Wednesday 5 June 2013

MIX: Yi Write Series 5

Welcome to my Yi series, installment 1. I had planned to start the "Why I" series in the summer, but circumstances would seem to warrant an earlier entry.

Because at a rather difficult time in the school year, I'm writing about suicidal tendencies.


Let me start by laying out the following:
1) I don't currently have suicidal tendencies.
2) I used to. (Write what you know, eh?)
3) I am going through a rather difficult time right now.

Part of me was wondering if I should even bother to lay this out, given the limited number of people who keep up with my web serial. But seeing as it's probably my friends who do... yeah, you're the ones who are important to me, and I don't want you getting the wrong idea.

First, the timing is really rather coincidental, even apropos. I wrote about the parabola and her knife almost six weeks ago (I keep a buffer for the story), and her hints stretch back even further than that. I didn't feel particularly bad at the time I wrote it. Circumstances changed.

Current context: The reason I'm feeling like life is difficult at the moment comes from a few prongs. We're getting closer to exams, so lots of wrap-up tests, meaning more marking and more students stressing out over their current mark, all of which downloads into more work and stress on me. I also have to finish setting my exams, and summatives, for three separate courses AGAIN (there were some timetabling changes back in September), and thank the gods for my colleagues or I'd be beating my head into a wall, no question.

It doesn't help that after a year of trying to manage things locally for Cappies and the theatre, I have absolutely nothing tangible to show for it. Oh, tons of intangibles, lots of good feelings and the like, but nothing physical. I wasn't even in the show programme this year (of all years, when extra curriculars were going to hell) so yeah, when it was the cause of my one major spaz for the year, little depressed about that.

All of which is to say, I'm very much down on myself for my inability to accomplish what feels like the simplest things. Like motivating students (which actually isn't so simple), marking papers (I'm blogging now rather than doing it), and running clubs (having technical issues among other things). I can't even walk across a room without running into a chair.

But I'm not about to take real life as far as I do in Taylor's Polynomials: Series 5. Where math is taking depression to the next level.


That should be obvious. Because it's hated. And when you're hated enough, you start to hate yourself, and to think that if you weren't there, everybody else would be happy. Which is a lot of nonsense, but not when you're at the centre of it.

In retrospect, a better question might be, how can one personify mathematics and NOT have it become suicidal? At least, given the culture we're living in today.

Parabola has become the actual voice for it. Partly because she's one of my original three, but also because I think she's my favourite, and I have a thing for torturing my favourite characters. Also because students seem to hate her more than any other function. Oh, and because of ViHart. In particular, the way one of her videos built up cardioids by metaphorically slamming the parabola to the ground and stomping on her. (Bullying much?) I've actually referenced that video in my serial too, way back in September. 

Things haven't been any easier on Para since then. I foreshadowed the knife. It's subtle, look for it. And things will get worse for her.

One of my math characters is going to die.


Sorry. To make it this far in the post, I figured you were reading already.

See, after two years at this, I've kind of accepted that personified math is not as much of a turn on as personified history.

Moreover, I still haven't found my audience. I think I've determined that it's NOT students, or math teachers, or writers... so for now, it's still me. Me and the few people who enjoy the bizarre way I think.

In the back of my mind, I'm also telling myself that I'm ahead of my time. That in about two years, math will be more interesting, and people will have the desire to scroll through years of backlog. (At least one mentioned they've tried - hi Audrey M, if you happen to be reading!) In the meantime, the writing is vaguely cathartic, and also, I hope, socially relevant.

That's why I write Series 5.

By the way, anyone notice that, along with the depression angle, there's a subplot dealing with same sex couples? Yeah, that's not only fan service, it's going somewhere. Where? Well, that's a good question. My buffer runs out in two weeks, I need to refill it.

In the meantime, I teach. And occasionally suffer from low self esteem.

Such is life.

"Back up. One of your math characters is going to DIE?!"


  1. Your so-called "simple thing" are simple only in how they can be described. Motivating anyone is a task. Motivating three classes of students, some of who may only be in a class because it's mandatory? This may be the point where you count the successes, from the easy ones (the students who come into class wanting to math their little hearts out) to the difficult (the student who hated math at the beginning of the year, still does, but understands what's going on thanks to you.)

    Marking is another "easier said than done". It's a long chore, there's no one way to an answer in many cases, and even if the answer is wrong, the steps taken may still be right and have to be checked. Math might be neater to mark than an English essay, but you still have to make sure that the student gets what's happening. With exams coming, it's going to get busier, but there will be an end coming.

    Running clubs can be like herding cats, especially late in the year. (Unless you meant joining a club for running, in which case your workload is the issue.) Tech issues happen, especially when you're dealing with tech almost as old as your students. Equipment breaks down; I wouldn't have a job if it didn't. It's something that is out of your hands for the most part. Sometimes, the wisdom is coming from knowing what you can control and what you can't, then learning how to manage your reactions to what's out of your hands. (Still learning that myself...)

    As for intended audience, that's more or less my approach. I need to appeal to myself to maintain interest in writing. Sometimes I work out issues; other times, the writing is to distract me from a looming abyss. I think you do have an audience out there, somewhere, and Series 5 may bring in people with its heavy drama.

    Speaking of... I read the latest and... ow... Hit home, too. I've felt that way, most recently last month in a scare that's mostly gone. Poor Para.

    1. Yeah, I think my temperament has equalized a little more. My struggles make sense in retrospect, but I suppose it's one of those things you need to hear at the time, no matter how redundant it feels.

      As to the web serial, maybe drama is just natural once characters have been established? Glad the scare is mostly gone too, by the way - hope it completely goes. Hm, and no speculation... I thought there might have been speculation. ;)

    2. Time and other things help there. It never hurts to have someone look at what you think should be simple and say, "i is less complex than that." When someone else can back up what you feel, then you don't feel so bad.

      I think so; I find that a lot of my writing with established characters (as opposed to freshly baked ones) is that they drive plot and drama by reacting and, in some cases, acting. Mostly gone; I have to be vigilant, but the scare shocked me enough to pull back and give myself the pep talk/ass kicking needed. Still early for speculation. A math-tan may die, but, usually, the obvious one isn't the one who dies.