I thought I would be very burnt out today after such a busy day yesterday and I was more or less right. I think I’ve been somewhat more optimistic since my autism diagnosis (which was less than two months ago, so quite fresh, even if I’d thought I was on the spectrum for years), but today I feel in “No one could ever love me, or if she could, I wouldn’t know how to meet her” mode. I’m not that hopeful about my novel either after the freelance editor I sent the first chapter to sent me feedback. She was reasonably positive, although she felt the type of editing I need was too far outside her experience for her to accept the work, which is fair enough. She did mention something E said on the early chapters she saw, though, about feeling too distant from the action, as if it was autobiography, telling rather than showing as E put it. There is an autobiographical element to the novel, but I didn’t want it to feel like that. So that’s one thing to think about for the next redraft, which will have to be quite drastic. I do feel that the parts that seemed to flow best and felt most engaging when I was writing them (if that proves anything about how things read) were the small bits of action, which is part of what is pushing me to genre fiction next time (“next time”!). I’m not sure what to do now though. The thought of going through the manuscript and doing a total, line-by-line rewrite is quite daunting, even if I had confidence in my ability to “show, don’t tell” the story, which at this stage, I don’t have. Maybe this is why Kafka hardly finished anything.

I actually had a dream related to writing anxiety last night. In the dream I was putting stuff online about what happened with the first woman I asked out (I asked her out; she said no; I stupidly didn’t stop off-loading my depressive thoughts on her; she panicked when I got suicidal and cut off all contact with me) and she understandably got annoyed. I’m not surprised I dreamt this, as I’ve been wondering whether it was a good idea to use that experience in the novel. I don’t know if she would recognise what happened between us in the novel (it was a long time ago and I have tried to fictionalise it somewhat) if she ever read it, but I do feel nervous about that sometimes. I know they (they = people who speak about writing) say to write what you know and I know some authors draw more heavily from their own experience than others, but I worry about crossing a line, although the reality is that even if I get published, she probably won’t read it. Last I heard, she doesn’t even live in this country any more.

***

After my post yesterday, I found myself wondering why I think about sex so much. Someone (I haven’t been able to source the quotation) said that “Sex is like water: if you have it, you don’t think about it; if you haven’t got it, you can’t think about anyone else.” To be honest, with me it’s probably a shorthand for love, intimacy, closeness and the absence of loneliness rather than just sex. Possibly it’s a shorthand for those things because the idea of touch is very difficult for me, on the spectrum: it can be very good, but often is very uncomfortable, even with people I love, like my parents. So the thought of someone I feel completely comfortable with touching me is very powerful and also very elusive and tied to ideas about trust and intimacy (especially as my first girlfriend rather trampled on my boundaries about touch).

In a low, burnt out mood this morning, I found myself wondering if I made a mistake in breaking up with PIMOJ and even if I made a mistake in breaking up with E last year (she tried to get back with me a while back, which I don’t think is a good idea rationally, but has a certain amount of emotional appeal). It’s hard to avoid feeling that I didn’t make a mistake in one of those breakups. It’s also easy to start thinking that I’ll be alone forever. I suppose the trick is just not to think about love and relationships and focus my attention elsewhere (where?).

***

Inasmuch as I did anything today, it was a chore day, as usual for a Friday. I did my usual Shabbat (Sabbath) chores; sorted out my desk drawer, which gets into a mess as I just shove stuff in it to keep my desk clear; phoned the GP’s surgery to request the form for my next lithium blood test (more NHS bureaucracy and I spent ages on hold); and went for a walk. During the walk, my mood, which had been OKish, mostly just tired, dropped quite a bit into “My life is never going to come together” mode, which makes me a bit nervous about my mood going through Shabbat.

My shul (synagogue) is bringing in Shabbat early during summer, so I won’t get time to look at this week’s Talmud page before Shabbat. I’ll try to look at it tonight, but I suspect I’ll be too tired to make much of it. I feel bad that the shiur (class) has only been going one week and I’m already slipping in my desire to look over it once before the shiur and revise it once afterwards.

10 thoughts on “(I Don’t Believe In) Modern Love

  1. Do you think you might fare better writing a different type of fiction? You once said you might like to write science fiction I think. Rewriting your entire novel because one editor was not too enthusiastic about it seems a bit drastic. Many writers have unpublished early works which they may or may not return to – perhaps you need to leave this aside for a while, and write something totally different.

    Re: girlfriends — you have only had three which is not a great number. You dated just one person from Jdate. Would you consider going back on the site (when you feel ready) and trying again?

    As for sex – don’t they say that the average man under 60 thinks about sex several times a day, and four times as much as the average woman? (although this BMJ article seems to suggest it is much more often https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2013/06/10/richard-smith-how-often-do-men-think-about-sex/ ). Whatever the truth of the matter, at least take consolation in the fact that in this regard you are very normal.

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    1. Yes, my plans for future writing is in different genres.

      I wouldn’t go back to JDate as there are virtually no Orthodox women on it. There is a site more for Orthodox people, but it is for “dating for marriage” and I don’t think I am ready to get married. Likewise with matchmakers.

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  2. I blame the no-masturbation rule. Something must have gotten lost in translation between God and the rabbis, because that’s not healthy. It’s like giving people eyes and expecting them not to look through them. I know it is what it is, but no wonder you think about sex a lot when you can’t do anything about it.

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  3. “Show not tell” is probably the biggest challenge for writers when they first work with editors. It’s harder than we think — and that’s why taking writing classes and participating in writing groups can be very helpful. But sometimes it can be just that we overlook the obvious. The first time I worked with an editor (not the one I mentioned last week) it concerned a children’s story about a talking cat. The editor said I needed to make the cat more cat-like and pointed out that not once did I ever mention the cat doing anything cat-like, such as grooming, rubbing himself up against something, scratching himself behind the ear, etc. Because the cat is a talking cat, “suspension of disbelief” is key and reminding the reader that this a normal cat who just happens to talk is necessary to hold the story together. But my cat was just a disembodied voice.

    Your subject matter is challenging for many reasons. And it might be unrealistic for you to work on it in a writing class/group where writers read and critique each other’s work. But if you ever wished to participate in a group setting, you could do what someone else suggested here — work on a project in a more mainstream genre with wider appeal so that you would have less concern with sharing what you’ve written. It is also much less upsetting getting critical feedback on something you are not so personally involved with. That would allow you to build confidence as a writer while your novel continues to incubate in your mind 🙂

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  4. Re sex, according to my therapist, it involves a lot of psychological processes, and often men have few spaces for non sexual physical affection, emotional intimacy etc compared to women… so a lot more weighs on having a relationship to get those needs met. Then of course sex is a powerful form of physical and emotional intimacy.

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