Heads Up – New Project

Hey everyone,

Remember that new project I told you I would be starting soon? It starts tomorrow! My first post will kick off July 1st, and then Brie and I are alternating writing days every weekday (minus holidays) for a year!

It is called the Quotidian Project. You can learn more about it here. I encourage everyone to read along, and leave comments and suggestions (to keep things fun).

 

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Introvert Series

Hello all!

Inspiration is a tricky thing, and it has been eluding me recently. While I’ve been thinking about what to write, I have been distracting myself with a new project regarding Introversion. I have a few topics on the go, and have been popping in and out of those documents, dropping comments and thoughts on each subject, and hope to start rolling this series out on this blog in the near future.

Additionally, my lovely friend Brie and I are collaborating on a new project, which should be live soon – we just have to sort out some details before we officially announce it and put it live. You might remember Brie from the Meet in the Middle assignment.

In closing, if you have any items/topics you would like to see me cover in my Introvert Series, please let me know. If you have any creative writing ideas, leave them in comments, because sooner or later I am going to find something to spark a new story, blog post, or poem – and right now I am just taking in as much information as possible so I have a higher likelihood of finding something with which to run.

On Fiction: Edited

[Author’s Note: My first entry on this blog was On Fiction. I am now looking at it, just less than a year later, and editing the crap out of it, because I fear reading my own work, editing, and that my writing is bad. Italic is what I originally wrote, regular text is what I am writing now, and I assure you that there will be some strikesthroughs even though I loved how I was writing at the time.]

My one true love is fiction, and my arch-enemy is editing.

No matter where I am in my life, if I have some piece of fiction at my disposal, I will be all right. It doesn’t matter if it is a written or visual package of fiction – as long as the characters are endearing or compelling, and I am able to care able whatever is happening in the moments the author chose to record, I am immediately enriched. Fiction makes me feel happy and safe. The act of consuming fiction engulfs me; waves of safety, tenderness and care wash over me; the lights go down at a venue and the stage play makes me forget the terror of wading through the audience. There are stories I can revisit time and time again, and characters that I know would be lifelong friends if our circumstances were different; if they came into my life as people in my reality, we would be there to support one another, laugh in the best of times and weep during the worst. Escaping to this fictional world brings me comfort.

I have some people akin to my favourite fictional characters in my life, but instead of focusing on how that sensation seems to lead itself to the idea of “few and far between,” I tend to realize that my habit of moving around has made it so that I am constantly separated from people in my life who are extremely dear to me. I know some amazing people in real life, and wish sometimes that we fictional friends were wrapped into one piece of fiction this lifetime so that I might interact with them more often, but even if that were to happen, I am sure that we would live on a fictional map of an extremely large size, so that side plots could be carried out in different locations so they wouldn’t have to be in the direct consciousness and influence of every awesome person I know. this take on life would inevitable become rather complicated.

Perhaps this complete infatuation with fiction explains why I haven’t been able to have a relationship in which my complete devotion and love is returned in equal proportions. Until rather recently, I have led my life believing that everyone has a love of their life that exists in human form that can be everything they need to each other. I have tried to be that for a couple of men who either took advantage of my naivety or simply needed something other than what I could provide. It took me a very long time to realize that it wasn’t a matter of me not being enough for these men; I just wasn’t exactly what they needed.

To be more concise, although I cannot control the outcomes of relationships, be they in fiction or real life, I can revisit fiction more comfortably than the pains of my personal past. There are structures to reliving roles with fictional characters – one example being a novel, which can be read over and over again.

Although I might fall in love with another man at some point in my life (I like to think it can happen again, so as to not close myself off from a new exploration of romantic love), am in love with another real life human, my bond with fiction will always remain fierce. I might find a person who wants all the usual relationship dynamics, but I am quite all right and not at all heartbroken by the notion that this might not be where life will lead me. I don’t need romantical comedies to force the patriarchy ideal upon me, as I don’t need to seek that out to be happy in love. The stories I read or watch enrich my understanding of life and I feel as though my appreciation for them brings them a step above whatever the author created in his or her own mind. Although I definitely appreciate the authors of my favourite fiction as people, it is not in them that I place my love; stories belong to the readers, and although there would be no story without the author, the story is locked in darkness behind closed doors until it is brought to realization through the mind of opened by the reader.

