I’m not even sure myself, so I can’t answer that, but I’m having trouble getting back to wherever I used to be. I feel guilty leaving this space empty, and I miss it. I’m sure my need to produce will ultimately win over, it’s just how long will the struggle last, ya know?
I mused on success recently, and while doing so I had a thought. Success is often personified as a woman, fickle and choosy, mysterious and aloof, other feminine words and synonyms, but I don’t know about all that. Women are only “mysterious” because when we don’t want the thing that men think we should want, they quickly throw up their hands and deem us complicated and irrational, as if we’re actual people or something. So then anything difficult and baffling gets clothed in a slinky black dress, stilettos, and a wink.
Instead of a pearl-adorned, sultry demoness, I, as my post title has already revealed so this isn’t shocking but I needed this sentence to be longer stylistically, like to think of success as a fuckboi.
There are a number of ways to spell it, but I find “fuckboi” to be the most charming because it really encompasses the meaning of the term: childish, a product of the internet era, and visually both displeasing and appropriate. Fuckbois are the masculine answer, I believe, to thots, and if that doesn’t mean anything to you then we are not exactly in the same boat, but we’re probably rowing adjacent to one another in the ocean that is rapidly evolving internet linguistics.
A fuckboi, as far as I understand, is a boy–specifically not a man by action but likely by legal age–who fucks you, literally and figuratively. He is a “tease” and a “slut” but with a penis (so of course we have to come up with a new term for him), and he also seems to be particularly astute at manipulation with a specialty in gaslighting. A school of naive or historically abused heterosexual women are drawn to the fuckboi despite how poorly he treats everyone else in his life, likely because the fuckboi is often attractive and suffering (see: profiting) from some form of cluster B personality disorder so can reign in his shittier characteristics long enough to convince a sexual conquest that he is “really a nice guy underneath it all” at least long enough to “hit it an quit it,” often multiple times.
Okay, got it? Well, if not, we’re moving on anyway. So I find success similar to the fuckboi, at least in my success-less current state, but having had a few minor highs in the views and likes departments recently (and having one bad experience with a dude who was a fuckboi in every way but looks and name about a decade ago). Both are attractive, especially from afar and in photos. Success has a hard jaw, spends a descent amount of time in the gym, and an impressive “I tried really hard to not look like I’m trying hard” sense of fashion. When he gets a bit closer you might see him stiff a waiter or not hold the elevator for someone clearly running for it, but you excuse those behaviors because god damn, Natalie, have you seen that fucking smirk?
You hear a lot of stuff about Success, how maybe he’s not worth it, he’s had a lot of partners and they didn’t really work out, but your internalized misogyny comes crawling up from the nastier parts of your soul, and you think, “jealousy is a hell of a drug, bitches!” and you put yourself out there. You might even change yourself a little to be more attractive to him. I mean, it’s just a Brazilian blow out, why can’t I reinvent myself, Natalie? God, don’t be so judgmental, you don’t understand how hard it is to maintain curls in this kind of humidity, okay!?
When Success texts you for the first time your heart beats so hard you’re sure he can hear it through the phone even though text messages don’t have sound and no one actually calls anyone else in this economic climate. (I haven’t dated in a long fucking time, so Success probably actually sends you a message on Tinder, but just roll with me okay?) Success isn’t really that funny, but you laugh at his jokes, and he’s not that clever, but you’re willing to dumb yourself down a little for him because God and 8% body fat gave him an inguinal crease to die for, and his profile picture is just a bare torso so it’s not like you can avoid it, Natalie, I mean it’s right there.
But Success is flippant and enigmatic. Everything he says is up for interpretation, and even though the strong, independent woman that you know you are (because Natalie keeps texting you the Venus symbol emoji) is sure you shouldn’t be trying to please him, you find yourself doing things you never thought you would for a boy. Your Instagram feed is somehow both a little racier and also a little more self-loathing than normal, and you get crankier with the other people in your life so when they balk at you, you label them toxic and cut them out. Your normal meter is broken, but you can’t recognize it in all those pieces under Success’s Adidas.
But it all seems worth it when you get a taste of Success (I am so sorry for that image). He’s calling you “babygirl” and “love” and blowing up your phone with so many notifications that you missed when Natalie’s dog had to get surgery because his stomach was actually where all her missing socks were going. You’ve seen what Success can do and you want more, everything else be damned.
