Sunday, April 12, 2015


Today I am 24

And I am not much of a blogger >D<. This is like the first post in almost 30 days. Sorry! It's the end of the term, so I've been pretty busy with essays and such. Starting now my schedule is gonna be a lot more open, though, so I'm planning on getting going on a lot of albums and such I missed. I feel on some level a strange sense of responsibility to do these, but, unlike the responsibility I felt way back when the 30 day breaks between posts were common (and the blog was way less popular), it isn't a sense of "I need to get these done and something good might happen, and if I don't I'm terrible", but a sense of "I really enjoy the whole process, and I know it'll make me happy to get them done". A sense of opportunity, rather than pressure.

Like previous birthday posts, this is probably gonna be a fairly personal rambling thing about everything that's on my mind lately. This is actually how I originally made blog posts, like, 7 years ago when I started this blog, lol. I think part of it was that I had an attitude that the blog was a throwaway project, and that I ought to save any potentially quality material for like, idk, that music review job I assumed I'd eventually have. But then I also just dumped whatever blog-like content I also happened to be doing, which, at the time, was typically primarily for forums and stuff. I kinda miss making those long rambling pointless posts, though. Now the blog actually has some focus and direction to it, and I think the quality has been increasing due to it, but there was a sort of innocence in the aesthetic of someone writing a personal blog about things no one would have any reason to care about and in fact no one actually cared about.

A narrowing but smoothing path

The further back I can remember about my writing goals and general sense of creativity, the more ideas I had. I think this is partially some sort of selective memory where it's much easier to remember the basic ideas of things rather than the supplementary details, and then you think "wow I had so many ideas as a kid", but idk I think there's also some quality where I used to spend more time in the "coming up with ideas" phase and less time in the "turning ideas into reality" phase.

Like, my earliest memories of coming up with stories and stuff, when I was like... idk 7ish? I'd come up with video games, and I'd have like... dozens and dozens of video games in my head. And they all had dozens of characters, and spinoff books and comics and movies. And I would just spam ideas, think of episodes of the hypothetical shows, come up with characters just by grabbing random dinosaur toys, spend all days just making lists of special attacks and weapons and stuff... I think every kid does this, right?

But when I started wanting to write "serious literature" or whatever, it wasn't like I suddenly switched that method off... for a long time I had the same mentality of like... "this is gonna be my first novel, this is gonna be the second, this is gonna be the first book of short stories, these are gonna be all the titles, this is the general plot for each of them, OKAY GO:" and of course very little happened. And I had such variety in those days, like... I'd want to do sci-fi stories, and fantasy stories, and mystery stories, and stories that were like Catch-22, and stories that were like Swallows and Amazons, and often all of them at once, and it just... wasn't happening.

And what sucked more than just not writing them was the feeling that I was failing to write them, as if the stories actually existed somewhere out there in the ether, and that there was some resulting reality that was supposed to result from my having written them, and, through some implacable limitation on my part, I was stuck in this world instead. It was a terrible attitude, all hinged on the incorrect idea that the story existed as a fully formed hypothetical as soon as I had one idea... if I could use a sort of controversial analogy, I used to have a "life starts at conception" view of writing, and I used to protest my own inability to gestate it. But it's really more like... buying a bunch of parts to buy a car, and you might not actually know at all how to build that car, and you don't even really know if you have the right parts, or even all the parts, and then you get mad at yourself for being unable to build the car.

I slowly started to narrow the scope of what I was interested in writing as my tastes became more... focused, I guess? Like, I started to really understand what I liked in writing and what I wanted to produce, and I started to lose interest in writing a lot of the stuff I had failed to write before. I realized that I wasn't really abandoning anything... everything that truly existed about those ideas, all the half-formed attempts, they still existed. And anything beyond that wasn't really there in the first place... there was no world where I was a best-selling fantasy author and designer of the Western Final Fantasy that I was duping myself out of. Nor was there a world where I had successfully written the great Canadian novel, one that contained everything I thought good in politics and suspense and comedy and family drama and philosophy. There was just what I was able to write. And, the more I wrote, the more I felt like that was more than enough.

3, 2, 1... Push!

