If you’ve listened to the latest episode of the Paid to Play Podcast (and if you haven’t, you should – in fact, go and listen right now, then come back and read this once it’s finished), you’ll know that I have a challenge on my hands.
This time next year, author Elizabeth Vaughan and I will meet back up over Skype for a new episode of the Paid to Play Podcast, and by that time she expects me to have written a book – or, at the very least, an edited manuscript ready for querying (or even self-publishing).
A bestselling author of seven novels reckons I have it in me to get a quality book written? How awesome is that?!
Yet I don’t feel as good about it as I ought. I have this condition, you see, which involves an uncomfortable swelling of a part of my body that –
Okay, quit laughing up the back. Not that part of my body.
No, the body part I mean is the toohard gland.
Normally, the toohard gland is a small, inconspicuous organ in the brain that has minimal effect on day-to-day mental function. But during bouts of tooharditis it swells up so much that it causes ongoing panic, intermittent whining, acute self-pity, general misery, constipated thinking, shrivelling of of perspective and an overall desire for the world and its pressures to go take a running jump.
I’ve had regular and debilitating bouts of tooharditis since my early teens. It was a chronic condition during high school (just ask any of my teachers about my performance when it came to projects) and I couldn’t shake it for that single year I spent at Macquarie University.
The frequency of affliction has dropped off since I got my first full time job, but it still strikes, especially when it comes to big housework / renovation jobs and even writing. I’ve had a couple of bouts whilst working on Slamdance; it even struck at one point, building a web site for a published SF author back in the late Nineties (no, not Beth).
I’ve also discovered that this age-old affliction has developed new symptoms in the modern age, like pruning your Facebook friends list for no good reason.
It’s been said that public accountability makes for a good preventative, but I’m not so sure. Take the Thing-A-Week project I proposed a while back; I got three things in until tooharditis struck and then quietly put it aside, hoping no one noticed.
The last time I went to a Tropical Writers meeting was January, partly because of the risk that tooharditis might be communicable but mainly because I’ve not had anything new to offer.
Even having good mates relying on me doesn’t seem to stop it. In mid-August aswelling of the toohard gland nearly resulted in my quitting the BWI podcast (Marcus, remember that miserable-sounding voicemail I left you one evening?).
Heck, I even found myself using podcasting during another bout of writing-related tooharditis just a week ago – specific instances of of whining included, “podcasting is taking up too much time; I ought to just focus on that and give up on the novel”.
Vickie, experienced in medical matters, has a few percussive treatments. Her main one is the verbal upside-the-head, to which she’s lately added a few milligrams of I’m-sick-of-this-same-old-bullshit. Still, it’s like trying to break a kidney stone with a jackhammer; both the administerer and recipient get shaken and exhausted.
(She’d call the waahmbulance except she’s too good to let anyone else deal with my symptoms.)
So now, I have an extended project that aggressive tooharditis could derail at any time. What’s worse is that it’s unknown territory; ideal conditions for tooharditis are tunnels where you can’t see the light at the end.
But at least I’m aware of the condition and am getting better at spotting the symptoms. What I need help with is preventative measures and self-administering treatment.
Are you stressing?
What has tooharditis prevented you from doing?
How do you manage your tooharditis?
How did you cure yourself of it?
How do you help your friend or loved one who suffers from this debilitating condition?