I’m turned thirty a few weeks ago. And I love it. Somehow I feel like this invisible shift from twenties to thirties has changed something essential about me. I feel more confident in not only who I am but also how I am. But how I spent my birthday weekend illuminated an unexpected awareness about not only my creative life but also my general lifestyle.
I spent my birthday weekend at a writing retreat at The Home of Compassion, a convent in a seaside suburb of Wellington city. We drank a lot of coffee and spent the days writing in sprints and longer stretches of focused words work. I went walking and counted Mary’s. Wise peaceful looking stone women waited for me around every corner.
I was productive that weekend. I figured out the end of my novel. I wrote about 3000 words all up which meant I met my personal daily best for word counts. But I also discovered, to my surprise, that writing all day is not actually my life goal. Here I was, with lovely vegetarian catered meals and a community to belong to and, while I did good work, I also felt like I did not fully belong.
For the last eighteen months I had been so focused on words that I had let these other interests slip. I was so focused on being a writer I was even all set up to enrol for Graduate School in writing. But then I spoke to a friend and we mused on the principle of life-long learning. This conversation made me feel uncomfortable because it was something I had been trying not to think about. It felt in many ways easier to take the well-trodden path of a Master’s degree.
But then there were my concerns for an uncertain future coloured by climate change and dwindling natural resources. This world meant that having a garden and growing some of my own food felt like a necessary security. There were the opportunities in Wellington for my art. Emails from festivals and art schools asking me if I wanted to teach embroidery.
Was this a sign from the universe to take a different path?
By not going to graduate school which serves as a silo of interest and endeavour, I feel like I am better able to be the woman I want to be. She still writes (she will always write) but she also stitches and teaches and digs and grows and cooks and makes.
In light of the shift of intention in my life, I will be retaining this WordPress site for a professional web presence; but this will be my last blog post on this site. However, I will soon launch a new blog focusing on my work as an eco-lifestyler. Called Heart to Hearth, it will showcase my interests in sustainable living and activism through domestic action.
Keep an eye out on my social media for the link to the first blog post!
I haven’t blogged for a long while. Longer than I thought now I’ve opened the tab in my browser and see that it was November 2020 when I last posted…
It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I have been. I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve been working on my debut novel. I’ve been working on a long piece of short fiction; 10 000 words – now submitted. I also wrote 30,000 words of a second novel for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month to the uninitiated.) I’ve written about 20 poems. I’ve written many shopping lists and menu plans because I have a budget to keep to.
I’ve written so very many emails. Emails for work in several iterations of client service and administrative roles. But also, for my own business. I’ve written query letters to literary journals. I’ve written to literary festivals to offer my time as a volunteer. I’ve written exchanges with the publisher who is publishing an essay I wrote. It is a piece I am immensely proud of but it is also one that I am equally terrified about because it is so intensely personal.
I write A LOT. And I love it. I am not one of those writers who hate what they do but feel compelled to do it all the same. Even on the hard days I still love it. My devotion to words almost never wavers.
I am committed to words in a way I have never managed to be in a romantic relationship. I’m not fully sure if this is because of my wordy devotion or if its just that I have yet to meet the right person. Either way, while I wait, I have words. And words bring me so much joy I know I will be okay as long as I am writing.
I guess today is a bit of an accountability post. It is a record of me stating that I want to post more regularly. It also me telling the world that I also want to write in a more real way.
My blog will still be curated. I will still chose to create content for specific contexts and readers. But I also hope it will act as a real record of my creative and intellectual lives. That means the worries and the woes will be there as well as the wonders.
My Worries and Woes today were about feeling fatigued (a much more wearying state than just being tired.) They were about wanting to help other people but not feeling like I had the capacity to do so in the way I wanted. They were about feeling like I had too much to do even when I desperately wanted to slow down . They were me feeling like I had read the simple living texts but not understood them properly.
However, My Wonder today was coffee with a colleague from a previous job where I did more listening than talking. And even when I was talking it felt like it was a more considered conversation than my usual rapid Lorelei Gilmore style rambles.
My Wonder was vegan cake for lunch and not caring about the calories.
My Wonder was walking in the early Autumn sun up my hill towards home and not worrying about trying to catch my breath. I had the faith it would return to me when it was ready.
I don’t seem to have ‘Gotten’ the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) gene. While I’ll admit to having posted more selfies than necessary on Instagram and my online following gets a fair few pictures of my escapades in sock darning these are not exactly the status enhancing posts, I think FOMO usually applies to. No one else really cares that I now have warm feet. Or that I now know my best angle.
I’m actually trying really hard to wean myself off FB as a personal Thing. I waste far too much time scrolling and staring. Yes, I sometimes get a laugh out of a cat video. More often than not though, I’m left feeling upset about environmental crises or cancer kids.
