Archive | February 2011

Learning to Love Your Hates.

I’ve talked before, extensively actually, about editing. In short, I didn’t do it much as a beginning writer.  I’d go from first draft to second draft and that then declare it finished. (I edited on the computer moreover.) When I made a list of the common mistakes new writers make, not editing was on the top.

Then I read a post about someone who hates outline. I do believe he called it the evil of evils. Albert proposes that we need to do the bad stuff along with the good stuff. That even though I love the ability to create a world, and the characters, and the plot, and write it all together, in order to be a good writer we need to do the parts we hate.

Which started me thinking: What do I really hate about writing?

• I love developing characters and worlds. Although recently I’ve been doing more developing characters than worlds, I love both parts of that.

• I love the ah-ha! moment that comes when I realize the full impact of something, say, how the elections beginning will rip power from Sagi’s hand, and Sagi’s reaction. Or that this one seemingly nice character is really a spy.

• I love writing it all down, watching the characters and the world evolve into something beautiful and yet simple at the same time. Of interlacing the plots together and finally finishing it.

• I really like going back, revisiting the story, and fixing the problems along the way. For those of you who don’t realize it, that is editing. There is something really fun about adding detail now that I understand the characters, their motives and all that.

In reality, that’s all I’ve done. This makes me sad but I can’t say about writing synopses or cover letters or anything of the like because I don’t really know how to do that, and as such, I haven’t done it.

Now that I’ve thought about it, there’s very little I dislike about writing now. The only time I really hate editing is when the story seems too bad to finish. But overall, I have come a long way from doing one computer edit to doing one to two paper edits per book. Hopefully, it has paid off.

Advertisements

Will you READ it already?!

This past week in my life has been almost a literal whirlwind. In short, I was dropped from the nursing program at school and that sent me on a quest to find a new career goal between runs to the business office, professors, financial aid, and fighting off waves of sadness. Currently, I’m thinking education and I’m stuck between English for secondary ed or elementary ed. I’m trying to convince myself I don’t need to decide at this second, but that’s hard.

When my teachers first told me they needed to dismiss me, one thing they brought up is that I mentioned to someone I like writing. Obviously, I love writing.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t write the blog. However, I kinda dismissed that suggestion because a) my school doesn’t have the creative writing program I would like and b) it’s too competitive a field for a career and c) I’m too nice of a person.

All fine and good. I move on.

Then I discussed  my mermaid paper with my professor, Dr. D.  In spite of his doubts on my topic, he likes it. It has actually rather impressed him and Dr. D has, once again, mentioned publishing. I’m kinda like, “Okay, whatever. That might be cool.” I’m still staring at the chapter three section and trying to figure what to write exactly. Or even outline!

Moving on to announcing my dismissal on facebook and telling my nursing partners. (Obviously, some are shocked, because as someone put it,  I dominated the tests.) Someone in all of this asked me if I’m going to change my major to writing.

After that, I posted Just Trust Me with the hopes that people would read it. I got one person liking it and two people at least clicked on it. But no comments otherwise. Nothing.

Then I go back for this final nursing thing about administer withdrawal to protect my GPA and such. Blahblahblah. Anyway, I just mentioned to my teachers that I was writing a paper comparing mermaid folklore across the world. They asked me how I came upon this idea and I explained that I wrote the story for the writing contest at my school (no clue how I placed yet) and I decided to write it as a novel. I wanted to do some research about it first though. They thought it was awesome.

Then the provost of my school (less than 800 students) has never met me before. No big deal. But she recongized me AND she made comments about how I have really made a difference in the TRiO writing center and that Dr. D  has said that I write really well.

I only write for the student newspaper at school and to be honest, I’m not pleased with how my articles are coming out. I really wish I had someone to help me just iron out the little things and let me brainstorm with them. But I keep hearing about how good of a writer I am, or if I’m going to go into writing, but you know what?

But no one has read my fiction!

