Most of our lives have been changed by this year’s insane events, many from uncontrollable forces of nature, but some of us faced the hells of our own making. For better or worse, we’ve all learned something from this season’s experiences.
We don’t have to do anything to destroy ourselves. Doing nothing by itself manifests the worst forms of hell that drain us dry and lifeless. I hate my zombified depressive state and had promised myself not to go back to it after I’d sobered up from dangerous addictions around 6+ years ago. I managed it by keeping myself busy, constantly doing things, learning, and getting better. Dropping a dangerous addiction would only lead to another negative addiction. I realised this in practice and found that substituting positive and productive addictions in the place of destructive addictions is the only effective solution. Human minds always need a purpose to obsess over, to give our individual lives a meaning and keep us alive.
The events everywhere from the past few years have propagated extremes of destructive negativity just because it’s become acceptable. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, I’d let myself be infected by this more damaging global contagion of nihilistic pessimism. With many postmodernist stories getting into the mainstream culture, facilitated by trends, they have been striving to portray human realism at its ugliest and push it with heavy deconstructive logic. Despite the brilliance in these stories, they are not healthy for human sanity, and a functioning, sane mind is necessary for all of us.
I fell into this pit and began writing a messed up and absurdist space fantasy manuscript at the end of 2019 and finished it in the first quarter of 2020. My mind sank into the depths of the deranged, psychotic, cosmically nihilistic, darkly amoral, and damaged psyche of my protagonist of the story. On a direct level, it damaged my prose and story, making that manuscript a vile pile of stinking bullshit. But on a personal level, writing that story damaged me in ways I may never forget. Furthermore, I grew emotionally attached to my protagonist and my manuscript, letting myself drown in continuous sessions of cognitive dissonance, emotional turbulence, and utter lunacy.
This led to a lack of purpose, and a nihilistic lack of meaning. Like many lost young minds, I was seduced by the logical, intellectual, and realistically persuasive addiction of that hellhole. Just like people’s addictions to – alcohol, drugs, sugary foods, TV, messaging, Social Media, coffee, streaming services,(And many other things that’ll remain unnamed in here), – our mind’s obsession with the lack of meaning or lack of purpose becomes a self-destructive addiction.
I realised that choosing to mock all good things and get emotionally affected by the negative things everywhere, was only keeping the good away and the bad stuck in my mind. This form of the dark, nihilistic thinking has unfortunately afflicted many young people, maybe because they aren’t recognizing any overt consequences of their actions or, in this case, their inactions.
With everything, though things by themselves have no meaning, assigning a negative meaning to something makes it true to our psyche. And assigning no meaning becomes a disguise for extremely pessimistic meanings. The beauty of things having no meanings by themselves is that we can choose to assign good, productive, and useful meanings to them. But unfortunately, that’s not attractive as it’s not easy. Doing nothing is easy, but destructive, while practically doing things takes constant effort and is healthy.
Thankfully, I didn’t write any articles during my depressive season, or else my website would be filled with pessimistic junk. To start fixing myself, I had to dive into a few helpful audiobooks, podcast episodes, and change the concepts I was consuming on YouTube, and change the TV shows and movies I watched. Plus, I toned down on my content consumption and made efforts to watch/stream content only when I’m on breaks assigned to it, or while I’m eating. And this is a heavy effort that I’m still getting adjusted to. Blocking a certain field of pessimistic memes on my FB feeds also helped.
This first half of 2020 had also broken my focus and my ability to concentrate. I’m still retraining my mind and body and continually improving by functioning. That’s where order was the only thing capable of saving me. Disorder and chaos are always working to catch us, but with my pessimism and inaction I gave into it and paid the price of misery. Structures, systems, habits, and routines, brought the much-needed stability and order back. Planned work for each day at slotted times made it manageable. I have to consider everything I do every day as work and plan for it, including the breaks to organize the distractions in its place.
The concepts mentioned in the previous paragraph are important for creative people like me who get neurotic without those measures. A responsible and controlled lifestyle makes it possible for me to practically be creative and get things done, instead of just thinking, dreaming, and wishing for things while not doing anything. The constant distractions and ease of life in our era have made that a common problem. Most people give into complaining, raging, and glorifying their own victimhood, and that makes me disgusted at them. I hate myself when I’m complaining instead of doing anything to solve the problem or make things happen.
