The Something of Doing Nothing

I’ve come to a point in my life where I am not as creative nor am I as in tune with my own thoughts and feelings as I used to be. This has greatly increased my anxiety and depression as well as made it painfully difficult at times to deal with everyday situations. Writing has been, for most of my life, the main outlet for my thoughts and emotions. I have often said that I don’t know what I really think or feel about something until I’ve written about it. Since I’ve had more and more to occupy my time and have opened my journal less and less, I feel like I have lost something, I feel like I am barely holding together even though many things in my life are going well. Even when I sit down and try to write, try to unblock those rivers, my mind is cloudy and I can’t really focus; I can’t really get much more than a few drops out. I’ve realized (I’ve known all along, really) that one of the main things holding me back is the fact that I am always doing, even when I’m just relaxing. I’m always doing school work or running errands or reading something or watching videos or listening to podcasts or making plans or organizing or researching or spending time with people, etcetera. None of these things are bad, it’s just that there is something very important that I’ve stopped doing: nothing. I’ve stopped staring out of the window and letting my mind wander. I’ve stopped moving my pen aimlessly, drawing unidentifiable shapes as I explore my own thoughts and memories. I’ve stopped sitting down to write about nothing in particular, just to get it out. I’ve stopped laying on the floor and praying about anything and everything that comes to mind. These are the things that used to keep me sane. These are the things that helped me to reflect and to understand what was really going on in my head. These are the things that kept my creative juices flowing and my fictional characters breathing and my head on relatively straight. I somehow adopted the idea that it would be a waste of time to do such things, that if I was going to just sit and relax, I might as well be watching, reading, or listening to something, or I should be going somewhere. I forgot that I have to stop to really think – even if I’m afraid of what I might discover. Many, if not all, great writers and thinkers take time to do nothing, to just stare, to just think. Great minds understand the importance of spending quality time alone with themselves. I think many of us focus so much on the importance of community and of spending time with others and the importance of productivity that we forget that it is equally important to spend time in our own minds, even if only for a few minutes in our busy schedules.

PS – I have been trying to write about this for a while now, but have had trouble writing it just the way I want it. Then I saw this video talking about pretty much the same thing and figured I should just get it out, no matter how much I disapprove of the way I wrote it. Anyway, I thought I’d also share said video. Though the writer of it is not of my worldview, I agree with most of what is expressed there:¬†https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lz-qrVUecE

I don’t know what this is…

I keep thinking about things I should write about but, by the time I actually sit down and try to write them, I don’t really care enough to write anything worth reading. When I abandon those thoughts altogether and try to just write something else entirely, I feel that nearly-crippling fear of the blank page and that impatiently blinking vertical line. I’m having one of those terrible moments in which my mind is swarmed with thoughts like, “this is it. I’m done. I have written all I will ever write,” and, “I was never really a writer to begin with. I should really just stop this nonsense and focus on things I can actually do…” and so on and so forth. I know that these thoughts aren’t necessarily true and I know that they will eventually pass but I still have no idea what on earth I’m even doing with my fingers on these keys. I’ve been reading too many different things and I don’t know where my voice is at the moment. I’m feeling very pretentious right now, or rather, I’m judging myself to be pretentious. Or I’m imagining other people to be judging me as pretentious. Is there a difference, really?

Anyway, I have a little note on my phone with a few abandoned ideas that I’ll probably get around to caring about and writing about within the next couple of months, but it’s just not going to happen for this month’s post. I just needed to fulfill my personal goal of at least one post per month so I can feel a little less…terrible. Or whatever.

Okay, I shouldn’t let this post go on much longer.
I’m thinking about the people who will probably read this and I feel a little sorry for them – for you. But not sorry enough to delete this post or refrain from posting links to it on my various social media pages ūüėČ I’m just going to type away and create some drivel and you’ll probably waste a bit of your time letting your eyes fall on every word until you’ve – blessedly – reached the end. You may now breathe a sigh of relief, because here it is. The end.

Why I Stopped Writing

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post… and even my last one came after quite a long hiatus. I’m not sure I know how to do this anymore…

It used to come so easily. I used to write all the time and would post blogs a few times each month. I wonder at how easy it was back then. [But maybe it was harder than I currently remember; nostalgia often accompanies altered memories.] I don’t really know what happened, but somewhere down the line, writing got harder for me and I was no longer really feeling encouraged to keep at it. It started to seem like this silly dream that I’d been chasing while I was in college and now it’s time for me to grow up and face the world. This world of adulthood where surviving is all that matters and writing isn’t going to take me anywhere because I’ll never be a great writer anyway. Take this line of thinking (part realistic, partly flawed) and add major anxiety issues complete with panic attacks and periods of depression and… well, maybe you can see why I’ve stopped writing.

