I currently feel about eighty years' old. I'm exhausted. My fingers hurt from typing and my brain is overwhelmed by the brain-stunning intellect of a "Simpsons" rerun.
Gosh, to be normal...
My kids were gone for the entire week, and yet I was up until three a.m. writing every night. The other night, I watched this show "Mary Knows Best" -- a reality show about a psychic. She went into an antique store and was overwhelmed by all the energy. Now I'm no psychic (if I were, I would totally have done better in school!), but I do feel energy around me. Deeply. To the point where if the kids are agitated, I'm a basket case. I really put myself into my characters that way too, and it's not all that healthy. Karen Kingsbury can write a bestselling book in the time it takes me to edit one. That is not only disappointing, but I'll bet Karen comes out perfectly normal at the other end of the process. What. A. Gift.
So I borrowed this book from the library, "The Highly Sensitive Person in Love" -- it's not really about romance, it's about relationships and how they affect a highly sensitive person. There are two types, the author claims. The Highly Sensitive Person, the author claims, "It's not that our eyes and ears are better, but that we sort what comes in more carefully. We like to inspect, reflect, ponder. This process is not necessarily conscious!" Hah! Take that all you nasty folk who tell me how judgmental I am. Is it my fault I could not believe the mother in "Ramona & Beezus" because of her ridiculous, rainbow-shaped eyebrows that no mother, who is not a porn star, would have? It is NOT! I just notice. And it annoys me. (LOVED the movie though, and I loved Ramona as a child, and even more as an adult realizing, Ramona, like me, was an obnoxious girl before her time!)
The other night, I turned on 20/20 or one of those shows, and this man was talking. He literally made me shudder, but I didn't even know what the show was about. He was wearing normal clothes. His pastor said he was a good man who had been railroaded, but I knew, I mean KNEW this man was wicked inside. I could read him so easily because of the way he defended himself. It turns out, this man: Dave Hawk was arrested and subsequently convicted of her murder. People, including his daughter and his pastor defend him and he continues to battle the conviction. But I tell you, as sure as I sit here, this guy did it. I knew he did it before I even knew what he did.
Back to the novel. After I finished this rewrite, I literally felt drained and I turned on the TV and what should be on, but the beginning of "Romancing the Stone" where Joan Wilder has just typed her last great missive. "That was the end of Grogan... the man who killed my father, raped and murdered my sister, burned my ranch, shot my dog, and stole my Bible!" Then, Joan celebrates with a fire in the fireplace and a meal shared with her cat on fine china.
The truth of that scene for the writer is SOOO huge. I mean, it's not like we're here writing "Crime and Punishment", but it still takes a lot out of us. Because we're sensitive. So the sensitivity book also claims we must search for the optimal amount of arousal. Careful to not enter a state of overarousal. But then, "Up the Stakes" as "Writing the Breakout Novel" states, add this to your weirdness: Alongside the sensitive person, there is also the Sensation Seeking individual. People who are "born with a nervous system that makes them easily bored, and willing to take more risks to get ahead or have a new experience.
Heavens. There is no hope for me. I cannot finish a novel like a normal person. I have to throw myself into it and find out what makes someone tick. I have to know the answer -- what's the thrill of swing dancing? Why does Fred Astaire endure? Why did Ginger Rogers throw fits to wear the dress she designed? Why did I have to get rid of the couch that invaded my mental space?
I think my answer lies in the Sensitivity book. Artist feel things deeper. It doesn't matter than I'm not Dostoevsky. Or even Karen Kingsbury. Basically, I'm wired a certain way. Perhaps bordering on obsessive. Here's how the book describes it:
"They certainly have versatility, a combination of the HSP's vision and the HSS's drive, but their optimal level of arousal is very narrow because they are easily overwhelmed AND easily bored."
I think that's why when Thomas Nelson talked with me about the Billionaire novel, I thought, okay, but what if... Because the billionaire didn't stir anything in me. One of my favorite Christian novelists once told me that you don't have to FEEL everything to put it into a book. Heavens, I hope that's true. I'm just not there yet. Because while I sit here, grateful to be done, and worn out, I think, "WHAT IS NEXT? LET'S GO!"
But I do have to behave on my vacation in Mexico because the last time I went to a spa with my BFF, she told me never again because I couldn't sit still. I am going to sit still, with as many books as possible. If it kills me! That too, can be trouble. I think I've read about 25 books in the time it took me to write just one!
Do you take on too much? How do you scale back and find balance?