The Writing Group Incident

We all do things we are not necessarily proud of. Things we end up regretting.

I am a part of several Facebook writing groups. A few weeks ago, a group member in one particular group posted about smaller writing groups more akin to book clubs. A group of writers, reading each other’s work, peer-to-peer reviews and critique, etc. A far more intimate setting than the thousands plus sprawling Facebook groups.

Naturally, I was intrigued. There were undeniable perks. Growing collectively as a group could open new doorways in terms of personal and professional growth. There would be socializing, bouncing ideas off of similar minds, pooling of industry-related resources and all kinds of other wonderful benefits. The friends I share my writing with are far and few between. The chance of having a group of peers that would be honest with their feedback and understand the part of me that is a writer without judging me seemed like a dream.

Granted that there would be drawbacks. How would you find the right people? How would you know they were right? What if you were too busy to give enough time to it? It is after all, a commitment. What if they didn’t like you? What if your crippling social awkwardness acted up and you made a right fool of yourself? The thought of embarrassing myself in, not just a group of people, but in a group of writers… The thought filled me with fear.

Which is why, when the poster explained that his writing group was looking for one more member, I was filled with both excitement and apprehension. With those feelings warring inside of me, I decided to fill out the questionnaire provided, anyway. Because, fuck it, what’s life without risks, right? As it happened, I started off swimmingly, filling out my name and writing related details with much gusto. As I did, I came to realize that my answers were laying me bare, here. I was writing in a genre thousands of people wrote, and more failed at than succeeded. I was a small town girl from a country that was, incredibly literally, a dot on the map. I was a closeted bisexual, supposedly muslim, amateur female writer from a place people knew for fish. I was no more remarkable than a tuna in one of the shoals the nets of the fishermen in my city reeled in every day.

I had published nothing.

I had also recently epically fucked up my life with bad decisions (who knew you could already ruin your life at just 18?)

I wasn’t cut out for this.

I didn’t have what it took to be a writer.

I had neither the drive, the spark nor the fuel.

I’d run dry.

As my confidence dawdled, so did my filling out of the form. I filled in things along the lines of not knowing my word count so far and instead listed my last nano count from the past November, I’m sorry – I didn’t have an excerpt of my writing that I was ready for anyone to read, I had never published anything, etc. The icing on the cake was probably my mortifyingly long intro (the longest!) where I also provided the little tidbit that maybe, it would be better if you did not pick me? Pick another, more seasoned, writer perhaps? A published author. Someone with something to actually bring to the table.

Even as I typed that intro out and filled in the other boxes, I had a sinking feeling inside of me. I was so bad at this. They would never pick me after this. It felt like I was doing it on purpose. Was I purposely setting myself up to lose? This was a question I asked myself again, later.

The OP thanked everyone for their responses and informed us that they had received far more responses than they had expected and that for the people who were not picked, they planned to do a little matchmaking to form more writer’s groups, similar to their own and asked people who were interested in participating to get back to them. Now, this was the moment I should have said no. I’d already embarrassed myself, and then some.

Instead, I said yes.

Isn’t that little adrenaline rush satisfying? Next time I’ll just go on a roller coaster, I swear.

I said that I would participate. That in itself was a commitment. We were duly informed that the way it would be done was that all the participating writers would be given numbers, to guard our identities.
It’s important to note that one side of me really wanted this. A lot. Having a small writing to group to get honest feedback from would be awesome I thought. Like-minded friends who shared the same need to write.

I was quaking at this point. It was giving me full-on anxiety. Many times I considered withdrawing – it would take just a simple email, it would be so easy. But that would feel like surrender. So, I fought back my demons and dutifully sent in a late writing excerpt entry which was sent out to all the other participants by the OP.

A while later we received an e-mail informing us that the time to send in the numbers of our preferred matches was over. A follow-up email contained St. Patrick’s Day wishes and details on how to set up the group, including how to use Discord to communicate with each other and how their group organized submissions on a google spreadsheet with links to their google doc submissions.

After that an email was sent out informing us of our matches. I was matched with three other people. Except for two of them we’d all been matched which each other, hence myself and another member received two emails, introducing us with the unmatched two. We joined a Discord server created by one of the other members and followed the loose rubric for writing groups provided by the OP and made our own spreadsheet, etc.

I’m glad that I did not withdraw. While I’ve yet to get to know them very well, we did introduce ourselves and all three of them seem like nice people. We all have a common goal of improving our writing and one day being published authors. If anyone is reading this, I would definitely recommend forming a writing group or partnership. Having someone(s) you can trust critique your work without judging you can help you improve your writing and they can improve theirs the same way. As writers, sometimes we can get a little lost and distance ourselves from the people around us. Having writing-related interactions with people forces a certain degree of socialization into your life and keeps you grounded with reality.

In retrospect, I don’t regret it after all. I’ve gained a writing group out of this. I chose not to withdraw. I chose adventure over fear. I consider this a small victory against my inner demons.

Life Update: Some Good, More bad

 So if the lack of uploading wasn’t obvious enough, my last project was a flop because it was boring as all hell at the time. I may attempt it again in the future but for now, it’s over. In the meantime, I had been struggling with my university course and finally decided to do a complete overhaul – a fresh start. My first repeated first semester that ended December last year has borne fruit in the form of a results slip… 4.0 cgpa, a perfect score, an A, with distinction. That’s right, distinction!