I’d spent most of the first eight months of this year complaining, cursing, rambling, ranting, and annoying the immediate current people in my life – mainly including a few author friends, reader friends, family members, and anyone else who had tolerated my petty BS. I was trying to justify or rationalize my internal chaos, or using people to take out my emotions on. But that didn’t help me in any practical way. I had to fight my way out, on my own, similar to the way I fought to stay sober after a self-destructive season in my teenage years. Now, being older and more experienced than back then, I did my best to fight my own demons, better than before.
On a practical level, I found that this isn’t a one-time act, as I need to fight my inaction, excuses, doubt, and laziness on a daily basis with regular doses of energetic motivation and good values. I also kept doing other helpful things every day; like exercising at the gym, running at the park, and a circuit of bodyweight workout at home, journaling to keep my mind oriented and to remind myself of work by putting down my thoughts, meditating for focus(just around 3-5 minutes), and getting back to writing articles which I started with a few reviews.
I realized that consistency is really the only thing that matters, as the effects of good work, skills, habits, and efforts will compound over time. I can’t expect myself to do great work when I get back on track, or even when I’m still very young. Sure, there are a few exceptional prodigies and outliers in every field, but I’ll have to work the hard way. Most of the writers whom I respect and know well are middle-aged who’ve had a lot of(At least a decade or two or more) practice at their craft.
I can spend my twenties(or even thirties) consistently writing entertaining, pulpy stories that gradually benefit me commercially, while still having time to write serious stories after refining my writing craft. My novella Alaskan Storm entertained the readers, though it was a crude, incomplete third of a larger story that I didn’t continue to write, a story I’ll definitely finish writing sometime later(fate willing). That project showed me through readers’ feedback that I can entertain in the hi-tech, weaponized, action-adventure technothriller type genre. I’ve done a few manuscripts after that novella and refined my craft, at least a bit.
My space fantasy dark-humour book did damage my mind and my prose, but it taught me to avoid that project for a while. I don’t know how I can ever apologize to my beta readers(helpful editors) and a few of my author friends for my hindrance to them during those times when I worked on that manuscript. Maybe I’m better off with writing simple, and straightforward, action adventure stories that entertain the genre’s readers and also give me a good time writing them. There’s a reason that crazy stuff like the Fast & Furious, MCU, and other franchises have a good value in the market and a good enjoyable value to the audiences.
I’m too young to write a story so psychotic that it’ll ruin my mind, as I’ve learned from the dark comedy manuscript I worked on earlier this year. I’m still human and I personally enjoy a Bayhem type of fun entertainment. As a freelancer and a self-employed person, that best choice is to work on the type of stories I’d enjoy writing, which are also the stories I’d enjoy reading and have a good market value. Like an author youtuber recently pointed out in his video, literary deconstruction has no place outside the university classroom, and writing the good kinds of stories that we’d enjoy working on that give a good entertaining escape for the readers while making money from it is the best we can ask for. This is something I can do as I’m young enough and hopefully have the time to do it, without thinking that I’ve wasted my life on stupidly fun and entertaining pulp genre fiction.
I realize there will be ups and downs on this journey, but I’ve gotten back up each time I’ve fallen deep to rock bottom before, and I can keep getting back up better, stronger, and wiser. I’ll make sure to keep regular time to rest, relax, and recharge, so that I don’t burn out. But I’ll also make sure to not rest long enough to stay deep in limbo, which I’ll have to fight out of. I’m best when I’m working. My mind functions well when I’m writing, and when I stop(even for a week) I stumble deep into chaos. Things will go wrong, but I must get back up to make sure the same problems(or my mistakes) don’t stay consistent and compound, while I must persist in my efforts to keep the good consistent by fighting for them and earning the positive regularly.
Many people have suffered in 2020 more than I ever did in any way. That may be the best point here to remind myself that my problems aren’t physical, but internal, and can easily be fought every day with the tools at my disposal. Most writers and artists feel self-doubt and fears throughout their lives(even after they’ve become famous), but they still get to work and keep producing stories. My reconstruction and development may go on forever and that’s the best thing possible as it reminds me of a quote by the ancient Stoic philosopher Seneca – As long as you live, learn how to live.
And . . .