It feels like a gazillion years have whooshed by since I wrote on my blog. A few grey hairs and worry lines later and I have a new topic to talk about… always a silver lining, eh?
I might be greener than a bunch of unripe bananas when it comes to writerly expertise, but there’s one thing I believe I’m quite accomplished at. In fact, I’d go as far to say that if they dished out qualifications within this particular discipline, I’d be receiving my Ph.D.
And no, I’m not talking about humiliating my husband or embarrassing my kids (although I’m relatively deft at both, I’m nowhere near proficient at claiming any titles in those regards).
I’m talking about procrastination.
I excel at it.
Of course, gaining mastery skills in sitting on my arse wondering where I’m going in life rather than actually doing something positive to take me somewhere, I feel I’m now well versed in understanding what drives excessive worry and turns a person into a dribbling internet junkie (at least, for me, anyway).
So here are personal techniques I’ve used to get out of the stinky funk that is the procrastination bog.
1) Lists. If you’re like me, someone who watches their food budget, but buys stationary like a multi-millionaire, you’ll likely have a folder/diary to write daily tasks in. Use it. Make lists. Tick them off. Daily. Don’t just buy that smart looking pad—fill the bloody thing out!
2) Use guilt effectively. If you’ve got something to do and you’re struggling to get it done ask yourself: will I let someone down if it’s not done (including yourself)? If you answer yes, suck it up, buttercup, and get it done. Why? Because you’ll feel like an absolute wanker otherwise. And no one wants to feel like a dejected wanker. I’ve gone into wanker-mode more times than I care to think of, and I can tell you, it’s not a nice place to be. Leads to all sorts of mental self-flagellation, lies, and pity parties (where no one else wants to hang out with you).
3) Give yourself two minutes. If you’re past the wanker stage and currently wallowing in a pond of sludgy procrastinating poop, pull yourself out for a moment. You don’t even need to shake yourself off or towel-dry your hair. All you need to do is spend just two minutes on the task you need to get done. That’s it. Just two minutes. The likelihood is, once the minutes are up you’ll carry on past the time you’ve given yourself. If you don’t, that’s still two minutes closer to the end goal. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
4) Instant gratification. I’m not really sure how this fits into procrastination, but it does… sort of. Anyway… we all like that sugar rush when we eat a tub of ice-cream. But we all know that diabetes is just another bucketful away. Ask yourself whether suckling on the sugary teat of mindless moments is worth it? If, in a year time, you’re still doing something that hits you with detrimental endorphins (or whatever the happy chemicals are), what would the consequence be? If you’re spending endless hours on YouTube rather than writing (or whatever long-term goal you’ve got cooking up in your noggin), think about what you could achieve by switching off the Internet, burying your mobile in a sandpit, setting fire to your iPad, and ergo delaying that soul-sucking instant gratification of watching cute kittens barf?
5) Rewards are good. Written that chapter? Spend an hour reading or drinking wine. Done that exercise? Have a pedicure… or tattoo! Rewards are underrated, overused, underused and all out of sync. Reward yourself when you’ve achieved what you’ve set out to achieve.
6) Read a book. Even though I’ve crowned myself as the Doctor of Procrastination, I’m no expert. Nothing beats reading a book on the subject, particularly if the book is written by a professional. Self-help gurus and snazzy life coaches are everywhere and easily accessible. Just don’t get sucked into becoming a serial-self-help-addict. There comes a point when you have to step up and do it for real.
7) If all else fails. My go-to personal advice on everything is this: we are a speck of dust on a spinning rock in the midst of an unfathomably infinite universe. So don’t waste time fannying about. And don’t bother waiting for the right moment to begin—it will never arrive. Life is intolerably short, so get stuck in.
New years resolutions are a waste of time, I’ve never once stuck to any of them. Still, like pretending to pay attention during a work-related meeting, I feel it’d be rude not to continue with tradition. And given that I now have a blog and website, where better to [publicly] state a list of things I’ll likely fail at?
