The Complicated Art of Knowing What You Want

The title of this post says more about what I want to articulate here than the post itself probably will. Sorry for that. Also, sorry for the sorry state of my dusty keyboard in the featured image. Cleaning is yet another of those things I should probably engage in more often and dedicatedly (<-is that even a word?).

Anyhow, I feel like I have too many thoughts and contemplations swimming around inside my head not to find a vent for them somewhere. I guess this post will have to serve as said vent, for now.

I am in the middle of so many things. From the outside it might not show, but on the inside I am almost bursting. I think I can best convey my feelings through a gaming analogy, being the hopeless gamer that I am.

Many games are linear. You walk from left to right as in good old SMB or, as is often the case in this new 3D-era, at least you have a quest marker to follow.

In the games I like the most, however, you repeatedly face choices that will impact the continuation – and often even the ending – of the game. That’s a thrilling touch to the gameplay, don’t you think? Well, I would agree that it is. But for me, it is also excruciating mental torture. Because I absolutely can’t stand leaving any rocks unturned. Most often, those fictional crossroads result in me creating a multitude of save files in order to explore every single possibility in the game before settling for the “best” one. (Watching spoilers on Youtube really never was my thing). I have to try all the roads, or else I will probably be unable to let go of the thought that I have missed something. And trust me, that thought can destroy an entire game for me.

Thing is, however, that it’s not just in games that I have this mindset. It’s ever present in my IRL-gameplay as well. I literally feel that I have to finish life with 100% completion, or else I will have failed. Suffice to say, this mindset is doing nothing in favor of my nerves or my well being.

As I have written here previously, my goals are to succeed within the journalistic field, and to get at least one book published. The problem is, I also want to succeed within music and acting. I want to join the police force and the military. I want to travel the whole world, I want to move to a big city. I want to sell everything I own and go on a street musician road trip with my violin. I want to become a professional drummer and a famous guitarist. I want to hang my photographs in a gallery and I want to work with politics. I want to be a computer ace and hack NASA, I want to rob a bank. I want to become rich and drive a fancy car. I want to save the world. And I am probably the worst kind of narcissist, but somehow I actually feel that all these roads are possible options, in one way or another.

But I also want to be completely content with what I already have, and this is probably the one field that I genuinely feel that I cannot succeed in.

So now I sit here with a thousand plans and dreams, totally stressed out and with no faith whatsoever in any of these things ever coming to pass. I know some of them probably will – at least the first two (possibly the only ones that really matter). But I don’t know how to get there. Life has no save files or reset-buttons, I cannot press reload every time I’m not entirely content with how things turned out.

And there certainly are no spoilers on Youtube to help me get where I want, or to check out all those options that I never explored.

I often find myself wishing that life was more like a Super Mario Bros game, where there is only one path to take – and if you still happen upon an alternative route, it’s probably just a shortcut to the same goal. Or at least that life had a mini map and a quest marker.

Well, I guess I just have to wait and see how this open world sandbox game will progress. Perhaps the quest marker option will come in a future DLC.

Over and out.

 

At Sea

I can’t seem to be able to remain in one place for very long. Recently home from Florida, where the nooks and crannies of both Miami and Key West were pleasantly roamed, I kind of grew sick of sitting still. So now I’m on the road again. Or, more accurately, on the water. I’m going to Åland to visit with a friend and have been driving (what feels like) the whole day. After working my  last job pass before the Swedish Easter Holidays, that is. I’m kind of tired, to be honest. Caffeine and sugar keeps me going right now, and luckily those are the main ingredients in the coffee drink on the table in front of me. Life’s good.

I’m using these two odd hours onboard the M/S Rosella to get some writing done. Not my average random stories, but a couple of music album reviews that are due this Wednesday. Genres: metal and jazz. Totally in line with my current craving for variation, I’d say.

