It’s the End of the Year…

And I don’t know what to think. I guess I accomplished a lot this year. But didn’t everybody? It’s kind of hard not to accomplish a lot in a year. I don’t really know how proud of myself I should be, as a result. Should I still congratulate myself? Others have done amazing things, such as saving people’s lives, or done notoriously difficult things, like quitting smoking. Or maybe they made it on Broadway, or got cast in their first major role in a film. I don’t care, really. But I do know that my most impressive accomplishment this year was the fact that I passed my Grade 3 piano exam. Never mind the fact that eight-year-olds do it all the time. It’s quite surprising that I even passed it in the first place, given my current level of negligence in practising.
I nearly failed that exam.
I SHOULD HAVE failed that exam.

Oh, well. Moving on, I guess.

As I write this in the late hours of the night (or early hours of the morning??), on December 31st, 2017, I can’t help but wonder if New Year’s resolutions are even helpful. I mean, most people fail at them. So I guess the only way to not fail would be to only have one New Year’s resolution: to fail at your New Year’s resolutions. But then you have a paradox, because in not failing, you have failed to achieve your goal of failure, which was a failure in of itself… I should really write stories about thoughts like this instead of making you read them in my little corner of the internet. Not that anyone reads this thing… Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be anonymous. It was never my goal. This blog is linked on my social media accounts. People can find it if they wish to. But somehow, I doubt they will.

I know someone else who has a blog. She’s my age. She keeps hers way more anonymous than I do, however, and her blog is much more successful because she has picked a niche and stuck to it. As if I could do that. I suck at even staying on topic within my own paragraphs, within my own blog post. Which brings me back to my point: Should I be proud of what I have accomplished this year?

I’m very ambivalent about the response. Not that I don’t care… I simply don’t have an answer. In some ways, this was a good year. A very good year, in fact. I achieved straight As in school for the first time ever (which may surprise those of you who know me personally). I participated in a fashion show as a designer for the first time ever, and though it was just a high school event, it was a great experience I learned a lot from. I started a novel, breaking my (lingering) qualms over fiction writing. I discovered a love for writing dialogue. I completed three full sketchbooks and 90% of a fourth. I submitted to a literary magazine for the first time. I submitted to my school’s art show for the first time (and trust me, that can be scary when you go to an art school). I did so many wonderful things. But yet…

Here are some of the nastier things about this year:

  1. I put on weight. Not in a healthy way though. Not at all.
  2. Did I mention the lack of exercise?
  3. Did I mention the lack of sleep?
  4. I spend too much time on the Internet nowadays.
  5. I suspect I have spent more time on YouTube this year than I ever have before.
  6. Still haven’t killed my nasty procrastination habit.
  7. I panicked in front of an audience for the first time this year…

And many others. I really want to start getting in more exercise. I want to kill my procrastination habit as well. It doesn’t make me happier. It doesn’t help me get anything done. And it’s a complete waste of my time.

My relationship with procrastination is much healthier than some other people’s, though. I know someone who once left an entire summative to the night before. He had to come up with a ten page research document and a twenty slide presentation. How he managed that, I do not know.
I suspect he plagiarized most of it.
But is that okay? I do procrastinate as well, but I do understand when to pull back and WORK. I have to. I hold myself to stringent and unrealistic expectations of perfection which I almost never attain. But I wouldn’t call that unhealthy. I’m just ambitious, I guess.

This year I learned that while I have the capacity to be a natural leader, I’m not interested. Not really. I’ll do it if I feel that no one else wants to, or that the current leader is, well, inadequate. Because I can do the job. And I do it well. But in all honesty? I prefer to do my own thing. Strange for an extravert to say, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I also like to not-so-quietly critisize others. I don’t pull any punches.

But it really sucks that there is so much misunderstanding around introvert/extravert types and what it means. I am an extravert. But I do not hate being alone. I quite enjoy it, actually. I need my alone time. But I also need social interaction. I crave it. I’m the one who initiates conversations with long lost friends. I love people. But I don’t understand why people seem to think introverts hate people. That’s not the definition of introversion, it’s more like… social anxiety (but don’t take my word for it). I know introverts who love people and social interactions. But they do need their alone time. It’s simple. Extraverts are energized by social interaction. Introverts are energized by quiet time alone (or with a few quiet people) and are generally drained by social interaction. Get with the program, people. Saying that introverts hate people is like saying that all people hate running because it makes them tired. That might be true in a few cases, but it’s not a generally true statement and should not be proclaimed as such.

And… I managed to deviate from the theme of this post again. But here are a few of my goals for 2018:

  1. Exercise more regularly. Join a sporting club or something.
  2. Reduce time spent procrastinating.
  3. Draw something every day, no matter how small or sketchy.
  4. Engage in personal writing at least twice a week.
  5. Figure out a few career options (instead of blindly having no idea what to do).
  6. Finish composing one of the gajillion songs I’ve started.
  7. Develop basic dance skills (I currently have none).
  8. Learn Excel spreadsheet stuff.
  9. Read more non fiction.
  10. Submit to four literary magazines.

