Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The storm is coming in

I have had the worst fucking day. I can’t even talk about it. Add the fact that I’m still sick and can now add almost permanent nausea to my list of delightful symptoms, and I’m about ready to throw myself off the nearest tall building. But I can’t really be bothered being that extreme, so I’ll settle for sleeping forever.

Also, sad as it is to admit it, there is no way I can go overseas by the end of this year. Shit keeps happening that I need to pay for and my savings have depleted in such a way that calling them savings is quite laughable.

Just….gah. I feel like I’m doomed to constantly walk in one spot and never actually get anywhere. And somehow in all this, I must find motivation to finish my goddamn uni assignments so I can at least say I did something with my life. If earning three useless pieces of paper is actually doing something. Jury’s still out on that one.

Music: Rain on the warehouse roof

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What do you call this, then?

So hey, it's been a while!

I have thoughts about all of this. THOUGHTS, I tells you, and I shall share them as soon as I get a moment. Don't think I won't.

Music: The Doctor's Wife

Monday, May 23, 2011

Not sure which colours belong

It’s Monday. I am unbelievably tired. I have a truck-load of things to do, and no will to do it. And I have no hope of reuniting with my bed any time before 11 tonight. So rather than listen to me whinge about it, have these two pics that have cheered my morning.

Oh, and this one actually. Lookit, brilliant people.

In other news, I can’t go anywhere on the internet. It’s full of Supernatural Season 6 finale spoilers. Sigh.

Music: What light - Wilco

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where's your fire tonight

New music. Good books. Postcards, particularly silly ones from R. Email conversations. My parents. Regaling mum with theories on everything and anything. Spending nights laughing like an idiot and being a brat with my friends. My friends. My friends putting up with me when I know I'm being annoying. Planning trips. Travel. Writing a really good line. Driving in summer with the windows down and the music blaring. Remembering the good times. Sleeping in. Oreo curling up next to me on the couch. Moments of clarity. Having a moment of utter fangirl glee. Gigs I've been waiting ages for. Hot chocolate on winter nights. Park rides on sunny days. Blue skies. Sunsets over the ocean. That feeling you get when you finish something and you know you did well.

I love all these things. And sometimes life seems like an endless uphill battle of more things to do and less time to do it in, but as long as I can have all this, I think it's worth it.

Have you ever tried to lift a bar of gold with one hand?

And don't be told it can't be done, because the best all die young,
Yeah we all feel the same.
And if there's nothing left to say, just have the guts to disagree,
Or plaster on a face for me.

Music: Free - Twin Atlantic

Let the bad parts in

Music: Degausser - Brand New

Friday, May 20, 2011

Two cents on writing process

It's SWF time, so of course the city is in a literary flutter with everyone entertaining writerly aspirations, attending talks and taking hints on how to make it in a rather ruthless (and mostly depressing) industry. The thing is, I rather think it's all a bit pointless. Sure, it's fascinating to hear writers talk about their process, and it can be really useful too, but if you're going in there with the hope of finding some sort of template on how to write, you're setting yourself up for failure. At the end of the day no one can tell you how to write. No one can sit you down and give you a foolproof way to get there. There is no map to being a successful writer.

Last night, we had a guest lecture on manuscript assessment and something I think we all know came up - majority of manuscripts presented for assessment come from people with no prior writing experience or training. And I know what the thought process is there - you can't teach someone to be a writer. This is the mentality I started studying with, that either you could write or you couldn't, and no amount of technical knowledge could change that. To some extent, I still believe that. Some people can have all the training but they don't have that something extra that makes the writing feel alive. But it's also an entirely naive point of view because it is the technical knowledge, learning and understanding the craft, that gives good writers the opportunity to be great.

So really, studying writing gives you the tools to help you write, but if you aren't capable of using those tools, they're not going to be much use. And some people don't even need the tools. It's a very wishy-washy thing, this writing business. Studying also gives some people a lot of funny ideas.

Which brings me to my main reason for writing this blog - routine. One thing people always seem to ask writers is how they go about writing, what their routine is. As a result of such questions, I now sadly have Cory Doctorow mentally yelling at me every time I sit down to have one of my epic television watching sessions, saying I should rather be writing every day because I won't be wishing I'd watched more TV when I'm on my deathbed. Thanks for that, Cory! The thing is though, that whole 'you must write every day' thing some people perpetuate? For some, it's just too much pressure.

