Dithering

I have been quite bad at keeping up with this blog lately, and I know it.  Life has felt so like a whirlwind this year that it’s difficult to find time to update, particularly when things don’t feel as though they’re going so well.  For those who have continued to follow me despite my absence, I thank you.


 

Dithering

This semester is already moving at the speed of light.  My world is spinning, reshaping itself, and moulding me into someone new.  I am still me – same experiences, same inner universe, and same face – but I am also becoming someone new.

I read somewhere – or perhaps it was an old friend who told me – that human beings change or are ready to change drastically every 5 to 7 years.  Perhaps that is true and perhaps it’s not.  I, however, feel as though I’ve changed drastically once every year since moving to California five years ago.  My mind, my perspective, my path, and even my body seem to have a new shape at the beginning and the end of every semester.  I don’t know who I’ll be in four month’s time or what I’ll believe and think after the next nine.  I don’t know what I’ll look like or who will be welcome in my life.

Perhaps it was the death of my grandmother last spring that so dramatically shifted my inner self.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’ve been working hard to understand and overcome my depression.  Possibly it’s the fact that I took an Applied Psychology course last term with a professor who made it my personal four month task to use meditation, dream analysis, and past experiences to better understand the way I interact with the world around me.  Likely, it’s a combination of all of these things and so much more.

Whatever the reason, I’ve realised that I’ve been dithering.  Dancing from foot to foot in worry, impatience, and fear over my own future.  I quit work in an office to return to school because I was so unhappy with my life that I was beginning to seriously consider suicide as the only option left to me.  I don’t want to go back to that.  So I struggled through 2 years of school, chose a major and a minor in subject areas I enjoy, and then spent the last year and a half having people who failed in these fields tell me how unlikely and unwise my choices were… I let other people make me second-guess my path.  I faltered… I fell… I dithered.

It is as a result of this that I’m still struggling to get back on my feet and find that solid path once again, and I know that I only have myself to blame.  There will always be someone out there who, out of fear or jealousy or whatever else, is ready to tell me I cannot reach my dreams.  I have so much personal experience with this sort of thing, and still I let it happen.

There’s just something about this semester, though, that gives me some hope for the future.  It’s a tentative and anxious hope – but it’s already far better than the fear and failure and despair I have been dealing with for the past year.  The people around me have noticed the changes in me, even if I hadn’t realised it was happening.

I am drawing people to me in every avenue of my life – sports, performing, school, and work.  These people have been helping me, taking care of me, boosting my ego, and encouraging me on my steep and unlikely path.  They have no incentive to do any one of these things for me, and yet here they are – doing them.

I cannot understand quite what they see… I’m afraid that it’ll all disappear, melt away, and I’ll be left alone once again.  I don’t trust it to last.  Yet, I feel as though I should dive forward in every avenue of my life and exhaust this gift while it lasts – soak it up and use it.

Still, at the corners of my mind lurks that fear and despair and hopelessness.  It waits for my body to burn off what little food I can currently afford to purchase, it waits for the adrenaline, blood sugar, dopamine, endorphins, energy, and serotonin to run low, then it hits me full force, sending me to my knees with the pain of it.  The pain of wasted time and lost moments and loneliness, and I despise my parents for my own past and my family for their ignorance and my life for its pains and struggles – I hate myself in those moments.  I see nothing – useless and pathetic.  It’s the way I see myself, I don’t know why… and I’m trying to change it.

My own monsters lie in wait around every corner, waiting to take full advantage of every stumble, trip, or fall.  I need to fight them, but these great, cresting highs are only followed by despairing, crashing lows.  I know that this has always been the way I have interacted with the world, and perhaps this is why I take long breaks from friends, lovers, and life.  Yet, feeling the straight line that borders emptiness and depression is no way of living – it’s barely an existence.  It’s intangible and grey.  I want the intensity of these experiences – but I’m afraid of the valleys, holding such doubt and pain and self-loathing, that lie in wait beneath every single cresting wave.  To say that falling hurts is an incredible understatement, but that is the reality of it all.

Sometimes, I just wish I didn’t feel things with such intensity.  Sometimes, I wish I could trade lives with someone less artistically inclined, and see if they live life through the same scope of starry highs and abyss-like lows.  Does it all swallow them, this way?  Do experiences make them feel anxious and excited, both at once?  Do they dread the end or the beginnings of great new relationships?  Am I normal?  Am I special?  Am I wrong?

I don’t know… but I do know that I am an artist, and I am done dithering.

