Apr 152011
 

Description of this challenge  - The novel from which this opening line came is "Contact" by Karl Sagan. For those who haven't read it, it is probably one of the most important and wonderful pieces of science fiction of the previous century, written by a man who was not only a wonderfully skilled writer with a true sense of poetic storytelling but also a great scientist (and an astronomer at that) and later on a great philosopher. Many scientists abandon science later in life to do rather bad philosophy, Sagan was the rare exception who expanded from science into excellent philosophy and his comprehension of the role of religion in a scientific world (and the horrible impact that fundamentalism has on human knowledge) was significant. In fact the greatest single conflict in the novel comes to be between hardcore fundamentalism and scientific pursuit – at a point where it is crucial to the very future of humanity that rationality must win fundamentalists are cashing in on the resulting fear to push their agenda. The conflict Sagan foresaw is raging today (although it's major battleground is biology rather than space exploration for now) but his ultimate conclusion on the debate is one which we can but hope to reach in real history, with the force-for-good potential of religion finally truly realized as an ally of science rather than an enemy. Having said that, read the book – don't watch the Jody Foster movie. It's attrociously horrible what that movie did to Sagan and most of the truly great philosophical points Sagan made are glossed over or left out entirely.

By human standards it could not possibly have been artificial, it was the size of a world. Her world. Her whole world was now in that bright white spot on the X-ray. The oncologist was still droning on in that detached voice of a doctor who has given the same bad news too many times and knows that nothing he says will really make it feel any better.

She thought about all the cancer patients in movies and on television. Some of them sell their property and use the money to spend that last few months after the news doing all the things they always wanted to do. Visit Venice or take a cruise. Some of them chose to reconcile with lost friends and family. On television and movies it was always so touching. But she also knew that in real life most terminal cancer patients go home, and cry for a few months about how soon it all ends and then as the pain gets worse spend the last months weeping and wishing that the end would finally come so the pain can end.

"What kind am I ?" she wondered, Less than a year, that's what the oncologist had predicted, while taking pains to point out that these estimates were best guesses rather than prognostication. Some patients outlive their predictions by several years, some don't make it all the way there, it's averages – a bit useful for planning the closure of ones affairs but that's about it. Cancer doesn't follow schedules.

"It sure didn't follow mine" she thought, "my schedule didn't include an appointment at all". She felt shattered, her eyes focussing only on that bright spot till it felt like it would burn into the back of her retina. The oncologist politely excused himself, experience having taught him when the time was best to leave the patient alone to digest the bad news. 

"What have I done to deserve this ?" she said out loud, "I never smoked or drank, I always wore sunscreen, I was a fucking vegan for crying out loud… I did everything right". But the bright spot was still there, covering half her liver, too big for a transplant, and by the time there was symptoms and she went to the doctor it had spread throughout half her body anyway. Too late. She'd done everything right, practically phobic of cancer all her life – but it had found her anyway. You could mitigate and reduce risk – you could never quite escape it.

It occurred to her how silly it all felt now. At any given time she could have been run over as she cycled from the organic food market. Instead she now wondered if she'd missed out on life ? All the steaks she never ate, never even trying one cigarette, never a glass of wine. 

Suddenly, she knew what kind she was. Artificial ? No, this was mother nature at her cruelest. When you're own body declares war on itself. Well, she had nothing left to lose did she ? And her love for nature was fading fast. She walked out of the hospital and hailed a taxi. She pulled out her cellphone and called her boyfriend. 

He was there to ask how it went and what the doctor said but she cut him off: "We'll discuss that later. Right now, I want you to do one thing and one thing only before I get home. I want a fucking steak dinner, a glass of really good red wine and a fucking cuban cigar.", she'd missed out on these little pleasures even in moderation and the beast had come for her anyway. She'd been cautious all her life, and it had found her anyway. Well now it had, the least she could do was throw caution to the wind and go on a fucking binge. For once in her life, she had nothing to lose, so she may as well go overboard.

Apr 062011
 

Description of challenge

In 1984 an organization known as the Parents Music Resource Center led the first organized attempt to censor music, particularly focusing their attacks on heavy metal and pop, and their ire on sex, violence and suicide. The PMRC was led by Tipper Gore (wife of then congressman and later presidential candidate Al Gore). Among their actions that year was publishing the so-called "Filthy 15" a list of the 15 "worst songs on sale".

