January 28, 2010

1000 Words A Day: Project Voldemort #5

Wordle: Project Voldemort #5

Today's top three: day, time, and one.

Project Voldemort has not been going exactly as well as I'd planned. I have trouble sometimes figuring out how to stay on track with writing projects - I think it's mostly to do with the fact that I haven't come up with a strategy that really works for me.

When I started I decided that I would just write straight through the story, taking twists and plunges whenever it came up naturally in the situation. This strategy is not really working for me so far... I've skipped certain sections in order to get to scenes that I really want to write, which possibly means that I should have started at a different point in the story...

At this point it's clear that the "just write" strategy isn't quite working. I think I may take a few days to throw together a blurry outline of where I think this story is going. Maybe I'll find that outlining is the best fit with my writerly style.

Sometimes I just feel better if I have a road map.

David Copperfield kind of crap

Didn't realize until he was gone how much I wanted to sit down and talk with J.D. Salinger. I didn't admire him quite as much as some people did, but it's clear to me that he was a brilliant, if neurotic, man.

Of course if I had traveled all the way over to New Hampshire, he probably wouldn't have given me the time of day, being that he was, for much of his life, a virtual recluse. But let's pretend that it could have happened. That if I bought a plane ticket and went out there he would have been impressed by my impetuousness and the complete lack of cause for my desire to speak with him, to sit down to tea and ask for his thoughts on...well, for his thoughts on anything, really.

Salinger, in some alternate universe we're having a picnic and watching the sun go down. Too bad it isn't this one.

January 25, 2010

Shit, man, where's all my money?

Because if you found out that you were Harry Potter, and J. K. Rowling totally stole her world from your real life story, that's exactly what you would be asking, right?

Yeah, that's right. I'm Harry Potter. (Last night. In my dream. Yeah.) For some reason Harry Potter was a girl. And I got into this total fight with a bunch of Death Eaters (including Snape), and I could only remember four spells: Avada Kedavra and Crucio, which of course I couldn't actually use, so those were useless; Sectumsempra, which totally didn't work against Snape, so that was useless too; and Expelliarmus. It was pathetic. But at least my unconscious knows that pacifism is the only way to go?

Anyway, I think we ended up running away, and then there was a part about making a pizza with vegan tomato sauce while being enslaved by a witch, one of the Hansel-and-Gretel variety.

Now it's time to get up and go to school. Sigh. If only I were heading to one of Lupin's lectures. That would make all the difference.

January 19, 2010

School!

Ah, the first day of school. You shine your shoes, put on your plaid skirt, carry a red apple for the teacher... Well, I'm (a few) years past that, at least. But today was the first day of school, and for some reason, it carried that special buffed-apple feeling for me. Maybe it's because it's my last semester of college - now that it's soon to pass, I don't want to miss a thing? Classes! Homework! Tests! Bring it on!

At the end of the day, it was a mixed bag. The weather was lovely - pouring rain all day, as well as intermittent lightning, thunder, and hail. Since I didn't get (exceptionally) wet, I didn't much mind. Other than that, there were the classes. I'm taking three political science classes, and so far they average out to "not bad." My first class, about ethics in the international sphere, was excellent. I'm looking forward to that one a lot. Second was one about American public policy (self-centered, I know), which was still good, although the bespectacled professor wasn't nearly as striking as the smart-talking lecturer from the ethnics ethics class. (I just can't stop typing ethnics when I mean ethics! Hopefully by next week I'll have trained myself out of it.) The third class, however, is promising to be a bit of a challenge. It's about China's foreign policy, and the professor has the most unfortunately thick Chinese accent. I have to strain my ears at all times just to understand him. I guess on the bright side, I won't be falling asleep in his class. Also, I believe I heard him make a few jokes. Maybe. Or he could have been saying "ethics" instead of "elephants".

I have two more classes I haven't made it to yet - two creative writing workshops - but so far I've seen enough to know that my last semester of college is looking good. Now I just get to worry about looking for jobs...

January 11, 2010

1000 Words A Day: Project Voldemort #3

Wordle: Project Voldemort #3

Today's top three: wagon, city, and back/one.

Wow, that looks like a boring day. Do me a favor: click on the link. You'll find that I typed way more interesting words today. Like whistling, pursed, and vanities. Can we pretend that those were my top three?

