Posted in advice, artist life, change, fear, goals, honesty, hope, inspiration, living life, self help, writing

it’s no use going back to before 2020, because I was a different person then

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 Leading Eurydice from the Underworld Painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot 1861

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?

Let me ask something outrageous:  Continue reading “it’s no use going back to before 2020, because I was a different person then”

Posted in change, life updates, living life, reality, travel, writing

not even home is like home, and other things behind the curtain (life update #5)

Hey stranger,
It’s been a little while since my last update, so let me catch you up.

  • What I’ve been Reading: I am keeping busy offline, trying to match my reading pace with the rate I’ve been collecting books from little-free-libraries around town. These have consisted mostly of more short story collections, including old SFF treasures like The Many Worlds of Andre Norton (by Andre Norton of course) and new SFF gems like How Long ’til Black Future Month? (by N.K. Jemisin) as well as some of the non-fiction variety like Henry and June (the diary of the incomparable Anaïs Nin).
  • What I’ve been Writing: Despite accomplishing huge leaps and bounds with my online research as a writer and a writer of specific genres, I had to spend a few months completing an online math course (yes, dreadful, I know!) for a credit requirement that I hope will qualify me into teacher’s college someday soon. Since passing that (yay!), I’ve made some serious headway on one of my novel-in-progress, which I had been referring to as Animals but have since begun calling Woods. I am thick into the world-building as well as the scene-ordering, so I expect to be completing draft number two before the end of this calendar year. 
  • What I’ve been Watching: With travel on an indefinite hiatus, I’ve found some relief in the form of binging seasons of The Amazing Race. The U.S. version started in 2001 (imagine, travelling pre-9/11 and pre-pandemic!) but I skipped to season 5 which so far has been mostly entertaining. I’ve already finished the 7 seasons of the Canada version, which was actually more enjoyable (beginning after 2010) maybe because with a lower budget the contestants travel more locally – including my home town!

Speaking of my home town, let’s get on with the main event, shall we?

Continue reading “not even home is like home, and other things behind the curtain (life update #5)”

Posted in about archie, artist life, depression, fear, honesty, inspiration, living life, mental health, practice, self-care, writing, writing community, writing help

when archie writes – writing depressed af

I think I’ve only spent about ten percent of my energies on writing…
The other ninety percent went to keeping my head above water.

Katherine Anne Porter

I have already answered why, as well as where, so let me unpack when I write.

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.

Nell Zink

Continue reading “when archie writes – writing depressed af”

Posted in advice, artist life, artists, habits, honesty, inspiration, living life, practice, procrastination, writing, writing help

what archie means when they talk about writing [and not writing]

Life is … complicated.
Or perhaps ‘life’ is simple, and it is the ‘living’ of life that complicates things.
Complicates, as in, making things a hellofa lot more stressful and tiresome than needed.
I am skilled at that kind of living, through years of practice.

Yet I am also learning new ways to live, to be me, a writer.

A writer is someone who puts words together, tells stories, creates people and places.
To do that, you need to make the effort of literally writing, whether on paper or screen. Ideally, writing should happen regularly, not only to build the creative muscles but to improve at the craft of words and to also write more than a page per year.

For some time, as I tried to become and live as a writer, I would go through spells of productivity – writing regularly, meeting my goals and making good progress – followed by spells of anti-productivity – actively avoiding my stories, procrastinating with every conceivable excuse and committing increasing energy to feel like a failure for it.

Metronome pendulum scares cat

Always, inevitably, back and forth.
A pendulum of extremes.
Alls-or-nothings.
Blacks-and-whites.
Writing like a true bonafide artist one day, then the next day not writing like a wannabe/has-been artist, scared of seeing my own shadow.

“I put off another day of writing, so clearly I am self-sabotaging and should stop calling myself a writer…”

For SO LONG this was my routine, feeling like a champ for writing today or else feeling like my own worst enemy thwarting my growth as a writer.

When suddenly it occurs to me:
all of it – the writing and the not writing – is the practice.

Tim Gunn gif shocked Continue reading “what archie means when they talk about writing [and not writing]”

Posted in about archie, advice, blogging, failure, fear, fiction, habits, inspiration, life updates, living life, mental health, self help, self-care, writing

help fish from drowning (life update #4)

Dear whoever you are…

Yes, I’m still here, still writing on this blog, though not as often as I had planned.
Oops?
It’s been over a year since my last life update, so here goes…

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.

Okay, so on to what I want to say here today.

Continue reading “help fish from drowning (life update #4)”

Posted in about archie, advice, artist life, blogging, change, failure, goals, habits, hope, inspiration, living life, practice, procrastination, self help, self-care, writing, writing help

a work in progress – my life and my art

Hi.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
It’s felt like a long while, for me, since I’ve last spilled my thoughts on this virtual paper.

