Writing: Fear/Regret stopping you from calling yourself a writer?

  

I loved this quote when I came across it on Pinterest trying to find pins to put on my ‘Rule of Thirds’ ChickLit concept board. Yes, I’m attempting to Pinterest. Can’t say I have tried it before, though I was signed up with it more than a year ago. Never really saw how I could use it to drum up interest for my book(s). But, ever since I came away from a day seminar at the Sydney Writer’s Festival last month, I may have been inspired to try it in a way I never thought about. Use it to create a page/board (still learning it’s lingo here) for the book/story in mind, helping create the look/feel of the novel. So, for the last week, I’ve been searching pins for weddings, love, romance, mother-daughter etc. and still going. Don’t know if it’s been at all successful but can’t hurt to try. 
What was the point of telling you all that? Well, as writers, and truly anyone who has a job that gets them or their product in front of strangers, go through this regardless of the career path you choose. We are held back by fear. Our potential squashed ruthlessly by the little devil that sits on our shoulders, and whispers ‘it’s not good enough’. Let’s give it a flick off our shoulders. Time to free them shoulders!
I believe regret is a painful thing to go through in life, but I’ve also realized personally that fear is the only thing that usually causes one to have regrets in the first place. 
If you fear about what people will think, then try and divert that fear to but what if they like it. You can’t please every one. This is not Pleasantville. 
I’m going to try and not fear too much about too much from now on, or at least attempt. After all, I’ve come so far from being that tiny girl who questioned whether I could even wield enough command to handle directing film cast and crew as short as 12 months ago. And now, I have made at least 4 short films, have 3 others in the works and a major feature in the planning. And most of all, those lovely folks who gave me and my tiny stories a go are eager to work with me again as I am eager to work with them too. What was holding me back all those years after finishing my study? Fear. What was I doing every single day till that fateful day after Valentine’s Day last year? Regret. Regret not having enough guts to go ‘hell, I’m gonna try before I die’. That was pretty much what gave me a final push, whether I was willing to let go of a dream and regret it all my life, or whether I was gonna give it a try. I voted for try, and try I did. Firstly, I released my debut novel despite fear of criticism. Then, wrote my first short film and took it by its horns. 
It is my deepest belief that one is not a writer until someone else gives you that title. Before this, I used to say I want to be a writer. Nowadays, I say I am a freelance writer and filmmaker. It feels bloody good to be able to say that. 
I may not be known yet, I may not have the whole skill set yet, but I am learning, I am trying, and most of all, I am happy. So, do yourself a favor. If I can give you one advice then it is this: truly try before you give up on a dream, you never know the strength that lies in you till you hit that fork in the road and you must choose. Choose wisely and give it all you got. 

All my best to you. 

Poem: Ego 

Eager little birdies

stronger than their wings

aim as high as the fiery sky

unbeknownst the dive deep.

Sugary treats, as sugary can be

can no longer hide the bitter deed

as long as life lived

there can be no sanctuary of peace.

So goes the past, the present and indeed

the future you and I shall claim to see

while no ounce of honesty lies 

in the powers of flawed psyche. 

Tempted creed, long gone the days 

no innocence shall find ye

nor amongst the thorns and brambles

nor amongst the petals, no, no such thing.


Eager little birdies

with ill equipped wings.

Midnight thoughts

What am I thinking about, or doing right this instance seems to be the number one focus of social media these days. Even just 10 years ago, social media only extended as far as emails and Hi5, and MySpace stuff, if anyone remembers them. And now…? Well, now, even kids as young as 8 have smart devices that has the capability to connect you to any one person in any corner of the world. Scary? Hell yes!

Imagine where all this ‘socialising’ in the most reversed introverted and self indulgent way ever known to mankind will go given another 10 years?! Think about it. Already we have the likes of Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter, several blog hosts like WordPress and Blogger, and Instagram and Tumblr, and Flickr and what other crazy nut program there is that ensnares us into its trap. We are so connected now that statuses have literally become mini news feeds on what every single person in our orbit is doing at any given chance. Yet, it’s very sad when I observe younger generations with their faces glued to the screens even as they try and converse with one another. Pretty soon they will text one another in something that looks more like codes than language while sitting right next to each other. Where is this tech-savvy world taking humanity in its ambition to catalogue every person’s life?

