Early to rise

Today I woke up earlier than I normally do. I usually get up at around 9 AM or so, but now, three hours early, I am confused on how to spend it. I’ve made breakfast, tidied up the apartment, meditated, watered my plants, watched a bunch of youtube videos and it’s still only 8:15. It’s almost like I was stepped into a weird dimension time warp where time trickles by at the speed of dripping honey.

I wonder why waking up early gives you an impression of having more time in your hands? Maybe that is the subtle magic of mornings. Everything is slow and graceful. The sun’s rays are gentle and nurturing, not beating on you like a hot-iron rod. The traffic outside is mellow. I have time to chew my food properly. I could almost swear I’m getting more nutrients.

I have always had a weird cat-like relationship with Sleep. I didn’t want it when I need it, but would cling to it when I don’t. Teenager me would wake up at 2 PM on a weekend, following my schedule of 5 AM sleep or later (earlier?). Oh yeah, Mondays were hell. My body clock was so out of whack, I’ve developed panda eyes at the sprightly age of 15. It had never left my face. Even throughout most of adult freelancing life, waking up late always made me feel like I was crammed for time. 9 AM is not nearly early enough. After breakfast, it’s already close to 10.30, and after daily blogging, it’s already around lunch.

It felt a bit… Unsatisfactory.

Of course, time spent is still time, no matter how you choose to spend it. This is me speaking as a normal person and not in anyway an enlightened guru. I’m pretty sure every life coach worth their salt will expound on the benefits of waking up early. More energy for one, that illusion of time I’ve discussed is another. I’m running on fumes of a 5-hour sleep here, and I still feel like spring chicken with all the limbs attached. Then again, I’ll probably feel the effects later in the afternoon.

So maybe I’ll give it another shot. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try waking up early and watch the sun rise. I’ll let you know if the benefits are still there, or if it was simply shell shock from a sudden change of habit. Maybe I really did step into the Twilight Zone. Find out more tomorrow!

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The Moil of Life

Yesterday I posted about the terrible curse that is to be scatterbrained; to be see-sawing between two or more different interests. I posted it up on my art/writing community, asked if anybody had advice about the soul-crushing crisis of getting stuck. They pulled through. The suggestions that came out of the conversation were enlightening and inspiring. It was a much needed salve for the creative soul.

So before I even start, the first suggestion I’ll impart is pretty telling. Find a community. The creative life is racked with potholes of despair and self doubt, and it helps to know you aren’t doing this alone. I’m lucky to have people in my life who are not only creative, but gracious with their knowledge. My S.O. also helps me a lot. An encouraging partner is such a blessing. His constant faith in my own gift gives me strength to face the challenges of a creative life. I cannot stress it enough. It is beneficial to be part of a community. Struggle and succeed with other people. Share with them your joys and failures.

The next advice discussed was for writing. I’m happy to know one of my activities is already conducive to a healthy writer lifestyle. The daily blog! I’m not as faithful to it as I want to be, but this is the longest I’ve kept a blog running semi-regularly. I post on it at least once every week; every day or every other day if I could, and having this daily writing habit has helped loosen up my writing. It has made it easier for ideas to flow. It may not be for a project, or for a story, but any writing is writing practice. The skill of writing improves with practice. This blog will keep me going until I am ready to write my story once again.

Next advice is learning Time Management. My friend Lore linked this video which proved to be quite a helpful exercise. Listing down priorities and making time for every thing you want to do made me realize that I do have enough time in my day to do everything I want. Prioritizing is an oft misplaced skill, which is unfortunate because it is crucial. When I listed down my priorities, I was surprised to learn it really isn’t a matter of “I have too much to do” but really just “I need to get started.” I knew this deep down. Seeing it listed visually has left me without an excuse, and now I can start with simply doing.

There is a danger, I noticed, to get into the minutiae of the daily grind. You lose sight of the big picture. You get overwhelmed by each passing hour you waste. I found that if you plan your weeks instead of days, your months and your years, you step back from the grueling sludge. It’s refreshing to see the path sometimes. The map is a nicer view than the bramble of thorns you are currently stuck at.

So now with a fresh perspective, the moil of life is not so bad. I’m ready to get back to work.

The Multimedia Dilemma

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather a couple of days now. I’ve finished all of the minor tasks on my checklists, but the major ones are all but untouched. May is trickling by very slow.

That said, I’ve finished my first ever complete artwork. This may not sound like a big deal, but I have a huge fear of finishing artworks, and I tend not to post them up for because they don’t seem good enough in my eyes. So this is a big step. I’m drawing again, I’m reconnecting with friends a lot more, completing my tasks, and wearing pants when I need to. I haven’t written a lot though, and I think that’s what’s ticking me off.

