Monday, September 8, 2014

An Accidental Novel


I think I accidentally wrote a novel.

Well, no. I did.

I had an idea and after I just couldn't stop thinking about it, I bought this tiny little notebook and thought if I scribbled every single thing I was thinking that the idea would burn out. But it didn't. Instead, I pulled out the laptop and started typing. My preferred method is usually to write by hand but there is no way my penmanship could keep up. I had to type. So I kept typing. I started in May and at the end of August, I had almost 120,000 words.

It was fun. I couldn't stop thinking about my characters. They invaded my every waking moment. I carried the pink notebook around with me everywhere and wrote down every idea. Any thought that crossed my mind. I would panic if I couldn't find it. 

But as I panicked, I would tell myself that it wasn't important, it was all just for fun. This wasn't to be talked about with anyone. This was very silly. This was actually pretty embarrassing. But then my computer froze. It unfroze for a while but then kept freezing. I completely lost my shit that the whole thing could be lost. I managed to save a copy to a USB before the computer set itself on fire and died until it was dead. 

That's when I realised that my silly little manuscript meant a quite great deal to me and now I have a first draft.

Holy shitballs, I did it. I have a first draft. In a couple of months, I'm going to start a second draft edit. But just because I want to see if I can do it. I still feel like this is all a bit of nonsense but there is a small, tiny part of me that is championing this silly accidental novel.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Ordeal V Adventure

Picture via Pinterest, original source unknown

I don't usually go for inspirational quotes, I find them to be a bit naff and cheesy, but this one though, this one is so fitting for right now.

Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.

Losing a job, being made redundant, that's a pretty big ordeal. That mortgage and those bills aren't going to pay themselves. Being made redundant two weeks before my one-year anniversary meant that I wasn't entitled to a redundancy package? (Oh, I'm not bitter about that at all. Not. At. All) That's an ordeal.

But there isn't any point moping about it, is there? It's done, they're done, I'm done. Now it's time to move on.

What makes this an adventure is that I can right all the wrongs in my life. Rather than look for work in Geelong, my hometown, I can venture further afield to Melbourne - the world's most livable city, if those polls are to be believed - where the money is better and opportunity seems infinite.

Maybe I should be scared. Maybe I'll have the wind taken out of my sails in three weeks when I still don't have a job and my savings are rapidly dwindling. Maybe I'll fall (but oh my darling, what if you fly?). Or maybe, as my friend and ex-work colleague said to me yesterday, this will be the making of me.

I find these times in life, when you know life is going to be turned on its head, to be so exhilarating. Routine scares me. I need the rush and the adrenaline of being pushed out of my comfort zone because it makes me feel alive. And Goddammit, do I feel alive right now!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Well, that was unexpected

You know how you’re just cruising along the highway of life, thinking that while everything is okay, things could be just a little bit different? A little bit more exciting, a little bit more interesting, maybe even a little bit more drama?

My life’s highway has, for the past few years, been dead straight. No bends, twists or turns. No bumps, no major potholes. There hasn't even been any interesting scenery. Maybe just a few trees, evenly spaced along the side of the road.

Nothing is inherently wrong with that (if that’s what you’re after) but I haven’t been able shake that Is this it? feeling. Is being terminally bored how it’s going to be for me forever? And those kinds of feelings freaked me out, made me anxious that I've been wasting my life. I could be doing something amazing! I would think, but then have to go into the office on a Monday and face a job that held no interest, provided no challenge or stimulation, and I would despair. Pretty sure this is it.

I would write down my wishes in a notebook. Put it out there, make it known to the universe, and it will happen. I want a job I love topped the list. Over and over again. So as jobs came up that I was interested in, I would apply for it. There wasn't a lot of them though and I wasn't having much luck. Still, I wasn't desperate to leave my current job, so I just plodded along.

After a few months, the idea of temping occurred to me. Better money, constant exposure to new industries, and the very nature of temping would mean that I probably wouldn't have the time to get bored. The only thing that held me back was how do you leave a secure job for the insecurity of temping? I would talk about it with my co-worker all the time but could never work up the courage to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, the boredom I felt at work was creeping over to invade my personal life. I was bored. Saturday would roll around and I would find myself thinking I’m so bored. Bored on the weekend?! That’s insane. Not much to do locally and my shitty salary meant no extra cash to do the things I would like to do.
I was getting pretty frustrated and even though I could see, almost touch, all of the possibilities and opportunities that temping may bring, I couldn't commit to taking that step.

And then on Monday morning, I was made redundant from my job and my hand has been forced.


Hello, bendy, twisty, turny highway of life. It’s about time you got interesting again. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Perfect

Found on Pinterest, original source unknown

Writing is all I have ever wanted to do. It's the only thing I've done consistently throughout my life: years upon years of journals, notebooks full of characters and stories. In 2010, I went to university and started telling anyone who asked that I wanted to write books for a living, thinking that if I said it often enough, put it out into the universe, it would happen. An idea came to me and I starting writing. A short story I wrote was chosen to be included in the university's anthology. I got great feedback from my teacher and fellow students. I wrote and wrote. I wrote until it felt like my hand would fall off (kicking it old school: writing by hand). I wrote like the wind ... until I didn't.

I tried but I just kept re-writing the same things over and over again. I couldn't think of anything new. I felt completely paralysed. I struggled for a couple of years and then saw an ad for a one-day writing seminar called Getting Out of Your Own Way, which pretty much claimed to help do exactly that. The only thing I remember about the day was an exercise we did where we were told to write something and make it as terrible as we could. Go nuts with the cliches, make it outlandishly stupid, fill it with adverbs. We all giggled to ourselves as we wrote, pens flying over the pages. Then we were told to write something good and we all froze. Make it good? Way too much pressure.

