Friday, October 30, 2015

WBI Gaston

Lyrics are coming. And Disney owns all of them. Because no one sings like Gaston!

(Also, I just realized, tomorrow is the one year birthday of WBI. Fun stuff.)

via One

WBI Profile

Classification :: Σ1357#*
Role :: Lone Wolf (autonomous villain)
Motivation :: evil (inflating himself at the expense of others), psychology (entitlement), lifestyle (always gets what he wants), personal/material gain (obtaining Belle as his wife)
Bonus :: minions (LeFou), lair (the tavern)

via imgur

A Study

handsome—animators originally had trouble designing Gaston because they’d never drawn a handsome villain before (they solved that problem by the time they made Frozen)

skilled—true to his claims, Gaston is a good hunter, which is how he uses antlers in all of his decorating

vain—at the same time, his skills are non-redeeming; when it comes to Belle, there in town it’s only she who is as beautiful as he, and his egoism and entitlement disgust us more

prejudiced—on top of that, Gaston is condescending, especially to his love interest and her father, not to mention his own sidekick

womanizer—sure, Gaston wants Belle and won’t take no for an answer, but as he says to the other girls, just because he gets married doesn’t mean they’ll end their ren-dez-vouses

conniving—he’s not going to let the consent of one measly woman get in the way of obtaining his trophy wife; likewise, no one plans to persecute harmless crackpots like Gaston

musical—Who has brains like Gaston? Entertains like Gaston? Who can make up these endless refrains like Gaston?

consequentialist—his ends justify his means, so bribing Mssr. D’arque, spying, abducting Belle’s father, and killing the beast are all morally okay with him as long as he gets Belle

cowardly—and despite all his bravado, in the end Gaston begs the Beast like a mewling quim because as much as he desires mercy he never gives it himself (what a jerkface)

fallen—in his selfishness and arrogance Gaston is the cause of his undoing; he falls to his death because his faith in himself becomes his greatest weakness and when he chooses to make himself the most important, he loses the opportunity for group strength (or, y’know, he falls like Satan)

via perezhilton

Big Idea

anyone can be Gaston—the fact that “no one’s slick as Gaston” is rather irrelevant when paired with “every guy here’d like to be you Gaston.” Gaston became the people’s hero, and as soon as people accept the prejudices of their heroes, their relationship with the hero’s enemies becomes one of judgement rather than justice. Which, like this fan theory says, is terrifying to consider.

what’s consent?—I’ve seen it argued that Gaston wasn’t really a villain because his crime was hitting on the girl (maybe the dude didn’t get to the attempted murder at the end?). To be fair, flirting itself isn’t bad, if done right. If we didn’t let other people know we liked them there wouldn’t be relationships. Gaston, however, doesn’t flirt. He expects. He expects Belle to love him, he expects her to marry him, he expects her to satisfy him, and he expects control in the matter. And sure, maybe it’s not the worst thing ever, but if we don’t villainize those who disrespect their love interests and favor entitlement over consent, are we not passively allowing, if not advocating for, such people and behaviors? That ain’t okay.

foiled again—Gaston and Beast are foils. Where Gaston is handsome, Beast is ugly; where Gaston is admired in society, Beast is reviled. But when placed in the same situation, given the chance to value inner beauty over the outer, Gaston ultimately fails where Beast eventually succeeds. Gaston never realizes that selflessness, rather than selfishness, is what creates value in life and love.

I’ve thought in the past that Gaston should have won (he had a firearm, for Pete’s sake, he could have shot Beast from far away), but put in this light, I don’t think Gaston ever would have won. Unless he experienced a change in himself, like Beast, he’d never really achieve the things he doesn’t already have. He’d be static. Forever.

And now: the villain song.

What do you think of Gaston as a villain? How frightening is he compared to other villains? Would you ever write a villain like him?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The ABBA Book Tag

The great-and-powerful Shanti of Weaving Waves Words has tagged me for the ABBA book tag! Tags are fun which is why I’m more than willing to do this, plus, who does not need a little ABBA in their lives?

