Tag Archives: Writing

Writing is hard work

26 Apr

The title basically says it all; writing is hard work. It truly is which is also one of the bigger reasons why I will never become a decent writer despite how much I wish I would. Wishing doesn’t get you anywhere though, only effort and hard labour will do the trick and we all know that I am as lazy as a person can be.

Why am I telling you all this? I’m currently in full-blown thesis writing mode and it really shows me the shortcomings of my writing abilities. While academic writing does not equal creative writing my problems are the same. First and foremost is my limited vocabulary. I sound like a fourth-grader who ingested a thesaurus. I love to write the words just as they flow in my mind and that’s fine for this blog but doesn’t work for anything that’s going to be held to a higher standard. I know loanwords and am happy to use them as I hope it shows I’m not a complete moron while most of the words I put on paper sound so blah.

Another thing that’s really difficult for me is staring at a blank page, trying to come up with sentences. Nothing is worse than staring down a blank page while your mind decided it’s the perfect moment to go blank. I despise getting to the first draft stage, after that it gets much easier for me. Never mind that I spend most of today re-writing entire paragraphs because they weren’t any good. It’s still so much easier to just edit something after you put the general idea into words; reshaping and forming the sentences into something worthwhile.

Then there is the language problem that shouldn’t be a problem for me at all. I’m writing my thesis in German which should be fine, no big deal. But it is. I find myself multiple times a day having the perfect english phrasing on my mind and failing to find a proper translation that conveys exactly the same. This is completely messed up since German is my native language, it shouldn’t be an issue but it is. I guess that day about 5 years ago when I couldn’t for the life of me remember the German word for umbrella was a sign that it’s only going downhill from there.

I’m now about 24 pages into my thesis. It’s ok, it could be worse and the last three days were quite productive. What else this thesis-writing experiment is showing me is that I just have to sit it out. Keep in front of that damn PC and write. I take many breaks to go on Twitter, Tumblr, any newspaper site I care about or walk up three flights of stairs to the farthest ladies room to get my mind unstuck. Moving around helps me clear my head as does focussing on something mind-numbing for a little while. In the end I have to get back to the writing though to get that pesky first draft out there. It’s like breaking the ice when you meet someone new, the beginning is really difficult and afterwards it gets more comfortable and easy. Writing about a specific topic is like getting to know a stranger. The more you think about it, the more involved you two become until things fall into place because you suddenly realise what it’s all about.

I’m dreading the empty chapters that are yet awaiting me but I also feel like I’m finally going somewhere, moving forward, not solely in time but also in regards to where my life is supposed to head. A little over a month and I’ll be done with studying for good, I’ll be able to travel, spend my summer on and around my favourite theater stage and look for a job. I haven’t felt useless the last couple of days, it felt more like accomplishing something even if it’s as stupid as finally getting the bottom line of your thesis question. I also know where I want to work, or at least I think I do, which is a huge deal for me as I didn’t know this at the beginning of this year.

All in all, I feel good right now which makes me happy since I spend a lot of time complaining about my thesis. It’s just the way I handle things. I don’t know how but the complaining is a part of my work routine, always has been and probably always will be.

Never give up – A Story

7 Apr

There are days that ooze a certain kind of melancholy without them having to try. I don’t know if it’s in the grey sky that never seems to get clear these days, low hanging clouds that no ray of light can get through, thus making these days be darker than they’d need to be. Or maybe it’s all in me after I stayed up too late and slept too long.

When I think of her, I think of greatness, of self-sacrificing and undying love. There are stories I heard so many times it’s almost as if I was there even though it’s impossible for me without having travelled in time.

Growing up in difficult times, the Second World War started when she was only five years old. Still, she was one of the lucky one’s, her family stayed intact throughout it, her father wasn’t sent away as he was needed in the steel mill. Food was scarce and so was everything else except love. Getting an education was one concern that didn’t even make her top five; surviving was at the top.

She once said that she never expected to live past the age of twelve with bombs being dropped all around her forcing her to spend days and many, many nights inside of the closest bunker. And my heart gets heavy with sorrow thinking about this woman growing up, living a life so much beyond her own expectations, out-living too many of her family members.

