enjoying the journey

 

“It’s impossible to put all your energy into something really difficult if everything is riding on the result. The people who are the best at reaching big goals have an obsessive drive toward the goal, but also, they are able to break down the process of meeting the goal into tiny, bite-sized pieces and then take pleasure in completing each part.

When someone is unable to relish the small steps, they just stop, because process starts to seem hopeless if you constantly focus on the end. You have to have a proclivity for hard work (which might be as crucial and inheritable as talent) combined with the ability to take joy in the process itself.”

I came across this article recently, and was struck particularly by the quote above.

It is, in essence, what writers and other creative types have heard often enough. But to glean this advice from a story as poignant and sweet as this helps to drive it home.

a little progress every day

I’ve been told often that this writing journey is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to enjoy the journey itself rather than sweat over how soon we reach our destination – partly because there’s always going to be a new ending point, and partly because focusing on the destination instead of the journey means we are losing sight of what really matters. Not whether we publish our next book or make the New York Times bestsellers list, but why we write and what keeps us going. Whether we enjoy writing our stories, whether we love the process of creating something out of nothing (which is basically what art is), of pulling our random ideas together painstakingly to form a coherent and moving story.

I’ve been so caught up in the fact that I haven’t completed a manuscript, haven’t hit the word count, haven’t had anything that I can pitch to agents, etc, that I’ve stopped making it fun for myself. And how fun any endeavour can be is mostly – if not entirely – within your control.

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Before, I agonised over the numbers, the outcome, instead of the process of creation and storytelling. In chasing the outcome, I’ve forgotten to let myself indulge in the joy of imagination, of pursuing ideas, in wonder and play.

But those are the things that will inspire us to write, not having a deadline constantly breathing down your neck and screaming at you to write, dammit, write! Because you can’t write a good story with that kind of negative pressure and guilt-tripping yourself when you fall off the bandwagon. All you’re going to do is make yourself miserable and crush your self-esteem and question your self-worth and identity as a writer. You’ll end up churning out pointless scenes and useless pages for the sake of hitting word count. You will plod along at a lacklustre pace for the banal sake of progress, when in fact you’re going nowhere at all.

So I tried to shut out all of that – all the doubts and anxiety and self-inflicted pressure – go on a partial technology detox, go stare at the sea for a bit, spend a weekend doing absolutely nothing related to writing or the manuscripts, drove around town with the stereo on full blast, belt along to songs like these:

And it’s not only been completely liberating (everyone should try screaming along to 2000’s pop punk hits on a drive if they get the chance to), it has also cleared so much more head space for thought and imagination. I’m watching dramas and TV series again, reading more extensively (instead of focusing on material that’s related to my works in progress), discovering new songs, and dreaming up new scenes instead of rehashing tired old ones.

In fact, I’ve found a way out of the fix that is NO ROOM IN NEVERLAND. Not entirely, mind you. But I’ve circumvented several roadblocks that have kept me scratching the dirt at the same spot for the longest time. All because I decided to take a step back, take a chill pill, and then come back with a new outline! And since then, I’ve been working through Draft 7 bit by bit every day. But every bit counts, and I know I will arrive at a manuscript I am entirely satisfied with no matter how long it takes.

So deep breaths, baby steps, fellow (figurative) pen-wielders. We will get where we need to be in the time we need to get there. Trust in the journey. Relish it. Your writing will thank you for it.

enjoy the writing

(Also in the vein of self-forgiveness, I’m not going to sweat about the frequency of my posts. There are far more important things to concern myself with, like, you know, the quality of my posts.)

Hope you’re having a Zen hump day!

when existential angst seizes you on a Thursday night

WAIT.

It’s been more than A MONTH since I wrote my last blog post? Not just, I don’t know, two weeks?? Where did all that time go???

I honestly thought it’s only been at most three weeks since I last blogged. The past month, like all those before it, flew by with deadlines and events and the mad rush at work to clear my Inbox (when will I ever have zero unread mail?) and check things off the never-ending to-do list.

Every time I realise how quickly time has passed and how completely oblivious I have been about that, this suffocating sadness settles over me.

And along with it comes even more panic.

