The Need to Do (a ramble about motivation)

So motivation has been a big struggle for me recently. Not just motivation to write, but motivation to do do anything, motivation to wash my clothes, motivation to wash myself, motivation to get up in the morning, motivation to eat. Motivation to do much of anything besides lie in bed and watch Supernatural all day (nearing the end of season 5, it’s bated breath and cold sweat good, for the most part). Of course I don’t sit around all day and watch Supernatural (most days. I am a weak willed sack of monkey meat and sometimes the siren call is too much), instead I aimlessly surf the internet looking for enough dopamine to make the hours of pointlessness worth it… but it never is.
Instead both Friday and Saturday last week I wrote a thousand words of my novel. Not only that, but I fleshed out my outline a bit and learned more about my world. I need not tell the writers out there how good that feels. It’s a flood of happy hormones injected right into your pink-squishy grey matter, by your pink-squishy grey matter. It is a call to arms against the apathy that has plagued me pretty much since the end of school last year. I have been lethargic and despondent, and I put it down to not having a set in stone plan for the coming year (a situation that had since changed, Bachelor of Arts FTW!!!) but even since I have been accepted into my Bachelor of Arts, which sorts out my next three years for me, actually doing anything still seems to not being on the agenda. Until last week.
Last week I put together two pieces of flatpack furniture, because I really needed a new desk and the poor little cane ‘bookshelf’ (that was originally intended to be a shoe rack, but it was nineteen dollars and flat enough to hold books) was all but falling apart at the workload I was putting on it. So I retired the little guy and replaced it with one of those handy dandy cube storage units cunningly turned ninety degrees sideways so it would fit under my window. That and the fact that I’ve recently been reorganising my bedroom/office had led me to a conclusion…
It feels way better to do something, ANYTHING, than it is to do nothing, BUT it’s way easier to just do nothing and watch the world go by than it is to actually take on/complete a project, and all too often being the easier option is all it takes.
Another example, I could watch Supernatural as I eat dinner tonight, or I could read the wonderfully poetic book that I picked up at a closing down sale of a local bookshop the other day (a phenomenon of book stores closing down is one that gives me mixed emotions, because on the one hand you have a book store closing down, always a tragedy, but on the other you have really, really cheap book. ARRRRGH!! THE CONFLICT THAT RAGES IN MY SOUL!!!… ahem. Moving on). This book, The Age of Orphans by Laleh Khadivi is spectacular, but the language, while gorgeous, requires mental activity to equate the beautiful, beautiful words to the action. With Supernatural (or any other kind of TV… if you’re into that kind of thing) there is no such process. The action is right there in front of me with everything explained neatly and simply for a mass-consuming audience, and yet, reading Age of Orphans not only makes me realise that you can be poetic without straying into overdone purple prose, but presents a captivating tale of a young boy dealing with one of the most turbulent times the middle east has ever known. I can feel my understanding growing as I read it, and I know it will impact my writing in the best possible way and yet… I want to watch Supernatural.
So often we don’t do things because they’re hard. For years now, I have a avoided coming out as bisexual to one vast majority of my family who I really, really don’t think will have good reaction. It’s hard and I don’t want to do it. But one day, I will have to, just because that level of deception is just not a sustainable or healthy way to conduct any relationship. And it is the same, albiet with less potential for shouting matches around the dinner table, with writing.
It’s hard, but we all need to suck it up and just do it, because it’s important. Important to our mental and physical health (not saying writing will give you an awesome six pack or anything, but doing something that you are proud of, even just a little bit, every day must have a good impact on something physical, right? Like the old psychology adage, ‘everything mental is physical’). And if this week has taught me anything, it’s that the best motivation is momentum. I started out by rearranging my room, which let me to buy and put together new furniture, which led to finally getting a desk space I am happy with, which led to me writing more, which led me to reading more and that whole thing has led me to write this blog post. A thing that I am proud of, and that must be having a good effect on my brain because I feel way more active writing this now than I did watching that episode of Supernatural earlier today (like I said, weak-willed sack of monkey meat).
As people we must do to keep on doing, once something is set into motion it will stay in motion until something stops it, and once it is stopped it will stay stopped until something moves it (Newton’s Laws of Motion: helping to create motivational speeches and blog posts since 1642). And here’s a thought, that thing that always moves or stops this metaphorical object that is your motivation, is you. Not to get all ‘self-help: the power within’ cliché here, but the outside world can only give you the idea to push yourself away from Sam and Dean Winchester, it’s you that sets that ball rolling. Always. And that, is pretty damn amazing. But once the ball is rolling it’s just as easy (a lot of times way easier) to stop it again, but then, dying can sometimes seem easier than living, and everyday people choose the harder option. Why? Because life is important, your life is important, because no matter how lethargic you are now, you will do things in your important life, and doing things is important, and there are some important things that only you can do (like write YOUR book, for example). So go out there, and DO a THING. Because it’s important, and also because the dopamine rush is really, really good.

