My name is Doug Wykstra, and this is some of the stuff I've read and watched.
As I continue writing for this blog, I imagine I will soon run out of standard things to say and the everyday ideas I have that come up regularly. So I’m going to have to stretch a muscle that has never been particularly strong: the ability to cast about for an idea that I can run with for 800 words. I’m not sure whether it is a defense mechanism or a natural lack of curiosity, but I’ve always tended to reject most subjects and ideas as stupid or not worth pursuing. Yes, I’m a real prize, I know. I wanted to be a fiction writer in high school, but I never got any ideas. I would do all the exercises that people suggest for generating ideas, but then I realized that most of the stories that sold to magazines seemed to be plotless, meandering affairs, and the stories I wanted to write were generally formulaic pulp that didn’t even have the advantage of smart plotting to excuse their cardboard-cutout characters. I stopped writing pretty quickly.
Even today, when I’m expected to be able to write 25-page papers in a few short weeks, I find myself calling it quits at 15 pages. I can’t conceive of an idea that would make it to 25 pages, and I generally start my papers late because I have no interpretive strategy that interests me, and the more I think about it the less genuine curiosity I have for the text. I slog my way through it most of the time, but all my 20-page papers have essentially been 2-3 smaller papers stapled together.
Today was great, but I feel like it was the last of the good days for a while. As usual, my lack of productivity was the culprit. I didn’t get any writing done except what you’re reading now, and only got through the first few pages of an article when I wanted to finish reading 2. I’ve not prepared for class tomorrow, and while it won’t require much preparation, I still feel bad about it. My computer is the worst thing that ever happened to my productivity, and often I don’t feel like I can do anything about it. But there has to be something I can do.
See, this is the main reason I stop keeping journals after a while: I run out of stuff to say, and simply begin to repeat the litany of sins I have committed, mostly against myself, but also against the people who continue to tell me they believe in me, the family members who support me morally and financially, and the more I think about it the worse it gets. I get sucked into that downward spiral. Maybe I should start listening to Nine Inch Nails. That’s the other problem when I run out of things to say- I start to free-associate (In nine months, I’m going to look back at this paragraph and cringe. Just nothing good about it).
The weird part is, today was one of my “good” days. I felt positive throughout, got enough sleep to feel good if not rested, had a meeting with my department head that went well (though I suspect every meeting with my department head goes well, she’s just concentrated awesome), and I got a job teaching a class over the summer! That’s great! I also became cognizant of the fact that I had been having a few really good days, which should have been the first sign things were going to hell. I find my emotional defaults tend to move in slightly manic/depressive cycles, with most of my work occurring at the points between the apexes. The problem is that the manic cycles are quick and self-destructing- once I realize I’ve been feeling good for the last few days, I feel REALLY good for a few hours, then I don’t do any work, then I realize I haven’t done any work, then I plunge into depressive territory. And when I’m depressed, I tend to feel bad, and not do work, and continue to feel bad. Eventually the feeling lessens/I survive the deadlines and can slowly work myself out of the depression, but it always seems to take longer than the part where I feel good. Oh, and I become a real treat to any of my family members if they call on the phone during this time.
Well, at least tomorrow I’ll have things to talk about. I’ve got a job interview scheduled with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and afterwards I’ll probably go down to Dillard’s and submit a job application there as well (which is supposed to lead to an interview). I think my teaching job offer has erased the possibility that I’ll take any offered jobs from these two companies, but both should provide interesting experiences and prove to be a veritable collectible tin of Proustian madelines to recall my history of horror stories from the job search. Point is, expect tomorrow’s post to be better (replace “post” with “lesson” and you’ve heard how about 80% of the classes I teach end).
And now I’ve just realized that I could have spent today’s post writing about my plans for my summer class rather than complaining about things I should be used to by now. Huh, maybe there is something to emphasizing the positive. Well, I’ll start now: This way, I have post ideas for Tuesday AND Wednesday! Backlog’s back on, baby! Wow, I am tired.