At My Own Pace

I’m not sure where to begin.

My project is primarily the reasons people choose to create (with art or writing) as a way to cope with indescribable feelings. It’s a phenomenon that had always intrigued me because growing up I was told never to express my feelings in-person. I’d often keep to myself or bring little attention to my being so that I can process my emotions in solitude. I doubt that’s a healthy coping mechanic, but it has helped me get this far and I will always have my creations to console me rather than expressing with my voice.

That being said, my drive to create this project and understand what I am feeling has been accelerated. I’ve lost many, and I mean many people in my life in the past year. That kind of feeling weighs heavy on the soul, and it had made me more stressed than ever with the fact that I haven’t created anything in that time frame.

Right now I might be at the crux of losing someone very dear to me, and while I won’t show it with facial expressions I’m feeling that I’m losing control of whatever I have in my life left. I’m not sure what to do with these emotions, and it hurts knowing I can’t do anything but let whatever happens take its course. What I can do is continue working as I always have, using every ounce of positivity and negativity in my work flow.

My thesis once again is about the reasons why people go to creation to heal. My original draft felt like it was lacking a certain thing to it which I realized was my own personal input. I didn’t consider that until I shifted gears to an electronic literature piece and trying to process what I’m feeling. This project won’t be about me at all or this specific moment, but I want to channel this mix of emotions into something that can be understood by many.

For starters, I want to create a sort of pseudo-sequel to the piece I made last time. A narrative of an unknown person wandering in the darkness of the night. I might want to do something like this, but with a more clearer narrative in mind. I’m thinking of characters, settings, conflict and interpretations. In fact, I have at least 2 – 3 short stories that I drafted a while back that I may bring to life with this. They all deal with universal concepts of life, death, emotions, connections and loss, and I feel I need to cement one of those stories now more than ever.

I need to consider if I want to create a streamlined experience or create a series of choices that a participant might want to partake in. The problem with any of these solutions is that I want to dissect the very concept of emotions at it’s core, considering them more than just societal norms. Inherently, are these ideas more than just the words we assign to them? What makes one happy makes another sad, why is that and why do we only accept one definition of this? I want to create something that asks people to reevaluate ‘dictionary’ terms and realize that words make up more than one definition.

Words by themselves aren’t enough. I need to create a series of assets that will make this world of mine come to life. Luckily I have many images from past exhibitions or bouts of wandering that I have stored away, each bringing them thoughts about place and the idea of belonging. I’d like to take time and work on these, perfecting or distorting them to what seems best and have these act as the background through this narrative I’m crafting. I’ll be sure to post a few images soon in a Drive or sort to help people understand what I’m talking about.

The biggest idea I need to think about is abstraction. My research tackles abstract ideas and universal/personal interpretations so I need to consider how much I want to explore beyond, look at what other people say and what I feel.

I need to be careful in not making my interpretations the ones people need to follow. For this to work, a discussion needs to be made by participants so that a conversation about the meaning of making comes to light. I can’t be the definition, I need to be the messenger.

So for the time being, I’ll take a step back and work on creating these assets so that the narrative can come through naturally. It will be a lot of experimentation but that isn’t something new to me. I also would like to get a head start on my literature review, but I already have a few selections made and an idea on where I’d like to go next. I’m essentially sailing into uncharted waters while keeping binoculars on people passing by.

I’m not sure what the future holds for me at this point. I feel like a mannequin struggling to pick up the last of its strings, desperate for any sort of weight or deliberate meaning between each step. But no one else is going to pick myself up and do this project but me. So for now, I’m donning my brave face and working towards my destination.

Baby Steps

This week, my thesis idea has started to take shape. Although nothing has been done on paper, my brain can already start to form the story without any specifics for now. After getting feedback yesterday, I feel that whatever research I have to do is clear for me. I did assume I was done with that aspect of my thesis since I am using all of my research for classical music and its impact on children in schools, but turns out, I was wrong.

My story “The I of the Storm”, is focusing on interracial and interreligious marriage along with the musical component. An orthodox Jew marrying (or in love with) a liberal Muslim. Now, in terms of my familiarity with Islam, I have many years of practical experience interacting and learning about Islam. Some of my best friends are Muslims and we have been together for 10+ years now. They have shared many things about their religion that makes it what it is, and I always took those discussions as discussions of research. Little did I know that eventually it would serve a real purpose in my academia. I have celebrated Eid with them and their families, and the curious Jessie that I am, they even let me pray in the mosque with them. Aren’t I a follower of the Catholic and Sikh faith? I sure am, but praying is the same everywhere. The language just might vary, or the style might vary. One element in my story that I am trying to achieve among all this love, drama and reuniting is that it doesn’t matter what faith you follow or where you are from, just be a human.

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on

Judaism, on the other hand, is a religion that I barely know about. Should I be honest? I guess I can. I never had a genuine interest to learn more. With whatever exposure I had to do it, it was a background that I didn’t agree with in multiple ways. As a result, while learning more about other faiths such as Hinduism and Islam from my best friends, Judaism was never a consideration for me. And yes, I am admitting that my bias got the best of me. I have never known anyone from that faith either, so even if I wanted to know real experiences, it wouldn’t have been possible. In undergrad when I met a classmate classmate, I tried talking to him. It was a class about world religions. But he always kept to himself and secluded himself from everyone else since he was the only Jew in class. It disappointed me, and I felt that because I wasn’t part of his faith, that he didn’t consider it fit to discuss anything with me or anyone else for that matter. And he explicitly said that his mother didn’t approve of him visiting any other temple or learning about any other faith when we had to do it for a final project. My live, in-person experiences put me off and I didn’t think anything of it to further explore Judaism. But now, I have to.

My story is meant to represent diversity and let YA readers see their reflection in my characters, Ehsan and Sarah. But it has to be done right. Accurate representation, and valid information has to be exemplified. There shouldn’t be any reader saying “Hey, that’s not true. That’s not what I do.” Unfortunately though, no matter how much research I do, especially about Judaism and their beliefs and practices, there will always be someone who won’t agree with what I write. Why? Because everyone is raised differently and their own values and thoughts shape them, not the overall faith. Every Muslim is different, every Christian is different, so on and so forth. So, for me to be able to get Sarah to appropriately represent 14 million Jews that live across the world? It’s impossible, but I can try my best to be as close to reality as possible.

So after all the new ventures I have to take, I realize that I should not be too ambitious at this point in time. Baby steps is the best recipe. Outline the progression of my story, go back to my short story and make sure to include points from there and maybe even start writing Chapter 1. I need to get the ball rolling for my idea to seem as cohesive as I imagine it to be. No biting off more than I can chew. It’s the beginning. Baby steps.