Tune in next time when we may or may not discuss villians vs heros and why Batman is cooler than Superman, but why Hannibal Lecter is cooler than both of them.

Till then, thing doers, I bid you good luck in all the things you end up doing (…*snicker* GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER)

Ashlee

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An Incoherent, Slightly Awed Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

So… I just finished reading this book. It was a small book, but that was right. It told me almost nothing I wanted to know and raised even more questions, but that too was right. This book was a right thing, a proper thing….

Hey, did I or did I not say that this review was going to be incoherent? People who have read the book should know what I was talking about. Which, now that I think on it, sort of defeats the purpose of a review. But, who am I kidding? These aren’t really reviews, they’re a convenient and potentially entertaining excuse for me to rant and rave and gush about books (it’s a full time hobby, I’ll have you know).

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten all the pedantic out, let’s talk about this bright apple seed of a book.

Now, this is a book with many covers so here’s the one all you important folks in the states, sorry, States will recognise.
Taken from Goodreads.com

But this isn’t my cover of the book, and to be perfectly honest I vastly prefer my version. Here’s the Uk version (and consequently the Australian version, hence my familiarity with it).
Also via Goodreads

I think it’s pretty obvious by now that I enjoy this book. Notice the present tense, it isn’t that I enjoyed this book. Any book can be a past experience when you turn the final page, but it takes a special kind of book to be present even after the cover has closed. The phrase “will stay with you long after the final page” is the marketing incarnation of this specialness, but it is not always accurate, due to people being the ridiculously, invariably, impossibly subjective creatures they are. So I can’t say that this book will ‘stay with you’ but all I can say is that some books are ice, they might be sharp and clear and they might pierce you to the soul, but they melt right away the instant you turn your back or snuggle up to something warmer. This book is not ice, although some might mistake it for such, no. This book is glass. Glass and copper and a subtle shine at the bottom of the Yellow Twelve (or perhaps Silver Twelve? This is a moonlit book.) This book planted shards of glass, speckles of moonlight and a few pretty pennies in my heart and they are not going anywhere soon.

Now, before you continue reading this and become as enamoured with this teardrop story as I am, I must issue a warning: THIS BOOK IS A LOCK. TWO KEYS SHALL OPEN IT. ONE IS CALLED ‘THE NAME OF THE WIND’, THE OTHER, ‘THE WISE MAN’S FEAR’. SEEK THEE OUT THESE KEYS AND THE LOCK WILL OPEN ADMITTING YOU TO THE WONDER BEYOND…. possibly. Some people out there will find it immensely boring. These people will probably also find this post to be nonsense. Eh, it’s no real skin off my back, as my main deal with people who dissagree with me is “don’t attack me for not agreeing with you and I won’t attack you for not agreeing with me, deal?” Then we shake hands and everything, mostly, remains civil (warning: disagreement deal may not apply to all issues or persons, always read the label, if symptoms persist consult your local Cthaeh… just kidding DON’T! I’m not messing with stuff that can scare Bast. Anyway…) But I digress, don’t look so surprised, the main point of this article is to tell you to read The Name of The Wind, and The Wise Man’s Fear, that’s the only way you’ll even remotely understand what these pages mean.