Another realization I had around the same time was that I was sort of going about pushing my ideas in the wrong way. I was so frustrated with my inability to write the ideas I had, I would work really hard to try to wrestle them into reality. I would sit there and try to think line by line what all the dialogue and description would be. I'd have these complicated timelines that I kept revising and changing. Basically, I figured... the more I thought about it, the more likely I'd be able to actually do it. And then I'd sit down there just bursting with the words and... I'd be jammed shut.

'Cause like... if you're a writer, you know this: things can sound so good in your head, and then on paper... absolute poo poo. The big intricate plot can seem so cool up in there, but if you ever try to explain it to someone... lame, messy, impossible. It's a mysterious phenomenon that I think reveals some pretty weird stuff about how people actually think. Like... I think when I'm articulating stuff to myself, especially when I've just been sitting there trying to articulate stuff to myself for a few hours, I start drifting into more of a dream-logic, even maybe some sort of dream-language, and although it still feels like I'm entirely in the English language, I completely flop over myself if I try to put it in any concrete terms.

So I started to realize that it wasn't always the best idea to just sit and think yourself crazy about every idea. And for a long I struggled to find the amount and level on which I'd want to think about an idea, how I'd want to push it... until I finally realized there really isn't some magic productive level, that it varies from project to project and what sort of mood you're in.

Okay like here's some current examples. Lately (well, not that lately, because of schoooool) I've been writing a long poem, I think it's like ~15 pages atm. I have pretty much no idea where it's going or what "point" it will eventually have, and I can't be sure that it's even going anywhere or will ever have a point. But like... when I feel like working on it, I can generate content for it. I know what things are in the "mood" of it, and I spend time thinking about the aesthetic and picturing the scene it describes. But I don't spend time thinking about... how it will end, or what other stuff should happen, or endlessly fine-tuning specific lines. It's not that I'm forcing myself not to... I just naturally think about other aspects of it. If I had some idea for the ending I'd probably think about it. But I don't feel like I need to, because I'm still writing it, and I'm still enjoying writing it, and I still am happy with the quality I'm producing. Yay!

But then I also have a bunch of short stories I want to write, where like... I have a few plot points, or an idea for a character, and usually some vague collection of ideas I'd call the "aesthetic" of it, and these are sorta just floating around in my head and sometimes I'll think about one, and I'll be able to fill in a few more details, or whatever... but usually, when I do this now, I just want to write it, so... (and this was actually a pretty tricky skill that took awhile to pick up) I just do! I'm excited for the next time I'll be able to sit quietly for an hour or so and get it down on paper. Often when I do, I abandon some of the plot points I had in mind, or I pick up others from other stories, or I change basically everything, but it usually works out somehow. And sometimes it doesn't, and that's fine too. It's still satisfying to give it a shot.

And finally, I still have a big lurching novel in mind, or maybe a series of three parallel novels. This is one where I can still think about it in my "old ways", where I have a bunch of ideas, and I push them really hard to concreteness, thinking hard about how I would word specific things and how the timeline will work, holding a crazy encyclopedia of characters and events in mind, all just trying to make it seem somehow doable. And, like my old writing, actually trying to work on the novel process can sometimes be intimidating and frustrating...

It's like... I have a bunch of scenes I have to write for the story to make sense. And sometimes I want to work on one of them, and I feel like I have a good sense of how it should go. But like... the more concrete I think it is, the more difficult it actually is to articulate that exact idea. It always feels off. And then... the more I feel like I need to write the scene, the more crucial it seems to be, the higher the expectation I have for it, and of course that makes things even harder... Plus, if I try to go against this, and write less important scenes, or "freestyle" the scene more, I inevitably create more elements in the story, which necessitates more scenes, and I've really just given myself more work.

It's hard! But it's fine! Because it's still happening, it's still progressing. It might take a long time, but it's getting there. Sometimes the ideas "trickle down" to my poetry and short stories and stuff. Sometimes those inspire me and enable me to write difficult parts of the novel. I need these different levels, because I feel like doing different things at different times, but the overall momentum I get carries over. The regular blog posts and manga videos and stuff help on this principle too. So I have some faith! Some day it'll get there! But really... even if it doesn't, that's fine too! It will always exist as much as it exists. And increasing that amount isn't a responsibility, it's an opportunity.