The Rules: 

  • Use this image (or not, but ideally use this one because it’s sort of pretty) 
  • If you haven’t listened to ABBA before, go do that before you begin. 
  • Link to the person who tagged you. 
  • Find books that match the categories. 
  • Tag some other people 
  • Have fun. 
  • If you want to add other ABBA songs/lyrics and make more categories, you can do that too, and it will be awesome. 
via Goodreads

Take a Chance on Me (a book you unexpectedly liked)

I read Vicious by V.E. Schwab because I had heard other bloggers talk about it and I was curious to know of it, and I read it, and it was both a challenge and a pleasure to read!

The Winner Takes it All (an overhyped book)

I’m going to say Rick Riordan’s books, but not because of the books themselves. The occasional Percy Jackson meme shows up in my Facebook or Pinterest feeds, and sometimes the fans act like they’d sacrifice a baby to the Greek Gods if Rick Riordan could produce another book overnight. Like, yes, love your books, but also: chill.

via Goodreads

Waterloo (an amazing historical fiction book)

No such thing. Just kidding, just kidding. They aren’t all—well, never mind. READ WHAT PLEASES YOU. As it is, I personally enjoyed The Dirty Parts of the Bible by Sam Torode because it was funny and allegorical and intriguing.

You’re Only A Child (a recently published book)

Six of Crows! I’m only partway through because I haven’t had as much time for reading as I’d like right now but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far!

via mashable

I Have A Dream (a favorite, ‘ideal’ book)

*sigh* Don’t talk to me.

Dancing Queen (a book with royalty)

But there are so many?! If you insist, then fine, I will choose Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot. It was amusing and nostalgic but annoying and cliché so I will leave you to sort out those feelings because I can’t.

AND a really good royalty series would be the Enchanted Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede.

via Amazon

Money, Money Money (a book you’re willing to pay lots for, because it’s awesome)

I will pay lots of money for George O’Connor’s Olympians graphic novel series one day, because it is the most beautiful Greek Mythology series, but I’m kind of hanging back because I’d really like to have a box set with ALL THE BOOKS IN THE WHOLE SERIES even though that may take some years.

Lay All Your Love on Me (a book that needs more attention)

Books always need some attention! But I might say the the Saga graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. I adore them. Graphic graphic novels are fun.

via Goodreads

Here We Go Again (a book that seemed to copy another book)

Hmm… I think I’m going to say the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. It has a lot of elements similar to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings, but it’s also unique and enticing in its own way. I always love revisiting old plots in different costumes, so I admire the craft that went into Eragon!

S.O.S. (a book that should get in trouble and NOT be rescued)

Coming to God by William F. Kraft. Sooner or later I am going to write a furious review on Amazon because it was not worth my time, at all.

via Goodreads

Knowing Me, Knowing You (a book you know a lot about for whatever reason)

I would feel comfortable saying Percy Jackson, because I once made an entire spreadsheet of every character in the first five books in a fangirl-spurned fervor, but also I would maybe say H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden. When the seventh book first came out I read it in a day and then brought it to my best friend to read and then she would laugh and I would say the part she just laughed at from memory because I had absorbed it so fervently.

Our Last Summer (a book you took on vacation)

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo was a reread for me on my Barcelona trip in 2014. We didn’t like Barcelona as much as we liked Madrid and so we spent more time in our hotel room, so I might have read the book in a full day. I don’t remember.

via Goodreads

Souper Trooper (a book that cheers you up)

Howl’s Moving Castle was probably the most adorable thing I’d read in a really long time. WHY DIDN’T I BELIEVE EVERYONE THAT IT WAS GENIUS? *sighs dreamily* It was a happy-maker.

Thank You for the Music (a book that inspired you)

Oh, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. You know why.

Thanks for the lovely tag, Shanti, and I pass this tag onto Romi, Alexa, and Bailey! Have fun!