Then…it all stops. You don’t want to seem desperate, and frankly neither of you declared yourselves monogamous or that you were in a relationship at all but you’re still you, and you want answers. Looking back at it, Success never really commented on your posts publicly, and his relationship status was already “It’s Complicated” before you even met, but you’ve got proof of something somewhere, don’t you? Are your feelings worth nothing? Success continues to allude you, and when you call him out, he tells you that you’re the crazy one, you’re making this out to be so much more than it was, and you’re not even really that hot, so he was doing you a favor that one time you asked him to come over at 1:00am to “help explain Rick and Morty to you.” And by the way, that photo you posted of yourself on the beach last week isn’t super flattering and you should probably untag him from it.
Now truly alone, you call up Natalie, but she’s too busy with Max the hosiery hound for your inevitable bullshit, so you turn to vaguebooking, quoting song lyrics from when you were a sad-sack teenager, and stalking Success’s social media for a glimmer that maybe he misses you too. Spoiler alert: SUCCESS DON’T MISS NOBODY. (Until it’s convenient for him, but he doesn’t mean it.)
And that’s the clutch, guys. Success really doesn’t miss anyone because it doesn’t need anyone, least of all you or me. Pandering to success long term probably won’t work out, but maybe it’s okay to try because it can be fun and even rewarding if you’re an egotistical fuckhead *clears throat and puts down front-facing camera* Sorry, what were we talking about?
Maybe this analogy isn’t fair because success doesn’t really make choices, that’s the masses (and those controlling mass media to some point, but this isn’t the place for conspiracy theories), but it’s probably as fair as calling success a pretty lady that won’t give you the time of day. The only truth is that success is fickle, but maybe someday if you love yourself enough, you’ll be able to nail down something that suits you better and loves you back. Or something equally mushy and gross.
Also, listen to Natalie every once and a while, okay?
Normally I don’t credit the photos I use because I get them from Pexels with specifically no attribution required licenses, but because I’m using this guy’s photo in what can be seen as a negative light, I’d like to say explicitly that I’m not commenting on the subject or the photographer of this photo being an actual Fuckboi™ and would like to credit him. Go give R Fera some love.
I talked about the freedom of being phone-less recently, and since I’ve replaced my sad cracked-screen with a much more expensive but narrowly different model, I’ve been trying to limit my use of it. I could do better (damn you, Hogwarts Mystery!), and admittedly it hurts to drop a few hundred dollars on something just to be like “NO, DON’T TOUCH THAT!” but when I am using it, I’m really starting to pay attention to how it affects not just my production, but my mood, specifically my self worth. And it’s…a lot.
I like to think I’m less easily swayed by what I see on social media than the average whoever, not because I’m superior–of course I feel jealousy like any other human, and when I see an ad for pizza I WANT PIZZA–but because 1) I’m actively thinking about how these things are making me feel, and 2) I’ve put in effort to work past that jealousy stage so that mostly when I see someone who is successful, attractive, and happy, I’m inspired. I’m interested in how people that I follow got their ass to look that way, produced such riveting content, managed to smile after heartbreak. It helps that I try to follow people who are very open about their flaws, but I don’t have that sort of control over everything I’m exposed to, and sometimes I’m left feeling, well, let’s say contemplative.
The path to success is shrouded in mystery, especially when your horse is a creative endeavor and your satchel is stuffed with naught but pencils and a thesaurus. Practice, work hard, risk failure, fail harder. These are some of the trials of our hero’s journey, and don’t get me wrong, they make a great journey, but then you bump into the already popular knight brandishing his shiny teeth and stylish but hollow swordplay, and you wonder: WHAT THE FUCK? His troupe consists of a grizzled, retired mercenary who’s universally loved but misogynistic as hell and frankly devoid of any actual personal development, and a sidekick that’s just like always there, and loud, and why is he always there? But sometimes the righteous and pious and good make it to the top, and you’re so happy for them, so pleased, but it’s still so terribly confusing. Success isn’t wholly unfair, so you wonder if there’s a formula, a way to make it all worth it. I’ve only come to the conclusion that luck is playing a role, and that’s not really just to make myself feel better about failure–I just don’t have any other explanation.
