Life or Something Like it

Workshop Rule #1: You do not talk about workshop

Reasons why I don’t thrive in a negative work environment:

1. I start to wonder what the point in trying is
2. I feel like no matter what I do it will never be good enough
3. I compare myself to others and think “I’ll never be able to write like that.”
4. I question my own ability, and capability.
5. Things feel hopeless.

Workshop is like Fight Club.

The first rule of workshop: You do not talk about workshop
The second rule of workshop: You DO NOT talk about workshop

At first I thought this was to protect the privacy of everyone’s writing. We are writers after all, and prone to self-loathing, depression, and insecurity. I think it’s important to respect other writers and their work, and I didn’t want to step on any toes. As I reach the end of the year I no longer believe this. We are told when we arrive “Workshop isn’t a safe place.” I am inclined to agree. Workshop is the land of emotional abuse. And maybe I’m wrong, but I honestly don’t know anyone who has ever thrived in life by being told they suck. In an effort to keep this anonymous, and because I really don’t dislike the establishment or what it’s trying to do, I’m not going point fingers. I don’t think badly of the people themselves, and I’ve learned a lot… from lectures. I’ve also learned a lot about myself, and the person I want to be. And I honestly have to thank the program for that, because had I never been subject to the amount of harmful negativity going on, I would have never realized I cannot morally support a system like that.

I could never look at someone and question whether there was any hope for them. I could never refuse feedback because it wasn’t worth my time. Every person, every writer, that I have ever encountered has value to me. Every story I read has potential to me. No one could ever convince me otherwise, and I could never be part of something that held that view. Not only because I’m terrified that by being taught by people who hold those views, I could become like them, but ultimately because I cannot and will not support the crushing of people’s dreams. Maybe because I know what that’s like. To be told you have no worth, and that you’ll never amount to anything. How deep those words seed themselves inside of you, no matter how hard you try to  keep them out. They take root, and you start to think you can’t. You start to question your own value and the value of your work, and especially people in positions of authority hold a lot of sway, because their opinion means a lot.

And I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life battling through all those bad seeds, and ten years later I’m still trying to push some of them out. The writing business is hard? Well no shit! It’s especially hard when you go someplace to learn and are turned away from that learning because the person who is PAID to do a job that is teaching doesn’t feel you’re worth their time to teach… Unless you’re already talented, of course. And then you get favourites. And the favourites are good. They have so much potential, and can do so much, and get so far. They are worth all the time in the world. And I hate that. I hate favourites. I think I might be a favourite, and I hate myself for it. I hate that someone sees value in my work, but the value I see in someone elses work goes unnoticed. I don’t ever want to leave someone behind. Especially not someone who I believe has value.

Maybe I’m selling myself short. Maybe there is something in my writing. I definitely believe there is value in my writing. That’s why I’m still writing. That’s why I’ll keep writing. But not there. And not for them. Because I don’t want them to get any credit for the writer I’m going to become. Everyone has an epic story in them. Something great, that, given the opportunity, will inspire people around the world. Like J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter. How fucking inspirational was that series as a kid? And it would’ve never survived. Just imagine a world without Harry, Ron, and Hermione for five seconds and tell me how different it would be? So, no. Never. I’m done. Consider me officially weeded out. I will continue to pursue my passion for stage and screen, and fiction will go back to being my pass time. Because fiction is beautiful, and it’s my first love, and I could never see it covered in thorns.

~Kat

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I’m Around…

I’m just backlogged between work and school. That new job I started is 11hr shifts and now I’m so tired I’m behind on homework… so there’s that. I am also having issues with a prof that I’m trying to sort out since it’s kind of all a big misunderstanding. Long story. I’ll post a big update soon. Hopefully next weekend, because I’ll have 4 solid days to catch up on everything. Until then I hope you all have a lovely rest of the weekend, and a fabulous week ahead!

~Kat

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The Year of Projects

I’ve got big plans this year. If I can complete half of them I will be thoroughly impressed with myself! My brain is full of creativity. It overflows with ideas from multiple mediums. I knit, draw, paint, write, music, basically if it can be art-ed I have/will try it. The problem with having all that in my head, is when I sit down during my rare free time, I spend more of it figuring out which project I should tackle than actually tackling the project. This could also explain my bits of insomnia I get because I’m always thinking of how I can do/use objects/things in a creative way. And don’t forget I do have homework every week, and I start a new job on Monday.

