just random stuff, writing

Trials and Tribulations

I’m trying to think of a good way of starting today’s post, and truth is I’m finding it difficult, mainly because I’m not sure how the post is going to end up looking… So let’s see if I can make some sense of all my thoughts, and get something decent in here!

These days, the deadlines for writing here are sort of creeping up on me, and it’s like I just published something when bam! it’s time to write again! Maybe it’s because I’m trying to write twice a week, maybe it’s too much, I don’t know. However, I like the rhythm the blog is taking (or I would, if only I could keep up…)

Yesterday I was thinking about topics to write about for today’s lunchtime read, and I was completely lost, no inspiration at all, zero, nada. So I did what I always do in these cases: I turned to Facebook. I asked people to help me out with ideas, to let me know if there is anything they want to see me write about, some topic, maybe something tricky, or maybe they want me to try to learn something… Help! I was met with silence. Ah, well! I guess I was on my own there.

In any case, it still meant I was topic-less. Later on the day/evening, I was talking to a friend on Whatsapp (ha! I decided to say “a friend”, but Sam, you know it’s you!) about… Well, about lots of things! He mentioned that maybe I could write about why I blog, which is a good topic, but I’m not sure if you guys are interested in it, maybe you can let me know if that’s something you would like to find out, and I can explore my mind a bit more.

Anyway, blah, blah, fast forward into the conversation, Sam here wrote: how about you blog about blogging when you don’t know what to write? He even went on to suggest that I write about the process I follow when trying to find a new topic to write about…

Wait, process?

I said (as I have said before many times) that half of the time I don’t know what I’m doing, and the other half I don’t even try to know – as in I’m not bothered to find out what I’m doing/supposed to be doing. Writing is a bit like that for me.

When I’m writing on my novel, it takes me a page or two to get back into the story and feel the words flowing out of my fingers into the keyboard. I have these characters, which feel rusty and alien to me, it doesn’t matter if I’ve written the day before or months ago. The whole “he said”, “she said”, “this and that happened” feels weird. I feel very silly.

Writing on the blog is part similar, part different. The similarities are that I stare at a blank page and pull my hair off before I even think about starting. I guess I also do some warming up, I write whatever comes to my mind, and then see how it goes.

The main difference is the time pressure and the fact that I know people are reading (Hello, people! I’m so glad you’re reading this! If you’re here, and you like it, it would mean a lot to me that you said hi, just this one time, so I know I’m not alone! Or you don’t have to, just keep stopping by!)

At some point, I guess, I would like my novel to be published, but I’m not really sure why. I mean, sure, I’m writing a novel, but I think I write more because there’s a story inside my mind that wants to be told. When people ask me whether I would like to publish it, my answer is usually: “well, yes, I guess so, but I wonder who would want to read this…” Knowing that when blogging I’m writing on a schedule (that I always seem to miss) and that there are people out there who actually read these ramblings… It scares the shit out of me! (sorry)

So there I am, thinking about what to write, and every writer would tell you, the blank page is nasty. It stares at you, almost defiantly, as in: “so, what are you going to write? C’mon, show me your best move, loser!” Damn, I hate the blank page. The worst thing is that I normally only attempt to write when I have a thought burning in my head.

Every time I write everywhere, all the ideas that come to me. I keep notes on my phone, on my agenda, on notebooks here and there, on business cards… yet when the time to write comes, my mind goes as blank as the page, or even more!

I really don’t have a process, other than getting frustrated and giving up, only to grab the laptop again, play around with programs, write down gibberish, then leave the laptop and grab a fountain pen and a notebook. Then we’re talking, or writing. The feeling of the pen brushing the paper makes me feel at home. It feels right. I write, again, whatever comes to my mind. Sometimes I start by an “I really don’t know what I want to write, and I have no idea how this is going to look like in the end, but let’s see…” and simply start scribbling. Once I’m in front of actual paper, I can work with blank paper and a blank mind. Weird, huh?

Yesterday I didn’t grab pen and paper, mainly because while I was chatting on Whatsapp, I was also watching TV, so I decided to procrastinate a bit. That’s how I ended up writing in bed at 12.30am. That’s how it’s feeling weird to write in the past, as you read this, rather than in the present as I write it, as for me, yesterday still feels like today.

Rambling again… I really need to work on that!

So, writing about my process of writing is going to end up simply being confusing for everyone, with many thoughts here and there with no connection, so maybe it isn’t such a great idea right now, maybe something for the future? I’ll write it down on my list of “blog topics”, along with all the other ideas I don’t know how to tackle yet.

Instead, Sam had yet another awesome idea: he offered to think of three words, random words, and I would have to write something with them. The whole conversation turned out to be quite interesting, him eating mouthfuls of dumpling, while I was cooking meatballs. One playing the guitar while the other watched Jimmy Carr… A conversation that went from fears, to being awesome, to running at night in the woods and being found dead by a dog walker; and even aposematism and Batesian mimicry (yes, we did talk about these, even if those words were never written down).

I’m all up for creativity exercises, which normally work along those lines, so my response to that could only be “Awesome! Do it!” and he told me the three magic words… They were random. They were very random! And not even normal words like “usual”, “sparrow” and “potato”… Nope. So I have now this challenge, where I need to write something with those three words.

I could cheat and simply write them down, telling you all the conversation we had, and it would be done, but where’s the fun in that? I am up for the challenge, so I’m thinking even if he gave me permission to relay the conversation, I’m going to get creative about it; after all, I’m the one who always tries the complicated way and then gets lost; the one who gets awesome shots at pool, but then misses the easy ones, yup, I like to think of myself as a bit eccentric like that.

Maybe I could write a story… I could invent some wonderful magical world in which all the elements fitted somehow, I don’t know, something like the common case of the mouse addicted to broccoli. It could go as follows: there was once a mouse, who was addicted to broccoli. Pretty normal, huh?

Nah, that’s still too easy. Also, who would want to read about a mouse? A mouse addicted to broccoli, maybe, but then there would be many questions asked: What was the mouse’s name? (I’m thinking Alfred, by the way) How did Alfred become addicted? Did something happen to Alfred? Did Alfred like raw broccoli, or did Alfred eat it boiled? How about cauliflower? It’s very similar to broccoli, I think… only white. Mice are too small, not a mighty animal to write about, like a tiger, or an elephant, or even a whale! I could write about whales. I wonder if whales like broccoli though… can whales get broccoli at all, in the seapermarket? Definitely cannot boil it, I think… I mean… how do you boil water in the ocean? I don’t know, I think it might not fit with my story here… It would sound just odd.

Why do I always do this kind of thing? Why can’t I just take advantage of that permission and simply list the three words in here? No, I have to try to think about unlikely links to figure out a way of writing the three words without making a big deal of it.

Here’s my train of thought:

I can’t really write down the words that Sam told me in a very evident way, as that would take the fun out of it. How about I write about “similar words” that might not be entirely similar, or might be, and see what happens? So I’ve been trying to think of bizarre ways of writing down “cricket”, “typical” and “onion”. I might have cheated a bit, or maybe I haven’t… That remains for Sam to decide. As for the rest of you, if you’re wondering what the three magic words are, a magician never reveals her tricks!