And there you go! Some of my goals for this year. I know I will most likely fail at some of them, but they’re nice to have anyway. Gives me a place to start. And maybe this isn’t a goal, but more of a promise to myself: I will get to know myself better. I will engage in thoughtful self reflection. Because now is  the time, right? When you’re young and teenage?

Anyways, Happy New Year! (If you celebrate it
– Rebeeks

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Am I Normal?

I don’t understand myself most of the time. Sometimes being around my family doesn’t help. Sometimes being around my friends doesn’t help. Half the time, the fact that I go to an arts school doesn’t help. And you know what helps even less? When I can’t find the right words to express myself. Like now.

Sometimes I wish I was introverted and actually enjoyed spending time in my own brain. Not that I don’t like spending time in my own brain, I do, but… See what I mean? I don’t know how to say what I need to say! And the trouble is that I need to discuss things with people in order to feel better about them. Actually, that’s not always true. But I do feel better after talking to people. But I don’t always know what to say, and that sucks. Because for all the time I spend talking to people, I still suck at communicating. God, I can’t even communicate with myself!

This post is just a messed up jumble of thoughts.

This sucks. The jumbled-up thoughts stage I’m currently in? Each year I change a little bit and I never know if it’s for the better. Not to mention, I’m at a point in my life where I’m incredibly indecisive and don’t know what to do with myself. And that’s nice, isn’t it.

I don’t know why I feel much more comfortable speaking (well, writing really) to this imaginary online audience of random people. I don’t know if anyone reads this. But it’s not like this is anonymous. This is a real, live, website that can be traced back to me at anytime. I may as well be posting this on social media, because any acquaintance of mine who reads this will know it’s me. But I would never post these kinds of thoughts on social media. Why? I don’t know.

Around me, I can see people reading, writing, and looking for books. From my seat inside a library in the (almost) heart of the city, I can see people shopping. It’s Black Friday today, a holiday of endless consumerism that happens and will continue to go on while I sit here and struggle with my mess of a brain. Because that’s what normal teenagers do.

Who am I kidding? Normal teenagers do not obsessively think about whether or not they shoukd call themselves artists. Normal teenagers do not obsessively think about their ability to make art, do not worry about really they are actually good enough to stay at the school they auditioned for. Normal teenagers probably don’t have warring parts of their brain, like I do. I love and hate both the arts and the sciences equally; I cannot live without one or the other. And that’s sad. Because in than two years, I will have to choose. I do not want to choose. I used to think high school would last forever. But now that it has become very clear that it doesn’t, I really wish it did.

Summer

I think summers are wonderful, but this one just isn’t really working out for me. Really, last year’s didn’t either. I’ve always seen the summer as a great time to just branch out and do stuff that I can’t do during school, but I actually spent more time both writing and drawing for pleasure during the school year. Go figure (although that may be explained by the fact that a) I’m in a writing program, and writing kinda comes with the territory, and b) I was required to keep a sketchbook for art class, and since I do like drawing well…). I’ve wanted to write more code, like maybe write a video game or something. I KNOW I can write a crappy video game in a month, because I’ve done it before. And I do want to try it again.  But the thing with leaving all the these fantastic plans to the summer is that you really can’t get everything done. I think the summer is really better for either starting or finishing big projects, rather than starting and completing big projects.

I guess some people might disagree with me. But to me, that was a HUGE realization, and it sort of makes sense. I really only have time to start and finish one big project during the summer. And most of the time, I want to do many, many things, like writing a book, or writing and mixing a song, or composing electronic music, or even writing code for a video game. And I’m a multitasker. I suck at getting things finished. It’s a fact in my life. So instead or trying to finish all these things, I just go to summer school and try to finish an entire high school course in like, three weeks. It might seem a bit counter intuitive, but it makes the most sense for me. First of all, that is the only way I am guaranteed not to waste copious amounts of time on the internet for two months. Also, I like the feeling of accomplishing something tangible. Passing a course is not a small feat, and it’s a credit. Also, I despise math, so I usually just try to get that out of the way. But it also gets me into the habit of valuing my time and dividing it up accordingly. Again, I’m a multitasker. School does not prevent me from multitasking.

So now summer school is over, and I’m working on a whole bunch of projects at once. But I’m starting to think about simply getting the projects started. Maybe not finishing them, but I should just pick one, get a huge chunk of it done, and then dabble in the others. Hmmm…

-Rebeeks

On Fiction Writing

Sometimes I don’t understand why, deep inside me, there is still an impulse to write. Why am I doing it? sometimes it actually doesn’t make sense to me. I always start a lot more poems than the number of poems I actually finish; why, I do not know. Or actually, I do know. To me, inspiration is something which is fleeting as the wind. It comes and goes like the wind. Sometimes I wonder how actual writers, real published authors, overcome this. But maybe they don’t. John Green did just go like, at least 3 years without publishing a book.