I think I write good fiction. I have come a long way in the eight years that I’ve been writing. And while some of my stories may not be up to the standards I would like, and I am a little on the slow side when it comes to editing, I really like the stories I have.

I even randomly started reading the ending of one of my stories that I haven’t touched in over a year because I randomly thought of it.

Everyone else knows that I write fiction too. Almost  everyone understands that this is a passion of mine.

But no one reads it!

For once, just once, I want someone who has read what i have written in fiction to tell me that I’m a good writer, or ask me if I am going to look into writing, or something like that, I don’t want these people who don’t even know I wrote a novel to be suggesting I write as a career. Because for all they know, my writing stinks!

*end rant*

As it is, because I mentioned that I want my mermaid story to become an novel, I have now promised my nursing department a signed copy of it when it is published. I suppose it should be if, but I prefer to be optimistic.

Random Prompts

A friend of mine just posted this, and I actually liked it so much that I decided to share it with you.

Prompts for writing

The Technology Tornado

I’m not a real multitasker.  I’m not writing this message with four chat boxes open on facebook (Then again, I’m lucky if I chat with one person during the whole week on facebook.), my phone is generally silent, I don’t pay for text (I’m part of my family’s unlimited texting plan, but since I don’t pay for texts, I can’t use it.), I don’t have music playing because I generally can’t concentrate with music and my study room that I sit in right now is silent, because I’m the only one in it.

However, I have noticed a lot of anti multitasking technology articles recently. I read one in Reader’s Digest which talked about a family going on a electronics  fast for six months. (Well, it was suppose to. It more talked about her reasonings behind the fast.), I’m pretty sure I read another one and now I just read a post on wordpress about how much technology rules.

The fact is for me it does. I have a mac. If you didn’t know, on a mac you can instantly switch between applications by doing command-tab, and between windows by command-` (tilde?). So right up to this point in my post, I have checked facebook, checked my mail when a message came in, and checked my school e-mail, all with a flick of the buttons and generally several times. I have been known to do google searches while writing, check blog stats, check freshly pressed posts, and all sorts of things. I’ve even gotten to the point where if something is too long, I won’t read it. (Now, obviously, interesting and type of font play into that decision too.)

The fact is that all of these distractions play a role. When I first began writing, I had an old clamshell computer. The internet was so slow on that thing I didn’t even use it initially, nor did I have a reason then. But I spent hours on it a day after school writing. I wrote five stories (with only one edit. I didn’t know about editing then) of about 70-80 pages average in a year. I wrote five short stories in the span of five months (all of which won a writing contest.)

Then I met an internet friend and we started writing together. My writing time went down as our writing time went up. (All it in the beginning was garbage however.) I learned a lot from writing with her, yes, but I have never written as much as I did when I spent hours without internet.

Now, if I really need to write, I turn off my internet. It’s so easy for me to just switch between appleworks to safari and check facebook, or e-mail, or a fact. I need to do that more though. Because sometimes facebook has a lot of active friends, and sometimes there are more fun stories in my e-mail than what I am writing right now and sometimes, I can’t find my fact right away.

I was recently challenged to write every day. I don’t count blogging as writing. Blogging is blogging. I’m never going to really make a lot of money from having a blog. However, if I am published, I can maybe make some money. I think I have a better chance at least at making more money from being published than from having a blog. (And I say that because my brother had a blog with 1000+ viewers and he barely earned $100 in a year.)

There I go again, checking my pages. And waiting to ask my brother how many viewers he really had.

I want to write and yet, I don’t want to write (or edit). However, I think I have skill. I need to use that skill. It’s pretty much the only thing I can do well at the moment.

Maybe even the internet is why it seems that we don’t have as many good books out there. Because everyone is checking facebook, e-mail, google, blogs and twitter while trying to write.

So here’s a challenge: Try writing with no internet. If you can turn off your airport, that’s great! I need to do that. If you can’t, you can writing quit  your browser completely, or leave a message up that says you’re not allowed on here. And turn off your phone. And tell me if you think it helps. I’ll try doing it too and maybe we can get some good stuff written together.

