already written I still had to reread and edit all the posts to be “chapters” instead of “blog posts.” This wasn’t really difficult but wasn’t exactly as easy as I thought it would be. I also had to give some thought as to the general flow of the book, how the chapters would fit into the entire project, and edit them accordingly.

And obviously you can’t just slap a handful of blog posts into a book and call it day either! You need to make it, well, like a fucking book so I had to write an introduction and a few more “body” chapters to ease into where the blog post chapters were taking me. As before this wasn’t exactly hard (mostly as bitching about Facebook comes as naturally to me as breathing or eating does) but it was something I didn’t expect to be as laborious as it was. In fact I think previously written blog posts made up less than half the book; I tired to write an “easy” “blog-based” book and ended up writing a book that had a few blog posts for chapters. Most of the book was totally new content so that was more work than intended.

Then there’s editing the damn thing! You have to pour over the entire document proofreading for proper spelling, punctuation, grammar, as well as making sure you don’t sound totally fucking stupid in your writing. This part could’ve been avoided by finding a “proper” editor instead of doing it myself; that entails its own list of bullshit like being social and actually talking to people. While I wanted to finally write an ebook I wasn’t trying to be social or anything and wanted to rely on others as little as possible.

Along with everything else, actually publishing wasn’t too difficult but still tossed up its own unexpected troubles here and there. My book was ready to go but was there anything else I had to worry about? Yes. Consider a book cover: this is the first and usually only thing people see about your book. If you fuck it up the cover one will think about reading it. It could be the next Great Gatsby but no one will read it because the cover is shit. I felt immense pressure trying to make a decent cover and while I think I did a decent job it still looks unprofessional. If you totally forgot the fact that your book needed a cover you’d be in a difficult spot trying to publish a book.

My book cover. Kinda cool but kinda amateurish at the same time.

Kindle Direct Publishing throws a few more immensely important tasks at you beyond the book cover. What is your book’s keywords going to be? This is how Amazon relates search terms to actual products so these have to be dead on accurate. Even worse is you only get seven terms to use. Each one has to be near perfect. The same is true for your book’s category: it has to reflect what the book is about. Plopping a fantasy fiction book in the “technical writing” section of Amazon simply won’t do you any favors and I ran into trouble at this point. Was my incessant ranting about Facebook a “social science” book on the effects of social media, or was it a commentary on internet and computer culture? I still feel bad about the categories I selected because they don’t seem to reflect the book at all. Hell, I don’t even remember what categories I slapped my book in.

You also have to write a “summary” of your book which, after the cover, is the second most important thing people use to decide when purchasing a book. After going through the exhausting process of writing and editing and making a cover you probably don’t want to write more in a desperate last-minute effort to summarize your book. If you’re thinking of publishing write a fucking summary ASAP. At the very least have an idea for one in your mind.

After dealing with all of that intense decision making you upload your book (in a .doc file or whatever) and check out how it’s formatted. I didn’t have any issues here. The rest is pretty simple: pick a price for your book and all of that shit. After a 24 hour(ish) period your book appears and, well, you’re now a published author. Congratulations! But you probably don’t have long to feel accomplished because you probably won’t actually sell anything…

I shared my book to the Everything Sucks Facebook page as well as my own personal page. I figured at least a few of my friends would check out my cheaply-priced $2.99 ebook because they were curious or felt some sympathy for me. Even a week later my sales stand, pathetically, at zero. Check this out:

If this picture looks bland it’s because I didn’t sell any fucking books.

It’s hard not to feel like shit over this, especially after doing all the work to actually write a book. I recall when one of my Facebook friends made an ebook (it was a single short story too, not even a real fucking book); I paid the 99 cents to support him because I’m a nice guy like that. Of course a bunch of other people also supported him and he was just amazed at the positive feedback his book received! I figured I could count on selling at least a few copies out of “support sympathy” or whatever you want to call it, but nope. The goddamn book only got two likes on my personal page. Fuckers.

