😈 About "that lonely sorceress's figurine story"

😈 About "that lonely sorceress's figurine story"

Hi there,
Ithaka here.

In the latter half of this month, I will have more to talk about new stuff that’s happening at my desk. But for now, under this pen name, I am continuing to concentrate on uploading my backlist.

The new home for my stories, the Vault, makes many new things possible. But it also requires some adjustment from my only-use-ebook-retailer days. Hence I began the upload process with <Milk>—a story with a quite auspicious motif, whether you believe in superstitious good luck or not. I thought I could use all the luck I could get.

The second story I uploaded, which I will talk about here, is <To Me Who Is Useless.>

As you might have guessed from the title, this one has a totally different vibe from <Milk.> And I mean, totally.

I wrote it way back in late 2019. Remember those days when many of us took traveling for granted? I was one of those “many of us.” I was on my last long trip before the world turned upside-down in early 2020, not knowing that it was going to be my last long trip.

And I was useless.

Yes, useless.

I had thought that I would be writing while traveling. It didn’t work out. To this day, I do not know exactly why. It wasn’t because I didn’t have time. I had plenty of time. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write. No, I wanted to write badly.

Maybe it was that I was staying at a studio apartment (Airbnb) where I could see the bed from the desk. And the desk was too tiny. And I didn’t have all my usual gear—all my paper notebooks, my pens, my computer, et cetera, et cetera.

But frankly, they’re excuses. The core issue was something else. I do not know what it was, but it wasn’t all of the reasons above.

So. I was there—Seoul, Korea, to be more specific—and not writing. And I felt useless.

I slept SO MUCH during that one-month trip. I didn’t know that it was humanly possible to sleep that much. I think on average, I slept 10 hours per day, naps included. And you might think, 10 hours isn’t a lot, but it was extreme-high-quality sleep. It was insane how well I could sleep night after night, especially considering how not-well I usually sleep.

And I walked a lot—which people tend to do in countries/cities where there is proper public transportation… or I guess, countries that aren’t the USA. On top of that, because I wasn’t writing, I ate less. (Writing makes me hungry. There is no other activity that I do that makes me hungrier than writing. No amount of cardio/squats will make me hungrier.)

The end result: my skin became so smooth!

Actually, even without sleeping more and walking around a lot, the water in Seoul does have a positive effect on your skin, compared to the water in Southern California. (“Smoother” water. You can feel it. The water in Seoul feels almost slippery, compared to the water in Southern California. Go visit both places and feel the difference!)

Oh, and another end result: I lost weight—the natural way. And I do not recall a time when I was more relaxed…

But the problem was this: despite all the “positive” effects, I felt numb.

I hated sleeping well while doing nothing. The lack of appetite was especially disappointing, because I had a list of dozens of restaurants I wanted to try, but simply didn’t feel like eating.

The overall effect wasn’t “positive” at all. My state of relaxation resembled that of numbness—a kind of peace that one feels when there is nothing one will do. If you’re not going to do a thing, why stress?

But I did stress.

See the paradox here? I wasn’t stressed and therefore slept well, but at the same time, I was stressed. The whole situation didn't make sense, I couldn't figure out what had caused it, and therefore, in my finest moment of evasion-of-the-problem, I slept even more.

Not a good idea.

The downward trend in my mood exacerbated. It wasn't clinical depression, but sleeping that much did cause sadness.

(When I heard the news that a Korean celebrity had committed suicide, I cried. And I mean... yes, it's sad news, but also, I don't normally cry when celebrities commit suicide. Unfortunately, if I did cry at every such news, I would be crying constantly.)

I think I would’ve been more miserable about my own relaxed-but-pointless existence, if I hadn’t known that there was a clear end to the trip. One month of uselessness—that was something I could deal with.

And by the way, for the record: there is nothing wrong with sleeping a lot when you’re on vacation. There’s nothing wrong with resting.

But if you’re like me at the time, and rest/sleep unintentionally to the point of losing your appetite despite plenty of physical activity?

Something is wrong.

There was a reason I wanted to write while I was traveling. It’s the kind of work that I have been doing while nobody, literally not a single soul, was paying me a penny to do it. It’s what I would continue to do even if I won $100million in a lottery.

So of course, when I have more "free time" than usual, I treat writing with even more "work ethic." (I call writing "work," mainly because I like treating it with work ethic and also because that shuts up people who claim that just because someone likes to do X, that someone should do X for free.)

I get that some people will not understand this. But I’m telling you: it is possible to like something extremely, so much so that you don’t see the point of continuing your existence if you don’t get to do that thing. Regardless of where I am, regardless of sickness and fatigue, if I don’t write anything at all for more than two or three days, I feel sicker and more tired. Physically sick and tired. This is a kind of sick/tired feeling that no amount of sleeping and good food and exercise can solve for me, unless I write.

At the same time, even so, apparently it’s possible that under certain mysterious circumstances you can’t do that thing that you love so much. That’s what I learned on that trip.

And I suspected this: if I didn’t write something, at least one tiny little thing while I was still away from home, I was going to feel really very terribly bad about that trip for the rest of my life. Perhaps I would never dare to go on another long trip again, because I would assume that none of my writing plans would come to fruition during such a trip.

So. I made myself sit down.

I started a new story, because for whatever reason, I couldn’t continue to write the story that I’d been previously working on, before the trip had begun.

<To Me Who Is Useless> is that new story. I managed to write this one short story in the entirety of that one-month trip, despite having a lot of time.

Yes. I keep telling you. Something was very wrong.

But! I did it. Because I did it, I will dare to go on a long trip again.

Next time, I will bear in mind the following:

  • I will choose to write shorter new stuff, especially non-fiction.
  • I will keep a religious writing schedule, more so than when I am at home, because that is the only way I will eat as much food as I will want to eat at the travel destination.
  • I will stop stressing about “having to” rest. I don't need to rest from writing, unless it's for a physical reason. My suspicion is that my letting myself be convinced about this "rest myth" is what might have caused the downward spiral.
  • At the very least, if it turns out that I cannot “work” on fresh writing, I will pre-plan plenty of backup stuff to do: editing, reading, office work, etc.

Long story short: lessons learned.

This story is from right in the middle of me learning those lessons. Hopefully that means that it was written under rare circumstances that will never be repeated again. But despite all the melancholia that surrounded my state during that trip, I am fond of this story. It's like my comrade in battle.

As always, I made a story playlist on Spotify.

More recently, I've expanded the definition of "what I love" further. Now that phrase doesn't only include writing, but storytelling as a whole. Thus, I "need to" rest even less. Literally everything in the world is storytelling, if you feel like looking at the world that way.

For late 2021 and beyond, I have planned more ways in which I can integrate storytelling into my life. Now there seriously is no reason for me to not tell stories while I'm on a trip.

Will it be possible to travel in 2022? More precisely, will it be possible to travel without hassle?

If so, 2022 may just be the year in which I test my learnings, especially the "no need for forceful rest" theory.

If 2022 isn't the year... well then. Maybe I will get that flying home first, before hassle-free travel becomes a thing again. We shall see.

Until then, happy reading, happy writing, happy whatever-makes-you-happy.