Some things can suck out your soul, or, why I need a good job

For those unaware, I started a short internship-like thing today. It is not quite an internship because it is short (only one week), but not quite a straight job shadow because it is involved (what with me actually contributing in an employee-like fashion). Anyway, the point is that I started today. I was somewhat nervous walking the nine blocks from my apartment to the Place of Employment, an unassuming apartment-turned-office housing a small magazine publication. What if I didn't like it? What if they didn't like me? What if they put me through a bizarre initiation ritual involving massacred stuffed animals and psychedelic brownies?

I was so pleasantly relieved to find that this was not the case at all.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself today. I got to review unsolicited submissions for the magazine (and use nifty accept/reject buttons!), proofread articles for the magazine's online archive, and help do a weekly mailing. (Bizarrely, even the mailing was fun. Stamping address labels and sealing envelopes was fun. They also have a zippy machine that prints postage information for you. Who'd have thought?) I even had lunch with another intern and the assistant editor, and we actually talked.

The long story short is that I learned that a job can actually be intellectually stimulating and personally fulfilling. (And I know you all thought that was a myth. Don't worry about it - I kind of did too.)

Knowing that, I've given some thought to my current places of employment. (Warning: this is where the soul-sucking is going to come into play.) I've been working multiple jobs for a while now, and after interning at this magazine for just one day, I can tell you definitively one of my multiple jobs is deadly.

I've been somewhat concerned recently that I'm generally a few degrees more depressed, lethargic, and grumpy (on average) than I used to be. But I couldn't figure out (until today) one of the major factors: at this particular business, I feel like a mind-numbed drone slowly being harvested for her soul. I am not kidding. This job depresses me. Turns me off. Makes me feel like there is no sunshine and no cuddly puppies in the world. I just never realized it until I saw the light that was a (real!) fulfilling job.

Gah. It depresses me that I've spent months of my life feeding my soul away and growing more and more like a dead fish: cold, slimy, and unresponsive. On the other hand, I now feel blissfully enlightened by my new knowledge, and my new agenda (get better job). So I guess it evens out? I think so, anyway.

So, what did I learn today? Find new (better) job --> be happy. And that is why I need a good job, now and in the future. Please, economy, pick up already!

January 10, 2010

Also, the internet is a giant black hole ready to bite my head off

This just in: the internet is scary. All of a sudden I'm finding interesting blogs that link to more interesting blogs that link to more interesting blogs, and the whole thing spawns a sort of rabbit-esque revolution (you know, the classic biological "replicate like bunnies" example), and before you know it I've blown hours discovering the most awesome people and the most awesome blogs.

Now I totally understand how people run away into the internet forever. The question becomes: how can I lurch my way back out of this quicksand? Help! Help! I have to make it back in time for my internship tomorrow!

1000 Words A Day: Project Voldemort #2

Wordle: Project Voldemort: Part 2

Today's top three: voice, woman, and singer/song/front.

January 9, 2010

1000 Words A Day: Project Voldemort #1

Congratulations, me! I'm starting my 1000 Words A Day Challenge a full two days ahead of schedule! Yay! Just around the corner await an awesome agent, a six figure book deal, and an international release party!

...Well. Maybe not. But I did start a few days early on this story that's been bouncing around a little bit in my head for the last...week or so. Out of sheer bizarreness of character, this lovely Word document has been titled "Project Voldemort". Why? Clearly, the answer is: why not?

No, the real answer is that I am horrible at titles, even working ones, and Project Voldemort was just the first to spring to mind. In order to save as much time as possible, I went with it. Now the question is whether to title blog posts about said masterpiece "1000 Words A Day," "Project Voldemort," or "He-With-Many-Names". You can see my compromise if you turn your eyes to the top of the browser.

I don't particularly like talking about the unfolding plots of my many projects, mostly because none of them seem to get finished. I contend that it's because I use up the magic telling people before I even write that shit down. So this time, I'm not giving away much. Maybe I'll feel nice enough to drop a few hints in a future blog. Maybe while talking about my enduring love for all things fairy tale. Maybe.

I am decidedly not going to post every day about the progress of my novel. I can already see zzzs emanating from readers' mouths. I can already see zzzs emanating from my mouth. But Wordle is too cool not to use, plus it's just interesting to see the trends my novel is taking, and what it reveals about the story. If you look below, you will see that the most common words (in order) are: island, tower, and singer. I love it already.

Wordle: Project Voldemort: Part 1

Mash #1

In lieu of a (semi) organized post, I have today a mash of things in progress. Since I last posted, I have done a few things.

