The Black Dog: Suffering from Someone Else’s Depression

This also appeared on the Good Men Project, December 2016.

Throw a proverbial rock somewhere on the internet and you’re going to run across at least one essay trying to tell a non-depressed person what it feels like to have depression.  It’s not just feeling sad all the time or having no energy, it’s a complex emotional state that is defined more by its self-perpetuation than exclusively by what emotions are experienced.  (I know, I know… blasphemy.)  Maybe it sounds callous to say, “Okay, we get it,” but seriously – we do.

Yes, I know that many, many people who suffer from depression would like their loved ones to know that they can’t just “snap out of it”, that it’s not about “adjusting attitude”.  Most people these days are in such a state for whatever reasons that drugs are heavily indicated.  It sucks.  I’ve been there myself, and I know how rough it is.  I really, really do.


There’s a whole other side of the story that seems to get left out.

The Black Dog

The best description of clinical depression that I’ve ever seen is the Black Dog analogy.  Imagine that this emotion is a large shaggy black dog that has a particularly pungent air.  It follows you around, sits on your lap when you’re trying to get close to pretty much anyone else, and actively interferes with life.  It eats your food before you have a chance.  It flounces around at night and keeps you from sleeping.  It sits on you during the day, keeping you from getting up and being productive.  Even if you manage to leave the dog in another room, you can still smell it.  It’s still there.  It’s always affecting you, anytime, day or night, even if sometimes aren’t quite as bad as others.

I make the differentiation between “clinical depression” and “situational depression” deliberately.  Frankly, there are sometimes when, yes, you have every reason in the world to be depressed.  You got fired from a job you loved for reasons you don’t understand.  A very close and dear loved one died.  Your job and living situation sucks balls, and there’s no real clear pathway to making it better.  As the wise man once said, “Before diagnosing yourself with depression, make sure first you are not merely surrounded by assholes.”  That is situational depression.

Clinical depression is when, for all intents and purposes, everything around you is great (or at least not awful), but you just can’t enjoy it.  Maybe it’s a projection from the past coloring this moment, such as with PTSD.  Maybe it’s a chemical imbalance.  Maybe it’s a little bit of both.  The point is that, for whatever reason, you are unable to see anything except the dull grey darkness, occasionally punctuated by fits of anger or guilt or shame.  One friendly moment does not a cure make, and efforts to “snap out of it” are often fruitless.  Nothing that made you happy before works, and everything tastes bland and distant.

It doesn’t just suck for you

The Black Dog sucks to live with as a constant companion, I know it.  You know what else sucks?  Living with someone who lives with a Black Dog, especially when they refuse to acknowledge it.

Imagine hanging out with your friend and having this huge smelly nasty wet beast taking up three-quarters of the couch while you’re trying to have a conversation.  It doesn’t just sit there, no: it fidgets and it whines and it constantly gets between the two of you.  You try to point out to your friend that it’s really hard to talk with this ridiculous dog in the way, but they say, “It’s not a big deal, just ignore it, that’s what I do.”

Ha effin’ ha.  No.  You’re not just ignoring it.  You’re complicit in its game to consume you whole.  It’s isolating you from the people closest to you, and you seem to be letting it.  To my gentle readers: don’t jump down my throat just yet.  I know, some people are awesome about listening to feedback from loved ones and recognizing that maybe they’ve sunk further than they thought.  I’m specifically talking about the scenario where someone is reeking of nasty wet dog fur all the time and they make every excuse to ignore it.

“That’s not wet dog smell, it’s just the trash that wasn’t taken out.”

“I’m not pinned to the couch right now, I just really want to watch this ninth hour of ‘CSI’ reruns, again, in case I missed something.”

“I don’t really want to snuggle right now, I really have my hands full with this do– I mean, I’m not in the mood.”

The absolute worst part is that it’s a talking dog, but it only speaks vague-truths and lies.  It dresses up the slightest detail to be the biggest deal, it ignores critical information, it hijacks entire conversations if they look like they might be productive… and by “productive”, of course I mean “contributing to working through the depression”.  It speaks for the person it’s stalking, and it says really sh*tty things to their loved ones and it whispers back to its person even worse things.  (I named my own Black Dog “Bad Voice” for exactly this reason.)

