Writer? Writer.

young adult old soul magic realism writing

I am currently thinking about how I will evolve and where. It’s become obvious to me I need to move on (both for my own growth and because I cannot stand the routine, have gone way above my limit of round-trips to this business park I both hate and love.)

It’s frustrating that I know no details of this impending change: no how, where or when — and the only answer I have as to “why” sounds feeble even to the kindest ears:

“I am tired.”

“But why, you’ve got everything over where you are. You’ve got bosses who always say please and thank you, who give you books and buy you croissants and respond in kind to all the jokes you make. Besides, you don’t even hate your job. You wanted to be a writer.”

I know. I know. I know that I have it good, that it could be much worse. I know I could be job-hunting for months, like my friend is, or hating my crappy job like my sister does. And in the grand scheme of things, I have very little to complain about and so much to be grateful for, starting with the fact that I have a home, food and even a job.

Yet I cannot silence this qualm I have, this feeling; a far-reaching boredom, an exasperation with the smallness of it all, the lack of zing and pizzazz and excitement.

Everyday is predictable, following the same script from the day before, like an endless rerun of the same old sitcom. I feel like a goldfish sometimes, circling a bowl, forgetting every 5 seconds —in my case every weekend— what the week was like so that I can endure the upcoming week better.

I hate that I don’t love it anymore. Not when less than a year ago it gave me so much joy.

And the worst part is I shouldn’t even be posting this here. I want to be a writer, but I don’t even know what to write and for whom. All I know is some part of me insists on being a writer and I am helpless to it. It insists even after all the criticism I put my writing through, staying alive as nothing else ever has.

And I want to listen to this persistence more than I need to. I have to see where it takes me. I have to try even though I do not know the littlest thing about it: what it wants to write, how it wants to write or even why.

All I have to go on is one stubborn sentence from this unhinged desire. You see, this desire/persistence/annoyance/passion throws tantrums like a petulant child, one who will not see rhyme or reason and who answers every legitimate question with:

“I want to be a writer!” 

and a huff and a pout and an attitude that says “We do not negotiate with people who do not want to write.”

As exasperated as I am with this, I also know that it is a sign. If I cannot be ‘happy’ in a work environment that gives me everything I need, then maybe it’s not meant for me. Or maybe it was but now I’ve outgrown it and I have overstayed, simply.

I want to be a writer.

It doesn’t mean that I am ungrateful for what I have. I am, endlessly. But this shouldn’t stop me from reaching for other things. Other riskier ventures, where people will not be as kind and life not as easy.

I want to be a writer.

Six words and here I am: ready against all reason to be pulled apart by this feeling, to follow this utterly ridiculous demand to the ends of the earth.


Note: Yes, my boss buys us all croissants from this lovely French bakery whenever he drops by. And gave me books he no longer had space for. And is generally a really cool human being along with my other boss.

Aquarelles.

Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism Writing

It’s 00:50 where I am.

I am waiting for watercolour wreaths to dry on a birthday card. Another hour will probably go into that card, crafting a message, trying to make it look dainty. I am trying to send something beautiful to someone dear to show her how she makes me feel. She sends me messages, telling me the family misses me. She makes me feel like pouring hours into painting watercolour, even though I’ve never learnt how and I am not good at it. She makes me want to spend my time on her, to weave my time grains into every brush stroke that makes up this little aquarelle.

I want her to think: “Oh, she spent so much time on this because she cares.”

A while back I swore off this kind of self-expression. Personal, involved, intimate, the kind I gift to other people.

Once bitten, twice shy.

I had invited someone in, given her a “Drop by whenever you need” card. Yet after several years of beautiful friendship, her actions, like mud splatters, ruined all my delicate aquarelle feelings, shattered my porcelain-like vulnerabilities in one fell swoop. Even now, a year later, I cannot begin to figure out my feelings. I keep switching between denying the pain and feeling it. I struggle with forgiveness and moving on. Some days I tell myself to forget it ever happened. Other days I feel like apologising even when I’m not wrong just so I can get her back.

Heh, who said friends can’t break hearts.

I remember how I refused to even write “letters to read on the plane”, which for years was a personal tradition I treasured. A last, lingering forget-me-not, a relic from the time spent together in my city that would follow loved ones on their plane journey home, sealing all the memories we’d made that summer.

I wished I could tear all the ones I had given her. I wished I had written something different in them, as if that would have changed anything.

But hope grows like a weed in my heart. No matter how many times I pluck it out, it somehow always finds its way back there. So I am flinchingly trusting other people again, writing letters against my better knowledge. I’m holding back on emotion, but at the same time giving so much more than I thought I would.

I am learning to accept that this is who I am, regardless of what other people are.