Hmm, what’s more… Apart from working with myself, on myself, I’m still working on my many projects. The novel is growing, but not in volume – I’m in the editing phase now, and trying my best to cut away at it so as to make it publishable. I’ve decided to give it a meta-voice in between chapters to make it more interesting. I hope the attempt will be successful. I’m a bit behind in the journalism course I’m doing (blame… life I guess), but I’m hoping to catch up before long.

And I’m playing Dota2 like a maniac. Seriously. I started playing it as part of my research for an article, and then I got stuck. So far I’m a total disaster at playing any hero other than Lich and Dazzle, but, well, I’m getting there. I think.

That’s my life right now, broadly speaking. I hope that all of you reading this are safely traveling as well, irrespective of whether the journey is a physical one or if it’s taking place in your mind. Those mental journeys are often the greatest ones.

Until next time: take care and drive safely!

/Chris

Two Years Later

Two years later and I’m here again. Same place, same streets, same sun.

Nothing much has changed here, and yet everything about me has.

My fears then, my worries, my desperate feeling of not knowing how to survive without destroying a life upon my return, all those things have joined the other bottled memories on the shelves in my mind’s library.

But yes, I feared and I worried. I survived and I destroyed.

I never meant to. I wanted fairytale sunset ending as much as anybody. I’m not sure if I failed or if I was in the wrong kind of fairytale altogether. Maybe the one where the scarred warrior princess gets saved by a masked black knight and rides off into happily ever after, never to look back, was not for me. However much I wanted that ending. If you’re ever reading this, you might as well know that a not at all insignificant part of me still does. And that’s what pains me today, two years later. That I could not live it, and that I lost so much. That I lost you.

Writing this might be inconsiderate, of course. Not the most pedagogic thing to do. But then again, I’m not writing this for anybody else but me. This time it’s for me. Because I write, that’s what I do and what I’ve always done to get those itchy voices out of my head. And right now they’re loud.  So I write.

This sun sees so many people come and go, and everyone has their own itchy voices. I’d be surprised if it remembers them all. The footsteps I made in the sand the last time around sure as hell aren’t there anymore. And still when I look up at that sun, when I walk on that beach, I remember. I have changed so much and so much has changed me, but I’m still that same person with the same worries and fears and a feeling of not knowing how to survive without destroying lives in the process. The desperation is gone, now it’s memories that haunt me. I miss you, and I’m sorry I broke.

And being here again, two years later and with so many new bottles on my shelves, this new thought is taking form, growing roots: what kind of fairytale am I really supposed to be in? Will I ever know, and how many things must yet be destroyed in order for me to find out?

And maybe the sun knows, but it never tells.

All The Things I Hate About My Novel

Okay, so let’s talk about the inconsistency of inspiration.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. I failed at it in 2007, but this is my revenge. We’re halfway into November right now, and I’m halfway towards the coveted 50k words that will mark my victory against the little voice in my head that keeps chanting “You can’t do this so why even bother”. I have a story that has been growing inside my cluttered head for years, and it is now happy as a puppy to be finally let out of there. The problem is that I am beginning to hate it.

I don’t hate the concept or the plot, mind you. I’m really happy with and proud of those. No, my problem is that writing it is beginning to feel forced. I find myself constantly checking my word count just to have an excuse not to write for the next half a minute or so. I find myself rushing through scenes just because I can’t stand to be in them anymore. And I find myself thinking that even thought I will probably reach the finish line well in time for 11/30, the end result will be a text so uninteresting and worthless that not even my  mom will want to read it. I would not want to read it, for heaven’s sake.

