You Know You’re a Writer When…

I’m sure there are many lists out there on the interwebs that cover the same subject as this one. However, I made the diplomatic decision to not google “You know you’re a writer when” so that I didn’t stumble across an awesome list that includes things I’d never thought of for mine, or one that presents their points far more beautifully than me. I’m avoiding plagiarism really, I should probably get bonus points. (And if I’m in strong enough denial I might be able to delude myself into thinking this is the only list of it’s kind on the internet. Wow!)

– When you see somebody interesting you begin to think of a life story for them. You come up with their background, their childhood, what their personality is like, where they work, what their secret dreams are, turn them into spies, murderers, amazing chefs, etc. You also understand that ‘interesting’ can include a very long, varied list of humans that might not be interesting to others at all.

– You often find yourself narrating your activities in a voice that isn’t yours, but a character’s. Then you go a step further and start putting their spin / feeling on the activity instead of your own. And if you go one step further you’ll include why they feel that way about an activity when you give them a history.

– You read a lot of books as a child (if you were able to) and they were a great comfort, or love. You also still have your favourite childhood books.

– You wrote stories as a child. I’ve mentioned before my very first masterpiece (indeed my only masterpiece) “The Cat and the Dog” which was a short story about – you guessed it – meeting a cat and a dog I wrote when I was 4. I promised I’d find the book and post the pictures, but all I could find was my second work, ‘The Frog’

Not nearly as sophisticated. You can probably tell I had lots of varied and complex ideas when I was 4.

– When you were upset, depressed or mad, you often wrote about it. Nowadays it’s much easier to write a social networking status about our problems, but I think a true writer has a journal or notebook, or a childhood diary, full of these miserable moments that alternate between explaining the situation in full and beautiful prose describing the feelings over the event. Reaching for that notebook and pen when you were depressed and alone was like reaching for your only friend, and you felt release when the words were down. You won’t find the same feeling of peace after an angry status, trust me.

– There’s always at least one half-written story saved on your computer.

– You feel at peace perusing a book shelf. Sitting for hours pulling down books at random from every genre, having to painfully play elimination until you’ve got just the one or two you can afford. “This one is bigger so I’d get my moneys worth… but this one has a pretty picture on the cover…”

– Your bookshelf is your pride and joy. My boyfriend’s brother was talking about this; he explained it so much better than I ever could but I completely agreed (see? I agreed. Therefore it can be my opinion too, right?) A bookshelf is a very special piece of furniture – setting it up takes a lot of thought. There are some books you don’t want on your bookshelf because they ruin how it feels. Your bookshelf shows who you are, where you’ve been and who you want to become. Mine has sections: all time favourites, classics, books I want to read, and books I think I should read. I owe this revelation of how I stack them to that brother-in-law (ever more talented than I) as previously I did this subconsciously. Seriously the ‘crappy’ books I don’t want to admit I’ve read are in a box, the alright ones are stacked next to the bookshelf and the shelf itself is in a hierarchy from best to not as best. With some colour coordinating.

– You can openly admit that there are crappy books. None of this “no every book is special! You obviously don’t care!” stuff, you understand that in order for a book to be special there are factors: quality, feeling, author (perhaps the book was the reason you became interested them), where it came from, how you came to read it, when in your life you read it – you have a history with all your books, no matter how small.

– You understand that you don’t have to finish reading a book. One of the best moments in my reading life was realising it’s okay to put a novel down if I don’t like it. There are no rules saying you must finish every book you start. You only have to finish the ones that you want to, and if you don’t? Put it back.

– You have that one paragraph or two that is the best thing you’ve ever written… but it doesn’t fit in any story you try to write for it.

– Inspiration can come from any place. It might not lead anywhere in the long run but you’ve been surprised by some of the inspirations you’ve had.

– Characters sometimes refuse to cooperate or stick to the original plan for a story. They’re like the whiny teenagers who won’t submit to the ‘be home by 10’ rule at times.