I finished university and that novel I'd planned to have ready to send off to agents and publishers hadn't materialised. I felt like a failure. I avoided answering when people asked me how the writing was going. I looked at my notebooks with resentment. In desperation and at the end of my rope, I saw a psychologist. My diagnosis was perfectionism. It's me to a T: basically, if I can't do it properly the first time, or if there is a chance I might fail, I'd rather not do it at all. I won't even let myself try. It sounds kind of ridiculous but it got to the point where it was debilitating to the only thing I have ever wanted to do.

Getting a name for my problem didn't make it go away though. Another year went by and even though I started coming up with new ideas and writing, it would all fizzle out after I hit the 20,000-word mark. I tried not to think about it. I started working full-time and would come home, feeling brain-dead and like the will to do anything after 5pm sucked out of me. Then, completely out of nowhere, something changed. An idea came to me and I made a few notes. Then I started writing, on the computer this time. It was ridiculous. Such a far-fetched idea. I wrote over 5000 words in the first session and then doubled it the next day. I laughed to myself every time I had a writing session. After starting ten weeks ago, I now have 84,228 words and I've been struggling to write this blog post because I am dying to get back to that ridiculous story.

The reason why I've managed to write 84,228? Because I promised myself I would never breathe a word of what this story was about. I would be mortified if anyone read it. I was just writing something silly and fun, just to get the words out of my head. It isn't really even a 'story'. There is no character development, no real plot. It's just word vomit. 

Vomit or not, I am loving it. LOVING IT. I wrote in my diary I get it now, I totally get it. The exhilaration you get when you're writing something that you love. Or even just enjoying it because it's so much fun! It was so hard before with all the other projects I've started. I've been trying too hard to make the good right away. 

That's it in a nutshell. It should be fun, and it doesn't have to be perfect. All that advice to would-be writers comes back to me: a blank page cannot be fixed, don't compare your first draft to someone's published novel, don't let doubt hold you back. Yada yada yada, I used to think. Of course, it's bang on as far as advice for writing goes.

It's been a hard habit to break, this who cares if it's not perfect thing. And it isn't broken yet (I've been trying to write this post for a couple of weeks but couldn't get it just right in my head so didn't even bother). But I'll keep on trying. Keep on writing. Keep trying to break the 'it must be perfect - I must be perfect - or it's not worth it' mentality. I'm not even going to proofread this post, screw perfect grammar! Screw proper sentences! Screw correct spelling!

Lies, actually. I will proofread it. I'll wait until tomorrow but I will proofread it. One must have standards, after all.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The one where I get drunk and contact people from the past

I am bored out of my skull these days. I’m dissatisfied, unfulfilled, bored, and discontent but that’s really a story for another day. Sometimes, to try and being some drama and excitement into my life, I do something irresponsible, like getting drunk by myself on a Wednesday night.

This past Wednesday was one such night. Sitting on the couch with only iTunes Shuffle and the internet for company, I got more and more nostalgic with every mouthful of wine and each song from the ‘90s that played and before I knew it, I was Facebook messaging absent friends.

One friend, I haven’t seen since July last year. Emails and texts have gone unanswered but like a pesky ex-girlfriend who can’t take a hint, I persisted. I promised myself that Wednesday night’s message would be the absolute last final no more not even one more message I sent. Pink Floyd’s On The Turning Away was the catalyst for the message: it came on Shuffle and instantly, it sent me back to 2007 when I was in Ireland and being very stoned late one night at said friend’s house when the song came on and a crystal clear thought entered my head: ‘Pink Floyd wrote this song for me right now in this moment. They knew I would be here right this very second and they wrote this song just for me’. It still amuses me.

I’m not sure what the catalyst was for the second message to the second friend. The bottom of the wine bottle, perhaps. I haven’t seen this friend since halfway through high school – 1996 – when she went off the rails. Spectacularly off the rails. Imagine the worst and then multiply it by a hundred. I was hurt and resented her for a long time but I guess there is some truth in the old ‘time heals all wounds’ cliché because I don’t feel angry anymore. And I certainly didn’t feel angry the other night when I messaged her. I haven’t even read over what I sent because I’m too embarrassed but I’m pretty sure it started with a sentence like ‘I need to preface this message by saying I’ve had the best part of a bottle of wine’ and ended with something like ‘because, fuck me, twenty years is a long time’.

Surprisingly, I heard back from both of them. The first friend has had her own problems (What? Not everything is about me?) and the second one, the high school best friend, sent me the loveliest, loveliest message. She gave a heartfelt apology (even though that isn’t what I contacted her) and suggested that we catch up. Even though I instigated it, I’m quietly shitting myself. (Gross.)

This should alleviate some of the boredom, shouldn’t it?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

That time I resuscitated my blog

*Slips into room and pretends I’ve been here the whole time, like the past eight months never happened.*

I started a new blog. I even bought a dot com. It was going to be legit, no blogspot address for me. But then the blog just sat there. I’d log in every now and then, and stare at the screen for a while, whatever I had planned to blog about suddenly disappeared from my brain. I wanted to write but I didn’t know what. I thought there would be freedom in writing to nobody but I couldn’t muster up the motivation. I started thinking about this place and how much I enjoyed connecting with people I’ve never met but consider to be friends.

Something kept me back though. All those previous posts, four years of posts, made me feel tied to a different version of myself. Which is silly because I’m still the same me. But I when I decided to forget the other blog and come back here, I decided to revert those four years of posts to draft. They’re still there, just not here. Maybe one day I’ll bring them back but for now, box of crayons is old but new.

So, let’s give this blogging thing another crack, shall we?

How have you been?