Creative Momentum

Creative Momentum

This post is part of a weekly update I will be making consistently available to my patrons on Patreon. I will still post some updates here to my blog from time to time, but will most likely be focusing on the flash fictions and short stories predominantly. If you want to see what I’ve been working on lately, check out my Patreon page at http://www.Patreon.com/NicholasEskey.

One positive thing can be said about forcing yourself to work; it creates momentum.

It’s not the same as forcing yourself out of bed and on your way to the typical 9-5 job; not to me, anyway. With writing, the eventual temporary curse is doubt. Doubt of your work’s value, doubt that you can write anything good again, doubt that it all matters. Consistently writing, namely creative writing, builds a momentum that propels you forward, often breaking the brick walls of doubt and writer’s block that seemingly jump onto the tracks. An eventual and wonderful side-effect of this momentum is walking up, eager to jump back behind the keyboard and get back to creating. Fuck doubt.

The best I can equate it to is the same kind of high gym rats get after a good workout session. The first few workouts, or probably more accurately the first few dozen, will feel like Hell, leaving one drained and asking themselves: Why did I want to do this again? But then, it gets better.

I’m quite happy with the momentum that I’ve built this week. It allowed me to get up first thing yesterday morning and get straight to work on a flash fiction idea that had been eating at me for a couple days, after which I then went right back to working on my novel. Momentum makes you hungry for more.

The flash fiction I wrote is called When You Don’t Learn. It’s a sci-fi work that plays with feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. Flash fiction works for this type of story, as the cap on words already makes the story a microcosm compared to short stories. It’ll post both on my blog (Typesetboogaloo.com) and Patreon page (Patreon.com/NicholasEskey).

As for my novel, My Personable Demon, I’m still reworking the very first chapter. Subsequent re-readings always come up with more “flaws” that I need to address before I am thoroughly satisfied and can move on. It’s true that the real work comes in the editing process.

Otherwise, I’ve also been investing a sizeable amount of energy into the YouTube channel my friends and I created; Call of the Nerd. Overall, it’s a silly labor, but still fun all the while. As of right now, it has us playing video games and capturing our reactions. I hope to someday soon get into producing skits. For now, I do all the editing and posting of the videos on Call of the Nerd, so I’ve felt pulled every which way this week with work. Yet again, it’s wonderful as it has both given me a break from writing, while still feeding my creative momentum.

The weekend will really be the test of whether I can keep this movement going. Lend your well wishes in that I still can propel forward with the speed of a flying spaghetti monster. Don’t give way to doubt. Fuck it.

Revealing the Art

Revealing the Art

One thing I’ve learned from my experiences so far is that writing just doesn’t “happen”. The whole romantic idea of sitting down at a keyboard, or your preferred writing medium, and just flowing with words isn’t real. If anything, you’re at the mercy of the literary spirits. Sorry. Your mental bubble is undoubtedly burst. How will you ever go on in life?

The famous artist Michelangelo once said in regards to one of his sculptures, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Writing I would have to say is quite similar. The work can’t be forced into the world, but rather the artist must quiet their minds and listen for the voices of their characters to make themselves known. Sometimes they will speak louder than avalanches, facilitating a torrent of words to paper. Other times they will be shy, silent as the grave. In these instances, you almost feel like a medium at a séance pleading for your characters to do something as simple as issue the smallest of whispers. Once this is done, it’ll become easier to coax the others into existence.

If you poke and prod beyond their liking, they’ll rebel and leave you in unnerving silence. Even worse, you might get the equivalent of writer’s diarrhea, where to your horror you’ll find what resembles utter, unequivocal crap.

So far, not only do we then find the process less romantic than we originally idealized, as well as more time consuming and tedious, but it also can be extremely nerve racking. Once the words have finally been divinely revealed, you’ll undoubtedly have a moment of clarity akin to when Dr. Frankenstein first looked on his monster with horror, repulsed by his ungodly work. A story is never ready to serve without a little mending. No matter how awesome of a writer you think you are, it’ll take a number of re-reads and editing until the words are arranged in a fashion that isn’t gibberish.

Years ago I was introduced to a wonderful poem by Anne Bradstreet. Her poem speaks about the relationship of an author with their book, and the feelings they have towards it. Because I feel it would be a disservice to “hack” the poem into a sample size, I present it to you in its entirety.

The Author to Her Book

By Anne Bradstreet (1678)

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,

Who after birth did’st by my side remain,

Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true

Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view;

Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,

Where errors were not lessened (all may judge)

At thy return my blushing was not small,

My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,

I cast thee by as one unfit for light,

Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;

Yet being mine own, at length affection would

They blemishes amend, if so I could:

I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,

And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.

I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,

Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet;

In better dress to trim thee was my mind,

But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.