Oh, would you look at that, almost half way through the review and I have yet to even mention the author of all three of these fine books. You see There are some things you expect a review to do… and this one will probably not do most of them. Patrick Rothfuss is his name. Google is your bestest friend with this guy, you wont regret it. I also steal at least forty percent of my quotes, phrases and general smartness from him (well, if he doesn’t want to be quoted, then why does he speak?). Anyway, google is literally less than an inch away from your finger. Look up Name of the Wind, and Wise Man’s Fear, read both of them and then come back here. We’ll wait.

… …. … … …
Done? Awesome stuff, right? Anyway, before you are fully introduced to the sweet torture known as waiting for the dawn to rise on the third day (which we all need to calm the fuck down about, by the way. It’ll get done, just swallow a few stones worth of patience and wait!), lets talk about Auri.

Our Heroine:  Auri. Her name, which may or may not mean ‘sunny’, is perfect for her. It burns in her chest. It lifts her from the black days when she is all tangles. It is a flower in her heart. So much can be said about Auri, but not much should be said about her. She is a pretty girl who looks like the sun, and who leaves crystals in trees.

Our Hero: At first I thought it was going to be Foxen, but it wasn’t. I think it was Fulcrum, with his three threes, but it’s hard to tell.

Our Villain: Ummmmmm…. Hmmm…. I’m coming up with nothing…. Time? That seems most obvious. Time is certainly against Auri in this book. If you want to get meta (and who doesn’t?) Auri herself could be seen as the villain, in a small, broken, misunderstood and guttering kind of way. The truth is, I don’t want to even suggest a villain for this book, because it is one of the honeyed lackings. In this book, the things left out make it sweeter.

The Question: Where do I begin? So, so many questions. Just, all of the questions all of the time, and limited, hidden or just plain not there answers. Welcome to Auri’s world.

The Plot: Well, now. That would be telling, wouldn’t it?

My Honest Opinion: I have not slept with a cuddly toy in some time, and I have never cuddled a book in my sleep before. Any books on my bed are there either because I fell asleep reading them, or I was reading them in bed and the bedside table was too small or dirty and the floor was too far away. I tell you this because I’ve heard some people actually cuddle books in their sleep, and I want to make it clear that I don’t make a habit of this. The Slow Regard of Silent Things may change that.

I liked Auri a lot before I read this, she was an awesome bit of unexpected whimsy, a cool breeze against Kvothe’s fire. But, that was all she was to me. She seemed a way of tempering Kvothe, making him more human and less of a TOTAL IDIOT! (Sorry, but for a boy-genius he’s really, really stupid at times. Example: “Listen to the insane guy in the flowing black robes, HE’S TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING!!” Thankfully, Wise Man’s Fear brought some reprieve from that particular frustration.)  Anyway, Auri was a lovely character with unexpected insights and she brought freshness to the books, but I was never in love with Auri the way others were, never felt that protectiveness. Now… Well, eighteen pages in and I was on the edge of the bus stop seat, praying she’s going to be ok and will get Foxen back, and this was with the entire book ahead of me. Long(ish) story short, Patrick Rothfuss made me miss my bus, and Auri is competing with Elodin for my favourite character (Why Elodin? “Stop grabbing my tits”, that’s why. Also, he ‘threw’ the main character off a roof… Kvothe’s an idiot.)

And after all this, I have one more thing to say. If you don’t like soap-making, this book may not be for you. But in Auri’s defence, it is brilliant soap.

Good night, good luck and may nothing be anything else for you,

Ashlee.

P.S. This post was finished at around four in the morning, the night before an exam. Any and all of your questions should be answered by that fact.

An Incoherent, Slightly Biased Review (AKA: I LOVE THIS BOOK SO FUCKING MUCH!!!)

So… hi. Look at that, exactly a month since anything new appeared in this little internet space… I feel like I should apologize… but I honestly don’t think there’s anyone hanging out to read these. *Sigh*. One day. Anyway, in case you can’t tell I’ve been feeling a little depressed these past few weeks about my future as a writer, (something to do with Fear Number 1 raising it’s ugly head again) and you know what I like to read when I’m feeling depressed about the inevitable decay of it all? Apocalypse books, because it’s really REALLY cathartic. What’s my favourite apocalypse book you ask (how kind of you to take such an interest)? Well, to be honest, it’s my only apocalypse book, but that is irrelevant because, as you saw in the title…
I LOVE THIS BOOK SO FUCKING MUCH!!!… Ok, ok, ok, I’m calm, let’s showcase this bit of wonder-fiction to the seven or so of you who will actually read this (that’s right, I see you. I see you ALL! Muahahahahahahahahahah! *Ahem*).
Ladies and gentlemen, behold…

Image Via Goodreads.com.

