When They Try To Derail You

Over the past weekend, there was a series of events called ‘Side Walks’. It was organised by Centre For Stories (www.centreforstories.com) and as a Hot Desk Fellowship winner, I was invited to participate. I was on a panel discussion.

Was it smooth sailing from start to finish?

No.

No, it wasn’t.

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Literally a moment before starting

Okay, so the no is more about myself rather the event itself. The event went without a hitch. Great venue, loads of people in attendance and we had an awesome conversation.

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w./ Tinashe Jakwa and Alicia Tuckerman

The no is more about me warding off my personal demons right up to the very second that I began speaking at the event. Here’s the thing: the book I chose was The Shining by the one and only Stephen King. Odd choice, you might think?

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The Book That Changed My Life

Let me quickly tell you: this book is more than just a horror story. It is a story of heart, of honesty and above all else, a story about love shining through even the most monstrous clouds. If you haven’t read it, go ahead and do it. You won’t regret it. There’s a reason why this novel is celebrated like it is.

And no, it is nothing like the film.

But anyway, back to warding off personal demons. One of the reasons I loved this book was because it taught me that doubt, fear, self-loathing, flaws are all part of us, of who we are as humans.

Some of us are able to deal with those things with relative ease whereas others, like myself, often have trouble dealing with them on a daily basis.

For the purpose of this little blog post, I will focus on the main thing that plagued me right up to the panel discussion. I was plagued by the thought that I was not good enough, not smart enough, not interesting enough to be part of something like that.

Self-doubt is always there but quite often it rears its ugly head at the worst possible time.

It took me a long time to be able to deal with this sort of stuff. I focus on myself and focus on what makes me happy. While this disgusting storm was raging in my head, I listened to my heart. It reminded me of how much I loved sharing with others, how much being a storyteller mattered to me and how incredible it was to be surrounded by people who cared about stories and how powerful they could be. How life-changing they could be.

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I did not hold back

By doing that, the ugly thoughts dissipated and I could enter the conversation with passion and no holds barred.

The event was about a book that changed our lives. The book that came to my mind straight away was Stephen King’s masterpiece. The Shining made me cry. The first book to do so. It made me see that no matter how dark things can get in your head, there is always hope and there is always light. Nothing stays dark forever. As sappy as it sounds: love truly shines through everything. No matter how much those personal demons take over, no matter how much power you think they have, there is always a spark amidst the darkness.

A spark that can ignite a flame bright enough to shine through all the bullshit those demons try to spew at you.

I love being a writer. I love being called a writer. I love sharing my thoughts with people. We all have something to say if we allow ourselves to do so.

Being part of an event like this made me really happy.

And what I know is this: it’s only the beginning.

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Keep On Shining 😉

 

Silence That Voice

Van Gogh Quote

I saw that quote recently and fell in love with it. It is such a great way to look at writing. I know the quote talks about painting but you can adapt it to anything creative really. Writing can be such a daunting task on its own but it’s even worse when you start comparing your work to other published authors.

Headache
Don’t Go There. Just Don’t.

I do that all the fucking time. Like, honestly, I know very well that comparing yourself to others is a black hole from which you might never come out of. It has frozen me in the past, it has haunted me, beaten me to a bloody pulp and left me for dead. Almost. But man, that is not where you want to be.

Beaten Up
Comparing Myself To Others

I mean, sure, it is bound to happen that when you read a novel, you might think, ‘Holy shit! How did that even come to him?’ I often do that when I read a Stephen King novel. The man never ceases to amaze me with his choice of words, description or plot. There’s a reason why he’s my idol in the writing world. But then I often fall prey to the inevitable, ‘I’ll never be like him. I suck.’

Yep. Horrible thought that can cause an avalanche effect and bury me alive. 

But, don’t worry, there’s a positive outlook incoming.

Smile
What I Aim To Do When All Seems Lost

I did survive all these thoughts. I did get back up on my feet and hobbled over to the writing desk. Why? Because it is in my fucking blood to write. It is who I am. As a whole, I am a creative being. I never stop creating. It can be overwhelming but it is who I am.