Among the songs on the list was Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop" (for dealing with masturbation, in particular female masturbation – the same topic that got Prince on the list for "Darling Nikki") and Twisted Sister's "We're not gonna take it" (for supposedly being violent). The PMRC managed to get enough publicity to lead to a major congressional hearing led by (you guessed it) The Chairwoman's husband Mister Al Gore.  The hearing was said to have a simple goal: get the music industry to self-censor, or they will get censored by law (which when you think about it is no choice at all).

They didn't quite achieve their goals – no SLV kind of ratings on albums, in fact it stopped short at the now well known "Parental Guidance: Explicite Lyrics" tag – and three major people testifying at the hearing destroyed their plans to go further. All three were musicians. John Denver, Frank Zappa and Dee Schneider (Front man of Twisted Sister). Denver was the big surprize as the PMRC had been expecting him with his good guy image to testify in favor of their plans, but what really ripped it to shreds was Schneider. A group expecting an uneducated oaf was instead met by an articulate and talented speaker. As the only person testifying who had in fact been attacked by the PMRC Schneider ripped their accusations to shreds providing conclusive evidence of how false most of it was.

Now as interesting as the history lesson is, I really want to get to an interesting quote form Schneiders testimony. At one point Al Gore asked him the name of Twisted Sister's fan club. The SMF Fan Club it was called. When asked what that stood for, Schneider proudly said "Sick Motherfucking Fans".  

Gore then tried to question Schneider on this profane name, especially in light of Schneiders earlier testimony of being a Christian. Schneider wonderfully replied: "I don't believe profanity has anything to do with being a Christian".

 

Which means I can finally get on with the post now that I got to my opening quote and it's context. The point I think to learn from Dee in this case is that words only have the power we bestow upon them. When we wrote about sex I said that I consider euphemisms to be bad communication. I get even more annoyed when people pretend to swear but mask out some letters as in "f**k* or "c**t" – as if this will spare somebody offense. Frankly everybody knows what you just wrote anyway. It's almost worse that way – instead of making people just read the word, now you made them think it for themselves (which could be seen as deliciously evil I suppose).

Some reason studies have even shown that the act of swearing releases endorphines which reduces physical pain when we are injured (and that is a good explanation for why we tend to stream a bunch of them when we hit our hands with a hammer), and the same effect may explain why we are so much better able to express anger and rage through swearing. It actually helps us calm down. Swearing may have the opposite effect of what we suspect: it may channel anger into a non-violent response and reduce the risk of it turning into a physical confrontation (though this may be undone by perhaps increasing the risk of violence from the recipient).

But without getting bogged down in science, the simple truth is that I consider all censorship evil. Yes I am even opposed to censoring childporn. Now don't get me wrong, I despise the kind of monsters who would make child porn – but censoring it's distribution actually makes the problem worse. Studies have shown that punishing it's possession and distribution makes it harder to catch paedophiles when they act, and in fact increases it's availability – while making the producers hard and harder to catch (articles on the technology child porn spreaders use to hide their activity show a level of hiding unmatched even by the most advanced digital terrorists – and it works).  Here we have a truly noble reason to censor- where the price we pay every time we restrict freedom of speech should be obviously worth it, but even in this most obvious case – it's a bad thing, the very act of censorship makes the problem worse. More kids get molested on cameras because we censor than would have been if we didn't. And like all censorship laws – it gets abused to punish the innocent. The most obvious  case is several teenagers (13-17 years of age) now branded for life as sex offenders. Their crime ? Sexting. Apparently a girl sending a picture of her own naked body to her boyfriend should be branded a paedophile for life (she took a picture of a naked minor for sexual purposes). Moralists may not like the idea of 15 year old girls sexting, but there are many things 15 year olds do that they don't like – that doesn't mean these things should be illegal and it certainly doesn't mean that a horny teenage girl is a paedophile !

So considering that I am against all censorship – considering even the ones where the cause is worthwhile to pursue usually end up causing more harm than good, well it's obvious I don't think there is ever a situation where I am in favor of censoring profanity. I just think the very idea is fucked up and it's invented by authoritarian cunts who want to control us. 

There. I said it. See ? It's not so terrible. You're still alive and the world didn't end. 

