February 18, 2013

More Interesting

In my last post (a week ago O__O), I mentioned that one of my favourite parts of the SCBWI conference was sitting in on a breakout session led by Molly O'Neill of Katherine Tegen Books. While she said a number of noteworthy things, one thought in particular really resonated with me:

"Interesting writers make interesting books."

Now, this is just a variation on something Brenda Bowen once said to her about editors, but I think there is a lot of truth in it.

Yep. Pretty much. (Image source)
Since our trip to New York I've been stuck in this rut of "everything is bleh" and am having a really difficult time digging myself out. It could be that it's February, which in Alberta means dirty snow that wore out its welcome four months ago. It could be typical post-vacation doldrums which I seem to experience whenever we travel. Or maybe it's something that has been brewing for far longer than I can pinpoint. I'm inclined to believe that it's a sloppy stew of all three. I blame this stew for my recent blog absence.

But all of this has got me thinking non-stop about what exactly I find so darn boring about my life. (Trust me, you don't want to spend too much time pondering this.) If I just pause for a moment and take stock of all that I have—a roof over my head, food on the table, a husband and family who love me—I really have no reason to be anything less than grateful. And yet, it still feels like something is off-kilter. So much so that it's affecting my motivation, inspiration, and ability to work on writing or anything else.

I can't be the only person feeling this way.

Molly O'Neill's words keep floating back to me, and I'm fairly certain there's a good reason for that. At some point my everyday life became less interesting. I became less interesting. (At least in my own eyes.) But where I see a problem, I see the need for resolution. So how do I fix this? I don't have any set-in-stone answers, but I do have some ideas worth trying:

1.  Get out more.
I'm a total homebody, and I prefer to be holed up at home reading/writing/whatever than out doing stuff most of the time. This is becoming a problem. I need to find things I'm passionate about that take me out of the house, or take what I'm currently passionate about and find others who share similar interests. This will be challenging, but it's worth trying.

{I've already dipped my toe in the waters by joining the Royal Canadian Legion Pipe & Drum band in my city. I'm learning the side drum (aka snare) with the intention of becoming part of the band once I'm up to snuff. It's been tough but fun!}

2.  Learn something new.
I've been toying with the idea of taking up photography. I'm fascinated by the photographs I see others taking and I want to know how to take great photos myself. The local college has photography courses, so I'm seriously looking into it.

3.  Do things I love.
Strip away all the other crap and focus on what I love doing: baking, reading, writing, playing instruments, playing games... There are plenty of things I love, so why not spend more time with them? Life is too short to waste on the other stuff. And I need to work out a schedule so I'm making good use of my time instead of sitting around thinking about how boring I am.

4.  Stop comparing.
In Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird, she said something about not comparing your insides to someone else's outsides. There is so much truth to this simple statement. I regularly compare myself to others and what they have, what they're doing, how they're better than me, which is just...ugh. But I'm only seeing the external parts of these people's lives, what they're allowing others to see. I have no idea what their own internal struggles are. I need to start being happier with me.

5. Less "Me, Me, Me".
There are always going to be people worse off than me. I don't say that to make myself feel better, I say it because it's a fact. For some time now, I've been thinking about volunteering my time. I don't know where or doing what, but I think if I lent a hand instead of being all grabby hands (me, me, me, more, more, more) I might gain some much-needed perspective.

I love writing, but how can I write interesting stories if my life isn't interesting? If I'm bored, I need to set about becoming less so in whatever way I can. I don't need to become the female equivalent of The Most Interesting Man in the World, but I'd prefer to avoid becoming The Most Boring Chick in the Galaxy. Most importantly, I just need to stop whining and start doing. Do you find yourself grappling with boredom like I have been?

***PLEASE NOTE: This is not a fishing expedition. I didn't write this post hoping for "You're not boring, Jaime" comments. {Though, I appreciate those of you who said as much.} My point was simply to explain how I'M bored with the person I've allowed myself to become and what I plan to do about it. Also, to connect with others who are feeling the same way and to maybe hear how they cope with this kind of boredom.***

34 comments:

  1. Being boring is relative and subjective...In my eyes you're a VERY interesting person, Jaime and I think I got to know you pretty well during the past year <3

    But YES to getting yourself out there...Photography is fun. Taking picture is such a great artistic outlet as well. And volunteering sounds great!

    Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the boredom is more related to how I feel about myself and my life and not so much how I think others perceive me. I want to be less bored with myself, so that's why I'm thinking of making some positive changes. But it does make me smile that you don't think I'm boring. :)

      I like taking pictures, so really learning photography feels like a natural thing to do.

