11 October 2015

Boredom is a curious thing.

You get bored when you do nothing. And you get bored when you do too much of something. Isn’t that weird?

For me, boredom comes from monotony. It’s the brain’s way of protesting that it is being used too monotonously – doing nothing all the time and doing something all the time.

Most curious indeed.

Why am I suddenly speaking of boredom? It is because, three weeks into writing my novel, I have reached that curious state of boredom. It’s sad but undeniable. Each day I find myself procrastinating, thinking “this evening I’ll do some writing” and, when evening comes and I cannot find the inspiration to write, “tomorrow morning I will feel refreshed and then, I will write”. Needless to mention, the same train of thought continues the next day, and the next.

The novel has been frozen for a week now. I have almost finished the second chapter; there is one scene left.

I wonder why I’m suddenly bored of it. I don’t usually get bored of writing. When I started writing my main blog back in 2013, I was writing every day and yet I always found something I wanted to write about. I remember my brain overflowing with entry ideas. In fact I had so many of them that two years later I still have a long list left.

For some reason, stringing words together to create my fantastical universe no longer gives me the thrill it did one chapter ago. I have two theories to explain the situation. One, the quality of my writing has dipped and I am no longer satisfied with what I am producing, hence the boredom. Two, I am dreading having to come up with new ideas. As I write, I am inching closer and closer to the point at which I stopped writing nine years ago. As it happens, the one scene I have left in chapter two is a pivotal one. Maybe I am scared of writing it, in fear that I would make a fatal mistake and set the novel on a course I cannot see through. Maybe.

So yes, for either of these reasons or for another unknown to me, I have been procrastinating. It does not help that I have been glued to a novel I’m re-reading, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind one of my favourite novels of all time. So instead of writing my own novel, I have been happily immersing myself in another’s. I’m currently on page 593 of 1011. It’s a long book – perfect for the purpose of procrastination.

You know what I need to get the novel going? A gentle yet persistent daily warning like Duolingo‘s. I find the mechanism highly effective. I am currently learning German (you guessed it – another way to procrastinate from my book) on Duolingo, and I am doing the exercises every day without fail. The more days I accumulate in my streak (I am currently on ten), the more determined I am to keep going. It’s really quite fascinating how easy I am to trick.

Öffentlichkeit

That’s the most difficult word I’ve had to learn so far. German is notorious for long words, and though this is not the longest word I’ve learnt (that’s privatunterricht I think), it’s the trickiest. I find the arrangement of letters extremely unintuitive. I mean, what kind of a word is that? (It means public or the public sphere, by the way.) If only German words could be short and easy like English (it’s such an easy language I cannot help but think that people who find it difficult are just extremely lazy).

So yes, I think I need a system like Duolingo’s to get my novel going again. I wonder if anyone has thought of it. It could be a very useful tool for undisciplined writers everywhere, moi included.

Hmm… I should read a French novel next. There’s this book an old friend bought me from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport (a strange location for buying a book, I know, but he was only passing through). It’s called La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert. Not the most enticing title, but I’ve flipped through it and it seems like a fun novel. Now and again I pick up a French book to keep the language fresh in my mind. Plus, I really love the flow of French and reading anything written in French always puts me in a good mood. I hope to be able to do that one day with German – that’s the plan. It’s an ambitious goal, but by no means out of reach. I am certainly as enthusiastic about German as I am of French; I have been for a long time.

But then again I just dug up my third copy of Catch-22 (I lost the first copy, and I don’t know where I put the second one). I might read that instead. I’ve been reading it for three years, and still I have not finished it. Not that I find it boring (ha! how about that for going back to my supposed topic). I really like the book. It’s not easy to read, but it’s so laugh-out-loud funny I put in the effort to follow the novel as it jumps back and forth in time in the most random way. Or maybe I’ll just read both at the same time. I’ve been doing that lately. After a while I get bored of one book and jump to the other, then I get bored of the second book and come back to the first one. It works for me. Stops me from being bored.

Coming back to the novel, maybe what I need is to start writing a second one so I can jump between the two. Oh God no. That would be a nightmare. I can hardly muster up the effort to write one. I can’t imagine doing it for two.

So yes, boredom. It’s a curious thing. I’m hoping that at one point I will miss my novel and come back to it naturally. Maybe I just need a break, break the routine a bit and indulge my brain in a little diversity.

In the meantime, I shall go back to my novel (the one I’m reading, not the one I’m writing). I’ve done my German for the day (die Öffentlichkeit, das Publikum, der Bürger, etc.) and I think it’s now time I enjoy myself a little. (German is fun, but reading is even more fun.)