Don’t misread my words and think that I am waiting for some fictitious knight in shining armour, or suited man in a time machine (wow, a Doctor Who reference this early, and I still haven’t even gotten into watching that show), to whisk into my life, change it forever, and toss me into a real world a life the likes of which our reality has never seen. That is not why I love fiction. I don’t dote on it in the hopes that something that lives only in the imagination will spring forth in my life, and I don’t lament that my prince still hasn’t arrived (because a prince is not a necessity) . I used to think that it was the natural course of life to fall in love and follow the usual steps of adulthood as a partnership culturally approved norm of marriage. It turns out that not every life goes that way, no matter how hard one tries to live an idealized life based on the “expectations” we are taught. Existence is much more interesting when you cast aside preconceived notions of what it should be and live your life how you see fit. As long as you are kind to others, explore what you enjoy, and don’t put others down for doing the same, life can be a complete thrill.

That being said, sometimes life crashes into periods of disappointment or sorrow, either in regards to outside elements or internal issues, and this is where fiction has bonded with my heart. Fiction allows me to escape the exact moment I am in and explore a different moment in time and space. It doesn’t matter that the fictional moment is not always better than my real life situation – I delight in absorbing what it is like to live in all sorts of situations that would be classified as “shit times” without having to actually contract the disease, be mentally distressed, or have the villain capture or abuse me. It is just the fact that someone A character I have grown to know through prose, dialogue, facial expressions or body language is going through something that I can comprehend and relate to; that pulls me in and takes me on an adventure. I’ve wept with, or for, characters who have been wronged or who deserved better, and my heart has jumped joyously with those characters who have achieved more than they could ever dream.

Fictional also allows me to explore a poly-amorous side of myself that does not exist in the real world. My soul has yet to allow physical relations with more than one other human being without a feeling of doing harm, guilt, shame or not being an outstanding friend/lover. With fiction, I do no harm in loving several characters throughout a television series, throughout a stage production, throughout a novel, or throughout a movie. In fact, my love for each of those characters is not diminished in the slightest by my love for every other character or plot line that takes hold of my heart. I’ve never felt need to engage physically with more than one person at a time in my life, but I feel a wild sensation and absolutely no guilt in consuming stories, and the souls within them.

Fiction also has this incredible power of bringing people closer together. Upon finding out someone else has read/seen the same thing that you are crazy about, and that they found enjoyment in that fiction, an intense connection can be formed while discussing fine details and character behaviours. Fiction nourishes me when I am alone and brings me into the lives of other fantastic people. Fiction brings means of discussion, self-reflection and heightened emotions. Fiction, no matter the form, is an art that wraps me up, and keeps me feeling secure and grounded, even when the situations aren’t always safe. Creation of other worlds, people and situations, and my subsequent enjoyment of these elements is something by which I am very proud to be delighted.

[Author’s end note: This is not a perfect edit. I don’t know that perfection is something that can be obtained. I do notice that my sentences can be rather long. I will try to vary that. I just want everything to be clear. Items left unclear are up for reader debate.]

On Being An Introvert

I don’t know how to talk and feel like whatever came out of my mouth was worth saying. Even now, I am sitting next to another introvert who is writing a post on how introverts are portrayed in the media, and I feel intimidated. I feel as though I should write about something else because he will likely write a post more worth reading than I will (regardless of the fact that we are both excellent writers). I default to believing that someone else’s word has more value, so I tend to stay silent and observe rather than thrust myself into the conversation. However, I promised myself that I would write again, and introversion is what is on my mind, so I’ll approach the subject from my own perspective; it isn’t about whose post is better, but rather about exploring the subject in our individual ways.

Like approximately one quarter to one half of the population (a range I found in the statistics I briefly browsed in a Google search), I am an introvert. This means I draw energy from having time to myself, and subsequently do my best socializing in concentrated groups – not too many people, or I get over stimulated. Overstimulation results of all sorts of things, depending on the exact situation: an inability to process/really comprehend the conversations around me, so I feel left out because I am at a loss of what to say, confusion, fear of being socially ridiculed, panic attacks and other less than fun happenings.

When there are too many people, I often feel ignored. I cannot focus on one conversation over another if I can hear them all, so I don’t have anything to say that I feel would add to the talk, so I stand there, lost in a sea of people enjoying themselves.

It isn’t that I don’t like people. I do like people. I like getting to know people, which is impossible when the sounds, actions, and smells of too many other people are distracting me from being able to a) hear someone, b) process the information that is being sent my way/into the general atmosphere, and c) think coherently of a reply or other response to continue a valuable conversation.

