Sunday, August 25, 2013

Exquisite Moments Of Utter Stupidity

I will write a book with this title. 

These are the types of notes I have in my 'ideas' folder. 

It's kind of embarrassing. 

But I can't delete them. 

There is a beginning of a poem that starts and when the moon is my companion

And I am no poet. Trust me. 

Another single line entry reads: Love, the ultimate goal, achieved only through heartbreak and walking a line towards a goal you often doubt exists.

Not sure what I was going for with that. Some sort of self help book? Oh, how hilarious. 

And there this paragraph that makes me laugh - Like some sort of post graduation cliché, except I was twenty-two, not nineteen, I found myself employed at a coffee shop called Bitches Brew. Only snarky females need apply. Also, I lived in a dive apartment with two other girls I barely knew. Gretchen, a wannabe folk singer, who wore toques all year round, and Polly, a waif-thin girl who aspired to be the next screenplay writer of modern chick things and who took up smoking to better suit the persona. Highly allergic to cigarette smoke and folk music, I didn’t exactly enjoy my room-mates. But they were better than my last ones—my parents.  

Perhaps I was going to write the next best disenchanted youth novel, or guide to falling in and out of love.
Is it just me who has this unreasonable attachment to every silly little bit and bobble of story I create? 

The folder is ever-expanding. 

First lines, paragraphs, dreams, novels with twenty thousand words that I never finished. I am overflowing with these files, which would be scraps of paper if this was fifty years ago.

Now I kind of wish they were scraps of paper. 

It's easier to forget about random files buried in my dropbox in a top secret folder. 

Harder to hide a book. 

If I had one, I'd keep it by my bed and add ideas to it every night.  

But that might only add to my abundant idea problem. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Ones We Love

Lately, I've ben thinking about how we treat the ones we love. The elusive we.

Or more accurately, how we mistreat the ones we love.

We don't mean to. It just happens. Unintentional.

No excuses.

It's the ones closest to us, the ones we love the most, that suffer our wrath. Our bad days turn into their bad days. They take the brunt of our unhappiness and anger. Become acquainted with our temper tantrums and feelings of displacement. When we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, they roll out next to us, stand awkwardly in the kitchen and try to figure out what to do or say. Nothing. They can't do or say anything.

The ones we love, they witness this. They get the first dose of crotchetiness.

And at the end of a long, unsatisfying day, our loved ones are there. Standing in the kitchen again, taking our cold shoulders and sharp tones. Trying to figure out if they can make something special for dinner to turn it all around. No amount of home cooking can fix this. There is no confectionary bandage.

It sucks.

I wish I had a more eloquent way of phrasing it, but I don't.

It just sucks how harsh we can be to the ones who love us the most. Because we start to wonder. How the hell can they even love us? That's only if the pattern gets out of control.

Most of us manage to hold ourselves together for strangers. After all, it isn't polite to snap, crack and pop people we don't know. We put our feelings aside for the faceless nobodies who walk through our doors and into our live. Because it isn't acceptable to tell them to 'leave you alone' or ask them 'why are you following me around?'.

Who wrote this ridiculous rule? Since when is it okay to vent and moan and bitch and whine to our loved ones? We say it's because they love us. They will forgive these behaviours, but if we really loved them, wouldn't we want to shield them from this sort of hurt?

It doesn't matter whether we mean to do it or not. We still do.

I'm human. I make mistakes. I snap with snark and roll my eyes. I let the frustrations of my job, my upset tummy, and my lack of patience get the better of me. Not all the time, but enough to take notice of. Enough for me to be not impressed with it.

It happens back to me. A grumpy boyfriend, annoyed co-worker, and frustrated sibling. I might make excuses for being snapped and scowled at, but it doesn't make it hurt less. It's one of those weird idiosyncrasies of life.

And good for you if you're not one of us. Good for you if you've never taken your bad day home, or said something out of frustration you know you shouldn't. Congratulations if you never got short with your children or gave your spouse your back because you're so overwhelmed with debt and disappointments.

You're better than I.

A lot of it comes down to not wanting others to think we are bad people. We don't want them to think us mean or harsh, or blunt or temperamental. But as someone rushes around shutting windows and whispering, what will the neighbours think? I'm standing there wondering, what about what I think?

Damage is done.

Maybe it's time to start giving our loved ones the same consideration and understanding as we give strangers. Or maybe not.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

When It's Not Working

It is so beneficial to know when it's not working. When it's time to stop. Reassess. Put an end to, or take a different route. A lot of us keep chugging along, forcing it, not allowing for change or a different direction.

To be clear, I am talking about writing, but I can see how this can apply to relationships as well. Friendships. Lovers. Siblings. Roommates. Co-workers. Sometimes working, living, loving situations simply don't work. Not the way they are. Sometimes they need to be ended. Other times a tweak, twist or twerk will do. 

In writing, in our novels and stories, the ones we toil over, there are mistakes. We take a left when we are supposed to head on straight through and not pass go. We collect $200 dollars when, in reality, the plot line and character development is fit for jail. In the wee hours of the night, we sit at our computers and shove another horribly clichéd chapter into a novel we are supremely unhappy with.

We need to recognize the signs of failure.

So often, we fear admitting we have made a mistake. It's the feeling of failure. Or realizing we did something wrong. But if we learn to see when things aren't working, we can change it. Shift. Rewrite. Take a character away. Move the setting. Speed up the pace. Slow down the romance. Add more sex. Erase some violence.

But what does failure look like?

When it comes to writing, it's the forced, contrived scenes that feel out of place and disjointed. These aren't working. They don't tie in with the previous chapters and are meandering words strewn across the page in a haphazard fashion, like your pen simply barfed out sentences of its own free will. Or your computer, because who the hell uses a pen anymore? If what you are writing doesn't interest you, it isn't working. If you think there is a better way, then you are failing as a writing. When you dread looking at your manuscript, it isn't working.

Fear is a crazy thing. The fear of rewriting. Of scrapping an entire book and starting again. Or not starting again. Of actually saying, this is not working, and I need to leave it alone. I am not talking about hanging your head and calling yourself a crappy writer after you've penned a terrible paragraph and eaten a box of truffles. No. I mean standing back with an objective eye and seeing it is simply not working.

Since I brought up relationships. It's pretty easy to tell if it isn't working, even though we are trained  to pretend everything is fan-freaking-tastic. The same logistics apply. If you dread going to work, it isn't working. If you aren't interested in what your partner has to say, it isn't working. When you cannot stand the thought of answering your BFF's call, it isn't working. How to fix these? Well, it can be a bit more tricky.

Sometimes change will help. Shaking up the routine. I cannot stress the importance of communication, even though people hate doing it. Talk to your boss, your friend, your lover. They might realize it isn't working either. Just like your main character. Give him or her a talking to, see what they think. Hell, give your secondary characters a verbal powwow as well!

Because I am feeling optimistic and the sun is shining, I think you can put right the wrongs in your novels and love life alike. 97% of the time, I think change can help, another set of eyes, more patience, some seriously intense brainstorming. Keep in mind, fixing things is rarely ever easy or simple. But if you're willing to put the elbow grease in, you can mend the manuscript and the other more emotional stuff.

The key is being able to see when things aren't working. When the verb is still active. Before 'things not working' turn to 'didn't work'. When there is still the chance to fix them.

People tell us it is never too late. This is the biggest lie you will ever be told.

And I'll love you forever.