My unattainable satisfaction of a proper working structure

I’ve always been a big fan of the slow and steady. Being in control of every aspect of my life is my constant, ever-persistent goal. I’m just one of those people who are genuinely frightened of spontaneity, and all forms of surprises are met with reluctance, fear and excessive sweating.

I suppose it’s no surprise that I’m naturally gifted at staying home and work by myself. I’ve always been a firm believer in that, wherever we have a weakness, we are equally strong in something else. Humans are creatures of nature, and nature will always strive for balance.

(There is, however, an ugly truth for people like me. Having 100% control in all aspects of your life is close to impossible. This means that no matter how hard I try – how diligent I am in my work – in the end there will always be more left to do. It’s just one of those harsh realities that I’ve come to accept. Reluctantly, but still.)

This should give you some idea of how I go about my daily life. Simply put, I like planning.

I’ve recently come to the realisation that planning and creative work don’t go that well together. It’s like oil and milk. There is a general rule of thumb that says all writers (or rather, anyone who wants to take their writing seriously) should value routine over inspiration. Contrary to popular belief, inspiration doesn’t write books. Only routine does – and here’s where things get tricky. For some reason, I’m constantly fighting this.

Yes, I know. I’m contradicting myself.

There’s something about the creative work that makes me want to challenge everything that I stand for. I’m finding it difficult to plan my creativity, which makes me frustrated. It’s like trying to trap something abstract and delicate – it slips through my fingers like water. Don’t get me wrong, this is not some excuse for not working. I’m always working, whether it be on my manuscript, character or worldbuilding, my Youtube channel, blog/social media or concept art. Always.

It’s the lack of structure that irks me. I’ve tried so many different approaches to this and I can’t seem to find one that works in the long run. Having a good structure for the creative work as well as a suitable divide between that and marketing is my main concern. I can’t seem to get it right, and it triggers my inner (and outer) control freak. I end up running in circles for a while before going back to square one.

Well, this was a cheerful rant. How satisfying it would be if the ending paragraph involved some sort of magical solution. Not today, I’m afraid. All I can say for sure is; if anyone who’s reading this feels the same way about their work and life, you’re not alone! The only thing we can do is to keep trying and take it one day at a time, slow and steady and all that.

How a corny teen movie can change your outlook on life

So there I was, browsing through Netflix and waiting for my newest video to load into the program, and I came across some of those typically “corny” movies that families watch around Christmas. They are full of clichées and over-the-top characters. Most of them are about teens, bonus points if they’re troubled, and the plot is all about them fighting to reach their dreams. It’s usually something active, like figure skating, gymnastics or dancing. Now, I’m a big tragedy enthusiast, but my poor little heart has a real soft spot for these movies.

I kid you not. I watched a movie called Ice Princess and cried real, adult tears. (All this girl ever wanted was to be a figure skater! Why couldn’t her mum just be supportive?!)

I realise that I’m not these movies’ typical audience, they’re generally intended for teens who’re still trying to figure out what they want from life. To be fair, I figured that out less than 10 months ago and I will be 30 next year. Come to think of it, maybe more adults should watch movies like this (I do think you need to watch alone though, as I think it would be far too easy to make fun of it if you have company).

In a way it was like a time warp and a wish fulfilment – all in one. The familiar “oh to be young again” nostalgia mixed with a nauseating remembrance of what it was like actually being a teenager. No matter how nostalgic we might feel about our teen years, in the end we’re usually pretty relieved they’re in the past.

So what did I really gain from this experience? Apart from getting really sentimental, I also found it surprisingly inspirational. No matter how ridiculous these movies can be at times, the moral of the story is usually to follow your dreams and dare to fight for them. I see so many adults that dream of doing something different with their lives, but they never actually do it. They are comfortable with their normal jobs even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted. They’re afraid to risk that comfort and go into unfamiliar territory, no matter how much they dream of it.

I was that person once, but when given an opportunity to change things – I took it. The situation I’m in now is somewhat similar. I’m determined to become a published author, and I’m fully prepared to fight for this dream to become a reality. Sometimes, we need to evoke our inner teenager to awaken that obsession that makes us go for it. I guess these corny teen movies reminded me of this – that even if I feel low or unmotivated, the fight isn’t over as long as my goal is worth it.

Even bad weeks have an end

So, this week was supposed to be really productive. I had it all planned, since Oskar was in Thailand with work I wanted to get a lot of writing and filming done, as having the apartment to myself all week would be a great advantage in this regard. Then I remembered that having high expectations means that you set yourself up for disappointment from the start. I know I sound pessimistic, but hear me out.

I’m usually the kind of person who always prepares for the worst – because I prefer being pleasantly surprised rather than the opposite. Sounds reasonable, right? People around you may think you’re a bit of a bore but honestly, keeping your expectations low from the start will have you exceeding them on a regular basis.

