Completed a rough outline for the Philippine mythology fantasy novel I’ve been writing for a few years now. Quickly learned that lacking an outline before embarking on the arduous journey that is writing a novel was a terrible idea.
Listened to a song by IU called “Above the Time” while I was at work and some of the lyrics made me think. I wanted to write a story about a place “outside of time” where “Tomorrow can’t find us”.
“When we finally meet
outside the borders of time
Without stepping on the past
I will dance till I run out of breath
Let’s go faraway for our freedom
In a place where tomorrow can’t find us…”
Tried a new way of outlining and brainstorming – a table with three columns for “inspiration” (song lyrics), “names” (because I’m picky with how I name my characters) and “brainstorm” (a long column of me writing whatever until it feels right and I accidentally stumble into a plot).
Played around with personifications of Eternity and Time which evolved into Eternity and Entropy and their interactions.
The characters who turned up were fascinating.
Stayed up late until I finished said story at three am.
Woke up past noon but stayed up late again to write another short story. Also inspired by a song recommendation (Rise Against’s “Saviour”). This turned out to be a short story about colonialism in a fantasy universe. Because of course it would be, wouldn’t it?
Thought that maybe short stories suit me more than poetry. Poetry makes me think too much, and that overthinking often leads to limiting experimentation, caring too much about putting the words on the page before I’ve even written anything down. Somehow it’s different with short stories?
I thought: short stories are like self-contained universes caught in an eternal present. I like the idea that short stories doesn’t have a past or a future – the reader has complete freedom to imagine where the story had gone and can go.
As if the writer’s saying: here’s a world and some of its characters, what happened before and what happens after is up to you.
Couldn’t stay up. I had work the next day.
Wrote half of a short story based on BTS’ “Rain” and “Sea” recommended by another friend.
I think the last few short stories deal with the same topics: magic, Time, immortality.
Completed the Rain/Sea short story a few days later. It’s temporarily called “in the end”. I liked it. “In the end” included everything I like to write about, namely magic, immortality and Philippine folklore. And soulmates! I’m a sucker for soulmates.
BTS released photos as part of their fan service ARMY ZIP. Each member has a concept: Hitman (Jungkook), Mafia Boss (Taehyung), Zombie Hunter (Jin), Graffiti artist (Hoseok), Photographer (Namjoon), Model (Jimin) and Baseball Player (Yoongi). The first three made me think zombie apocalypse meets assassin AU. I started brainstorming how the rest of the concepts (completely random and wholesome and different to the dark and moody concepts of the first three) could exist in the same universe. Wrote a rough outline for a short story that incorporates all the concepts in a few minutes.
Been a few years since I’ve written fanfiction but I knew I had to get this out of my system.
Hippodrome Young Poets session after nearly a month break.
Talked a lot about aspects of performance. I realised that when asked to focus on certain aspects of performance to apply to a poem, I tended to revert to aspects I usually pay attention to whenever I write anything, whether prose or poetry: pace, silence, tone, breath… even if these stories or poems are ones I would not read aloud to anyone, even if I read them only to myself. This also meant I rarely thought about aspects like movement, posture, facial expression, volume, audience – all aspects of spoken word performances.
But I like the idea of non-performance, like it’s a conversation rather than a rehearsed piece. I like the idea of silence, stillness and softness against the sheer presence and intensity poets tend to embody when they perform.
At the same time “winging it” on stage increases the chances of me stumbling over my words and making a fool of myself so maybe an unrehearsed spoken word piece is out of the question…
I also like the idea of writing with one of these aspects in mind. I’ve written with “silence” in mind before, playing with empty spaces, absence on the page, missing information – but “silence” might manifest differently on the stage.
I thought: once the words are out of the page, there are so many possibilities on how they can manifest, how the words can take life.
I like breaking apart narrative structures and bypassing the rigidness of the physical page and I guess this extends to the stage. It might partly be due to my nervousness toward performing, partly thinking how confining and suffocating the stage can seem – you, before a mic and a lone spotlight. That sounds terrifying to me.
But what if you break the stage and let the space spill onto the audience?
Finished a rough first draft of that zombie/assassin fanfic. Longer than expected but it was fun. Still needs editing.
Started editing an old short story ready for #FlashFictionFriday. It’s a short story from around 2016/17 when I was really into abstract and conceptual fiction, Kafka and Magritte apparently.
BTS released a single in the lead up to their comeback. It’s called “Black Swan” and talks a lot about the fear of losing passion for something you’ve spent so long doing. What if you lose the joy you feel whenever you write (in their case, write music, performing on stage)? What then? I’m glad at least that they feel comfortable enough to talk about this. It’s the same kind of message in “Interlude: Shadow”, juggling fame and passion:
“I’m afraid, flying high is terrifying
No one told me how lonely it is up here
I can leap in the air but also plunge, now I know
Running away could be an option too, pause
People say, there’s splendor in that bright light
But my growing shadow swallows me and becomes a monster…”
The same in Halsey’s “SUGA’s Interlude”:
“If I ceaselessly run towards the end of the tunnel
What else would there be?
Is it even right? It’s honestly different to the future I had hoped for
It doesn’t matter, now it’s a matter of survival
However it goes, it doesn’t matter, yeah, yeah
It may be different to what you were hoping for
How you live on and how you love might change…”
It made me think (and this echoed a conversation with another writer): some stories need more time. Sometimes you need more time. It doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough to write it. Something about imposter syndrome and the way writers fall back into comparing themselves with other writers.
I always go back to Paulo Coelho’s quotes when I overthink this, about how people walk at their own pace.
“I took longer than the others to get there, and for long stretches I often had to walk alone; but it was only by respecting my own rhythm that I managed to complete the journey. Ever since then, I have applied this to everything I do in life: I follow my own rhythm.”
(I had to look up where the quote came from. It’s a short story from Paulo Coelho’s “Like A Flowing River”. For some reason, the story was longer in my head, the road stretching on. This short story is only four paragraphs long.)
It doesn’t mean you’re slow or someone else is fast, that’s just the way you work. And then I remind myself again and again and again that every writer has a different process and it might be different from mine and that’s completely okay. And even if I had the same years of experience as them, we all walk in a different pace and write to a different rhythm and that’s okay too.
We’ll get there in the end.
I just have to remind myself to be patient, to keep my eyes on my page and to keep writing.
There’s so much pressure to do something or to publish something in your early twenties that we forget that most writers don’t “make it” or get anything published until their 30s, 40s, 50s, even later and age is just a number.
We’ll always get there, no matter how long the journey takes.
(I write, hopefully.)
And I guess this comparing yourself with other writers means that you’re already doing something to get to that goal. It means you’re aware that you still have a long way to go, and ways to improve and you’re actively working towards it.
I thought: I lack ambition.
Sometimes I get these bursts of motivation but it’s always toward writing. Other aspects of my life? Not so much.
I’m generally impatient so sometimes I do wish I’ve accomplished certain things by now but I’m also a little bit of a perfectionist – the idea of short story collections or poetry pamphlets seem near impossible because I think: is it still too early for this story to go out? Is this poem the best it can be with the skills that I possess right now? Am I thinking too much? (Probably.)
But a part of me always thinks: there’s no better moment than now.
And then I lapse into an existential crisis.