Oh! My! God!

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This new blank page, totally empty – and demanding – it’s scary like hell…

“Now, now! Be strong, Thêa! You know you can do it!”

“I know… but… still scared…”

“See it for what it is, an old, untrue belief, then put it away.
Say: I’m good at this! I can do it!”

“Okay!
I’m good at this!
I can do it!
I’m good at this!
I can do it!
I’m good at this!
I can do it!
I can!”

Like a blindfolded fool

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Like a blindfolded fool,
you don’t see what is obvious,
right in front of your eyes.

Then you get a bit surprised,
when you see you actually had
acted cleverly,
and dated the last writing session.

(chapter seven)

Apropos writing

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Things are growing on me!

One of my friends in my Thursday afternoon group, M, also wants to participate in a writing class. We have been talking about this earlier, and yesterday we brought up the topic again. It doesn’t have to be posh or anything! It doesn’t even have to have a teacher.

What we want is someplace to be, someplace where we can meet. To write, to talk about writing, help each other, read each other’s texts, express some thoughts about it. Briefly speaking – to pep each other in letting the inspiration grow. I’ve never been writing as much, never having a more blooming fantasy, than during those 6 years I attended writing classes. And I want to do that again. For inspiration and for friendship!

I found nothing of the sort on any of the adult educational facilities in this town. Which is really lousy!!! In this rather big city, not even ONE class for us author wannabes. One can choose to learn a language, even Farsi, Chinese, or Swahili if one wants. One can learn how to cook, or – of course – learn to work on a computer, how to build a homepage or – at my surprise actually – how to use WordPress…

Not. One. Single. Class. For. Enhancing. Writing skills.

On the other hand – we save some money that way!

There might be an opening after all, at this church we attend Thursday afternoons. The Deaconess is trying to be allowed to have an “open house” Tuesday forenoons. If the priest in charge says yes to this, M and I and a couple more if there is interest for it, can squeeze ourselves in behind any free table. So! Let’s hope for that!

 

Late the evening before yesterday, I suddenly opened Scrivener to see what I might have lying there. And! There was a draft, of a kind of a “Murder mystery” I started working on years ago. I read it through, had written 10 827 words, and it was good! Only a couple of minor things to change, would probably only take a few minutes to refresh…

I got very tempted to continue on this draft, but then there was this question banging around in my head. What would I write? How might this story proceed? What happens after this?

I remember I got stuck at this very spot, had absolutely no idea how to continue. I’ve experienced that before. But at that time I was at the end of the story, and the problem was easily solved by deleting the last paragraphs. Then, there was the end of it!

Is that how I should proceed here as well? By deleting the last 1, 2 or 3 paragraphs? And then restart writing from that point?

That could be a reasonable solution!

Do I want to proceed writing on this “Murder Mystery” (which NOT is a traditional murder mystery)? I have other drafts as well, both more and less voluminous. And not all of them are murder mysteries. So far, as far as I can remember, this is the only one I’ve written that begins with someone finding a dead body…

I seem to be a multi-genre-versatile writer… or something…

Colors as saviors

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Some years ago, 2013-14 I think, when I lived through my worst burn-out period and could neither read nor write due to difficulties to concentrate, I was saved by coloring. Coloring instead of writing, let my inner self find a way to express my need to be creative.

Actually, I began having fun with photos already in 2009, but from that time I seem to have destroyed more images than I actually created any. A couple of “hits”, but then it was more of a learning period than anything else. Fun yes, so nothing wrong with that, but I seem to have almost nothing left from those early years.

Four, five years later, I hadn’t yet experienced this type of coloring, an app with already drawn images to choose from. Not even any physical coloring book! Instead, I somehow began to use my own photos more frequently, and with them as a base, playing around with overlays, filters and such.

Very amusing it was, and after a while, I found out I was good at it. Well, not the very first trials of course, but soon enough. And I enjoyed it immensely!

Image based on an old photo of mine

Not long after, I happened to be placed at a church, and that led to that I began to make posters for the Sunday sermons. And that task grew to also make folders, adds, brochures and the monthly internal “newspaper”.

It was amazing to see how much the choice of colors, fonts, images etc influence the total. The layout and the interaction between dark and light are utterly important for what the poster, folder etc will say to the viewer. And this work for the church took over some of the time I earlier had spent on making my own images.

Now, I no longer have a church to make posters for, and actually – I don’t miss it! Not that I couldn’t make images in poster-format… I could if I wanted to.

