readingredhead: (Muse)
I was realizing I very rarely share my original fiction with people via this journal anymore, but I really like this particular little story and feel like it's self-contained and not horrendously written...and also it wouldn't fit in a comment, so I had to link to it from somewhere. :)

Title: Untitled at the moment, because I can't come up with anything that isn't HORRENDOUS.
Rating: G
Summary: Beauty hasn't been entirely open about her life before she came to live in the castle. Post-Beauty and the Beast (sort of the traditional version, closer to Robin McKinley's Beauty than the Disney movie)
Notes: Written for [ profile] daria234 over at [ profile] comment_fic for the prompt, "before she became a fairy tale princess, she was a legendary warrior (that part got written out)"

After the transformation, but before the wedding, they talk. )
readingredhead: (Talk)
Since April 14, I have:

- discovered the Beast's library (seriously, it's part of the Hofburg Palace complex in Vienna - I am NOT joking)
- visited 3 royal palaces/castles in as many days (in Vienna and Berlin)
- saw the most awesome stained glass EVER (in St. Vitus's Cathedral, part of the Prague Castle complex)
- gone on a bar crawl in Prague and then taken a five-hour train to Berlin during the (admittedly mild) hangover
- climbed the Areopagus Hill in Athens and geeked out excessively regarding Milton and the Areopagitica
- made friends with strangers in 3 countries
- taken free walking tours in two cities (Prague and Berlin)
- used the public transportation systems of three different cities/countries
- crossed a national border by bus (from Austria to the Czech Republic)
- crossed a national border by train (from Czech Republic to Germany)
- been at the top of Prague's astronomical clock when it rang the hour at the very end of the day
- seen a ballet at the Vienna Opera House for 4 euro

Seriously. My life is AWESOME. In Athens now, taking a ferry to Santorini tomorrow.
readingredhead: (Default)
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Well, this corresponds nicely with the following meme I was going to steal from [ profile] gienahclarette. The rules are:

Day one • a song
Day two • a picture
Day three • a book
Day four • a site
Day five • a youtube clip
Day six • a quote
Day seven • whatever tickles your fancy

I'm not the kind of person who tends to follow individual artists; usually I just stumble across individual songs that set my mind on fire a little. I've only ever been to concerts for Jason Mraz and Vienna Teng, and I do like them both very much...but then there are the musicals. And I feel bad picking a single song out of context -- I feel like knowing the full ten helps. (Really you'd need to see the contents of my entire iPod to figure this out; I'm leaving out so many great songs from musicals and Disney movies that I love and adore, just to make sure all the right ones get in!) So, here goes!

10. "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates
--I first fell in love with this song thanks to the movie (500) Days of Summer. It's just an upbeat little ditty that always makes me want to sing (and dance) along whenever it's played. Over the summer it was the number one song on my workout playlist; I would start my runs every morning to the bouncy, upbeat beginning chords and smile because everything was right with the world.

9. "I Can Go the Distance" from Hercules
--The thing about this song is that I have often dreamed of a far-off place where a hero's welcome will be waiting for me. And on some days, when that welcome seems further off than others, I can listen to this song and take hope. And it also has the nagging ability to remind me that there are different kinds of welcome -- the shift in the final verse from finding the hero's welcome in a crowd of people who are impressed by fame and fortune to finding it in the arms of someone who loves you for who you are, hero or not, to that person you are the world.

8. "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
--Although the first Journey song that I ever listened to was "Running Alone" (because Nita listens to it in High Wizardry and I wanted to know what it was about it that made it a good enough song for Diane Duane to actually include in her novel), "Don't Stop Believing" (for all its popularity) strikes a stronger chord in me. It's about anguish and despair and making meaning out of the nothingness, whether there is any intrinsic meaning or not. There are days when I think about taking the midnight train "going anywhere," and on these days this song seems to speak even more loudly to me.

7. "Come on Get Higher" by Matt Nathanson
--When I first heard this song I didn't like it that much because everyone else liked it. Then someone had it as the leading track in a fanmix for a specific Young Wizards pairing (expect to see much more of Diane Duane's Young Wizards in this seven-day meme) and listening it in that context made me realize how beautiful it is. "Everything works in your arms"? So perfect. So true. It's a song for many moods, and I never feel like I can't listen to it.

6. "City Hall" by Vienna Teng
--I couldn't believe this song the first time I heard it. It tackles the issue of gay marriage in a singular, individual manner that makes you listen: it's not general, it's specific. Again, the piano is beautiful, understated, with this great cheeriness to it, of the smile-in-the-face-of-darkness variety, that seems so appropriate given the circumstances. "You've never seen a sight so fine as the love that's gonna shine at City Hall," and "If they take it away again some day, this beautiful thing won't change."

5. "Vienna" by Billy Joel
--Sometime during junior year of high school, when everything seemed to be all too much, Stephanie Johnson told me that I needed to listen to this song, and I'm still indebted to her for the suggestion. From its first command to "slow down, you crazy child" to the sad but true injunction to "dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true," this song provides a good breather to the person I am, a reminder that I "can't be everything [I] want to be before [my] time, although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight." It tells me that I need to slow down, to put things in perspective, but it also tells me that "only fools are satisfied," that the dreaming and the inability of ever achieving everything that I want to will hurt but will in the end be part of who I am.

