Tag Archives: Outward Posts

Oh Geez It’s December

Y’know, some part of me never expected this to happen. Not in the morbid “I didn’t think I’d survive this long,” but in the sense of, “Wow, this year might actually end.”

If I’m crunching my numbers right, this is my last Outward Post. My last Process Post will also come out sometime this week, and that’s an essay. And from there, who knows? I sure don’t.

But at least it’s almost time for the holidays, right? I have a chocolate advent calendar, our tree is up, and I’m in my coziest flannel. Despite everything, the Holly Jollies have hit me.

Let’s get into it.

TIP: Daily Minimums

Wow, how did I never get to talking about daily minimums? This wacky little trick is a genuine godsend.

So, as some of you know, I’ve spent a lot of this year getting involved in my local art scene. And like any good person from Surrey, when I say local, I mean Vancouver.

While I definitely got to be more involved after COVID struck, in the beginning, I had two mentorships. One was for protest art, and the other was for poetry and playwriting.

In the latter, one of my mentors shared a little trick that’d gotten them through even their rougher periods: a daily minimum.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: every day, my mentor would try to get at least 100 words written down or typed. Even on the worst kind of day, when everything was going wrong and they had no energy, 100 words. Because really, 100 words isn’t that much. Not in the grand scheme of things. I’ve already written about 200 about this topic alone.

Give it a shot. You’ll surprise yourself by how often you go over that rule.

TRIAL: Making Things For Others

So, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here, but I’m an artist.

That was sarcasm.

But in all sincerity, one thing I love about art is how collaborative it can be. Again, I’ve spent a lot of this year in workshops and mentorships with my fellow creatives. And it’s genuinely, like, healing. There’s something so organic and refreshing about sharing a space with people who love art as much as you do.

And with the semester almost over, I’m opening up to working with other people again. It’s both a step out of my comfort zone, and honestly really beneficial to my practice. All of this summer and fall, I’ve been insistent on working on my own. At first, it was because I was worried about my work being up to the standards of my peers. Then, well, COVID happened, and that was its own excuse.

But this fall, I’ve gotten myself wrapped up in a few more openly collaborative projects. Musical stuff, mostly. It’s fun. Sometimes I’ll be the one writing lyrics, sometimes I’ll send in a beat and see what people do with it… I genuinely think creative collaboration is a love language.

That’s sappy, but I mean it! What’s a bigger sign of trust than pouring your heart into something and then letting someone else do the same? It’s beautiful.

We can’t LEGALLY look like this yet, but maybe someday.

REC: I’ve Got Nothing, I’m Just Watching The Nutcracker Suite In Fantasia

It’s finals week, y’all. You think I’m consuming media that’s NOT related to my exams or final projects? Hah. Nice try.

I’m sorry, I really am.

The only thing my mind really has space for right now is the Nutcracker Suite from Fantasia. I watch it at least once every December, because it really gets me in the mood. Nothing like a bunch of winter fairies dancing on snowflakes, right? Also, as a kid, I was OBSESSED with the whole movie. I would watch it on the regular, and every time I did, I had these intricate rituals with all of my stuffed animals, where I’d try to play along. It was insane.

I’m beginning to wonder how it took me so long to realize I’m neurodivergent.

Whatever the case, great news, that particular sequence is on YouTube.

I know what I’m doing today.

Until next time.

Wait, What Do You Mean It’s Week 12?

So, it’s technically Week 11 for my Publishing class, because we started a week late. As Tuesday classes do, because of how the semester is.

But starting tomorrow, I’m in Week 12 of my first semester at SFU.

What? Huh? How did that even HAPPEN?

Anyways, let’s get into it.

TIP: Don’t Set Your Plans In Stone. Clay Does The Trick.

So, I think I officially know what my degree is going to look like.

I’m a Communication and Interactive Arts Major, with a Minor in Publishing.

Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

For a while, I was looking at the Contemporary Arts minor, too, but I think I’ll get by without it. I also was intrigued by the Creative Writing certificate, but I remembered I kind of hate studying poetry and fiction in an academic setting. As for Publishing? Well, thanks to my major, I’m technically almost halfway through a minor already.

I had a whole crisis about it last night. The same way I do about most of my creative endeavours. I think to myself, THIS has to happen THIS EXACT WAY in THIS EXACT TIME.

But really, how often is that actually feasible?

Like, I was going to try querying my novel this year. Ten months later, and I’m up to my neck in more revisions, because I thought of so many ways it could be better.

Do I still want to start querying again? Yes, but maybe sometime in the next year or two. Much like how I still want to graduate, but only now has my degree taken shape.

Be like clay. Have a path, but have it be malleable. It’ll save you a lot of headache.

Unrelated, but I want to try pottery someday. It looks fun.

TRIAL: Non-Evaluative Language

So, this week, I had my second meet with one of the two playwriting cohorts I’m in. Why am I in two? Well, I love excess.

Anyways, this one in particular practices “non-evaluative language.” This means we avoid words like “love,” “like,” “good,” “bad,” “strong,” “weak,” and so on. We’re more about what catches our attention, what questions we have, and so on.

I remember being terrified of this at first. How was I going to know if my work was good if people didn’t say it was good?

But as it turns out, you can gauge a lot from the non-evaluative things people say. It becomes less of a review and more of an excavation, as they get close and precise with their commentary.

And you don’t need an archeologist to say, “Wow, that’s a great pottery fragment” to know they think it’s deeply fascinating, do you? You can see that in how they describe the era it’s from, how it was made, and what it was used for.

Evaluative writing is kind of like that. It’s an excavation of passion for someone’s work. Like, look at how much I got down.

Rec: Yeah, No, I’m Really Fried From Studying So Can I Just Recommend Schitt’s Creek Again?

Genuinely, I am toast. I was up until 3am last night, partially because I’d put off reading Marx for so long. Yeah, it’s gotten to a point where I’m putting off reading Marx. Dire straits, everybody.

So, I think I talked about Schitt’s Creek back when I had the Create/Consume model for my blog, which was a nightmare, and I atone for it every day. But really, this is one of the most sincere, loving, and hilarious shows I’ve ever watched, and an excellent finals-season binge. Considering my midterms-season binge is Bojack Horseman, my standards might be low, but watching this made me feel good. And as a gay person, it made me feel seen. David Rose is probably one of the most relatable characters on TV for me, for better or worse.

Schitt's Creek: Sexuality Isn't the Joke - Ms En Scene
Live footage of me watching Schitt’s Creek.

Anyways, I just finished a rewatch with my parents, and the finale never fails to get me emotional. I won’t spoil, but if you want a feel-good show where every line hits and you can’t stop smiling. Also, Catherine O’Hara is there and she’s hilarious.

"Gossip is the devils telephone" Stickers by soopermom11 ...
This is an actual quote. It lives in my brain rent-free.

Until next time.

The End Is Nigh, Everybody!

Yep, the semester is just about over. I’ve started my final project in my Interactive Arts course, and my Communication final unit is underway, and my courses are lined up for January. Can you believe January is so close? Like, a month and a half away.

Remember this January? We were so naive.

Whatever the case, everyone’s buckling down for the inevitable. It’s insane. It’s terrifying. I just want to live, y’know?

Let’s get into this.

Tip: Tips and Tutorials Have Merit, Even If They’re Out Of Your Comfort Zone

So, I don’t think I have to go on about the merit of tips and tutorials, considering my blog content. 40% of every post is a tip.

But the emphasis here is on even if they’re out of your comfort zone. Because at the end of the day, many skills, especially artistic crafts? You usually end up narrowing down. For example, I’m a writer, but I specialize in a few specific “voices”: Young Adult/Adult fiction, free verse poetry, and the occasional journalistic article tone. It’s happened in music, too: I tend towards a certain type of composition, mixing, and so on.

It’s one thing to look up tips on how to hone these particular skills. I can stay in my comfort zone all I want. That’s easy, and relatively consequence-free.

But you end up stuck in a certain way, don’t you? You fall into a certain voice, a certain way of using your tools.

This might be controversial, but there’s a LOT of merit in going outside your genre or pushing your medium to the brink, to the very edge of your comfort zone. I think you can do it with just about anything, especially if this is something you’re good at. When you get good at something, you tend to specialize.

Musician? You’re going towards one genre.

Writer? One literary form.

I mean, even STEM folks specialize eventually. What’s stopping you from diving into a textbook just outside your field? (You know, besides the fact that we’re all overworked right now and textbooks are expensive.)

But like, really. It’s kind of fun looking at how slightly different practices use the tools you’re so well-acquainted with. Back when I was a Journalism student, I was mystified by the way words weren’t for painting scenes, but dictating them. It’s almost like the image was… pixelated. It’s about the shape and sharp facts of the scene, delivered as briskly as possible.

It was a challenge, getting into that voice for every assignment. Journalist Alex and Writer Alex are two very different people. They wouldn’t get along. I mean, look at me. I’m a rambler, and I use figurative language like it’s the reason I get up in the morning.

But by becoming acquainted with the journalistic style, I unlocked a whole skillset, and it also made me a better writer overall, because I got to seeing the value of words quite differently. Would I have been able to write as a journalist my whole life? Absolutely not. But again, it taught me a lot.

TRIAL: A Freewrite With ABSOLUTELY No Prompt

So, I’m in a playwriting mentorship. Two, actually. It was almost three, but I decided to pace myself. Last night, we did something that always felt way scarier than it actually is: a promptless freewrite.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: isn’t the point of a freewrite to write whatever you want?

And yes, yes it is. But normally when I do freewrites with other people, like, timed freewrites? There’s at least a prompt or some effort to set the mood. Usually it’s a few words, sometimes it’s a full-on guided meditation.

This time?

“Okay, we’re going to do a five-minute freewrite. We can check back when my alarm goes off.”

It was terrifying. But I ended up doing it!

But also, I never want to do it again.

I’m also not sharing this one, because honestly, I have no idea what any of it means. I think it’s a metaphor for overly protective parents? But also, who knows! Life is a mystery!

Rec: Cats Are Cute Has Saved My Sanity

So, does anyone remember Neko Atsume? That really popular app from 2015 or so where you put food and toys out to see which cats visited your yard?

Yeah, I played that app obsessively. Or, well, as obsessively as you can. Due to its format, you could only really use the app for a few seconds at a time: you put out food and toys, and then you had to close the app and come back later to see if any cats were brought over.

I have many a fond memory of Neko Atsume. I played it at my high school’s Junior Dance because I hated everyone there. I nicknamed all the cats after characters in a novel I was writing.

This isn’t about Neko Atsume, but rather, a spiritual successor that takes me back to those simpler times: Cats Are Cute. It’s free with microtransactions, like literally every game on the App Store these days, but you can get pretty far without having to pay a cent.

Cats Are Cute Game Cheats & Tips to Hoard All the Cutest Kittens | Touch,  Tap, Play
This is what Heaven looks like, I think.

Unlike Neko Atsume, you also get to interact with the cats! You feed them, pet them, play Hide and Seek and Rock Paper Scissors… it’s something I’m probably enjoying a bit too much, but I have no regrets. I think I have a favourite cat: her name is Doremi, and she lives at the piano shop.

(Oh, yeah, every cat lives in a special, personalized building. And they’re all cute.)

The app is honestly a great respite from exhausting Zoom calls, and maybe it’s my neurodivergent brain talking, but it’s also a really satisfying sensory experience. Every tap of the screen counts as Experience Points, so I can have the app open and idly drum my fingers along.

I know this isn’t the most typical recommendation, but I’ll be real, school has me fried. I think I’ve earned a day of gushing about this cute little kitty app.

Anyways, I’m going to go play Hide and Seek with some cats and pretend finals season isn’t looming over me!

Until next time.