Apropos of nothing

Fireflies

If you have ever seen Grave of the fireflies, you’ll know what the perils of waiting too long might be.

It has come to my attention that despite my best promises, I have not come up with any content in quite some time. As much as I would love to say that despite my absence without leave from the world wide web, I have been very productive in the real world, I’m afraid it isn’t so.

Yes, there were the holidays to tackle, and they were a rather hectic period.

Yes, I have made some drastic changes to my life, which of course took up a lot of time as well.

No, I don’t believe I have a valid excuse for my creative blank page.

I am not “being my harshest critic”, I’m just being honest. There were moments aplenty for me to get my act together and write, as I always claim that I want to do.

Sure, I’m against constantly blogging apropos of nothing and ending up just cluttering the information stream with exercises in self-aggrandizement, as I have found so often to be the case. I still believe in quality over quantity.

But I do admit that it is a fine line between being fussy about doing things right and being downright lazy, and I have crossed it over a million times. It’s far too easy to just say, “Nah, I can’t write today, I’m too distracted and nothing worthy could ever come out of it.”

I have been making excuse after excuse for not being able to get down to business: my working hours were too tough, I didn’t have a computer of my own, I didn’t have anyone motivating me. That’s exactly what they were: excuses. A metaphorical note from my mom to excuse me from class today.

I may be well in my thirties (hint: yes, I am looking for responses such as “But you don’t look a day older than 25!”) but there are still many sides of me that are… unfinished.

Do I think I should be all-knowing and wise by now? Of course not. I don’t expect that to happen when I’ll be well in my nineties. But I did expect to have developed a more graceful way to deal with the awkwardness and self-loathing I developed when I hit puberty and that I had since then clumsily mishandled.

It was rather disappointing for me to realize that I hadn’t progressed much from being a “little girl lost” in my mid-twenties. It was even more disappointing to notice how even that metamorphosis hadn’t really changed me much from the dazed and confused teenager I used to be.

Suddenly, it hit me that the name of this blog, which I thought I was using as a punchline developed over 10 years ago I had simply grown fond of, was the most honest and appropriate thing I had produced. I am still waiting to happen. I don’t consider myself a woman in my own right.

I see women, often younger than me, and I admire them. They’re in a world that still hasn’t figured out what to make of them, that still questions them. But despite how insecure this might make them feel, they stand there, determined to feel comfortable in their own skin.

And then I see overgrown children, of any gender, my age or older. They often put up a front but when push comes to shove they just huddle in a corner of self-indulgence and do nothing. They just wait for life to happen to them.

On October 1st 2015 I handed in my resignation letter from the school I had worked for since September 2002.

Sounds dramatic enough? OK, so here is some background.

I had just turned 20 when I started working there, and throughout the years I had let it become the new authority figure that would determine my life’s opportunities and limitations. As a teenager, you blame your parents and your teachers for “ruining your life”. After that, it usually is your workplace.

It’s a comfortable lifestyle. You practically never have to be responsible for yourself because you always have someone else making those hard calls for you. And when the outcome is unpleasant you rant about it for a while and then wait for things to blow over. But you’re stuck in limbo.

I was young when I started working, and I’ll allow that to be my excuse then. Most people my age were in university extending their leave of absence from adulthood, getting acquainted with it in small doses. I thought I was “being real” instead, but in the end I just allowed my emotional growth to be stumped, having replaced the parent to please or rebel against my employer.

I am not unique in this behaviour. As a matter of fact, this accusatory finger could be pointed to every other person in the western world: overgrown babies across the internet, take a pledge to grow up with me! (I’m giggling as I type this, please take it in that spirit.)

So what about that letter of resignation, then?

I’m now doing exactly what I used to do, I teach English as a second language. And I still work with the school I resigned from, naturally. But I’m a freelance now, so everything I do is all up to me. My mistakes. My victories. My responsibility.

It’s scary, and I must admit I’m not entirely sure of the timing. As mentioned in my previous post, I have a wedding ahead of me. That will probably be followed by the messy business of setting up a family, eventually. I’m not sure it was the right choice to make.

But it was my choice and I’m not making any more excuses for myself.

My working hours are the ones I make for myself, so I can easily fit some writing in there.

I have both a working laptop of my own and a working tablet, so I can easily write wherever I am.

I have had people who have been preciously encouraging my efforts and motivating me for years.

I’m very excited about this new year, let’s see what it will bring.

But I’m not waiting anymore. I’m good and done with that.