– If you’re a fan of journals and notebooks you have many, and definitely a favourite. You’ll perhaps even go through phases with ‘special’ pens. Here’s mine, though I mostly type to save my hands from shrivelling up.

– Words often speak to you. By which I mean, every now and then you get the eerie feeling that what you’re reading was meant specifically for you, at that specific point in your life… You weren’t expecting to see yourself or your situation staring up at you from a page until it happens, and it’s always a little bit spooky. If you’re remembering a time that wasn’t a little bit spooky, then it hasn’t happened to you yet.

– It can be hard, painful, emotional, draining to finish a piece of work. But you can’t stop.

– Finally, it’s that indescribable internal push to write. You don’t really know why you have to, you just know that there’s an irresistible need to put pen to paper and create. It’s the ever moving gust of wind, or spirit that swirls inside, rushing you along and spouting from your imagination, lips, fingers. It’s the feeling that keeps you going, that keeps returning you to your literary work time and time again even if the rest of you feels hopeless. It’s the reason you chose to say “I’m a writer.” It’s different for everyone, and always just beyond the perfect describing words – which is ironic, considering our line of work.

This list will be forever incomplete. Impossible, to say the least, to nail every point that defines why we write. Beyond definition, and certainly not encompassing of every person who has picked up a pencil and sat down to create a story, then chosen to do it for life. Your own reasons, quirks or funny moments will vary from other’s; you’re welcome to include your own points for this list! No doubt I’ll be adding new ones. 

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Do You Prefer the Book or the Film?

I’ll never forget the time that my mum took us to the video store and let us hire a movie of our choice. I think I was about ten or eleven, and I chose American Psycho.

For the first time in her life my mum didn’t check to see what I’d picked, she just glanced down and absent-mindedly said ‘sure’. I guess she’d forgotten the whole Ace Ventura fiasco with that weird sex scene with all the animals that I wasn’t meant to see, last time she’d let me pick my own. Continue reading “Do You Prefer the Book or the Film?”

The only person you should compare yourself to, is who you were yesterday

I read that title quote somewhere, but apparently it was too much for my brain to remember where I read it or who said it. Sorry about that. Let’s just say in the context of this post I got really smart and wrote it myself. It’s normally one of those lines that I read and think ‘give me a break’ and roll my eyes at, but lately it seems to be a necessary mantra.

Today I was on youtube (as per usual) and I happened to click on a Jenna Marbles video where she talked about how we need to stop comparing ourselves to other people. (Here’s the link) It was one of those times where you really needed to hear something but you weren’t expecting it from the place you did, and you also didn’t know that you needed to hear it until you heard it. That make sense? Lately I’ve been wondering whether or not my writing is good enough to ever be published, and couple that with the great books I’ve been reading and the awesome television shows I’ve been watching I began to think that there was no point in even trying. How could someone like me ever do anything worthwhile? How could this brain ever create something as pure magic as Philip K. Dick’s work, or the tangled beauty of Game of Thrones?

Image

No beard? No joining our club. Our club for awesome.

In fact, I’m still convinced that I will never succeed in creating anything of their standard but it doesn’t mean that I should just stop what I want to do and resign myself to a life of never trying at anything. In the video, Jenna says that once you accept that you’re never going to be the prettiest, or the smartest, then all the pressure lifts from your shoulders. I’m attempting to let go of pressure and expectation.

I always wanted to release a book of short stories, but everyone always said “you can’t do that, it’s so hard, don’t bother, you won’t be good enough, don’t you know only really famous authors can release that shit?” Well, eff that. I’m going to make a book of short stories, get that thing published and it’ll be awesome.

If I ever want to get a move on I can’t be held back by comparing my story to another person’s and second guessing myself, I’ll never get anything done and life just doesn’t work that way. Though it’s at least for now keeping me from getting pregnant – “aww that person has the cutest baby in the world! I wonder if I’ll have a cute baby? What if I don’t have a cute baby… what if my baby is like Oscar the Grouch or something, oh my God I should wait..” So that’s a bonus.

