Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Quote Challenge: Week 1

Okie day. Madame Mariella tagged me for this about two million years ago and I'm only getting to it now. Mostly because it's exactly the sort of easy tag I was saving for a busy week.

So, las reglas:

  • Post your 3 favorite quotes, one each for three consecutive days. [NO.]
  • With each post nominate three bloggers for the challenge. [MAYBE.]
  • Recognize the blogger who nominated you. [OKAY.]
via titledesignproject
"When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He's written 'He dies.' That's all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is 'He dies.' It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with 'He dies.' And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words 'He dies.' but because of the life we saw prior to the words. I've lived all five of my acts, Mahoney, and I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I'm only asking that you turn the page, continue reading... and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest 'He died.'" 
"I love you." 
"I love you, too." 
"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it."

–Mr. Magorium and Molly Mahoney, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (source)

AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I LOVE THIS QUOTE! I literally transcribed it by hand the first time I watched the movie just because it was so important.

If you have never watched Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (and you should), it's all about finding meaning and joy in life despite discouragement and death, as told through the story of a toy store and its people.

Mr. Magorium is the kind of beautiful soul that is childlike without being childish, and so when we see him take pleasure in popping bubble wrap or dancing or playing with the kids who enter his toy shop, he projects a kind of innocence. Like he doesn't get that life is hard. Like he doesn't get that death is serious business.

And when Mahoney tells him he can't die, that he has to live, he assures her, "My dear, I have." And this is the culmination of that sentiment. Because Mr. Magorium does get it. He knows death, intimately. But even in the face of death, that is no excuse to abandon a fruitful, wonderful life filled to the brim with laughter and all the oddities you can imagine.

So basically Mr. Magorium is one of my favorite characters. And this whole movie is amazing. It restores my gumption. And I bought it for two dollars over the summer so I may delight in it whenever I wish.

And I guess I have to tag people now.

That's all for this week. What do you think of my quote? What is one of your favorite quotes?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Snazzy Snippets (Round Two)

Snazzy Snippets has come 'round again, thanks to the generous organization by Alyssa of The Devil Orders Takeout and Emily at Loony Literate. My WIPs are actually a mess right now and I as a writer am reduced to listening to the Mama Mia soundtrack and pretending I've been writing, but I wanted to participate so I pulled out a bit of free writing I did lately.

This month's themes are food, something you're proud of, or your first 500 words. I chickened out of the free writing snippet I'm really proud of, but this particular snippet does include food, so this is what I decided upon in the end.

Bon Appétit!

Death's rush hour always comes in shaky breaths and microwaved TV dinners that they said were good for you. The spirit called Night pulls on her bathrobe and tells him to drive carefully over the pass because Dany Bridges on Channel 8 said it would be icy. Death nods his head because even people who carry scythes need to be worried after by their wives sometimes, even if they are eternal.

Then it's the midnight hour—the battle cry for Taco Bell employees, VHS machines, and the cheerios lost under the fridge. It's their spicy smell—the little particles that agitate his nose and make it confused—that makes him know that tonight will be spent putting little girls in dumpsters out of their misery and only wishing that he could put the people who did this to them into something much worse. 

There's never a bad time for bagels so he eats one while he drives, staying slow so that Night won't have to worry about where any dents in the car's frame came from. Tires jiggle, his butt vibrates as the rubber gropes the ice. He hopes the ice won't press charges. 

An idiot on his left hits the bridge too fast, and in the kind of mystical slowness that happens when your fiancée walks down the aisle or you see someone take the last box of tampons from the shelf at Walgreens, his car hits the guard rails with a screech and goes over. 

He should go rescue him, but Death takes another bite of his bagel. Idiot should have listened to Dany Bridges on Channel 8 and Night. Besides, it's cold out.


That shall be my only contribution for this month. Thanks to Alyssa and Emily for hosting, and here's to something more substantial next month! 

Are you posting any snippets this month? Bring me to your blogs!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Nine Ways Writing is Like Driving

I’m probably the only girl I know among my peers who loves driving. I LOVE DRIVING. I mean, it’s not the sort of thing I’d call a hobby, but hopping in the car brings me immense satisfaction. Say what you will about Americans and their cars, but the freedom of the road, the social contract you enter merely by sitting behind the wheel, the independence, the responsibility… It’s all so romantic.