Sometimes they come back

image

…graaaargh, someone get these brambles off me!

Am I dreaming? The blog is actually being updated? Has the account been hacked? The answers to these questions are, in order: quite possibly, yes and no.

It’s been almost a year since my #NotNaNoWriMo project crashed and burned, but to be fair it ran longer than I had estimated. I’ve never been a glass half full kind of gal. I’d more likely eye the glass suspiciously whilst pondering on who left it behind, what were their intentions and what are the odds of it being poisonous (usually they would be pretty high). And then write a short piece of fiction about fear and paranoia and the lengths it can drive one to. As a matter of fact… *takes a short break to scribble something on her notepad*

But then if someone else gingerly approached that glass and made moves to drink from it I’d probably grab it and drown it in one gulp. Which is why I think it’s time to come back to blogging. My massive ego needs a place to vent before I start making all those around me too miserable with it.

So yes, I’m updating my blog again and I have many reasons for this: things in my life I’d like to share with the sole purpose of getting advice on, personal projects I’d like to spam the world wide web with and the such. I have a wedding to plan and have no idea on how to get around that. I need to make some serious career decisions. And finally, I need to write, it’s a craving that’s always been in me this entire time and it’s slowly burning a hole within me, so big it started sucking away pieces of me. I swear, I feel like I’m getting hollower by the minute and sooner rather than later there won’t be enough of me left to make a whole person.

Say what? Is this in direct contradiction with the aforementioned massive ego? Well, first off, you really focus too much on detail. You would probably be good at CinemaSins. I suggest seeing if they have any vacancies opening up. Secondly, I’m the author of this blog. I reserve for myself the right to contradict myself on the grounds of “so it is”. Thirdly, have a look at showbiz: there are hollow people wrapped up in massive egos aplenty. And that’s a legion I’m not interested in joining.

Back to being serious for a short bit: what started the whole mental process that led me back here was that last March the best author in the world passed away. He was my role model in practically anything literature-related. I had this dream hidden somewhere in my chest of wonders that one day, he’d read something I wrote. He would have picked it up in some nice little bookshop he was visiting, perhaps for a signing, and read it and had an opinion on it. I didn’t particularly care whether he thought of it as good or bad (well, that’s partly a lie, I’d have been well chuffed if he thought it any good), but just having him think something of it would have been enough. And there you go, what with that not happening anymore I started having all these… things happening in here, feelings and ideas and stuff that I started pushing away but that refused to budge. They didn’t want to go. And I would stare blankly because I had no idea what to do with them.

So there, I’m back because there are some feelings and ideas that are worth saving, if only for their admirable stubbornness. And I’ve decided to save them here.

The Everything Junkie

Gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble cherries gobble gobble ghostie gobble

Gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble cherries gobble gobble ghostie gobble

I suppose there are some people who are more inclined than others to get addicted to things. Whenever I latch on to something that I like, I devour it. A bit like Pac-Man, apparently I cannot content myself with just a few white dots. I must have all of them, and then more, and then more. It might be food, or literature, or a good TV show, or a stupid game app, or some pretty crazy behaviour like categorizing everything in alphabetical and chronological order. Yes, I’m looking at you, CD towers and bookcases. It wouldn’t be so bad, you know, but as it usually is with addictions, it means you tend to let go of everything else. Sleep, money, order, brushing your hair…

Last weekend I had to take a break from writing. I didn’t have a block, I kinda knew what the next instalment was going to be about, but I had been losing sight of the other things in my life that are important. First and foremost, there are people in my life, the ones that live outside my head, that deserve to be given at least the same amount of attention the ones I create get. And in some cases, well, even more. Secondly, wanting to be a writer mustn’t mean I can forgo being human and living in a human dwelling that wouldn’t resemble a prehistoric cave. And finally, enough with the egomania, I really cannot float through life expecting people to bend over backwards to help and support me and not be willing to do the same for others. I mean, I usually dismiss the guilt Scott Pilgrim-style, but I’m not a twenty-something any more, and egotism stops being cute when you’re supposed to be building a future with someone. So yeah, I spent last weekend sorting things out.

Which means I haven’t edited any of the things I wrote last week yet, nor have I reviewed this one. Same old same old, it’s late, I’m tired, etcetera. I’ll probably end up mass editing everything during my Christmas break. Ho ho ho!

Read More

You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.

Boo, remember me? Until you don't.

Boo, remember me? Until you don’t.

