Funny that I, who have spent most of my life writing stories exploring the mind and it’s reach beyond physical reality, seem to pay more attention to what’s actually real than most people do today.
Printed or digital?
Printed books are special. They are not just things. A novel is inextricably bound to the medium (the book) in a way that a movie (the screen) or a record (the loudspeaker) isn’t. This makes my love for a novel extend to the physical artifact.
Partly because of this and partly because it’s much harder for me to focus on digital reading I have avoided e-books. But it’s a brilliant format. Cheap to produce and distribute, easy to transport and store. I want to give it another shot.
“Be your own god” they say. Sure, it’s a good sentiment. But it’s more like we are passengers in a taxi. We can say where we want to go but we have no control over how it happens.
We rarely know the actual address and have to point and give directions along the way. So we unwittingly guide the driver away from the good routes and often end up stuck in traffic.
Then we have to change the destination, or get dropped off in a bad neighborhood, when the driver realizes we don’t have enough money to pay the fare all the way out to the airport.
We are not gods – we are taxi passengers.
The mirror I’ve used for most of my life recently turned out to in fact be a cheap Picasso reprint.
On sword game
Asking a writer to play [any popular word game] is like challenging a whisky connoisseur on who can drink a bottle of 25 year old single malt the fastest.
Old writing, wild magic
I had a different kind of ambition as a writer when I was younger. I know my writing could be difficult and demanding. But that also meant it could be art. I need to get back to that again. The feeling of creating something so dense that it becomes real.
While reading an old novel of mine I realized I had more nerve and disrespect for convention in those days. It felt like I was truly exploring the unknown. Shaping the world with fiction. Dissolving the borders. The kind of writing or work that I today would call magic.
But when my limited circle of readers back then didn’t understand what I was trying to do I got self-conscious. The existential dread was taken down some notches, the experimental prose became more straightforward. I suppose I wanted to fit in, be accepted.
I do like what I have written since then. But now I long to throw away the shackles of the ordinary. I long to return to the wild lands again, long to become a hermit, to rewrite myself, remove the safety limits of my frequency and transmit truly unfiltered again.
I will rise to the State of Transfictionation.
As a writer I strike a chord on your neuron strings; my words are my pick, my novel a bow; you are the instrument, my story the melody, your emotions the harmonics, my emotions resonance; the crescendo you and me vibrating in unison – there is no audience in a performance like this.
30,000 Words Under the Sea
30,000 words into a story is where the hard work begins. Up until then you can improvise and go with the flow. But at this point things have to start to fit together and make some kind of sense. Every word you write limits the possibilities for what you can write next.
From here on you need craftsmanship rather than creativity. You need to decide where you’re going and use a suitable narrative structure to get there. Anyone can write a good beginning. But only those who manage to push through and tie it all up neatly will finish a novel.
It’s like going for a relaxing run along a scenic path you like – only to realize you’re suddenly lost in the dark part of the woods. It becomes an orienteering race in difficult terrain and the map is smudged so you have to guess where the important control points are.
All work and no play, you know. So no wonder it’s easy to get trapped at that magical point. I suppose it doesn’t matter how skilled in writing or how creatively visionary someone is. The most important trait to becoming an author is perseverance.
Don’t get stuck in the bog.
Not every sequel
As a writer I know how fun and rewarding it can be to explore long stories with massive world-building in a series of novels. But I also know how easy it is to get trapped and unable to work outside an increasingly narrow perspective.
We all want more of what we enjoy, and I’m certainly no exception to that. This makes it much safer to bet money on continuing existing franchises than taking a risk with something new. But eventually this repetition can also make us saturated and bored.
Sometimes I find the limited more intriguing. I don’t need every mystery explained. I don’t always want to know the whole backstory of the mysterious stranger in the background. I don’t like to be told exactly what happened ever after every time.
I want at least some stories to end with a trust in me to continue the narrative. Every now and then I want to be given room for speculation and my own conclusions. Sometimes I want to connect the dots myself – even if they are invisible.
Not everything has to have a sequel.
The opening line of a book
should be a tuning fork
for the readers mind
so it can harmonize with the story.
Humans among humans
The advantage of exceptional skills in cooperation combined with a great diversity in mindsets and ideas made humanity survive, against the odds, for millions of years. The concept of humans competing against other humans is nothing but psychopathic behavior.
The root cause of this of pathological behavior is external. A few persons, by force or inheritance, have taken control over resources and exploit people to amass enormous amounts of personal wealth. Leaving scraps to everyone else, pitting them against each other.
The problem isn’t people per se, it’s about power and influence.
Solving the trauma of this maladaptive hierarchy would at least be a beginning. But we must somehow reach the unreachable, those who think they’re no longer humans, so that they realize they are nothing more, nothing less, than any other human.
Humans among humans cooperate.
Meaningfulness is a human concept. Like tealfulness. If you like the color teal, which is kind of rare in nature and society, you would probably complain: “My life isn’t tealful enough.” But it’s just another metric – irrelevant to nature. You have to put the teal in yourself.
It’s your chemicals
So, I have an ADHD diagnosis. This was my day yesterday:
- Phase 1: adhd-medicine kicks in.
I want to collect my scattered writings so people can read them.
- Phase 2: medicine at full strength.
Wow, who wrote all this, it’s brilliant!
- Phase 3: medicine starts to wear off.
