Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm so excited...

...and I just can't hide it!!!

I have just finished my full second draft.  I'm a little tired, and my wrists hurt from all of the typing that I've done lately, but I'm elated.  Ecstatic.  I'm freaking out.

Because I'm done!  I have to go back over it for edits, and send a few more friends the manuscript, but I just wrote a book.

I just wrote a book.

I fulfilled a lifelong dream and wrote a book.

One that I am proud of, one that I love, and one that means a lot to me.  I hope that other people find something in it to resonate with as well.  Now I just have to focus on making it even better before I start looking for an agent.

'Cause my dream isn't done yet, folks.

I just wrote a book.  Now I need to get it published.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Action scenes and a little romance

Given the choice between writing an action scene and writing a romance scene, I would without a doubt always pick the action scene.  On the surface, it's because these scenes are fun to write - I spent a good half hour this past Saturday running down the empty hallway outside of my room, trying to choreograph different parts of a battle.

If I could do this every day, I totally would - the whole thing was way too much fun - I would pretend to swing a sword, pretend to take the hit, roll and dive out of the way, block attacks - it's as close as I'll ever come to feeling like Jason Bourne.  Or the Karate Kid.

But then I had to write a scene between my two leads that includes more insight into one of the characters and culminates in a YA-friendly, romance-y moment.  Maybe I struggle so much with these scenes because I'm just overly cynical when it comes to relationships - I haven't really been exposed to many successful relationships throughout my life, so I'm kind of a Debbie Downer about the whole thing.

And I suppose that I should state that the romance isn't in there because I just felt like throwing it in.  The main character in the story feels the same way about relationships that I do - that they're flawed and unnecessary.  She starts to re-evaluate her position, just as I'm trying to re-evaluate mine.  But that's not making this any easier to write.  Over the years, cynicism has slowly taken over any sappiness that I might have gathered from watching Disney movies non-stop for many, many years.

I'll figure it out, I suppose, but in the meantime I think I'm going to go run around the hallway and pretend to fight a knight.  It's much less complicated.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back on the air...

...and better than ever!

I heard back from the third friend that I sent the first few pages of my story to, and they also had positive things to say about what I've written so far!  So, for those of you keeping track at home, that is a unanimous three person vote in favor of my random thoughts put into a fictional format.

Needless to say, this has resulted in me doing multiple happy dances around my room.

I feel very lucky to have some awesome friends that will excuse my questions about their questions, tell me when something sounds funny, draw sketches of things when I can't quite visualize something, and encourage me when I start to worry.

After working on this for two years I am absolutely elated at the possibilities before me!

So I guess I should continue writing...

Right after I do one more happy dance :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On my love of fairy tales

Since it's Father's Day, I figured it would be kind of fitting (in an odd way) to work this post in.  First of all, to everyone that has/had an awesome father or who is/was an awesome father, Happy Father's Day!  Congrats on your awesomeness!

Now, for those of you out there like me who either a) grew up with a terrible father or b)had little to no contact with your father over the years, just know that you're not alone in your immense dislike of this day. For those of us that never really had that paternal figure, today is just another bittersweet reminder that we are severely lacking something that a lot of people treasured growing up.  And I'll admit that I'll never fully be able to understand the father/daughter relationship because I haven't had one ounce of contact with mine since I was about 8 or so.  And none of the memories that I have of him are pleasant.

So, with that vague mention of my life, I'd like to dedicate this post to why I love fairy tales.  It sounds terrible at first, but one of the main reasons that I've always clung to them is that most of these characters have horrible fathers.

Look at Hansel and Gretel, who get left in the woods by their father because he'd rather abandon them than stand up to the woman he married.  Sure, he feels kind of bad about it, but he leaves his children in the woods.  If this happened in real life, he'd be in jail.  That's neglect, friends.

Or how about Cinderella?  Or Snow White?  "But their fathers loved them!  They just married terrible people!"  You might cry out.  And yes, it's true they loved their daughters.  But don't you think they could have had a better vetting process for the women that married?  Nah, if she looks beautiful, she's gotta be good with kids, right?  Or, if she has her own kids, she's not gonna make my daughter cook and clean, or abuse her emotionally, which leads her to talk to a tree for comfort.  That can never happen.  But these things do, after Snow's and Cinderella's dads die, and, well, you know how the stories go.

