Why do you write?

A fair amount of books I’ve read lately are editions that have a timeline of the author’s life in the front and I’ve noticed that many involve the death of a parent or relative early on in life, and in some cases more later on too. I guess this just made me think more about how a writer decides to start writing and if it is really a choice.

The main purpose people associate with writing is that it gives you a chance to voice your own opinion – or maybe it’s just because you like books and want to write them yourselves. But I suppose if you’re a writer yourself you know it means a lot more than just that. Reflecting upon the fact that these writers had death in their early childhood, makes it hardly a coincidence that they all became writers. And that’s because writing, in a way, is a result of suffering.

I think that in some ways writing is a choice; at first you have to choose to start it – something that you’ve never done before – however I think that once you have written, it’s no longer something you decide to do. You write because you want to but you mostly write because you need to. How else do you escape your own mind?

Sometimes I go quite a while without writing, or I only write small pieces, and I wonder if I’m still the same writer I was at the start, when I used to write novels all the time. But I am, because I know that after a break I’ll always go back to it, because I have the urge to just get words down on a page. Blogging does this for me too, but creative writing does this in a different way. Ultimately I’m not the same writer I was when I was 13 because life changes you and it’s inevitable that that wouldn’t have an effect on my work, but it’s still coming from the same mind and the same source. If certain things hadn’t happened in my life maybe I wouldn’t be writing now and that’s kind of sad in a way, even if that life might have been happier.

That idea of sadness and happy is also something I’ve been thinking about lately. Can you be really happy with your life but also sad? Maybe this is something writers relate to more, who knows.

I guess to sum up this slightly jumbled post I should ask, why do you write? It would be nice to compare everyone’s reasons in the comments to see if any of this really is true.

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night box. [poem]

 

sometimes I feel the night

crowding in;

stars boxed up for the

winter months

’cause they no longer feel like

lighting up the sky

and they no longer feel like

faking their shine.

 

sometimes I feel the night

crowding in

and the moon tilts

as if to smile,

a crescent of reflections

into shallow lake waters

but then it turns on its axis

and I’m left with a frown.

 

sometimes I feel the night

crowding in

but I dip my toes into the

lake.

no mirrored moon or

sinking stars

but I can stay here for a while.

I can stay here for a while

and sometimes it gives me another

heart.

sometimes it gives me another

life.

 

[for those times when darkness is surrounding you and you can sense it coming. for those times when darkness is surrounding you and you let it. you dip your toes into the lake – darkness reflected into your mind by the night of the sky – and you allow it to consume you. you let it. but mostly in a good way. it lets your heart beat differently. it gives you a side to life that makes you look at the world insightfully and knowingly. it’s for the times when the only way to carry on is to give in in order to let go. it’s for the times when the night is needed to make you human.]

My Thoughts on ‘Notes from the Underground’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky [Book Review]

As I’ve mentioned previously in my post about the books I’ve read so far at uni, ‘Notes from the Underground’ has been my favourite book this academic year and so I thought I would write a post explaining why. I want to draw attention to all the small sections and lines that really stood out to me because I feel like there are some parts that may be overlooked, but also because these parts are what makes the novel important to me, and actually not just my favourite novel I’ve read at uni but in general too.

As a whole, Dostoevsky’s novel doesn’t really have a plot. Particularly in the first section it shows more of a rambling mind rather than talking characters and the mind’s thoughts on life and philosophy and everything in between. It’s written from the point of view of a forty year old man, and yet somehow I felt a lot of it pretty relatable. For me, it just encapsulated a mind that knows the way the world fools you and a mind that has suffered enough to understand how things work in real life. It just made me think a lot. And I love a book that makes me stop and read a sentence again and reread it again and just want to underline it because it means something. I’m sure a lot of you have had that feeling when you feel like a book has explained something you’ve felt in words you could never have strung together yourself.

I can’t remember who said it, or where I found it, but a month or so ago I heard a phrase along the lines of ‘we seem to like books that we see ourselves in’ and I just find it so completely true. If you ask someone what their favourite book is, it probably tells you a lot about them as a person. We read as a form of escapism and yet we also have this inner desire to read in order to find someone who understand us, and when you find that it’s honestly the best feeling. This book gave me this feeling multiple times and I think that’s why I loved it so much. There’s a lot I could say about it and hence why I’m here sharing it with you all!

