Happy Pride: A Love Letter To Fanfiction

It is Pride Weekend. My Facebook is full of glitter and my nails are rainbow. But my mind strays from more straightforward (hah) celebrations to a road less travelled. Here is my quiet love story with fanfiction, which I started reading around age sixteen, became obsessed with at nineteen, to the point of writing my Master’s thesis on it back in 2011.

The beginnings

As a kid I read Everything (and some of it twice). I was pretty obsessed with novels (hello, Three Musketeers and everything Dumas ever wrote!) and about age thirteen I stumbled into the world of Harry Potter. Thirteen is, of course, the age that the Polish translation came out and was heavily promoted. I got myself a free copy of the book and from then onwards, I was lost. Around book four, I gave up on waiting for the translation to happen and got my greedy little hands on the English-language Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. At the launch of book seven I was actually in the US, queuing up at Borders around midnight; I remember getting up at 7 am next day and being done with the book around 2 pm. I devoured Harry Potter and at a certain time, I ran out of it.

Enter fanfiction. In fact, history repeated: I found a Polish language fanfic forum, read most of it, found an ongoing translation of a fic I Really Liked (which I can’t link to, as the author has long gone to the published side of the Force….!) and clicked through to the English version. My story of fanfiction is, in many ways the story of me mastering the English language. I have done it mostly through reading romances about wizards. You’re welcome.

What is fanfiction?

Technically, it’s any fictional writing that is viewed in the context of an “original” or “canon”. In this sense, POV books such as The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, could be regarded as such. To many people, fanfiction means lack of quality and literary merit: those people don’t know where to look for good fanfiction. Oh, for sure, bad fics exist; but like any literary society, fanfiction has developed recommendation systems (recs), that help you locate where the good stuff lives. Final definition could be that fanfic lives on the internet, for free, whereas Real Literature you get paid for. Aside from a furious mime pointing towards the Fifty Shades of Grey books (their literary merit is a separate discussion), that definition mostly covers it.

Why fanfiction?

To be honest, my first reason to read fanfic was to get Moar Harry Potter Content. The proliferations of a Canon are infinite – what if we genderswap everyone? What if we put these characters in a rock band and have them tour the world? Some of the variations are almost scientific: take character A, character B, a dash of universe U and… wait for an explosion. In fact, many writers cut their teeth on fanfiction and it’s easy to see why: you get to practice controlling the plot when the characters are already created; you get to play in somebody else’s sandbox, decorating a pre-existing sandcastle. You get to, interestingly, find the holes of the original – to go back to the Harry Potter example, its mythical quality (some houses are Inherently Bad, etc.) lends itself very well to a meditation on the nature of prejudice. I have read many a fic in which the Slytherin perspective has been told, in which the original rejection of Draco Malfoy by Harry Potter never happens, changing the course of war and history for the better. The very nature of fanfiction is looking for a different narrative, much like jazz music meanders around a melody that’s being improvised on. So you’ll find alternative universes where being gay and trans is so normal nobody remarks on it, the authors trying to figure out those perfect societies; conversely you will find “Man in High Castle” meditations on the nature of authoritarianism as well.

Hello, porn!

The discovery of slash (gay male) porn was something of a revelation of my late teens (those who were around when I was writing Girlfag in 2015, know). And while you may laugh at that, fanfic has given me a representation of my own erotic imagination – something that Pornhub regularly fails to do. Writing fanfiction tends to be, roughly, a female pursuit, although it’s been years since I’ve seen any stats on that. In pre-internet times, when Kirk and Spock  fans congregated and put their K/S (hence: slash) love stories in fanzines, it was mooostly older women writing it: perhaps the ‘net has changed this. These older statistics wouldn’t reflect gender diversity, anyway; rather, let’s say that fics represents a form of desire that veers away from the male gaze and mainstream narrative – and that’s pretty important when it comes to, well, sex scenes! I’ve read a lot of fairly idealised romantic sex in fanfic, but what draws me in these days is the representation of stuff that I literally never find in mainstream. Sex after trauma; kinky sex; transgender characters figuring out their true selves; exhaustive conversations on consent and boundaries; it all lives there on the internet. Fic gave me a broader understanding of humanity in general, as well as my own desire – because as well as fantasies of perfect sexual encounters, you’ll find the full breadth of human insecurity, awkwardness and the inherent humorousness of sex, as well.

