Attempting Authenticity

pursuing an authentic life
December 17th, 2014 by africanstardust

Well Then.

IMG_3496(my first digs at varsity)

This will be a rambly post because I’ve had twice as much coffee as usual and because I’m way excited.

Tomorrow, at 3 pm (at least I think so, who knows with UCT…tip for prospective students, never trust the carefully put together PDF info packs they upload to the site, because they’re often wrong) I am graduating. I’m sure there are degrees, especially BAs, that are earned without much work and with a lot of partying. But I can honestly say that for the last four years, I worked hard, fell often, got up more times than I fell, and pushed through despite many obstacles and curve balls (sometimes literally). Academically, I felt like I was trying to do the impossible, and my hard work has paid off and now I get to celebrate and look like a puff ball in a gown/toga thingy and get bonked on the head with a cap by Graca Machel or Max Price. (I’m also betting that for the millionth time in my life my name will be read out as Veronica, at which point I will sigh in resignation and be photographed with a grumpy, condescending expression. Seriously, my name is not that hard to say, and there’s no ‘a’ at the end. For reals.)

But the thing is, this degree represents so much more than academics. It represents growth in other areas; massive, often painful growth that sometimes felt impossible to handle and keep up with. My relationship with God, my relationship with other people, my relationship with myself…the way I view things and the way I live my life. The way I think. I know that an undergrad degree isn’t such a big deal, but it feels like a big deal because of all the other things that happened and the way I came out of them. It’s nice to know that even with all the emotional, mental, and spiritual struggles, I’m here. I made it. And I feel like instead of dragging myself across the finish line like I expected, I just kind of strolled through, holding His hand. People always say that they give all the glory and credit to God, and I wondered if I would ever get to the point where I would be able to do that. But I can honestly, truly, sincerely say that I give  all the glory to Him, because I know how many nights I wanted to give up and only kept going because of His quiet voice and His hands pulling me up.

December 4th, 2014 by africanstardust

Letting Go (in a non-cheesy-90s-song way)

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“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Change and pain are often partners in crime. The very nature of change, whether it is voluntary or involuntary, means that something is lost or given up. The old must go away to make room for the new. But it is always worth it. You’re going through a storm and it’s dark for days, maybe weeks…until one day, eventually, you look up and see a ray of sunlight, and suddenly you’re in a new place and the whole awful journey now becomes precious to you because of all the things you learned and because of how strong you’ve become.

This is the time of year when everyone starts evaluating. How did I do this year? Did I grow? Did I regress? Did I make use of opportunities and learn from my mistakes? Did I get just a little bit closer to That Person I know is somewhere inside me, fighting to get out? Did I let go of the right things and fight for the things I should have? Was I the best I could have been for my friends, for my family, for God?

But I think that this often becomes a session of failure-wallowing. I did this wrong, I failed there, I should have called this person more, I could have been like this by now if I’d only done that…et cetera. So I would like to say this. Yes, we can all always do better. We can all always look back and find things we did wrong. We make mistakes. This happens to be a fact of life, or it wouldn’t be life and we wouldn’t be human. It is also a fact of life and of being human that we cannot go back and change what is past.

One of the best things we can learn in life is to note a mistake, learn from it, and move on. Move on here meaning “not hold it over your own head until you die.” If God forgives us when we repent of sin, who are you to hold yourself in captivity over much lesser things? We have the fantastic ability as humans to change. To grow. But our growth is massively hindered when we don’t let go of things in the past. Learn from it, give it to God, and trust Him when He says “It is finished.”

December 1st, 2014 by africanstardust

The Day After November

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And again we say goodbye to yet another year of NaNoWriMo. Even after 6 years NaNo has not gotten old, and every year it’s a little bit sad when it ends. But it’s always good to look at the positive side: we all have words we didn’t have before. We all had adventures and twists and turns along the way. We all learned more about ourselves as writers, and we all allowed ourselves the time and space to do the thing we love. And whether you wrote 100 words, or a 1,000, or 50,000, you should be proud of yourself and consider yourself a winner.

As for me, I (once again) didn’t reach my goal, but I don’t really care because I wrote almost every day and broke my own monthly writing record. Not only that, but I love the story that came out of this and it was lovely to spend time with my most favorite characters once again. And although we say goodbye to NaNo until next year, I’m certainly not saying goodbye to writing.

So with that I bid adieu to all you NaNoers and I’ll see you again in eleven months :)

(Of course, I’ll still be here rambling about life and things. But it feels like I should say goodbye. So goodbye.)

