wickedace: A small, purple, plush dragon (Default)
 Alright, gang, I'm feeling remarkably flat this morning (and by flat I mean I just spent half an hour lying on the floor in my hallway because doing anything else seemed like more effort than it was worth). I reckon I'm going to try and work out the stuff running round in my head by writing it out here, since that's basically what secret blogs are for, right?

Click here for a whole bunch of wailing about friendship )

In other news, I've been watching the first and second seasons of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, and that's been pretty good. It's fun spotting the seeds of what became tropes in later Scooby-Doo films/series, and all the 1960s budget animation tricks - in the whole first series, the closest we get to the classic ending line is "I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for these blasted kids and their dog", and there's a stock headshot of Fred having a smart idea that appears in almost every episode. Plus, I'm word-perfect on the theme song now, and it's been in and out of my head all week.

wickedace: A small, purple, plush dragon (Default)
 So! After a long phase of feeling whiny about writing, this month I am going for some cheerful "actually getting it done". I've set myself a gentle 25k word goal for Camp NaNo, clubbed together with a cabin for writers from another site I hang out on, and started working on a cool idea from a couple of years ago that cake back to me recently. I'm feeling quite positive right now - the half-size goal feels much more achievable than a full 50k, and even though I've had a busy weekend, I'm sitting comfortably at 2500 words already.

As I say, the idea is one that's been kicking around for a while: it's a kind of low fantasy thing, with a setting that's a sort of trick-mirroe reflection of immediately post-WWI Britain, although I'm sure it's going to develop its own personality as I go, if only because I don't know a huge amount about post-WWI Britain (I know a lot more about post-WWII...). There are elves and dwarves and humans, but there's not really any magic, and I'm really interested in the politics of how the three species coexist. (Elves can't touch iron - have the other two agreed not to use it?)

It's kind of funny seeing how far back the roots of this story go. The main characters grew out of a conversation that was pretty much "imagine if Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli were dating. And also women.", and that was a good four years ago now, I reckon. Having given the ideas time to mature in the back of my head has been good for them, I hope.

I don't really have a plan for the plot of this thing, just an idea of the first few scenes to write. By the time I've finished those, I hope to have an idea of which ones to do next, and so on, so I get through the thing in a slightly more relaxed version of Wallace and Gromit riding the model train in The Wrong Trousers...
wickedace: A small, purple, plush dragon (Default)
There's a place, a headspace, I end up in sometimes, and have ended up in this evening. I'm going to write about it here, mostly to get the thoughts out of my head, and then I'm going to go and do something else - I think I will put dye on my hair, and then cook and eat dinner while it's on, and then wash it out, and that will probably fill up the evening.

So, this mood, headspace, thought cycle. I used to get it a lot when I was in my final year at uni, and having to think about what jobs to apply to, what to do with myself after graduation, and all that. These days, the trigger is usually thinking about writing on a day when writing is not going well - in particular, trying to think about character ideas.

When you're writing characters, everyone says, the important thing to know is what drives them, what they want out of life.

The problem is, this is a train of thought very much adjacent to the one that looks like "what do I want out of life?". And I (still!) don't know the answer to that.

The world tells me, "You can do anything! You can be whatever you want to be! Follow your passion! Follow your dreams!" But the world is assuming I have a thing I know I want to do/be, and there's some external circumstance holding me back from it.

I don't think I have a "passion". I mean, a lot of people probably don't. I don't think I have a "drive". Or a "dream", in the cheesy motivational meme sense. I have some things I enjoy doing (except when they send me down this spiral). I have some people I like spending time with. I have a job I enjoy most of the time. I have financial and housing security. I have a family I love. I have... a daily grind that's kind of okay? That's what this looks like.

When I think about this, it feels like pressure, wrapping around the sides of my brain and squeezing. I want to curl up and bury my face in a pillow and scrunch up my eyes and moan piteously. I want to hide from everything (but I want someone to turn up and tell me it's all okay?). I don't like it, and it upsets me.

I would like to be able to brainstorm character ideas without getting into this mess...

