Writing and Arting and Goals

Oh yeah. I’m supposed to be a writer. I should probably do the thing. With the words. For something other than the blog.

So last year I made several posts giving “advice” (please read that while doing air quotes) on writing when I started doing the blog. Looking back on them now – and a lot of my older posts, if I’m being honest – they seem so unlike me. Like, who am I to be giving anyone advice about writing? I guess I was still in the mindset of desperately trying to keep being a fiction writer after graduating college, and I was trying to share what I learned from other articles and authors about writing. I was very much into the idea of “if you want to be a writer, then start acting like one,” blah blah blah, post-college attitude, pre-I can’t find a job I’m qualified for even with a B.A. and it’s been two years since I graduated thoughts.

And geez, how I can’t even follow my own advice. Aside from the blog, I really haven’t done much writing in almost a year. There was a lot building up to it; the lack of effective workshop classes now that college was done, the lack of support (or even care) from most people; my own overly critical judgements of my work; the fact that all of my fiction pieces started sounding like the same thing and I was starting to feel like I was a one-trick pony…

And then I got rejected from my school’s literary magazine last year, and I don’t know why, but that really hurt. I made it the year before, and I didn’t spend nearly as much time on the short story that got accepted that year then the one I submitted last year. I put a lot of time into that one, a lot more time than any other story I’d written since I was actually in college. I was even able to workshop it with someone that used to be in my class. And one of my friends was on the team that selected stories to go in, and she kept telling me how there are so many bad entries and I’m not one of them. And I overheard someone saying that year’s edition (the one I was rejected from) had a lot of pieces that weren’t so great.

So even though I’ve been rejected a bunch of times before, this one kind of… stung. Definitely felt like I wasn’t really cut out for writing.

And then I fell into a very big depression shortly after due to something else, blah blah blah, how many times am I going to talk about being in the same state of depression, etc., etc. Long story short, it’s January and I think I only wrote 1 short story since getting rejected from my school’s literary journal. That was last April.

Oh, and that 1 short story is a revised draft of a story I did during college in 2011. Granted, it was a heavily revised draft, with half of it being brand new material, but still. Doesn’t really feel like I’m the fiction writer I wanted to be.

I don’t want to blame the depression, but it’s kind of hard for me to delve into writing fiction when my mind’s kind of… well, not so great. I mean I could definitely use this opportunity to write something involving the things I’ve been feeling. You know, turn that into a work of fiction.

But it’s hard when you’re still having trouble facing your own shit.

I guess I took a somewhat extended break from writing. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t do anything during that time. I started a few short stories, I have this collection of random scenes of random characters in random points of view that I occasionally add to – kind of hope it will grow into some sort of novella or longer work some day. But it’s mostly been the blog for a while, and I really want to start getting back into fiction.

And don’t get me wrong, the blog’s been great. I’ve been able to try out different styles of writing. And doing this weekly, even when I have no clue what I’m going to talk about some weeks (like this one), has kept me on my toes. I may have been slacking in writing fiction, but I’d like to say writing here every week has helped my writing abilities in some regard.

I’ve been focusing a lot on other art projects in my absence of writing fiction, at least. You guys have probably seen some random Perler bead projects I’ve posted, right? Doing those is one of the ways I cope with the depression. It started out as a way to distract myself, but I’ve been loving it so much that I use a lot of potential writing time working on stuff like that. I reasoned that if I wasn’t making anything I was proud of in fiction, then I may as well concentrate on other creative mediums that I am proud of. And I really am proud I started doing the Perler stuff, I’ve wanted to for a long time and it always feels good to finally do something you’ve been wanting to do for a while. I can’t say everyone shares my enthusiasm for it, but those that do really love what I make, and some of them are even saying I should start selling them. And you know what, I would really like to! I’m going to start looking into some craft fairs, and maybe even selling them on Etsy. Like I said, I’m not having much luck finding work, and even though selling Perler art isn’t going to make me anywhere near enough money to move out and get my own place, it wouldn’t hurt if I could make a little extra money doing something I love.

I’ve also been trying (or meaning to try) incorporating some art into some of my posts. I mentioned last year when I reviewed Hyperbole and a Half that I wanted to try telling some stories the way Allie Brosh does, and I’m ashamed I haven’t even done one yet. My post about the first semester at college was supposed to be one, but at the last minute I just tailored it into a normal post. I’ve got one about my trouble with weight loss lined up. It’s written and everything. I just have to do the art. And I keep talking myself out of it because I feel like I’m always going to hate what I draw. I guess kind of like writing fiction.

Anyway, sorry if this post was kind of scattered. I guess this is a bit of a personal update post more than anything else.

Oops. Oh well.