There are some aspects of my personality that are like the Silence. I don’t remember they exist as long as I don’t lay eyes on them, but when I see them – shit! They’re just terrifying. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and as a teenager I often found I could exorcise my darker self by writing down whatever she thought, whatever she wanted, whatever she wished for. Once on paper, I was free. My evil twin would be trapped in the pages of my diary and not dwelling in my heart any more. But the downside was that my diaries were really hard to read, the words on there would sting my eyes. It’s good to get rid of the filth that accumulates in your stomach when you’re upset, but then you come across one of those notebooks months, years later, read them and it’s a sucker punch. On balance, it’s probably better seeing your darkness on a blotted piece of paper than it is having it stare back at you from a mirror. So tonight’s lesson is that I probably need to start keeping a diary again.

I’ve written a lot again, even though I still intend to just put the minimum necessary on-line tonight. A lady must have a contingency plan! Part of me is a bit surprised by how much I seem to have to give to this latest project. Unlike any of the previous pieces, the events described aren’t drawn from my life, only the feelings are. When I wrote about Eskarena’s walk, I was just describing a moment from a holiday I’d had a gazillion years ago with a former boyfriend. The fictional direction the story took was what took me by surprise then, I didn’t expect it to become science fiction and as a result, despite being terribly thrilled at the idea of writing something of that type, I was stuck. There were vague notions of what I wanted to do in that world, but it had been so sudden, so unexpected, I got lost. I didn’t actually know anything about it.

When I started writing yesterday, I didn’t have anything clear in mind either. I started making up scenarios from scratch, and somehow ended up dealing with stuff I knew all too well. I feel so familiar with this piece I almost feel I should put one of those disclaimers, you know, all events and people hereby depicted are fictional and any resemblance with actual people yada yada yada. So yes, that.

Read More

Moonlighting

Alas, missed the midnight deadline for a blink of an eye!

Alas, missed the midnight deadline for a blink of an eye!

I had the most annoying case of lightning writer’s block. All the way home from work and while doing a couple of urgent chores I had this situation in mind, which was probably set in the same world as Eskarena and the Imaginarium and could have been an interesting chapter one. But as soon as I sat in front of the screen the idea started weakening, I realized I hadn’t thought through any of the details and got hopelessly lost at about 150 words in.

So I decided it was destiny, opened a new file and started an entirely different thing. An odd piece that appeared to deal with compulsive behaviours and boring summer afternoons. But that turned out to be a dead end too. I was ready to throw in the towel. My number one fan kept trying to motivate me, suggesting I should write about sexy female vampires, or sexy witches, or sexy female vampires with sexy witches, but I had to turn down all of those ideas despite being aware of just how marketable they would be.

But then, after staring aimlessly outside the window and smoking a nasty cancer stick, a memory emerged. And it led me to another memory. And then another one. And then I knew what I was going to write today.

I haven’t edited it at all, so I can only imagine how dreadful the syntax and grammar must be, but bear with me. It’s past midnight, I’m exhausted and a long day awaits me tomorrow!

Read More

First world problems

Evidence A of the subject's absolute lack of dark, depressing thoughts

Evidence A of the subject’s absolute lack of dark, depressing thoughts

So today didn’t go quite as well as yesterday. I was really hoping to get so much writing done I would go on right past midnight and end up having also enough material for tomorrow too – see, it’s not cheating, it’s being exceedingly precise about time. Now despite whatever I may have written in my ramblings yesterday, I did consider trying to get a novel out of that piece. I was ready to set up a whole world around the Imaginarium, with Eskarena and Haikand’s walk in the woods as a prologue. But try as I might, today I just couldn’t delve any deeper in it. I stared at a mostly white with some dark symbols screen for hours at end. Hadn’t been doing that since the days when I was playing KoL. The staring at a mostly white screen, I mean.

Great, now I want to play KoL.

So anyway, after hours of being snubbed by every muse in the area, I just ended up with a writing exercise. Describe an absolutely ordinary situation as if it were extraordinary. And when I read what I wrote I figured out what might be the problem. I’m really, really happy. I know, I know. Woe is she, so happy that she can’t write, some people have real problems yada yada yada. I know that. But for most of my life I had planned an Eleanor Rigby scenario for myself, and in a way my writing drew from it. I don’t write about happiness, it tends to be far too conclusive for my taste, like a Disney spin on folk tales. Now, if I could just direct your attention to that picture  in the top left, that’s me when my head is filled with flying ponies and marsh mallows. And writing in those moments can be a bit challenging. It’s not that it’s impossible, I was happy yesterday too. It’s just that it tends to be a lottery, some days I’m having wild ideas erupting from my brain so fast I can barely get them written down on time and others, well, they’re more of the “hearts and arrows” persuasion.

