Monthly Archives: January 2015

Where I am

The last 5+ years have been, for me, a period of great solitude. The loneliest I ever felt though was when I was living in Wellington surrounded by people who I know loved and still love me. My second family. There was so much to do and see. It still doesn’t make complete sense to me why I was so unhappy.

I saw my sister, who was in Wellington too, several days a week. I had jobs and friends who I saw quite often and could have seen more if I’d put more effort in, and I was studying most of the time. I was playing tennis and had joined a gym. I went to the movies and plays, to bars and clubs. From the outside it must have looked like I had it pretty together. I never felt that togetherness in my head though.

One of few clear recurring memories I have of my last few years in Wellington is sitting alone in the shower, hot water cascading over my shoulders, saying aloud over and over again, ‘Help me! Help me! Help me!’. I had a little respite one year when I was in a committed relationship but I decided it wasn’t for me and that was the end of that.

Since moving back to Hawkes Bay, I’ve basically been trying to devise ways to get back there, to Wellington, where I belong. Until now.

I held great contempt for this place growing up. It remained every time I came back during holidays to visit. It is there still when I remind myself of how, in a moment of weakness – to be fair, I did think I was dying – I chose to stop fighting and go back to where I started.

I spend almost all of my time alone. I’m not feeling sorry for myself here. It is what it is. People are busy and I am not.

At first, the difference between the number of people I saw in a day compared to now did upset me. It even made me a bit angry. It was the most jarringly difficult decision I’ve ever had to make, to move from a place that I loved to a place I can barely tolerate. I expected a lot more people on a more regular basis in my life when I moved. It was the main reason I decided to do so. Unhappiness at your current situation is not really a good enough reason to move locations, I’ve discovered.

I would still like to go back to Wellington one day. It’s not as important to me anymore, though. I’m quite content where I am. I’m certainly more content with who I am.

I still don’t like the place but I am happier than I’ve been for years. The problem wasn’t where I lived. The problem was in me. Perhaps I needed to come home to learn that.

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Beginning

Today has been quite a good writing day. I’m feeling a little swamped by the magnitude of the task ahead of me, though.

I decided that I would like to write a book this year; a work of fiction. I didn’t really know where to start so I took a germ of an idea and wrote down a few bullet points. I’ve been fleshing out these ideas into a plan while I’m writing my first few paragraphs.

I got writing straight away, while I started to plan, so that I can say to myself that I’ve really, properly begun. I don’t know how much of what I’ve written will stay but it’s a good psychological boost and a great exercise in self-discipline while I figure out what I’m doing.

You see, like many aspiring writers, I’ve been in this place before: The Beginning. It’s one thing to begin. It’s quite another thing to work beyond that point. The unfinished work I’ve saved in ‘The Cloud’ and in makeshift filing drawers are testament to how hard it is to make it past the first flush of enthusiasm.

There really is so much to consider. I’ve already changed the narrative point of view once. I think it should work now. The decision of whose perspective you will tell a story from is not just a question of style. There are a great many aspects of the story that will be affected. For instance, if you are writing from the perspective of first person narration, you really have the opportunity to get inside a person’s head. That said, I think there is the potential for other characters to come across as minor and a little two dimensional if you’re not careful.

Despite the fact that I’m writing about something I know intimately, I’m already finding that I’m having to do some research. I’m pleased about this. I loved researching when I was studying at university. I’ve missed it. I also worried a little bit, when I finally accepted I wouldn’t be able to work a conventional job because of my failing health, that the skills I had learnt while I was studying might go to waste. I’m so pleased to be exercising my brain again. I’m just glad to be doing anything again, really. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked at something. I’ve got butterflies in my tummy. I’m taking that as a good sign.


Word Traffic

I have a lot of words rolling around; frolicking; playing. Some are crashing into each other in quite a satisfying way and others are just not getting on well at all. It is difficult to make any sense of the cacophony in my head.

I think one of the reasons I’ve cleaved to social media for so long is that twittering and status updates largely replaced the wholly disorganised discursive soup in my head. Often, when I’m having a conversation, I must concentrate with a great deal of difficulty in order to pluck a passing collection of, hopefully, related sentences from a dense word traffic. When I’m talking, I can hear myself rearranging words and thoughts as I speak and I can’t imagine how I must come across.