A few months ago I decided I sucked at story-writing and almost gave it up completely, but I couldn’t. I always tell people I am primarily a non-fiction writer, which is true, and I wear that self-appointed label like a badge of honor. Why shouldn’t I? These days, all people seem to care about is fiction. And I do love fiction as much as the next person, but I love my essays too much. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a literary narcissist. I spend way too much time writing about my life, my experiences, my joy, my sorrow… I know my life is complicated, and I do like giving myself a voice. But I realize there are others, other people, other problems, other complications in this world. I’m just not necessarily qualified to speak of any of them. And so I know the non-fiction genre, unpopular as it is, has a lot to offer. And it has a special place in my heart. But I still find it quite impossible to give up fiction.

Perhaps it is good that I can’t give up fiction, but it does cause me some issues. I am not confident in my ability to make up and tell a good story. At all. The last time I tried, I came up with eight pages of rambling nonsense. And as we all well know, rambling nonsense is not conductive to telling a good story. At all. My characters are flat and there is generally a glaring absence of plot. But for some reason, despite all of this, there is a tiny voice in my head telling me not to give up.

Well, it’s actually not one voice. It’s voices, plural. I swear there are sometimes characters in my brain clamoring for me to tell their stories. I am not making this up. One, it actually drove me crazy for about two weeks, and I was forced to sit down and take extensive notes on this character and her family. I haven’t started telling her story, yet, though. And I think deep down I fear that if I give up fiction, I will irretrievably lose a part of myself, the part of myself that is a storyteller at heart and loves bouncing story ideas off other people. That has been a part of me since my earliest childhood. Where is the confidence I had, back in fourth grade, back when I thought I could write mystery novel? What happened to the sixth grader who thought she could win short story contests? I admit I’m scared. I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of becoming incoherent and messy in my writing again. I hate being messy and incoherent. But what do I do?

For the first time in almost three years, I am writing a story. It may be a short story, it may be a novella, it may be a novel. Who knows? But the effort counts. I am not saying I haven’t written fiction in 3 years. I am saying that I haven’t done it for myself, with passion, with actual belief in what I am doing and the story I am trying to tell, in 3 years. It’s a lot. With that time gap my adventurous self is returning. I am trying new genres; I’m experimenting. I’m going all out. I don’t hate writing fiction. I’m trying to regain the confidence to be able to look past my shitty first drafts, the confidence to even begin those drafts. I hope I find it again, because deep inside, I miss my inner novelist.

On Me and Writing Poetry

I’m in my poetry mode right now, which is such a rare thing for me that I just try to take advantage of it. I mean, I’m a prose writer, which means I do things such as write in paragraphs, not in stanzas; use punctuation properly, such as putting periods at the ends of sentences (and not ending lines without them). Prose also does not have to be poetic or metaphoric (although it can be those things as well) and is generally not a rhythmic style of writing.

Ha. That means the way we usually speak can be considered prose (or if we want to be fancy, dialogue, although dialogue can be in poetry as well). 

When I’m in poetry mode, I generally attempt to rhyme things and binge write poetry, which I really need to be in the right mindset to write. My poems are generally a constant refrain in my mind during that time. I know I’m really in poetry mode when I tend to rhyme my sentences when I speak French. Actually, that it THE key indicator. French is my first language. It’s also a language that I don’t spend much time writing in (and that I never write poetry in). When things in French become rhythmic and start to rhyme, I probably should be using that brain processing power elsewhere.

I also write poetry in a very different way than I write prose. My poems are never free form. They always have some rhythm to them, and most of them rhyme. I spend a lot of ime reading them to myself, and I edit things, and change words on the go. The next stanza is usually not started until the first one is complete. I mull over my phrases even when I’m not writing them. So when a poem is done, it’s done. It’s not getting edited any further. Well, sometimes I do change minor things. Tweaks, really. But rarely.

When I write prose, like essays or stories, I just write for as long as I can and worry about editing later.
So don’t ask me why I don’t edit my poems. I probably spend more time editing them than I spend editing prose. It’s just, I edit them WHILE THEY’RE BEING WRITTEN. Not at the end. (And as you may know, these posts don’t even get edited.)

So that was my rant of the day.

-Rebeeks 

Reflection on School

This has pretty much become my default place to rant about school. That is awesome (no, it isn’t). Ranting is just something I do, I guess. It’s my default mode. None of the posts on this blog are edited. Here, I kind of just write. I mean, all the practice you can get is good, right?