What draws me to fanfic?

To this day, I read fanfic, although it is rarely Harry Potter. I made several lateral moves over the years, reading all and any fandoms regardless of knowing the original texts. I’ve been mostly guided by good authors: people who write amazing Harry Potter fic have written great Stargate Atantis, Due South or Avengers fic and therefore introduced me to those fandoms. The combination of non-male-gaze perspective, the structural lens with which the authors tend to view society and a good sex scene here and there is pretty irresistible! I have also followed the published authors who had to delete their fics once they got published – because I knew their writing to be good back when nobody was paying. I love fanfiction, because it’s a supportive community; because it offers a new writer some training wheels with which they can learn to ride through the peaks and valleys of plot; because it’s a place to meditate on favourite characters, their backstories and motivation. And finally, because at its best, fanfic is a way to change the world – one Harry-Potter-is-gay-and-proud story at a time. And don’t get me started on Captain America….!

Café Writer: A Moment In Time

Here I am: sitting in Beaconsfield café, having borrowed Manbear’s noise-cancelling earphones, trying to write. About to write. Almost writing.

Finishing coffee and my half of weird-but-tasty rose-nut cake. Looking around for Cat (actual name) whom I met on my previous visit. About to set the timer for a chunk of twenty, so that I can kid myself that twenty minutes is all the writing I’ll do. So that I can start.

Previous visit when I met Cat (actual name).

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. As I mentioned in the previous post, I massively overscheduled, and my dayjob (working with autistic children) wound up being very stressful as well; the heat didn’t help. I finished my work week in tears on Thursday, hanging out in Primark with a wonderful if long-suffering friend. I spent Friday getting it together a.k.a. going to a massage and swimming class and not doing a blessed thing otherwise. I spent yesterday lying on a blanket in the park, being handfed and handfeeding Manbear olives. And here is today.

Today I woke up anxious. Today I was able to meditate (!). Today I slowed down enough to get stuff done and not be angry with myself. Today I cleaned up a bit, because mess stresses me out. Today I forgave myself and stopped striving for insane speed. Today is today, and I’m still sitting in Beaconsfield cafe, with vague echoes of reggae hidden by noise-cancelling earphones.

Today I’m writing my play. Today I’ve shown up for myself. Today is a moment in time. And I’m feeling love.

 

 

Do All The Things One At A Time

Here is a quickblog: I have been entirely absent while trying to Live Life, also known as: having gigs during the week and at the weekend. Since my last post on 31st of May I performed in drag, as Your Polish Boyfriend, twice (at London Improv Theatre and in Dina, Sheffield, during Migration Matters Festival – there are bits on my Instagram, @rita_vision). I also did a poetry gig at Rhymes With Orange and an improv jam at Thursday Nights Live (The Nursery). I had a long break from writing my play and the blog; I haven’t rested much; I have been so tired and so overwhelmed. And now I’m here.

This is not going to be a fully-fledged post. But just to signal: yesterday I had an actual cry about how many things I had to do. I’d hit a wall! There is a point when too much stuff seems important and you end up doing none of it… because you’re too overwhelmed.

Probably doesn’t help that my brain automatically dumps everything into one category of “Important!!!!!1!”. I actually had a pen-and-paper planning session in the end, deciding which things I would have to drop. As my inclination is to Do All The Things, this was painful. Bu necessary.

