Patterns versus Templates

These days, I’ve been learning to accept my need for patterns. They soothe me. I think they’re beautiful in their repetitions. And I think it’s why my creative and personal writing skews towards poetry rather than prose—poems require rhythm and flow, which I think are pattern-like even if they are irregular. It’s why my favorite crafty hobbies are crochet and knitting.

It’s also why the things I most appreciate in other people’s work involve motifs and tropes.

I loved how Kate Evangelista’s “Savor” made subtle use of details referring to vision and perception to underscore events that would ultimately blindside the female protagonist. I geek out when I come across genre-savvy characters because I tend to identify with them.

It’s even part of why I get obsessive over musicals and other media that go the extra mile of establishing theme melodies for specific characters. Do you guys remember Batman: The Animated Series and how it lets you know which villain Batman’s going to face from the intro music alone?

So heck yeah, I love patterns.

Original image by leoleobobeo on Pixabay (slightly modified)

I feel I should point out that patterns aren’t the same as templates. I mean, SURE, when you go to Thesaurus.Com “template” comes up as a synonym for “pattern”. But they definitely have their differences; and to people like me, they absolutely matter.

Templates are boring. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t leave you much space for creativity. They make you fill out blanks and swap one type of fact out for other types of facts.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t actually hate templates because I find them pretty useful (especially when we’re talking about Excel or design). But they still end up being fairly rigid in terms of form. Ultimately, templates give end products a more or less homogenized feel.

But patterns! If you’ve ever been part of a knitting or crochet group on Facebook, you’ll understand why I wax poetic over this. Something like The Virus Stitch may become popular, but the products that come out of the craze can look very different from each other because different colors and yarns were applied or alternative tensions were experimented with. The opportunity for changing the form is much greater here.

The key for me, I suppose, is my inherent need for freedom with structure. I want to be able to do what feels right, but I also want to have some rules so I won’t end up all over the place.

It’s why I enjoyed writing SEO-friendly articles for clients when I started out—it let me use my creativity, but required me to work within certain parameters (keywords need to be used, has to be a certain length, must reflect the brand). It’s probably why I was so fascinated with Tarot card reading too; these were the same cards, ready to be interpreted and re-interpreted depending on the situation.

Patterns, to me, are open to contexts—not absolutes. And if there’s one thing I think the world needs to remember these days, it’s the compelling value of context.

IMO this is where religion and social justice goes terribly wrong, but that’s for another post. Maybe.

Wonder – A Poem + Updates on Life

Reading in Between_Wonder_Poem

Note: So this week, the #StrangeLit story anthology groupings were announced and was hit with a surreal (to me, at least) reality—I can now consider myself a published author.

Oh sure, I’ve been on print before; but those were for school. I’m not saying that school publications suck, but you have to admit that you have to admit that tender “artiste” feelings are protected in those environments. Granted, the environment that led to my post-scholastic publication is just as supportive and I stalked met amazing new people (hi Kaith, Tara, Luna, Ysa, Anne, and Krissy! I’m sending you some admittedly meager linkjuice). Still, getting fiction/poetry published OUTSIDE of school feels like validation.

It fills me with a sense of wonder. And thus, this poem “Wonder” (which I hope you like).

PS: Because I’m trying to stretch myself, I might transition back to doing more than just poetic posts on this blog. Probably won’t stop the poetry completely, though. Poetry comes at you in the dark like an eloquent thug.

PPS: If you’re in the Philippines, and if you want to get a FREE copy of the bundle my story is part of, drop by the Buqo booth at the Manila International Book Fair on September 16-20 and donate a book.

Reading in Between_Wonder_Poem

And who was it that said

that there is no universe where leaves

are the color of feathers

on the vainest of birds?

I wonder who

can prove that hues do not

drip through edges like excess paint

like tears in eyes of other dimensions?

I ask:

what perspective is brightest

on its own?

A Kick-Ass Way to Kick Off a Year of Creativity

Let’s face it – trying to cultivate a life of creativity requires a certain level of perseverance. It’s not enough to be passionate about it, because passion can fizzle out; it can be affected many different factors. Case in point: I am very much into yarnwork as well as experiencing and writing fiction, but I end up not giving them priority in my life because they’re too damn hard to get into after spending a day at the office.

So I take photos of the cat instead. I wouldn’t call it a creative victory.

There are other reasons, aside from exhaustion, that makes committing to a creative life difficult. For some people, it’s the constant, pervasive assertion by the world at large that “doing art for a living” equals starvation (completely ignoring the fact that there is an art to being a successful businessman or engineer) or that “art should be just a hobby”. For others, it’s the belief that they AREN’T creative in the first place.

But the biggest roadblock, especially for those of us chronic start-and-stoppers, is knowing that we suck. Sure, we know that we need to suck before we get better; but we often get stuck on how inferior our results are compared to our ideals.

I, personally, have started on projects and stopped working on them because they never turn out the way I expect them to. I have lots of pieces curled up in cursive handwriting in my giant pile of notebooks (which mom wants me to throw out – which I will, in turn, never do), hunchback pieces that will never be published anywhere. I take up creative writing/blogging courses, then I let life get in the way or let the talent and progress of other people make me feel inadequate. I have an unfinished granny square afghan sitting in a canvas bag somewhere, and knitting projects that fall by the wayside.

But the darndest thing is that I keep going back to them. It’s what makes me think that this has the potential to be more than a passion for me. This has the makings of a great love which, contrary to popular belief, requires a whole lot of work.

Many of you probably feel the same way

I think we need to be reminded that knowing we aren’t good enough at something we feel strongly about is exactly the reason why we should keep going.

Thankfully, there are many reminders out there. One of them is this video, which my mom shared on Facebook today (thanks, Mom!):

This week, I plan to finish a poem. Next week can be dedicated to an essay or a book review.

What is YOUR creative project for this week? Feel free to share in the comments section!

TED Talks on Creativity and Poetry

I’m working on my review of Guardians of the Galaxy in between doing actual work that I need to earn money that lets me watch the movies I want to watch and buy the books I want to buy.

Right now,  I’m a little bit nervous – it’s been a while since I last wrote a movie review. But I’m going to do it anyway, because I need to do it. I missed out on reviewing Captain America: The Winter Soldier because I’m a lazy doof; it would be a tragedy if I didn’t let myself write about another comic book movie that I liked.

Of course, that leaves me little time to hammer out a coherent post for today. Thankfully, TED provides!

I watch this when I need to inspire myself into creativity:

And I have this when I’m in a poetry mood:

I hope you guys enjoy these too! 🙂