Let’s say it’s you that has the Black Dog.  Here’s what your loved ones experience:  You no longer take part in anything that requires effort.  Your cycle of insomnia and lethargy completely remove you from any kind of family or social life.  If someone does manage to get you involved in a social event, it takes you so long to recharge from that experience that you’ll miss the next two or three opportunities if you can.  You say really fucking awful things to your S.O.  The dark thoughts in your head that you think are “just thoughts” influence your decisions and set you up to look like a proper asshole.  You beg off when people are supposed to rely on you.  You get really selfish over stupid things.  You ignore the things that were more precious and important to you before.  All of your emotional investments are turned upside down and everything that you ever loved is called into question.  Everything is left for someone else to carry, and you don’t seem to care if things get done or not.

If you’re really, really lucky, your S.O. will be understanding and compassionate, but if you’re actively ignoring the Black Dog, how far do you think that’s going to take you?  How patient can they really be and for how long?  If your S.O. knows you’re depressed, knows about the Black Dog, that buys you time, but it doesn’t buy you forever.

No one wants to be in a relationship with a person that they can’t touch or talk to or be intimate with.  No one wants to choose to sleep with a revolting matted malodorous Black Dog.  Some people do anyway with the faith that it’s really only temporary.

I’m not telling you this to make you feel guilty.  I’m pretty sure you’re already there and probably live there.  I’m telling you this because one of the most common lies that the Black Dog tells is that you don’t matter, that your actions or your presence don’t matter.  You have no impact on anything around you, and if anyone wants you around, it’s for what you give, not what you are.

If you knew how much the Black Dog steals away from the people who love you, would you fight it?

It’s probably never going to go away, but it can be tamed

Again, this is coming straight from personal experience.

Once you have a Black Dog, you’re not going to get rid of it.  I’ve come to think of mine as a “canine of variable size and shade”.  If you focus on getting rid of the Black Dog as the “victory scenario”, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  In fact, it’s probably the Black Dog telling you this, that the only way to be happy again is to get rid of it, but that’s not strictly true.

Imagine now that the Black Dog is actually an important and vital part of your personality, but because it was injured at some point, it spun out of control.  The way through is not to get rid of it but to tame it.  It’s trying to tell you things, and while those things are dangerous and destructive, they can’t resonate with you unless they have a tiny little core of truth.  The trick is to find it and understand what it means outside of the context of the dark words the Black Dog speaks.  Sometimes it’s that your fly really was undone the whole time you were on stage in front a thousand people.  Sometimes it’s just a need to bolster your confidence.

Open your mouth and talk.  Any therapist will tell you that the most important step in any kind of recovery is to actually acknowledge the beast and talk about the feelings.  BUT, you have to remember that they are just feelings.  If they were facts, they would feel totally different.  Black Dog might try to tell you that they’re facts, but Black Dog doesn’t know any facts.  (Black Dog is a liar, remember.)  Talk to a counselor, talk to a lover, talk to a parent, a best friend, anyone.  Preface with, “I don’t need advice, I just need to get this off of my chest.”  If your talking partner is clever, they’ll know that this moment has to be about you – not about them, and not about the Black Dog itself.

Trust your loved ones.  If someone is calling you out on depressive behaviors, pay attention.  Black Dog is an abusive partner, and relationships don’t get abusive all at once; they ease you into it.  Sometimes it takes someone else pointing out what may or may not be okay to trigger recognition from you that, hey, you haven’t bathed in a week and when was the last time you had an actual meal.  The very fact that someone was willing to ask if you’re okay already points that they care about you.  (I promise, it’s not the week-long shower-less funk motivating the question, this time.)

If you don’t think you can trust anyone else, turn to a blank page.  Get the thoughts out of your head and onto the paper to see if they are really worth considering.  Most of the time, once you’ve done that two or three times for about twenty minutes each, you’ll find that you can think of at least one person who would be willing and able to listen, or you’ll at least have a better understanding of your own thought processes.

Not gonna lie, it’s really hard.  The single most difficult thing I have every done was force myself to get up off the couch and make the Black Dog stay behind – and I’ve had multiple natural childbirths.  As I pointed out at the beginning, the very nature of clinical depression is that it is self-perpetuating.  It can come up with thousands of excuses to justify itself, but in the end, they are only just excuses.  The good news is, if you can just break out once, get a little exercise in once, let yourself be cuddled and snuggled, the next time is going to be just a little easier.  It’s still not going to be a cakewalk, but it won’t be as hard as the first time.