 

 

Ideas Found & Lost

kobenieuwoudt
Gif by: Kobe Nieuwoudt

Frantically, she searches for a pen and—forget paper, she’ll use her own hand and someone else’s if need be, she’s not above that. Anything to pin that idea to the ground, to keep it from floating away like a balloon into the sky. Anything to not be that child  crying for a balloon that’s already gone.

She keeps repeating the words, strips them down to the barest minimum, the most basic meaning. She moves heaven and earth for that pen, parts the red sea to reach it. And then finally, finally! The idea is bubbling in her head, intricate detail and symbolism weaving itself with the existing knowledge in her brain and—

But in that split second between holding the pen and putting the idea to paper, the whole world crumbles, all the characters fade. The verse and prose and metaphors are all gone, blown away like dandelions in the wind. She grasps onto the fading memory, hangs onto the words slipping into the void, but they don’t mean the same thing anymore. They don’t lead back to that world anymore.

For all intents and purposes, it is like the idea has never existed.


Note: Perhaps the most annoying, most unsatisfying feeling ever.

My Faceless Days

“And my heart, that stupid heart. It remembers nothing. It knows nothing. Hearts are useless without brains. A heart without a brain is just an engine. A brain without a heart is just dead.”

sergeisviatchenko
Art by: Sergei Sviatchenko

I wake up some days, and I’m not really me.

I wake up with the feeling that something’s missing, that I’ve lost a few days. But it’s more than just that. I realise, as I stare at my blurry, barely-there hands, the shoes still on my feet, that I have been absent, sleepwalking my way through some part of life and—

Oh.

Oh.

I’ve lost my head again.

It has just gone, vanished, simply.

I am as faceless as the wind, and no one has noticed (Why has no one noticed—why didn’t I?). It has just been my limbs doing all the work, carrying my body from A to B, doing everything without a thought.

What have I—what has my body been doing? I don’t know. I can’t remember. It has probably been losing itself in days too alike, in vapid entertainment that only serves to distract on the most basic level. Something that takes your mind (Oh, the irony) off your worries, and fills it with straw, as a way to just stuff it shut with something. Just so you won’t ask any questions. Just so you won’t wonder. The kind of entertainment that comes in 3 to 4 minute bursts that wound up costing you an entire night.

But every now and then, I wake up like today, and I realise that I’ve lost my head, that I’ve lost my thoughts. So I look for them but I can’t find them, because of course, of course, I have no eyes.

But I know that’s not true.

I know that’s just an excuse.

In reality, I just can’t admit that I’m scared I won’t even recognise my own head, that I won’t even remember what my thoughts were like. I’m losing my memories. And if I can’t remember myself, who will?

And my heart, that stupid heart. It remembers nothing. It knows nothing. Hearts are useless without brains. A heart without a brain is just an engine. A brain without a heart is just dead.

I don’t know where I’m heading to, because I don’t know where I’ve been. But I keep going, because there’s no point either way. It doesn’t matter. I drift in between railways and deserted highways, try to find my head among all the other lost ones.  But nothing seems to fit. Or maybe I found it, but it just didn’t fit on my body anymore. And then I try to reach inside of me, to maybe dig out my head from between my ribs. Maybe it’s hiding, maybe, hopefully. But it really is gone. Cut off neatly, rolled off my shoulders.

The only good thing here is that time doesn’t matter. Time doesn’t exist. So I drift for however long, sometime between a few days and several years. I drift to the mountains and to the sea. I drift to the skies and to the stars. I drift to all the things I hadn’t felt before. I turn to the universe. I turn to art.

And if I had eyes, I think I would’ve cried.

I’m not looking anymore. I’m not trying to find my head or my thoughts. I just want to never forget what all that feels like. Grass and wind, stars, waves, rain.

And art…I don’t ever want to live in a world without art. There have been times when art has mended my bones, filled in the porcelain-cracks on my shattered skin.

Other times though, Art paints me a brand new face, fills me with brand new thoughts.

But the memories are there, just the same.

Yeah, every now and then, I find myself, and I lose myself and I find myself again…


Note: So this is probably one of the most abstract and surreal things I’ve posted on this blog. So I feel maybe an explanation should go hand-in-hand with it, if you haven’t already made up your own interpretation.

I wrote this after a couple of days when I spent almost all of my time on social media. I didn’t even feel great about it as I was doing it. Then I thankfully woke up from that addictive spell (if you’ve been following the news, the Cambridge Analytica deal kindof  helped with that). It felt like something was missing though, that I’d lost my time and something else too. So the idea of disembodiment, of literally losing your own head fit in perfectly for me. This story is about how you can lose yourself sometimes and not realise it. Finally, the ending details the solutions I find to my own headlessness.

On another note, this could easily have been much longer. I may or may not be writing a longer version 🙈

 

 

Sketchy

“In some strange way, maybe one form of art complements the other. There are things I can say in writing that I can’t express in drawing. And there are things I draw that I could never fathom into words.”