I think that somewhere in the midst of all that, I forgot that writing is a part of me. Writing is important, even if I won’t ever be able to make a living from it because when I am not writing, there is a hole that grows bigger and bigger inside of me until I no longer know who I am or what I’m doing. If I lose writing, I lose a part of myself.

I think I also forgot that it’s okay for me to be bad at this. Writing has been my “thing” for a while now and I often feel like my friends and family are expecting everything I write to be phenomenal. I live in constant terror that everyone will find out that I’m not that good at writing, that I’m just a poser with her head in the clouds. This is why I often don’t let people read stories I’ve written and have even deleted some of the things that I wrote. And I know it’s so stupid and unproductive, but sometimes my fear gets the better of me.

So anyway… lately it seems that every time I try to write (which is not as often as it should be), I end up writing a lot about how I can’t write anymore (yes, I am aware of the irony). A few people have been asking me about my writing and I’m beginning to realize how weak my excuses are in comparison to how good I feel when I am writing… no matter how hard I have to work at it. And I know that I need to just write and keep writing whether or not I’m feeling it. That’s what writers do. They write. They write because they have to. They write because they love it (and maybe hate it a little too). They write because they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they weren’t writing. I have come to that point where I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. So I’m going to start writing again. And if it sucks, it sucks. I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to try to post blogs more often (I’m not sure if I’m going to make a regular schedule yet, but that is a possibility) and I’m going to start writing stories again… even when I don’t have any ideas. I’m also toying with the idea of creating another blog, separate from this one where I can just post writing prompts and free-writes just to keep the ideas flowing and for accountability (we’ll see).¬†

So… I guess I’m back to blogging. Some of my next posts might be more rambling about how I can’t write anymore, so I’m sorry in advance. I might need to do that a bit just to get past this terrible case of writer’s block… or whatever it is I’m blaming this all on.¬†

Oh! And, if you are one of the people who sees me in person on a regular basis: please bug me about my writing. I need to be bugged! (You know what I mean)

See you soon!

[PS – I think it is obvious how rusty I am. Thanks for putting up with the awkward flow and lack of structure that characterizes this post.]

Lacking Control

Something that has become more and more evident to me through the things I am experiencing this year is that I am not in control. Of anything. Sure, I have responsibilities, I have my own domain over which I have some authority, but ultimately, I have no control. Something else that I have learned is to be thankful for this simple fact. I am not in control, but I know the sovereign God who is. I am so glad that it is He who is in control of my life and not me. What a mess I could make of things.

So, of which experiences am I speaking? Well, there have been a number of things, but I’ll give you the one that seemed to spark the flame that started this wildfire. Earlier this year, I was sitting in a plane staring out the window. My flight was late at night. The sky was completely black and, looking out, I could see nothing, unless I looked down at the man-made lights below (until, of course I was too far up to even see those). It gave me such a feeling…it is difficult to explain. But just looking out there, seeing nothing and knowing that if we were to fall, nothing would catch us…knowing that I was in this improbable machine that is just so heavy it seems like it should never be able to fly up in the sky…knowing that I could not control the plane, but had to trust a stranger to pilot it…knowing all of these things and really thinking about them made me feel strangely free. I felt calm, yet also exhilarated, especially when I realized that my whole life is like this. I am not the one in control. I could plan to fly to a specific destination at a specific time, but the plane could arrive somewhere else entirely at a time that I deem undesirable, or the plane could fall out of the sky and crash to the ground. It is not in my hands. And I know that wherever my plane may land (or crash) is right where it was intended to go all along. It is the right place for me to glorify God in whichever way He has ordained. My attitude toward this should never be anything but thankfulness, reverence, and joyfulness.

What about the things that I do? The things that I have a knack for? What about creativity? Yes, God is sovereign over that, too. I can’t just turn it on. When I want to write something, I can’t just flip a switch and have all my creative juices ready to flow when I need them. In fact, creativity and being able to create things only exist in us because we are made in the image of the original Creator; the one who had the brilliant idea to create everything we see (and don’t see). He invented creativity. He even created the things that we use to create other things.