And if anybody truly has a duty to defend freedom of speech it's writers. We have to swear when it's what the story demands. Because if we don't swear for the reasons that are easier to defend, then those who put their lives on the line for our and other people's human rights may well find they cannot swear for reasons that are harder to defend but arguably – much more important. Like the right of a student to give our president the finger and not get arrested and questioned for 3 days like it happened here in South Africa last year. 

It may be rather rude to give somebody the finger, especially somebody you don't know personally and certainly can't be having a personal quarrel with – but giving it to the president is political speech, crucial political speech – the very basis of our democratic liberty. George Orwel said freedom was the right to says "2+2=4". I would add: "True freedom, is the right to tell the president to go fuck himself". On a blog, in a story, and to his face.

Words have only the power we give them. But that power can be significant. It's not what you say that determines it. It's why. Profanity in the hands of an artist is one of the most important tools to ensure our human rights and liberty survive. Profanity in the mouths of teenagers is the price we pay for that, and it's a tiny, insignificantly tiny price for the reward we get.

Mar 312011
 

Description of this challenge

 

Well, well – I wasn't expecting this one, but I'm  very happy to get it. Now consider before you go on that about half my stories are listed as erotic literature, in fact I entered (and didn't do too badly in) an erotic writing competition late last year. Some of my best work has been erotica and sex has been a natural and normal part of almost all my other work as well.

In fact I enjoy writing erotica. I own a copy of "How to write a dirty story" and I've read it twice. Now I won't say that at first it wasn't sometimes hard. Writing about sex can be among the most difficult things to do – and even more difficult to do well. The first problem everybody runs into is to "what if my mother reads this".

Writing about sex, whether inspired by memory or pure fantasy, is by definition an act of exhibitionism. But unlike the kind people get turned on by easily, it's uncontrolled. I have no choice about who will see this exhibition. A girl who gets off on flashing a guy in a bar can choose her target and her timing, to stay safe. A writer is flashing his or her sexual mind (which ultimately is much more intimate than any bodypart) and flashing it at the world – including those members of the world with whom our relationships are decidedly non-sexual in nature. Our bosses, our siblings, our parents and even our children. I could write under a pseudonym but even that has limited real value – ultimately, I am revealing my sexual thoughts, my most intimate ones. The ones that many people are still (sadly) afraid to share even with their own sexual partners, I am sharing now with everybody.

Once you overcome that though, things change – or at least, it did for me. I find it liberating now. Whether it's erotic poetry like "Southern Comfort" or an erotic story like "The fallen lamb" or just a sex scene in a story that primarily happens because that is what the characters would do next  -there is something truly liberating in not hiding my thoughts. In speaking openly and candidly about them as a writer. In letting my characters experience what feels good to me, and what I imagine would feel good to me – and a naughty-secret feeling that nobody except me knows which is which.

Then comes challenge number two. Not sucking at it. And believe me, almost all of us do. There's even an annual award for worst sex scene in literature ! Most sex scenes are written so badly that it's scary. A degree of the above fear plays a role, and then there is a lifelong conditioning that it's wrong to talk candidly about our sexuality (which is a stupid norm that I am utterly opposed to – but no less real for that) so people hold back. Our writing becomes strained and we struggle with vocabulary, we fear using "dirty" words would denigrate our work, and in refusing to use them – we make our work less real, less true and boring to read.

That is the saddest thing that can happen. Taking one of the most exiting, emotional and intense experiences humans are capable off… and writing it so your reader is bored during it. 

How do I approach it?  Well let me be utterly candid. You have to overcome that shame if you're going to write sex well. My approach is to say that I will enjoy it. If I write a sad scene, I want my reader to feel sad. If I write a joyful scene, I want my reader to feel happy. I believe an author's most important task is empathetically engaging the emotional responses of his reader. So when I write sex, I want my reader to be turned on.

How can I try to make sure of that? Well, that's easy… I have to write so it turns me on. I always write sex scenes in the nude, and I consider them finished only when I cannot read it myself without getting an erection (and probably having to masturbate). That's the measure – sex writing should turn readers on, and if it doesn't even turn the writer on, how could it ?

Another thing I  learned  is the same advice that every writer gives every other aspiring writer in every other aspect of writing: good readers make good writers. If you want to write good sex, you have to read good sex. Buy some good erotic literature compilations. Read everything on literotica related to what your characters will be engaging in (or just what interests you). See which stories work for you, how they affect you. How certain phrases and words can trigger responses (but don't overdo them, sex writing tends to be utterly filled with cliches, a bit of that is okay – these cliches became cliches because they work – but too much and your writing becomes stale and instead of a turn-on it just feels  average and boring again.

