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?
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)”→
And now we welcome the new year,
full of things that have never been.
Rainer Maria Rilke
I will keep this short & sweet because the new year is nearly upon us.
There are a gazillion and one different things happening out there, offline and online.
Some of it is fascinating, some of it is terrible, and lots of it is rubbish.
Yet all of it is doing one thing: trying to distract you.
Even me with this blog is distracting.
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.
In the spirit of me running late this morning, let’s get straight into this, shall we?
What I’ve been Reading: I’ve been loving the local library here in Iqaluit (it does not charge late fees!) and have recently checked out Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro (who I just now realized lived and writes about the place where I was born and raised) as well as a few more “greatest ever”, “hall of fame”, “best of” anthologies of science fiction and fantasy (I enjoy reading short stories generally, but it seems more efficient in helping me sample a variety of different authors).
What I’ve been Listening: a favourite website is Wayback Machine Archive (basically an Internet Time Machine in how it archives so so so much content that would have long ago disappeared from search engines). One way I use it is to find and download old audio recordings of things, like book readings and the like, which is how I am currently listening to The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien – yes, too geeky even for the average geek, I know. But I’ve always been fascinated by mythologies and history, from ancient and medieval recordings of important human events to the more fantastical theological stories of Hinduism, the Abrahamic faiths and so forth.
What I’ve been Writing: as I said earlier, I’m still pushing on with revising notes for the different stories I have incubating inside my head – ranging from very short stories to medium length novellas to the longer novel-sized works and the multi-book series too. I vary which I will work on depending upon my mood and energy levels, as some are written for kids, some are more magical fantasy, some are more hard science fiction and some are just unsettling weird surrealism. Currently, I’m focusing on my young adult novel series, “Warriors”.
So that’s a quickie on what I, archie the writer, have been doing.
Now I want to speak a bit to the title of this post, and this phenomenon of how we humans tend to lose perspective, or just become mildly disoriented, in what exactly the fuck we are trying to do – right now, this moment, as you inhale your next breath.
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.
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.
Like everyone, sometimes you have moments when you lose direction.
You struggle to recall why you are doing this, what’s the point, who cares and so forth…
In other words: doubt.
Doubting ourselves and our intentions for whatever we are trying to accomplish.
Doubting our talents as forever inferior, incapable to ever fully accomplish something.
Doubting our medium, the chosen form of artistic expression, to be the proper conduit to channel our deepest truths into something seen, heard, felt, witnessed by another.
Sometimes, I doubt whether I should be writing –
if written words are able to satisfy what I desperately need to say.
I wanted to share this short clip from an interview with Ira Glass, presented in the lovely format of kinetic typography.
His words are especially relevant for anyone doing creative work because it reminds us all how the quality of perseverance is essential to the long-term success of honing talent.
Everyone needs the investment of time, of practice, to improve any skill set.
For writers, it is the skill of communicating clearly and simply our own inner vision.