Am I serious about this?

I know I will always be writing. There are a myriad of stories in my head. I am always thinking and I need to get those thoughts out. I don’t want to live a life without writing.

But do I want writing to become my life? That’s another, and a whole different, question.

The truth is, I really don’t know. Sometimes I think I would love to make a living through writing. I would do freelance for income on the side and write as many books as possible to make a living through being a novelist. But I’m not sure about it. I’ve also considered becoming a teacher and the idea has its attractions. A writer’s life can be so isolating. I like the idea of working with people, as well as having structure to my days. I like the idea of getting out of my house. 

And then … do I really want to rely on something creative for work? The thing about that is creativity relies on inspiration. I know a lot of people will disagree with me. You can’t rely on inspiration, they say. And I get that. If it’s your job, waiting on inspiration can be cumbersome. 

But a novel CAN be written on inspiration (with a lot of pushing yourself to take ADVANTAGE of that inspiration, I might add). I have done it. 

When you make a hobby work, it’s inevitable that sometimes it becomes just that … work. 

Part of the appeal of writing is that I enjoy it. Writing without inspiration takes the enjoyment way from it. Do I want writing to become just another thing I HAVE to do? 

At the same time, I know I do want to share my work with the world. More pressingly, I want to find my voice and get better and better at writing. 

A lot of people advise writing every day. And I see the benefits to doing so. But as I said, I think it largely depends on how serious you are about it. 

So I need to find the balance. My balance. 

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On learning to love your body

Self love is a funny thing. They often say it relies more on perception than actuality, and I believe that’s true. 

It’s a known fact that girls, as well guys but perhaps to a lesser extent, suffer from self esteem and body image issues. And it’s tragic, really. 

It’s tragic that so often when you compliment someone, they deny it – “no, no, I don’t look good” or “naw, it’s nothing”. A lot of times it’s modesty, I know. But all too often, people really do perceive themselves negatively.

You’ll notice girls will compliment each other – they see the beauty in their friends but not themselves. Girls will proclaim, “I look like shit” when I am looking at them thinking, “she’s absolutely gorgeous!” 

But I get it. I really do, because I felt the same way. Heck, I feel the same way all too often. It’s easy to see the beautiful parts of someone else. But myself? Ourselves? We focus on the flaws. Maybe we look at ourselves so much that we’ve lost the feeling of wonder at our wide smiles and bright eyes. 

Maybe sometimes changing your looks can help you to love them. Many testimonials on weight loss programs show women posing in bikinis, stoked with their new slim and fit bodies. That is great. If it empowers the woman, I applaud. But all too often, weight loss isn’t enough.

I believe it can make you love yourself more. It can’t make you love yourself.

Three years ago, I was 20 kilos lighter than I am now. But I wasn’t happy with my looks. I hated the little bits of fat around my cheeks and jaw. I thought my thighs were too big and my stomach wasn’t flat enough. In fact, I wasn’t fat at all – I was underweight. But … perception. 

I wanted to lose weight. 

I have a naturally square face and you can’t change genetics. My face would always look round, even if my body didn’t match. And I naturally have a wide waist compared to my narrow hips. 

Now I’ve put on 20 kilos and gone up two or three dress sizes. My face is round and my figure is curvy, but I love my body and my face more than I ever did three years ago. 

I didn’t hate my looks because of my weight or my fats. I hated myself because I was … myself. 

I don’t understand the logistics of self love. But if I had to explain it or sum it all up, I guess it would be like this: there’s beauty in everybody and you just have to learn to see the beauty in yourself. Most of all, you have to stop being so hard on yourself. 

I would sell my soul for these books

There are bad books. There are mediocre books. There are good books. There are great books. And then … there are those mind blowing, soul crushing, feels destroying books that make you lose the capacity for human speech until all you can say is gaaaaaaaah  !!

These are some books that did that for me (in order of when I read them, as far as I can remember):

Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

I confess I didn’t love much of this book but … one word. Well, two words. Sidney Carton. He is one of my favorite characters of all time and the ending was beautifully painful.

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R.Tolkien

LOTR destroyed me for months after. When I reread it now, I must admit it’s simply not the same. It’s just a story. But when I read it three years ago … I’m not exaggerating when I say my life would not be the same if I hadn’t read LOTR. And I think that’s the mark of a truly great book, that it can affect you to this extent. 