 I also won 4 tickets to the ONE championship which I was thrilled to receive at the time, but have come to the realization that, sadly, I will not be able to attend the epic event, which brings me to the bad news. Today, I came to learn that my visa renewal application was rejected due to my bad scores in my history at my university. The lady who works the desk in my faculty bluntly explained as I stood there shell-shocked, that my options were to either withdraw from the university or defer my course and continue six months later after leaving the country for six months which was the Immigration’s cool down period. Another, more sympathetic person – a lecturer I was acquainted with, told me to talk it over with my mother and get back to them on my decision the day after the next

 The lady who works the desk in my faculty bluntly explained as I stood there shell-shocked, that my options were to either withdraw from the university or defer my course and continue six months later after leaving the country for six months which was the Immigration’s cool down period. Another, more sympathetic person – a lecturer I was acquainted with, told me to talk it over with my mother and get back to them on my decision the day after the next day, since the next day was a holiday for Thaipusam – a cultural celebration observed mainly by the Indian population in the country.

 My options are certainly limited at this point. Whatever I choose to do, or rather, is chosen for me by my family at this point: I have to go back to my country for six months. It’s unavoidable. 

 My emotions are still jumbled and not very clear at this point. Up until an hour ago, I was in almost an auto-pilot state of mind, going through the rest of my classes for the day, smiling and chatting with my peers, keeping up a normal facade. On that note, it scares me how easy it is for me fake being alright. 

 As of right now, I feel like I’ve successfully distanced myself a little and gained a healthier perspective. I’m still confused, scared, half calm and half agitated. I considered emailing the counselor, but decided to put it off for later when I’ve managed to get my affairs in order. Which brings me to my main problem: my mother. I love her but she is incredibly melodramatic and as kind and generous as she can be she can also be harsh, judgemental, cruel and give bad advice at times of crisis that is aimed at helping herself more than the person in crisis. She also finds fault with my level of religious piety (or lack thereof) since she subscribes to the culture of organized religion in which you mold your offspring in the vision of your religion so that they become followers of the religion in adulthood and continue the cycle. 

 Religion just isn’t happening for me. Ever.

 I feel that some people have a greater affinity for religion and for others… well. There is simply no love or feeling in my heart for our religion. I’ll continue to practice it, more for the sake of family than anything else. It’s easier that way. But I will never be a devout follower the way my mother wants me to. However, that is precisely what my mother blames all of our life’s problems on. From my father and her’s dysfunctional relationship to my brother’s depression resulting from his attachment to her and staying away from her and my bad results in my first two attempts at university, it’s all because I’m not religious enough.

 I’ve been seeing the counselor at my University fairly regularly now. I wish I had started earlier, perhaps things wouldn’t have gotten this messed up then. I hate my father and I don’t want to go back to our apartment back in our country because I’ll have to see him regularly and I really don’t want to. I have no desire to “fix” our relationship because his actions thus far are unforgivable and if I could, I would have nothing to do with him. The apartment also has a lot of negative memories tied to it and every time I go back I feel suffocated. 

 Since it’s clear that it’s unavoidable, once I get back to my country I need to find a therapist or counselor at a reasonable price. I also need to come up with a plan B. What do I do when I get back? Do I join an a-level course in a school? Do I join a course at another institution which is far more preferable? Do I get a job? Would whatever options out of those that I choose, be indefinitely or for six months? Am I coming back? With the results of the last semester I know I can do better and I can do this course, for sure. I am capable.

 The difficulty arises in convincing my parents to support me. I may not be able to. There is a fairly large possibility that this decision is out of my hands. Being the youngest, my parents and my brother do on some level assume that they can choose my future for me. Whether that is right or wrong is no doubt irrelevant for them. 

 Here’s to an uncertain future that is not the end but dark all the same.

Challenge One: Things that make me happy

This is part of a thirty-day writing challenge which aims to make the person write something, every day, for a month.

“List 10 things that make you really happy”

  1. Drawing
  2. Writing and Reading
  3. Food
  4. Animals
  5. Speaking with genuine people who empathise with me and I don’t have to filter my words around and who share their thoughts the same way – an honest give and take without judgement
  6. Tea
  7. Music
  8. Learning with interest
  9. Feeling relaxed
  10. Sleeping

Image result for peace within your soul anime

#JustStuff

{So I thought I would try something new. Instead of writing the somewhat old-fashioned, musty stories I write, I’d try something different. A fresh approach. Now, I’ve tried planning my stories out before – but planning has never really worked for me, unfortunately. Instead, I’ve always just… gone with the flow. I won’t get into the details of how I tried to plan and why it didn’t pan out for me.

What I’m going to try today is akin to a time line. But instead of laying out the order of events. It will be a very simple narration. Think – children’s books. One sentence per page. An extremely simplistic, broken down narrative. 

I’m too tired to write much… so I will post the finished timeline narrative thingummy tomorrow or the day after and maybe an excerpt or two from the story itself to show you what the results are so that you can judge for yourself how well it worked.}

How To Deal With Stress

This is going to be short.
Think about your problems. Think of all the things that have gone wrong and consider all the things that could go wrong.

Now take a sheet of white paper. Place a pencil lead dot on the center.
Focus on the dot.
Continue focusing on the dot.
There is nothing but the dot.

THE DOT.
THE DOT.
THE DOT.
THE DOT.
THE DOT.

Continue this until you cannot take it anymore.

THE DOT.
THE DOT.
THE DOT.
THE DOT.
THE DOT.

Can’t take it anymore?

Okay.

Now, you have accomplished absolutely nothing and wasted precious time.
This is what happens when people focus too much and stress over things.

You may return to your life. Fix it.