My favorite one, though, is in the tale of "Rumpelstiltskin."  In it, a miller brags to a King that his daughter can spin gold into straw.  The King then locks the miller's daughter in a room and demands that she does as her father promised.  If she's successful, he'll marry her!  Yay!  If she fails, he'll...kill her?  A little extreme, no?  So the daughter makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin, and everything seems great.  She marries the King and even gets pregnant.  But then good ole' Rumple wants his reward - her first-born child. I'm sure at this point she's thanking her father for being such a hardcore bragger and getting her into this mess in the first place.

But I don't love these stories because the father figures are lacking.

I love these stories because, even though they are put in some pretty terrible situations by their fathers, these characters still persevere.  And, even better, they win.  They defeat witch, or the evil Queen, the step-mother, and even Rumpelstiltskin.

For someone that tries every day to be better than their own father - to persevere, to do something that leaves a positive mark on the world - these stories give me hope.  Hope that I can defeat whatever obstacle I face, and become better than I ever intended to be because I refuse to make those same mistakes or go down the same path that he took.  Carelessness and apathy have left me and my younger brother without a father figure, but, without it, I might not be as driven as I am today.

So yes, I am resentful, yes, I am jealous of everyone who had a stable father, and yes, I hate him for leaving - but I am also thankful that he left us.

Saying that my feelings about my father are complicated is probably a huge understatement, but it's the best way to express how I feel.  I'm just glad that I have lots of fairy tales to lose myself in - it's nice to know that others, even if they're fictional, have gone through the same confusing thing.

Now, it's time for me to stop whining and channel all of my mixed emotions into a damn good story.  I promised myself that I would only work on father-related scenes today, and the result has been quite cathartic so far.

Here's to getting left in the woods, but being smart enough to leave behind a few breadcrumbs.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes...

...and fish?!?

So, terrible confession time.  I love Sy Fy's original movies, and right now I'm watching something called "Piranhaconda."  That's right, folks - the creature of the week that will inevitably hunt down a bunch of unsuspecting humans is now a reptile and a fish.  Color me excited - this might be the best animal combination since "Sharktopus."  I've taken a break from reading to watch the entertaining ridiculousness that only Sy Fy channel original movies can provide.

I'm only taking a break from reading, though, because I've almost breezed through a whole book in an entire day.  "And what book is that?"  You may be wondering.  Well, dear readers of this blog (I'm pretty sure you're the only one reading this, so I'll call you out - Hi, Ian!), the book that I'm reading is called "Legend," and it's by Marie Lu.  I couldn't resist the chance to live in another dystopian world (because that seems to be all that I read lately) and I'm very glad that I picked this one up.  I'm interested to see where this book is heading, since I'm about 2/3 of the way through it.  Both of the narrators are scrappy, resilient, intelligent, and caring, and I can't wait to read the rest of the story (and am super excited that this will be a series, because it's freaking awesome)!

Since I've already shown love to one dystopian YA book, here are a few other shout-outs, just because I can :)

"The Hunger Games" Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins - what can I say, these books are a pretty big deal.  I cannot put into words all of the goods things that I have to say about Katniss, so I'll leave it at this: She just rocks.  For someone who gets put in a terrible situation (which only snowballs into more levels of terribleness) and is still able to do some of the things she does (trying not to be spoilery!) is a really amazing thing, and I'm glad that younger girls are getting a pretty BA role model.  Plus, Suzanne Collins describes PTSD, criticizes the media, shows the twisted things people do to obey "authority figures," and doesn't glamorize war or killing.  So, yeah, I love these books.

"Divergent" Trilogy, by Veronice Roth - alright, so only the first two books in this trilogy are out, but if you haven't read them yet, you should.  Tris is an awesome heroine that also lives in a pretty messed up society - but this one forces you to choose which of 5 "factions" that you want to live with.  Tris has a secret, and from where the second book left off, all I want to know is how this secret will change things.  "Insurgent," the second book in the series, ends on such a WTF?!? moment that I will still be freaking out about it until I can get my hands on the last book - which won't be until next year.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

"Incarceron" and "Sapphique" by Catherine Fisher - These books were very different from other YA dystopian novels that I've read, and I can safely say that I've never regretted picking up these books!  Even though I wish there was going to be a third book (sooooooooo many unanswered questions after "Sapphique") I could totally dig everything that happened in these two books, and loved the ambiguity - even if it was a little frustrating sometimes!  These books do pose some interesting questions about what it means to be human, finding (and holding onto) your identity, and delves into the territories of love, betrayal, and the need to escape.  Whether that escape is from someone else, from a prison, or from yourself - is totally your call.  And maybe Incaceron's.

