I hate my words

Get this, I’ve been writing (on a weekly, if not daily basis) for 11 years now.  And 11 years just happens to be half my life.  Obviously, I’ve improved a lot since then, but I have to say I am still entirely unhappy with my usage of the English language.  I don’t know if this happens to other people, but I have read so much of myself, that I just can’t stand it.  Even reading some of my best sentences, or paragraphs is nightmarish horrible.

I just think:

“Oh, she’s using that word again, why?”

“Couldn’t she change her main characters name, that’s what all her male leads are called.”

“Really, she’s trying to write fantasy again, pathetic, she should stick to what she’s good at, self-deprecating diary entries.”

I drive myself crazy with this, because even when I know something is good, it doesn’t satisfy me.  For a long time I ignored it, or I worked really hard to get past it.  I said things like: “I’m just too critical.  I’m just too hard on myself.”  But right now, I’m just so tired.  I’m tried of English, I am tired of writing, and most of all I am exhausted of reading my own writing.  That’s is literally the most horrible thing I could ever force myself to do.

I can’t describe how painful it is to put absolutely all my creative energy and time into something and feel so unhappy with the results.  I know that I am very good story teller, I know that, but I’m shit writer and I truthfully don’t know how to fix it.  I read books, I read blogs, I try to change, but I’m never happy with the results.  And that’s what ultimately makes me want to have the capacity to quit writing.  Nothing makes me more unhappy.  Nothing makes me feel worse about myself.  I won’t lie, there are moments when I am proud, and there are moment when I feel good, but they don’t seem to lead anywhere.

When I was younger I really used to believe that practice made perfect.  I used to think every story, every character, every word was bringing closer to being the writer I wanted to be.  But now I feel that is less true than ever before.  I feel like every year I become more miserable.  Every year I feel more like quitting.  What is this? And why did I get myself into it?

You know what the worst part is? That I never feel I express what I want to.  Even looking back at this post infuriates me.  I am angrier than this, I am sadder than this.  All I want to do is rip my keyboard out of my laptop and erase my hard-drive.  Of course I won’t, of course I’ll keep trying like I always have.  But these days, I am more certain than ever before that I am headed nowhere with this.

Every time I type I feel like I’m stuck on a loop of monday morning.

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Romance Ramblings

I have had the great privilege of always knowing I am loved.  And because of it, loving comes easily to me.  I am an affectionate person, I am sentimental, and though I would deny it a thousand times I am romantic.  I really believe that human connection are the most important part of life, and because of that the people in my life mean the world to me.  And this simple truth is reflected in absolutely everything.

What is my favored part of a Song of Ice and Fire? Jon and Ygritte.  What is my favored movie? Dr. Zhivago.  Which are the moments that I most remember from my shows, and my books?  They are the little pauses before the kiss, and when all hell breaks loose between lovers.  I like my romance, ethereal, and tragic, I like it to mess up the world.  Because I think if your love doesn’t change you, then it isn’t love at all.

I have known for a long time that these are the stories I gravitate to.  But it is only in the last couple of years that I have come to terms with the fact that they also the stories I want to write.  Romance is key for me, and as a character driven writer it always looms on the horizon like a mythological beast.  But the truth is I don’t know how to go about it, I don’t know how to translate all I feel into words.  I get drowned out, I get overwhelmed, and I settle for stilted phrases and predictable turns.

I want to be authentic with this.  That’s important for me.  Because you can always taste the difference, even in the fictional.  I don’t want to use formulas, or cliches. And I know that is hard, but it is possible. I have seen moments in shows, and in books, that completely overpower me.  They make me believe, just with simple things, little things.  You don’t need a sunrise, or wind through long hair, maybe all that is required are a couple of folding chairs in a living room and the light of a television.   I suppose when you get right down to it, writing a romance is a matter of faith, because your audience has only two choices, they either believe or they do not believe.

It is possible to enjoy a story with a romance that you don’t like.  I for one, enjoy the star wars prequels despite the ridiculous scenes between Anakin and Padme.  But it does make those movies harder to watch, and harder to love at times.  So, the reflection that love is all-important to me, is not a happy one.  I think it’s safer to write stories without romance, or simply to post-pone it for the second installment.  However, I really don’t think I can do that, because as soon as I begin to write a character I start to imagine whom they might love.