Have I learnt from this? Not quite. I’m still massively overscheduled for the upcoming week. I tend to feed myself well and sleep decently – am pretty resilient – so I can push those limits a bit. But soon enough I’ll have to have that conversation where I reconcile the list of my creative projects and habits – list that counts upwards of twenty – and make decisions about what fits my energy levels and existing schedule. Painful. Necessary. I am indeed learning to Do All The Things. Learning to do them One At A Time. Next: perhaps learning to finish projects. But that’s a story for another post.

On Motivation: How To Get Yourself To Do Things

Hello, hello, hello! I skipped a week, but fear not, it was for a good cause! It is half term, after all, and after having written here and here about how I struggle to rest, I actually… you know… rested.

Not that the week has been work- and stress-free. But I managed to go out dancing, hang out with friends and watch some stuff, as well as catching up on tasks. So, aside from my suddenly developed habit of going to sleep at 2 am, I would cautiously call this week a win.

One thing that I have achieved that has been brewing for a while is the beautiful token board that you’ll have seen featured in this post. “What is a token board, Rita”, you will ask, “and why are you arts and crafts skills so awesome?”. As for second, natural talent. But about the first.

As some of you know, I work with autistic children. It’s been about a year since I started in this line of work, and challenging though it may be, I also love it. I’ve been learning a lot about attention and motivation, because, quite frankly, to help my students I often have to strive to be the most interesting person around! I have to be fun to hang out with, as well as implement correct methodology while motivating my primary-school-age students to focus and do small bits of work. So it got me to think about the nature of motivation quite a bit.

When I’m motivating a student to do work, I will frequently use tokens – such as stickers, lines on the paper, stars, what-have-you. Anything will do, as long as the pupil and I share an understanding that after a finite amount of tokens – say, five – we can go Do Something Else That Is Not Work. Pupils will complete their work and then choose their own reward, whether it’s playground time, spending time with their favourite toys or playing a computer game. Getting tokens means practicing patience; it helps associate the feeling of achievement and reward with doing work-related things; it allows to track how much work we have done. In fact, when I was in training on the topic, one of the token systems we frequently mentioned was money: a thing that we perform a lot of work for, a reward that most of us are chasing to exchange it for other things. And even though we want the things that money can buy, money itself generates a satisfied feeling… because at some point the token gives you the same feeling as the real thing that it stands for. I digress.

As part of my homework I had to write down an idea of my own token board. Nobody asked me to actually implement it: the goal was to understand the things I was asking my students to do, to engender empathy. But I was intrigued: collecting points and measuring achievements is such a human thing to do – could I leverage this to do tasks that I struggle with? As I have recently done a test that was meant to measure how I form habits, based on my personality type, I knew I was what they call an Obliger: a person mostly reinforced by other people’s company. I tend to do well with outside-the-house employment, accountability, things like that: if I want to exercise, I will sign up to a class rather than try to do it on my own. Every time I try doing things when alone, it takes much more psychic energy and I fail much quicker.

Long story short: I combined the idea of reinforcing good habits, the token board and a bit of pomodorro technique/Unf*ck Your Habitat time management. I perform difficult tasks (often the lonely kind, of “this is so boring, but future Rita will thank me” kind) in chunks of twenty minutes, with roughly ten minute breaks. I reward each twenty minute chunk with a token (or more, if it’s particularly difficult) and every token is worth £1. I am rewarding myself with buying things that I really want to buy – the kind of shopping that I can’t really justify on a budget. I literally earn my own money back from myself at well under a minimum wage and you know what, you can laugh if you like. I don’t care.

It works.

I’ve been trialling this system for a while, but this week I actually created the board and started tracking what I do. I am well over twenty tokens at present. I have done writing (a solitary activity that I love, but struggle to get going), cleaning (something I struggle with, but also a thing that helps my mental health a lot), meditation, exercise (yes, there was a solo trip to the swimming pool for good forty five minutes!). I am trying to be cautious and not do everything at once, but I also can’t deny it. I. AM. SO. EXCITED!!!