Some things I like:
(if I write them down here, it will remind me that there are some)
  • Writing, when I manage to do some, and not spiral like this
  • Photography, when there's something pretty to photograph
  • Reading
  • Watching films (I am slowly catching up with a bunch of old ones I've never seen)
  • Spending time with particular people
  • Cooking and eating tasty/fancy food
  • Going to comedy nights
What I am going to do now:
  • Have a snack and a drink of water
  • Put dye-safe clothes on
  • Put dye on my hair (I think the pillarbox red)
  • Cook dinner (perhaps chicken and new pots with white wine sauce?)
  • Eat dinner
  • Finish rereading Maskerade
  • Wash dye off hair
  • Bed, probably

wickedace: A small, purple, plush dragon (Default)
Much like many people, I'm sure, I find my life goes through phases. Often cyclically so.

Not very long ago, I was feeling very down on myself for not doing anything 'interesting'. I worked, I ate, I slept, (I also hung out with friends a bunch but apparently that doesn't count, according to my brain). Meanwhile, my partner is churning out a song fitted to a prescribed theme every week, in between band practises, and through him I'm exposed to a bunch of other musicians who jam or compose on the regular.

So, I made this Dreamwidth.

...and I picked up my camera and started trying to take a photo every day again, using a 30-day challenge.

...and I picked up a learn-Japanese app recommended by a friend, and started trying to learn some of that.

...and I stuck my nose back into an online writing forum I used to hang out on, and decided to get back into reviewing other people's writing on there.

...and then agreed to try doing NaPoWriMo after talking to an old friend on that forum.

...and then I come roaring down in flames? This evening I am feeling incredibly tired (and incredibly grumpy, partly due to a long-running board game we have been playing which I have not been enjoying) and down on myself (ha) for... I don't know. Trying to do too much?

There has to be a middle ground, here. I suspect I have overshot it. (I also suspect I need to get some sleep and quit moping.)

wickedace: A small, purple, plush dragon (Default)
This might get a bit long and disjointed, but I want to write down some things that are in my head.

I had a friend over Friday night, who ended up crashing in the spare bed and spending the whole day with us on Saturday, which was a-w-e-s-o-m-e. Of course, this is someone I value, but have not known long enough to be confident in the strength of the friendship, so the moment he walked out the door, my brain started up with the "what if I fucked everything up" worries. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that someone who spends a whole day hanging out with you,  and then says "yes, absolutely" to your "shall we hang out and do x soon? I'll message you about dates", is probably someone who considers you a friend and does not think you are awful. So I'm using that as a kind of antidote to the bad thoughts. Also, when he left, other friends had arrived to watch a Ghibli film, so although that stopped me getting an early night and I am super tired, it was a good distraction. (And now I really want to read the book of Howl's Moving Castle, because apparently the film makes more sense when you know what the hell is going on.)

Speaking of bad thoughts/feels, I also want to write down a thing that happens sometimes. I'm sure someone else somewhere must get this, too. The thing is: I do something mundane, like, say, reaching for the handsoap pump on the sink. As I pump the soap I think - oh, wait, there's something I'm meant to be feeling bad about, related to soap, I've just remembered - but I never remember what the thing to feel bad about was. So I end up with these bad feels (like guilt and worry all tangled up), and I don't even know what they're for. (In the handsoap example, I have a feeling it might have been to do with noticing that the handsoap in the other bathroom was on the wooden side rather than the sink last night, and the wood beneath it was warping with wetness? But I'm not sure. Also that's not really much of a thing to feel bad about. Especially since I moved the soap when I noticed it, and the wood is fine this morning.)

I have not touched my pen and notebook in some weeks, but I have been doing a bit of photography, which I let fall by the wayside a few years ago. I picked up my Blipfoto account again, and started doing a 30 Day Photography Challenge (one photo a day). We're on Day 13 today, so at some point today I need to think of a photo for that. It's nice to feel a little sense of achievement about something creative.

