You know the the story: a hero goes to rescue someone from a dangerous land, and they are told one explicit rule to follow: don’t look back. So, of course, they look back.
Orpheus rescues Eurydice from the dead but looks back and she vanishes forever. Lot’s wife (unnamed, so let’s call her Lottie why not?) looks back on the doomed town she is fleeing and turns to salt. And so many other parallel myths from the Japanese, Mayan, Indian and Sumerian legends.
Well that is how a lot of us are probably relating to this calendar year called 2020. Move on and don’t ever talk about it again, right? Or at least we all agree this is the botched timeline borne from time travel hijinks right?
I write when not too worn out by my mental illness.
I write when my chronic depression isn’t so overwhelming that I struggle to function.
I write when I can, in irregular spurts, writing through and in spite of my sickness.
I’ve struggled since early youth with depression.
I remember as early as middle-school feeling at specific times especially anti-social and mournful, without any clear reason or cause. Highschool was a hostile environment for me where I felt plagued by insecurities, actively seeking out bathroom stalls and library cubbies to hide day after day. University saw me continue to try unsuccessfully to cope with self-harming as well as self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.
It was easy in my adolescence to dismiss these spells of moody ’emo’ sadness as just stereotypical teenage angst. In my twenties, however, with my depression still undiagnosed, I felt ashamed for failing to have moved past an ‘infantile’ stage of dramatic mood swings.
Not until after completing a Master’s program, surviving a series of mental breaks and acute depressive episodes, was I hospitalized and finally diagnosed. It came as a surprise that I was actually so relieved to have a name, clinical depression, to explain these problems weren’t an inherent defect of my person but symptoms of an illness.
Suddenly a light switched on for me to see that help through medication and therapy were not character weaknesses but necessary choices for my survival, demonstrations of courage in the face of social stigma.
Soon after I became a writer.
Before committing to writing as a career,
make sure you’re not simply agoraphobic or depressed.
Hey, thanks for clicking! So yea, I’ve been following my own advice – and thus far in this strange year of twenty-twenty, I have been writing every single fucking day. Imagine that? Well, I’ve been journaling every day (3 pages, written by hand) and also writing fiction every day but Sundays (750 words minimum, written on a computer). And no, I haven’t had an easy year either, what with global pandemics to family matters to my own personal struggles inside my head. Allow me to explain some changes I’ve been practising that help me be a bonafide writer. Onwards…Continue reading “how archie wrote words every day of 2020 (so far, anyway)”→
I really enjoyed this sentiment here, and so wanted to share:
“What novels tell us is not that it’s going to be OK, or that it is all for the best, because it’s not. People will go on drowning as they try to flee Syria, climate change will get worse, and Trump could do massive damage to the world causing an upsurge in the worst kinds of prejudice.
But novels and stories tell us that this has all happened before, in a different time, with different names but similar narratives. They tell us that it’s OK to be scared, to have complicated feelings, to feel a bit lost, and they remind us that we are human.
Let me recap some of the events that have happened:
I’m still living in the Arctic (and if you’re a writer you should too!); I continued working as a full-time sub teacher at a primary school (and really loved it), but in the last few months have switched to a duller paper-centric office job; my best friend died and it was damn brutal for a long while, and I’m only now adjusted to all the leftover emotional scar tissue (some of my coping strategies are listed here); I essentially relapsed and had a tough go of things before again getting sober for what has been about 6 months (read this for more about my life with addiction), and I’m still a writer…
What I’ve been Reading: I’m happy to say that I am still (*slowly*) reading through my multiple bookshelves of books, mixing it up with the genres and authors. On audio, I’m listening to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre which is so far so good, albeit more intense than I was expecting. On paper, I’ve been reading through multiple short story collections, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House, J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories and also Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man – all white men from roughly the same time period yes, but different styles that are very instructive for my learning eyes.
What I’ve been Writing: I’m also really pleased to say how much progress I have been making of late in working on all my stories, thanks to my new desk-job, which offers me a lot of opportunities to edit, daydream and research. My priority story of late has been one called Graves (which was my very first story!). This story is one of the Big 3, along with two others (I mentioned in a previous post working on one series called Animals and another post working on another series called Warriors), which means I hope to publish each of them traditionally, as novels, with a major book publisher, someday…
What I’ve been … Watching: I have been enjoying a lot of Queer Eye on Netflix, which is really satisfying not only because of the emphasis on self-improvement both inside and out, but also it’s just nice to see how much a difference it can make in anyone’s life to have cheerleaders really route for you and encourage the fuck out of you because that is the basic ingredient toward any sincere personal growth.
I hesitated about writing something about this – about drugs and me and my past and my childhood and my mistakes and my addictions and my shame. I had to consider whether I would be, in a way, exploiting my past to simply have something mildly topical to write about on my blog.
