To Not Sleep, Perchance to Create

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I used to have worse sleeping habits. It’s a side effect of other medication that I can fall asleep pretty well now. When I had insomnia I would mostly just lie in bed at best in an absence of anything – no tiredness, no comfort, nothing but awakeness. At worst it would be related to inexplicable pain in my limbs.

Now, I can usually get 7-8 hours in on weekdays, and on weekends I lie in bed as long as I please, coming in and out of sleep for a couple of hours each morning. Rest is important, as scientific studies confirm and confirm again. But through the posting of thoughts and interactions publicly on the internet, I can see how much is passed around by insomniacs. There’s more to contemplate and more to create outside of a daily schedule. I’m not around when the good things happen, all because I’m getting a healthy sleep.

Beyond posting inane dribble on Twitter, there are the chances to interact with others in constructive dialogue. There’s the surge of ideas that can come with sleep deprivation (or can be the cause of it, chicken/egg) that can be put into action by creating something. I’m missing that time and those conditions in my life.

I’m sure if I were still an insomniac I would be thinking along the lines of Hamlet, with much smaller problems mind you, that I hope death, if not just pure nonexistence, is eternal sleep. In the winter months especially, approaching as the sky stays dark into the start of my mornings, I long for hibernation and sleeping for three months in exchange for longer waking hours for the rest of the year. Despite the obvious benefits to my health, I want to reject the standard schedule of balancing sleep and waking time in favour of extremes.

My thinking is clear, but my ideas are worthless when I’m well-rested and functional. If not the creative process itself, a lack of rest at least instills the delusion that my bullshit deserves to be put out there, that my opinions matter, and that my writing is good.

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The New Khristopian Vision

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There’s a change of direction here. I’m going to start pointing everything towards me. It’s a narcissistic move, but like most of the constructive things I do in my life it’s a self-eating snake. The more I express self-absorbed opinions, the less I express opinions about other things as if it matters – as if what I have to say isn’t already overrepresented by loud mouths much like me, or as if I can say it better than people who live through more day to day struggles that need to be brought to light.

However, I can write about myself more accurately and with more authority than anyone else.

Someone might dare to prove the contrary and write thousands of words about what I can’t see in myself because I’m self-absorbed, but that person is likely a white man with unaddressed mental health problems. Somebody who’s not a white man would have more important stories to tell from their own experiences that aren’t taken for granted as the baseline for the function of the universe. Somebody who has addressed their mental health problems would know better than to care about me, and somebody who doesn’t have significant mental health problems wouldn’t be bothered enough to write.

But I – a white woman with unaddressed mental health problems – have a load of things to write about myself. My ego has been growing. When I look back at pictures I took of myself, a serious problem that started back in the 90s, I can see the ebb and flow of weight and hair and skin and fashion sense that brings me to the buoyed state I’m in today. I’m in a pretty good place. I’d like to talk about that.

This can’t be a journal of day-to-day life because that’s not what the internet is for anymore. It’s not a safe place to talk about real people and real things without cash reward. I’d rather talk about a surreal person – myself – because I can’t get in trouble for deification nor vitriol. I can lose friends, for sure (which has happened before), but I can stop at whatever point it makes me no longer love myself.

Theft of Message

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I have written in the past about what it feels like to have my work spread without credit – i.e. stolen. As insignificant as a poorly photoshopped pop culture pun may be, it was still something I did. It was a joke I made – and I probably wasn’t the only one – and put it into visual form. By principle, I argued, I should be tagged as the source.

Something happened to a person I’ve become a huge fan of on Twitter, @jaythenerdkid. A tweet of hers was posted by someone else on Tumblr as a screenshot and reblogged tens of thousands of times. The screenshow included her avatar and Twitter handle – valid citing of the source, not the ideal form, but still not stealing.

Yet, as she’s tweeted about so many times since, other people have posted the exact same thing under their own name on Facebook or Twitter. As her and her friends call these people out on it, they get defensive – it’s just Twitter, saw it somewhere else, lol who cares. The appropriate response would be “I saw it [wherever] and didn’t know where it came from. I’ll delete my tweet and retweet yours.” Or “Sorry, and thanks for letting me know! I’ll add to that with a link to your tweet to give you credit as the author.” Or if you are reluctant to buy into the tweets-are-intellectual-property argument (which is true: see #9), ask “Why is credit so important?” and hear the original writer’s side. Say “Hmm, that’s a perspective I didn’t consider. Thanks for enlightening me to that side of things.” Then go back and credit the original. (She has written many, many tweets about this in the past several days, so read through her timeline for succinctly written points.)

What this may take away from you is people thinking that you are so good at expressing things so well. If you are, you should have enough good written work of your own to demonstrate that. If you’re not, there would be a disconnect in style and discerning eyes will notice and hopefully expose you. If you copy/imitate others so much that it appears through the veil of the internet that you are an insightful writer, you are a fraud and will hopefully never get exposure or amount to anything based on the work that you steal. If you do get exposure, you will be brought down and fall apart.

