100% your responsibility

Hello! This is Alice!

So, the other day I ran into a particularly murky post on Facebook. I don’t remember exactly how it went, but it was packed with big-ass statements like, “Doctors don’t make you healthy. Teachers don’t make you learn. Trainers don’t make you fit.”

The point of the post was that you gotta take one-hundred percent responsibility for yourself. All that you do, all that you achieve, is entirely due to you.

So, how is that murky, and why am I pissed off as all hell?

First, anybody can see that the statements don’t make sense. Doctors are, in fact, a great help in defeating diseases. Kids don’t pick skills up from thin air, teachers have a lot to do with the process. And how many top-level athletes don’t have coaches?

I know what the post was trying to say – that we shouldn’t relinquish self-responsibility, and should instead focus on being self-reliant. Now, that brings me to my second point, the thing that makes me pissed off.

It’s this fucking godawful modern idea that humans are fucking islands. You know, this individual-worshipping bullshit. This idea that “YOU can create the PERFECT you”, or whatever shitty words the demagogues use.

Let me just come out and say this: nobody on this goddamn stinky planet is ANYTHING without other people.

All of us need help, in some way or other.

All of us were raised by the herd. All of us need the herd.

The herd is nothing to laugh at. The herd is power. The herd is glory.

And, since Alice’s blog is about writing, Imma turn this around to the writing topos, don’t ya worry. However, I’m not gonna say, “If you a writer, get help.” I mean, that’s pretty good advice, and it applies to all ability levels and states of health. But what I wanna say is far more important.

If you a writer, give help.

It’s nice if you wanna further your own career. I don’t blame y’all for that. Perfect your craft, amass readers, yeah, all that stuff. But realise, at some point, that we’re not here for me.

We’re here for us. We’re here for the great herd.

So go out and give help.

Don’t just look for beta readers for your novel. Be a beta reader yourself. Don’t just go asking for reviews, review books yourself. If you’re in a writing group, don’t smash the other members with your witty wit. Instead, brainstorm with them, encourage them, and comfort them. If you blog, don’t just fish for followers, but go out, read other folks’ blogs, talk with them, be with them.

Ask payment for your help if you feel like, but consider also giving it for free. And realise what “free” truly means here. It means “without any obligation to return the favour”. Too often, even a thing ostensibly given for free contains a hidden fee. I pat your back, so you must pat mine.

Forget it, peeps. Do truly free work. Don’t expect even thanks. Expect nothing.

That’s the hard core of helping. You help, even when you know that all your efforts will be forgotten, and the one you helped will claim, “I alone made the perfect me!”

Even so, you help. You do it because at the bottom of your soul, beneath the layers of pettiness, beneath the layers of loathing, beneath the layers of me-first,

there is nothing but love.

Hard work is a lie

Hello, peeps! This is Alice.

A short trawl through the quotesphere turns up a ton of sayings praising persistence. You know the type: Never give up. Work hard and success will follow. According to internet, if you just “stick to it”, you can achieve anything.

Well, guess what, peeps? Alice calls BS. If we’re talking ’bout success, hard work is not the way.

What is, then? Well, recently I read an interview of Kari Enqvist. She named the two main ingredients of the success soup. The first is networking. In short, knowing people gets you places. Being buddies with the boss. Drinking with the good ol’ boys. Makes sense, right? Humans work in herds, because the herd is a power multiplier.

The second is luck. People may not want to admit it, but life is pretty random. We live in an age of unprecedented order, so it’s easy to think there are clear rules in life. It is not so. Scratch the shining surface of orderliness, and beneath you’ll find the scintillating colours of chaos. That’s life. Luck rules.

Oh, there’s a third factor, too, pointed out to me when I read another interview, this time of a Swedish nobleman. Yes, you guessed it. Success is inherited. It’s easier to be rich if mama was rich. It’s easier to be famous if papa was famous. It’s, get this, even easier to be smart if mama was smart! The nobility lives, folks. Equal opportunity for all is a big ol’ lie.

So, to sum it up: You wanna succeed? Easy. One, be born rich. Two, know people. Three, get lucky.

Hard work gets the fourth place. Maybe.

All right! Depressing part ends here. There’s a silver lining, and I wanna look at it, too.

First, if you like doing something, like being an artist, but don’t like working hard, this is great news for you! You can flip the bird at all the anxiety-inducing persistence mantras. Instead, let yourself be a lazy loafer.

I know being lazy isn’t fashionable in our super-charged, by-the-minute scheduled world, but you know what, kids? Creativity is born right there, in idleness.

Second, if you wanna get good, hard work is totally your medicine. If I work hard twelve hours a day, can I become a master at spinning flaming poi, painting watercolour landscapes, or dealing with mentally unstable humans? Yes, I can! (Just recognise that being skillful and being successful are not synonymous.)

Third, hard work can be a pleasure all on its own. The same goes for, say, training. The best reason to work hard or to train hard is just that: because you love the work, or because you love to train.