Here’s a inexhaustive list of things I hate about my novel:

  1. The characters are flat and shallow and totally uninteresting
  2. However cool the setting is, I am unable to do it justice through my descriptions
  3. I can’t seem to approach the meta plot in a way that’ll make anyone want to read it
  4. The relationships between characters are cheesy
  5. My writing is cheesy
  6. I’m cheesy
  7. I forgot to put yesterday’s leftovers into the freezer and had to throw them away this morning.
  8. I’m out of bread.
  9. My apartment is a mess and I blame it on Writober and WriMo.
  10. Cheese

Yesterday was a completely different story, however. I was sitting at a brass clad table in a coffee house in Sthlm, feeling like a romantic Nora Roberts character as I wrote the winged words of a future bestseller. I knew exactly what I was doing and my ego was untouchable.

I really hope that this feeling of worthlessness and creative fatigue will have packed its bags and left by the time I awake tomorrow morning, because I don’t have room for it in my apartment or in my life. I have so many things going right now that I can’t afford to be humanly insecure about my writing for more than a day. Not only do I have the golden 1666 words to write every day, but I also have deadlines and essays and work to do.

I also hope that it’s not just me growing tired of November from a WriMo point of view. I hope that this is a natural state in the writing process. I hope that my novel is not as boring and flat as I think it is, and I hope that you can forgive me for having such relatively shallow problems in a world where terrible things happen every day to ordinary people with dreams and hopes just like you and me.

Do you have any tips on how to tackle the feeling of being a worthless writer working in vain on a worthless text? Or do you just agree and want to whine together with me? Feel free to drop a comment or a tweet!


And finally: I’d like to give a shoutout for this beautiful blog post by James Radcliffe. It is about the beauty in broken things and it really made my day. I recommend reading it.

Now I’ll be off back to the Self-esteem Lowlands. Have a nice evening!
Over and out!

A Good Talk In The Night

Most good talks happen during the night. What I had not managed to convey well enough before I was able to tell him tonight, in those secret hours between twilights where rules and conventions simply don’t apply. Then he listened.

He listened while I told him everything. About how my mind had started turning from beginning insight already three years earlier, even though I didn’t fully understand it at the time. About how I had fought, ever since then, to hold myself together, to stay the same. Not to lose anything and everything. But after that trip nothing was the same. It journeyed farther and farther away from the same, as did I.

I told him about the numbness that came over me during this struggle. Repressing insights growing inside of oneself takes also repressing thoughts and feelings and passions. He listened, and I saw in his eyes that finally he began to understand. This was never about him. I never meant to break his dream and his story, I wanted to be part of it but I couldn’t.

One thing I didn’t tell him, but in that moment maybe he knew that as well. It felt like that, anyway. And he smiled sadly but knowingly, when finally I described my feelings when in the end none of my struggles were enough. When I realized I had failed, that I could not repress this and that this had always been a losing fight. But that it was never about him, that those feelings were never affected. This was simply something I had to go through to be whole, to be me. And I saw no other way than the changing of everything to make that happen.

I was finally able to explain to him this whole transgender business and all the thinking and contemplation and development I had gone through since last we spoke, more than a year ago. He understood, finally, how things had exploded in my life after I left his. How so many thoughts had been released and finally allowed to be thought and how I had changed in all ways imaginable. On the inside, at least.

And of course I listened to him as well. He had much to say, and I respected him for all of it. He had his own struggles and battles and fears, and he had his own story about all of this. But it was not about me, not entirely. And I felt such relief to hear him talk about it, because I had worried for him and thought about him every day, not knowing anything. A monumental weight was lifted from my shoulders and from my heart by just hearing him talk about the things I had been thinking for so long.

We agreed, finally, that we both had our own, personal stories. They intermingled and entwined, but they were not the same. His story was his, and my story was mine, as all people’s stories are their own. We could not save one another, but we could do our best to understand and so make our own stories more whole. We would speak again, he told me, and hugged me, and let me go. He let me go.

And I don’t remember what I felt or thought when I walked away and he walked away, each back to resume our own separate stories. But I was lighter, I was almost flying. I hadn’t broken anything, I hadn’t failed. All I had done was to allow my own story to tell itself finally, and now he understood that as well. He and his story would be alright, and we would speak again. And then I woke.