Comparison is a tricky thing because on the one hand we shouldn’t compare our looks to airbrushed models, or our intelligence to professionals, or our lives to rich celebrities, but you also don’t want to go the other way and use comparison as an excuse to just do everything terribly only to say “Well it’s MY best and I’m not comparing it to Hawking so tough titties!” especially if the thing you did terribly was somebodies wedding cake or a kid’s braces.

A little comparison can be used as inspiration; look at the greats that you admire and tell yourself that you’re going to try as hard as you can to achieve something you can admire just as much one day. Instead of worrying or whining about not being as good, sit down and get to work on getting good. Earn your talent. Practise. Learn. Don’t be held back by your insecurities or fears – sit down and educate yourself on how to get better at something and try to enjoy it while you’re doing it.

And if you find that your absolute best after all that hard work isn’t anything so good as those greats you admired, well at least you know now what your real potential actually is and you can work from there. In the words of Dylan Moran, “Don’t do it! Stay away from your potential. You’ll mess it up, it’s potential, leave it. Anyway, it’s like your bank balance – you always have a lot less than you think.” 

“Wait, that’s not an inspiring, uplifting quote to end on Jess what are you doing?!”

Oh, sorry.
No wait! Never fear I have one last thing to say; I tried to think of something really beautiful and inspirational but it turns out I’m way too cynical to even half believe the bullshite that came out of my brain, so after back-spacing those phony-sounding sentences I just want to say – how do you know your potential is limited unless you try to unlock it all? Work as hard as you can, and if you’re not the greatest? Deal with it. Accept it. Enjoy what talent, hobby, job or interest you have and let go of the idea of having to be number 1 or else nothing at all.

What would you do otherwise? Never try? I’d rather fail knowing I did the best I could and knowing that I enjoyed doing it, than wake up one day and realised I’ve failed at my entire life.

Love…

So it would seem that our computer is cursed, as it suddenly created a google account for my partner all of it’s own accord, and in doing so let me somehow look at the blog he used to have but had deactivated. I was just trying to stalk someone else’s blogger profile, sheesh. It’s only creepy because we have brand new internet and just last week we had to reset this computer to default settings, so everything was wiped from it.
Regardless of it suddenly having a life of it’s own, we had a look at his blog before he quickly set it back to deactivated and I got to see a post I had almost forgotten about. You’re about to see something I didn’t write, but something that was written for me, two years ago.
Take a look,

“…I realised today that I don’t love you. I often find myself saying it but I know now it’s not true, because you see, I love candy, good films, music and other things to that effect, and I drew upon the conclusion that the word “Love” just doesn’t cut it anymore. I spent this morning going through old dictionaries to find alternatives for the word, but nothing I could find sat right with me. Needless to say I took a break to watch an old movie, and it dawned upon me, the love I feel for you is the kind of love that sends millions running in fear, the kind of love that destroys entire cities, it’s the kind of love people rarely believe in, sure they make movies about it, and children fear it as they sleep at night, but nobody truly believes they will ever encounter such a feeling. So no, I don’t love you, I Lovezilla you, and I Lovezilla the shit out of you.

godzilla1954c

…”

When I first sat down and read that two years ago, before we were living together, the first line made me go stone cold and freeze up. I thought he was publicly declaring that he’d changed his mind about dating me and was dumping me via blog post. By the end however, I was grinning from ear to ear like a mad man and wondering what on Earth I’d done to deserve someone who loves me so much.

So that’s all I wanted to share, a little snippet of the relationship I am very blessed to have, without any of my usual ‘jokes’ or self deprecation, and I hope you’ll forgive me for having a very self-indulgent moment. It seemed a nice reminder to always lovezilla the shit out of each other.

Goodnight! xx