This might not always work. I am relatively well, psychologically, and I need to be pretty organised to keep this going. But quite frankly, I’m a bit relieved. I have spent literal years conversing with my brain – trying to convince it to Do Things and being met with a blanket “I DON’T WANNA”. Add to it that often the things you most want to do are the things that terrify and paralyse you the most – also known as the concept of resistance (hugely recommend “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield on the topic) and you have one confused Rita, who really wants to Make Things, but is wondering why she can’t get anything going. Apparently the answers are either “call a friend (and set up some accountability)” or “hack your brain (and set up some sweet, sweet rewards)”. Anyway, I dearly hope this will continue to help me out in keeping my Creative Cave clean and my Creative Brain well exercised.

If you need me, I’ll just be here, associating putting a pin in a cork board with feeling of satisfaction and a fresh Amazon purchase….

Coping Mechanisms And How To Change Them

Hi everyone. Here is me, writing this blogpost while a voice in my head keeps insisting that it makes no sense to do that and it isn’t worth it.

Charming, huh.

I attended a workshop recently and the facilitator said something very interesting. She said “I really respect people, who have addictions and vices, like alcoholics. These things are coping mechanisms. And if you want to take them away, you need to put something in their place”. It stuck with me. I, too, have coping mechanisms – behaviours that get activated when I’m not well. I’m very aware that they are not helpful… and I’m not sure what to put in their place.

My coping mechanisms would be broadly classified as Media Intake.I binge-watch youtube (rarely films, it feels like too much of a commitment). I read fanfiction and random articles on politics, social justice, literary things. Advice blogs. Friends’ blogs. Whatever happens to interest me that day. I almost always have 50 windows open in my phone browser.

then

It started as reading, when I was a kid – I literally never put a book down. I was a weekly visitor to the library and got an adult library card as a teen. The librarians knew me, and they’d realised that I ran out of things to read. I would bring stacks of books home and attack them with relish. My brother complained (we shared a room) that I would wake him up on Saturday morning with rustling of the pages.

It’s hard to say at which point “I love reading” became “I read to not deal with life”. My dad certainly noticed it and tried to read what I read, just to monitor the content a little. I was bullied at school and had little in a way of social life, and music school that I attended had a pretty busy schedule. So instead of sneaking around with friends, I would put a book on the piano and try to read and play at the same time, so that my parents would hear me practice. I’d shove a book under the piano when checked on. At that point it was maybe a compulsive behaviour. But even so, to a certain point I did pretty well in school – my reading habit helped with general literacy and understanding and gave me lots of extra information, so it wasn’t all bad.

A lot of the time I read things that would have been broadly classified as “trash”. Okay, that’s snobbish. I am a Lit graduate, after all, but things that I read As Coping Mechanisms were fantasy, sci-fi (anyone read Star Wars before watching it, or just me? and all the published fanfiction?), romance and mystery books. Oh, and adventure books – travel, cowboy-and-noble-Native-Americans genre, three musketeers and anything else that Dumas ever wrote. Books “for girls” and books “for boys”, if it had a plot, I was on it.

Then Internet happened.

Around my A-levels and in the beginning of university I was having a bad time. It was then that my fanfiction addiction has truly blossomed. I discovered fanfic in middle school, age 14, but it was in high school that I switched to reading it in English. As a result, I graduated from the limited puddle of Polish-language Harry Potter fanfic to the limitless ocean of English-language, any-fandom-you-want fanfic that the Internet offered. I was able to mainline fanfic for sixteen hours a day if there was nothing else to do. My family were worried, but there was little they could do at the time. I still went to school, but I spent every other minute inside the computer screen. In the end,  I managed to graduate high school and pass A-levels despite not having studied; to no one’s surprise my highest scores were languages and writing, Polish and English. (I actually scored higher in English than in Polish, although that’s a different story altogether).