I’ll be back to let you know what happens with the novel (the one I’m writing, not the one I’m reading). Most likely when I’ve got it going again. I really don’t want to come back a second time and report on my ineffectiveness. I like to think of myself as disciplined, and writing this entry is shattering that self-image.

I hope you’re more disciplined than I am and succeeding in your endeavours.

Love, as always,

Val

 

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11 October 2014

I have not been this busy since… since this time last year actually. I was working then. Part-time. Now that I think about it, I’m not too sure why I was so busy. Maybe it was due to lousy time management on my part. Maybe I was trying to do too many things.

It could have been anything. One year goes by in a flash, but that doesn’t mean I remember everything that happened last October. The mind works in mysterious ways.

*pause for all of us to reflect on the wonders of the mind*

Are those synapses firing yet? If not, give it a bit more time.

If yes, let’s continue.

do know why I’m busy this time around. First reason: I am starting my first real job on Wednesday (15th October) – *round of applause* – and I have two books to finish between now and then. I’ve made it through almost half of one book – *another round of applause* – and I really should be able to get them both read by the end of Tuesday.

Second reason: have I told you I signed up for an online Digital Marketing course? Probably not. It’s called ‘Squared Online’. Here it is. Since my digital experience so far is limited to two blogs and a baby, I thought I would educate myself. The shiny name of Google associated with the course was also extremely persuasive – I was still on the job hunt back then; I mean, it couldn’t possibly hurt! Right?

And I do not regret the decision. Two weeks in, I am finding the course stimulating and enjoyable. I feel like I am having my eyes opened to a brave new world (loved that book). But with the course comes homework. That I decided to start a blog (my third and latest) to accompany my 7-month journey as a Square (pardon the course lingo) didn’t help.

So yes, the past three days have been almost entirely spent on the course and prepping for my new job. The good news: I have now finished the project for the first module of the course, which is the most time-consuming activity I’ll have to get done in the next 3 weeks. It’s a two-minute video to introduce myself to my fellow Squares (course lingo again), which took me… four hours in total to make.

Since I’ve spent so much time on it, I might as well get as many people to watch it as possible. So here it is:

I’ve just realised I haven’t actually told you guys what my job will be.

*drumrolls*

From Wednesday, I will be an Internet Marketing Analyst at a tech start-up based in South East Asia. Pretty cool, eh? I think so too.

Incidentally, this is not the job I went to the interview for (and got) last Friday. It goes to show: you never know what’s going to happen. You just don’t.

Wish me luck!

I’ll be back to let you know how things go.

Love,

Val

p.s. I just realised I actually talk about the job in the video. Oops. Well, too much of a good news can’t hurt, right? 😀

 

 

 

12 September 2014

I’m taking it slow today; I felt like it.

I am supposed to have dinner with a friend in two and a half hours. And for the past (*check time on phone*) hour (wow, time flies) I have been sitting in the dressing room of my sports club, waiting for my hair to dry.

I don’t think I’ve ever sat and waited for my hair to dry. I’m usually in a hurry to get somewhere, and the services of my trusted hairdryer are usually called on.

It feels good to take it slow. Really good. I didn’t realise how good it would feel, but it does.

Taking it slow also happens to be my philosophy of the day. It has been 3 months since I graduated, and I’m still unemployed. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Why rush into a phase of your life that will last for well over 30 years? What’s the hurry?

I have no urgent financial need for a job; if I’m careful with my money, I can stay unemployed for the better part of a year. I don’t plan to; but if I happen to, it’s not the end of the world. Far from it.

So yes, I’m taking my time. Am I looking for a job? I keep my eyes open. But am I in a hurry to get one? No. For the first time in seven years, I have no immediate obligations; I literally have all the time in the world. And I plan to take advantage of it.

So if you ask me what I’ve been up to since I graduated, don’t be surprised if my answer is “mostly reading and blogging”. That’s exactly what I plan to spend most of my time doing. Because once I do get a job, I won’t have as much time for it anymore.

Maybe you’ll disapprove of my slow approach to graduate life. But I’m currently quite happy with it.

We never know what’s going to happen, though. We’ll see how long this phase lasts; I have no idea.

But I guess that’s the beauty of it.

Love,

Val

8 September 2014

Today was one of those days where coffee didn’t work.

Having slept an average of 4-5 hours and walked an average of 12 the past few days (I’d been travelling), I fully expected my body to demand a lie-in and did not set an alarm last night.

