Monday, October 31, 2011

Reformation Moving Day!

Okay, so it's not usually called that at my house. But this year, moving day happens to have fallen on Reformation Day (before you ask, no, I'm not Lutheran, though I am protestant). When this posts, it could be that my family will already be frantically waking up and getting ready for a second day of truck-loading.

I'm not sure how posting will go for the first couple of weeks in November. I'll be at my grandparents' for a few days and then unspecified places for a few more, before finally moving into my house (with no 'net) on the 7th.

So we'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, happy Reformation Day!

My family has never actively participated in Halloween, beyond handing out candy a few years, or the church substitutes, but rather our own invention of McDonald's Day, which involved playplaces, ice cream, and sometimes a bag of jolly ranchers.

A few years ago we got an email informing us that October 31st was actually the day Martin Luther nailed up the 95 Theses. Along with the email came a "treasure hunt" through the house and Luther's life, abridged version. It also involves watching Luther (2003) and, still, McDonald's. We probably won't get to all of those things this year, but Luther's still on the list.


Roots and arguments against Halloween aside (though my friend Laura has several posts on this subject), celebrating October 31st as a day of Truth instead of Death and Darkness sounds like a good idea to me. Luther was human, and I likely don't agree with everything he said (though if I remember correctly, I did basically agree with the 95 theses), but his stand for his beliefs is admirable, and the affect on church history and the world immense.

Happy Reformation Day, and "see" you all in a few days or weeks!

Friday, October 28, 2011

England

I am a fiercely patriotic American. I'm reading 1776 by David McCullough, and I'm just cheering the rag-tag army on against those "lobsterbacks." I love how our system of government was set up to work (not that it's working completely like that nowadays), I love the principles and the virtues and my flag.

But.

For I don't know how long, I had deep pangs of longing to visit the country of those same "lobsterbacks." In May and June of this year, my friend gave me an incredible gift and made it possible for me to visit England.

Airplane monitor!
I admit I was a bit apprehensive at first. What if I didn't like it as much as I thought I would? What if somehow I would have over-imagined going, and it would never live up to my expectations?

Completely groundless worries from day 1.

Gorgeous Scarborough, with a Great Hall outline to boot.

Nottingham Castle
Adorable Stratford-Upon-Avon
Tower of London (which is really a ginormous castle).
I'll stop picture-spamming you now.

Since getting back, suddenly Study Abroad programs in colleges has slipped from the forefront of my mind to something of an afterthought, and though I talk pretty seriously about what I'll do when I go back (visit Lincoln Castle, longer in Nottingham, Oxford...), I hadn't really felt the pang at all.

Until today.

It's not gone.

Not abated.

I don't understand. Why do I love this country so much? Sure, loads of great authors are from there, the history is amazing (I teared up in the first 800yo church I went into), they have Doctor Who (ha), awesome accents, Robin Hood, etc., but this longing?

I don't get it. I can't explain it. I like to be able to explain why I love and what I love. And I can explain some of the why.

But not why it's so intense.

Why it hurts.

I imagine it's God-given at this point, but I don't know why, or what I'm supposed to do with it. I'm sure it's not just heading back to tour every year or so (I wish). It's all mixed up with what I want to do with my life, after four years of college learning. What job I want. Where I'm going.

I don't know. I simply don't know. But I hope it involves minding the gap and ancient rocks (aka castles. It's an inside joke, sorry).


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Have Moved Up in the World

Why?

Simple.
1.
(Robin is mine, Doctor is Grace's and yes they're cutting open a banana. It's a long story.)
2.
(No, Robin is not magical. That'd be camera flash. This is the Richard Greene Robin Hood, which I have only seen a couple of episodes of. It was $2.90 and brand new, so I bought it. I'll be watching more. And then, of course, I finally own a DVD version of the wonderful Disney rendition. Ah, memories.)
3.
BAHAHAHAHAHA! Now I'm sonic. Totally sonic. I'm sonic'd up!
And last but not least...
4.
Just LOOK at my archery glove. And my quiver! MY QUIVER!! *hugs quiver* I finally have a quiver and a glove that are actually worth something. Don't ask how much I spent on the quiver. <3 <3 quiver...

And yes I use a recurve. I'm horrible. (Though in fairness, I got it for a Christmas present. I probably would've bought one anyway. They shoot arrows further even with wimpier arm muscles.)

Oh, and photo by my grandfather, who is (obviously) a marvelous professional photographer. (My senior pictures = posing with weapons and books. Isn't that so me?)

Happy Nai.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Bucket Tips Again

Anyone who is a major fan of Lord of the Rings (books and movies, for me) will probably quickly get what I'm talking about.