4. "All That's Known" from Spring Awakening
--There are a lot of blockbuster songs in this musical, but this is the one that always gets me. Melchior's questing at the boundaries of the knowledge allowed to him by traditional institutions is something I've felt before: that, and the desire "to know the world's true yearning -- the hunger that a child feels for everything they're shown" -- to feel the world in such an immediate and unfiltered way.

3. "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast
--"Bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong" -- I honestly think that this song charts the course of all of the great romances that I have come to know and love. And it's part of the best Disney movie in all existence, based on the best fairytale in all existence, etc. I love Angela Lansbury but I don't like the version she sings; I prefer the duet between Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. Just the opening chords are enough to give me that feeling of warm-and-fuzzy happy.

2. "Harbor" by Vienna Teng
--I love Vienna Teng as a songwriter because she has lines like this: "Fear is the brightest of signs -- the shape of the boundary we leave behind." And she backs them up with gorgeous and emphatic piano. In this song it becomes dramatic, swelling, and yet still so personal. She takes a common metaphor -- the loved one as a safe harbor (for example, see "Wild Nights! Wild Nights!" by Emily Dickinson) -- and turns it into something unique and beautiful.

1."Brave Enough for Love" from Jane Eyre the Musical
(in a great irony, I can't listen to this track recording because I am in the UK and the service is US only -- but that means you all can listen!)
--Of course my love for Jane Eyre as a book contributes to my love of this song in the musical. Everything from the little interchanges between Jane and Rochester, taken almost verbatim from the book (R: "Am I hideous?" J: "Very, sir. (pause) You always were, you know."), to the final climactic sweep of the ending chorus, gives me hot and cold chills. And there's this idea that love is something that requires bravery -- that living in tandem with another life is difficult, a struggle -- and yet the most worthwhile struggle that mankind can engage in. The music is absolutely beautiful and backs this up wonderfully.
readingredhead: (Rain)
Because I should have been writing, but I wasn't.

What's the last thing you wrote?
...It's probably bad that I don't remember. I'm pretty sure that it was from The Printer's Daughter, my as-of-yet unfinished 2007 NaNovel.

Was it any good?
The fact that I can't remember it probably means that it wasn't. I've been planning two random stories that popped into my head, but I haven't really been writing on them (because I'm saving them up so I have options for NaNoWriMo 2008).

What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
When I was four, I wrote a story about the cat who lived next door. His name was Frasier. It was illustrated and took up an entire front side of a piece of lined paper (each letter took up three lines, and there was a space between lines--the whole thing was possibly five sentences long). I spelled the cat's name "Frasher" because that made sense at the time. I still have this piece of paper, tucked away somewhere.

But if this question is more like, "what's the first thing you ever wrote that belonged to the time period when you were serious about being a writer?" then I'd have to admit to having several horrible first drafts of the first book of what was (and still is) intended as a fantasy trilogy, set alternately on Earth and on an earthlike planet called Azuria. These date from the beginning of seventh grade. In fact, I still have the handwritten first copies of those, too (in pencil, from my seventh grade writing portfolio). It was the first time I tried to write something that required worldbuilding and complex characters and was intended (eventually) for publication.

Write poetry?
Most definitely. Not as much as I write prose, and probably not as well. My goal with writing poetry is different from my goal with writing prose. Poetry is always much more personal, less about telling a story and more about capturing a specific feeling or atmosphere. My poetry doesn't usually have conflict or characters; it's more about ideas.

Angsty poetry?
Oh yes. Actually, not until recently (because, until recently, I had very little to angst about). Wait, I take that back--somewhere there exists an angsty poem I wrote in eighth grade about the boy I had a crush on then, in which I lamented that he never noticed me as more than a friend.

Most fun character you ever wrote?
Ooh, this is hard. Because it's a very different from asking who my favorite characters I've written are. I can't think of characters that are particularly "fun" to write, although I like Rhinn from my planned trilogy of fantasy novels a lot. Also, Mr. Robinson, a government agent in a sci-fi short story I wrote, is lots of fun because he's fantastically spy-like and knows everything. Also also, Ferdinand (aka Andy) from "The Free Way," because he starts out being so isolated and proper and ends up ruining an expensive Armani suit by frolicking through the garden in the pouring rain.

This is different from "fun," but a character I'm always really thrilled to write is Aleska from a short story called "Fire and Ice," because her view on everything is so unique and she's at such a crossroads in her life, and I love being inside her head as her world shatters and she pulls together the strength to rebuild it (does that sound a little sadistic?). When I wrote her story, everything just seemed so inevitable about it, like the ending was pulling me forward from the moment I started.

Most annoying character you ever wrote?
Charles Macaulay from "Predators and Editors" (even though I don't like the story much at all). My main character's little sister (I think her name's Megan) in the planned fantasy trilogy. Not sure I can think of others specifically.

Best plot you ever wrote?
It's hard for me to like the plots of my novels-in-progress, because they're not done yet. Also, for instance, I really like the plot for The Printer's Daughter, but seeing as how it's a mix between "Beauty and the Beast" and Jane Eyre, I don't feel quite like it's my plot.

I like a lot of my short story plots, but specifically "Fire and Ice" and "The Free Way."

Coolest plot twist you ever wrote?
ZOMG the mysterious master of the manor house is actually a werewolf!