So I was extremely surprised when I woke up at 7.30am and didn’t fall immediately back to sleep. I had slept 9 hours, far fewer than I’d expected to. And I felt nowhere near rested; my head was weighing down as heavily as it did yesterday

After half an hour shifting about in bed, however, I decided to get up. Normally, I would have tried to go back to sleep, but given that I had been sleeping very erratically lately, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to reinforce a healthy sleeping schedule. I’d feel better after coffee, I told myself.

I didn’t.

And I’d made my coffee extra strong and extra large.

So here I am, caffeine-injected and still as heavy-headed as ever. And let me tell you, writing has never been more of an effort.

I miss feeling normal. I hope I wake up more rested tomorrow.

I really do.

Wow. Writing this post is hurting my head, literally. Some post-vacation withdrawal effect, this is. I’d better go do something less mentally demanding.

Now, I can either read the Freud I picked out from my shelf this morning… or watch Big Bang Theory. Hmm…

*grabs headphones*

Have a good day everyone!

Val

31 March 2014

I’ve been revising like a possessed woman.

In marked contrast to the slow and forced process of the past three days, today’s revision was fast and effortless. I’d even say automatic.

It just happened.

And I’m not done with it yet. It’s 4pm and I haven’t had a proper lunch, save for that pork pie (it’s smaller than it sounds) at 12pm. So right about now is when I’m going to take a lunch break.

I wonder what revision will be like post-lunch. I’m planning a change of lieu. I’m moving to the reading room, which is where my productivity usually spikes. I’m expecting the favourable ambiance the room to help me submerge in my flow. So I can plunge into the eurozone (today’s reading pick).

I love that room. It’s large, bright, high-ceilinged. Full of people (middle-aged to senior) who are actually reading (with the occasional napper). All the properties that make a perfect reading environment. Not to mention the large rectangular wooden table that serves as a communal work/reading area. Sufficiently large that you don’t feel squished in between fellow readers/workers. That’s where I’ll be firmly planted for a few hours after lunch. Three, maybe four.

Then, if that goes well, I’m going to go plop myself in one of the comfy armchairs in the lounge after. And read my fun book while waiting for the traffic to clear so I can drive home. Hmm…

In the meantime, I revel in the success of the morning. I did so much. 

Last night through to this morning (before the revision mega-session happened), my mind had been going over and over – like a broken record – thoughts along the lines of: ‘I did so little the past few days, need to do more’, ‘Need to revise faster’, ‘Need to finish those notes; them hanging over me stresses me out’, ‘Need to go through more of those lectures’, so on and so forth.

It’s such a wonderful, wonderful feeling when you accomplish what you set out to do. Especially when what you set out to do was actually a lot. Far above average, in today’s case.

It’s such a buzz.

I wish I could continue so that the buzz would never stop. At times this morning, it felt like I could go on forever if I didn’t stop. What a wonderful thing that would be.

But all magic revision sessions, like parties, must come to an end.

I have revised, and now I must eat.

Until tomorrow – I shall be back to let you know how the rest of today (and maybe tomorrow) will have gone,

Val

23 March 2014

I. Am. So. Hungry right now.

Today is Sunday. Like most of my Sundays, it is spent at home. For two main reasons: (1) it is my dad’s day off (so, like a good daughter, I stay home to spend some quality Sunday time with him), and (2) I’m too lazy to leave the house.

I mean. Why would they call it ‘lazy Sunday’ if you’re not meant to be lazy on the day? (Actually, come to think of it, I wonder whence the expression came… A religious reference, most likely?)

Getting back to my Sunday, it was much like any other Sunday, except that I annoyingly woke up really early (tends to happen when I’ve had something to drink the night before). Waking up early in itself I am fine with, though not when I haven’t actually had enough sleep nor when the first thing I feel, eyes open, is the after-effects of that pint of beer.

Not enough to call a hangover, just enough to annoy and irritate.

So, I proceeded to do as best I could to have a productive Sunday. (See, I’m not actually that lazy. I just pretend to be. Or so I claim.)

I might have mentioned to you before that I’m a morning person. If not, “I am a morning person”. So, naturally, I expected that getting up early today meant that I could take advantage of my morning-person-ness and get some revision under the belt by noon.

Oh no. No no no. Doesn’t work when you haven’t had enough sleep. And yesterday’s pint didn’t make things any easier either.

After trying for a few hours to plough through a reading, I decided that my time would be better spent on other things. So I went to the post. Washed the car (for the second time this week, thanks to it conveniently raining the day after I gave my car a thorough wash).

Having done all that, it was still only 2pm. That’s how awesome waking up at 6am is – despite the almost-hangover and the not-getting-enough-sleep. See why I’m a morning person?

