Fear & Self-Loathing in Las Veg- Er, the Midwest

Fear & Self-Loathing in Las Veg- Er, the Midwest

Week one of keeping a progress journal and, of course, I’m a little late with my entry. But here it is, it exists! PROGRESS.

It’s almost amazing how, the more I want to write, the more difficult it seems to be to find the time, energy, and motivation to actually do it. Yes, they appear to be directly proportional. (I’ve found it’s an often bemoaned reality in the writing community, so at least I’m not alone on this)
So it goes, I get myself all hyped up to work on my book. I’ll set aside time, make a schedule, set some goals and then, when it finally comes time to put pen to paper, I find an excuse to do something else. Anything else. It’s madness.

And yet, I find myself doing the same thing when it comes to practicing on my motorcycle. I’ll tell myself tonight, after work, I’m going on a nice long ride- really push the boundaries on my comfort zone. But then there’s laundry, and dishes, and boy golly the shower could use a scrub, and gosh, look at the time! No motorcycles tonight!

And I know why I’m doing it- I’m still a bit afraid of the bike. I still don’t have a lot of trust in my fledgling abilities- even though I know the only cure for that is, duh, MORE PRACTICE. But fear is a powerful distraction. And so, it’s easy to extrapolate, to assume fear plays a large part in my procrastination with my writing. But it’s more subtle, less sensible. My fear of practicing on the bike makes perfect sense- it’s bloody dangerous! But writing? What exactly am I afraid of? Fear of failure, of confirming my own mediocrity? Something like that.

But the solution is just as straightforward. Get your butt on the bike and ride, dammit! Metaphorically speaking, of course.

I’ve been reading a lot more lately as a compromise for when I can’t bring myself to write, and I’m finding it really helps. The more I read, the more I really, REALLY want to write, and it starts to tip the scales, my excitement beginning to outweigh the fear. My productivity is on the rise!

Now, if only I could find a similar strategy for the bike…

After Acen – My Evolving Relationship with Cosplay & Conventions

After Acen – My Evolving Relationship with Cosplay & Conventions

(Cover photo by Vontography)

It’s been more than a month since Anime Central and I feel like I’m only just now in a place to properly reflect on it.

Let me start by saying that I love Acen.

Acen was one of my first experiences with large-scale conventions, anime conventions specifically, and my first real interaction with cosplay; so it will always have a special place in my heart. It’s the con that doesn’t sleep- there’s always something to see, something to do. But my relationship with this con has grown complicated over time, mostly due to an evolution in the way I interact with the convention and a vast change in what I want to get out of it.

My first Acen was back in 2012. Four years doesn’t seem like a long time, but being in my early twenties, a whole heck of a lot has changed. I’ve definitely changed. In May of 2012 I was 21, new to drinking and partying, and excited to do both in this shiny new setting. And what a great venue for it! If you like to party, Acen is a fantastic choice as far as cons go. There’s room parties galore; whole floors designated for it. There’s the infamous soap bubble rave. The whole con smacks of a carefree, cut-loose, festival vibe- especially after dark.

Even now, this is something about the con that I love- there’s a bubbly buoyancy to everything and everyone around.

But. I’m 25 now and my priorities and interests are decidedly different. My personal space has become a lot more important to me. Sharing a cramped hotel room with a bunch of other con-goers used to be no big deal; if anything it was part of the experience, part of the party. But I’m not really looking to party anymore. I need my own space. Especially now that I’ve gotten more interested in and more serious about cosplay. And that elevated interest in cosplay manifests mainly as an interest in the cosplayers themselves and the photographers.

I’m far less the wide-eyed, tipsy tourist, meandering round the convention in a giddy haze. I’m laser-targeted now. I want to put myself out there, attend scheduled events, network, make new friends. I want to meet new people- especially the talented, passionate people I admire online; artists in their own right who inspire me.

I honestly can’t imagine being day drunk anymore. If anything, given this new focus, it’d be too embarrassing. (for me, that’s not a judgment on anyone else. Acen is surely a more than acceptable place to day drink.) But that’s another huge change- drinking just isn’t my thing anymore. There’s a myriad of personal factors behind that change, but in any case, not being much of a drinker vastly changes the things I want to do and the way I choose to spend my time.

My growing interest in cosplay and cosplay culture is the shaping factor in my con experience. Cosplay is a complicated passion for me. I still consider myself more of an awed admirer than an active participant. I’m simultaneously thrilled and terrified at the prospect of digging in and building more ambitious  and ‘serious’ costumes. I want to try. I have three new costume builds in mind that I’m beginning to lay the groundwork for. I’ve started researching, bookmarking supplies and tutorials online. The only thing stopping me from diving right in is a lack of superfluous funds. Cosplay can get a little pricey, and I have to stagger my purchases. Thankfully, the next con I’m planning on cosplaying for isn’t until November, so I have plenty of time to pace myself.

