Tag Archives: creative writing

Setting Goals: The New Year

And here we are! The year 2016. Isn’t it shiny and new and filled with potential? Maybe. The new is always very alluring for awhile, since it is unfamiliar and, perhaps most importantly, different. I think that might be why we set resolutions at the start of each new year, as if we’re exhilarated or motivated by that shiny sense of newness.

I don’t know that I can set concrete goals for myself that I’ll realistically keep. I won’t deny that, no, not at all. I’m hopelessly addicted to caffeine, and I like it that way. I smoke weed a decent amount, but again, why not? In a very real, very emotional sense, I’m feeling better than I have in quite some time, and though the calendar’s reset, I feel no need to alter my habits. They’re firmly in place, and perhaps I finally am, too.

If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that we can be sure of nothing. No future is set in stone, so why bother labeling what hasn’t happened yet? Maybe this will be the year of Self-Development, or maybe it’ll be the year of Disappointments. Probably it’ll be a Mixed Bag, though, a treasure trove of good and bad. All I want to do is stay afloat in all the craziness.

Staying afloat for me is writing as much as possible, and reading enough to match. I’m excited about where I can take my writing, largely because I feel so free to fuck up. I am writing for no one but myself, in the creative sense. Academics are different and admittedly important, but different. The creative stuff is what fuels the imagination, what keeps me level, what helps me escape. I want to prioritize writing over most other things, which I failed to do in 2015.

I wrote two solid short stories during my first semester of college. Neither were exceptional for my own abilities, I don’t think, but they were solid, and I learned from both experiences. I’m in the process of a longer story, likely a novelette, about a woman who is apparently “randomly” chosen to be an intermediary for a massive alien conflict, a budding war, many lightyears away. It’s currently titled “The Good Teacher.” I’d like to finish it in the next two weeks. I want to produce as much writing as possible this year, setting times for myself to write during the day, every day, working around classes and homework. It’s easy to be distracted, and I must control myself as a writer if I hope to improve. That’s probably every writer’s goal, ultimately, but it helps to make Step One writing it down. Once it’s written down, I may be guilt-ridden if I defy my own word. Christ, it’s all I’ve got.

I don’t post frequently on this blog, which is something I’m considering changing. I keep my own personal journal for venting and I write enough otherwise, but there’s something nice about knowing others are reading your words.

And if you are reading these words, I hope you’ve begun your year happily. I hope past resentments can be dissolved, grudges deteriorated, negative thoughts deflated. Do something you love, whether it’s sketching or napping or eating good food, and when you’re doing that thing, remark upon how lovely it is, and don’t forget it.

You’re only as beautiful as you see yourself.

Happy New Year,

J

12:15 a.m.

Listen to: All of these! I’ve selected some of my newest favorite songs that I’ve recently discovered. Indyish rock, folk rock, etc.

“Blood, Love, Dirt, Stop!” by The Heavy

“Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs

“Blackstar” by David Bowie (Holy shit, watch the music video even if you’ve never heard the man)

“The Walk” by Mayer Hawthorne 

“All the Dogs Are Lying Down” by Johnny Flynn

PS. Anyone see the new Star Wars? Holy shit. John Williams’s entire score was on point again…as usual…and “Rey’s Theme” really stood out to me.

 

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Creeping Depression and Writer’s Block (A Word-Vomit)

In perfect form, I’ve gone all summer without posting anything on this blog. Also in perfect form, I’ve done very little writing since the summer began…and now it’s almost September. I suppose that’s how things go sometimes.

It hasn’t been an easy summer. I think, since graduating high school, there’s been an underlying dread attached to every thought of leaving home or being in college. Honestly, I don’t fully want to do it. Until September 3, I’m still in my home town, sitting around drinking coffee and pretending to be productive. I know that, for my own best interest, I need to get away. But I also know that, for my own selfish interests, I want to stay and have nothing change.

Besides my reluctance to hop the nest, I’m dealing with the long-term post-breakup depression that literally every other incoming college freshman is probably experiencing on some level. Who hasn’t had a breakup before going off to their first year of college? Happy people, maybe. I haven’t really felt happy in a while. That’s a scary thing, if you’ve never experienced it. I don’t actually know if I’ll be happy today, because I know my mind can concoct reasons not to be…no matter the beauty of a thing. I find myself lingering on questions that should have been answered two months ago. I find myself worrying about my quality as a human, as a significant other. I find myself wondering how I could have been different, and if I even should have been.

Those are the big things. And they’re trying to command the forefront of my attention. When I let them, I spiral. It’s hard not to spiral because it’s so easy.