In short I believe I am doomed. Too much has been written about this, and a lot of it is 1,000 times more amazing than anything I could ever hope to accomplish.  And yet…. it is what I want, and that is so hard to deny myself.  After all, writing is meant to give you freedom, isn’t it?

 

Lady Netflix

There is nothing like the subtle art of transcendence.  That magic that happens when you are transported out of your body, your reality, and your dimension to engage yourself in the failures and victories of your fictional comrades.  Sometimes, often, I feel more alive and engaged discussing the fantastic, than I have ever been in my own life.  After all who am I really? Just a 22 year old with social anxiety and unhealthy dreams.

But through my beloved Netflix I can have the world.  I can be a Viking, a Meth Lord, a Whore, a Prince.  I can out-wit policemen and conquer Kingdoms.  I can fuck who I want, live as I please.  One click on the laptop and all the rules of reality are lifted: the ugliness, the bathroom breaks, the awkward pauses, the days of nothing but staring at the damn walls.  Who would ever prefer the life they lead?

I tell you, I feel a confidence when I watch, an enduring satisfaction that life has never granted me.  In shows people are appreciated,  their talents useful.  Every moment of their day has meaning, it has consequences and in the end it all goes down with a big bang.  How can my life compare with that? It is sick to say, repulsive, but I feel more alive in season finales that I ever expect to in my own life.

Why? Because my life is little.  Because it is headed nowhere in particular.  Because it is never a matter of life or death.  Because I am not important.  My life is quiet, it is safe, and good.  But it is startling to think how little power I have in it, and that is precisely  what a good show does, it gives you power.

In those magnetizing worlds we force allegiances, friendships, and of course imagine ourselves as those we most admire.   But is it wrong, truthfully, to want to life a little? Does it make me less human to admit this, does it make me sad? I don’t know, and I don’t think I can be bothered with knowing because I don’t want to separate myself from this, I don’t want to be objective.  I refuse to surrender all the satisfaction that my shows bring me, and if that interferes with my life, with my writing, then that is too god damn bad, but I will not change, I will not change.

I sit in a papered room, and an unmade bed, and I watch the glow of my laptop deep into the mornings hours.  Am I happy, or am I numb? I couldn’t say.  But these are the moments that make my life worth living, and of that I am eternally conscious.

 

Starting the World Again

I don’t remember what the particular impulse was that started this.  Likewise, I don’t remember why I stopped, or why it became so difficult to find anything to write about.  I shot down all of my ideas, and I began agonizing over the difficulties of fandom writing.  Maybe I limited myself too much.  Maybe I cut myself off from authenticity.

All I can really say is that I hate how seriously I have to take everything.  Nothing is ever just a task of enjoyment or pleasure.  I must make it difficult for myself, impossible for myself.  And that isn’t right at all.  I really don’t know what this place will be, but I know what it should be.  It should be a place of solace, where I come to express anything to do with creativity, mine or anybody else”s.  I can’t cut off the personal, that doesn’t work.

In truth, I wish I was better at consistency.  I wish I could say that this will become a habit.  That I will write every week, or every month, or simply with some sort of established regularity.  But all I can really say is that I hope I to come here when I need it.  This is a place for my writing.  For my inspirations.  This should be a treasure, and not a weary obligation.  I need to remember that.

Hello, 2016.

The Easy Way Out

You know what would make my life easy? Not having the capricious and potent need to write.  A need that can come at any time and always demands my undivided attention. A need that dominates and makes all other activities (no matter how urgent) seem trivial, passable, seem worthless.

I have abandoned assignments, people, and opportunities because of this need, this drive.  And what have I gotten in return? A worn down keyboard and over 600 unfinished stories.  I am no great writer.  But unlike most people who try their hand at story telling I lack the most basic follow-through.  This is not an issue of talent.  I don’t concern myself with talent.  The problem is my work ethic, an my implacable inability to surrender.

This is not a problem of time either, at this point in my life time is my biggest asset. But still, I find that I am not using it correctly.  In my sloth I waste my hours away watching Netflix and when I do deem to make myself write I do it only to please me. Whenever I can, I take the easy way out.  I choose my most frivolous, and decadent stories, while neglecting anything that requires exertion.  It’s like this decade of struggle has taught me nothing.  I keep wasting my time opening windows and feeling vexed when they don’t turn into doors.

Writing is no fantasy, no dream land, no spiritual escapism.  It is like a greedy master waiting to be fulfilled, but of course it would only ever be satisfied with my soul.  Me, I care little for pleasing him, or releasing him.  We are bound together because my identity depends on his presence.  He is the part of me I love best, and if ever I receive a moment of recognition in this world it will be for him as well, that I know for sure.

In other words my life is in his hands.  I let him rule me. And we live with no discipline, no precision, and a mutual understanding to ask no questions.  We are wild together.  Careless together. We are the soul of unpredictability, and we bounce around stories like they are balls of yarn until my entire existence has been vandalized with thread.  Nothing is ever put away. Nothing is ever sorted.  We are too foolish for priorities.  We couldn’t take the trouble you know…

I have made my home in that bright, endless place where any second I can be tangled into extinction or even worse, drawn like Odysseus with his Sirens into a life of waking illusions.  How I have achieved anything in this mess is incredible.  It baffles the life out of me.  And yet it also explains why I always fall so short of my ambitions.

“I want to be a writer,” she says.  But that was never how I was.

“I am a writer,” I say, time and time again.  I have no hesitation in saying the word, instead I wrap myself in it like an extra layer of skin.  I know it to be true, always have, since I first learned to string words together.  I am a writer.  But one without any special talent, who hurls herself through windows, tangled by the thread of 600 unfinished stories, while needlessly dreaming of success.

None of this is metaphorical I tell you.  This is my life, and my mind.  That is really the position I put myself in every day when I write.  And yet, like an idiot, I want a taste of something more, I want the infinite, the impossible.  Even when I have done nothing to deserve or accomplish it.

I’ll say it again: quitting writing would simplify my life immeasurably.  It would leave me time to pursuit more plausible roads.  But this course of action would be false.  It would crush my imagination, and rob me of all my personal aspirations.  If I choose to quit then I would be denying myself because all I want in this world is to write, no matter how fruitless, no matter how painful, and no matter how many bloody hours I waste every day trying to forget that fact.

It’s scary, having my future set out for me, but writing is my life.  So, it doesn’t much matter if it is scary, it doesn’t matter if it’s hard. I have to take it, because there’s never been any other way.

 

The Body

I think a lot of people fail to take fantasy or scifi seriously because they think it isn’t real.  After all there are monsters, and magic, and interstellar wars.  They look at the funny costumes, and the special effects, and brush it off as nothing but kid’s stuff.  But what they fail to see is that the very best of fantasy or scifi or n fact any genre, is the human element.  Boiled down the heart of every good story is about individual choices, it’s about the paths we take, it is about how the journey changes who we are.

Fantasy and Scifi include supernatural elements all the time.  They are part of the bag of tricks, they are what keeps the story going, but in a way they are superfluous. Their meaning is symbolic.  They are used not only as plot devices, but as a means to show the truth in their characters.  I know I must sound horribly abstract right now, so I’ll give an example.  The best example I can think of.

Today I watched an amazing episode of television, one quite unlike anything I’ve seen before.  It was “The Body” and it was episode 16 of Season five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Now, Buffy is a great show, a Cult classic, but this episode is different and it perfectly illustrates my point.  Now, almost every show in the world at one point tries to tackle the issue of death.  It’s something that all of us must face in our life, and for this reason it’s become a theme in television.  The crying, the funeral, the anger.  We’ve seen it happen dozens of times.  But “The body” is different, because it’s honest.

Death is a big subject.  It’s the scariest thing known to us. And most television shows like to make you feel that loss, but then they make it alright again.  Someone tells a joke, or else there’s a warm family moment.  Death pushes aside all other problems.  But few series have the guts to show how death really works.  “The Body” is a terrific episode, with what might well be Sarah Michelle Gellar’s best performance.  It stops you in your tracks, because you know one day this will be you.  This episode doesn’t shy away.  It doesn’t try to comfort us.  It shows us the body, it shows us the pain, and in one absolutely perfect speech delivered by ex-demon Anya it shows us the utter confusion of it all.