Just kidding… I’m not going to fail. This year I’m going to take example, adapt resolutions to be failure proof—this year I’m going to word them like a politician.
1) I will continue to watch my diet (translation: I will look at food before I consume it. This can only be broken when eating in the dark. But that’s what refrigerator lights are for. Fool proof).
2) I will adopt a new skin care regime that helps smooth wrinkles (translation: after a year of losing weight through undiagnosed illness, I will finally be able to eat without sickness and put said weight back on—ergo smoothing out the wrinkles. Genius!).
3) I will develop a better sleeping habit (translation: I will dose the husband with sleep aid and buy earplugs).
4) I will treat my body with respect and only consume filtered drinks (translation: I will only buy triple distilled vodka instead of cheap knockoffs).
5) I will organise my work spaces (translation: organising is a subjective construct, and I will no longer compare my definition to those with O.C.D.).
6) I will spend less time worrying (translation: I will follow resolutions 2 and 4 instead).
7) I will spend more time with my family (translation: I will be so terrible at work, they will actively offer me redundancy—just kidding, I love my job. Besides, I work within school hours anyway).
8) Following the teachings of Buddha, if someone is unkind to me, says something mean or offensive, and I haven’t got anything nice to say back to them, I’ll say nothing at all…
9) I will refrain from using the car and walk more often (translation: if I’m successful with resolution number 7, I’ll have no choice).
10) I will stop calling my husband a c*^t when he annoys me (translation: I will follow the path of Buddha and call him a ‘flowery vagina’ instead).
Good luck with your own new year resolutions. Remember, if you’re like me and fall before the first furlong, word it right and you’ll be a winner in no time!
I wish you all a wonderful, heart-warming and brilliant Christmas and New Year!
I don’t know about any of you, but I find when inspiration strikes, hits, materialises… whatever you like to call it, it’s a bit like having that one mate who calls you up and you know, you’re in for an epically memorable night.
We all know that one person who could turn a six pm Friday night bridge-club meet-up into a booze-filled weekend orgy for the over-eighties, right? Okay, maybe that was a slight over exaggeration—still, scientific probability says that if that scenario hasn’t already happened, it will.
Let that sink in for a moment…
Any-who, the point I was trying to make before I got side-tracked by a future my husband would probably like to have, is that no matter how shy you are, how introverted you might be, there’s always that one person who will get you behaving in a way you’d never thought possible. For clarity, let’s call her Nutty-Nora.
Before you know it, Nutty-Nora has you running around the dancefloor in nothing but your trousers with a weirdly euphoric feeling of invincibility as you sing along to Chumbawamba. Obviously, this is a metaphorical analogy which has absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever.
Well, that’s how it feels for me when I’m sitting in my little wooden hut in the garden and inspiration strikes. Nutty Nora hits me up with an offer I can’t refuse and I let loose. It’s not always whilst I’m in my hut, sometimes I’ll be driving to work, cooking dinner or listening to my husband talk about… whatever it is he talks about (I don’t know, football, I guess?).
At the first opportunity, I crack-open a notepad and get scribbling.
It’s such a fricking good feeling—not giving any fucks and letting go.
There’s sometimes another mate, though. The anti-inspiration, Sober-Sue. The boring, safe, moaning-mini with all the charm of a pufferfish having a resentful day. The one who bangs on your door after you’ve been on a no-fucks-given bender, when you’re feeling a little tired, in need of a nap and sustenance that contains more than just caffeine.
That’s the mate who not only likes to piss on the smouldering embers of your fire, but enjoys informing you about the horrific fiery accidents others have had whilst following the same endeavours as you.
Sober-Sue, my friends, is the evil twined arsehole of Nutty-Nora.
How do I avoid contact with the fire-pissing-poop-producer?
I don’t. I invite her in for a nice cup of tea and a natter.
Am I insane?
Well yeah, duh! You’re reading this blog… doesn’t take a genius to work that one out.