You would think I would be good at prioritizing which tasks need to be done in order of due date, but my brain doesn’t work like that. I will start something, switch to something else, go back to the first things, switch to something else, go back to the second thing… You can imagine my apartment, filled with unfinished projects (this is why I need a house with a real studio). So far, the only thing I’ve managed to keep up to task on is being involved with my blog. I’m posting regularly, and interacting with the people I follow! (yay!) I’ve still got a lot of knitting to do, which I’ve been slowly plugging away at, and a new painting project I just bought a canvas for on Thursday that I’m super stoked to start as soon as I can decide on the kind of picture.

I’m really interested in dabbling in more impressionist style, and I got some really cool looking shells down at the beach I’d like to incorporate in a sort of mixed media. I was thinking maybe fairy-wings? But if I crushed some of them up maybe they’d make cool stars against the nights sky? But I love the way the sun glows… See where this is going? Never mind the reading I haven’t done in, oh, I don’t know, 2 or 3 months? I read 45 books last year, some of those were a popular comic called The World God Only Knows, but I still find that impressive. It’s a new yearly record for me. Usually I start January all gung-ho, but this year I haven’t looked at a book, let alone picked one up to read. (December was the TV catch up game so I feel fine on that front).

I need a time chart. Some kind of organization regime for my life… as if that could possibly work with the way I obsess when I start a new project, HA! But ANYWAYS, this post is all over the place (apparently like my life) so I’m going to sign off. My husband wants to eat dim sum and that’ll take some time. Homework sounds like a good plan for now, then I’ve got a dishcloth pattern I’ve been hankering to try. It’s so cool, and you end up with a raindrop pattern. Ciao for now ladies and gents!

~Kat

P.S. I like how this is my author blog and I did not say one single thing about the book collecting dust on my hard drive… I should at least open it probably. That is what got me here after all 😛

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Sticking to Your Guns

I took a hit. A bad one. I feel slightly crippled, and the hurt runs deep, but as with all things I know it’ll subside with time. The human heart has a way of forgetting this kind of hurt in order to move forward. I keep telling myself I won’t regret my decision either because as they say, nothing ventured nothing gained. Sometimes when you put yourself out there you fail. And that’s okay. The most important thing to take into consideration is how you feel about your decision, and I feel proud of myself. You’re probably wondering what happened, so I received my final revision back on my second story and my mark dropped over 10%. I lost 3 letter grades. I cried. The last thread that gave a shit about the class broke. I laid awake for hours thinking about it. And the conclusion is pretty simple.

I re-wrote my story because I felt the first one was out of character for my character. I think the second story (and I will still post it) is much more “Melissa” than the first one. In fact, I think all the characters are more of who they actually are, so can I really be disappointed with that? In my last post I said it was more important to be my own authorial self than to make the grade. If I have to write my characters out of character just to get an A can I really call myself a storyteller? If I can’t even be true to who my characters are, then how can I be proud of anything I write? Because it’s my characters who are trusting me with their story. I can’t lie and say they did something else. That’s not how it works.

So I’m sticking to my guns, and reconsidering continuing fiction in school. I mean, at the end I get a BFA no matter what, and honestly Stageplay was fun. It made me feel like a storyteller again. I had freedom of expression. I could write and have fun with it. And I mean, who DOESN’T want to see their characters come alive on stage? My life is changing again. I won’t quit fiction. It’s still my first love, and I am determined to become an author, but I want to write in an environment where creative expression is encouraged and not discouraged. I am proud of myself. I’m proud that my characters are more important to me than a letter grade.

~Kat

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The Stress Root

Someone suggested that I deal with the root of why I can’t write. The stress itself. I struggled a lot in first semester because in school grades matter. The difference between an A and a B could mean the difference between your registration being 1 hour sooner which is the difference between getting into the workshop you need to graduate or not. There’s a lot of pressure to measure up to the standard of “good” that the professors deem acceptably “good”. And after everything I went through in first semester, I left disappointed. In myself and in the system. I have a perfectionist complex, and if I don’t meet things to my level of what I think is acceptable I get down on myself.

It’s not that I can’t write, it’s that I feel I can’t write to the standard expected of me by the professors who are grading and judging me. Whenever I’ve thought I had something great I’d receive a much lower grade, and although I’m there to learn, I feel like the environment isn’t as conducive to learning as I expected. It’s not that I want to quit. I worked too goddamn hard to get in to quit. But my expectations of the learning environment are a lot different. Basically it as to do with expectation vs reality. Writers are very self-conscious of their writing (at least I am). I think it’s because when we write something we pour our heart and soul into the characters and the story. It makes us vulnerable.