Since I am now finished with school (have been since mid-December!), I have expected that I would have more time to write and that I would be working on some new project by this point in the year. Sure, I’ve scribbled down a few ideas here and there, but nothing that I’ve really felt the urge to develop. I’ve tried various tricks that usually spark my creativity and imagination, but the things I’ve come up with have been utterly dry. When my friends have asked me if I’ve been working on anything new, I’ve had to sheepishly inform them that I have not. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. Maybe I’m not a writer after all…maybe it was just a phase that is now over. Just letting that thought cross my mind stung horribly. I knew it couldn’t have just been a phase because I still had a passion for it. Then I realized…my talent, my creativity, my abilities do not come from me. The only reason I am ever able to write something worth reading is because God has granted it to me. When I stopped focusing on myself and what I could be doing to fix the problem, I resolved to stop worrying about it. If God wants me to write, I will write. If He wants me to have ideas, I’ll have ideas. He is in control. He calls the shots. And when my mind was finally in that place, where writing wasn’t about me and didn’t come from me, I still had writer’s block, but I was okay with that. And when I finally had an idea that I wanted to run with, and I finally felt like that word drought was being washed away by a gracious rainfall, I knew who to thank and who to continue to depend on. And it most definitely was not me.

Image

May I always depend on the Lord for the ability to fill those pages!

It’s Coming…

So, we are coming to the end of October. You know what that means…
Halloween?
Yes, but…no.
Midterms?
No!
Daylight savings…?
No no no. NaNoWriMo of course!
What’s that?
National Novel Writing Month! NaNoWriMo! That’s right, it’s time to prepare to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Yep, just 30 days.
Why on earth would you do that to yourself?
I don’t really know how to answer that.

[End of annoyingly stupid segment in which I talk to myself with the purpose of distracting the reader from realizing that I’m really no good at starting these things. Also-to quickly tell the reader what NaNoWriMo is.]

I have attempted NaNoWriMo twice so far and have failed both times. However, last year was a definite improvement from the previous year. I am hopeful that I will get even further this time…maybe I’ll even win this year. The odds are definitely against me, though. The last two years, I came to November prepared. I had story ideas that I was excited about and characters ready to be developed. This year…I’ve got nothing. I have no idea what I’m going to write about. Sure, I’ve started brainstorming, but nothing has really jumped out to me. I don’t like the ideas that I’ve come up with, so I’ve trashed them. Another thing that could hinder me is schoolwork. My classes this semester are a lot more demanding than the classes I’ve taken in the past. So…this will be interesting. I came very close to talking myself out of even attempting NaNoWriMo this year, but I just couldn’t back down. I just have to try. There is always time to write, and the fact that a NaNoWriMo novel doesn’t need to be good–in fact, it’s doubtful that anyone will read it besides me–takes away a lot of the pressure.¬†It might even be refreshing after writing so many things for school assignments that actually need to be well-written. I can just come home and write as carelessly as I wish. And that’s really the point of NaNoWriMo. To just write. It doesn’t need to be good. You don’t have to impress anyone. Nobody cares. Just get the words down. Create something. It’s a terrible and wonderful thing.

So, I know I haven’t really sold it very well, but I do highly recommend it. It really is a good exercise. So, if NaNoWriMo sounds like something you’d like to do, head on over to¬†www.nanowrimo.org¬†and create a profile!
Also, if you are interested in tracking my progress, or if you want to add me as a writing buddy, you can check out my NaNoWriMo profile here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/459521

November 1st is coming!

I may be procrastinating…

I’m . . . back?

So . . . this is awkward. My last blog post was posted three months shy of a full year ago. A lot can happen in that amount of time. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to decide that none of that was worth blogging about. And now I am out of practice. Let me clarify: 1. There were many blog-worthy events that have happened during this silent era and 2. I have been writing, just not blogging . . . there is a difference.

I’m wondering if anyone is going to read this, since it has been so long, and everyone who read it before probably suspects that this page is cold and buried. I do miss doing this and really want to start doing it again more regularly, but I need to get back into the swing of things. So this is sort of a test run for me to see if I can still do this style of writing.