And if you still can’t get the dog smell off, fix your nose.  By that, I mean talk to your doctor about medication.  A lot of times, you’ll only need meds for a short period of time so that you can adjust your perspective while you learn better coping mechanisms.  No one on the planet is suffering from a “Prozac deficiency”.

Finally, please remember:  you’re not less of a man/woman/winner by asking for help, you’re more of a human.

Deconstructing Me: Adult Autism

autistic-kids-rockWhen I found out a few years ago that I was on the autistic spectrum, it was a huge relief.  It made so much of my life suddenly make sense.  My shoddy school behavior and difficulty with monotonous jobs was all attributed to ADD!  The social awkwardness that I could never get over?  Totally autism!  Still, for the most part, the discovery was a novelty.  I figured that I’d just go along with my life like I always had, and maybe being aware of my quirks and weirdnesses from a different angle would give me more power over them.

Well, I was a little right, but not quite enough.  Actually, nowhere near enough.  I mean, I was able to identify my quirks as relating to my neuro-atypical-ness, but it’s taken even more to figure out the difference between what made me “me” and what was an affectation that I’d developed for getting on in the world.

See, when you don’t know that you’re an autie and you feel separated and different from other people, you try to hide it, compensate for it.  After all, why can’t you stay interested in regular subjects or sports?  Why don’t you like the things everyone else likes?  Why can’t you pay attention?  What can’t you just suck it up and be like everyone else?  What the hell is wrong with you?!

You try to act like other people do, you try to blend in with their weird little social rituals.  You try to understand why they do what they do from their perspective, ideally, but you can’t necessarily relate to why they do what they do.  You do your best to mimic them and go through the motions, and you can pass as them for a little while, but it’s hard.  Like, really hard.

Hard maybe isn’t the most accurate word, though.  Maybe that’s part of it, but more accurately, it’s exhausting.

Birds and Fish

Imagine being a bird in a world of fishes.  You’re on the shore, and you’re supposed to go to school (heh) with them, and you’re supposed to get on with them, but you’re still a bird.  But, it’s what you’re supposed to do.  So, you dive in, hold your breath, do your best to make friends.  After a while, you can’t hold your breath anymore.  You have to come up for air, to get back to your own element.  Your fish friends and lovers sometimes get pissed off because you leave them suddenly.  Some understand, or at least accept, that you literally cannot help it.  You have to breathe, for fucks’ sake.

Some auties learn to get through this by holding their breath for a really, really long time – unnaturally long, even – and then when they have to come up for air, it’s a huge explosion of flailing and gasping and sometimes people get hurt (fish and birds alike).  Others work out ways to only spend a little time hanging out with the fishes and then hiding on the shore so that no one realizes they’re not in the water all the time.  Still others use drugs or other tricks.

Me, I kinda want some SCUBA gear, I think that would work best, but I also want to have permission to not be in the water all the time.  SCUBA gear would make it so that I could be comfortable hanging out with my fish friends.  I wouldn’t have to think about how the fuck to breathe when I’m around them after more than a few minutes.

Another big problem is that the world is made for fishes, so a lot of the mapping and processes that we’re taught in school and for work only apply to fishes and to the life underwater.  When you’re a bird, you can’t use the aquatic navigation methods to get around the sky.  And because no one teaches bird-type things as a regular course of life, most of us are on our own trying to sort it out.

And that means that when we do finally find each other, we’re often just as confused as everyone else as to what it takes to get on in the world.  And then it’s even more complicated because there’s more variation in birds than in fish, it seems, so what works for a sparrow isn’t going to work for an ostrich or a hawk.  We have to take bigger and bigger perspectives of the world in order to make any kinds of real general statements about our condition.

So, that’s how it feels when we’re trying to get on in the world.  It sucks a lot. We’re all in unmapped territories, trying to find our way.  It’s difficult living with fish-things, but in general, we like fish.  We like hanging out with them and making friends with them and sometimes even being lovers and getting married and having biish or fiirds or whatever they end up being (usually birds, fucking thanks, genetics).  We want to try to get along with them.

We just can’t be the only ones making an effort.

The Glass Wall

There are lots of different types of birds/auties, and it really seems that no two are the same.  There are general “symptoms”, of course, that get mixed and matched together into every one, but sometimes that’s just presentation.  What works to help control the less desirable behaviors in one might not work in another.  This makes ideas like “treatment” really touchy, especially when words like “treatment” come out as synonymous with “because there’s something wrong with you”.  Our greatest commonality is that we are fully human, and we want to be treated as such.

