Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Learning to Fangirl: Confessions of a Part-Time Vulcan

Announcement: Today is the four year anniversary of Cait’s lovely blog, Paper Fury. And if you haven’t already checked it out, I recommend that you visit immediately. Like, what are you still doing here?

I bet there are hundreds of cancer/illness memoires chronicling poignant stories and touching lessons garnered through hardship. So I realize it’s a bit cheesy to share with you what I learned through the cold I had last week. But hey, it’s my blog and I can do what I want.

Tuesday night I could feel it coming on—those, ominous tell-tale symptoms. Tired and frustrated, I threw a mini pity party (without cake, though, which was depressing). I realized it was somewhat my fault because I know I don’t get as much sleep as I should (why sleep when you could be getting stuff done, I ask you?), but I had so much that I wanted to accomplish. Among other things, I had books to read, classes to wrap up, and a novel to edit. (See, no time for sleep.) And I’d been doing so well—up until that point, I don’t think I’d suffered any sickness for maybe eight to twelve months. I was on a roll.

Come Wednesday morning, despite my tight schedule, I knew I needed to relax and lie low, at least for the next twenty-four hours. My brain felt thick and slow, like a piano with molasses between the keys. It demanded rest. So after I finished last week’s blog post, I lay in bed watching movies, reading books, and drinking far too much coke—basically wasting precious hours of my short life span (yeah, this is how my mind works—it’s not pretty in here).

In many ways, if you ignore the fever and the aching limbs and the pounding headache, it was an ideal vacation. I had time to nap, to catch up on reading other people’s blogs, and to contemplate my existence (not that I don’t do that anyway). It was the break I needed but wouldn’t let myself take until I had that final push.

But it’s the kind of thing that normally drives me nuts. I would rather be doing “important” stuff. Even when I classify it as writing related, I still struggle to justify reading for pleasure. I love reading, don’t get me wrong. Yet sometimes I feel a little selfish claiming the alone time—the down time—I need. And the hard task master in my brain yells at me that I need to write, Write, WRITE! Basically, if what I’m doing won’t benefit someone or earn me money sooner or later, then I feel guilty for “wasting” my time. So when my cold claimed almost an entire week of writing, I got a little discouraged—not to mention antsy, as I’m the sort of person who needs to write every day just to keep from going insane.

I realize I sound like a spoiled brat. I mean, seriously, I had a whole week to read and laze around and make a nuisance of myself. Instead I’m like, “Oh goodness, I have it so easy—how awful!” Feel free to smack me or throw rotten tomatoes at my face.

Without trying to sound like a lollypop or anything, I have decided that this cold was more of a blessing than a curse (cue inspirational music). When I have a fever, I get more emotional, and I’ve found that this is not always a bad thing, since I tend to be as emotional as a piece of old leather. I can watch tragic movies without batting an eyelash; I can read sad books without shedding a tear. My appreciation for any given story is more objective than anything. I enjoy the artistry and the rhythm and the depth, I really do—I can even get super excited. I just don’t let these things touch me beyond a certain point.

Recently I’d started noticing how involved some people get with the books they love—and how vehement they can be about the books they hate. And it gave me pause. It wasn’t until I got sick, though, that I realized exactly what I’ve been missing. As I plowed through my towering pile of unread novels, I found myself more able to connect with the characters, to sympathize with them, and to care about them. I let myself feel instead of locking all powerful emotions away where they couldn’t affect me.

Now that I’m on the mend, I’ve resumed my normal editing routine. My brain is—mostly—back to normal. So I may not cry when I read sad books—I have enough real stuff to cry about. And I may never engage with the stories I love as much as others seem to. More than anything, it’s a personality trait. As an introvert, I just don’t come out of my shell like that. But I did start to understand and appreciate those who do allow themselves to feel. And perhaps, over time, I will let myself loosen up a little.

What I realized, though, is that it’s not about changing, and it’s not about who’s doing it right and who’s doing it wrong. Everyone reacts differently—to stories, to others, to life. That’s okay. But as a writer, and as a human (what am I saying? I’m totally Vulcan), it’s vital that I value others for their differences, as well as their similarities. We have a lot to learn from each other.

So thank you to all the people who aren’t ashamed to show how much they feel. You touched my cold, dark heart.


  1. It's funny because you wrote as you but you kind of wrote as me, too. For me, it isn't a matter of stories that doesn't get to me—sometimes, stories are the only things that give me feelings, and I have trouble connecting my emotions to the real world around me. I think, for me, the thing is that I don't feel emotions in real time—I need time to reflect and think before I understand myself and my feelings. It takes a lot of practice.