I can understand the logic behind it, of course. It means you're actually turning something out, being productive, practicing. All good things. Personally, my situation and my mental make-up make it unfeasible and, when I attempt it, it never ends well. Simple reasons for this:

a) I am naturally inclined to being a night owl, my best work gets done between the hours of 10pm and 3am. With work, it's physically impossible for me to get to that point and remain a functioning human being.

b) I'm stretched too thin. Full-time work plus full-time uni = Zombie!Jen. Not to mention the wealth of other commitments I've got on my plate. Any weekday, I'm out the door at 7am and back at 10.30pm. There is no time for me to write every day.

c) My job destroys my creativity. There's no way around this. I write 50+ pages worth of editorial content a month and it's all so similar, and all so banal, that it entirely drains my will to live. Why don't I make it more interesting? Well, I can't. It's client based material and clients have the final say. I do what I can, but at the end of the day there's a set format that needs to be adhered to and I can't really do much about that. Plus I'm super busy so I cut corners. It's exhausting and, in the end, I don't want to come home and force myself to sit and write when I've done that for the past eight hours anyway. It's utterly depressing.

d) I am my own worst enemy. If I set myself the task of writing every day and I miss a day, that's it. I'm done. I will immediately consider myself a failure and it'll be impossible for me to get back into it and maintain the routine. This is a major flaw in my personality, I am well aware of that fact.

Some may say that these are weak excuses, that I should force myself to write anyway. You know what happens when I force myself to write? It comes out sounding forced. Fancy that, hey? I have gone through three drafts for my writing project this semester, with my supervisor knocking back the first two precisely because they lacked that something that used to be in my work (the third I got sorted after taking two weeks off, and she was much happier with that.) So yes, some people might say all writing is good practice, but to me it begs the question whether its worth mediocrity simply to justify routine.

My point is, we are all different people and we all have different writing styles. Naturally, we have different approaches to writing. We can't make these general statements and say that's what you need to do to be a writer, it just doesn't work that way. I think because writing is such a personal thing, something that you create from within yourself, there can't really be a tried and true method everyone can subscribe to.

Now, I'm not pretending to be an expert on writing, but I have spent the last six years at university studying it and I'd like to think that I've picked up a thing or two. One of the main things I've gotten from my tutors is this - find something that works for you, and stick with it. That's all. If you spend all week pottering about and then sit down and write 10,000 words in one day, do it. Just stick with it. Make it a ritual. Just keep going, until you've finished that first draft. And then start again.

I find it counter-productive when people tell me to write every day, even if it's just a sentence. I've tried it and it doesn't work, I can't make my brain work that way. And I'm tired of feeling bad about that, tired of beating myself up over it. I've been struggling to write the last couple of months, and as I put more pressure on myself, as I worry about it, it just becomes worse. So, if you can't write every day, don't beat yourself up over it. Write when and how you can, just do it consistently. Set yourself goals and meet them, however you can, even if that means pulling an all-nighter the day before your self-imposed deadline to get it done - hey, some of us only work well with a deadline looming over our heads, I know. I'm not knocking people who do write every day - if you do, that's great. It obviously works for you and that's fantastic. Keep going.

At the end of the day, what matters is the final product - whether it's a short story, a novel, whatever. Words on paper. Finished. Done. How it gets there is arbitrary. So just keep writing, and don't get discouraged by the myths of what being a writer is. All it is, really, is hard fucking work for very little reward. But you don't do it for the reward, you do it because you just can't help yourself.

-- Edit: Ooooh man, I used the term 'some people' way too much in this. My critical writing lecturer would have a field day with this. So to clarify that is in reference to members of the general writing community who may hold the view I mentioned. Err. It's not very clear. Sorry, lunch hour blog.

Music: Red Right Ankle - The Decemberists

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pour a little salt we were never here

What’s all this talk about the Rapture being this Saturday? I’ve decided to watch the final S5 Supernatural episode so the irony of it will make death well worth it if does happen. It would also mean I don’t have to do any homework, so that’d be handy. But then, I think I've used the whole ‘but the world was supposed to end’ excuse for not doing work before, and it didn’t really go well…ah yes, it was when the CERN supercollider was supposed to cause a black hole and consume the planet. Destruction fail.

Let’s face it, when the world ends, there won’t be much we can do about it, so what’s the point even bothering to talk about it? I would like to have some warning, so I can go out and spend a stupid amount of money on credit I never have to pay back. And fake my own death, should my world-ending info be wrong. These things are so unreliable, honestly. It feels like it’s ending every other week! Mind you, all these natural disasters shaking up the place, maybe the 2012 thing isn’t so far-fetched. I’m glad I’m planning on going overseas before then.