I don’t know why I even bother to call myself a writer. I’m a terrible writer. Every time I sit down to write something I spend more time thinking about writing than actually writing. I know my first drafts suck. A lot of them do. Quite a few of turn out nice. Mine?
I don’t know. I don’t really know what to compare it to. Do I find out tomorrow?

Here I am, talking about being in Lit again. This seems to be my favourite thing to write about. Maybe it’s because it’s different. Because I don’t know what else to expect. I don’t know what people think of Lit kids. I feel like no one really knows what to make of us. Hell, I don’t know what to expect. It’s not exactly like an English class. That’s what I love about it. But that’s also what throws me off. You don’t take English with the same 25 people for 4 years. Life doesn’t work like that. A lot of English classes don’t involve much creative writing. Don’t get me wrong, I love creative writing. It holds a special place in my heart. But sometimes, you just can’t deal with the uncertainty that comes with creating something — weaving a story from bits and pieces and snapshots of life mixed with a generous dose of your imagination. You don’t know where to go. There is no set format, there are no rules. There is no black or white, only shades in between.
But when you put it this way, it sounds like it’s difficult to tell the good writing from the bad writing. And sometimes, it is.

Sometimes you don’t know why a story seems off, but you just know that it is. It drives me nuts. Crazy. Half the time I just abandon the story and do something else. Then I look at it a few years later, think about how crappy it is, and don’t do anything about it. Honestly, essays are a lot easier to write. And I enjoy writing essays, most of the time. But the issue with essays is that the structure tends to be a little (more like a lot) rigid. You can’t take an essay in an interesting direction, most of the time. There is a subject. Stick to it! Whereas stories have plots and subplots and plots twists and you have to keep track of them and keep them logical and believable or else the reader gets mad. Essays? Intro ,point one, point two, point three, conclusion. That is how a lot of essays are formatted. It’s very formal. It’s a formula you can follow and get results every time–as long as you follow the formula properly.

The lazy part of me loves this. So does the debater in me. But there is another part of me that actually hates this. It’s the part of me that demands change and individuality and original thinking. Listening to 5 of 6 essays is boring–most of them tend to sound the same. Listening to 5 or 6 stories is never boring. Sometimes it gets annoying, but that may be because the story is bad or because you don’t like it. But usually people people stick around even if it’s just to complain and rant about how bad it is later.

So  here I am, still thinking about the damn story that I want to write. i have ideas, but I don’t feel like putting then onto paper. I wonder if I should write one page of it everyday and see what kind of useless crap I can come up with.
Did I mention that I have a total lack of imagination?
Having a total lack of imagination is totally detrimental to me. I’m sure some people will say otherwise about my ability to put things together. I don’t think they’re right.

The issue is that I’ve never spent so much time working on a single piece, other than my portfolio for the program. (BTW, my portfolio totally sucked.) It’s different. I don’t know if it’s good different or bad different.

Pros

  • I get to spend more time making the writing perfect
  • I have to more time to ask for opinions
  • It means that if halfway through, I decide to completely change directions with my story, I have time to figure it out
  • More time for editing
  • I can bounce ideas off of people
  • I have time for tweaks

    Cons

    • I spend too much time worrying about perfection
    • Sometimes I get confused by certain opinions
    • uhhhhh

    Okay. I guess the pros outweigh the cons. Now what?
    I guess I should just stop complaining.

    -Rebeeks

    Who Would Voluntarily Take the Beep Test?

    I would. Unfortunately.

    We all hate the beep test. It’s a bad indication of your overall fitness. It’s pointless. It’s dumb. It’s stupid. But yet, we all want to do better at the beep test. Do better than others. Be the best. I think it’s a ego thing. Or a hatred of failure, which would most likely be completely accurate. But I am not immune to this.(And I want to stop failing it at school, which would definitely up my Phys. Ed. mark.) So what did I do? I set up a 15m version of the beep test in my basement. Crazy, I know.

    I’ve kind of surprised myself. I’m surprised that I actually went to the trouble of measuring. I’m surprised that I actually intend to use it. And I’m embarrassed that my younger brother did better than me on my first trial run. (He got level 12.4. I got level 6.5.) So yeah. Practice. Definitely. Before I fait it at school.
    Why do I have to be the most unathletic kid on the planet? This isn’t fair. I guess life isn’t fair. But I already knew that.

    In addition to being terrible at the beep test, I’m also bad at shuttle runs, the pyramid challenge, the 9/12 minute run, really anything that involves running for a long time, and yeah. tt lot of other stuff. And Ilm terrible at every sport. Like really bad. Except for Maybe soccer. And sprints. I think I might actually be mildly okay (read: not the worst) at those.

    So yeah. I guess I’m practising the beep test every day now. Oh, what did I just get myself into?
    -Rebeeks