You know the drill! Answer me two questions; I’m sure I’ll never not be in need of new books recommendations.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dear Discouraged Writer

Desânimo universal - Universal discouragement
Flickr Credit: Jorge _ Brasil
Dear Discouraged Writer,

Today was a hard day. Somewhere along the way a dream went belly up and now imagination rides in a black car at the head of the procession, because everything is dead, dead, dead. Nothing comes, nothing goes, and they call it black gold but toner is more like debt dirt.

I’m sorry.

I don’t know how to help, and I’m still sorry.

Writing feels impossible—the box says it’s supposed to be a 500-piece panorama but it looks like somebody got the boxes mixed up at the puzzle plant. These pieces certainly don’t fit together right, and you can see more of the carpet through the border than anything remotely near that promised Grand Canyon.

But I guess a dream isn’t a puzzle. Maybe your imagination doesn’t exist just to put things together. And perhaps a thing isn’t beautiful because it all fits together nicely. I hope your tongue doesn’t find curses too bitter because you have something of a sweet tooth in that regard. I hope you remember that it is when you are sobbing the hardest, that’s when you should smile. Give us consequences. Give us fire and brimstone and things that go bump in the night because they are the opposite of what we want.

We don’t want to read the words that are ugly and brutal. We don’t want to see the flesh and the metal, the disjointed letters in the words because they are broken at painful angles and they are wrong. But we need to hear them anyway.

We need to watch them fall. We need to follow them to the Underworld and into the deepest depths of Tartarus because we are them—we are the ones who gorge ourselves beyond satisfaction on our own beliefs, our politics, our gods, our heroes, our codes. Not everyone will be saved by the last page, you know. Sometimes good guys sink to the bottom of the ocean with their hands tied behind their backs and bloodthirsty wolves become kings.

We have given ourselves to you, Discouraged Writer. You have made us assassins, though we like to think we have some sort of veil between the deaths here and there. You make us heroes, you make us wolves, you make us children, you make us rebels. And even though our banner burned long ago, we do love to watch it wave in the wind.

Can you feel them? Our beating hearts, all bleeding?

Maybe it was a paragraph, a chapter, a common thread, an entire novel, a rejection, a review, a letter you hoped never to find in your inbox. A word.

I don’t know what happened, and I’m sorry. But dear, dear Discouraged Writer, don’t stop.

Our hearts are in your hands. It’s a responsibility we gave you because you knew you’d always come back to us. Get up. It won’t be the same without you.


The Readers

Friday, October 23, 2015

Quote Challenge: Week 3

This is the third week, you know the drill. I'm actually a little rushed for time this week, so no tags, no requirements. Just a quote and my love of it.

via christinahendricksdaily
"Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back."
–Mal Reynolds, "Our Mrs. Reynolds," Firefly

If you don't know the show Firefly this may seem ever-so-slightly random, and violent. But let me give you some context (and no spoilers, because the reveal on this episode is fun).

Our daring Captain Mal has wound up accidentally married to a girl from the town they just rescued, traded as payment for their service. This doesn't sit well with Mal, who didn't really plan on getting married (have you ever been to a surprise wedding?) and doesn't really want this girl that much and is having trouble expressing that fact delicately.

The girl, Saffron, certainly is hurt and ashamed to be caught in this awkward situation, and she asks Mal if she will be killed because she is so displeasing. Mal is appalled—what kind of awful planet would do something like that? He tells her that she shouldn't stand for that sort of thing and, essentially, that she shouldn't let herself be killed.

This is probably my favorite Firefly episode (maybe; it's hard to choose) and part of the reason I love it so is how much it speaks to Mal's character. One of his highest values is the equal personhood of every human being he meets. He only kills in fair fights. He doesn't let his Ambassador get dishonored as the equivalent to property. And he doesn't let his accidental wife think that she is less valuable than any other person in the 'verse even if he doesn't want to be married to her.

I think this quote is not so much about killing (beyond... like, the surface part of it) but is really about empowerment. If someone pushes you around, stand up for yourself. Push back. Talk back. Fight. Because you have a right to a voice and a fair fight no matter who you are or where you're from or what your social status is. You're a person, and people inherently have a significance that warrants a kind of treatment non-persons like Reavers or rocks don't get.