How often do you get writer's block?
Not sure I believe in writer's block, just writer's laziness. But I get that all the time.

How do you fix it?

Do you type or write by hand?
Both. Usually, I plan by hand and write early drafts by hand (occasionally), but most of my final stuff and all of my editing is done on computer.

Do you save everything you write?
Yes, to the extent where my mother has given up asking me to get rid of old notes scribbled on the back of whatever was at hand and just asks me to organize them.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
Very big yes. I'm still planning to someday write the fantasy trilogy that I began to plan out in fifth grade. Granted, I guess I've never abandoned it, but it's been on sabbatical for a long time. I have worked on it occasionally, in bouts of seriousness, but never gotten more than 40,000 words into the first book of the trilogy, with really minimal planning for what happens next. I do have a whole lot of worldbuilding for this place, though, and that more than anything tells me that I'll be coming back. I know too much about how things work on Azuria to abandon it. Also, Holly and Jasen, my main characters, were the first characters I really invested with my whole heart. I can't leave their story untold.

What's your favorite thing that you've written?
Favorite completed thing? "Fire and Ice," no question. Favorite incomplete thing? I have no idea. Since I've been working most seriously with The Printer's Daughter recently, it's close to the top of the list, at least for specific portions which I absolutely adore.

What's everyone else's favorite thing that you've written?
Depends on who you mean by "everyone else." Most people who've read "Fire and Ice" like it, but my dad likes the stories I've written for workshops at Berkeley best, since they're realistic. I don't actually think that "Flour Girl" or "Dead White Women" are all that bad--I surprised myself in writing them and liking them, and I suppose that other people probably like them too.

Do you ever show people your work?
Yes. Frankly, I wish that I had more readers to help me work on things!

Who's your favorite constructive critic?
Depends on the day. Sometimes, it's my dad, because he's not afraid to be honest with me and he holds me to very high standards. But at the same time, sometimes his criticism boils down to "Why did you insert a werewolf into what would have otherwise been a perfectly good real-life story?" and on those days I have to stay away from him, because it hurts still to know that that's what he thinks. The only other person who regularly reads and critiques my work is Rebecca, and she is also very good at keeping me honest. She laughs me out of bad ideas and talks me through the good ones.

Did you ever write a novel?
I don't think I can answer "yes" to this, because while I have begun no fewer than four separate novels, I have yet to complete a single one. I don't think I get to answer "yes" until I have a complete first draft. But I suppose it's not lying to answer "almost."

Have you ever written fantasy, sci-fi, or horror?
Yes, much to my father's shame and my delight.

Ever written romance or teen angsty drama?
The first real original fiction romance that I've written in an prolonged form is The Printer's Daughter, though most of my stories end up having romantic pairings that will work themselves out in the future, even if not during the timeline of the story.

However, long before this I was writing romance fanfiction, because while I am not an insane shipper, I am a shipper nonetheless, and one of the major draws of fanfiction is the ability to construct an alternate or extended saga in which the romance works out the way it's obviously supposed to.

What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Horror. I don't think I'm good enough to write a really smart thriller, and horror seems like a cheaper version of that genre (thriller but without the smarts) and I don't want to write that.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three is probably a safe number. The Printer's Daughter is the big one, but there's also two ideas kicking around in my head and jostling for the spot as my 2008 NaNovel. One's about a normal highschooler who finds out that her best friend's a wizard, and the other is an anti-Twilight manifesto presenting itself as a cross between Rent and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Do you want to write for a living?

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?
Erm...not really.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Probably? Nothing big enough that I remember.

Ever written something in script or play format?
Yes, for Script Frenzy.

What is your favorite word?
Eloquent, juxtaposition, coalesce

Do you ever write based on yourself?
Yes. I think all of my characters are facets of myself, or mirror images of me--but somehow or other, they start with a part of me, whether it's one that I am in tune with or one that I'm trying to run away from.

Which of your characters most resembles you?
Well, Holly and Jasen were written as splinters of my personality, very deliberately--Holly comes very close to self-insertion. But after her, Noelle is very close.

Where do you get ideas for your characters?
People I know. People I am, or could be, or desperately don't want to be, or wish I was. Anyone I feel some strong emotion for, be it pity or desire or camaraderie or pain.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Do you prefer happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
I'd rather read a happy ending, or at least a fulfilling one, as long as it fits with the tone of the work. If the happy ending still comes as a result of great sacrifice and pain, I'm okay with it. It's happy endings no one has to work for that piss me off. Same goes for tragic endings that just seem to happen for no particular reason or with no significance. I mostly write happy endings, or at least uplifting ones, but I really admire people who can write sad stories that I keep reading.

Have you ever written anything based on an artwork you've seen?
No, but I have written things based off of music I've listened to.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Nope. Even in the editing, I'm rather loose with grammar. I think it should be a reflection of the way a thing is being said or thought or intended, and we rarely think in proper grammar.

Ever write something entirely in chatspeak?

Does music help you write?
No, not really. It usually just distracts me. I only use wordless music when writing, and then only as a way of drowning out something even more distracting (such as people talking loudly).

Are people surprised and confused when they find out you write well?
I like how this question presupposes that people will find out that I write well. I don't think I've surprised anyone with my fiction yet, or if I have, they haven't told me about it. But I have had a string of teachers and professors rather gratifyingly surprised by the quality of my essays.

