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(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

After a few weeks of letting the story I’ve dreamed up settle and grow in my head, at the beginning of this week I started to seriously undertake the process of writing my novel. I remember that when I started this blog, I talked a lot about another book I was writing. There were entire posts dedicated to the earnestness of my venture and how much time I put into it. One year, a scrapped project and a massive revelation later, I can’t help but notice a difference between the first time I tried to do this, and now.

If you remember, I wrote a post about a week ago on my motivations for writing before versus my motivations today (I’ll link it here, if you’re new and think I’m cool, or something–> https://mercysbrainscrapings.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/something-beautiful-sorry-audience-this-isnt-for-you/). While I was in high school, I developed an image of two friends, and their interactions became a full-fledged plot-line, filled with enough action and cool science-fiction-y stuff that I became sure that once it got published, Tom Cruise would read the manuscript and be like, “OPRAH. I’M IN LOVE. I’M IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS. I NEED THIS TO BE A MOVIE. CALL SPIELBERG, CALL BAY, THE PEOPLE NEED THIS.”

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Tom, it’s okay, we both got excited about things that didn’t last.

Of course, it was geared toward kids my age, and if it had ever become a film, Tom Cruise was the last person I’d want in it, but the ideas I had had swirling around in my head had me thinking along the lines of movie deals and the New York Times bestseller list. And so my baby idea that began innocently enough became so influenced by what I thought people would have wanted that it grew too big for me to handle. I became overwhelmed, trying to connect things that I hadn’t wanted in the story in the first place, and as I got more and more frustrated, I began to doubt my ability. Then, as things got in the way, I– and it pains me to admit it– gave up. Like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, I professed my greatest joy to the world, and ended up divorcing it (Though, similarly to what the press is saying about Miss Holmes, I’m much happier on the other side). I will write that story one day when I’m more experienced, but for now, I will hold on to the original idea, still untouched even after all of the, erm, procedures, and wait until I feel that it’s time to pull it out again.

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That project shall be forever known as the “Joan Rivers Venture”

Now, in beginning to understand myself and understand what it is I want to tell people, something in my writing has changed. And I don’t mean the style– I couldn’t change that even if I tried– but the feeling I get when I do it. I know what I need this story to reveal, and even in the moments where I’m unable to find the words to use to get that message out and have to spend half a freaking hour typing and hitting delete and writing and crossing out until I’m happy with it **takes a deep breath because no punctuation** I feel like I’m going in the write (HAHA, puns) direction. There is this weird sense of satisfaction that comes with finally writing the story you’ve been meant to tell; something that just fits you and follows the current of wherever your mind was heading in the first place. It makes the insane amount of hard work I’m doing worth it. I’m both very pleased and pleasantly surprised with the direction my book has taken; now I can truly start doing what I launched this blog for in the beginning.

I have started, therefore I will finish. And I won’t be happy until I do, so if you care to follow an ambitious nineteen year old on a journey that pulls her in way over her head, be ready to see this through ’til the end.

If you’ve been reading me from the beginning, or have just stumbled upon my ramblings, thank you for the support so far. The amount of encouragement I’ve been receiving is very reassuring.

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You rock so much that if I were this squirrel, I’d totally give you that flower.

 

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Talking to Strangers Taught me Things. (Sorry, Mum)

Depending on the day, I can either be a total people person, or a real-life version of Gollum– you know, before Bilbo took the ring. On those days, I loathe anyone who makes eye contact and try not to leave the house.

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Precious doesn’t want to go outside, the sun doesn’t likes him, no it doesn’t…sss…sss

One of my goals for getting better is to tell myself on those latter sorts of days to suck it up, princess. The world goes on regardless of whether or not you’re stuck inside. Why don’t you go enjoy it? Stop missing stuff! –that type of thing.

When I was invited to check out an outdoor weekend market a few towns over last night, I said yes for two reasons: the first, because it was a family outing. I’m not going to say no to a family outing, especially if they’ve been kind enough to take me in for the summer. Second: because every fiber of my being told me that I shouldn’t go. Not because of any weird intuition, or anything telling me that we were going to crash and die on the way down (ain’t no Final Destination shit goin’ on in here, no sah), but because I did not forsee myself wanting to go out. So before I could convince myself otherwise, I said yes. And then I put my phone down so that I couldn’t pick it back up again and tell them I wasn’t coming.

