Thoughts about NaNoWriMo

“I realised that with everything that was going on in my life in November, daily writing would be more of a stress than a stress-reliever. So I slowed down a bit.”

nanowrimo

November officially ended 3 days ago. With it, thousands of new stories have seen the light of day, millions of characters have been born and sheaths of paper and Word documents have darkened with writing. I am sure that over these 30 days, many a writer and individual has found themselves or undergone change that will stay with them for a lifetime.

But I am not one of those people.

My attempts at NaNoWriMo this time around have been just that, mostly : attempts. At first, when I realised around Day 7 that I would not make it, I felt a little bit like I’d failed. That I was giving up, going the easy way. But for all of the motivation that NaNoWriMo gives you, there’s also a pressure to keep writing everyday or continuously, at the very least. And it has to be good too, you know? If, like me, your version of NaNoWriMo consists of blogging everyday, there’s a bit of an added pressure of posting a daily entry. And then you just start sortof manufacturing at some point. You make up stories that are not rooted in anything or write things you think you’re supposed to write.

Don’t get me wrong, though—NaNoWriMo has taught me a lot about my limits.

It’s taught me that sometimes I say I’m too tired to type up a blog post or to write when I’m really not. It’s taught me to go beyond lack of inspiration and view even creative writing in a more practical way. I need to truly make time for writing, I have learned, and not just write when I feel like it or have been randomly inspired. If I wait for inspiration to hit me, then I feel I will never write the things that I really want to write. I will write about things I will happen upon, but never about the thoughts that are hidden so deep in my psyche I cannot even find them. I need to keep digging, to be less whimsical about the act of writing. Because there’s so much more out of me and it would be a shame if I did not squeeze myself a little to get these stories out.

I just wanted to write this as a reminder to myself and hopefully as reassurance to other writers that you don’t have to complete NaNoWriMo if the pace doesn’t suit you. If it makes you stray from your writing goals or makes you feel a sort of obligation that takes every and all pleasure out of writing. At the end of the day— and that’s just my 2 cents— you should feel some kind of positive feeling about your writing, and not dread the prospect of having to do it again tomorrow.

Thankfully, I never did reach that stage. I realised that with everything that was going on in my life in November, daily writing would be more of a stress-inducer than a stress-reliever. So I slowed down a bit. Now that I am a little less busy, I have an idea to make up for the number of posts ‘lacking’ from NaNoWriMo in December. I should be able to do this much, I think.

Thank you to everyone who stuck around for my attempts at NaNoWriMo though, however inconsistent and whimsical the posting was. I appreciate you and the time you spend on this blog 🙂


 

A greenhouse in the city. (2/2)

“I find myself stilling and leaning towards the light, too, yearning to feel its warmth nourish my blemished skin, caress my closed eyelids and slide down the panes of my upturned, trusting (vulnerable, so vulnerable) face.”

heik
Art by : Heikala

The city takes me to her tenderest places, where trees are still saplings and their foliage bursts like foam into the air, trapping errant bits of sunlight in their nooks.

Did you know that even a city as busy as mine could hold peace and light within its midst ? That it could be one part teeming thoroughfares, the cacophony of a thousand lives and one part silence, reflection ? The city provides a sanctuary from herself; a place that is pure and untouched, like a greenhouse where young and diseased plants may grow. Where they can be cured of the smog tainting their leaves, the carbon monoxide stuck to their waxy surface.

I find myself stilling and leaning towards the light, too, yearning to feel its warmth nourish my blemished skin, caress my closed eyelids and slide down the panes of my upturned, trusting (vulnerable, so vulnerable) face. I want to feel young again and pure. To cleanse myself of these deep-rooted impurities : self-deprecation, insecurities, absorbed toxicity. I want to uproot these baobabs of fear that have crawled under my skin, their roots tightening around my feebly-beating heart, feeding off of it. Underneath all that crap, my heart is still young, tender, tender like it was 10 years ago. There is innocence left somewhere in it. And dreams for days on end.

This is how life feels like a movie again.