When she was eleven the war stopped and she had a little brother only about a year old. He was born into the ugliness of war, hardship and despair. Despite spending most of his first year in a bunker, he made it, he didn’t die like so many other infants did due to lacks of ventilation, sunlight and fresh air.

She did see a soldier die right in front of her but nobody sent her away for therapy. These were the times children saw things way beyond what anyone, child or adult, should ever see. Every child of that generation wears the same scars of growing up not knowing if they’ll even be able to celebrate their next birthday. Again, she was lucky. The day her town got bombed out she was supposed to be in the heart of it with her friends but her family didn’t let her go with them. Almost as if they knew something bad was bound to happen that day. Her friends remained unscratched, they got inside a bunker but their parents were beyond fear, not knowing if their children were still alive or lying beside the dead people and horses in the streets these girls ran over to get home as soon as anyone opened up those bunker doors for the first time the next morning.

I cannot imagine running back home, stepping over dead people, dead animals, destroyed buildings. Being afraid it’s not over yet, that anyone would see me while my sole concern is safely getting back home and praying for my parents to still be alive. These things are beyond my imagination and I’m glad these are different times now. I grew up in a peaceful country that, even after more than 60 years, has not been able to completely step out of the shadow of what they brought upon the world.

Back to this magnificent girl that was just about to grow up and become a woman; to be courted and married to a handsome fellow with impeccable business sense. Her life was always hard in some way or another. When she wasn’t worried over bombings anymore she worried over having enough to feed her children, not knowing if this latests business idea of her husband was pushing them all over the abyss or not. But it wasn’t, even though they did get close a couple of times. Then he started to get sick and she had to keep the business up and running, take care of her children, her mentally unstable mother-in-law, a household. Somedays she was so tired she couldn’t help the crying. Too many tears to count were shed in private.

It got better with time though, not his health or her constant worrying but they made enough money to live well, for their kids to be able to get a university education, drive their own cars. She has come a long way but it seems as if you can never keep the heartbreak away from her for long. She had to bury her husband after years of taking care of him. Years that weren’t easy with heart attacks and long, fearful nights spent beside hospital beds. She lived more than 20 years without the love of her life and I believe, she never truly got over it.

Then the year she buried both her mother and her brother came. Yes, mothers usually die before their children but that doesn’t make things any easier. Finding your younger brother after he’s already been dead for a week in his apartment is another thing I cannot imagine. How many times can a heart break and be mended back together?

Truth is, I don’t know the answer, but if her life is any indication, it is a lot. She was left behind too early by too many family members. In the end, it came down to her, two children and one grandchild. She never stopped worrying, it will always be a part of her. Worrying over things that need no worrying but are set so deep inside her soul that she cannot help it.

Children are not supposed to die before their parents and if it does happen it leaves them in a state beyond repair. She was always concerned about her first-born, the child’s health was fragile even when it was young and needed attention. The child grew up to be strong but made some terrible choices in life. Nothing illegal or life-threatening but terrible nonetheless. Then cancer came and took the child away, leaving a mother heartbroken yet another time. A mother never expects to outlive her children, not when they made it to ages over 50 but it happens and it’s ugly. It’s horrible but nothing can keep this woman down. Not for long anyways.

She is so strong and I’m blessed to have been told her tale. To me, she is the bravest and strongest person. Her story is by far unique, there are too many people out in the world with similar or even worse stories of their own. Nevertheless, she makes me believe that muddling through hardships is possible, that I never need to loose my spirits even if it’s hard, just to hang on to life itself. A heart can break many times but it can be mended back together even though it may never be the same again. She has always lived for others, worked all her life so she could leave her children something behind. Her soul was not a wasted one and neither was her life, not by far as she serves to me as a daily reminder to be strong and never give up.

I wish I could go up to her and thank her for giving my life perspective, for giving me strength and making me believe in human beings. I wish I could go and thank her for all the things she was never thanked for in her life because they were things she was supposed to do and nobody had time for politeness. I wish I could ask her if she thought it was worth it, going through the hard times or if she’d still do it if she knew what was for her to come. But that’s just the thing. It’s sometimes better not to know, it would spoil life itself, if you’re just looking for the next crisis that may or may not be ahead. Better just think of her.

And never give up.

