Buckets, balls and books

I let the balls drop. I was exhausted. My buckets were empty. So I set about to fill them back up again. It was hard.

Advertisements

My last post said I’d see you in a few months. That few months turned into seven.

So what happened?

I let the balls drop. I was exhausted. My buckets were empty. So I set about to fill them back up again.

I didn’t want to write about it at the time but I was in a difficult job and dealing with major health issues. I’m still dealing with those health issues but it’s currently under control. It took a long time though. I was running on empty and I still had to go on – to work the job that drained me, to apply for jobs and go to interviews even though I was exhausted, to deal with the rejection of not getting those jobs, to keep writing, to keep blogging, to keep socialising, to see specialists and doctors. It’s amazing how hard that is but I’m survived. Writing, music and books are what saved me. I wrote in my journal every day during this period, I blasted music and I devoured self-help books and books on meaning and philosophy. I also read a lot of Ask A Manager and listened to Good Life Project, Creative Penn, On Being and Secular Buddhism.

It was a slog and it sucked. But I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and eventually everything slowly got better – I travelled to Japan and while I was there go a brand new job. I came back refreshed after my three week holiday, quit my job and moved into my new one. Then spend the last six months adjusting to it and I’m now finally comfortable enough to slowly pick up the balls I have dropped.

 

19452804_2295601010665929_8811250118644999231_o
Travelling to Japan and eating amazing food helped me recover my creativity and energy.

 

It’s not perfect – I’m only writing around 500 to 1000 words a week at the moment, I can only walk not jog and my eating is a bit hit and miss. But I am getting there.

I’m still reading, listening and watching to fill my buckets. And now I’ll be slowly getting back into blogging which I’ve missed as I have read a lot of books this year and haven’t written about any of them!

If you’re still reading this – thank you for being awesome and taking the time.

 

19467572_2295601130665917_4274859158900349424_o
Only saw ONE mecha the whole time I was in Japan. Anime lied to me!

 

Taking a break. See you in a few months!

I am so fucking exhausted feels like it has been my mantra for the last two months.

I am so fucking exhausted feels like it has been my mantra for the last two months.

TAKING-A-BREAK

Last year, I mentioned dealing with a major health issue during NaNoWriMoI mentioned dealing with a major health issue during NaNoWriMo and as the New Year started I was excited to put that behind me.

 

I was wrong.

 

For the last two months I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, trying to push myself to write more, read more, exercise more, get out and about. I have been ignoring my body and it gave up at Easter. I’ve spent the last three weekends in bed. I haven’t written anything. In fact, it has taken a week to get up the strength to write this blog post and another week to post it.

 

I burnt myself out last year and tried with gusto to improve that by doing fun things and working hard to achieve what I wanted. I unfortunately prescribed to the mindset that I would fix myself by pouring myself into the things I love. And while it has helped, I took it too far. I went out too much, spent too much time pushing myself to write, to read and socialise when I needed to rest. I lost sight of why these things were important and they became things I had to do in order to be happy.

 

I’m about to go on holiday for three weeks for the first time in two years. I’ve released I’ve gotten too bogged down in my day to day life and I have forgotten what I really want. I can’t see the forest because of the trees.

backlit-2179318_1920
Damn you trees! I can’t see the forest! 

I hope this is making sense because at the moment my mind is so foggy and exhausted I can barely function. I am taking a break for the next two months to focus on my health and reassess what is really important to me as a creator. I want to thank all the people who have been reading and supporting my blog in the last 12 months as it makes me really happy to know I’m not just shouting into oblivion.

Struggling to find my voice in 2016

beach-1835452_1920

Last year wasn’t the greatest year for me personally. I have been struggling with an ongoing health issue with fatigue being a major symptom. But it was the year I got serious about my writing. I launched my blog after being asked to be featured in Witty Title Here weekly newsletter. I had spent most of 2015 researching blogging and author platforms and did the Australian Writers Centre’s Build Your Author Platform Course at the start of 2016.

However, my vision for my blog stalled in September. I wanted do be able to do in-depth analysis weekly, but I struggled. Despite doing social media as my day job, my author social media was basic at best and still is at the moment.

Then I decided to do NaNoWriMo despite going through a major health crisis. I won, but it took everything I had.

I spent December exhausted and desperate for holidays. I finally got a reprieve between Christmas and New Year which I spent at the beach and playing video games. I’m still struggling with my health and trying to balance full-time work, writing, fitness and blogging. It feels like far too much at the moment, but I am still slogging on. I’m still trying to work out what I want for my blog but luckily for me on 10 people read it so I can experiment.

My primary goal for 2017 is to cultivate healthy habits so I can find balance in my life to be able to be the writer I want to be.

35,000 words & the week that nearly ended me


I passed 35,000 words last night but it was a struggle. This week I had two days where I didn’t write. I also had two days where I was incredibly sick at the beginning of the week. I’m exhausted, I’m sick, I want to curl up in a ball (and I did on those days I didn’t write).

I was going to give up on Saturday after locking myself out of the house. I just had a horrible week and it wasn’t letting up. But my husband got tough and told me to go write. So Saturday night when I just wanted to sleep I pumped out my words and then went to bed.

I didn’t start writing until 2pm on Sunday as I had to clean the house. My husband once again stepped in and told me to stop procrastinating. So I did a 30 minute sprint and did 967 words in half an hour. Then I had another break and did some cleaning. I wrote another 1000 words then went for a walk and watched a movie. Then pumped out another 1042 words to push me past the 35,000 word mark. It actually was an incredibly productive end to a shitty week (or the beginning of a new week as technically it was Sunday).