Flowing with otherworldly gentleness, a crystal-clear stream flows under the overarching roots of a centenarian tree, carrying its yellowed leaves. All the sounds of the city (the honking, shouting and engine roars) slow and fade, submerged in that singular stream, seeming so far away… All you hear, marvellously, is the sound of the water running by. But it’s not really running, you know ? It glides by, or strolls. Its flow is leisurely, unhurried ; it knows exactly where it needs to be and how to get there, so there is no rush, no anxiety, no what-if-I-don’t-make-its and no fear of missing out.

It just is —something I struggle to do everyday of my life.

Like this though, the blood inside my body stops rushing, gushing, hurrying and instead blissfully, oh-so blissfully flows with the stream. Somewhere in the distance, someone has hit the rewind button or played with the speed settings because my whole being slows and settles with that small body of water, running strolling its course. No longer am I swimming against the currents, gasping through the throngs of people and the weight of their unfulfilled dreams. I just flow with the water, somewhere in the city.

Somewhere in my beautiful city.


Listening to :

A greenhouse in the city. (1/2)

“You have to duck a little if you want to daydream too, at least if you don’t want your iridescent bubbles to get caught in the stark black powerlines.”

plantyyyyyyy

Art by : Unknown Artist

I watched most of my teens go by, like a bad movie that made me cringe too much.

Now, in my 20s, life is a movie where someone else is endlessly playing with the controls, fast-forwarding through the boring weekday bits : the content-adding drudgery, the repetitive daydreaming of similar scenarios, the nameless longing. Fast-forwarding through the week, I am propelled into the weekend, a rocketship strapped to my back, flying effortlessly past Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays.

The dates on the calendar pass me in a blur, tiny and unrecognisable, like houses when you’re up high on a mountain or on a plane. Did we just pass this neighbourhood ? I could ask. I go ’round and ’round the same weeks, a wave of fresh amnesia hitting as I round the corner of yet another Monday. Then I stumble with burning feet into the weekend, pulse still racing, my body gearing for that fast-forward, that breakneck pace.

I am gushing unspent energy all over the place, pacing with a fury. All my energy brings me out into the city, my city. This brouhaha of smoke clouds and business, where all roads begin and all roads end, where so many paths intersect that you have to be careful not to get your feet all tangled up in other people’s overlapping lives. You have to duck a little if you want to daydream too, at least if you don’t want your iridescent bubbles to get caught in the stark black powerlines. It’s like Icarus’ conundrum : go too low and you will never take off, get too high and you will burn down.

My city, my old city welcomes me like a daughter, like she welcomes the thousands, millions that came to her at all times of days and nights —like a lighthouse during a storm, she is a refuge to many a soul lost at sea.

My footsteps echo through her alleyways the same as they’ve been doing for so many years now. Slowly, she drinks  in my restlessness, the fury seeping through my feet to her very heart, where she no doubt redistributes it to the other high-strung people in her purview.

The city takes me to her tenderest places, where trees are still saplings and…


 

A weightless wonder.

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Photograph by : Unknown

My heart is trepidating right now, as I write this.

I am on the cusp between two worlds, hanging at the very tip of a crescent moon, waiting to dive in beauty and adventures unknown. Between reality and dreams is a leap I have to take, a distance I have bridged thus far with hard work and a whole lot of luck. And now, here I am. At the very last bit of it, the last cornerstone, the last touch that brings everything together, without which all is incomplete.

I’m sure a lot of people do it everyday, mindlessly. A sort of routine : they buy plane tickets the way I pay for the bus. But I’ve never done this before, never experienced the thrill of buying yourself such an experience, of feeding your soul something that will nourish it for years to come. But here I am, a paved road trailing behind me, a door waiting to be unlocked under my trembling hand. And you just, you just have to take a moment during those times, you know?

Look at where I’ve come from and look at where I am going.

From this point on, nothing will ever be the same again; I will be unlocking parts of myself I’d never known about before. You just need that one moment to appreciate all of life, and the way in which it happened to you, the way every moment has led to this, to now. And here I am, shaky and disbelieving, waiting to wake up like I have so many times before, to dreams that turn bitter on my tongue as soon as reality sinks in. But I’m pinching myself and pinching myself, right? And it hurts every single time. It’s not a fake, it’s not a dream. This is reality. The very reality that denies me so many beautiful visions every day is giving me this. 20 or so odd years, reality has been a keen sting. But now even as I am pinching away, there is no pain.