Storytime

11 Feb

She is an odd kid – too direct and she sometimes ends up hurting people with her words but you know she doesn‘t mean for it to happen. She‘s actually a nice person unaware of the effect words can have on other peple.

Sometimes she just sits there, staring at the girl in front of her and you wonder if she knows why she does that. It‘s not like they are real friends.

‘Oh no, I wasn‘t looking at her, just past Leia in fact, not looking anywhere specific. I was in thought’, is the stammered respone you get when you finally ask her. It‘s not very convincing but you let it slide even though everything inside you screams: ‘LIAR!’. Who are you to discuss this with her anyways?! She needs to figure this out herself.

The first time both of you met in middle school is not a pleasent memory. She was really mean to you and not in a subconscious way like her normal affronts. No, that time, she meant it!
‘I don‘t want to be associated with you. God, why are you doing this to me? Ugh, I‘ll just ignore you, do you hear me? Why can‘t you see that I don‘t want you as a friend?’

You were hurt but as both of you were always magically placed in the same class you never completely lost touch of each other and eventually she stopped loathing you. You weren‘t close, not even real friends during school but at least she stopped hating your living guts and started to tolerate you.

She prefers to hang out with the boys in your class but after all, she has most of her classes with them. Math and Science are just not crawling with girls she must have gotten used to being with boys so much that she doesn‘t even notice that it seems odd in comparison to the rest of your year where girls hang out with girls and boys with boys. Also, a lot of the girls were cruel to her, especially during middle school. They were making fun of her and teasing her but not in a good way – no funny teasing, just plain old mean girl teasing. You felt sorry for her but didn‘t do anything to help her either.

Her room is quite interesting. There are a lot of books on the shelves and she has huge posters of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Aniston above her bed and you can‘t help but wonder where the boyband posters are that all other girls in your class seem to have plastered on their walls.

She is in fact not that noticable, she has friends but doesn‘t seem to attract big crowds like other people in school. But if you‘re interested in a sarcastic comment or witty comback, you should definitely go and talk to her. She‘ll give you a run for your money.

At your high school graduation her face is torn between happiness and discomfort. After her name gets called and she goes on stage with her partner, Thomas, you see how uneasy she feels. After all, she was never good at hiding her emotions. To you, her honesty is quite refreshing and one of your favourite things about her. She doesn‘t look happy on the arm of that boy and you wonder why she is not on stage with her best friend. Oh right, she waited too long and someone else aready secured him as their graduation date, you remember having heard her talking about this. Too bad but thankfully the moment she has to stand next to Thomas isn‘t that long and you sigh of relieve when they are finally parting. Poor boy, he never had a fair chance at her heart. Well, you can‘t really blame her, he looks a bit like  you pictured Grenouille from ,The Perfume‘ would look like but you also know that it‘s only half of the truth.

Both of you start to study the same thing at the university – engineering. It‘s exciting to be back in an institution of learning after spending a big part of your summer doing a mind-numbing but necessary internship in a factory.

Despite both of you knowing each other from school you don‘t hang out much. She rather spends her time with a boy from school and his friend. Sometimes you wonder if she likes one of them but then again, you know she really does not see any boy as more than a friend. Oh, but she still seems to be so clueless. You want to shout the truth at her but you know that would be like cheating and she apparently needs this time to come to her senses.

University is not like you thought it would be – not bad, just different. How you long to go out into the world and get to know different people. People who speak the language that is constantly on your mind despite it not being your native language. When it‘s time you sign up for the Erasmus program and end up being sent to your dream university in Sweden. Again she is there with you, taking the same courses but still not on the same page as you are. Poor girl.

One day in Logistics II the boy from the building across yours catches her staring at another girl‘s behind in class.

‘Hey, what were you looking at?!’
‘What? Oh, nowhere really, just been thinking. Why what did I do?’
‘Oh, nevermind’, he let‘s it go just as you did all these years ago in school. Even her answer was almost the same but that‘s still not your place to tell her even though the word ‘LIAR’ nearly escapes you. It‘s not time yet even though you feel her getting closer.