Do it for love, peeps. Love the work that you do. When the chips are down, that’s the only real reason to do anything.

(Okay so I was kinda lying when I said hard work is a lie… but it is a lie the way people link it with success. So there. Imma stop my frothing now.)

The Liebster Award

The ever-friendly Richie Billing nominated Alice for The Liebster Award. Awkward thanks ensue!

So, who is this Richie person? He’s a helpful guy who likes to smoke! And he knows he ought to kick it, so don’t grill him about it. I envision Richie as this kind soul who toils in his humble shed, working with the tenacity of an ant to bring us information about cannons! (Among other things.)

Richie Cares to Share on Thursdays, which I think is the best! Alice would like to do something similar, but she lacks the net-trawling prowess that Richie has. Do pay him a visit. T-t-thanks, Richie!

Now, as part of Liebster’s liebstery rules, Alice proceeds to answer some questions thrown by Richie:

Desert Island: You can pick 3 books to read on your desert island. What would you pick and why?

Alice chooses her trusty pocket-sized SAS Survival Guide by John Wiseman. Alice is a tough nut, but she doesn’t always know what to do. Wiseman’s wise advice will complement Alice’s inner survival instincts nicely!

Next, Alice chooses Meditations by Aurelius. For dear old inspiration!

Lastly, Alice chooses The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer. For kindling.

Come Dine With Me: Which three characters from novels/stories would you choose to spend a night of dining with?

I’ll pick Moomintroll, Too-ticky, and Snufkin! We’ll eat fish soup in the bathing hut! In midwinter!

What advice would you give to any new blogger?

Since Alice is a newbie herself, she gives herself this advice: Hang tough, Alice! The ocean is big, but if you keep paddling, you won’t sink!

Naturally, this advice applies to all you other newbies out there, too. And all you oldies. And in-betweenies. Hang tough, all!

Where’s your favourite place to write?

Kitchen. Honestly, it may not be Alice’s favourite, but it’s the only viable place right now. For any serious kind of writing, in any case.

An easy, or maybe a hard one to end with. Describe your current work in progress in three words.

This is a secret work in progress, and Alice is under chivalric oaths not to divulge details about it. Three words will be just this side of permissible! They are: animal knights eat.

 

Now, the questions are done. Next, Alice has lovely-dovely nominations. She thinks the following blogs could use more attention. (If they want it.)

Iain Lindsay

Timothy RJ Eveland

Dorian Graves

North of Andover

Ethereal Seals

For them, I have a handful of questions:

The Casual: What’s going on at the moment? What are you working on, writing-wise?

The Conan: What is best in life? But we’ll make this harder – you’re not allowed to say “writing”, which would be a cheap cop-out, nor are you allowed to mention the lamentation of women!

The Conniving Communist: What is most unjust in life? Again, Alice denies cop-outs! “Not having enough time to write” is not acceptable.

Head on over to the Liebster HQ to review the rules. Till next time, peeps and bunnies!

 

Love VS crush

Hello! This is Alice. And this is one of her favourite topics: love, and having crushes!

What is having a crush? It’s when you become charmed by someone. Like a painter, you become hypnotised by a burning sunset. The beautiful qualities of someone fill you with giddiness and excitement. You daydream; you become intoxicated; you wander through the blooming garden of your own desires.

By Alice’s definition, you also maintain a distance. Having a crush is all about noticing the good things and ignoring the bad things. You see your crush in the best possible light, and that is all the light there is. It is a world without darkness.

It is a good world. Up to a point.

What is love, then? Simply put, love is seeing the darkness as well – and loving it with equal force.

As a writer, Alice often has new ideas. She develops a crush on some ideas. The crush is what prompts her to take action, to splash the first droplets of ink on a blank sheet. The crush gives the crucial energy to get over the initial reluctance of starting anything. But to get further, to really bring a text to life, Alice must learn to love it.

She must accept that the text has deep darkness. It has problems and faults. There will be struggle. The text will hurt. Alice must accept that. She must expect it. She must look forward to it.

The characters? They are not flat Mary Sues. Their views do not agree with Alice’s. They may be dickheaded chauvinists. Yet Alice must side with them. She must fight to bring their voice out fully.

The setting? It is not a gimmick world. It was not invented to expound on Alice’s clever ideas about terraforming. It is a real world, with real complexity that cannot be exhausted in a single novel. Nor a series of novels. Not any amount of writing. Alice herself cannot comprehend its full vastness.

The story? It is not a one-sided sermon on a single idea. The story is life itself, with the text’s nature clashing and intertwining with the characters. The story cannot be reduced to a theme. The story cannot be summed up in a sentence. It is not covered in three arcs. During its entire length, it spills but a drop of its true force.

Love is when Alice trembles before her own text, realising how much stronger it is than herself. Love is when, regardless, Alice determines to bring it out as best she can, in as many aspects as she can, with all the love she can.