For all that any general statement is hard to make about auties, there are some commonalities that I’ve observed.  I’m not saying this is true for every last person on the spectrum, but it does seem to be holding up a great deal to scrutiny.  (Your input, gentle reader, is encouraged.)

Specifically, we auties are behind the Glass Wall.  For some of us like my non-verbal son, that wall is super-thick and full of occlusions.  He can’t communicate effectively or regularly from his inside world, and he can only sometimes make out what’s being told to him from the outside.  He does have a brilliant and vivid world going on in there, clearly, but good luck finding out what it is past the wall.

A lot of us “higher functioning” types have thinner walls, but we still have occlusions.  That glass acts as a fun-house-mirror type lens.  We tend to take things super-literally, for instance, because we can’t always “see” body language to indicate a joke or sarcasm.  We miss critical cues that tell us whether or not someone is a threat.  If we tend to underplay threats, one bad experience makes us doubt all future experiences that might look kind of like that one bad time.  We have a hard time discerning the factors and variables of interactions because the world is written in fish-language, which will never be our native tongue, no matter how much we study it.

Some parts of the wall become telescopic lenses, and these are our fixations.  OCD behaviors, for instance, are when we notice this One Thing.  It’s the Most Important Thing.  It could be how the towels are folded (one of my big ones) or how the pencils are aligned or putting all the little cars in a row or only eating the vowels out of the Alphabits cereal.  (I’m not kidding, I’ve seen this happen.)  It could be texture issues, touch issues, certain types of sounds, control of our bodies… any of these things become so much bigger than neurotypical people experience.  We’re not being “overly sensitive”, we’re seriously experiencing this Thing more than they are.

Just to make things a little more “fun”, the thicknesses of the walls change with many factors.  Food sensitivities, hormonal cycles, extended forced social interaction, money problems, relationship issues, and pretty much any kind of stress you can imagine will thicken that wall.  “Go-to occlusions” – usually false ideas that we fixate on in anxious states – start to color the world.  Everything is a threat, everything is bad, everything is dangerous.  Our fixations are bigger than anything else, so much that we don’t know they’re false in that moment.  Any other time, sure, we’re logical people, but when we’re stressed out and melting down?  Nah.

It’s the “high-functioning” adult version of sensory overstimulation.  Some of us have meltdowns and literally table-flip.  Some of us shut down into deep depressions.  Some of us run away, some of us lock up behind an impenetrable wall of blank, but almost always, there’s a neurotypical person looking at us in confusion, trying to figure out what the big deal is.

What to do, what to do

It would be super if we could start building a world that was equally suitable for fish and birds.  Some of the things that birds really need to feel comfortable would make the world a better place in general, and fish definitely seem to benefit.

For instance, most of us have food sensitivities, but those reactions are to things that most people shouldn’t eat anyway, like Red Dye 40 and enriched bleached flour.  (Some of us can’t eat wheat at all, and we are very sad bagel-less people.)  Because we are so literal minded, we also have an intense sense of fairness and rightness.  If we are taught that the Rule is This, but then people start behaving like That, and no one gets called out about it, this creates enormous anxiety.  What’s even worse is when we are taught the Rule is This, and we act according to This to the best of our ability, but then we’re reprimanded for it.

Justice and fairness are big deals.

We like true things, we like things we can trust.  We like transparency and for topics to be fully explored and explained.  We like knowing all there is on a subject, digging in deep to something we love and finding out everything we can about it, and we like sharing that knowledge with others.

We have needs, just like neurotypical people, but what confounds us “high-functioning” folk a lot is how often neurotypical people don’t seem to pay attention to their own needs.  Our perspective makes our needs loud and impossible to ignore, but that doesn’t make them less than yours.  Your alarms are quieter, I think.

Maybe if you fish could make room for us birds in the world, we birds could teach you fish how to take better care of yourselves.  And given our love for you in general, we’d probably help take care of you, too.

It’s only fair.


Brain dump busy days, welcome

Hand writing So Many Things in To Do List with red marker isolated on white.

I’ve been a bit on the busy side.

Cleaned the garage, finally.  Now it has a big separating wall that keeps the art and construction stuff to one side (the side with the garage doors) and the gaming and meeting place on the other.  It also has a free-standing air conditioner and a coffee bar.  I have priorities.