I had a good flow these last couple of weeks, and it got me into a false sense of security. Since I had been exceeding my expectations for a while, I must have raised them subconsciously and thereby gotten myself a bit cocky in regards to my capabilities.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that we’re all human, we all have bad days or bad weeks. Sometimes we need a break from productivity and our minds and bodies tell us this by becoming completely uncooperative. This week was like that for me. Even the smallest task felt like an Everest to climb, I had no motivation at all. But you know, even bad weeks have an end. I’m hoping that the upcoming one will be better – although this time, I’ll make sure to keep my expectations low…!

I’m off to Scotland!

My mum gave me this as a birthday present – a weekend with her in Edinburgh. Our plane leaves later this afternoon. As with all travel days, today will be a bit of a stressful day. Speaking of stress, this journey almost got canceled. Can you imagine, my mum tried to do our check-in yesterday so that we wouldn’t have to think about that today. There was an error on the site, forcing her to contact customer services, who told her that they had been unable to charge her card. Therefore – they had canceled our booking.

Seriously.

No one had even tried to notify her about this. No calls, emails or anything. The strange thing is, we booked a flight and hotel as a package deal, and they were apparently able to charge us for the hotel room – but not the flight. Not that that made any difference, as the hotel in question didn’t even get our reservation. What a nightmare.

We managed to fix it last night by panic booking the last two seats on another plane, as well as a last-minute BnB as the hotel we were supposed to stay at was now fully booked. Need I even mention that there were one or two glasses of wine at the end of that roller coaster?

I’m determined not to let this ruin our holiday, though. We plan on having lots of fun with museums, shopping, tea and scones as well as pleasant walks around Old Town. I’m sure it’s going to be magical. Speaking of which, J.K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh when she wrote the first Harry Potter books, and several places are said to have inspired her during her writing. Well, I’m ready to be inspired!

Time to start packing!

Where’s motivation when you need it?

Sometimes, you have plans. Those plans are great, and you’re looking forward to making progress. Today was just one of those days. I was planning on making and uploading a video today, but in the end, I couldn’t manage it. Not really sure why, but my mood today is just terrible, I have zero motivation and I want nothing more than to binge Netflix and take a break from everything that requires thinking.

I did film though, but it was terribly difficult to remember my script and I can’t improvise to save my life. I suppose this is the second bump on the road that I’ve encountered since I started my Youtube channel. But that’s alright. All that matters is attitude, and hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Quiet morning

I’m currently sitting o20180814_163241n my blue couch, eating breakfast and watching a Netflix documentary on the trilogy Back to the future. I love quiet weekend mornings. Just had a lovely walk with Niles in the sleepy neighbourhood, strolling about in the weak, morning sun. I find the empty streets so calming. Since we live in the city center, we rarely get that quiet calm. So I have to enjoy it while it lasts.

Today’s going to be a productive day. Oskar is away on a boat convention, so I thought I’d focus on getting some work done! I want to finish up my world map 2.0 (will be talking about the mapping process in worldbuilding in next week’s video). If I manage to finish today I’ll move on to some editing. Or just, if my hand starts to protest. Drawing is hard, guys.

So yeah. That’s about it! My productive, quiet Saturday calls.

Cheers people.

Announcement!

I’m happy to announce that I just registered my domain! Hurray!

I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it feels to just type arnellahobler.com and have my site appear. (Small note; if you can’t see the change yet, it’s because it’s somewhat unreliable for the first 72 hrs.)

Now I can finally say that I, too, have a professional author blog. 🙂

I also played around for a bit with new themes, and decided on a change that I think is for the better (although I’m not too pleased with the menus on the top like that, I’ll see if I can get used to it).

This was a short post. I’m working on the script for tomorrow’s Youtube video, so I need to focus on that today. I will be talking about some common mistakes to avoid when writing historical fiction. If everything goes according to plan, it should be a good one!

My two cents on “Dark Tourism”

(So – I didn’t blog yesterday. I was suffering from an affliction commonly caused by the consumption of red wine. Don’t judge me.)

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I saw the most dreadful thing the other day while watching Netflix’s new series Dark Tourism. I can’t remember which episode it was, but it was the one where he’s in Indonesia attending a funeral ceremony that can be adequately described as… pretty disturbing. To me though, it was horrifying. It was not the fact that the deceased person had been dead for 2 years that bothered me, (the body had been mummified) but rather the sacrificial rituals involving live animals that completely turned my stomach. 

Countless of buffalos and pigs were killed in this ritual, by locals chasing them around a small yard and stabbing them to death with knives while the poor animals panicked and tried to get away. Once they were dead, they proceeded with chopping them up on the spot and passing around intestines and meat to be put in a grill of sorts to be cooked. It was, quite literally, a bloodbath.

I’m not joking when I say that there was a small child, probably around the age of 5 or 6, carrying a brain in his hands, happily shouting to his friends. Am I weird for finding this so revolting?

