On Being Rather Tired

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I wonder how often people, when they say they are tired, are tired as in sleepy versus mentally exhausted. The word tired has a whole bunch of meanings – you can be tired and ready to sleep (me), you can be extremely done with heavy thought (me), you can be ready to just sit down and not move again (me), or you can be tired of a particular thing (me -> on school, on robotics meetings).

I’m always afraid of getting tired and just stopping one day. Like, when I start a big project, I’m kind of worried that I’ll just get tired of it, and then all the work I’ve put into it will turn into insignificant details of the past. My first few works of writing have been completely abandoned at this point, which is okay because it wasn’t any good, but is also kind of sad. When I was twelve, I really thought those projects would be the very foundation of my writing career. I was a very impractical pre-tween. It terrifies me that one day, all of the writing I’m doing right now – the projects I hope will be the very foundation of my writing career – will go onto the shelf in the same way. I don’t want to get tired of my current projects, mostly because of all the work I’ve put into them.

I finished the first draft of Rise of Serentonia in October, and I’m still not done going through the horrid process I’ve brought upon myself. I’ve decided to go through this editing process of reading through the story a total of thirteen times. Each time, I’m reading for a different character – only finding information about that character and learning about them. Nothing else. It sounded like a really good idea in October, but it’s EXHAUSTING. I’m halfway finished with revision 11 of 13, and I feel so strongly against doing the revisions, because they take so much out of me. It’s so much busy work, so much typing and reading that my eyes hurt, and to be honest, I’m tired of it. I’m ready to move on to something else, to re-writes and deeper edits and spare doodles in the margins of my pages. I know in the back of my mind that I have to work through the tired spell, because it will be worth it. It’s worth it already, but I’m tired of the process. I want it to be over.

It’s really sad, being tired. It’s sad because being tired [of something] means you were once not tired, once extremely excited. Every big project you end up hating started with a really enthusiastic you declaring that you would never get tired of the project, and that the work wouldn’t get to you. I mean, on the first day of school or when signing up for classes, it all seems super worth it. I’m already in this bubbly phase where I’m super excited about my senior schedule, and I’m absolutely sure that I won’t get sick of my classes or my schoolwork.

(But I know I will, and it sucks to know that my excitement will fade.)

I think, though, that some things you just know are worth it, and that being tired of things doesn’t matter. Because there’s always that moment where I’m staring at my history book and thinking you know, who needs this? But oh, AP Euro was worth it. My thoughts are wild and worldly because of the class, and even though I was tired of doing the work for it more often than not, I’m incredibly glad I did it. And I’m incredibly glad that in one more year, I will have taken Politics and Economics and O-Chem, even though I know I will probably be shaking my fist and cursing the classes come next February. I have no idea of what kind of an impact it will all have, but I’m absolutely sure that being tired will just be unimportant when I’m done. In two more revisions, wow those edits will be worth it, because I’ll be so much more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses, of the story I want to tell, and, I think, of other people around me.

So, I think what I’m trying to say is that there is some melancholy inevitability that we will get rather tired of everything. At the same time, being tired is a sign of working hard, and working hard always has its benefits. Being tired makes the finishing process that much more relieving – if it were easy, why bother? I hope that no matter how tired I become, I will follow through on the projects to which I commit, because that’s the way to fulfillment and reward.

~ELS

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Expression, Life, Stories, and Why It Matters

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People always ask you, hey, what’s your story?

It’s interesting. They should just ask what your life has been like, because that’s what they really mean. Somehow that doesn’t get the same reaction out of people. It’s like a dozen questions in one, too, so I guess it makes sense to come off as being innocent and interested. Same kind of question as who are you?

I’m starting this blog because my story is full of ideas. My life is filled with these little moments that I think I am obliged to express because life is story and story is life, and if your life/story isn’t expressed, then you’re really nothing but a blur on the side of the road, are you? I’m also starting this blog because I am having difficulty keeping my ideas to myself. I want to share them with an open audience. I want them to be heard, recognized, cherished by someone other than me, and that may not come. No, most likely it will not come. Not until I have written for a very long time, and not until I have expressed those writings somewhere other than my personal Dropbox.

Let me tell you my story. I’m an Atlanta teenager who would rather write than play soccer, who would rather paint a picture with words than with a brush, and who would rather create than be created by someone else’s expectations. I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, nourished to my full height by the confinement of wealthy private Christian school. I emphasize that point because I am one of the school’s few atheists, and that’s always a fun time. I am introspective, but that is something I find myself rarely expressing. I am perceptive in hindsight, although in hindsight, being perceptive doesn’t altogether matter, because the mistakes have already been made. I have been told that I see the best in people, and I am not quite modest enough to deny it. I am more narcissistic than I should be, but that is quite fine, because I am unscathed by your expectations of how I should act or look or dress. I am intelligent, although sometimes stupid because I am perceptive in hindsight alone, and I would never want my intelligence to go to waste. I am ambitious, but not courageous, a big dreamer and a hard-worker, but not a risk-taker. Except in my expression, which is my story, which is my life. I am passionate about many things, and my teenage angst takes form in the thing that I am most passionate about, which is consideration. I want to be considered for my thoughts and skills, not my age. I do not take kindly to being told that I cannot do something, and being told that I cannot do something will often drive me into a rage that I can only control – guess what – in hindsight. I often will say things I regret. Oh yeah, and I also write a ton. Usually of fantasy fiction. Which I will probably sample here at some point.

Enough about me, huh?

I was asked to write in my English classes this year about revision, and how literature is often a revision of something – whether another text, or a historical period, or an artistic movement, whatever it may be. But I don’t think that’s quite right. Literature to me is an expression of life. All stories are based in truth, I think, even my own pursuits in fantasy and make-believe. We tell stories to talk about humanity, and emotion, and to explore the world we live in, and to express ourselves, and to express what we feel towards each other and towards the world at large. I think that’s why stories are told in so many ways, throughout history – from the first oral histories to the books and TV shows and video games and what have you that feature so prominently in our culture today. All of those things explore the world of humans in some way – why bother telling a story at all if it does not leave you with something?

I write fantasy fiction primarily, although I’m also working on this long-term religion-based realistic fiction project that explores, more than any other project I’ve worked on, myself. I write fantasy fiction because it is as far away from reality as possible, but it is still incredibly real. It’s real because it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are setting out to do, that you are human, and you will have human conflicts that make your audience reflect on their own human conflicts. Even non-human beings are often given humanity – I mean how many humanoid species have we seen that have been in the center of conflicts as well? I think that because I’m a human, every story I write will be in some way about humanity.

It all matters because media shapes our culture. Like I said earlier, literature is designed to make you reflect on your own human conflict, because it’s written by a hand that has experienced human conflict. It’s impossible to avoid what drives us and shapes us as people, and I think everything we create will therefore be unable to avoid those driving and shaping forces. I mean, our language changes, our interests change, our styles and thoughts and emotions change because of what we are exposed to through the stories that call us as people. The fact that “turn down for what” is an acceptable phrase in daily conversation, or that people cosplay and roleplay and go all out just to match the characters they love, or that we can’t even have an apple without either thinking about a princess or a serpent. We can’t avoid the media, and why would we? It’s another way of capturing our humanity, and of alerting us to the people around us. That’s why I write, I think. To express my humanity, to explore the humanity of people around me. I think that’s why people think I see the best in others, too – because laboring over characters as I have puts you in the right mindset to consider people as people, and not as obstacles. I think writing and reading and playing games and otherwise interacting with people that aren’t real opens our mind to the possibility of interacting with people that are real. So literature is important, and so is my expression of my life and my stories.

ELS