So now I’m heading into the fourth week of NaNoWriMo with a day’s buffer which means I can either have a few days where I don’t do the full 1667 or have one day off. I will probably end up having a few days of less than stellar word counts again as I’m still exhausted. I am invigorated by getting to 35,000 though as I always struggle at this point. If I can get to 45,000 I’m going to be happy but I’ve got my eye on the prize now – I’m close enough that I could still actually win this thing. I’ve surprised myself.

20,000 words in 12 days

Because it’s not about how fast you run the race, it’s about finishing it.

In the last 12 days, I’ve written over 20,000 words. But I let myself down on Thursday and wrote absolutely nothing. But instead of scolding myself for not writing, I’m treating myself with care. I didn’t write my 1667 words yesterday but I did write something and today was the same. Tomorrow I’ll probably write more. I knew this week was going to be hard as it is a busy time of year for me at work and it proved to be not as horrible as I thought.

I expected NaNoWriMo to be like when I first ran 10km. The first kilometre is exciting and fast as you run together in a group. You run faster as you’re excited about being with all these other people. Then you realise you can’t keep up the same pace the whole way. You need to slow down and feel dejected. As people run past you in the next few kilometres you feel bummed and feel slow. You’re not sure why you decided to do this. Maybe you should just walk as you’re not jogging very fast.

girl-62_1280

 

But then you hit the halfway mark and you suddenly feel your energies rising again. You can do this. You get into a good pace that you maintain until the last kilometre. Then you pick up the pace. Then you sprint as you hit the 500-meter mark and as you cross the finish line you’re exhausted, hurting and bursting with pride that you managed to finish much faster than you thought.

 

Right now I’m finding my pace to get me through the next 22,000 words without tearing my hair out or injuring myself. I’m finding that I write between 500 – 800 words in the morning and the same at night. However, the time it takes to get there varies. Sometimes I write for 45 minutes in the morning and an hour at night. Sometimes, I write for 2 hours at night to get to the same point.

And sometimes, like Thursday I do nothing because I am so exhausted I just need to sleep. When I first had to slow down and walk during my first 10km run I felt so dejected as it was so early on in the race. But then I realised, it was okay to take a breather. I would tell myself, you can walk to that tree then you need to start jogging again. And so there were times I walked during my first run. In my second 10km run a year later, I needed to walk less but if you’re body needs a breather, give it a breather. But don’t confuse give yourself too long of a break. Just enough of a break so you can get to the next milestone.

 

I have had my break and now I’m determined to get to the halfway point by next week. I’m sure there will be another break as I approach the 35,000-word mark and maybe again. But I know I have two days off at the end of November in which I will probably sprint the last 10,000 words. Maybe I’ll just scrap the 50,000 or maybe I’ll exceed it.

person-1245959_1280

But whatever happens. I will get to the finish line in my own time. Because it’s not about how fast you run the race, it’s about finishing it.

Why do male antiheroes get more adoration than female ones?

Will be a point when writers can write complex morally dubious female characters and have them admired as much as their male counterparts?

I’ve been a bit quiet lately as I’ve been preparing for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which starts tomorrow. My idea for NaNoWriMo involves a lot of incredibly flawed characters exploring trauma and revenge. I’ve been watching a lot of anime to get into this headspace, specifically Code Geass, Death Note and Elfen Lied. I enjoy dark stories with flawed characters because it delves into the dark part of humanity we’re all capable of. There is a very slim line between the antihero and the villain depending on the type of antihero.

walter-white-1

However, I’ve noticed the most popular antiheroes tend to be men and they tend to get more adoration than female antiheroes. Why is it as an audience and a society we are more forgiving of the things men do? For example, many people hate Breaking Bad’s Skyler White and root for Walter White despite Walter do far more despicable things than Skyler ever does. It got so bad that the actress who played Skyler, Anna Gunn wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times about the vitriolic response her character received.

light-yagami-wallpaper

Light Yagami from Death Note is another example of a character who does horrendous things and yet he gets a pass because he’s a handsome young genius. His supposed ‘good’ motivation of killing criminals is quickly thrown aside as he begins to play games with the Japanese Police Force. He’s a full blown sociopath and yet somehow I was still rooting for him to win for some bizarre reason. Despite the fact that every woman in the show was a sexy lamp I still found it a compelling watch and would definitely watch it again. There is something so addictive about watching Light indulge his darkest desires and god complex. His crazy laugh is also something to behold 

150063

Then there is Elfen Lied which is the most gut wrenching thing I have ever watched. Absolutely everybody in the show manages to be horrible but sympathetic at the same time. It was so dark I was depressed for days after watching it. Yet I’d probably watch it again as it is a very complex tale about identity, revenge, regret and the nature of humanity. It also features two female antiheroes which was a nice change after watching the sausage fest that is Death Note. However, almost everybody in the show is tragic and flawed so it takes a bit of the impact away from the female antiheroes as there is no morally superior person to contrast against.

 

There still seems to be a shortage of compelling, complicated women as antiheroes that are adored the same way their male counterparts are. There has been a lot written about female likeability and it will continue to be an issue in fiction as it is in real life.

 

As I contemplate my own work I’m about to embark on for NaNoWriMo which sees a female protagonist slowly descend into darkness. I want to know if there will be a point when writers can write complex morally dubious female characters and have them admired as much as their male counterparts?