Salad Days

ReadinginBetween_Salad Days

I think of these days as my salad days. You know, that time when you’re the best you’ll ever be? That period in your life when you feel like every dang thing you touch will turn into gold (if not all-out platinum)? Your heydays?

ReadinginBetween_Salad Days

Usually, salad days are recognized in retrospect; we only think of them as the best time EVER in hindsight. “Back in the day,” we might say, “we used to be able to write something like 10,000 coherent words per week, and edit while drunk on gin pomelo.”*

But why do we do this? Why approach the concept of these wonderfully amazing and productive days as something that has gone past, as something we don’t have anymore? Why think of this time as the time we’ve lost? Why think of this with so much regret?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years (with the help of other people and various books), it’s that the past only looks good because time has covered it up and smoothed its edges. I’m willing to bet that when said past was still the present, it had the same horrible jagged corners that we’re still dealing with now. We just think the ones today are worse because they’re more immediate.

So I figured:

Wouldn’t it be better to just think of TODAY as a salad day? Wouldn’t it be amazing to think of every day of my life as the time when I’m at the top of my proverbial game? Imagine the confidence boost! Imagine what I, or anyone else can do with this kind of self-assurance!

Really, think about it—if you think you’re the best version you can be of yourself TODAY, what can you do? What will you do? And what’s to stop you from doing it?

Whatever it is, recognize that it doesn’t have to be a big thing and it doesn’t have to be for just ONE aspect of your life. Today, I’m having a salad day for blogging. Last Sunday, I was having a cat mom salad day.** Tomorrow’s going to be a completely different salad, I’m sure.

No matter what happens, though, I know my salad days will always be fresh and green and interesting because everyday is an awesome salad day. As the Great Master Oogway once said: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

* Elea’s note: this actually happened back in college, and these days I can barely stay awake after a spoonful of rum without it being helped along with caffeine—oh, how the times have changed!

** Another note from Elea: Yes, I rescued another one—

ReadinginBetween_TP the Kitty

(this little guy’s tentative name is TP). He joins the other recently-chronicled rescue kitties—

ReadinginBetween_Babu and Pieta

What? I never denied being a crazy cat lady!

I Will Face My Fear

ReadingInBetween_Dune Litany Against Fear

In a little over 48 hours, I’ll be at a book launch with about 40 other local speculative fiction writers. I’ll be reading a 1-minute excerpt of my short story and ohgod just thinking about it makes me want to throw up from nerves.

But I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it because I wanted to be published, and sometimes being published means being the girl standing in front of an audience asking them to love her writing. I’m going to do it because I want to prove that actually love my writing enough to send it out into the wild.

For the longest time, I’ve been afraid to do this because I think I might not be good enough or interesting enough or entertaining enough. I hesitate because fiction is too fanciful “and doesn’t really help people” the way non-fiction does.

But then I realized: fiction is where I found the Litany Against Fear, written by Frank Herbert in “Dune”, which has helped me through some terrible times. It’s through fiction that I learned courage and kindness and nobility and empathy. It’s through fiction that I met ALL of my best friends, whether the fiction in question involved books or games or television shows.

ReadingInBetween_Dune Litany Against Fear

Fiction is safe and dangerous and comforting and uncomfortable and complex—much like real life. Isn’t it worth facing fears for?

On Saturday I’ll be reading an excerpt of my short story “Shake-Ups” (you can read it in the Incredible Truths bundle, which I’m giving away 3 copies of) in front of a room full of strangers.

Next month, I’ll start publishing chapters of my new short story, which is set in the same universe as “Shake-Ups” on Wattpad.

I’m thinking of publishing a permafree book involving the “Shake-Ups” characters next year.

Basically, I’m going to be brave as fuck for the next few months or so because I’ve been a coward for way too long and I’m hoping that a silent reader out there finds this post and realizes that they can do this too.

Maybe this will help you find that little nugget of courage it takes to press “publish”. Maybe this will help you get up the nerve to promote your awesome art more. Or maybe this will just help you wake up in the morning.

Whichever way it goes, I hope whatever it is I’m doing right now helps you.

I will face my fear, until only I will remain. And if I’m lucky, I can help you do the same.

What are you afraid of doing right now?

The Bravery of that Little Tailor

Have you heard of the brave little tailor? You probably have. He’s that dude who struck down seven flies in one blow and somehow turned that (along with luck and quick thinking) into a gig as a king.