On top of worrying whether I’ve replied all the urgent emails and cleared everything flagged as top priority on my to-do list and accounted to all the relevant people, I also worry about all the time I’m wasting NOT doing the things I love or actually care about.

Sometimes, I don’t know if this anxiety and sadness (I won’t call it depression because it would discount what true depression sufferers are going through) is normal, if everyone my age feels the same way, as though we’re juggling multiple things in our lives and may lose our grasp on any one of them any second, or if things will get better as soon as I make the bold leap out of my current circumstance.

What if I’m just leaping into another big mistake?

What if this is as good as it gets, and I just need to grit my teeth and get through it?

What about all the other unexplored possibilities out there?

What am I giving up by staying in my comfort zone?

What if I sacrifice safety by venturing out?

Is there any guarantee at all for anything??

Okay, that just got way too heavy for the night. I’m not here to mope and moan again. This was supposed to be a quick update on the WIP, the short story blog, and other (frankly, nonexistent) life updates. I just got triggered by the time that has lapsed since my last post.

I’ll leave the trend-of-thought rambling for sessions with my therapist. For now, there’s always Rilke and his sagely advice

Okay, updates.

  1. On Neverland

On the writing front, I’m still working my way through draft six of NO ROOM IN NEVERLAND. It’s slow-going, especially for Act II, and I understand why some of the agents I queried pointed out the saggy middle. Because the middle IS saggy. I got bored reading it, which means my readers will too.

The question, now, is how to create more tension in Act II and keep the story plodding along. And I can’t move on until this is resolved. Hence, a brief stalemate.

2. On the short story blog

The four of us have decided to take down the pace a notch over at our short story blog. I explained it in this post, but basically we felt that one short story a month, on top of other posts every week, was too hectic given our respective commitments with our day jobs, family, our own WIPs, and everything else.

So instead of a weekly short story, we’ll be posting one fortnightly. Better a short story that we’ve spent time and effort on than one that we churn out for the sake of meeting deadlines, right?

3. On life

Well, what more is there to say? I’ve been cooped up in a bubble, ricocheting between work and writing, work and writing.

Thank goodness for steadfast friends who keep me sane and are unfailingly patient, ceaselessly encouraging, and immensely kind. (And you, dear reader, for being forgiving of my liberal use of adverbs).

A friend of mine said that we, as writers, need to feed our soul in order to create stories that in turn feed others’ souls. That we shouldn’t see the time we spend not writing as wasted, but as nourishment for when we do sit down and write.

Another friend told me that we shouldn’t see life as a race to the destination. Even if we have a goal in mind, the journey itself is worth paying attention to, and we need to live in every single moment that takes us to our destination eventually, even if that means watching YouTube videos or taking a day off just to roam around the city.

(Seriously, how are my friends so wise and in the know?!)

It reminded me of a quote from one of my favourite YA authors, Sarah Dessen:

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And of course, that Rilke quote about living the questions now so that we might one day, finally, live into the answer is a timeless source of comfort.

Looking back on 2016, I was sooo hung up on not having completed a manuscript. I kept feeling like I had wasted an entire year. And I put so much pressure on myself because I told myself I have big plans for my life and can’t afford to slacken.

But if I hadn’t spent my time reading those books, watching those dramas, pursuing those ideas, attending orchestra concerts on weekends, going through the necessary angst, or giving myself the time and space to do things outside of writing (i.e. living), I wouldn’t have come up with two new novel plots that get my heart racing and my fingers itching to write every time I think about them.

Sometimes, I think my gaze is so fixed on the finish line that my view becomes entirely blinkered and I ignore everything else around me. Still working on that.

I guess what I’m trying to say, after all this rambling is, I will learn to trust in the journey. I hope you will too, dear reader, and I hope you’ll find your forever in the moments you’re living right now.

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when life crowds out everything else

don't put your dream in your pocket

You know how when you get too caught up in the daily grind and its nitty-gritty demands that everything else falls by the wayside and suddenly you glance at the calendar and realise weeks have passed and your brain is still stuck in two weeks ago — no, 2015?

