Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Constant Reminder

I now have a constant reminder on my desk... constantly reminding me... to write.

I just got it in the mail today. My little sign that will nag me every minute I'm on the computer. It's beautiful, it's awesome, it has that "new wood" smell, I love it. Dude at Etsy is awesome. His shop is called Banished. So look him up if you want your own sign. You can get it to say anything.

And if you're really bored, don't hesitate to check out my shop, Pandasandpansies, and consider buying something from me!
...shameless self-promotion over...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

When Nostalgia Hits the Graduate

So, I've just gotten to thinking about how I've finally graduated from high school. I'm thrilled to be out of that "hell hole" known as "public education," but sometimes I still miss it.

Ha! I know. I've been out of school for two months. I've been mentally checked out of that place for seven. But what I'm talking about is the small things that I'm going to miss. Now I could go on and on about how I'm going to miss marching band (is it crazy that I miss having that uniform hanging in my closet?) or those lunches with my friends (because I had two this year), or the few teachers and classes that were awesome (German!), but I won't. That's as far as I'll go with that. Instead I must muse upon what school did to me in the creative sense, and everything I'll surprising miss about that -- and then wonder how I'll replace these things...

  • The bus -- If you could ride that bus you'd wonder why I didn't just suck it up and walk ten miles home. I had to rush to it to make sure I actually got a seat, and then I'd jam my headphones in my ear so I didn't have to hear the inappropriate comments. But you know what made this something I'll miss? That forty minute ride home (what's wrong with that... forty minutes for 10 miles?) was where so many great ideas/daydreams came to mind that I had infinite stuff to write when I got home.

    Then we'll consider the band bus. The ride home was the same. I couldn't look out the window in this case, so I'd sleep, but same idea. And the way to our performances, I wrote. An excellent time to write if I do say so myself.

  • Lunches -- I had two, because I was a senior. And so I spent an hour and a half writing, while also obsessing about my characters to my friends. Yes, I was frequently called crazy. In fact, one good friend of mine constantly told me I needed to find help. But if it wasn't for them all listening, and their occasional good ideas, I'd be lost, drowning in a sea of insanity.

  • A handful of classes -- Granted, this year was an easy one for me, but I still wrote like crazy during class when I should have been paying attention. (And somehow I still got perfect grades.) But this year was great. I sat in the front row in my Psychology class, and half the time, I was writing part of my novel. In Science, I sat in the back, and we watched so many movies, I just wrote part of my novel. I remember one class, I checked out completely and stared out the window. It was snowing. I wrote a piece of flash fiction in my head that I translated on to paper later, but it was awesome. Meanwhile, I have no idea what we learned, other than the fact that it was something to do with world history.

  • Possibly the biggest thing I'll miss -- the setting -- which is an all important thing when writing YA. I can only hope I've retained enough memories to keep my settings realistic. My freshman friends will only remain in school for so long, and the authorities frown on adults stalking children.
So, that's that. I don't know what else to say. School was a blast, but I don't think I'll miss it that much. Just those little things. And now I have to find new ways to fill those gaps. Let alone the fact that there just aren't any recreational marching bands like my alma mater, but we don't have a public bus system for me to stare out the window of (and I can't zone out while driving -- that's dangerous). And blocking out lectures and lessons is easier than blocking out nothing (go figure that one out.) So who knows. Maybe I'll just have to take a risky drive to the grocery store (by not thinking) and sit in the cafe, and hope a lot of people crowd around me. (Which might not happen if I decide to wear a 'crazy writer' outfit. ... that would be fun.)

I'll stop rambling now.
And in case you haven't noticed by now... I don't plan out my blog posts. I just write them.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Demons of the Summer

I think it's time for a fun post... but it may just be because my brain is melting in this heat. For whatever reason, I'm finding it easier to type a pointless blog post than I'm finding it to write the second chapter to a book I'm working on... one that I'm really excited about, but can't seem to get two more words written down about it.

Anyway, anyone else feeling the heat wave? At least up here in the northeast. Phew! What's this, our hundredth heat wave of the season? And then the added bonus of humidity! Yeah... Sure, we've got the air conditioner on, but my room sits in the weirdest place in the house, meaning it's got the worst insulation and the worst air circulation from the AC. Result? It's the warmest room in the house. The thermometer on my ceiling fan says 84 degrees when I go to bed at night. (One night it actually said 87.)