Anyway, where was I? I’ve digressed. Ah, yes... Sober-Sue might be the evil twin, but she’s just as important and should be allowed to visit too. You can’t expect to hang out with Nutty-Nora 24/7. She’s full-on. She’d drive you crazy. Sober-Sue is there to offer a little clarity, a little grounding.
The two go together like pickled onions and heartburn, kids and bogies, puppies and chewed shoes.
They’re two sides of a valuable coin. Without Nutty-Nora, inspiration would be like discovering a freshly melted tub of your favourite ice-cream—still edible, but rather disappointing. Without Sober-Sue inspiration can take you places you’d rather no one knew about—like naked dancing.
Find balance. Drop expectations. Allow inspiration to take you out once-in-a-while and then, when reality pops in for her visit, you’ll have a fresh batch of creative-produce for her to tidy through.
How long you want either of them to stay or how involved you want them to be is entirely up to you.
This month I had lots of fun writing a post for Ivy Logan’s blog on the importance of pursuing creative activities.
Because, let’s face it, in a world daubed with both big and small catastrophes, it’s healthy to take stock of the simple things that make your bladder weak and heart-rate rise (surely I’m not alone in having undesirable bodily functions from excitement, right?).
You can’t change the inevitable sling-shots of shit, but you can make them a damned sight more palatable if you find a small amount of time each day to pursue the things you love.
If you’d like to read my mind-mumbles on the subject head over to Ivy ’s blog. Whilst you’re there, don’t forget to say hello and check out all of her other awesome posts.
There comes a time when the motivation monkey is happily swinging from branch to branch with the wind in his face and the world passing beneath him, when, out of nowhere, he loses pace, grabs some rotten foliage, and promptly plummets to earth with a thud.
If he has a particularly lengthy fall he might be left feeling a bit tender. A bit unsure. Looking up, he might see an epic, mountainous climb. Looking down, he might see a soft bed of leaves.
I know what I’d choose.
Does your motivation monkey lose the battle of wills when he takes a tumble? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Mine is so used to falling off track he’s developed a habit of catching some lower branches to cushion his descent—a toolbox of helpful techniques I try to deploy before he reaches ground zero.
First off: why do we lose motivation?
Boredom. Big yawns all round! Who wants to clean the house or cook dinner when you could be reading… or doing whatever it is that flicks your switch.
Distraction. When YouTube distracts… this is like diving into a rabbit warren for me. I could waste hours on YouTube under the guise that I’m learning something. Usually, I start off with something educational and related to my story building—a little philosophy, or perhaps a historical documentary on the rise of the Third Reich… two hours later I’m glued to videos of animals being rescued from abuse, while I eat ice cream and cry uncontrollably.
Overwhelmed. Christ Almighty, I have gazillion-and-one jobs I NEED to get done each week. What’s the answer? Do none of them and pretend they will all go away! Feeling overwhelmed is the biggest motivation killer for me.
Laziness. Come now, don’t be ashamed, laziness is okay in small doses. I like to think of my lazy episodes as holidays from reality. We all need a break now and then. Don’t beat yourself up. However, if people start to comment on your personal hygiene it’s probably an indicator that you’ve taken it a step too far. Now, go and wash!
So what’s the answer?
Well, I had a gigantic list of things I’ve used written down in my note book: from hypnosis and meditation to self-help books and taking regular walks. But I won’t be penning these techniques here.
There are far more eloquently put examples and excellent motivational experts out there (check out some of these videos here and here).
In the interest of brevity, I’ve whittled it down to one question I ask myself when I lack or lose motivation:
If I do it, will it count towards enhancing my life and those around me?
If the answer is no, I find something else to do. Chances are it isn’t all that important, and there will be something else with a higher priority that I need to achieve. Anyone who has been to my house will be able to witness this question in action. I still have walls without plaster… it’s been two years since we moved in.
If the answer is yes, I do it. Well… most of the time. I might need an extra mental boot up the behind. And that comes in the form of addressing my own mortality—recognising that you have a finite amount of time is, without a doubt, the best motivator around.