As a matter of fact, while I was driving home from school the other day, I realized driving is kind of like writing. You have to take many of the same things into account when you’re behind the wheel and behind the computer screen. Check it out:

via giphy

It Takes Practice 

I’ve heard it takes about three years to become an average driver. Though you can learn the rules of the road and operate a car, a good portion of learning to drive is actually driving, and that takes time. Heck, I’m not even there yet.

Writing takes practice, too. Grains of genius will appear in your writing from the beginning, but plenty of practice hours of editing, and replenished perspectives will all play into your developing skills.

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You’re the Boss

The driver is the master of the car. I make sure that seat belts are buckled, devices are off, the street is clear before I proceed through the stop light, and much more. I am the boss, and that means it’s all on me.

When you’re writing, it’s all on you, too. Novels don’t just fall together. It’s your job to fill the plot holes, characterize your protagonists, visualize the setting, and improve the story. You’re the boss of your words.

via gurl

You Go Places

You get in the car to go somewhere: the store, school, the library, away. Cars transport us, and even if you don’t reach your planned destination you will certainly get somewhere you weren’t before.

Writing also helps you get somewhere, even if you don’t know where that is just yet. Maybe you plot out your goals point by point, or maybe you pants and only seek to accomplish a word count by the end of each day. Either way, writing has a destination, too.

via ctboom

You’re Not Alone

We share the road, because other people need to get places, too. I not only need to be mindful of how I’m responding to the cars around me, but how they are responding to me—they might not be paying attention, and I need to be extra attentive!

Likewise, we often write in community. We share our words all the time, and not only do you need to be mindful of what other people say to you, but also what you say to others, and how your words will affect them. A little kindness from a CP can go a long way.

via giphy

There Are Consequences

Here is a short list of things you should not do while driving: text, drink, smoke, eat, screw around, do make up, etcetera. You should maintain your car, stay focused, plan for bad weather. If you ignore such things you relinquish control of your driving abilities, putting yourself and others in danger. Driving is serious!

We don’t think about books with the same destructive magnitude as cars, but your words are powerful. If you treat important social issues flippantly, send a corrosive message, attack people, or even leave details out, you can do harm. You may not mean to, but you can. Pay attention to what you say and what you don’t, because we as writers can have a huge impact on people, sometimes permanently.

via wfmu

Patience is the Virtue

When driving, you gotta wait for other people and stop lights and buses and the radio and so many things. You have to learn to be patient in a situation—sometimes if you try to take things into your own hands it’s dangerous!

You gotta wait as a writer, too. For fresh editing eyes, feedback from CPs and betas, from agents, from publishing people, from everybody. You must wait for ALL THE THINGS, and sometimes that is all you can do about it.

via giphy

It’s So Fun!

My favorite part of my drive home is gravity. One moment it takes the gas pedal to move, but if you go to the top of the hill you glide all the way down and up again! I mean, you can’t do it during rush hour, but there are times. There are immensely enjoyable parts of driving.

Writing is also fun. You create worlds and characters and situations that are absurd and crazy and profound. You get to inflict pain and suffering, joy and laughter, all these great things! It’s a lot of work, but ultimately, we enjoy it because it’s worth it.

It’s Just How We Roll

via raydonovan

Go! Write! Drive! But not at the same time, people. These are some mutually exclusive events that should be going on, here.

Do you like writing and driving? (Again: Not at the same time…)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Blogoversary Prep

This shall not be an exciting post. Instead it will be a rather mind-numbing, boring post with no personality or attitude at all, and you will just have to endure it because if you don’t, you will be a quitter. They say cheaters never win, but cheaters actually do win; quitters are the ones who never win, because they don’t make it to the end. Although, they will lose with their moral superiority, but we are not here to talk about that.

We are to talk about the super boring blogoversary that’s coming up in November. And I like planning ahead which is why we’re going to talk about it even though it isn’t for two months. I don’t like procrastinating. If I could schedule my blogoversary post tomorrow, I would, except I don’t have anything ready.

You are going to help. I have decided on the things I am going to do, and you are going to help me decide on some other things pertaining to those things.

1. Q&A Video

What misfortune. You will be able to ask of me all the questions you want. Not only that, but my best friend, Elizabeth, will be guest starring because she makes me answer my questions better. You will be stuck with a complete stranger (actually, she guest posted back in March) and me, and it will be as fun as nothing.

