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.
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.
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…
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?
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?
The one known as Ursula K Le Guin has departed.
So it goes…
She is survived by books – full of characters and entire worlds – stories and premises that have impacted countless people in more ways than typical for any author.
There’s a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life,
or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.
— from The Dispossessed
I felt the need to write something about her passing not simply because she was a writer too, or that I have read some of her books, but because she inspired me by the ways in which she integrated her politics into her craft and persona.
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.