Yup. That’s Nod, inscribed from the mouth of Cthulhu himself, set to ancient parchment in Grimm wolf-blood (“It’s like red chamomile tea!”) by Adrian Barnes. From what I gather of my past experiences, half of you have never in your lives heard of it (treasure your innocence), a quarter of you are joining me in a good bout of evil laughter as the darkness birthed inside you by this book squirms and grins, and the other quarter of you are gnashing your teeth and shooting steam from your ears at my obvious lack of any real judgement in literature. Whelp, sit tight, because, love it or loathe it “Nod” is one mind-fuck of a ride.

Our Hero: His name is Paul. He likes words. And Tanya. People besides Tanya tend to piss him off, particularly Charles. Mainly because Charles is a prick (an opinion I share with Paul. Fuck Charles).

Our Heroine: Tanya. Beautiful, normal, intelligent. She likes Paul enough to have stayed with him for five years at the opening of the book. Looks like hell the first time we see her, but is actually heaven. Paul has it backwards.

Our Villain: The Admiral in Blue? The Awakened? That one guy with the ship and the nukes? The messed up, disheveled, beaten and bleeding world at large? Humanity? Whatever the fuck was happening on that beach (if that scene doesn’t send some sort of shiver up your spine then you might not be human)? Honestly all of these are the antagonist and all of them are not. It’s one of the things I really like about the book. There’s a bad-guy here for everyone, pick your hate!

The Question (because every book needs a question): A huge, resounding, what the fuck?! What the fuck is up with all the fatal insomnia? What the fuck are those children so calm about? And, seriously, what the fuck is that magical golden dream all about? Yes, I am aware that is more than one question… It’s a complex book.

The Plot: No-one sleeps. Well, one in a thousand people maybe do. But most people don’t sleep. Things go to pot in a major, major way. Think of an atrocity and it’s probably committed within these pages, along with a few you probably haven’t thought of yet. Look at that cover, this is not a sane book. And yet there’s an almost indistinguishable grain of hope in there, among all the madness and attempted (sometimes successful) infanticide, there’s one tiny, desperate, dim, flickering point of hope. You have to look really hard to find it, and it offers no real comfort, but it’s there and in some ways it almost makes all the bat-shit insanity worth it.  Almost.

My Honest Opinion: This is not a book for the weak of heart or mind or stomach. This is not a book for a casual summer read, relaxing on a beach. You will find no relaxation here. But you figured that out already. The truth is, I read all one hundred and ninety nine pages of this book in three hours and I was a different person because of those three hours I spent inside Adrian Barnes’ head. My outlook, my speech, my thoughts and, most obviously, my writing have all been heavily influenced by those pages. I have read it once since, over the course of two days (roughly), and it’s punch, while not increased in the re-read, was far from diminished. In my mind, this is not a book, it is a series of images, events, emotions and experiences. “Nod” occupies the same space in my head as my actual memories of real life. It’s a wonder I don’t have PTSD from this shit. I did not turn the pages of this book I watched it happen and it implanted itself deep within me, digging its claws into my hippocampus and refusing to leave. I say I love this book, only because that is the only way to describe this strange cacophony of emotions and be taken seriously. I love Nod the way the abused loves the abuser, I know that it will tear me down, make me feel hopeless and depressed, that it will slap me in the face and punch me in the throat and leave me crying into my pillow, but at the end of the day it is what it is and as long as the bruises are metaphorical, then I will endure that agony. (Side note on abuse: Anyone who is being abused by anything more substantial than a book, say, by a person, PLEASE SEEK HELP! You are not alone, and there are a thousand ways out and a hundred thousand people who are willing to help. I do not condone non-metaphorical abuse in any way, shape or form.)

With that, ladies and gentlemen… Sleep Tight.