How come that most good talks, the ones that really matter, happen in dreams? How come that I always meet him there, and how come that talking there always feels so good but makes me sink like a stone upon waking? I don’t know any of this, but I know that I am crying as I am typing these lines and that one of my greatest regrets is that all our good talks only ever happen inside my own head.

Christina Smedbakken 2015-10-31

It’s past midnight, making it the last of Writober!

Oh. My. God. I’m on the final day of my Writober-challenge. Wowzers.

I won’t be going in for the kill (i.e. the final Writober text) until I have slept and eaten some breakfast, but I already know what it is going to be. If you have been following my writings this month, you might have noticed that my “On Blood And Dreams”-triplet hasn’t been concluded yet. The last day of my October Writing Challenge will see the final installment of that story as well. Hopefully.

Anyways, this has been a challenging and inspiring month. Sure, I have uploaded some older stories as well, but for the most part I have written a new text every day. I have used writing prompts from Reddit, dug up old ideas and let myself be inspired by music, life and not least other writers. I’d like to namedrop some of them here:

http://theaeolianharp.com/ is full of well written stories with interesting and inspiring concepts. The very name of the blog is magical, for heaven’s sake. You should pay it a visit.

http://wwocz.net/ is where I was first inspired to write about space, through one of several awesome stories found there. The blog’s author is also into archery and metal (my own drugs of choice), and has managed to talk me into giving NaNoWriMo another try this year.

https://songofion.wordpress.com/ is the blog of one of my IRL-friends who writes in Swedish and does so very well. If you know the language you should totally check it out. Its author has provided me with tons of encouragement and inspirational feedback throughout this month, and the short stories on the page are atmospheric, well written and engaging – especially if you’re into the Gothic and the dark paranormal.

During this month I have learned to be more effective and economic with words, to get to the point of a story without wasting the time of my readers and also to find ideas for stories in my everyday life. Another thing I have had to develop is a sense for planning ahead and using my time well – otherwise I would never have managed to combine working two jobs and doing two separate college courses with this creative writing challenge.

Thanks for all the feedback and support during this month, you have all been awesome!

But, as we say here in Sweden: “Don’t yell ‘hi!’ until you’re over the creek”. I still have one text left to write before I’m done with Writober. And then remains NaNoWriMo. Am I mad?

Anyways, stay tuned for On Blood And Dreams III!

Autumn Is Icumen In

So I sit here by my window and finally have to admit that summer is gone for this time. The leaves are yellow and I don’t feel bad for staying indoors anymore. That’s a sure sign.

I have three-day weekends now, meaning I work four days and then I’m free from Thursday night until Monday morning. It’s a beautiful week layout, since I don’t work enough to wear myself out totally, and then I have three days to do what the fuck I want until I have to go back to work.

That means a lot of writing, as you might have noticed. Currently I’m about a third into my Writober challenge to myself, where I have to upload at least one story every day to this page. This far I have succeeded, partly thanks to my stash of old texts that I can fall back on when I don’t have the time or inspiration to write a new one. Yesterday I put up a brand new text called The Silence of Her Voice, and today’s text is a humorous writing prompt response named Securing the Family Business.

Apart from these short stories, I’m working on my writing project in Swedish and that is going great. I don’t think I have much left to write there before I can go into the editing and cutting phase. I’m rather excited about finishing that project, since I´ve been working on it since late 2012.

I’m also writing a story together with a friend of mine, and I think it is turning out quite nice.

And last but not least, I’m doing quite a lot of academic writing as well. I’m currently trying to get a long thesis on Religious studies accepted for examination, and I’m also doing assignments for my journalism class. While working as a freelance journalist, of course.

I feel like I’m on a roll and I have lots of inspiration. I hope that feeling will hold all through this year, because I really want to pull all these things off. Now I’m going back to writing all of the things above. Have a nice day!