 

Lately, I have been trying to find out what my state of mind is by looking at the things I draw mindlessly. Thinking that somehow, these pencil strokes, all textured graphite, hold latent thoughts, secrets my brain keeps from me. It has been a great many figures with tilted heads, as of late. Looking up, swan-like necks stretching to reach something far beyond what the eye can see. Ballerinas and other dancers have also been popping up in my sketch book —all strong, graceful muscle and pointed feet. They were solitary figures making art, being beautiful, impeccable even if nobody cared.

But there have also been flowers instead of retinas, petals instead of lashes. There have been bodies buried underneath autumn leaves, worried eyes peeking from the orange and yellow foliage. It has been windy in my sketch book, too. Hair flying to the wind, long, mermaid locks covering limpid eyes. Or dark, dark skin burned by the sun and sea salt, topped by a froth of white hair. There have been faces, young by default, hiding behind large, fanning palm leaves, their dark lashes brushing against smooth, freckled skin. And there have been balconies housing stretched out limbs, and curly hair tangled in a myriad thoughts disguised as planets, stars and pastel moons.

I remember one day, writing a story about a boy named Athens, who drew people so much because he was lonely. The story didn’t go far. I couldn’t find a denouement, as though there was no moving beyond the loneliness, as though that would be his world, until the very end.

The stories I write don’t have very many people in them. They mostly figure nature and feelings that are hard to describe. But the things I sketch are mostly human figures and not much else; hardly any background or detail.

In some strange way, maybe one form of art complements the other. There are things I can say in writing that I can’t express in drawing. And there are things I draw that I could never fathom into words.

I don’t know what that’s supposed to tell me about what I’m feeling though.

Well, actually, I do. But I’ll ignore it for now, because my brain usually hides things from me for a reason.


Note: Art by Agata Wierzbicka because my own sketches don’t best express my own thoughts. Do check her out, her art is amazing 🙂

Artists’ Hands

alexandrapelletier
Photograph by: Alexandra Pelletier

I love those fingertips. Gleaming, darkened with lead from sketching, from pulling out entire cities, worlds even, from the space between your brain and the tip of your pencil.

I love those fingers that are dexterous and have a strength all their own. Not the strength to punch or to lift heavy objects, necessarily. But the strength to create and care for growing things. I know that we need hands that can use force, that will prevent robbers from getting away, hands that are tough and can break things. But I am so glad that there are hands like yours, too. Hands that know how to be soft even when they are calloused. Hands that will save a life not by their ability to shoot a gun, but through the beautiful things they create that make life worth living.

I am so glad that your strength is softness.

It takes such courage to be soft, naked, in a world where people are always packing on the layers, as though life were an endless winter. But it’s hard to be that person. And I know there was a time when you gave up. When softness hurt too much. When people nicked your skin with the thorns of the flowers you gave them. But you understood, one day, that the world being harsh is no reason for you to be, too. If the world is harsh, then it needs more softness. And if not you, who? If you do not lead by example, then who will follow?

It’s hard to remain soft. But youyou live like that, knowing you could never be any other way.


Note: This one is for all the lovely people out there who remind me time and again that softness is not weakness.

When Writing Becomes Jarring (The Art Block)

“Because the words will not pour from my pen. Make no mistake, the pen is brimming with dark ink, but it is my mind that is dry, bare. My mind stutters. “

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a writer or artist, aside from being told that Art is nice but, is the art block. Even worse, it is the art block that happens from having an idea without the expertise to bring it to this world. Because the words will not pour from my pen. Make no mistake, the pen is brimming with dark ink, but it is my mind that is dry, bare. My mind stutters. I know the words, I know what I want to say but—

How do I express myself when I do not know how? Lately, I have been experiencing a version of Life that is greater than my current skill will allow to recount. The colour of this emotion, my pen cannot hold—only now is my heart even grasping at its edges. The feeling eludes me. It feels like trying to catch sand from the seabed with your bare hands. At first it feels full and promising in your palm, but when your hand comes back up, it clutches onto nothing. The sand has been washed away by the current. I keep trying to maraud the ocean but I lack the skill to go after what is right in front of me.

Writing is jarring. It is not always cathartic. It is not always bleeding at a typewriter. Ironically, writing may even become the very thing that makes you seek catharsis. But I am a fool, always have been. I continue to go down the train of thoughts that lead to nowhere. I explore the convoluted maps of my imagination, this meshwork of thoughts and words, knowing it will all end in no particular way at all. I turn a masochist almost, seeking the thing that will surely antagonise me most.

But I have learned that—well, if writing is a skill, then surely, I can get better at it. I can learn. So, on days when I cannot write, I read. I still write, and I know it will not be what I expect it to be, but I go on.

All of Life is made of successes and failures, why then should Art be any different?