Yeah, that just happened. Again. Actually, it’s happened too many times before. And weeks, months, YEARS can pass just like that. When you stop to take a breather and realise that all this time has fled and you’ve done pretty much nothing that you can show for.

2016 was like that for me. A year where everything was a blur, weeks blended into each other and I had no idea when one ended and another started. My calendar was full of deadlines, and the to-do list for work jostled for the most space on my phone and desktop.

We get caught up the snare of day-to-day life unwittingly. It creeps in, slow and insidious, beginning as just regular ol’ anticipation for the weekend, when we have some alone time, some room to breathe, at last. We try to survive through the week, and then anticipate the next weekend.

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Pretty soon, the brief reprieve offered by weekends is the only thing that’s keeping us afloat.

Weeks can fly by when we’re counting them down like that. We can lose grasp of our time, our goals, our dreams, when we let real life rob us day by day. Commitments like the day job, socialising, chores, errands… Something’s got to give, and more often than not it’s the thing that asks the least of us that gets sacrificed. The thing that asks the least of us, but gives us the most joy.

For artists, it’s our art.

It sounds frivolous and indulgent, but it isn’t. Living isn’t just about survival. On top of that, it’s about finding a purpose, a calling, a reason for being, what the Japanese call ikigai.

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Everyone would have, by my age, typically found theirs by now. Otherwise, we’d all just stay in bed and wonder what we exist for.

For artists — at least, for this artist — the drive to create is what keeps me going. I can’t break down yet, I can’t give in yet, not until I publish another book, reach one more reader, finish writing another novel.

Therefore:

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When there is no space in our lives to create, or at least (in Liz Gilbert’s words) pursue our curiosity, life dims into a dreary pool of watery light. When our minds are so preoccupied with keeping up with the demands of everyday life to venture into the realms of creativity, we become ravenous, mercurial beasts, snapping at everything in our way and not understanding why. We grow heavy and lethargic in our hearts, to the point where we can’t seem to breathe, or where everything comes out in tears.

What Laini Taylor said in this blog post (which I keep going back to) was right:

You can be convinced you’re following your dream, or that you’re going to start tomorrow, and years can pass like that. Years.

The thing is, there will be pressure to adjust your expectations, always shrinking them, shrinking, shrinking, until they fit in your pocket like a folded slip of paper, and you know what happens to folded slips of paper in your pocket. They go through the wash and get ruined. Don’t ever put your dream in your pocket.

I let 2016 pass me by. I’m not going to let real life rob me of my time this year, I’m not going to put my dream in my pocket any longer. I will unfold it. I will find the time and space for it, if only because it is growing too restless sitting in my pocket and sitting in my heart and it’s manifesting itself as tears, despondency, night-time despair, and a bone-deep restlessness that is crowding out every other thought in my head.

But I don’t have time to go insane. I don’t have time for a mental breakdown (although physically I have, what with a high fever, sore throat, and the flu I’m just slowly recovering from). I don’t want to be lost and depressed anymore. Because there’s work to be done, and only I can get it done.

If nothing, I can at least say I tried, and it was all worth the effort.

I think the passion for an extraordinary life, and the courage to pursue it, is what makes us special. And I don’t even think of it as an “extraordinary life” anymore so much as simple happiness. It’s rarer than it should be, and I believe it comes from creating a life that fits you perfectly, not taking what’s already there, but making your own from scratch.

~ Laini Taylor

 

 

2017, here we go

New Year 2017 replace 2016 on sea

So we’ve left 2016 behind at last. Not a minute too soon, methinks. I remember how hopeful and excited I was to make 2016 a year I could look back on and be proud of how much I had accomplished. How 2016 was going to be different. Amazing, despite the changes that had already happened in 2015. I had a novel I was working on! I had just gotten promoted at work! I was making more writer friends! How bad could the coming year be, right?

Welllllll.

Maybe it was because I placed too much hope on last year. I asked too much of it. And when my hopes and dreams failed to materialise, my morale and my spirit shrivelled away day by day. I grew lonely, sometimes withdrawn, occasionally cried in bed, and tried to convince myself that I was fine. That this was just a rite of passage, all this shall pass, and that I didn’t need anyone or anything else to make me happy.