I regretted it all night. Oh, there’s writing I could be doing, I didn’t have a chance to do that today, oh, I still have to do those dishes, oh I’m still not feeling too hot, sleeping in tomorrow would help me, I’m really going to need Saturday to work.

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In other words.

I regretted it when I woke up at 6:30 this morning to shower before we left at eight. And at seven, when I still hadn’t gotten out of bed.

And at twenty to eight when I– God forbid– pulled out the hairdryer to make sure I didn’t get stuck in a chilly sea-side town with frozen hair in May.

But when I got into the car and we pulled away, I was surprisingly thankful I’d made it that far. I love my family; they know the area better than I do. It was time to explore.

And you know what? When I got there, I began to–gasp– enjoy myself. Not because of all of the booths that allowed potential shopping of goods that no one was going to have, but because in taking everything in, I felt joy, and interest and curiosity and peace. I wandered around and looked at antique furniture, homemade bread, two dollar book sales (girl, you know I hit dat up), jewelry counters. I saw things and met people and not only was my creativity fed, but my soul was too. For the first time in a long time, I struck up a conversation with a woman–a complete stranger, careful kids–petting a dog outside of a little shop. We spoke about art. I told her that I was new to the area, and she gushed about its charm and warmth, and in that moment, not only did I believe her, but I saw it; I felt it. We spoke about writing, and she told me how much our county benefited creative people like me. We wandered around and looked at pottery inside the shop we stood in front of, and met the owner and maker of that pottery, and I saw just how people like me can survive in little places like this and be happy.

On the way home, I had a conversation with my aunt, who is wise and beautiful and smart and who knows the world better than I ever could. I learned things.

Also, I bought a cookie. And that cookie tasted awesome.

It’s early afternoon now, and I’m still going to write and read and do all of the things I wanted to do, but instead of moseying around the house, stopping for an hour here and there to surf the net and not change out of my pajamas (or put on pants, for that matter), I’m sitting on my couch, relaxed and thankful for a day that gave me things. Things that I never would have had had I stayed in.

And so my challenge to you is this. Go out. Go out on days where you feel like it the least. Go and find curious places with people and new things, and if you happen to stop for a moment, say hello to anyone close to you. Do not fear the crowds and public places, because even though they’re intimidating, they hold experiences that you aren’t going to get on Netflix, or going through your girlfriend’s latest vacation pics on Facebook. Talk to your family; they know things and they want to share them with you. And for the love of God, not having pants on is not an excuse to stay in. You’re missing real adventure, here.

Today, I found joy in the mundane, because I discovered that sometimes all you need to feel better is to step out the front door for something other than a big night out or a roadie with the girls. And now, as I settle myself down to write some more, I’m ready and willing to explore where this story is going to take me. To be honest, I don’t know where it would have gone had I stayed in.

I can tell you though, not as far.

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Something Beautiful: Sorry, Audience, this isn’t for you.

I discovered something recently that made me smile, and slap a palm to my forehead at the same time (could’ve had a V8, kid.)

I used to write things for the sake of getting noticed. Oh, if I write a book this way, then it’s more likely to sell and I’m more likely to be able to make a living off of something that I enjoy, awesome, whoopdedoo, and all of that fun stuff. So I would take to my laptop, or my 80-page Hilroy– which in the beginning stages of a writing project, I put my first draft in, because my words often flow easier when I feel like I’m bleeding them into paper right from my soul (yeah, morbid thought, I get it, but I’m one of those weird, creative types, remember?)–and write down the idea I thought would be the next bestseller. I would pack it full of action and romance and craziness–though I did my best to keep away from vampires, because the modern generation of that sort of literature has ruined my view of supernatural stories

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Someday, Lestat. Someday.