So, don’t put things off. Get your motivation monkey back up into the tree canopy and start swinging! Because the next time you drop off and dawdle in that comfy bed of leaves, there might be a hungry tiger waiting for you to fall asleep.
Our cat, Dave Lister The Smeg, is a total tiger.
If you happen to have any techniques of your own, please let me know. I like to acquire information with the same passion a person with collectomania gathers possessions.
I've signed up to be part of a blogging group who post a question the first Wednesday of every month. I'd highly recommend writers of any genre to click on the link and check out their insightful blogs.
Insecure Writer’s Support Group
June 7 Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?
In short, no.
But, in keeping with my propensity for prattling on, I’m going to expand and say: sometimes… kind of.
Writing is like any other form of creativeness—whether you spend an hour on your hair each day or a month decorating your house in Las Vegas style lights ready for Christmas—we create because it brings us joy.
But we’re social creatures. We like to share.
So, there comes a time when most of us take the leap, strip naked and show off our stuff (metaphorically speaking, of course); however, what we hope to achieve when bearing our most intimate creations, doesn’t always transpire.
And that’s where problems can start to make you wobble.
Primarily, I write because I get a kick out of putting words on paper. I love making things up—when life gets a little tough or when the world’s news sounds like some late-night horror listing, writing makes it all go away. I don’t just bury my head in a rusty bucket of earwig-filled sand, I get to transport myself onto a sun-kissed beach where anything I want to happen happens—I’ve never actually written about a beach, and my stories tend to involve death, but, you get the idea.
It’s all about escapism. And your imagination’s the limit.
Because I love what I do, I want to share it. It’s a little like sharing photos of your kids on social media— you’re proud of those little critters, and you know someone else will see their cute hilarity too, right?
However, creating and sharing don’t always walk serenely hand in hand—sometimes, they end up running, kicking and screaming, in opposite directions. Sometimes your kids, no matter how cute they are, just don’t appeal to others.
If someone doesn’t like what you’ve made/written/drawn/built, then it sucks. There’s no poetic way to put it that doesn’t come off as a little self-absorbed. It. Just. Blows.
Let’s get the awkwardness out of the way, you can call me Narcissistic-Nelly if you like, but I cannot think of anything more gratifying than having someone get that same buzz I feel when I read a good book.
And if they don’t like what I’ve written?
I begin to waiver. I gear myself up to dive into the abyss of self-pity whilst wailing ‘what’s the point in it all?’
Luckily, I have a husband who finds these moments funny; he also happens to have no problem in telling me I’m acting like a dick (he usually does an impression of Stewie from Family Guy and asks how my book is going to hammer the message home). And his humour is a welcome slap to the senses.
There will always be a tonne of people better than me. There will always be people who think my stuff is smellier than a week-old cat turd (everyone knows that cat poop stinks, right?). But if other people’s opinions make me want to quit, then my perspective is seriously skewed and off-track; so, I have a firm word with myself, watch a bit of Family Guy, and trace my steps back to my original motivation for writing: the love of it.
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This isn’t one of my epically long blogs. I’ve been man-flued up this week (what can I say... I’m a fragile creature when snot is involved).
So instead of passing on my wondrous wisdom, I thought I’d share the kind of stuff my husband (the fourth child in our three child household) does when I'm shivering, crying and generally dying in bed. Yes, I'm a hypochondriac. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.
He brings a Dymo home and gets to work labelling things...
Cute, huh? He's such a goof... with a sweet sense of humour. Haha... no. If there's a line to cross, he will eventually cross it.
I think the line has been stepped over here. This was stuck to the toilet lid... and the children got involved too. They added 'BUM HOLE'.
This is the our fridge... it's a giant telephone box. And this is how one man made something fun and funky into something murky and seedy (at least the kids couldn't see this label, it was too small and too high).
I think he went in a different direction with this and crossed a different line. This was stuck to the mirror in our living room... I do not look in the mirror all the time! I'm quite insulted.
