On this month’s (?) (unidentified measure of time)’s installment of Ten Things, I am thrilled to share the spooky musings of Hannah, creator of the Generally Gothic blog.
Generally Gothic is a collection of content on broadly gothic themes; articles exploring the Gothic within art, literature, architecture, film and television, social history, and life in general.
Today Hannah shares the ten things she finds necessary to maintain these spooky endeavors!
Hello! My name’s Hannah and I’m a Master of the Gothic. You can find me online as Generally Gothic, where I blog and post about (you guessed it) the Gothic within the arts and humanities. I am currently exploring literary and historical witches under my current theme: Season of the Witch. You will also find me as Associate Editor of dark literary journal, Coffin Bell, and in the upcoming edition of YOGURT Culture Zine.
One of the questions I am most frequently asked at, and as, Generally Gothic is how I maintain my blog. I am grateful to have found a space in which I am no longer asked why, but still find it shocking because mine is a sporadic and not very present online presence…
Regardless, during this weird year of confinement and armchair adventures, I thought I would share ten of the things necessary for maintaining my spooky endeavours, which I hope you can apply to whatever it is you’re nerdy about online.
1. A Sincere Passion
Mine was born on the bathroom floor at the age of seven.
I grew up in a house that had books in every room. Amongst the clothbound volumes on the bathroom shelves was a collection of short stories. And amongst their number was Edgar Allan Poe with ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. I devoured most of the books on most of the shelves, but that moment with that story in that unlikely room was what can only be described as ‘formative’.
2. Inky Fingers
Just as gardening cannot be done without getting muddy, writing, for me, cannot be done without getting inky.
I find greater freedom in writing by hand ‒ that I cannot truly write without pen and ink. If you follow my posts closely, you will spot strong suggestions of my ecological beliefs. It should, therefore, be no surprise that I favour an ink pen that is refilled over and over again, without waste. Mine is very dear to me ‒ it was a graduation gift that I intend to collaborate with for the rest of my life.
I am sure that there are ways of refilling the cartridge without pouring ink into my pores, but I don’t think I want to know them…
3. So Many Papers
With inky fingers come papers… so many papers. Bound in books, and loose, ripped, recycled, and lost, and rediscovered in pockets once long forgotten.
I know that hoarding paper isn’t the most eco-friendly practice, but like inky fingers there is something in the physical, the tangible, that I cannot turn my back on.
Do you remember assessments in primary school to determine ‘what kind of learner’ you were? I am a note-taker. I don’t know that that’s even one of the options. I also don’t know that it works… but that’s what I am. And those notes are the seeds that develop into my blog posts, so I take it back; be a note-taker ‒ it does work, because it is the work. Or part of it, anyway.
4. An Internet Connection… Albeit a Terrible One Right Now
This post is consciously not about the whole Voldermorty (You-Know-What, or That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named) state of affairs, but I would like to ask just one related question.
The internet has undoubtedly been an invaluable tool in innumerable ways during this time, but has anyone else been surprised at how it’s struggled to cope with the increased traffic? Maybe it’s just the service offered by They-Who-I-Really-Want-To-Name-(and-shame-)But-Won’t…
Anyway, the internet, though fatigued at present, is obviously a spooky nerd essential. There were already so many incredible resources, and now an influx of services have digitised or temporarily waived fees, which is as exciting as it is overwhelming. Go forth and discover!
5. Open Eyes
Whilst memory is not a strong point of mine, I do have a spongey constitution.
Perhaps it’s an individual thing, but once I began to look for it however long ago, manifestations of the gothic in life around me became delightfully inescapable. Whatever it is that I am researching, reading, or writing about at any given time, I will find echoed in likely, and very unlikely, places. I suppose this synchronicity relates to passion. If you find what you love, you will seek it. Once it takes root, you will encourage it to grow wild, as I do.
6. Inspiring Surroundings
Though the world of natural and human invention is ripe with inspiration, it is undeniably more so in certain corners than others.
Just as the great poets and painters sought intellectual salons, country retreats, and dimly lit cafés, I find that connecting with the existing work of the world positively impacts my own output.
Personally, I have a soft spot for museums, galleries, and historical homes. I know I said I wouldn’t mention it again, but one of the greatest things to come out of the pandemic is level access to the arts. I honestly cannot say whether theatres, performers, workers, establishments, etc., are being supported sufficiently by governments and public donations, but I can say that I am hugely grateful for the resulting geographical and financial equality afforded to their expanding audiences.
7. Human Inspiration
Once again making an example of historical creatives, we know that, whilst many succeeded in isolation, with community as muse, art proliferates.
Through Instagram, I have found myself surrounded by a collection of companions with whom I can share and from whom I can learn about all sorts of interesting things that spark endless inspiration.
I remain open about the fact that I would be doing what I do whether anyone was listening or not. And, whilst it’s true that I began by whispering into the silent void, it would be entirely dishonest to discredit the impact that community has had on Generally Gothic. A discussion, rather than a lecture, allows for everyone to grow and, having just this year learnt that I am 3 inches shorter than I had previously believed myself to be, that sounds pretty appealing to me…
8. Tea, Coffee, and Cake…
…for I am human, and I need fuel. I can write without tea, coffee, and cake, but I’d rather not. It really is that simple.
As you may have gathered, I feel very passionately about access to information and equality in education. I believe in books, and I believe in trees.
I am soon moving from the place that I have called home for the past 2 years. Amongst an assortment of wonderful organic things, such as people and landscapes, one of my favourite foreign discoveries has been the local network of Little Free Libraries. (Take a book, give a book whether back or forward.)
I vouch to build one of my own when I am a home-owner, but until then, I aim to share books online. I am currently giving away 2 vintage Daphne du Maurier hardbacks that I purchased from one of my favourite, virtual second-hand book shops. It is an ongoing attempt at practising what I have always vaguely known to be true: that books need people as much as people need books. And that I can exist without hoarding them all… particularly when my luggage allowance is limited.
I have scattered a selection of my library back around the Little Free Libraries I frequented. If you ever find a novel with a Generally Gothic stamp inside, let me know! I’d love to see how far they travel.
10. Embracing the Chaos, with Open Arms
I have a really strict schedule of expectations, and also a whole load of other commitments that are as demanding as they are unavoidable.
I have found that when I choose to cut a bigger slice of cake, take a break with a book, and shrug it off if I miss my self-imposed deadline for another formless week in a row, I create better.
Remember point 1? It’s a passion ‒ enjoy it!