[ I was ever aware of the great number of completely conflicting elements within me. I felt that they were literally swarming around inside me, these conflicting elements. I knew they had been swarming inside me all my life and that they were begging to be released, but I would not let them out, I wouldn’t, I deliberately wouldn’t let them out. ]

This part really stood out to me because the idea of ‘conflicting elements’ is so common when it comes to emotions; we feel one way and then another and sometimes it’s hard to know what we really want. It’s this sense of anxiousness that is perhaps rooted within some of us and it builds up and up and it swarms you and yet there is a part of you that can’t let it go – it becomes you, in a way, and you’re scared of what you’d be without it.

[ I’ve never really been able to be anything; neither spiteful nor good, neither a villain nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect. ]

The idea of not feeling enough but also not feeling the worst is something that I’m sure a lot of people have felt. It’s as if there’s a stage of being neutral where you don’t really fit anywhere and you’re unsure if your own mind is capable of reaching any of these limits. But then, is it even possible to reach these limits? I guess that’s a whole other thing to debate!

[ … that you’ve no way out, that you’ll never change yourself into another person; that even if you still had enough time and the faith to change yourself into someone else, you probably wouldn’t want to change yourself; and that if you did want to you would still do nothing because in the end there’s maybe nothing to change yourself into. ]

I just love this sentence because it really sums up the act of changing as a person without glamourising it. When we think about changing, it’s ultimately a positive thing. People set goals and aim to achieve them. It’s all portrayed very simply. And yet here Dostoevsky abandons all that and just says the truth, because honestly changing yourself is so much harder than just setting goals and following them. No matter how much you try and change, you’ll ultimately be the same person, and in a way there’s no escaping the deep roots of your personality. Small changes can be made in your life but not to you, the real you. I guess he also portrays the fear of never being able to overcome the most difficult parts of yourself – the parts you hate and suffer from. There’s nothing to change into and sometimes that’s scary – that you as you are right now could be, in some way, finalised.

[ … grit your teeth silently and impotently and sink, voluptously, into inertia, dreaming about how you haven’t even got anyone to be angry against … no one knows who, no one knows what, but despite all these uncertainties and illusions you are still in pain, and the more it is unknown to you the more you ache! ]

This one is probably my favourite passage because I guess it is the most relatable to me. It tackles the notion of being hurt and angry but not knowing why, having no one or no something to blame it on because it’s not really anyone’s fault (or at least not directly). This is a feeling that I get quite often where I just seem to ache or feel angry over nothing. It sums up what mental pain really is – something that makes no sense rationally and yet it feels so real to you. And you want an answer to it so you think up all the ways that could have lead you here and it only makes it worse – ‘the more it is unknown to you the more you ache’ because you feel like maybe it’s not worthy enough of a feeling to be considered, because how would you explain its cause?

[ … he is instinctively afraid of achieving his aim and completing the building he is erecting? How do you know? – maybe he only likes the building from a distance and not in the least nearby; perhaps he only likes building it and not living in it ]

Ahh I love the last part of this quote so much – the way it is written and what it expresses. Dostoevsky portrays the idea of motivation and working towards a goal and yet how once the end is achieved, it’s no longer really desirable. I suppose this is because we’re always striving towards a purpose. We set our whole life out to do something and then when it’s completed we ask ourselves: what’s next? I find this relatable at this moment in time because I feel like this with university. I’ve worked my whole life to get into university and now that I’m here it just feels strange. After university there are no grades to strive towards; it’s somewhat just a steady working timeline. It scares me a bit because sometimes I wonder how I will motivate myself without a set goal. What if purpose dies and I don’t like living in the outcome? So many buildings look pretty on the outside but no one really lives inside.

[ In every man’s memory there are things which he does not divulge to everyone, but really only to friends. And there are those things which he doesn’t even divulge to friends, but really only to himself, and then as a secret. And , finally, there are those which a man is afraid to divulge even to himself … ]

I’m sure this one is wholly relatable – we all have thoughts we share with others and keep to ourselves. But I love the line about how there are some things that we won’t even share with ourselves out of fear; the idea that maybe there are some things we refuse to accept or allow ourselves to feel because we’re afraid of the outcome. If all of us completely opened up to the world, how different would we all be?