Seriously; Twilight scared me away from Anne Rice, and I don’t know how I feel about that–

and get to work, confident for the first three weeks that I was going to make it. Except, I would pack in things that everyone was doing. My plots became cliche, my characters bland, and I could tell what was coming next, not because my brain was running as it should, but because my muscle memory was kicking in and writing the ending to the last eight movies I’d watched. I’d get frustrated, try to change up the whole story, while still keeping the things that I thought would make it sell, and then give up because it just wasn’t working.

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If there are infographs about your story type, RUN.

It was only until I started the Gracie Project– which is what I’ll be calling my work for the next three months– that I realized what I’d been doing wrong. For the first time since I started taking writing seriously, I understood what hadn’t worked before. All of the short stories I’d written in the backs of my notebooks or on a whim in planes and cars and in class when I should have been paying attention, is that I was working on things that inspired me, not what inspired my generation to flock to a bookstore at midnight to buy the fourth book in my new, imaginary series. I began Gracie because I had been going through a rough time. She popped in at the right moment, and was doing the things that I wanted to do. She was funny, she was adventurous, and she was completely different from anything I’d ever written before. Suddenly, everything made sense. Every Pinterest quote (yeah, it’s an addiction, so sue me. I’m nineteen; it happens), every page of every author’s interview I’d scrutinized, every memoir, came flooding back to me and I got it.

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I need to tattoo this to my fingers. Seriously.

You must write for yourself, above all. That is your only hope in creating something beautiful.

See that gem? That came from Gustave Flaubert. I’ve read it at least fifty times over the past few years, and most of the time I agreed with it. And then I’d turn around and act as if I didn’t, even though I had completely tricked myself into writing the things I thought other people wanted. Gracie was, and is, my way of curing myself of things that got stuck in my head and made me hurt. She is my medium; she is who I have chosen to tell my truth, and you know what? Though I haven’t worked out all of the details of her adventure, more and more of them are coming to me every day, and that is exciting.

What joy it is to be invited by your own characters to explore new worlds with them. I don’t have to leave my couch to see the things she sees, and I’ve reached a point where I’m not dying to make a daily word count. Instead, I wake up wondering when I can squeeze more of her world into mine. The way I see the world is changing. I’m creating something beautiful, not for a reader (who, if, by some miracle, picks up my manuscript and falls in love with the world the way I’m beginning to, great) but for myself. How can I expect someone to read my work if I haven’t breathed whatever life I could into it?

If you’re reading this, whoever you are, whether you’re a writer, whether you’re a businessman, cab driver, chef, dancer or Office Depot clerk, my challenge to you is this: carry out your passion in such a way that you find yourself inspired. If you exist to serve the opinions– please note I said opinions; helping other people is probably something people should do a whole lot more–of others, how could you ever enjoy what you’re doing? I’m not going to tell you that happiness doesn’t take work. I can’t expect the Gracie story to be easy, but even when the going gets tough, I still want to like what I’m doing, ya feel me?

Do it for yourself. Somehow, the more your work pleases you, the happier you are, and–I swear this is a thing– others begin to see the merit in it. You’ll discover very quickly that those who don’t particularly enjoy what you have to offer don’t matter as much. If, at the end of the day, you are pleased with yourself above all, then off to bed with you, solider, you done good.

Now if you excuse me, I’ve been wanting to make stuff with words all day.

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Road Maps and Novel-Writing: Keep Me Away from Indigo.

I went to write in a coffee shop today because being home meant distractions. I started to work on my book while sitting on my parent’s loveseat, but plot thread and character development were replaced every minute with imhungrymyfacehurtswhydoesmyfacestillhurtthedentistsaiditwouldonlytakeaweektohealmaybeishould

takesometylenolohtonightsepisodeofdrphillooksinterestingmaybeishouldtapethatohshitishouldprobablycheck

andseeifmylandloardpulledmyrentdoihaveunderwearfortomorroworshouldidolaundrybeforeigohomewhydidyou

evenbothergettingallfourwisdomteethoutthisissoannoyingPINTEREST

Replace a few of these with endless YouTube video mini-marathons and I lost a good two hours of writing time being home. At that point, I took a stand. I refused to lose to the curiosity of my twenty-first century teenaged brain, and so I packed up my things, left my laptop at home and headed to my local Starbucks to grab a latte, scribble out a dozen pages of draft one and praise my decision to put my Master’s degree on hold lest I join the ranks of overqualified baristas who serve people like me and wonder why they aren’t working at a job they’re qualified for.