But happiness isn’t dependent only on the self. We can’t simply find fulfillment within ourselves and remain in that state of contentment just because our sense of self is so strong. Our state of mind, whether we believe it or not, is ultimately still very much affected by the world in which we live, the world that happens to us, and the world we choose to see.

So there were good days and there were bad days. Some days were particularly awful. Some days allowed me some reprieve and I saw a glimmer of hope and joy. Granted, there were days where I chose to see only the bad and neglected the good. Then there were days where I opened my eyes to the good and the beautiful.

There was the good:

  1. I visited Europe for the first time with my friends. Alone! But with besties! And in Italy!

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We had a grand ole time there, and I saw so much beauty that restored my spirit. Truly, it doesn’t get any better than that.

2. I met three incredible ladies online and we forged a friendship so swiftly and easily it was like we were fated to meet in the vast cybersphere all along.

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Clockwise: me, Nicole, Meredith, Becky

Nicole, Meredith, and Becky (and all the other writer friends I’ve met along the way) have been such a bright spot in the dark days of despair, self-doubt and loneliness. I find myself eagerly awaiting their long emails, craving the connection, and somehow we all just get one another. We exchanged stories about our lives and stories we write (which we publish on our short story blog Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand), and that’s how we’ve been pulling each other through it.

3. I travelled to Beijing with my dad like he had always wanted.

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Climbing the Great Wall was at the top of his bucket list, and he had always wanted me to go with him before he was – in his words – “old and grey and arthritic”.

4. I received several personalised rejections, a couple of revise & resubmit requests, and even went on a Skype call with a literary agent who was incredibly kind and generous with her feedback, advice, and compliments for NO ROOM IN NEVERLAND.

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Yes, the rejections bummed me out (SO close!), but they also offered clarity and hope.

But there was also the bad:

  1. My work BFFs left at the end of 2015 and early 2016, which left me all alone in the company. Okay, not quite alone. But with my old tribe gone, I suddenly felt stranded, exposed. And I had spent my entire time at work with these people, so I wasn’t as close to everyone else. It would be strange if I just attached myself to new people all of a sudden. I felt like a square trying to fold all my angles to fit into a circle.
  2. 2016 was the only year since 2009 where I didn’t finish writing at least one novel. I had completed at least one manuscript every year, sometimes 3 a year, until 2016, even though I started the year with BEFORE I REMEMBER YOU and planned to finish it by August at the latest. Nope. Didn’t happen. I wrote draft after draft, wrote myself into a corner, wrote the story to death before it finally spluttered to a stop at page 207 (48K words).
  3. All the deaths in 2016. Illnesses and wars. Need I say more?
  4. Singlehood. While I generally believe that it happens when it happens, and that I would rather be single than be with the wrong guy, that I’m a loner anyway and I don’t really need anyone to feel complete since I’m happy with my own company and my thoughts most of the time, that my books and manuscripts are all I need to keep me entertained… Yeah, in spite of all that, there are still moments – a Saturday afternoon with no particular agenda, for instance – when the loneliness creeps in and I wonder if there really is something wrong with me after all, that maybe I’m just too weird to ever find someone who would know me inside out and love me anyway.
  5. Trump. Don’t even want to talk about it anymore. I am entirely disgusted by the whole circus.
  6. And as if 2016 didn’t suck enough, I ended the year with a sprained foot after taking a tumble to the ground. Spent the last two weeks at home and in pain.

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Yes, all in all, I’ve still got it good. Despite the bad outweighing the good in 2016, I’m still alive and kicking, I have the people I love around me, I have a relatively cushy job that drains my soul once in a while, etc.

Yes, I get all that. I get that I should count my blessings, that I should be thankful. And I am. I am absolutely grateful for all that I have. But I don’t think I’m being unappreciative to want more than this – this routine life of the 9-to-5 white-collared worker. I know very well that this is not where I want to be, and I’m barely there yet. This is a mandatory period of struggle and frustration all aspiring authors have to go through in order to reach where we long to be. So is it wrong to want more than this, to not want to settle for the safe, predictable, comfortable life?

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This period of time when one year ends and the next one begins is a pretty strange one: it makes us nostalgic and retrospective, but it gives us slightly clearer vision and hope for better things to come.