      Delete
  2. I have to say, I think you ARE interesting. Your posts and comments always are. Interesting is to subjective - what one person finds interesting, another doesn't. I'm not sure I think that advice is true, actually - Interested* maybe, writers have to be interested in things - people, life, the world, the imaginary world, but that doesn't mean they have to run about flying spaceships and marching in bands and having ten guys on the go themselves. But anyway. An interesting thought to think about.

    However I do know that feeling that life sometimes needs a shake up. It is easy to get stuck in a rut of work/home and the same routines, and sometimes putting oneself out there and trying something new can really help. I vote try all of the above and see how you go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My life definitely needs a positive shake up. That was more what I was going for with this post—that I feel bored with myself, so I need to make some changes. The thing about this is that there are so many interesting ways to make life less boring. Looking forward to finding those things. :)

      Delete
  3. I've felt like I was in a rut before also. Not so much that I'm bored with what I'm doing, but that I want to do MORE. I want to get out more, experience more, meet more people. Do something different. Sometimes that's all you need. I think you're on the right track with seeking somewhere to volunteer or hobbies you find appealing. After all, why wait?

    I don't think you live a boring life. You went to a writers conference! You have a family and interests that inspire you! And if they inspire you, they're sure to inspire someone else. Maybe you just need a different perspective on them. Photography might give you that perspective, or some other hobby you take up.

    What matters is that you enjoy what you do and enjoy sharing it with others. Try everything. Like the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you've nailed it on the head with the wanting to do more thing. I love (most of) the things that I do, but there are so many other things that I could be doing too. I think the only way to overcome this boredom is to try some new things and to venture out more. That way I can come back to the things that I love that I'm already doing and love them even more. :)

      Delete
  4. While I agree with your other commenters that I certainly do not think you are boring, I totally know what you mean. Every day that I have to get up and go to work, I start the day all, "But I just want to stay home with my cat and read a book!" And then when I come home after spending time with my students--I'm like this whole new energized person! I have stories to tell my husband and really interesting conversations to mull over (my kiddos are fascinating!) But I'm also kind of tired and just want to take a break and play a computer game, or something. So I'm trying to figure out what the right balance is--I need some time to myself, to read and write and whatever, and without that, I burn out fast, but I also want to be out there doing things! It's tricky to figure out the right doses of everything, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think 'balance' is exactly the problem. I love curling up with a book or watching TV with my hubby, but I need to balance that with getting out and doing different and interesting things. Too much of doing the same thing over and over again is bound to make you dissatisfied. Mostly, I think I just need to meet some new people in my area and to become a little more social. A lot of my life exists online right now, and that's both depressing and a tiny bit scary. (Though I wouldn't trade the friendships I've made through blogging for anything.) :)

      Delete
  5. You are NOT boring, Jaime, but I do know what you mean about getting into a rut, especially during the winter months. January was my rut month, and I'm finally coming out of it thanks to a lot of the ideas you mentioned above. I would LOVE to take a photography course... If you end up trying one, I hope you'll share your experiences with it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so much of this boredom can definitely be attributed to the weather/time of year. In the spring and summer I'm more inclined to get out and enjoy the sun and fresh air. Though, like I mentioned to Jess above, a good chunk of my life these days exists online and at my writing desk. While I love the interactions I have online, I need to branch out and make some connections where I live. Maybe a photography course is just the place to meet some new friends? :)

      Delete
  6. "You're not boring, Jaime" << but it's true!
    I've been feeling kinda bored too, kinda holed up in my cave ...
    I just bought a professional camera and want to learn photography. I have no intentions of becoming an expert - I just want to have nicer pictures, you know.
    And I've been thinking about going back to ballet. I ruptured 2 tendons on my foot 3 (or 4?) years ago and had to stop. I want to try to dance again - maybe being more careful and no pointe shoes, but still. I miss dancing ;)
    And hey, if you want to bake more, you can show up at my house at any time, mkay? lol
    <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think winter is largely responsible for this holing-up-in-a-cave mentality. We're like a bunch of bears in hibernation. I don't think I've ever been so ready for spring before.

      If I get serious about photography, I'll have to get myself a nice camera too. Right now I just have a run of the mill Canon camera. It takes decent pictures, but not great one.

      You should definitely give ballet a try again. It's such great exercise and it's beautiful on top of that. I'm so envious that you have the ability and the experience with ballet. :)

      Delete
  7. I love this post, and I have to say I'm glad to see that other people feel this way sometimes! I mean, not that I'm glad you're feeling this way, or that you're boring in any way. :) Just that it's nice to see how other people deal with those doldrums that can turn into a serious rut if you don't kick them quick enough. I think a big part of it for me is being sure to get out regularly--I work at home, and it's sometimes hard to make myself get out of the house in a meaningful way often enough (grocery shopping doesn't count!). I love all your other ideas, too.