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Sorry, Starbucks folk. Our job market is awful, but you do make a mean chai tea.

I got some pretty important work done before I realized that I needed to do some research, not necessarily for accuracy, as most of what I’m writing is indeed fiction, but to give me an idea of the sort of thing I was getting myself into, and how to write it. Most of the subject was unimportant; probably something I could look up online later, but as a kid who still can’t comprehend things unless she’s underlining them on paper, I did, in fact, need a road map. Why I needed the map isn’t really worth telling (at least right now), but I should note that I was in the perfect position to get one. See, in Canada–and I’m not sure about anywhere else, so don’t murder me for thinking we’re unique–our main bookstore chain, Indigo, and its sister stores usually come with a Starbucks on the inside. Of course, I was sitting twenty feet away to the gates of this chic and modern Heaven-on-Earth. If Indigo didn’t have a road map for the area I was looking for, then I don’t know who would.

So I wandered from the Starbucks into the main store and was immediately caught by the adorable Kate Spade collection of journals that looked like old library books. No, I didn’t buy one. But I contemplated it. Oh yes, for five minutes, actually. (Ten points for self-control, what what).

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Not for long.
Can someone freeze my credit cards, too?

No worries, my steel will didn’t hold up too long. I bought literary magazines. I bought the newest book from an author I’m going to see at the end of the month (Joseph Boyden; I first read Three Day Road, a story of two Cree friends who go off to fight in WWI, and fell in love). I bought a neat little question and answer book to fuel thought and make my evenings a little more fun. I bought a collection of C.S. Lewis essays (I love that man, impeccable genius, both as a fantasy author and Christian apologetic), and then, and only then did I reach the travel section to collect my map. They had it, just like I knew they would, but as I did the walk of shame to the cash register, I did not feel triumph, but sympathy for my debit card.

My addiction to literature– and cute things and shopping in general– is getting out of hand. I suppose it could be worse, but sending me into an Indigo is like sending a recovered drug-addict into a crack house to pick up a jacket for a friend who left it there.

If you were wondering the map did come in handy.

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Sorry, little guy.

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Grace, Boats and Neil Gaiman.

I spent three hours today on a boat by myself with sixty or so strangers, two books, and a notepad. The situation was a kettle, a few teabags and a deep mug away from perfection, let me tell you. I live for long trips. If, in the rare case that I’ve neglected to bring some sort of reading material, I can occupy myself by exploring the many corners of my brain. I can’t even begin to tell you how many characters I’ve dreamed up on family road trips; most of them I use right away if I feel that I can’t get to know them well enough for a full-on novel venture. Sometimes though, sometimes I’m introduced to a boy or a girl that just won’t go away. I’ll get a funny image, and blow it up, and stretch it until I’ve got some more information, and by the time I’m satisfied, I’ve got a fully rounded– usually obnoxious, loud and mouthy– person in my head.

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I swear I’m not crazy.

Gracie was one of those characters. I’ve had her hiding in there for awhile; long enough for family and friends to start joining the pack, and by the time I clued into what was happening, I had the tools to bring every single one of them to life. With three hours to kill, I started getting to know Gracie and the five-odd people that came with her. I had a blue ballpoint and a little Marvel-themed pocketbook (I keep my grocery lists in there… desperate times call for desperate measures, right?) and as the boat took off from the dock, I sat in my chair and I bled as much of them as I could onto the tiny little scraps of paper I had left. When I was satisfied that enough of their story had been told for the afternoon (also, I was running out of space), I put them away for a bit–I’m sorry, I’ll let you all back out later, I promise— and picked up someone else’s brain babies.

I’ve not had a chance to read much of Neil Gaiman, but he’s an author I’ve wanted to check out for a very long time. I picked up American Gods at a used book store where I live months ago, but without time to read, I put it away for a little bit. This week, a friend lent me another of his stories: The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s only about 180 pages or so, and I ate it up in two, hour and a half long sessions. Talk about a haunting tale. The beauty of this man’s words mixed with the fog swirling over stormy waters that looked green from where I was sitting, and all I could think about was how perfect my surroundings were for a story of that magnitude. For a small book, Gaiman’s narrative really packs a punch. If anyone is interested in a review, I might do one, I loved it that much.