Finally the absolute golden rule for me when it comes to erotic (and any other) writing. Avoid euphemisms like the plague. There is only one time in any piece of writing where a euphemism is a good idea and that time is when I am presenting a tragedy through extreme irony. Every other time euphemisms are the bane of good writing. They are the bane of good communication. To give an example. The word "pussy" was once the nice, sweet, euphemistic and child-friendly term for a vagina. But as soon as people figured out what the euphemism meant, it not only became dirty as well – it is now seen as dirtier than the word it was created as a euphemism for ! How stupid (ironically this means it was wrong to use it 50 years ago in erotic writing, and I would advise in favor of it now – because it's not a euphemism anymore – it's a wonderfully naughty word). The euphemism cycle is so stupidly bad that most Afrikaans women now talk about a "naaldwerkmasjien" because the Afrikaans word "naai" (meaning "to sew") was once a soft euphemism for sex, and is now seen as by far the dirtiest word for sex in the Afrikaans language. Seriously – people are shyer about "naai" than they are about "fok"  ! That is utterly stupid. Created as a soft, sweet, euphemism that wouldn't upset your parents or let children know the true topic being discussed, and now it's the ultimate dirty word.

It always happens, and I advise strongly against participating. Never use the soft, sweet euphemism when it is the euphemism – it just makes your writing shy and neurotic and boring, especially if you're writing about sex. But by all means use all the dirty, naughty, nasty words you can – including the ones that used to be euphemisms. I cannot stress this enough. Even if dirty talk in real life wouldn't turn you on, as a writer when you are trying to engage your audience in your character's sexuality you have an obligation to make them feel the same arousal that your characters feel (just as you do with any other emotion) – and you have nothing to do that with but words – so you have to use words that get their brains to think about sex in completely unabashed terms. Subtlety is wonderful when you're flirting. When you're writing about sex, I find a ten-pound hammer or pure hormone-inducing lust works better.

Ultimately, I am writing here about how I write about sex, and the techniques that help me. You may feel incapable of doing some. That's okay. More-over these are general guidelines, they don't always apply – the context of the sex scene can change everything. A character having sex out of a perceived need rather than desire will respond differently and you may want to rather let your reader feel her fear, or her anger or whatever than to make your reader turned on – in that sort of situation, I don't write like this. But when my characters are having sex like most people (and thus most characters) do – out of lust, or love, or passion or just a bit of drunken fun… then I find I have my best success if I can make my readers feel what the characters are feeling; remember similar events from their own lives or at least fantasize about the same things.

In the end… I think whether it's a serious novel or a piece of straight up erotica, if we want to write good sex –  we should set out with the simple goal of making everybody who reads that want to play with themselves (or somebody else). If my reader doesn't get horny enough that they can't resist having an orgasm right away – then they haven't felt what my characters are feeling, and as a writer I haven't done my fucking job.

Mar 302011
 

Description of challenge

Right so I am horribly late on this challenge. The irony is striking isn't it. My writing self has never done well with deadlines. I started a novel last year, wrote 15 chapters, and still haven't written the next one. Poetry tends to be once-off writings for me, I get inspired, I write, it's over. I read it again many times later but as a general rule I never, ever edit poetry.

But fiction… anything much longer than a short story and I have a nasty difficulty with finishing. What has me inspired and churning out page after page of riveting plot one week dies on me the next. But I have learned over time. Nowadays I keep copies of everything I start. So that, later when I feel ready, I can write further. I don't think I get writer's block, I get the opposite of writer's block. I get writer's opening… and when it happens I can produce something powerful and moving – like some of the short stories and plays on this site – when it's not there, a simple blog post or poem is simply more than I can do.

