Why, As A Writer, I’m Taking A Break From Books

I’m taking a break from books. (Or so I’m going to try.)

On average I read 4-5 books a month. That’s a lot of words to compare to my own, and I’ve decided that I ought to stop complaining I don’t write enough when I spend so much of my time reading.

I used to bring books to accompany time and space, my bag overflowing with one too many books. But now I’m starting to see that books are different to my own creativity. They are there, they are permanently in print, they create noise in my head. They are the expectation – I have to be as good as these to be published; to be read. I have fallen so far into admiring others I have started to doubt my own use of words. I’ve always known I can write as they do, its only lately I’ve started to realise I just haven’t been giving it enough time. I must live and breathe my own creations. Picasso didn’t look at paintings trying to figure out how they did it, he picked up a paintbrush and made strokes that felt right. I want to write because of the infinite possibilities a keyboard presents when I open my MacBook. After all, for every word I read, I could be conjuring one for myself.

As I’ve grown in London, I’ve observed that London is a city of expectation. Expectation through external stimuli, through noise, even something as small as facial expressions. As a young, aspiring writer this has proven to be hard…. I’m sure as any young person, trying to make it in this city, it’s hard.

Through time, I’ve discovered my laptop provides a silence that nothing else can. I can sit in the most noisy of cafes and hear nothing. When I am sitting in front of a screen I can achieve anything, write anything. Literal infinite possibilities the alphabet provides. With my laptop in hand, I can go anywhere in London; Anywhere, and it will always lack expectation.

I love books so much, but I love my completed projects more; my stack of poems, my nearly finished novel, my website and articles full of poetic monologue.

So here I start, indefinite days without reading any word of another. My to-read pile will just have to wait.

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Café

The café in which I sit is submerged in life. People’s bellies satisfyingly full of freshly ground coffee, minds greedily living vicariously through those in the novels they read, mouths competing against each other in unconstrained conversation.

I come to this café often. I mostly come with a friend who also likes to write, we sit and motivate each other with silence amongst offerings of the thesauruses within our heads. I also come alone and it’s days like these I find myself to be more productive. I order a coffee and put my headphones in. This mutes a very distinctive and important connection to the people surrounding me; I don’t hear voices nor background noise, I just see bodily expression allowing a deeper gaze past who these people portray themselves to be.

There is a man. He looks alone. His torso slightly turned to the conversing couple to his left. His faded blue eyes constantly looking around him, only drawing to the fact of his lonesome even more. He sips his tea in small sips, and holds no book or hobby in his grips. I’ve been this man. I used to be so uncomfortable in my own solitary; drinking my tea so slowly so I would always have something to hold. If I wasn’t drinking tea, I would have my mind in my book; I couldn’t bare myself to be truly alone. I think we people have difficulty being alone because we think it gives an impression of weakness. Being alone doesn’t make us weak, it’s confidence. If this man eliminated the worry in his eyes, strengthened the weakness in his shoulders, he would come across as a different man.

There’s close to thirty people in this café. Amongst the young couple discussing finance, the elderly lady engrossed in the daily news, myself on my computer writing this, there is only one man in his own mind and company. He has no slump in the ‘S’ of his spine. He has no computer; has no book – only a mug stained black to accompany him at his table. He doesn’t seek companionship only  gazes upon the world beyond the glass. I don’t see him as weak because of this. If anything I look up to this man. We bring the discomfort of being alone upon ourselves, we’ve taught ourselves to seek the outward expression of popularity by wandering the hollow worlds within our screens. This is not how it should be. We have every right to be alone with our thoughts, I encourage myself to do just that everyday.

I find writing in a public setting like this inspiring.  Even though sometimes I can sit and get no words down, the individual beings and the stories that come with the bodies, can turn a viewed facial expression into a sentence of beautifully connected words.

The café in which I sit is full of regenerative life. Individuals finishing unfinished tasks, children bursting with curiosity, and a barista steaming a full jug of almond milk for my next latte.

 

 

 

Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.

Words

Why do people write? And what makes a writer’s work ‘good’?

I’ve always had a passion to write. Since leaving New Zealand, and whilst I’ve been on the journey to my own self-acceptance and self-discovery, I’ve found inspiration to write in the oddest of times.

Writing, at least for me, is a way to get things out of mind. As much as I advertise the fact that I have a blog, a lot of what I write I don’t necessarily want judged or even read, hence a lot of ‘raw thought’ journals spread amongst my physical belongings.

This past week has been really hard for me. My mind has been crammed with thoughts and expressionless emotion;  not being able to write this down has truly been one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with. When I am presented with something unfamiliar, or scary, I need a creative release of some kind – it’s usually music, but lately its been my blog. So for me to have these mental images and swirls, and not being able to put them to word, has been more than difficult to process. Being away from family in such a time, has made this even harder to get over.

The continuous failing attempts at writing throughout this time, has resulted in poems, but mostly confiding in the works of others. You can get a very similar result by reading someone else’s raw thoughts and writing pieces – especially when it is so close to what you’re going through yourself.

So this brings me back to why people write, and what justifies titling a piece of work ‘good’. People write, I’m sure, for the same reason I do. This world is a blank piece of paper. We have the beautiful covers being blankets of stars, above our heads, and the sand and stones, under our every step. It’s our job to fill the blank pages that are our lives. I think within every person, whether they write it down physically; in a screenplay or within the musical notes of song, are writers. We all have brains and minds that over think situations, we all experience new and exciting things we want to share perspectives on; we are authors to our own lives. To label a piece of this art good, is when people like me, right now, can’t produce something to explain our own thought. We go to someone else’s work, and it’s ‘good’ because we can relate to it. It pulls out the emotions, whether it be tears or laughter, and it can describe what we’re too afraid or unable to explain to ourselves.

So don’t be afraid to write. Write what comes naturally, and write what you believe. Even if you are your only audience, you’re putting something into the pages of this world. One day, someone will read it and will be thankful to be able to accept their own thoughts. Writing is powerful; single words are just as strong.