Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!
Things are finally moving forward on Vivian’s Last Cigarette again, and continuing to progress for my two other creative projects at the same time.
Regular readers following my work on the novel probably already know how my writing mojo got put out of whack by Portcon in June. Getting back on track after that took a few weeks, and then the new chapters I was adding to Viv’s got to hit a difficult stage. I was feeling stuck, and when I got a burst of inspiration to write a couple different pieces, I decided it would be a good time to take a break from the novel.
This lead to last month where I ended-up writing a new 9,300 word novelette, Cretaceous Queen, and a 1,600 word short story, Far from Acheron. Both are now in a second draft and on their way to third revisions. I’m quite pleased with both, and glad that I took a detour to create these stories. In addition, they got me back into the right headspace to return to the novel and I was eager to do so last weekend.
If you read last week’s WIP-it, then you’re aware that things didn’t go as I had planned after I got a physical and 10 year TDAP booster shot from my doctor. I ended-up having a moderate-severe allergic reaction to the vaccination that gave me a pretty rough weekend, but I soldered through it to write.
To be honest, though… physically I’ve been on the scale of feeling “off” to “pretty lousy” for months if not the better part of a year. I’d been attributing that to stress, lack of sleep, and lately summer heat. But when my doctor followed up with me on my bloodwork mid-last week, she disclosed that my diabetes had gotten out of control.
I’ve been mildly diabetic for more than a decade, treating it with a combination of oral medication and diet. But starting with the finical pinch and stress of becoming unemployed last year, I let my eating get undisciplined. I didn’t gain any weight, but I was eating far, far too many carbohydrates. I knew it was bad… I’d stopped being consistent about testing my blood sugar levels and then just stopped period –out of frustrations with them– because we couldn’t afford to eat any better.
Financially, my wife and I have been doing better now for many months. However, I’d gotten into a bad rut with my diet, fueled by stress and the fact that too-much sugar is a feel-good drug. I’ve give up a lot of things I enjoy to pursue my dream of making a living as a writer, and stubbornly didn’t want to give up my love of yummy sweets and bread as well.
It happened gradually. I have to be disciplined to keep up with my writing: It takes willpower and stubborn toughness. But the problem with having a strong grip like that is sometimes you don’t know when to let-up or let go. You just keep pushing forward ignoring your physical discomfort. When you’re like that, it’s really easy to feel a little worse every day until feeling like crap is accepted as your normal mode.
My blood sugar after a 15 hour fast tested at 280 mg/dL. That’s really bad. 300 mg/dL is considered a severe problem, and it’s likely it’s been spiking way higher than that for months after I eat. 600 mg/dL or higher can kill you, or put you in a diabetic coma.
At least the choice for me was a clear one:
I could continue enjoying the comfort foods I love, keep feeling like crap to the determent of my writing and all the other things I’m passionate about, and slowly kill myself over the next decade or less.
Or, I could radically alter my relationship with food so I can feel better, function better, and live as long as I can to accomplish the things I want to do.
I’ve chosen the latter.
I’ll miss sugar laden treats. I really will. But I like waking up with hope and passion more. I want to be able to write and do things, and make this a long and rich life. Compared to that, being physically miserable for a far shorter time on this sphere really isn’t an attractive option.
After that call from my doctor, I’ve made changes. We’re attempting to work in some new medication –and dealing with resistance from my insurance company about that– but the biggest change needs to come from me. To that end, I’ve massively cut back on the consumption of carbohydrates in my diet, cold turkey.
I did a few days of ramping down so I didn’t crash and to line up new foods with some planning and care. Now that I’m done with that, I’m eating with a target cap of 90 grams of carbohydrates a day. That’s not a lot compared to a typical diet. In the United States, an average consumption could easily be 300 to 500 grams a day or more. For comparison, 90 grams of carbs is about equal to three, modestly large apples.
That, or something near to that, is going to be my daily cap for the rest of my life. No exceptions… Because invariably allowing one day of treating myself to lots of sugar and carbs a month has always become twice monthly. Then it becomes weekly, then every other day, and finally every day. And regardless, binging on carbohydrates and spiking my blood sugar as a result is simply a stupid thing for me to do to my body, at any time.
I have to stop the cycle. It’s time for me to use the same discipline that I’ve used to write every day with, and apply it to maintain this aspect of my health.
And I am happy to report that positive results have been swift! Less than a week in, I’ve started feeling much better with only the dietary changes in place so far. :-)
It’s a very noticeable reversal. I’m far less tired, particularly with regard to my eyes. I use my eyes a lot at work, and obviously to write, but for months I thought I had chronic eye-strain. Now it seems that my blurred vision after hours of writing was seemingly from the dehydration caused by my high blood sugar. I’m literally seeing things more clearly now. ;-)
I’m also sleeping better and feeling more awake afterwards, just more energy all the way around. One of the things impacting my sleep was persistent leg cramps waking me up at night. As I sit a lot between work and writing, I’ve been blaming it on that. And I was wrong again… Just a few days into changing my diet and the cramps are mostly gone.
I’m still adjusting, but this weekend went well. My focus is better and my energy consistent. I used that to finish the novel’s new chapter six, Oliver’s Army, at long last!
I thought I had this chapter done last weekend at 3,500 words by splitting the second half of it into it a new chapter seven instead. But over the course of the week, I thought some more about it and decided to add a scene to its end that works better there than where I’d planned to place it later in the book. That brought the chapter to 4,500 words, and by Sunday afternoon I had a second draft ready and sent off its next critique partner.
I jumped right into writing the new chapter seven after that. Between the content I’d written before I split it off from chapter six, and the new material I wrote and edited in this weekend, it’s at 2,100 words as of today. It still has a way to go, but my plans for this week are to make a strong effort to get the chapter finished before or by the end of the upcoming weekend.
Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!