The last post I wrote here was from 2014. It’s now 2017. It’s been a while, to say the least. And I don’t know why I’m back since I don’t expect anyone to be reading this. But that was never the point really.
Three years. A lot can happen in three years.
IVF. Lots of needles, lots of tears, lots of joy.
An embryo. A baby. A toddler. Crazy times with my boy – he’s one bundle of energy!
Very little writing or reading or time to myself because the child is active and demanding of my time. I give it willingly sometimes and grudgingly other times – after 18 months of early mornings, sometimes not even coffee hits the sides and keeps my eyes open.
I am slowly reclaiming my space to read and refamiliarising myself with the keyboard. It’s no joke to say that it’s difficult to find your own space and self as a mother. I see my mother in myself and I wonder at all the things she missed when we were growing up. But of course, I grew up in a society with maids and nannies so there was always help, which was a good thing and a bad thing (obviously, not a society I want to bring up the child in). Reading – and, by extension, writing – is one way for me to carve out quiet time for me. Just me. Even if it does mean reading in spurts outside daycare.
And writing? What of writing? What shall I test my keyboard skills with? Perhaps reviews and rambles about books. Perhaps thoughts on my No Buying Crap year? Perhaps thoughts on why the hell marriage and parenting is so hard. Perhaps everything and nothing. Who knows. My writing skills are rusty and dusty and all things unhoned. And they need honing.
Not figuratively. Literally. A dear friend passed away after battling leukaemia for the past three years. She was 27. Newly married.
And I know this is complete cliche, but life is too short.
Too short to live a life governed by fear.
Too short to be so stuck in a rut that you call a comfort zone.
Tonight, I was telling a friend just that and I got told that life is not that simple. She went off at me about how just because she’s unhappy at work doesn’t mean she can chuck it in and yes, life is short but money is important. And I got angry but then I realised she was angry at herself. Which is easier than making a change because change is hard.
I never used to think of myself as competitive. Whenever friends of mine would try harness competition as a motivating tool, I’d quietly make excuses and sit it out. Competition didn’t motivate me, I’d say. It made me freak out and want to vanish because I hated the idea of failure but I was never as driven as they were to win. It was a catch-22 situation that I had no desire to change. I was happy in my mediocrity. It was safe, secure – nobody was fighting me for my place and that was fine.
Fine. What a boring place to be.
But apparently I am intensely motivated by competition but not overt competition. I don’t respond to someone pushing me to a target necessarily or yelling at me, bootcamp-style. No, I respond to the green-eyed monster.
A friend of mine, not known for her writing, told me this week that she’s writing a novel. Just like that. No preamble, no nothing. Just that she’s writing a novel. And I found myself annoyed. Who’s she to take that away from me? Not that she’s intentionally taking my crown, of course. Not that I’ve actually ever written a complete novel either. It’s not really my crown to take if I’m not driven enough to do it. But the thought of her writing a novel while I whinge and moan about how I’d love to write but I don’t actually write is galling beyond belief.
Normally I’d simply bitch and moan and then forget about it. But this time, I’ve been writing my Morning Pages most days and I have a good start on a short story for class, due next week. Yes, I’m still procrastinating but I’m not looking at it as laziness because my procrastination involves reading and watching documentaries, which feeds directly into my creativity. It’s all about feeding the creative brain. I’m using this little green-eyed monster (which I’ve written about before – I’m nothing if not consistent) to my advantage. This is not about writing a novel just to spite her. It’s about looking at what I felt when I read her email and translating that into action.
I don’t want to be fine anymore. I want to be creative and inspired and fulfilled. And if it takes a little competitive spirit to get me there and keep me there, so be it.
It’s amazing – I restarted doing Morning Pages on Wednesday and already, three days in, my mind is buzzing with blog posts – or perhaps blog rants. I have posts in my mind about the ridiculousness of body image and gender and the idea that writing about body image in relation to weight excludes men, because obviously men don’t care about their weight – only muscles and penis size.
I have posts in my mind about being frustrated with people who hate something but can’t tell you why.
