All of the Dreams

This is an explanation that I hope will hold for months and months if need be. I really appreciate this blog and it’s stupid url, loosely taken from D.H. Lawrence because when I started it five years ago I was in a D.H. Lawrence kinda mood.  I will say, a lot has changed. I work full-time. I write every day, but lack of time means it’s usually just day-to-day journal entries of wandering thoughts. I’ve been listening to a lot of music, returning to Lorde’s Melodrama often because OF COURSE. And there’s comfort there, too. Here, with the lyric, “All of the dreams that get harder.” Time management is hard. I never thought time management, of all things, would be such a burden. But I am writing, and when I write something decent I keep it for myself in the hopes one day someone will buy it. It’s been fun, keeping things private.

At the start of my current journal, which is about a week away from being full, are these words from Kurt Vonnegut: “Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow – whether there is a market for it or not! The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward. I would tell all of you watching this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don’t show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward.”

I’m glad those words ended up meaning something. I was worried, when I wrote it, what my motive was. I was nineteen. I’m twenty-one now, the journal is almost done. I was wondering whose words would start my next. I chose Tavi Gevinson, because lately I’ve been looking around instead of up, and people my own age have become bigger and better inspirations than others. In her Infinity Diaries series she says, “But something inside me conquers this nostalgia, this desire to miss: the simple knowledge that these feelings will happen again. New feelings will happen, if I let them. As Kenny said of doing the same thing on stage every night, you never actually do, because you’ve never been alive today before, and the same goes for tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.” I’m curious to find out what this will mean to me in two, three-years time.

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I Misheard You

For a long time I misunderstood the chorus of David Bowie’s song Changes – I misheard the lyric “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)” for “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strain)” and went on singing and dancing to it in my bedroom at 1AM, fully dressed and fully awake. And I LOVED that misheard lyric – it was about pushing myself out of my comfort zone, wading through mud to get to a better version of myself.

I noticed my mistake after Bowie died, when I pulled my headphones over my ears and listened to the song at full blast. I heard the “ge” and had a little pity party for my belated understanding. There was a physicality to that lyric that I mourned when I learned it wasn’t the right one. According to Google, strain means “to force (a part of one’s body or oneself) to make an unusually great effort” – that’s the type of motivation my masochistic, overworked brain likes to hear!

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People on Pluto

When I was a few years younger than I am now ideas swam around my head like sparkling little goldfish at an alarmingly constant rhythm. I took it for granted. It was a time when I thought my ideas were bright and shiny and new, and gleaming with originality. I thought I was thinking up things that no one had thought, thinking thoughts only a thought genius could’ve thunk. Because they were new to me. When a new thing scuttles its way into your head, you make a big deal out of it, and you make a big deal out of it by writing in journals and listening to angsty songs.

Firsts are magical in their newborn gurgles, and get sillier with perspective.

For the first time we’re seeing Pluto properly. It used to be a bunch of pixels, so few that I could count them, and so small I bet they had to check for dust on the lens before confirming. Now I can see its craters. I can see the white splodge that stamps the middle of it, shaped like a well-made men’s shoe and most likely a remnant of when we booted it out of the planet club. It looks suspiciously like our moon, only drenched in sepia and the tones of old times.

It was named by an 11-year-old girl, after the Roman god of the underworld. It’s sweet really. Pluto, god of the underworld, husband of Persephone, ruler of Hades, way out there in the Keiper Belt ruling the icy rocks with its gravity. Of course the god of the underworld would be frozen solid. Nothing’s ever what we expect.

And now New Horizons is zipping past – mission accomplished – carrying the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh with it, further and further from his discovery. Glory doesn’t last, but there is something thrilling about being catapulted past our solar system post-mortem style.

He discovered it in 1930. That doesn’t seem far enough in the past. It’s hard to picture a time when Pluto wasn’t there, tailing the solar system with its posse of rocks. Just as hard as it’ll be in 85 years, when Pluto has dropped off the student acronyms for good and there are clear and actual pictures hanging on classroom walls, to think of a time when all we knew for sure was it was there, and it was very very far away.

There might even be a flag cracked into the ice, if we practice dangerous optimism. Another first for another generation to gawk over. What do you mean, Mum? There were always people on Pluto.

“This Is Not Practice, This Is Your Life”

Sometimes I feel like the biggest phony the world has ever churned out. Like, really? I can just go out… and do things with my life? Things I actually want to do? I’m waiting for someone to stop me in the street and tell me to cut it out, but it hasn’t happened yet. The people of Earth have let me roam free – and it’s the strangest feeling I’ve had.

I don’t want to waste time. That’s where everything I’ve done, especially lately, has come from. I’m terrified of a lot of stuff, but hiding in a hole doesn’t work for me. If I’m scared of time then I’ve got to use it. I’ve got to tell myself It’s Now Or Never, You’ll Thank Me Later, You Have Too Many Days Off, Do Something, This Isn’t Practice.

This video was posted, what, 2 years ago? Jeez. But when I watched it for the first time I got it. It made me feel better about rash decisions and going with my gut. Hell, it was posted around the same time I would have been signing up for a freaking Arts degree.