I guess I don’t want to bitch about my friends not buying my book because you can’t be a successful author limping along with your only reliable readers being your friends/family. But I do want to bitch about the fact that doing anything is fucking hard. And, once again, doing something for the first time is the hardest. Doing anything for the first time usually involves the greatest amount of effort because you don’t know what you’re doing at a time when you have zero self-confidence keeping you motivated and focused. When you do persevere and accomplish your “first” the reception is usually either luke-warm (or nonexistent) and this can totally crush any self-confidence you’ve accomplished at achieving your goal. This is a really risky and dangerous time because if you’ve busted your ass to make progress and have had no success afterward, why would you want to continue?

Luckily I don’t think I’m dumb enough to fall for that trap again and am already working on a second ebook because who gives a fuck? Sometimes I think the real measure of success is just chipping away at something because you don’t actually care if it’s received well. I could stress out constantly over the fact that no one will probably read anything I publish and hate myself for it, or I can say “Fuck it. I’ll publish another one.” and shrug it off. What else is there really to do except make progress? So while I’ve accomplished actually publishing, had it be recieved anticlimactically, and feel kinda shitty about it I know that I need to keep moving forward because the first of anything is usually shit. So, yeah, publishing (and selling) an ebook kinda sucked.

If you want to actually check the book out here’s the link. It’s only $2.99 so it shouldn’t break your bank account.

The New Year Sucks Part Two: The Nostalgia of New Beginnings

Back when I was younger (and stupider) I always found myself sitting around on December 31st with either a piece of paper or a Google doc writing and reminiscing on how the year went and reflecting on all of the shit that had happened. This would inevitably run into dreaming about The New Year and wondering what the next 365 days would bring. I have suspicion that many — if not most — of us do this and while I never really told anyone about this habit or asked others if they do it, I’m sure I’m not alone.

On a very superficial level many people like to party and celebrate the new year, which as you can probably tell from my first post I think is stupid because it’s so arbitrary. I’d be all up for having a celebration at the solstices or equinoxes (like dancing around a campfire on the first day of spring or some shit) but outside of pagans, witches, and astronomers (maybe?) no one actually does this. If anything the news just blurts out something like “It’s the first day of summer, and the weather is nice!” while maybe mentioning that it’s the longest day of the year. Ya know, by the way. But The New Year is a big circle jerk of partying, drinking, kissing, and watching some fucking ball in New York “fall”. This is if you have an “ideal” life; if you’re single, miserable, and/or depressed the holidays in general just make you want to kill yourself or hide in a closet for a month. After any intense year-end partying I just can’t help but ask myself “Okay. So…now what?” The whole thing feels pointless and hollow. Like at the end of the day you wake up in The New Year: Day One with the worst hangover you’ve ever had and smelling like expired pizza and sweat. Happy New Year!

Failed Goals

People also like to use The New Year as a start for various goals and self-improvement plans they set for themselves. These are usually referred to as “New Year’s Resolutions” and have a horrible failure rate. At the very least this should prevent people from starting any goals on New Year’s Day; why start a goal if it will have a 55% chance of success after only a month! Like if you set two resolutions for yourself, only one will succeed on average; if you start a diet and stop drinking for New Years you’ll either be eating a doughnut or drinking a six-pack on February 1st. Maybe even both. The rate of success also becomes worse with time. After two years only 19% still followed their resolutions — higher than I would’ve guessed — but still dismal. If you started a diet you most likely would’ve fucked up between a month and two years. It was a good run but in the end you still failed at your goal.

I attribute these failure to various things, but the most obvious reason I can think of is that New Year’s Day is a terrible time to try the typical shit people like to set for their resolutions. Think dieting, losing weight, exercising, starting (and maintaining) a hobby, being a “better person,” and whatever else. This is mostly because New Years occurs near the start/middle of winter and immediately after the holidays. How is this not setting up for instant failure?

