Life changes and writing

So… in a few weeks I begin school, again. This choice to take the fist step towards a new career, is one that has upset a lot of things. The desire to work on my novel chief among them. Part of this I think is due to anticipating not having the time or energy to work on the blasted thing, part is because with that choice I changed.

Much of the mc’s journey is figuring out who he’s become and what he needs to do to feel like he has purpose. Something I’ve related to very strongly until recently. His journey, while far more dramatic and ending far more epic-ally than my own, asked a lot of the same questions.

While the monsters he fights are far more literal than my own, they are, were reflections of my own. His haunted past that made him unable to do that which he thought defined him, that left him feeling like he was useless for all but the most mundane things, could easily be construed as being a reflection for my own past.

To be clear, I don’t have some brutal horrible backstory full of abuse and tragedy. My parents were awesome, my sisters could be a pain in the ass(in truth I’m still not entirely over the kool-aid incident(they convinced me to eat straight kool-aid powder.)) and I’m sure I was a pain in the ass sometimes to. But, for the most part, home was a happy place. The only time I ever felt fear, or dread, coming home was when I had a report card or a test that I hadn’t done well on. Which for much of my grade school years was often.

And that’s the lingering problem, I was the stupid kid, the kid that went to resource because I needed the help. That’s where my monsters were born, and the superiority complex I developed to fight them. Rather than seeing myself as a smart, or at least average kid, that needed extra help because of a learning disorder, I saw myself as a stupid kid who held onto the delusion that even though I was failing I was still better than the rest of the class, and probably most of the school. I was somehow smarter, better, and just all around a higher quality human being.

I’ve spent the last five years earnestly tearing apart that complex. As a result I accept the moments where learning is just really hard easier, and the times it’s easy more gracefully. I’ve judged people less. And I’ve made friends easier, and I’m far kinder to the girl in the mirror.

And writing, is so often a reflection of things I didn’t even know I thought about. Right now life is in a state of flux, I’m looking at a new journey. The last few days I’ve been staring at that horizon, shoulders square, chin up, a slight smile on my face, and every thought coalescing into the phrase “Bring it.”

To family and friends who’ve helped me get here. Thank you. Without the amazing people who have helped me heal so much I would never have had the courage to make this choice.

 

 

 

 

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The power of long term dissatisfaction and sudden inspiration. 

I am not someone who has many, if any reasons to be unhappy with life. I have a fantastic network of family and friends to share life’s ups and downs with, I have a home, I have hobbies that bring me great pleasure. In short, my basics needs are met. There have however been times where I have been incredibly dissatisfied with something about my life. Quite some time back I realized how little progress I was making on my novel, and resolved to change that, and before that it was my dissatisfaction with myself physically. I was eating stupidly, gaining weight, sleeping terribly, and as a result felt terrible. So I took steps to change that. I started eating better, paying more attention to the clock at night, and as a result lost weight, and felt better.
Recently I’ve had another choice to change. While I do at times enjoy my job, and my co-workers are good people, I do not love it. I do not want it to be my career and to do it indefinitely. For several years I’ve tried to convince myself I would become a professional artis, but as of late this idea has lost the bulk of it’s appeal. Between the long shot that is, and that I have found the times I’ve not had that mindset to coincide with the times of the most artist growth, I’ve come to the conclusion that as a long term goal it isn’t working.  Which is why I’m going back to school, or at least I’ve applied to go back to school.

When I graduated high school a part of me wanted to get a psychology degree and become a counselor or therapist. I’m not sure I ever even said it aloud to anyone.  I was convinced (probably rightly) I wasn’t mature enough, or smart enough. Over the past few years my opinion of my own intelligence has grown, and I’ve matured as a person. If I do the entire degree part time it could be as long as a decade just to get the degree, and another while yet to get my masters. By the time I’m qualified to be a therapist or counselor I will be a well seasoned adult.

To those who’ve been a constant support, who have reminded me what I’m capable of when I’ve let myself forget, thank you. To those of you who have inspired me by chasing your dreams with determination and focus, thank you.  To the sister who said, either admit it’s to hard, or fucking do it, thank you.

The Importance of play

The importance of play

Play, the act of doing something, anything really, without consequences, expectations or risk. Not the official definition, but it’s what were running with for this conversation. (Yeah I know it’s a bit one sided isn’t it?)

Practice, and hard work get given a lot of credit for folks who get really good at things, and they should, but so many folks forget about playing. Art is as far as I’m concerned about expression. It serves other purposes, but for me that’s what it always comes back to. People grow and change, but if they never go beyond what they already know works, if they never indulge in something a part of them says is silly, they’re missing out.

Playing in art is going I’m going to try something and not care if it works or not and that is incredibly and undeniably important for artistic growth. To be able to act without inhibition.

I’ve two outlets to play, places which challenge me in creative ways.

One of them is a writing group I’m in on a site called Storium. Our leader, and resident bike expert gives us  weekly(ish) writing prompts contain vague yet compelling situations and a some limitation as far as writing goes. Along with fantastic discussions on the writing craft, I also see tremendous amounts of creativity from other writes as they take the same basic ideas I had and turn them into something so delightfully different.

