Good Riddance, October!

To be blunt, October has been a month of failure. I’m glad to see it gone. Pretty much all my plans fell apart, and I accomplished very little. Read on, if you’d like to see a detailed post-mortem of the tenth month of 2015.

Art Projects

The 80in80 sketchbook project died in flight. October is also “#Inktober” and a nice time to show off ink drawings over the course of the month. There’s also a lesser known hashtag “Drawlloween,” that focuses on Halloween related images. I linked them up and planned to do ink drawings of the Drawlloween as my Inktober subjects.

The problem stared when I missed a day in the sketchbook. Breaking the chain is mental pass to not do the work on the next day and so on. Once I had that pass, it became something that I could avoid without much guilt. I’m very much a “must work everyday, or all work will stop” type person when it comes to personal projects without deadlines.

Several things combined to take the pen out of my hand in October.

Drawlloween: While I don’t mind Halloween imagery, I don’t care for the holiday in general. Linking it to my 80in80 project that way took the fun right out of it. It became something I didn’t even want to look at. Lesson learned.

Obligation: The 80in80 project was basically a “make art everyday” style project. It also became something that was pushed to the end of the day. More than several nights I stayed up late (2-3am late) to finish the day’s drawing. I let it become something that I phoned in at the last minute just to have a completed day. I managed to take the fun out of something I enjoyed.

Project Goals: I was overly ambitious in what I thought I could finish as a daily art goal. Pen and Ink drawings are time consuming. Without the ability to fill areas with a single stroke (like painting) or quick shading (graphite, colored pencil) I found the drawings taking much longer than planned. I wanted a finished one each day, and sometimes there just wasn’t enough time. Days that had other obligations and appointments let to me choosing simpler drawings that didn’t improve my skill. They were just there to fill a page. Not challenging myself made it easy to let the project stagnate.

Going forward I’ll use what I learned and plan accordingly. I don’t know if daily art challenges are for me. If I do try another, I’m going to watch the scope closely, even if this means smaller daily goals.

Writing projects

I didn’t write much of anything in October. Fiction was a dry well, but I did manage to salvage a single story idea. Blogging was almost as bad. I posted my sketchbook updates and not much else.

In short, I wasn’t able to focus. Which leads me to the root of all my problems this month.


Leaving a physical job and the corresponding reduction in activity caused me to gain more weight that I care to admit. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been at 205 lbs. Luckily I’m 5’9” and not a complete ball of fat. But with the weight came acid reflux. I saw my doctor back in August, but with the time it takes to get referrals and such sorted out, October was when I found out what was ailing me.

The various tests (ultrasound and upper GI scope) showed that I had gallstones and a hiatal hernia (with ulceration). I’m pretty much an internal medicine disaster at the point. No surgery is scheduled right now, only because I’m waiting for various insurance approvals. The gallbladder surgery will probably happen in November. I haven’t had my follow-up appointment to see what the treatment for the hernia is. It might lead to another surgery.

October was also when I had to switch to a stronger anti-reflux medicine to be able to sleep. It helped, but I’ve still been sleep deprived for most of the last three months.

All of the doctors’ appointments and tests and phone calls plus the lack of sleep and physical pain added up to a month where my body conspired against my mind to make doing much of anything impossible.


So what happens next? I honestly don’t know.

My first priority is to manage my pain and reflux. If I can sleep, I will have the energy to draw and write. The gall bladder surgery will probably happen, but until it’s scheduled I’m not going to stress over any downtime.

I’m also not starting any new projects, and I’ve taken inventory of what I was working on. Each one now has its own index card. They’ll be updated as I go, but no more self-imposed deadlines. I don’t want the mental baggage right now.

Hopefully I’ll be back to regular posting soon.