    Anyway, I hope things get better for you soon, and I'd be interested to see what works for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad I'm not the only one who feels this way sometimes. (Only in my case it's been dragging on for FAR too long. Time to do something about that.) I think sometimes there are stupid things that stand in the way of us being content, and sometimes it's just as easy as making a few changes to remove those obstacles. At least I'm hoping that's the case. There will always be things that we wish we could do that are kind of out of reach, but we can make other things happen for ourselves, so why not? :)

      Delete
  8. I feel exactly the same way! It's so easy to get into a routine of doing the same little things you enjoy every day (or work, blah), and then you just feel bored with yourself. I think taking a photography class sounds awesome! I really want to learn Spanish, so maybe I'll follow your lead and take up a class sometime soon :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wrote this post because I wanted to know if there were others like me, feeling this way sometimes. So nice to know that I'm not alone. :) (Though, I wish that none of us felt this way.) It's really too bad when things that you love start to feel blah just because you do them too often and don't mix things up a bit. I think you should definitely take Spanish! Languages are awesome. I learned some German while I was living there briefly and I've always meant to try and learn it more fluently. Perhaps that's an idea too! :)

      Delete
  9. I know exactly what you mean. In my recent post on BIRD BY BIRD I touched on this. It's like you have to treat writing inspiration as if it's a living breathing thing that needs to be fed experiences and observations in order to function. And if it isn't functioning the way you'd like it to, then maybe it's time to get out there and participate in other activities that will positively affect your writing. Lately, I've been feeding my writing inspiration a steady diet of microwave burritos and it's yelling at me to give it something better. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This feels like one of those 'aha' things, doesn't it? If you live in a cave with no experiences beyond what's going on in that dank and dreary place, you'll have a hard time writing anything interesting. I feel like I'm lacking in interactions with people in real life, that my world has become really small, and I need to change that. My stories will be so much better for it. But then, I don't need to tell you this because you have to listen to my whining and "woe is me" blathering far too often. :)

      Delete
  10. Speaking as a fellow homebody, I think being "interesting" is less about what you do, and more about being comfortable with who you are. Think about people who are physically unable (for whatever reason) to leave their home. Are they doomed to be boring people because they never get to go to NY, the Bahamas, a play, a concert, etc.?

    I think the key to being interesting is to stop thinking you have to be interesting for people to find you interesting. Be comfortable with who you are, even if that's boring. There are things I love to do that would cause an insomniac to pull up a pillow. And frankly, I don't care.

    As it happens, Jaime, you aren't boring, and never could be. And it shows when you write about things that you're passionate about. :)

    That's my 2c, for what it's worth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it didn't come across that I was equating being a homebody with being boring. For me, I feel like I need to get out and do/experience a few things before I lose my mind. I've been feeling like my world is very small lately, and I don't like that. If I don't like that, I should try and change it. I'll still love and enjoy reading, writing, and all of those other things, but right now I feel like I need to broaden my world a little bit. I have the ability to do so, so I think I'll give it a shot.

      I guess what I was trying to say is that I've been sitting around thinking about things that I would like to do and not actually going out and doing them. I'm happy with many aspects of my life, but there are other things that really kind of bore me. My life is passing me by while I sit around not doing the things that interest me or that I only dream about doing. Does that make sense? Anyway, I just really want to add to my experiences and find new things that I'm passionate about that complement the things I already love. :)

      Delete
  11. I don't think you're boring at all, but I know what you mean! I recently had to fill out a form and one of the questions was, "tell some crazy or interesting things about yourself." And I sat there and twiddled my pen for the longest time. I . . . eat lots of kale? Go to work, run, shower, write, and sleep? And I don't see myself as a boring person, but I do think (like the other commenters have said) that we get stuck in ruts and forget our own quirks and nuances.

    Sometimes I try to take the "do one thing that scares you" quote literally, and do one thing in the week that is a challenge or out of character. It's invigorating.

    Good luck, and don't be to hard on yourself!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *too* hard. Ugh, and I am a production editor. So ashamed.

      Delete
    2. Haha! I have to resist the urge to delete tweets or comments that I make on blogs when I've made a spelling error. :P

      It's really nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way. I think you're right about it being more of a 'rut' thing and not that I'm boring. I guess I just find that I'm boring myself to tears these days. The nice thing is that I can totally do things to turn this around. Your personal challenge to do one thing that scares you every so often is great. I really need to start thinking that way. :)

      Delete
  12. I'm right with you on this, I've been feeling this way on and off for forever, haha...