It’s not like I’m creatively spent, of course. I don’t think that’s possible for sardonic teenagers. I get new ideas every day. What if a man was trapped inexplicably in a house with four locked, multicolored doors? What if a time-traveler was forced to stop traveling, confined to a containment unit, watching his friends and loved ones age without him? What if a small town was trapped by a gang of malevolent, bodiless witches?

Oh, look! Common themes: Capture. Containment. Helplessness. I wonder where those narrative delicacies came from.

I know I need to get out. I know I need a change. But change is scary. Change is things you’re not prepared for, things you’ve never dealt with. And it only makes it worse that everyone’s left already, or will be gone soon. In a month this will seem trivial, irrelevant. Now it’s scary. So when, aside from that, you’re also dealing with writer’s block, a debilitating ailment that renders people like me completely useless, you can see how things become a little hazy mentally. I’m keeping myself up by reading and going for walks, but I just have to wait. I can only hope that in the future, my writing returns to me. I really need it to, because I don’t know that I can function without it.

12:46 PM

J

Listen to: “L’America” by the Doors

A Saturday Walk (Or, Why Coffee Is A Magical Healing Property)

I had a friend stay over last night. We stayed up watching Doctor WhoPlanet Earth, and listening to bands like Pink Floyd and Gorillaz. This morning we walked through town and up toward the cafe Gato Nero, where I bought myself a coffee and we parted ways shortly after. I decided to walk home the long way round, which essentially meant avoiding Federal St. a little longer and going down the hill toward the movie theatre and right. As I walked along Railroad St. I began to appreciate just how wonderful Vermont is.

This isn’t the first time, of course. Earlier this week some friends and I went to Willoughby Lake. The drive there was almost more exciting than Willoughby itself: sprawling hills of multicolored trees and purple mountain ranges for miles, a perfect blue sky with wispy white clouds, and then the mountains of Willoughby towering over us as we came to that vast lake. We walked through the woods of Willoughby (I opted out of wearing shoes the whole time) and built a campfire near the water and made it tall and hot.

I’m more appreciating of nature lately, and that is due largely in part to the impossible-to-ignore presence of Vermont’s nature during the summer. The trees are so bright with green that they seem to shout at you, begging to be looked at. The wind is sometimes harsh and will blow clouds of flower petals in front of you, and then you’re looking up at a massive lilac tree for five minutes. When it rains–especially at night–you can’t help but turn off all your music and devices and lights and sit by the window listening to the rain pitter-patter along the side of the house while the thunder gurgles faraway. It sometimes seems Vermont is offering us all of these things with a willing, comforting embrace, and that all we really need to do is listen up.

This morning, I was particularly groggy-minded. I won’t allude to my activities last night (or any night), but I awoke with quite the headache. I didn’t want to get out of bed, even, but I realized we had no coffee to make at the house. So Ben and I were forced to leave so that I could get my daily caffeine-fix, a necessary addiction and a nasty one that I’ve developed especially during senior year. Despite my relatively down-in-the-dumps mood and my exhausted body and mind, going outside was one of the best things I could have done for myself today. And today was a day when I didn’t even shower–I’ve showered every morning for four years. Being outside, especially once I had my coffee and had relaxed, made it clear to me what a wonderful world we live in. This is a realization I re-realize frequently, since it’s so easy to follow into the mundane mechanics of the weekday goings on.

Saturday morning walks present the world in a way you rarely see it otherwise, no matter where you live. It seems everyone is aware that this morning is meant for the little things: the trivial cup of coffee, the five minutes you sit on the front porch and bask in sunshine, the tiny errands you must run in order to enjoy the weekend. All the little things come out on Saturday, and with my little thing (coffee) successfully achieved, I felt free to simply appreciate things. Even though St. Johnsbury was once and industrial railroad town, even though many of the streets are poorly paved or cracked, and even though much of the town is in financial hardship, it was refreshing to hear birds singing from atop lampposts, to see the trees shivering in the wind, to see the yellow sunlight brightening everything in sight.

I realize, finally, that some part of me will miss this place when I leave in September. Of course Amherst, MA has lots of wonderful things–indeed, many of them better than what they are in St. Johnsbury–but I will still miss the little things I’ve grown accustomed to in this town. It will be difficult to adjust to a new place, no matter the excitement of the change.

As I sat on the tree stump in my front yard and looked at the street while I drank my coffee, the giant tree in the neighbor’s yard across the way seemed to vibrate and shake as a gentle breeze sifted through its leaves. Damn, that’s a nice tree.

J

2:11 PM

PS. Broken Bells have some really wonderful songs. Try “The High Road” and “Trap Doors.”