Progress Report (of sorts) #69

I’ve liked to write since the second grade. Poetry and short stories initially. Later, songs. Before The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, I’d never attempted anything longer than 20 pages. I’ve found book writing to be one of the most unhealthy labors I’ve ever taken up. When I started Parrots, I was bicyclist-thin. But over the course of the seven years it took to finish the book, I put on a tremendous amount of weight. (I was three years into the manuscript at the time the documentary was made, and you can see the weight I’ve gained.) I’m five and a half years—more or less—into Street Song. About a year ago I started feeling noticeable stress—mostly having to do with the length of the project. The stress was manageable, so I ignored it, and soldiered on. As the stress increased, some of my attitudes toward what I was doing went through changes. I started wanting to get rid of the goddam thing. Just get it done. My recent illness was a direct result of that stress and my funkier attitude. But once the illness finally passed, I dove right back into the work and my bad attitudes.

I have finally hit a wall. In the last week I’ve been looking at what I need to do to get my health (mental and physical) back. I’ve decided that I have to remove all stress and change my attitudes. One of the sources of stress is this blog. I like writing here, but I get into a trip where I tell myself, “Geez, I haven’t written anything in over a week,” and I start forcing myself to come up with something. So, once again, I’m taking a hiatus. I don’t expect it to be long. The situation is not drastic. But I can’t continue doing this in my current frame of mind. The main thing is, as always, that I want to like my book when I’m done with it. My attention and care have to go there first.

Just to let you know.

8 Responses to “Progress Report (of sorts) #69”

  1. McK Says:

    Hi Mark ~
    I sympathize. Suggestion. I’m working on a long project as well, along with dealing with everyday life and its attendant stresses. I’ve found that swimming every other day has been extremely beneficial. I do yoga for about 15 mins before each session, then swim for 35 minutes or so, then more yoga for about 10 mins after. It’s kept the weight off in a balanced, sane way. But more importantly there’s something very meditative in it, calming and soothing. Better than biking with is fear of insane and inattentive drivers; better than long-distance running with its brutal knee and hip stress and lower-back pain.

    I think you’ll find that you’ll drop a tremendous amount of weight early (depending upon your skill level as a swimmer), then that will taper off to a healthy balanced weight level with time. Start slow, be patient — even if it means just swimming for 5 or 6 minutes at first.

    Good luck ~

  2. Thoma Lile Says:

    Do what you have to do and take care. I’ve enjoyed reading your point of view and will enjoy it even more when you’re happily contributing to the blog without undue stress!

  3. Shelley Says:

    You certainly didn’t owe anyone an explanation, but thanks for being considerate enough to do so. I’ll patiently wait for Street Song, knowing every word matters. Good luck.

  4. JB Says:

    I feel you!

  5. linda Says:

    I am at the same point, I have not commented on politics on the vine lately for the same reason. I get so stressed out with the news, always bad. I decided that maybe what I needed was to change my frame of mind. I got out some of my old rock an roll records and found, that I can’t sit still while listening to them. It made me feel like I did when I was young. I will be 57 this month, and I can still dance to that sound and not hurt, like I do when I ride a bike or walk, maybe its the state of mind, I don’t know. I have been so depressed though, and I’ll grab at anything that makes a difference, I might even feel like writing on my own blog again-I haven’t visited it in several months. I will miss what you write, but I will finish reading parrots-I finally got a copy of it and wait for Streetsong to come out, I look forward to it. I will check back here though to see if you post any, unless you decide to delete it, as I haven’t read all of your posts yet, I hope you leave it up, I’ve seen so many just delete their blogs. Good luck which ever way you go.

    • markbittner Says:

      I intend to start posting again here soon. I’m feeling much better. Just wanna get all my ducks in a row first.

  6. Caroline Says:

    Rest and relax. We will be waiting.

  7. Michael Lazorchak Says:

    Just watched “parrots of telegraph hill” and really enjoyed it. glad to know you’re continuing with other pursuits. Just like any challenging endeavor, you’v got to find the time for balance. Glad I was able to see the movie and catch up with a little insight into your current status. I owned a mitred conure from age 7 until age 20 or so. He never flew but we allowed him to live freely in our house and often times in the summer we kept his cage (open top) outside on the back porch. I would ride my bike up and down the streets with him on my shoulders, gripping my michael jackson leather jacket with all his strength, and allow his wings to flap in the wind as if he was flying. He became ill and passed away and the film really brought back fond memories. Rest up, Mark. find time for wellness and keep up with the journey!

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