Why am I rambling about such things? Well, our privacy for one matter. It used to be something prized once upon a time, and now we have our information suspended in ‘clouds’ able to be retrieved from anywhere and by any one who knows what they are doing? We are getting people from other side of the world call up trying to sell insurance or what not with enough of your details to make you really consider who else and how many people, who are complete strangers, have access to your details. And why?

There is a new low. Especially with our contact details being sold off by companies etc. The other day, a telemarketer from South-east Asia called up telling me that they are from the motor insurance company and that their ‘records’ show that someone in my family has been in an accident! Truly? TRULY?!

What is the world coming to? Is that the new tactics of sales now? Hijack people’s information, harass them, and try and manipulate their emotions to get their money? I use ‘harass’ because when one sales person got told off for poor tactics and callous approach, another rose its head like a monster and tried the same approach. 5 calls in one week! Lets just say it was very appalling behaviour and got me truly thinking what a world it will be in another decade where humanity will be snuffed out of society and we will no longer rebel, nor put a fight, but accept such behaviour.

My stance with these horrid people was to ask them how they would feel if I was the one calling and telling them that their loved one(s) are hurt?! You know the answer I got mostly? Fumbling, bumbling idiots who couldn’t answer the question and hung up. That’s right, hung up!

So, next time you pick up that phone and its a telemarketer on the other side just as your about to eat dinner, or worse yet, at 10:30 pm at night as you slip into bed (and yes, that’s happened), don’t dare tolerate a rude, insensitive and callous idiot on the other side, because to them, you are simply a number.

Be wise. Never hand out your details to anything or anyone. And better yet, be careful the questions you answer. And with that thought, goodnight!

Poem: Lonely Trekker

She feels at the top of the world
hovering like a phantom girl
light and breathless
reeling still from the emptiness
that has rolled down the hills
the higher she climbed
the less burden felt
the world lay below at her feet
no more cares
or whimsical affairs,
no, the heart lay beating
for reason removed from love,
not here, not now
not in the moment that tested
her whimsical heart
the fear it birthed
the grip it held
yet she stood
at the top of the world
alone, utterly alone
precisely the way she felt
was it that time
to take the leap of faith
arms out like the wings of a bird
soaring through the air
towards what
only time would tell.
Would she meet her maker
as it were,
or would she soar
over land
and finally spot home again?
She knew not
but took a breath
rising her arms
leapt.

Writing: Judging self worth and accomplishment

This is a very tricky topic for me, only because it opens up a can of worms; worms that question and squirm till they have left me feeling quite empty and no better afterwards.

As a creative person, the question of ‘worth’ and ‘accomplishment’ kind of go hand in hand with how successful we are at doing what we do and yet sustain some semblance of a lifestyle, however small or simple that may be. Until such moment, this notion of self worth and accomplishment are undeniably tied in a tight knot around our level of success.

You know how this makes me feel? And many others I assume. It make me feel worthless. That’s right, I said it. I finally said it. None of this writing post after post, nor poetry after poetry, nor insightful article one after the other, and not even novels matter at the end of the day. Why? Because these things aren’t tangible, we cannot hold them, we cannot prune them and make a garden, nor can they earn me a living. Not until some one out there thinks I have talent enough to make a life out of it.

You’re probably thinking what has brought this on today? What has caused my usual happy veneer to come crashing down and reveal the truth that lies tormenting me and other struggling artist? This is what’s bothering me. Ready.

The fact that we have to prove ourselves time and time again. More so than any other profession out there. It’s not about how well we perform in an exam, or how well we do a presentation, nor how hard we study. These don’t seem to matter. Not really. We can’t, like others, apply for a ‘writer’ position, nor are we given the same chance as an apprentice or intern, or even work experience. It’s a torturous loop, and we have no idea on how to navigate it so that we can put our foot in the doorway. I’m very frustrated with this whole thing I guess. Because, although I have two novels and scriptwriting experience under my belt amongst some other handy talents, none of it matters. I’m waiting for someone to even give me an opportunity to show what I can do, what I can learn, the effort I can put.

What’s my self worth you say? At the moment nothing really. I’m still that girl with the dream of seeing a book with my name on a shelf, but the more I look at it, the sillier I feel, this dreaming.

I am no one but a girl who is still trying to prove her worth. Still waiting for an opportunity – still waiting for the cloak of invisibility fall off.