Let’s say you want to exercise like maybe run a marathon or something by summer. Well, January 1st is likely cold and shitty so why would you want to force yourself outside to run when it won’t get warmer for another two months? You might be able to get out and run a mile or so, but this isn’t the situation that actually favors sticking with it. Even if you keep with the goal of training for a marathon, running a few miles every few days isn’t going to help much in the long run. It makes more sense to wait until the season improves a bit and then hitting running in a hard but sustainable way.

What about dieting? You just came from stuffing your fat face all holiday season and a week later you’re all of a sudden going to eat vegetables and fruit? Cut your calories in half in a day? It could work but it seems like the worst time ever to start an actual diet that you can stick with.

What about not drinking? The holiday season has probably been so stressful that you’ve been hang onto reality bottle by bottle but then have to cut the cord right immediately after? Good luck…especially when your first day sober is you waking up after a YOLO-final-New Year-drinking-party with a terrible hangover and craving another shot of vodka just to make the headaches, spinning, and the shaking stop for awhile.

Any sort of these motivational, self-improvement goals also have one primary thing in common: motivation. You can’t just do your goal: it takes drive, dedication, hard work, and persistence. Once again, the cold darkness that is early January isn’t conductive for any of this especially in regards to some goal you set for yourself in a make-or-break attempt to make progress. You’re putting it all on the line with a hard start date at a time where your motivation is likely total shit and waning. Pile on multiple goals and you’re left grasping for any sort of willpower you can find. And January isn’t helping any of it.

Then again maybe all of this is just a problem for me.

The Nostalgia of it All

In the end, all of this hating on the practical downsides to resolutions are nothing with the whole naive “starting over” aspect of it all. Remember when I was talking about my little journal entries on December 31st? And how every year I’d reflect on things and while I wouldn’t set hard resolutions I would try to pick a direction for the year: how to improve on things, what large ideas and goals to keep in mind, what sort of person I should be, so-on-and-so-forth, etc. It always seems so nostalgic to sit and write and dream about a whole new 365 days where you can start over and I still find myself wanting to do such a thing.

The truth is I recently went back and read some of these entries and they’re cringeworthy at best and depressing at worst. Any sort of lofty goal I’ve had like “helping the family achieve their goals,” “investing more in ETFs,” “do something with my life,” or “day-trade cryptocurrencies” have fallen totally flat on their fucking faces in the course of just a few months. Is this my fault or the fault of the entire idea of “starting over?” I don’t know, although it could be both.

Everything seems so clear from the year-ending perspective. You can see how the year has been, what your mistakes were, and what you could’ve changed. You realize how you didn’t spend the summer outdoors enough, or you didn’t garden as much as you wanted, or whatever and you regret it. But this is all in hindsight and in the actual moment you “screwed up” you never had that hindsight perspective and clarity. When you could’ve been outside gardening or biking you decided instead to sit inside and play video games, but that was your reality and you made the best choice you could at the time. It’s only by looking back you’ve seen how you “screwed up.”

Looking forward also offers this messed up vision, but this time it’s based on vague hopes for the year. While hindsight is 20/20 the future is always rosy, dream-like, and successful. Even if you fucked up in 2018, 2019 will surely be different because, well, it’s in the future and you can construct as rosy of a picture of your year as you want. Even if you end up filing for bankruptcy or losing a loved one in 2019, you don’t know this on January 1st so obviously 2019 will be a landmark year of happiness and success for you. In short, no one realizes how much of a challenge the next 365 days will be and we always imagine the best possible outcome.

Hency my newfound hatred for looking backwards/forwards during the New Year. When you look back you seen how much a struggle it has been and see all your mistakes in perfect hindsight clarity. When you look forward you see a clean slate that will probably end up as much as a struggle as the last year where you make the same stupid hindsight-obvious mistakes that you always end up making. When I’d read my past entries regarding The New Year, I always see this nostalgic vision I put forward into the past and the hope I put into the future; it never seems to arrive. Each New Year is just as bittersweet as the last — if not more — because it’s the same shit all over as it’s always been. Determination, hope, mistakes, reflection, regret. Then determination, hope, mistakes, reflecti……….

The New Year Fucking Sucks.