Embracing the Messiness — Also, I might have Dissociative Identity Disorder

Endless Rewrite

I don’t have many flaws; I’m beautiful, smart, compassionate, have a massive vocabulary and I can eat a giant bucket of KFC without ever getting sick. People look at me and think: “That girl just has it all. Style, flair, wit and enough sex appeal to make Brad Pitt pick up a phone in the middle of the night and give her a call.” I know this because I can also read people’s mind with surprising accuracy. It’s hard to believe but I really am that amazing.

When you take a minute think about it, you realize how impressive it is that in the face of my own flawless perfection I’ve managed to remain such a humble soul. I’m not a person who writes blogs to tell the entire world how amazing I am, nor do I feel the need to send a dozen tweets into the webosphere every single time I sneeze rainbows and fart roses.

Instead of becoming an intolerable douche bag, I like to think I’ve kept myself grounded, honest and approachable. One of the ways I do that, is by trying to blend in. For instance, sometimes I pretend to make a mistake so everyone else doesn’t feel so intimidated by my greatness. Like this one time when I was six I cut my own hair and let’s just say I could have done a better job at it. And the other day, I pretended to not be able to do maths in my head because I mix up the numbers and they make no sense because who decided 1+1=2 anyway?

Oh, and there was this one time… Never mind, I won’t go into that, because you possibly just had dinner and I don’t want to make you feel sick.

But let’s be honest, for a minute – weren’t you honest already, Janneke. You incredible beacon of humanity, you shining light of perfection, you Goddess of humility and decency?  – First of all, I don’t appreciate your sarcasm. It’s not very becoming on someone who doesn’t really exist and I’m making up as I’m typing this.

What, I meant every single word I said. I’m sure that if you are ever less than perfect, it is only on purpose to make us ‘lesser people’ not feel so insignificant.

Exactly. I’m glad you get me. It’s almost like you are part of me and also read everything I said above.

I did and I am. And I am here to tell you that you have problem and should see a doctor.

Enough about you, let’s talk about me some more.

But if I’m only pretending that I am far from perfect, I am very good at it. I am arrogant, selfish and I don’t think I can actually eat a bucket of KFC without being violently ill. In fact, my own imperfection keeps me up at night. I always feel like I should be better, different, kinder and less guarded. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few indicators in my childhood as to why that is, but that’s not the point right now.

The point it that I constantly have this need to be better. Not so much better than everyone else, because let’s face it, there are few opinions and people I care more about than my own and myself.

No, I feel like I should be better than I am… Which is a fucking pain in my ass. Because I’ll spend forever going over everything I said and did and how I should have said and could’ve done it better. I know this is the same for every person, and it is how we learn. But I have a harder time letting things go. In some cases it will take me years to get over insignificant mistakes. I will feel this dumb shame and doubt in disproportionate amounts long after the fact, which is just silly.

On some levels I guess it makes me actually be a better person and act with some more respect and kindness. Even though I sometimes like to have some peace from myself and my constant feeling I should be better somehow; I don’t think it is always such a bad think to chastise yourself and try to be a better, kinder, more open-minded person.

Except when I’m writing; because all of the sudden the endless analyzing and perfectionism becomes the worst fucking habit to have.

Don’t you think it’s good to be critical and strive for the best, Janneke?

Thanks for interrupting me, you dick. But to answer your question… Sure it is, but it’s just not very helpful to jump right into self-loathing and doubt when you’re just one page in to a story or a script. Things evolve organically after a long process of writing and re-writing, and I sometimes expect things to be perfect right from the start. Which pushes me time and again in the habit to start rewriting when there is barely anything to rewrite. I will start sculpting the fine lines, without ever hewing out the general shape of the thing.

And this is an almost impossible way to work, because without knowing the general shape, how do you know where the fine lines and details actually go? You can’t build a cathedral without first setting up a solid foundation (and everything I do of course has the grandeur and beauty and eternity similar to Cathédrale de Chartres)

So, while you may feel like you are making things better by just jumping in straight away, going back and fixing every single issue, you just end up going in smaller and smaller circles until you run into yourself, screaming and shouting and wondering why you are so incompetent. — Almost as though you are talking to yourself on your own blog? —

Almost like that.

