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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8 October 2014

I learnt another important life lesson yesterday: communication, communication, communication.

I have always taken pride in my ability to express myself clearly. Then yesterday happened.

A message I had sent was misunderstood and cost me an opportunity I was looking to pursue. I do not regret my actions. I thought well and hard before sending that message, and I genuinely believed (I still do) that it was the right action to take.

But now that I re-read it with a fresh pair of eyes, I see how it could have been taken to mean something completely different. And I take responsibility for not having been clear enough. I could have worded it differently, been more explicit, so on and so forth. The next time I send a message of this sort, I’ll be sure to re-read it more than once (which is what I now do) before sending. Maybe sit on it for a few hours to see if I can come up with something better (which is to say, clearer).

This misunderstanding has been on my mind since yesterday afternoon. I am not so much frustrated at the missed opportunity as with myself for not having been sufficiently clear in my communications. In a way, though, I am grateful this happened. I’d rather discover this weakness now than later. Thanks to yesterday, I will now be more careful with all my future communications. You could say yesterday’s events opened my eyes.

I am glad I am experiencing this now, just before I enter the world of full-time employment. Where I am sure I will find myself in this particular situation countless times, and where I do not intend to repeat the same mistake. Not too many times at least.

It’s all about communication, communication, communication. Be clear. Be concise. Be ready to assume the consequences. (That’s my mantra of the day.)

I’m going to end with a quote from Dan Gilbert that I’m borrowing from Brain Pickings (a brilliant site where I constantly find inspiration and courage). A quote that resonates with me even more now after yesterday’s events.

Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our lives is change.

Love,

Val

 

 

29 September 2014

This blog is my baby.

I realised this a few minutes ago while updating my LinkedIn profile.

I mean… I always knew this was going to be my most intimate blog. But I never quite realised how much I would come to cherish it. Until a few minutes ago, that is.

When you incorporate your digital footprint into your professional profile, you have to be careful how you portray yourself on your platforms. That’s the price I am having to pay on my two other ‘serious’ blogs, which I have now LinkedIn to my LinkedIn profile (the wordplay doesn’t look as good on screen as it did in my mind… but I’m just going to leave it).

It’s not that I am super professional and serious on those blogs and dumping all my dirty laundry here. I mean, come on, if you really want to dig, you’re going to find this blog in a heartbeat. I’m not exactly keeping it locked away in a safe. All those hashtags on twitter aren’t there to keep people from finding this blog (though they don’t appear to be having the opposite effect either – oops).

Which, strangely, is exactly why I love this blog so much. It feels like my corner on the Internet. It feels intimate. I know it’s nothing like the privacy of my home, but not having that many visitors puts less pressure on me. I can write whatever I want here. I can trial different styles. I can talk about random stuff. I can ramble on, and on, and on, without ever having to worry about losing my followers or appearing fickle.

Not that I don’t cherish each and every one of you reading this (thank you for reading!)… but not having so many of you just takes the pressure off. The pressure I constantly feel when writing a featured post on Living Time, or on my shiny new blog A Squared Journey (a.k.a. the promise-breaker). I write so much faster here. The thoughts flow. The words just fall out of my hands. It’s great.

I am happy I have this baby to write on.

Thank you all for reading it.

Love,

Mother Val