Just Trust Me

I’ve talked a lot about my mermaid story. I’ve talked a lot about how I’m writing it into a novel, and how I think writing short stories to develop characters help.

Blah blah blah.

I’m going to now let you read it.

Here is my story, Just Trust Me. I hope you enjoy it. If anyone does care, I did submit this to my college’s writing contest and I have my fingers crossed.

Read Just Trust Me Here.

Cultural differences

What’s sometimes really hard to remember is that people don’t do things the same in all parts of the world. I have two separate posts related to things that are different from South Dakota versus the East Cost America. That’s just in one country. (I also hope to maybe someday write a story about those differences. I know, it’s been done in many movies, but all from people in Hollywood, and I think it’ll be really funny.)

One of these examples is that the ten children my teacher went to kindergarten with were also in his graduating class.

Anyway, that being said, my sociology  professor likes mentioning similarities between other cultures. I’m not sure how much I trust him on this. I don’t like him for a number of reasons that I don’t want to go into at the moment. However. I’m going to post these here with the idea that it can help the creative juices flowing on what you can change in your world.

• In North America, if you raise your eyebrows, it indicates doubt. However in Peru, it means you should pay me. In the pacific, it merely means yes.

• Movies from America aren’t shown in the Middle East because they are too sexie.

• There is no internet in Cuba. (Rather reminds me of the situation last I heard in Egypt.)

• In Saudi Arabia, it is a sign that the agreement has been settled and both parties are content when you hold hands, even if both parties are represented by men.

• In Europe, both men and women greet each other by kissing on the cheek.

• Here’s a strange one and I’ll actually tell you a story to illustrate it. Someone from my school went to visit Asia. He went to the bathroom and started doing his business. As he stood in front of the urinal, someone came up from behind and began to massage his shoulders. (CREEPY!) It turned out there are some places that pay men to stand in restrooms and massage people’s shoulders in order so they relax while they go.

• I had one more note here that caused me to search the internet. And I found this on Answer.com (which, I know, not very reputable but they are supposedly quoting oxford dictionary.)

The quintessential British offensive gesture for most of the 20th century, formed by holding up a hand with the middle and index finger upright in a V shape, the thumb and other two fingers curled into the palm; the palm facing towards the gesturer. If asked, most people would gloss the meaning as ‘F—you’ or something similar, and it was certainly a very potent offensive gesture until recent years when it seems to be losing its ability to offend.

• Especially in the midwest of America, adulthood is obtained when someone turns 21 and can drink. (Supposedly.)

Now, if I have any of these wrong, please tell me, because I don’t like being wrong and I do question my source. (I really don’t like this teacher.) Do you know any other differences between other countries as far as gestures and the like?

Mental Illness is in the writer’s genes.

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.

–E. L. Doctorow

Totally! :D

What I consider before writing any story.

I’ll be presenting a workshop on creative writing at my school in about two weeks, so I came up with these things that I always look at before I start writing.

What is the goal of the character?

I don’t say plot because that implies that I know the plot. I’m finding that I typically cannot pinpoint a plot until I finish  and I can look at the whole picture. But my character needs an initial goal and a plan.

How does goal and plot differ? In Shad, one of my stories, his goal was to win in the intragalatic race. As such, he worked towards that and kept struggling to make it through the race. However, the plot actually turned out to be Shad trying to break away being a sweeper and establish himself in the real world, something I didn’t even realize until I looked at the finish product and saw that, based on where the story ended, that had to be it.

What is the ending?

I will not start writing a story until I know the ending. Period. Because either a) I’ll never learn the ending or b) it’s not a good story. Either way, I need to have a clue on the ending.

Now, sometimes for me that ending is vague. Like, I know they are going to run the aliens off of earth, but I’m not quite sure how. Sometimes it’s quite concrete, like, the story will end with Kayla comes to the new home and Shad meets her.