Goodness, this must be a boring read. I apologize. You have my permission to fix your attentions elsewhere. Perhaps you are waiting to hear back from a friend on Facebook, or you’re wondering if the Vlogbrothers have posted a new video on Youtube today. Go right ahead. Click away, this is merely a practice post. I’ll think of something more interesting to talk about next time. Perhaps tomorrow. No . . . I’ll be finishing the homework that I’m supposed to be doing right now.

Speaking of homework . . . That is probably the main contributing factor to my absence here. Especially this semester. I am taking a Creative Writing: Creative Non-Fiction class. I have been reading a lot and working on a piece for this class. I am writing a memoir-style short story. I am estimating that it will be 15 to 20 pages long. That seemed daunting at first, but the more I get into it, the more it seems that it might actually be longer.
I’m not really sure if I’m actually enjoying writing it. Not that I’m hating it, or anything. It’s just . . . difficult. I’m writing about the experience of losing my mom. I’ve told the story to various people before, so I thought it wouldn’t be that hard. But it is. It most certainly is. I’m hitting so many road blocks that I can’t really imagine reaching my destination anymore. I will, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s a hard place to revisit and my memory has been failing me in certain areas where my story is begging for details. I have to be vigilant in my constant struggle against explaining my emotions and coming off as whiney and pathetic. I definitely think that this class is growing me as a writer. There are so many things that I didn’t even take into account before. Like showing rather than telling and trusting my audience.
I have to keep reminding myself why I am writing this story. It is not necessarily for sympathy. I am writing it because I sort of need to write it. I’ve gotten it out verbally, now I need to get it out textually. I understand my thoughts and memories better when I have written them out. I am writing this story because I don’t want the pictures to fade as they are already. I am writing this story because revisiting the sight reminds me of the things that I have learned. I am writing this story because it could possibly have a positive affect on someone else . . . not that I’m necessarily going to let everyone read it ūüėõ . ¬†But anyway, I’m not sure if this is a story that needs to be told or needs to be heard (or read) but I am compelled to write it nonetheless.

So, anyway, that was a little glimpse of what my mind has been going through over the past few months. I hope it was slightly interesting to read. If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with it ūüėõ . As mentioned before, I’m just trying to get back into this because I miss it. ¬† ¬† . . . also, I was having trouble with my homework and needed a break ūüôā .

Hopefully I’ll keep at this.

No Vember

I realize that I haven’t posted a blog in quite a while. I’ve been slacking in my journal writing as well. I just spent some time today writing about four pages of what’s been going on this month in my journal. So I figured I should take some time to blog as well. It is pretty relaxing.¬†

Hmm…where to start. Well I didn’t get very far in my NaNoWriMo novel, I’ve only written about 3,400 words. I’ve been a bit too busy to write. But what I have written I’ve enjoyed and I still plan on finishing the novel. I’m actually pretty excited about it. I’ve had the idea for it in my mind for quite some time and it’s nice to finally do something with it and see it come to life. A few of my friends have read what I’ve written so far and they really liked it and want to read more, so that makes me feel pretty good. I didn’t expect to write something that anyone would really like. Maybe I will be a successful novelist some day.

This month has been hard for me. I’ve been missing my mother like crazy. It was weird not to have her here for thanksgiving. It will be weird to not have her here for christmas. This year, it will be just me and my dad for christmas. And I won’t even be at home either because my dad is working on christmas day so I’m going with him to the fire station and driving back by myself that night. It’s going to be very emotional. But I guess I have to start getting used to the absence of my mother. I’m still not used to it after 6 months. It’s still strange, I can still feel the hole. The lack of something wonderful. The lack of an intense¬†love and care. Because nobody can possibly love me like my mother did.¬†

I was filling out my new¬†calendar¬†for 2009, and it made me a bit sad. Writing in all the special days that my mother will be absent for. Realizing that I will never again make her a birthday card, mother’s day card, or christmas card. I also realized that my mom died about 5 days before mother’s day. That was slightly distressing.¬†

Okay, enough with the sad stuff…I’ve been going to a lot of hockey games this month. It’s been really fun. My dad has season tickets for the Ontario Reign and we have really good seats…like four rows from the glass…yes, be jealous haha. It’s really awesome.¬†

My friend Jennifer and I went to see my favorite band, The Decemberists, the other day. It was amazing to say the least. There is something about seeing a band live that just intensifies my love and appreciation of¬†their¬†music. It’s such a beautiful thing to see musicians creating masterpieces right in front of you, in the very room you stand in.¬†

My first semester of college is coming to a stressful end. finals are coming up, and papers are due soon. So I’ve been stressing about that lately. But I think I’ll do alright, it’s really just a matter of sitting down and really¬†concentrating…that’s just been a little difficult lately. I plan on taking easier classes next semester.

