Do you see? DO YOU SEE?!!

Heya,

Long time no speak.

About…a month ago I came on and deleted all the blog writing prompt posts where I didn’t actually say anything and got rid of the posts in the queue, because I know I’d be super fucking annoyed if I kept getting writing prompts sent to me on a daily basis (though I know some people would probably pay for that). I then planned on writing a post about how that experiment had failed.

Then I got distracted.

I have a job now. I mean, I had a job when I started this blog, but it wasn’t a show-up-at-an-office five-days-a-week kind of job. It was more of a part-time, fit-it-to-my-schedule kind of job. And my job has been in the process of moving offices for … oh, all summer up to the present. We’ll be on our third workspace in as many months soon.

There have been problems. There has been a lack of office supplies and space to spread all my stuff out in (I like to spread out–it’s a big part of why I always try to be early to … everything. If you’re early, you get first dibs on the available space).

But that’s not what I want to write about today.

I want to write about what I’m working on that isn’t work. As a rule of thumb, I don’t like to talk that much about creative projects. Not out of any sense of proprietorship or anything like that; more because I like to keep things loose and not feel like there’s any kind of structure being imposed on me. I feel like telling people about what I’m working means that I have to do what I tell them. And I don’t like feeling like I have to do things a certain way.

I think there’s also a danger of spending more time talking about the project than actually doing the project, and that as valuable as dialogue is, sometimes you have to just take the leap on faith that you’ll figure it out. Sometimes people introduce problems that make the project seem like something unattainable. And not in a sexy way.

Okay, so

Looming Projects

  • The Quarter: my friend turns twenty-five in the not-too-distant and her apartment is full of empty walls and canvas that she keeps meaning to paint, so I’m painting her a picture of a 1989 Canadian quarter. I was originally just going to paint it, but after a while, that started to seem like something that would only be interesting to look at for a brief span of time. Then I got something in the mail that was packed with a bunch of sheets of cardboard. I’d already painted the background of the painting. So I decided I’d paint the cardboard in varying shades of grey and jigsaw a quarter together out of pieces of cardboard in different tones of grey.
  • The Journal: my other friend is going on a Bedouin adventure across Western America. She has no particular itinerary, she just knows it’s going to be across Western America. She’s going to work on some farm communes along the way. I’m trying to restrain the part of my brain that is saying, “Cult, cult, cult, cult” but it’s hard. I’m trying to set up a weekly Skype date for us, both so that we can keep in touch and so I can subtly check her for signs of brainwashing. I’m only somewhat exaggerating. Oh, the journal! So, I bought a really plain, hardback journal and a road atlas. I’ve scanned a bunch of the maps of the west coast, and I’m in the process of covering the journal with them. So she can write in her journal, and also mark the places she’s been on the cover.
  • Dustwallets: I have inherited a hatred of dustjackets from my dad. When you try to read a hardcover with a dustjacket on it, it gets all bendy and slips off and is just generally a giant nuisance. About a month ago, I was reorganizing my bookshelves and found a cache of dustjackets that I’d stripped off my books. I was going to recycle them, but that seemed wasteful. So I googled paper crafts. One of the things that came up was how to make a wallet out of paper. So I’ve been gradually working through a pile of dustjackets, making them into wallets. Some are more complicated than others – you want certain things to fit on the front and back, certain things to be in the pockets, etc., for the look of the thing, and sometimes the dimensions just don’t work and you have to figure something else out. It is both engaging and kind of mindless. I’ve just started sewing them rather than just taping them together. Fucked my fingers up really bad on the first one. I’d never done enough sewing before to appreciate thimbles. I appreciate them now. That’s an ongoing project. When I have time or I’m feeling the urge, I paw through my pile of dustjackets and make one. I don’t know what to do with them. I’ve give a few away to friends and family members (I’m really proud of how the one I did for California turned out). I’m not entirely sure that it’s better to turn them into wallets if I don’t do anything with the wallets, either…
California by Edan Lepucki