One of the many, many reasons I hate internet memes is because they are often just the theft of other people’s creative property. They’re not necessarily a violation – they most likely fall under the parody clause of fair use that’s common in most jurisdictions’ copyright laws. But parody still requires accrediting the original source, and if it’s not a well-known creation (as Han Solo is widely known to be property of the Star Wars franchise) it is not implicit in the image itself from whence it originally came. Please do this. Do this with respect. If you’re inspired by something or someone, you will get more discussion and mutual appreciation if you credit the original. You can demonstrate your own wisdom by participating in discussion, not stealing words that aren’t yours. The idea can be shared. You could’ve thought the same thing or said something with the same message. You could’ve cited it and elaborated on it with your additional thoughts.

Everyone can contribute. Some just choose to steal.

Crumpled Up and Over the Shoulder

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It’s no fun that things you type into a computer and afterwards deem to be garbage and delete are gone forever. There might be something brilliant in there that can plant a seed in someone else’s mind even if your own writing is shite, but nope -Ctrl+Alpha, delete, and exit or do whatever else makes Ctrl+Omega impossible. This isn’t quite a digital version of crumpling up a piece of paper and throwing it behind you as you remain crouched at your desk.

There might be some embarassing or incriminating things you actually do need permanently deleted, but the paper-based counterpart to that is throwing shit into a fire. Even with the ideas lost, that’s still way more fun than a backspace key.

There is much I have deleted myself. There is much paper I’ve ripped up and thrown away too, which is not quite as effective as burning, but no one is interested enough to go through my garbage except in search for aluminum cans. (Pardon me – I wrote “shite” before, so perhaps I should maintain consistency and write “aluminium” out of respect for the Motherland.) (On the other hand, I wrote “shit” in the second paragraph, so perhaps I should strand myself on a mid-Atlantic island.)

There is a lot that I have written, intended to be published here, but then deleted. Poof. (Poof as in disappearing act, not as in derogatory gay term – we don’t use those on my mid-Atlantic island.) Some of it had no direction; some of it was repeating myself from opinions I’ve already driven into the ground with little addition. But if I were a notable writer in pre-digital history – well, for one thing I’d probably be a man – repeating myself on paper that got crumpled up but was still saved would clarify to future historians what my work actually meant. And yet it would still get misinterpreted and used as propaganda to advance to the aims of Fox News. Everything’s come down to fucking Fox News.

There will be traces in the dark corners of the internet of virtually everything ever published on a website, but think of all that doesn’t even make it that far. Think of what’s never even written down, because we assume we’ll just get on the computer after we get off the can, but then disappears into thin air. Romanticize the past and take a pen and pad of paper everywhere you go. Including the toilet. Especially the toilet. And write it down before you’re done shitting, because your poop might be exactly where the idea came from.

Does My Phone Make Me Less Creative?

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Does My Phone Make Me Less Creative?

First, I’ll establish this: the biggest factor in my life that hinders my creative energy is my job. My job is particularly uncreative, only letting me take refuge in my own imagination when it’s slow and nobody’s around. The Tumbleweedtype of tasks I do, the amount of mental energy I dedicate to them, and the time they occupy are all reasons why I don’t doodle like I used to, back in class in university or in crappier jobs in the past. Combined with other general responsibilities like errands and cooking, turning into a financially stable adult has distracted me from creative hobbies more than anything else.

When I do have free time, I don’t have to sit at a table or a desk to check things on the internet, so I’m not in a position conducive to using a pen and paper. My creativity tends to be sparked by boredom, but it takes a certain level to build up before that spark is lit and playing with something on my phone can nip that in the bud to a detriment. There are some ways, then, that being able to use something so easily (although when it malfunctions all the fucking time, not so much) may hinder my creative motivations and quality of anything I do still put out. Fair assessment.

But writing and drawing by hand aren’t the only ways I can be creative. I can get inspired at a keyboard just as much as with a pencil. I used to make comics using Paint (sometimes still do) and lately when sitting at my desktop, the scanner so conveniently attached makes it much less work to doodle and post something somewhere online.

And where do I post this? Mostly on Twitter. Being a short-form medium that’s both an outlet for creativity and a source of information/entertainment, it’s interactive with much more immediate gratification. What other people post can be very inspiring and spark passionate dialogue or silly thoughts or both at the same time. As long as I can contain each segment of a thought in 140 characters, I can put out a lot of inspired pieces of wit. This is (nearly) just as easy on my phone as it is on a computer. The convenience makes it more accessible for me to translate my stream of consciousness into the written word. Are my tweets creative? People can argue this however they like. Are tweets in general creative? It’s a huge sphere of communication; of course some of them are going to be and a lot of them are. People wouldn’t use Twitter for anything less creative than they would want to do if it weren’t around, unless they drew and wrote and painted works of art that they never intended on sharing with anyone – in which case, what would be the original point?

So no, I don’t think my phone makes me less creative. I think it nets positive, even if there are losses out of laziness. That laziness is something I have to take personal responsibility for, but it’s also completely voluntary that I contribute thoughts and ideas and bad drawings to a universally accessible vortex of stuff. For my personal well-being, that there’s an outlet that I can throw terrible and good ideas into at all hours in all places should encourage me to do this more. For the most part, I think it does.