Just an excerpt from a photo, which I’ve meddled with.

It’s just that I still don’t take many photos! I thought I would, once I came home, but I haven’t! Hopefully, I will again, sooner or later. Instead, during these two years, the coloring has grown on me. And also the apps, have developed into having more sophistic and varied possibilities. So I use these fairly simple drawings, which I color, and then finish with one or more added layers on Pixlr.

And Now?!?
I’m actually considering trying to paint on canvas!

I am considering what?!?!?!?!
I who can’t draw! Not a straight line! Or even less a curved one!!!

But I have three canvases at home, and I have acrylic paint and lots of pencils…

Okay! So it has been on my mind for several years actually. I have tried to paint with watercolors, aquarelle, the technique where you dilute the paint with water to get a paler, more or less transparent look, but that seemed to NOT be my cup of tea. (Oh, these British expressions…) Using watercolor without diluting it with water, seems to be more coherent to me. Painting gouache, in other words. Or with acrylic paint!

I admit!!! I’ve been storing this equipment, paint, pencils, and canvases for several years now – because I’m afraid! It’s so much easier just to take something where the sketch is already made, and just add colors! Clicking on icons on the iPad. EASY! How could my hands obey what my mind tells them when they never have done so in the past?

But just now, I came to think of those short “sketches” we did when I studied writing. Not draw, but write for five minutes or ten, whatever came into one’s mind. Perhaps we had a photo as inspiration, or a random sentence, or a couple of words…

At first, it was terrifying and difficult, the first years actually. But oddly enough! The closer I came to that “brain shut down burn out”, the easier it became for me to just let go in these short training sessions! That was really odd…

It must be the same with painting. I “just” have to relax and let go!

(And I have lately been having fantasies about having an easel standing here in the window corner… )

One of my latest coloring pieces.

I feel….

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I feel so…
I feel…

I… don’t quite know how I feel, or what I feel.
A least I can’t put a label on it!

I’m not sad, not angry, not … not anything negative, really!

On the whole, I feel good. I like being back in my city, close to my daughters.
I love my apartment, really enjoy living here.

I don’t have many friends, but I love those I have.
I’m mostly alone, but enjoy that! Feel good when being in my solitude and silence.

So far, so good!
But still, there is something. I think the word frustrated is the most appropriate one.

I want so much to write and to read, as I used too.
Not too long ago I got new ideas all the time, and I wrote and I wrote! And I read books by the minute! All the time I had some book in my hands.

And now! Nothing comes to me!
No! Not quite true! Lately, I’ve begun getting ideas again. During the past few months only. Or even weeks. After the move?
Unfortunately neither due for a novel, nor a short story, nor anything like that. But something I could make into a blog post! I’m being out somewhere, and get some kind of monologue in my head. I feel happy about that.

Finally, finally, I can write again! Like I used to!

Then.
When home.
Sitting in front of my computer.
All is lost and all I can see is a huge black mountain which I can’t climb.
Even the threshold is too high for me to climb.
It is so frustrating.

Reading? Well, I do read some. There was a time, not that long ago, when I couldn’t concentrate on reading at all. Then slowly that ability awakened, but I’m still a long way from reading as I used to.

But I do blog, don’t I?
Yes! I do!
And I’m so happy about that enhancement in my writing life, but I can also see most of those posts are quite mediocre. I want to do better!
I can do better!

The best ones,though, are those I wrote during the first months of this blog’s existence. The ones about my Mom and the abuse. I just don’t need to write more about that topic. I’m in peace with Mom! Pity, in a way, but one can’t dwell in the past. It’s the now that counts.

So why do I still have a problem with writing?

In early 2006 I moved to a city some 80 km north from where I live now. Many times during the years thereafter, I wondered why on earth I made that move. Well! I was offered a job there, and there was also a Mr. Somebody whom I thought maybe could be Mr. Right. But both the Job and the Mr soon went down the drain. Picturesquely speaking.

But left, was this push I had got in my butt when the Mr had said:
“WRITE! You have it in you!”

Immediately I searched for writing classes, then I wrote and I studied, got writing friends and kept on like that until 2012. And as you probably understand already, this was NOT the first time I was writing anything literary. I done that to and fro ever since I learned to write. And I read books before that. Read all the time, everywhere, and my mother all the time told me not to. It wasn’t good for my eyes, she claimed!!!