Imminent destruction aside, not much to report. Had a lovely dinner with L last night after work. We are such responsible adults now…how disturbing. Tonight it’s off to uni, apparently we have a guest speaker. No idea who it is. I’ve brought an extra jacket though, so at least I won’t freezing for a change. It’s the little things.

Random observation: have you noticed it’s often the people who are so sure they are, in fact, writers who can’t write? I hope that means the insecure, neurotic tangent of us that only do it because we feel we have to, and not because we have any illusions of making a living from it, are actually capable of stringing a sentence together. There's always hope, I s’pose.

But anyway. There is just lots of uni work in my future, the plan is to get everything sorted this weekend. I’m so ready to be done with it all.

Music: Skinny Love - Bon Iver

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Take some time to warm it with your hands

I am cold and I don’t want to work.

I get the feeling this is going to be the refrain for the entire winter. Why don’t I dress warmer you ask? Well, I’m already wearing three layers. And half the time I keep my coat and my scarf on as well. I can’t dress any warmer than this. Of course, I probably wouldn’t be this cold if the air con in our office actually worked.Our office here referring to the little shoebox hanging above the warehouse that my deputy editor and I share, and air con to our pathetic wall unit that seems to be objecting to warmth. It stutters to life for a couple of minutes and then promptly gives up again, long before the chill has really been taken off the room. My fingers are sore from the typing/cold combo. As you should know, dear blogosphere, I do not take kindly to winter, so this isn’t going down well.

But is it just me, or is it colder than usual? I’m freezing all the time and it’s not even properly winter yet. I have been consistently late to work for the last week because I simply can’t get out of bed. It is dark. And cold. And I refuse to wake up.

No, I don’t know why I’m moving to Europe either. But at least they have heating that actually works.

In non-weather related news, I have officially been employed here one year. Drum roll! Fanfare! It feels a lot longer. Now I can technically leave and it won’t look dodgy on my resume. Of course, I can’t really leave. No well paying job will have me for only six months. Why I’m worried about well-paying, I don’t know. It’s not like it’s all that great here. I’d ask for a raise but hey, the publishing industry is screwed, what can you do.

On we plod.

Only four more weeks of uni left. That’s it. Holy crap. It’s weird not to have any immediate plans for study in my future. I’ve gotten so used to it! I’ve been thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) - considering the state of publishing and the fact that it’s death to my creativity, I should just get a job at a uni. Even in admin or something to start with. Then when I do my PhD, I can always start tutoring. I like how I say when, not if – I’m such a sucker for punishment. I still don’t think I’d be a particularly great tutor, but who knows. Actually, I’d rather not talk about future career plans or anything like that, it just depresses me. Woe.

I’m finally taking that French course I’ve been going on about for the last two years. See, I get there in the end! It’s two hours on Monday nights and it’s actually quite good fun. There’s about six weeks left on that, might keep going with it, just have to wait and see how it goes. Hopefully I can actually retain what I’ve learnt, that’s the big thing.

Um. What else? I’m in a bit of trouble as I have to submit a title for something I haven’t written or, you know, researched. Mostly forgot about, in fact. Now I’m scrabbling about, trying very hard not to panic. Failing, but I should get an A for effort. At least I have finally managed to write a decent piece for my uni writing project, so I can roll on with that and hopefully my 15,000 words will come together in a halfway decent fashion. That was freaking me out so much. I can’t even begin to explain how hard it is for me to write creatively these days, to do my own writing. It’s like my brain’s just shut down and I have to bleed for every word. I blame my job entirely for this. I’m going to try and finish all that off this weekend before the rot sets in again.

In general though, I’m just tired all the time, sort of on the borderline of having a cold, and trying very hard to do everything all at once. So really, it’s just business as usual.

Music: Sowing Season - Brand New

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gods? Oh, we are so, so screwed

To state what must be blatantly obvious by now, I’m a leeetle obsessed with Supernatural. I love it to an extreme degree (and am stupidly happy they’ve renewed it for a 7th season, even though I haven’t even seen the 6th one yet) but sometimes they do things that make me stop and go ‘wait, what?’ Like one of the episodes I watched last week called ‘Hammer of the Gods’ – there be spoilers in this post, so don’t read it if you care about that sort of thing and have any intention of watching this show.