You're important enough that you have the right to fight for yourself. How cool is that?

I just love this quote. So much, that I copied it down on a pink piece of paper in cursive and stuck it in my jewelry box in the place where sentimental photos are supposed to go. But don't worry, this quote is better.

FINALLY. I HAVE FINISHED THIS TAG. It was kind of painful. Next Friday, look forward to something villainous. Or bloginous. I don't know yet.

Do you have any funny and deep quotes to share with me?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Books I Thought I Would Hate: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Looking back on it, Percy Jackson is kind of the reason I got into writing. After joining a Percy Jackson roleplay and realizing too late that I was the worst godmodder ever, I eventually realized that writing by yourself is way more fun. So I did.

It’s weird to think that if I never read this series, then maybe I never would have written fan fiction, or gotten the ideas for my stories. Maybe I still would have. Either way, I’m grateful for Percy Jackson—he’s contributed to me ending up here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

via That Was Not in the Book

Why I Thought I’d Hate It:

I don’t even know. I come up with stupid reasons to not like things. Maybe it was the fact that it was a popular series in my fifth grade classroom, maybe it was the fact that a lot of boys liked it, maybe it was the fact that I was in love with Kate McMullen’s Myth-o-Mania series and I refused to believe that anything could ever be better.

It was recommended to me several times, though. I guess my classmates were smarter than me—they could see that I knew everything about Greek Mythology, was learning the Greek alphabet, and was more or less a teeny fangirl at the time.

They knew that this was a match made in heaven. (Probably not. But it sounds better that way.)

via Wikipedia

What Changed:

I feel like the first recommendation I listened to was from this kid named Grant. He had red hair and a nice sister, and he was like, “You should really read this book.”

And I watched him do book reports on it, heard so many great things, and so finally, I picked it up, if only to read it and hate it in order to spite him.

Surprise, surprise, Percy Jackson made me fall in love with his series with the FIRST SENTENCE. The rest, as they say, is history.

via Hypable

Why It Turned Out I Liked It:

I feel like Rick Riordan has the twelve-year-old audience kind of nailed down. His humor, the Greek mythology comparisons, the intensity of the stories, the relatability of the characters… It was all perfect for me at twelve years old.

Percy Jackson became my favorite series quickly. It became so easy to place myself into his world, which I did, frequently. I know I reread that book more times than was healthy (my poor copy is practically falling apart) and I actually have made a spreadsheet with every character named from the original series.

Rick Riordan gave me a rope to cling to, and then I just swung.

I didn’t always agree with Rick Riordan’s interpretations of the gods (more so now than I did then) but I loved the characters. I loved the stories. I used to motivate myself by refusing to let myself do anything less than what Percy would do in the same situation—no way that seaweed brain would ever beat me out.

Percy Jackson was also the first series where I really started writing fan fiction. I’ve always had fan fiction in my head, as long as I can remember, but I never considered writing it down before. Suddenly I could put these ideas to paper, everywhere, and Percy was really a staple that helped me get through middle school.

Of course… Percy Jackson also brought me to a dark time in my life. It came to be that I wanted to be the perfect demigod I had made in my roleplays more than I wanted to be Heather. Nowadays, I’m very conscious of how I present myself everywhere I go and separate myself from my writing—thank goodness.

I’ve never really gotten back into Rick Riordan books since. It’s not that any of his books are bad, but they have become sort of redundant for me—I am no longer the intended audience, and trying to force myself back into my twelve-year-old shoes is unhealthy if not creepy. But that’s okay. I found hope in the story when I needed it, and as I closed the last page of The Last Olympian, all I can remember is a deep sense of satisfaction and closing.

I couldn’t ask for anything more.

What were your expectations when you started reading Percy Jackson? Were you right?