Writing is where I feel free and where there is no limit to what I can do.

So, it does not matter that sometimes I doubt my talent, my skill, but it does matter when I allow dark unreasonable thoughts take over. I feel those feelings but then carve them into a ball and kick it away from me. Fuck you dark thoughts!

I am a writer and I will bloody fucking write! You just watch!

I get fired up. I get passionate. Because if I am not going to be passionate and fired up about something as important as this, then life will be a miserable time on earth. Writing. Creating. It brings me utter joy and even though it is hard work, it makes me happy.

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What I Like To Imagine When I Fire Up! ^^

So! To those dark thoughts, to that voice that often speaks up against me? I say this: I will silence you. I will silence you by writing. You will never stop me.

I am a writer. That’s that.

 

Day 1 / Hot Desk Fellowship

Today is a special day.

I am starting my Hot Desk Fellowship at the Centre For Stories. What’s that you might ask? Well, it is an opportunity for writers to have a dedicated space for their creative work. You also get opportunities to attend events, workshops, etc.

So Excited
How I feel inside about this awesome opportunity!

When I was told I had won it, I was gobsmacked. It came at the right time though. I’ve been having a lot of ideas but there was always something happening. Something that required my attention.

I was getting distracted.

I have a space at home for my creative work but it can be difficult sometimes to motivate myself to stick to just the one thing for the day or even for a couple of hours. My mind is always racing with ideas and I sometimes can’t focus.

focus
I’ve got to be laser-focused!

With this Hot Desk Fellowship, on top of all the cool things that come with it, I get a place where I have to focus. It’s a lovely open space with light and books around. Ca me donne envie, mais tellement! When I’m using some French you know I’m pretty hyped up! That little thing means that where I am right now is making me want to work.

Excited Writer

I often write up some scenes as a warm-up before getting deep into a work-in-progress (novel or short story). I guess every writer has his own quirks when it comes to his craft. So today instead of writing a mock scene, I thought I would write some words about this fellowship.

I aim to be super productive today.

Get something meaty done so I can feel a sense of accomplishment. The good thing is that there are other people too here. There’s a girl across the room from me who also won the Hot Desk Fellowship. We are both working on our own thing and in silence but there’s this common creative energy in the air and that’s just fucking awesome.

Creative Energy
I summon thy creative energy

But anyway, time to finish this off and get to work on my WIP. I am super excited for it as it is one of those stories that seem to want to pour out of me. This is good.

I am good

I’m good.

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about Perth’s Centre For Stories and the many amazing things they do, check out their website at centreforstories.com. 

An Old Thing But A True Thing

I don’t know about you but when I read, I tend to space out. A lot.

I’m the kind of reader who can burn through a whole chapter but then spend two hours on the first page of another chapter. It usually happens when a word or a particular line triggers an idea in my head and without meaning to, the idea rolls on with or without me having much say in it.

Dreaming
Thinking of my own stories while reading

This is one of the reasons I love reading. The first reason is of course for enjoyment and for escapism, like a lot of readers out there. But the other reason is the way a story can lead me to another story of my own.

The thing is the ideas that do form in my head often have no link whatsoever to what I am reading at the time. Reading is, in essence, a gateway to my own creative space. That’s some deep stuff right there but it is the truth.

Anime Boy 02
A word. A line of dialogue. That’s all it takes.

A writer needs to read. It’s an old thing but it is a true thing.

My imagination and creativity are nourished through various means but one of the biggest slices of said nourishment comes from reading. If anything, to be taken on a voyage in another writer’s story is an experience in itself.

You admire what others do and sometimes you find out what you wouldn’t do as a writer. 

That’s the beauty of it as well, sometimes you read a story and you think to yourself ‘I wouldn’t have done it like that.’ Just because it works for one writer does not mean it will work for all writers. Reading helps shape your craft and it gets you closer to where you’re meant to be.

Reading a bad book
You learn from the good and you most definitely learn from the bad.

