the curious art of crunchtime creativity (1/3): voila!

there’s something about exams, about the mindbending stress they induce, about the level of shutdown your brain goes into. for me, exam seasons have never been about exams themselves, but about everything else.

i find myself relishing being let off early from classes, because as soon as i go home i take a good, long nap. i like having free blocks, when teachers let us study whatever we want to, so we pull up chairs and quiz our friends, or follow around the teacher as they entertain hysterical, nonsensical, or the rare well-thought-out question. i enjoy filling up pages of paper with math workings – done in pencil, because pen refills are expensive.

but this post isn’t about what goes on in school. it’s about what i do when i’m supposed to be studying. in those moments, i find myself more creative than i’ve ever been.

this isn’t a recent trend. when i was twelve and gearing up for my first bout of national exams, i found an old grid notebook with yellowing pages. it was my mother’s notebook, judging by the handwriting, but evidently (and thankfully) it wasn’t a very important notebook. that became my sketchbook for the year. i carried it out everywhere, drawing anything and everything that caught my fancy – from the line of my classmate’s back, to the imposing national museum. i wrote notes in it from a philosophy book. in short, it was my diary, and i loved it very much. the best sketch i’ve ever done comes with a defiant postscript: ‘done on xx/xx/xxxx, oral day!’ that sketchbook retains my fondest memories. i still remember my art teacher saying: ‘you know, this is a really great portfolio. if i didn’t know better i’d think you were gearing for art uni,’ citing the numerous sketches, studies, and figure drawings i’d done.

since then, the activities have changed, but the drive has not. my most recent exams saw me making music on musescore (god bless musescore), composing a 100-bar-long song inspired by chinese music, among other pieces. it felt really, really good. while there was a slight tinge of guilt that i wasn’t studying, it was quickly overtaken by the sheer joy of writing music. some of the best pieces i’ve produced (imho) were written when i was supposed to be doing anything but that. it was during times of external pressure. it seems as if creative energy leaks happen right when critical/analytical energy levels run dangerously high, initating some sort of shutdown that makes the right brain go into its happy place. i don’t know what’s the science, but i’m very thankful for this science, even if it rears its head in the most inopportune times.

my friends express this too. one friend also discovered musescore after i repeatedly sent her my music, and composed an intriguing piece after messing around with it for an hour or so. another friend found herself doodling gorgeous, gorgeous things right during exam peak period. this blog, itself, was born three days before national exams (i’m seeing a recurring pattern here). who knows what’ll come out of the next national exams two years later? (hopefully, something a little less time-consuming, because those exams MATTER!!)

in conclusion, on some level, stress helps us create, and we should embrace that and let it out instead of beating ourselves over it when we inevitably succumb to drawing bodiless eyes on exam papers. let yourself relax. write that blog post. draw that perfect face. feel that sense of satisfaction that you’ve created something just for yourself. that’s the special part – you’re not doing this because someone else told you to or forced you to. creativity is like a relationship – if you have to force it out, something’s wrong. allow yourself to be comfortable with doing things for yourself, and feel good that you’ve created something at the end of it. even as i’m typing this with my national exam looming over my head, i feel content that i’m sharing a part of myself that gives me satisfaction. try it out.

part 2 coming soon!! in the meantime, all the best to whoever who has exams and is reading this!! 🙈🙈

thanks for reading!!
anbudan, maggi xoxo

book: the hating game by sally thorne

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book 2: the hating game by sally thorne

another romance! this book is widely recommended on goodreads, and for good reason. it’s cute, funny, a bit cliche, but makes you feel warm all over.

i think this is one of the few het novels that ive actually finished (because lately theyve all felt really cliche and manufactured – if you know any solid romance novels hmu) and it does, to an extent, read like fanfic (which might be why i like it :>) but it does have characters fleshed out solidly.

i appreciated the small details, like the robin-blue egg color thing, and i really appreciated the slow buildup of the love/hate thing. i also liked the male mc’s family interactions, and how they really contributed to his character and the way he interacts. definitely stan the hot doctor brother B) and hot mc too B)

male mc’s struggle was Real, and i Felt That. the ex gf was handled really nicely too, and that tension was portrayed well. last scene where female mc Killed It was very very satisfying to read.

