When did July get so close?

So, July did that thing where it snuck up on me, and I am sitting here in a daze. It’s Camp NaNoWriMo again (http://campnanowrimo.org). For the next few weeks I’m going to be buckling down and getting some more university work done, as well as taking on a new, and very difficult, story.

To give me some sort of accountability, I am planning on writing a journal for the progress of That Story, as the creative piece has been named, and it will have its own section on the blog and everything! I don’t know yet how often I will update the journal online, particularly since I’ll be keeping a hand written one as well since this story is pretty much the thing I promised myself I would never write. Seriously, it’s crammed full of all the things I hate or would hate writing like. And yet, here I am, at the start of Camp with nowhere else to go. So, forward it is.

And that’s just it, sometimes the only way you have to go sucks, but if you don’t go then it’ll suck more because you’ll be stuck.

Not making a decision is actually making the decision to do nothing. I am too easily bored to do nothing.

Bring it on July, I am ready for you with your terrible stories and serious academic work. I am not afraid! Much. Well, maybe a little…

Image

Terrible picture of Turtle, whose first name changes based on the moment. Awkward, Hungry, and Terrified are all good options.

Accepting Limitations

This week, I have managed to take the few minutes to learn something from the period of busy. I have limits, and the only way to deal with them is to accept that they are there, and it’s okay.

Being able to do everything all the time is a myth. It doesn’t matter who says it, it doesn’t matter where they say it, if someone tells you that they can do everything doesn’t mean that it’s easy, or right, or even that they are doing whatever it is they say they are. Just because you theoretically can, doesn’t mean you should and certainly don’t feel bad if you don’t meet the lofty ‘can’.

There are times when the best you can do it keep ticking off the little, essential things. That can be as little as getting out of bed, or dragging your butt to the kitchen and back. That’s okay.

Slowly, as I got through the crazy busy, I found that there was something else I was doing. I was starting to find ways to make the things that I needed to do habit, and that meant I could fit in just a little more each day. As the habits became more ingrained, new habits started. Once I had managed to remember to eat breakfast in the morning, which is a big thing for me, I started to be able to think about lunch. I could plan what I needed to remember a little bit. When I had breakfast, I was able to remember that I’m supposed to walk during the day, so I was able to get out the door early enough to park a bit further away and walk.

The little, good habits I started made it possible to meet the necessary obligations I had, without the stress that would have come from just launching into everything. A little planning, well actually a lot of planning because I have a lot of little things I need to work on, meant that I could let my brain have space. And that meant I could let there be pockets of blissful, relaxing, wonderful creative thought.

It’s not just when things are hectic that I have to remember that it’s okay to have limits. Every day, there are things I want to do, that I just can’t fit in. And when it comes to giving myself  brain-space to be creative, accepting that I won’t get everything I could want done is really important. It’s in the space between the busy, the car rides and train trips, that give me the chance to explore the little bit of creative that happens. Some days, that space is waiting for the kettle to boil.

Limitations are not a bad thing. They are a part of life everyone deals with, regardless of what they claim in person or on social media. The trick to it seems to be finding out what the limitations actually are, and working around and within them.

Image

Only one of them can drink at a time, theoretically.

Give it to a busy person

So, on the writing front, since I haven’t gotten to doing my blog in far too long, I must first apologise for my absence. It was not caused, entirely, by Writer’s Block, but by the huge demands that university made on my time. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, I probably haven’t, but I’m doing my Honours Thesis, the capitals are deserved, and it has just been the last few weeks of semester. Uni assessments are hard, and scary, and they make the rest of the universe need to stop. Which of course it never does, which is why I haven’t updated my blog, or managed to get a decent night’s sleep lately.

There is a saying: If you want something done, give it to a busy person. As a person who was busy, and stressed about it, I want to say that the saying sucks. If you want something done, get off your butt and do it! Sure, sometimes you need other people to do things, but time management should not be a skill-set acquired only by those who somehow managed to get more to do than the universe gives them time for. Note to the Universe: upping the stakes is a good literary trope, but I could do without it in my real life, thanks!

Having said that, I want to make a point of clarification. We’re all busy people. Even when we don’t feel like it, when there’s nothing pencilled in. We all have to decide what the shards we’re going to do with the day, tomorrow, the week coming, next month, next year, next forever. And sometimes it’s easier to just write a list and then stick to it, head down and working hard, until the list gets shorter. Which it never does, because the Universe likes to give things to busy people too.

Don’t lose yourself to the busy. Easy to say, a whole lot harder to do. I lost myself to the busy for a while there. All I could talk about was Uni, all I could think was academia, and everything else had to wait because of the immense pressure of being Busy. And it sucked. It sucked so much that I found myself longing for the train rides into the city, the car trips I had to make to work. Those times, on the way to one place or another, I could not be busy for a bit. And in that on-the-way-to-busy, I found something interesting. My brain relaxed. It was ready. It was prepared. It looked at the world and went ‘well, that’s interesting, let’s have an easy, light think about it.’ And it was content to not panic. I wasn’t so content not to panic, and I kept trying, but it was hard, sitting on the train as people tried very hard to cacoon themselves in their personal space bubbles so they didn’t have to vaguely interact with the person rubbing shoulders with them as the train rocked on the tracks.

In the middle of Busy, sometimes there needs to be a minute to make a cup of tea, drink it, and savour the humour of the situation. When you’re Busy, you want to rest, and when I’m not Busy there is a part of me that is lost and a bit afraid. I can’t win that battle, and perhaps it’s not a battle at all but a balancing act.

Now all I need to do is learn how to make the balancing act work so I can get writing again. That’ll be fun, I think, and something that I can do no matter how busy I am.

And necessary cute pony picture. These guys are balancing out their inquisitive side! Especially since they’ve just discovered the egg stone is actually a fountain and they can drink from it. Ponies, they are hilarious.

Mimic, Bridget, and Archer investigating the egg fountain

Mimic, Bridget, and Archer investigating

Reading suggestion

Today I’m taking a moment out of talking about how my writing is going, or not going as the case may be, and hoping that someone will take my advice.

Go to your nearest bookshop, and get a copy of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Now. Not tomorrow, not next week, but right now. Don’t be worried about the cover, with its bikini clad, lipstick toting beauty queen contestant, the book is so worth any odd looks you get from the cover. I gave it an odd look at first too, so I know that it took a bit for me to pick it up and actually read it.

What it took was hearing Libba Bray read a section of the book aloud at the Friday Night Fight, part of the Reading Matters conference, and the Emerging Writers’ Festival held in Melbourne over the weekend. Not only was the passage hilarious, Libba Bray is an amazing reader, and as I read the book today I realised that her words are so good that they sound just right in your head.

I won’t tell you too much about the book, because that would be spoiling it, but it is a satire, it does have beauty queen contestants, and it is so funny I laughed aloud on numerous occasions. It was also so pointedly true that I wept, because I can relate to what the girls go through, despite never having done anything that girly in my life, or being stuck on a deserted island.

Pick up this book, read it, and if you don’t find yourself changed for the experience, I would be surprised.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, go and get it!