Stress Direction and the Time I Have To Do Things

So I haven’t posted anything here very recently–hell, last thing I posted was a picture of a goat (which I swear is more impressive than it sounds) I drew for one of my sister’s stories.

I don’t think I have quite the steady readership here, but I do write elsewhere (fanfiction, mostly, on Archive Of Our Own, and Fanfiction.net), and I do actually have regular visitors to many of my stories.

Hell, in a world of usernames mostly made or kept from your tweens or drunken haha-this-is-obviously-the-best-idea‘s, I recognize a rather astonishing amount of usernames and profile pictures that aren’t actually of people. (Hahaha, yes, so sayeth Doodled93 with a Halloween costumed selfie to the one side and a picture of my dog on the other. But my username is an adaption of a childhood nickname and the creative use of my birth year, so.)

But the thing is, I have a pretty steady readership in my fanfiction plunges, people I’m surprised to see reviewing/commenting on one story or another because they’re usually commenting on other fandoms I’ve written in, and usually it’s pretty nice. The thing I like about Ao3 (archive of our own, for those not in the know) is how friendly everyone is, and while part of that, I think, is because you have to join a usually quick waiting list to even get an account (whereas there are many dud ffn.net accounts), but also because people looking into fanfiction are generally pretty nice.

Actually care about what you post, the quality you crank out, and people will respond.

I think the most negative comments I get nowadays is from people reviewing for the first time a story I wrote nearly, gosh, 8 years ago now(02/14), and it’s mostly about the overuse of some punctuation.

But the negative comments I get aren’t the annoying ones, not really, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, but berating and shouting at me for not having updated one story in a while gets me stressed and annoyed and a bit spiteful. 

It’s the stressed part of that mix that I’m going to be focusing on today, but you should really pay attention to the fact that when I get annoyed I get spiteful.

If you’ve read anything of mine before this, of the non-fiction side of things, you’ll know that I’ve had a lot to say about stress. I’ve written about stressful situations, I’ve written about what stress is really like for me, I’ve even just tagged posts as ‘stress’ or ‘stressful’ simply because writing about it gets my anxiety up.

I don’t deal with stress well.

I think I’ve gotten better, in that instead of bottling it up I let it out in bursts to Lexy and internet and real life friends in short bursts, but I still have the avoid-it instinct…

Do you see why it is doubly unwise to yell at me and snark about when I’ll likely update?

Because I’m NOT a writer that can work within a certain deadline, I am simply one that can work within parameters. Hmm, should this story be 10k/chapter, or maybe 5k, or should this be every 7 pages, or… hmm. When should I be updating this, because otherwise the chapter will either go on forever or else never get worked on due to its open-ended-ness.

When I was in a bad way after Ottawa-related failings, I was stressed and unhappy and trying my best to avoid real life and all that comes with that, and so I got quite a bit of writing done.

Because when you’re avoiding real life, fiction is where it’s at.

Or just the internet in general.

I read and wrote a hell of a lot, and was unemployed so I had all the time I could possibly want and/or need, and basically turned all my attention towards plot, character development, 10k long chapters, and taking breaks in-between to finish whole seasons of TV shows. As uncomfortable as it may seem to you, I wallowed in unemployment and a feeling of failure but was 80% oblivious to it because 80% of my day was turned towards fictional drama, and a large part of the remaining 20% was eating and sleeping in.

Now, however, I’m in a bit of a better place, and I have a job.

Full-time even, and for a while I had TWO jobs, at least until current job was like “What would it take for you to quit working other job and come here full-time?”

Kudos to past put-on-the-spot me, because I responded with ‘benefits’, because that seemed more likely than ‘more than minimum wage’.

And now while I have stressy bits of work (working in the produce section of an organic foods store means there’s ALWAYS SOMETHING TO BE DONE, and also manager issues but whatever), I am working full-time.

I can no longer utilize my best writing time (between 10pm and 2am) because I either have work to get to at 7am, or I’ve returned from an exhausting shift that ended at 9:30pm.

So no, my writing is not happening at quite the same pace as it was last year, or even over the summer, but you know what?

Stress is usually the thing that gets me writing, because it is an escape.

Sometimes more than reading, because I am quite literally feeling like I’m in my characters head.

When I haven’t written in a long while, or am blanking on what–or how–to write in a particular story I have yet to update for a while, I experience a bit of anxiety, because I do want to write. I enjoy it. But I stress myself out in a minimal way when I haven’t updated something in a while, because I’m disappointing myself. Not in a ‘you could do better’ kind of way, but more like making plans, looking forward to it, and then finding out that either you or the person(s) you were going to hang out with and do that thing with can’t make it.

Oh, ok. Next time then. 