Except here I don’t care. I can do whatever I want. I can talk to myself, I can talk to imaginary readers, I can pretend to be anyone and anything. It doesn’t matter. These blogs help me unwind, that is the only point there is to them. I don’t care too much about them. Here I have nothing to prove, not to myself and not to the world. These posts just exist. I barely rewrite them. I just type, press send and never look back. They are like mindless scribbles and sketches build from words. They are often a mess, either structurally or just poorly worded…and let’s not even start talking about the content… :)

That people enjoy them in spite of that is a giant compliment, and it does give me enormous joy. I’m not being callous when I say that I don’t care about this blog. I mean that I don’t care about it as much as I care about my actual writing projects. But for better or worse, this blog is helping me grow and develop myself. It has helped me find and improve my natural writing voice, taught me how to write jokes and how to come up with better metaphors and mostly it has helped me to not care so much about every single word I write.

Perfection is in the whole, not in every single nuance. You can have some rough edges and poorly structured sentences, as long as it all adds up to something interesting (and if not, at least I have plenty of pictures of upside down dogs and baby pandas to keep you entertained. Because in the end nothing is better than that and cats in cardigans)

So these days, I find it much easier to write on my actual projects, because I just don’t care so much about it being perfect right now. I am more interested in setting up the broad strokes first. In fact, I am much more interested in finishing something for a change, without becoming discouraged or hating myself for being such a failure.

And while I’m now 20,000 words into a story that is barely holding together at the seams; because I’m making things up as I go along, I am desperately trying to accept it the way it is and defy the temptation to rewrite. Every inch of my body and mind is begging me to do it, to just brush up the logical fallacies, I’ll promise to leave the grammatical errors and spelling mistakes aside (some of them are hilarious. I might share them some day), I’m not giving in to the feeling.

Yes, I may have a character recalling something in chapter 1, which is impossible because I kill him off in chapter 3. It doesn’t really matter. Because in the long run, the story isn’t about him. And it’s an easy fix. I know it is there, and once I am done I’ll go back to it and fix it. It’s not part of the narrative, so for now I’m ignoring it and just typing away.

I’m somewhere at a pace between 500 and a 1000 words a day, and so far I’m only speeding up; because I have embraced the messiness, and decided that whatever happens, things will be fine. There will be a rewrite at some point, when I know what the story exactly is. For now, I’ll just let my hands do the typing, write without judgement, and let the words pour out of me.

They might be terrible words, but they aren’t meant to be Shakespeare (because I don’t think I can be both that poetic and boring at the same time). They are rough, ugly and messy, but they are mine.

And if they are anything like me, one day they will pretend to be absolutely perfect.

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Yes, I’m still writing — No, it’s not about Kittens

I felt it has been a while since I last said anything useful on this blog. So, I thought I’d mix it up a bit and talk about something that has slightly less to do with furry kittens and more with that thing I went here to do…

What was that again… O yes, writing.
Writing screenplays to more be specific.

I dropped my Post-apocalyptic breakfast club for now. I still think it’s a great idea but I feel very strongly I am not yet capable (and wonder if I ever will be) to write that particular film. Perhaps some day, or perhaps with a great screenwriter who gets what I want to do. (Great screenwiters, feel free to Apply anytime)

But if you think that by dropping that mean little beast I have now less on my plate, you couldn’t be more wrong!! All of the sudden I find myself outlining one potentially commercial project for television, Half went off in such a direction that I have to start researching all again and to top it all off, I started writing fiction again, just to get away from all the structure of screenwriting.

So as you can see; busy like an evil overlord plotting the destruction of the known universe.

And while at times it gets tedious and frustrating… I mean, I’ve stared at multiple computer screens, notebooks and a wall filled with note cards for over two months now, and I’m again starting with what was once Half. from scratch. If you were to look at it from the outside you would probably think I made no progress at all. I just wrote stuff and threw it all out again. Not a second glance, not a regret…

But also, I don’t feel like I wasted my time. (Though perhaps those couple of days when I was trying to catch up on Fringe and then I just watched Fringe for three days straight and couldn’t sleep because it was so awesome I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen next…) Every one of those attempts and effort went into creating the seed of the idea I’m now working on.

