Friday, 5 September 2014

Writing Woes

Among the many words that were used to describe me, some of them dealt with my skill with the written word.

I've been called eloquent, a word-smith and a silver-tongued devil. I've written short-stories and poems. I've been published and I even gave a talk on writing and translating. As much as I like to read and to write, I feel as if I'm not doing enough of either.

Time is an issue but the lack thereof is no excuse. I, as many other would-be writers, often fall into the trap of editting rather than writing. It's the bad habit of focusing on a page that has been writing at the cost of writing more. Editting should be left for last, after all is written, so they say.

However, that's not my problem. I know I can find the time to write and I've been progressing well with writing instead of editting. Especially now that I stopped creating RPG campaigns and scenarios, so my creativity flows into characters and plots for use in stories.

What keeps me from writing as I should is that I've started to feel as if my thoughts became this unruly and disorganised mess. Whenever I dig through my ideas, and sort out themes and plots, I have the nagging feeling of nothing making sense. I look at what I wrote: beginning, middle and end... and it seems wrong. It's akin to having a deck of cards thrown up into the air and looking at how neatly organised it is lying on the floor.

It wouldn't be a problem if it happened post-writing, that's what editting is for. Unfortunately, I'm feeling this way when I form something as simple as a series of events. I think of things happening and how they lead into other events and actions... but it all feels wrong, somehow... and I simply can't place it.

It's an issue of form. I have ideas, too many at times, but I doubt my ability to make them coherent; to present a thought in a manner that can be understand, to extrapolate it further within the body of the text and to end it with a semi-finality.

This craft that I had, mayhap I've lost it, or am I simply mad?

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Every Summer

I was really looking forward to this summer.
I found people to play boardgames with, I started getting calls from schools, the management at my workplace wanted me to teach their staff, I went on my first date...

and then everything went down...

All the callbacks I got amounted to nothing...
The management thought I'd work for free...
My dad had a heart attack...

and now I don't feel like dealing with people whose only input is to smile and not be like this...

Saturday, 31 May 2014

New Gamers

Thanks to some very strange manipulation of time, space and fate, I've ended up playing table-top games regularly again.

I didn't realise how much I missed playing these games. Since I've stopped going to gaming meetings, I only ever played on various consoles and now that I'm playing again I can't help but look back at the time when most of my gaming was either a board-game or a card-game.

I used to play often and a lot but during the games there was a type of attitude that slowly eroded my enthusiasm for playing games. When there was this big shop in Brighton called Wargames Heaven, we used to play Game of Thrones a lot. (Yes, we played it before it was cool!) While I have decks for each of the major houses, I mostly played Stark and certain people began to be irritated with me.

I like playing games. For some that's apparently a problem because games aren't for playing, they're for winning. It is simply impossible to enjoy a game without winning it. I never minded losing. I enjoyed playing the game, I talked about what cool plays took place and how nice it was to see everyone. In return I was told off for not winning and told what cards to take out of my deck so I could win. That's how my enthusiasm slowly eroded into nothingness...

Going to Magic The Gathering events discouraged me too. I remember being new, wanting to play and meet new people. Upon hearing I was still learning how to play and only had two decks with me, someone offered to play a game with me. He opened up a box with about a dozen decks, asked me to pick one and then he took out another deck from his backpack. Suffice to say, he kept winning after every few turns.

That sort of attitude where you're deliberately setting a newbie up for failure is very bad. When playing with a newbie, it's a given they will make mistakes. Whenever someone I'm playing with plays a card that they either can't or shouldn't play, I am given an immediate advantage in knowing what they'll play. If next turn I want to play a powerful card and I know my opponent can easily destroy it, I can play a card I don't mind losing and keep the better one for a latter opening... but that's not what I do. I keep my strategy assuming that the mistake didn't happen. I don't want to win, I want to play. I can't play with someone who will get discouraged over me taking advantage of them being a beginner.

When you play against a newbie, it's easy to win. Anyone can do it.
The real challenge is teaching someone to play well enough that they'll beat you on your best day.
That's the sort of games worth playing...

Friday, 25 April 2014

The Gym Problem

I've been going to the gym for well over a year now and today I froze my membership. I had dry spells before, mostly caused by too many hours spent at work or going away for holidays. This time, however, I decided not to attend for a prolonged period of time.

I'm not happy with this decision and I hope I'll return eventually but right now I do need a break.

There are two things I'm finding very problematic.

First one is time.
As much as I like going to the gym, I have to face up with the fact that it takes away time from my day. It might not seem much since I have a gym session only three times a week but problem with working out is that you need to have a diet appropriate to your needs. I don't gain weight easily so I should be having several meals a day when I'm not working out. Just cooking them takes me half a day and it's not even close to the amount I should be eating. Funny enough, eating does take time too and I simply can't be going on a break every few hours at work just to have a snack. Instead of all that, I should be spending my time either looking for a job, taking on students or working on furthering my career rather than idly sitting on my qualifications.