A final note on public transport: there was easily over a hundred people in total on the boat today. No one gave any notice to anyone that they hadn’t known before. There were many, but each acted as though they were all alone. I find this to be the case on other modes of travel, too. Except for planes. Planes bring strangers together.

I wonder what happened to making friends on the bus?

Am I the only person who enjoys people-watching, or is that weird now?

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I watch people like most people watch “Grey’s Anatomy.”

 

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GeekyRed Reviews: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I’ve got this rule about books that I’m quite sure I share with many literature lovers: if there is a screen adaptation I MUST, no IFS ANDS OR BUTS, read the story before I watch it. Why? Because, nine times out of ten ALL THE TIME, the book itself is much better than the movie.

Relax, film buffs. I’m not saying that movie adaptations are bad. In fact, some of them I find quite enjoyable. The thing is, you can’t critique a film and a movie in the same category. Why? Because trying to fit 350 pages into two hours (as the days of the 90-minute epic come to an end) is just impossible. Things that went so well in the novel just won’t work with the plot the producers are trying to squeeze into their scripts. Most of these come out very nicely; there are quite a few book-films that I would go see more than once, however, as a self-proclaimed bibliophile (I promise, that word isn’t dirty, look it up) I will always and forever love the books more. Unless it’s The Notebook. I’m sorry, Nicholas Sparks, that novel just didn’t do it for me.

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Now why on God’s green earth did I start a book review with that little spiel? I must confess– and I feel positively wretched for admitting this to the entire internet– that I was introduced to Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo because I watched the movie first.

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I know! I know! I can’t believe I said it! But, you’ll have to cut me some slack, I did watch the movie in class, and because it was required, I’m not going to think of this as a complete breaking of my rules. Besides, I enjoyed the film so much, I went out that week and bought myself a copy of the novel. Except, because university is a parasite whose favourite meal seems to be free time, then I had to leave it on my shelf until about two weeks ago when I finally got to pick it up again.

And my oh my, what a fantastic read. For those of you who haven’t heard of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, stop reading this post, and do yourself a favour by going to get it right this second. In about 380 pages, Larsson brought adrenaline raging through my veins like those bullet trains in Japan. He made me so uncomfortable at points that I wanted to put the book down but couldn’t– you sneaky bastard, talk about a page turner– and by the time I made it to the end, he had me screaming like a pre-teen after an episode of Pretty Little Liars, or whatever kids are watching these days (even though I’m nineteen, you catch my drift). Oh yes, it’s one of those books.

Larsson manages to mix a riveting murder mystery into a political-slash-financial drama into an insane commentary on modern maltreatment and abuse of Swedish women– did I mention the book has been translated into dozens of languages and has been sold worldwide?!– and through this intricate plot web, spins readers along, keeping them willingly caught until they’re forced to set the book down at the very end. I mean, I knew how the thing was going to end and I STILL broke a sweat in the climb to the climax. I fell in love with Lisbeth Salander– the most badass character I have ever read, like, ever— and Mikael Blomkvist, two protagonists who were written so well I felt I had gotten to know them as friends by the end of it, which is weird and totally made me feel like I’d checked out of reality for awhile, but if that’s what I book is supposed to do– and I wholeheartedly believe it is–then four for you, Stieg Larsson.

Of course, because I had seen the movie first, I found the ending of the book to be rather long. Without ruining too much, I felt that the climax I had seen should have been how the book ended, but there were still eighty or more pages to go before I hit the true ending. Not that those pages ruined my experience at all; but I would send out the warning to anyone who is taking the path that I did (curse you, Strategies class!). The other thing to be wary of is the immense amount of violence that appears in the book. There were moments included that I felt that anyone, regardless of gender, would cringe upon reading. In fact, the original, Swedish title for the book directly translates to Men Who Hate Women, if that’s any hint toward what is coming. That being said, the book is a commentary on a pretty uncomfortable topic; I don’t think that it should deter anyone from checking the book out (unless they can’t handle that stuff, of course), especially because it’s something that I think people need to talk about, but that’s a topic for another time.