You're so clever show! I love you.
I took one look at the name of the motel and thought, ‘Oh hey, this must be about Greek gods!’ Close, but not quite. Well, Mercury is in it and he's sort of related to the Greek god Hermes, but I think he’s generally not very impressive.

And he’s not very impressive in this episode either. I was more thinking along the lines of Apollo or Athena, Ares even – though I suppose if we start messing around with the god of war, it’ll get all mixed up with the Horsemen. ANYWAY. No Greek gods. Sadface.

But it’s not all lame messenger gods (sorry Mercury), the real orchestrators of this episode is Baldur, a Norse god, and Kali, a pretty kick-ass Hindu godess. It’s all very American Gods. Brilliant. Also in attendance at this lovely pagan feast is Ganesh, Zao Shen and Baron Samedi. No gathering would be completely without…

Odin, of course. The cause of my ‘wait, what?’ moment. Just bear with me. No sooner had those silly Winchesters gotten themselves captured by the god squad than who shows up?

Gabriel! My favourite archangel (but second favourite angel overall because no one can touch Castiel. Obviously.) But seeing as all the gods have gathered to discuss how to best get rid of the angels (Exterminate! Exterminate! Exter- oh wait, wrong fandom), they clearly don’t know what Gabriel is. In fact, they call him Loki.

Loki is actually very apt for Gabriel, he is the Trickster and all, but I’ve got a slight problem with this. For one thing, wouldn’t Odin recognise him? Even if he is possessing a different form, surely he’d know if it was actually Loki. They've got history. Also, in some tales Loki was behind Baldur’s death – so Baldur must actually know him as well (even if he’s not dead in this version.) Or are we supposed to assume that none of them actually know Loki to be able to tell if it’s him or not? Or just take his word for the fact that he is who he says he is even though he looks nothing like he’s meant to?

Okay, so I’m reading too much into it. I just though Odin should really know, they were pretty close and he is supposed to be wise, but hey.

Not that any of it matters really, because Mercury sucks and calls Lucifer. He really doesn’t play well with others, that one. I know he’s Satan and all, but out of everything he’s done and everything he’s meant to be, nothing made me blindingly angry until he did this -

Bastard! That was so unnecessary! He was your brother and look what you did. That’s why no one likes you, you prat. And that’s why you can’t have Sam Winchester, they actually get that whole family bond thing. Rawr. [DO NOT correct that if it’s wrong. Don’t tell me anything about how this ends. I don’t want to know! Aaaah!]

That’s one of the things I find most fascinating about this show. It really is all about family, about the bonds that unite people. It’s what holds everything together. I think that’s why I’m so fascinated by this whole angel mythology as well (and that really is what roped me into this show, as well as Dean’s priceless facial expressions) because even there, it’s all about family. Brothers and sisters up against brothers and sisters. Some of them don’t care, but it destroys others, and that’s very relatable.

Angels are often treated as these untouchable beings and while they’re certainly otherworldly in SPN, they’re also quite vulnerable. At least the ones who’ve been consorting with humans for a while seem to be. And I love that God’s just sort of packed up and pissed off cause he’s had enough. I’ve often wondered why the Doctor hasn’t done exactly that. Humans, man. We’re an exhausting bunch.

This show is such a contradiction. The last couple of eps before ‘Hammer’ have been so tough. It broke my heart to see Castiel’s faith shatter like that – it was hard enough when it was Jimmy, but to see it in Cas…ugh. And a hopeless Dean is a terrible thing to see. Emo is the province of Sam, and there it should stay. I was practically in tears when they had their little re-bonding moment in ‘Point of No Return.’ Curse you, silly show!

Anyway, I have one more episode left. I'm putting off watching it cause I know it's going to be a bucket of angst and sadness. And Season 6 watching is scheduled as a marathon in June. So, I have to weigh up my curiosity with my withdrawal symptoms. Sigh. I fear for my sanity.

To end, have some lovely Castiel. He's very proud of himself - he took a bus!

What have they done to you, Castiel? Just come here and let me hug you already.

Music: QI

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Middle Earth: The Condensed Version

A month has passed since I first left for NZ, and I’ve been back almost two weeks without posting. The horror. Blogger has been down a lot though, so it’s not entirely my doing. All those posts going up were luckily scheduled waaaay in advance. But anyway, that is neither here nor there. Trip recap time!

As has no doubt been assumed, I had an absolutely brilliant time adventuring around NZ, one of the most beautiful countries I’ve had the privelege of visiting. As far as holidays go, I really couldn't ask for better.