My parents finally divorced when I was 20 and at university (and if you think this is a non-sequitur, let’s just say that there were Reasons why I’d not been able to deal with life well), and I went and got myself 3 years of therapy, so I managed to graduate my MA levels and get back to halfway functional. But my media intake coping mechanism remained.

now

Fast forward to today. This weekend. I recently attended a workshop that gave me a lot of Feelings. I have work tonight and tomorrow and a lot of things to do and to plan. And I haven’t been able to do a goddamn thing – not clean my room, or the kitchen (my turn); not cook the week’s lunches, not take my vitamins, go to the swimming pool, do a bit of yoga. Not learn the quiz, which I will lead in 5 hours time. No nothing. I’ve eaten random foods and watched everything by Try Guys, and read a bunch of fanfic.

I realise that there are things that would help me right now. Meditation would help. So would exercise. Even cleaning would give me back a feeling of control and impact over my life. But frankly, I keep having a feeling of despair instead, of failure. I failed. I didn’t do All The Things that need to be done. I have a deadline (a.k.a. quiz and work tomorrow), so however imperfectly, I will be forced to deal with stuff. In general, deadlines help. Social commitments help, unless I am deep enough in the funk that I start avoiding people, which can also be part of the pattern. I don’t want to deal with life, so doing things that I “should” do is a no-go, but doing anything else is also a no-go, because I “should” be doing The Things That I Need To Do.

Even writing this blog is difficult, because I promised myself that I would blog weekly, so this is a “should” activity. But writing this down helps a little. So here is the thing: I am locked up in a room inside of my head, and the way it works is that being stuck seems to be the best option (don’t want to do a “should” activity! should not do a “not-should” activity! best stay and watch another video!). I know about things that help – literally anything that breaks the stalemate in my brain – a conversation, a shower sometimes (other times I’ll go straight back to watching after the shower).

I haven’t had an episode this bad in a while.

The kicker is, this, right here, is the reason why I can’t be a freelancer. This is why I’m not a full-time actor or writer. Because my brain gets me stuck in places. Much as I don’t always like having a Muggle day-job, if things get really bad, it gets me unstuck and also pays regular money.

The thing is that reading and watching videos are things I do to chill. To rest and enjoy myself. So it’s hard to distinguish between having a bit of a rest and sinking into a funk. Not until I’m already deep under. And there is no resolution to this blogpost. I hope that I can run a semi-decent quiz tonight. I hope that I don’t hate myself for wasting all this time. I hope I can clean the kitchen at some point.

I hope I can break free. But that’s a tall order right now. Maybe I could start with a shower.

 

Why Do I Write

The question arises in me. I’ve written since I knew how to write. The hunger was always there. To put the world into words, to lock it in, to understand. To create. To capture rhythms and beat, the steady steps of an absent-minded wanderer, the erratic fly, everything in between that resists definition. I want to create my own kind of beauty – and truth. I want to confront. I want to explain. I want to share.

There was a moment when I did less writing. There was a moment when I had no time. I felt the need burning in me. Still do. Some kinds of writing are more demanding than others. I tend to not begin what I cannot give my focus. The full sacrifice. Somehow I’m always biting down a scream.

Why do I write. Why do I not write. Why do I love it, why does it make me bleed. Sometimes I want to bleed words onto pages, if only it were real. Something real. I got to this point. When life I’m building is beginning to be alive, but it isn’t at all how I imagined, isn’t what was promised. I can’t achieve my goals, half the time I don’t know or understand them. The world is burning but slowly, the embers blink, I don’t know if hope is folly or the only thing that can be. I don’t know at all. I know the words, and before I fall, I’ll throw my breathlessness onto a page. Alongside laughter, desperation, rage. Rhyme, always – rhythm. Arrythmia of feels.

If I still prayed, I’d want something real.

Midnight Rant On Internet Habits

It’s quarter to midnight as I write this. I already wrote a nice, quick, inoffensive blogpost, a literary landscape with cake – a throwaway moment in time that helped me deal with my huge appetite for today, in context of my tiredness and need for rest. I keep thinking though. That’s the thing with me; I can’t stop thinking.