You see, there's this hobbit. His name is Pippin. (Well, actually it's Peregrin, but rarely do we remember that.) He's a Took, and that kind of counts against him. In The Fellowship of the Ring "curiosity kills the Pippin" (not literally) when he touches an arrow on an dwarf skeleton, causing the dwarf skeleton's head to fall off and down a well, followed by the dwarf skeleton body, followed by a bucket on a chain. It's generally customary in my family to yell: GRAB THE BUCKET PIPPIN GRAB THE BUCKET! because the ensuing racket brings the orcs down our beloved Fellowship.

But alas, he can't hear us, and he never grabs the bucket. (It's similar to the "THROW THE LETTER IN THE FIRE, MARIAN!" moment in the 1938 Robin Hood.) It's one of those movie moments where you always have a slight hope that the outcome will change, but it never does.

Noooo, not again!
I experience a similar feeling when reading about or listening to lectures on the Battle of Hastings.

I'll wait until you stop laughing to continue.

You see, I'm partial to Anglo-Saxons. This is probably long Robin Hood conditioning (maybe that's the real reason I never got into King Arthur...nah, I'm pretty sure it was the cutting-heads-in-half bit), but whatever the case, it exists.

There was a crisis of "who's next in line for the throne" when Edward the Confessor died in 1066. He was childless, and three people thought they deserved it. Without getting into the (confusing) reasons why all of these three people had claims, they were: Harold Godwinson (England), Harald HardrĂ¥da (Norway), and William the Conqueror (Normandy).

The winds in the English Channel prevented William of Normandy from setting sail when he meant to, so Harald of Norway reached England first--in the North. The Anglo-Saxon army met and defeated him in the Battle of Stamford Bridge. However, no sooner had they done that, than they discovered that William had landed in Southern England. They then had to rush pell-mell back across England to meet this new force. Partially because of their weakened state from the battle in the North, partially because of their trouble with the Norman cavalry, and probably partially because of other factors I can't remember off the top of my head, they were then defeated by the Normans in the Battle of Hastings.

William the Conqueror was crowned king on Christmas Day, 1066.

(If you want a good present for Nai, find one of those books that has full color prints of the Bayeux Tapestry.)
Which always leaves me a little depressed. I mean, it's not fair! Darn French Vikings.

You can continue laughing now.




P.S. I actually would really like to write a book set in 1066 at some point. From Anglo-Saxon vantage point, of course. I could pretend it's Robin's ancestor.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October Beautiful People: Quintessence!

(Or is it November Beautiful People?)

At any rate, this month's Beautiful People is actually NaNo-themed, but I can still answer most of the questions, so here we go anyway!

1. Sum up your novel in five words, or less.
Dystopia. Empty. Lies. Truth. Hope.



2. Novel title?
Quintessence (though I have become less certain about this as of recently)

3. Sum up your main character(s) in one word.
Hywel: Curious.
Management: False.
Alamea: Needy.

4. Advice for newbies in three words?
Rough draft. Re-write. (This can be either NaNoWriMo themed, or even just new to writing in general!)

5. Tell us about your secondary characters, how do they affect the story?
Alamea--someone for Hywel to look after. Almost to live for.
Sybyl--gives him the shove.
Miliani--comforts him.
Iolana--awakens him.

6. Do you plan on staying up till midnight on the 31st?
Nope. [see 7 and 10]

7. How many years have you done NaNo?
I did it twice: not doing it this year.

8. What came first, characters, or plot idea?
Plot idea. Pretty strange start for me, actually--it came from a dream the day we left for Nebraska to scatter my grandfather's ashes.

9. How much prep do you do before [your first draft]?
Generally, I fill out the biggies of the OYAN worksheets--Someone to Care About, Something to Want, Something to Dread, Something to Suffer, Something to Learn. I also usually do Ally, Villain, and Mentor sheets. Then I do a rough outline with about a paragraph for each chapter, the "change of values" for that chapter, and if it's a disaster or a dilemma. For Quintessence I also filled out several Other Worlds (second OYAN curriculum) sheets on world building.

10. Now be honest, how do you really feel about NaNoWriMo?
Approve of, but don't do. See my post on why I don't do NaNoWriMo.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Look Ma, No NaNoWriMo!

When a post about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) appeared on Rachelle Gardner's blog, I kind of decided this post would be a must.

Ms. Gardner isn't the only one. Posts and countdowns are popping up all over the blogs I read and all over the OYAN forum as well.

Now, I like NaNoWriMo. I like how it encourages people to turn those "would-be" novels into realities. I like how it draws writers together from across the country and the globe. I like how it forces you to devote time to writing daily or pay the consequences!

However, my two brushes with this global phenomenon have showed that participating in NaNoWriMo doesn't really help me all that much, and may even be a bit counterproductive.

