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Finding rhythm in limbo

There was this open call that I had my eye on. It was a worldwide call for submission of manuscripts for a novel targeting the teenage demographic. Anything goes as long as it is in English and appropriate for the intended audience. One must submit an accomplished entry form along with a 4,000-word sample manuscript plus a one-page novel synopsis by the end of the month.

“This is cool,” I said to myself when I first got wind of it. “I have to join.”

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That was a little over two weeks ago as of this writing. Now, I’m not so sure. Out of the almost half-dozen concepts that I had come up with (half of which were concepts taken out of my virtual storage shelf from past brainstorming sessions), I chose the one that both my boyfriend and my 13-year-old cousin thought interesting.

Later, however, I chose to shelve the idea (again), having developed the already dark and macabre and complex concept into something more dark and macabre and complex. Now, I am working on a concept that is much more light and relatable (and safer) in comparison.

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And now, around 1,000 words into that story, I am stuck. Words fail to flow. And now, after having just typed out the word “safer” a couple of sentences prior to this one, I am tempted to shelve everything again, and go back to the original idea.

After which, I may or may not change my mind. Again.

The clock is ticking: Tick, tock. I am very much screwed.

It was also a little over two weeks ago that I overhauled my personal blog in terms of layout and content. I reread all of my posts, deleted the ones I deemed too self-serving, and polished those that were raw and rough around the edges. I even made hand-drawn images that served as the new banner and title headers (just because I have absolutely zero skills in digital illustration).

But a few days ago, after looking through the whole thing again, I was consumed by the unexplainable urge to scrap everything and start all over again. I found myself extremely unsatisfied with the things I’ve written. Things I’ve written only months prior. Things that once made my chest swell with pride.

What is happening to me?

Perhaps it’s connected to the fact that I have been unemployed for about three weeks now? I had spent the past 10 months away in Singapore, working as a copywriter in a creative agency. It was my first job after earning my bachelor’s degree last year. It was an absolute achievement for a girl who had lived in her hometown of Lipa City all her life.

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But due to a completely unforeseen circumstance, I had to resign from my job and move back home. After getting used to the life I had overseas, I had to return home where the family had also adjusted and adapted to my absence.

And now, we’re all trying to get our rhythm back.

Sure, a part of me is a bit happy that I now have the time to write, go off on adventures, and basically live the relaxed, artsy-hipster-bohemian lifestyle that I miss. But another part of me is a bit unhappy at being back because rationally speaking, every move I make would mean spending money. Unless I find a way to make money from doing art, a “raket,” so to speak, I have to have a steady day job because I sure as hell don’t want to spend more of my mother’s money than I’ve already had.

But that is not to say that I will completely sacrifice my artistic endeavors. Like everybody else, I want to get a job that I love. I want a job that will help me pay the bills and, at the same time, support my interests.

Good luck with that.

What now?

I feel like a rug has been pulled out from under my feet. I feel a bit disoriented, or like I’m in limbo or some other place where you get that strange feeling that you are floating. I can’t really say that it is a pleasant feeling or even a terrible feeling. Floating is like a preparation for flight: I know that I’m supposed to fly—the absence of solid ground below is proof enough—but I don’t know whether I should bathe in the excitement of what can happen from then on or balk at the thought that there is no solid ground to catch me, or that it is there but I’m too high up to fall without getting hurt.

It seems I’ve lost a bit of morale. I am an advocate of positive thinking, optimism, and “carpe diem”, but lately, I have also been the poster child of cynicism, low self-esteem, and sarcasm. Is this normal? I’m a bit lost and all over the place.

The thing is, at 21, I’m too old to be having a bout of teenage angst. But at the same time, I’m too young to be having a quarter-life crisis. Oh, joy! So what phase am I exactly going through right now? What do you call it?

Then again, why must everything have a name or an explanation? Why can’t something just simply be?

Perhaps that is a woman’s way of reassuring herself that she is in control. To name or to put a label on something gives the impression, or, at the very least, a façade, of understanding. If you know how something is called or how it is pronounced, you probably understand it. You have an idea of what happened, is happening, and will happen, thus giving you the advantage of knowing how to act accordingly.

But the thing is, I have no idea of what’s going on. Life threw me a curve ball that I did not see coming. Fate pushed me a little bit off the road. And I am now trying to walk and stumble and balance my way back to the main road, like a slightly intoxicated young woman in ridiculously high heels trying to get home before tomorrow’s curfew.

And I WILL find my way back. Probably. Eventually.

Of course I will.

In the meantime, I’ll let this phase pass unnamed and unexplained. Ignorance is bliss, that’s what they say. Never mind if it is perhaps an ironic kind of bliss.

But if you’ve got information on this, or anything you’d like to say, don’t let me stop you. No, really. Go ahead.

No? Oh, well, c’est la vie!

Glerren Bangalan, 21, is from Lipa City in Batangas. She is an aspiring fictionist and scriptwriter currently on the lookout for a new day job. She says she’s not above self-promotion.

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TAGS: featured column, human interest, limbo, rhythm
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