I haven’t written for a project (current or otherwise) for a while. Every time I start, I get distracted by other things I need to do, and I do those instead. And being my scatter-brained self, there’s always something else to do.  Sometimes it feels like I am divided between art and writing, along with gamedev and graphic design and being a functioning adult. I’ve discussed this wibbly-wobbly multimedia pursuits before, but it is pretty disconcerting to jump from one area of interest to another. There’s a feeling of getting stretched thin, and yes, I did say if I want to do both, then do both. It’s gonna be hard, but that’s the price.

This is one of the hard parts, I guess.  Trying to balance a number of interests so you don’t burn out or neglect the others.

So does anyone who juggle different interests have tips about this sort of thing? Do you have a schedule you keep? Do you do all your hobbies daily? every other day? weekly? Do you do it just when you feel like it? I need guidance on how to find balance in different aspects of your life.

The Biggest Challenge

I had a weird dream last night, the details of which I can barely remember. I know it includes the unraveling of a certain magic cloth, super-powered humans, and one of the latter giving me a Shia Lebouf style pep-talk in my sleep. Thanks subconscious, I love you too.

It occurs to me that giving up is never like we see in movies.  In the stories, the protagonist falls on his knees, looks at the destruction and demise surrounding him, and *gasp* loses hope. He retreats to a corner. He cries himself to sleep.  Maybe he’ll even grow a dirty beard. Until one day, a wise character gives him advice, comforts him, encourages him… And then he rises up with newfound strength, facing the adversary with belief in himself, inner strength intact.

In real life, “giving up” is too easy, too mundane. You don’t like what you’re doing? You can just stop and quit. You can change your mind. You can drop whatever you’re doing and start anew. I’m sure this doesn’t apply to all situations, but the fact is, if you don’t wanna be doing something, you can stop doing it. You get to a certain age, no one is to push you towards your goal but yourself. And if you’re feeling hesitant yourself, how is that going to work?

Well, first we got to acknowledge that “Not giving up” isn’t one BIG moment like a movie. It isn’t a test. There is no apotheosis. You don’t drop your sword in a dramatic slo-mo. In real life, “not giving up” is the training montage. You wake up, you do what you do, you get better, then you go back the next day to do it again. It’s the grind. Something terrible happens, you still keep living. You keep going. The world moves on.

I need to remind myself that, everyday. And that may be the biggest challenge yet.

 

My new BFF

I haven’t been doing much of my daily blog these days. I’ll blame that on my fangirling on Avengers Infinity War and trying to figure out the GUI designs for Truth. Both tasks don’t really mesh well together, and as much as I want to keep grinding on my UI maps, pictures of Tom Holland hugging RDJ aren’t going to reblog themselves, you know?

When I start spending too much time of Tumblr, that’s when I realize I’m procrastinating. I’ve been thinking too much about my tasks again. I’m falling into that same perfectionist pit, the one where I’m a regular. They have my name on the bulletin board there. I owe the bartender $5 bucks. Everyone knows who I am. Sit down, Ame. Take a drink. Take a lot of drinks. You’ve been at it again, haven’t you? No, no. Don’t even deny it. Procrastinating because you can’t help nitpicking on your work? Ahh. Take a shot.

It’s really hard to get out of. Reminding myself that Finished is better than Perfect is helpful, but not enough. Finished is better than Perfect. Repeat it. Finished is better than Perfect. I say, why is it always easier to wallow in this insecurity rather than accept your limitations and keep working? There’s this feeling screaming out “I’m better than this, I just have to be. No way this is all I can do!” Accepting limitations, after all, requires swallowing your pride. I’m not good with that dastardly thing. For one, my pride tastes like dirty beer and mucus, and for another, it’s been acquiring girth over the years. I’ve done a lot of work to reduce it to a manageable size, but putting a fat, smelly, slippery slug-creature inside my mouth is never fun. Yes, that’s my pride y’all. It looks like a Demogorgon baby.

I-It’s actually kind of cute.

And I don’t know how to get rid of it.

I’ve talked about this before, about the pressure that stops you from creating things because of the burden of imperfection. I guess I never discussed how to get rid of it, how to deal with it, how to defeat it. I, myself, am not adequate enough to silence the voices. Each person will have their own way, and we all have to simply shuffle along.

The only way I know how is to… get back to work. There’s no other way around it. Get back to work, push through and fail.

Just. Fail.

Fail so hard, it’s agonizing. Make it painful. Hit me where it hurts. Give it my best shot and realize how horrible I am. We need to fail more and get comfortable with failure. We need to make friends with it because honestly, Failure is a misunderstood guy. He probably smells like seaweed and onions. He probably has an uncomfortable mole. But I think he’s my BFF. He’s always there in the sidelines and giving me notes on what I could improve on. He’s an ass, but he knows me. He cares. Unlike Success who will only give me the time of day if I have 10k Twitter followers (probably). Failure is loyal, and I better get used to it.

