April’s Over Already?

GnnnnnnnnfhshdkjlGGGGHhgbh.

Huff. It’s been a while.

Quite a few Wednesdays and Sundays have passed since my last post, as well as the 15th of April, which should have been a LotSF update, but uh yeah. Whoops.

I’m actually not terribly upset with myself, because it’s not like I didn’t try. I have my LotSF post fully outlined, as well as the first few paragraphs written out, but wow I haven’t been able to focus lately. I sat down several times to try to write something and just really struggled to put words together. Even now I’m really fighting to get my thoughts in order.

It happens. Sometimes focus is not a cooperative thing. I did genuinely try, so I can give myself brownie points for that, and it just didn’t work out. Stressing myself about it is not worth it.

So until I get back on track, I’m probably going to ease back on my goals. Give myself some time to brainstorm and get the momentum going again. It’s all good.

The weather’s slowly been getting nicer here as spring makes its noncommittal return, so a few days ago I took a detour while walking home from the library and went for a walk through the small patch of woods near my house (the one that started LotSF, actually). There wasn’t too much green out yet, but there was a whole lot of moss that really stood out in the sunlight. I’m not sure if I’ve ever expressed my deep adoration of moss before (nature’s perfect carpet) but I love it so much.

It’s so nice to be back outside, especially in a place that feels so welcoming and familiar. It’s funny because as I’m walking through the trees it’s so easy to imagine myself as the Alex in my story, surrounded by so much life and magic that I just can’t see. I can imagine sprites and bearskins and lily-slips and the whole lot. I can see all those little details that fascinated me the first time and inspired me to look deeper, to imagine more.

And there’s that reminiscent feeling of spring arriving, driving out the winter blahs, announcing newness and fresh beginnings and the excitement of bigger and better things to come.

The way things have been going–with the lack of focus, the inability to blog, feeling out of touch with what used to inspire me–that’s the winter. That’s what made LotSF Alex deaf and blind. But with time and patience and determination, spring will bring everything back where it belongs.

This is why we write these stories. To remind us of the truths of the world.

I hope you are all well. Talk soon.

-Alex

 

22/03/2017

Hey guys, just wanted to write a quick note that I didn’t post last Sunday and I won’t be posting today either because I have been extra tired, extra brain-foggy, and extra “blegh I hate everything I write” this week, so I’m taking a short break. I have a couple ideas brewing and I should be back in action on Sunday. 

Sorry about that!

All the best.

-Alex

The Good, the Bad, and the Doubtful

Oh, crippling doubt.

A very familiar presence.

I’m pretty sure that the very second you begin to even faintly consider yourself anything of a writer (or any type of creator, really), you automatically sign yourself up for daily/weekly/monthly deliveries of doubt. Doubt that you’re any good, doubt that your work is inspiring or meaningful, doubt that you’re doing the best you possibly can. That little voice at the back of the head nags you, telling you it’s pretentious or passionless or clumsy or juvenile. And from what I’ve gathered, doubt isn’t really the sort of thing that goes away, even after years and years and years spent creating.

And doubt is exactly the thing that came creeping up on me not long after I’d published my last blog post, Infinite Imaginings.

I doubted that it was inspired enough, I doubted that it was written as well as it could have been–I doubted that I did justice to the message I was trying to convey. I felt like maybe I could have been more creative and imaginative, creating deeper, more unique stories for the things I talked about. I felt like maybe if I’d spent more time and really pushed the message, really polished it up, I would have made something so much better.

Of course, there’s the catch: it would have taken more time.

As you’ve possibly noticed, I’ve been trying very hard to blog on a more reliable schedule. I’m aiming to get a post up every Wednesday and Sunday, which means that I’ve been keeping myself busy writing blog posts and juggling this with some of the other projects I’ve been working on. Right now, I don’t have a queue–I’m writing most of these posts the day before they’re due, allowing me to do a quick edit on the posting day and to add any last touches I might think of. I also don’t really have a backlog of ideas–again, these ideas are being thought up one or two days before I’m actually posting them.

It’s not as tight a schedule as when I used to blog every other day (how the heck did I manage that?!), but it’s still a lot tighter of a schedule than, say, posting once every three months. I have to keep coming up with ideas, I have to keep writing them, and I have to keep moving on to the next one just as soon as I’m done.

That means that there’s not too much room for doubt.

I would love to sit down and spend a week or two working on a blog post, carefully crafting it into the best possible content I can produce, and I hope that if I come up with an idea that really inspires me, I will, but if I did that for all my posts, I wouldn’t be able to keep up this schedule. And of course there’s always the risk that if I let the doubt get to me, if I let myself believe it’s not good enough, I need to do better, I might just end up never posting it at all. I might never think it’s good enough to share and then what’s the point of writing it at all?

It’s a really tricky balance, I think, trying to push for the best you can achieve while also allowing yourself to just create.

You really have to be okay with making mistakes, or with producing things that aren’t the best.

I mean, obviously in 20 years I’ll have a different writing style and maybe it will be “better” than the one I have now. Obviously in 20 years I’ll have learned some things and will have more insight and experience to offer. Obviously in 20 years I will be more capable of many things than I am at this very moment. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write and create things now, even knowing that it won’t be the best I’ll ever achieve.

Because sure, if I look back at all the things I’ve written on Valourbörn, I can find lots of examples of posts I’m admittedly a little embarrassed about. Ideas that weren’t as meaningful as I thought, concepts that I wasn’t very passionate about, messages that just came across clumsy and shallow and not at all what I wanted to be. That tends to happen, when you create things–you make a lot of bad content, you make a lot of mistakes and misjudgements.

But I can also think of lots of posts that I am still really proud of.

Posts that ended up being more inspiring than I first thought, posts that were very significant and personal and honest, posts that made people laugh and smile and feel things. I’ve made plenty of “bad” posts that in hindsight I would have scrapped, but I’ve also made so many posts that remind me why I started blogging in the first place.

I mean, one of the first ones I think of it The Shadow’s Heart, which is a post I wrote on a whim that received a lot more love than I expected. There was the one about not eating dog poo that I thought was pretty fun, and the whole caramel pears debacle that everybody else thought was fun. There’s the story of The Christmas Slug that my mother brings up every year, and The Warrior Within, which holds a special place in my heart. And then, of course, there is the Epic Saga of the  Quest for the Styrofoam Balls. All of these posts make me smile when I recall the passion and energy and heart that went into them.

But the only reason I even have those good posts is because I wasn’t afraid to write the bad ones.

I wasn’t afraid to follow an idea, to take inspiration as it came, and write as honestly and freely as I could.

I wasn’t afraid to tell doubt to shut up for a minute and let me work.

It’s kind of another reason too why I won’t let myself delete any of the old blog posts I’ve written that I’m not fond of anymore. If I let myself delete them, if I deem them “not good enough”, then I’ll be less confident about letting myself make those mistakes. I’ll be thinking “Is this a post I’m going to delete in a few months?” and it will make things worse.

(Plus, it’s always nice to have contrast–it makes my good posts look that much better next to the mediocre ones.)

So sure, maybe I still think that perhaps my last post could have been a little bit better, but at least it’s out there. At least it’s been written, at least it’s been shared. And I mean if you think about it, the only reason I’m writing this post is because I wrote the last one. So it’s provided me with inspiration and more content to produce.

And of course, as is often the case, it applies to more than just blogging or writing or creating.

To do anything good, you can’t be held back by doubt.

You gotta just go for it.

-Alex

Happy Birthday to Meeeeee

Four years (and one day) ago, Valourbörn was born.

Which is crazy.

Oh, little blog. How I wish you were more.

I feel like this is the only kind of blog post I can manage anymore. Some woeful daydream about how I’d love to blog more and bring this blog back to life and actually do something meaningful with Valourbörn.

But all the poor thing seems to do these days is collect dust.

It’s just that every time I look at the blog and think huh, maybe I should try to write something today… I just… don’t know what to write.

I mean, it’s not like I’m the same person who started Valourbörn four years ago. I’ve been off to university, and flunked out of university, and got an amazing job at a vet clinic, and am (hopefully) on my way to college. I’ve also been depressed, and trying to pick myself up from that, which has led to a lot of mental and emotional changes and growth.

Which I think is part of it, because I’m still tackling some of these mental and emotional things, and I think in a way rebuilding my identity, so it’s hard to think about other things I could write. And I’ve already determined that I don’t want to blog about depression stuff here, so it leaves me with not a lot to say.

I used to be able to just get a spark of inspiration and sit down with it and churn out an entire blog post all in one sitting. I used to be excited about a lot of things and have a lot of passion for what I was blogging about. Now things seem more complicated. It takes a lot more focus and effort to get out a passionate post like that, and focus and effort are not in surplus at the moment.

Sometimes I think I also overthink things. I’m always considering if I’m getting the right message across, or if my message is “right” or “meaningful enough”, to the point where I’m not confident enough to just try to say it. Or I get a stroke of inspiration and think yeah, I’ll write about that, but when I actually manage to find time to sit down and write it out, I’ve lost the spark. And maybe too I’m just afraid that I’ll run out of things to say. Which is silly because I haven’t even said anything at all.

Huff. I don’t know what to do.

I mean, I still don’t know what I want Valourbörn to be. I actually don’t think I ever did. I just kinda winged it.

But I can’t bear to just close the blog down, because I still love what Valourbörn stands for, and I still believe it has potential. Plus, I used to love blogging. I met a lot of amazing people through it, some of whom I still talk to fairly regularly. It’s not a part of my life I’m keen to give up.

It’s just… not really a part of my life, you know?

So. What on earth am I to do?

In case you hadn’t guessed it (but this is me we’re talking about, so you probably have) Your Story is totally not happening. Sorry sorry, I just really was not as capable of taking on that project as I thought I was. Yes, you can roll your eyes if you’d like. I know this is a common story with me.

I’d be surprised if anyone even remembers Language of the Small Folk, but I’d like to try to finish that eventually. Key word being eventually. I still think it’s an important story for me and I’d like to try to tell it.

Other than that… I don’t know what exactly to do with this poor old blog. I think I’ll work on cleaning it up a bit, for starters, fix the old About pages and maybe even reconsider the theme for the thousandth time. And I’m also going to just try to write something. Just make a post at the end of the week where even if I just write about how the week went, at least I’m writing something.

Maybe that will help get the creative juices going? Hopefully…?

I think I’m at a point right now where I’m just really tired of looking at all the times I’ve tried things but was unsuccessful, and of being surrounded by lots of things that I’m just not capable of doing at the moment. I want to do something, I want to succeed at something, I want to take this dusty blog and bring it back to vibrant life.

I will succeed.

Somehow.

Probably.

And I know I say this sort of thing a lot, I know I always make these promises and then things just fall through, and heck, even I’m skeptical, but hey. Maybe this will be the lucky shot. Because one of them has to be, right?

Right…?

-Alex

October Already?

Well.

I suppose it goes without saying that Villain Awareness Month is not going to be a thing this year.

Which honestly… it’s frustrating. I’m frustrated, even with just the lack of posting the last little while. I’m the kind of person that likes to have a bunch of projects on the go and push myself to make progress and produce good things and so not making progress and producing things is very frustrating.

I feel like my life is a ridiculous balancing act that I just can’t keep up with, or a race that I’m just barely managing to win by like a fraction of a second, even though I can’t quite fathom where this sense of pressure is coming from.

I mean, all I’m really doing is working right now. I don’t have school to add things like deadlines and tests and studying to my workload. I work a steady, not-overwhelming job that gives me a very comfortable number of hours each week and doesn’t require me to do anything like studying or homework. Really, I should be quite relaxed. And yet.

The logical explanation would be that I’m just putting a lot of pressure on myself but at the same time… I’m trying very hard to relax and not push myself. I’m trying not to let myself get too worked up about not blogging or whatever, but I still feel very anxious. Which makes it hard to blog when I’m not able to just indulge in some creative, cathartic writing.

But in any case. I might put together a couple Halloween-esque posts this month, but yeah, VAM is so not happening unfortunately. I’m not even sure I’ll be attempting to do Your Story in November like I mentioned… sigh. We’ll see.

I guess first I gotta work on finding my zen. If only I knew where to start.

Any suggestions?

-Alex

Editor for Hire

This lovely writer is doing some editing work if any of you are interested! :)

Adventures in Writing

As you know, I am a writer. You may not know that I also edit work (and not just my own). I have edited both fiction and non-fiction for friends and family members. I am now opening that opportunity up to you, my blogging buddies!

Proofreading consists of checking for typos and formatting issues. (That’s errors such as misspellings, lonely words, and accuracy with page numbers and table of contents.) Proofreading is most helpful for a fully finished draft that has gone through many revisions and is about to be sent in for consideration (or in the case of articles and papers, turned in). Proofreading should be your last step.

Copy editing is for checking grammar, syntax, capitalization and punctuation, missed words, repeated words, using the best word for the job, tenses, and other language errors. This step is for when you have your story completed and are ready to…

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A Grand (Re-)Entrance

I’ve been thinking about how I should perform this grand entrance.

Leap out of the shadows into a brilliant spotlight with confetti cannons and a deafening fanfare?

Let a drumroll build up suspense as I slowly descend from wires attached to the ceiling, graceful as a bird, until my feet touch ground and a dazzling array of fireworks and spouts of flame awe the audience?

Walk into the room all cool with my sunglasses on and a disinterested shrug, greeting everyone with a, “Hey, wassup?”

But I’m not sure any of those entrances are quite accurate. My real entrance is more like a personification of the “:S” face, with lots of wide eyes and sheepish frowns and a kind of shuffling step as I brush away some of the dust and wonder if anyone remembers me.

Ahem. In any case.

I am putting forth an effort to return to blogging.

I’m not here with promises or anything crazy, I’m just putting forth an effort. I’d like to start blogging again so I am going to try. Whether or not that will be successful is debatable.

First though, because some of you may be wondering: I will be doing the usual Your Story thing, but I’m actually gonna do it in the fall (maybe start it September, end it November). The summer just came much too quickly for me to arrange anything so I’ll wait till things are more manageable before getting that up and running again. That being said, start preparing your stories! I hope to hear lots of them this year.

Second: my blog needs some serious help. I need to get a new banner and update my pages and aaargh. So much to do, so much to do. This place is a veritable disaster and I am sitting disgruntled and flustered in the midst of it. Huff.

Third: I have been on quite the adventure of my own.

I mentioned before the whole depression thing and that I didn’t really want to talk about it here, and I’m still not really keen on it, but the whole depression thing got a lot worse over the past couple months and has only very recently gotten much, much better. That was another part of my long silence, I suppose. Not easy to blog when you just feel like lying in bed forever and ever.

Still. It’s an adventure, even if it’s a dark and dangerous one. Lots of obstacles, lots of villains (most in my own head, I suppose), lots of struggling and darkest hours and chasing a speck of light that more often seems to get darker than brighter. But it’s an adventure, and I hope it’s made me stronger, and I hope that one day I will emerge officially victorious and be a little more prepared if it chooses to rear its ugly head again.

Anyways. Just wanted to stop in, say I’m still planning on rescuing this poor blog, and give a little update I suppose. Hopefully in the next little while I can get back into the swing of writing blog posts and discussing heroes and adventures and magic and all the good stuff.

Maybe I shall aim for a post a week? I know, I said I wouldn’t make promises, but still. I like to have a goal, even if only for the sake of having a goal.

I hope to see you around and hear from you soon and read lots of amazing stories come fall.

Take care, dear adventurers and heroes.

See you around.

-Alex

A blog post with very little in it…

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while (a blog post, not a literal post), trying to figure out what to say. I’ve had a few ideas, started typing them out, then ultimately scrapped them. I think I’ve forgotten how to blog. This is a problem.