So I tell myself, "It's summer break, dude! Get over it. Lounge around, sit downstairs where it's cooler, ignore that computer, and write in your notebook! You've got a million of 'em!" Then I respond to myself "I would, but the heat is seeping in. The lazy days of summer are devouring me."

Thus the "demons" of summer have attacked. By now, my readers, I'm sure you know how much I love the show Supernatural. I'm just thinking about these demons -- the summer demons -- possessing someone, seeping of evil, forcing their eyes to turn all black, and causing mayhem and misery everywhere they goes. Ha! Maybe it is a demon. Makes me think of the horsemen they fit into the latest season. *cue the dramatic movie trailer voice* "First there was War, then Famine, and Pestilence and Death... and you thought it was over. But you were wrong. Coming this summer, to a theater near you, it's the Demons of Summer!" And then the black clouds of demon smoke descend upon unsuspecting writers who are trying to use this free time to write, but are instead forced into a state of melancholy.

Now that that fun paragraph is over, I'm serious. I'm spending all day lounging with a notebook in my lap and a pen in my hand. Every ten minutes I'm pulling my hair into a ponytail or pulling it back out because of the change in room temperature, and I'm being attacked by great ideas that I can't seem to organize or write down.

I'm starting to notice a trend. Last June, I tried to write a book. I failed. I tried again in August, and it just didn't even start. Then the cool weather seeped in, November started, and I completed a novel in a month! Now it's a year past that first attempt, it's July, I've written roughing 2000 words... barely a chapter, and it's been 12 days since then. What is it about the summer? Is it just me? Or does it affect anyone else the same way?

On a side note, you know the heat is really getting to you when you start raging at the internet... more specifically, the Target website because they don't have the laptop listed that you want when you were hoping to find it at a cheaper price. The poor internet... it's not his fault. Hmm... maybe if I went to bed before 1am for a start...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Long Overdue Post - Looking For Alaska

Long overdue in two ways: I'm sure plenty of you have read this by now, and finished it a few weeks ago, actually.

"If people were like rain, then I was drizzle and she was a hurricane."

Above is just one quote that stood out to me with such ferocity, I'm amazed the words didn't jump off the page and strangle me. Who can come up with a quote that says so much in such a simple way? Well, obviously John Green can. This man is a literary genius, in my honest opinion.

Now yes, I have only read one book by Mr. Green. But I have An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns sitting on my piano (...yes, that's where they are sitting, seeing as my piano is right next to my bed...) anxiously waiting to be read as much as I am waiting anxiously to read them. But for now, this post is about Looking For Alaska.

Who here has read this book? Show of hands please... yeah, I figure that's probably most of you. If not, it's probably on your list. And if I'm still wrong, then don't I seem pretentious? If you haven't read it, Looking for Alaska is about a boy named Miles "Pudge" Halter. He decides to leave his boring life in Florida in search of "the great perhaps." He is fascinated with last words, and that's about the only thing that makes him interesting, to start. Then he moves to a boarding school, Culver Creek to be exact. There, Miles meets his roommate "The Colonel," who is the one who deemed Miles "Pudge." Shortly after, Miles... er, Pudge, collides (not literally) into Alaska Young. Surprisingly, Alaska is not a nickname, but it fits the outrageous personality that she has.

So the trio, along with Takumi and occasionally Lara, spend the start of the year smoking, drinking, and pulling pranks. And it all leads up to a fantastic prank, and a night that goes horribly wrong. And that's it, without me trying to give away spoilers.

There are so many things about this book that makes it great -- possibly the greatest book I have ever read, of course that's merely an opinion. But for me, it knocked A Clockwork Orange out of the number 1 spot!

Where do I begin?
First of all, there's the format. John Green set the book into two sections: before and after. I'll compare it to a roller coaster. Before is the giant hill. You're thrilled! You're so excited as you travel up the hill, the clicking of the chain beneath you egging you on, setting you up, and running a whole bunch of different emotions through your head while you wait. And after, you go down. It was totally expected. You knew it was going to happen, and you even knew what it was going to be like, but that doesn't take any of the excitement out of the fall.

Based on that analogy, it's safe to say that what happens "after" is pretty predictable, but it still caught me by surprise. I expected the lead into it to be completely different, so it changed my perspective, and made me attached to the book.