Or I guess we could have fun. No, this is a boring post. I need to stop before I corrupt your souls. But in the event that you have a question that is fun or not, you can ask them in this form:

2. Giveaway

I will do a giveaway. Because that is so commonplace it’s almost out of style. That’s boring, right? I will be giving away a critique on ten pages of your own writing. So if you want someone to give an honest opinion of your writing and you want that someone to be me, you can enter the giveaway and then not tell anyone about the giveaway and take out your competition and then you will be guaranteed to win. Ho-hum.

3. Interactive Linkup (Maybe)

Alyssa and Cait have done this successfully in the past, but they had too much fun. And also I have no ideas. If you have had a successful interactive linkup or blog game, then tell me your stories because such a plan intimidates me. And if you have had an unsuccessful one then that might not help but it would educate me.

Mostly this has been a PSA. And a plea for questions. An insight into the surpriselessness of November. I promise we will have no fun.

Do you have any blogoversary advice related to any of these things? Tell me! (Oh no, I have used an exclamation point. I have failed my no-boringness rule. I have failed you all.)

(Side Note: This is going to be the last post for this week, so see you again on Monday! Goshdarnit, I did it again...)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Reading at a Distance (A Response Post)

The great-and-powerful Cait of Paper Fury recently asked us, Should We Read What Everyone Else is Reading? In her post, she responds to the following quote by Haruki Murakami in his book Norwegian Wood:

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” (source)
via Goodreads
To paraphrase, Cait was like, “What the heck? No!” She interpreted Murakami to mean, “Reading popular books limits your ability to think as an individual.” Cait challenges that sentiment because we interpret books in different ways, common reads help you connect with others, and popularity does not determine a book’s quality. Ultimately, you should read what you want. 

On the other hand, I was like, “Yup. That’s about right.” I think reading books in a community can limit readers, and so I am here to respectfully disagree with Cait.

Not completely though. Cait is totally right that we interpret books differently, which is why we still talk about books written two thousand years ago. We all get something different from our books and that’s why book discussions aren’t just good but vital—they broaden our perspective. Secondly, reading is a great way to connect with others on so many levels. Telling stories is a unique human trait, and sharing our humanness with other humans benefits humanity as a whole. 

Back to the disagreeing part: humor me a question. When did you last read a book alone? No, not alone in your room with the door shut; rather, when did you last pick up a book you’d never heard of, read it, did not discuss it, did not stumble onto anyone else’s discussions, and never reviewed it, starred it, or acknowledged you read it to anyone else?

I think for me it was July.

It's weird to bring up books we’ve read on an isolated island because we so rarely do it. Our reading culture is one of advertisements, reviews, and reputations. Not only do authors impact readers with their writing, but we as bloggers skew one another’s perceptions by posting positive or negative reviews. It’s almost like reading communities create a tank to be filled with opinions, and the popular ones float to the top.

Note that I said popular opinions, not positive or negative. Just popular. Prominent. If I say “Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight,” and you can tell me their overall reputations, that’s what I’m talking about.

via teen
When Murakami says we can only think what everyone else is thinking—and of course I am limited because I have no textual reference for this quote; I’m just responding to Cait—I don’t think it means you won’t have an individual interpretation, but rather your interpretation will be confined by the tank it is in.

Permit me a metaphorical example through Neal Shusterman’s Unwind Dystology, wherein he periodically inserts the story’s political campaigns for the collection of teenagers’ organs into his writing. On one side, witnesses insist a loved one would have died without a teenager’s unwound parts, or their children do more good in pieces than they would whole. On the other, campaigners say NO, unwinding teenagers is wrong; instead, we should punish criminals with unwinding and protect our youth. These are but a few examples.

They’re pretty fair. Diverse interpretations on the same issue are helping voters make an educated choice… right?

But wait. (SPOILERS) Shusterman reveals these arguments are paid for by the same people. While campaigners discuss who should be unwound, they avoid asking whether unwinding is morally acceptable at all. (END SPOILERS)

Essentially, when campaigners created a tank and filled it with different opinions of varying popularity, they prevented discussions they didn’t want voters to have.

via Goodreads
Many have agreed Murakami was wrong—everyone should read freely and social reading is great. I won’t dispute either point, but in my mind the real discussion boils down to this: what discussions are you missing because you are inside the tank when everyone else is?