So I decided to go help my dad with the gardening. And the following two and a half hours, maybe three, were happily spent cutting, trimming, and pulling various species of trees and herbs. I can still feel it on my finger. No blister this time though (unlike two weeks ago when I ended up with a hideous blister the size of a really small pebble on my middle finger – damn oversized tree trunk).

Have you tried using physical activity to stimulate your brain’s capacity for mental activity? It usually works for me. After the gardening, I came back to the reading, and it’s like I’m another person.

Everything suddenly seems interesting. And I’m no longer just typing my notes up so I can finish the damned article and move on. I actually feel like I’m learning things.

The wonderful effects of physical exertion shall never cease to amaze me.

But now I’m hungry. Like, really hungry.

They say the brain consumes the most calories of all your body parts (well, it’s actually a scientifically-backed fact, but “Scientists say” just reads weird).

So me being hungrier now than before I started this post can only mean one thing: it’s a brilliant post.

Since, you know, my brain used up so much energy writing it.

Don’t we love logic. *wink*

Seriously now, though, let me go eat something before my stomach eats itself up. I’ve been told that’s no good.

Until tomorrow,

Hungry Val

17 March 2014

Note: as a result of WordPress unceremoniously ceasing to work mid-post yesterday (17 March), I am obliged to continue the rest of the post today (18 March).

I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s the case for everybody, but every day spent at home feels the same to me.

Today was one of those days.

Knowing that I have at least two 5am mornings coming up this week, I permitted myself a lie-in. Which means I got up at 9am which, for me, is a real treat.

A lot of my day hangs on when I get up. And to me, any time between 7 and 9am is just right. When I wake up after 9am, I get the feeling that I’ve wasted half my day. It’s completely irrational. And this irritation with myself (for having wasted half the day) then stops me from enjoying the other half of the day I’m actually awake to enjoy. I know. I should really do something about that.

And if I wake up before 7? Well, that usually means I’m low on sleep, given that I hardly ever go to sleep before 11pm.

How many hours of sleep do you need? My magic number is 7. Which is why I have a real issue with 5am mornings. Let’s do the maths. Getting up at 5am means I must be in bed well before 10pm (accounting for staring-at-phone-on-bed time). The thing is, I never am.

And for a reason completely out of my control: traffic.

(OK. Sometimes it’s just me being glued to the pages of a particularly gripping book or the screen of my not-so-gripping-yet-addictive phone, but that doesn’t throw a good light on my self-control, so yes. Traffic.)

I know. It sucks.

So yes, knowing that I have to wake up at 5am tomorrow (and the day after), I decided to get up at 9am – not so early as to prematurely deprive myself of sleep, not so late as to prevent me from getting sleepy at a suitable hour.

It is now 8.39pm. So, ideally, I should be in bed in less than 90 minutes. To get my 7 hours.

Will I be in bed in 90 minutes? I highly doubt it.

First, I haven’t had my dinner. Now that I think of it, I bought too much food, but that’s too late now. Wait, I can just ration off a portion and… throw it away? Nah. That’s no good. Must be considerate to those with no food to eat. (Though I’m not sure how what I do with my food surplus affects them… better not get into that.)

I’m not going to go straight to bed after eating this excessively large portion of food, right, so I’m going to be doing stuff. Most likely continuing to watch an episode of HIMYM (that will accompany my dinner). And what usually happens (when I watch an episode of something) is that I start wanting to watch an episode of other things (maybe New Girl). So on and so forth.

You get the picture.

And this is where WordPress decided to bail on me. How rude.

On the bright side, writing this ex post allows me to tell you what happened last night, and to remind myself to never, ever underestimate the power of a book.

So, this is what happened:

– I discovered that the latest episode of HIMYM was actually due to air yesterday, in the US, which meant – of course – that it was not yet available to watch on the GMT++ side of the world.

– So I watched New Girl over dinner. Just one episode. Because the Internet was really slow and attempting to download another would have just reduced me to a pile of frustration.

– Without blog or series to distract myself, I decided to go to bed, with a book. This was probably about 10pm.

– Lo and behold, I couldn’t stop reading the book. Ended up finishing it. And went to bed well after midnight.

– Woke up at 5am this morning extremely undecided about whether to wake up or lie in.

In the end, the better me won and here I am, awake and writing. I even managed to throw in a 5.7k outdoor run this morning. I’m extremely proud of myself. As you can probably tell.

Now, I’d better go. Revision calls.

Until later,

in this case, tonight,

Val