October 2018 Wrap-Up – Book Things & Art as a Double-Edged Sword

It’s the middle of the month…and you know what that means! 😀

So, I was going to include mini reviews for some of the games I played in the past month because Nicole @ Thoughts Stained With Ink was like, “Heck yeah! You should totally do that!” But the post was getting kinda long and there’s this one game that I absolutely need to GUSH about, so I’m shuffling those to separate posts.

And that means I’ve finally decided to do semi-regular posts about video games (with a heavy focus on indies because while I love AAA titles, it’s the indies that make my heart sing). Will anyone read them? Who knows!

As for books, October was an okay month. I read 9 in total, most of which I enjoyed:

⚔️= Fantasy; 🚀= Scifi; 👻= Paranormal; 🔍= Mystery; 🌺= Contemporary; 🗝️= Historical; 🌈= LGBTQIAP+; Horror= 👁️

The Brilliant

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth ⚔️🗝️:
If I were a cat, this book would have killed me nine times over. Thank you for breaking me in the best way, Laura.  [Review]

A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland ⚔️🌈:
This was such a clever and entertaining story about, well, stories and their power to change the fabric of the world. And its protagonist is an elderly man in his 70’s which you don’t see everyday in fantasy. [Review]

 

The Great

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Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink 👁️🌈:
I really liked it. I think it works perfectly as a companion to the podcast. But I don’t know if it’s something that can hold up on its own? I’ll talk more about it in the actual review.

Sadie by Courtney Summers 🔍🌺:
Yet another review I have to finish writing! “Enjoyable” is probably the wrong word to describe the story, but it is a compelling one and I can’t say enough good things about the audiobook. Massive kudos to all the voice actors.

Mort by Terry Pratchett ⚔️:
Read this as part of our Discworld Readathon! I’ve heard people talk about it like it’s the second coming of Christ, and to my surprise, it was actually really good. [Review]

 

The Good/Okay

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The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood 👻🌈:
Gerry (Book Nook UK) remarked about the prevalence of male werewolves in stories, and this is one of the few books I’ve read with a female werewolf love interest! Overall, a fun, sexy F/F story about werewolves, MMORPGs, and harassment culture. Plus, the author’s a local!

Time’s Children by D.B. Jackson ⚔️🚀: A mashup of time travel and epic fantasy! I guess “pleasant” would be the best wor? Nothing amazing but I did enjoy it for the most part. [Review]

 

The Bad

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The Phoenix Empress (Their Bright Ascendancy 2) by K. Arsenault Rivera ⚔️🌈:
Yeah, this was not a good one. The cultural issues aside, I found the pacing to be glacial, the character development lacking, and worldbuilding more or less nonexistent. [Review]

Mage Against the Machine by Shaun Barger ⚔️🚀🌈: I noped out of this one halfway through and my tablet is so, so grateful. [Review]

 

flourish

So in this second half of the wrap-up I’m going to ramble about art and my decision to return to it after so long.

And it begins with a little story, so gather around!

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had a bit of an eclectic family. In terms of profession, anyway. On one half there was a seafood restaurant owner, a spicy chicken restaurant owner, movie producer, teacher, pastor, dentist, investment banker….and the other half were just artists and writers.

So the girl grew up with a brilliantly artistic mother and a brilliantly artistic grandfather, and some years later she met a brilliantly artistic young girl who would become one of her best friends. And it was really, really hard for the girl not to feel dull and dim in comparison. Like a ragged baby bird that may grow up to be large and healthy and magnificent, but most likely won’t.

The girl loved photography, writing, and drawing, and it was this last one that she felt the most insecure about. Insecurity turned to shame and shame turned to cold dejection and she decided one day that she would quit–because she wasn’t any good, so what was the point? (And when the girl looks back on it years later, she’ll recognize that it was partly an act of self harm–this denying herself of something she so loved)

But then 8 years later, thanks to a book, the girl’s returned to the world of drawing (because books are amazing and can literally change lives), and she’s been loving it–absolutely loving it. But on the heels of that love came doubt and heartache.