And finally, the line is mere speck on the horizon with this label. This candle, above our fireplace, was given to me by his sister (for those who don't know me, Rita isn't my real name... but that's another story). Beautiful. Who said romance was dead, eh? Luckily the kids didn't see this one... although they did see the label he stuck on my back that said 'twat'. Thank you, husband. I will seek my revenge. One day. When you lest expect it...
It’s time to erect those maypoles and get festive with fire and ribbons, people!
Happy Beltane/May Day everyone!
It also happens to be my birthday! Woo Hoo! Another year older, and still not a clue how to adult properly. Hey-ho, maybe I’ll have it figured out by next birthday? Anyway, seeing as it’s the only day of the year where I get to act like a spoilt knob-head (get me CAKE Husband), I decided to throw caution to the wind and head down a self-absorbed topic this week… a subject that I’m obsessively—naively—passionate about.
For anyone who hasn’t read my novel’s blurb or seen the Watership Down-esque-bunny I have as my main background picture (drawn by the very talented Patricia), death plays a central role in my writing.
I can’t say I’ve had much experience with it, though. I’m still alive… sooo... that puts an end to that avenue of exploration. I’ve only been present at one person’s passing. And my brief, but comprehensive, university module on death and dying was never fully absorbed in the grey matter. I’m notoriously bad at remembering information. Just ask my library colleagues… whatsaname and thingamabob.
For the sake of staying inoffensive, I’m not delving into any religious territories either… whether you believe in a God or a Giant Spaghetti Monster… it’s all good here.
However, given the tentative subjective nature of death, I can’t promise to not step on anyone’s emotional toes, but, I’ll try not to be an upturned plug in your barefooted path or a memento-mori-mate sucking the soul out of your party.
This isn’t a blog about grief or loss. Well, maybe just a teensy-tiny bit. But if you chose to carry on reading, you shouldn’t notice me too much. I’ll try to remain unobtrusive.
Death is the one unbending inevitability of life that’s guaranteed (unless you’re planning a cryogenic funeral—I applaud your optimism, my chilly friends); but, for those who don’t have a gazillion quid and a big freezer filled with liquid nitrogen, death is something most of us feel a little bit uncomfortable talking about.
Why not pull up a chair, take a seat, and let’s get snuggly together.
From the moment we harness self-awareness, we begin to understand the consequence of life: it all has an end sometime… and no, I’m not talking about the sun turning into a red giant and swallowing the earth in a few billion years’ time… that’s just freaking mind-boggling. I’m talking about the knowledge of our own mortality.
My jovial flippancy isn’t born out of disregard. It’s simply grounded in a place of acknowledgment. There is nothing I can do about that part of fate. One day, I will die.
We do, however, have choices on how we view that certainty: freak the hell out, philosophise and consider what mortality means, or ignore it and crack on.
I’ve visited all the above emotions. I think most people have; depending on what mood I’m in, I dip in and out of each of them. Hey, I’m no guru, if I were, I wouldn’t be sitting behind my laptop typing this whist sipping a cold cup of tea— I’d be on top of some mountain, folded in the lotus position, watching the sunset and making ‘ommm’ noises.
The only consistent and comforting conclusion I’ve come to about death is this: it’s inspiration is unending;
death enables us to create beauty out of seeming ugliness.
Think of all the amazing literature, incredible art, emotive music, and philosophical debate death’s ever-presence has stirred and nurtured.
Really, think about it…
And before my husband accuses me of being a pretentious horse-head, I’m not just talking about the kind of intellectual you’ve-got-to-have-studied-a-decade-to-understand-it kind of art or even the spiritually-altering Alan Watts kind of thought (although I happen to think his lectures are flipping awesome). I’m talking about all the stuff we don’t even think about: from TV black comedies, to mind-candy pop songs. Death’s inspirational impact is everywhere.
Now, this doesn’t lead me into a segment where I talk about my own literary work. Sure, death inspires me to explore what it means to be human, to question life and all its brilliantly floored nuances; but, as a result of my writing, my own personal journey has turned out to be a little less epic.