Next week’s gonna have that art in it as I talk about trying to lose weight. There. I said it. Now if it’s not done, I’ll look pretty darn silly. 🙂

An Immature Rant About Older People Criticizing 20-somethings

As I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed last week, I was blessed with the following image posted by one of my older coworkers:

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Mmm. It was gonna be a good day.

When I was done cringing that the “l” in “life” was capitalized for no reason, I begun thinking why this was a great example why anxiety-ridden 20-somethings don’t share their feelings with people, particularly older people that may hold some kind of advice that could help us with life. Was I thinking too hard about this? Probably. Was this directed towards me specifically? No. (Although funnily enough, it was posted by someone I had opened up to about a recent issue after struggling with it for a week. Seemed very supportive and sympathetic then, but now who knows if she was being genuine or not?) But as someone who’s not really liking a lot about his life lately, I couldn’t help but get a little defensive.

And then a couple days ago, someone else (also older) posted the same picture.

… Ha ha. Yes. We get it. 20-somethings have never experienced life before, and should therefore refrain from voicing our made-up problems and concerns.

I hate to bring out my inner teen rebel that never grew up, but it’s comments like these that make me wish older people would stop trying so hard to convince the world that their problems are worse than everyone else’s. Sorry that we haven’t had as much life experience as you, but to be fair we’ve only been around half as long. Holding it against us that we haven’t “gotten fucked” by life through paying mortgages, becoming bankrupt, being in shitty marriages, raising children, and working jobs we hate seems a little unrealistic, though (by the way, we do work jobs we hate, but I guess since you’ve been doing it longer that doesn’t really count, huh).

I really hate that I can’t talk about life to someone who’s gotten 15 or 20 years on me without it coming back to how I haven’t experienced it yet. Conversations always seem to circle back to them:

“You think you’re getting older? You’re young. What do you have to worry about? Wait until you see what it’s like at my age.”

“You think you have money troubles now? Just wait until you have a house and family.”

“What do you know about love? You haven’t felt anything yet.”

These are the kind of responses I expected to hear when I was a teenager. At 26, I’d like to think I’ve earned a little more respect. Sometimes it honestly feels like I haven’t. I feel like nothing I ever say or do will compare to what an older generation says or does. Because let’s face it, I’m a 20-something. What the hell do I know about life?

To every 20-something who actively has their problems ridiculed by older people on the grounds that you haven’t had enough life experience yet, I’m sorry. It really sucks, and I hope you at least have a couple good friends around your age to talk things out with. It’s a strange, transitional time for us, and it’s too bad we can’t get better guidance from people that came before us. I know it’s sometimes tempting to have an older person give us life tips, but it’s probably better that we rely on each other for comfort and share things we personally found to have worked or not worked. Having people walk with you in the cliched path of life seems to be better than being led by someone that hasn’t been at your particular place for 20 years, anyway.

Becoming an “Adult”

Since graduating high school, age has played a much less relevant part in my life. I guess when you’re in high school, and even middle and elementary, age has a strong correlation to your grade, and as we all know your current grade was, like, the biggest deal ever back then. In college, though, when you start finding people from different walks of life and different ages in your class, how old you are doesn’t seem to matter so much.

But when I turned 26 last year, something sort of… I dunno. Rattled me, I guess. Granted, there was a lot of shitty stuff that happened around my birthday last year, and even for the rest of the year, that I don’t want to go into. So there’s some outside factors contributing to my unease of being 26. Still, I’ve had so many thoughts cross my mind since then like, “you’re in the second half of your twenties now,” or “you’re closer to 30 than 20,” and it’s really bugging me.

Adults (at least to me) always seemed like older, taller people who had the answers to everything. They owned homes, they were married (or divorced), had kids, drove mini-vans, etc. It didn’t matter if you turned 18 or 21 or whatever number you want to assign for officially becoming an adult. Being an adult, to me, was like this far-off state of being that always seemed to remain in the future.

So when I turned 20 and could no longer call myself a teenager, I used the term “adolescent” to describe what kind of age group I belonged in. Not the best one, since “adolescent” can cover a wide span of ages depending on context. Eventually I started saying “20-something,” as many people have, and I feel that’s appropriate both for me and my generation. But for people outside my generation, the actual people I view as “adults,” I can’t escape the fact that to the rest of the world, I too am an adult.

And it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

And for whatever reason, being 26 is really driving that point home for me. One of my co-workers just got married; she’s 25. We’re practically the same age, and a few years ago I would have said she was marrying pretty young. And it’s not like I know a lot of people rushing to get married right now, but the reality is I’m at the age where it’s not weird for my peers to get married. Same goes for having kids; someone else I used to work with just had a baby (she’s also a year or two younger than me). A few years ago I would have said we’re too young to be having kids. (In fact, I still say we are, and I’d even argue no one is ever mature enough to raise a child in the first place, but that’s a topic for another day). But, well… being 26 makes me feel it’s not that weird.