And it's fun, too! It's fun to let your ideas outpace your abilities. It's fun in the same way that going for crazy combos in Smash is fun, or trying to pass charts that are too hard.  You just wanna see if you can do it because there's no harm in failing, and doing it would be cool, and even trying to do it in the first place is such a fun and crazy idea. So sometimes I still sit and push crazy sci-fi or fantasy ideas in my head. Sometimes I still believe in the media empire with the video games and the anime and the movies. Sometimes I have a bunch of ideas and no where to go with them because there's actually nothing behind them, but the process itself is still something. And although my actual writing projects might now be more restrained in scope, they're fueled by a spirit of general possibility and interest.

It's in the music, too

For about as long as I can remember wanting to be a writer or a video game designer, I also wanted to make music. I wanted to write the music for the games I was envisioning, of course. But I mean, everyone has this fantasy in some capacity, right? There's a popular post on /mu/ that's like "you will never play your favorite song with all your friends in front of your entire high school" and every time there's like 500 replies of people admitting to that fantasy and saying what stuff they'd play.

Like writing, my desire to make music had a fluctuating, but generally narrowing, scope. Music was always much more distant, though... like, I sorta learned how to play some instruments, and I sang in choirs a lot, but I never had the sense that I was moving closer to my ultimate dream music career, which I thought of in the same way that I thought about my ultimate dream writing career. I spent time thinking about the titles of albums and the titles of tracks and what the album cover would look like and what mood people would be in when they listened to the album and the general aesthetic, but absolutely nothing about the actual content of the music.

So I think at the time when I was having major revelations about what I was able to and unable to actually write (which were actually really depressing revelations at first, 'cause of that "failing" feeling) I think I just abandoned the idea that I could make music. It's only been very recently that I started to think about it in earnest again. There was a lot of factors leading into it... that isn't so important. What's important is the process I'm going through. It is, in a word... garbage. Lol. I am very bad at using my DAW. Everything takes me forever to do and then it only sounds slightly like what I pictured. I'll have periods of a few hours where I feel motivated to work and learn and then after that I won't want to do it for weeks and I will forget everything I did before. The times of willingness won't coincide with the times of ideas, where I feel like I can clearly hear the sort of music I want to make, down to the nearest detail. In those times, when I sit down and try to actually do something, I find that the sound that was so clear in my head is actually probably some dream-sound that cannot be expressed in FL Studio, at least not at my skill level. And so instead I just keep jotting ideas down and planning out mixtapes and generally, well... having a great time of it!

It's frustrating some times, sure, in all the same ways that writing used to be... but now, because I've gone through that, I have faith. I've now actually become able to write a lot and enjoy writing and write things that I am happy with or even proud of. So lately I have been thinking, and every time I think it feels like a beautiful revelation: someday maybe I'll be able to make music I like, too. There's really no reason to believe this to be impossible. And even if it doesn't actually happen, I'm still overall enjoying the process, because of the faith I have that it will happen. Is that sorta loopy? If it's good for me, does it even matter?

Sometimes I think about what I'd buy...

...if I had way more money...

(Hey, it's my birthday!)

And other times I think about what I'd do if I had way more free time.

That's right, I want more free time and more money! This is because I am an idiot. But I think what's really important is that I have things I genuinely want and genuinely motivate me again. For a long time I really beat myself up about wanting stuff, or even wanting to do things. I always wanted to ask myself things like "but do you really want it?" or "do you really think you can get it?" or "do you really think you deserve that?" or "do you think it'll satisfy you, or will you just want something more?". But now I realize like... none of that matters lol. The important thing is the wanting, and how you want it.