    And so even though I don't understand, I still understand. Your words remind me of me, and the emotional disconnect that other people don't feel. We're all different, and it's our differences that touch the cold darkness that I know I'm accustomed to.

    1. Maybe it's an introvert thing? I used to worry I was a psychopath or something, because I was such a stone-hearted person at times. Whereas stories help you to feel, music is what really helps me to feel. It helps to synthesize the emotions, and then to organize them all in my head.

      I'm glad I could relate in some way. :) It's funny, even though I can usually tell what's going on in my head, I can shut down my emotions very effectively. I have this block--I tend to think that emotions are a weakness, and that if I can keep from feeling, that's a good thing. And even though I know that isn't true, it's still hard to convince myself otherwise. Like, I didn't let myself cry at my best friend's funeral because I knew that I could keep it all in, so I didn't think I really had any excuse to express that emotion. It would have felt like I was looking for attention. If that makes any sense. So it's weird to relinquish that control and let books/movies affect me.

    2. I so enjoyed this post. And I like your writing style. I always feel a little guilty when I read for pleasure and know I should be writing. But reading is part of writing. I've learned to call it "doing my homework", which makes me feel so much better.

      I came to you from Natalie's blog. Thanks for retweeting my giveaway. Have a great day.

    3. Thank you! Yes, that is a good idea--I will definitely use that as an excuse when I want to read all the great books in the world. I like to stagger it, like, I'll write for forty-five minutes, read for fifteen to rest my brain, then write for forty-five minutes and on and on.

      You're welcome--it was my pleasure. IMOGENE AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING PEARLS looks very interesting (and goodness, I feel like I just shouted your book title at you). :) Have a great day.

  2. I have the same problem- I hate doing things that won't benefit something in the future, and i'm dead scared I'm wasting my life. But I'm slowly learning to relax a little bit.

    I can go through book after book without feeling a thing, which kind of worries me, so I try to slow down and make myself feel and connect. I have to work to get myself involved in stories. I find that despite the effort it takes, I enjoy the book more if I connect with the characters.

    Stories have a certain magic when we lose ourselves in them and we feel what others wrote :)

    1. Yeah, I need to learn to relax my stranglehold on life--but I have so much to do and I hate wasting time, gah!!!!!

      I think I need to slow down and force myself to enter in with the characters more. I think it's just easier to keep a distance from the story so if it's sad it won't be too sad. I don't like things that manipulate my emotions against my will. But I shall learn to be less of a cactus. :)

  3. *Vulcan hi five* ME TOO, SISTER. Although, more IRL than on the internet? I don't know how I divide myself (**gasp** split personality?!!) but seriously in real life I struggle to get excited over things all the time. But online I just seem to go WILD. And it's a lot of fun. XD I think I've cried over 2 books. The second time I was so definitely coming down with a cold. -_-

    FJDAKLS thanks so much for linking to my parteeeee.

    1. *Vulcan high five back at you* And I know the feeling. In real life, I'm like a stone, but like you, I can have a lot of fun being way more outgoing on the internet (though it's a fine art, and I'm still learning it). But I don't get very excited about things I should get excited about. Great stuff happens and I'm just like, "Cool, whatever." So we can both be split personalities together! :D

      Yeah, I may have cried over two or three--four at the most, but that's a generous estimate. And you're so welcome!!! Your blog party is basically the life of the internet right now (in my book)! :)

  4. BLESS THIS POST. I totally relate! To everything from the HATING to take writing breaks to not letting emotions really touch me. I'm a lot more free with my feelings than I used to be, but I still express myself differently than most people. I can count on one hand the amount of times a story has actually made me cry: twice. And while I definitely /feel/ things, I just don't express it in the normal ways. With really deep emotions, I tend to I lock off instead of like crying or whatever else normal people do, lol.

    But yeah, as is evidenced by the CAPITAL LETTERS, I am becoming much more open with my feelings and much more wild of a fangirl, lol. :D


    1. Aww, thanks. :) *Vulcan high five* I'm in the same boat as you. I think I may have cried a few more times than you when it comes to books, but I think I could still count them on one hand. Like you, I tend to lock in/suppress/bury emotions, like, especially really deep emotions. If I cry, it'll be about the little things that don't matter as much--like it's my body's way of secretly letting off steam from the big things.

      I'm glad you've been able to open up and become more of a fangirl. I don't think I ever want to change from my core personality, but I have enjoyed becoming a little freer, so I'm glad you have as well. XD

      Thanks for commenting!