Just a weightless wonder.

Something that has no reality to root itself to because it still belongs to the world of dreams. It has not yet transitioned into being, is still some fuzzy concept floating around, changing shapes in my mind’s eye. I am still expecting to wake up anytime now to a dreary routine and the same scenery I see everyday. I am expecting for time to stop the day I plan to go away. Maybe the world will end before I get to the airport. I don’t know. Because for the first time, I can’t imagine what it will be like.

Not even how it makes me feel.

I just have to wait for it to happen. To discover worlds unknown, outside and within.

 

Breakup songs.

“Because if it hurts, you have to heal it and the healing hurts worst of all.”

I am learning to listen to my unconscious mind and self. And all it wants to listen to right now is breakup songs. When my conscious mind slips in transit somewhere beyond the scenery, my fingers all-too naturally reach for the melancholy songs, the blue shelves of lonesome piano music and scratchy records, featuring voices hoarse and grainy from withheld tears.

I can remember the good old days //  when you and me used to hide away

I wake up to these and an emptiness when I reach my stop, like something has been clawed from me. As though someone had amused themselves to a claw machine game in my chest and had come out victorious, against all odds.

‘But don’t you know claw machines are rigged?’, some part of me accuses, ‘you only win if they let you.’

So who’d you let win? Who’d you let in?

We don’t, we don’t need to talk about this now // Yeah we’ve been down that road before

All day, this feeling follows me, all blue and shadowy. It trails behind my laughter and cuts my smiles short; it pulls a greyness from inside of me and makes me wear it like a truth. Like a sweater in the summer, it is, on its own, a statement piece : something that lets everyone know how I feel.

But I am perfectly alright. And it’s not a breakup! It’s not.

…not really.

I mean, it’s not a breakup if the other person was a friend.

…right?

It’s not, it’s not. It can’t be. It shouldn’t be.

But it is, isn’t it?

And that’s what hurts most, what you run away from : the absurdity. How it should never have happened at all, never could or would have but it still did. Against all odds.

The crowds in my heart they’ve been calling out your name, but it just don’t feel the same

So it’s easier to deny, to make yourself think that needing to wear a sweater in the summer is nothing, least of all a sign of an inner ailment. Because if it hurts, you have to heal it and the healing hurts worst of all.

You were a moment in life that comes and goes // A riddle, a rhyme that no one knows // A change of a heart, a twist of fate // Couldn’t fix it, it’s too late

Then comes the violent hatred most people don’t move on from, like an infection that festers and remains uncleaned all through life. But I can’t do that, can I? I am still young, and I will not deprive myself of others just because of you. You’ve had your time and you’ve had your piece and I suppose I have, too.

I guess it’s over, yeah we’re done 

And so it is that I’ve been listening and listening and listening to these songs. All the while cleaning out the fragments of you that are left over, like picking out bits of gravel from a skinned knee. It will scar, yes. And it might hurt, little phantom aches or very specific pain when it rains or when I watch a movie that reminds me of you.

But it’s okay. Somehow, I can say that it is. I will be alright.


Note: This is Day 8 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. 4 days behind schedule, still trying to catch up! Find my entry for Day 7 here.

People.

“I’ve been clay in each of their hands, every one of them giving their own twists and turns to the unfinished piece. “

kat
Art by : Katherin Honesta

I don’t write much about other people, I realise.

My writing, much like my internal discourse, is a constant stream of “Me, myself and I”—which I don’t think is unusual or alarming. As human beings, we find ourselves to be an endless source of interest.

Most of the time though, I fail to acknowledge that I am a product of my encounters with other people. That befriending them, engaging with them has changed me into the person I am today. I’ve been clay in each of their hands, every one of them giving their own twists and turns to the unfinished piece. For the good and the bad. I mean, sometimes you take a walk down the street and people put a dent in you. They elbow you and push you, and it’s infuriating not to have that kind of control over yourself. You could, though. Harden, toughen up in the scorching sun and let yourself become cold so that no one will be able to change who you are. So you can elbow back anyone who elbows you. But then, you also shatter that much more easily, and it’s much harder to build yourself back up.

