I’m feeling kind of discouraged right now.

It’s currently the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival, and technically I’m supposed to be on vacation, but instead I’m at my cubicle. The lone person in my office.

Lucky me.

There were three main things I wanted to accomplish during the break: 1) find an agent for my book 2) finish writing the paper on my most recent research 3) find a solution to my anxiety problems.

I failed at all three of these things.

Last Thursday I wrote 17 query emails to literary agents. Friday morning I had three responses—all rejections. Basically, no one is interested in a “Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa” story because it’s been done to death. And even if I think I have a new and unique and interesting take on it, that’s not enough to excite an agent.

I was pretty disappointed, but I did have one tiny ray of hope: one of the agents mentioned that he noticed my credentials, and told me if I had any ideas for a book about science or specifically biology, I should contact him. Well, as a matter of fact I have been thinking about writing a novel about my experience as the only non-Chinese researcher at the top biological institute in China. So I wrote to the agent and asked if this was something he’d be interested in. He responded right away. To tell me that this might be a good topic for a magazine article, but not for a full book.


Alright, on to the next thing: finishing my paper.

I woke up early Saturday morning, fixed myself a pot of coffee, booted up my laptops (yes, plural), and…nothing. I couldn’t even get started. I just couldn’t get my mind to focus. And the harder I tried to motivate myself, the worse I felt.

So I decided to move on to the next thing.

I have been in more or less constant pain since I was 17. It started as a dull burning sensation in my shoulders, then spread to my back when I was in college. When I was in Africa, it spread to my throat and lower abdomen, increasing in intensity as it went along. At first I didn’t even know what it was, until someone pointed out how tense the muscles in my back were.

And yeah, that’s all it is. It’s just muscle tension induced by stress and anxiety. But there is not a God damn thing I can do to make it go away, and it causes me CONSTANT pain. The worst is when it’s in my throat, because it feels like I’m being choked by an invisible hand. That’s where it is right now, as I write this. And the most frustrating thing is the more frustrated I get about it, the worse it gets, and then I get frustrated because I can’t make myself stop being frustrated. And so on.

So I decided to spend the rest of the weekend meditating. I’d read a bunch of stuff on the internet about meditation techniques, and I was cautiously optimistic.

Turns out this optimism was rather unfounded.

Because every time I started to relax a little, my heart started racing, pumping adrenaline into my system. It’s like my body has decided I need to remain at a certain level of alertness at all times, and as soon as I do anything to reduce this level, my body compensates by increasing my anxiety until I’m back where I started. Basically, I spent the whole weekend meditating, and by Sunday night I felt exactly the same as I did Saturday morning.

Fuck me.

So yeah, I’m feeling pretty discouraged right now. And no, I’m not looking for sympathy or anything, but I set myself a goal of writing one blog entry per week, and I don’t have the energy or motivation to write about anything else, so this is it.

But I’ll get over it. I’m moving to Australia in 3 months, and I’m going to visit a good friend in Japan next month. Plus, the cute Chinese girl I met a couple weeks ago called me on Saturday, and she wants to get together with me later this week. She said we could “go play”. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I’m really hoping it’s a euphemism for sex.

So yeah, things aren’t all bad.


About Critical Awesomeness
I'm a 32-year-old American with a PhD in chemistry and a green hat. Only one of these two things is really important.

4 Responses to discouraged

  1. Ok this is odd.

    A few hours after I posted this I received an email from an agent asking me to send him the first 50 pages of my manuscript so he can decide if he wants to represent me.

    Funny how life works sometimes.

    • Jessica Johns says:

      Awesome! I think sometimes it’s when you think life can’t get any crappier that you get some good news. Hang in there, AndyRay (yes, I’m giving you some sympathy even though you don’t want it, because that is what I do). If we all love reading your emails then some agent out there is going to love reading your book. It’s going to happen. I know it might sound silly, but positive thinking is pretty amazing.

  2. J. Johns says:

    She is right – it does sound silly. 😉

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