The longer I put off writing on this here blog, then the more I’m likely to think I need to write something even longer, something even better, with my next blog post.

And I’m trying to not enable that sort of rationale, so this right here is an active effort to keep things short and sweet.

Continue reading “a work in progress – my life and my art”

Posted in about archie, addictions, artist life, cannabis, depression, drugs, fear, goals, honesty, inspiration, living life, mental health, self-care, sobriety, writing

sobriety, drugs & writing something real

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.

The Office focus sentences

Continue reading “sobriety, drugs & writing something real”

Posted in advice, anarchy, artist life, blogging, change, failure, fear, goals, imagination, inspiration, living life, reality, self help, writing

learning to love how nothing makes sense

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.

That makes sense, right?
Does it though??

Continue reading “learning to love how nothing makes sense”

Posted in advice, artist life, egos, goals, inspiration, living life, reading list, reality, self help, writing help, zen

cannot see the trees because of the forest

Hey hello!

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.

Okay, let me elaborate…

Continue reading “cannot see the trees because of the forest”

Posted in about archie, advice, artist life, artists, change, education, failure, fear, goals, honesty, inspiration, living life, reading, reading list, writing

wasted potential, potentially wasted…

Hi bonjour – welcome back.

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.

Continue reading “wasted potential, potentially wasted…”

Posted in about archie, artist life, blogging, children's fiction, goals, habits, life updates, living life, reading, writing

it was the best of times – if only someone told me (life update #3)

Aloha!

Thank you for clicking on over here. Welcome welcome, or welcome back.

It’s been too long since I wrote on here, and so I thought y’all deserved a brief update on my doings and my pondering and all. Continue reading “it was the best of times – if only someone told me (life update #3)”

Posted in advice, archie's DIY, artist life, depression, free, lists, living life, mental health, self help, self-care, writing, writing community

archie’s DIY… mental health self-care

Hey, y’all.

For those who know me, or visit this site on the regular, you will know that I am fairly open about my own dealings with mental illness and mental wellness.

It’s not something I apologize for or regret – quite possibly making me more of an empathetic person and a better writer as result – but it is something I do struggle with, some days more than others…

So, having survived nearly 3 whole decades now, I thought I’d share my own go-to strategies that help me get by when the world is looking especially bleak.

This post is for all us folk needing help (tips, support, hacks, resources, pep talks, etc.) to maintain our health, for today, like, right now –
Or in other words, this is to help you get through the short-term by trying some new solutions in the next few minutes.

I have no formal education in mental health (medical, psychiatric, or otherwise), so am only speaking here from my own experiences of spiralling into acute episodes, and what things have helped me survive to tell the tale.
Most of this draws from the area of CBT – cognitive behavioural therapy – and my intent is to offer up some handy resources because it is not easily available elsewhere.

The self-help info below is listed in no specific order, and some may apply better to anxiety attacks or depressive episodes, but regardless it will always be most helpful when you are better able to identify HOW you feel.

So, try moving away from vague words (like “good”, “mad”, “bad”) and try to be more specific in identifying what emotions are being felt because it helps with self-expression, which helps with diagnosis and treatment.

emotions chart
Finally, not everything below is going to be of interest to you, so skip it if so.

Continue reading “archie’s DIY… mental health self-care”

Posted in about archie, advice, artist life, change, failure, fear, honesty, inspiration, living life, procrastination, reality, self help, self-care, writing community

we are afraid of the same thing

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…

Tricycle The Shining

Continue reading “we are afraid of the same thing”

Posted in advice, archie lists, artist life, artists, Iqaluit, lists, living life, meetup, travel, writing, writing community

archie lists… 5 reasons writers should live in the Arctic

Without really meaning to, I seemed to have become a writer’s stereotype.

Since late 2017, I have been living up north in the Arctic tundra, on an island of snow, ice and the occasional sunlight. It’s a small town here, the type where everyone knows everyone, or just about any way. Did I mention there was lots of snow?

archie the writer in the arctic

More to the point, life in the Arctic for me turns out to be damn similar to those few famous authors who found a log cabin in the woods to write their books without any distraction. (As an aside, Thoreau comes to mind as the most iconic cabin-dwelling writer, but how often does that image neglect less-romantic realities such as how Thoreau’s momma lived nearby to do his laundry for him? That truth not only speaks to the unpaid labour of women behind the scenes of famous men but really thwarts that idea of any person as an island onto themselves.)

 Total peace and solitude – a writer’s dream come true, right?

Well, um, yeah, actually, sort of…

Murder She Wrote interested reaction

Continue reading “archie lists… 5 reasons writers should live in the Arctic”