At some point in my life I should actually try to finish LotSF. I started writing it so long ago… April of 2013. That means it will be three years old this April. That’s bizarre.

It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I don’t know. There’s something about the story that feels timeless. It’s always there, always waiting, paused for a moment until I’m ready to pick it back up again. I haven’t posted a chapter since last May. Wow… um.

Of course, a lot of things have happened since then. A lot of personal issues, a lot of stress, a lot of everything. And this poor blog has suffered for it. And now I’ve forgotten how to blog.

It’s kind of made me look at my blog’s purpose again. I didn’t really have a purpose when I started, other than I liked fantasy things and wanted to talk about stories and heroes and stuff. I still want to do that, but I want to have more of a goal, you know? I want this blog to be inspiring. I want it to be a refuge and a comfort, if not for others, then for myself.

Here’s a fun fact: I always listen to Jónsi’s music when I blog. Always. It’s an old habit that started gods-only-know how long ago and is one I’ve always stuck to. So I suppose if you’d like to understand the spirit of Valourbörn, listen to Jónsi’s album “Go”. All of those songs have contributed to the words on this blog at one point or another.

It also reminds me of a friend of mine who happens to be learning Icelandic at the moment (some of Jónsi’s songs have Icelandic lyrics, you see). In fact, I shall call her out by name, for dear Jenny hasn’t been terribly active on her blog either. We shall have to remedy this ;)

So what shall be my blog’s newly defined purpose then, getting back to the matter at hand? “To inspire” is noble, but vague. I would like to try to use it to understand and explore the world. All the magic, all the beauty. I would like to try to use it to understand myself, and let others do the same. We’re all brave adventurers, we’re all epic heroes, we’re all warriors and explorers and magicians. And that’s what I love. That’s what I’d love to pursue.

I shall have to think on it some more, try to figure out what that means from a more practical standpoint. What shall I write about? How shall I inspire? Who knows, who knows?

I shall think on it. I have another post somewhat drafted anyways, so that’s at least a start, and then we shall see where this blog takes us. Hopefully somewhere pleasant :)

I also have a new banner image that I need to finish colouring that I’ve been working on for an actual year holy cow.

In any case, this post was basically just me putting out a blog post to prove I’ve not forgotten my poor dear blog. Sorry it’s not exactly eventful ^^’

But hey, there’s a comment box down below and I’ve dearly missed you. What adventures have you been up to?

-Alex

Another Year Gone By

The year is almost over, can you believe it? I’m not too sure the past few months even happened. They all feel like a restless dream.

But it’s the end of 2015, finally. A lot of things happened this year, worldwide and on a more personal scale. It seems to be the case for a lot of people that 2015 was a rough year to get through. I can agree with that. There were highlights, sure, but it seems the year was more swamped in stress and struggles than anything else.

But let’s catch up with the last few months, shall we?

October

I wasn’t around all that much in October with very sporadic posts. In the end, I didn’t get done everything I wanted to. I hardly did anything, it feels like. I didn’t even do my usual costume post, but I suppose I’ll do it now. I was Midna from Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess this year, and wow was it a fun costume to make. Midna is such a lovely character and it’s pretty empowering to be the Twilight Princess for a night. I was pretty pleased with the outcome and had a fantastic Halloween.20151113_154432

November

November was, of course, time for NaNoWriMo. It was a very rough month. I made my word quota on the first day no problem, and then it all went downhill from there. I didn’t reach the word count goal for the entire rest of the month. There were so many days when I didn’t write anything at all. I ended up having 18,000 words to write on the last day. Normally, that would be eleven days of writing. Eleven days. Eleven days of writing all saved for the very last day.

You sure as hell bet I made it.

I almost died, but I made it.

nano win 2015

(It says I wrote 21k words on the last day but 3k of those were from after midnight the day before)

I will admit, I did cheat a little bit. I changed my timezone on the website so that it gave me four extra hours to write. From the minute I woke up until 4am, I wrote and wrote and wrote. Pounding out two, three, four thousand words between classes. Writing through meals. Writing more than a thousand words per every half hour. It was very very close. The last several thousand words were probably more gibberish than anything (I didn’t even have time to correct typos…) but gods above, I wrote 18,000 words that day and I never ever want to do it ever again.