[ is it really possible to be absolutely open with oneself and not be frightened of the whole truth? ]

This is a quote I used in my coursework because it’s something that I find really interesting – the idea that there are parts of our brain that are unreachable – and it ties in well with theories by Freud. It’s also scary, in a way, to think that we can’t access parts of ourselves, considering we think we know ourselves the best. If we knew ourselves completely, would we even like it? Would we even be able to cope?

[ I very often looked on myself with a violent dissatisfaction … and therefore I mentally attributed my own outlook to others. ]

I think this quote is quite important. By no means can this be used as an excuse, but it’s important to remember that sometimes when people are hard on you, it’s only because they’re hard on themselves. If you’re the most positive person I’m sure you wouldn’t affect someone in this way. Sometimes people are unkind because of their suffering and whilst it’s not okay, it’s a way to remind yourself that you’re not worthy of those words and to remind them that they’re not worthy of them either.

[ no one else was like me, nor was I like anyone else, ‘I am alone, and they are everybody‘, I thought ]

This is something that at our lowest points is an easy thing to arise to. We try to make connections and sometimes it’s hard when you feel like no else understands you. Whilst not being like anyone else can be a good thing because we are all unique individuals, Dostoevsky portrays these feelings in a more realistic and raw state and I love how honest these feelings are.

So this post turned out to be a lot longer than I intended, but I really did mean it when I said I had a lot to say about this book! I’m sure most of you won’t have read the entirety of this, but I just wanted to document my thoughts on it somewhere. And if it does spark anyone’s interest to read the book then that’s a great bonus. Thanks for reading 🙂

Interior Monologue [flash-fiction]

Last semester at uni we were asked to write an interior monologue as one of our formative assessments. It was based around a person modelling for a portrait and we were to write their inner thoughts in the process. Seeing as I didn’t use it for my final piece, I thought I’d share it here with you all.

Beads of sweat are sewing my fingers to my cheeks and I’m not sure if I can un-feel this burning, as if my skin is being stretched like fabric across a tightened slit of a smile. There’s so much black in this room I can’t even tell who is here if I am here if he is here if anyone is here to paint me. Watch me watch me I feel ignited by hidden glares, in a room of running waves like dancing heat that can’t settle. Chair’s shooting daggers up my spine and the darkness so comforting – oh so comforting – it’s hugging my chest like a new-born baby hung from heavy arms I’ll soon be hung up on display. Mismatched body parts amidst the dark the worn down light from the window just poking at colours and poking at his skin this artist blended into corners. So many colourful clothes drowned in the walls did he limit my vision so that I would enter his mind – oh yes a world full of colour that he just can’t see I can’t see it either. Instead my head feels so heavy it’s as if it’s dropping off my body it’s as if it’s falling to the floor and settling beside my toes. Suddenly all these angles are wrong and I’m looking at myself but it’s not me – it can’t be me – it’s me without a head. What am I without a functioning mind? Nose inhaling so much soil from the ground where my head lies, I’m coughing up the past. All these nettles are scratching at my throat and I’m grabbing, pulling, yanking them out but they’re endless it’s all so endless why can I smell flowers like this is my summer. And I’m back to being bones against a wall; twelve year old feet lying in a dried out puddle. So much soil so much dirt so much noise so much pain. Dirt was ingrained in my veins as if it pumped fear to my heart and I can taste it why can I taste it like I’m back there I can’t be back there. Breath that isn’t mine planted seeds in my lungs and it clogged up my system and he never stayed to see it grow – why plant something you don’t even want to see grow. And I remember rubbing and rubbing and rubbing the dirt like it was real like it never meant something like it would wash off in the rain. Hands clamped to my ears I tried to mute the wailing of the sky as it all came to say goodbye I never wanted this.

I gently touch my face, shaking fingers on coal. I’m scared I might break. I’m scared I might break. What if the dirt seeps through the cracks and darkens my soul?

Hands of clay reach for me, aged by art.

They look as fearful as I feel.

‘Jumangi: Welcome to the Jungle’ [Film Review]

I normally write film reviews for movies that have deeper concepts or some kind of idea that I can ramble on about, but I thought for a change I’d write about something more light-hearted – the action-comedy ‘Jumangi’!

Image result for jumanji

I went to see this film at the weekend, only having heard of it a few days earlier when I was browsing the internet. I hadn’t heard of the video game but the concept sounded interesting and on watching the trailer, it seemed really funny so I thought I’d go!