the banter felt a bit ehh but also good effort, op. the last part about the (spoiler) blue wallpaper matching her eyes was cute but also lmfao where got eyes like that one

i also didnt like the startling lack of diversity. both of them felt really, really white (which they are, yeah, look at the cover) and their character descriptions left little room for any imagination because it was just ‘his/her dark eyes and hair framed his/her pale face’ or something – you get the gist. also, everyone is irritatingly attractive and irritatingly perfect or irritatingly misunderstood. blegh. i also didn’t like the male posturing and the entire emphasis on kissing as the Primary form of love. it felt a bit one-dimensional and simplistic, but ah well; artistic liberty In The Name Of The One True Love. male mc feeling threatened by the One male friend female mc had throughout the entire book also felt a bit bleghhh like get a grip sis

that’s not to say i didn’t enjoy this. i did, tremendously, screenshotting all the cute interactions and gleefully sending them to my friends. i loved the buildup, i love the softness, i love the mindlessness. read this once and bookmark all your favourite parts (so you don’t have to sit through the eughhhh ones) 3/5

thanks for reading!!
anbudan, maggi xoxo

book: autoboyography by christina lauren

image: the book cover of Autoboyography by Christina Lauren, featuring two male figures standing on the spine of a book, facing a gorgeous watercolored sunset

first legit post here!! thought id start off with a book i read recently (when i shd be studying haha)

autoboyography by christina lauren

first thoughts: very cute, feels very ficcy but that might just be me, kinda rushed towards the ending

actual thoughts: it was good. i rushed through it which was probably why i didnt cry at the places where everyone said they did, but honestly it didnt impact me as much as i thought it would. it was good, definitely, but not as life changing as id hoped :/

i’ll try not to spoil, but here are a few points that i particularly enjoyed.

this book discusses church of the latter day saints, sometimes known as the mormon church. it has a reputation that precedes it, but one thing i really appreciated was how they didnt vilify the church and how they portrayed the people to be kind and human. sure, there were some characters from the church who werent great, but there were some that werent from the church who were also not great. basically, both sides were treated humanly and humanely, with no side being unduly villainised or victimised. good shit, author.

definitely one thing i really liked was the scene at the end when tanner and sebastian (the mcs) were at the bookstore and seb was just trying to (spoiler) keep veneer of professionalism even when his eyes were brimming with tears. it reminded me of that One scene in mi6 where tom cruise hugs his wife for the first time in years and then immediately puts up an act for her boyfriend, who doesnt know the entire story. im not explaining it properly, but long story short, it’s heart-breaking when two people who love each other very much are forced to put up a pretense disguising and denying their relationship, and you can clearly see its killing them.

i also really liked autumn’s characterisation, and how her friendship with the mc was portrayed. it was honest and funny and cute, and really well written. im just sad we didnt get more of her story, or even get to read a part of her book :/

the story also felt kinda unrealistic, especially the part about being unable to find places to make out in (try ur school after hours, dumbass) but maybe thats just me and my asianass experience talking.

the ending felt rushed, because it felt like no real closure – i guess real life is like that too, but here it felt more as if the authors didnt quite know how to end it properly. id have liked to see sebastian’s struggle a bit more with regards to trying to reconcile with his family. it wouldve been nicer to show the compromises that they had to make, rather than simply putting a one line dialogue that felt like it was negating all his character growth. it was building up to something….and then just Stopped. not nice author.

overall, still a good read, can be read once. hopefully u felt it more than i did, in a good way. 2.7/5

thanks for reading!!!!
anbudan, maggi xoxo


so. this is my first post on this thing, and it’s not as terrifying as i’d thought. hopefully these will be my goals throughout this thing.

here’s the reference

Don’t talk fast; don’t talk often;
don’t embellish with lies; don’t be verbose – but
cover the subject with clarity, use few words
and speak at the right moment.

விரைந்து உரையார்; மேன்மேல் உரையார்; பொய் ஆய
பரந்து உரையார்; பாரித்து உரையார்;-ஒருங்கு எனைத்தும்
சில் எழுத்தினானே, பொருள் அடங்க, காலத்தால்
சொல்லுப செவ்வி அறிந்து!

which i shall interpret as this

1. truthful – no filter, no inhibitions, no pretence
2. pleasant – or at least value-adding in some sense
3. i can’t think of a third one so i’ll make it as hopefully you get something out of reading this too, even if that something is an insight into how i think/function/whatnot

so this will be a repository of whatever i think and feel. hopefully it’ll get going, and it’ll be good. for those who know me irl: nice seeing you here; be good, bring this up nicely.

cheers xoxo
anbudan, maggi