But when I get passive aggressive remarks and pressure from people who, while it’s flattering that they’re enjoying what I’ve written that much, don’t give a f*** what else I’m doing or how much pressure they and their unknowing compadre’s are putting on me, who would very likely feel a bit of camaraderie with the others if they knew (Hah, the author will have to update sooner than expected if we’re ALL shouting at the same time), well.

Stressed.

Annoyed.

Spiteful.

Let’s work our way up, shall we?

Spite, a desire to hurt, annoy, or offend someone.

Leads up to Annoy, irritate (someone); make (someone) a little angry.

And though it’s not in there, anger is part of this too.

I don’t like being angry, I don’t like the way it makes me feel, I don’t like experiencing that boiling in my gut, and I especially don’t like how hard it is to keep it focused on the intended recipient/aggressor. It’s like the difference between being a little peeved and being actually angry is like using two different types of weapons. Being peeved is like your emotions are turned into a laser, easy to point it at the thing that’s causing it.

Being angry is like having that laser pointer turned into some kind of gun that lets out a poisonous miasma. It’s scary, there’s kickback that can injure you, and as soon as it’s out, it’s up in the air. It could affect anyone. Could hurt anyone.

And you know what? If you let me get to know you for 48 hours, within that 48 hours I will have figured out what sort of thing I would have to say to you to actually hurt your feelings, the way that shouldn’t hurt because it’s a relative stranger saying it to you, but hits deep anyways. But I don’t say it. Ever. Because if hearing that it’s that easy to figure out how to hurt a stranger verbally puts you off from ever wanting to interact or even meet me, then maybe it’ll change your mind to hear that I don’t say any of it because I find it very easy to empathize, and I’m selfish enough to not want the emotional backlash of hurting your feelings.

But being actually angry makes that wall in my head of ‘no, you do not say this ever’ seem more like a line, and hey, isn’t it closer than I thought it was, and I bet I could walk right over it, easy as pie.

And that is stressful.

Stress, a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances, makes me want to escape. I don’t like being angry because I don’t like confrontation, and I don’t like actually feeling stressed out because I don’t like feeling like I need to escape.

And I really don’t like feeling like I need to escape from my escape.

There are a few situations that I get into that translate into me not being able to write coherently/well.

Alcohol. I will never be that writer who sits down to write with a bottle of wine (i don’t drink wine but that’s besides the point), or with a beer, and a masterpiece will never have its rough draft written in a drunken haze.

Exhaustion. I can write best when it’s late into the night, but I’m pretty antisocial, and interacting with people is exhausting. This is why I don’t really write well after work, because 1) I’m tired, and 2) writing how character a interacts with characters b-z around them is working socialization muscles that do not have the capabilities for this sort of work. I get steadily more anxiety ridden when I have to talk for a prolonged amount of time, and that makes me stressed, and makes me want to escape, and it’s hard to interact socially and also escape at the same time.

And I kind of just mentioned it within ‘exhaustion’, but Stress.

Because if you missed it,

It is hard to interact with anything when all you want to do is escape.

So yeah, this is 1700 words of unhappiness at how some strangers on the internet are making something I enjoy, something I like escaping to, into something I feel like I need to escape from.

Apocalyptic Cookies.

So I decided I want to make cookies. I found THIS recipe.

And then decided to write down the steps as it happened to me.

For those who don’t feel like going to the link…

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie with a large fork dipped in sugar.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

First of all, I had to look up what creaming, baking, was, because otherwise I would have probably just mixed everything with a knife and/or fork and a big spoon.

(And Creaming, Baking, because creaming on its own seemed like it would have a 50/50 chance of showing something sexual. Just saying.)

But this is what I’ve posted to FB as it happened for me.

(Time stamps are approximate as I’m copy-pasting as I go, and typing in the times, so they’re changing as the time is. )

Steps to making cookies:
Step 1: Find recipe.
Step 2: Realize that recipe calls for 1 cup soft butter…
Step 3: Realize that you want to make cookies now, so stick butter under computer to ‘soften’
Step 4: When mixing butter realize that time spent under computer isn’t enough.
Step 5: Shrug and carry on
Step 6: Wen adding sugar, realize that you really should’ve let butter soften
Step 7: Frown, and carry on.
Stay tuned for more steps. 

(About an hour ago)

Steps to making cookies, 2:
Step 8: “Mix in each egg, and then stir in vanilla…” Realize that you have no clue where vanilla is
Step 9: Find Vanilla. Found.
Step 10: Pause to feed dog lunch. Remember to wash kibble dust from hands.
Step 11: Feel that doing one, then the other egg, and then vanilla is too many steps. Mix all eggs and vanilla together.
Step 12: Wonder if there’s significant difference in mixing and stirring.
Step 13: Shrug, and carry on. Ignore previous result in ignoring recipe details.
Step 14: Remember result of ignoring recipe details. Realize that sugary, eggy, vanilla-y butter is now soft. ish. Remember not to ignore details again.