    I think you're on the right track with getting out more. For me, planning a trip helps. Even if it's just a day trip, or if it's a year away, or however long until we can save up the funds, planning a trip to ANYWHERE gives me this anticipatory feeling that soothes the I'm-borings.

    But I totally do the comparing thing, too, and I'm way worse at coping with that. In fact, I was complaining about an experience that has been very heartbreaking for me in the past year, and I've had two friends give me some excellent perspective:

    -If everyone threw their problems into a great big pile in the middle of the room and you could choose any problem you wanted, almost everyone would choose to take back their own.

    -Someone else may have something you covet, but you probably have something that they want just as badly.

    They're a bit corny, but I try to remember them when I start to assume someone else is dancing through life, problem-free.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's some really great perspective that your friends gave you. I'll have to remember both of these. I'm so with you on the planning a trip thing. But since we just got back from New York, we're going to be sticking around here for a bit. But that doesn't mean we can't start dreaming about and planning our next trip, right? :)

      Delete
  13. Ohmygosh - you are SO not boring. (And I read your disclaimer, but I still felt the need to say that. :)) But I do love your ideas for becoming a more "interesting" person and am totally with you on that meh feeling after you get back from a conference. They are so rejuvenating, yet then I too experience that meh feeling. I'm sure it was an awesome time though! And don't you just LOVE Molly O'Neill!

    Great advice and post - as always, Jaime! Enjoy the rest of your week!

    ReplyDelete
  14. You're NOT boring, Jaime! First of all, anyone who survived the 80s is, inherently, not boring. Anyone who writes a compelling blog with such artistic flair and humor is not boring (I have blog envy, in case you were wondering). Anyone who is so well-read and pop-culturally well-versed is not boring.

    I completely understand about being in a rut. I'm so freaking sick of winter - today I am buying myself a gift, and that gift is a sunlight simulator (blue light). Today at the bus stop the wind chill was -16. Make it stop!

    And I think you're right on about finding a balance - you don't want to tip the scales in the opposite direction and be too interesting, you know, where you suddenly find yourself involved in too many activities and you don't have time for yourself. Anne Lamott is right on about comparing ourselves.... but doesn't it make you feel a little better to know that everyone feels this way at some point?

    Photography sounds like a good avenue for you - have you considered a writing retreat? How about a vision quest? Good luck - and know that we are all here to support you and help you through this! <3

    ReplyDelete
  15. I feel this way sometimes, too. Like you said, when I take stock (roof, family, full tummy), I feel...guilty?...for wanting more. But it's not about wanting MORE as much as it is about wanting fulfillment.

    I tend to be fulfilled by art, time outside, and good conversation. But I like your plans to mix it up, especially learning something new. What a great idea! I hope you enjoy the photography class!

    ReplyDelete
  16. You go girl! Sometimes we need to just sit down and re-evaluate how we're living--especially since writers tend to be, and need to be, so introspective. Honestly, I kind of think the big red sign should be flip-flopped.. It sounds like there's no way you're an inherently boring person--you just need, as I think I read in one of the comments, a "positive shake up." Sounds like it could be lots of fun. :)

    Also, I SO love #4--it's really true. (Need to read B by B...) What you see of other people is the neatly packaged success story. Being at an earlier stage in the story and experiencing it from the inside is, I feel fairly confident about stating, never as pretty...

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love this! I really do. I need to work on myself and definitely get out more. Yikes!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Nice to meet you, Jaime! New follower here (from YAC, obvs).

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have similar winter/life "blahs" so I really hear you on that. I know I'm lucky that those moments are simply moments that I can usually work myself out of, rather than any deep, lasting depression, which is another thing to be grateful for. I recently took up knitting; my mom had been hounding me for years, and I have a few friends who are master knitters (two of them met at a knitting shop) and figured, why not? My scarf is terrible so far, but they said the first project is always bad, but that's the fun. Anyway, I needed to do something other than writing and reading, and I've been trying to be more consistent with getting out to the gym. It's tough when it's so darned cold out.

    ReplyDelete
  20. While I'm in agreement with everyone here about you not being boring, I love your ideas for how to make your life more interesting to yourself. I get so caught up with work that sometimes the only interesting thing in my life other than work is that I write. Great ideas for mixing it up. :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I totally understand what you're saying. Even though I live close to NYC, I don't always do exciting things. That's why I created my Thirty Before 30 list - to get myself to actually do some of the stuff I've always wanted to do. It's helped me feel like a happier person. :)

    I struggle a lot with your #4, not just in writing but in general. Doing more activities for myself does help, so I hope it does for you too!

    ReplyDelete

I ♥ comments. They make me smile.☺