What else?
Realism. I swear John Green kidnapped a bunch of teenagers and turned them into a book because the dialogue is perfect. Not only that, it isn't mind numbing -- which can be said about the book as a whole.

It's literary. There isn't some supernatural plot element. There isn't some corny romance. In fact, the way this romance plays out... well, I think Nathan Bransford can sum that up better than I can right here.

The characters have so much to them. From the asian kid to Alaska, I saw them all clearly in my head. Their backstories weren't just stuff thrown in there to fill up their histories. They made sense, as though they were real people. Even better was the minimal physical description, which allowed me as a reader to use my imagination on who the characters were. Of course, I have to say that I did imagine Alaska Young as LynZ from MSI. Can you see it at all?

Okay, so at this point, I'm losing steam and I think I'm beginning to not make anymore sense. So I'm going to leave off here, and let you decide whether Looking For Alaska is a worthwhile read, or if I'm going crazy.

Peace out!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Happens When You Ask Me About "My Space" (and I don't mean that horrible website)

YA Highway: Road Trip Wednesday... (it's still Wednesday... cut me some slack, I had to work!)
--What would your ideal writing desk look like? Right down to the perfect pen or laptop.

(If you want to skip this dreadful intro, skip to the *)
When I think about the perfect writing desk... well, let me think about the perfect
writing space, because the desk doesn't mean squat if the surroundings are too intruding and what not. I think about the perfect writing space and a thousand and two images come to mind, and unfortunately, none of them mesh. I think about all the perfect things, but they don't add up to anything but bad.
So I'll start with what I do have... nothing but distractions.

I have an alpha-smart. When I bought it I had this idealized vision of me sitting in the coffee shot at the grocery store, typing away at my latest novel. I saw myself on the swing in front of my house. I saw myself sitting in the living room, watching my niece, but still managing to type, despite my computer being upstairs.
To that paragraph, I laugh -- heartily. What a terrible investment! (For me. I distract easily. If anyone wants to buy it from me, I'll gladly sell it for a cheaper price than the alpha-smart website. Seriously!) A laptop would have suited me better, or at least a netbook. (But after an book shopping spree, I'm strapped for cash.)

So now I'll move on to my bedroom. My beloved writing space. My so-called "perfect" writing space, despite how horrible it actually is. Cue another hearty laugh.

In one corner of my room is a keyboard. The ol' 88 keys... well, 61. In another corner is my bookshelf. But wait, isn't reading a writer's friend? It is, but when the second shelf is full of movies, then that becomes a problem. (Especially when that shelf includes all the Back to the Future movies, and season 1 -- and hopefully soon season 2 once I get the money -- of Supernatural.)
Not quite in the corner, but off to the side, is my bed. Oh so horrible, but oh so comfortable. And across from that, the dreaded tv. Thankfully, it's behind me when I'm at my desk, but I can easily turn my swivel chair.

*All of this thought about my current space has made me think about the perfect writing space. A few paragraphs later, I can describe what the prompt asked for.
--A stark white room: but how do I go on to describe this white? Bright, I suppose. But not so bright that night time looses it's darkness and shadows. Because there will also be...--A large window: with an acceptable view. One that stays the same, but also changes... like a road.
--And I need it to be bright, and white, with no curtain on the window, so that I have that big black hole at night to stare through for inspiration.
--The desk I have no preferences, other than space for me to put my feet up so that I can lean back in my "spinny" chair and type comfortably.--and my computer needs to have some sort of block on it so that I can't access anything of or relating to ...
Supernatural, Amazon, Etsy, deviantArt, email, random google searches not relating to the novel, 1967 chevy impalas... and that sort of stuff, because that slows me down. I'd say get rid of the internet all together, but... that's just wrong.
...and finally...--an abundance of post it notes, which I think would also make a great book title, as well as ... oh cricket! I had an awesome book title earlier, and I mean awesome! and now I can't remember it. Anyway, post it notes are my best friend when I write. And they must be colorful, because they will be posted everywhere! On the desk, on the computer, on the chair, on the floor, on the walls... everywhere but the curtainless window.

Oh yeah, and the floors must be hard-wood and there needs to be a rug. And a window seat in front of the window that I can lay on.
Such a random post. Random in that I didn't restrain myself when I wrote. Could you tell? What about the pictures... like 'em?