Quote something you've written.
I don't have access to very much on this computer, but here's a few lines from a freewrite that I am in love with. "He" is Jasen and "she" is Holly (from the long-planned fantasy trilogy):

After the end, they go on. He's still the best friend she's ever had, maybe the only one, and she wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. She knows it in her heart and in her soul. People around her talk about what they'd do for their friends, and she knows she'd do it all and more--she knows that she has done it. She's given her life for him, and though it hasn't been taken, that's only a matter of luck, a simple miracle.

Everyone says it's more than friendship. She brushes that aside as best she can. "What's more than friendship?" she asks the doubters. "What's purer, truer, longer?" Frienship is safe because everything else ends.

Her heart has two settings--"don't care" and "forever"--and it's obvious which one is his. But how she gives it to him is her choice, and so she decides anew every morning, every afternoon, and every night that they're forever friends, and nothing else. There is nothing else that they need.
readingredhead: (Default)
...I have finals. Specifically, I have finals on Monday and Tuesday. And they're not going to be ridiculously hard, but they're none of them going to be easy. I wish they could be easy for once.

I saw Beauty and the Beast with Rebecca Tuesday night and it was a good break, but not a long enough one. All of a sudden there's nothing for me to do with my days but study -- and I really need to study. Oh, goodness, how much I need to study.

I really want to go spend a night in the library. Like, NOW. But I'm afraid I probably won't really have enough stuff to do to spend the entire night there (the library's open 24 hours for finals week) and then I'll be in the Main Stacks at 2AM with no one to walk me back home.

You know, I think I might just do it anyway.
readingredhead: (Stars)
Beauty and the Beast (which I'm seeing in less than a week!)
Into the Woods (which I'm seeing in less than a month!)
Jane Eyre (which I would KILL to get tickets for -- seriously!)
Dirty Dancing (which is coming to the Pantages in a year!)
The Last Five Years (which I need to see again!)

Other than that, not much is happening in my life. Except for, you know, "finals" and "studying" and "papers" and "stress." I have a strong desire to spend a night in the library because it's open 24 hours during finals week.

Seriously though. I think I really need to see Jane Eyre the Musical right now. Why is it that my favorite musicals are the really obscure ones?
readingredhead: (Rain)
I don't care if you have five minutes or five hours -- answer these questions for me and I will love you forever.

By which I mean to say: I'm trying to figure out the dynamics of my story and I need a little help, possibly a few suggestions, so it would be awesome if I could get even a few seconds of your advice.

1. Why might a witch curse you to be a werewolf at the age of 15? Because of something you actively did wrong, or just because she didn't like you? How bad of a thing would you have to do?

2. If your son was cursed to be a werewolf, and you were the only other living person who knew about it, what would you do? How would you act around him?

3. What might make a 15-year-old boy hate his father?
readingredhead: (Red Pen)

So I have to write another exercise for Creative Writing, to be posted by today.  I don't like this one as much as I like last week's.  I think the problem is that these ideas always come to me as part of whatever story I'm currently obsessing over.  At the moment, that's my planned NaNo-novel, the beauty and the beast retelling.  So Noelle makes an appearance again, despite the fact that I should possibly think about starting some freewriting that might lead me to the short story that I'll eventually be required to write for this class anyway?

But enough of that.  Here's the prompt, and below it is my response.  And hopefully below that, in the comments, will be things I can do to make it better, or assurances that it's already better (I can write more--I haven't gone over the word limit yet--but it seemed to naturally stop where it did).

Imagine that some characters you have invented are going somewhere they've never been.  Describe what each one is carrying in his pocket, purse, briefcase, or backpack.  Let the objects be as odd and distinctive as you like.  What's he doing with that kumquat?  Why does she have a screwdriver?  Use the idems to explode stereotypes and individualize your characters.  Why is that atheist packing a Bible?  Should it be a Snickers bar or Cadbury chocolates?  A fountain pen or a golf pencil? A Zippo lighter or matches?  Write for ten minutes.

            The things she planned to carry were few.  A small loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese, a flask of water.  Some coins from her personal savings.  A spare set of clothes.  And a book, tucked into the last remaining space in her rucksack, the binding loose and the pages worn.

            The food and money and clothing Noelle would need to survive.  The book was the least necessary item.  It wouldn’t help her find room and board; it wouldn’t keep her warm at night.  But it was the only part of home she could take with her.

            She pulled the bound pages out of her bag, the once-stiff leather of the cover now soft with age and use.  Opening it up, she breathed in the musk of old paper, conjuring up images of the long years spent at her father’s press, helping him print books and leaflets, flyers and folios.  Noelle felt blocks of type, smooth and cold beneath her quick fingers, heard the stubborn creaks of the typecase drawers as she opened and closed them.   The smell of ink was everywhere—her clothes, her hair, even her skin.

            No one would care about the knowledge she carried.  Why should a young woman need to read?  At this age, those of her sex were good for maid’s work or marriage, nothing more, and in either position, knowledge would be a hindrance.  

            And yet it was the one thing that could never desert her, the one thing she could never leave behind.  Noelle might run out of food and money, her clothes might wear with age and hard travel, but she would always carry what she knew, and her pride in knowing it.

readingredhead: (Stars)

Well, it’s been a busy first few weeks of school, but at the end of week three of classes, I’ve got enough time to sit back, take a deep breath, and write an actual update.