I think of this video whenever I do something scary and ridiculous. I seem to be doing a lot of those lately. For anyone thinking of doing the same, this is something you’ll want to watch.

Mt Everest and Writing

Writing is like climbing a mountain twice as high as Mt Everest. Sometimes you don’t even need to look for a handhold. It’s right next to you, that jagged piece of rock stable enough to hold your weight. Sometimes it’s as easy as rock climbing – not quite the easiest thing in the world, but safer, and warmer. Tonight, at 8:46PM on the 8th of May 2015, I’m somewhere near the base of the mountain. I’ve barely gotten off the ground, but I’m terrified. Tonight I looked down. What I saw weren’t sharp press pin rocks sticking up at me, but soft plush snow waiting to catch me.

I’m leaving this metaphor and delving into the past for a little bit, but it’s cliche enough for you to remember for later. I started writing seriously under a year ago, and boy did I have high hopes. I knew I could write, in the sense that I knew where to put full stops and how much dialogue was too much dialogue. What I have learned since then is that I don’t even know that. I really. Don’t. And there is a whole trove of troubles that I have which I’m uncovering every single day, like lost jewels. This isn’t what I expected, but it’s what I want. If you can’t identify anything that’s wrong with you then you’ll stay stagnant; you’ll pickle in your own bad grammar and crappy characters. You’ll become one of your own crappy characters.

Really though, I wasn’t going into this with rose coloured glasses. I didn’t even have time to put them on; I dived headfirst into this thing without considering it fully. I’d compare it to taking a shot of vodka. Just don’t think about it. Just drink. But I knew I could end up having the time of my life or puking out of a taxi window.

So up until now I haven’t been looking at the world of writing with a pink tinge, or without acknowledging my faults. My issue tonight didn’t start with me suddenly realising that I wasn’t on the same level as George Orwell. For me, it’s the pressure of wanting to be somewhere within the same world, whether that’s a published writer or a published journalist.

I wish, every day, that I could be Stephen King with his rusty nail above his desk, where he’d stab his rejection letters repeatedly. Writing in the internet age brings with it so many added pressures. I have constant access to other people’s work, running critique on my own work, and hundreds of publications calling for submissions and hundreds of submissions coming back with a pixelated rejection stamp neatly in the by-line. And there are my teachers too, plus my own struggles when it comes to writing that I bring to my desk with me every time I sit down. Grateful? I am, most of the time. All these things have their positives, they’re all underneath me while I climb, pushing me further and further. But sometimes I just want to ‘stay home and write and figure things out for myself’, in the words of the beautifully tortured Kerouac. It’s how I feel when I’m being prodded a little too much, or when constructive criticism becomes overwhelming and turns into a well-meaning dark shadow cast over my head.

It can be defeating. This is why I tell people, only write if you have to. You’ll be happier if you can find something safer to love, that gives a little more and doesn’t take so much. Tonight is one of those nights where I glimpsed down at the ground below. I’m still at the point, though, where if I fall I’ll land with a soft thud. It wouldn’t kill me to jump off and become an…architect, or an accountant. Actually, I had to think for a minute about what job I’d rather have than this. It is neither an architect nor an accountant. Maybe I’m higher up this mountain than I thought.

Clockwork Forest

“What does it mean?”

“It means it’s almost 12 o’clock?”

“But what is it doing here?”

The fob watch hung from a branch by its chain. The delicate hands of the watch were angled upwards, one hand slowly ticking away the seconds. They had been hiking through the woods since the sun rose, lazily trudging over bared roots and moss. The air was thick and the wind cold, so by afternoon they were both over the idea all together. Thea shivered and glared at the watch with curious uncertainty.

“Can we stop? My feet feel like they’re going to break off,” she said. She had already taken off her backpack. She sat on it to avoid the dew that still gripped the ground. Noah gave her a reassuring nod, but instead of resting he approached the watch where it hung. It too had dew clinging to it. It was slowly dripping off and falling to the forest floor in a puddle. He held it in his palms, weighing it from one to the other. It was like ice. He could feel every tick resounding through the metal, yet it didn’t make sense. The gears should have been frozen in place. He let it go and it swayed like a pendulum.

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See For Yourself

I sat with my back to them, keeping watch. Outside all I could see were outlines, darker shapes that somehow stood out from the pitch blackness of the night. Mostly I was just watching the trees swaying in the wind and trying not to freeze. All the air was rushing in through the massive doorway, and I sat in the centre of it huddled in a ball and tried to keep my teeth from chattering. The marble floor felt like ice.

“Well, this is the most glamorous place we’ve ever set up camp,” Emmi said, almost positive. I turned my head enough to give her a half-hearted nod and saw that she was lighting the gas lamps. Felix sat on his sleeping bag facing me, but not seeing me. He was staring off into his own world.

The space around her and Felix illuminated in a warm glow, revealing glimpses of the complicated tapestry and gold detailing that covered the enormous walls.

“This… is amazing,” Emmi whispered. She was on the verge of a complete geek-out. We wouldn’t be able to leave until she inspected every wall and every crevice. I resisted the urge to explore more, to see the massive house in its entirety. Instead I stayed put and focused my attention on our surroundings. Our dull and unchanging surroundings.

I heard a meek voice behind me say, “What does it look like?”

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