I don’t want this post to come off as whiny. I do think the effort is worth it even if you never go anywhere with your work and you die alone, penniless, rotting away from the plague. It’s, you know, the journey or whatever. Plus there’s always the possibility of being posthumously discovered and your words, your art, your music, reaching someone who cares and gets joy out of it all (presumably you’re producing something in order to bring joy to others). I’m just trying to figure out the how (you can’t bring joy to people without reaching them), and trying to govern my own ego along said journey.
I don’t buy the saying “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Yes, if you’re doing what you love it’s exponentially less stressful and difficult and soul-crushing than doing something you hate, or something you tolerate, or even something you like, but no one’s creative passion isn’t actual work. If you’ve ever encountered something good, you’re experiencing the result of somebody’s labor and at least one broken mug, a handful of abandonments, and infinite swearing sessions.
It’d just be nice to know it’s all probably leading somewhere.
I see this mirrored in this one weird trick that I’ve been noticing a lot on both Twitter and Instagram. People will follow you, like a handful of your posts, then unfollow you a couple days later. I’m assuming this is done through a bot and they’re doing this to all the users posting under a specific tag and probably get enough people following back and sticking around to be worth it; it’s just so insanely shallow. These are not real views, not real fans, and when I’m trying to promote my actual work I just find it frustrating. Maybe I should be thankful? That’s a handful of likes I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise that might push my post up higher in some reverse-Robin Hood algorithm where the popular get more popular (which is its own bullshit ranty blog post), but it’s not genuine. It doesn’t let me really gauge if I’m reaching anyone, and worst of all these users clutter up the tags we might use to actually reach real readers.
And then I realize I’m guilty of this too when I use tags. Maybe not to the gross extent I’m seeing out there, but if others are playing the game that hard, don’t I need to at least engage to be seen at all? In the end, tags are words, and I love words, and I’m a little pissed at how this makes them lose their meaning.
But in the end it comes down to this, the contemplative self-worth part: maybe I’m just not that good.
That thought it scary and intrusive, but legitimate. I don’t have much else to say beyond that except that I’m actually glad I’m having the thought (not that I haven’t always had this thought, it just takes on a different shade in the world of social media). I think it’s helpful, kind of like seeing a fitspo model’s perfect ass on my Instagram feed. Yeah, I feel bad about my ass, but I might be able to have that ass if I work at it.
I was really productive yesterday and for the last two days I have been in what I would almost call a manic state: happy, excited, productive. And I’m scared to admit it, but I’m fairly certain this may be due to the very recent, and very tragic death of my cellular telephone.
To be clear I certainly DO NOT believe modern technology is the downfall of civilization. If you think, Dear Reader, that people have not always been completely self-centered, vapid, distracted assholes, you haven’t been paying attention, but there are things about modern technology that certainly make being some of these things easier.
So I dropped my phone. First, I just want to say that the fact that we are sold hand-held computers the likes of which could not even be imagined 30 years ago for upwards of ONE THOUSAND REAL US DOLLARS but aren’t manufactured to survive slipping out of one’s hand SHOULD BE CRIMINAL. Now, I’ve never have a phone that cost me more than $200 (until the one coming in the mail tomorrow ringing in at an incredibly upsetting $250), and I have dropped every single one I’ve ever owned hundreds of times, onto tile, in parking lots, bouncing off of granite countertops to then fall onto some other hard surface, and none have ever broken because I HAVE BEEN LUCKY. But on Sunday I carelessly bumped my thigh with the corner of my phone as I held it by its Popsocket (my grip was poor because I’d just been hiking, Popsockets are otherwise a godsend) and it fell only about two feet onto some gravel where the corner cracked and spiderwebbed out causing not only aesthetic issues (which I could definitely have lived with), but basically rendered the touch screen unusable.
Another of my complaints along with the fragility that seems to be purposefully built into these magic rectangles is that they are all touch based. I’m pretty impressed with how accurate they are for the most part, but I am still an awful texter due to constantly hitting the “wrong” letters and hate browsing sites as I’m always accidentally clicking links I never meant to. But when the use of your very expensive device relies on such an easily corruptible input method, it seems inevitable your phone will “go bad” or break much sooner than it really should. Even though this has, again, never been my actual experience until now.
Basically what I’m getting at is this shit is made to be disposable in every way except its price point. And except for all the materials and labor put into them. Actually, they’re only made to be disposable in that you, the consumer, are supposed to use, abuse, and dispose of them to keep feeding Apple ridiculous amounts of money.