I swore to be rid of FB in March last year after a gun attack on worshippers at a mosque in the Southern city of Christchurch here in Aotearoa New Zealand. FB didn’t have the courage, or the capacity (so they say) to prevent the video live streaming to the world. I didn’t want to condone this lack of technological ownership. Let alone the lax values of human decency I felt this attitude supported.
I posted to say I would be leaving FB last year in March just after the attacks and right before my 28th birthday. I said I would have a three month phasing out so I could make sure my contact details could be shared with those who wanted to stay in touch.
I lasted three weeks. And then I was back. Back because I DID (despite myself) experience a bit of FOMO. Not because of the photos my friends posted about their alpine tramping trips or adventures overseas or dinner dates in KILT dresses.
What I was missing was the digitally enhanced connections to RL events. You see I found my main use of FB was to say I was ‘Interested’ in events and activities happening in and around my city. It was 50/50 whether I’d actually end up going but I liked being able to calendar an actively interested life with candle making workshops and tree plantings and charity knitting events.
So I went back to FB. I said to myself I’d just lurk occasionally to check out the events listed. But again, the more pervasive use snuck in and after not-very-long-at-all I was back to scrolling screens way too often.
The thing is this. I don’t like who I am on FB. She cares too much what people think. She’s more than a little self-obsessed. She tags articles to read about worthy things like Trump’s America and Climate Change and then gets distracted by less worthy things like shoe sale ads and the best filter to make your skin look great.
So, here today, with about a week until the anniversary of the Christchurch Terror Attacks and ten days until my 29th birthday, while I’m not going fully FB free, I am going to make another attempt to reduce use and re-assess how and why I use this social media app.
One thing I do want to do is increase my online presence in a professional capacity as a Creative So, I will utilise FB’s networks of connection with a professional page. This will be my main use of FB from now on. I also plan to still continue using Messenger (which is usefully actually a separate, although linked App) for direct contact with already-made friends.
I want my online presence to be less about ‘Me’ in a selfish-scrolling-time-waster kind of way. This might seem oxymoronic (isn’t that what the internet is all about?) but I want to try and re-work my relationship with the web-based world.
This attitude is built partly on societal context, that looming Awful of an event anniversary. It’s also informed by a workshop I attended about copyright which led us into exploring ideas of web publication and by association rights of ownership of content.
This discussion made me reflect on the images and words I’ve posted and how, although I have written them and they are about me, they do not really belong to me. You could say the same of this blog, I guess. But I treat this blog as an out-reach and connection medium to others. In contrast, FB, has, until now, had a more personal life update function for me.
I plan to have my public professional FB page where I post links to blog posts, news on any publication happenings, any relevant events I might run and/ or be interested in supporting such as book groups, writing workshops or poetry readings.
I have also already gotten rid of Twitter. Not that this is a big step. Not like with FB to which I have become quite attached. I never could get into Twitter properly. I’ve tried three times to become a ‘Proper’ Twitterer. And three times I’ve made accounts and then rarely looked at them. Twitter is just not an interface that works for me.
So, I’ll blog at Geographic Hearts and try to do so much more regularly in 2020 than in previous years.
I will have a professional public Facebook page as mentioned earlier.
I will also be more active through email to keep in touch with the people who I want to engage with. And to be totally honest, these are the people who are the ones commenting on and Liking my posts anyway… The medium might change. But the level of connection will remain much the same, I think.
I’ll also endeavour to update my LinkedIn Profile as a grand professional gesture. I will endeavour to actively keep it current.
All this refinement and review of my web presence and social media accounts will, I hope, give me more time to do what I want to do most.
And that is write. Write blog posts. Poetry. Short stories. Essays. Finish my debut novel and get it ready for assessment by a publisher.
Reading a great deal more is also up there on the time bought back from social media lurking. That is reading Things (books, feature articles, poems, even recipes) rather than social statuses and the starts of things that I Bookmark and then never finish.
This idea of reading more relates directly and intrinsically with the goal to become a better writer. For, to write well you need to know about the tools and skills such as grammar and syntax. A lot of this I feel can be picked up by regular exposure and considered consumption of the written word. There are also the intricacies of figurative language if you’re a poet (a moniker to which I wholeheartedly identify with.) I also feel the need for a wide knowledge of the world, both the time and context in which I write and from which I was born.
My time, my era, my generation, is one I think, of over-sharing and under-reflection. Contextually, we live in a world of servers burning through vast amounts of energy as we all bounce efforts at connecting with each other in a desperate multifarious way.
The essential question I believe, is no longer who you connect with but how? I also believe that this is the wrong question to be asking a lot of the time.
Instead I ask:
Who are you?
Who am I?
Who am I to you?
And, who are you to me?
These, all questions of identity and relation which I feel are important as we consider where we are and where we want to be.
Lastly, I ask how best can we act to make the world a better place?
Sometimes, I feel, it is through not doing something that we can make the biggest difference. Through the absence of one thing we make space for a different kind of better.
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