I really enjoy all of my classes.  I’m taking classes in English, history, creative writing, tae kwon do (for fun!) and a seminar on language and technology.


I think my favorite teacher is my professor for English 45B (a survey course in English literature from roughly 1750-1900, I think).  Professor Goldsmith has managed to turn books I don’t usually like (most recently Gulliver’s Travels) into treasure troves of interesting facts, and the questions he poses in relation to the text always open up avenues of thought that I never would have considered on my own.  He’s also really personable—I went to his office hours today and there were seven or eight students sitting in his office discussing things with him in a really great atmosphere.  It was like a miniature discussion section with the teacher!  There were even a few kids sitting on the floor, because he didn’t have enough chairs.  I don’t like my discussion section leader for that class nearly as much as I like Goldsmith, but he’s so amazing that it makes up for it.  I’m especially looking forward to reading Pride and Prejudice in this class—I can’t wait to hear his interpretations of the text.


History 5 (European history from 1300-present) probably ties with Creative Writing for the second place class.  I don’t like Professor Laqueur as much as I like Goldsmith, but my Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) for my history discussion section is very nice, which makes up for it.  And Laqueur is starting to grow on me—he began his lecture about the Reformation by taking a printed copy of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and physically nailing them to the door of our lecture hall, saying, “It’s not Wittenberg church, but I suppose it will have to do.”  His first few lectures seemed scattered, but the most recent ones (on the Reformation) were much better organized.  He’s beginning to live up to the high standards I have for history lecturers—I blame Mr. Koger and Mr. Vargish for this.  Also thanks to them, most of the actual facts I’m learning are review, leaving me room to delve deeper into the interpretations and “big picture” ideas.


English 43A, an intro to writing short fiction, is going pretty well.  At first I was slightly worried by the teacher’s emphasis on writing “literary fiction,” because her first definition of lit fic specifically excluded science fiction and fantasy, my two favorite genres.  But she clarified that literary fiction is simply fiction which focuses on character rather than plot development, which I interpret to mean that I can write fantasy and sci-fi as long as the characters are believable.  I love writers’ workshops, so naturally this class is a bit of an oasis.  The other writers don’t seem to have as much to say yet, but I’m sure that as we get along with writing and workshopping our writing, we’ll grow into a more cohesive, interactive group.  I think there are only 15 or 16 kids in the class, as opposed to my English and History lectures of 200-300.


The freshman seminar I’m in is about the same size as the creative writing class, and I like it more than I thought I would.  The focus is on language and technology—how each one influences the other, what changes occur, and whether these are positive or negative developments.  Mostly we’re focusing on modern technology such as the internet, instant messaging, texting, etc. but we’re starting out with an overview of old technology.  In this vein, we spent yesterday’s class at the Bancroft Library, being taught by a friend of the professor’s about old printmaking technology.  The library owns an 1800s printing press, as well as the largest collection of antique documents in any public university (I think).  It turns out they even offer a class in printmaking through the history department.  Students spend half of class learning about the history of printing, and the other half learning how to use the press itself.  They’re graded on their ability to have 35 copies of the text for that semester properly printed, bound, and on the teacher’s desk by the end of the last day of class.  I’m really intrigued by the idea, and I’m considering taking the class next semester, assuming it’s being offered.  Also, I just learned that the father of my main character in my story for November is a printer, and therefore this information is very pertinent!


Tae kwon do is basically a part of my schedule because I thought I might need the exercise, but it’s still very interesting.  I’m certainly sore a lot of the time—I suppose this means I’m getting exercise!  Class meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings for an hour, but somehow that’s enough to leave me aching by the next day.  At the moment, my muscles are protesting against the sit-ups and push-ups I did as part of warm-up yesterday.


While classes and homework take up a lot of time, I’ve also been spending six or seven hours a week for the past two weeks interning for the Office of Letters and Light, the non-profit corporation responsible for putting on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  My job description is pretty broad—I do everything from getting together contact lists for mailings to giving opinions about t-shirt and poster design to moving boxes!  My actual job title is “editorial intern,” which means I’m responsible for looking over any press releases, online content, printed flyers, etc.  Also as of today I’ve been made the official Press Liaison, which entails directing journalists to the people in their area who they can interview about NaNoWriMo, providing factual information in the form of press releases, and distributing these press releases to papers who might be interested in writing about the event.  It’s an unpaid internship, but I don’t think there could be a better job.  It’s completely casual and the atmosphere is really friendly—everyone’s on a first name basis, and even though I’ve only been working there for two weeks, my opinion matters just as much as everyone else’s when it comes to basic decisions (such as the t-shirt and poster design, which, for the record, will look awesome).  If you’re dying to know more about NaNoWriMo, check out for information.  If you were interested in looking me up, my username is Reading Redhead.


I’m also getting involved in extracurriculars here at Berkeley, mostly through the scholarships I’ve received.  The Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship Association (RCSA) is really active, as is the Alumni Scholarship Association (ASA).  RCSA puts on a lot of programs for current scholars, while ASA does a lot of outreach events.  I’m planning to get involved with the Academic committee on RCSA, and I’m already involved with ASA’s Outreach and Alumni Relations committees.  I really like the portion of Outreach committee I’m getting to work on. It’s called “I Can at Cal” (usually abbreviated ICC), and it’s all about reaching out to underprivileged and minority students who might need extra help through the admissions process.  I wasn’t planning on being a part of this committee at all, but the director was so passionate about it that I wound up attending the first meeting, and I was hooked.