But that’s not the point. What I’m really getting at is, without the thing that I call a phone but absolutely HATE when it actually rings (especially now that spam calls and those robo calls from “local” numbers that are untraceable exist), I’ve gotten a lot more done. Correlation =/= causation, I know, but there might be something to it. I have almost the same access to the internet without my phone except there are some apps I can’t really do anything with on a desktop (which is another really weird concept to me–the inability to post original content to Instagram without a phone or some hacky software is WILD), and yet I’m getting more done.
I think having the option of picking up a separate device while working on something else is probably the crux of this. Now, I am typing. If I had my phone, I might write out a sentence and then scroll on some social platform, then come back, but I’m less likely to navigate away to another tab on the same device, and if I do, my writing tab or document is always there, staring at me and calling me back. It’s a small, stupid brain trick, but I think for me, at least, it works.
Again, I want to reiterate, I’m not demonizing any of these things (but maybe some companies), I’m just realizing something about myself. Because regardless of what any of us have access to, we are responsible for ourselves, aren’t we?
The new phone comes tomorrow. It’s got a shit load of memory and a rockin camera. I’ve ordered a screen protector and a protective case. IT WILL NEVER BREAK AND I’LL BE DISTRACTED TIL THE END OF MY POINTLESS LIFE MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Ew. I am SO SORRY about that title. That’s awful. But it’s true, there is one kinda odd thing I started doing maybe a week and a half ago that got me motivated to write more, and I’m going to share that with you now. But seriously, sorry.
So I have been on a slow but steady recovery from a bout of sorrow and grief, and it was super unfortunate that the place I was at in every word-related project I was working on at the time (my serial, my novel, and the book I was reading (A Casual Vacancy, lol I have a theme)) were all quite death heavy, but I knew I needed to push through on at least one of them, and Vacancy seemed the most pressing (Vacancy, my serial, not Rowling’s book which is, by the way, amazing). I needed motivation and inspiration, but from where?
I’m not proud of this, but I have a Pinterest. Hear me out. I both love and hate Pinterest. A link to a Pin should never come up in a Google search (Pins are the worst, almost never have any helpful info, and sometimes don’t even link to the actual image they’re showing!); however, the search feature on the site itself is pretty damn sweet. If you’re looking for actual how-tos or explanations, it’s a fucking crapshoot, but if you want images to create what the hipsters might call a “mood board,” this is where it’s at.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but I realized I could use this to my advantage with writing. I even had a “Writing” board already, but didn’t put this together til now. I was stuck on Part 1.10, afraid to push Lorelei into the seance, so I was floundering over the basement description and just wanted to look at photos of caves and lakes. As I mentioned, Pinterest’s search is surprisingly adequate at returning what you’re looking for (the catch is that you need to have an account to really utilize the site correctly), so I searched “lake underground” and I got what I needed.
So you’re wondering how this is different from Google image search, eh? Well, you can “save” Pins to your own “boards” for quick access later. I believe the original intention of this was to save links with eye-catching images, but somewhere along the way the users of Pinterest ruined it by adding and not maintaining links to actual sites, so there are a lot of pictures of cool crafts with no explanation how they’re done. But still you can save as many images as you want to a board serving some greater purpose. And you can modify the description of that image/link to whatever you want. It’s usually already a description of whatever’s there (or supposed to be there), but if I’m brainstorming or looking for inspiration, I replace the description with what the image inspires for me.
You can do this for specific places, of course, but it would work equally well for characters, atmosphere, and of course writing in general to save non-image based links (there’s functionality to save anything as a Pin, so you could take, say, this post and Pin it, and if you’re a responsible user, you’ll get the link right).
Once you’ve saved some Pins, you can go back to that board for inspiration when needed. Here’s a quick example of something I might throw together for a character:
Since you’re using this for personal reference, I don’t object to losing the written attributions for images by writing over the descriptions, and if the images actually link out properly, you will still have the sources, which is nice.
Anyway, that’s my quick and dirty one weird trick that’s been quite helpful to me these last few days. Maybe you all already do this? Maybe there’s a better site for it? Pinetrest sure isn’t paying me to do this while simultaneously dragging them, so any suggestions you have, I’d love to hear!