Saturday, November 9, 2013

In Which I Learned A Lesson about Writing from Knitting

Knitting. Yes, I said knitting.

Let me start off by making sure my readers understand the difference between knitting and crocheting, because this might make less sense if it's unclear.

Knitting = two needles
Crocheting = one hook

Both produce profoundly different stitches, and a key thing to note here (which I didn't realize was important until this particular moment) is that knitting takes much, much longer than crocheting.

So I've been crocheting since I was a young child. It's something my mom attempted to teach to me, but I ultimately learned from a book, continuing the long line of women in my family who can crochet. Recently, I decided to try my hand at knitting, because honestly, some things just look better knitted than they do crocheted. A few Youtube videos later, and I'm a knitting machine.

A big reason I took this upon myself to learn is because I found a really pretty variegated yarn at the store. It's mostly black with several strands of color running through it that changes between all the colors of the rainbow. And I knew it would look better knitted. I got to work.

The thing about this yarn is, it's variegated pattern is different from what I'm used to. Usually the yarn will switch between colors often and consistently. Not in this yarn. As I unraveled the yarn from the skein, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how the color comes out. For about a quarter of the scarf, the chance went from yellow, to green to blue to purple to red... and then it started to get crazy -- and it seemed to stay red for a while. A long while.

A very long while.

Days later after tons of knitting, I finally pulled on the yarn and a knotted clump broke free out of the skein, and there it was, the golden yellow yarn I had been longing to see. A few rows of stitches later, and I was there. It had been added to my scarf, and already it made it better. And the changes are still slow, but they are happening. There's a rainbow in my scarf.

So what does any of this have to do with writing? I once again tried to delve into NaNoWriMo this year. The jury is still out as to whether I'll attempt to complete it this year. But basically, this is my fourth attempt since my first and only win in 2009. Failed story after failed story. And this year has been tough. It goes around and around that NaNo is nothing more than writing words. After all, you can't fix it until it's written. But it gets hard when you're not inspired and you just want to give up because it feels like everything you write is crap. It's just the same stuff, nothing is changing, and it's becoming uninteresting.

Just like the scarf that won't change colors, until that bright flash of change appears. It becomes necessary to just keep writing just like you just have to keep knitting to get to the end. Keep trudging along in your writing, and the bright flash of brilliance will occur. Inspiration, or a moment where everything clicks. Maybe it will still suck for a lot of it, and the end might still be a struggle, but the end result will be something beautiful, because it'll be something you worked on, you put the effort in, and something you finished.

There's brilliance in there, hidden in the color changes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I Haven't Forgotten!!

I swear I've been reading, and I swear I've been writing. I just haven't been updating because I've been freaking out all summer because I'm moving. (Of course Tumblr got my presence, but fandoms serve as a nice distraction.)

Every time I sat down to update my blog I couldn't. I got scared. It's the same reason why I couldn't even write in my journal -- I was scared. I was scared that if I said anything, even to myself, that something would go wrong. In hindsight, it was probably a stupid thing to do as now I don't have any reference material to go back to about the perils of moving and the aggravation of dealing with a mortgage company.

On the plus side, I've made half an afghan, and half a bathroom rug. I've also played countless hours of School of Dragons. (Seriously, if you're obsessed with How to Train your Dragon, play it.)

Thinking back, I'm only just realizing how much time has passed. I went to Philly comic con in the beginning of the month and had planned on sharing my cosplaying adventures, (I was Toothless,) but it was the day after that I was told I would have to move out by the end of July. So everything went on hold.

But tomorrow is settlement, (yes, I'm 21 years old and I am purchasing my first home) and soon after I should hopefully settle into some sort of normalcy. I'll be broke, but hey, now I can really commit to that "starving artist" title.

School of Dragons. Go. Play. Now.

That's me, as Toothless the Night Fury. My friend as Hiccup.

And this because the tail was one of my favorite parts that I made.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Don't Know What's Going On

Really. I don't even know what month is is. Seven days have gone by and I've thought it was April at least once each day.

I know I'm not blogging. It hasn't been hectic, but I have been distracted by some personal matters, and I'm going to try to get back into blogging. I'm still writing a little, fairly consistently, but at a slow pace. Still... better than nothing.

I guess the biggest thing going on is I'm getting ready for Philly Comic Con. I can't pass up a chance to meet Daryl Dixon again. And this time is brother and Shane will be there. (Unfortunately, a Mr. Sean Patrick Flanery -- my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu inspiration -- won't be there this year.) Biggest thing is I'm doing a How to Train Your Dragon cosplay with a friend from Tumblr.

Yes, I have put together a Toothless cosplay. I have a hoodie with the earplates and spikes and scales and claws, a tail, wings,  and even a mask. Yes, I am a dork.

So you understand, I've been busy putting that together. If all goes well, I might show you the outcome.