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Writer's Life for Me Tag

Yo ho, yo ho, a writer’s life for me… Ahoy there me hearties! (This is the part where you say, “Ahoy there Captain Heathersword!”) Captain Opal of the mighty ship Opal Swirls has put the Writer’s Life for Me tag on deck for today.

via Knowledge Skill Gear

The Code: 

  • Hoist the colors for all to see
  • Thank the scallywag what tagged you (Thanks, Captain Opal!)
  • Answer the ten questions in the ship’s log
  • Tag 5-10 other gentlemen (or gentlewomen) o’ fortune

via Giphy

1. What kind of writer be ye?


I haven’t yet been findin’ me sea legs in the sweet trade, but I’ve been experie—experi—tryin’ out science fiction and fantastical creations under the YA jack. I enjoy discussing government and power struggles in partic’lar.

via popsugar

2. When did ye start writin’? What made ye want to give it a go?

‘Twas in me eighth year of learnin’ English. Me teacher gave us a log to scrawl upon. I didn’t try to write me first novel until me ninth year, which was 35,000 words—an addled attempt, but a start.

via gifsoup

3. What inspires ye stories?

Myths n’ legends, the world before me very eyes, an’ on rare occasion, a trip to the shower in me bilge. Also, them movin’ pictures.

via theblackpearl-directory

4. What themes do ye like to explore in ye writin’?

Them blasted governments, them scallywags or villains, them lasses, and them lonelies. Also, the true loyal buccaneers.

via Gifs Gallery

5. Be ye a pantster or a plotter or a wee bit o’ both?

A wee bit o’ both. As a sprog I tried me luck plotting out every small silly detail, and that helped me NONE. Pantsing is a good way to lose all yer booty. So I be writin’ rough outlines I pants through.

via Giphy

6. Whar be ye at in ye journey? Queryin’, agented, published?

I be nowhere, I guess—me journey hasn’t taken me to them waters yet.

via PicGifs

7. Have ye ever entered any writin’ contests? Finaled? Won?

In me tenth year o’ learnin’ one of me sci-fi stories won second place as judged by the school marms. Won me a swaggy o’ $50, too.

via Bandolero by Day

8. Who be ye writer heroes?

Thar be a good many writers who’ve gone on the accounts, but more’n any, the bounteous captains I’ve had fortune to meet on the good seas of Blogging and Twitter, among which I count Captain Alyssa, Captain Imogen, Captain Victoria, and Captain Mariella. Arrr!

via ocdpiratesofthecarribbean

9. Have ye be to a writin’ conference? Share ye best or worst conference experience.

*hides in pirate ship and refuses to come out because she’ll land in Fiddler’s Green before even considering immolation-by-writin’-conference*

via wifflegif

10. Top 3 tips ye'd gift to landlubbin’ newbie writers?

Ally yourself. Plenty a lily-livered son o’ a biscuit eater has tried to rough it alone; but writin’ is not only more rewarding in a fleet, but it’ll help ye hone yer writin’ skills.

Stay true. It’s more’n easy to send a tricky hard WIP to Davy Jones’ Locker, but that’ll get ye nowhere in the long run. Work hard. Be persistent. Make sail for that horizon.

Be a pirate. There are no downsides.

via Veggie Tales
By the powers! It be hard to write pirate-y talk so long. Thanks to Yarr an’ Talk Like a Pirate for helpin’ me find them sea-farin’ words. Last but not least, I be to tag a piece o’ eight of me writin’ mateys to do the tag* on their own ships! Avast, me hearties!

*by the by, ye shan’t be expected to be a pirate yourself on your own ship if ye don’t want; see Opal's log to get the tag in plain speak

Ahoy there! You good captains may have somethin’ to be said for yer own writing—answer me two of the questions, and I’ll not nail your tongue to me mast. Arrrgh!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Quote Challenge: Week 2

This is a traitorous post. I am sorry, but it is just going to have to be traitorous. Low-down, no-good, very bad post. But I hope to never go halfway, and so as I do Part Two of this Quote Tag I shall be well and traitorous and not only halfway traitorous by being totally in acknowledgement of my traitorousness, which is the worst kind of treason, I should think.

But first, the rules:

  • Post your 3 favorite quotes, one each for three consecutive days (or, y’know, for three weeks).
  • With each post nominate three bloggers for the challenge (but I don’t want to be a bother…).
  • Recognize the blogger who nominated you. (Thanks, Mariella!)

