It’s 5.10 am, waiting for my coffee to brew in the hostel where I’ve been volunteering for the past two weeks. One of my characters just woke me up, pulled my feet and said:
“It’s time to work…come on! Everyone else is still asleep.”
In 2016 I wrote a collection of poems that I have been editing for about 9 months. The more I work on it, the more I love it, the less I sleep.
It seems I need reminders and I want to share three of my favourite with you.
#1: More self-love
As I am editing this piece, I am almost two months away from that 5.10 am coffee AND practically done with the final edits of my book. Let me tell you one thing: it’s okay to slow down.
I pushed myself too much. Even IBS came back after many years.
When doing what we love, we may overwhelm ourselves without having any idea about what the hell we’re doing – at least for a newbie like me (but the experienced say it will hardly change…)
No one except us knows better what we need and when we need it. If we aren’t well in our body and mind, we will be working from a place of unsatisfaction, discomfort or anger. It’s not that we have to feel great; no one does. It’s okay to be okay – this is life. We wake up, if we are writers, we write. If we are builders, we build. Among beautiful energised days, there are a million shitty blue days. Our thoughts are way more powerful than we think…
There is so much urge, online and in real life, to ‘produce’ fast and with quality. To share on social media how great we are otherwise, it seems we don’t even exist. But sorry no – I am not sorry. I don’t belong to this squad.
For me learning how to enjoy the process is more important than focusing on the outcome. It’s in the process that I have fun. It’s the process that wakes me up every single day, but I am in the process, too.
It’s learning how to be understanding with myself.
#2: Solitude is ok
It seems I am turning into a literate wolf: the world out there has almost lost the appeal. Even my travelling style has changed.
Now I cheat bars with libraries, hikes with writing in cafès with large desks and good wi-fi (preferably with cleaned windows from where I perch for people watching). Bookstores with comfy couches and thoughtful employees are my ultimate Mecca. Travelling and sharing accommodations like hostels soften my urge to isolation. It helps me to stay integrated into communities – even if it’s just temporarily.
My social time revolves around exhibitions, books launches, creative writing gatherings and whatnot of this sort. Friends who hadn’t met me for 2-3 years would easily doubt I am the same person.
Letting go has always been hard, but to accept the way I change is probably the toughest bit. Everyone keeps on inviting for drinks, cycling days, ocean routes, zip-lines and every sort of adrenaline shaking activity which I used to do before, but I just keep rolling my eyes and – mostly – decline. I get bored very quickly if I am not working on my books. That’s okay – this is the writer’s life I guess!
#3: Are you networking enough?
In Lisbon, I had my writers’ critique circle, the reading group, the creative mornings’ meetups and various social events which I terribly miss.
Lately, I had a couple of creative writing sessions after dinner in the hostel. Two poetry readings with a painter who writes poems. Another volunteer of the hostel is a Hungarian writer – Hello Laszlo:) We shared words and reflections on aesthetic oddities over meals, washing machine loads, tea time on the terrace and more. Any occasion to bond with other writer or creative on the road is like fresh air entering an old room.
Boyfriends, brothers, best friends, neighbours – they are suitable for ‘worldly’ stuff / occasional crazy emotional outburst – but don’t expect that understanding another artist can give you.
Networking may push our boundaries, techniques, inspirations. Generates great points of view. It makes us doubt if we are doing the right thing. It confirms we are doing the right thing. Sometimes it’s like stepping on steep paths. Some other times, jealousy hits and glues our bumps to the chair for hours. If it doesn’t lift us we are not doing it right – or with the right people.
After all that alone time, sharing can be all we need: a reminder of our humanity.