He’s a bit of an asshole.

But he’s a SUCCESSFUL asshole. You know why? It’s because he worked smart instead of working hard, and because he just went with the flow. Challenged by a giant? Play along! Get offered a position in the king’s army? Sure, why not? Asked to kill TWO giants, catch a unicorn, and trap a rabid boar so you’ll be out of everyone’s way? Pit those two giants against each other, get the unicorn’s horn stuck into a tree, trick the boar into entering a chapel it can’t get out of, and marry the princess. Wife try to get rid of you? Put the fear of you into the goons she hired.

That’s some major chutzpah right there. It’s something that most people like me need.

Penguins Plotting
Most of the time I just waddle through life like a penguin.

See, I’m smart. I’m sure I’m as smart as the brave little tailor. But I’m not as brave as he is.

I, and a lot of people like me, let our own brains get the better of us. We worry so much about the consequences that we often end up not doing anything. Before we know it, opportunities pass us by. If I had been braver, I probably would have published a book by now, or would have taken a job that would get me to Germany. Instead, I find myself thinking of consequences not just to myself, but my family. If the brave little tailor had stopped to worry about his tailoring business when he decided to show to the world how awesome he was at killing flies, he probably would STILL be patching up pants by the end of the story.

The bravery of that little tailor comes from being smart enough to know his own strengths while completely disregarding the idea of limitations. He recognizes opportunities and automatically uses them to his own advantage. I am pathetically jealous of that ability.

Maybe I should try to see the world through this guy’s eyes. If I squint and tilt my head, a hurdle could look like a door.

Are you as brave as that little tailor? Because I’m not.

Not yet, in any case.

Something to Think About

Image shared by officemate Digi. Thanks, Deej!

 

In light of gloomtastic post yesterday…this should give me some perspective.

Because, you know, giving up your dreams so other people can live theirs might not be the best thing to do right now. Not on the year I turn 30, when the world expects me to be more mature than ever. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. *stubbornly plays Pokemon*

Trying to Strengthen My Resolve

Well, it’s a new year. Traditionally, that means it’s the season for New Year’s resolutions.

For me, it’s a season for depression. Why? Because I know that I’ll be compelled to make promises to myself that I most definitely will NOT be able to keep. Why even bother? Sure, I sometimes have a good start; but then…THEN things go off-kilter for me. Before I know it, I’m sitting in the living room scarfing down the alcoholic fruit salad that my mom cobbled together from the leftover strawberries and fruit punch. It’s delicious and wonderful, yes, but it’s not helping me maintain my healthy and attractive weight (which I wanted to do this year, thank you very much).

Don’t even get me started on the times when I DON’T get anything started. I’m still more than a little angry at myself for not writing anything on January 1st, and that anger just stops me from writing anything more coherent than a string of self-loathing curses. I try to deal with it by engaging in various escapist tactics: watching shows, reading books, playing video games, and going out to either eat something nice or do something to inspire relaxation. Clearly, it doesn’t work. But I do it because it makes me feel better, and I haven’t really felt good about myself in a long time – mainly because I’ve come to recognize in myself a lack of resolve. I start projects. I never finish them.

Because it’s too. Damn. Hard.

Stop snickering perverts. I know you’re out there. I’M ONE OF YOU.

Back on topic: I give up. It’s something I’m good at. I wish I sucked at this kind of thing more, but I don’t. I’m really good at giving up, and something about being good at something (no matter how self-destructive it is) actually feels kind of nice. And believe me, I’m a champ at giving up on stuff because it would be easier to just leave things be. Seriously, I’m this close to not actually posting this because it’s too much of a commitment to keep a blog going, especially when I have put other, arguably more important things on my plate. Like my job, which gives me money that I can use for various things.

Granted, the various things that I spend my money on are difficult to enjoy these days. I find myself way too worried about a lot of things. Things I’d rather not enumerate here, because they involve other people and they deserve their privacy. Things I don’t particularly like thinking about, but are generally top-of-mind because the universe – okay, mom too (well you DO, mom!) – likes to remind me.

Maybe my New Year’s resolution should be to strengthen my resolve. Maybe the more resolute I am, the less I’ll hate myself. Maybe I’ll be less prone to giving in to my self-hatred.

Hell, maybe I’ll have less trouble with writing again. What do you think?

Should I be more like this guy?

An alien with strong resolve
He IS pretty inspiring. (Image source: http://fandomlikefinewine.tumblr.com)