I’m tired of wanting. Or wanting and not having. Of feeling trapped. Of staying at the same spot. I don’t want 2017 to be just another extension of the unproductive 2016.

So this is what exactly I plan to do this year in order to reach my writing goals:

  1. Finish My Shit

I’m committing to writing – and COMPLETING – a manuscript, be it the problematic BEFORE I REMEMBER YOU that has been full of false starts and no end in sight or LAND OF SAND AND SONG, the first of a fantasy series that’s been brewing in my brain for a while. This year, my motto is to finish what you start, dammit! 

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2. Write Something Every Day

To write consistently every day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, even if I can only snatch a pocket of time during lunch, on my commute to work. Every little bit counts. The idea is to keep advancing with the word count. No excuses. Not even the demands of the day job is going to keep me away from the WIP. And certainly not my own self-doubt and fear of failure or imperfection.

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3. Make NO ROOM IN NEVERLAND Come to Fruition

I still believe in this story. I believe in the emotions it pulled out of me, and it emotions it can evoke in my readers. I believe in it because there are others who believe in it – friends, agents, beta readers, critique partners. People I cannot let down. People who are rooting for me (bless their hearts).

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I know what the problems are with this manuscript (and if I don’t I will find out), what makes it less perfect than it should be in order to get represented and published, so it’s high time to whip this thing into shape.

4. Live a Little More Bravely

Okay, this one is not exactly writing-related. And I say this almost every year, but this year I resolve to live a little more. Take a chance. Head outside. Attend gatherings. Date more. Meet new people. Make new friends. Maybe open myself up to love, even though

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Let someone into my world. Speak my mind. Wear my heart on my sleeve. Then see what happens. I might be surprised, I might be mortified. But hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

 

So, dear readers.

Thank you for staying with me throughout the last year. I’m looking forward to more new friendships, soul connections, thought exchanges, and the kindness of strangers this year. What are some of YOUR New Year’s resolutions, writing-related or otherwise? Share them in the Comments section below. I would love to hear from you, as always.

Happy New Year and may 2017 bring you everything you ever wished for and more.

Joyce xx

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The sad state of affairs … and how art can save us

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It’s been a sobering two days since the US presidential elections, and I’ve had some time to sort out my jumbled thoughts and calm my frayed nerves somewhat.
Like I’ve told my writing sisters – Nicole, Meredith, and Becky, all of whom are beside themselves over the results – I am incredibly saddened by the turn of events.
This isn’t about Republican or Democrat, Leftist or Rightist, Liberal or Conservative leanings. This isn’t about partisanship or even gender (at least, not entirely).
It’s about the injustice and pure atrocity of it all – that a sexual predator, conman, and self-entitled schmuck who has done nothing but spread messages of hate and divisiveness and even unapologetically encouraged violence done unto his protesters could even have the chance to step into the White House and fill the seat meant for the most powerful person in the world. Am I the only one who finds it insulting to Mr Obama that such a man is his successor? 
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My sentiments exactly, sir.