So now, I’m off to fail, like all great people who have ever done anything worthwhile. Making friends with Success is overrated, but making friends with Failure is where it’s at.

 

I’ll put my fingers in all the pies, come and stop me

Yesterday I wrote about the different kinds of pressure and how it can impede the creative process. I posted it on my Discord channel, surprised that almost everyone related to the flightly, bipple-bopple rumba of jumping from one interest to the next.

I talked about this with The Wise One (my boyfriend, obviously, since he’s just so full of witty-isms), and we discussed what it means to have several interests. Unlike the rest of us mortals, le wise one has problems focusing too much on one given thing that he has little interest on others (thank goodness I’m one of them *sweats*). He started learning art when he as 14 and has never looked back. The results speak for themselves, as his art is amazing! I’ve been jealous of his continued rise to power and it’s a good thing he has an 80-year-old man’s opinion on social media, or else he will be too powerful to stop.

Despite his razor sharp focus, he acknowledges our differences, and he’s the first one to encourage me about my changeable tastes.

There is an idea about nurturing this spontaneity, embracing the multi-faceted levels of your interests. If you want to do both art and writing, you can. If you want to do both music and bungee jumping, you can! The world is not limited to just one thing, and with our world bombarded with so many cool and interesting ideas, it needs this creativity more than ever. Originality is mixing two different concepts to come up with a new homogeneous mix after all, and maybe your hodgepodge of eclectic tastes will inspire a new genre. No matter what you do, I am also in the belief that all those things will have a unique touch that tie them together as yours. It will have an identity.

The caveat of course, is if you want to do two things at the same time, you must do both things at the same time. This means double the effort, double the time. It will probably take you longer creating a career out of “playing saxophone as I paint a portrait with my bare foot” than pursuing either one.

Still, this does encourage me to cultivate my different tastes. I don’t have to feel bad for my changeability. I won’t punish my fickleness. I am a changeable, moving, living, breathing thing, and I can move anyway I want. Instead of fickleness, let’s call it curiosity, let’s call it being open-minded. In your twilight years, what really matters is if you’ve lived your life to the fullest anyway!

Pressure: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly

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Around two years ago, I’ve decided that  I wanted to be an artist. I signed up for an online art program, got oil painting lessons and filled out sketchbooks of drawing studies and notes. When I told my closest friends and family about it, they were a little concerned. I understood it. After all, just about a couple years ago, I was fronting a band. We had a few gigs around the area, it had a facebook, youtube and an online profile, won a few contests, got a handful of followers and slowly but surely, died a natural death of neglect.

But surely art is different! I’ve been drawing since I was a kid! I love looking at art and I want to be paid doing it too!

Unfortunately for that young naive girl, she will soon discover visual novels and games and realize NOW she wants to do that. She’s sure of this one this time. Take back another five or so years ago, she wanted to be a jeweler. Another two years before that, she wanted to be a graphic designer. And if you go even further back another five years, she wanted to be a mangaka. She’ll learn Japanese and everything! She’ll fly to Japan and make it happen!

None of those things came to pass. But wait, there is a lesson in this drab, depressing story and it’s this: Pressure is all in the head, and there are different kinds.

Continue reading

Romance the Metaphysical Thousand-Eyed Angel of Doom

 

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Have you ever had that experience when the more work you should be doing, the more you procrastinate? *Arms raised* I gained that lovin’ feeling recently. Every since yesterday, my focus have been smacked around like a rag doll, thrown at any shiny thing, and suddenly, I’m playing Plants vs. Zombies again. Holy hell, this is serious.

Between the little air pockets of time I am able to reflect on my activities, the Doom Gong roars, the angelic trumpets scream to announce the Apocalypse, and I feel my soul getting judged by the metaphysical thousand-eyed seraphim–

–Is when I’ll hit the Return button and start playing Plants vs Zombies again, and everything is fine. Fine. I-I’m just fine.

The fear is real folks, and when you’re scared, your instincts push you to run away from the scene of the crime. Scared of that existential dread of “wasting your life?”, escape to the beautiful, care-free world of Twitter arguments, where you could trick yourself into thinking you’re learning current events from a guy with a Jason Vorhees avatar. Terrified of that impending doom of deadlines? Come and lay down on the flower-carpeted gardens of mobile games. We love you here. Have some dopamine. Have another. Oh you’re so good at that! Have another.

It doesn’t change the fact that the fear is not resolved, nor does time stop whenever you engage in such proclivities. They simply file up, one after another, like a stack of plates you refuse to wash for days. And kids, this is really what being an adult is like. There are dishes in the sink and nobody else is going to wash them. Frame it. Live it. Internalize it. It helps sometimes.