I spend an incredible amount of time listening to what other people want to/feel they have to say. Depending on the situation, I take in varying quantities of this information, and find it difficult to deeply reflect on any of it in the moment when the subject is too broad. I work best when I have direct questions. Instead of joining a conversations about –

honestly, my brain just froze while trying to come up with the hypothetical topic, which is further situational evidence of what I am trying to point out (and also the reason why improv is so difficult for me) –

movies, for instance, I would need to have this narrowed down. What genre are we talking about? If I happen to have seen movies recently in the genre, I can sometimes comment on them. If I have not, then I listen and try to soak up the information. However, I work much better with specific (as in not broad – I am not specifying a need for preferred subjects) questions or topics. For example, instead of an open topic of –

my brain froze again, so I am just taking cues from posters on my wall now –

romance movies (since I don’t have a better way to describe this poster), I would have a much better time discussing the adaptation of “The Fault In Our Stars” that recently came out, [especially since I am a fan of the book and the movie was about as faithful as it could be without exceeding the generally acceptable duration of a film (yes, details were cut, but they didn’t destroy any of the original story to adapt it to the screen)] rather than just speaking broadly on the genre.

I prefer talking about subject sin-depth, with people I can hear, and in a small enough group that I can feel comfortable in opening my mouth and letting people into my thoughts. I do not speak to intentionally try to prove my intelligence or to make you come over to my side of thinking (assuming we get into a debate); I like learning how others think, and enjoy being assured that I will be heard. If I fear that I won’t be listened to, I’d rather not speak.

I meet a lot of people who I find interesting, and I would like to get to know each of them better. The challenge in doing so is that it takes a lot of energy to go to large social events (at which I rarely get to know people well), and I am shy as well as introverted, so my ability to directly tell people who I think they are interesting and that I would like to spend some time getting to know them over a coffee is rather limited.

How can you tell if an introvert likes you? She looks at your shoes instead of her own. If you find me “looking at your shoes”, and you would enjoy talking to me, please help me out by bringing that up. I might get flustered and have to figure out how to add that to my calendar without sabotaging my recharge time, but if I do find you interesting, it is nice to know that others find me interesting, too.

I sometimes feel pressured to have completed something worthwhile during my time alone, which is counterproductive thinking. Sure, in theory I can more easily focus when I am alone, but in practice it really has more to do with how rested and recuperated I am. If I am in a state of calm, I can do excellent work, or read a book, in the middle of a crowded coffee shop, but if I am drained, these tasks become drudgery. I find it astonishingly difficult to focus on anything, regardless of how much I enjoy it (such as writing or reading) when I am feeling drained. I have been drained a lot in the last few months, which is partial explanation for my lack of writing. I lack discipline (I would like to write much more often, but let my lack of energy serve as an excuse), but I feel that comes in part from the general unwellness I feel when I haven’t fully recharged.

So, how do I get back on track? I simply just need to dedicate more time to writing. I might not always feel well, and I fear that makes for crappy writing, but lots of authors have written their best work while depressed/unwell, so I shouldn’t let that stop me. I stop out of a fear that there will be less salvageable writing on a page if I write while feeling crappy, and I hate editing. Everything I write cannot be expected to be good the first time around, but I have such as rusty “good writing” detector when it comes to my own work that I don’t want to give myself any extra changes to put shitty writing out there.

I plan to write more often. I cannot guarantee it will all be worth reading, but I always sincerely try to produce something worth posting. Let me know which posts you actually enjoy (comment on them, or send an email), and that will help me wipe the rust off my Good Writing Detector.

On Running

(Author’s Note: I know about the use of physical activity to treat depression, and to some degree have experienced this myself. However, this was written at a time in my life where I had no physical routine, and very little conscious interaction with depression.)

I am reading a novel right now where the main character suffers some serious heart ache to the extent that she cannot endure being still anymore and just starts running – to the point where her father has to track her down this his car to make sure she is okay. I was reminded that I have been meaning to get back into a physical routine, because I have let that health aspect slip (it is funny to even claim that I might have had it before; I’ve never been much of an athlete, but this is not the most physically fit I have ever been). This whole phenomenon whereby running makes things better seems to be rather prevalent in our group thought, largely, I assume, due to the studies linked to its use for treating depression.