I didn’t realize it just then, but I had during a couple of years developed a burn-out condition. What I had noticed, was that it had become difficult for me to come up with new stories for the classes, and even harder for me to read and then comment on my fellows writing-pieces. For a while, I cheated. From me, I chose old stories to bring instead of writing anything new; and I glanced a bit on the other guys’ texts and then commented something… very general…

But I realized after a couple of semesters this wasn’t reasonable. I didn’t write anything new, I didn’t learn anything new, and I didn’t contribute anything to my writing friends.

I gave up.

So when I say I wrote and worked in the classes with writing until Christmas 2012, it isn’t quite true. I tried to, wrote some, and actually one of my most beautiful short stories I wrote in 2012. But I felt like a failure. A very tired and lonely failure.

It took me a couple of years before I truly realized all this was due to stress. My brain, my mind, couldn’t take my present situation any longer and  – in a way – shut down parts of itself.

Well! I still functioned! I kept doing what I had to do to survive. No one to help me through my daily life, I had to go on. But I kept me more and more to myself since I had no energy left for doing anything else.

I don’t say all was black and sad and lonely and depressed. Oh no! First of all, all these m o m e n t s occurred in periods, and some periods were good! Many days were good! What helped me a lot, was when I discovered my ability to express myself in images, and in making posters and such. Lots of colors. My fantasy had a way to go, through editing photos, adding filters, playing with lensflares and such possibilities. I still do that sometimes, but way back then – mostly between late 2013 til late 2016 – it was kind of lifeline to me

And now! On my way…

Later I used to say, I could from 2012 and forward, very well have worked with proofreading and/or editing texts. My skills and my talent, which I have had all my life, and my knowledge and capability were still intact. What I had lost were the fantasy and the ability to concentrate. But that was frustrating enough!

Frustrating! Yes! Still!
But I’m grateful I now can write blog posts fairly frequently and fairly fluent – even in English. But my own opinion of how I write and even more about what I write – is that it is quite mediocre. I can be more interesting! I can do better! I want to do better!

A cat rescuing me!!! Some vegan thoughts!!!

At the same time, it kind of amazes me, that I’ve chosen to write in English! Why? When it’s so much quicker and easier to write in Swedish? Okay! There are more than one answer, to that question. But the bottom line is, that I’m actually good at writing! In my own language, that is. In Swedish! I have a large vocabulary, I’m really good at spelling, and I know my grammar. I know so much grammar, that I also can bend the rules if I want to. And make the text understandable and “right”!

I’m also good with “showing not telling”, and dialogues. I can make people feel “like they are there” when they read. And I would be hugely ashamed of myself if I had to use Grammarly when writing in Swedish – if there is a Grammarly for Swedish texts, that is…

Writing in English is quite different. It’s not only on commas, that Grammarly and I have different opinions…

Despite all this in my back pocket – 

I can’t reach my imagination, and my brain is still not sufficiently cooperative when it comes to focusing on words! I feel numb!
I’ve been pondering to continue writing on some of my old drafts, I have a couple of quite good ones to chose from. The thought has felt quite appealing, actually. But so far nothing has gotten beyond that thought. 😦

Talk about being frustrated!

And writing in English! – It takes at least twice the time to write something. So blurting out all these words must be extraordinary, and how many hours has this taken me? I have absolutely no idea!

It must be hope somewhere, mustn’t it?

(Also when writing in Swedish I’m very particular,
but at least I used to land it faulty-free there and then.)

 

 

Insights

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To be writing, isn’t the only thing I wish to increase after the move. During these last months I’ve realized one thing after the other which I either want to go back to and start over with, or develop more of into my life.

To the further, I count that I want to catch up taking photos again and make my own images with them as a base. I began to do that when the burn-out was at its worst, and thus could neither read nor write. I’ve never been able to draw or paint with my hands, so when I discovered all the possibilities I could find on the internet with photo programs and editing programs, it felt like a pure blessing. And I found a way to express my creativity, now when the words were gone.

Sometime later I was seated in a Church for a couple of years. Not in the church per se but we were a group of people that rented a bit of space there in order to go together, learn, and get jobs. At first, I was supposed to do the homepage for us, but after a while, since we had this connection with people in the Church, I was asked to make posters for the Sunday sermon for them.

To my own surprise – I became really good at it! I realized I have “an eye” for visual things. Maybe the first posters didn’t appear amazing, but obviously, I was good enough for the Church people to give me free hand to do however I wanted. And as time passed by, I got more and more praise for my work.

