*See what my friend Tawni Waters says about getting a book deal with a major publisher.*
Last week I was featured on “Freshly Pressed,” which was super exciting, and I’m still giddy about all my new followers (hello, everyone!!). The wordpress editor who contacted me with the good news said he liked my “meta-meta treatment” of the “writers writing about writing” theme.
It makes me wonder how “meta” I can get. I’m a writer writing about writing. That’s one level of meta. But sometimes I write posts about craft books I’m reading (such as John Truby’s The Anantomy of Story, or Stephen King’s On Writing.) That means I’m a writer writing about writers writing about writing. Two levels of meta. Could I read and review a fellow blogger’s take on a craft book and be a writer writing about a writer who is writing about a writer writing about writing?
Whew. It’s an endless fun house mirror of meta.
Or, as my physicist boyfriend would say, an infinite loop.
I experienced a less exciting infinite loop the other day.
Currently I do work-exchange at a local yoga studio for free classes. Perhaps it’s because the other work-exchangers are more zen and relaxed about stuff than me (I tend to be hyper-organized), but I’ve been told by both the manager and the owner that I’m the best work-exchanger they have. I arrive early. I always remember to check and return voice mail messages. I fill out all the forms correctly.
Anyway, the other day I did something unspeakable…. I missed a shift at the yoga studio. It was on my calendar, but somehow it completely slipped my mind.
That evening, when I check my email, I had a message from the manager: “Eva, I just received a call that the front desk is unmanned. Did you forget?” I gasped and looked at the clock. It was too late to go over there now. I felt like an idiot.
I contacted the manager to apologize profusely. She said it wasn’t a big deal. She knows it happens sometimes.
“I feel so bad,” I moaned to my boyfriend. “Now I’m not their best work-exchanger anymore.”
There was nothing I could do to fix the mistake. I’d already told the manager I would take another shift to make up for it. But still, I berated myself for missing the shift and felt myself sinking into a bad mood.
“Now, Eva,” I admonished myself. “Stop beating yourself up about it. You’re making yourself feel worse.”
Now I was berating myself berating myself for berating myself.
“I need to stop,” I told Paul. “I need to be kinder to myself. I need to stop beating myself up, and I need to stop beating myself up for beating myself up.”
And that’s how I found myself berating myself for berating myself for berating myself. The infinite loop.
I find that I have a lot of infinite loops that run around inside my head on a daily basis. Sometimes they are simply to-do lists, or plans, or memories. I find myself reviewing my exercise schedule, or what I’m going to fix for dinner over and over inside my head, as if my brain thinks it must constantly remind itself of these things, when really it doesn’t need to.
Yoga instructors often talk about “mind chatter,” and that’s what these infinite loops are. They are background noises inside my brain. They are thoughts I don’t need and am not even always aware of. I wonder what will happen if I clear out the chatter. Will deeper, more important thoughts finally have the space they need to emerge? Will I hear something inside myself I never knew was there?
Part of the reason I do yoga is that when I’m concentrating on my breath and balance, the mind chatter tends to recede, and I experience moments of brain silence. Only brief moments, so far, but I always hope for longer.
It’s really hard to get rid of infinite loops, because once you notice them and tell yourself to stop, you’ve added one more layer to the loop… The loop gains power with repetition.
I’m not sure, but I think the first step to solving this problem is to notice your mind chatter, and, instead of yelling at yourself to get rid of it, accept that it’s there. Maybe when you accept an infinite loop, one layer is removed. With kindness and acceptance to yourself, the layers begin to peel away, and the mind chatter slowly starts to fade.
But that’s way easier said than done.
Since I am a writer writing about writing, I will close with this thought: when the infinite loops are mostly gone and my mind is much clearer, will my stories have more space to emerge? Will I be able to better hear my inner muse? A cheesy sentiment, I know…but perhaps it’s true?