Everything can change in a year

It’s strange how even a year or two can render you almost unrecognisable to yourself. The Áine who started blogging on Sirens & Muses two and half years ago has now disappeared into the folds of history. In her place: me.

Things have changed. I built a spiritual practice and gradually my blogging shifted over to that subject entirely. I blogged under the name Spinning of the Wheel for a few years, until I launched a business called Heart Story, and subsumed the blog into it. These days I am known as Áine Órga online, and the persona of Áine Warren – while it is a variant of my real name – has receded.

And I am happier. More stressed? Undoubtedly. But I finally feel that I am getting to where I need to be.

I am still writing. But at the moment I am primarily writing about spirituality, nature-based religion, and personal development. I write Tarot readings for people (when I make a sale!). And I am generally trying to reach out more into the world with my writing. I am trying to make a difference.

But I miss having somewhere to come and write casually. I miss creative writing, and I keep trying to find the time to come back to my novel-writing. It will happen, it’s in the plan. But starting a business is time-consuming!

So I think I’m going to come back and write here again. Probably very informal and unfocussed stuff. I won’t make any promises! But I miss Sirens & Muses and the freedom it offered me. It started me on an epic journey, and I will be forever grateful for that.

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Rebirth in Spring

Spring fever was short-lived here this year. The first few days of February were beautiful; bright, sunny, warm – the daffodils just beginning to push their short green stumps out of the cold ground. But now, drawing towards the end of March, it is cold and wet and wintry. We even had a few days of snow – blown almost horizontal by the sharp wind, the small hard snowflakes stinging our faces.

I feel as though I’m waiting for the weather to change, stuck in hibernation mode, my own blooming forth curtailed.

My life is, in practical terms, completely transformed from this time last month. In February, after almost two months of anxiety and pressure, I was offered a nine-month internship with the organisation I most wanted to work with. This essentially means that I don’t have to think or worry about money or my career for the next six to nine months. It also means that I now, as of the beginning of March, have somewhere to be six hours a day five days a week, and mountain loads of work and responsibility.

I am glad to be doing something concrete every day. If there’s one thing that the past six months have taught me, it’s that I probably could never be entirely self-employed; I would at the very least need somewhere to be going out every day, and preferably someone to be working alongside with. As the months dragged on, I became less and less productive, whiling way the hours of each day. Having somewhere to be every day, and specific work laid out for me to do, seemed necessary for me; at least for a certain amount of time every week.

But the transition stage is being a lot tougher than I expected. I feel… somehow less clear, more muddied, than I would have expected. As though I’m walking around in a kind of haze. I go to work, I come home and relax (being productive after work is sill not on the cards in terms of energy levels), and despite having quite a lot of time to myself, when I go to bed at night I feel like I don’t really know who I am anymore. As though I haven’t spent any time with myself in a long time – as though I have been absent from myself.

I wanted this new start to be huge, to change my mood and my habits and my personality all in one fell swoop. These catalysts rarely work out the way you expect them to, though. I am still expecting to reach that point, that feeling that I was hoping for. But it might take a few months.

I did, however, sign myself up for a ballet class. This was, perhaps, my primary triumphant move in my reinvention of myself. I flew in the face of my own procrastination and hesitation, and went ahead and paid for an 8-week term. So two weeks ago, I had never taken a dance class in my life. Now, I feel as though I’m starting to learn a new language, alongside my new life. A language of French words that translate to instructions of movement; a language of the limbs, of the legs, of strengthening and lengthening. I feel fantastic afterwards. Maybe not changed and renewed and courageous like I had hoped, but healthy. Calm.

But so far, these new and strange daily tasks at my computer in work, these weekly new and strange physical instructions, are combining to make me feel like a puppet. I feel pulled, drawn, exhausted, mindless. But any week now, I expect my energy to figure itself out. I will be able to cut the strings and dance.

Hiatus

This will come as no surprise to anyone – I have been shamefully neglecting this blog for the past two months, really. But I realised today that I should make it official.

Most of all, I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for helping to make this blog meaningful to me while I was actively posting. I started blogging a year ago in the hopes of encouraging myself to write and be more creative – the upshot is I have a rough first draft of a novel, and feel for the first time in my life as though I might be starting to figure out what it is I want to do, creatively.

Particularly, thank you to my regular readers and commenters – there were times when I was genuinely upset or feeling dispondant, and your words of encouragement helped to pick me up again, and often inspired me beyond what you might have expected. Even those who read my posts but didn’t comment – you still meant a lot to me, because every new click on a page made me feel like I was finally reaching out to people with my writing.

Unfortunately, it seems that I avoid wordpress entirely when I’m not posting here. This is not, I assure you, because my reading of your posts and following of your blogs was in any way selfish – I was very much inspired and touched by so much of what I encountered here on wordpress. But the two things just seem to go hand in hand in my head, so I won’t be around wordpress much either, I don’t think.

I will probably come back to this blog, and it might be pretty soon, but then again it might not, so I wanted to say thank you now and give you the heads up. I hope you will stay subscribed to me anyway, so that you’ll know about it if and when I do come back!