I first realized this in a totally different, much more irreverent example, and it took me awhile to actually realize that there was something generally useful hiding behind it. At first I was thinking about playing ITG/DDR, or really any game along these basic lines. In any game where there's a clearly defined perfect way to play, and you know how to do it, and that's your goal. I realized one day that when I started playing a song in ITG, I had two goals that seemed to conflict, but were somehow existing simultaneously. First was the goal to get the quad star, to get 100% accuracy, to hit every note at the exact time. Like, how could that not be my goal? I certainly wasn't trying to get anything less than fantastic on every hit. Even when I'm playing conservatively to save energy for hard songs, I'm still trying to hit fantastics... it's not like hitting greats takes any less energy. But like... for a player at my skill level, a quad is pretty much impossible. I've never gotten one, or even gotten that close (I think my best is like a 99.4, which... if that sounds close you don't play ITG, lol). So I also have a goal of like... I'm gonna get a 96 on this. Or I'm not gonna get greats during this hard part. Stuff like that.

And so I would screw up somewhere, or in a bunch of places, but maybe I'd get my star, or get the machine record or whatever, and of course I'd be like, super happy! Super satisfied! Absolutely no part of me was thinking "but what about muh quad?". The quad never really existed. But... it was essential that I played aiming for the quad, holding the quad as the ideal. When I first realized this sort of duality, where one operates with two goals in mind, really only tries to hit the "ideal" goal, but then, when hitting the "real" goal, is completely content to abandon the ideal goal... it seemed crazy! I wanted to reject it, somehow. But then, I realized that this is actually a really useful way to go about thinking about everything.

Like, with writing: I have an "ideal" that what I produce will fully and completely capture whatever latent fantasies motivated it's production, and that it will be beloved by all, and that the New York Times will kick down my door to get at it without my even having to tell them. For a long time I discarded that ideal because it felt like too much pressure and I knew it was impossible. Then I sort of had an assumed failure in my writing, and that was limiting too. But now I hold on to that ideal. Why not try to write the best thing I can? With a strong emphasis on the word try.

Now I also have a "real goal". I want to write something that I feel satisfied having written, something that I enjoy writing, and maybe even something that I wouldn't feel embarrassed about letting other people read. And I meet this goal! Almost every day I meet this goal! My writing isn't fantastic by any stretch, but I think it's moving from decent to great. I still have some fears I'm working through about submission and rejection and such, but... it's a slow process of expanding my goals to reach them, not a sudden attempt to leap impossibly towards my ideal.

As long as the ideal and the goal fall into the same path, this dual process holds a lot of appeal for me. Like yeah I want more money. I wish I could travel to Japan twice a year and have a big big library and the perfect version of everything I use. But that's the ideal. I don't have to worry about how I'll get that or why I deserve that or how much I really want it, because it's just the ideal. The goal is just each thing, one by one. A victory in each one. I discern it from the light of the shining ideal, but that does not dull the reality I have made for myself in the present.

It's the same with time: there's so many things I want to do! The ideal is that I review like 400 albums, and do readings of every manga I love and every manga I have yet to love, and rap and produce electronic music and folk music, and learn to draw well, and get better at Smash and ITG and mahjong and a bunch of other games, and get in shape, and eat well, and write more and better every day. And I don't have to think "how will I possibly have time for that?" or whatever, I just have to want it, and, from the wanting, do what I can. Doing that much feels wonderful.

So what is the overall ideal?

(Allow me to indulge in this a bit, it's my birthday.)

I want to live in a small apartment in downtown Toronto. I want to have a job where I work a few hours every weekday and I don't have to go in very early, but somehow it still pays a lot and isn't so stressful or complex that I think about it at all when I'm not at work. Then, after work, I want to work on projects while preparing supper. Sometimes I will work on writing a novel in full earnestness, sometimes I will just want to make silly videos, sometimes I will visit friends to practice video games, and sometimes even that will be too much and I'll just visit friends to socialize, or relax at home and consume media. I will have an ideal of what I want to get done but also a goal and I will feel satisfied so long as I am working along that line. On weekends, the same freedom will be extended and enhanced, and I will be able to devote myself even more fully to whatever I feel like doing.

My blog and Youtube channel will get more popular and I will have a sense that I have some small fanbase that supports me and is interested in what I do. I am already immensely satisfied by the very small slice of this feeling that I currently have. I will write a lot and submit my writing to various places and sometimes it will even get published. When I do something that I'm especially proud of, I'll buy something that I want. Sometimes I will travel if there are circumstances that make it cheap and easy. I will own a little rice cooker and make rice every night and eat homemade inari sushi.

