From Solitude to Collaboration: What a Crazy Month It Has Been

Wow.  What a crazy month it’s been!  Sorry I’ve been gone for so long —  I’ll try not to do it again.

This month-long absence was started out of woe.  If you follow my blog, you likely saw that I had a bit of a bad day near the end of June.  That unfortunately spread to a few weeks of depression.  Not so much the sadness kind as it was just the numbness.  I’m prone to maladaptive daydreaming, and I ended up spending most of the time after work just lying in bed, fantasizing and thinking about nothing of import.

However, some time in the last few weeks, it was as if everything had turned 180 degrees.  I often find solace in geeky obsessions, and during my emotional low-point this month, I had become enthralled with audio drama podcasts.  Though I was determined to be separate from the real world, I found myself immersed in several fictional ones as I listened to these long-form narratives.  Soon, I found myself inspired to do something I hadn’t had the motivation to do in a long time — write!  I started reworking some of my short fiction ideas, and began drafting some new things as well.

Now, I am typically a lone-wolf in most aspects of my life.  But for the first time in my writing “career,” I was interested in finding a writing partner.  I’ve done writing collaborations before, but those were mainly in the sense that we wrote our own separate pieces under a shared framework.  I was interested in working together with someone on a single project.  I figured that since I’m not familiar with certain forms of writing (e.g. scripts for movies, television, comics, and/or audio dramas/radio plays), it would be good to work alongside someone — preferably someone more experienced in these formats than I — who could help me to learn and hone my own craft.

The only problem here was… I had no idea how to find someone like that.

Whether it was through providence or serendipity, I’m not sure.  But one day, out of the blue, I got a private message from a colleague of mine from one of the aforementioned shared world writing collaborations.  He mentioned that he was a fan of my work, and was wondering if I was interested in creating something with him.

Of course I was.  Of course I was!

So here we are now, going into our third week of collaboration, and we have had wonderful brainstorming sessions, the beginnings of some great (if I may say so myself) first draft material, and a very exciting conversation about the involvement of a third-party.  I won’t go too much into it since we are very much in our nascent stage, but this is truly the most excited I’ve been about writing in a while!

As an introvert, I value my alone time.  But sometimes… sometimes I push too hard in one direction.  It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, and even easier to refuse to try to get out of it.  Sometimes I need a kick in the butt, a little push to get me started.  Sure, I may have started off last month at a low-point, but now I’m back on the upswing and looking forward to what’s to come.

In Which I am a Tear-Caked Mess

I had plans today.

I was going to go to the store to buy some groceries and things I need for this week.

I was going to take a walk.  Play some Ingress to replenish my inventory and get back all the keys I burned before the Anomaly.

I was going to work on some of the blog posts I have sitting in my Drafts folder.  Maybe write some short fiction for another creative project I’m working on.

But no.

Despite a stormy morning, this afternoon has been bright and sunny.  My emotional state, however, reflects the reverse.

I had a good day at work today.  Got a lot of things done, listened to some fun podcasts while I did them.  But right before I left for home, my boss asked to speak with me.  He has done this on a few previous occasions.  I’m a shy introvert and tend to keep to myself, so he often pulls me aside to ask how things are going.  He complimented my work and told me that I was continuing to do a great job.  But then he brought up his concerns about my social disposition.

Although I’m a shy person, I’m really quite friendly.  I love people.  My boss said that he knew that much to be true.  But as he went on, it was clear to me that he felt that my reserved nature was coming off as being aloof and unapproachable.

I don’t know if my other co-workers see it that way.  I’ve tossed jokes around with them and am always talking with my direct supervisor.  But the point of the matter is, my boss believes that my other co-workers see it that way.

As I listened to him appraise my social interactions (or lack thereof) with my co-workers, my emotions ran from indignant to ashamed.

This is all pointless, I thought to myself.  This is obviously just another example of the extrovert-bias in our society.  I am who I am and I can’t change that.  I’m doing all that I can to be nice to others; I can’t flip a switch and become outgoing and thoroughly affable.

But as I began to view myself through his eyes, I could see how my actions could be misconstrued.

Maybe I am anti-social.  I could definitely work on being more open.  This is the same problem I’ve had all my life.  I need to change if I want to be a successful member of this company, and of society as a whole.

I knew it was probably unprofessional to cry in front of my boss.  But sometimes these things can’t be helped.

He apologized and said he didn’t mean to make me cry.  I apologized and said it wasn’t him; it was my own self-criticism and social anxiety.  He promised he just wanted to help me.  I promised I would work on being more open.

Though I snuffled through the last few minutes of our conversation, my face caked with tears, we ended on good terms and gave each other a hug before parting ways.

I let it all out on the drive home.  As someone who usually keeps her emotions bottled up inside, it felt good to cry it all out.  I let out a few wailing sobs to the open farmland as I drove by.  The release felt good as I channeled all my frustrations into each bawl.  I cried so hard that I could feel all the nerves in my belly, ears, and arms.  It was that tingling sensation like they had fallen asleep, but instead, they were screaming along with me.

I had plans today.

I was going to go to the store.  I was going to take a walk.  I was going to write.

But instead, I’m just going to curl up on my bed, throw on my headphones, and try to drown out the world with some music or by watching some mindless movie.

Most of the time, I’m fine with being an introvert.  I’ve come to terms with who I am and how I interact with the world.  But some days… some days I feel like I’m broken, like there’s something wrong with me, like I don’t fit in with the rest of those world.  On those days, I hate who I am.

Today’s one of those days.

Z is for Zenaida macroura

Turtle dove.  Carolina pigeon.  Rain dove.

These are all names for Zenaida macroura, although it is most commonly known as the mourning dove.

Mourning Dove (photo by Alan D. Wilson, 2006) (via Wikipedia)

I have a strange affinity towards mourning doves. There was always a pair living in the pine tree in my childhood front yard. As such, whenever I was outside playing, I would constantly hear their plaintive call: “oo-OO-oo, oo, oo, oo.”

I’m not really one to put stock in the idea of spirit animals, but I suppose if I were to choose one as a representation of myself, I would likely pick the mourning dove.  As a people-pleasing, highly sensitive INFJ, I definitely identify with wanting peace and for everyone to get along.  Moreover, my shyness and wallflower tendencies (especially in middle and high school) would often cause people to ask if I was okay. I guess, like the mourning dove’s song, I simply appear to be sad or forlorn to those around me. Though I am an optimist, and am often quite fun-loving, I think I often do give off a somewhat melancholic vibe.

Here are some fun facts about mourning doves:

  • There are five subspecies of Zenaida macroura
  • They are among one of the most common gamebirds in North America
  • They primarily eat seeds and grains, with very little to no insect consumption
  • Zenaida doves were named after Princess Zenaïde Bonaparte, by her husband and cousin, ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte  (Niece and nephew to Napoleon Bonaparte, respectively)
  • Like other doves (and flamingos and some penguins), they feed their squabs crop milk — a secretion of the lining of the crop that the parents regurgitate in order to give nutrients to their young (…yum?)

And that’s a wrap on the A-to-Z Challenge 2015!  I had so much fun!!  Look forward to a reflection post in the next few days.  Thanks for reading, everyone!

V is for Vibrancy

Vibrancy

I live my life through shades of gray,
A mellow, melancholic maze,
Hiding just beneath the surface,
Enshrouded in a fearful haze.

This rainbow fills my eyes with wonder,
This world of hues so very bright!
I feel unworthy of a second glance,
So I hide myself from sight.

Brilliant colors all around;
They glow, they laugh, they fly!
They paint the world with vibrancy;
I ask myself — could I?