Dealing with Brain Weasels

At this moment, I’m sitting in the conference room of the Liberty of the Seas. We are docked at Costa Maya, and the ship is mostly empty as people go offshore to enjoy excursions and land-based adventure. There’s a roleplaying game going on about 15 feet away from me. Several other people are in the conference room with their laptops open, quietly writing. I am on vacation, surrounded by My People, doing exactly what I want to do.

I should be happy, but… I just feel tired, and a little bit frustrated. Maybe a little bit disillusioned.

In the last couple of days, I’ve seen some things that I can’t unsee. It keeps me from being as na├»ve as I want to be.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I can’t just relax and enjoy the moment. I want to be present and appreciate where I am on this journey. I want to open up and connect. It’s just so, so hard.

This year, I’m volunteering to help with all the fiddly little things that make the conference successful. Things like rearranging chairs and tables in the conference room, rotating the daily challenge sheets, organizing and coordinating the Office Hours… that sort of thing. There’s no benefit to this activity. It’s just a way to give back and help other people have a good time.

This kind of service usually quiets the brain weasels, because it doesn’t let me just sit around and dwell on myself. I’m not sure it’s working, though. I feel unsatisfied. Anxious. Sad.

At one point yesterday, I sat still and considered quitting. Not the volunteer work, but the writing itself. Just… give up. There are so many people trying to do the same thing as me, and I don’t know that there is that much room in the world for it. Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut. Most writers do not become authors.

Why did I want to quit? It wasn’t for lack of confidence. At this moment, I feel like I have the talent and skill to be successful. I wanted to quit because we only get one life, and I want to be happy. If I reach the end of my life and I have dozens of completed novels unpublished and unseen, will I be happy? Will the measure of happiness in my life be high if I spent all of it wanting something I could never have?

Some friends encourage me. They tell me that I’m going to make it. That something good will happen. But there is so much about this business that is outside the writer’s control. It takes luck, which I’ve never had in ample supply.

The doubt is a brain weasel, digging through my thoughts and emotions, chewing away at the wiring of my brain matter, making it hard to enjoy the journey.

I’m not going to quit. I will keep going, even if it means I end up in the scenario I just described, having spent my entire life pursuing something out of reach.

But some days it is really, really hard to find joy in the work. I’m on a cruise, surrounded by writers and acquaintances, with no pressure upon me other than what I’ve placed upon myself. I should be really happy right now, and the brain weasels are getting in the way. Perhaps by the end of the week, I will feel better.