It’s about the fact that an immensely qualified and experienced, passionate and driven woman like Hillary Clinton had been scorned in favour of a chest-thumping zealot with no political experience, who doesn’t fact-check or prepare for a debate, and has consistently belittled and derided and even threatened his political opponent. The fact that she has dedicated a huge part of her life to public service means nothing because EMAILS (never mind that the other candidate had admitted publicly that he had groped women before because that’s trivial compared to those emails, right?).
Months of following this circus show has brought us to this disappointing finale. But for the American people, this is their reality and it will be their reality for the next four years. I am just a spectator.
But then again, I am not. Because I – and many other non-Americans – are global citizens. We are all human. And we can all relate to the ideals and values that were being championed and upheld during this election. While Trump’s campaign was fuelled by hate and bigotry and often pure ignorance, Hillary’s rhetoric on unity and love never once faltered throughout the entire election season.
And you can tell that Hillary really does believe in a more inclusive nation that has space for everyone who isn’t just a straight white male. The cynical ones would probably point out the irony of her speaking about equality when she has lived in her ivory tower all her life as a privileged Yale-educated white woman. But she didn’t break this glass ceiling now, did she?
But I believe that someday that glass ceiling will be shattered, if not by Hillary, then by someone else just as qualified and passionate and dedicated as her.
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I’ve exhausted myself ranting to anyone who will listen about why a Trump presidency is a sign of all the toxic things that are about to come. Hillary was robbed, by no less than an inexperienced, hateful, shit-stirring buffoon. She deserved so much more than this – all the irrational hate and prejudice – and I still believe that she deserves to be America’s first female president in her lifetime.
It was heartbreaking watching her concession speech. That was a picture of a woman who had invested everything into the cause she believed in, and who had come SO close to achieving it not just for herself but for women all around the world, a picture of a woman whose dream was shattered and who was trying to compose herself and behave with class and poise even until the end when she left the stage.
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Nonetheless, she has fought hard. She fought hard for minorities, and she fought hard for women. She fought for those who were afraid their parents would get deported, and for intelligent, hardworking women who just want fair opportunities in life.
And I believe she will keep fighting. Because she’s Hillary Rodham Clinton. If she could put up with an angry chauvinistic sexist constantly interrupting her while she was trying to make a point without wanting to rip his face off, then she has the mettle, patience, and resilience to weather through a setback as monumental as this.
Say what you will about her past scandals, blow the email business out of proportion if you must, but you can’t deny that she is a trailblazer in her own right. She has inspired many women and people from minority groups everywhere to strive for the dreams they want to achieve.  
 
So take heart. This fight against misogyny and racism and homophobia, this fight for love and tolerance and compassion, is far from over. If anything, it is just beginning and I think Hillary gave us a pretty amazing head-start. 
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I ache for the millions of women who had invested their hopes and dreams in her and stood alongside her to fight for a better future. But despite all the violence and hate I’ve seen over the past few months – enough to make me lose faith in the world – I am grateful for all the love, acceptance, and compassion my American friends have demonstrated.
And in these tumultuous, confusing times, art – the expression of the self, the envisioning of a world that we want to live in – is more important than ever.
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Art has always been a channel to represent under-represented minorities, a means to call out day-to-day injustices, and a mirror that reflects the society and realities that we live in. But it is in times of uncertainty and despair that art becomes an even more powerful medium: a mouthpiece to speak up against tyranny, a sword that we continually sharpen and wield to slay the demons of bigotry and hate, and also a balm that heals the ravaged hearts and restores the battered spirits of those on the front line every day.
So for those who opted for love over hate, stay strong, take your time to grieve, but then dust off your shoulders and rise even higher than before. Make good art, let your voices be heard. We writers have the power to change the world, one story at a time. It is not a lofty ideal; it is our mission.
Love always,
Joyce xx
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How Wanting Makes Us Want More

You know how sometimes you feel like you have a million and one things you want to do, so many things you want to learn and experience and do and write about, but you just don’t have the time or freedom or capacity to? Is it just a millenial thing? Does this only plague twenty-somethings from First World countries?

Right now, there seems to be so much else I can and should be doing, things I should be pursuing that, for some reason or other, I’m not. And as a result, I’m stuck where I am.

This post isn’t supposed to be all doom and gloom though. It’s not a bad problem to have – who’s complaining about having too much inspiration for stories, right? I should be happy the ideas are flowing copiously, and I can experience enough to know what I want to pursue / devote myself to.

But wanting makes us impatient and desperate and miserable. Wanting makes us want even more. It makes us realise how much we should be doing but aren’t. How much we could have but don’t because we’re not doing what we should be doing. All the opportunities and experiences we’re missing out on because of what we don’t have.

Wanting makes us even greedier, hungrier. Not for money, but for the life we have always dreamed for ourselves.

Right now, I’m writing this as I:

  • work on the first draft of Before I Remember You (YA magical realism),
  • story-board – and essentially rewrite – Blood Promise (yep, I’m going back to this YA fantasy manuscript I wrote three years ago, purely because I still see the – ahem – promise in it and believe I can get it published … okay, the very kind and positive feedback from literary agents helped too)
  • write a short story for Before I Remember You (sort of a prequel that serves as groundwork for me when I write the novel)
  • plan out Land of Sand and Song (YA fantasy), and
  • send out query letters to agents for No Room in Neverland (YA contemporary)

That’s not including my day job and other pursuits like reading, practicising my musical instrument, blogging, attending writers conferences, spending quality time with friends and family, etc.