Got a paying contract, finally.  After a week of negotiations, I finalized a deal with a guy who works in real estate buying houses.  Great guy, I think this is going to work out well.  Thing is, it illustrated for me a few important things:

  • Most people do not understand that when you sign a legally binding agreement with someone and put a clause in to protect your interests, you must be willing to let them insert a sister clause for the same protections.  Expecting all the protection and offering none in return is shitty.  I don’t blame the guy for not understanding this, though.  Standard business practices have always been dodgy.  This is how we change them.
  • When you’re looking at a project but still have the promise of a long-term business relationship, make the first agreement short term.  It’s like dating.  If the first date went okay, think about how it’s going to go for the next month to three months before picking out your vacation together next year.
  • You have the right to ask for special clauses – especially for a short term contract – if your red flags have been set off.  Me, I get nervous when people talk about having a lot of money.  This has traditionally been followed by them trying to screw me over big-time.  Like, golly, I guess that’s why you still have money; you don’t pay people.  So, I asked for the first short-term agreement to be paid on retainer with reimbursement for expenses.  This is not common for for in a long-term arrangement, but this first quarter is all about establishing trust.

I utterly failed at my two-week writing goal, but that’s okay.  The goal was 70,000 words for two weeks, spread across several different stories.  Some came with deadlines, some were just neat ideas.  I got about 9,643 words into it (not counting the incomplete ones), and then this contract thing happened.  I could technically count the 2000 words that went into the pre-sale audits, and the 1000 words that went into the audit, and also the other 2000 words that went into a surprise game design document… but I’m not going to.  They wouldn’t help.  I’m not crying over spilled milk.  However, that goal was based on being able to write for four to six hours every (work) day.  This new gig is deliberately designed to be part-time, so my new writing schedule is going to center around that.

I updated my writing tools.  I tried Scrivener ages and ages ago, and I hated it.  It felt like it was making my job more complex than it needed to be.  I recently decided to try it again, and I gotta say, I’m pretty impressed.  I like having the cork board feature, I like the way the chapters can be broken up… I’m digging it.  I also started using the Hemingway Editor.  It tracks your passive voice use, your sentence length, writing complexity… I don’t know if it really makes me a better writer, but it does illustrate how long I like to make my sentences.

Other things have been going on as well, but they’re not quite blog-worthy.  I’ve been toying with an AR game design, with a new cooking blog, and with numerous other projects, but nothing is really ready to emerge just yet.  Thanks for listening, I’ll be back shortly.

Oh… and one more thing…


Personal Goals, ai has dem



I love to write.  You may have noticed.  In my perfect world, I would generate significant income through my word-crafting alone.  I am definitely prolific enough.  I like to think that I have some amount of talent and skill, but it’s a long and often luck-riddled process.  There are ways to tweak probability, of course.  You can joining critique groups, going to workshops, studying more, listening to mentors.  I do as much of this as I can.  (Spoiler: some of these supports are free, and some are bloody expensive.)  I’m still trying, though, every day.

Of course, you know about my Patreon.  I’m sticking with it for now, until I can figure out a way to host subscriptions on my own.  Honestly, I’d have to have enough subscriptions to defer the cost (they’re expensive). I’m not willing to “pass on the cost” to my subscribers.  I don’t have that many, so the opportunity cost isn’t worth it just yet.  If I got more subscribers (HINT HINT HINT), then I might be enticed to move it over here to Normality Factor.  I could add so much more value content then.

Then there’s the traditional approach, as previously touched on.  You submit work to magazines and hope they like you enough to pay you for your trouble.  While a nice little bit here and there, getting into magazines is not actually the goal. The goal is to get enough publishing credits that you look attractive to agents for when you’re trying to get a novel published.  (This is actively going on with “Middle of Nowhere”.)  This is also the step that probably benefits the most immediately from the workshops and such.

The problem with this traditional approach is that, even if your work is solid and amazing and wonderful, the submission process is just like dating.  You could be the most perfect writer out there, but if there isn’t that chemistry, that zing, you’re not going to get a second date.  Good luck trying to find out what (if anything) was wrong in the first place.

This brings us to a uniquely Two-Thousand-Teens option, the crowdfunding campaign.  I’m personally a fan of Kickstarter because I like that if people aren’t interested, no one’s on the hook for anything.  But, if enough people are interested, I can totally send them out awesome and amazing things.  I also like the idea that I can crowdfund one book – an anthology, let’s say – and still pursue other traditional avenues of publication.  Having a successfully crowdfunded book is much more credible that being self-published.