Character’s Point of View (POV):

That seems strange. Well, of course I’m going to tell it in the character whose story I thought of. However, when I began to systematically think about the POVs, I realized that sometimes the obvious character isn’t the best.

For example, I’m going to post a story this week where a mermaid (Avi) has to convince her sister (Nessa) to join an underground liberation movement. Instead of writing it from Avi’s POV though, so Avi keeps having to tell Nessa everything that Avi already knows, I wrote it from Nessa’s POV, which ended up making a very interesting story.

This time also makes me realize whether I really need to tell it in one or two or five people’s POVs.

Person:

This goes slightly into the POV, but something I sometimes decide later and sometimes I don’t even decide until after I pick up the story. In general, I will write in third person. However, some stories call for first.

(Then you have the annoying stories that you write that you intend for it only to be a short story and so you write it in first person only to have the characters tell you its a novel, but you don’t want to write it in first person the whole way, so you need a new way of presenting the information without rewriting the whole short story/prelude.)

Character’s personality:

I think this aspect is a fundamental part of any story. However, I have discovered through a long and tumutious road that a personality doesn’t just come usually. If it does, it is usually perfect. As such, I automatically want to have a clue about how this character acts, is she/he shy, determined, stubborn, brave? And what is the character’s weakness?

Where is the story best told?

Generally, this is obvious. However, not always. And sometimes the setting doesn’t make a difference. But it is something to think about.

I should probably mention that I don’t look at tense. Typically, I’ll write in past tense. If I happen to start writing in present, it’s by mere accident but usually because I hear the voices so well that I just write as they tell me. (No, I am not schizophrenic.)

Folklore and Mermaids

I have been writing a research paper this semester on mermaids.  Possibly a strange topic, yes, but I’m loving it.

As such, I have found many, many links of credible mermaid tales. Now, I am defining mermaids as any creature that can live in the water; just a woman with a tail and two arms. However, here are some of the best ones.

Humanity.org has about ten stories from around the world.  Beautiful Mermaid Art has quite a few from around the world as well. However, none of them have references as to where he found them, and there is no way to contact him to ask for his references.

The story of Ne Hwas is a native American tale and probably the only one on the site.

Google books proved almost invaluable, as they provided complete text of some books, such as Fairy and Folk Tales of Irish Peasantry and Myths of China and Japan. For any Irish tales, you want to look for merrows. For the China and Japan book, look at the Island of the Blest and The Kingdom Under the Sea. I also used it to access Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, Legends and superstitions of the sea and of sailors in all lands and at all time, the Mermaid of Loche Lene and Other Tales and some partial texts such as Magickal mermaids and water creatures.

Sacred-text.com provides extensive texts from many cultures. Among them, I found Of the Pretty Girl and the Seven Jealous Women,

Surlalunefairytales.com also has a listing of many folktales. Those related to mermaids include: Fortunio and the Siren,  The Mermaid of the Magdalenes, and The Story of Urashima Taro, the Fisher Lad. It also includes the text of The Little Mermaid and other mermaid tales.

D. L. Ashliman collected a number of stories on water spirits. Quite a good place to go look.

Lastly, Gutenburg is almost just as good of a source as google books, if not better. There I have found The Mermaid of Zennor, The Water-Nix and The Nixie of the Millpond.

The History of Mermaids has hundreds of mermaid sightings recorded, many of them with sources.

So that’s about all I have.  Hope you enjoy. Do you know of any other great sources for folklore?

Edit: I have found another source for mermaid research called Wonders of the Deep. Haven’t read a whole lot on it, but the little bit I did get is very good. This entry about Liban (or Li Ban or St. Murgan) is one of the best I have found as well.

Edit 2: I uploaded my paper that I wrote using these sources. Please remember that if you copy it for your paper, it’s called plagiarism and is worth a failing grade in most English classes. It compares mermaids from different cultures of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa and America. It briefly looks at mermaids’ appearance and personality variances. It also includes my biography. You can find it in my writing tab as a PDF near the bottom.