The international student organisation has planned a trip to Gotland and you are not letting this opportunity go to waste so you sign up for the weekend. Of course she is there as well. She‘s always there, trying to get out but ends up in the background most of the times. The weekend ends up being a little unplanned but maybe you‘re just too German. At least the president of the organisation seems to have enjoyed the party you all attended. A lot. Making out with another girl from the organisation and you can‘t help but smile as you recall her watching them making out on the dancefloor. She tried to hide it but you know her and you know why she was staring at them. It‘s like she doesn‘t even know – but you do. The answer to all her questions is just one thought away but she still shies away from going there. You want to give her a little extra push but that‘s not how it works. You see her wasting her time and cannot do anything about it. It‘s frustrating but the way it‘s got to be.

After you both get back from Sweden you don‘t hang out much even though you feel like you are closer to her than you‘ve ever been. And you feel how she is getting closer to her truth. It‘s not buried that deep down inside of her anymore. Just a little more time until it fully rises to the surface, you can feel it.

Then one day she ends up right in front of you and she finally looks at you, really looks at you like she sees you for the first time in her life despite the fact that you‘ve known each other for 10 plus years. You know this is the moment you have been waiting for all those years. And you see how it hits her like an anvel on the head – you see the realisation in her eyes, on her face. The same face that you have always been able to read like a book because she is not a stranger but an estranged part yourself. And in that moment you two finally become an entity again as you feel how her confusion vanishes – everything falls into place and suddenly makes perfect sense to her because she is not afraid anymore as she embraces you whole-heartedly. Thus, embracing her true self for the first time and nothing has ever been that exciting for the both of you.

So this is something different from what I normally post but as I was staring down a blank page earlier today trying to come up with something witty to say about Sherlock and this happened instead. It’s not really finished yet, well, it still doesn’t feel completely right but here it is nevertheless. I could spend the next months trying to get it right but once the moment is gone it’s so hard to get it back. Stopping now before I start to become even more cryptic than I already am. Thanks for reading my nonsense!

 

Did I actually just hit publish?

15 Jan

In sixth grade I filled an entire exercise book with crappy poems. In class, I covered every open space in my homework diary with little stories and thoughts instead of listening to the teacher. I lent said exercise book to a classmate back then, she moved away shortly afterwards and I never got it back.

In eleventh grade I started taking part in an online community where we were given a short paragraph every month and had to build a crime story around it. We commented on each others stories, rated them and in the end a winner was declared for each month. Never mind that it was a marketing move created to sell the book series and that I never won anything because the other people were adults and had much more experience in writing stories than I did. I loved the shit out of that community and was extremely sad when it was taken down because they had promoted all of their books.

In twelfth grade,  I rather jokingly declared during a PE lesson that I wanted to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature one day.

Here I am, about seven years later and I haven’t even written a crappy poem in years much rather a short story. Last night as I was about to fall asleep I suddenly had an idea for what I wanted to write but I didn’t get up. I knew I would forget what it was in the morning and I did. It wasn’t even that important to me anymore. But I also didn’t want to actually start writing then and there because that would have meant me being up well past my bedtime and I had to go to uni the next morning.

It is a strange feeling, finally having an idea you want to put on paper, to form, mull over in your head and expand into a whole story. For me, those ideas usually come at the most unwelcome moments – when I’m about to go to bed or cannot fall asleep. There is something about being in the dark, being tired but not too tired to think clearly that just screams writing moment at me. I usually don’t follow my instincts though because, as I said, the rare moments I feel like this are ill timed.

I guess I will never be the writer my 17-year old self wanted to be so badly. I haven’t even written a story in years much less do I possess the ability to write well or create interesting plots or follow through with anything. I cannot help but wonder if I traded in creative writing for blogging. Maybe not fully but at least to some extend. On here, I don’t have to write conversations, think of a plot that does actually make sense. Instead, I write what is on my mind and am fortunate enough to have people read and (sometimes) comment on it. Blogging is just so much easier but I do miss the fiction writing. I’d like to write something semi-biographic as I’m sure most writers do, they draw from their own experiences. I want to write mysteries and love stories and mush them together into one great novel but I feel like a phoney because what do I know about love and mystery plots? Everything I know comes from TV shows I watched and books I read.

Maybe one day, when I’m old and grey and actually have the time and experience to tell something interesting I will be able to do it. Until then, I will continue to bore you with trips down memory lane and random crap about my life, until then:

Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.

-Tina Fey-

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