In this array, ‘mongst vulgars mayst thou roam

In critics hands, beware thou dost not come;

And take thy way where yet thou art not known,

If for they father askt, say, thou hadst none:

And for thy mother, she alas is poor,

Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

Bradstreet’s poem speaks about her work, in this case either a book of poems or stories, given to her friends for review. In perhaps their poor judgement, or themselves being too kind in their critique, forwarded her work for outside criticisms, unknownst to Mrs. Bradstreet from what the poem implies. Upon its return with criticism, she was greatly embarrassed. Instead of trashing her book, having spent a great deal of energy on it already, she takes a little more to fix its flaws to the best of her abilities, though she herself admits she’s ill equipped in her writing tools to fashion it just the way she would like it. Never before have I read a creative description of a writer and their work that both was entertaining and true at the same time.

What should be taken out of all my ramblings is that writing is a labor of love. Often times there is no other reward than the satisfaction you get on making something that at least one other person may enjoy. Like any craft, it takes times to hone, hammering away at the dull blade of a novice until it becomes the sharp sword of one with experience. The process itself isn’t all roses and butterflies, but often times harsh reality. It’ll test you and make you question whether or not you’ve chosen to pursue the right endeavor. The finished product may also create more doubt, making you want to throw it out the window, sell your typewriter, make origami of your writing paper, and take a 9 to 5 job.

But in the end, when all the doubt is exhausted and the stars align, you’ll find yourself face to face with what you’ve been striving for; this child that was hidden in the paper and the ink, the writer’s blocks and the long sleepless nights, the doubt and self-loathing, and hopefully what you’ll see will make it all worth it.

Changes

Changes

Habits and routines aren’t made over night. Nor are they destroyed any faster, despite what people will have you think.

Up until rather recently I’d been working two jobs: Full time as a concierge and manager, as well as a part time martial arts instructor. I had been fortunate to do both for a good couple years, and I really loved teaching.

Change eventually happens, and I had decided I wanted to further my writing beyond what simply writing could afford me. What should I do? Go back to school, the voice in my head responded.

I had never really attended what would be considered a “traditional” college, always going through the two community colleges that were relatively in driving distance. Since I had gotten my Associate’s in Psychology, it had been years when I actually took my last class. Not because I felt I was finished with schooling; Too busy, too poor, too everything.

Though I had a buffer of years, a ghostly voice that seemed to reside in the back of my mind kept calling to me. They persisted, and when things in my life seemed stable, I had finally decided to take the plunge. Financially, I was okay to cover my apartment while I relied on financial aid for my classes. Work wise, I was into a grove that I felt I could manage around. Socially, well I’ve never been super social unless someone pulled me out of my comfort zone kicking and screaming, so what more harm could it cause?

For the record, I really do enjoy the company of people, no matter how much I might radiate an opposite vibe. I tend to wear “resting-bitch-face” while I’m either deep in thought or trying to nonchalantly be aware of my surroundings. Stemming all the way back when I was the miserable fat boy who did nothing but play Pokemon and video games, I don’t actively seek friendships or company. I’ve had my ego smashed and mangled enough times by others thank you very much. Some hurts never fully heal, only scab over to leave a deep reminder.

Back to the present. My first quarter of school went very well. All A’s and such. The Filipino blood in me rejoiced, as well as the shunned fat kid. It wasn’t until right before the start of my second quarter was to start that the routine I built for myself over the last couple of years began to crack.

Around the same time things were falling into place for me, other certain issues in my life began to take root. The certain things that we often care about yet take for granted in our lives; Health and relationships. My health wasn’t super for some time, but I managed to keep it in harmony. My relationship already had its share of baggage too. But again, it was manageable. Eventually though, everything has a breaking point. And when they broke, I broke.

Relationship imploded on the pressure. Mentally I was done. Soon after, my physical health began to sour. My life began to change away from what I was use to. When you begin to see your life before you fall like sand from an hour glass, the immediate reaction is to grasp before it’s all gone. I had to salvage something.

In my schooling, despite everything, I managed to keep my grades to 4.0. Keep that. My concierge job was steady and paid well. That stays too. My apartment was a little too big for just me, but I had things I wasn’t ready to part with, as well as a cat that likes his personal space. I could manage the cost myself still. That could stay.

Regretfully, along with some other things, my martial arts job had to slip through my hands. My sleep was averaging four hours a night. My stress levels were perpetuating my health issues. Still, it was tough to say goodbye.

I miss the people I worked with, that I trained with. I miss my students. I miss my teacher. Change is sometimes necessary, but it doesn’t make it easier. Some nights, I find myself dreaming that I’m still at the school, teaching alongside all too familiar faces.

Life right now is… different. But I’m managing; A day by day process. Some days are good, some days are bad. Before, I had a well-worn path where I knew largely what I was doing or where I was going. Now, it’s a more like finding a path among tall grown weeds. It’s unsteady and unsure, and will take time before my steps will trod another clear path. My feet still look for the places where it knew to step, only finding debris.

Never take for granted the sameness of your day to day, because eventually it will change. And that familiarity will be gone, replaced by unsureness. Find the things in your life that will keep you anchored against the flood of moving water, like deep rocks in a fast moving stream. If you choose the things that look appealing but with little root, you might find yourself swept in the torrent of change. Plan for change, but enjoy while the sameness lasts.

On a final note, if you want to give the biggest “f-u” to someone, try the old Chinese saying among enemies: “I hope your life is interesting.”