And isn’t that why it’s so essential to be surrounded by well-meaning people? To let them, their kindness and willingness, shape the parts of you you can’t really reach? Let the gentle heat between their palms reach you, soothe and put back in shape the parts that were squashed and dented. That’s something else that happens when you toughen up, you don’t feel a lot of warmth anymore. It doesn’t reach you; it doesn’t stay because you don’t let it.

This is why I I choose to be an endless work in the making. Not simply because I am in perpetual discovery of myself, but because there are always other people out there, softening the edges, roughening them, turning me into some other version of me. I am changing but I am also always myself. I mean, it doesn’t change what I am made of, just how I present myself. People dull or accentuate parts of you. That’s their power.

Mine is…everything else. I can change what I am made of.

So if my friends bring out the laughter in my sadness, deep down it is only I who can decide to change that sadness into something else.

In conclusion, I am not all myself, not all mine despite how I wish to be. But perhaps that’s for the better. Sometimes you lose control or you are simply not wise enough to see more than one end. Friends and family help with that, endlessly.


Note: This is Day 7 of my NaNoWriMo writing challenge ! Slowly but surely catching up 🙂

Listening to :

Caught in Time

“It’s magic, you know; it’s got to be. Maybe it’s just magic we take for granted, and that’s why we can’t see it.”

9
Art by: 9jedit

 

Life has really been moving forward lately. Left and right, I suppose it is that period in one’s life where big changes happen. Friends are getting married, moving away, working big jobs, travelling, falling in love. And for once, I have not been assigned to the bleachers : I am doing things I didn’t think I would ever get to do.

I am moving, moving, moving.

Until, that is, I reach the village caught in time.

It is somewhere I have not been in a good number of years : 10, maybe 11. I can still see myself there, flared jeans and a pink plaid shirt, unruly hair braided, sticking out in gravity-defying tendrils. No glasses, that was the time when wearing them was bothersome, when they had not yet become a refuge. The eyes not weighed down by dark circles, by loss or obscurity skimmed all around like a hummingbird buzzing with energy. A still tender face gazed upward, mesmerised even then by that light. The one that escapes through the branches and leaves of the trees overhead, falling generously like a waterfall, the glorious golden light shifting the way water scintillates.

No time has passed since then.

Everything has stayed much the same, as though I had only left the village for a few hours and had returned somewhat older, but not for long. The place strips me of my years, these weights that have been shoved in my hands that I do not know what to do with. Even now, being older than 20, I still feel a little bit 19. I am still approaching my twenties as though an alien notion. Comparing the 20-year-olds I’d met at 13 to the me from now. They seemed so much more advanced in life than I am, so much more grown-up. Doubtless though they were enduring the same inner turmoil.

Or maybe not. Maybe I’m the only one like that.

But who cares about that when you’re 11 and are in a village surrounded by never-ending streams, where seabirds land and take off every other hour; where there is a perfect open space, made to fly kites in. I will be like that sunlight too, I will scatter into a thousand lights, not stopping to warm the foliage and instead dancing with the wind.

I have a small theory about this village. I think it’s not actually real all the time. Sometimes it vanishes for years. You could drive here and at times find only a mound of dust, and no sign of homely houses, of pastoral beauty. It detaches from the earth and flies away, mooring itself to a town with an ocean view for a little while. Wouldn’t that explain the seabirds after all? Maybe they carry it on their backs when they migrate. Who can be sure? I do not know how else to explain it, how this village is so lost in time.

Or how it takes away the years as though they were layers of rust hiding something much younger than it actually looks. It’s magic, you know; it’s got to be. Maybe it’s just magic we take for granted, and that’s why we can’t see it.


Note : This is Day 6 of my NaNoWriMo writing challenge. I’m a bit late this year, but it’s a little harder with work now and trying to figure out publishing times, too. But I’ll try my best to catch up this weekend ! 🙂