First off, I contracted a cold. Anyone who has had a cold (which I assume is most of you) knows that these are miserable beasts, characterized by red and runny noses, sore throats, and lost voices. Perhaps it is the fate of all those people returning from Hawaii: at the end of a vacation, thou shalt fall ill. The good news is that I expect to be over it by the time the new semester starts. Everyone knows that as miserable colds are, there is nothing as awful as sniffling one's way through lectures, glancing about apologetically every few minutes because you can't help it - you finished your last (third!) package of Kleenex two classes ago. Hopefully, I can escape that fate.

I also started reading The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is a much-recommended book, and one I expect to finish with in a month or so. Maybe. Dostoyevsky is one of those Old Master kinds of writers, like Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens, who you just can't read in one (or a few) sittings. Like rich chocolate, such authors are best enjoyed slowly, in small portions. Thus far (five days after beginning), I've made it to page 37. Which, in this edition, is the beginning of Chapter One. So far I'm enjoying it, but I anticipate a few chapters spent slogging my way through one page at a time before retiring to something light and fuzzy for the rest of the evening.

Speaking of things light and fuzzy, I am definitely looking forward to reading this book. Even if it turns out to be a disappointment (and I think there's a decent chance it will), I'm still sufficiently enamored of Castle to give it a shot.

And speaking of television, I have to take a moment here to be explicitly disappointed about all my favorite shows breaking at the same time. Yes, that's the way the world works. But just when I was catching up to Bones? Really?

January 4, 2010

The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)

My methods are fallible, and this is a classic example. Since I've only been on Goodreads since August, I certainly missed some fantastic books that I read earlier in the year. Case in point, the following.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. In my opinion, this is the best book that Neil Gaiman has written. (This is saying something, for those of you who know about my obsession with the Sandman graphic novel series, as well as the myriad other fantastic books Gaiman has written.) I'm not sure exactly how to quantify it, but somehow Gaiman's writing this time around was simply flawless. Every word flowed smoothly into my brain, like a hot knife through butter. (Or something like that, I think the saying goes...) It was fantastic. The story was all well and good, but what really made it stand out was the ease with which I consumed it. Excellent story, excellent storytelling. Loved the characters, the plot, the setting, the whole shebang. Am waiting eagerly for the sequel.

There you have it: the seventh amazing book I read in 2009. I'm attempting to mollify the Excellent Book Fairy by giving The Graveyard Book its own blog entry. Happy now?

1000 Words A Day

1000words_300w

One of my resolutions was to complete a novel this year. So here we go: similar to NaNoWriMo, I am attempting to push myself into it by writing 1000 words every day. That is a lot of words. NaNoWriMo calls it a novel at 50,000; if I actually wrote 1000 words a day, I'd clock in at 365,000 at the end of the year. That is a lot of novel.

This would be a great challenge if I already knew what my masterpiece was going to be about. Unfortunately, the best words I can come up with to describe it are "brilliant," "awesome," and "bestseller." Yikes.

Therefore, I am giving myself up to one week to come up with at least an impressionist version of the premise. Then, no later than Monday, January 11, it will be time to go. Wish me luck?

Hawaii in review

Ernest is insanely jealous that he was not invited to Hawaii like the rest of us. I told him that he wouldn't have liked it anyway - his fur would have melted off from the heat.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the pros and cons of Hawaii as a vacation spot. When I set out to write this post, my list came up something like this... Good: beaches. Bad: weather. Unsurprisingly, it hasn't changed much.

What I loved about Hawaii: the water. You can swim! It's warm! It's clear! It's lovely! I was also fond of the spinner dolphins and humpback whales, and of the sea turtles.

What I hated about Hawaii: the weather. This is slightly an exaggeration. The fact that it's always searingly hot in Hawaii makes it refreshing to go in the water every day (see above paragraph). But I sweat easily. Stick me outside in Hawaii in the day with no beach in sight and I melt. I was uncomfortable (weather-wise) for most of the trip. I was also not the biggest fan of the perpetual volcano haze that hung over the Kona area the entire time we were there.

After staring at the computer screen for a few minutes, there doesn't seem to be much else to add, although I'm quite sure we did more in Hawaii than swim and look at the local wildlife. We went to the Volcanoes National Park (lovely). We went zip lining (underwhelming). We went surfing, and took a whale watching tour, and got on a submarine.

All in all, it was nice. But I wouldn't want to go back next year. Maybe five years from now...