That is my little fantasy. I don't think I could want much more. It may not be too believable, but please don't squash it. Please just know that this is the star I'm heading towards as best I can.

Proof of progress?

Let's look back to the blog post I made last year, when I turned 23. Let's see how well I did on my "Top 23 things I want to change while 23":

23. Give up candy
HAHAHA I actually got a cavity. My first ever one. Yup. Like two months after this post. It was awful. And my candy intake really hasn't gone down very much. Haha. Not off to a good start. But whatever.

22. Give up fast food
ALSO NOPE. Although I did give it up while at my dad's, like I hoped, when I returned to the city, I went back to McDonalds with, if anything, an unprecedented level of vigor. I have nothing much to say about this.

21. Dress better
Um, sort of? My interest in this generally is wavering, but I did buy some stuff that I liked better than my previous stuff, and it's made me pretty happy. Again, it's the ideal/goal thing. I don't have endgame shoes or whatever, but I like my shoes a lot now, and I want to be able to buy something I like even more next time. That sort of nice feeling.

20. Schedule things better
I'm getting way better at this, but I could still improve. I block things off for assignments and such, and that's generally worked good (although sometimes I still blow it and end up having to rush), but sometimes in my free time I get really indecisive and don't end up doing anything. Stuff like the manga videos has helped, 'cause it's content I can produce with some regularity and reliability. I want to have a similar attitude with writing maybe? But still let myself have "outs" if I'm really just not feeling a particular type of project at that time. Idk but generally yeah I've been way better about this.

19. Quit procrastinating
Again, "quit" was a bit of an ideal, but I've gotten way better, for all sorts of reasons... mostly in changing how I felt about the various things I'd procrastinate on, and less about the actual strategy of stopping procrastination, which means that sometimes when I get something I really don't want to do (like some school papers), I still procrastinate really hard on it.

18. Don't socialize as a "default activity"
Having moved out of the house will all my friends, this one was really easy and generally had the effect I wanted it to. Sometimes I'm lonely and bored and don't have any feasible options to socialize, and that sucks, but it's made up for it by the times where I'm just bored, and working on something and going to visit a friend seems about equally hard, and I end up working on something and that feels really good. And sometimes I still choose to visit friends for whatever reason, and I have an even better time, because I know I chose to do it, and it isn't a "default activity", and I'm not feeling some level of resentment for not being productive.

17. Don't dick around online endlessly
I think I'm getting a bit better about this... but nah lol I still go to all the same sites as I did a year ago, and maybe some new ones. And I still definitely have long periods where I waste like 3 hours online and suddenly it's like, whoops, that's a big chunk of Saturday, what the hell? But then I gotta realize that I'm actually relaxing and enjoying myself while doing this, even if I can't explain why, and that's probably helping me do other things.

16. Exercise more
Uhh, sorta? I got a lot of exercise the summer after I wrote this, 'cause I'd run between my house and my grandma's house a lot, and sometimes do various farm labour, and play ITG on my terrible bedroom setup. But it still wasn't really enough, and the fall/winter was pretty terrible... only ITG, and I didn't play that as much as I'd like to. Hopefully this spring I'll get out running some more, although it'll probably reeeeally reaaaaally suck at first!

15. Cook food more
Hahahaha nope. Not at all. Ugh. Give me my rice cooker inari sushi fantasy. Until then I will eat tendies.

14. Sleep more regularly
This is basically the same now as it was a year ago... lately it's been really bad because of essays and such, but generally I think I'm fine.

13. Less video games
After moving out of the house, the amount of games I play really has diminished, which I guess is good. But now I feel like I'm slipping out of the comfortable level I described in my previous post, so I end up wanting to play more! I think it's fine, 'cause now I approach it with the sort of ideal/goal mentality I've been talking about, and don't really think in terms of "how good do I want to be"/"how good should I be", and I've been having a lot more fun because of it.