Setting the Mood: Writer’s Problems

I’m am currently 3.5 chapters into my newest novel, a fantasy and science fiction melding about a girl who’s life is forever changed when she opens her father’s journal.  I’m a discovery writer so really I’m still figuring out what this book is about and what’s happening to my main character as we wade into her story.  I’m getting some inklings about what kind of characters and scenes might be coming ahead, but mostly I just build as I go.

Now, I realize that discovery writing isn’t for everyone, but for my part, I do my best writing when I don’t necessarily know what’s coming next.  I may know how I want to end a story (and it may or may not actually end the way I want it to), a scene or two along the way, and the characters I want to introduce.  Other than that, I’m flying blind, and I love it.  The two stories that have been published in literary magazines were both written this way, and had little or no editing when I first submitted them for publication so I can write this way just fine.

I am, however, hoping that my writer friends might offer some suggestions about a mood/setting issue I’m having.  You see, I want a more dangerous and dark fairytale mood in my story.  Similar to Tanith Lee’s Flat Earth series or like that of the movie, Pan’s Labyrinth.  At the moment, I have a very Harry Potter-esque feel and mood to the whole thing, I think, and while I want there to be that aspect of the main character discovering things about herself and her family and her world that she never knew about before, I still want that danger and risk and dark mood to hang over the whole thing.  I’m just not getting it.

To be fair, I am only on chapter four and just now beginning to build some more important aspects of the world and the history so I know there’s time to add that stuff in.  In the meantime, I wanted to know if you guys had any suggestions for how to get the mood I want in a particular story, without sacrificing the character building I’ve done (I really like my main character the way she is and I’d rather not change her, if I can help it).  Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

That’s all for now.  I have a sick dog to tend and some rest to get so that I can finish my own recovery from a sick/holiday weekend.  Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a lovely week!

Not Just A Writer

As the title states, I’m not just a writer.  Is anyone, really?  I’m also an actor, which is not a title I use arbitrarily.  I have a talent for making costumes and clothing accessories, which I sometimes do in my spare time and sometimes in a professional capacity.  I’m an amateur photographer.  I’m a foodie.  There are many, many places on the internet for people who do these things, but nowhere that I’m aware of in which all of these differing groups combine.  

I’ve been looking for a place to keep things like my photography and my recipes where they are easy to find, and for which I do not have to remember some new website with some new username and password.  I already have a several WordPress accounts, Tumblr and Twitter accounts, a Google+, a Flickr account, and so on.  

Not to mention, I’m also looking for ways to bring more traffic to my professional website, which promotes me as a writer.  Now, I know of several professional writers’ websites that discuss things other than their writing.  Off the top of my head, one well known and award winning author discusses tv shows, writing reviews to her ‘guilty pleasures’ and posting them on her website, which creates traffic not only from interest in her books but also as a result of searching for the shows.  

The thing is: I don’t quite know what suits me best as an author.  Photography is just useful for accompanying the blog posts I write there, not so much for attracting readers all on its own.  Costumes and accessories, well seeing as how I sell them online, I don’t really need to put two things on the same website that I’m trying to sell… it just seems like a conflict of interest.  Acting is only a useful addition if I do something in which people outside of the SF area would recognize.  So that leaves recipes (although, honestly, I’ve considered writing reviews to books that I’m reading, but it’s difficult to critique something honestly when you’re still trying to reach that level in your own writing).  

I’m just not sure if recipes are a good accompaniment to writing.  I mean, writers need to eat and I feel as though it’s important to someone who can write for hours and hours at a time without realizing that they’ve missed mealtimes.  I have to be creative and fast when I make food because I have blood-sugar issues that put me in danger when the levels drop too low.  I could call it my quick and tasty recipes for writing breaks… or something equally as cheesy.  I’m just not sure if that’s the way to go or not.  *sigh*

It’s so difficult this balancing of personal and professional blogging.  

What do you guys think?  Do you worry about this, as well?  How do you balance this?

Please, comment below with your thoughts.  Thanks for reading, and have a happy holiday!  

On Writing: Reviews

Yesterday, I asked for a quick review of my most recent piece, which was written in kind of a hurry for a writing contest prompt.  (If you would like to read or review my piece, please find it here.)

To be plain, I’m more of a ‘write what I want when I want’ kind of a writer.  However, I feel that my writing will – eventually – improve if I throw myself into unknowns, and allow myself to be pushed out of my comfort zone.  So, bring on the writing prompts and contests.  (That and, let’s face it, I’m a student so I’m broke.  Entering contests where I can win money between semesters seems like quite a good idea when it might allow me to continue to pay for rent and dog food and, I suppose, my food, as well.)