“I don’t understand. I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean I knew her, and then she’s, there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she can’t just get back in it and not be dead any more. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid, and, and Xander’s crying and not talking, and I was having fruit punch and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever. And she’ll never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever and no one will explain to me why.”

It takes courage for any show to get this real.  Mostly the pain of death is avoided, it’s overlooked.  But Buffy didn’t do this.  It faced all of death head on.  And the results are stunning.  I dare anyone in the world to watch this episode and not feel something.  I dare them to watch this episode and then say that supernatural shows are stupid, that they aren’t real.  People who say this are missing the point.  Introducing magical and impossible elements to your story is just another way to reveal the truth, the hardships that we face every day.  Because it hurts so much.  It hurts to watch this episode.  It is upsetting, because I have mom, because most of us have moms, and because even the idea of them dying is utterly unbearable.

I already loved this show.  It has fantastic writing.  It has amazing performances.  But this episode stepped things up to another level.  It reminded me that there are still those rare instances in television where people are willing to get real, and not make jokes or excuses.  This episode had no comforting element.  They never made you feel okay.  And you know what, that’s wonderful, because loosing your mom isn’t okay.  I don’t use a joke.  I don’t want use a warm family moment. When they dealt with death, they actually dealt with death.  They didn’t underestimate the audience, or try to coddle us like children.  They put no nonsense in this episode and I think it is one of the most fantastic, and real things I have ever seen on TV.

Music of the Night

Yesterday, I watched Phantom of the Opera for the first time and it was much like I expected.  It was decadent, avant garde, sentimental, and very very beautiful.  It really captured the sense of Opera and the mannerisms of theater.  I really enjoyed the film, and it’s music, however as a story I saw clear structural problems.

The movie was difficult to understand because for the majority of the film you are not sure if the Phantom is the hero, or the victim, or the villain.  I know that the film makers probably did this on purpose, they wanted to make us doubt, to make us worry, they wanted to keep us in the dark.  But I found this very upsetting as it denied the true despair of the Phantom.

At the start of the movie he is portrayed as gallant, and hypnotic but as it progresses he begins to come across as deranged and creepy.  He was very difficult to relate to.  You had no empathy for him.  It was also hard to know if he wanted Christine for himself, or if it was her music he sought.  In short the story took too long to explain the truth of his character.  They transitioned him from the tall handsome stranger, to the obsessed unrequited lover without telling us anything about him.  And of course, by the time that his past is shown, it is difficult to feel compassion for him because for me at least sexual crimes are a serious matter.

I wish the story had been fixated on his loneliness, rather than on his power of seduction over Christine.  I wish it would have emphasized the injustice of his condition, rather than the passion with which he wanted her.  I think the Phantom could have had a lot more depth than the movie portrayed.  I think they could have made it about his soul, and his deep disrepair, rather than his incessant love.  I think that would have made it a better story, and him a much more moving character.

However, it is only through the music that you really hear his soul.  There is one line in particular that I loved very much.  They sing it at the start of the film but I think it almost sounds like a concise summary for the whole movie: “Those who have seen your face, draw back in fear, I am the mask you wear, it’s you they hear.”  I think this was a beautiful sentiment, because the Phantoms love for Christine was not only about her, or her voice, it was about everything that she represented. Like him, she was talented and sentimental, but her beauty allowed her access to thinks he could only ever dream of.  His obsession with her, was thus, not only about romantic perceptions but also about self-ambitions.  He wanted for himself everything her beauty could get her.

Stated like this I find it much easier to convey my pity for the Phantom.  He was after all a victim of society’s cruel obsession with aesthetics.  His physical deformation forced him to hide his many talents, and condemned him to a life of isolation, a life without affection, or desire.  For me, the movie would have been much stronger if it concentrated on these themes rather than on his relationship with Christine.  When you look at the facts this way, he just feel more human, more relatable, and his love for Christine is no longer creepy or pathetic.  Instead it is a desperate call for human contact, which is something I refuse to mock anyone for.  After all what is more human than our need for love?