I’m participating in a non-scholarship club, too: the English Undergraduate Association (EUA).  Their meetings are really laid back and generally involve a lot of English majors sitting around in the English lounge and gossiping about books, teachers, classes, and everything else remotely affiliated with the English language.  I went to the first meeting last week and met some really great people.  It’ll be especially helpful when it comes to choosing classes for next semester, because all of the upperclassmen are ready to give advice about which teachers to avoid and which to take.


And don’t think I don’t have friends or a social life!  I’ve gotten to know a bunch of people in my classes and clubs, and though I might not be out partying every night, I also haven’t had to wake up regretting anything yet!  My roommate and I are getting along really well; she also writes, and I’ve talked her into doing NaNoWriMo with me this November.  I love being able to talk to her about writing and reading (we both have really similar tastes), but even just hanging out with Rebecca is fun.  The other night we watched “When Harry Met Sally” together on her computer!


In other words—I’m having a great time here.  Berkeley is most of the things I’d hoped it would be, and then some.  Adjusting hasn’t been too hard—I am eating, and doing my laundry on a regular basis, something that other kids here don’t seem to get the hang of.  I’ve got a lot of homework, especially because most of my classes require extensive reading and writing, but it’s not overwhelming yet.  There is just so much I’m looking forward to...

readingredhead: (Stars)
So I'm compiling odd playlists that will (hopefully) help me write my novel this November. I've decided upon my Beauty and the Beast retelling for sure, and I was listening to Beauty and the Beast music this morning and it made me feel so ready to write! So I'm putting together a playlist for each of my main characters: Noelle (the beauty) and Roman (the beast).

I'm going to be listening to my own music for a while and figuring out if there's anything that seems to fit. So far the only songs are from Beauty and the Beast, or Phantom of the Opera (which is really close to the same story, anyway). But there's a chance I'm missing out on some song that might be so appropriate but that I've never heard. 

Here's where you come in: if you've got any songs that you think might be relevant to the tale of Beauty and the Beast, be they lyrical or instrumental, modern or classical, heavy metal or new age -- tell me about them! If you actually have the tracks as files, e-mail them to me at (assuming your computer will be alright with e-mailing large files) because apparently students at Berkeley actually get caught for illegal filesharing and I don't want to pay money for something like mood music.

Don't worry if you're not sure whether the song will relate -- if you think it does, I'd love to hear it!  Even if the reference is minimal or requires a lot of thought, that's okay.  I know I mentioned it above, but it's totally okay to send music that doesn't have lyrics, because it's just as easy to get the mood from wordless pieces.

And don't feel obligated to help me, or go through all of your music searching for a song that would fit.  Just...if you run into one over the next few months, think of me and let me know!  Thanks a bunch!
readingredhead: (Default)

"Beauty and the Beast might be interpreted as a young woman's coming-of-age story. Content with a pure love for her father, she finds sexuality bestial, and so a man who feels sexual desire for her is a beast. Only when she is capable of regarding the desire of sexual relationship as human is she capable of achieving happiness."

This is exactly what I was trying to get across about Phantom of the Opera here.  This makes me oddly happy.

I probably should not be staying up this late, I'm really no good at it.  But it's fun...I'm trying to find an image I can use to design a Beauty and the Beast tote bag on CafePress.
readingredhead: (Stars)

I’m rather annoyingly bored.


One would think that something like this would be nigh on impossible, considering that I’m currently sitting in London, listening to cars going by and what I think is thunder out of the open window.  Maybe bored isn’t quite the right word.  But I feel like this time around, I haven’t been nearly as productive as before.  The last time I spent a week in London, I used it to produce a short story, one of my favorite ones I’ve written.  I wanted to use this time on vacation in order to start writing again, but I just haven’t been able to stick to a single idea that I want to develop.  Because there really isn’t a single idea that I want to write on right now.  I keep jumping from plot to plot with little motivation to make any headway with any of them.


And for some of the time here I’ve been reading good books and doing good things (like seeing a Shakespeare play in front row seats for under $10), and when I’m doing those things I’m not that bored.  But come on—it’s Friday the 13th and nothing interesting has happened yet.


And I’m going to be awake all hours of the night because I took a nap earlier today because I had nothing better to do than sleep!


(And I realize I’m ridiculous because I’m complaining while I’m in London.  I hate myself even more for that.)


I think the problem is that I need deadlines, and real incentive to meet them, in order to really go places with my writing.  I also occasionally need prompts, though in some cases deadlines spur me to continue or finish things that I’ve already thought up for other purposes.  That’s why I like NaNoWriMo, and writing for Julie.  I’m given a specific amount of time in which to do things, and a schedule to keep to (in the case of NaNo), and that’s comforting for me.  Which is interesting, because I originally started doing NaNo to move outside of my comfort zone (because my other discomfort comes from writing anything that’s not polished the first time around).


Another problem is that I see editing as work.  I don’t see it as nearly as joyful as the writing process.  What I think I need to realize is that rewriting is just as important as writing.  I think I need to remove the word “editing” from my vocabulary and replace it with “rewriting”—because it emphasizes the fact that it’s the writing that’s important.


