The endless cycle of my inbox

My inbox - desolate sand dunes

My inbox and my life have a natural cycle of growth and decay. Here I explain this cycle in all its glory. Killer hamsters included.

I want to talk about looking for a critique partner because that’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past few months.

(What do you mean it hasn’t been months since I blogged to say I was looking for a critique partner?)

But I haven’t locked in a critique partner yet and you don’t want to read that post twice, so I’m not going to talk about it today.

*screams into a cushion for a while, gets cat hair in her mouth*

Instead I thought I’d tell you about the endless cycle my inbox goes through. It’s more exciting than it sounds–there are killer hamsters.

Stage 1: Nothing to read

It starts with me having nothing to read.

I watch the tumbleweed rolling through my empty inbox and hear the echos of doomed souls. (Don’t worry, they’re not doomed because of the killer hamsters.)

Stage 2: Sign up to lots of blogs

I know I enjoy reading blogs about writing, so I sign up to a bunch of them.

I start to get a steady flow of emails about how many nails you need to hold up a character arc and how to write when your cat is sitting on your keyboard. They’re inspirational and I find myself ordering a second keyboard so His Royal Fluffiness will have somewhere to sit while I type.

(You know it doesn’t help. I don’t need to explain why.)

For a time, all is harmonious in the world.

Stage 3: Get overwhelmed

Then I get busy. By the end of the day I haven’t found time to open all the emails in my inbox.

The next day is worse. The emails pile up, every bold subject line a reminder of how I’ve failed. I know I will never amount to anything in this world if I can’t keep my inbox under control, but I can’t do it.

My blood pressure rises and I can no longer look at all those accusing eyes. I close my email and avoid it for a week.

Stage 4: Discover important emails I missed

The knowledge of those unread emails follows me from room to room, misting from the half-empty tins of dried-up tomatoes when I open the fridge and peeping at me from under the dresser.

Eventually I can’t take it any more.

I open my inbox and discover, to my horror, amidst the numerous blog post notifications are some real emails about Important Matters that needed responses three days ago.

The time is ripe to freak out. I wish I had been attacked by killer hamsters instead of this.

Some time later I resume breathing and respond to the important emails. I am not executed for my tardiness, nor am I swallowed by a surprise great white shark in the paddling pool.

Stage 5: I find time

Inexplicably, my life slows and I suddenly have time to read blog posts. I devour advice about how to explore a world in houseplant while in lockdown and regret forgetting to water my plants for three months.

I begin with the recent posts in my inbox, but soon I run out of those.

Next I venture down dusty halls, through cobwebs heavy with dust and dead fairies, onto the second page of my inbox, where I find more treasures to read.

(After conducting appropriate funerary rites for the fairies, of course.)

Eventually, I stand along on a barren plain. There is nothing else in the world to read.

Stage 6: Sign up to more blogs

Clearly the fact I have read everything in my inbox means I’m not signed up to enough blogs. I can remedy that.

And I do.

I get a lot of notifications about blog posts and read every one of them.

For a while…

Stage 7: Get even more overwhelmed

Inevitably, life interferes.

I miss a day, then two, then seven.

My inbox bulges like a folder of unpaid bills.

I can’t do this any more. Much as I love these bloggers, it’s time to clean house. I unsubscribe from everything unless the blogger has sacrificed a black goat to me and gained me at least eight minutes a day.

(No, a white goat will not do. How many times do I have to explain this?)

Stage 8: Emptiness

My inbox is as still as a pond on a windless day. Are the tumbleweeds growing back?

I stand drinking in the silence.

My life takes a turn and suddenly I have time to read again…

But there is nothing in sight. No killer hamsters, nothing.

Stage 9: Sign up to lots of blogs

I can’t take this emptiness any longer. I cruise forth onto the web and sign up for everything I can get my hands on.

You know what happens next: history repeats.

Okay, I lied about the killer hamsters, but most of the rest is true.

Am I the only one who has these inbox sagas? Have you discovered a solution? I’m willing to pay–I have a whole herd of white goats.

Sign up to my monthly email and get all the inside info when I finally commit to a critique partner.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

12 thoughts on “The endless cycle of my inbox”

  1. I don’t know a single person who feels good about their inbox. But I’m always pleased to see your posts shining amid the thicket of email weeds.

  2. I had a problem where it seemed like everyone took a break for the summer, so I found people who didn’t break for the summer, but then the summer people came back! And I was spending my entire Wednesday, because everyone was posting on Wednesday, reading blogs, and I got overwhelmed and hid under a rock, but I won’t tell anyone which one it is.

    1. That could totally have happened to me too, I just didn’t realise. Under a rock is a good place to hide, just watch out for centipedes.

  3. Lol. I think I’d go insane with your method. I’ve finally (sort of) figured out my inbox. I get instant notifications from some bloggers, weekly notification from a whole lot more, and rely on reader for the rest. Somehow that helps me to check in with most bloggers at least once every two weeks. It only took 8 years to figure it out. Good luck!

    1. That sounds like a very sensible system, and I do a lot of the same things, but the way I do it is clearly not optimised yet. Fortunately I have a few years before I hit eight in which to figure it out.

  4. I have stopped signing up to blogs, and only have a handful that I read, because I never, EVER get around to more than that, no matter how much I promise to. They just pile up and up and up until I have my twice-yearly inbox clear-out and find all the emails I was actually looking for have somehow migrated to the junk folder. Sigh. And wordpress also doesn’t like me, and won’t let me unsubscribe from anything, so I keep getting notifications for blogs that I don’t even remember signing up for.

    And every now and then I find one that I saved to read later, like this, so all is forgiven. πŸ™‚

    1. You clear out your inbox twice a year? Then you’re doing better than me. πŸ™‚ I only clear mine out when the email service I use becomes obsolete.

      And I’m honoured my blog is one of the few you read… even if it’s only because you can’t unsubscribe.

      1. Oh, that came out badly… Usually I’m better in writing than speaking, but evidently not always. No, yours I’m actually subscribed to twice, so I get the wordpress notification AND the round-up. Because I would be most disappointed to miss yours!

        I tend to try and delete as I go along, then will need to find things and wind up having a mass clear-out as I try to find one email that I know I had to one of my three email address at some point in the past 6 weeks (or possibly 6 months). And after clearing everything out I usually find I cleverly moved it to a folder with a totally unrelated name. Which I why I should resist organisation more, as it only confuses me.

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