Our situation isn't nearly as extreme as Unwind, and discussions in a full tank aren’t bad, silly, or pointless, but what I tend to see is a popular book with favorable opinions and unfavorable opinions but not particularly nuanced opinions because the book and the experience surrounding it take over. Thinking in the tank can mean you get stuck in the tank.

Do you need an example? Okay. How does your interpretation of a book change when you remove pleasure from the equation? Find a review, remove anything equivalent to “I don’t/like this,” and tell me what is left. What elements stand independently of enjoyment that make this book worth reading? It would even be pertinent to ask “how much of the review is left?” in some cases.

I don’t want your YA bookshelf to become an existential crisis, but that might align with Murakami’s intentions. When your opinions on and with other opinions, you might miss the discussion—the purpose—sitting outside those limited things. Cait’s right—books are popular because people love them and share them (and because companies market profitable books over average ones, lol). But sometimes you see the reputation for the book, and anything from Twilight to Pride and Prejudice will suffer for that.

You’ve probably guessed, I don’t read tons of popular YA books when they are in heat, breeding tanks full of opinions. I stay wary. I join the party late. I keep my thoughts close. To some, this makes me a book snob, and certainly, you could call me pretentious for believing you miss out on book discussions by reading trending novels. But, as I often say, I’m a malevolent reader. I think you’re sometimes limited by reading what everyone else is.

Then again, antisocial reading is kind of an acquired taste. Malevolent reader out.

Do you read popular books as they’re trending? How do you think this affects the way you perceive and discuss them?

(Don’t forget to check out Cait’s post, too! Also, while “researching” (read as: stalking comments) I found Deborah also responded with a defense of reading what you want. Go forth. Educate yourselves. Think about the discussions we aren’t having because we have made this topic an opinion tank.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Behind the Scenes Writing Tag

The lovely Katie of A Writer’s Faith has tagged me for the Behind the Scenes Writing Tag! Thanks so much, Katie! There appear to be no particular rules, so I will just get me to it, as it were.

Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?

No. I need two hands to write, to type, to think. Food is distracting. If I deign to eat while doing something writer-y, then it is while I read blog posts, because I can read and eat a la vez.

via picslist

When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning?

Night is my ideal time, but since my basement is being renovated night writing has been reduced to whatever I can stick in my notebook. And because it’s hard to do stuff around my family, my writing has turned into a late morning/afternoon affair when I can go work at the library.

Where do you write?

In my bed is my preferred handwriting place, and then ideally I write in the basement alone at night, but again, I can’t, so I go to the library because people are less intrusive there. The noise is ambient, not in your life.

via alot2thinkabout

How often do you write a new novel?

*shrugs* You know, whenever. I tend to have ideas for novels frequently but I don’t get them started very often—editing takes a lot away from other works.

Do you listen to music while you write?

Abso-frickin-lutely! Like I am listening to “The Riddle” from The Scarlet Pimpernel as I write this and by now it is “Dance Magic Dance” by David Bowie. Because who does not adore Jareth, I ask you?

Anyway, I’m almost always listening to music because it drowns out the rest of the life happening in my house, which is understandably distracting.

via silverthistle

What do you write on? Laptop or paper?

I write on everything. Napkins, paper plates, walls, notebooks. But, most often, I write in notebooks, or on the PC. I’ve kind of started using my laptop to write stuff (it’s where I’m working now) but it seems much less trustworthy since I have a disliking for laptops in principle.

Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write?

I sacrifice an unblemished male virgin from the local high school and offer his entrails up to the god of pain and suffering. When I have finished writing I run over his entrails with my car and inform the police that I know nothing of the string of disappearances affecting the boys within a three-mile radius.

via giphy

What do you do to get into the mood to write?

I kind of just sit down and say “and now I will write.” I am not that kind of person who can write every day unless I have a goal I am working towards, and so when I have something to work for, I get it done, and if I don’t then I elect to not write because I have a fickle soul.

What is always near the place you write?

A mug of water. Without fail, there is a mug of water. And sometimes people wash it and then I am like “WHERE IS MY MUG?” and that is always annoying and unjustified.

via giphy

Do you have a reward system for your word count?

No. Because “reward” is just another word for “food” and I have no patience for working for food. If I can’t work on something because I care about that thing in and of itself then that thing isn’t going to happen. That goes for everything, not just writing.

Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about?

I'm sure there's plenty. *nods* Unfortunately, I don't think it's important you know where exactly I bury those virgins, so I will send you on your merry way at this moment.

So, do you sacrifice virgins before you write? Do you eat? Do you listen to music? Tell me about your writing process!

Friday, September 18, 2015

WBI: Javert

Let’s talk Les Mis. If you’ve never seen the musical, then you are sorely missing out on some of the best that Broadway has to offer and if you’ve only seen the movie, then you’re still missing out, because it did not do it justice. Of course, the key to the story of Jean Valjean is his nemesis enemy, Inspector Javert. Who I enjoy immensely, by the way.

via picslist
When prisoner 24601 abandons his parole, Javert pursues him unwaveringly. Though 24601 turns himself in and reveals himself as the mayor of a small town, he disappears shortly after assisting a prostitute. It takes another ten years for Javert to track him down in a conflict-ridden Paris on the brink of the June Rebellion.

WBI Profile

Classification :: Ξ23457#@
Role :: Avenger (seeks justice)
Motivations :: idealism (lawfulness), psychology (needs justice), insubordination (police employee), lifestyle (commitment to justice), personal/material gain (closure, bringing Valjean to justice)
Bonus :: minions (police), name (AND I’M JAVERT)

[Venn Diagram Pending]

A Study 

Cinderella—his rags-to-riches backstory explains that he’s risen from his mother’s prostitution to a keeper of the justice that sanctified him

rights-based ethicist—Javert feels justified in labelling right and wrong based on the laws of church and state; infringement is a permanent failure

via picslist
dominating—he calls prisoners by their numbers to demonstrate power over them even though it’s been like, twenty years

God-fearing—unlike Frollo (another Hugo villain), Javert isn’t selfishly malicious; he earnestly wants to serve God but doesn’t have a forgiving bone in his body

orderly—one reason Javert values the law is that it brings order and consistency in life; he dislikes the poor because they are anything but orderly or consistent

employed—though the story shares his relationship with 24601, he has job responsibilities, like preventing a classroom of twenty-somethings from taking over France

via lesmisthemusical

(no, but notice he actually humanizes Valjean in these last moments!)

unrelenting—when captured, he says, “shoot me now for all I care” and “how right you should kill with a knife” because it was lawful; forgiveness is unrighteous, and when he is shown mercy he can’t reconcile this response with his worldview

suicidal—Javert kills himself because he can’t reconcile mercy with justice; therefore, to carry out justice he inflicts the death he righteously deserves

separated from God—despite attempting to serve God, ultimately Javert doesn’t accept God’s mercy and isn’t saved by his righteousness, for he was never righteous enough

via piclist

Big Idea

justice—it’s interesting that Javert spends his whole life seeking a single principle, that is, justice, that is, enforcing his God’s law on earth. He avenges God, I guess you could say, but ironically enough, in avenging God he loses his relationship with Him. In the end, he only avenges himself with his death.

not cruel—this is certainly a point that can be argued, but I don’t think Javert sets out to inflict human suffering. In fact, he seems rather ignorant of it, for example when he is more willing to put Fantine in a jail than a hospital. He certainly isn’t kind, but I find the Thenardiers, rather than Javert, the truly malicious force. The Inspector is merely the face of justice.

antagonistic—despite Javert’s vendetta against him, Valjean does not seem to blame the inspector himself for pursuing him, instead saying, “You’ve done your duty, nothing more.” Valjean, however, knows he was saved by God’s mercy, not his nineteen winters. Javert here is not really an “evil” force but rather a conflicting ideology that juxtaposes forgiveness. Vajean is saved; Javert only thought he was.

Best of all, he has VILLAIN SONGS! He’s a main character, so he’s there from the prologue, but “Stars” is his villain song, explaining his motivations and relationship with God. I will also include “Javert’s Suicide” as well because that is my favorite song from the musical. Although I did love Norm Lewis as Javert, I have selected the performances of Philip Quast, my favorite Javert, from the 10th Anniversary Recording for these songs.

Oh, what the heck, we'll do Norm Lewis, too,

But seriously. Listen.

**one, you can tell these are good Javerts because of the way they sing "reprieved," and two, you can't see the Norm Lewis video very well but the audio is fine; since the 25th anniversary recording is under strict copyright laws it's hard to get good clips for him.