I’ve realised that I have a choice in how I view life; I get to choose what I do with my limited time. It doesn’t matter what happens to us, what external forces whack us across the head with their copper-based frying-pans. You get to decide how the hurt of metaphorical-metal impacts your noggin. That biological clock never stops ticking… do you really want to waste it rolling around in hurt?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not after leaving an awe-inspiring legacy, or even trying to reach nirvana. That kind of pressure is crippling. Why would I want to do that to myself? I’m an emotional hodge-podge of crazy at times— I don’t think I’d be writing if I wasn’t. But writers get to make good stuff, helpful stuff, out of craptastic moments. And that’s pretty flipping awesome. Everyone should try their hand at getting creative!
Moving beyond the narcissistic ramblings of my own mortality, I’m only briefly mentioning the other side of death: losing someone you love.
Because I’m not an insensitive twat to try and deconstruct that kind of personal pain.
And besides, I promised this post wouldn’t be morose. And I keep my promises.
So I’ll leave you with this…
When my Grandad’s ashes were being sprinkled off Hunstanton Cliffs in Norfolk, I was a little tired, a little cold, and I yawned. I didn’t expect there to be any air trapped in my gullet. But there was. And out popped an accidental burp right in the midst of Grandad’s eulogy.
If you’ve read my post about humiliation, you’ll probably realise I have gas problems. What can I say? I eat a lot of fibrous foods.
Anyway, I got a few dirty looks, and I’m not ashamed to admit, being twelve-years-old, I cried a little harder for my awful faux pas; but, in the end, I came to realise: Grandad would’ve seen the funny side. He would have laughed. And so, in the end, that's what I did.
Humour in the bleakest of moments isn’t inappropriate or disrespectful. It’s like the flicker of a candle in a shadowy cave. It might not seem all that useful; it certainly won’t show you the way out of that dank cave. But it’s there to remind us that even when everything seems dark, light still exists.
For most of us fantastic mortals, life is a complex beast. Modern living can sometimes feel more like a sideshow juggling act rather than the exciting, surprising and brilliant journey it should be. If you’d like to join me, I invite you to step outside of the normality box for a moment, and I’ll try my dandiest to show you how I see it... in a nonsensical random way, of course.
Imagine if every facet of your existence was represented by a ball.
And Health, etc.…
The list is extensive and unique for all of us, but for the sake of simplicity (and length of this blog), I’m going to stick to the basic things I have experience of.
At different times of the day, depending on what you’re doing, you’re going to be juggling those balls—throwing them in the air and catching them with the aspirations of maintaining the status of ninja-clown.
Only, you’re not, nor should you be, a martial arts expert dressed as a children’s entertainer.
Because it’s plain weird and wrong… it doesn’t work, does it. So why do we try and aspire to be something that clearly doesn’t mesh?
Let’s pop our balls down for a moment and look at good them.
Life’s balls aren’t created equally, and, some are more pleasant to handle than others (and no, much to my husband’s disappointment, I’m not talking about the flesh variety); they come in an array of weights and values, often given an importance that doesn’t always appropriately fit.
Here are a few I’ve named for myself, along with the consequence of what happens when my fingers get greased with the oil of worry, doubt and negative-ninny-isms, and the balls slip out from my grasp…
Shiny glass balls— these are my emotions. It might seem like these precious, delicate balls should never be broken, but it’s okay. If they weren’t meant to break, they would have been made from carbon-fibre. If you drop one and it smashes, sure, it’s a mess that’ll need urgent attention before it impales an unsuspecting foot (usually mine or the husbands); but, once it’s swept up, there are plenty more in the cupboard to replace it.