Or for the people who know me in “real life”, do I need to worry about spoiling my reputation to them? Or ruining my image generally by becoming someone who sells embarrassing memories in my head just to get some attention?
Maybe? But also, maybe not… I have little clue where this blog post will end up, so let’s find the answer together.
It tickles me when I come across a channel or blog with their last post update something like “I’m finally back!” or saying “will resume uploading stuff regularly”, and then they never post ever again. I find it amusing because I totally fucking get that. I get their hope and intent at setting their goal to return to something with newfound enthusiasm and dedication, but it just doesn’t work out that way. Priorities change. People change. Things change.
Whatever [our] social identity, the writer is, by the nature of the act of writing, someone who strives for communication and connection,
someone who searches, through language, to keep alive conversation with … ‘the lost community.’ Even if what’s written feels like a note thrust in a bottle to be thrown to the sea.
Or, why do I keep a public diary?
I am writing my thoughts and worries for the Internet to gawk at, when I ‘should’ be working on my novels, or perhaps seeing a therapist for proper life coaching, or doing just about anything but this routine of irregularly posting online, hoping for strangers online to affirm my struggles somehow…
Surprisingly enough, there are a few excellent reasons for me to blog – and for you to continue reading this blog.
Despite sporadic blogging habits, the rest of my offline writing life is progressing well.
I continue to be reading books, including ones that have sat waiting on my reading list for many years and I am also listening to audio-books too (for when I prefer to just hide away under the covers in bed). Currently listening to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and also listening to the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.
I continue to work away at my various stories, though to be honest, less of this is writing and more of it is cleaning and sorting my notes – the mass of jumbled ideas, germs and inklings. Currently, working at my children’s novel series on Animals.
I continue to try at keeping myself grounded and present because I find this practice essential for a healthier state of mind necessary to keep making art. Currently, I’m realizing again how important it is to pay attention to the details of my life, to repeatedly will myself to shake off the clouds that would otherwise leave me living in a hazy fog of repetition and boredom and dissatisfaction.
I am pretty confident that I can describe your greatest fear.
Not only that, but I can prescribe a formula to squash it flat.
And at no charge either!
(though I’m not responsible either if you fail to squash it right, and then it just becomes agitated and even scarier and haunts you forever, or something like that… okay?)
Okay, but seriously, I probably can describe your greatest fear.
Remember when you were a kid, and you would play games that had this big surprise?
“What Time is it Mister Wolf?”, where “the Wolf” would keep answering your questions with the time 3 o’clock or 12 o’clock or 8 o’clock, until LUNCHTIME!
Scared me every time… I knew it was coming, but still…
Fuck. I should be writing more. Not good – me writing so little. Not enough words. No, not enough good words. I need a break. Already? Tired after writing this? How embarrassing. This is nowhere near good enough. Never good enough. Fuck. Why do I make this so hard? That’s what she said. Fuck. And I call myself a writer. This is pathetic. I am pathetic. Give up. Grow up. Get up. Go, do something else. Exercise for once goddamit. Walk, lift something, hit something. Do anything but this. Another bad day for writing. That’s all. Yeah. Another bad day in a long line of them. How many will it take for me to take a hint? Fuck. Maybe if I read more, that would help. What to read? Too many choices – so little time. Will this inspire me, or discourage me? No, my time needs to be spent writing, not reading. So I need to find more time then. Need to cut out more of my social life. What social life? Cut back on my leisure activities, maybe. So I can become another worker drone? More writing, less working. Gotta quit my day job. Working too much. Need to work less, write more. Simple as that. But need money to live. And I call this living? Pathetic. Fuck.
I want to write well – every sentence and every story.
Well written – not as some mythological fantasy of perfect grammar syntax – but more along the lines of producing something truly unique, words that are carefully chosen because they speak power to my experience, a series of prose un-apologetically raw and unfiltered, escaping the usual boxes that seek to repress communication, unencumbered by familiar shortcomings that so often define our participation in Life.
I want to write honestly – even if only a sentence today.
Which is why I am throwing all caution to the wind and willy-nilly posting whatever I write below…
To me, honesty is rarest when it concerns difficult situations, to those realities that intimidate and scare us, so much that we are ashamed of our fear and then live whole lives trying to evade its truth.
We hide in carefully constructed beliefs that keep us distracted and busy-minded, too tired and too guarded to really stop and pay attention to the burdens we all carry.
I want to write simply – resisting the temptation to hide my truths in long-winded sentences as some last-ditch effort to avoid this uncomfortable vulnerability.
So with aforementioned simplicity and honesty, I will share some of my feelings with you, Reader, in hopes that I can become more comfortable in communicating my humanity to the world, and in the process continue to learn how to write well.
I am free-writing this, so as little censoring as possible, and will seriously try not to edit any of it afterwards either.