Have you ever written a main antagonist who isn’t strictly “evil”? Who are some other villains juxtaposing the protagonist?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Tag of Randomocity

Guess what? Alex at Third Star to the Right tagged me for the Tag of Randomocity! Thanks, Alex!

And now, for some randomocity.

The Rules:

  • Paste the button onto your blog post.
  • Leave a new list of questions (or just pass on the question list you answered) and tag a few people of your random choice (and say why you tagged them, if you have time!) (Be original and nonsensical and disastrously random!)
  • Write down three facts about you – one of them is WRONG. Let your commenters guess in the comments which one is wrong (and tell them in the comments after a while)
  • Answer the questions of the person who tagged you – make it all super random and interesting.

Three Facts About Me: 

I once used the codename Karl with my friends. | I was a Girl Scout for seven years. | My first concert was to Sidewalk Prophets.

via imgur

What is one food that you can (do?) eat mountains of because you love it so? 

Strawberries. Strawberries, or ice cream, or cake, or bread. Any of these things.

via giphy

If you were a Traveler Without Roots, would your home be a train car, an RV, a hot air balloon, a boat, or just a pack on your back? Or maybe another option completely? 

I would not be a Traveler Without Roots. I would ask if I could live with someone else and then stay inside and never go anywhere all day.

via archagegame

Name a celebrity you wish you could spend one day with. 

NONE OF THEM. I don’t know any of them. Do you think we would just automatically like each other because I liked them pretending to be someone else? There’s no guarantee that I’d have any kind of fun, and it would probably be better if we just exchanged Christmas cards for the rest of forever instead. Except I hate Christmas cards.

via giphy

What fictional character’s house would you like to have as your own?

I could live with Will’s cottage in Ranger’s Apprentice. Wouldn’t have to pay rent. Do stuff on my own time. Be awesome and cloak-y.

via thenewdaily

If you could take a class in ANYTHING what would it be? 

Maybe a comic book class. Or a superhero class. Analysis of the best films of the twentieth century. James Bond training.

via Buzzfeed

Name a childhood obsession. TV show, stuffed animal, book, food, pastime—anything. 

Barney was pretty big for me. The Magic Treehouse books were big. Cyberchase. I still know everything about Arthur—maybe that should count?

via gifsgallery

What do you think would be an awesome theme for a party?

Loner party. You live in a house by yourself and make yourself a cake and eat it by yourself and watch a movie by yourself and then read a book by yourself and then go to sleep at a reasonable time and don’t get hungover in the morning. It would be the best party ever.

via gifirific

Have you been in any clubs/groups in your lifetime?

Sadly, yes. Out of the kindness of my heart, I will not describe any of those sad days and bring further grief to your day.

via gifsmile

What’s something you have to buy all the time that you wish you could just have an endless supply of (Something that’s always the same thing—no books or movies!)?

The phrase “too much of a good thing” comes to mind. However, I do have an affinity for notebooks, and just love to buy them in all their different designs and fantabulousness.

via imgur

What park (national/amusement/theme/etc) would you choose to visit? 

I wouldn’t mind camping in Rocky Mountain National Park again.

Thanks, Alex!

I hereby tag Ashley, Precious, R.M., and Alexa, because they are lovely commenters and good bloggers, and I would like to see what they have to say!

I think it’s pretty obvious I would throw a terrible party. Why don’t you tell me some of your own party ideas that are much cooler than mine?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

On Rereading (Again, Probably)

The other day, one of my college professors mentioned that “All good reading is rereading.”

Admittedly, at the time we were talking about rereading a chapter from a book we read over the summer so we might better discuss it in class the next day. Even so, it also made me think about rereading in the sense of the things I like to read myself.

Many book bloggers I’ve known insist that they don’t reread because they want to read the new shiny books they haven’t gotten to yet. This has always been a little strange for me because I’ve always been of the opinion that most books you read are going to be mostly disappointing—like, seriously, kudos to you reviewers who can always find something nice to say about a book, because if it were me discussing a book I disliked, I’d probably end up saying, “Well, they got all the page numbers in the right order!”

It is not much of a compliment.