See, that’s the default that people go to when they suggest options against the Traditional Publication Route.  Self-publishing is easy – which is why everyone does it.  That means that the quality is hit or miss, the writing may or may not be readable.  Oh yeah, did you want help with marketing or distribution past your on-demand guys?  Because that’s not happening.  It’s all on you to make it or break it, but the buying market is so jaded with so many bad books that rising to the top is really hard.  People have to be willing to take a chance on your book.  If they’ve been accosted and beaten bloody by the previous ten, all the pretty covers in the world aren’t going to make them want to take a chance with their money or their time with the eleventh.

To put it in different terms, self-publishing often means that the writer is not accountable to anyone else for the quality of their writing.  They might’ve paid good money for a cover to entice you, but whatever’s between the pages could be literately horrific. The unsuspecting reader would never know until it’s too late and their money has flown the coop.

At the beginning of the year, I said I wanted to write 1000 words a day and also journal.  I promptly fucked off both of those goals because life.  However, I believe that I’ve made up for it in the last couple of months, at least a little.  I write, on the average, about 8000 new words every week for Patreon and the #TuTwiTa.  I also write at least another 7000 to 10,000 words on other stories each week.  And I’m constantly editing and re-reading and submitting.

So, these are my goals.  I still collect more rejection letters than anything else, but I like to think that I’m getting better every day.  You guys could totally help out, though, by commenting and sharing my stuff.  <3

Things to do instead of write

procrastinationIn addition to the grueling, harrowing process of character development, plot design, world building, and word-crafting, the most vital skill any writer can have is procrastination.

I’m completely convinced that the creative process – the real stuff, the actual making-of – happens between the pages, in the cracks of time when words aren’t being committed to paper (virtual or otherwise) in mad spells of frantic typing.

However, I am also completely convinced that there is a right way to procrastinate and a wrong way to procrastinate.  For the record, painstakingly typing out “procrastination” at least one more time to make your SEO gauge go up a little might be on the “okay” list.

Good things for procrastination:

  • I guess I can move these dishes from the sink to the dishwasher… let me just rinse them really good first…
  • Oh crap, is my coffee cup empty again?
  • Let’s see what’s going on in the news…
  • Did I switch the laundry to the dryer last night? I should go check on that.
  • I bet my roses need a little watering, it’s getting so hot and dry…
  • Socks obviously go on the floor, don’t they?  All of them.  Clean ones, dirty ones, they’re just automatically floor items, like tiny bits of furniture that the vacuum-bot can choke on.
  • Oh crap, I need to clean out the vacuum-bot.
  • And darn this sock that the vacuum-bot tried to eat.
  • Dammit, the bathroom rug is coming unraveled, time to knit another one.
  • How does my coffee cup get so empty all the time?
  • Oh my god, this agent’s client list is a reader’s wet dream. I should definitely do my homework on this guy *heh-heh-heh*

Bad (or at least not best) things for procrastination:

  • I should totally binge watch all the shows on Netflix.
  • Oh crap! PlayStation Network has their own shows, too!
  • Crackle? What’s that?  Might as well activate it…
  • “Rock of the Dead” means playing guitar to kill zombies?  Challenge accepted!
  • I wonder how many times I can burp in a row. Is the belching alphabet in my future?
  • You know what I haven’t done in a while?  Blog.
  • Hm, I wonder if I can program the vacuum-bot to shovel the socks instead of eat them…
  • Build a shovel attachment for the vacuum-bot out of cardboard, duct tape, and broken dreams.
  • I wonder if the Dreamcast still works…
  • Yup, totally does.
  • I wonder how many of the Dreamcast games still work.  I should test them all.
  • Holy shit, how did it get to be 2017 already?!?

In fairness, sometimes the second list can still poke the inspiration circuits just like the first list can, but not as reliably.  We all need a little procrastination to keep our juices flowing (unless, apparently, you’re Stephen King, who just spews words onto a page in a never-ending stream of consonants and vowels that magically form some kind of cohesive thing), but I think maybe a better way to approach is is to remember consciously that we’re procrastinating, and that procrastination has a purpose.  If we’re open to receiving a little bit of inspiration from staring out the window while doing some dishes, it’ll come.

And now… back to submitting to agents.  Five down, more to go.