And that’s how it should be. Writing is a journey of discovery. It’s not like you walk into your office, sit down, jot some words on paper and voilà, there’s a story. It takes a lot of work and effort and coffee to get anywhere. It can go in so many directions, and sometimes you just need to eliminate those paths that won’t get you where you want to go. It’s not like you can see from the beginning of the road where you will end up, so you need to walk it to see for yourself. Every single path, and they all branch off in other paths and those branch of in other paths again. Ad Infinitum. Sometimes it shows you a way you didn’t think was going to be interesting… But then you are there, wandering those paths and you find you want to go somewhere completely else. Somewhere you hadn’t planned on going… But now you’re going down that road, it seems a lot better than all those other paths…

That’s basically where I am at now. Half. has been shelved. Probably forever. Instead it’s turning into this wonderful new adventure with wonderful new friends and worlds and images to play with. I’m not going to say much about it. All I will tell you is that it’s called “A Very Grimm Adventure” and it deals with the destructive nature of fairy-tales. I find it very exciting and very difficult. Right now I’m still looking for the right kind of tone, but already I’m having so much fun with it all.

And that’s all I’m going to say for now. When I get further in the project I’ll probably elaborate on it a bit more. For now it’s still too delicate and too unstable to discuss. I don’t yet know what it is exactly. And until I do, I simply cannot speak of it. I did it once, to a friend who was very enthusiastic and came up with some ideas, but it nearly killed my idea because it was still so fragile. The seed hadn’t hatched. It still needs some time to grow and develop; it still needs a lot of fucking work to make it work.

But fortunately I do have one person I can bounce my ideas off and have constructive chats with. I nicknamed him Major Awesome, and not for no reason. It’s very nice to have that person who understands what you want and how fluid an idea really is. We spent two afternoons on Skype trying to come up with ideas for this world and our Characters. He mostly steps in whenever I am stuck and bounces some ideas around with me. He comes with suggestions, points me to things I have overlooked and always urges me to stay on Character. I don’t know if I could write without him, but I do know that I don’t want to write without him.

And I think for everyone who is doing the things we do, you should have that person you can trust completely… Creatively. And don’t give me the crap that you have a boyfriend who you trust completely. That’s not the same (I assume). First of all, those things inevitably end in tears and you’ve lost your writing partner. Second of all… Who in the world trusts their boyfriend? That’s just ridiculous.

No, what you need is a writing buddy. You don’t need him to type, you just need someone to fall back on, to wrench open your brain when it’s got itself stuck. Someone to help you approach things from a different angle… and most importantly, someone who you can rely on to tell you it’s crap. Someone who is always honest with you… So that when he or she says it’s crap… you know it’s crap. This is important, because when they tell you it’s good. It’s really good.

And that is sometimes hard to believe or see when you are buried underneath self-doubt and confused about what it is you’re trying to do. Whatever people say about writing. It isn’t easy. It’s hard and difficult and we need those people to fall back on. Who understand us… who understand the story… and most importantly, who understand that some times we just need to hear that we are not completely wasting our lives trying to do what we’re doing.

So, to my good friend Major Awesome, a very heartfelt Thank you. And a promise that this week you’ll have some new stuff to read.

Stop Online Piracy Act — Why People Outside the US should Care as Well.

For a while now I’ve been keeping up with US politics. For the main part because it’s like watching a train wreck happen and you don’t want to be the guy who never saw it coming. All of your friends are sharing their tales of how they saw it happen; their exact thoughts at the moment the debris cleared and they stared at the ravages of a once proud nation, how they felt and what lead up to it. Some of them may even have been in it, barely escaping with their lives. It has changed them… profoundly. They tell these beautiful, eloquent tales, and when they’re done they turn to you. The look in their eyes tells you they want to hear your version of the events… and all you can do is stammer: “I wasn’t actually paying attention. I was staring at ‘The Situations [1] Biceps’; the new season of Jersey Shore was on.”