Anyway, that’s me. I expect dullness and repetitiveness from the books I’m about to read, and a lot of times they prove me right.

via Goodreads
Take, for example, my current audiobook: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve heard such good things about this series, but for the first 80% of the book I was getting kind of bored with the “Virginian Artemis Fowl and eccentric everygirl get frustrated with their friends and seek a prophesied magical boon” shtick. It’s a very funny book, don’t get me wrong, and the ending is more exciting than the beginning.

Still, there were times when I would try to escape from the story by listening to the radio because I was bored and there was no promise of Noah or Adam in the immediate future (and they are, by the way, such sweeties). If I was reading a paper copy, I’m not sure I would finish it.

Many people I respect love this book (my best friend and sister included), but I’m having trouble seeing myself rereading this book. Definitely three stars, emotionally gratifying, and character-driven, but maybe not something into which I could reinvest my time.

I like books I can study.

via Goodreads
I mean, as Mary Sue as Harry Potter is, I think that’s why so many people are drawn to it—what Harry lacks in personality, the story has in profundity. Shall we discuss mythological allusions? Name meanings? The “Hero’s Journey”? Latin? Character histories? All the foils between the previous generation, the present, and even the future? Complex relationships? The Ministry of Magic as a Marxist entity? Voldemort as a Hitler figure? Fairy tale elements? Harry Potter’s parallel to Jesus Christ? Harry, Dumbledore, Voldemort, and Snape reliving the Peverell story? Color and animal symbolism within the houses? Prejudice towards the previously evil? Forgiveness? Cultural diversity? Werewolves paralleling LGBTQ+ people in our world? War, death, and suffering messages? The shades of gray (or lack thereof) in morality? Anything related to fan fiction?

Go on Tumbr—people have so much to say about Harry Potter. You could write books about the amount of worldbuilding J.K. Rowling put into that story. Actually, there are college courses offered based on the Harry Potter series! You get something new out of that series every time you read it, and that makes the story better.

Now, I don’t think my professor meant that you can’t enjoy a book you read only once. Of course you can! I can think of a lot of romance novels that would have been financial flops if that weren’t the case…

But there’s something to be said about “getting” something from a story first reads can’t provide. I mean, you wouldn’t publish the first draft of your novel, would you? Likewise, when it comes to the symbolic, thematic, and global perspectives of a book, you can’t completely explore them with just one read.

Of course, that’s not the defining character of a book. The Raven Boys isn’t the kind of book you’ll be able to discuss critically in college course someday. But at least for me, it does end up being kind of disappointing when you can determine a book’s significance before even finishing it.

How often do you reread books? Do you prefer to read books you can study, or would you rather eat all the books instead?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rewriting a Room: Letting Go

I think the hardest part of rewriting a novel is letting go.

After all, you’ve put in a lot of work into that product. There are things you specifically love, things you don’t want to say goodbye to, and things you aren’t sure you’re going to be able to get back in the event of unforeseen changes.

It’s annoying and hard and sucks—and worst of all you’re going to be back at square one, building your way back up to a climax and a project worth working on.

In these cases, I think it’s important to remember WHY you’ve decided to rewrite something.

  • has time changed your thoughts on where the story should go?
  • are there significant numbers of characters that need to be taken out or added in?
  • does a significant setting change need to be made?
  • do you need to open up more plot threads to carry the story?
  • would you like to try writing with a different voice?
  • do the protagonists need significant recrafting?
  • are you just not happy with the story, because you are bored, displeased, or feel like it’s “just not right”?

In the case of my superhero novel, I know it needs rewriting because I didn’t have an actual climax in mind when I started writing, and so the characters, settings, and thoughts don’t really build up to any one thought. I need more plot threads, and I actually need to make it to the end.

In the case of my room, it didn’t get as much water damage as my sister’s room and probably could have survived, but structurally, the floors needed some work, the walls could do with replacing, the ceiling was partly missing because of water damage, and the decorations were getting a little old. It was time for some sprucing up.

Currently, my room has been stripped down to its basics, and I need to do the same with my story. Back to the simple idea that was, and not the thing that I made up.

How do you let go of a story you love to make it something better in the end?

(Not quite sure what I'm on about? Be sure to check out my introduction here!)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thursentary: Commentary

When I was a kid, I thought watching the commentary on a DVD was the dumbest thing ever. Like, who wanted to hear a lot of random people talk about the movie instead of actually listening to the movie? How would you even know what was happening in the film?