There are authors you connect with more than any other authors. I know I often pick up a book just because I know I like the way that particular author writes. The story might not be the best but the writing will carry me through.

Then there are writers you stumble upon who make you wish you never met them in the first place.

Does this mean it was a waste of time to read their work? Of course not. 

Because even from these books that do not connect with me, I learn a lot. For example I could be reading a description in a story and I would think, ‘Damn, that’s an awful lot of time to spend describing a brick in the wall. Eesh! Not doing that. Ever.’

I love reading, especially when it makes me space out because that space is a great place to be. I feel alive in that space. I love how words can cause such a range of reactions from me. From all parts of me. From the reader to the writer while not forgetting the child who loved reading all the stories in the school library.

You read, you learn, you write. 😉

 

Can You Defeat Time?

Time is never on my side, I feel.

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The clock is ticking… >.>

I wish I had more time to do more things. I like to invest time into whatever I do. I can spend hours editing a scene or a video. It’s not that I suck at time management, it is simply how it is. I cannot take shortcuts because then it would lessen the quality of my work. So how to deal with this?

How do I not go crazy over the fact that the clock is continuously ticking and I’m always feeling like I’m playing catch-up?

It takes getting used to. I have stopped thinking I can outsmart time or even beat it. I can be more efficient with it but I cannot pretend to defeat it. So now I run with it and too bad if it seems like I’m lagging behind. Truth is as long as I know how I do spend that time, then it’s all good. I have created a balance in my creative work so that I am equally invested in all of my endeavours as such.

Multitasking
I will do everything… at once!

I am always writing something, even bits and pieces of scenes or ideas, I am always writing. Even when I play games, I use that to produce videos for my YouTube channel. No time is wasted when it comes to my creativity. I also remember to switch off and zone out with a book (as in reading for pleasure and nothing else) or in front of the TV.

Only a year ago, I was always in a constant state of panic because I kept thinking I was running out of time to do what I wanted.

How was I going to achieve all of my goals and ambitions in the time that I have? It was torture. I was torturing myself every day. I felt guilty whenever I did something that had no connection to my dreams.

Now I know that time does not care and does not have a personal vendetta against me.

The clock keeps on ticking but it is up to me to decide how I interpret the seconds going by. I am not panicked anymore. I am motivated. Motivated to use the time that I have to feel super awesome about what I do. I am grateful for the fact that I do have time to do the things I want to do. Will I achieve everything that I want? Will I realise all of my ambitions?

Obstacle

It’s not up to time. It’s up to me.

 

It’s Good To Put Yourself On Charge Too!

It’s funny how quickly you don’t realise how much work you put into something. I have been going non-stop with my creative side that I forgot to take a breath and take time for myself.

Life has a way to make you see these things when you can’t seem to do it on your own.

I went back home to Mauritius for a few days this past week and it has been great. It was my Mum’s birthday and I wanted to be there to celebrate it with her (as opposed to talking via Skype). I’m glad I did because it was an awesome celebration.

Celebration
Celebrate Good Times

At the same time, I went back home with the idea of not going anywhere. I wanted to chill at my childhood home. I didn’t know how much good it would do me though. I actually felt my batteries recharge over time. I went to the gym every morning and enjoyed Mauritian food throughout the day. It was great!

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Mauritian Roti made by my Dad ❤

I also enjoyed gaming and lost myself in a Japanese Role-Playing world. I felt like I did back when I was on summer holidays in high school. The only thing I had to worry about was how to spend my free time. I did not think about work or anything like that while in Mauritius.

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Getting Lost In Fire Emblem: Three Houses ^^

And much like when I was in France and Italy for my honeymoon, my creativity seemed to replenish itself. I felt joy at being in my homeland and remembered the moments that made me who I am today and why I chose the path I am now on.

There was something in the air that made me reflect on how far I have come.

Once the trip was over, I felt the excitement to get back to writing, recording and just being creative. I know it’s healthier to take a break from time to time but it’s easy to forget that when you’re doing things you love. They don’t seem like work and therefore you keep at it, not even thinking of burnout and whatnot.