The basic premise of the film is a group of high school kids who end up in detention together and come across the video game Jumangi. They decide to play it and on choosing their characters, they are catapulted into the world of the game itself where they are to fend for themselves and complete the quest in order to get back home.

My favourite part of it was the fact that the characters the teenagers chose were the opposite to how they were in real life. The girl obsessed with her appearance and social media transformed into a chubby middle-aged man and I have to say, Jack Black pulled this off so well – it was really funny. And it was entertaining to see their initial reactions to their changed bodies but also how they coped with it as the game went along.

It might seem like a video game movie wouldn’t quite work, but I think this one definitely did! Without the comedy element, I’m sure it would have fallen short of expectation, but it was genuinely really entertaining and I loved the plot.

Without wanting to give too much away, I won’t spoil any extra layers to the story line, but I do recommend seeing this film! It’s the kind of film that afterwards you just want to see again and it’s also a movie that suits all ages – from kids to teenagers to adults – and I’m sure that’s why it’s become so popular!

Happy New Year!

I guess this isn’t the typical New Years post but for some reason the idea of changing for a new year is kind of dying on me (already?? wow I’m so old). I suppose I don’t really feel any different that in a few hours it will be January 1st except that 2018 is a weird number and I’m not sure I like it.

To be honest, I think this year has been pretty good. Better than last year but harder than last year but also full of so many new opportunities and I feel like I’ve tried my hardest to make the best out of everything and as a result have been feeling pretty happy.

Making the change from sixth form to uni has obviously been a major factor to this year and it’s kind of weird to think that it’s split the year in half between childhood and adulthood and how I’ve changed as a person. Though of course, there’s still more to work on.

I’ve never really been a massive fan of resolutions though. Or if I’ve ever mentioned it before I was probably convincing myself that I was interested in them when really they’re pretty pointless. Why wait until a new year to change yourself? I find that change is more an ongoing thing and I don’t think suddenly being like “oh it’s a new year” will suddenly make my wishes come true because change is never that easy. Or at least the changes I’d like to make to my life aren’t very simple.

Whilst I’ve never really made resolutions, or successfully stuck to the ones I’ve unofficially made up in my head, I don’t have anything against people who do make them. For some people, they can really help, but personally, I feel like they don’t. And I guess you should do whatever works for you!

So when it comes round to celebrating the new year, sure, I’ll celebrate because it’s fun! But I don’t think it will instantly bring about a new person inside of me and I think it’s way too idealistic to think like that. But I’ll definitely be continuing to push myself every day to try and make myself a better and happier person.

So Happy New Year everyone! And I’m forever grateful to all of you who have visited, liked and commented on my blog this year – I really can’t thank you enough!

The Solipsistic Space of My Mind [Flash Fiction]

 

It’s soft against my palm – this cardboard. It’s soft, but sturdy. Breakable, yet strong. Kind of like a brain.

Kind of like your brain.

I’m feeling trapped – ha, I guess you could say that. Arms are barely stretched out either side of me. Palms are out like I’m giving out some sort of signal.

Let me out signal let me out.

A box of the mind – that’s what they call it. My fingers were running across the keyboard searching for it.

Soli –

Solipi –

Solipsism. The philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. Wikipedia says so. Wikipedia doesn’t lie.

But does my own mind?

My nails can scratch at the card and it feels real, honestly. I can taste that newly cardboard smell like freshly delivered parcels to a home that, perhaps, doesn’t even exist. My toes are squished against my shoes that are probably my mind’s idea of keeping my toes to myself. Because who else would want to see my toes? Because everyone else is real, honestly.

Honestly honestly aren’t they.

Maybe the voices that are drumming inside my head are only practice games. Practice conversations before I allow them to bounce into the world. They pound on the cardboard bruising my brain and I hear these echoes echoes echoes and I call them people.

But what are people.

Do I live in a box and call it a world because I have nothing without it? It seems there is no proof that I really sit on this chair and type my way into a blog. It seems there really isn’t any proof that any of you exist. Oh not really.

Not really at all ever really.

I’m stuck scraping this cardboard – that sickly ghastly scratching of cardboard – ripping your ears until they shred your sound into dust. It’s all goddamn dust. I’m making a world of my mind in the hope that maybe this one will disappear.

I can’t be the only one to exist

I can’t be the only one to

I can’t be the only one

I can’t be the only

I can’t be the

I can’t be

I can’t be.