Here is why I am a traitor: my quote for today is from a book I didn’t finish.

via Game of Thrones Wiki
“Yet our way is the older way. The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.” 

–Ned Stark, George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones, page 14

Okay, okay, so I got bored reading Game of Thrones. Meh. There are a lot of good books I snub, and Game of Thrones is good—the character development is indeed enticing, emotional value, blah blah blah. But it had none of the tropes I adore and all the strengths I am tired of. And that is fine—I do not have to like a book for it to stop being good.

That being said, I love this quote. I hate that you have to pick your “three favorite quotes” because it isn’t like I keep a running score, but at the very least this is one of my favorite sentiments. I mean, it totally plays into the plot later at a point I won’t spoil for you but has a lot to do with how Joffrey is a mommy’s-boy-toilet-licker… but it also has a lot to do with life.

Like, morality. Consequence. Gravity.

If you think that the means justify the ends but you aren’t willing to carry out those means personally then you have no business making such suggestions. Either you hold to your beliefs in word and deed or you don’t get to have the words or the deeds at all.

I am by no means perfect, and there have been times—in matters of execution, of condemnation, of justice—when I have thought that what is necessary is not moral, and yet I’m willing to argue for the necessary for the moral. But if I were standing there, could I myself commit to that necessary thing when I would feel guilty doing it?

I have such a strong appreciation for this quote, and yet I’m somehow at a loss as to how to elaborate. Especially to those who disagree with me, I might sound extreme or deluded or crazy but even as I reread the quote I just know that this is how things ought to be. It’s something between the commitment to justice and the strength of something human—that there is justice and there is righteousness and there are things that make the world turn, make sense even though the blood is flowing and no one wants to hear the reason why.

Argh. I don’t have the words. But I have this amazing quote. So may the force be with you and God and donuts and anything else you believe in.

If you want to do this or if you like being tagged for things and want me to tag you, then let me know. I can’t think of anyone who I haven’t tagged recently and I don’t like tagging people because then I feel like I am an intruder. Ah, well. Have a good Friday, folks.

Do you like this quote? Share one of your favorites with me!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Best of School Reading

It’s always a pleasant surprise when the books I’m assigned to read in school don’t completely suck.

To be honest, it shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does. Teachers seem to dislike boredom as much as the rest of us, so it’s not like they’re out to created monotonous and outdated exercises in frustration—teachers have to read the books, too.

Though I’ve read many good school books, there are some that have completely blown me out of the water in ways I didn’t expect. This is to honor those books.

via Goodreads

The Odyssey by Homer

This book is so fun. We read this at the tail end of my Greek Mythology phase, but I hope to read it again soon because I didn’t believe in literary analysis in ninth grade. I’d love to get back into the details—if my copy weren’t in storage. Alas.

via Goodreads

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll repeat that I didn’t think I’d like this book. I’d never read a war story, but O’Brien’s combined storytelling and scars made it haunting and gorgeous and memorable.

via Goodreads

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

This is actually a non-fiction book from my AP Language class. Gilbert approaches happiness with humor and science, and I liked it. Other people didn’t because he denies our special snowflake-ness, which didn’t bother me because I already knew that.

via Goodreads

Auschwitz by Miklos Nyiszli 

I can’t say it’s a good book because it’s about people dying in real life and might not even be of literary merit, but it was probably one of the most important books I read in high school. It portrays some wretched truths and seriously made me think about my privileges. Which matters.

via Goodreads

Senderos Fronterizos by Francisco Jiménez

It’s a little, easy book, but I’d never read a personal account of an immigrant who had crossed the Mexican border, and again—I have so many privileges. It’s short, but it’s significant.

via Goodreads

Othello by William Shakespeare

Turns out that Shakespeare is the opposite of a boring, prudish, stuffy writer—thank goodness I understood that senior year. Othello is very good. The only reason I can think of is Iago but I know there’s more.