I finished my Christmas shopping. What a relief. I was worried for a while that I’d have to take some money out of my savings to buy christmas presents. But I ended up having enough. My employer hasn’t been working me very much lately so I’ve been pretty broke. I’ve been driving my brother’s car too because we still haven’t found another one for me since the accident. My brother’s car is such a gas hog so, thankfully, my dad has been helping me out with gas. But I feel bad when he helps me with money. I want to be able to afford everything myself. I want to grow up and learn to be an adult. But I guess that will be easier when I get paid more. I’m looking for another job. I’m not sure if I want to quit my old one and just have one new job, or to just add a new job, and still work for my old job as well since they hardly work me anyway. But I don’t know if it would be worth it or not. Next semester I will have a better school schedule, so it might be easier to manage a schedule. But anyway, this is all very boring.¬†

I hope you all had a nice month. Get your christmas shopping done! You will feel better!

Thanks for taking an interest in my blog.

Meet My Good Friend: Book?

Lately I haven’t gotten to be around my friends or family very much. This is mostly because I have been busy…and so has everyone else. So it is extremely difficult to get any quality time in with…anyone. This has caused me to feel lonely and¬†detached from society, Like I am in my own little world all my friends are in their little worlds, and my dad is in his little world, etc. The only reason I’m not¬†plummeting¬†into deep depression and/or anxiety is because I still have some faithful companions: Books.
I recently came across a desktop background that has a black and white picture of a book with pages folded into a heart and on the bottom it says “you know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel as if you’ve lost a friend.” This certainly rings true for me. When I read a book, it keeps me company. I feel as though I know the characters, like I invited them into my living room and they are telling me stories of their crazy lives and the lessons they’ve learned and perhaps even walking me through their lives(if that makes sense). And, indeed, when I reach the end of a book, I feel as though I’m losing something….suddenly something is missing. This is probably why I like to have copies of all the books I’ve enjoyed and I hate to get rid of books unless I didn’t really like them all that much. Reading a book that I’ve already read before is like revisiting an old friend. Getting rid of an good book is like losing contact with a good friend. Going to the library is like going to a meet and greet of sorts. But anyway, you get the idea.¬†
I’m not sure if the fact that my books have become my faithful friends (arguably replacing my real friends…for the time being anyway) is really really sad, or just a¬†normal¬†thing that happens in life when things get¬†hectic. But either way, it is still a good thing because, as John Green once stated “the only apprenticeship for aspiring writers is reading books” (I may not have that correct word for word, but it was something of that nature.) So in a way, the lack of a social life is aiding me in becoming a good writer.

So this one is for you, books. Thanks. 

 

P.S.-to all my friends(the real ones that live and breath): I love you all and please don’t feel bad for any of the above sentiments. I know you’re busy, I am too. We will have more time together between semesters ūüôā

A New Day

Today was my first day of college. I only had one class today though. But I’m really excited. It’s an english class, and we will be doing A LOT of writing. I’m really looking forward to getting better at writing.¬†
I’m also excited because my class gets out the same time as four of my friends so we get to have lunch together every tuesday and thursday! I’m really looking forward to it! Tomorrow I have to get up fairly early. I have a psychology class at 8:00 am. Then I have a looong break and go to a¬†sociology¬†class at 2:00 pm. It will be nice to take classes I’m interested in, unlike in high school. And actually learn new things and be challenged! Oh, and then I have a math class on saturday morning at 8:00 am. It will be easy though, I scored kind of low on the assessment test because I was out of math for a year, so this semester is pretty much a brush up for me. So it shouldn’t be too stressful.¬†

Due to the fact that I will be going to school full time, working part time, making time for friends & family, and doing homework (which includes lots of essays), I might not be able to post blogs as frequently, but I will try. I do enjoy blogging. maybe sometimes I will post my essays if I haven’t had time to blog in a while …or something…haha.¬†

Today was a little bit hard for me, especially this morning as I was getting ready to leave. I was thinking about my mom. She would have been excited to be here as I left for my first day of college. She would have told me she was proud of me. She would have teared up saying “my baby is growing up!” I think days like this will always be hard for me.¬†
But at least I’m not alone.