Today wouldn’t quite have gone the way it did if I had no Internet. That’s just a fact. Yes, I was overwhelmed because I wanted to do a lot of things, but I would have likely done more of them if distraction wasn’t so readily available. We often talk about access, accessibility – and Internet breaks a lot of barriers for everybody. We no longer have to contend with gatekeepers of knowledge, a lot of it is free for the taking. That IS wonderful, but we have new problems now. The overabundance of information – truthful and false – is one of them. But what really concerns me is the ready availability of online content that is emotive and stirring. When I read articles that activate both thought and emotion, when I read Facebook updates, I feel connected to… something, shaken, moved sometimes. But I have very little control over what I’m going to encounter and weirdly, it’s the easiest thing to access of all the available Things.

I’m not explaining this right. I am a fan of Internet, if one can say such a thing; I certainly don’t expect to stop using it permanently, we’re on my blog over here. But often I have to get offline to realise that I’m relatively isolated; that I haven’t reached out to friends; that I have too many encounters of the purely online kind. Add to this the fact that easily digestible emotional experiences are a click away, and I begin to feel like a rat in an experiment cage, pressing the button for cocaine. Sure, we don’t stop living – we cook and clean and go to work and perform all the productive functions – but I feel that my quality of life suffers without disconnecting from it at least a little bit.

I used to live in a house that had no WiFi – I had no data on my old school phone at the time – and remember experiencing it as a welcome relief. Like, I had to go to a cafe or library to go online, and that would switch me in the work mode. I remember being so relaxed. And sure, when I go vaguely offline nowadays, I let myself look things up – my offline discipline does NOT extend to recipes – but at least I’m grounded in the present, making stuff with my hands. Don’t get me wrong: I love being connected to the web, finding friends and common interests, but I also feel… dried out and stretched and imbalanced when I’m in there for a long time. Perhaps that is why I consciously sought out employment that doesn’t require a lot of online activity?

I don’t know. What I do know is that I experience a pull to use my online experience more consciously. That’s how this blog started: as a private call to action, to create a writing habit and put my words into the world, instead of steadily inhaling someone else’s. Perhaps using Internet sparingly is the answer here, the answer in which I will fail a hundred times, because a month’s long experiment is like a diet, and what I’m after is a lifestyle change: a permanent solution, not a yo-yo effect. And for this, a cutesy cake post, much as it is relatable and descriptive, doesn’t quite cut it. I’m asking myself this: why do you write? Who do you write for? I’ve yet to find the answers.

 

Tired Friday With Cake Potential

It’s Friday….! Which means that I made muffins for breakfast (black banana from the fridge finally utilised), had a coffee (I ration the stuff) and got through my swimming class (instructor was very concerned because I was tired – kept asking what was going on. Aside from a busy week at work, and aren’t they all, the answer is simply PMS; should have said so).

Swimming and blogging are the weekly staples of my Friday diet, but I always try to do something more. In fact, I had so many ideas today, that I wound up on Facebook, because it all sounded like so much work! Sample idea:

  • making a cake! lemon loaf again? or that difficult apple pie that I fancied?
  • finish my registration for European elections – that one’s in the calendar!
  • watch RuPaul’s Drag Race – but not before other work!
  • do two-three loads of laundry (okay, one of those even happened)
  • footbath and scrub! ooh, and a facemask (I never do any of these)
  • look up the next slow cooker sensation and plan shopping, so that lunches for next week are done (steady on, got a couple of days yet…!)
  • ….more…

The problem is that Friday is duvet day for me. As in, the one and only rest day I allow myself in the week. I always make plans for Saturday, I work Sunday nights as well as Monday-Thursday – there is literally no part of the week when I’m not DOING SOMETHING. So maybe – just maybe – making a cake that I fancy eating and watching Drag Race is not the end of the world. I mean. Maybe. I can’t quite make myself believe it.