But will I give up my writing? Perhaps not. Can’t imagine life without it. It’s a part of me, and let’s face it, turning a part of you off is one of the hardest things a person can do. All I can leave you with for the moment is, we are all fighting for something, it may not necessarily be writing for you, but we are all fighting. And some times we tire in between the quite period, questioning ourselves till the ceasefire. Some good days, some bad in the no-mans-land.

Trouble writing? Here’s what you need to know.

I don’t know about most of you, but I know I’m struggling to write at the current moment. If you have been following me over the last few months, you’ll have noticed that I’ve been doing more Poetry recently rather than the short stories and articles. I was never really a fan of poetry, simply because I never really understood the differences from one to the next. However, the last couple of months has seen me write somewhere along the line of hundred or more poems across all sorts of genres/topics. Yet you wonder why I’m claiming I’ve been having trouble writing?!

Well, this is why.

… I’m trying to do so many things all at once, because, let’s face it, whether by default or not, we writers and other artists are pretty much made to feel like we haven’t achieved anything in our respective realms of art until we hit the big stage.

It’s draining!

… Knowing that there is this added pressure to prove ourselves to not only others, but ourselves. We have got to let go of this grand self-criticism. It’s doing us more harm that good, occupying our brain space with junk, and hence we find time slips by without much notice, and before we know it, we are anxious, and this anxiety renders us helpless.

Hence the trouble writing!

…Too much junk taking valuable space in the head. But I can offer some hope, ointment to use at times of overwhelming sense of pressure; a little ray of sunshine in knowing this:

100_Joseph_Heller[1]

(“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” – Joseph Heller)

I’d totally go and give late Mr Heller a big fat hug and a rigorous hand-shake for saying something like this out to the public, if I could, but writing about this is the next best thing I can do.

Funnily enough, this satirical writer is greatly known for his book, Catch-22, which is undeniably a situation most people in the creative field find themselves. Joseph Heller is the father of the phrase now in constant use: catch-22.

So, if you haven’t already, then take a moment, and let the quote sink in. Rather, let the meaning of it sink in. You are not alone, I and every other person out there who tries to write meaningfully has the same issue.

But here is what you should ultimately keep in mind: it’s only trouble, it’s not permanent! You will write, I will write, hell, we all will write!

In fact, after two months of not being able to write stories, here is a little peek into one that I began two days ago…

20131119-132322.jpg

Fingers crossed that the next time you come across, ‘Love Letter’, it won’t be in a photo, but actually be reading it here on the blog. 🙂 yes, I still write by hand!

…Fingers crossed!

Doubt kills Creativity

On a severely windy day, with the howling wind outside the window and the constant thrashing of curtains, what does one think about? Doubts! Yep doubts.

Actually, not really, I just thought that was an interesting way to open a post. The actual inspiration came in the form of Delia Strange, of The Strange Writer blog this morning. She wrote a candid account of the ‘Monster’ that is doubt, something that plagues all writers, and artists alike I guess.

I’m sure we have all heard how doubt ‘kill’s dreams, but I’d like to add that it actually kills creativity. You’re not sure where I’m going with this? Well, think about it, if you doubt you can ever become a writer, then your weakness, your questioning of your ability, and at it’s very core, your questioning of your actual desire to be a writer – all of these combined are sure to kill that aspect of your mind that creates. With all this turmoil within, creativity surely cannot flourish!

Let go of the doubt. You want to write? Write! There is no better day for it than today, this very moment, unless you are otherwise occupied, or your hands are literally tied – and even then you can hold a pen. But seriously. Until we chuck that doubt out the door with a kick upon it’s behind, we will never finish a work to our satisfaction. We will never be any closer to our dreams. In fact, given the time, we will chalk it up to being a silly little dream and scoop it up onto some dusty top shelf of our minds, where it gathers dust, cobwebs, and a cosy family of little mice. My point is, if you dare to dream, there is no place in your life and mind for doubt to reside.

You know what doubt can do. It can weaken our resolve, our drive, and eventually our desire for anything that captures our heart and mind.

I’ve tried, to kick doubt out and to lunge forward into attempts that can lead to fulfilling a dream one day. But I also know how hard it is to throw doubt away, since its been a kind blanket under which we hide because we haven’t the guts to go out there and fight for what we want. And in some extreme case, some of us hide under the blanket with a bittersweet taste in our mouths because we begin to think ‘But what if this works?’