I’m trying to keep these posts shorter than normal, just because I can go on forever, especially about a book like this. All in all, I’d give it five stars, and a recommendation to anyone who enjoys mystery, action, suspense, a blockbuster film in a novel… (really, guys, I’m just gushing now). The plot is just so clever; I really need people to scream about this book with, and even though it isn’t brand new or anything, it’s new to me, so if anyone out there is feeling what I’m feeling right now leave me comments. I need to relate.

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Somebody help.

Check out this synopsis from Goodreads:

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there’s always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

 

Go. Go get it. Right now. Just do it. You’re doing yourself a huge favour.

 

Also, if you like book reviews, leave me a comment with encouragement and suggestions. It gives me something to do in my spare time, and since I love sharing stories, this seems like a really fun thing to do.

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Down With the A Grades: I am Going to be the Right Kind of Selfish.

It’s been an interesting year. At this point, I’m not sure where to begin, and before anyone with good intentions tells me that “it’s best to start at the beginning, dear,” hear me out, because the beginning isn’t so easy to pick out. I suppose I could start with last April, but if I’ve got to jump all over a timeline, don’t start picking this apart like you would Slaughterhouse Five if you get confused, okay? Okay.
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About this time last year, I was convinced that I was stark, raving mad. Not because I’ve got a fantastic imagination– I believe everyone who writes is insane to an extent, but that’s a good kind of insane. This time, I was sure that there was something wrong with me. I’m not going to go into everything, because I haven’t quite come to terms with things yet, but to put it simply, I got sick. Not the kind of sick that you can sit in bed for a few hours on a Sunday and sleep through classes on a Monday and feel better, but the kind of sick that eats at you from the inside and since the outside is okay, then nobody knows anything is wrong until its too late.

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From the latter half of 2012, to the first four months of 2013, I suffered from something I didn’t even know I had. See, the beauty– and I mean beauty in the most sinister of ways– of mental illness is that it tricks you into thinking that the things going on in your head are your fault. You’re trapped, afraid to tell people that you need help for fear of judgement, hospitalization, the whole shebang, and so you’re stuck, until someone who’s got enough know how catches you with your guard down and convinces you that you’re OK, and that there are ways to fix what’s going on.

I got lucky. I’ve got a family that supports, loves, and knows me better than anyone on the planet, and eventually, I got the help that I needed. A year ago in May, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and I began the journey towards being healthy. Let me tell you, kiddies, it ain’t as easy as it looks. There was a period after I began treatment where I did feel better. I started at a new school with a new outlook on life and a new plan to move forward with the things that I loved. Except, other stuff got in the way.

Ahh, the age old excuse. “Life got in the way.” It’s like you’re sixteen with stars in your eyes, ready to take on the world, and suddenly ten years pass and you’re working at an entry level office job with a degree you busted your butt for, hoping for a promotion and wondering why you didn’t pursue marine biology like you had hoped. And almost every person who asks this question to themselves comes up with an answer that directly translates to “life got in the way.”

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Old friend #1: “What ever happened to that detailing business you were going to set up?”

Old friend #2: “Ahh, man, I got offered this summer job at the firm, and they keep asking me back. It’s money, and a stable job, so why not? Besides, I have Dad’s old T-Bird in the garage; I’ll fiddle with it on my spare time. Next week, they’re thinking of moving me to head office.”

Dude, it would have saved you like, five breaths had you only said “life got in the way.”

As I was working on healing myself, without realizing it, I had fallen into the same old routine of working as hard as I could to get straight A’s, and nail all of the extra-curricular activities, working on massive projects because I had myself convinced that I was doing good things for people who deserved it. I’ve got OCD. I’m a perfectionist. If I don’t have all of the best grades, the best body, the best of myself, then I feel like a failure. It’s a messed up cycle of hope, trying to put too much on my plate to achieve my dreams, and then a full-on crash where I lose all energy and motivation and sit depressed for three weeks. Then the whole thing begins again. The sad thing about the cycle I’ve been in since I realized that good grades and involvement got you stickers and certificates, is that it draws me further and further away from the things that make me happy. I lose sight of me, tricked into thinking whatever I’m succeeding at is going to help me be happy and healthy and free.