Apologies for the extensive YA praise fest, but these books are near and dear to my heart.  I'm sure I'll gush more about them at a later date, but for now, the Piranhaconda is calling my name.

My advice for the night: Try not to get eaten by any hybrid creatures.

Until next time,

UPDATE:  "Sharktopus" is now playing...right after "Piranhaconda."  This is amazing.

Random thoughts

Well, after a long, long, day that seemed to be one never-ending "How many people does it take to change a lightbulb?" joke, I have finally settled down into a hotel room!  I decided to give myself a couple a days away from campus - I'm going to visit the Minnesota Zoo tomorrow and am super excited :)

Other than that, I haven't written anything today.  I think taking a couple of days to step back from everything might be what I need because I've found myself living far too much in the story world.  It sounds strange, but I think I need a reminder about the *real* world :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A note on self-doubt

I know it's something I've touched on in almost every post, but I figure if I just dedicate one solely to this it'll be a good reminder to stop whining about it.  So here goes.

The next few pages of the story that I sent to my friends were the ones I worried about the most, because, to borrow a phrase from one of my favorite shows, this is the part in the story when things become "crazy-town banana pants."

After expressing this thought to the friend who has advanced the most in my story, she reminded me that in fairy tales, anything goes.

Naturally, I sighed with relief when I got this text (and did a small happy dance around my office).  Since the start of this tale, I've wanted to take risks and change things that we may already have preconceived notions of - but I was worried that people might not totally jump on board with what I was trying to do, or worse - that I would rock the boat so much that I would inadvertently push people off of it.

After thinking about it and plotting it out for so long, I know the twists and turns that I want to take - these points are so familiar to me that they make sense no matter how odd they may seem. But before that text I wondered if I was getting too twisty and turny - I still wanted to follow rules and be logical - my goal was never to confuse people, and I feared that I was doing just that.

But that text made me remember something important.  Something that the self-doubt had tried to push away, even though I promised myself that I wouldn't forget it.

I promised to tell the story that I wanted in the manner that I wanted - and I still will.  I will be as out-there and as full-of-surprises as I can be, because my end game is to write something thought-provoking *and* entertaining.

And if I do end up accidentally pushing people off of the boat, I'll be there tossing life-savers overboard and helping them get back on the ship.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Apropos of nothing

So right now I'm sitting in my room, watching "Haunted Collector" on the Sy-Fy channel (I still hate the name change, by the way) and the darn signal keeps cutting out.  After checking with the other intern who lives one room down from me, apparently only my TV is doing this.

The logical person in me thinks: It is cloudy outside and has been windy all day.  Perhaps the satellite is getting jarred, causing the signal to intermittently fade which leads to the picture blacking out or stopping. And no, Alex, that sound you just heard was the fridge cooling itself off.  It's nothing to be concerned about.


Obviously this has little to do with my writing endeavors - but I thought it would be a fun moment to preserve anyways.  I don't know why I watch these shows, 'cause ghosts totally freak me out (judge if you wish).  I suppose it's just all so fascinating that I can't help but learn more - and feel better when people on these shows freak out more than I do.

Here's to things that go bump in the night...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I get by...

...with a little help from my friends.

As I type this, my story has been sent to three of my closest, smartest, and most wonderful friends.  I've known all of them since my freshman year of college, and totally trust whatever feedback they have (and will continue to) inevitably throw my way.

I stated in my last post that I'm a little over 50,000 words (or 200 pages).  So far I've sent a little over 16,000 of those words out to my friends (so...roughly 64 pages).

The biggest obstacle I had to overcome?  Hitting the send button, once I'd attached the pages to an email.  Before then, it wasn't real.  Before I hit that button my story was just something that I had written and kept to myself - some secret way of understanding my own life that I didn't want anyone else in on.

But then I decided to just let my guard down and entrust the few honest words that I've managed to write to people who will always have my back, tell me like it is, and, occasionally, be more enthusiastic than I ever thought was possible.

I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and happily my friends agreed to read my scrambled thoughts - and really touched that they've been so awesome and supportive so far!  Now, I might be jinxing myself because my third friend has yet to start reading, but so far the reception to what I've written has been positive, which is definitely affirming and encouraging.