I’ve been thinking all day about what I might write. I know I might be judged here for avoidance tactics and procrastination. I know what that is and what it looks like, for I am the master of that particular domain; I am not mucking around, for a change. What I am doing is trying to get the words and thoughts and ideas and notions in my head straight so that they make some kind of sense. My hope is that characters and settings and plots and a coherent narrative will thence spring into life. Sounds easy enough. I may be being overly optimistic but I think if I didn’t begin with the idea that I might at least make something from nothing, there would be no point in writing at all.

Something I do know is that I need a detailed plan. I’ve only ever stared at a blank page and started writing until I had finished what I was working on, or until I was satisfied that I had exhausted the potential of a bit of passing word traffic. My mind is too disorganised not to be forcibly made to tidy itself, which might be why I haven’t produced anything worth reading in fiction so far.

Of course, I might just not be very good. Another reason not to write. I think I’ll throw that thought in with the others. Somewhere in the back.


Twitter Ye Not

I feel a bit funny. I decided not 24 hours ago that I’d shut down all of my social media accounts, of which I had two: Twitter and Facebook. I disabled my Twitter account two hours ago.

I have no idea when I joined Facebook. I do remember it was under protest and was entirely so I could ‘keep in touch’ with friends and family who happened not to be in the same room as me at any given moment and who wanted to ‘keep in touch’. I hated everything about it before I joined. It was quite useful though for fostering the illusion of ‘keeping in touch’. Mostly I used Facebook to post my increasingly irregular writing from here and other sites.

Twitter, though. I will miss Twitter a great deal. I did cry as I was shutting down my account this evening. I feel suddenly exposed and alone. For the last 6 or 7 years, I’ve posted whatever came into my head that I thought people might want to read. That’s not strictly true. I posted whatever came into my head. That’s it. No real editing except for grammatical errors, which drove me nuts. No thought as to whether ‘Tweeps’ (twitter users) would want to read that I ‘hadn’t slept well’ or ‘was depressed’ or ‘happy’ or ‘hungry’. I never considered that people might not want to read what was in my head. I didn’t really care if they didn’t. After all, people choose to follow you and they can unfollow you if they get sick of you or don’t like what you have to say.

It did bring out the narcissist in me, I can be honest about that. Twitter can sometimes feel like you’re speaking into a great void and nobody’s listening but you keep tweeting anyway because, let’s face it, the most interesting person in any room, real or imagined, is always ourselves.

In the early days of Twitter, it did feel like my words were disappearing into the ether. I remember wondering if anybody, anywhere read what I tweeted. I had so few followers and nobody ever interacted with me. Ever. I didn’t really mind though. Twitter in the early days for me was about being silly and a bit absurd. I tweeted for weeks about my inane obsessions. I really did think it was very funny to go on and on about pork buns until even I couldn’t stand it anymore. Though it grew into something wonderful and rewarding, I did often miss those days where I could escape to a place where nothing really mattered.

Twitter has come to be rather more complex than it was. It is no longer just a bit of fun. Well, it is, but it’s also a lot more. It can be a place of great transcendence. Worldwide protests against those who seek to use their privilege and power to stifle the freedoms of those who have neither, have been started with Twitter. Mass fundraising and awareness drives for individuals, groups and organisations gain traction on a mind bogglingly huge scale and at breakneck speed. People do wonderful things for other people every day.

Of course, as human made structures of any kind become more complex, they inevitably develop a dark side. I’ve been so lucky to see very little of that, and almost all of it was secondhand. Still, the less said about that the better. ‘Don’t feed the trolls’, as they say.

Anyway, I have closed my social media accounts because I need to concentrate on my writing. Since I was a child, it’s been in the back of my mind that I would quite like to be a writer. It’s been a pretty vague notion for many years and vague notions have a habit of never really taking shape. It has turned into a need, so I’m in trouble now. Needs have a habit of kicking you in the arse if they aren’t met. I guess I better get to it.