Clearly, whoever watched the commentary was an idiot.

Also, even more clearly, I was not much of a fangirl at a young age. Or very logical.

But, now that I am older and have a greater fascination with the things I choose to devote my time to, I spend far more time rewatching the films and TV series I love with the commentary on than my childhood self would have anticipated. (For the record, yes, I now know that the commentary exists for people familiar with the movie—not for first-time watchers.)

Still, if you aren’t convinced yet, I have a few reasons that you should consider checking out the commentary for YOUR favorite shows and movies!

via l-o-t-r

1. You Get a New Perspective

It’s one thing to see the finished product and think about it only as that finished product. People tend to consider movies especially as a glamorous art—but even if you’re working in the entertainment industry, it is still a real job. When I hear the voices of the people who did those jobs, I gain a new appreciation for how they made this thing that I love into something that I love, and that’s really cool.

2. There are Amusing Fun Facts

There are a ton of things that you don’t know about your favorite movie/show and never will, but one way to get interesting tidbits is by watching the commentary. For example, in the fourth season finale of Leverage, they film in front of a waterfall. The history behind that waterfall involves a newly married couple who went canoeing on the river and decided to get their hanky panky on in their boat, not realizing that there was a waterfall up ahead. They went over and died. See what interesting things you can learn?

via Buzzfeed

3. It’s Funny

I mean, maybe not the laugh-out-loud comedy film of the year funny, but people who make awesome stuff are usually awesome people, too! It’s interesting to see how their senses of humor contribute to the making of the episode, and how they interact with one another.

via imgur

4. It Can Help You

I think I’ve watched about 85% of the Leverage episodes with commentary, and something I really value in those is that they often provide writing advice in relation to something you see on screen. And sure, maybe their direct audience is young filmmakers, but I would say that getting to hear experienced writers discuss their trade is a huge help! You never know what they have to teach you.

via broshipofthecast

5. You Get Fangirl Points

Screw reading the books. If you watch all three extended versions of Lord of the Rings with the commentary on, then I need no further proof that you are the most ultimate of fans. Likewise, the fact that you’re willing to invest even more time in that thing that you love demonstrates your commitment to that thing you love. And that’s pretty cool too.

I’m thinking about rewatching some of Castle’s first season with commentary, just because there are some insights I’d love to see into the show… Best get started!

Do you like watching your favorite movies and shows with commentary? Why or why not?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How Do You Write a Blog Post?

This is actually my 302nd post. Three hundred and two, I tell you! That’s kind of a lot, even if at the beginning there I felt like crappy haikus satisfied the blogging requirement, which it didn’t. But I have had time to practice, and after a while I’ve managed to hammer out a system for writing out my blog posts.

via comicvine
It is not perfect and it is not concrete, but it is. And that is why I have decided to share it.

via giphy

1. Idea Formulation

Ideas are not super hard for me. Sometimes they pop up out of my brain, or are inspired by other people’s ideas, or my life in general. Of course, there are always slow idea days, but since reading, writing, and blogging are pretty consistent elements of my life, ideas are usually not hard for me.

via unseenwonder

2. Drafting

Sometimes I draft on the computer, sometimes I draft on the paper. However, when I do it on paper I tend to write like Tarzan in a flurry of quick notes. I get out my ideas with as much mess as I desire. I type it up later with more precision. For example, I paper-drafted this blog post at a “don’t do drugs” orientation program at my school, and typed up the second draft while my dad showed his best friend all the pictures we took this year.

via comicbookresources

3. Editing

95% of my posts were written at least one day between drafting and editing. Some only have a one day difference between the inspiration and instigation, and others end up lasting five months because I need to chill out. But, they all need fixing, and that's why I always look over them with a pair of fresh eyes before posting.

via giphy

4. Formatting

Once I finally get the words I want to express the idea I want, I finally copy it into the Blogger draft page. It’s just decorative work from there. Bold things, add pictures, GIFs, formatting, and so forth to make it presentable, at least in my opinion at the time.

via giphy

5. Post

And, of course, I end up presenting it to the world at last! Lately I’ve been scheduling all my posts at 6 AM MST, which means I can prepare a week’s posts on the weekends and not have to worry about it again until the day of its arrival.

That’s how I write my blog posts. Thus is my system. *bows very fancily*

How do you write your blog posts? Do you have a system?