Daily Prompt: Mythical

 

x600He was kind like a mother

He was gentle like a lover

He was charming like another

He was intelligent like her brother

He made love like a sinner

He lived life like a winner

He raced through her mind like she was a dreamer

He was mythical. Like her.

via Daily Prompt: Mythical

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The Kind of Writer I Want To Be

The Kind of Writer I Want To Be

When I was growing up, I dreamt of being many things but the one that still sticks to date is wanting to be a writer. You know how some kids think about what kind of pop star or athlete or scientist they’d like to be, well, I wondered what kind of writer I’d be. In the early stages of this fantasy, I wished to be Enid Blyton who wrote Noddy and a few years later I wanted to be Enid Blyton who wrote the Famous Five. This was followed by a brief delusion of wanting to be an Apollo astronaut, which lasted an embarrassingly long time. Then the Harry Potter books came into my life so I obviously wanted to be the next J K Rowling. This fantasy also lasted a very long time. To be honest, it was active until a few years ago when I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire. This was when I realised where the Harry Potter books actually stand in the fantasy genre. No offence, Miss Rowling gave me some of the best years of childhood fantasy but my over-confident young adult ego was grandly mistaken about the entire genre. I don’t blame myself too much though, I didn’t know better back then. Now I read epic fantasy and know why the name is fitting. And no, I don’t want to be the next Robert Jordan (who is featured heavily on this blog recently, if you’ve noticed), I’m not that delusional.

Before I get to the kind of writer I want to be I must mention the Jane Austen phase. It didn’t come about when I first read Pride & Prejudice or Emma even. The inkling to follow in Miss Austen’s footsteps came upon me when I read Persuasion, undoubtedly her most mature work. I was lost not only in the plot, but also in the nuances of her storytelling and her first-class talent of writing complex and complete characters. I wanted to write like her so much that I started writing letters to her. I never posted any of course, I’m not a weirdo, and she’s long dead so there was no where to post them, really. But I did write quite a few of them in, what I thought would’ve been, a style pleasing to her. They all began with “My Dearest Jane”, as though we were sisters separated. I would write to her in a very honest manner about my health (and enquire about hers), my work, about any gentlemen who were courting me, any impropriety I’d experienced and other Austen-ite things. This one-sided correspondence was one of my most memorable attempts at being the type of writer I wanted to become. Once it was clear that I had none of Miss Austen’s eloquence or mastery with prose, I stopped writing to her regularly. Yes, I say “regularly” because I still write to her occasionally. I understood my limitations, I didn’t stop being “a little bit strange”, as I’m referred to by my friends.

So, on to the type of writer I want to become, the answer is the Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling type. I want to make you laugh and think “Oh yeah, I’ve been there”. I want you to feel warm and comforted without weighing too heavily on your intellect. I want you to feel like you’ve understood me a little bit and think that maybe I understand you a little as well. I want to give you a glimpse of what’s in my head. I want to certainly discuss a few serious issues but I don’t want to take you down the deep and dark recesses of my psyche (I’m saving that for a psychiatrist who will need to get his own psychiatrist when he’s done therapising me). I want to be this writer because there is a part of me that believes this might be an achievable goal. This is my “I’m not eating chips for 15 days” rather than my “I give up chocolate for a week” because as we all know, chocolate is basically addictive and it’s not our fault that we want it so much. I’m not saying that I won’t try my “give up chocolate” gig, that will be my attempt at a young adult fantasy series. That’s still very much on the cards. But for now, I will try my hand at Fey and be happy if I end up with something even slightly close to Kaling.

Make The Jump

© Eric Dufresne

© Eric Dufresne

The latest episode of HBO’s Girls (S03E06) really struck a chord with me. I generally find myself relating to Hannah’s stories but never has one struck so close to home as this time’s. For those who haven’t watched the episode yet, please note that this post contains MAJOR SPOILERS. So, please stop reading now. For those who’ve seen the episode (or don’t care enough), I beg your indulgence for a while. In this episode Hannah gets a job as an advertorial staff writer for GQ magazine. She ends up being surprisingly good at the job and her peers even think she could someday replace their boss. This immediately sets off warning bells in Hannah’s head and she argues that she, unlike the others, is a “real” writer, and is only doing this job as a temporary gig. Her peers knock her off the pedestal she placed herself on, and enlighten her about how they’ve actually been published in better publications than her, took up this job as a temporary gig themselves, and are quite definitely “real” writers. This is when Hannah feels these people have been sidelined from their dreams by the lure of corporate comforts, and agonised over not wanting to end up the same way. She quits but then is convinced into reconsidering by a peer who tells her she can do her personal writing on weekends and at night. The episode ends with her coming home, wanting to write, but being too tired and simply falling asleep.

It’s like they picked up my life and adapted it for this episode. I’m at a job that was supposed to be a “temporary gig”, for almost three years now. I thought I’d write on the side and maintain a blog and figure out what I really want to do, while working 9 to 5. I’ve barely done two of those things and I haven’t even done those regularly. On the show, Hannah is concerned that the money and the corporate perks will hold her back from quitting at a later point. I feared this as well. However, that’s not what will hold Hannah back later. I know this now because it struck me after watching that episode. It’s not the money that’s keeping me from pursuing my dreams and it’s not the perks. It’s the fear of not being good enough, or rather, capable enough to successfully follow my dreams.