(And here I switch back to first person because talking about myself in third person is getting on my nerves)

So it’s been four months since my “return” and I’ve been spiraling into that oh-so familiar mindset of “I’m fucking terrible at this,” with my brain constantly yapping in the background, “Hey, remember how you quit all those years ago? Yeah, this is why.”

It’s hard to look at a finished work and not see a road map of all my flaws. Not just flaws of the drawing–though they’re obviously the first ones I see–but all of my flaws. Like, as a person. Because that’s how my brain operates.

And it is exhausting.

Turns out comeback stories are more fun to read/watch/play than to actually experience.

But one thing’s for sure: I’m not quitting again. Because once was enough for me to realize that it’s a shitty, shitty place to be in–no wi-fi, no heating, 1/5 on Yelp.

It was like locking yourself out of your house, throwing the key down a drain, and then just standing there, peering through the window (and there’s a part of you that knows this is your home, it’s always been your home, it could have always been your home, and just what the hell have you done?) And this terrible, aching longing settles inside you, and the more you peer, the more it floods you until you’re no longer a person but just a vessel of regrets and self-inflicted hurt.

I run through my life via two extremes–exaggerated indecisiveness or blind impulsiveness–and I never really know which one I’ll pick in a given situation. With this, though, my brain chose the latter. So deciding to return to art after nearly 10 years of avoidance was like punching through the window (because that key’s lounging at the bottom of the Pacific by now), climbing in and declaring, “Okay, you and me? We have unfinished business.” And the sheer relief I feel in that moment? Indescribable.

But then I realize my hand is all bloody and crusted with glass and I end up hopping around muttering expletives which really just ruins the bravado of it all. (That’s generally how my life goes. I want to think of myself as a protagonist in a Chris Nolan epic, but in reality I’m probably more like the sidekick in an Adam Sandler film–awkward, sad, and the antithesis of good comedy).

I could rant for days and days about how unfair it is that your passion can be this nourishing, too-bright thing that fills up your entire world until it’s not.

Until your fears and insecurities take the reins and turns it into an ugly, shameful blot that you can’t bear looking at so you shove it into the deepest corner of your mind-closet, buried under every rejection and hurt you’ve been collecting since childhood.

Except, as it turns out, not looking at it is equally painful, just in a different flavour.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Fighting myself (which isn’t anything new), a lot of late-night crying (also nothing new) and saying “I’m not letting you take this away from me again,” and my brain–always eager to get in the last word–whispering with smugness and false concern, “I’m only trying to help you.”

On good days I can laugh and give it the finger because, hell, the floodgates are open and I can finally create everything that’s been crowding my brain for years and I’m having fun. On bad days–and those often eclipse the good–I sit down and listen like it’s a sermon worth giving a damn about.

And I just wish it were easy to find a healthy, balanced relationship with our creative endeavours. To be able to hold forgiveness in one hand and critique in the other and navigate the tightrope that life demands that we walk, and achieve a state of…well, not satisfaction–because no creator is ever completely satisfied with their work–but a comfortable awareness.

And this is all just a really dramatic explanation for why my reading/blogging pace has dropped, why I’ve not been blog-hopping as much, why it’s taking me forever to respond to your comments, etc, etc. Because I’m dedicating these last three months to aggressive, aggressive drawing–to try to meet my pains head-on instead of shying away as I’ve done in the past.

Because it’s you or me, brain.

And I plan on winning.

flourish

On that note, I hope all your Octobers went super well! Happy reading!

33 thoughts on “October 2018 Wrap-Up – Book Things & Art as a Double-Edged Sword

  1. Tammy says:

    Wow, what a journey you’re on! First of all, congrats on pursuing your dream, even if it’s hard. And second, have you ever thought of writing? because you’re really good😊

    Like

  2. jennifertarheelreader says:

    I wish I had half the words you have to write a comment worthy of how inspired I am by this post and by YOU. While you know I always love seeing you around, knowing that you are taking care of you by drawing- worth it. More than worth it. I agree with what Tammy said above about your writing. I hang on your every word, Kathy.