December

December was an odd month. It passed by slowly and yet all too quickly. Christmas sprang up out of nowhere. We didn’t get snow until a couple days ago (we’re in Canada, for crying out loud, what nonsense). I saw family and friends. We got a kitten at the end of November and have spent the month cuddling and wrestling with the little stinker. My sister and I got matching tattoos, which was a first for both of us. I’ve baked so many cookies and read so many books and stories and have spent so many lazy mornings in bed.

20151203_162518-220151225_124028

And now we’re here. Almost in January. By the time this post goes up, I’ll be ringing in the new year with friends and 2016 will be just a few hours away.

I can’t wait.

I want to kiss 2015 goodbye. I’ll take with me the few good memories. I’ll carry forward the new friendships I’ve made. And I’ll leave behind all the rest because frankly I don’t want it. This year was far too much and not enough. It was a struggle and a war. There’s no promise that 2016 will be better, but at least we’ll all be stronger.

But as always, it’s resolution time. Last year’s resolutions:

  • Finish that book. It’s never too late.
  • Keep working on that bravery thing. It doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Find balance. In body and soul, mind and spirit.
  • Reflect more often, and be mindful of the little things.

For point number one, I was successful. Again, it was kind of by cheating. I wanted to finish the second draft this year but in a sense, I didn’t succeed. I made it to chapter 38, which was still four or five chapters from the end. But I was so frustrated with how hard I found it to rewrite every chapter that I decided to write the last few chapters as more of an outline than proper narrative. So I didn’t technically finish it, but I finished it enough for me to be satisfied and move onto draft number three. I’m also pretty convinced that a lot of writing is just learning how to cheat.

For the next two points, about bravery and balance, I’m not so sure I was successful with either of those. There was a lot of stress, a lot of inner struggle, and both peace and bravery were hard to attain. That’s all right. That’s what 2016 is for.

As for reflecting more often, I think this happened a lot this year. With the whole depression thing, it’s led to me spending hours in my journal, trying to figure things out, trying to find some hope in the madness. I’m not so sure I was mindful of the little things, but it’s another thing I can work on in years to come.

So for this year’s resolutions?

  • Work through the 3rd draft
    • Get some people to read it
  • Blog more (I’ve missed it)
  • Find balance and bravery, one step at a time
  • Build up my self-esteem
    • Start by admitting that my words and my self are important
  • Let go. Just let go. It’s the past. Let it go.

My resolutions are perhaps more detailed and extensive than previous years, but 2015 was rough and left a little more work to be done for the next year. I think these resolutions are worthy ones, and I hope to work towards them in the coming months.

Last but not least, a song to give you inspiration for the new year. This one is Battle Scars by Paradise Fears. It’s a couple years old now but I only stumbled upon it recently.

Happy New Year.

May it be a year of strength and success.

You can do this.

-Alex

A Short Note

Heeeey everyone!

So I realize it’s been a month since I’ve posted anything, and I realize I said Your Story would be launching today, and I’m soooorry for the radio silence and for the fact that I haven’t launched the project today and I acknowledge that I am a bad blogger indeed.

I’m not gonna lie, the past month has been rough. Shift work sucks. I woke up at 3pm today, because why not? My brain is oozing out my ears. Everything is coalescing into one big kaleidoscopic blur…

So no, I’m not prepared to launch Your Story. No, I haven’t sent out any of the invitation emails I intended to send out. But I finally cleaned the laundry piles off my floor today. That has to count for something, right?

Anyways, the good news is that I have this week off work. I’m going to be a little bit busy, but I promise I’ll be getting blog work done. Emails and posts and all of that. And I know I make lots of promises but this one is happening. Pinky swear.

Anyways, that’s really all I have to say for now. I’ll be reading your posts this week as well. Oh, and I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo! I have plenty to talk about, but I’ll save it for another time. For now, take care. Talk to you soon.

Alex