The other is a group I’m part of on Deviant art called the improvement club. They’re are monthly challenges which always force me to approach art in a new and interesting way. A recent one led to me figuring out how to do draw cartoony and like the result rather then feeling like it was terrible. Though the challenge had nothing to do with that, for the challenge we were given three photos and had to make a character out of them, only before you did that you had to do six very quick concept sketches. I’m really glad I choose to do this challenge even if I did do it really really last minute, but I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t stuck to my no more excuses mantra. If you’re wondering, yes that funny little thing at the top is the result of some play.

The overall all conclusion for me is that I need to remember to play, and not make excuses not to.

Habits as a goal. 

Habits are perhaps one of the most important parts of getting good at anything, or making serious progress in anything. They can be hard to break or hard to keep up. 

Last year I spent a lot of time, energy, and frustration on goals. Usually weekly, sometimes monthly. I tried to adhere to SMART goals. Meaning they were sensible, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. 

And yet I made very little progress on any of the things I was focused on, and this was because while many of these goals were reasonable for some remembered version of me, they were, at the time unreasonable for me when I set them for the simple reason that I had a serious discipline deficiency. Which is a problem when trying to write a novel. 

So sometime around mid December 2016 I decided on a bare minimum daily goal and until I hit that goal I would not go online. I figure if I didn’t have the energy to hit a bare minimum I was clearly either sick, or horribly sleep deprived which means I should be in bed, not arguing with people on the internet who are wrong. So after some hard thinking I came up with my minimum daily goals. 10 minutes of writing, 15 minutes of reading, and a dice drawing. 

As a result I have read much more, written over 25K on my novel, and have drawn almost every single day. I’ve seen improvement in both my writing, and my art due to these habits. 
Sometimes success calls for a different approach.

No more Excuses

2017 is my year of no more excuses. This was triggered by a few things. My general frustration with the little amount of writing, art, and other such good things I managed to do in 2016.

It was also inspired by a blunt proclamation my sister Patrica said,”You’ve got two options. Think of it as too hard or step up and just fucking do it.” which has been bouncing around my brain for the past few days. Partly because those two options, do the hard thing, or admit you can’t, are part of the reason I’m a reason I procrastinate. If I never actually reach the point of trying, I never have to actually do whatever it the monstrous task is and I don’t have to admit that I can’t do it. I can just pretend I’m going to do it all the while hoping it gets easier.

The other vectors of this statement that have been going through my mind is that of what does giving up mean, and is it okay to do sometimes? Giving up means, to me at least, admitting that something is, at this time, unattainable.

Which means that giving up isn’t always bad, maybe whatever the goal was, wasn’t realistic and something smaller scale is what needs to be started with. Or maybe it means that when it comes down to it, I really wasn’t that passionate or determined and it’s healthier to admit that right now it’s not realistic, and maybe it won’t ever be realistic. It’s not possible to do everything even if I would like to.

Giving up also doesn’t need to be permanent. It can have all the finality of a sand castle.

The other part of the quote, just doing it, is what I intend to embrace. Because it’s not until I’ve failed, sometimes spectacularly, that I can figure out how to do better. Preparation is a good thing to do, it’s also a very convenient method of procrastination.

So this is the year I stop making excuses and either try to do things, fail spectacularly, or admit that it’s just not happening right now and make my peace with that.

I’m going to learn my limits and then I’m going to stretch past them.

I’m officially a Quaker

So you may be wondering why Quakers? Who are these odd people? Have I joined some kind of cult?

Quakers are an odd ball among Christian religions. We do not have many of the traditions that are in other christ based religions, and participate in gathered meeting. Which is a sort of joint meditation with some spoken ministry by members if they feel called to speak.

Some meetings have planned meetings and ministry, that I’m told more closely resemble modern/traditional church services. I’ve not participated in such.

So to get back on topic. Why Quakers and not some other denomination? Why leave the church I had been a part of for quite some time ?

The two questions are linked since it was the lack of acceptance to the LGBTQ community that made me leave my previous church group and sent me questing for a group that was accepting of such people. Which left my options rather slim, the united church, and the local Quaker meeting.

On my first visit to the meeting I was astounded by the sincerity of the group, the openness of the sharing I was so blessed to hear, and the sense that this was where I should be.

Since then I’ve  gained insight, had in-depth conversations where nothing felt rehearsed, and no one was reading from a guide book. These were the answer they had and they were open to them not being final answers. I’ve also never been in a faith group where I don’t know felt like an okay thing to say. Where admitting you struggled with something was not only acceptable but something that would be met with support and the knowledge that it may well always be a struggle.

There are many other aspects of Quakerism I’ve felt endeared to since reading about them. They are pacifists, they refused to use honourifics because all people are equal, they were the first Christ based religion to have a marriage that was between equals. They were also among the first to denounce slavery in the USA, and were and are a huge supporter of both LGBTQ’s rights and woman’s rights. In short they have, more than any group I’ve read about, tried to live and create equality.

These are all things that matter a great deal to me. The final, and perhaps most important reason, is that Quakers do not have a hierarchy beyond that of administrative duties among the various committees and councils which make up a the Society. We do not believe that the word of God stopped with the disciples, or with others who followed, but that God speaks and acts through everyone and that insight into God comes from within by listening to the inner light, or if you prefer the Holy Spirit. There are no ranks, no ministers, just a meeting of Friends.

Which if that sounds crazy  to you, I give you Hebrews 8 : 11 NIV

No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest