readingredhead: (Adventure)
I know it's early to be making this list but if it doesn't get made now it may never actually happen!
  1. Find a letterpress studio where I can take a few classes, get back in the hang of working with type, and then use their presses/studio space outside of class time, all for a reasonable fee.
  2. Find some community/forum/real-life workshop where I can learn how to better use my snazzy new digital camera.
  3. Follow through on E's plan for a literary theory reading group/ranting group, tentatively titled "What the Fuck Does That Mean?"
  4. Make a list of the literary/critical texts I ought to have read and put together a plan/schedule for reading at least some of them before next fall. (Primary objectives: all of Jane Austen, the criticism in my "To Read" library on EndNote, recent journal issues in my field, eighteenth-century novels, Aurora Leigh.)
  5. Re-read Paradise Lost and a good chunk of the syllabus from my upper div romanticism class, alongside my lecture notes from Joanna's and Celeste's classes on said topics (create a schedule, perhaps post thoughts about it on a weekly basis?)
  6. Actually continue writing/revising The Printer's Tale. I'd say that a new draft might be a nice goal, but in all honesty I'll probably settle for 
  7. *cough* Actually write all of that Dr. Barlow-centric fanfic that's been stewing in my brain. And maybe also that strange Dairine/Roshaun hybrid fic/mix.
  8. Work on improving my French. Make a point of reading in French on a regular basis (whether it's news articles, eighteenth-century literary criticism, or just for homework).
  9. Train for the Tough Mudder in October! Work out on a daily basis and keep a record of it (probably in one of the many notebooks I have lying around).
  10. Read books for fun!
More to come as I remember them.
readingredhead: (Muse)
I had two opportunities to talk about writing today with writers, which is really weird and unusual and lovely and should happen more often. Both of these too-brief conversations were held before the beginning of a class, and inevitably there were other (non-writer) people listening. In my Clarissa seminar the guy who sits across from me noticed my NaNoWriMo travel mug, asked about my history with NaNo, and was sincerely impressed that I'd managed it for seven years (this last year was his first). Of course my seminar leader/advisor/all around awesome person Jenny is a novelist in addition to being a professor and she started talking about writing too and it was awesome.

I was thinking about NaNo so when I somehow got onto the subject of writing fiction with a girl in the MA before my next class, I ended up mentioning a couple of my novels-in-progress. I gave her the flippant/irreverent/shorthand description of The Printer's Tale and she sounded interested, but one of the other girls in my cohort, who was sitting in front of us, turned around and made a disparaging comment that implied I was following up on the popularity of Twilight, of all things, simply because my less-than-one-sentence synopsis mentioned werewolves.

And the thing is, yes, my flippant, irreverent, shorthand description of the novels I write will always leave something out. And if you're not already into the few things that show up in the shorthand, that kind of description isn't going to interest you. But if you are? Then I can convince you in less than a sentence...or at least get a laugh out of you. In fact hopefully that's exactly what these will do!

Lunar Reflections (2005): teenage angst on the moon

Kes Running (2006): unpremeditated gap year in space

The Printer's Daughter (2007): Beauty and the Beast meets Jane Eyre with werewolves

Gil and Leah (2008): feminist fantasy cross-dressing farce

The Inconvenient Dreamer (2009): woman travels to alternate universes in her dreams

Beneath Strange Stars (2010): gender-swapped Pride and Prejudice in space

Chasing Ghosts (2011): Possession meets Neverwhere with cross-dressing

The moral of the story: I need to find more fantasy/sci-fi writers (or at least writers who are sympathetic to these genres even if not writers of them) with whom to talk about my novels.
readingredhead: (Sketch)
Today so far: I woke up, had breakfast (coffee and croissant) at the famous and delicious cafe a block and a half from my apartment while reading a book written for teenagers, bought new ink cartridges for the Italian fountain pen I bought ages ago but somehow forgot about until I was home over break, proceeded to clean out said pen so that it can be used for planning the epic story of love and adventure and werewolves that is my forever novel, and planned out my outfit for later tonight when I will be going to happy hour at a nerd bar in Brooklyn that has a TARDIS for its bathroom (it's actually bigger on the inside). 

Yeah, life's pretty awesome sometimes. And I haven't even had lunch yet.
readingredhead: (Adventure)

I'm sitting in an airport Starbucks, looking like a hipster with my coffee and my iPad and my plaid flannel shirt, and pondering the fact that in a couple of hours I'll be getting on a plane and I'll wake up in New York City.

The summer went by fast, except for the parts that went by slow. I did a lot with my time -- almost as much as I hoped, perhaps more than I expected. I wrote and rewrote more of my novel-in-progress, The Printer's Daughter. I discovered exactly how exhausting it is to work something like full time on a novel project, especially in the revision stage, and a lot of the work I did was reworking and making note of the things I need to add or change, but in the end I know this is all valuable information, and I am dedicated to the process...I just know that it may take a while, and I accept that. It surprises me that my not-entirely-conscious realization that pursuing a career as a professor is more important to me than pursuing a career as a writer has actually made me more keen on (eventually) getting this novel written.

In addition to working on original fiction, I somehow got a weird fanfiction boost and wrote more fic over the past summer than I think I have in the past few years. I also made a semi-conscious decision not to be ashamed about fandom. I'm not even one of the crazier elements of it, and it seems silly to be ashamed of something that makes me happy. I've never been deeply enough involved in fandom for it to frustrate or anger me; I've never been caught up in fandom wank. It probably helps that my main fandom generally believes that being angry with people speeds up the heat death of the universe! (Young Wizards fandom, I love you, never change.)

I didn't read all the books on my list -- I didn't even read a significant portion of them -- but I did read a lot, and a lot of what I read was good. I especially loved stuff by Holly Black and Scott Westerfeld, suggesting that a) Twilight notwithstanding, YA is far from dead and b) I should probably read it more least, the bits of it that Rebecca recommends!

Surprisingly (for me at least), I really got into yoga. My younger sister had taken a few classes and encouraged me to go with her, and I while it certainly isn't a replacement for other more intense forms of exercise, I really appreciate the way it focuses on linking your mind and your movements, so that you're more thoughtful about your workout. Even doing relatively intense yoga leaves me feeling refreshed and relaxed when I'm done, and i think some of the things I learned on the mat have an important place in the rest of my life. Yoga is about letting go of whatever isn't serving you, about honoring your body and its limitations. It's about coming from where you are, instead of where you wish you were or where you think you ought to be. When I get to New York, finding a place to do yoga is high on my list of things to do -- right after I get my New York Public Library card!

I set out with the intention of feeling an academic detox this summer, and it worked. I've done a lot of being lazy and I'm ready for what's next.

I oscillate between being overcome with the amount of work I know I have to do in the next weeks -- move into apartment, buy supplies, sign lease, etc. -- and being delighted by the idea of finally taking that next step in my career/life plan. For a girl who still believes that the world is so big and she is so small, I'm surprisingly ready to have a place to call "home" for the next six years. I don't know if anywhere other than New York would make me feel this way. I only hope that I'm right about the city that so many people dream about...especially since, until about March, it wasn't a place that I specifically dreamed about. But I feel, right now, like these hopes will be met and exceeded. I feel like I'm going somewhere new, but also somewhere that will one day be home.

So, while I'd rather be traveling by TARDIS, I suppose I'll make do with a plane, as long as it gets me there.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

readingredhead: (Muse)
The first time I remember focusing very specifically on descriptions of emotions and emotional states was for a short story called "Dead White Women" that I wrote for Vikram's fiction class freshman year (dear god that feels like SO long ago! when did I get old?!). I got a lot of feedback on the first draft that I was "telling" what characters (specifically the main character) felt rather than showing it. I made a point to pay more attention to what my emotions physically felt like after that -- the way my skull seems to tighten when I'm stressed, the queasiness of anxious fear, the limb-tingling of a sudden surprise revealed.

The Printer's Tale starts off with a lot of emotionally-trying moments for Noelle, and they really just keep coming. (Which, to be fair, is sort of what fiction IS. We don't want to read about people who are perfectly happy with their lives, and conflict demands some kind of internal uneasiness.) But I'm starting to feel like my descriptions of her emotions are incredibly repetitive. I have this tendency to describe every emotion as originating in the stomach or the gut -- a cursory search of the first three chapters reveals such phrases as "she felt her stomach plummet" and "a crawling uneasiness in the pit of her stomach" -- and especially taken out of context, these phrases seem so utterly ridiculous.

I feel like when describing emotions there are so many stock phrases to fall back on, which are not-quite-right to describe the emotion I'm going for but are closer than anything I could think up on my own, and so I sort of just go with them. But I'm wondering a couple of things now.

1) When you read descriptions of emotion that use these kind of shorthand phrases -- plummeting stomachs, nausea, stomach muscles tightening, etc. -- are they actually "showing" you something, or have they slipped back into the realm of "telling" shorthand?

2) How do you genuinely express the physical components of emotion in writing, and how do you keep those phrases from becoming stale? I might have one or two original-ish phrases but I feel like the early parts of this story involve a lot of the same character feeling different degrees of the same emotion, so it's a little difficult to keep it fresh...

So, readers and writers amongst you: I am open to all thoughts you may have on this topic!
readingredhead: (Write)
The more appropriate title for this entry would be "blah blah blah I DON'T WANT TO WRITE blah blah blah."

I'm realizing (again? still?) how difficult it is to write, and to re-write. I'm working my way slowly through The Printer's Tale (formerly The Printer's Daughter, NaNo 2007), and although I have a complete knowledge of what "happens" in the story -- the A to Z of the plot -- this does not make writing easy! I have a finished first draft of this novel to guide me, and I still feel like I'm floundering.

Sometimes, I appreciate the distance between what I intend to write and what I actually produce -- sometimes, the best interchanges between characters are those I did not plan. But other times I'm just frustrated because I feel like the outline is missing something, but I'm not sure what. Or I feel like I'm doing a write-by-numbers sort of thing, so even though I know that I NEED a particular scene in a particular place, I don't want to have to write it.

Part of the problem likely also lies in the fact that re-writing contains a lot less of the "fun stuff" -- the let's-just-write-this-down-and-see-how-it-goes bit that draws me to writing in the first place -- and a lot more attention to micro-level issues. How does scene A relate to scene B? What things do I need to set up for the reader in Chapter 1 vs. what can I leave for Chapter 2? What is this "pacing" thing of which you speak? What do you mean this fabulous conversation is not actually necessary to either plot OR exposition?

Of course, there is only one solution -- keep writing! -- but sometimes this is not comforting, and so I take a small break and complain.
readingredhead: (Write)
Getting into the writing mood sometimes requires strange things from me. Partly it requires stormy, chilly, or otherwise overcast days (I am rubbish at writing when it is sunny, or warm); generally it also requires a particular beverage (usually a mug of tea, although iced coffee can be substituted if it is one of those strange days which is warm and/or sunny and on which I have still found myself capable of writing). If it weren't for my pocketbook (and the fact that I have yet to find a cafe in America that can brew me a decent cup of tea), I would write solely in cafes; as it is, I resort to them and their iced coffees more frequently in the summer months. Winter writing can, if necessary, be done at home (though of course it can also be done in the company of crazed Wrimos at the local cafe, preferably with Viking helmets and too much caffeine).

And then there are days like today, where writing somehow demands that I get dressed up for it. I'm not even leaving the house, but I've got mostly new clothes on, I've done up my hair (more or less), I know which shoes go with the outfit should I decide to wear them. Partly this is because I cannot think in pajamas. Partly it is because creating some kind of routine spectacle around the writing process somehow makes me more likely to knuckle down and write. This is probably very silly, and I should try to wean myself off of it -- and yet, for what it is, it works remarkably well.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go put on some lace-up brown leather boots and start writing.

WIP Meme

Feb. 26th, 2010 04:33 pm
readingredhead: (Library)
Post a sentence (or two) from as many of your WIPs as you want, with no explanation attached. Meme from [ profile] araine. Perhaps as expected, very few of these are actually one sentence.


“How did you two deal with going off to college?” Nita asked.

Tom and Carl shared a look that was one part nostalgia and one part “I told you this question was going to come up and that when it did, I didn’t want to be the one to answer it.”


“So let me get this straight,” he said. “You,” he pointed a finger at her, “want me,” he poked a finger into his own chest, “to help you learn how to act like a man. You want me to give you lessons in being a man, and then you want me to lend you a few sets of clothes and keep the secret that this mysterious man who’s just become engaged to your best friend is, in fact, you--dressed as a man, of course.”

Gil nodded. “Yeah. That pretty much explains it.” She paused for a second, then added, “And the sooner the better. We’d like to announce our engagement next week.”


Much has been said on the subject of universal truths, to the extent that a modern author, upon attempting to annex another aphorism to this collection, must be circumspect to say the least; but to the compendium of factual evidence thus sanctioned, I find it profitable to append one truth more: that is, that a man who does not know what it is like to be laughed at, cannot possibly have a wife, or cannot have had one for long.


For a moment, it’s all that Carl can do to look at Tom, wide-eyed and wondering which Power to thank. For safety’s sake, he decides to thank all of them. “You’re sure?” he asks breathlessly, in a voice so faint he can barely hear it.

“Carl,” Tom says, and there’s something new in his voice: impatience, and need. “Do you really think I’d have bothered with asking if I wasn’t?” He reaches up a hand to Carl’s face and traces the curve of his jaw with tentative fingers, his eyes never leaving Carl’s, not for a second.


It’s twilight when I open my eyes and find myself in the cemetery.


Everyone knew the witch’s house by its roses.


“Beautiful,” she heard him say, barely above a whisper. “Don’t you think?”

“Dangerous,” she returned.

“The fire warms as well as burns, you know.”

“It’s all a function of how close one gets,” she replied. “The closer you are, the greater the danger.”

“But the greater the warmth.”

“I don’t think I’m cold enough yet that I’d be willing to endure the pain of the burn for those few moments’ heat.”

Suddenly, he was looking right at her, his eyes cool and piercing. “Are you sure?”


Gah, going back through and looking for these quotes makes me really want to write the stories they belong to! Aaaaand now I have to stop procrastinating and actually get some work done. Less fun, but more productive than the alternative!
readingredhead: (Burning)
Thanks to some conversations with Katherine Fosso and Natalie, the Satan story is starting to iron itself out. It probably won't be under 15 pages like it's supposed to be for this class, but seeing as how other people have ignored that requirement and I haven't yet, I think I'm okay as long as I don't go over 20. Granted, that might be a problem, but we'll see. I'm working on this a week in advance for a reason -- the critical idea-mass has finally been reached in my mind, and I'm making things work.

Also, I'm trying something that I've never done before, switching between two timelines rather consistently, and I'm kind of excited for how that might work out. I usually write very linear stories so playing with time is something new for me, but something I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm just happy that I finally found a story that lends itself to some temporal fun.

In other news, yesterday marked the first day of Script Frenzy, the Office of Letters and Light's other creative writing adventure, in which participants write 100 pages worth of a script for a movie, TV show(s), radio play(s), stage play, or comic book. I am engaged in writing an adaptation of my first completed NaNoWriMo novel, The Printer's Tale (formerly called The Printer's Daughter), WITHOUT actually looking back at the text of the novel I wrote! I'm looking forward to seeing what my dialogue looks like in this new version, how it changes, and to see if I can get any really good lines out of it or new insights into character or scenes.

Also for Script Frenzy, Corinne wants me to write her a telenovela -- a Spanish soap opera -- for her friends to film. They've been watching awesome telenovelas in their Spanish class and want to make their own for extra credit. She hasn't given me details yet, but it will likely include long-lost twins, sordid love affairs, people awaking from comas, death threats, people accused of crimes they did not commit, a court scene, a deathbed scene, family drama, and much more! It will be an amusing respite from my more serious projects.

On another note, I've been officially accepted to study abroad at Queen Mary University of London! I am so ridiculously excited and looking forward to this grand adventure. It's funny, the only real work that I want to be doing now is prepping for this! Paperwork? Busywork? Appointments? I don't care, it's all for London!

Finally: today is sunny and not as warm as yesterday, but I'm wearing a new shirt and some old boots and I feel good. It's strange how sometimes the right outfit can just make a day.


Jan. 1st, 2009 11:05 pm
readingredhead: (Light)
1. Finish a second draft of The Printer’s Daughter (and find a better title!)
2. Finish Gil and Leah (NaNoWriMo 2008)
3. Continue the rejection collection (i.e. send more manuscripts to publishers)
4. Visit two new countries
5. Visit five new cities
6. Learn from a big mistake
7. Do my part in the fight for marriage equality
8. Hand-print a book
9. Participate in an active non-curricular writers’ group
10. Work for a publishing company
11. Dance in the streets
12. Create more beauty
13. Do something big without asking for permission or directions
readingredhead: (Stars)
My grandmother just informed me that she doesn't like to read fantasy and would prefer a romance where the girl ends up with the rich man and they live happily ever after any day.

I'm not sure if she gets the ridiculousness of this statement.

I also find it amusing because the story I'm working on right now is "fantasy" in both of these aspects -- it contains elements of the fantastic, the supernatural, the unexpected, but at its heart, it's really a romance in which the girl will end up with the rich man in the end and live happily ever after. Of course it's more original than that sounds but the concepts are the same.

Lately I've been thinking about the differences between a love story and a romance. It seems to me that everyone who falls in love gets to have a love story. But a romance is something bigger and more complicated. A romance is when the obstacles to love are so great, and yet are eventually overcome by a passion so strong, that the story is relevant to everyone and not just the lovers.

I've also often thought about how the most interesting part of a love story, to other people, is the "getting together" part. The "meet-cute," to steal a term from romantic comedy screenwriters. And usually that only takes up a couple of sentences. Once two people are securely in love, they're the only ones to whom their being in love is really, truly interesting. We don't want to read about a relationship unless it's undergoing problems, changes, or upheavals. But we don't want to live relationships during these uneasy stages. Because while reading, we don't mind the unease of others, but our own is another story altogether.

...aaaaaand this is just me not writing my novel, so I'm going to stop now. Only I'm first going to mention that I love it so much that it's hard for me not to go back and re-read stuff I've written, because it's so good. Now I don't say this to be immodest because it's not really that good at all, but it's the first time I've felt good about writing a longer piece while still writing it. Usually I have to have discarded it and picked it up months/years later before I like it. This one, I still like, and I have a premonition I will like it even after I finish!
readingredhead: (Light)
What I really need right now is way more time than I have.

Between today and the end of November, I HAVE to:

1. Study for my bio midterm (by Tuesday)
2. Finish my novel--all 25,000 remaining words of it (by Friday)
3. Spend ridiculous amounts of time with family

Between today and the end of November, I OUGHT to:

1. Finish the bio paper (4 pages)
2. Finish the English paper (6 pages)
3. Finish the biblical poetry paper (15 pages!)

Between today and the end of November, I WILL:

1. Not sleep.
2. Not procrastinate.
3. Not have nearly as much fun at home as I ought to.

Where's Christmas when you need it?


In other, slightly more positive and life-affirming news... So my computer was out for repairs -- AGAIN -- but I got an e-mail yesterday saying it had been delivered back fixed, so I went to the mail room to pick it up. When I looked in my mailbox, I found the package slip I was expecting, but also a letter with the return address as the Berkeley English Department. I figured it might have something to do with the fact that I declared the major at the beginning of the school year; I thought that maybe they were sending me some documentation or something.

Instead, I open it up to see this:

Dear Candace,

I am happy to inform you that you are a recipient of the English Department's James Phelan Scholarship for the academic year 2008-09. This scholarship is awarded to outstanding English majors selected by our faculty who consider your work in the English Department to be of an exceptionally high caliber.

The scholarship's only $700 but I could care less about the money -- it's the fact that this award, decided upon by the English Department faculty, went to me, a sophomore who just declared the major in August! My professors, the ones that I respect and admire, think I'm worth something. It's a really, really nice feeling.


Finally, because it looked so cool when Steph did it, here's my novel, Wordle-style:

Gil and Leah 55k Wordle

And for last year's NaNo-novel, still in progress:

The Printer's Daughter 180k Wordle
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)
Today, I was so disinterested in doing anything that I just lay down on my couch and fell asleep listening to the audiobook of Small Favor (read by James Marsters!). I hate that I have just royally wasted a day off.

Well, not entirely. I wrote a very, very tiny bit and have developed a sort of magic that revolves entirely around knitting. But it has not really manifested itself in the story yet, and I'm tapping my fingers and twiddling my thumbs waiting to get there.

(But seriously, I am proud of my knitting magic, so the day can't have been entirely wasted.)

Happy fourth!
readingredhead: (Default)
I've been working on writing The Novel and I've actually been going places, but a major character is about to show up and she doesn't have a name yet. I've got a few possibilities that are floating around, but I thought I'd ask the opinion of others.

To preface this: the character is an old woman living on the outskirts of a small village in prerevolutionary France. She's actually a witch, and though the people of the village expect that something strange is happening with her, they don't know all the details; they just think she's the crazy old lady who has a good knowledge of herbs, medicine, and healing. She's in her seventies, with long, bright white hair and piercing eyes (I actually imagine that she looks very much like my last semester's English professor, come to think of it).

[Poll #1207264]
readingredhead: (Stars)
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FOR SURE werewolves. I never got what the deal was with vampires. This is perhaps because it required Rebecca to introduce me to Laurell K. Hamilton and Buffy, and because there are no really important vampires in Harry Potter.

Really when I say "werewolves," it is my way of saying "Remus Lupin." Because seriously -- he is my favorite adult character in the entire series and I am still in denial of his death (on good days I pretend that the entire seventh book never happened and JKR is still working on a new one somewhere that will be SO MUCH BETTER).

But also now I have to say werewolves because of my personal werewolf, Roman Leroux from the Beauty and the Beast retelling that has also turned sligtly into a Jane Eyre reworking of its own accord (in which Roman was just outed as a werewolf).

This is a scattered post, but might I also add -- werewolves are fuzzy. 'Nuff said.

(And since when is drinking blood so sexy anyway? Why have we turned vampires into sex icons? Why are millions of rabid teenage girls reading AND ENJOYING things like Twilight? Any answers to these questions are very welcome.)

Unrelated but pretty darn awesome thought -- the condition of being a werewolf may be a male analogue for female menstruation. Think about it for a second: controlled by the moon, causes changes in behavior that escalate characteristics one would generally associate with the sex, essentially unstoppable by the person involved... The moon has just always been such a feminine principle, all the way back to before everything (thought right now I'm thinking of Paradise Lost because Milton has this way of piggybacking on all my ideas). So what does that mean about female werewolves?
readingredhead: (Stars)
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First off, take note: this is discounting characters I've written. Invariably, I can relate to them best (although Holly, Jasen, and Noelle top the list right now).

If we're going chronologically from when I encountered these characters, the first on the list is undoubtedly Hermione. I was (and am) so happy that she was a girl, and smart, and skillful and perfectly capable of running with the boys, and necessary to them. She makes being the only girl in a group of guys seem effortless. I relate to her obsessive scholasticism, but also to her vulnerability. I'm Hermione in her moments of triumph, but also in the moment when she's sitting in the girl's bathroom and crying because Ron insulted her.

Next -- specifically for one line of beautiful prose -- I'd say I'm like Mac from Julie E. Czerneda's Species Imperative series. That one line, which I'm sure you've heard me quote over and over (though never exactly) is the one about a heart with two settings: "don't care" and "forever." More and more, I think this describes me. And that's not a bad thing.

The character who's felt the most like me since Hermione is Aryl Sarc of Julie's Reap the Wild Wind, because Aryl's just on the edge of growing up, and she's scared and apprehensive and faced with things too big for her, and her entire picture of what her life was supposed to be is fractured in the space of a moment, but despite all of this she's brave and strong and spirited and doesn't give up, and though she doesn't know it yet -- neither do I, for that matter -- she's going to be rewarded for it.

And of course must come Elizabeth Bennet, who I really feel is my Austen double. Ask any girl which Austen woman she'd be and I'll bet you good money she answers Elizabeth, but I'll also bet you good money she's lying. Not to sound conceited or anything, but I'm not. All I'm waiting for is a stand-in Darcy to tell me about the beauty of my intelligent eyes and proclaim that he most ardently admires and loves me.

To round the list out, there's Jane Eyre, who really is quieter than me, but other than that is a person I can deeply sympathize with. We both have moments where we gasp for liberty; we both have moments when we do things we wish we didn't have to; and in the end, I know we both will grow and change as individuals, defining ourselves as separate from men (the book's not called Jane Rochester for a reason) and happy in our own right. What more is there to ask for?