    Also, just so you know, while it may feel like you’re alone sometimes with these battles you have with your brain telling you you can’t, most of us can relate, and I know I sure can. Your post is inspiring me to take on my “I can’t” with ferocity, and I’m grateful for that. Most of all, I’m grateful you are my friend. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. arubunwritten says:

    Best of luck with the drawing Kathy! I felt like I was *such* a creative child growing up from making things, to writing stories to art and now I want to be that person again but it’s hard. In fact it’s hard work getting past that stage of self-doubt and getting to the point of being good and being proud of how far you’ve come. It doesn’t matter that you’ve had 10 years not doing it, you’ll get there! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Thank you so much, Arub! I feel like it’s so easy to pursue creative stuff when you’re a kid–you’re not so self-conscious and you’re just loving art for the sake of art. GAH, adult brains. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.

      I so hope you can be that creative child again, however long it takes. I don’t think it’s ever too late to find your way back to art. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. waytoofantasy says:

    First of all, looks like you had a really good reading month. I’m sad about The Phoenix Empress because I want to read that series!

    Then – “I run through my life via two extremes–exaggerated indecisiveness or blind impulsiveness” Holy crap, are you me??? Because that sounds so much like me.

    I used to do artwork too and have also stopped, probably around 9-ish years ago. It used to be such a big part of my life, and I’m not really sure why I stopped. Time? Lack of confidence? All my myriad of mental health issues? Either way, I totally feel you on this. Art is such a powerful thing, a way of communicating. Sometimes doing art allows us to express things we didn’t even know we wanted to say, so I really hope you win that fight with yourself. It’s really tough, I know because I’m there myself. And honestly I find this post really inspiring. Maybe I’ll get the courage up to start doing art again myself soon. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Gah! Sorry for getting to this late! Also, you’re gonna make me cry with this! I’m so glad to hear my TMI rambling is proving inspirational. 😀 ❤

      And I hope you can get find your way back to art. To paraphrase my mom, it's never too late to start again, and when you're ready it'll be waiting for you like an old friend.

      And haha, I literally started the blog because of an impulsive urge–so sometimes it can be beneficial and other times it gets me into a lot of trouble.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marie says:

    I’m so happy to hear you loved The Light Between Worlds, that book sounds amazing, I can’t wait to read it ❤
    And wishing you all the best of luck and inspiration for getting back into drawing, that is so very awesome and I hope you'll have a lot of fun ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nicole Evans says:

    One, have I mentioned that I adore you lately? Because I really, really do.

    Secondly, I am definitely looking forward to your video game posts (and *so* curious which game you’re gushing over) and can’t wait to gush over games and talk with you! I dunno how much traction you’ll get, but you will definitely have one follower/reader who will enjoy the hell out of those posts for as long as you enjoy the hell out of writing them.

    Thirdly, I am SO PROUD OF YOU for chasing after your artistic dreams and I am rooting for you (and always here if you need help fighting against your brain). Keep fighting, keep pushing and keep reminding yourself the joy you feel in creating instead of focusing on the quality. We are all our own worst critic, but that doesn’t mean that critic deserves to be in the spotlight all the time. I hope you find a better balance but remember, the hardest part is starting, once again! You CAN do this and I believe in you. ❤

    Like

  7. @lynnsbooks says:

    This is a great post full of emotion.
    Well done getting all your thoughts down and it’s great that you’re into your art again. I used to dabble a little bit – of course having an artistic family (who all feel so much more talented) usually means I give up the ghost all too quickly – I’m sending encouragement and hugs.
    Lynn 😀

    Like

  8. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    Light Between Worlds is one of my top books this year also. It seems to me you are Evelyn, trying to live in a world you feel uncomfortable in and dying to go home. Sounds like you finally convinced your brain you want to go home! Congrats!! ❤️❤️

    Like

  9. Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

    Ah Kathy, take all my love. It may seem it at times but this path you walk down you don’t walk down alone.

    It’s a tremendous thing to voice these feelings because I think it’s the start of the journey towards self-awareness and healing but also because every time someone is vocal about what they’re going through it reaches through to people who have gone through/ are going through similar things.

    Those people may respond openly in return or may quietly sit behind a screen digesting it all, but those words and someone else’s story reached them at the right time and you’d never even know it.

    You know my motto – do what you need to do! xxxxxxx

    Like

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