For instance, I’ve been trying to edit—ahem, I mean, rewriteKes Running, the most recent November Novel, for some time.  I keep getting bored, or skipping ahead to the good parts.  I really need to take the time to notice which parts I’m skipping—because those are the ones that ought to be deleted from the final draft!  More than that...I feel that Kes’s story really needs to be finalized before I go to college.  It’s really a product of my pre-college anxieties, and I think it would sound false if I finished it at a much later date.  Hell, it’s about a girl who runs away because she doesn’t get into the college she wants to go to!  I don’t think I can honestly write that as a college student and make it sincere.  I don’t know for how long I’ll be able to draw upon those reserves of dejection that the initial rejections made me feel.  I should tap them while I still can.


(And yes, I realize I’m manipulating my own emotions in order to write.  It’s really the way to make it sound the most real.  And it doesn’t hurt all that much any more...)


Another issue I have with writing that I really need to fix is my problem with plotting.  Simply said, I cannot plot out an entire story before I start writing it.  Once I start writing it, I get bored with it because I haven’t plotted it.  See the dilemma?  Really, I ought to just be harsher with myself about plotting things out, but it seems like every time I try that, something comes up that I just have to write, and the voice in the back of my head assures me that I’ll be able to fit it into my plot outline at a later date...  I honestly think I have about six unfinished plot outlines for Azuria (because before I ever had time to finish one outline, I re-thought the story and so that plot actually changed).


Then there’s the problem that, while I do write for fun (or, more accurately, while I do enjoy writing), I also want to be published, and it’s really hard to stop thinking about that when I’m writing.  So I get into arguments with myself about whether or not something is “publishable.”  Kes Running would certainly be publishable by DAW (my publisher of choice) by the time I finish with it.  But Azuria, which has been my pet project before I even knew the girl who named Kes, was started when I was much younger and therefore the characters are much younger.  In fact, it was intended as young adult fiction.  DAW doesn’t publish young adult fiction.  Now, it wouldn’t be hard for me to remake Azuria so that the characters were a bit older and things were a bit more, well, adult.  But part of me wonders if I should have to do this.  Part of me wonders how true I ought to stay to my initial vision of the story.


And then there are the random short stories I write that don’t seem to fit anywhere.  They’re not easy to classify.  The ones that I’ve written for Julie have managed to fit into their required categories, but the stuff I write for fun frequently defies categorization.  The closest term I’ve coined is speculative fiction, but even that doesn’t cover everything—one of my favorite stories is about a Parisian college student who pays tuition by working late nights in a bar!  And the political romance I want to write certainly doesn’t fit the mold most people place me in. 


(I hate that, by the way.  I hate how, when my dad first read the aforementioned story involving the Parisian college student, he was so surprised that I had written it and obviously enjoyed it much more than anything I’ve written since.  I hate how mom assumes that I only write and read sci-fi.  I hate how Corinne snubs me for not reading “literature.”  I think the load of it is bullshit.)


And (I notice I start a lot of my sentences with “and”) the one story I might possibly want to plot out thoroughly before I write is starting to seem not so publishable.  Really, on the surface it seems very stereotypical, in the way a bad romance novel is stereotypical.  It’s really easy for me to describe it, but the description I most frequently give makes me realize just how shitty it sounds.  And I know that when I write it, it’ll be ten times better, but I can’t help but thinking that somewhere along the line, an editor will read it and say, “What the crap?  It’s just Jane Eyre with werewolves!”


At which point the only thing I’d be able to do to correct the editor would be to mention that there’s only one werewolf, and there’s a bit of Pride and Prejudice, too, if you look for it.


See what I mean about it sounding shitty?


The story behind this story actually starts around sophomore year, wherein a few great things happened in quick succession: I read Cyrano de Bergerac, Austin got me into musical theater, and the movie of “The Phantom of the Opera” came out.  The result of this was an epiphany of sorts that Cyrano, Phantom, and the other stories like them were all just twisted versions of the old tale of Beauty and the Beast (there was also an epiphany relating to the fact that all of these stories were of French origin, but we’ll get back to that later).  Project Gutenberg being the godsend that it is, it was only a short while before I had the e-text of the original Beauty and the Beast in front of me and had read that, too.  I began to rather idolize that particular plot—the idea that a person could see past the surface and grow to love another for something beyond appearances, the idea that a relationship of sorts between two people could develop the better qualities in both parties.  Add to this that Belle was always my favorite Disney Princess (because she was the only brunette and because she liked books almost as much as me) and it’s understandable that I became rather obsessed.  What was my response to such an obsession?  A rather logical one, actually.  I decided I would attempt my own rewriting of the classic tale.  But how, I wondered, would I keep it interesting?


The answer came to me in a single word while sitting in MUN during junior year.  And the word was werewolves.


Now, I’m not the type who’s particularly fond of this specific portion of supernatural lore.  Not that I have anything against werewolves—in fact, one of my favorite fictional characters happens to be one—but I don’t really have anything for them, either.  Which was why, initially, the idea was an odd one.  Surely, werewolves were something that other people wrote about.  But the idea was just such a good one.  It allowed my “beast” character to actually be a beast, but only for a small portion of each month, so that his human side could also be explored.  Hell, he could even hide his lycanthropy from my “beauty” for a while, if he wanted.  Let people think he just had attitude problems.  And the fact that he could hide his condition meant that I could make the story seem rather realistic from the start.  When I first thought up this idea, I cackled to myself at the look on my readers’ faces when they realized what I’d done.