Some memorable moments include:
- Horse riding through Lothlorien/Amon Hen in the rain
- Visiting Hobbiton
- Taking a helicopter flight over the glaciers
- Walking into Dan Carter in Nelson (and being utterly frozen in shock)
- Getting caught in a massive wind storm in Taupo and being without power
- Narrowly avoiding destroying the campervan on a number of occassions
- Awful wine tastings
- Soaking in the thermal baths of Rotorua
- Breakfasting at scenic spots along the road
- Seeing the Southern Alps the first time
- Driving through the first snow of the season on our way to Te Anau
- Being swarmed by sandflies while waiting to take a flying fox across a gorge
- Marvelling at the many lakes
- Oh so much Lord of the Rings fangirling
- Having a wonderful time catching up with friends we hadn’t seen in ten years

It really was a wonderful trip and I would highly recommend NZ to anyone. While both islands are fascinating and the locals very friendly, my heart belongs to the South Island. It is breathtaking and just one of those places that leaves its mark. It’s not a matter of if I’ll go back, but rather when. It's close and there are no pesky visa dramas - definite win! I wouldn't mind living there for a spell either really. When I was little I had this fantasy of living in Lucerne – now I'm thinking Queenstown's got quite a bit going for it...

Anywho, have some photos - as per usual, I took far too many.

Canterbury Plains

The Church of the Good Shepard, Tekapo

View from Mt John Observatory
Lake Tekapo from Mt John
Lake Tekapo
Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

On the way to Glenorchy/Paradise
Starting the Ride of the Rings
Watch the Uruk-Hai army march out of Isengard and you'll recognise this view.
Mountains, Gandalf!

Milford Sound

Arrowtown - this is the spot Arwen challenges the Nazgul just so btw
Snow landing on Fox Glacier

Buller Gorge Swingbridge - the longest in the world. I took the flying fox back across.
My boys playing in Nelson. And losing. Sigh.
Orakei Korako Thermal Field on way to Rotorua

Early morning, Lake Rotorua
And finally, there was Auckland.

Music: Wherefore art thou, Elvis? - The Gaslight Anthem

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 30

Day 30 - Your favorite song at this time last year

Oh man, I can't remember. I think it was probably If I Had You by Adam Lambert. I was so completely in love with that song.

I still can't quite believe that this boy is real.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, wraps up this insane challenge. Music is hard, let's not do that again.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 29

Day 29 - A song from your childhood

Joyride by Roxette. I loved this song when I was leeeeetle - it's the first one I have any conscious memory of in terms of actual time/place.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 28

Day 28 - A song that makes you feel guilty

Funnily enough, and this is a very recent development, but Here’s looking at you kid by The Gaslight Anthem.

If you're pulling a Castiel and you don't get the reference of this song's name, here.

And shame! Go rent Casablanca right now and get yourself all acquainted with Humphrey Bogart. Honestly.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 27

Day 27 - A song that you wish you could play

All of them. Heh. I wish I could play the piano intro to Muse’s New Born. Or do I? I don’t really know. I'm more of the 'curl up into songs and live in them forever' type, rather than the 'hey let's learn that song' type. I think if I had a shred of ambitious musical talent, I'd want to play Dark Blue by Jack's Mannequin.

Ugh Andrew, why are you so talented?

Friday, May 6, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 26

Day 26 - A song that you can play on an instrument

I used to be able to play a couple of songs on piano, none of them very impressive. The only song I really got round to learning properly on guitar was House of the Rising Sun (so easy hahaha) so that’ll have the be it, I guess.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 25

Day 25 - A song that makes you laugh

Pretty much anything from the Avenue Q soundtrack. And I know that’s probably cheating, but I don’t care. It’s included on my mix cds in my car and it always cracks me up

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 24

Day 24 - A song that you want to play at your funeral

The 59 Sound by The Gaslight Anthem. This might be kind of silly, choosing a song about death, but I like the symmetry of it - did you hear your favourite song one last time?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 23

Day 23 - A song that you want to play at your wedding

I really can't think of a single thing right now. While I think of one, have this handy filler.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 22

Day 22 - A song that you listen to when you’re sad

Starving your friends by Envy On The Coast. This band, this album, is just a special kind of perfect.

Also: Handcuffs by Brand New. Easy Lucky Free by Bright Eyes.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 21

Day 21 - A song that you listen to when you’re happy

I’m tempted to say I’m not ok again – it’s just a song that swings that way. But okay, I’ll go with About A Girl by The Academy Is…