Diagnosis: writer

I’ve put together this list of 10 “symptoms” of being a writer based on my observations of other writers and on my own life.

  1. They are probably the last people on this planet who actually use pen and paper on a regular basis.
  2. Their fingers are always stained with black or blue ink.
  3. There never seems to be a pen handy. There are always hundreds of pens lying around everywhere but JUST when you need it quick – not a single one!
  4. Or there never seems to be a functioning pen handy. Whenever you get a sudden flow of ideas and thoughts and you’re writing it down, right in the middle of it all the ink runs out. (happens to me all the time!)
  5. There is always this genius thought that comes to their mind only to show itself for like a second, and then miraculously disappearing. Cruel, cruel thoughts. Why do they do this? I’m sure they must have a good laugh about it.
  6. They question everything, over-think and over-analyze everything. Everything is special because EVERYTHING can be an inspiration for a story.
  7. Bags and dark circles under their eyes are one of the side effects of writing. It’s a result of permanent lack of sleep (because you never know when the muse kicks you – and sometimes it kicks you at 2 am in the morning).
  8. Creativity is like walking on a thin ice. If we were to graphically depict it it would have a shape of a sine wave. Sometimes it is making fun of us – when we most need it, it fails us.
  9. Writers tend to be lone wolves sometimes. Family and friends might be under the impression they ignore them sometimes. But it’s not like that. They just need time to be alone with their thoughts.
  10. They have a tendency to seek trouble and they’re prone to be depressed. Why? Because trouble makes interesting stories and depression is the most creative time. Weird, but true.

Keep dreaming up marvelous stories 🙂 ❤

One true quote

In my blog I never post random pictures with inspirational quotes allegedly said or written by a famous person but today I have to make an exception. I’ll explain later, here is the quote:

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It is a beautiful quote to begin with. And the second thing – I love Hermann Hesse.

I bumped into this quote on the internet whilst I was looking for some other stuff about Hesse. His quotes, which I so passionately underline in every one of his books, I utterly love. Sometimes I just randomly open the “Steppenwolf” and just go through some of these passages I underlined, read them and think about them. So when I found this quote, I was intrigued to know where it is from. Not that I have read all of his books, poems and essays. Not even half of them but still, I was curious. So I googled, I searched, I took my time…. but in the whole great cyberspace there was only this quote with his name beside it – and no reference at all.

So umm… if that quote is not to be found in anything ever written by Hesse, it must have been just something he said. So umm… I imagine Hesse hanging out with his mates in a pub (funny thought), drinking pints, engaged in a casual conversation about women and Hesse saying something like: “….so we got in a fight and she was mad at me for two days but then I fell on my knees and said “my Liebling if I know what love is, it is because of you” and she was playing it cool for a while but then she forgave me ha ha”. Then one of his mates remembered this, told it to his children, they told it to their children, until in the 21st century this mates’ great great grandchild created an inspirational pic in photoshop and put it up online.

I spent six years at uni, having to cite every single sentence, in every single stupid essay, and yet each time I was turning my paper in I was covered in a cold sweat whether the authorities wouldn’t accuse me of plagiarism. Oh… good old plagiarism. How I miss the lecturers’ threats of expulsion and public humiliation if we but “borrow” a sentence that is not our own and fail to give credit to the one who “owns” rights to it. Between you and me, I was always wondering that if I use a sentence like, say, “Based on my research, I consider my first hypothesis as wrong,” which surely must have been used by somebody in an academic writing before, would that count as plagiarism too?

This “Hermann Hesse” quote only reminded me why I don’t like these motivational quotes scribbled through a nice picture in an ornamental font. Because “déformation professionnelle”. A trauma of being expelled, (or getting an F if I’m lucky), for plagiarism still hangs above me like a dark cloud. Give me an author, a source, a year and a page, or it didn’t happen 🙂

A funny story just popped in my mind. In my first year I was writing an essay on Nietzsche and wanted to kick the essay off with a nice thought provoking quote so I went to google and found one on wikiquotes and put it there right at the beginning. (You know, first year.) When my professor was giving me feedback he briefly alluded to this quote and said something like: where is it from by the way? I said: “umm… I don’t remember exactly….” When all of a sudden, through half open doors of his office he saw another philosophy professor and cried out: “Béla! (that was his name, weird I know) You are an expert in Nietzsche, come and see this quote. You know every single Nietzsche’s writing backwards, surely you’ll know where this is from!” I don’t remember how I’ve gotten through this first academic shame of mine. I only know two things: 1. Béla didn’t know the quote. 2. I passed 🙂

Do you want to know a secret? I didn’t write a blog post about that picture because I wanted to mock the wannabe-philosophers who make up quotes or rephrase the existing ones. I put it up because I fucking love it. It speaks my mind at this very moment. It describes how I feel towards one particular person. The words are exactly something I would love to tell him. In this instance I don’t care if it’s fake. It’s not Hesse, okay, but whoever said it, it was nicely said.

So, if it’s not Hesse and the true author is unknown, it could have easily been said by anyone of us, couldn’t it?

Maybe I’ll use it then. I’ll write it in a letter. I’ll pretend I was the one who made it up and this time I won’t be scared of being called a plagiarizer.

6 things we hate about job hunting

If you’ve ever experienced the pleasures of being unemployed I’m sure you’ll understand what I’m trying to convey here. I was jobless for 4 months and it was frustrating as hell. I know people who didn’t have a job for much longer than that, but let’s face it: having no job=no money isn’t good, regardless of for how long.