Lumps of lead— these are the housework balls. Housework is the mother of all things I hate, but a necessity that needs to be done (no one wants to be known as a scutter, but there’s a clean house and then there’s insanity). You try to throw these too high? You’ll drop it. Probably on your toe, too. You don’t have to juggle these lumps, really, you don’t. Plop that big brick of boring down and turn it into something more useful—like a door-stop. For me, if clothing doesn’t come out of the tumble dryer un-creased, it doesn’t get worn. And the charity shop will eventually receive another donation (charity shopping is underestimated, guilt-free purchase-power). Everyone’s a winner!
Squidgy balls of wool— work. For some, work might be represented by a lump of cold metal, but for me? Work is a squidgy ball of niceness (that occasionally get a little itchy when things go wrong). Have I mentioned I work in a library? I don’t take this one for granted, I know I’m lucky. I love my job, and so it’s easy to pop one of these balls in the back pocket and crack on. Sure, it might change one day— my colleagues might leave (who’d want to stop working with me? Inconceivable, I know). But, for now, it’s good, so I’m embracing it.
Rusty barbed wire balls—tricky things. There are some balls that are universally horrible. Be it death, illness, loss… I could list all the shit things in life that constitute these barbaric balls. But I won’t. All I can say is that these balls should not need to be juggled. Ever. They need careful, gentle and considerate handling.
Little bouncy balls of bright colour—these are my kids, and husband (the fourth child in our three-child household). For others, they might represent the furry/scaly/feathery variety of children. If you drop them, they bounce in all kinds of seemingly erratic directions; you end up chasing them around the house, often in a futile attempt to control and contain them. When really, you need to sit back and let them do their thing—hey, they’ll stop bouncing eventually.
You see, juggling is hard enough… but doing it with balls that aren’t even equal in weight, material or size? We can’t expect them to stay airborne for long; they’re going to get dropped.
So why do we do it?
I’m sitting here, trying to write this blog, watching the Thick of It (everyone loves a bit of Malcolm Tucker, right?), talking to my husband and petting my dog; I’m doing all these things, at the same time, because my kids are away for twenty-four hours, and this is the only time I’ve got to write, get my comedy fix, and spend quality time with the husband and pooch. Really, this particular juggling act is small potatoes compared with most days. We do it because we need to. Modern society insists on it. We’re just too busy to stop and live in the moment. My advice? Take one ball at a time and give it your all. That’s why I’m wrapping up this blog now… Malcolm Tucker and the husband are far too distracting.
Life isn’t about trying to mindlessly juggle miss-matched balls. It just doesn’t work. There are too many things that can, and will, go wrong.
Life is about holding one ball at a time and paying attention to what it means to you. Sure, you might have a hundred things to do, but… There. Is. Only. One. Of. You (well, at least until cloning becomes a thing).
Do you have a favourite ball analogy? Maybe one that you can’t abide? I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on this topic. Please, let me know what you think!
Like demonic twins from a Stephen King novel, Rejection and Self-doubt go hand-in-hand. And seeing as I’ve babbled about self-doubt, I thought it only fair to give rejection her time in the spotlight.
Any writer/author will tell you that rejection is part of the journey into traditional publishing; it’s inevitable that you’re going to receive rejections. Some nice, some not so nice, and some aren’t even real rejections at all… they’re simply long, unanswered silences...
…watch those tumbleweeds blow.
But rejection isn’t exclusive to writers, it’s something that happens to everyone, daily. And it can lead to all kinds of craptastic feelings and responses. But I’m here to tell you, writers and nonwriters alike: just as we need love, we need rejection too.
Imagine an alternative reality where rejection was an abstract concept… go on, it’s not that hard…
Think of those kids, the ones whose response to ‘no’ is to whine, kick and projectile-vomit pea-soup until a parental ‘yes’ is produced—don’t get me wrong, when I’m tired or off-par my kids can sniff out weakness and grind me down with the efficiency of an industrial sander. But that’s just parenting, right? We all have our off days where our mini-dictators get the better of us. What would happen if those pea-puking kids grew up in our alternative universe, the one that’s devoid of rejection?
That’s right, the world would be populated with ‘narcissistic turds’ with about as much social grace and compassion as seagull shit. So the next time you’re rejected, know that you’re playing your part in humankind’s continuation of empathy, compassion and growth!
