Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.

- Graycie Harmon

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tantalizing Time-Wasters

I've been trying very hard to keep myself occupied and my mind off the torturous wait for rejection/offer to come through. Most of the time, I'm quite successful. How do I do it? Well, here are 4 things I do to keep myself from going insane, well, more insane:

1. Stay Active
I partake in a number of "extra-curricular" activities. I find that keeping myself focussed on something else stops me even thinking about my perpetual fear of rejection, and I'm certain that it will help me get over the rejection when it comes. Moreover, exercise creates serotonin - the "happy" neurotransmitter.

I train four nights a week in three styles of Martial Arts. That's right. "I know Kung Fu." Alright, I know a little Kung Fu. I train in Northern Praying Mantis style (though my Sifu also teaches some southern styles like Hung Gar). I'm not very advanced, and I know only enough to get me into trouble, but it is fun. That is one hour a night, four nights a week.

Associated with the Kung Fu is learning to use Chinese Weapons. Yes, I get to play with swords and sticks for an hour a night, four nights a week. *sigh. It makes me sooooo happy!

With the same school at the same location, I also train in San Shou (Chinese Kickboxing). It is essentially trying to apply what we learn in Kung Fu into an actual fighting situation. Admittedly, this is extremely difficult as San Shou requires boxing gloves and a lot of the grabs, pokes and rakes that Praying Mantis is famous for simply cannot be done with giant 16oz boxing gloves. I'm not much good at it either, but that one is double the fun. Let me tell you, there is nothing like beating the crap out of a heavy bag for an hour after a miserable day to improve your mood! I find it also helps clear writer's block! That is also an hour a night, four nights a week.

So, for three hours every Monday through to Thursday evening I train in Martial Arts.

Also with the same school, I train every Saturday morning with our Lion Dance troupe. It runs for roughly one and half hours and then we go out to eat afterwards.

My school (Wutan Canada) is a brilliant school. I'm not even talking about the methods and training itself, I'm talking about the people. Everyone there is a character. Everyone there is interesting. Most importantly everyone there is generous, kind and friendly. I would have given it all up years ago, but the people keep me going.

Aside from that, I also train in Equestrian Archery. Now this is very, very, very cool. It combines two of my most favourite things ever - horses and archery! I get to ride and shoot arrows at the same time. *sigh

I train for this just outside of Ottawa in a small town called Kemptville. My coach, Chris Kovach (who I might just interview one of these days) is awesome, and very patient. His horse, Nash, is a mare, and so has quite the mind of her own, but she generally behaves and is not very readily spooked. A very steady, good horse. I love it sooooo much. Unfortunately budget restraints only allow me to do this once every fortnight or so.

I also play the occasional game of tennis and, starting very shortly, I'll be playing badminton once a week.

Busy much? Well, yes, but that's the idea. I don't want to give myself time to stress out about rejection.

2. Music

If you've read my previous post on music, you've probably realised that music is extremely important to me. If there was one thing in the world I could not live without, it would be music. I listen to all kinds and I play the Flute and Saxophone, though in truth I haven't picked up either in a very long time.

Quite recently I acquired (thanks to my wonderful Kung Fu brother, Jim) a violin. I have always wanted to learn how to play and so, as soon as it gets too cold for Equestrian Archery, I will be finally learning how to play.

The concentration required to learn and play with the fact that music takes me away from this world and places me in others should ensure that I don't think too much about rejection.

3. Merlin
OK, it's very rare that I watch TV at all. I simply don't have the time or the compulsion. However, quite recently I started watching a BBC1 series by the title of Merlin. I was hooked on episode one.... quite sad, I realise. I'm not generally so sucked in by television, but I couldn't help myself.

I'm a Celtic Studies student. King Arthur and the development of the legends and tales that surround him was a very large portion of my studies. This show is an interesting, often humorous and silly, interpretation of the myth.

Now granted, there are things the academic in me cringes on seeing. Guinevere as a servant girl, for example (when she was most likely a sovereignty goddess (Gwenhwyfar) and it was likely that she didn't actually exist in the flesh - Arthur's marriage to her being symbolic of his commitment to the health and well-being of the land and also as a symbol of his sovereignty etc).

Then there were some things that made me giggle hysterically. The inclusion of Geoffrey of Monmouth (famous author of the Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain) in which King Arthur is a feature) as the court record-keeper. The work was written c. 1136, some 600 years after King Arthur is believed to have lived. As soon as his name was uttered, I howled with laughter.

What I like about this series is that is a fresh take, showing both Arthur and Merlin as young men, both of whom have their foibles and idiosyncrasies, their vices and virtues. As a result, all manner of hilarity ensues, but there are also moments of severe brevity and profound moral lessons. Admittedly, the target audience is a little younger than I am, but this series is a tonne of fun all the same (despite the crappy CG and sometimes nonsensical plot devices).

Randomly, I maybe might may be developing a slight crush on Merlin (my flatmate prefers Arthur, herself). This is odd for two reasons. 1. I normally go for the alpha male types and 2. I don't normally find younger guys all that attractive. Admittedly the actor who plays Merlin (Colin Morgan) is only three years my junior, but he looks all of twelve in this series and it's a little disturbing.

Nevertheless, it's a great distraction and with all that magic flying around, great fodder for my imagination! Season 1 is finished (and I will be buying it on DVD as soon as it's available here in North America) and Season 2 began this month on BBC1. I hope it comes to Canada soon after!

4. Good Friends, Good Times
It can get very lonely being a writer - constantly hidden away from the world with only the computer and your inner world for company. No wonder so many go crazy! I like to bust out from under my rock every so often and come up for the life-giving air that is my family and friends.

I go out and eat, talk to and dance and laugh with my friends and family as often as my schedule will allow. I get to return to the real world surrounded by a supportive, and very fun, safety net. This is hugely important!

I'm very fortunate with my friends in which they don't constantly ask "any news yet?" and so I am at liberty to forget I've even written a book when I spend time with them.

That is how I distract myself from the inevitable. What about you? What is it that you do to distract yourself?


Ron said...


I found your activities interesting diversions from having to address "rejection." It made me realize that my activities may have a similar function. I also participate in kung fu work outs, weapons, punching, kicking, running, stretching........all of which I enjoy.

I work during the day as a human resources manager with extensive customer contact, recruitment, application processing. I find my job very rewarding and enjoy the challenges presented in customer needs. I think this meets partly my need to assist others (I call it "my buddhist side" even though I am not a follower).

Yes, there is the Chinese lion dance as well along with the drumming. I enjoy choreographing routines which calls for a certain amount of creativity but still keeping in line with what is appropriate in lion dance culture (what did I just say?)

I am a health food eater or non-eater, some would say. I feel very healthy which, I feel, helps to keep me young, energetic, and away from common illnesses, i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. (of course, the last one may not be avoidable).

Follow the Tao, I would say. Yet, practice the art with energy, passion, power, and spirit. Continue on, lady grasshopper.

Ron, Los Angeles

S. M. Carrière said...

Hello Ron!

Thank-you for posting. Having been involved with Chinese Martial Arts for three years now, I can honestly say I don't know how I managed to get along without it! It really has helped get me out of my shell, and given me a zest for life.

It's always nice to hear from a fellow practitioner. Keep it up and perhaps we'll meet at some tournament (though getting me to actually compete would probably take a miracle!).

Thanks again.