To turn around and then have a group of peers and professors judge you on that is not just nerve wracking, but also hits my self-confidence in my ability to write. I want to write things that people enjoy reading and can relate to, and obviously not everyone is going to enjoy my writing, I mean, even I know I have a long way to go and a lot of improvements to make. Heck, re-reading some of my book makes me cringe because I’ve learned so many useful techniques that I can apply to it and make it that much better. But I want to learn in an uplifting environment. I don’t want to go to class and be like “Oh, I wonder which taboo thing I did this time in my writing.”

Apparently I write a lot of cliche things that I don’t know are cliche. You’d think with the amount of books I read (47 this year) I’d know what’s cliche and what’s not, but I’m not very knowledgeable with all the technical lingo of writing. I just write. I write and the story grows and the characters grow, and soon they’re out there living and I’m doing everything I can just to keep up behind them to document their journey. How do you judge someone on their ability to properly document someone else’s journey? Because people are cliche, they say weird things, and do things out of order. People aren’t perfect, so why should their journey be?

In order to write again I need to re-find that place where the writing is solely mine and not about what other people may think of it. I need to accept that from a technical, university standard, I might not be an A+ writer. But that doesn’t matter. What matters in writing is being true to yourself as an author, and being true to your characters and who they are as people. If you love and are passionate about your characters, other people will see that bleed through the writing. That’s why some of the best books aren’t necessarily the best written. I started this journey because I want to proudly hang that BFA on my wall, but in doing so I don’t want to look back and think I sold out just to make the grade.

I want to beat the system knowing I stayed true to my own authorial self and that I never wrote my characters out of character. I need to always be myself, and my characters also need to be their own self as well. And if that’s not good enough for my professors, then I guess I was never cut out for this school thing to begin with. Because ultimately it should be more important to me to be true to my writing, than for me to get an A, because that’s what writing is really about. It’s about finding those people and stories you are most passionate about and sharing them with other people who want to read them and can love them the way you do. Writing might be a solo act, but it brings people together too. Storytelling is where this began. A group of people sitting together and swapping ideas. And that’s where I want to stay.

~Kat

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Writers Block

Is alive and coursing through my system, ravaging the creative spark. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced writers block to this level. I mean, sure, I’ve had days where I couldn’t write, but they usually followed times when I had been writing for long hours over the course of multiple days. I’d take a few days, maybe a week, to regenerate and off I’d go writing again. But this. This is different. It’s been two weeks. And I have tried. I’ve stared at the blank page and told myself even bad writing is a place to start. And off I’d trek. I’d start the story. Then I’d erase it and start again. And I did this, am doing this, over and over to no avail. Nothing I do will make the words come out in coherent order.

So I guess my question is what now? Normally I’d take a serious break. I’d do a little soul searching, maybe focus on something else creative, like art or music. I’d think about my story and properly sort through my thoughts and feelings regarding it. Maybe I’d even try and work on older writing projects, since dealing with characters I’m already familiar with might help get me back into that head space. But I don’t have that luxury. As it stands I’m now 7 days away from school starting, and with it 7 days before I have a 3500 word short story due.

I’ve taken a break. I’ve tried writing, even if it was bad. I’ve walked away, and come back, slept on it; I’ve switched characters, names, locations, POV’s, tenses, and there’s still nothing. I’ve even tried writing not fiction in the hopes of getting the juices flowing. I thought if I couldn’t think of anything, I could write about a real experience, but even that ended in disaster. I know writers block is common and usually happens, sometimes multiple times, to writers, especially those that write a lot. It’s different from the “what if I never think of another story?” because it’s like there is a blank space where my characters should be. It’s a raucous room gone quiet. The door’s locked, and I’ve lost the key.

So what do you do? How do you get over creative blocks? Any suggestions? I’m at a complete loss, and stressing out because I have this looming deadline.

~Kat

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School

I’m coming up to my 4th week of 1st semester of my 2nd year. To say my workload has been hectic would be an understatement. So far I have written and submitted a 5min monologue, submitted my first draft a 6000 word short story, and I’m currently working on the first 5 pages of my stageplay. This is on top of all the readings (did I mention our history teacher started us a week behind), and commuting (3hrs total twice a week). In 3 weeks I have another assignment due, which I need to pick an author (who I’ve never heard of), research them, read a bunch of stuff they’ve wrote, write a 500 word report, and then submit a 3500 word minimum story as a hommage to their writing style. Yay? Not to mention from now on I have 5 pages of my Stageplay due every week, and my history assignments start this week. I’m FINALLY catching up on those readings. 6 more pages and I’ll have last weeks readings done.

