Favourite lines

Who wants to be consistent? The dullard and the doctrinaire, the tedious people who carry out their principles to the bitter end of action, to the reductio ad absurdum of practice. Not I. Like Emerson, I write over the door of my library the word “Whim.”



Blogging + lying vol. 2

There we go. Got rid of some posts I no longer liked polluting this space.

I’ve enjoyed gradually developing my own style of keeping a blog. When I started out,  the way I approached a blog as a medium was as something much more pre-defined. When a text goes up in a blog, that’s it. The end. You may correct a spelling mistake, but what’s up, stays up, in the way it went up. I’ve moved away from this to a more fluid approach. A kind of mind diary, with chapters I can sometimes re-read and decide that a) I’ve used that exact phrase twice! How embarrassing. Delete one. b) That post is badly written/too personal/too stupid/total drivel. Delete entire post. c) That photo is no good. Delete. Replace. d) Hmm. This needs a post script. Write it. e) This needs a paragraph added. Write it. f) That sentence is badly written/too personal/too stupid. Delete. g) This post in the trash folder is quite good after all. Publish again.

I do that a lot, really. A kind of delayed perfectionism. At first anything goes up and I’m not very critical but later I like to polish things. It’s a great tactic for any kind of writing, by the way. Highly recommended for perfectionists who want that first paragraph perfect and spend enormous amounts of time getting nowhere. Do your polishing later.

And of course the content has developed over the years too, and has become ……more authentic? If I want to write a one-line post, I do that. If I want to write a longer one, I do that.

Lying Vol. 2

I wrote about being one of the liars of the world, the fantasist, the dramatist, the exaggerator. The thing with this is that it is other people that think I’m exaggerating or being blind to the truth. I don’t think that. I believe in it all at the moment of telling/experiencing it. Sometimes with every nerve cell, sometimes with half.  That’s my authentic self. I can turn on my highly analytical mindset and then I do see that, well, maybe things aren’t quite like that. But at the moment of experiencing or telling it, I’m perfectly frank.

Actual lying, and that thing that gets classified under politeness but is closer to manipulation, is very hard for me. It seems to require a lot of social energy, which I don’t have oodles of to begin with. I knew a guy once who was always telling me what rubbish colleagues he has. One day he showed me a reference letter he had written for one of them upon being asked. It was the most glowingly positive reference letter. I was confused. How can one manage that while disliking the person?! That is the sort of lying I have no aptitude for. I would have at best written a coldly positive letter – no glow, no superlatives, no style (because no inspiration), but positive enough in a formal sort of way.

The best I manage in situations of that kind is being civil. If I think someone’s new hairdo is unflattering and they ask me for an opinion, I will say, “It’s nice, glad you like it”. I won’t say “Oh my god, you look so beautiful with this. Wow!”. That’s terrible. I don’t know what would have to happen for me to manage to fake a reaction like that. I’d need to prepare for this like Elizabeth rehearses her surprised reaction for Hyacinth’s table decor in Keeping up Appearances. And I’d feel sick at myself for having to resort to this.

I do struggle with this sort of social lying if it goes beyond what is necessary to avoid hurting someone. At the receiving end of it, I’m quite gullible also. Since I usually don’t express things I don’t mean at the time of expressing them, I don’t assume it of others either.

I thought this was an important addition to the lying subject.


Things not going perfect

Oh hai.

I’ve started a number of small projects in the last few months. Starting involving conceiving them, figuring out the details and taking first small steps. And not a single venture has been a complete success.

The stock I bought for my vintage shop is not ideal. There is only one item in mint condition. The others have slight signs of wear and one item makes me think why ever did I buy it. Who would be so crazy to buy something so impractical? Well, I liked the colour. And maybe someone likes it too. And if no one does, I will turn it into cat toys. Because the colour is wonderful and the material is sturdy.