via Goodreads

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I don’t like the cover of this book but it’s good on the inside. It’s a sort of theocracy-dystopia story wherein society is reformed to create children in the midst of like, global destruction. Even though it’s futuristic it has a lot to say about now—it gives you lots of thoughts.

via Goodreads

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 is humorous and satirical and was actually rather well-liked by my class. I look forward to reading it again for another one of my classes this year—it’s a good literary story, but I’m also interested in considering its historical war perspective as well! Also, there are feels.

via Goodreads

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

This is a really long book and sometimes Pirsig is wordy, but he’s a good and complex teacher. He clearly explains different philosophical elements without alienating the audience, and he just tells a story, which is beautiful.

via Goodreads

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

I didn’t realize I’d love this book but I do because it’s about how women writers need their own rooms with a lock on the door. And you can guess this would speak to me because I AM SLEEPING IN MY LIVING ROOM AND IT IS HARD. Also women need money.

Ta-da! Look at that list. Clearly my years in school have been enlightening and at least partially well-spent.

What school books have you enjoyed? Did they surprise you?

(By the way—thanks for asking Elizabeth and me all your fabulous questions! If you haven’t asked anything but want to, this is your last chance to ask us anything!)

Monday, October 12, 2015

In Which I Don't Ditch Writer's Life

Illegible (crossed-out) ownership inscription
Flickr Credit: POP

I am back! Hooray, hooray. Yes, I am doing wonderfully, thanks for asking. How are you?

Today is Monday, which is Writer’s Life day. I have a schedule, if you hadn’t noticed—and it is CHANGING. Instead of four posts a week I’m cutting it down to three: Mondays will still be Writer’s Life, Wednesdays will now be Reader’s Life, and I’ll alternate between Thursentaries, Blogger’s Life, and WBI at the end of the week. What can I say? Life is life.

But let’s chat about Writer’s Life. For the record, I didn’t take a break because I didn’t have Writer’s Life posts prepared—I did—but I wasn’t feeling the Writer’s Life Groove.

I haven’t written much lately. I can make excuses like homework and work and commuting, but those are all terrible excuses because I care way more about writing than I ever could about school. Not to bash school, of course, school is fine—but it is temporary, and represents a lot of things I am good at but don’t really matter in the long run.

I know I should write but between fatigue and interruptions and procrastination and the mood of deepest contempt that comes when you haven’t had any quality alone time in four months, I do not write.

So it feels like there shouldn’t be a Writer’s Life day. Who am I kidding? I’m not a writer, I’m a noncommittal hobbyist with delusions of creativity and a remora-like attachment to real ones.

The Internet becomes a cruel friend because it’s easy to find other people’s accomplishments. Other writers are like, “I wrote a bajillion words today, go me!” and “Good news, I have plans to write hundreds of books!” and “Yay! Five thousand people ALL LOVE MY BOOK.”

And I am like, “Well, today I booted up my laptop and resented life.”

But the way things are is usually not how things seem. Undoubtedly people will say, “Surprise, surprise: everyone’s life is like that, Heather.” And I know. You get ninety rejections for every one acceptance, you have bad days. People are honest about that online. More than that, my life is pretty good—I recently finished The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and it reminded me that my life does not suck at all. Not even a little bit.

We aren’t all perfect writers. But it still bothers me, because in the end I’m still comparing myself to that perfect writer, and even if perfect writers don’t exist I still know what it is to be one. The most productive person on earth. The wittiest. The most intelligent, passionate, engaging, entertaining, lasting, symbolic, treacherous, satisfying, capable, successful writer on earth. And even if I know they don’t exit it is easy to find writers who are better than me at those things. It’s easy to compare myself to an ideal.

And so today I think I would like to flip that writer off.

Like, screw that. Writing is a cycle. A process. You don’t suddenly attain this height of writerly amazingness and after that get everything right. We continually return to square one of Ground Zero. It’s a fight. But just because you’re on the sidelines doesn’t mean that you can’t still get back in the game. We don’t write because we’re keeping score, we don’t write to beat the other writers.

We write because we must and we can. And we write because it doesn’t leave us alone.