I can’t fully explain why I haven’t felt the need to post here anymore, but I think it’s because Sirens & Muses has achieved what I set out for it to do – it has helped me become a proper writer. And in that, it has been invaluable. Right now I am on the cusp of a lot of change in my life, but once I settle into a schedule I may feel the urge to post here again.

In the meantime, I wish you all the best. And again, thank you for making this experience meaningful for me.

-Áine

Changes

It’s hard to believe we’re only just over a week into December. Already, the madness of November and NaNo feels like eons ago. And despite the lack of emotion and satisfaction I talked about in my previous post, I do feel like a very different person, or at least like I’m in a very different place. I look back at October and it feels like years ago.

My diminshed presence on WordPress is probably mostly due to habit – but I also feel that, in a way, I have less of a need for it now. Maybe I have accepted my achievement of the 50,000 words on a deeper level than I thought. For the past year, I have validated myself as a writer though blogging. And although I’m definitely not going to stop blogging any time soon, I feel less of a need for it.

It’s a season for change – maybe a year for change. My life is in total upheaval. And at the centre of it, I have moments of amazing calm, amazing certainty that I am in the right place right now. I don’t believe in fate or destiny, but feelings of belonging and contentedness and connectedness are things I’ve been searching for for a long time. Maybe I’m actually getting close.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading and development in terms of my (albeit atheistic) spirituality – though for some reason I don’t feel that this is the place to talk about that. So there are internal changes happening with the external ones. I am striving to become the person I have always expected to be some time in the future. But with my 24th birthday, something clicked with me that I will never become her if I don’t start moving in the right direction now.

I was going to write a post about Christmas, and I will in the next few days. But for now, this rambling fragment will have to do. To regular readers – I’m sorry I have been neglecting your blogs! I do miss reading everyone’s posts, and I’ll get back to it at some point. But right now, I’m not in a mood for forcing it.

NaNoWriMo Makes You Busy

I’m aware that I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit – no posts in the past week! – and I’m sorry about that. But at the moment, NaNoWriMo is taking up all my creative juices.

I hit 32,000 words today, and the end is creeping up. It will be a really meaningful achievement for me to finish this – but I’ll be taking a break from writing for December, I think! I’m not exactly sure why it’s so taxing, as I’m not doing a whole lot else with my time, and I usually get my 2,000 words written within 2-3 hours. But I’m just so tired all the time. Maybe it hasn’t helped that I’ve been sick!

It also doesn’t help that I’m still getting used to sharing a bed with someone. It’s not every night, for sure, but it’s probably at least three nights a week – and I’m finding it hard to adjust! At the moment I’m doing fine up until about 7am (we tend to get up at about 9am, we’re night owls) but then after that I find that my boyfriend keeps twitching and turning and keeps me awake for most of the rest of the morning. I’m hoping that I’ll get used to it and learn to sleep through a little bit of moving around!

Anyway, that’s my life at the moment, pretty much. There’s a lot of other stuff I want to be doing right now, but my energy levels are just too low. But hopefully come December I can catch up on everything else.

I hope everyone else doing NaNo is happy with their progress so far too!

NaNoWriMo Update & Blog Direction

Well, today was day 5 of NaNo – my fourth day of writing because I’ll be taking a day off a week – and so far so good. I’ve decided to go for a target of 2,000 words a day and will take one day off a weekend if I feel like it, which gives me a leeway of 2,000 words. I’m a bit ahead of my target though, at just over 8,500 words, so it looks more and more probably that I will actually manage this thing.

So far it hasn’t really sunk in, I don’t think. I’m finding it a little hard to engage with my story – I think I’m going to have to print it out and read over it (to avoid reading it on the screen as this may lead to editing which I don’t want!). I didn’t really want to be reading back over it but it may be necessary to keep the momentum of the story going.

I also have never written this much of one story before – apart from a “Harry Potter sequel” I started when I was about 12, but that’s another story entirely (and I will probably write about that soon). So I’m aware that I might find it difficult at first – there may be speed bumps. But I’m optimistic.

In other news, I’m finding that I’m not sticking with my resolution to write flash fiction every Saturday, so I’m going to drop it for the moment. It’s particularly tough now that I’m doing NaNo. I will mostly be writing personal updates, I think, and I hope to keep the photographs going, but for November the fiction will have to take a rest. I’m contemplating posting NaNo excerpts though – I’ll see how I feel about it.

But anyway – it’s all generally positive, my bug is wearing off and I’m gradually feeling more energetic, so it’s (hopefully) all up from here!

Halloween Preparation

I keep expecting to fall into a routine these days, but so far it just hasn’t really happened – with the result that my supposed-to-be-Saturday weekly flash fiction will be a few days late again this week. But I figured that although I don’t have the time or energy to write the piece I have in mind, I would write a quick life update.

Halloween – or Samhain, or Oíche Shamhna, or whatever way you know it best – is my birthday, and this year I will be turning 24. It seems to me like a strange age to turn for some reason. It’s a bit in-between – still not quite mid-way through the twenties, but suddenly an awful lot more grown-up sounding than 23. It’s the age that my parents got married, and although it’s not an age that people get married at in my culture any more, there still is some coming-of-age feel to it that I wouldn’t have expected.