Like I said, I'm a little frazzled lately. A decent blogger I am not. Unless you count tumblr. Then I'm semi-descent. I have a few posts in mind for the future, so if you've stuck with me this long, stay tuned.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Putting Everything on Pause

Sometimes life hands you those metaphorical lemons and you can work with them. They drive you to create to deal with the problems. And sometimes, those lemons squirt juice in your eye, and you stop, because it stings so much that you can't function. Writing seems like the last thing you want to do.

The last few days I've been walking around with lemon juice in my eyes. We had to put down my dog tonight. He was twelve years old, but he always acted like a puppy, until a few nights ago. He started to fail, and he failed fast. The vet said it was more than likely prostate cancer.

It sucks because he was a member of the family. It sucks because he was my best friend. It sucks because he always made everything better. If I was having a bad day, he made it better. If I was feeling bad, he made things better. He would look at me and wag his tail. He would roll onto his back so I could rub his belly. He would sit on my foot so I couldn't go anywhere without him. He would lay his head on me or my laptop so that I would pet him. My dad always said he had a special bond with me that he didn't have with anyone else.

Twelve years. That's over half of my life. Not only that, this is the first time in my life that I have not had a dog. I've always had one because any time one died before, we had more than one dog at that point. This is tough. For me, for my dad, even my mom had a tough time and she hadn't seen the dog in a while.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do without him, but I do know that right now I'm on Pause. My latest work in progress had a major plot point revolving around death and loss, and while you'd think that this would be the perfect drive and inspiration, it's not. So it's being pushed away for a little while. Hopefully not too long. And chances are, Tucker will play a part in this work in progress, in some way.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On Using those Odd Times to Write

I did have a list of things I wanted to blog about, but I'm pretty sure I threw it away. But I did remember this, so here it goes.

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ― Saul Bellow 

As of late, I've found that quote to ring (for the most part) true. And maybe that comes from the whole idea that when inspiration strikes, it's good. And when inspiration strikes, it has to be written down. It doesn't matter if it's 2am, and you're just crawling into bed even though you have to work first thing in the morning. Yet you find yourself turning on your bedside lamp over and over again because the next sentence keeps popping into your head.

Maybe that's just me? Okay.

It just seems to be likely though, that it is the real inspiration kick. That's when it's clear that something is good because it couldn't wait to be written. Sure, it'll probably go through a thousand or so rewrites, but the core of it will remain. That whole reason why sleep was sacrificed will continue to drive the story forward.

On top of that, I've been discovering the best times to write. I'm probably just lucky lately, but in addition to that late night writing, I've been slipping it in at odd times. (As the title suggests.)

Here's a little story: Since January, my car has been to the mechanic three times for transmission problems. First it broke down, then it started making noise, and then I was merely paranoid and needed reassurance. Regardless, with it at the mechanic time and time again, my father has been driving me into work. He needs to be at work about 45 minutes before I do, which puts me at work a full hour before I have to be there. I'm not allowed to work, so what do I do?

That's right, I whipped out my gray, spiral-bound notebook, and I wrote page after page. Sometimes the best time to write is when you have nothing better to do and you're too tired to read a book.

Finally, something is making its way out of my head and onto paper and it's one of the most satisfying feelings I've felt, which I haven't felt in a long time. I can only hope I keep it up. And I'm partly hoping that my newly discovered love of hard cider has something to do with it, solely because apple juice was my go to for my first completed manuscript, and now that I'm 21, I needed a kick in the pants... or the drink.

But whatever the reason, I'm writing, and I'm taking advantage of the odd times to do it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Woes of Research

I'm done making excuses; I am a terrible blogger. But I have something to say, so here we go.

Research, it's something that anybody who has been to high school is familiar with, but any writer can tell you it comes with the job. Love it or hate it, it's there. And researching things can be fun? Anybody else ever get caught in that endless Wikipedia trap? You start off checking a quick fact about sign language, and before you know it you have twenty tabs open and you're reading about different types of tornadoes.

Then you realize two hours have gone by, and the cursor in your word document is left off blinking in the middle of a sentence.

But tell me that isn't fun. There is a less fun side to researching though. There's that research that completely destroys the plot. By that I mean, in the middle of writing, you take the time to check something for realism, and then you find out that the truth is completely different, and your plot no longer works. Your main character can't put an end to the war because the cell phone didn't exist in the eighteenth century.

That might be just a slight exaggeration. But sometimes research really can be hindrance. The story of the character with a mental disorder might be portrayed wrong if there isn't enough research -- people may get offended -- but so much research, and so many things learned, can destroy the desire to write the piece, or it could paralyze the writer from fear of not fitting enough information in the piece. Or worse: the writer might include a dreaded info-dump.

There is the argument of "fiction." That is, "It's fiction. It's made up. Write something because it's not true anyway!" That may work in some cases, but sometimes it's just not enough. Most of the time. Most of the time the story needs to be rooted in reality to draw in the reader.

So where's that fine line of balance between too much research and just enough? Probably somewhere in the editing stage, as long as the writer can push his or her way there.