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[cancer|process] Fatigue and writing - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-04-29 05:29
Subject: [cancer|process] Fatigue and writing
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, personal, process, writing
Sold some stories yesterday. I'll announce when things are fully official, but I placed a linked quintet of shorts with an upcoming antho, and sold another short to a print periodical. Happy days.

Meanwhile, writing fails to continue. This is turning into a real issue, one with bifurcated roots.

Sleepfail again last night, as two nights ago, does not help. Lately I've lost control of my sleep feedback loop and either sleep 8.5-10 hours (usually with the help of Lorazepam, which makes me crazy — I detest any sense of chemical dependency in myself) or 5-7 hours. In other words, too much or too little. Oversleeping leaves me logey and slow. Undersleeping leaves me exhausted and wired in all the wrong ways. Naps help, but as I said, I've lost control of the process just now.

In a larger sense, increasingly deep fatigue is a cumulative effect of my chemotherapy. (As previously noted, some effects are episodic, some are continuous but essentially flat, and some are cumulative.) Add that to the stress of serial medical crises over the past eight weeks (my bad cold, Mother of the Child's hospitalization, tillyjane's hospitalization), and I've pretty much run out spoons in a system sense. Just getting through the workday is a major achievement now. My 3-4 pm writing time has all but collapsed, as has my alternate 3-4 am writing time.

This is completely unacceptable, but damned hard to fight. For one thing, I have contracted deadlines I need to meet. Yes, I have some room to negotiate, but one of my cardinal rules is don't miss deadline. Reliability is a big part of how I've made my way in the field thus far. Furthermore, those deadlines exist for a reason, and it's not simply to give me something to angst about in the midst of chemotherapy.

So I'm caught between my bone-deep professionalism, my need to write, and my wretchedly unreliable body. No answers yet except sheer force of will, but if I can have an open (ie, non-infusion) weekend without a medical crisis (for the first time in two months!) I can make up a fair amount of ground.

Grr.

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Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2010-04-29 12:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, I believe most editors understand "I am undergoing chemotherapy, and it is whacking the living shit out of me." And they'd rather have your manuscripts late than never. The unforgivable sin in this business is not being late -- it's being late with no advance warning.

Email your editors. Ask for a three or six month extension, citing chemo. They'll move heaven and earth to reschedule you, and you'll get a revised deadline. The books will be pushed back to a later publication slot, but who cares? Your health comes first.
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2010-04-29 12:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Deadlines rule my life, and I know as a writer one of my assets is reliably meeting deadlines, so I know where you're coming from. (The other one is turning in clean copy that needs little editing.) However, trust me when I say that your editors will give you credit at this time and will work with you to adjust the schedule so it is doable for you. They, too, are human and many of them have been through what you are going through now. Here is what you don't want to happen:

chemo drains you energy, causing you distress and anxiety, making it harder for you to be creative and write, THEN lack of progress in writing causes you MORE distress, depriving you of sleep, interrupting your healing process.

Cut the cycle off and remove any outside sources of stress that you can. In retrospect, it may have been unrealistic to agree to contract deadlines during or immediately after chemo, but you gave it your best and no one can blame you for that. You might also benefit quite a lot from a few days or a week off from work so you can get out of the insomnia/oversleep cycle. You might feel vastly more human and functional.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2010-04-29 12:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hugs.

This too will pass, Jay. Keep fighting, but don't beat yourself up in the process. As you note, a weekend without infusions or medical crises will help you build up your supply of spoons once again.

Time, dear friend, time. And keep in mind, if anyone, anywhere, has a logical reason for missing deadlines right now, it's you. However, as you've pointed out, you have room to negotiate, and your past excellent history of making deadlines now serves you well in the breach.

Hugs. Once you get that much-needed break, writing will return.

Hugs.
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Rafe
User: etcet
Date: 2010-04-29 12:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Look on the bright side - you could be a large-scale sculptor or steelworker or pyrotechnician as your art, and not a writer.

Here's hoping for some uninterrupted hours to bang on a keyboard.

This came across my twit feed this morning, and is going to get shared around.
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e_bourne
User: e_bourne
Date: 2010-04-29 14:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You know the truth. You're working toward the goal of being cancer free. That's what this is all about. That's the sacrifice you're making. The illusion that everything can just be normal while you give up your body to the hellish cure is an illusion. When shit gets piled on top, even more so, something has got to give.

It's not a question of professionalism. It's a question of logic. Your emotions right now are doing you no service. Use your logic and stop beating at the wall of circumstance. You are over the halfway point. Your deadlines can be negotiated. The tiredness, the sleeplessness (which makes all this emotional static worse), the feeling like crap will end. Don't be silly about this stuff.

Or, don't listen to me, listen to Shelly and Shannon. Aren't you glad I'm coming down for the weekend? :-) I'm such an annoying bitch.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-04-29 17:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Aren't you glad I'm coming down for the weekend? :-)

Yes, very much so. :)

I'm such an annoying bitch.

Not hardly. Besides, Mark is like your graphite rod...
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2010-04-29 14:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't really have anything constructive to say, other than that you are amazing, you are getting through this with huge panache, and we are thinking of you.
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Renfield
User: cuddlycthulhu
Date: 2010-04-29 15:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I certainly hope you get that weekend. Seems Fate has decided to take the short end of the stick and beat you about it.
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Talekyn
User: talekyn
Date: 2010-04-30 04:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Just want to say Congrats on the story sales! I read your story in the Dark Faith anthology, and while wandering a Borders in Hebron KY (I'm here for work) I found the Cthulu's Reign anthology and noticed you have a story in there, too. So I impulse-purchased it.

Sorry the chemo is working so hard against your writing, of course. I'm confident you'll find that energy again, and I hope that open weekend shows up soon!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-04-30 12:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks for the vote of (reading) confidence!

And the open weekend is almost here, assuming no disasters today...
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Talekyn
User: talekyn
Date: 2010-05-01 16:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sending good thoughts your way for the weekend!
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2010-04-30 04:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:quilting
I don't know if this will be received in the manner in which it is intended (as something to make you smile), and I'm certain others have mentioned this already, but--

Criminy, your icon looks like George Carlin!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-04-30 12:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heh.
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