I’m not too enchanted with the Western idea of Democracy at the moment, where every politician speaks only in populist soundbites and is more concerned with approval ratings than actually taking a long-term view and doing what must be done, unpopular as that may be. The same goes for citizens who are just as unwilling to take that long-term view and let themselves be trapped in simple answers without actually taking the time to look at the bigger picture.

But whatever carnival may be going on in Europe with the debt crisis and the power play within the EU, I still find solace in the fact that we are not yet as bad as the United States of America. A country that is basically ruled by a bunch of powerless and scared politicians, immoral lobbyist and greedy corporations. Don’t believe me?? Here’s how they managed to turn pizza into a vegetable. Or how Michael Moore for the sum of 5000 dollars convinced a lobbyist to get congress to declare a day “TV Nation Day”.

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A Conversation with the asshole within — (who doesn’t really appreciate my appeciation for Indiana Jones)

This is not a blog post about Spider-Man. I just used it to illustrate that the asshole within is kinda like venom. This evil, dark thing that takes over the good side of me… Just read Spider-Man if you’re wondering about it, ok. It’s too much to get into right now.

I can safely say that it’s been a while since I last decided to grace you with tales of my adventures. Mostly because there were no adventures to speak of. I was a bit lost in an endless ocean of closing doors and self-doubt.

I am a pretty confident person on the outside, but the voice within tells me on regular intervals that I am a sad loser who will die alone without ever accomplishing anything. This is also the voice that tells me I am either fat or ugly (with good hair though. It can never criticize the hair) or a klutz or self-centered or not good enough in any other way possible. (Sometimes it even tells me I am the evilest person she knows, but I find that strangely reassuring for some reason). I think you’ve all met this inner voice as well. It is what people in the old days would probably be calling God. I just call it that tiny voice in the back of my head that I should never listen to because she is an asshole…

But sometimes it is hard to ignore that criticizing asshole in your head. I’d been looking for a job and my failure rate was monumental. I think I send out my résumé to over 40 different people, and got 0 (zero, nill…  yes, nothing) answers. I had tried to write on my screenplay, but I was stuck in an endless loop of a structural problem that I couldn’t write myself out of. So basically, every day I sat behind my computer and never accomplished anything. It gets frustrating at some point.

So, sizing up -and reveling in- the sheer intensity of my failure to find a job or do some constructive writing, the voice within became very vocal. And for some reason it was really hard to shut her up. I tried to reason with her. I took her aside when we were alone and I sat her down on a chair. I said: “Hey Listen, you’re not being very helpful right now. I could do with some support instead of your nagging voice telling me that I’m a giant weirdo.”

She just shrugged and said: “But you are a giant weirdo. I mean…. look at yourself. You are 25 years old with no skills to speak of… Also, you’re a lousy dancer.”

And while she may have been a bitch about it; she was right. I have no discernible skills… And I really am a terrible dancer.

I am a 25-year-old, who still hopes she can marry Indiana Jones some day and that we will spend our weekends playing Duck Hunt on the NES before running off on daring adventures involving mystical artifacts and killing Nazi’s. I’m not even kidding either. If I could choose any future, that would be it. I don’t even have to think about it. I’d be crazy happy being Mrs. Indiana Jones.

But it turns out, there isn’t really a market for that… except perhaps in the lunatic asylum… and at the moment I am still crossing my fingers that it’ll be some good twenty years before I end up there.

So, my inner asshole had me doubting and she wouldn’t shut up. I wasn’t feeling too well, because the old stomach injury was acting up again (or visa versa… it’s amazing how that thing turns up every time I am in my unhappy place) So, yea, throwing up all over the place, unemployed and cold is where I hit rock bottom.

And there I lay, staring at the world wondering what the hell I was supposed to do or be. For a while I tried to drown the voice out with the company of my dear old friend, Mr. Alcohol. But that wasn’t working either. In fact, it just made the voice come back even stronger and more vicious. So, I was about to give up and accept that I am and always will be a giant loser.