November 26th, 2014 by africanstardust

Day 26 and Things Get Deep

The madness is slowly but surely nearing its end. And being a reflective person, I thought this would be a good time to do so.

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Why do I write? This NaNo has reminded me. I’m not sure exactly when I forgot this, but the important thing is that I’m going to do my best not to forget it again. I write because, quite simply, I must. Writing is It. Not It as in “all I need,” but It as in “the thing I have to do.” I have said this in the past, but through all my many phases of life and changing and growing and what not (and there have been many phases), the two things that have always stayed with me are God and writing. There have been rough patches, of course, with both of them, but I’ve never managed to get away from either. I’m not an expert with either, and I make mistakes with both, but there it is. So I hope that after November ends, I will remember this and not neglect my writing again, no matter how busy things might get next year.

hiloniqueThings have also gotten deep in the actual story. Scenes that I have been unsure about, struggling with, and changing for eleven years have fallen into place. Plot holes have been filled in – well, the important ones, at least. And I have stayed true to that book that I wrote in Estes Park, Colorado when I was twelve and busy chasing after fairies and hobbits with my lovely friend and fellow writer, Hilary. This book is so sentimental and nostalgic to me; it’s the first thing I wrote, the thing that opened up this whole world of writing…so I guess it’s fitting that it’s this book that has reminded me of the things I mentioned just now.

Anyway, enough of that…NaNo victories so far!
1. This is the first NaNo where I have not relied on extensive battle scenes for word count.
2. I’ve written almost every day of the month, except for two days when I intentionally gave myself a break. Usually I only write on 10-15 of the days, so this is big.
3. So far I’ve written over 40,000 words more than I ever have in a month before.
4. My typing speed has increased, which is always a plus and helpful for more things than writing fiction.

NaNo non-victories:
1. I am now drinking more coffee than I was drinking even during exam time. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’m going to blame it on NaNo.
2. That’s really the only negative here, and I’m not sure I’m really counting it as a negative :)

We’re seriously almost there! Let’s do this, people.

November 23rd, 2014 by africanstardust

Day 23…and…Yeah

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So it’s Day 23. A lot of the past week’s writing has consisted of me staring at my laptop clicking between scenes and trying to figure out how on earth to proceed. The silly thing is that I know what needs to happen next, but the words aren’t flowing. Ah, well, it’s week 3 and that is usually par for the course around this time of November! The important thing is to keep pushing through, even if I know that I’m going to have to seriously rework these scenes later on. And a little candlelight doesn’t hurt to get the inspiration going again :)

On the bright side, I know that what comes after this next part is going to be incredibly fun to write and I’m stoked for that, and I should get there by tomorrow! NaNo, after all, is all about pushing through and getting the story out. With that said, I’m going to keep this short and just say that we can all do this! It’s the home stretch. So here are some snippets and I’m off to write a bit more for the day.

Snippet 1

The man ran as fast as he could, and the messenger trailed along after him, more out of terror of what was behind than out of obligation. And the man knew, he knew in his heart that it did not help how fast he ran or how soon he arrived, they were not ready. This might well be the last time he could see the light of day, and he could not even see it, for it was smothered in the smoke of hatred and evil and greed, and now perhaps he would die without having seen the sun one last time. But he tried to push these things from his mind, as he had had to do for weeks and weeks now, because it was too painful to think of how things had once been and how they were so terribly and unalterably changed now. He missed the clear skies and open seas and lush meadows and thick, quiet forests with only the sound of streams trickling through the undergrowth to disturb the silence. He missed the smell of fresh air. But he could not think of those things; not now. They were coming.

Snippet 2

“The warrior is here,” she said.
“We know that,” I said, “but how do you?”
Cahmeelle looked at me, her own expression now very somber and grave. “We found out through our own spies. But the important thing is that we found this out from Tsifira’s people, and that means that she knows. She may be here.”
Instinctively Anaru, Goulius, and I placed our hands on the hilts of our swords. It was second nature by now. “So you mean she could be here? In the Cape?”
“Yes. I have been here myself for weeks, waiting for you, since I did not know where you would be. I have laid low and tried not to make myself stand out, but I have been keeping an eye out for her and for the warrior. I have not seen either, but I can tell you that some of her servants are here. And Tsifira has no concern for secrecy; if she has sent some of her more powerful servants, they will not hesitate to use their powers if need be, and then the whole colony will be on us. We must be very, very careful and not draw attention to ourselves.”
Adyah and I exchanged guilty glances.
“What is it?” Cahmeelle asked anxiously. “What have you done?”

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