I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed. I don’t feel it all the time; I am able to suitably ignore it and forget it exists come the weekend, but something about it being yet another Monday morning caused to to Glasgow kiss me. I can’t explain all of the effects and what I am experiencing at this very moment in a way that I feel does it justice, so I am choosing to skim over that and drop into in when/if I find the right words.

Earlier, in a moment of utter immobility caused by being overwhelmed with all the thoughts I have about life – they were jostling together and screaming so loudly at each other that I could not pick out any distinct voices – I was given the advice to go for a run. I decided to act on it immediately (it snapped me out of my frozen state), pulling out clothing I haven’t donned in quite some time and took what felt like far too long to look for the only good pair of headphones I own before deciding that having music on my run was over-rated as I would have to carry my music player and I just wanted to be free – plus I couldn’t find the headphones, which was incredibly annoying considering I can usually find everything I search for. I didn’t want to use this failed search attempt as an excuse not to act. I slapped on my sun glasses, assured that my door would be unlocked whenever I returned, and left to pound the pavement.

I made it two blocks before my body reminded me that I am an overweight, out of shape, office worker who has never been athletic. This realization (at least the essense of needing more activity because I don’t as much as I want) was already on my mind, but the fact that my lack of inate ability was keeping me from fulfilling the emotional purge that fictional characters receive to filled me with sadness. Sure, I could still be out there, wandering blocks aimlessly until the point when my chest gives me the go ahead to tackle another couple of blocks before the wave of self-doubt rushes back to mock me for my flaws, but I found that step unnecessary for this exact creative burst.

I need more exercise, and I have been meaning to figure out how to get it, and I guess I am going to have to make a promise to myself to jump into running clothing as soon as I get home from work each day and just run for as long as needed. I’m going to have to ask help in this matter – and asking for help is not a strong suit, so I guess that will also serve as work for me.

One of the points I am trying to make is that running doesn’t make it all better. I actually feel a little bit worse about myself than I did in that frozen state, but at least running served to get me out of that state and functioning again.

Why am I so overwhelmed? Perhaps if I just list the ways that this applies to me, the task in itself won’t seem too difficult.
– lack of physical activity (I even hesitated in starting the list, because I fear being judged on its content)
– lack of hours that are truly mine (I use work as an excuse for not doing what I want, because I am exhausted afterward, which seems pathetic, because it is only eight hours a day of sitting and typing, and anyone should be able to do that 5 days a week, at least according to what we are all told when it comes to work standards)
– I’m scared of letting go of a source of income because being completely unemployed could lead to many things that are counterintuitive to being able to write
– I’m scared that if I do work up enough money to be able to take time from the working world, my writing won’t be good enough
– I know that I need to focus on better nutrition, but in my mind that means spending more money, which puts back my writing goal (even though I know that puts back my goal of being healthy enough to write)
– I have a lot of fear and I don’t know what to do about it
– I’m sure I could pile a whole lots of other insecurities on here, but I honestly don’t want to bring them up.

I was walking home from work earlier and likened what is happening to me as wrapping cords tighter and tighter around myself to keep myself together. Sure, my job gives me some autonomy, but it is also full of stress and I don’t actually get much time to think – only occasionally do I let my brain slip into neutral while scrolling social media. I only eat if there is food on my desk. It often takes me over an hour to act on the fact that I need to go to the bathroom. I go hours without getting up because I am the only one who can get these things done.

The cord keeping things together made me think of wrapping string around one’s finger – specifically, wrapping too tight until a whole area grows numb. I fear that I am becoming unable to feel. I am afraid that I am containing so much that I am deadening my human emotions. I fear that this will keep me from writing well. I fear that I will become robotic – I will work five days a week for the rest of my life, and not have really lived since I last travelled. I am making great attempts at living now, but I fear that I can feel that sensation slipping away.

Opening myself up involves a lot of trust. I was wanting to speak about all these things, and was hoping to do so when I got home, anticipating a potential emotional torrent, but I got caught in a bottle inside my body. It is self-preservation that makes me want to just keep everything locked up, but my mind knows better and is over-riding that instinct because I know help is available, even if it just takes the form of me writing these less than perfect words and having one person applaud me for my courage to do so.

I need to let go of wanting to only write things that are perfect, and just post what shares me most – and all of it, in some form or another, is captured in this entry.

A gulp of beer. I’m stalling. It is no reflection on the potential internet criticism; I don’t want to interrupt people and demand attention. Trust me, even on the rare occasions when I am proud of my work, it is hard to share it without a nauseated feeling.

At this point, the most important thing for me to do is hit Publish.