In fact, the one thing that is steadily suffering in my new world order is socialisation. Oh no, make that two things: socialisation and gigs. I all but stopped doing comedy, and while I get lots of human contact from my dayjob (yay kids!) and evening job (yay quizzers!), seeing my friends seems impossible. I did do pilates, yoga AND swimming this week, so maybe I can give myself a break…?

In any case, by writing this down I want to give myself permission to both Want All The Things and Not Achieve All The Things. I’m tired. I’m sitting on the sofa. I really fancy making a cake. Maybe there is nothing wrong with that.

How The Light Got In

1. Crack of Dawn

For the last week or so, I found it so easy to be joyful and productive. I’ve been waking up at 6.30 am and doing my physio exercises – the kind of behaviour I always WANTED, but never managed to do. If you’d asked me, I’d have told you that I like winter and don’t suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it’s hard to explain the recent lift in my mood. The early mornings are my favourite time of the day right now, I’ve been packing my lunches immediately and with no complaining, I’m just beautifully organised. Since the last blogpost, when my mood was conversely shitty, I’ve been able to clean up my room (with the support of Manbear) and more importantly keep it clean and that is probably the only other reason of this inset of blessed joy. I do not seek to question it, really – except in hopes of understanding how to keep it, and/or bring it about again….

2. Cracking On

This week I met up with a friend to do something we talked about for LITERAL YEARS: a twoprov.

What is a twoprov, might you ask? It is meeting of two minds on improv stage. My friend and I have a very particular chemistry and I’ve been wanting to explore it. We set a rehearsal for every second Wednesday and just had our first one this week and I am so very excited.

3. The Story of the Cracked Mug.

Once upon a time, I bought a mug.

I bought it from my then-workplace, Pylones – a quirky French brand of colourful everyday items. It was yellow, in a pattern we called Dahlia and I really liked it. And then I broke it.

That would have been in 2016 the latest, maybe earlier.

I still have that mug. It broke in such a way that when I looked at it, I thought immediately that it would make a great candle holder. I figured I’d Superglue the two separate parts together, and the tiny hole where some smaller bits of ceramic fell off will be fantastic for creating light.

I held onto it for at least three years.

When I first came up with this blogpost, I figured that I would either write about completing this long-awaited project (and that would be powerful) or letting go of this long-held-onto project (and that would be powerful). But I didn’t account for creative process. Yesterday, when I pulled out my precious ceramic friend and a small tube of Superglue, I had a sudden thought: is Superglue flammable? Is it heatproof? The corresponding answers turned out to be yes and no. It’s hard for me to evaluate the precise risk, but I decided using this particular glue would not be the safest option in my room full of wooden furniture, books and papers.

Stumped, I called in reinforcements (a.k.a. my flatmate) and asked them about different kinds of glue. We stared at the mug for a bit and had a conversation about making it a vase (I vetoed it – I wanted a tealight holder!) or piecing it together with various means. And then the realisation came: the mug was already a functional candle holder. It just needed a base, so that one part could be stuck to it and another secured in such a way so that it wouldn’t easily fall apart! So the mission parameters changed: I am now hunting for a base. But my mug is already functioning as a candle holder and it’s BEAUTIFUL.

IMG_20190426_004957

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Amongst my struggles with “I Own Too Much Stuff” and “I Do Too Many Things”, there are moments like this: when I dared to ask for help and got some, and suddenly life gets a little bit easier. I can’t say how blissful that feels – like a heavy weight, lifted. In wading through my general problems with executive function, I want to take this time to be happy because This Week Things Worked. The work is slow, but I am reshaping my relationship to my body (physio! pilates! swimming!), my space (declutter! cleaning!), my creativity (play! blog! comedy! improv!), and it’s all beginning to show results. I will write my play this year. I will start a Polish-language blog this year. I might yet publish some essays, this year. I broke some things apart, this year, to put them back together. Slowly, slowly, slowly, things are becoming possible.

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”

 

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