However, there are a number of issues I think need addressing.
If rejection hits us hard, it’s usually because we’ve placed an intense want or desire on something: a date, or job, or even finding out that the chocolate bar you left in the fridge has been eaten… okay, chocolate theft by your husband isn’t rejection; but still, it’s disappointing.
The amount of time, energy and promise we place in our desire are equally reflected in the emotions we experience from the rejection—say, you really, really want to be accepted on the next NASA space mission to the moon. Everything you do, you do for the astronaut cause. You live and breathe space stuff (technical talk, I know). You train for years, study and learn until you’re known as ‘Brian the Brain’; then, when it comes to the final crunch, you’re rejected. Your face doesn’t fit, you’re too tall, too short, you have a dicky heart—it doesn’t matter what the reason is. You’re rejected from becoming the next Neil Armstrong—or that other guy, who no one remembers the name of. That’s going to suck. Big time.
In the process of pursuing your crazy dream to become a spaceman, you met amazing people, travelled to exotic locations, learned incredible new skills (hey, being able to subject yourself to ridiculous g-forces has got to come in handy somewhere); in essence, you went on an adventure. An adventure you wouldn’t have experienced without putting yourself out there, and going for it.
Being rejected isn’t the end of the story. It’s just part of it.
What would you rather do: live a sterile, mundane life without risk to avoid rejection, or try your hardest to achieve those goals, regardless of the outcome?
If you said ‘achieve your goals’, then that is the correct answer. Well done! Brownie points awarded.
There’ll always be an element of luck, no matter what you want to achieve, who you want to date, where you want to be in life. But that’s okay. Certainty doesn’t offer much in the way of inspiration or motivation. Life would be tedious and boring if we knew we were going to get what we wanted. The element of risk is exciting. Invigorating. Just remember: every time you get rejected, you get to learn something new… like, what mascara doesn’t run when you cry for two hours straight because your tutor ripped your work apart with the same kind of compassion that a cannibal shows his/her next meal. I’m not bitter. Honestly!
Rejection is a perception that’s associated with a lack of worthiness. And worthiness is… self-defined; it isn’t dictated by acceptance, it’s created, by you, in your head. So, give your head a shake and change your perception.
I might not make it as a traditionally published author any time soon. But that’s okay. Sure, I’ll feel the sting if I’m rejected—maybe spend a few days rocking back and forth in my locked bathroom—but it’s all experience I can learn by. My worth hasn’t altered because of it; in fact, I would say my worth has grown because of it—each and every time I get rejected it gives me one more string to my bow of learned shit.
If all else fails, there is another option. And no, it doesn’t include hiring a hitman to take out your competition or the person who rejected you. I thought I’d gather up alternative substitutes for the term ‘rejection’ to try and give a less dejecting spin on it. Words are powerful things, and some words make you feel rather shitty just hearing them; rejection, I think, is one such word. However, there were no substitutes that I could find. Nothing. Not a sausage to describe rejection that didn’t suck.
So, in the interest of helpfulness, I made up some of my own… feel free to use them as you wish.
So if you don’t get that dream job as a naked artist, a fish inspector or playground tester, and your world feels like it’s falling apart… try replacing ‘rejection’ for one of my suggested alternatives.
“The agent I sent my manuscript to womble-bombled it.”
“I got burty-bipped for primary dancer.”
“The guy I asked out flabber-jabbered me.”
See! Rejection doesn’t sound so bad when you put it like that, does it? Okay, I might not be the most inventive of word curators, but what’s stopping you making your own stuff up? Words, like music, can and should be played with—by everyone.
Go out there, live, get flabber-jabbered, learn from it, and enjoy yourself! At the end of the day, when the final curtain is called and it’s your time to wave goodbye, what would you regret more: putting yourself out there to experience the brilliance of life, along with all its rejections, or living like a hermit in a cave built with the bitter bricks of ‘what ifs’?