Leave ‘What if’ at the crossroads. It has no room in your luggage. In your journey to go for gold and live your dream.

I quite like what a fellow blogger, Stephanie Haggarty, said in one of her post. That as writers, we are ideas collector, we take snippets from here and there, from people we meet along the way, from the things we love, to the things that move us, that makes us think of being better, for trying harder. So, divorce Doubt with a stone heart. You can’t lose what you don’t have yet, but if you don’t try, you will always regret. Instead, pack you bags in this journey of discovery and creativity and ‘collect’ only the things that moves you.

Related article:

Delia Strange, on what doubt can do to writers: That Monster Called Doubt

Stephanie Haggarty, on how writers are collectors of ideas that fuel: Ideas collector

Papermashed: Why do I write? and Blue faced: why advices are relative

Monster: Part 1

Monster be as monster does
roaring like a beast with thousand teeth
and at tender flesh it rips.

Youth – what has become of you?

Have waited for an age
slowly feeling life ebb
and in another moment, shine
for air feel fresh and jovial
or another moment drown
within time
dragged across the meadows
of youth that yawns longer
with each coming day
that which sleeps half the life away
in slumber beneath silken sheets
to wake one day
face down in dirt
or upon a pillow of flowers
in time to watch the sun blazing down hard
illuminating the damage of your travel before your very eyes.
Youth – what has become of you?

Writers need to Surprise themselves! No buts.

You’re probably wondering ‘What? Why?’
I’ll explain…

I’m a writer (Lol. Yes I found the need to reiterate that fact, again). When I write, this is what’s going on in my head.

‘Must write the story.’
‘Must make it good.’
‘Must make sense. If not…!’ (Shakes fist at self).
‘Must make it so people find it interesting and want to read all the way to the end.’
‘Must also enjoy the process of writing.’

Basically, it’s a long list of ‘must this’ and ‘must that’ and in between all this ‘must’ business, something else lurks, sinister and tapping your shoulder (left or right, you choose) very faintly. You and I know what that is. Yes we do!

It’s bloody ‘Doubt’ is what that is, sitting on my shoulder like a tinny tiny devil that threatens to derail my resolve to complete the list of ‘Musts’.

But I swat the little pest on most days as if it were a pesky fly buzzing around my head while I’m trying to focus, and most days it is just that, a pest. However, other days, it gets to me. That little voice manages to cause me to put down my pen and question what I’m writing, sometimes it’s targeting just the day’s writing, other days it’s firing an avalanche of shrapnel at the entire project in the hope that it (and I) lay on the floor in a useless heap. Don’t let it do that. Whatever you do, don’t let it do that!

It happened to me once. I let the devil in, the doubt in, and found myself incapable if writing anything else or even attempt to write for a very, very long time. It was a long road of inner struggle, long journey in seeing if I could really live without it. Well, I’ve found out I cannot.

So what got me going again? Surprise! I surprised myself. One day, out of nostalgia, I succumbed to reading my old works, something I knew I had written but had never detached myself from its words. Upon reading some of my own works I was simply astounded that they were mine. That I was capable of telling someone’s heartfelt story, or writing candidly of someone’s memory, or how much meaning someone else put into their work and family.

I emerged utterly surprised that those strings of words were mine, ones that inspired me just as mush as they had inspired me to write them in the first place. So why ever did I stop? Because a pesky voice told me too? A voice that was nothing more than my own inner doubts?

And now, after that incident, I’m a firm believer of this one genuinely simple fact that I may be a writer, but I still need to surprise myself as a reader. If my work lacks that inner voice from going ‘Holy moly, did I write that?’ or ‘I didn’t know I could do that’ then that project is definitely not one I should pursue.

However, if it is something that excites and surprises me, then it’s one I should fight for. So if you ever find yourself at a crossroads and feel like you need to choose, I say keep going straight, you’re bound to come up to another crossroad when you are able and ready. And in the mean time, be your own reader. If your can’t sustain your own attention then there is a chance you cannot sustain another’s.

Don’t be afraid. Take a breather when you need it, and let your own work surprise you and show you a way back on the road. It’s a wonderful experience to have gone through nonetheless. Be surprised by your own words. Find your little ray of light and walk through.  I dare you!

(Image courtesy of madpoet_one on Flicker: http://www.flickr.com/photos/madpoet_one/7842135738/)