California by Edan Lepucki

  • My Mother Says: This is a play that I’ve been working on for years now, at the behest of a friend of mine. It’s about the internment of Japanese-Canadians during WWII. I’ve done a lot of research into it, but I have a lot of trouble connecting with it. I come at story from a place of character, and I’m struggling to get a grasp on the characters. I also don’t want it to be limited, thematically or in terms of the time it’s dealing with. Because the larger implications are of history repeating itself. The internment is not widely known of, and it’s not the first time the government of Canada has done something like this. If you ignore your mistakes, if you believe you’re above those who came before you, you blind yourself. Everyone likes to think they’re not capable of bowing before that kind of pressure, that kind of fear, but most people have never been put in that position. And you never truly know what you would do in a situation until you’ve faced that situation and acted.
  • Merde Creek Chronicle: Is a graphic novel. It’s an online graphic novel. It’s sort of the inverse of My Mother Says. I feel like I understand the characters and the setting, I have an idea of where everything is leading. I have the URL (and now so do you – there’s one post on there right now. It’s from 2012 and it’s about building an author platform. Holy fuck, it’s almost 2015.) I just don’t know how to execute it. I can draw, but the amount of time it would take me to draw something that I would be satisfied with far outweighs the amount of time that it would take me to write something that I’d be satisfied with. And I’ve always been particularly attracted to the idea of doing really rough sketches, just pencil sketches, the minimum required to get the point across, maybe with some concept/character art on another page that’s had a bit more energy put into it, and letting people fill in the blanks. Use there imagination. That would also let me play with the format a bit more, with the minutiae. Make it part comic, part script, part short story.
  • Kindred (working title): fantasy with some sci-fi, in the Arthur C. Clarke sense. I don’t want to get too into it (commitment issues and all that), but I can say that there’s a civil war, a desert, and genetic engineering/mutation. At present. I’m not entirely sure what’ll get slashed in the end. If I get to the end.

And there’s the rub, really. The juggling. Always the juggling. In some ways the job I’m doing is deeply satisfying, in large part because it is so different from my creative projects. But it does absorb a lot of the energy I’d like to dedicate to these projects. It’s not a matter of finding the time. It’s a matter of finding the energy, both physically and emotionally.

I’ve started doing cardio in the mornings, in part because it’s good for my heart and lungs and anxiety levels, but also because I’ve been told that it raises your energy levels. We’ll see, I guess.

Oh, and in case you missed it, the title of this post is referencing South Park when South Park referenced Silence of the Lambs.

Love,

B

Reading: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (why the fuck is everyone called Petrov(na) or Romanov(na)(vich)? What is Russia?)

Listening: Zaba by Glass Animals

Watching: The Cornetto Trilogy on repeat, because I don’t have the mental capacity for anything more complicated, and I like how they make fun of movie cliches without being dicks about making fun of movie cliches

Retroactive Writing Prompts

Heya,

As you may or may not have noticed from my absence (has it been palpable? Can an absence be palpable?) from this blog over the last little while, I’ve been having trouble finding things to write for this blog. There are many blog writing prompts, and I’ve decided to go with the 365 Days of Writing Prompts from The Daily Post.

The book goes by day, starting with a prompt for January 1st that reads, “Where were you last night when 2013 turned into 2014? Is that where you’d wanted to be?” Conversely, the prompt for today’s date reads, “Tell us about the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home.”

And indecisiveness rears it’s ugly head. I don’t like to start things in the middle, so I think I’m going to go with the New Years one, despite the fact that it’s pretty fucking irrelevant at this point, so that I can work through the book one post at a time, as I’m sure it was intended. I’m also looking forward to the incongruity that is sure to occur with doing this in order at the wrong time.

New Years has never really mattered that much to me, other than the fact that there are always parties that day (and really expensive food and impossible to flag-down taxis, but let’s accentuate the positive). I don’t really make resolutions, I don’t really care about the ball dropping. I’m up until midnight most nights, so that lost it’s appeal long ago. Somehow, January 1st doesn’t feel like a big deal to me. I think the first time I was allowed to stay up for New Years until midnight it felt like a big deal, but it quickly lost its glamour for me.

The fifteenth of every month always feels like a big deal to me though. The fifteenth is always the moment when it strikes me that the month is half-over. It is usually when I make plans and schedules and try, just generally, to get all the chaos in my life neatly sorted.

Like New Years resolutions, those plans and schedules usually fall apart fairly quickly, but the point is that this is when my brain goes, “Shit, time is passing, I have stuff to do, I have to figure out how to do the stuff before more time passes!”

So, at midnight when July 14th became July 15th, I was sitting in a lazy boy recliner in the den, watching streaming video of season two of Orphan Black with Portuguese subtitles. I got the millionth alert that my Mac needs a system update. For the millionth time, I clicked the “Later-Remind me tomorrow” option. Then, because my mouse was right by the little alert which is right by the time, I realized that it was 12:00am and I should go to bed, because I had to get up for 6:00am for my carpool to work.

And then I had my usual, “Oh, shit, it’s July 15th, the month is half over, fuck fuck fuckity fuck!” moment and looked at my to-do list. Blog schedule was one of the first things (as it has been for about a month now). So, not being a half-measures kind of person, I decided that I would post every day, and then finished the episode of Orphan Black I was watching and went to bed, resolved to find a year’s worth of writing prompts for blogging.

And I did. I linked to it above, in case you missed it. And I’m going to preschedule all the prompts, so that my failure will be visible to all if I don’t post something with more than just a title. I might change the title, depending on what goes into the post, but the prompt will remain in the URL for … I don’t know, posterity. Unless I forget that that was my intention, in which case, I will change the URL and you will be SOL when it comes to figuring out the prompt.

Should I categorize these? I’m going to categorize these.