My cat emporium. I was very pleased to have finally found an outlet for my half-hearted wish some 5 years ago – that of making pillows for an additional income. Pillows is the only thing I’m good at designing and sewing, but I couldn’t think of who would buy such things. Now I’ve turned it into making sleeping mattresses for cats. And at first it seemed like a brilliant idea. Until I realised I’d have to make buttons or use zippers rather than make the cases fixed to the mattresses for eternity. My sewing machine is not good enough. It’s from the 1950s. It can’t do finishing well. It can’t do nice button holes. And a new one costs a bunch. But it has to be figured out somehow.

The cat toy I made yesterday lacks stuffing and I need to open it up again (if possible), but it looks better than I expected, so this is a small success among the countless little setbacks.

And lastly, there is my writing. I was feeling unusually confident the last few months.

I carried a bunch of ideas with me for a week and a half and then – when I put them down, all the old problems raised their ugly heads again. I got stiff, I got inhibited, I had nothing to say, the inspiration had faded. Thou must not wait for thine inspiration to flee! This is one golden rule I ignored that time. Inhibition is an old friend. I have to consciously deal with that. When I write for an audience, I want it to be good, and the wanting it to be good and the presence of an audience has an unusually crippling effect on me. Just as doing a public presentation or standing in front of a camera has. The desire to be good overrides everything, and you end up sounding really bad, because you are not yourself any more and are afraid of words and unusual turns of phrase. Safety becomes the guiding force. Tedium, effort. When truly inspired, I am a little more free of that, but it is never entirely gone and definitely a constant enemy I have to tackle with.

What with all these setbacks, I haven’t yet reached the “I’m not doing it” it phase, though. I’m a little discouraged, but the main thing is to keep at it and some of the setbacks also seem very natural. Of course my first vintage stock trip would not be a complete success. It’s not like I’d end up losing money on it either. I will do better next time. The cat toys can be fixed or new ones made. The sewing I will try to figure out somehow. This is the most daunting of the lot for sure. But learning to make beautiful buttonholes IS a matter of practice and if it allows me to sell pillows for cats, I will learn it. Yes, I’m a terribly weird crazy cat person, okay?

And writing, I did a number of things wrong, which led to the first result being poor. I will try again.



When does being lost end?

Being reasonably intelligent and capable has its downside if you haven’t found your one true calling.

I’ve said this a number of times that I should have been an athlete. Unfortunately, the right personality is only a small ingredient in professional sports, perhaps the decisive one, the factor that makes some win golds and others take the 6th and 10th places. But if physical ability is lagging behind, there is really no going to the Olympics. When I did sports, I had enormous dedication, which I’ve lacked in all my future exploits. Lacked, because there is no feedback, no measurable indicator of progress. It’s hard to keep going if the measuring tape does not tell you exactly where you stand.

After my dealings with sports as a teenager, I discovered literature and decided I wanted to be a poet. It was Byron and Jane Austen that first inspired me. I scribbled bad poetry like a lot of other adolescents, but I wasn’t particularly devoted to it. It soon became obvious I couldn’t write very good poetry, so I decided I might make a decent novelist. This has been my distant dream ever since.

I have never intended to make money as a writer because that would entail a totally different approach to writing. I’m too impressionable and absorbent, so if I know I want the novel to sell well, I’ll subconsciously put in stuff that might appeal to the average member of my target audience.

Now on to real-life choices. I’m working as a translator and dream of also working as a psychologist. Doing two things equally well is naturally very hard. Yet this is exactly how I’ve seen my life, being a translator-psychologist. I do not want my therapist activity to become dependant on the number of patients I take. I want to actually treat them, so I would not take more patients than I can handle, which I imagine is around five to seven. This means I’d have to continue translating to pay the bills. Translating also has the advantage that it is quite close to my pursuits in writing, so if I read grammar and style books, I will improve not only as a translator but also as a writer. And since writing is the distant glorious dream, I should prioritize things that get me closer to that goal. Maybe the digression into psychology was a mistake? A madcap idea.

Maybe I must show persistence, remove superfluous demands on my time and intellect and focus on the one goal? The writing one. Rather than try to become an expert in two areas. I really don’t know. I have an entire year to think about it at least.