Now, I’m starting to wonder if this is the best of ideas, and I’m wondering this for the stupidest of reasons, and that stupidest of reasons is: how do you write a back cover synopsis for a story that essentially hinges upon something that doesn’t get revealed until halfway through?  It’s no fun if the readers know that he’s a werewolf from the start, but if there’s nothing special about him, who’s going to read it to begin with?


Stupid reason, I know.  But nonetheless, I continue to stumble over it.  (You know what I want for Christmas?  A way to talk myself out of stupid reasons for not writing.  Also, the X-Files movie on DVD, but that’s for another day.)


And it bugs me, because I actually like the idea for the story.  I actually have a plot for it (almost) because I’m tentatively stitching together one that follows the typical hero’s journey.  Once I’ve laid that down as a skeleton, I plan on fleshing it out with more of the details that can add pacing to things...and the strangest part is, for possibly the first time, I’m actually looking forward to this part.  I usually hate planning.  But part of me thinks that, this time around, the planning could be fun.  At the very least, it could be interesting.  One of the things I like about this story is that it’s giving me a chance to pay homage to some of my favorite stories.  Beauty and the Beast, obviously, but also Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, from which I’ll be pulling ideas about the interactions between my two principal characters.  Stop for a second and picture someone who combines the moodiness and quick temper of Mr. Rochester with the pride and arrogance of Mr. Darcy.  Then, imagine him hiring as a servant someone with Jane’s quiet determination and Elizabeth’s curiosity.  Throw in the fact that everyone in the village is sure the man is cursed, so he’s had barely any human contact...and I think things start to get rather interesting.


Really, I just ought to write this.  I ought to stop worrying and write this.  Or at least, I ought to stop worrying and plan this.


But at least writing about it incessantly has helped me to think it out a bit more.  Usually when I complain about myself, I’m not smart enough to get it in writing.  Lucky for me, this time I managed to.  Hopefully it helps me out in the future.


Until then, I think I’m going to read, because although my fingers are warmed up by the typing, my lap is overheated by the laptop’s fan and I’m in a good book anyway, so there.

readingredhead: (Talk)
I've been doing a lot of procrastinating lately. For instance, it's 5:15 right now and I haven't touched my homework, despite the fact that I've got a few things to do -- Spanish, Calculus -- and an MUN conference to prepare for.

The thing is, I can't get myself worked up over doing work. It's a bad thing, because it's not going to get any better as the school year progresses, but I'm just in a bit of a slump right now. I hope it's just because I'm sick, and that it's not going to become a habit, but I've got my worries.

I'm not going to stop doing things -- I don't think that would be possible. I'm not going to stop doing my work and getting it done. But I'm also going to not be completely productive for a while, I fear.

I've been struck lately with an odd desire to write fanfiction. No particular fandom, no actual plot -- just the drive to have lots of people I don't know in the real world review my story and reaffirm how important I am. The instant gratification of reviews is why I stopped writing fanfiction in the first place, and I'm not about to return to it, but this is the first time in a long time that I've wanted to.

Slightly random though this is, I'm kind of annoyed with having to switch groups in humanities. I really liked the old Group A -- we had some decent people, and we all worked really well together. I understand the groups needed to be split up a bit, but I don't see why it was done so drastically. Is there supposed to be something wrong with letting us hang out with the people we like? Reminds me of Anthem: Transgression of Preference?

Lots of things have been reminding me of books lately. For instance, Beauty and the Beast somehow has been connected in my mind to Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice? And werewolves? This is what happens when you decide to do a new take on an old story -- time pollution kicks in and all of the thoughs and theories that weren't around when the story was first told clamor to be included in the new version.

I've got an MUN conference this weekend -- well, Friday and Saturday. On the one hand, I don't want to go, but on the other I'll be glad to attend. It's Huntington Beach MUN, which isn't overly challenging.

I'm also considering whether I want to take part in tomorrow's Humanities talent show. If anything, I'd just recite a poem -- one of Shakespeare's sonnets, probably? I've become rather partial to "Let me not to the marriage of true minds," because I love the sentiments expressed. Oh Will, why so good? You make the rest of us look like tongueless fools.

Maybe I've spent enough time procrastinating now. Maybe I'll go do something worthwhile now. Or maybe I'll go memorize a sonnet. Either way, I'll go do something.
readingredhead: (Default)
I am a bum who does nothing on time and frequently does nothing with the time I'm given.

But I'm thinking of books, the important ones, and that's something at least.

So You Want to Be A Wizard
Deep Wizardry
High Wizardry
The Wizard's Dilemma
Wizard's Holiday
Wizards at War
Jane Eyre
Pride and Prejudice
Fahrenheit 451
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The White Dragon
All the Weyrs of Pern
Grave Peril
Proven Guilty
A Thousand Words for Stranger
To Trade the Stars
Beholder's Eye
The Wings of Merlin
The Golden Compass

Now there's an odd meditation. But I've got chemistry to study for.


readingredhead: (Default)

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