Jul 17, 2017

So Full of Doubts

It's an insane world I tell you. Insane! Really, I'm just insane, but it's hard to get outside of your brain. At least, it is for me.

In any case, writing! Wut wut! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 new people I have met who aspired to write but have shied away from it for one reason or another. It drives me half mad to hear how many amazing writers are hiding away from the calling.

I am reminded of Bertrand Russell's observation:
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

If you are practiced in any skill, you can tell the difference. You can feel it. I have read a bunch of things at this point, and so much of it is like clogged piles of snot. Don't get me wrong: sneezing is natural, blowing your nose is good and healthy, picking your nose is unseemly but sometimes necessary. Nevertheless, the results from these efforts are not to be published. One may even be proud of a well-extracted booger, but it should not be preserved.

In contrast, gems—gems!—are hidden in dressers because one foolish lout hated rubies. Precious metals are taken out with the trash because a well-placed insult made silver seem worthless. Beautiful fabrics are burned because a heartbreak made silk unbearable. Instruments are destroyed because one fearful advisor was made uncomfortable by the violin. Art is forgotten because one voice insisted oils were a waste of time. And stories are left unwritten because so many timid, prying eyes could not see the beauty and necessity of creating.

Our world is glutted with foolish trifles. Perhaps, the wiser fear that their work would be foolish and fanatical, but I think it is possible to spot the wiser: when they talk about how much they must write—not how much money they want to make or awards they want to achieve but just how much they must write, not merely want to write.

I recently met a lady who felt guilty for all the writing she hadn't been doing. Then, she seemed to say, the writing had been absent so long and the guilt had lasted so long that it didn't seem worth writing anymore. But it still nags her in the back of her mind. It is always possible to misrepresent oneself or to misinterpret another, but she seemed to express that she must write. Those are the writers that I feel must write.

And then! And then, what's worse and better at the same time is when you see an aspiring writer dip into the world that begs to escape their hearts and minds—and they write! Slowly at first, quickly at first: it doesn't matter. They write.

What's even worse is discovering literature! I have a friend who recently, reluctantly shared a story, and it was utterly bloody amazing! She still mutters about how it's not very good, she wrote it when she was young, and other such hoopla. It was a delightful story full of hilarious scenes with a charming premise and engaging characters! If she was writing like that in high school, how dare she not continue to write?!

It drives me half mad to see such amazing work hidden on a shelf.

Half mad I tell you.

Stop doubting. Or continue doubting, but continue writing. Continue daring. Embrace the doubt and push through it.

Yet another friend recently read yet another amazing story: very smooth grammatical structure, balanced descriptions (i.e., neither dry nor blubbery), and an inviting setting. Afterwards, she explained it was one of the scariest things she had done recently: her heart was pounding, and she sweat profusely.

First of all, who the weeds is being such a jerk to cause a dignified individual to fear her own excellent work?
Most of all, however, she dared. She doubted, and she dared.

Continue to doubt, but continue to write or paint or dance or draw or sing or carve or sculpt or run or read or learn or build or teach or try or do. If it really doesn't work out in the end, it would be no different than eternally stewing in your doubts and regrets.

If it does work out, you will have graced the world with beautiful creations—including yourself, unfettered from the extra miseries the world tells you to carry.

Jul 13, 2017

Words and Numbers

I'm not sure if listening to metal would improve my writing or not. I'm listening to it now as I journal. I feel like it could improve my writing because it's energizing, almost safe. However, I think it might put me in a certain mood—a good mood but a specific, limited mood. I can't have all my chapters contain a hint of warfare in the background. It's tough to say, but I'm going to stick with ocean sounds.

In other news, Machi Koro is cool. I feel like the objective is a bit too abrupt: just build these few structures, and you win. I have to design some games eventually, but project priority number one (one-ish anyway) is setting up my query letter stuff so I can start reaching out to agents. The other number one priority is establishing a tutoring brand. The other priority one is making videos. Another is designing and purchasing marketing materials. Soooooooo there are a lot of high priorities.

In other other news, I want the world to write! I think there's something especially noble about writing. The God of the universe speaks to us in the form of 66 books; there has to be something special about words. Don't get on my case just yet; God also makes it clear that He is 1 God but 3 persons. Suspending disbelief for a moment, He makes a big deal about 1 and 3. In other words, numbers are also paradoxically important. It seems that more and more things are of vital importance.

Nevertheless, I want to see the world filled with good literature. There are so many pretenders glutting the bookshelves, and there are so many other pretenders pretender the junk is literature. Not all art is art, my friends. All art is expression, and all expressions have their place.