So I have an idea. Why don’t we romance that fear instead? The seraphim probably bathes in the blood of the sinners, but like, maybe we go to the same coffeeshop? Maybe that Fear burdens me with the uselessness of my existence, but what if it is only trying to encourage me to move my butt? If I get to know the Holy Fiery Scourge of Adonai better, I’ll come to understand that they just want the best for me, and that they never meant to scare me. Instead of running, I’ll do what nobody else will do. I’ll turn around and smile at them when they chase me around an abandoned school. Their four cursed faces will blush in surprise. They’ll put down their sword of flame.

“You’re not scared?” they ask. Their six wings, made of the fingers of demons, flutter in the wind.

“N-No, I…” I say shyly. “I’m tired of running.”

They nod. They extend an arm of bronze, tilled by the former kings of Abram, and I take it tentatively.

“Don’t be scared.” Seraph-kun whispers. “It’s time to get back to work. Let me help.”

Watering the Garden

I’d like to introduce you all to my cute zinnia plant.

Aren’t they such cootie patooties? (๑♡⌓♡๑)♥

It’s almost unbelievable I planted them a month ago and I was staring at an empty pot of soil for what seemed like the longest time, wondering if they’ll ever grow. Mind you, I’ve tried growing other seeds in my little pot, but the darn parsley didn’t grow, and all I got were cuckolded grass shoots pretending to be parsley. v.v

It was a disappointment, growing damn grass instead of parsley, but I watered the pot anyway and talked to it like a weirdo. (Hey, they said plants like being talked to kay~?! I’m not crazy! …right?)

I realized this is a great analogy for building supporters/fanbase. It can get a little disheartening to work really hard on a certain thing, but not have any attention. 0 likes, 4 views, and two of them are from my IP lol. Who doesn’t feel that little bite of disappointment?

The feeling got even more intense when I started a Patreon. There was quite a bit of interest when I announced it. When it did launch though, I only got one pledge and that one pledge was my friend *cries. It went on like this for a couple of days and I started to doubt my legitimacy. Maybe I’m not yet good enough to start this thing. Maybe I was being full myself…

But I reminded myself about my zinnia. When the pot was empty, I didn’t stop watering it just because there were no sprouts. I didn’t demand the plants to grow. The plants didn’t owe me anything, after all. I’m not an unlovable person if the plants don’t grow. I probably need to up my gardening skills, but it doesn’t mean I am stupid or cursed or hopeless if the seeds aren’t sprouting.

If you are a relatively unknown creator, please remember the zinnia. Water them everyday, give the empty pot TLC. Keep in mind that your viewer count is not proportionate to your worth. And when it does bloom as I know it will, it will be beautiful! *hugs

(By the way, at the time of writing, I now have six patrons! It’s not an army, but six people believe enough in what I do that they chose to impart their hard-earned cash. It really is a wonderful thing. It could only get better from here.)

 

Success is just getting back to work (7 day streak!)

Oh man I can’t believe we made the week! Seven posts in a row! I’d like to congratulate everyone who joined me in writing, whether you wrote in your own private space or if we bounced and giggled in the Discord server. Is it too early to call this success? Maybe? But reaching a milestone should be celebrated! We deserve all that sweet sweet endorphins!

It’s been a blast so far. The daily exercise frees my mind of pressure and reading other people’s work inspires me to keep going.

If you just started your daily writing habit, or maybe cannot commit to a daily writing exercise, that’s totally okay! Remember that it doesn’t matter how fast you’re going, as long as you’re moving forward. Keep your own pace. Grind in your dungeon.

Looking back on my first week, I finally understand how hard it is to start something from scratch. The pressure is enormous. If I have create something, it has to be stupendous! It has to be a big deal. I owe that to myself… right? Hm, well. Let me stop you there, brain.  The image in your mind will ALWAYS, and I mean always, be better than whatever life can provide. It isn’t anchored in reality, hence no rules, no restrictions. It is made in my brain so I am the artist/director/author. Nobody in the world will be able to match it. It will always be better in my head. And if I always waited for the right moment, I wont get shit done.

So with this thought in mind, you better believe whatever you do will be chicken shit compared to your expectations. No, really. It’s gonna suck. But that thought of sucking is a comfort on its own. No, it’s not a big deal. It doesn’t have to be. Nobody’s gonna read it? Great! Now I can write it without judgement! Nobody’s gonna care? Marvelous! It’s stressful to please people anyway.

Lower the bar, and you can start.

And you should just start. If you fail, it’s not a big deal. But if you succeed… Well… you won’t even see it coming. It’ll be like opening an old wallet and seeing money you stashed away in the past. You’ve forgotten about that, but shit, that’s a good day.

So one day you’ll just look back, pleasantly amused, at what you did. You’ll say, “Oh, I did that? Cool!”

And then you get back to work.