I feel like part of the reason why this makes me feel so uneasy is because I’m comparing myself to other people and I’m disappointed I’m not where I am in life. And part of that is definitely true, but I also know a lot of people in a similar position as me. Other people that still live with their parents, other people that can still only find part-time work, other people that still don’t really know how to be a proper adult. And I know it’s okay, but I guess my overall point is that this doesn’t really feel like what being an adult seemed like it would be. Maybe us 20-somethings grew up with TV shows and movies and music that gave us this idea of what adulthood would be like, but then the world changed and it’s not what we imagined. Or maybe this is what it always felt like at this age. Who knows.

I know there’s a lot of reasons/excuses of why my generation is still stuck in this awkward transition between traditional adulthood and adolescence; our economy still sucks, we’ve grown up with too many ideals and not enough actions, the Internet exploded within the past 10 years and now there’s all sorts of ways to waste time that wasn’t available before (and the rest of the world does it too, so now it’s normal to waste time with social media and streaming videos and checking e-mails). But still, being 26 has really bummed me out.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed I still like the things I like and do the things I do. I find myself immature, but not for what I haven’t accomplished yet. It’s just being an adult isn’t nearly as… well, I guess it’s just not what I expected it to feel like. I could say the same thing for any age I’ve been, I guess. But, and not to sound like an old person feeling sorry for himself, I’ve been realizing I’m not as young as I used to be and I still don’t have a lot of shit figured out yet.

Although to be fair, if there’s anything I’ve learned about “real” adults at all in recent years, it’s that most of them don’t have their shit figured out yet either. 🙂

On New Year’s Resolutions

How was everyone’s holidays? Not too bad, I hope. I know for a lot of us, they’re a pretty stressful time of year, so hopefully life is adjusting back to a normal schedule.

Every year people seem obligated to make resolutions to better themselves starting on January 1st. I’ve often participated in this myself in the past, but like many people I fall short of that goal within a few months. A big one for me (and a lot of people) used to be dedicating myself to lose weight. Of course, like anyone that tries to lose weight, the urge to eat yogurt, fruit, and granola bars quickly fades when a) these things start taking a toll on your food budget, and b) the temptation of cheaper, less healthy, more tasty food eventually overtakes us. We feel like we fail in our New Year’s resolutions, and never make an attempt for the rest of the year.

Now, of course, I realize that’s kind of silly. Losing weight has become more of a constant work-in-progress for me rather than a goal to achieve for the sake of achieving a goal. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to make this a New Year’s resolution, but from personal experience I feel life changes like these should be made gradually throughout the year, rather than a decision that’s something akin to a spur-of-the-moment one.

In this sense, New Year’s resolutions seem pointless to me. After all, why choose to make a positive change for yourself at this specific time instead of at any other? It seems like that would just promote the idea of putting off goals until a similar time came around again. And if you fail it, especially something as sensitive as losing weight, it makes you feel more like a loser. Like you have this idea that starting on January 1st, you’re supposed to eat healthy and exercise every single day for the rest of the year, and if you fall off the bandwagon then that’s it. You’re finished. You failed your New Year’s resolution.

Resolutions like these should be taken with the idea that’s it’s not something as simple as, “I’m finally going to repaint the walls in my house this year,” or something task-oriented like that. Those are things you just, you know, do. Bigger tasks like losing weight or whatever lifestyle change your New Year’s resolution is require the expectation that your goal isn’t going to happen overnight, you’re going to have relapses, and you can’t feel like a failure because you didn’t do it perfectly the first time.

That being said, I like the overall idea of New Year’s resolutions in the sense that it’s a brand new year, there’s a fresh slate, and now that normal life has resumed after the holidays, it’s a good opportunity to either start over or begin something new. When you have a bad day, you have a bad day. You go to sleep and wake up facing a new one. The bad day’s behind you. You have a bad week, then you have a bad week. Sunday starts a new one, and you put last week behind you. Bad month, it’s a bad month. You flip the calendar page and put it out of your mind. Last month was a picture of a dog gnawing on a chew toy in a backyard. This month it’s a kitten yawning. Calendars are magical like that.

Whether you’re starting a new day, week, month, or year there’s usually the feeling of, indeed, starting a new day, week, whatever. That’s why if things just aren’t going your way, it’s okay to just take the bad day, week, whatever and start out fresh and recharged when a new one begins.

I’m not saying it’s always easy (god knows I just can’t put a lot of stuff behind me), but there’s usually that feeling of starting a new whatever that helps nudge us along to better things. I think one of the reasons people get on the bandwagon of starting a New Year’s resolution is because there’s so much reflection around the holidays of the previous year and what happened (or didn’t). And when that 12 on your computer clock reverts back to a 1, or you throw away that stupid planner you bought last year because it was on sale and your were feeling cheap and you bring out your new one you bought because there’s flowers or sailboats or whatever you like on the cover, everyone feels at least a small feeling of rebirth. It’s just natural.