But not all art is art. Not all art is craft. Not all art is skillful or reputable or laudable or noteworthy or commendable. Congruently, no person's feelings should ever be discounted, but this doesn't mean that every person's feelings should be framed, admired, and imitated.

Again, I want to see the world filled with good literature, so you should start writing to begin sweating out the toxins. Start a journal or a blog or a emails you never send or most anything that gets you writing regularly. Then, once you have sweat enough, you can begin crafting vibrant worlds.

Jul 12, 2017

Time, Trust, and Painting

Time.

We often have funny perceptions of time, especially when it comes to the concept of eternity. Time is like a painting. Technically, one stroke is painted before another. At the end, however, no part of the painting IS before any other. It's important to remember because I often get lost in one form or one color. Though the end product by no means devalues individual shapes, it makes no sense to get stuck on any one.

In other words, I started painting a little while ago. It has been a weird experience, but I enjoy learning this new skill. One of the biggest lesson I had to learn was to consider all the forms in relation to each other. At first, I would start with a shape or a color in one region and paint a different shape elsewhere on the canvas. I would get stuck later on because I would have to fit them together, but I never planned on such a thing. They were just disparate little images that I didn't want to connect.

I still have plenty to learn, but I've started making backdrops before plopping images on. Honestly, that's a solid life lesson right there: the separate pieces make more sense together if they have a background, a context. I do so often try to pry the pieces of my life apart and handle them as individual problems. Instead, I should realize it is a life that I am living, a life unto God.

I don't trust Him very much. I look at one tiny, little form in the corner of my canvas, and I complain. I see some dark stroke or some muddy color, and I think the whole painting of my life is ruined. And, obviously, it must be the Painter's fault.

I don't trust Him. I want to trust Him. I beg that I may be like the man in Mark 9: "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

Then, we come back to time, the large tapestry of our lives that is not yet fully woven, but we still judge it prematurely. Have you ever watched one of those accelerated videos of an artist (painter, carpenter, or really any kind of craftsman)? At the very beginning, it looks like awkward blotches or chintzy chips of wood. If we stopped there, we get crappy works of trash. Roll forward a few minutes, and it starts to take shape. At the end, we see impressive works, sometimes masterpieces!

Even now, I can rarely perceive how the painter got from blotches to portraits—or the carpenter from chips to furniture. Even when I see the process before me in two minutes, I can scarcely connect the blotchy choices to the finished product—but that's exactly my point. Of my life, I am not the Craftsman. I can hardly grasp two minutes of painting. How the blazes would I grasp the decades of my life?

Time is relative; at high speeds, this is an observable phenomenon. But time is also relative in the sense that getting stuck in any one instant will cripple you. However, since we can't grasp eternity, or even just the extent of our lives, we are left with the option of trusting the Painter—or not trusting Him.

Jul 11, 2017

Gyms, Rings, and Poetry

I'm feeling uncommonly normal.

I broke down this morning and joined a gym. They're always talking about how physical activity will make you feel better and whatnot. Unfortunately, it did. I only did the elliptical thing for like half an hour, but, near the end of that half hour, I was sad that I had to leave.

I didn't have to leave, but I had sort of planned my morning. In any case, it was a pretty good deal. I have to figure out how to do useful things there so that I don't just hide on the elliptical forever.

In other news, I'm totally digging my new Ring of Distraction. I still have to figure out how to use it effectively, but, even these past two days, I have felt this barrier: When I (figuratively) reach for a distraction, I remember my ring is off, so I can't distract myself. I've even made a habit of glancing my hand across it if distracting thoughts come up—as if I'm letting it absorb the distraction.

Yes, it's weird, but weird is better than self-destructive, so get over it.

In other other news, I took many small steps or one large step toward getting my book published yesterday! I have been working on the website authors.me, which is half a guide for aspiring authors and half a tool for connecting them to agents. I tried to fill out stuff for it like a year ago; it's really cool to see how my attitude has changed, even how my writing has changed.

That's one of the big reasons I'm determined to preserve all my poems: they show many milestones throughout my life, but they also show the progress of my writing. The very first poem I ever recorded is actually quite good for a 4th grader. Following that, most of them were somewhat reflective and charming. I soon started becoming obsessed with girls, and my poetry became really pukey. I wrote a few gems in between my cliché vomit-fests. Then, my poetry started getting dark, very dark. Finally, my poetry is reawakening.

I love looking back and seeing all the (figurative) places I've traveled. I have literally traveled to some places, but those don't stick out in my heart so much as the people and relationships and the emotions and the perspectives.

I need to write so many stories, but, for now, I shall try to get one of them published.