I think I realized that something had to change after my adviser for Honours History told me my thesis topic was a one way ticket to Law School. Well wouldn’t you bet I took to the internet, had my mum buy me LSAT books (which I still do for fun, because, man, those brain puzzles are addicting), researched different programs and had my bearings set for a new adventure. Of course I had to tell everyone, and they were all so proud. Not to mention that this happened after I made the decision to stop writing for my school newspaper, something that gave me great joy, because I didn’t have enough time.

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That’s it. I’m done. I’m not even proud to say I pulled straight A’s this semester, yet again, and have a GPA of a 3.97. Why? For awhile it was because it wasn’t a 4.0. Is that not sick? Does that not make you want to slap me? If I were into violence, I’d totally give my ears a box. No, right now, I’m not proud of that because I finished out my year unhappy. I finished out my year lost, and unsure of where to go. So I turned to the only thing that I knew would make me happy and healthy. I turned to the bare-boned, base level of anything that has ever made my heart swell: my God, my writing, my books, my runs, and my want for adventure. The only thing that will make me happy is a day of sitting in my little sunny nook writing my stories and my poems and my scripts and my skits and scribbling out the tickles of my imagination until I’m empty for the day. Then, I would get up from my chair and making myself a meal of fruit, water and other cool, juicy, simple things that you can get at a store down the road. I’d go for a run to clear my head and drum up new ideas for the next day. I’d meet up with friends and laugh until my belly hurt, and then go home, read a book, pray and thank God for giving me another day, and then sleep so I could do it all again tomorrow. There will be curve balls, as there always are, but I’ll be able to take them on, because I’ll be on the right track, and when you’re on the right track, you’re motivated to take on things as they happen.

This summer, I can do these things. I’m still pushing myself to get up and start my day and do the things that I love. It’s hard, but I’m doing it. And then come September, I’m going to say no. To everything. To things that I don’t want to do. No more head of societies, no more tutoring sessions (though most likely I’ll keep doing those; I love watching people learn), no more staying up till three to finish a paper two weeks before it’s due. No more straight A’s. If I can pull off a year where I feel good about myself, where I sleep, where I have my disorder under control, where I write and read what I love and still manage to keep my grades, fantastic. If not, it’s not a big deal. I’d rather peace of mind and my imagination intact than letters of congratulations from the Dean.

I’m going to write for the newspaper. That’s it. I’m going to go for my runs, and take creative writing classes. I’m going to sing in the shower again. I’m going to like getting up at eight, just to see the sun. I’m going to fall in love with my degree, and eventually get a job that I love, without sacrificing my need to write. And I’m not going to law school. Then, I’m going to get published. I’m going to get published so much that I’m going to be able to quit that job and write for myself. I’ll write what makes me happy, and I’ll feed my family and I’ll love everyone and everything with the passion of a child, because even though this sounds way too pretty to be a plausible goal, it’s mine, and I’m going to get there because I owe it to my brain and my body to do something for them for once.

In a way, working myself sick for the wrong things is selfish. I think I was heading down a path I shouldn’t have been on because people told me I was good at it, and since I didn’t feel good about myself, I lived for praise like that. I told myself I was doing it for other people, but I think it was justification for something that made me feel less… gross. The high, however, is only temporary. It’s time to do the things I should have done all along.

Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I asked my friends what they would do with their lives if nothing stood in their way. The response was staggering. I know so many inspiring people; and I hope that someday, they will push life to the side of the road and start living. I hope that they get to do the things they told me they’d do, and I hope it makes them happy. Until then, I’m going to work on getting my happy back. And you know what? It’s going to be difficult, but it’s also going to be lovely.

I have my parents, my little sister, my loved ones and friends to thank for helping me get here.

So here’s to another April to April year mark. This one, I’d grade a C.

Let’s push for the only A that matters, shall we?

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Now that’s the kind of high I’m looking for.