And so even though I’m still on the same novel I was last November and even though it spends most of the day untouched in its sad little folder and even though it’s disappointing that I sometimes can’t fit everything I’d like in my day, it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being a writer. I’m just a writer who still has a longer way to go.

That being said, it is either my great pleasure or my deep regret that Mondays are still devoted to Writer’s Life.

Do you ever feel like you aren’t a real writer? How do you overcome that feeling?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Blogging Break


Here's the scoop: I'm taking a blogging break this week. Midterms, noveling, friendships, homework, social responsibilities, and blogging are a little bit much to juggle this week, so you won't be hearing from me again until October 12.

Well, unless you have a blog. I'm planning on playing catchup, so you will still see me around the blogosphere. And Twitter. And so forth.

But anyway. I'm just takin' a break. Thanks for your patience while I'm away, and I'll see you bright and early next week with more exciting things to be excited about!



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thursentary: "How to Write Diversity"

It’s an undeniable fact that minority representation has been a factor too long ignored. Recognizing the incredible, beautiful diversity present in our world today is important for us all.

I know better than anyone that writing diversely may not come naturally to everyone, but that’s why I’m here to help. How do you write diversity? Read on.


Go With What You’re Told

Little known fact: the media gets absolutely everything right. Those tabloid spotlights and small parts on TV shows for minority groups are quite accurate. To those who suggest research? Bah! As if research were an important part of every novel.


Diversity is Skin-Deep

Lucky for us, being diverse is totally an external thing. If you just keep mentioning their skin color or their love interests or their clothes or whatever, you’ll be fine. I mean, come on, it’s not like your identity and background should weigh in on your moral decisions or something. That would be ridiculous.


Only Be Logical

It only makes sense to have white people in Northern European settings, because slavery is wrong and the incredible trade industries definitely wouldn’t have affected the population. Organized society was limited to Europe only. Only old people have disabilities, duh. People choose to be gay. Different religions are required to kill each other. And I know everything, so you can trust me.


Defend Majority Representation

The stupid thing about these “diversity movements” is that, hello, it’s not like anyone’s asking minority groups to write about us! Life is hard for us too. And unless that 98% belonging to white protagonists on the NYT bestsellers list is bumped up two percent, I think it’s pretty obvious we’re being discriminated against.


Be in the Majority

On that note, “majority rules” clearly states that we majority folk are fully capable of speaking for minorities. So be a white, straight, Christian, rich person from the United States. We totally know what it’s like to be left out. And, by the way, to the minority groups out there? I just hope you know that the day you should share your stories, experiences, and memories is the day that everyone should listen to you.


Don’t Write About Things You Disagree With

Oh, not all religions fundamentally agree with yours? Better not put those in, then. Instead, write about the world as you’d like to see it, with only the people you’d like to be in it! (Hey, hey, hey, guys. Hitler did the same thing, and he was probably one of the most influential men in the twentieth century.)


Make Them The Outsider

Let’s just say they’re minorities for a reason. It would be wrong to make people feel normal, or included, or, worst of all, LOVED. What kind of people would love other people more than themselves, or choose to serve others when they are totally capable of exploiting them? Crazy people, that’s who. Don’t be one of them.


Defend Yourself Vehemently

Okay, maybe you got something a little wrong. So what? We all make mistakes. The worst thing you can do is own up to it. If people don’t like what you write, that’s their problem! Just act casual. No one really looks to fiction as a representation of the real world or themselves, anyway.


Just Remember: It’s All About You

Ultimately, the only thing that matters when you’re writing about diversity is that it’s about enforcing your perspective of other people’s lives. Personal experience, compassion? Ha! When in doubt, just think about what you would do, and all will be well. Probably.

**Just kidding. No way. No how. Don’t do any of these things. This is actually me complaining about bothersome things I myself dislike. Which is why there is a particular audience you can infer. And hopefully you picked up on my sarcasm. But again, moral of the story: No. Just no.

All right, my sarcasm has overstayed its welcome. Hit me up with some good advice—what are some good ways to write about diversity if you aren’t already familiar?