Trust me, I’m not complaining. It’s the type of problem I can live with.

Read More

Down the rabbit hole

#NotNaNoWriMo begins! And what an unexpectedly prolific beginning it was!

#NotNaNoWriMo begins! And what an unexpectedly prolific beginning it was!

Well, OK.

I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly optimistic about this project. And to be entirely fair, it’s far too early to say that this enterprise won’t sink. I can already see lots and lots of icebergs ahead. But at least I started, right on time.

First day of November, first 500 written words. Actually, more like 800+, a fact you may have no doubt I will soon use as an excuse to write far less in the days that are to come!

My biggest concern was that I haven’t actually written anything in a while (no, years) so didn’t think I had any stories in me at the moment. Sometimes while walking home from work I would try to create plot lines in my head but nothing would come. So today, when I found myself sitting in front of a blank page, I was pretty much ready to give in, white flag et all.

And then the first paragraph just appeared in my head. And right after that a name. OK, the name was lifted, to be completely honest, from Terry Pratchett’s Equal Rites, but it was by pure chance! I read that book ages ago, and the name just suited my protagonist perfectly! Then after the name came the rest. I started typing and typing and from without even knowing where it was going I suddenly got to have a precise setting and an ending. Well, the final result is definitely not Discworld material, but rather Philip K. Dick inspired. (In case you were wondering, I did not leave it blank. But telling you which author it is would be a dead giveaway! If you don’t mind spoilers, just highlight that blank space. Otherwise do it after reading my piece and see if you guessed it right.)

Read More

Challenge not accepted!

Time to get creative

Time to get creative! Time to do stuff! Time to dig out your crayons and doodle!

See, in films there comes a point, approximately 65% into it, that the protagonist just knows they have to push further, overcome their insecurity and do what they’ve never dared do before. And it’s easy to see it coming. First of all, it’s a freakin’ film, which means you can see how much time has passed and how much film is left. Secondly, there’s a series of key factors that have been popping up since the very beginning, then by the X hour there’s a crescendo and the character’s change of heart or sudden boost of confidence or whatever becomes inevitable. Seriously, after that many hints it would be like trying to stop evolution. And finally, for those who need a more in-your-face clue, the music tells you. (Perhaps that makes it more, like, in-your-ear?)

But I digress. I started this blog three weeks ago and I have only written the one post. Which makes this my very second post. Don’t get me wrong, that is an extraordinary accomplishment for me, two posts in less than one month? Crazy talk! Two posts in the same year? Phoooey! Yeah, I’m over my average, but the whole point to this enterprise was to change my nasty habit of starting something and not finishing it.

So I was flipping through the pages of my work diary to see if I could “pencil in” being creative and writing something on here. I figured on Tuesdays I finish work early, and on Mondays and Thursdays I have long breaks between one lesson in a company and another. With a tablet I could be super-productive and write loads, loads I say! Except I used to have a tablet and my productivity was close to nil. There were so many other things I could do that took up all the precious time I should’ve spent writing, so ha. Anyways, as I was saying, flipping through my diary I was when I realized we were nearing the end of October. Which meant next month is November. And you know what that means: NaNoWriMo!

What better way to force myself to finally stop piling excuses and trying to write the friggin’ novel I’ve always meant to write? Last time I took part to a writing challenge I actually did get stuff done! Granted, it was flash fiction, the theme was winter and I practically ripped off a classic myth, but the words were pouring out, and I did finish it! And just to brag a little, I also won the challenge. And just to brag a little more, here’s a link if you want to read it.

But then my instincts kicked in, and I started piling excuses. At the end of the day, I really do have too much going on at the moment. But here is my plan, I will NotNaNoWriMo! (If that hashtag doesn’t exist, it totally should.) 1700 words a day is not realistic for me, not at this stage of my life. Look at me, I’m struggling to get this post online and they’re what? 600 words? So here’s my objective: I will write at least 500 words a day for the entire month of November. They may or may not be all tied up together in a novel. They may or may not just be plot outlines for 30 short stories. They may or may not be a bunch of crap. But I’m doing this. I’m writing the hell out of November, or at least I’ll be writing more than I have in any of the past Novembers of my life.

And that must count for something, right?
Right?