So if you want to better yourself this year and form some kind of long-term goal, go ahead. The feeling to start something new is here, so you may as well act on it. But if you’re going to just end up forcing yourself to do something just because it’s January 1st and you feel you have to, don’t be surprised if that forced motivation quickly disappears. You have to balance this time of year out with embracing the feeling of a new year and setting realistic goals for yourself that you ultimately want to do because you want to, not because you feel this is the best time to start. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two.

Anyway, good luck to everyone this year! Hope it’s a good one! 🙂

New Perler Bead Art!

Happy New Year, everyone! Don’t know about you, but I’m glad to be out of 2014. It sucked for a lot of people I know, and while I can’t say there’s anything I’m particularly looking forward to in 2015, it’s nice to have that feeling of starting a fresh slate again.

Anyway, I’ve got some new Perler bead stuff to show off! It’s been a while, so let’s get started!

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First off is another gift I made a friend. He’s a big Dragon Ball Z fan, so I wanted to make him something from one of the games. After searching through a bunch of sprite sheets, I decided on Vegeta from a game called Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension, which I don’t think was ever released in America. But who cares? The sprites from that game seemed to be the most high quality I’ve found, so I rolled with it.

Geez! Easily the biggest Perler project I’ve done yet. I’m pretty lucky It came out okay; ironing bigger projects always brings problems, but it wasn’t as bad as, say, my Snorlax. Vegeta here had a lot of convenient “limbs” that fused more quickly and easily. I’ve started to use less pressure when ironing, and I’ve got to say it usually helps somewhat. The ironing paper rarely sticks, which makes the problem of pulling up straggling beads less of an issue. It also helps prevent beads from “bleeding” into each other.

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Next up is my own attempt to show some Christmas spirit. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce The Legend of Zelda: A Link to Christmas Past! I used a sprite of Link from Link to the Past and made some color changes for a Santa outfit. I gave him a cookie shield, which is slightly modified in shape from the Red Shield, and a candy cane “sword,” which I sort of copied from one of the other canes he gets in the game. I put some string through it and put it in my car, trying to remind myself that Christmas can be fun as I drove to work.

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Meta Knight, from Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland. My freshman year of high school holds a lot of memories for me regarding the Game Boy Advance. Games like Metroid Fusion, Megaman Zero, Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland, Pokemon Sapphire, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past found their way into my house one way or another. Whether it was just a good time for Game Boy Advance games, I was lucky regarding Christmas and birthday gifts, or maybe a combination of the two, I found myself playing these games a lot.

Anyway, I have this one particularly strong memory of watching my friend play Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland as we were walking laps around the soccer field during gym one day. There wasn’t anything special about it, just one of those “snapshot” memories that recalls a specific time during your life. This game always reminds me of that time. I don’t know why I don’t revisit it more; this is probably my favorite Kirby game I own, and the fact you can play through the entire game as Meta Knight in a sort of challenge mode is one of the cooler things this series brings.

This one wasn’t too bad to make; the wings, feet, and sword fused mostly fine with only a little difficulty fusing the center area. I honestly didn’t like how it turned out at first, but when I came back to it the next day, I fell in love with it. This might be my new favorite Perler bead piece.

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Here’s Super Sonic from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it in another post, but the Genesis Sonic games played a big part in my childhood. That being said, I really hate Super Sonic. I feel like I’m the only person in the world that thinks this, but for me, Super Sonic is just an obnoxious way to stop hearing the great music that plays through almost every stage. Replacing it with a short loop of an extremely tedious and annoying melody doesn’t seem like much of a reward for collecting all the Chaos Emeralds. I won’t say he’s completely useless, though; I can use him to blaze past the two middle levels of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which I’m not much of a fan.

Anyway, I made this for a friend from work for covering one of my shifts. It was a day I really wanted covered, and I felt so overjoyed and grateful I just offered to make him something in return, and this is what he chose.

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And finally, here’s Vileplume from Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen. I bought one of those big, 11,000 count containers of beads since I was running a little low on a lot of colors. I ended up having an abundance of reds, so I looked through some sprite sheets that might help me use some up. I settled on this; definitely wasn’t my first pick of things I wanted to recreate from Pokemon, but whatever. It’s not like I hate Vileplume, or anything.

This was probably the most obnoxious project I’ve had to iron. You can probably tell from the photo, but different parts of this ended up fusing at inconsistent rates. This thing just wouldn’t work with me, and by the time it finally fused as one whole piece, it became extremely warped, even after pressing it down with books overnight. Oh well. I think next time I do a big project, I’ll fuse one pegboard worth of beads at a time and then iron them altogether. Maybe that will bring some more luck.

Anyway, hope you guys have enjoyed the first day of the new year. Here’s hoping it’s better than the last! 🙂