Jul 10, 2017

Distractions

As it turns out, I often distract myself. In this world of endless notifications and pings and bleeps and dings, there are too many opportunities to relinquish focus. Therefore, I'm experimenting with a thing: I have decided to embody my distraction. This idea was inspired by a friend who was advising me as I lamented about the distractions that blare inside my mind.

Ring of Distraction

I don't even remember where I got this ring. It has been years now. I liked the simple, angular design. It only fits on my left pinky, but that's good enough for me.

In any case, the idea is that, while it's on, I am allowed to be distracted: I imbue the lack of focus into the ring. Then, when I want to work, I take it off, and the distraction stays with it. I only started this fanciful idea today, so who knows how effective it will be, but I gotta try crazy things to foil my own crazy. It seems promising so far.

In other news, I might have to purchase Skyrim. I know, I know, it's one more epitome of distraction, but it's beautiful like a sunset or a song. Have you ever played Skyrim? You really should. It's a wonderful mix of literature, music, art, humor, diversion, puzzles, and dexterity.

In other other news, I must find an agent for my book. Meadowvale is over 62,000 words so far, and I have a bunch of other scenes to write, and a number of people have suggested the agent/editor/publisher may want to have some input about how the book ends.

Therefore, I am headed to authors.me.

Pip pip, cheerio!

Jul 8, 2017

Confused but Cathartic

My goodness!

I get myself worked up. There are voices in my head sure enough, but I definitely amplify them with my own mutterings. Do you know what I dream? I dream of silence: a real library or maybe even a monastery. Do you think monasteries let just anybody in? I need it.

In any case, I have realized that most of us have voices in our heads: an employer, a parent, a lover, a friend, an enemy. So many voices clamoring for our attention. I have discovered ocean sounds, and they have been a great comfort to me many a day. I think I also need better headphones. My current ones are comfortable and multi-functioning, but they let in too much external sound. Oi.

Some day, I also have to start illustrating. But I really have to write first. But I don't really feel like it right now. But I really do. It's a strange vise to be caught in between a desire and its opposite.

Where is my brain? Do you ever feel like your brain is missing? In whole or in part? It feels like subtle parts of my brain are missing.

I have mostly forgotten how to diagram sentences. It's a wonderful skill—if you want to understand what you're saying. I can still track the connections between each word in a sentence, but I used to know the full-fledged structure.

I don't know why I say "full-fledged"; I haven't earned the right to use that term. I don't know much about fledging or any such stuff. However, people say irregardless, and I feel that I am excused.

For a moment, I almost felt fluid, but then I got distracted. I don't know why my focus feels so flimsy today. I don't know why I feel so tired today. I slept pretty normally. Who knows?

Well, it is nearly noon, and I can't excuse avoiding Meadowvale any longer.

Jul 7, 2017

Magic Always Comes with a Price

Well, poop on a scoop.

I don't have many minutes, but my brain was feeling crazy, and I needed to get words out.

I think, sometimes, we don't take magic very seriously. Obviously, you could give it names like physiology, psychology, physics and whatnot, but, at the end of the day, it's magic.

In my recent past, the defining magic I've observed has been hope magic—whether imbuing it or draining it. There are certain essences, certain entities, certain circumstances that invariably drain hope. There's plenty of talk about the right mindsets, good habits, etc., but magic is very real.

It's the same sort of magic that sharks use to smell fear. It's the same sort of magic that brave soldiers use to inspire bravery in others.

Is there deflection magic? Can one deflect the drain? It has to be possible. I think I've experienced it once or twice. I think madness is one of the easier spells that redirects the hope-drain, but it comes with a price of course. I am fond of a quotation from Once Upon a Time. Rumpelstiltskin frequently says, "Magic always comes with a price!" It reminds me of an excerpt from a poem I wrote recently:
And so you must choose
Between freedom and peace.
If not, you must lose
From your heart every piece.
 It seems that the dichotomy between freedom and peace is pretty prevalent. You get to choose one or the other, not both. Magic always comes with a price.

Or maybe it is like the rising waves in Perelandra: if you choose to fear, you may fear that the waves may be too great for your strength, you may cower, and you may be whelmed under. However, if you don't even think to fear, you may embrace the swelling crest, you may ride the waves, and you may surmount or be washed—but, either way, you are delighted by the challenge.

Too often, I like to wrap myself up in fear. Instead of trusting God and His wildness that He rolls my way, I fret over the waves, for they are too high, and I fret over the sand, for it is too hot, and I fret over the sun, for it is too bright, and I fret over the storms, for they rage too terribly, and I fret, and I fret, and I fret.

That's no way too live. It is quite exhausting to say the least. It makes quite a bit more sense to embrace what I have and be content with what I don't.

I shall have to meditate on that.