My friend says with a laugh: “I don’t need job, I only need money” and yeah I partially agree: it is one way of looking at it. However, I was never planning to rob a bank, win a lottery or inherit a fortune so I guess there was no other option for me but getting a proper job. And I was trying. BUT I had to face the facts: as a fresh graduate with little experience nobody wanted me. And those who wanted me, I didn’t want them. Pretty much like with relationships in general.

But HALLELUJAH – last week I got my dream job! I finally managed to make writing my profession. No more compromises. Seriously: writing for money? Could I be happier? Stars must have aligned right. Thank you stars.

So here are 6 things I hated most about job hunting (and I’m sure it applies to almost all who struggle like I was):

1. Motivational letters – we’re all sick and tired of writing MLs. It’s not like you can have one universal letter for all job applications. You have to adjust every single one to one particular job offer and in some cases you have to change everything completely. I know they are necessary. They’re just pain in the ass.

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2. Waiting – what I mean here is waiting for them to reply to your email. In some instances this much longed for reply is simply not coming. You often end up praying even for a negative answer, just so you at least know for sure. But not knowing and them leaving you hanging is the worst. You refresh your inbox all the time, you don’t know whether you should mark this one off or still keep the hope, you keep asking yourself why they didn’t get in touch… Patience. Patience.

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3. Screw off emails – they are all so kind to you but what they’re really telling you is F*** off, you’ve not enough experience, you’re not good enough. Phrases like: your CV was really good BUT, we liked your writing samples BUT, we regret to tell you this BUT, and so on and so forth. And after keeping you waiting for so long they could at least be so kind to apologise for the delay. Nope. Not a single sorry given. And the usual lies at the end: We wish you luck next time, best wishes, please get in touch next time. AAAAARGHHHH.

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4. Never ending questions – this is a classic. No need to explain more. “Do you have a job?” “And now?” “Why not?” “So did you get that job you were applying for?” “So you’re unemployed?” “So you still don’t have a job?”

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5. Interviews dilemma – to be or not to be yourself? What if they won’t like my true self, should I show them who I really am? Should I be honest and speak my mind or embellish (lie) a bit? What’s too casual? What’s too formal? Why is he looking at me like that? Did I say something wrong?
You can’t make them like you – all you can do is give it a go, be yourself (to the extent you see fit) and hope they will.

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6. The competition – Knowing that to succeed and get the job you have to be the best of all the other candidates is quite a tough one too. I’ve always hated it, it is such a pressure. You never know who the others are, you can only guess and, again, HOPE. In this case, we all hope the others will suck.

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A mother’s love

When I came back home from my short Prague trip my colleagues asked me whether I had met somebody interesting there (a guy, that is – they want me to start dating) and I answered without hesitation: “Oh yes, I did meet someone! Actually, I met two interesting guys at once: they’re twins and… by the way… they’re five years old.”

By sheer coincidence I spent my whole train journey home babysitting these two great kids: Oliver and Julian. Their mum had to sit in another part of the train as everywhere else was full and for unknown reason she placed her trust in us – me and my friend – complete strangers and let them sit with us. At first I wasn’t very happy, let me tell you. I didn’t like children. And children didn’t like me, I felt it whenever I happened to meet one.

I was in the final year of my undergrad when I got pregnant. In my year, there were two of us. As in the time we were writing our bachelor thesis, we were joking that we have a privilege of having two brains and that we’re basically cheating. Two months after we turned in our dissertations we had the final exams and only one of us remained a cheater. I was left with my own brain to think.

This was two and a half years ago. Since then I can’t help feeling like a traveller who boarded the wrong train and instead of Paris got off in Budapest looking around and thinking: yeah, this city is equally nice but I really wanted to see Louvre. Maybe next time I’ll catch the right train.

Since then I’ve grown bitter when it comes to children. Or, rather, indifferent. I was avoiding them quite successfully and I kept convincing myself that I don’t even want to have kids.

Until I met these two. At first, I didn’t know what to do, how to talk to them, what to say to them… For the first half an hour I was annoyed because they were these kinds of crazy, hyperactive kids who you simply can’t leave unguarded for a second because they might as well set the train on fire. But I had to admit, they were adorable. Identical twins, two exactly the same beautiful little faces, two perfectly inquisitive, crazy, happy and loud creatures.

And they loved me. And they kissed me and hugged me with those tiny arms and hands. All this after we spent only like an hour together on the train.  An hour that felt like 10 minutes. The journey was more than three hours long and in the course of these three hours we did everything: We played, we laughed, we ate sweets, we tickled each other and laughed again, we played hide and seek, we were doing funny faces…. virtually everything one can do in a room of approximately four square metres.

And I loved them. I entirely forgot about myself for a while. The only thing I was thinking about was how to make them laugh, what I’m gonna tell them to engage their attention or what game we’re going to play next. I think I’d give them anything. And it made me a better person somehow, those kids. That feeling.

When the time came that we had to say goodbye I gave them both a ring to remember me. I was wearing many rings that day and by sheer coincidence two of them – originally on my little fingers – fit them perfectly. They almost missed their connection train to Vienna because they didn’t want to leave us. Their mum had to drag them away from us almost by force. It was hard to say goodbye…

The original plan was to go back to Bratislava by coach but we took the train instead. I suppose I was meant to be on that train, I was meant to meet those two little guys. They kindled in me something new. An unknown feeling, hot like a flame.  A flame that was supposed to burn within me for a long time now but remained unfired.

I know they were someone else’s kids and that I only got the chance to spend a couple of hours with them. But I know how I felt. I know that this feeling that I felt inside was (almost) real.  A love that only mothers are capable of.