I also feel like I have changed so much over the past two years that it really does herald a new time in my life. I feel as though my mind works in a different way now than it did. I have come into my own academically and creatively, and I feel ready to really start embracing my talents and figuring out which ones I will be focussing on for the forseeable future, and which ones I will be gently letting go.

On a lighter note, I’m quite excited about Halloween coming up because it’s my favourite holiday of the year – and not just because it’s my birthday. I don’t have very exciting plans for this year, and I haven’t put much thought into my costume yet, which is unusual. But I know I’m going to really enjoy it all the same.

Anyway, I think I’ll hit an upswing during the week, and once November comes I’ll have so much writing to do that I’ll be forced into some sort of routine! I’ve also started applying for volunteer positions. So hopefully November will be a productive and more structured month for me than October.

 

Over-thinking

The last couple of weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions for me. I don’t deal well with transitions in my life, usually – and the past couple of months have been one transition after the next. Getting back together with my boyfriend after two and a half years, getting one of my molars pulled, finishing my Masters, realising how emphatically I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being a librarian, realising how much I do want to get serious about my writing, trying to decide whether or not I want to do a PhD in the next few years… the list is practically endless.

My biggest problem is not so much to do with the turmoil and readjustment that comes with change – conversely, I do relish the freshness of a new start – but with the way I over-think things. As soon as a new world of opportunity opens up for me, I start trying to plan it.

Planning is good. Planning can help to alleviate anxiety, can lead to greater productivity, and can even provide motivation and inspiration. Planning the next few weeks, or even the next few months, seems to me to be a generally positive activity. The problems start when you realise that you are trying to plan things that are going to happen in 10 years, 20 years – when you start trying to plan out the rest of your life, and think you can act now in a way that will influence these things directly.

This is my downfall. As soon as I decided I was going to give writing a real go, that I was going to actually start writing a novel, I started to worry that I wouldn’t have enough money in 10 years’ time to settle down and have a family. Not to mention all the worries I had about the 10 years running up to that – whether I should be trying to get a part-time job, how difficult it might be for me to get a job later with a big gap on my already sparse CV, how I was going to keep paying my rent if I wasn’t making any money.

Last Friday, I got turned down for yet another library job, and I decided to partake in National Novel Writing Month this year. I got up the following Monday at 9am (early for me, shame on me, I know I know) and started planning not one, but two novels – I wanted to work on something different for NaNoWriMo in order to avoid the paralysis that might ensue if I tried to work on my “actual” novel. I was excited, enthusiastic, and felt like I had a purpose in life for the first time in a long time.

But meanwhile, every night when I went to bed I started thinking about careers and mortgages and how many words I might be able to write in a day and what I could do part-time on the side of writing and…

By Wednesday I was exhausted. I went to bed early, feeling anxious, and fell asleep almost instantly for an hour – then woke up and couldn’t sleep again until after 4.

Yesterday was not pretty.

I’ve no idea why I didn’t just stay in bed for the day. I turned into a ball of misery and ended up sitting my boyfriend’s flat crying about EVERYTHING.

I knew that my thinking pattern was highly self-destructive, but it just helped to hear him say it. He looked at me and said: “No-one can plan what they’re going to be doing for the rest of their lives. Even if there’s something you really, really want to do, all you can do is try, or just do it as long as you want to or can do it. Sure, what you do now affects what happens in the future, but decisions you make and how you spend your days right now does not have a direct bearing on what you’ll be doing when you’re 40 – not in the way you think it does.”

Wise words. I really hope I’ve learned my lesson on this one. Sometimes you just need to take each day as it comes. I do have to do some thinking about whether I need to look for a part-time job, but beyond that I really should be taking this year to just try things out and see how I enjoy it. See if I can bear sitting down every day knowing I have to write a certain amount. See if I can actually do it.

So I’m taking the rest of today off. And if I have insomnia next week I’ll sleep in as late as I want to!

Under Foot

I absolutely love this time of year. Sure, the days are quickly shortening, and we have maybe less sunshine and more rain than in the summer (though this year the summer was so awful there was no perceptible change except in the temperature). But there’s something about the clear light, the crisp mornings, the autumn colours, that set my heart pumping with joy.

I was laden down with a full backpack and my camera in my handbag when I stepped out into the street on Saturday afternoon. The sun had just come out and the street was lit up, pavements covered with fallen leaves. I just had to heave everything off my back and take some pictures.

I put my camera into a more accessible area in my bag and continued on my towards the canal – the way to my boyfriend’s flat. I took a few more photos on the way.

It’s funny, I seem to always become more active at this time of the year when everything is dying and declining. There are a lot of squirrels around my neighbourhood at the moment – one particular friend hangs around in my back garden every day, burying nuts in the flowerbeds for winter. Sometimes I feel like those squirrels – a scurry of creative activity spurred by the dropping temperatures and falling leaves.

So for the moment I am very happy – I am writing more and taking more photographs than ever before, and it feels as if the rest of my life is truly starting.