I've actually known about NaNoWriMo for quite a long time. It was one of the first "cures" for my novel troubles suggested to me before the OYAN discovery (2007). I didn't like the idea of it then, though I can't remember exactly why.

My main NaNoWriMo year would actually come three years after the OYAN discovery. It was a tough problem, after Forest of Lies. Though I probably didn't realize it at the time, I was still kind of in my pouting/self-doubt stage that would be a big part of my Forest of Lies story. I was having trouble getting writing in, and my AP English Literature instructor challenged the class to do it. So I did. I wrote 50,060 words that I have basically not looked at since December 2009 (I did one read-through, I think). Mostly what I learned in this draft was: 1) my characters and 2) I had the wrong main character.

I stopped the next year half-way in because I decided I was having something of the same problem.

Now, some of this can be attributed to the novel issues I was having in general. If I had had a story more like Forest of Lies or Quintessence, there's a good chance that I would have had something a bit more useful by the end of the month than I did.

Even that said, though, my main squabble with NaNoWriMo is this: first drafts are always rough, but they don't have to be unusable.

Now, it might just be me (and I seem to be a writer phenomenon on many fronts already, so it really MIGHT just be me), but every draft I've tried with NaNoWriMo has ended up being unusable. I like the: "don't worry about quality!!" aspect on one side, because my major roadblock was my perfectionism in my early years (thanks to Mr.S., I finally knocked *that* down!), but on the other side the speed exhilaration just doesn't make up for the fact that I've had a far more lopsided product by the end. I think I would've discovered that I was going the wrong direction with The Bow (my 50,060 manuscript) a lot sooner if I hadn't been pumping for those 50,000/30.

Also, if I look at Quintessence, my writing style has been a lot of spurts and rests, and the story just won't sustain 50,000 words. I'm glad I'm not trying to make it do so!

Am I writing this to bash NaNoWriMo?

Heck no. I love the inspiration and the challenge it provides for so many people, and the way it draws writers together (seriously, we need this). And just because it doesn't work for me doesn't mean it won't work for anybody (I mean, obviously, just look at some of their stats).

Just letting you all know why I have no countdown and no exuberantly excited post on this admittedly awesome non-profit and slightly crazy program.

I'll be cheering all you Wrimos on, though! (See, I even know the lingo.)

Blessings,

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Worthy

Image Source
Quite awhile ago, a fellow blogger posted on her religious (she used the term spiritual) beliefs. We disagree majorly on several things, but one of them I ended up coming full circle on.

It was the idea of worth. She said we're all worthy of God's love.

My immediate reaction was: "no we're not."


I mean, after all, we're all hopeless sinners. We're not worth much of anything. Right?

The following Sunday, though, my home church actually brought up the topic of worth. The idea presented by one member is that although we aren't deserving of God's love, we are worth it. Why? Because worth is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it.

I should have remembered this, because one lesson in the OYAN textbook is about worth. It talks about how you establish the worth of the story goal by showing how much the hero is willing to pay for it. Not exactly money, but the sorrow and hardship the hero undergoes shows how much achieving the story goal is worth to him. This isn't only true of stories, but also of basic economics. Considering my readers are more the novelling type, I won't torture you with more on that (though I personally find the subject fascinating).

So, even though we aren't deserving of love, we're worth it. Because Someone died for us.

The idea of worth is something that has been rolling around in my head for quite a while, really. After all, before Quintessence came along, my project was Worthless. Since my book titles are generally negative versions of my themes, it should be pretty easy to figure out one of the main themes. All of the main characters are dealing with issues of worth in some arena or another, especially Yvette.

Then, of course, there's Robin.

The attempt to edit Forest of Lies has been plaguing me for ages now. Those who have been reading this blog from the beginning are over-aware of this, and even new readers probably are already aware of it as well. I thought I had rejuvenated it with the idea of writing it in third person, including both Marian's (the original point of view) and Robin's points of view, with the possibility of some passages from Much. Though I was quite pleased with the results of a couple of "practice" scenes I tried with Robin and Much, I'm much less pleased with Marian's third person transfer. Maybe she's just been first person too long. I'm losing her voice when I try to put it in third and add details (Forest of Lies in its current state rests a ton on dialogue). It could be that I'm just too close to the project to tell if it's coming off right (I've been considering posting it for critiques on the forum), but it just feels all wrong.

So I've been thinking about it. There are two reasons I keep coming back to Forest of Lies.

1) I love the story so much I want it to be edited to a more polished, more believable product.

2) I miss Robin.

Confession. I miss Robin. There's more of his story still pulling at my mind, and I'm a bit of a loss of how to tell it. I've played with the idea of doing Forest of Lies from his POV, but it always seems like that won't be enough "meat" on the outline's bones. Then these dual-perspective attempts keep grinding to a halt.

Why am I going into this?