I have read and tried all the writers advice out there – force yourself to write every day even if it's hard, but I just can't, it's too hard for me Maybe because I was never just a writer. I have a full-time job. I have hobbies. I have friends. I'm a musician. All these things chew into my time, and actually setting aside a time to write…

Well there's a huge problem with that – I never, ever set aside a time to do anything. Except drum practice but even that varies in start times. I do things when I am inspired to do them. Time management for me is a curse, a form of slavery – even if it's self-imposed. I believe in moving with passion, I have to be moved by passion, I have to do what I am doing because right now – it's what my heart and my creative mind is driving me to do. I cannot do it because I feel I "must"… the moment a sense of obligation comes in, the moment it becomes scheduled and rigid and predictable – my interest wanes, and as it does so, my  ability to perform it wanes. I cannot do something creative unless I feel creative, inspired and passionate.

I could certainly sit down right this second and force myself to write Chapter 16, but I had already done that with Chapter 15 and one thing is sure – I will be rewriting Chapter 15 before I go on because it's the worst piece of shit I wrote in the whole half-novel ! Writing without wanting to, is about as much fun as having sex with somebody you are utterly and completely unattracted to. Not only do you find yourself having difficulty doing it, not only does your body want to rebel and not do what you're forcing it to – not only do you hate every second of it… you know you're not doing a good job. You know you'll leave the person unsatisfied and craving. The only difference is that when you write without wanting to – the person you leave unsatisfied and unhappy is yourself.

I just can't do that. This may mean I never finish a novel. It would be tragic if it did. At the same time, I know that if the price of doing so was to do it this way -that would be an even greater tragedy. My writing self is my most free, most liberated, most passionate self – and it cannot be constrained or tied down without killing it. To lose what it is, in the interest of success would simply not be worth it.

Mar 172011
 

Description of this challenge.

 

Today's challenge I find particularly difficult. This is at least in part because I have spent the majority of my adult life deliberately attempting to shirk commercialism and materialism – and with it the vestiges of classism in our culture (which includes such concepts as sophistication, well-dressed [to a standard set by somebody other than yourself] and things like that.

Nonetheless, we are, none of us perfect at living up to our ideals. I may not like materialism but I cannot help but sometimes act materialistically. I love some of the things I own (not to the extent that Tyler Durden reveals in Fight Club where they end up owning me but still). So The task required a degree of honesty with myself about my own imperfection far beyond most writing. This is not a writing about what makes me happy, or what I truly love. This is a writing about what brings me joy even though it shouldn't.

 

1. My Mapex Venus drumkit (with Sabian and Ziljan symbals – the best of the best) and the Mapex Double-Bass pedal I bought for it just this month – which is absolutely gorgeous.

2. My car. It's a crummy little compact, a 10 year old Ford Fiesta… but it's mine, and it gets me around and lets me see my friends, I love having it.

3. My filter coffee maker. It may go against my own ideals but I'm an unabashed coffee snob.

4. My media-computer (which plays movies and music over my TV). Not because it's a great computer, on the contrary – because I built it from spare parts thrown out of older junked computers and made the collection do something very useful to me (including setting up the software on it).

5. My real computer (which is getting a bit overdue for an upgrade but it's still pretty awesome – dual-screen and all).

6. My apartment. There is a liberty in owning the home you live in. You can paint and decorate it to suit yourself.

7. My never-removed-from-box original model Kill Bill Bride action figure. That's geek sophistication.

8. My Harley-Davidson buckle belt.

9. My collection of books. I have quite an elaborate home library including every single book in Terry Pratchett's discworld series.

10. My own copies of my own book. There is just something special in having published a book – of course I kept some copies for myself.

11. My top-hat. Yeah, I own a top-hat.

12. My blog. And the various things you find here, stories, poetry, and posts alike.

13. My chef's knives and other cookery gear. 

14. Black nail varnish.

15. High-speed ADSL (how I wish something better existed here).

16.  My android phone.

17. The sound system in my car  - I like my music LOUD remember

18. My Rammstein and Fokofpolisiekar T-shirts.

19. My self-designed t-shirts

20. My Canon 400D camera

21. My World War 1 Bayonette (history-geek chic)

22. The 90cm tall statue of myself as a four year old, carved out of wood by my grandmother and left to me.

23. The two very carefully chosen framed posters that adorn my wall (though I want to add a couple more).

24. The one wall in my house I painted bright fucking purple

25. My Italian Leather wallet. I used to use cheap wallets, they fell appart in no time at all. In 2003 I splashed out and spent several hundred rands on an expensive one – and I'm still using it.