I know I’m a hypocrite, like many others, for being concerned about animals yet still eat meat. I was actually a vegetarian for over 3 years, but it didn’t work out in the end because of health issues. At least I try to make sure that the meat I buy is ethically produced.

Ok, so the brain thing is morbid, plain and simple, but I guess it’s viable when you think of the differences in culture and society. The reason why I and so many others would find this so revolting is that we aren’t used to this kind of thing. I suppose anything can be ok when you look at it like that – but does that make it right? Does that make it ethical?

As soon as you enter “religion/culture/tradition” territory, you’re in trouble. People are very protective of their traditions, ourselves included, but one would hope that seeing them from an outsiders’ perspective might induce a bit of critical thinking. Especially since the presenter David Farrier couldn’t even stay throughout the ritual, he had to get away from all the squealing and death. It was obvious how offputting he found it, and hopefully, some of the locals would have noticed that too. If his reaction could create even the smallest doubt regarding their treatment of animals, then at least I would consider it (more) justified.

Fickle friend, thy name is inspiration

Perhaps the term “friend” is somewhat inaccurate. In my case, it’s like an old acquaintance that comes and goes without warning, that can bring gifts yet can easily take them away again, and if she’s in a really foul mood she can cause a terrible despair that not even chocolate can cure. Those days, she usually overstays her welcome.

Goodness, it sounds really awful when you put it into words like that.

But sometimes, the timing of her arrival is so perfect it might as well have been planned beforehand. Sometimes, she comes with high spirits, she is excited and full of exuberant ideas. Best of all is when those two combine. Those days, sadly, she can’t stay long enough.

It’s strange how the smallest, most unexpected of things can trigger a visit from inspiration. Earlier this week, I bought myself a new planner/notebook on a whim and it’s had the most intense effect on me. As I sat down and planned my tasks and goals for the week, I was hit by excitement and renewed motivation, and I ended up following my plan to the letter. Perhaps this is obvious to everyone else out there, but I found that it’s much better to have your goal planning in physical writing, rather than digital. It’s far too easy to ignore a document on your computer, or simply delete or change things you don’t feel like doing. It doesn’t work that way with a physical planner – if you don’t want to do something you have to actively ignore it; which automatically defeats the purpose of even having a planner! I’m sold. This is my new thing now, and it is my highest hope that it will help me make great progress with my manuscript. In fact, I expect it to.

On turning 29

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now only one year away from turning thirty, and oddly enough, this doesn’t worry me at all. It’s amazing how one’s view on a subject can change so much over time. I used to be terrified of getting older – because I had this strange illusion that my age had to reflect my life experience, that I, somehow, had to earn my age.

I had a bit of a rough start in my 20’s. I started working a job that I didn’t like (simply to be able to pay rent), and I ended up staying there for three years. Getting that monthly paycheck was a comfortable security and I was too scared to jeopardize that. Besides, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life… but each year that passed only increased my worries. Seeing people around me getting degrees, fancy jobs and travel the world gave me intense anxiety at times. I was only about twenty-three, yet I already felt like a failure. It’s ridiculous to think about that now when I know everything turned out ok – I feel proud of my achievements during my 20’s.

Screenshot_2018-08-07 Arnella Hobler ( arnellahobler) • Foton och videoklipp på Instagram

Me being a good adult and baking my own birthday cake

It’s important to understand that things rarely just happen on their own. With the risk of sounding like a cliché – we are the protagonists of our own lives, and no one would want to read the book if the main character never goes on any adventure. While the definition of “adventure” is highly relative, the idea is that we make the choices that move our story forward.

Closing in on the three year mark on my boring job, I got an opportunity in my lap. My boyfriend at the time had got a new job that would take him to Luxemburg, a tiny country crammed between France, Germany and Belgium. I was asked if I wanted to move there with him. This was the very thing that I had always been afraid of; travelling to unknown places, leaving security behind, having uncertain plans… all of that was the stuff of nightmares for me, yet I was so miserable where I was, that I still made the choice of going.

So I quit my job and got a one-way ticket to Luxemburg. It was complete madness, no one but my bohemian mother thought it was a good idea. My friends didn’t take it seriously, they thought I’d be home again, begging for my old job back within a few weeks. I had taken all my savings and left my only security to make this work. Thankfully, it did. I ended up staying for 2,5 years; I got a job at a life insurance company where I made three times more than my old salary, I made new friends, made myself a new life with experiences that changed and affected me in all sorts of ways – all because of one choice.

It might be worth thinking about that the next time you’re at a crossroads in life. Taking the leap and going so far outside your comfort zone you can’t even see it anymore might actually reward you in the most unexpected ways. Sure, I’m back in Sweden since a few years now, but here I am, just turned twenty-nine, and pretty content with how I got here. It isn’t at all about “earning” your age. As long as you relax and recognise the opportunities that present themselves, then your age will automatically correspond with the life you’ve lived, and will continue to do so for the years that are still ahead of you.