I haven’t quit my job yet because I like the money or anything. I haven’t pursued my dreams because I’m afraid of failing at them. At this point, I don’t need anyone to tell me I’ll succeed, or give me an inspirational speech. What I need, and Hannah will as well, is a push. I need someone or something to come along and shove me over the deep end or else I’ll just be stuck here admiring the view off the edge. Scratch that. What I really need to do is make the jump myself.

On the path of life

This post is an answer to the prompt “You’ve been asked to speak at your high school alma marter—about the path of life (whoa). Draft the speech.

The path of life is defined by two constants—change and uncertainty. You may have it all figured out in your mind but things will most likely go a different way, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As your life path twists and turns, you will too. With age and experience, ideas change, views change, situations change, means change, and longstanding dreams can also change.

When I was 13, I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. By the time I was 16, I didn’t want to anymore. But you’ll say that’s ok, the resolutions we make as little children and teenagers almost always change, and I agree with you.

But then again, when I was 18, I wanted to be married by the time I was 24, I thought anything beyond that would be too late. I’m 25 and single now and I can’t imagine wanting to be married for a few more years. But who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll change again.

Life changed me, the decisions I made changed me, the experiences I had changed me, and quite importantly, the people I surrounded myself with changed me.

I currently work in writing and marketing. For almost four years now I have tried to decide between the two disciplines, and failed at picking just one. If you absolutely forced me to choose, I am still uncertain about which one I’d choose.

I realised that things started becoming more and more uncertain after I left school. Uncertainty was everywhere—which college I’d get into, which one I’d choose, what jobs I would apply for, so on and so forth.

I’m sure by now you get the gist of what I’m trying to say, especially because I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times before. And even though this might just be a reiteration, it doesn’t make it any less real or true.

So, what I’m saying is, you never know where the path of life will take you. If you are the type of person who likes to have a plan, go ahead and make one, but allow for inconsistances when it comes to implementation. This path will take you to some beautiful places and some horrible ones, some happy phases and some lonely ones, but know that it might change at any moment. I’m not going to end by asking you to enjoy the journey, because a lot of times it will be far from enjoyable, but I am asking you to remember that things change and when you feel uncertain, lost, and down and out the most, try to fret a little less because you could be next in line for change.

On figuring out what to do in life [unsolved]

I woke up this morning with a career plan. I’ve always wanted to study more, and recently read that the UK government was proposing new visa rules that would allow international students a good chance at work after a PhD. So, I was like—great, awesome, that settles it then! I’d started dreaming of my perfect student apartment in New Town, Edinburgh that I would share with a cool American undergrad and a Scottish postgrad. I thought I’d be the toast of the “consumption culture research” world, with my radicle papers on how embracing post-post modern consumption might just be the way ahead. And I’d imagined all the fancy dinner parties I’d be attending at my supervisor’s house, where apart from him and his lovely wife, I would meet other “cool” intellectuals like myself (ahem).

And then I read this article: The disposable academic which basically tells me that pursuing a PhD would be a wasted endeavour as there is more supply than demand in the market. The fact that this was posted by an acquaintance who is currently pursuing a PhD in Economics (a subject with far more potential than mine) added to my already vast disappointment.

So, what now? What am I supposed to do? There’s a little voice in my head that tells me I should go for it regardless of this one article. But I know this isn’t the only one, there are several out there, all saying the same thing. And this voice tells me “You’ll be better than the best! You’ll be the exception to the rule”, but I know that isn’t true. A very wise movie, and my experience with life, taught me that I am, in 99.9% of the cases, definitely the rule.

Image by Rijama

The thing is, it’s very difficult—this thing called “life”. One day you’re dreaming about bumping into Paolo Nutini on the streets of Edinburgh after nailing a class on Erik Erikson’s theory of stages of development, and the next you realise that not just the Paolo part, but all of that dream might not be possible. So then you start running through your back up plans—
I want to be a writer—No, there are too many writers out there who are far better than you.
I want to be a writer who finds a voice with which a niche audience can connect—No, there are already enough voices out there.
I want to be a travel writer—Have you seen twitter? Every third person there is a travel writer.
I want to become a musician—Get real, you’re not 12 anymore.
I want to become a singer in a jazz band—Get real, you can barely hold a tune.
I want to be a writer—It’s like you’re not even listening anymore!

So, what then? What am I supposed to do? They tell you you’re supposed to figure out what you can offer that is different from everyone else and then work with that. But, come on, when was the last time someone offered something completely different, anyway?

So, I circle back. I think that’s what you should do at times like these (note the Foo reference there), circle back to where you started and begin eliminating dead-ends that come disguised as options. Do your research, talk to people, and also try your hand at other things that are on your list of possibilities (perhaps try that writing thing again? write a blog post about your dilemma, maybe?). If you’re lucky,  and I hope you are, and if you work for something, or a few things, or even many things, hopefully one of those things, if not some or all of them, will work out.