So, when I write things about which I’m unsure, I ask for reviews.  I have accounts on both DeviantArt and Writing.com for this exact purpose.  They both have very different readers so the same piece posted in both locations is likely to get a very different response on each, though not always.  I’ve gotten some very good, constructive reviews in both places, actually.

However, today I’ve been made to wonder: what do you do with a review that is completely useless?

Let me explain: I recently got a review on a short story, which I wrote to explore the mental devolution of a female character as she entered into madness and, later, to became a serial killer.  Now, I’ve gotten some very good reviews of this piece, and a few that were very harsh but in areas that, yes, could have used improvement.  Today, however, I received a review that criticized the fact that my character ‘is not confident enough to be a serial killer’ and that she ‘doesn’t get sexually aroused enough by the thought of murder to be a serial killer.’

Now, I have no idea what to do with this review, which was clearly written by someone who’s read one book or seen one movie about a psychopath or sociopath or narcissist type serial killer, and knows nothing whatsoever about the other types of madness that can lead to this twisted occupation.  What frustrates me is his insistence that, until these things are fixed (and here’s exactly how you should go about fixing them, listed here in my ‘oh-so-helpful’ review), my piece is worthless.

I know it could use some editing, obviously, or I would not have submitted it for review.  I also know that it’s a good piece.  Coming from a writer, that is saying something.  (I can say this because I had two fiction professors and an entire short-story writing class review it last semester.  I also had a literary magazine hold it for possible publication for four months even though it was over a thousand words longer than the suggested word-count.  It didn’t get published in this issue, but they’ve asked if they can hold it for consideration in the next one.  It’s not perfect, by any means, but if at least three separate people who read and write fiction for a living tell me it’s a good piece, it’s been considered for publication, and an entire class seems to approve of the story-line, if not the content – then it’s a good piece.)

So I’m debating what to do with his review, which is unnecessarily harsh and misleading to other readers.  I have the option to hide it.  I have the option to respond to it (which I have not done because every time I begin to write a response, I find myself correcting his ignorance about mental issues relating to serial killers as well as serial killers themselves).  I don’t know what to do with it.

Now, I should also point out that this is a male reviewer, and, to be honest, the piece could be seen as offensive to male readers.  That’s just the character; the situation.  She has a background of bad experiences with men and sex, and it’s an integral part of her descent into madness.  There’s no way to make the piece easier to read for men, and, to be frank, there’s enough bloody fiction (movies, tv shows, etc, etc, etc) out there that caters to men and their male power so why should I edit my one piece to make it easier for a man to read?  I shouldn’t.  This reviewer thinks that my character should have a better relationship with sex and arousal, equating it with the one thing she finally finds as a release for all of the pain she’s been feeling for years.  So, since she’s a woman who gets picked up by men at bars often, he thinks that she should have some positive relationship with arousal?  Is every woman who goes to a bar and gets hit on constantly supposed to want sex?

I’m not entirely sure, but as far as a review goes – this one is entirely useless.

Of course, I do realize that I’m complaining about a review to people from whom I recently asked for reviews.  However, I doubt very much that you guys write useless reviews, or you wouldn’t be bloggers.  Bloggers think about things, then arrange these thoughts into sentences that lead from one thought to the next in a nice, if sometimes roundabout, line.  This reviewer couldn’t put two and two together – simple foreshadowing and mentions about the past that rounded out my character (according to other readers) completely eluded him.  I think most readers, and – especially – writers can spot the little things that add to situations, and turn them into stories.

Perhaps I should have began this post with the phrase: ‘Sometimes I just need to vent.’  Anyhow, thank you for reading, and may you have a lovely day.

Seven Devils: A Writing Prompted Short Story

Using a prompt from a writing group I’m a member of on DeviantArt, I created a short story.  As usual, I don’t know where this came from, but there you have it.  I should probably add a content warning, as well.  It might be triggering on these topics: self-harm and suicide.  You can find it here: Seven Devils.

Note: I have not edited this.  I finished it today, and I wanted to post it before the prompt’s deadline.  However, I would appreciate feedback on it, if you have any.  What works in the story?  What doesn’t?  Does it leave you with any questions?  Does it leave you confused?  Why or why not?  Any feedback you have for me would be greatly appreciated.
Possible Trigger Warnings: Suicide, Cutting, Blood
This is a writing prompt care of :iconlive-love-write:.
Thank you for reading, and have a lovely day!