It is hard to find a better feeling than the one you get when someone tells you that the thing you've put your heart and soul into is actually pretty good.  Every time I hit that send button, I hold my breath, letting the self-doubt creep in.  What if I'm not good enough?  What if I actually can't write?  What if this whole thing just sucks?

And then, every time I get a text or an email back from a friend, I let out a sigh of relief.  Because,so far, all of the feedback I've gotten has been pretty constructive and positive.  Apparently I am good enough.  I can write.  And this thing won't suck.

So, there you go, folks.  My take-home message for the day is this:  If you've put everything that you have into something, share it with a friend, a loved one, or a random stranger on the street.  Odds are it's pretty good.  Or, if a friend asks you to critique something that they've done, help them out - you don't know what a huge difference you will make.

Without these three people, I would have given up.  I would have stopped.  But now that's not an option.

Eleanor Roosevelt has this pretty famous quote - "Do one thing every day that scares you."

I think she was onto something.

50,000 words

"If you have the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream, go for it.  Don't worry about the bumps and bruises along the way." - Andrew Zimmern

Yeah, I got this quote from, of all things, "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern."  As I sat in my room Sunday morning and watched Zimmern's trek through Hong Kong, I was especially tickled when he gave that little piece of advice at the end of the episode - right after taking part in his own Martial Arts film.

So, this brings me to the title of this post.  50,000 words.  That's how much I've written so far.  My goal?  75,000 words.  According to Yahoo!Answers, this is around a standard novel size (or about 300 pages if you wanted to get all specific about it).

This blog is going to chronicle the times - both good and bad - that I have while I try to accomplish my own life-long dream.  My roommates can attest that when left to my own devices I tend to write.  And so, for two years, I've been in a relationship with writing.  At first it was very casual, and I would only hang out with writing when I was bored.  But then something happened - I found a story that wanted to be told - a story that has helped me work through the various pains and misfortunes that I've experienced in my own life.  So for two years, I've been trying to figure out how to put all of my crazy thoughts into a series of crazier adventures.

There's something wonderfully cathartic about creating your own world, and putting your fears, flaws, and heart into all of the characters that end up inhabiting said world.  In some strange way, you end up loving all of them - and yes, even the terrible ones can still be loved.  Or maybe I'm just weird like that.

I won't go into much detail, because I like that whole "secrecy" thing - and, frankly, I'm kind of the superstitious sort.  I'm already worried that by starting this blog, I've doomed myself to never finishing the project, never finding an agent, never getting published, etc.  Lots of nevers and self-doubt.  But I've learned that you just reach a point where you push all of that out of your mind and ask a few awesome friends to read over what you've written.  Putting myself out there has never been so terrifying.  Or electrifyingly exciting.

I will give you this little hint about my story - I've always loved two things - mythology and fairy tales.  What I'm writing involves a twisty take on the latter.  And it involves a character (or two...or more bwahaha) who may have their own Disney films.  Said characters almost also definitely have their own Grimm Brothers tales, Perrault tales, and a few others that I won't list of 'cause being mysterious is awesome.

I assure you, though, that I am not merely here to recite the lines of "A Whole New World" to you (but maybe that will be my next post).

After a lot of soul searching, I've decided that what I want most out of this project is to tell the story I want to tell, and then let the dice roll.  Even if this thing never goes farther than my computer and the few people that I've sent really rough drafts to, I'll have accomplished something that is a lot harder than it seems.  And cross a somewhat Herculean task off of my bucket list.

So, here I am. It's almost midnight and I'm still typing.  Because I love it.

I've made it to 50,000 words and have a story that I'm really proud of - it's been an awesome journey so far, and I can't wait for all of the bumps, bruises, and happy accidents that will inevitably happen as I fulfill a lifelong dream.

Here's to 25,000 more words and the hope that I don't get carpal tunnel from all of this (that was totally a joke.  I think.)!

Thanks for reading :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Well hello, world.

So, this is my initial test post to see what I like about this whole "blogging on the interwebs" thing.  I'm not sure if anyone will read it, but that's ok because this thing is mostly for my own edification (and need to just say things) anyways.

I apologize if this post is really lame and/or boring.  I'm totally being distracted by "The Bachelorette" right now.  They're in London, which is my favorite place ever.  I'm making an internet promise that I'll move back there one day.

For now, I will leave you with a vague sentence.  The title of this blog will make sense upon my next posting.

Until then - good night and good luck.