And after all that, I don’t want this to be a complain-y post. Since I’m so busy, I haven’t been able to keep this updated at all! When was my last post? I don’t even remember. So I thought I’d share some of my school writing. It’ll be the polished, edited works, so they won’t be often, but they will happen. I got my monologue back last week so I’ll upload that one. The final draft of my first short story is due Nov 4, so I’ll share that one sometime in November when I get it back. And my Stageplay is due in December. So there you have it. One piece of writing a month-ish, for your entertainment. Maybe I’ll share my Sonnet today. It’s the prologue for my stageplay.

Happy Monday, I’ve got a lot of homework still…

~Kat

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Disappointments and Let Downs

You know when things are going really good? And you’re sitting there thinking, man, I know this can’t last forever? Well, that’s what happened. My school funding has been denied. I’ve already been stressed out trying to find money for a commuter car, since 90min commute to school is a money suck in our current vehicle. Our debts are being chipped away very slowly, but now I have tuition costs on top of everything else, AND I won’t be working, so we will be down to 1 income, with rent, bills, car payment, etc… My anxiety has been back in force. My eating habits have been suffering because of it. I keep believing things will work out. They just HAVE TO!! But it’s so hard to see right now.

I managed to JUST BARELY squeak into the 2nd year workshops I wanted to get into. They are really small classes. Fiction is 15 seats, and Screenplay is 8 seats. I’m lucky to have got in at all. And now that I AM in, I don’t even know if I can afford to take them. In light of this I have set up a gofundme page to help cover my first semesters tuition costs. I hate asking people for money. Like, actually, I’d rather skip meals than borrow 10$ for groceries… But this is my dream. And I won’t back down without a fight. So to all the benevolent people in the world. Here is a link to my page:

http://www.gofundme.com/b70uds

~Kat

P.S. I have reward levels! I don’t expect people to just give me money for free 🙂

P.P.S. Did I tell you about the 2nd book I started writing with my friend? I’ll be back to update my Book Musings link soon!

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I’m Still Alive

I’m moved. I have the next two weeks vacation, and then I work almost full time for the rest of the summer. I have accomplished a lot of writing in the last week. Not only on my book, but also the book I am writing with my friend. Having two book projects on the go has it made it difficult to finish anything, but as usual everything is trudging along at a decent pace. It will all work out in the end. Recently I read the first 3 chapters of my book and didn’t change one single thing. It makes me hopeful that I’ve finally come to a place where the story is acceptable. Both in it’s pacing, action, romance, and plot. So many things didn’t make sense before, but it feels like finally, FINALLY, things are coming together to some kind of end.

I’ve been meaning to post sooner, but I honestly haven’t had anything to say. So I will leave you here. I’ll let you know if anything exciting happens 🙂

~Kat

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Tempest in a Teacup is right!

Guess what? As if I wasn’t JUST getting settled in a new city I’m moving AGAIN! And AGAIN it is in the month of June! That’s right, next month I’m moving. My husband got this amazing job opportunity, so we are moving 90 minutes north. I will admit a 90 minute commute to school isn’t ideal, but did I mention it was an AMAZING job opportunity? I mean, we could be home owners by this time next year, it’s THAT amazing. And also the housing prices in that area are so ridiculously cheap it’s actually sickening, and gleefully satisfying to think I could actually own a house. A HOUSE!! You know, with a garage, and a real yard. Grass! I could have my own grass!! And did I mention the garage? So yeah. Moving.

My writing projects have been put on hold AGAIN! I have been working like crazy (they keep calling me! I can’t say no!), and now I have left 3 weeks open in June to move. So, tonight I’m working on my book, and tomorrow I also have time to work on my book, but it looks like my big book writing summer plans have been totally ruined. Between work, and life, and people, and now moving, I’ve hardly had time to look at my book. It saddens me to no end. No, really.

Anime Crying

 

 

 

<– Me.

 

 

 

 

It’s really depressing. This was supposed to be my summer of writing, and it’s turned into my summer of working, house hunting, and working… lots of working.

In brighter news I got to see my husband this weekend! I don’t get to see him for another 3 weeks now. God help me. I really miss him. But we have been able to make leaps and bounds in our debt repayment since I’ve started working. Woohoo! Lots of cheering! He starts his new job tomorrow. I’m going to work on my book now.

~Kat

Life is rough
But I’m still breathing
And as long as I’m breathing
I can still fight.
As long as I’m breathing
I’ll see you again.

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