I have posts in my mind about the negative voices I hear, the ones who tell me that I am a terrible friend, a terrible writer and I’ll never amount to much. That’s not a post I really want to write but it’s one that I think needs to be written in order to take the sting out of it all.
But most importantly, I have words. Buzzing through my head. Making their way to my fingertips, begging to come out and play. And it’s wonderful. I don’t know whether it’s because school is back and I’m thinking in words again or whether it’s because I started the Morning Pages, but whatever it is, I don’t want it to go away. Words make me happy.
But you work with words every day, I hear you say. That’s true but they’re not my words. They’re words within the constructs of a genre, words that come second to the beautiful images of houses and buildings and details. And they should be second because the focus is not on the words. The words are supporting characters and I want my words to be the stars again.
So my post today is more a case of getting some words out, getting my mind working and not making any promises. But I have ideas and words swirling around my head and I love it. The fact that I’m getting up at 6:45am to write my Morning Pages before going to work is worth every little bit of it.
This past weekend, The Boy and I were out for dinner at uni friends of mine. They’re a lovely couple and dinner was delicious, albeit a bit hot under the collar thanks to the very modern floodlights in the living room combined with 36 degrees outside. Let’s just say those two or three ciders I enjoyed were very refreshing.
We were driving home when The Boy turned to me (metaphorically of course – he kept his eyes on the road) and said ‘you know, sometimes I just feel a bit, well, uneducated when I’m around them’ and while I disagreed with him being uneducated, I knew exactly what he meant. I feel the same way. Not to say either of us are uneducated but we value different things and have different strengths. I like to think of myself as well-read and literate but I realized this weekend that I’m the equivalent of a teenager at the adult’s dinner table. I read a lot but I’ve never read many of the books on my friend’s bookshelf – no Updike, no Hemingway, no Russian tomes. I’m anti Ayn Rand but really, that’s based on reading half of Atlas Shrugged when I was 15 and not really anything else. I feel like there’s this assumption that because I’m doing my Masters, I should have read all these things years ago and be able to debate the merits of libertarianism and Objectivism with the best of them.
Is it ridiculous that I haven’t read these fine authors because, well, I’m really not interested? Should I forfeit my university degree? Hand over my diploma for a lack of intellect or education?
I’m one of those who really believes that we all have our own strengths and passions – listening to The Boy talk about the American Civil War or (God help me) zombies, or anything to do with technology leaves me in awe because he knows so much more than I do. But I can’t help but feel as if I’m missing out by being keener on popular fiction than classic literature, for choosing reality TV over Casablanca (which I have seen but really only recently).
Should I put down the remote and dedicate myself to reading Proust? Or do you have any suggestions of classics I should read to educate myself?
Electronic clutter takes up more space in my life than anything else sometimes. It’s ridiculous really, especially considering that all those bits and bytes are, essentially, tiny. And yet, all my bookmarks and feeds and emails crowd my mind and leave me little space for thoughts and debates and discussions.
I grew up without the internet, without ready access to everything. No, I lie. I had access to all the information I wanted at the library or in the set of encyclopaedias that lived in our study bookshelf. I remember when my brother – hardly the world’s biggest reader – would take one of the massive encyclopaedia volumes to bed to figure something out. I remember school projects that actually taught me something about research. (Sidenote: I also remember the first colour printer I ever tried. I carried around that printed rose for DAYS.)
So I had access but not like today. Today, we can access everything anywhere at the click of a mouse. Any recipe I want. Any story I want. But in the rush to access ALL the things NOW, I’m scared I’m going to miss something. So I bookmark and move on, or subscribe to the feed, thinking that one day, I’ll need that and I won’t be able to find it again. As a result, I have so much to get through, so much crowding my mind that I can’t focus or take any of it in.
People. I have over 400 books on my Goodreads ‘To be read’ list. 400. When the heck am I ever going to get through that? Let’s say I read a book a week, so I get through 52 books a year. That’s almost eight years to get through this list if I don’t add another book to it. And we all know that’s impossible. I really need to win the lottery so my full-time job can be working my way through this damn list.
I have no solution except that I think I need to wean myself off the internets. I’m not sure how possible this will be but I have to start somewhere. Tomorrow though. Today I have too many sites to catch up on.