(And this is only including literary characters I relate to. If we broaden our approach to encompass TV, movies, and musicals, I have to add Scully, Princess Leia, and Elphaba to the list.)
readingredhead: (Default)
Two awesome things happened yesterday.

1) Barack Obama won the South Carolina primary with 55% of the vote.
2) I wrote 12,055 words of my story over the course of a single day, and am back on track to finish in time with my schedule.

Time will tell which was more awesome. I have a feeling it'll be the former, but I won't complain if it's the latter.
readingredhead: (Stars)
The past month has really allowed me to realize why National Novel Writing Month works for me.  It's not just the deadline: it's the community of people who are running at full speed toward that deadline alongside me.

I've learned this as I try to continue writing the novel I began in November, again with a deadline (because I thought that was all that I would need).  Because while I've been keeping up pretty well, or so I suppose, I'm still behind by around 7k, and that's never happened before.  I know it's not a lot and if I wrote every day I'd be able to make it up no problem, but that's the thing -- there are a lot more days where I'm not writing.  During November, if I wanted to make my goal, I knew that I'd have to write every day, as much as I can.  But there was also the aspect of competition -- I was racing against Rebecca, trying to make it there before she did, and that kept me going much faster than I needed to, so that when I did take breaks, it was because I was far enough ahead that I could afford to.

Now, I'm not bored with the story -- I'm realizing, if anything, that this is a story I may never be bored with -- but I'm realizing that such an activity really benefits from a writing community.  During November, Rebecca and I would write together almost every night, without fail.  We'd sit and type and the only sound would be the laptop keys.  Things are easier when you have someone to do them with you, I guess.

Um...not really much else to say.  I just had that realization and thought it merited some reflection.  I'm still writing the story, and the main characters have recently realized that perhaps they are in love with each other.  That being said, there's some heartbreaking that's going to happen very soon, after which the plot will certainly become more interesting.  My story has become an amalgam of Beauty and the Beast and Jane Eyre, and I'm not sure which of those plots to take inspiration from regarding the progression of the storyline...but to figure that out, I just need to write and do something about it.

Head pain.

Jan. 9th, 2008 04:15 pm
readingredhead: (Default)
Is it a bad thing that I don't want to write right now?  Sure, I had a 5k day yesterday, but I'm not gonna have a chance tomorrow for most of the day, so shouldn't I write now?

And I'm so tired.  I'd forgotten what it was like to wake up early.  I got up at 6:30AM because I went with Corinne to school today.  Granted, usually when I wake up that early I've gotten to sleep early enough that I still get a decent sleep.

Last night, I really couldn't fall asleep.  I had this weird pain in my calves, almost like the growing pain sensations you get when you're younger.  And I was always either too hot or too cold.  And to top it all off, my bed here is shorter than my bed in Berkeley, so I'm used to having a larger matress to stretch out on, whereas here my toes are a bit cramped.

So at maybe 10:15PM last night I decided to go to sleep.  I've been falling asleep listening to the audiobook of Jane Eyre, because the voices are soothing.  So I got in bed and turned it on and was listening, but then it got to a boring part and I wasn't feeling tired at all and so I stopped the tape to fall asleep on my own.  That really didn't work.  There was lots of tossing and turning involved -- how much, I don't know, since I make a point of never looking at my watch because if I do it's impossible for me to fall asleep.

So I couldn't fall asleep, and I had maybe sixty pages left in the book I'd been reading.  Maybe a little more than that, actually.  So I decided I'd read until I felt tired and then fall asleep.

Finished the book (and it was a good one) without being tired.  Bully for me.  So I tried the tactic of listening to the audiobook again.  Again, didn't quite go the way I'd planned.  I stopped after five minutes and decided I'd read the next book in the series.  By this time I really didn't think I was going to fall asleep any time soon, so who cares?  So I read fifty or so pages into the next book, up until a point where it got a little boring, and then when I tried to fall asleep it worked.

Today was good because I got to see and talk with a bunch of teachers I'd missed.  But I got a headache around lunch and it's still here.  Sucks unbelievably.

Yeah, with all of this I think it's okay if I don't write, but that just means I'll have to catch up later, and I hate playing catch-up.


readingredhead: (Default)

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