And after pouring all this time, energy, and money into building these costumes, I’m understandably anxious to showcase them. Which brings me to my other coinciding desire and fear: working with photographers. I am entranced with the ultra-talented pool of photographers in the midwest cosplay community, and I’m as anxious to work with them as I am to meet/learn from/shoot with all the awesome local cosplayers. But I also dread it. I am cripplingly shy. I’m not hugely self-confident, especially where my looks are concerned. I know I’m not photogenic. I’m probably the worst person, from a mental standpoint, to have an interest in a hobby that ultimately asks that I stand confidently in front of a camera. But here I am!

I had my first taste of working with photographers this Acen, and it was amazing, informative, and brought this paradox within myself front and center. I went to the open shoot, which was incredible; a nice wading pool for novice cosplayers like me to get an idea of what working with real photographers is like. I was beyond fascinated, but so afraid that I nearly walked away. (I’m glad I didn’t) I felt way out of my league, but all the photographers were patient and kind. My fellow cosplayers were supportive. I had a friend with me, thankfully, who urged me to stay- told me that I would relax once we started. (she was mostly right) And I have to thank the wonderful woman dressed as Mad Moxxi- your words of encouragement, helped me hold fast when all I wanted to do was run away. Standing around, considering my exits, I think she noticed how uncomfortable I was. I admitted I had truly no idea what I was doing. She looked gorgeous and elegant and had posed like a professional model in her last shoot. Still, she protested, “None of us really do. We just pretend and hope it turns out.” That struck a chord with me. So thank you, Moxxi, your advice will be my little mantra in times of doubt.

And I’m sure I’ll have plenty more of those fearful, ‘I can’t do this’ moments, both in building cosplays and in wearing them. But just as in writing, I think it’s only the things that sort of scare me that I really take seriously. My passion is always directly intertwined with my fear of failure- but that’s okay. It just gives more meaning to the things I enjoy. And I cannot deny that I enjoy this.

So here’s to costumes and cons to come! To meeting new people, making new friends, and trying the things that scare me! I think I am only just on the cusp of defining what this hobby really means to me.

vont1
My Haruko cosplay photographed by Vontography

Photographs used taken by Vontography at the Anime Central Open Shoot

Finding Time to Write (And Failing)

Finding Time to Write (And Failing)

Well, February has come and gone and I’ve fallen miserably short of my lofty 20,000 word goal, rounding out the month with a measly 8k. It probably goes without saying but I’m incredibly disappointed with myself.

I know dwelling and stressing won’t help, and with the start of a new month, I have another chance to live up to my own expectations. And I know I’m capable! The problem is frustratingly simple: I don’t write every day. If I did, I would hit my goal with ease.

For example, I’m aiming to hit 15k by the end of March which, when broken down into little bite-sized chunks, means I’m only writing around 500 words a day. Super manageable. Very doable. Until I start missing days. Then those bite-sized chunks turn into choking hazards. I reach the end of a long work day and I don’t feel like writing; I promise myself I’ll do double tomorrow to make up for it. Then tomorrow’s work day is longer and I’m daunted by the larger word count so I avoid it another day. And that’s how I end up with a freakin’ 8k total when it should be 20!

Exasperated, I vented about this toxic cycle to a non-writer friend and they seemed confused. “I thought you loved writing? Why are you always avoiding it?” It’s hard to explain, because it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I do love writing! I’m also terrified of it. There’s nothing scarier than an empty page. I just want what’s in my head to magically appear on the lines before me and I know that’s not how it works. I’m going to write a mountain of crap that will have to be pared, plucked, and polished before it comes even close to resembling what I set out to create. And that’s how it’s supposed to work! But when you’re a perfectionist with a crippling fear of failure (and in my experience, most writers are) some days it feels easier to just flip on the TV, surf the web, or even stare at the wall than face that fear and get that crappy first draft on paper.

The solution? Self-discipline. And let me tell you, I don’t have much. With only personal deadlines to meet and only myself to disappoint, it’s far too easy to blow off a writing session in favor of something more relaxing.

That’s where accountability comes in. I need to rely on my friends and family to get on my case and start checking up on me. If they see me with 3DS in hand, nose in a comic, or hiding behind a laptop (one that’s emitting decidedly non-writing noises) they need to ask me, “Hey! Did you write today?” And the answer better be yes! And, when they’re not watching, I need to start asking myself that question. And answering it, honestly. Otherwise, I’m only bound for more failure.