I realised that most of my... I guess creative energy?... at the moment is going into food. I've started a mailing list for dinners, where I pick a date and email out, and then a random cross-section of people I know reply to say they want to come, until I have a full table. Then I cook something nice - a three-course something - and we have a nice dinner. I've done one and scheduled a second so far. I'm really glad I started this, because I think it will be constructive towards two things I want - first, to actually cook more of the interesting things in the many recipe books I own, and second, to do positive social things that leave me feeling more sure about the fact that I have friends.

(More detail on that last bit: since moving to this city out of uni, two and a half years ago, I have had a lot of feels about friends and social circles, whether I want to spend time with the friends I have and how to make friends I don't have yet. I think I am past the worst of it now, and am feeling more settled, but it's a thing that I'm sure could rear its head again if I'm not careful. Things that have helped:
  • consciously taking a step back from social things that were leaving me feeling bad more often than good
  • switching to a more relaxed organisational style - I am one of the "organised ones" in our uni circles, but I have switched over to more "I'll be doing x on y date at z time, come if you want" rather than more detailed plans
  • another friend independently deciding they weren't happy with their current social life and picking up the role of instigating social activities
  • turning up to social stuff organised through my partner's work, and getting to know his colleagues and work-friends
  • getting in touch with an old school friend for a drink and a catch up every so often
So, basically, I've been putting some effort into having the social circles I want, and it has been paying off. I am glad about this, and I hope it will continue to go well.)

But anyway, back to the creative-energy-food thing: on the one hand, I am happy that I get to make delicious food, and feed it to people who appear to enjoy it. But on the other hand, I can't help but feel a little bit...dissatisfied?...about the fact that the area I've been pouring energy into is an art that is by its nature transient, and which is not necessarily appreciated as an art by wider society (unless you're doing elaborate masterpieces like the kind of thing you'll see on GBBO). I'm not sure what to do with these feels, so I'm putting them in a box until I do know, and carrying on with my current plan of attack i.e. put energy into things that feel good, don't bring out the guilt stick when writing or whatever doesn't happen, etc.

Okay, that's a lot of disjointed thoughts, so let's move onto the "stuff I read":

Vet in a Spin, by James Herriot (reread) - James Herriot is one of those things that's really easy to reread - familiar, funny, somewhat episodic. This is the 6th in the series - the comic memoirs of a vet in 1930s rural Yorkshire. I was using this as a calming bedtime read.

Assorted Harry Potter fics - and I found a couple of REALLY GOOD but UNFINISHED ones, gah. Need to remember my AO3 password so I can bookmark them. One was updated last month, so I have hopes of it being finished, but the other is very clearly dead, and I should have known better than to start reading a clearly dead and unfinished thing by an author I know does super good emotional stuff. Oooh well!

The Dark Tower I - III, by Stephen King (reread) - or "My Tower Is Dark, My Books Are Long", as Chuck Tingle apparently called it recently (very good name). A good friend at uni, whom I have sadly fallen out of touch with, pushed the Dark Tower on me in my second year. I read the first five, but then for whatever reason never got to VI and VII. I remembered this the other day, and decided to give them another shot (but I'd forgotten so much that I figured it would be sensible to reread from the start). Also I'm drawing a map of it, because I found one online and disagreed with it, and because I'm a sucker for fictional maps (I want to paint Middle Earth and Pern and The Lands Beyond on my walls ifwhen I own a house). The world/setting is still as fascinating as before, but this time I'm a bit more conscious of how crap King is at writing women. Going to suck it up to get through them and sate my curiosity about this damn Tower, but duuuude please, write about a woman without mentioning sex or genitals or creamy thighs. Just once?
wickedace: A small, purple, plush dragon (Default)
I might be about a decade and a half late to the game, but this is me starting up on Dreamwidth! I'm thinking this is going to be a space for whinging writing about writing, and what I've been doing (or how much I've been procrastinating), and maybe winding up with a nice bit of cheerful interaction with fellow writerly people. (If that's you, hi!) It's been a while since I last put energy into any kind of creative-focused social media, so we'll see how this goes ^_^

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wickedace: A small, purple, plush dragon (Default)
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