I very rarely cry in a drama series or film, especially when they’re marketed as such. I know I may seem like the type of person to get emotional on the smallest details in a story – and I do. But there’s a huge difference between a slight sniffle because you are so proud of what your precious fictional child has achieved and legitimately ugly crying because Everything Fucking Hurts.
It is a tad bit more mouthful but I want to emphasize that this reading slump pertains specifically to novels or literary fiction. I haven’t really been in a reading slump, in its general term*, because I continue to read beautifully well-written and drawn webcomics, manga, or long-form articles during my free time. But between March 2019 and April 2020, I have read exactly one novel**.
I think that’s an appropriate use of “slump”, don’t you agree?
I was cleaning up the files on my phone and saw this two-year-old Word document with several short essays on it. One of these essays are the one you will be reading below. I chose this one specifically because… well, I did just talk about having my hair cut in a recent post (which I published last February but I digress).
“For a story to be exceptional, it needs an original plot,” says a book reviewer, non-verbatim, for a book I completely forgot, but that which I will never forget as I have taken note of that same phrase in a Google Keep note.
I have this philosophy I apply with my art process.
The idea goes like this: The simple cure of an art block can either be a thorough cleaning of all your palettes and brushes, or staying away from the drawing board for a while.
What I’ve been trying to learn the past several months – the past couple years even – is knowing when to clean and when to step away. When to listen to my body and when to be stubborn.
Because sometimes when your body says “I’m tired. I don’t want to draw,” you listen to it. And other times, you don’t. Because maybe your body is tired and needs to rest, or maybe it just needs a little push.
Several days ago, I spent an entire evening cleaning my old palettes and water brushes. I probably spent more than an hour by our kitchen sink squeezing out the red watercolor stain out of one water brush. But that’s fine – time feels slow and forgiving when you’ve got nowhere to go like these past month.
I stood there silently. It’s already dry season now, where I’m from, and the nights are sweltering. I could feel a drop of sweat sliding down from my chin to my neck, the fan ventilating my brother by the dining table barely reached me.
Remembering that particular scene several days ago, that particular moment, I could liken it to cleansing your life or your head space. How much work it is. How heavy and uncomfortable you could feel while doing it. How it takes a while before the stain comes off completely (if they even do) and you return to a squeaky clean start.
Sometimes, cleaning up the messes around you is all you need to do to keep your sanity intact.
And sometimes, you are too overwhelmed to even clean them up. So much so, that all you can do is step away from them. Remove them from your view – if only for a moment.
I’ve been through both times. Heck, I’ve even been through both times at the same time.
When it comes to both my art and life and my mental well-being, I still don’t know the telltales of when to persist and when to quit.
All I could do right now is to listen, and to try.
It has been a heck of a long time since I published a short pondering type of post. It’s weird to not care about readability or the SEO. I’m trying my best to ignore it hnggg.
I honestly don’t know when I would write another one of these – maybe immediately after this one or maybe four years after.
That said, I hope I too made you ponder, even for a while. And I hope you are safe and well wherever you may be.
I bring to you this small update from the safety of my home. And I’m guessing – nay, hoping – that you too are reading this from the safety of yours.
As you may have caught on from the above title, I had my hair cut a couple weeks back. I had this planned since last year. I was going to have my hair cut in a long pixie… which isn’t really any different from my short hair last year. Except last year it was a super short bob and this year I have a long pixie. But I disgress.
Today, while listening to anime opening songs, I thought about how far I’ve come from high school. Haircut-wise. Back then, I was too afraid to do anything with my hair outside shoulder-length layered. (Man, seriously, the only variety year after year was whether I’ll have the edge blunt cut, v-cut or u-cut. Wow.)
That said, I made a short list of stuff I have yet to do with my hair:
I really want to try all of these someday, at least once.
And I guess that’s it. Me thinking wistfully, hopefully, of a future where I become a littlestudent more adventurous with my hair. It seems like a silly thing, and perhaps in the far future I’ll reread this post and think, “God, 22-year-old Kate is a drama queen.“
Well, to be honest, at this moment? With all of us right in the thick of things, I have no expectations. I don’t know what will happen. From where I stand, the future is a little blurry.
But I do have infinite hope.
Hope that we’ll all get through this, one way or another. That one day, we will step out into the concrete, onto the green grass. Smell the fresh air and shake hands with our neighbors and hug our friends. Happily and without any fear.
But for now, friends, I hope that you are well and staying at home for the duration of this pandemic.
I’ve always had it drilled in my mind that every human being – nay, every living being – in this here planet is made up of a mishmash soup of so many
This idea started quite innocently in my angsty teenage years. That I am made up of so many contradicting things. A walking contradiction, if you may. Sassy yet shy, loud yet quiet, hopeful yet emo. (oh god, I was too emo akssksks)
But that thought really drove itself home to me when, years later in college, I watched a video essay on Hayao Miyazaki. It was about so many good Miyazaki things, but mostly it tackled on how brilliantly he instilled in his works the idea that everyone has both a good side and a bad side. I even wrote a post inspired by this same essay! If you’ve watched any of his films – particularly, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa – you know what I mean.
But over the
past couple of years, I’ve come to realise how this Gray Area Thinking is
applicable in every aspect of life.
And this is
my focus for 2020. Not a word, not a goal, not even a project. (Even though I
love words and I’m rebuilding my relationship with goals and I have damn too
I want to
remind myself that seemingly contradicting things can exist at the same time and that this is natural for so many things in life.
Yes, I am a
hopeless romantic and love reading kilig stories. But I don’t
necessarily feel that kind of romance in my life – and that’s a-okay!
Yes, I enjoy
interacting on social media and sharing very personal parts of my life online.
But I also enjoy my privacy and have every right to firmly establish my
boundaries whenever for the sake of my own wellbeing.
Yes, I worry
for our environment. But I also love to eat meat and use leather products – and
I will do so in the most sustainable and practical way possible.
Yes, life is
short and we’ll all die, one way or another. But that does not mean I will
readily submit to my fated end without proactively seeking a life well lived on
my own terms.
Yes, we all
need to try and get out of our comfort zone in order to grow. But we also need
to acknowledge the peace it brings at times when things get too overwhelming.
positivity is important. But acknowledging the negative things help too.
Yes, we are
all entitled to our own opinion. But it does not need to come at the expense of
others getting hurt.
Yes, we have to be mindful of how our actions affect other people. But this does not mean we need to be Mind Readers and instantly know what the other person is thinking.
only exist in the rarest of places like in the fields of science and data
programming. (I guess. I think…?)
This used to
make me anxious. If I can’t know whether someone or something is good or
bad, how am I supposed to choose? But with every new day, I realise the
kind of freedom it offers. I no longer have to place things in neat boxes. All
I need to do is imagine things – all the things – thrown in one huge
cauldron. Something can be sweet while also having a hint of spiciness. One can
be good but it can also be bad, and vice versa.
Paradoxical truths exist all around us. And we are all made up of mishmash soup of seemingly contradicting things. The whole lot of us. Things aren’t as black and white as one may perceive. The Gray Area is a vast, far-reaching creature. It blurs the line from either side of the spectrum.
For more reading on the paradoxes of life, check out the articles below: