It’s not actually raining. It might rain later, but it might not. The title is a quote from Shakespeare (Twelfth Night. I was props manager on a production when I was in the sixth form, in one of the few non-academic things I ever did as a teenager). It just sums up how I feel when I get sucked back into exhaustion and burnout, like I can never escape from feelings of exhaustion, low mood and general non-functionality.

I had a busy week and a very busy day yesterday. Yesterday I had work. The morning was spent on the usual paperwork and similar jobs, I spent my lunch break looking at pictures of wedding venues and spent much of the afternoon doing a boring cut-and-paste task, but was able to listen to podcasts while doing it. Surprisingly, I felt OK after work so I did Torah study on the commute home (usually I just do it on the commute to work in the morning), went shopping, went for a slightly longer walk home from the station, listened to Mum’s description of her awful day at length, and did some novel writing when I got home. Then I had dinner with my Mum and sister (Dad and brother-in-law being at cricket together), heard about Mum’s awful day at length again, and skyped E. Realistically, this was far too much for one day. In my defence, no one actually told me my sister was coming for dinner until I got home, otherwise I might have not done all these things. I could still have skipped writing, but by that stage, I had my mind set on it and it’s hard for autistic people to change plans.

(I also broke my diet by eating ice cream last night, as I needed some kind of treat.)

The result was massive exhaustion today. I slept too long, couldn’t get up, couldn’t get dressed once I did get up, missed the time for Shacharit (Morning Prayers) entirely and basically couldn’t start my day until the early afternoon. My main task for the day was to phone the United Synagogue again about E and my wedding issues, to find out if Rabbi B is away or how to get hold of him, but by the time I did it, I just got the answer phone. They probably leave early on Fridays. I intend to email Rabbi B again on Sunday so that, if he’s been away, my email is on the top of his pile on Monday morning. I think I need to be the squeaky wheel on this, which is not something that comes easily to me.

After lunch (and Doctor Who) I had a little more energy, so I did some of my usual Shabbat chores, then tried to write, as I had by this time brainpower, but not much physical energy for hoovering, the main task left to do for Shabbat. I figured that being drained, fed up and frustrated probably wasn’t a bad mood to be in for the book I’m writing. Even so, it was very difficult. I did manage to write for nearly an hour, and to write about 700 words, but it was difficult and I suspect many of those words will vanish in the editing.

I’m struggling with the idea of the “male gaze”. The novel is very “male gaze-y” — which is rather the point, as the protagonist is a pornography addict, and one of the themes of the book is the way pornography can rewire a person’s brain in that way, and another theme is the way religious sexual restrictions can make people more aware of sex rather than less [1], but I worry readers will see it as reflecting my viewpoint and not the character’s and mark me down accordingly. E says you can’t write a book without offending some people, which is probably true, and I probably underestimate readers, but I just worry about not getting published or read.

It’s weird to write it though. It’s getting in touch with a part of myself that I have always repressed and been ashamed of, the part that notices women, and it’s been strange to try to channel that deliberately. I would never normally write (of a man in a supermarket queue) that he was “trying to avoid staring at the slim hips and wider backside of the attractive twenty-something in a tight miniskirt in front of him.” So it feels strange and more than a little wrong (from a feminist point of view as much as a religious one) to write it.

After writing, I hoovered, but ended up feeling rather ill, faint, headachey and generally bad. I may have done too much. The weather, hot and humid, doesn’t help. I do feel somewhat better now, but not really ready for Shabbat: no writing or blogging or DVDs and lots of peopling albeit probably just with Mum and Dad (that can still be draining, though, especially when I feel like this). I do have to go now, though.

[1] I understand that there is indeed evidence from psychological studies that people from religious backgrounds that forbid or restrict sexual thoughts have noticeably more sexual thoughts than other people, probably from the same effect that makes it impossible not to think of a pink elephant as soon as someone tells you not to think of one.

8 thoughts on “The Rain It Raineth Every Day

  1. I’ve always thought that was the case about forbidden sexual thoughts but didn’t realize there were studies of it. Repression about most things isn’t positive, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know. I understand it’s a common idea that making something forbidden creates more desire for it, but the opposite doesn’t seem to hold either. What I mean is that I’ve known parents who took a moderate approach to sex and alcohol and their teens went just as nuts as the ones with restrictive/repressive parents. Maybe there is no way to stop some people from becoming insatiable in certain areas. I’m more of a biology is destiny type philosopher now and that it’s “easy” for some to resist temptations not because they’re so morally strong but simply due to a lack of intense desire…

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  3. I hear you on the challenge of writing believably from the character’s POV. One thing I’m struggling with in my own barely started novel is that while I find writing the lighthearted, funny scenes to be relatively easy, I find writing the serious scenes the way the characters would experience them difficult. Like, I can’t write about tragedy, lesbian rape, and believable romance (in some order) in the same kind of humorous voice that I blog in because my characters are not experiencing these events in a way where humor is realistic. But getting in their head and accessing their vocabulary is tough.

    I’m with E on this one in that any book will probably offend somebody. I wouldn’t worry about male gaze if it’s important to character or plot which it sounds like it is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, writing from the character’s POV is hard. I suspect/know my viewpoint characters are often very similar to me, or my self-perception. Part of me would like to be able to write from the point of view of e.g. a murderer or abuser, but I would not know how to get into their head. I think I’ve mentioned that I admire Jorge Luis Borges’ short story Deutsches Requiem, written from the perspective of an unrepentant Nazi the night before his execution at Nuremburg. I admire it a lot as it really takes you into his head, but I couldn’t write it.

      Liked by 1 person

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