Robin's story has a lot to do with worth. It's something of a joke to myself and people that "know" him well that Robin has an anti-ego. One person described him as selfless but still self-focused. Because of the way he grew up and things he did, he actually has an unhealthy low opinion of himself. He mixes what he deserves with what he's really worth.

Sound familiar?

Whatever is on my heart tends to come out in what I write. I still have a story of worth to tell, and I don't know if it's Robin's, or Yvette's, or Gervais's.

But I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually and probably accidentally, because that seems to be the way I roll.

I write to discover what I think.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Writers Must Write

Who knew, right?

Actually, there's a bit more substance to this then it might seem. Way back in June I posted on Nine Easy Ways to Kill Your Muse, which was mostly me just poking fun at procrastination. But as I've come in and stared at my dashboard every day since posting my Ren Fest pictures, I've displayed exactly the first way to kill the muse:

Only write when s/he comes. Muses are shy, spontaneous creatures. If you don’t ever force them to do anything, they will shrivel up like raisins.

My novel-writing muse has been doing just fine. As has my essay muse, actually. (I know, I know, sacrilege!!) But my blogging muse is looking quite like a raisin ever since I took that break to write essays. While I had ideas for posts overflowing after the months of August and September, I find myself grinding to a halt in October.

Granted, I also have school and more apps and a move across the country on my mind, and frankly writing Quintessence has rated higher.

My experience as a writer has been that it's very easy to stop writing. To avoid it, even. It's bizarre the number of silly things I can find to do (or just "not doing" anything) to avoid the laptop. It makes it even more ridiculous considering how much I love writing. Why does internet-cruising, for example, always look so much more attractive?

I do find, though, that if I am actively writing, I'm more likely to write. I don't get to write every day, but maybe every other day. If it's been a week, though, I'm more likely to try to avoid it.

I don't actually take much stock in muse. It's a ridiculous, vain, and unhelpful creature that only shows up about one tenth of the time you feel like you  need it, and then it doesn't ever provide as much inspiration as it promises. I've found I find way more inspiration in just writing actively, for however long the schedule allows.

This is a little more scattered than I usually like my posts to be, but hey, I'm giving the blog-post-writing part of my brain a bit of a shake. True, helpful inspiration comes from work, not from avoiding it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How to Make My Day at a Ren Fest

I'm not really a renaissance person. Medieval all the way. For one thing, the clothes are better.

But the closest I can get to a Medieval Fest (honestly, there should be such things!) is the Ren one, which has a tendency to be a mixture of Medieval, Renaissance, and Fantasy anyway, and not particularly interested in historical accuracy.

When looking up directions to the festival for my parents, I noticed that the site had a hat-with-feather-wearing and bow-wielding picture and I of course immediately thought ROBIN HOOD! followed by "but I would think that, and besides, he's three centuries out of his time. *sad Nai face*"

Imagine my delight when, although three centuries out of time, Robin Hood IS at the Ren Fest, AND...well. You'll see.

First, our narrator, the Sheriff of Notting--Canterbury.
And our hero, Robin Hood, in his stereotypical and unpractical hosen, which doesn't look any better for not calling it tights. (Note: my Robin is *way* too practical to wear such an ensemble, and wants you all to know this.) 
And there's a small problem of a bridge and two men. But it is unmannly to use a bow against a man armed only with a quarterstaff.
Remedied by a battle of staffs.
Robin would seem to be winning...
...but alas.
Now it is time for a sword fight! Wet Robin against Dry Little John. 
Short work made of that.
Our Noble outlaws (who were previously chucking each other into a pond) get a little tired of their narrator.
But then he slips on the wet wood and hurts his ankle!
...or not.
I don't think they're a fan of this.
Though he is.
Eventually, your luck runs out.
Heavens, this is getting long. You don't mind, do you? I didn't think so. (Heh, the benefit of cyberspace.) Later, we witness the capture of Little John!

And subsequently stalk the captors--the Duchess and Sheriff of Canterbury.
Then we ran into the Doctor. Brilliant!
Ahem.  But, anyway, Little John is to be executed!
And Marian too, if Robin Hood will not show his face! (Don't you think the Sheriff has a perfect sneer here? I think he has a perfect sneer.)
This would, perhaps, work beautifully. If your executioner isn't Robin Hood himself, that is.
But if he is, you're a bit out of luck.
Even more so if the King and Queen show up in the midst of your long speech about how you will continue to tax the poor until you are richer than he is, and...yes.
Justice is served, and off they go.
Ah, what a pleasant, predictable ending.
And beautiful evening light, to boot.

Plot: * * *
Characters: * * *
Golden Arrow: * * * *
"Fluently!": * * * *
Others: *
Overall: * * * *

Day: officially made.

Blessings!
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