So Currently…4

Reassessing

What does productivity even mean in a time a COVID?

Whatever it is, it’s hardly applicable to my head space. It’s not welcome because it brings its dour cousins guilt and regret every time I settle into YouTube drama hole. They shake their heads and judge me silently. It’s easier to ignore them when caught up in the messiness of other’s lives.

My creativity, on the other hand, has been engaged in other pursuits. Mostly dusting off those old skeletons in my closet and dealing with the practical matter of clutter.

Clutter’s been my dirty little secret for the last few years. I keep a clean looking appearance but if you investigate the nooks and crannies you’ll find piles and piles of things stuffed everywhere.

My mind’s been consumed by it. What to donate, what to throw away, what to do with…? My every free waking moment spinning some variant of these questions.

I feel like a new person as I cast off old perceptions of myself. So my clothes I thought I’d rock with their frills, long sleeves, and melon necks. Paper bits I thought would mean something ten years out. Books kept on sentimental currency over genuine enjoyment.

Reassessing.

This is a journey that I don’t anticipate will end any time soon.

Why I Can No Longer Stay Silent

I often feel that I have to have something important to say if I must say anything. But often, I’m speechless. Not from the lack of words but all the words screaming within me. Feelings that are so hard to articulate they burn and seethe. And I’ve been seething for the last 8 years. 

Ever since Trayvon Martin, a boy about my age at the time, was gunned down by a vigilante and the system cleared him despite the evidence as they assassinated Martin’s character in the media as justification. Of all the senseless black death since then. The ones circulated in the 24-hour news cycle, their deaths played on loop for the masses, and the countless others we don’t see but they happen all the same. 

I’ll be honest. I experience a certain level of discomfort of talking about his especially in public spaces even as a black person. Especially as a black person in predominantly white spaces. Trauma runs through my bloodline and is the birthright I inherited. I was always keenly aware of my blackness but I grew up being taught that it was a thing of the past. That racism is no longer an issue and America is this glorious melting pot where all people and creeds are equally valued. Even with the overwhelming evidence to the contrary that haunted even my youngest days, I still believed that however subconsciously.

That was my privilege. 

History is as long as it is recent. Slavery ended less than 200 years ago. The Civil Rights era was less than 60 years ago. Rodney King was less than 30 years ago and we’re living in an era where police brutality still continues to be tolerated by the powers that be because it’s in their interest. White supremacy wears many faces in our laws, our justice system, and the very essence of our society. It’s just as much a part of our DNA as the Constitution, the flag, and apple pie. 

This time we are living isn’t unique. It’s a chapter in a much longer struggle where we try to force America to live up to the values it espouses for liberty and justice for all. Right now, not everyone can share in those ideals and it’s been that way for far too long. 

Right now, we live in a world where state-sanctioned murder happens with impunity. Where black people are systemically and economically disadvantaged by decades of exclusion, suppression, and terrorism. We live in a world where arguments of perceived aggression and noncompliance is a death sentence for black people. Where criminal records and photos pulled from social media are used to retroactively justify it. Where white people are given the benefit of the doubt and people of color aren’t afforded the same privilege. 

I’m not good at articulating anything when I’m heated but I’m no longer content in saying nothing.

 I want justice. Justice for George Floyd. Justice for Breonna Taylor. Justice for Ahmaud Arbery. Justice for Tamir Rice. Justice for Freddie Gray. Justice for Eric Garner. Justice for Sandra Bland. Justice for Trayvon Martin. Justice for all the names we don’t know. I want justice for them all. 

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Ways to Reach Out:

Black Lives Matter Instagram // Website

NAACP Instagram // Website

The Bail Project

Reclaim the Block

George Floyd Memorial Fund

Justice for Breonna Taylor

I Run With Maud

Blood, Ink, and Nightshade

I’m going to pick my brain a moment. Prick it with a pen until it absorbs the ink and makes something beautiful. Blood and black blending into deadly nightshade.

Creativity’s a tricky beast. It haunts you, stalks you, makes you feel. I’ve been lured in by its intoxicating scent for more than a decade now. I can track my life back through all that it inspired me to produce and the tortured things that never got the chance to grow.

Creativity slips away. Or that’s how it feels like sometimes. That’s how it feels now. I call but nothing answers. It doesn’t speak to me how it used to. My mind buzzes with the effort, my fingers go numb with the strain, my eyes drowned by the emptiness in front of me. I’m stalling. I flounder. Nothing works.

But creativity is only lost when you don’t chase after it. It never willingly came to me. It never put in the work to stay. Like a light in the dark, it shines brightly. It warms the room. Gives you comfort. You’re surer in your footing as you walk forward. But it vanishes just as quickly. Forces you to stumble and trip as you claw your way out of the abyss. You have to force yourself forward hoping the light will come to you again.

I hope that this small offering, this bit of effort, will bring it home again.

Photo Credit: elqu @ Wallhaven

The Sometimes Excruciating Chore of Writing

I’ll admit it. I sometimes hate writing.

I go through frequent periods where nothing seems to go right. I hate the idea. I hate writing it. I hate editing it. I hate the finished product. Nothing seems to go right and I wonder why I’m even bothering.

I think we all go through a cycle of hate when trying to engage with any creative project. I can’t be alone in this right?

I’ll be honest and say that, at the moment, I’m going through an extended rough writing patch. Finishing an idea has been one of the biggest hurdles of the last few weeks. Starting just a smidge easier. (Meaning I’m just about struggling with the entire process, now doesn’t it?).