Second is people.
People usually go to the gym for two reasons: either to lose weight or to gain weight. The latter is called body-building and is quite popular among the male populace. Oddly enough I don't do either of these things. My main focus with the gym is strength-training, gaining mass is just a by-product of that. How is that different from body-building, you might ask... well, the priority is reversed. Body-builders aim to grow their muscles (in specific proportions, if they want to compete at a contest), in strength-training you just focus on being able to lift more as you progress. It might seem the same but it is possible to have large weak muscles or not having the endurance to keep on labouring with your mighty muscles.

Most people I know at the gym are the same ones I work with so I spend most of my days surrounded by them. They body-build a lot and can't help but give me pointers on what to do. Where to get proteins, how many carbs I should take, how I should never do cardio, what exercises to do, how to change my routine, etc. Now, imagine you are planning to buy a car and everyone you know just walks up to you to tell you where to buy cheap plane tickets. That's a very nice gesture but it misses the point entirely and after constantly explaining what you're actually looking for, the idea of just not mentioning your plans sounds a lot less taxing... this is how I feel.

I don't need to be told that what I'm doing is wrong.
I like it; I know it's not the popular choice and I'm fine with that.
If I need help or have questions, I can ask...
I don't need to be forcefully showed the error of my ways...

Friday, 28 February 2014

Sexism

Nearly every day I log into the great digital depths of the internet, I am met with some form of information on how badly women are treated. Some articles point out all the micro- and macro-agressions women are met with on a daily basis. Others focus on how there's a prevalent rape-culture in our society that puts all the blame of rape on the victim. Objectification of women seems to be so prevalent that we don't even register it as anything out of the norm and we need a gender role-reversal video to actually see that there's something wrong with how we treat people.

At times, when I read these I can't help but be reminded of some of the things the women I've met have told me. Whenever I hear these words repeated in my mind, I'm more and more convinced the blame for this social problem plaguing us is not just a simple matter of one gender exerting control over the other. It is, in fact, much worse.

'I like him but I told him no. If he likes me enough, he'll come find me again.'

Why can't men take no for an answer? Because no is propagated as a test rather than an answer. I never liked this idea of how I should always harass a woman after she turns me down. Apparently, it's a sign of a very strong love. No, it isn't and it shouldn't be made to be so. Ignoring another person's wishes is a clear sign of disrespect; that you do not care what they have to say because what you want is more important. Moreover, if a person doesn't mean no by saying no, that means they're lying. I honestly never thought of liars as good partners for anything.

'Just pretend you want to have sex. Every girl does that.'

Nothing says I love you more than Take off your panties. All right, I'm still getting to grips with how sex is part of love but I doubt I'll be able to put sex above love any time soon. I'm not really sure what's so bad about doing stuff together outside the bedroom, like watching TV, cooking or shopping. Yes, even non-romantic activities. I don't think a relationship should revolve around getting laid and here too, I don't like receiving suggestions that lying is all right.

'A girl feels ugly if a guy doesn't want to have sex with her.'

Yes, women take their worth from being seen as sexual objects. A woman that has no one fighting for her attention is nothing. I thought we're supposed to move away from the sexual objectification of women rather than convince guys that it's fine to see another person as just another place to keep their penis in. I can understand how rejection can affect a person negatively but I don't see how treating a person as only good enough for a one-night stand is any better.

Ideas have a strong influence on us, our society and culture. When they're damaging, we shouldn't even consider incorporating them into our personal value system. I suspect that the above suggestions are results of damaging ideas being seen by women when they were creating their own value systems and so, they hold them for true now when they really shouldn't.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Greed

One of the most common advice people give me is that I need to find a better job.

These are words that I question on a regular basis. I can understand why people have this desire for a 'better job'. Some want to be fulfilled in their career. They want to be respected in their chosen field and engage with it on a regular basis. Others want to be paid enough to further their other goals in life.

For me, work has never been about living. I simply chose my career path and got the required qualifications because I believed I would have been good at it. I wanted to have a decent job so that I could comfortably pursue my other dreams... but last year I had to face the harsh reality that my dreams were folly and there's nothing I can do about it. I suppose I'm still grieving over it in a way.

When I made the decision to stop fooling myself and break the shackles that were keeping me from moving forward with my life, I was hoping that some new desire will pop up and I would pursue it as my life's goal. That didn't happen.

I don't drink, I don't smoke and I don't like prolonged exposure to crowds so I don't spend any money to go out. I get my energy from reading and gaming. Unfortunately, I have full stacks of books I haven't read and games I haven't played so my financial motivation remains extremely low. Despite having a job that most people I work with despise and want out as soon as possible, I find myself with a roof over my head and bread on the table. I don't need to live in a palace or eat caviare to survive. These things don't matter to me.

Someone once told me she wished for me to have a job I'd be good at because she hates to see people waste their potential. In my case, I don't see a difference. Whatever job I have, my personal needs are low enough that I don't need much of an income. Neither do I want my career to define who I am. Whether I have a successful career or none at all, the same problem remains.