(About an hour ago)

Cookies. pt3
Step 15: Where the hell is flour?
Step 16: Baking soda… Baking soda….
Step 17: Nearly put dry ingredients in same bowl that held eg and vanilla
Step 18: Reassure dog that you aren’t abandoning him in quest for Not-Baking-Powder-of-How-Did-I-Not-Notice-it-said-‘Soda’ and thank the cookie gods that you didn’t already mix it all in
Step 19: Wash out eggy vanilla bowl and wonder at bubbles.
Step 20: No seriously where the hell is baking powder.

(57 minutes ago)

Cookies 4
Step 21: Get distracted from quest with sudden insight on how to make oatmeal cookies better.
Step 22: Start simmering raisins in apricot brandy. Don’t eat them.
Step 23: Continue Quest.
Step 24: Resist brandy-raisins.
Step 25: Resist.

(55 minutes ago)

Cookies 5
Part 26: “Poudre a Pate” wtf why didn’t I notice it and why didn’t just TURN IT AROUND TO ENGLISH SIDE???
Part 27: Calm down and mark quest down as finished.
Part 28: Quest finished.
Part 29: Resist brandy. And Brandy Raisins.
Part 30: Wonder again at the difference between various sorts of baking terminology… mix and combine…

(52 minutes ago)

Part 30.5: Swear at vanilla-y tsp measure and wash it out. (comments)

(52 minutes ago)

Cookies of 6th level of hell
Step 31: Wonder at how this is staying liquid with the only wet ingredients being (not soft) butter, eggs, and vanilla.
Step 32: Give comfort to clingy dog who has been groaning at you for the past 5 minutes for not paying attention to him.
Step 33: Wash hands. Again.
Step 34: Cookies. Remember cookies.
Step 35: Look ahead in recipe and be disbelieving that you have to let chill for an hour before cooking.
Step 36: Swear at computer.
Step 37: Look sad at Sister. Who can think of making dumplings at a time like this?
Step 38: Realize you still have to add 3 cups of oats to the mix, and don’t forget about raisins, and choc chips (BECAUSE!), and recipe still doesn’t call for any other liquid to be added wtf recipe.

(32 minutes ago)

Step 39: Avoid being skewered by knife wielded by well-meaning sibling.

(30 minutes ago) (NOTE: She was emptying the dish washer)

Apocalyptic cookies 7ish
Step 40: Mix in the oatmeal and don’t believe recipe on no more wet ingredients
Step 41: be disbelieving at how everything got mixed.
Step 42: Wince and add brandy raisins and choc chips and mix
Step 43: Be even more disbelieving that even that, that stuff not in the recipe, works…
Step 44: Add pic to fb to be like “Cookie dough, bitches”…

(20 minutes ago)

40.5: Use knife to mix everything, and don’t ignore the death knell of mixer next time. (comments)

(21 minutes ago)

Step 45: Cookie Dough, Bitches!

All mixed up and eveything

All mixed up and eveything

(20 minutes ago)

Step 46: Be sad that now you must cover it in cellophane wrap and cram it into the fridge for an hour.
Au revoire Cookie Dough.

And now I’m waiting.

Woo.

Will probably have more adventures in rolling and whatever the cookies, but for now this is what I have 🙂

And before I forget, brandy-ing raisins is freaking delicious, and this is how I did it:

WARNING: Very imprecise, if you want to know EXACTLY how to do it you will have to go somewhere else because really, you’re simmering raisins in Brandy here. Just don’t set your house on fire.

1. Get pot

2. Get raisins and brandy (I used apricot Brandy, but you can use whatever… or rum. Rum s good. Brandy is sweeter though.)

3. Put splash of brandy in pot .You’re looking for it to be absorbed by raisins. Use your judgement. It’s not a precise science)

4. put heat on low. Very low. You are cooking alcohol here. VERY LOW.

5. Add raisins. If you added too much brandy, feel free to add more raisins.  I just kept adding them as the raisins already in it plumped up.

6. Keep on low heat, stirring occasionally, but ultimately you can leave it on its own. Turn down heat even further if it starts bubbling.

7. You basically want most f the brandy gone, and for the raisins to be soft. Use your judgement. But then you’re done!

I used golden raisins, but you can use whatever you want, really… I made about two handfuls of raisins to add to my dough (huzzah for precision!) which turned into something like a cup of brandy raisins. Just added them all to the dough, and added two handfuls of chocolate chips and mixed.

blurry pic of deliciousness

blurry pic of deliciousness

Your end result of raisins should be sticky like they’re covered in syrup, they should be soft and squishy, and taste testing should make you happy. I know what you’re thinking here…

I know.

I *am* a culinary genius.

Side Note: do this with more brandy to the brandy:raisins ratio, and add apples, a pinch of pepper, and some apple juice, and you have an amazing savoury-sweet side dish. Apple compote is delicious.