 

Burnout-Dice
Battery: Low. Please Recharge Now.

This year has been a crazy ride so far and it’s not over yet. I have my Hot Desk Fellowship starting at Centre for Stories and I am getting hyped for my first ever panel. Oh, and the interview I did for Liminal Magazine should be coming out pretty soon too. Onwards and upwards.

I am refreshed, recharged and ready to go!

Create Your Own Character and The Story Will Follow

I am finding a lot of joy doing things I like these days. I’m sure most people would go “well, duh,” when reading that but for a while it was hard for me to enjoy these things. I always felt guilty about spending time on me. Self-care had been a low priority in my life for the longest time. There was always a very good reason for me not to care for myself. But now, I have changed.

Self-care has jumped up in my order of priorities. I can’t say it’s at the top but it’s close enough for me to have a happier life.

So, one of the things that brings me a lot of joy is video games. Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Like TV shows, films, books and graphic novels, gaming offers a world away from my own. And in those worlds, you have (almost) absolute control over what you do and you do them on your terms. This is especially true of the role-playing game genre.

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About to spend hours in-game ^^’

One aspect of gaming I adore above everything else is character creation. This is where you get to pick the physical features of the character you are going to play but also their role and their powers, if that’s applicable. At first I loved that aspect for the fact that I could create a hottie and watch him through every camera angle possible as I played. Yes, I do love me some main character hotties, not gonna lie.

Cloud
The Original Hottie aka Cloud Strife ❤

But there is also another aspect of that character creation feature that appealed greatly to me and that was the fact that I could make up a character that was in my head. I place great importance on characterisation in stories.

I love a character that touches me and that makes me want to see them through to the end of their journey.

So being able to customise a character I would play for hours on end was and still is a joy beyond description. It creates a connection with me as the player that can sometimes pull me through an otherwise fairly average game (*cough* Mass Effect Andromeda *cough*). Sorry, BioWare, I do like you a lot and have great hopes for the next Dragon Age game aka my favourite game series of all-time. But I digress.

That connection with the player is what I aim to do with my writing. Create a connection between the characters in my stories and the reader. The beauty of books is that everybody is free to imagine the characters as they wish. You do get character descriptions in books but more often than not they are quite loose and open to interpretation. I like stories like that. Sometimes a name is enough to create an image in my head of that character and I run with that for the whole book.

DAI Character Creation
Who Do You Want To Be?

Does this mean specific character descriptions suck? No, of course not. Much like games that do not offer character creation do not automatically suck. Final Fantasy VII is one of my absolute favourite games and it does not offer character creation. Artistic vision is still very important. For me though, on a very subjective and personal level,

I prefer games which offer the character creation option and the same with books that remain somewhat vague on character description.

I like having the space to imagine my characters. Ideally, I’d love for game developers to always offer character creation options (but with also the option of playing as their default character). In books, that’s harder to do, but I suppose that despite extensive character description, we are still free to imagine the characters the way we want. Except if it’s very story-specific, obviously.

What I take from all this though is an insight into the way I write. It is somewhat funny that it came to me while playing video games but not surprising.

There is a creative connection and it’s all linked in the ether.

I come up with the plot of stories after I see the character(s) in my head. It’s always that way. I might have a vague idea of a plot but once I form a character in my head, the plot suddenly takes a life of its own and weaves itself around that character image. It is a thrill when that happens. Much like when I create a character in a game and I’m super happy with it (note: it can take me up to 3 hours to be happy with a character I have created in a game).

Creating Art
Need To Get That Character Right

I believe that’s why I can enjoy a book despite a plot that doesn’t really speak to me. If the characters touch me, I will dive into it and not let go. Character studies can be such an amazing thing to read about when done right. And when you’re Stephen King or Quentin Tarantino, you can do character studies and create an adrenaline rush kind of story with relative ease. I hope I can do the same. Highly ambitious, I know, but I believe in myself now.

A World Of Difference

Some writers have one story at a time going through their heads. They focus on that particular idea and produce a manuscript within a few months or even a few weeks. The first draft anyway. That’s pretty cool. That’s efficient. Productive.