But if I took anything from 2017, I won’t always feel like writing. Every idea won’t be spun from gold as soon as I decide to dedicate actual words to it. I won’t have one of those moments always depicted on television where the ideas just flow–face aglow with that glorious a-ha as I furiously type. (Heck, that isn’t even me on a good writing day.)

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A more accurate representation of my “a-ha” moment

Much of what I wrote last year was me sitting down and forcing myself to get it done. And there were times where I violently loathed every single word that I etched on the page but I continued.

Even when I end up hating a line, a paragraph, a scene, a concept, I can engage in a more proactive hate when its given concrete form. I get a better sense of what I would rather do and can more actively engage with the idea I most fiercely despise.

When something’s an ephemeral concept, it’s harder to challenge it. Your brain is charged with a billion things any given second and it has an annoying tendency to take shortcuts with abstract concepts. You only come away with the idea that something must be a pretty good or pretty bad idea and without action, it’s hard to articulate why or for anyone else to articulate it either.

So write through the hate.

On the Days When Your Brain Just Can’t

Or when your brain decides to go on strike causing nothing but creative frustration!

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I’m in a bit of a creative nadir.

Throughout most the year, I was riding on a bit of writing high propelled by a long-term writing project which, in its own way, motivated me to do others when I didn’t feel like working on that monster. But that writing project is over (it’s stewing in its own metaphorical juices until revision) and every minor project that I wanted to do has been finished in one way or the other.

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And now I can’t…

I mean, I have other writing projects I want to do but I just can’t…

See! I’m even struggling to create a sentence because my ideas just kind of die. They get a bit of steam and then they’re already passed out on the floor and refuse to do anything productive to get themselves to their destination. My hands are wishy-washy about picking up a pen or tapping away at keys. Character voices get lost in the ether and I struggle to find their echo.

But perhaps I’m trying too hard. Perhaps, after 10 months straight, my brain is taking the time to recoup and I shouldn’t stress by the decline in output.

But stressing is kind of my second nature so, of course, I’ll do that until I get something productive done. But then I’ll stress out over whatever project I get back on the horse with.

I can never win…but I love it.

I love stressing about my writing. It’s a better alternative than stressing about the lack of it.

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Hail Halloween!

I make no bones in admitting that out of all holidays, Halloween reigns supreme in my book. I get giddy when October comes around.  I squee when I spy little pumpkins nested in the grocery aisle (perhaps too much so…) and I experience a particular kind of joy when I see skeletons plastered on windows. There’s also this thrill of the spooky dancing on the night’s chill that enlivens my creative spirit.

I admittedly haven’t been especially fond of the holiday in years past. I wasn’t allowed to go trick or treating when I was younger and I always got the impression that the reason for it was some hint of illicitness to Halloween celebrations. I spent the first years of my education in a Christian-affiliated school and there may have been whispers of that sort. (I distinctly remember my mother saying something along those lines but when you’re that young it’s hard to separate real events from things you may have dreamed up). I still cashed in on store-bought candy though. In my house, sweets are tradition!

In innocent childhood recollections, Christmas superseded most other holidays and the only other day I looked forward to in the year was my own birthday. I was the kind of child who only looked forward to something if I knew I was getting something out of it. It could be argued that most children are like this but I was a pretty notorious kind of selfish. (I broke down into crocodile tears when I wasn’t allowed to watch my favorite TV show).

As I grew into adulthood, I developed a taste for cooler climes and the darker aspects of music and literature. I found myself gaining a deeper appreciation for Halloween. High school brought horror movie viewings.

There’s also more timely reasons as to why I feel so strongly about this holiday.

This post is, in part, a more thoughtful response to a question I was asked about why I liked this holiday. It wasn’t a very serious inquiry–it was one of those easy get-to-know-you questions. At the time, though,  I found it difficult to articulate. Partially because of deeply personal reasons.

I have Halloween to thank for getting me out a  funk of last year where I idled away the spring and summer months in existential ennui, wondering where I was taking myself in life. It gave me something to look forward to and from a creative standpoint, it got me invested in storytelling again. I wrote during this dark period but most of the ideas were either too personal or died in the cradle. I didn’t have the energy to commit to any of them which made me feel worst throughout that period.

I also credit it with begetting a few of my most treasured creative projects, namely the Hollow Grove universe. The seeds of it were first sown in October as well as the characters that came out of it.

I know Halloween is still a few weeks away but I just can’t help but get excited about it!

 

On Why I Fail at Maintaining a Blog

You know why I often fail at maintaining a blog?

To put it bluntly: I hate my voice.

Not my actual voice but my personal writing voice–the voice that is supposed to represent me. Getting into a character’s voice is easy. Though an element of myself may be hiding in the wings, they’re not me.

I struggle to talk about myself or the various aspects of my life candidly. I hide behind pretension and pretty prose in an attempt to obscure what I like, what I do, how I feel. It’s a very big problem that I, unfortunately, carry into my day to day life. I compartmentalize different aspects of myself into little boxes and mark most of them “Do Not Discuss.”

But I find admitting failure makes it easier to navigate around. Now that the secret is out, improvements can be made. Strategies can be devised. Tactics can be implemented.

So what can you expect from me this time around? My first inclination is to say that I’m not quite sure. I prefer my work to speak for itself but, in an attempt to be more candid, I’ll speak to what I hope to do.

My first and foremost goal is to bring all aspects of myself under a single banner. My life, my writing, my hobbies, and my strange obsession for the macabre and strange. In the past, I tended to spread these out on multiple platforms, shielding one aspect from the other. This could take the form of extended musings, book reviews, fiction vignettes or whatever else I find to express it.

For anyone who happens upon this little corner of the internet, I hope that you find some enjoyment from it.

Thanks for stopping by and best of luck to you on your internet travels!