 

So which one to me represents  the pinnacle of success, the ultimate symbol of adulthood ? It has to be the first on the list. My drumkit is more than just a musical instrument. I have wanted one since I was 15 years old, it took me 15 years to realize that dream. There can be no greater symbol of adulthood than the realization of a childhood dream, as it happens, when I got it – I got it way above the norm. I was fortunate enough to meet several drummers in the last few months. Many of them from some of the most successful Indie Bands in the country – including Strident. One of them had a better double-bass pedal than I ended up buying (though of course, he can actually PLAY his – I'm still just learning double-bass). But their cymbals are cheap – some of them take pride in a single Ziljan or Sabian out of a set of 3 or 4. I have 3 cymbals on my kit right now (the standard 3 that most drummers consider the basics), and they include a Sabian crash and high-hat as well as a Ziljan ride. The kit itself is a Mapex Venus. When I mentioned this – those drummers mouths hung agape and they expressed true jealousy at the quality of my kit, not that I had been trying to boast – I hadn't realized just how exclusive it is for a non-professional, non-signed drummer to own kit of this quality.  It is the realization of a dream to be a drummer, and it opened the door to another dream  - to be in a band.  It happens to be an extremely sophisticated kit – but any kit would have done the same (though perhaps not quite as wonderfully) and that to me matters more. Drumming an incurable track, expressing myself through rhythm and percussion and music and also lyrics… that is what makes me happy. Not the thing, but the use of the thing – what it does for me, not what it is.

Mar 102011
 

Description of this challenge

 

Why do I write ? I would love to say I write because of my social conscience – to change the world through art, to make a positive contribution. And I do. I really do. But that came later – it wasn't why I wrote in the first place. I know it was a very real part of why I wrote by the time I was a student, because I wrote about writing for that reason, but I had a notebook in which I wrote poems when I was 10 years old. They weren't on the level of what I write now of course, but they were pretty good stuff too. 

I had rhyme, multiple versus and rhythm. I wrote my first short story at the age of 12. It  was about politics and the nature of growing up in this country as I saw it at the time. But perhaps  still not as socially conscious as it sounds – after all, it was the height of the CODESA discussions, halfway between the end of the appartheid laws and the 1994 election. Politics was on everybody's minds, it was all we spoke about.

I could say I write to express myself but that sounds almost like a choice, I do write for that reason but I don't do that because I choose to. I do it because I am compelled to. I write because something in my soul compels me to express myself. I write, and have for as long as I can remember. I write because it's just part of who I am. I write, because if I don't write, I'm not me anymore.

Van Gogh once said that "the air itself, the sunlight on the cornfields, the shine of the world compels me to paint".  It's something like that. The joy in the world, the sadness in it, the beauty and the evil, the horror and the suffering and the heroism and the humanity… it all builds up inside me, it afflicts my emotions with an ever growing pressure until the dam-wall has to burst – and I must write.

Mar 032011
 

I've done blog-memes before, but the Katalina challenge is proving to be without a doubt the most challenging (and original) yet. I guess that's what you get for accepting a writing challenge from an excellent writer.

Here is the description for challenge number 3.


Dear sucker.

So you get to be me for a day. Damn, this is going to be hilarious to watch. My life is many things. Simple is nowhere on the list. If you're going to come across at least remotely believable in the role – these are some things you will have to know.

 