Productive

I thought I was like that but I am not. Yikes.

The thing is I am the kind of writer with ten ideas going through his mind at a time. Every idea has its own story, its own universe, its own purpose. And more often than not,

I am pulled in each direction with equal force which sometimes means I am frozen in place.

Well, which idea do I go with? After all, I need to be efficient and use my time wisely so I can produce a manuscript that will get attention. Right?

That mindset is kind of fucked. I am all about mindset these days it seems. It’s funny to think that the way you think about something can alter your approach so much. I used to think I had to be very careful with which idea to go with as I didn’t want to miss the boat of what would be the next thing publishers want to look at. Wouldn’t it be fucking awful to produce a manuscript and be told, “Hey, you should’ve submitted this last year, we were all over this shit. Now, we moved on to [insert current trend].”

Missing Out
I missed out?!

It used to be a fear that governed what I wrote. Or rather, which idea I would follow. And maybe that’s why I ended up procrastinating a lot. Even though the idea did interest me, there was probably another one simmering away in my mind that spoke to me much more in that moment.

But hey, I don’t wanna miss the proverbial boat so I’ll just keep that appealing idea on the back burner and focus on what I think publishers want me to write.

Now, I have changed my mindset on this stuff. I know what it’s like to write something that speaks to you in the moment. That idea that makes you get up at 5 in the morning and hit the keyboard like there’s no tomorrow. And I also know what it’s like to hang on to an idea that isn’t really clicking just because you think that’s the one to follow. There’s a world of difference between them. Yes, those two ideas mean something to me, but one should definitely be left cooking in the oven a bit longer. Forcing something to work does not mean it is going to work.

Frustrated
Why won’t you work?!

This is why I am listening to my gut a bit more. The current idea I have is probably a bit out there but I want to follow it. I want to explore what it means and figure it out. That’s exciting. That’s what makes writing so exciting to me. When you, the author, are genuinely excited to discover where the story takes you.

Hopefully you can also create that magical connection which makes readers dive without reserve into your book.

I have many ideas in my head and I can’t write them all at once. I’m not that multi-task efficient. I can produce videos and write at the same time, but writing several manuscripts at once? Nope. That I cannot do. I cannot just have one idea at a time in my head and I cannot write all of the ideas at once. It’s a messy situation but now it is an interesting mess to play with. Because listening to my gut feeling makes the sorting out of ideas more fun.

Worth living

It’s all about how you see things. It truly makes a world of difference.

 

The Way I Write

When I made the conscious decision to fully dive into writing, I did what I suppose many writers have done before me and what many writers will do in the future: I looked up various ways to write. I read about best-selling authors’ methods of writing and planning. I read my favourite author’s (Stephen King, if you didn’t know) opinion on writing methodology and I tried to find which one suited me best.

Research
There are various ways to write. Let’s analyse them all!

Not once did I even think then that maybe, just maybe, there was another way. MY way. A way that only I can do and only I can achieve. Again, throughout my life I feel like common sense was often acknowledged but never applied. In other words:

I was a dum-dum about many many MANY things. Including the writing process.

So is this blog going to be about my writing process? Well, I’m going to share the way I write (after all, I assume most writers and readers enjoy hearing about this stuff, I know I do) but mostly this is about how I beat myself up in the most creative ways possible.

Baka
A visual representation of beating myself up

I knew I was going to be an artist because I felt it when I was a kid and I read my very first comic. I used to read the adventures of Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and Mickey Mouse. They were fucking awesome. I would anxiously wait for Saturday as it was the day my parents took us to the bookshop and buy us comic books or books, whichever we wanted.

Picsou Mag
One of my favourite comic book magazines ❤

I was more than a reader even then as I would grab blank pieces of paper and draw my own stories of these characters. Spoiler: I suck at drawing. I hated myself for not being good enough to draw. Yep, I started beating myself up as early as back then. Dum-Dum.