(Who has time for a boyfriend? My single ladies and I were talking about this the other day – how everyone seems to think we’re inadequate in some way because we’re still single in our mid-twenties. Maybe there are other things worthy of our time and energy that we CAN control and actively pursue, other things that make us equally happy, if not more so, because right now we’re still just finding and building ourselves into the people we want to become. My philosophy has always been: if it happens, it happens. Not shutting the door on this, just leaving it open while I focus on the work I need to do in order to achieve my dreams. Okay, single girl rant over.)

If only humans didn’t need seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Think of how much more we could all do if only we had the full 24 hours!

A day away from the day job is hardly enough, but it’s all I can afford now if I don’t want the work to pile up.

A writer friend of mine shared an essay by Steven Pressfield recently, about how writers typically have a shadow career, which is basically a substitute for your true calling, your actual job. A shadow career is the “B” story in your life that feeds into the “A” story, which is to a writer is writing.

I guess what I’m trying to say after all this rambling is that wanting has made me more focused but also tired, purpose-driven but also ravenous. No one said this would be easy, and I don’t expect it to be easy. Anything worth having should be too easily attained, after all. But what if all this wanting only sets you up for endless disappointment?

Do you think it’s better not to want and expect so much in life so we can spare ourselves the torment of not having, or do you think we should hold on to our dreams and emerge battered but stronger after the entire experience? How do you know when you need to let something go? I’ve always believed that if you want something badly enough, you should do everything you can to acquire it. But what if what you want was never meant for you and your stubbornness is what’s keeping your happiness (and sanity) at bay?

Wow, okay that turned mopey. I’m not whining, I promise. I appreciate the struggle … sometimes. I just want to know if I’m alone in worrying about all this and hear your take on this, dear readers!

Special thanks to readers and lurkers who have left encouraging comments – be it via social media or this blog or a private email – as I forge my way through this writing journey! Your words have gotten me through the darkest moments of self-doubt, uncertainty, and defeat. I am immensely grateful to each and every one of you who took the time and effort to reach out with a kind message of support and love.

XO

Confessions of an INFJ

This is kind of random, but I’ve been talking to a few INFJs lately (we make up just 1 percent of the population), and it’s been so nice to find people who get you, get your weirdness, and are coasting right on your wavelength.

Some common things INFJs hear are:

“You hardly ever go out!”

“Man, you’re boring.”

“Why don’t you ever want to do anything?”

“Are these the few friends you have?”

And really, it’s not like that.

It’s not that we hate company; we just need time to be alone every day. It’s how we recharge.

It’s not that we don’t want to spend time with you; we just don’t need to be with you all the time. Some space and distance isn’t a bad thing.

It’s not that we hate going out; we just need a purpose for doing that. I’ve found myself aimlessly wandering the streets just because I went out for the sake of going out. But it felt completely meaningless and unstimulating. I’ve got more things to do at home – blog, read, write, scroll through Tumblr…

It’s not that our social circle is small; it’s just that want to focus more on every person in our lives. We regard personal relationships very seriously, so we want to know that the people around us are worth spending time and energy and effort on if we’re going to invest so much emotion in them.

It’s not that we don’t want to open up to you; it’s just hard for us to lay ourselves bare to someone who might decide not to care and/or walk out of your life the next minute, or after they realise what a neurotic bag of weirdness we are.

Sometimes, I wish I didn’t feel so much, and am able to get over the hurt after listening to a song or something.

Sometimes, I wish I didn’t over analyse things to death, or wear myself thin worrying about every little thing.

Sometimes, I wish I were an ENFP, so maybe things would be easier. I would find it easier to fit in, move on faster from things that bum me out, and internalise my emotions less.

But thank goodness for other INFJs. ENFPs may be super fun to hang out with, but I think at the end of the day it’s the INFJs who really get you.

Fellow INFJs, do you feel lonely in a crowded world?