Oh, the second part of that question was, was I where I wanted to be. Yes. Yes, I was. Orphan Black is amazing, that chair is super fucking comfortable, and it was a Monday night so home is the best.

Love,

B

I’m definitely doing this wrong

Heya,

So remember, about a week ago, I talked to you about my idea for writing on WattPad?

Runaway Lane has gotten away from me a little bit. Appropriately enough. It has expanded somewhat and is now developing something that looks alarming like structure. Usually this would be a great situation, but right now it’s kind of … pissing me off. Because the plan with this had been to write small increments of a story that I didn’t have any plans for, every day. I’m talking … like, 200 words, max. I was thinking that I’d write them on my phone while I did went about my morning routine.

In case you’re interested, my morning routine: wake up at 6am, put on clothes I laid out the night before, unless inclement weather makes them ridiculous. Make tea and watch the news until 6:30, while also checking my email on my phone and dorking around on Tumblr. At 6:30, text Dusty “just finishing my tea,” finish my tea, then do my makeup. Pick up Dusty from her house or vice versa by 6:45, carpool. Get to school by 8am and work on whatever I forgot to do the night before while I wait for class to start.

So I’ve got about half an hour at home and an hour at school. More than enough time to write 200 words, even if I do it on my phone, or so was my plan.

Then I received a copy of The Trickster’s Hat: A Mischievous Apprenticeship in Creativity by Nick Bantock (of Griffin and Sabine fame). It’s a book of art exercises. One of the exercises involved filling in the ending of a sentence, and then writing the sentences that bracketed it. You were supposed to write as quickly as possible, whatever came into your mind. This is what I got:

1. The horse felt obliged to express itself by …

“It was a beautiful beast, but the alchemists insisted that the ether would make it even better, and Master acquiesced to their request without much pushing. The horse felt obliged to express itself by vomiting up the ether. The Master was displeased; each ether infusion was a great expense, whether the treatment took or not.”

2. She could not help herself, the date was waiting there for her …

“The Matchmaker tapped long, lacquered nails over the calendar, and murmured, “As you can see, there are really no dates available.”

She could not help herself, the date was waiting there for her, a single white square in the vast scribbling expanse of chosen wedding dates. She reached across the vast expanse of the Matchmaker’s desk and tapped the blank square. “What about this one?””

3. Elvira looked at her brother’s fast-growing collection of …

“Benedict looked up, eyes wild with panic before he realized who was there. Elvira looked at her brother’s fast-growing collection of stolen trinkets and grimaced. He was going to get all of them in so much trouble.”

Once I was through with the exercise, I thought, “Hey, maybe I’ll use these for Runaway Lane, that story that I haven’t started on WattPad.” And I liked that idea.

So now, I’m working with:

  • The story is about a leader on the run from the law. It starts in a world-spanning nation on a forest planet. The story climaxes with someone visiting a doctor.
  • Runaway Lane
  • YA
  • The above paragraphs
  • A strong desire to not name anyone in this story “Lane” because that would just be too on the nose for me

And then I had a little moment of existential angst as I remembered that I hadn’t done anything with that WattPad story yet.

That was my day.

How are you? What did you write with those starts of sentences?

Love,

B

P.S. It’s an interesting book, I recommend it. Get’s you out of your head a bit.

Five hundred small necessary tasks

Heya,

In the process of completing my master’s degree, I have gradually acquired a pile of boring tasks to do, which I haven’t done because there hasn’t really been time.

Also because they’re boring. But mostly because there isn’t time.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There have been chunks of time where I could knock off one or two of these things, but never the whole mess of them, which is how I would prefer to do it. I like to try to arrange everything boring that I have to do so that I can get through everything in one go and be left with a clean slate. Rip up the to-do list and dance in the confetti.

Which I haven’t actually done, but as someone who doesn’t feel great personal satisfaction from checking things off a list, I think maybe if I did dance in the confetti of my to-do lists, I’d be more inclined to complete everything on them.

Though then I’d have to sweep up the confetti.

Or I could just add it to a new list of small necessary tasks to complete.

I’ve read a lot about productivity. As veteran of the Great War of Procrastinators Sitting on the Couch and Thinking about Maybe Sometime Doing Something, I enjoy reading about efficient people. I like to think that I could be one of them someday. I read this article from 99U the other day, and it’s given me some hope, in part because what it suggests involved self-deception, something which I, like all of us veterans of the GWPSCTMSDS, am very good at. In case you didn’t want to click the link because I’m a stranger on the internet, the article talks about structured procrastination, which is sort of like steering into the skid. You go with your desire to procrastinate, but trick yourself into distracting yourself with something other than Tumblr or checking your email. Instead, you detour onto something else from your to-do list, just something somewhat less urgent. When you do eventually have to get to that really urgent thing, you just trick yourself into thinking that there is a more important thing, and that the original really urgent thing is procrastination.

I’m going to try to apply it to my five hundred small necessary tasks, see what happens.

Love,

B