I eventually stopped drawing (I doodled on my school notebooks and stuff, but never tried to draw comics again) but I did not stop writing. I would write different things: made-up stories, fanfiction and TV Show scripts. I was creative in many aspects of my life. I would play with Lego and action figures but follow a storyline (no matter how basic). I remember an awesome moment when I had Shredder face off with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Shredder was about to be defeated but PLOT TWIST: Michelangelo betrays his brothers. Gasp!

It was a shit ton of fun.

As I grew older, I got better and better at putting myself down. I would repeat to myself day in and day out that I was not good enough. I screamed internally at myself that I was deluded if I thought I had any ounce of talent. I beat myself to a bloody pulp. I almost killed my creative self and resigned to never follow what my heart truly wanted.

Sad Boy Tears
Is this the end?

But then that part of me didn’t die. I got back on my feet and decided that being miserable was tiring. It was fucking exhausting. I still heard myself say:

You’re not good enough, but now I also thought: So, what?

It was a start. I began to listen to my bruised heart again. Nurtured him and allowed him to share what he wanted. It hadn’t changed since I was a kid: he wanted to be an artist. A storyteller. A writer.

It took a while but now, I don’t hear myself say: You’re not good enough. At least, not as often as I used to. Once I was able to stop belittling myself all the time, once I stopped beating myself up constantly, I realised what was my methodology of writing.

I make up stories and chase these moments that make me feel like a kid playing with his action figures. That’s the way I write.

Writing Boy Sleeping

It’s Okay To Be Selfish

It’s something I have just recently realised: it’s okay to be selfish.

What a selfish person I am

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Makes me seem like a prick who is more interested in his own self than anything else in the world. And you know what? Sometimes, that is perfectly fine.

I used to live my life thinking about how my decisions will affect this person or that person or even how it might not be the proper thing to do. Still, I managed to do things. But they were tepid, safe, unlike me at all.

I used to say to myself: shut up, you don’t matter. You shouldn’t think of yourself. Ever.

When I was a teenager, I did my best to not rock the boat with my friends. I was a confident boy but still would choose to avoid pissing people off if I could. When I think about it now, it makes me angry that I wasn’t more myself around my friends. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, I know.

I really was like that
My reaction now to how I was back then

But now? Now I want to bitch-slap myself into having more sense in my brain. I want to say to that uptight moron: Don’t belittle my desires. Don’t make me feel like shit for wanting something good for myself. I deserve to do what’s right for me.

Being an artist is selfish, apparently. At least, according to my old self. Well, I say, screw you old self, I am an artist and I am proud of it. You know why? Because it makes me want to sing from the fucking rooftops. I wake up everyday happy to be alive.

That’s not being selfish, that’s doing what is right for me.

I can see this in my head:

Achievement Unlocked
Took me long enough ^^’

You’d think common sense is well… common, right? Well, not for everybody. Especially me. I have a lot of common sense when I listen to people I care about and when they ask for my opinion on things. But when it comes to my own life? I always seem to forgo common sense and choose the beige option. Fuck that. I’m done with that sort of thinking.

Now, I choose what sparks a fire in my chest.

I have decided to apply this mindset to many other aspects of my life. I have gotten a better set-up for my Fortress of Solitude (that’s how I call my office). It was expensive and not the reasonable decision if I consider my artistic endeavours ‘selfish’.

And you know what? Screw it. I did what I did and I absolutely love my new set-up. Do you know how awesome it is to feel genuine excitement walking into my Fortress of Solitude? I now have a creative space that is me. When I stop to appreciate what’s around me, it gives me goosebumps. That’s an awesome feeling!

Hurray
Feeling that child-like joy again!

This decision has led me to stop feeling guilty for spending most of my days writing or recording videos. It is a space I constantly want to be in. I am thriving in it.

It is these decisions, no matter how big or small, that contribute to how you approach life. I have decided that it is more than okay to listen to my heart and to fulfill my own desires, no matter how silly/stupid/unreasonable they may seem to others.

I love this new mindset and it makes me fucking happy.

Joy
Selfishly Unleashing My Creativity