I don't know what to do...

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I have mixed feelings when it comes to New Year's Resolutions. I haven't had the habit of making any for most of my life, it's only recently that I've even learned people do such silly little things. The common conception seems to be that people who make them, forget about them in a manner of weeks. I think that's because people either don't take their word seriously or they come up with resolutions to be someone else rather than just working on making yourself better. That's something I realised somewhere along the line last year. That I was too focused on being someone else and just caused myself pain. Now I'd like to just try be myself and do things that I enjoy.


Reading

I always give myself a goal of reading thirty books a year and never manage to get there. In itself, it's not a bad goal. Although I keep failing, it does keep me reading. There are, however, a few things about my reading habits that I would like to change.

I kept approaching them as sporadic so I often didn't bother to even pick up a book when I could. Instead, I simply kept browsing the internet, just wasting my time. Another issue is that despite having non-fiction books, I very rarely pick any up. I've got some interesting books on language and grammar which just gather up dust on the shelf. This has to change. Finally, I'd like to change my surroundings a bit.

Below are ideas I wish to implement:

- Go to bed an hour early and spend it reading, rather than stare aimlessly at my mail.
- On my day off, at least once a week, read a chapter from a non-fiction book.
- Once a week go to the café round the corner, order a cup of tea and read for an hour or so.

Write

I obviously don't write enough. Not because of a lack of ideas. I put great value in imagination so I'm rarely out of ideas. The sad truth about writing is that unless you sit down and write, you're not writing. Little known fact is that I have a really cool notebook which I could use to scribble down ideas and scenes. I really need to have it in close proximity and catch all those stray thoughts that catch my fancy. After which I have to work on them, use all those nifty tools I've got installed and produce words on electronic paper.

I had enough of having the ghosts of my past approach me to ask how's my book going. The one which stopped at chapter 1, probably not even going past half thereof. I'd like to get back into reviewing too, either whatever film I saw recently or book I've read.

- Get into the habit of writing down ideas, keep idea book at hand
- Write a blog post once a month (personal or review)
- Work on writing more

Art

Last year I've dabbled in jewellery making. While I enjoyed it and was encouraged to proceed with the course, I haven't done anything with it. I looked into buying some equipment but it's not an investment I'm ready for just yet. Instead, I'd like to finish some other projects I had lying around. Firstly, there are some figures that need painting. I was just getting into the hobby, getting interested in painting and sculpting miniatures, when life hit hard and I had to change my living arrangements into a much smaller space, I simply didn't have room to proceed. Now I no longer have that excuse but I'm still allowing those miniatures to gather dust. This has to change.

- Read the book I have on painting miniatures.
- Paint the miniatures I have.

Language

Since this part of my life is, basically, my obsession, I will have the easiest time with it. I actually enjoy reading up on grammar and I immensely enjoy discussing grammar of different languages. Learning languages is very fun, even though people tell me I should just focus on one. Problem is, I can bored of going with just one. After a while it just becomes tedious and I need a change. Juggling two or three keeps me going far better than having one to focus on. However, I do need to organise my notes better so I can revise more efficiently and focus on parts of grammar that I find personally challenging.

The other side of this coin is teaching. Last year I was awarded a certificate in Teaching English. I looked for a job in teaching but didn't find any. My decision to take a break went long enough and now I'm closing in on this feeling of limbo. It is not a good place to be. I'm already starting to doubt my skills and knowledge even though I'm given proof to the contrary often enough. I had ideas for a personal website dedicated to languages, just my thoughts on teaching and learning, and a way to present myself as a language professional.

- Organise a language learning folder
- Build a language website for myself
- Apply for translation services

Roleplaying

I haven't done any roleplaying in about a year. I used to be fairly active on both gaming forums and play-by-post for the better part of my life but that has waned since I found out the games I've been running just don't hold up to my expectations. I'm still interested in it though and I wish I could find people to have interesting games with but I pretty much gave up on that. Nowadays I mainly listen to podcasts. I used to read gaming blogs but I drifted away from that too. Problem is I still have a lot of unread books that are gathering dust and I feel like buying some more. So first order of business if to read the ones I have because right now it doesn't feel like I've got any.

- Read a roleplaying game book.

Gaming

I've been playing a lot of games lately (mostly Halo). I think I started playing more regularly after getting an account on Backloggery and realising that I really do have a lot of games I haven't finished. Having an Xbox also helps since my laptop is not good enough to handle gaming. I'll mainly just keep on doing the same as last year.

- Reach my TrueAchievements goals
- Make sure my backlog progress is higher than -28
- Have less than 35 Unranked games on Raptr

Body 

Taking care of myself has never been my strong suit. I like to think I'm faring better in this respect than in years prior but it's not easy to say for certain. I've neglected this mortal coil for a long time despite knowing I really shouldn't do so. There's one thing I wanted to do which I've been putting off for a long time.

- Get a tattoo