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games series), by Suzanne Collins

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Mockingjay is amazing. The first two books in the series were filled with tension and plot twists and amazeballs. But Mockingjay touched me in a way that the others didn’t. Mockingjay made me forget I was in my living room … forget I was a human being with a book in my hand. It horrified me. It devastated me. And it was brilliant.

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

It’s so beautiful, this book, I wanna cry. The 20 page treatises every other chapter are terrible, no mistake. But the story of Jean Valjean … I already knew what was going to happen in the end, but I still cried. This book … it is 1000+ pages but it is so. worth it.

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

I nearly DNF-ed this monster of a book. The first half, I thought it was boring and two stars. Two or three hundred pages to the end, I thought I could move the rating to three. Hundred pages in, I bumped the rating to four stars. I finished the book and it absolutely blew me away. 

There was just something about Cal’s story … it struck a chord.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

I adore Markus Zusak’s writing style. It’s beautiful and haunting, particularly as TBT is narrated by Death. It makes for some painful and poetic observations. All in all, it’s an absolutely beautiful and poignant story. I could read it over and over. And (mild spoiler!) the page or so describing Alex Steiner’s homecoming never fails to make me cry. 

The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas

This book is 1000 pages … hmm, I’m noticing a pattern. 

This story … it hurts so much (another pattern?). So so much. And while there are some aspects of it I don’t enjoy, I’m not going to talk about them because … “cuddles book” NO NO NO NO NO ahhhh HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE THIS TALENT MR DUMAS?!

AND Edmond Dantes is another of my all time favorite characters, even and perhaps because he is deeply flawed. His character journey is also painfully realistic. 

(Hmm, I’ve realised how very hard it is to describe books you love. Any description just won’t capture their sheer brilliance, and I end up using vague unhelpful phrases like, “beautiful”, “blew my mind”, and “made me cry”.)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians (specifically, The Last Olympian), by Rick Riordan

My relationship with this series is interesting. The first two books were good but not GREAT. I got increasingly hooked reading the next two books but it was only with The Last Olympian … I fell in love. 

Or more accurately … THE ENDING!!!!!  I still remember the moment I finished that chapter. I was laughing hysterically, hyperventilating, head spinning, and on the verge of tears. 

While reading the series, I was afraid Riordan had written a predictable or totally cliched ending – I needn’t have worried. I TRUST RIORDAN NOW. 

And of course Percy. Percy is always awesome. And Luke. And Nico. Of course. :)

The Heroes of Olympus series (specifically, Son of Neptune, House of Hades, and Blood of Olympus), by Rick Riordan

Hehe … the first book was … how shall I put it politely? 

I didn’t care. Piper and Jason were meh, the writing was messy, and Leo wasn’t enough to salvage the mediocre plot line. But – it did make me realise that I MISSED PERCY SO MUCH and Annabeth was actually pretty cool.

Then Son of Neptune … the plot was decent, Hazel and Frank are totally awesome and badass, and PERCYYYYYYYY ***intense fangirling***.

The Mark of Athena was good. House of Hades was amazing NICO MY POOR BABY NICOOO, Jason was actually pretty cool, and I just love the whole squad, and Percy and Annabeth in Tartarus was uber cool, and Leo AWWWWWWWW.

Ahem. HoO really brings out the fangirl in me – what else can I say?

Blood of Olympus was an awesome finale to the series with lots of funny moments and more Nico. 

Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus collectively is probably my ultimate favorite series

Irkadura, by Ksenia Anske

If you’re looking for a tragedy, want to cry and feel horrified and depressed at the state of humanity and life, and/or are generally a masochist, read Irkadura. You’re welcome.

No but really. It’s a freaking amazing and tragic story featuring two very diverse main characters with about everything against them and one huge heaping of pain and death.

(Plus, Ksenia Anske is super cool and awesome and kicks ass – her books are totally underrated.)  

The Siren Suicides, by Ksenia Anske

I confess, I read this trilogy primarily because of Hunter. And I will defend my reason to the end because … how can you not love Hunter?! But I also love the raw emotion in this story and the imagery and also everything about souls. 

I just love Ksenia’s voice and you can probably tell by now I’m a sucker for tragedies. 

***

To sum it all up, JUST FREAKIN READ THESE BOOKS, OKAY?

Of course, I have also read plenty of other amazing books, but that’s a subject for another post.