  1. At 5am your alarm will wake you up, you will briefly consider skipping it and sleeping until the fall-back alarm goes off at 6am. Do not give in to this temptation you have to shower, shave, drink coffee, check mail and make it into your car by 6am. Any later and you'll be stuck in trafic for 3 hours rather than 40 minutes today.
  2. You are incapable of being nice to anybody before your second cup of coffee.
  3.  You may find mails in your mailbox with naked pictures in them. Save those. Their from your fanclub and are not spam. Say something complimentary to the sender and get on with your day. Congratulations, you just had the highlight of it.
  4. On the way to work you will make a list of projects you are busy with and how you'll be dividing your day among them. Nobody knows why you do this because without a doubt some urgent user requests will be waiting, and take up all your time instead. Whatever else may happen, you will spend far less time on the projects than you planned, and never in the order you expected.
  5. By around 11am you'll remember something important you forgot while getting coffee or having a smoke and determine that you must do it as soon as you get to your desk. You will then forget all about it, until you have to rush to complete it at 3pm.
  6. You will probably get an SMS or other reminder of some bill you forgot about. You'll be ticked off and sort of pay it in between other things.
  7. Whatever else you do – this is the most important thing. If you get an idea for a lyric or poem you will instantly write it down where-ever you can and get it on the blog as soon as possible before you can forget it. This is because sometimes you will write 3 in one day and sometimes you will have no ideas for 2 months so you can't let one get away. 
  8. You will be plagued by occasional nags of random doubts and anxiety, you will never be sure why you feel that way so it's best to just ignore those feelings on the basis that you can't do anything about them since you don't know the cause.
  9. Through all this you will have a nagging feeling of guilt because you haven't blogged recently enough and be hoping against hope for a Katalina post in your reader to force you to do something about that. 
  10. Finally it will be time to go home. You will rush out of the office as fast as possible and get in your car and drive hoping to be ahead of trafic. You should be home around 4pm.
  11. At this stage you will undress because of the blistering heat and because frankly you've been taking Alanis Morrisettes' advice on what to wear in your living room seriously ever since the song came out in the 90's. In the event that you have guests, skip this step, unless it's Megan.
  12. You will then go do your drum practice. You will feel wonderfully liberated as you play, but also feel terribly disappointed in yourself as your perfectionist nature will mean that no matter how good you get at the practice pieces, you'll never be quite satisfied that you're there yet. I suggest leaving the paradiddles for last, they are the most fun and the easiest to settle into a steady play with – you can be very creative with them and you're good enough to hardly make any mistakes so you won't hate yourself too much. It is crucial that you stop before 8pm because after that the neighbours will neigh.
  13. By the time you get up you will be sweat-soaked, your arm and leg muscles tired as hell (drumming is a real work-out) and you will head to the kitchen to make dinner. Unless it's Wednesday in which you'll probably be hanging out with Caitlin (who is your very best friend) or Thursday in which case you have drum lessons at 6pm. Other days you may or may not go out, 
  14. Once you have dinner in you, you will head to the computer to catch up on mail, facebook and chat and find out what's up in the world. This should take you to about 9pm. You will then head to the living room. You never watch television but you have a media PC full of your favorite shows and movies, as well as some disk sets you bought of shows you particularly like.
  15. You've seen every House episode at least 5 times so give them a rest. You just bought the X-Files season 1 so go on with that (I finished disk one last night). 
  16. You will decide to watch till about 11pm when you ought to go to bed. But will probably not be able to stop till the end of the disk (which is closer to midnight).
  17. You will then pass out and fall asleep. You will almost certainly not remember dreaming at all because you very rarely do.
Feb 232011
 

Description of this challenge.

 

He was afraid. Terrified down to the pit of his stomach. He hated to admit it, even to himself but he was petrified. He wasn't very good at dealing with being scared. All his life he'd embraced fear. If something seemed scary that was a reason to do it, this was how he felt you experience life to the full – by never letting fear stop you, but this was different. He didn't know how to approach it. He'd tried before and failed and that just made it scarier. He was afraid of what it would entail. Afraid of the process. Afraid of trying and failing yet again. 

So each time, instead of doing it, he postponed it. I will quit smoking after the next one. After the next pack. After the next weekend. He knew he was addicted. He didn't like it. He just didn't know if he could stop. It took belief in yourself to try, and he found it hard to find that because he was scared. It took a shitload of admitting but fear was what kept him postponing it. And each time he postponed, he knew rationally he was just making it harder, but that just made him more scared and the cycle continued.

He wasn't sure anymore how to change it. How to cope without that soothing sensation as the nicotine bound to the dopamine receptors in his brain and made the world swim into focus. He shouldn't need a drug to do that, he was better than that… but he didn't quite believe it strongly enough to truly go through with it anymore. Perhaps he could do it for love… but he'd done that once, and that had turned into such sheer hell that when he started again it was a basic step toward cutting himself off from a very bad relationship.

That made it become part of his identity… he wasn't sure if he could be himself without it. That was bullshit, he knew it. It wasn't part of his identity  - not now, not ever. It was just another excuse spoken from fear. But he had to face that fear, he has to overcome it. He has to be able win this battle once and for all.

He sucked on a Marlboro and blew some smoke rings. Thinking about himself and the cigarette with brutal honesty but even that anger at himself wasn't helping… if anything it made the smoke taste better.

But he was going to beat it. Fuck it all. He would beat it. Starting tomorrow.