And then, as quickly as it went, my mental resolve (some would refer to this part of me as: That arrogant asshole that always knows and does everything better than anyone else) returned to me. I realized that the doubting voice was the crazy part of me. The self-doubt was not only unhelpful, it was a complete liar. I am very capable of many things. Too many things, one can argue, as I did. I can write quite well (especially in 140 characters or less) and I have a broad understanding of many different subjects (most of them pointless, but awesome nevertheless). I might be a terrible dancer, but I am a great drinker, a good conversationalist and extremely skilled in finding cute pictures of puppies on the Internet.

And with that argument I punched the inner asshole in the face. It was a neat right hook and I enjoyed giving it. I realized that even if I don’t find a job, I have nothing to lose. I can and should enjoy the time that I have here and spent it writing… not doubting myself because I cannot find a job I really don’t care all that much about anyways.

And with that realization the ideas and stories all came running back to me. The asshole within crawled back into her dark hiding place, where it lies now, waiting for a day it can come back out again and torment me.

For now, it just screams at me from the deep end of my brain. If I listen really hard I can just hear the echo of her words: “You may think you’ve won, you self-righteous prick… but we both know I’ll be back… and next time I’ll bring a friend!… or a gun… Or… well, anyways. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I’ll be back. Stupid f*&ing….  “

And then she just swears a lot. For now I just laugh. The bitchy inner voice has lost yet again. The darkness has lifted and I really don’t care all that much about my lack of practical skills. Somewhere on this planet there is something I am awesome at…

And if it’s not writing or making movies, I sure hope it’s being Mrs. Indiana Jones…

Who doesn't love Indy. I mean, just look at him. The man looks just as in his place in an Oxford class room as he does in a treacherous jungle cave. With his cool looks, suave 40's mannerisms and manly quips he just melts my heart. And to top it all off, his dad is freaking James Bond! What's not to like, people? Seriously... what's not to like? The giant chest and arms all wrapped up in a neat leather jacket? The fact that he shoots first, asks questions later? The heart of gold tinged here and there with the slightest hint of opportunism that will lead him to save innocent kids from a cruel Thuggee clan? The fact that his name is Indiana Walton Jones? Come on, the man has got it all.. (I am deliberately ignoring Indiana Jones 4. Anyone who mentions Indiana Jones for will be banned for life. Indiana Jones 4 did not happen... Understood?!)

Missing: St. Nicolaas.

I was all excited all day for tonight. Sinterklaasavond. I put my shoe in front of the fire-place. A carrot inside it for his horse or Zwarte Piet. I sang my songs as loud as I could. But nothing happened. No loud banging on the door. No giant stack of presents with my name on it. Not even a simple rhyme listing how genuinely awesome I am. Nothing.

This is the moment I kinda started feeling like an idiot. All that effort, and then nothing… All of the sudden it hit me. Could it be that he has forgotten about me? Nah. Already I knew that was impossible. The older people get, the better their memory… right? Besides, I was a pretty good girl this year so I think he would remember me. Also, I’m really awesome. So there’s literally no way the old chap could forget about me.

This led me to the conclusion that Sinterklaas has gone missing… Perhaps he was on his way here and took a wrong turn and is now running away from a terrible tribe in the heart of the jungle. Or he fell of his horse and is now dead. These are the only two things I can come op with. Well that, or he is really an incompetent twit and did forget about me… but that just seems a bit too far-fetched.

I’m pondering what else could have gone wrong, entertaining the most unlikeliest of scenarios. Perhaps he didn’t get my change of address form. Perhaps he’s addicted to crack and squandered all my gifts. I’m even starting to think that he isn’t real and that he never existed and I just imagined him… but that can’t possibly be true. I’ve seen him in real life and on the television… Nah, that just can’t be it.

I’m getting a bit worried now. The man is old, and probably wandering the streets of London looking for me feeling terribly guilty he’s left me waiting. Perhaps some bum beat him up and stole his miter. He’s got grime in his beard and he’s crying for some compassion. Someone to help him out, buy him a hot cup of coco to warm his cold bones. And most of all, he’s begging for someone to show him the way to my house.

Because he knows I’m waiting here. All alone in a room so cold I have to wear a hat and three sweaters just to stay warm. He can feel me glance out of the window in the hopes of seeing him, whilst trying to warm my cold heart and hands with a cup of tea. Slowly the desperation creeps in, I’m starting to question everything I once thought certain.

But for now, I remain hopeful. Sinterklaas probably couldn’t find my house. But there’s a solution for that. There is a place he can find anything I want and send it to me. All he needs is a credit card and some goodwill to help a cold struggling writer through some moments of boredom. So, Sinterklaas (or any of his Hulp-pieten)… if you’re reading this. Look no further, just click on this link and let the good people of Amazon do all the work for you. I’ll still believe in you!!

 

Drinking Problems.

I’m not ashamed to say this: I’ve got problems and sometimes I try to drown them in Alcohol. I’m a firm believer that solutions CAN be found at the bottom of an empty bottle. The only problem is that if you are not careful the only solution you find is drinking even more…

And that usually means trouble…

Because heavy drinking will lead to hang-overs, projectile vomiting and complete blackouts. In my days I’ve woken up quite a few strange places with no memory of how I got there… or worse, a memory of how I got there and it isn’t a pretty one.

I once woke up in my bed, which is not unsurprising… but what was rather odd were the muddy footprints and the shrubbery I’d taken to bed with me. I also once woke up in my own vomit, with no idea how it got there… I’m quite sure you can’t actually barf in your sleep, but to this day that is still the best explanation I got. Also, I once opened my eyes to see a beautiful blue sky. I thought I was sleeping on a waterbed, turns out it was the cover of the swimming pool.

A couple of weeks ago I came to my senses at 9AM in a bar in my parents hometown, still clutching a bottle of Vodka, fighting my desire to throw up with every fiber of my body. When I had forced my stomach and every other organ in line again, the images of the night before crept back up.

I had spent the entire night drinking mixed drinks, but I hadn’t actually paid for anything.. Apparently, I had made a good friend in the bartenders (whom, I swear to God, all looked exactly the same… like humanoid Oompa-Loompas… And if I remember correctly, they also all had the same name…) The entire night, I’d pretended to be some weirdo from France because I was brushing up my French. I was having these conversations with a French-Dutch accent (I don’t even know what it sounds like) and throwing in these imaginary French words at random.

People must have figured that no one can be really that stupid and idiotic, so therefore she must be telling the truth… or I just really amused them… But no one challenged my awesome back story.

Also I should mention, I was all alone by now. My friends had all left at a respectable time, and I just stuck around chatting to random strangers. I must have struck a chord with someone, because I was invited to stay for the after party (I am not kidding, the after party was people sitting around a table talking about the night drinking apple juice.) I had commandeered a bottle of  Vodka and was doing shots by myself.

When I woke up, I realized I was supposed to have a Skype meeting with my best buddy in Shang-Hai, so I bailed as quickly as I could. Throwing up behind the gas station and arriving home, totally wasted but still on time for my meeting.

After sobering up for 2 days I decided… no more Alcohol for me.

It’s not that I am an Alcoholic. I might suffer from some tendencies, but I am not really an Alcoholic. I usually don’t drink all that much anymore.

I used to, when I was younger and bored… but I hardly ever drank when I lived in Amsterdam. I didn’t really have the time for it. But then I moved back to Lelystad… and I started drinking more and more by myself. And I only have two options here. Drink a lot or not at all.

So for now, it is not at all. Until I move to London, I’m staying clean.

And when I told my friend about all of this, and how the quiet desperation and boredom leads to drinking, he told me about this awesome research.

They’ve done tests on lab rats where they had two cages. One was a totally awesome cage with a lot of fun things (for rats) and the other one was this boring cage (just a cage). Both of these cages had two sets of drinking bottles. One was filled with ordinary water and the other was filled with opium water.

Turns out that the rat in the boring cage exclusively drank Opium water, while the rat in the awesome fun-filled cage drank almost exclusively ordinary water. When the rats were swapped, they reversed their patterns.

Conclusion: boredom leads to excessive use of abusive substances.

Conclusion: Drinking increases Awesomeness of boring places