How ambitious and creative I used to be…
- Phase 4: medicine drops really low.
Existential crisis! Who am I? Why do I even write?
- Phase 5: medicine depleted.
I can not take it, I’m too tired, I’ll never write again.
- Phase 6: recovered after medicine.
Okay, I have to update my website right now! I must enhance how to filter and find genres and topics in my writing to enhance readability and enjoyment. I’ll work with this until it’s after 2 am though I have to get up early tomorrow for work.
I was quite amused earlier today when I wrote down this summary of yesterdays wild, and maybe just a bit exaggerated, mood swing.
But then, upon reflection, I had an important insight. The up-like-a-sun-and-down-like-a-pancake of this journey is exactly how my life has always been, though usually extended over days, weeks or months.
Now I could, thanks to my medication, correlate these well known feelings with the exact timing of the ups and downs in my dopamine levels. This made me realize the full extent of how much our feelings are caused by and dependent on our body chemicals – in this case dopamine.
This is a bit simplified, but: High levels of dopamine makes you want to do things, while low levels tells you that something is bad and not worth doing. Having ADHD is to be in a constant battle with the ebb and flow of dopamine. This is what the medication tries to alleviate.
I try to remember this when I’m hit by the occasional feeling that: “I’m a bad writer and I should stop writing.” Understanding that this feeling is not connected to my actual self-esteem makes it somewhat easier to endure. The experience yesterday made it even more clear to me.
It’s all caused by dysregulated dopamine levels being lower than they normally should be. These incorrectly low levels create a false feeling of negativity and rejection in the brain. This is of course very hard to distinguish from a normal response to something actually bad.
Recognizing patterns in ones own changing mood, combined with trying to observe the circumstances of the present situation, might make it a bit easier to discern the difference. Is there is an actual reason for negative feelings or is it just a chemical imbalance?
To anyone with an ADHD diagnosis I would dare to say that dysregulation of dopamine is probably almost always the reason for all your excessive self-doubt, self-loathing, anxiety and depression.
So whenever you feel bad for something you shouldn’t be feeling that bad for, or at least not for that long, it might very well be your chemicals sending the wrong signals.
It’s not you, it’s your chemicals.
No reset button
Sometimes I see people on social media claim that: “The civilization is too far gone, let it crash and burn so we can build a new and better society.” Though I understand it stems from disillusion and powerlessness, I think this is a really dangerous sentiment.
Because, unless there is a total annihilation of the human race, there will not be a new society. It will still be the same old one, but worse than ever, broken by climate disasters, famine, plagues and ruthless exploitation by the few with power.
There is no reason whatsoever to believe that ruining all the progress mankind has made so far would somehow be beneficial, or even necessary, to build a better society. We would lose all the good things. And the bad things would still be there.
To most people – yes. even white westerners – this will be living hell. Except for a small, powerful elite, of course. The very rich are already investing in bunkers. Trying to figure out how to keep their guards loyal when money becomes useless. How to stay in power.
Thinking that “It’s easier to start over” is a fallacy that somehow manages to ignore the unfathomable tragedies and countless deaths an actual system collapse would cause. This idea is conditioning people into believing that there is nothing we can do.
We do not live in a perfect world. There is certainly much work to be done, many things to improve. But there is actually less suffering among humans than ever before. And we already have the means and knowledge to make a better world today. Why not build on that?
We need to work with what we got. Starting over is not an option.
Freedom of knife
Freedom of knife is like freedom of speech. Just as you’re free to speak your mind, you’re also free to use a knife. You can cut bread, paper, woodcarvings and do many other useful things with a knife.
Both freedoms, knife and speech, are however limited. To keep us from hurting each other it’s illegal to stab people. No one (except surgeons) are allowed to use knives on other humans. Fair enough.
There are also some uses of knives that are very inappropriate even if they are not restricted. If you pretend to stab a friend, they might flinch but then you both laugh. All good, it’s a part of your banter.
But you if pretend to stab someone who is living with a death threat or someone who has actually been attacked and hurt, they will be very scared and suffer for real, even if you intended it as a joke.
“People are too sensitive, you can’t terrify anyone anymore!”
If this is how you defend yourself and continue to complain about how your freedom of knife is getting restricted… Well, then I’m afraid you’re most likely very stupid or a psychopath. Either way, leave the knife at home.
There is also a possible side-effect to the pretend. Some dimwitted people might confuse fake stabbings with failed real stabbings and start to believe that stabbings are okay since they see them everywhere.
Knives, like words, are lethal. Don’t stab, make a sandwich.
I forgot about the shark. Thought it had retreated to the depth, subdued, never to return. Then a sudden burst of foaming water. Glistening teeth thrashing at a false hint of fear. Now everyone can see the blood in my mouth.
No author authority
Once a story is published the author no longer holds authority over it. Any further influence from the writer severed. Any intention behind the choice of words irrelevant. The story becomes it’s own entity. The sole authority of what’s real and what’s our interpretations.
When I’m happy
my brain gets creative
and makes jokes.
When I’m anxious
my brain panics and
hides behind jokes.
Good luck guessing.
I’m not comfortable with labels. I know they’re a convenient shortcut in lieu of a longer explanation. But they tend to be so god damn sticky. Even when you peel off the paper there often remain an unpleasant patch of glue that you’ll never get rid of. Both metaphorically and actually.