My creativity flourished in this. Got to do not only posters for the Sunday sermons, concerts and such, but also folders -among other a 2-months regular information folder, I created some adds for “real” papers, and so on. Yes! I became really good at it!

Already before this period in my life, I liked to visit exhibitions showing photos or paintings. So it was obvious, when I in 2013 met a woman who was not only a colleague of mine but also a painter and a photographer, that we became friends. Through her, I met other painters and find new galleries which I went to when I could. I felt very inspired by it all.

But all the other time, I was very alone. My daughters and older friends were living in another town. Since being incomer in this town, I had no old connections at all. No childhood friends, no school friends, prior to the actual job situation no old work buddies either. I moved to that town in 2006 due to a job offer, and never “fit in”. It’s one of those places where the oldies live by: “If you’re not born here, you don’t belong here.” (And they don’t have to be old, to think that.)

Well, apart from having my art-friends – who mostly were incomers themselves – I had yet a couple of friends and colleagues that were not artists, but after my retirement, they all faded away. All except one, my very best friend! He and I still have contact, despite 120 kilometers distance between us. Mostly iMessage or mail. Occasionally meeting each other, and I’m really happy about that. Let’s just call him R.

Simultaneously my own image-making was growing better and better, and I started to dream. We were hanging out in the church’s cafeteria, which also had a gallery with various kind of artists. Maybe I could…? What about my images! Many people liked them! And I…

It never went that way! I had this burnout lingering on. All my images were on the computer, many of them on old photos, small and with low resolution. It would be expensive to print and frame, so… I never came around. Not there and then…

Finally, I retired. Got even more lonely. A couple of afternoons a week I visited my former office, not being in the church anymore, and had coffee with R and some of the others. I loved those afternoons! We talked and we laughed a lot! But, that was about it! Otherwise I was home. Alone. And lost something.

I don’t mean I lost friends, and I did meet people. Not every day perhaps, but enough. I think I kind of lost myself!

Or rather: I had lost myself way earlier, and now it started to appear. To make me feel! Sounds ridiculous, I know! But it was lots and lots of old stress that came forward. I lost energy. I thought I would bike long, long tours during the summer, but I had lost the go. The little I had… and I was tired. Always tired. Couldn’t read. Couldn’t write. Couldn’t take photos, even less make images. Mostly I just vegetated. Did what I had to do, and went downtown to the office those afternoons…

Found that the nearby church where I lived then, had a meditation group once every other Wednesday evening. Guess that was my rescue, besides R and the others at the office.

I got myself weekly talking hours with the female deacon. (Sometimes I still miss her, like now.) Attended to afternoon gatherings at the parish house once in a while. Was even at the Christmas Concert in the church hall. Way too many people, but wonderful music with choirs and all.

Then the meditation evenings. Especially the coffee time afterward with the discussion of all and everything. There was an agenda on what topic we should go about, but it didn’t feel like an agenda. I felt as a freedom of speech!
And we spoke!

It was wonderful! The first time I was there, I happened to be seated beside an old retired teacher in religion, philosophy, and psychology. Among other items, we talked about – Plato. It was … ecstatic!!!

I realized, like in a flash later that evening, I was utterly stressed from being under-stimulated! I had for so long missed having intellectual, intelligent conversations with sincere people, about topics that matter!!! And when I finally, after a little more than a year at that place ,was moving home, back here, to my own town, I was sad because I would never meet these people again.

I had during these sessions experienced that there were people, strangers in a way, that had come to like me, maybe even love me! They gathered around me when I came, talked to me, cared, kind of mentally embraced me. They said they would miss me when I moved away, and wanted me to come visiting them sometime. But I knew it would probably never happen.

It never does, does it?

Now I’m here. Two years later. At home!
It has taken two years to heal and I’m not yet finished healing. But slowly it’s getting better! One baby-step at a time!

It is not only those eleven years in that town that has made impacts on me. Many in bad ways, but also some good. Nevertheless, there are many more issues that are way older than that. And some of those I’ve written myself free from when I wrote about Mom. (See category “Down Memory Lane”)

Some, maybe I will never even remember…


NOW!

Recently I surprised myself again when I suddenly opened one of my coloring apps and started coloring! Next step will maybe be to takes photos again. Making images from scratch! 😀
And of course the writing!!!

It is getting better, even with baby-steps. Isn’t it?