12. Actually have a sort of "reward" mentality
This one has been hard and like... I dunno... I think it could be extremely useful for me, but I think even more useful, especially as a first step, was just rethinking how I thought about things I didn't want to do. Now I just actually want to do them more! But now, with a sort of ideal/goal mentality, I find myself thinking, on weird levels... "If I quad this, I'm gonna buy myself Gucci shoes", and then, when I just star it, I buy myself a burrito to celebrate. I think this is a powerful sort of thinking.

11. Restructure "relax"/"work" modes
Wow I forgot I wrote this and I am actually really surprised to see it 'cause this something I sort of realized again "independently" lately and am working to deal with. And somehow I basically have the scenario I wanted in the old blog post! Sweet! I have a very realistic understanding of what I want to do and what I'd be able to do at any given time. The big breakthrough was when I realized that I could always do my laundry.

10. Write more blog posts
Aw hell yes here we go, 365 days later and, in that time, I've made... 177 posts! Yay!! It feels weird to be celebrating this after a 30 day gap, but man I am happy with that number. That's almost one every two days! Yeah, I know other blogs are more productive. That's fine. I am personally happy with my content and rate of content generation. And yeah I still like I've only made 1% of the blog posts I want to make, but 100% is the ideal. Even 2% is the ideal. The goal is just to keep writing blog posts.

9. Be more proactive about getting stuff published
Umm, baby steps. My current feeling is that submitting stuff feels like writing school assignments on the gut level, so maybe when I don't have to do that anymore, I'll be able to submit stuff instead? Maybe, maybe.

8. Write more fiction
BOOM yeah I completely nailed this one. It's still my ultimate goal in life. It's still the only thing that really seems worth doing. It's still the only thing that it feels worth getting stressed about. It's the thing I'd abandon last of anything. And now it's more fun than ever! It's better than ever! And there's more than ever!

1-7. Plan blog posts better
Haha um nope well the whole idea of this was to ramble like the old blog posts. Oh yeah speaking of which:

Anime roundup!!

I always used to do this at the end of my blog posts... it'd be like 80% album reviews or philosophic rambling or whatever, and then I'd always end by talking about Chinese Cartoons. Idk what the point was and it makes it hard to categorize those old posts. ANYWAYS: I made a video a bit ago about the anime I watched last season, but it was too long for Dailymotion and I'm too scared of copyright strikes to put it on Youtube. I'm prolly gonna split it up and put it on Dailymotion soon.

This season I'm watching or planning to watch...

Denpa Kyoushi
I read a bunch of this manga and it was pretty fun, so I figure I'll give it a try. But if I don't like it - and I usually don't like harem adaptations - I can drop it and that's fine too.

I tried reading the manga and I wasn't really feeling it, but I watched the first episode of this a bit ago and it was really fun, so I think I'll stick with it. Hestia has had the fastest and biggest surge of popularity of any character in recent memory, so I'd really feel like I was missing out if I didn't. A good fantasy world for me has to have some sense of fun and adventure, and has to have a sort of mystery that makes me want to think about it between episodes. So far so good!

Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
First season was my second favorite anime of 2013 and based on the first episode of this, it's just... more. So... hell yes.

Hibike! Euphonium
I haven't watched the first episode of this yet but I'm pretty excited... It's just K-On! In a brass band! Hooray!!

Houkago no Pleiades
I watched this when it was a short and it was pretty fun so I guess I'll give this a shot? I haven't watched any magical girl shows yet this year so why not.

Disappearance of Nagato
I've almost been scared to watch the first episode of this... it could be so bad, lol... but it could also be so good... mainly, I just can't believe it's really happening, I half expect that when I open the file it'll just be a picture of a middle finger with the text "HA HA I FOOLED YA".

Nisekoi s2
Having read the manga I know this is gonna be a GOOD TIME. BEST GIRL INCOMING.

Show By Rock!!
Idk what exactly this is but I think I might like it. Best case scenario is that it's this season's Rolling Girls.

Takamiya Nasuno Desu!

Teekyu s4

Wow that's a lot of shows

I hope they are all fantastic but if I drop a few that is OK too.

Okay that's it

24 looks like it'll be a great year for me! I hope we enjoy it together!! :D

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dude wheres ur review of barter 6?? Lookin forward to seeing what u think. Happy birthday by the way :)