Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Photo: Fashion?

Today is less of a Photo Friday and more of a WTF Friday. I was wandering the clearance shelves at an outlet shoe store when I discovered that Barbie’s shoes had been blown up to human size, right down to the unyielding plastic and complete lack of arch support.

And I thought discovering Genuine Ken would be the strangest Barbie-related moment of my month. I’m no longer surprised by any reality TV concept – thank you to previews of Wife Swap, Temptation Island, The Swan, Solitary, and other gems for completely inoculating me – but I’m rather confused about why the Barbie company thought that show was a good idea.

As a sidenote, I apologize if the song "Barbie Girl" is running through anyone else's head right now.  (Oh, it wasn't until now? Bwahahahaha. Ahem.)

For those of you looking for better photos of better (but equally crazy) shoes, check out the always lovely Laini's latest post while I get some much needed sleep. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stick Figure Wisdom

I like task lists. I like chore charts. I like schedules. 

Not that I actually keep to any of them stringently, mind you, but I really like them. 

I use them to make myself write when I would much rather be watching Hulu. I'm also motivated by the dream of what it will be like to finish a book, really finish it so that it’s polished up perfectly and ready for the publishing elves to rush it off to the printer. (Wait, that’s not how it works?)

But the always wise xkcd had an important reminder for me the other day. It was attached to this comic: /

When you scroll over it on the website, you'll find this message:

"I never trust anyone who's more excited about success than about doing the thing they want to be successful at."

That sounded pretty smart, and suddenly I was reevaluating my recent relationship with writing. It's all tied up in to-do lists and future career goals and the desire to just have a completed and polished manuscript already. Too many times I write just so that I won't feel guilty about not writing, because I know that if I don't write I won't finish manuscripts and if I don't finish manuscripts I can't get published and if I don't get published I won't have the life I want and blahblahstressblah. 

Don't get me wrong; I think some of that (the obsessing, the goal setting, the obsessing about goal setting) is completely necessary. Countless authors have pointed out that it’s vital to get your butt in the chair and write every day (or every other day or something similar), even on days when you don’t want to do so. I’m glad that I set schedules and goals for myself or I wouldn’t get much writing done. 

But there’s a danger as well, especially when I wait until late at night and then decide that I MUST COMPLETE MY 1000 WORDS. I usually succeed, but I suffer from Nano-syndrome (as in what I tend to do as the Nanowrimo deadline draws near): The first 400-600 words are pretty good, but then I just start throwing twists into the scene and fluff into my sentences to pad my word count to 1000 so that I can go to bed.  Every once in a blue moon it results in a creative and unexpected idea, but most of the time I just have to go back and fix the rushed and overstuffed mess that I created. It isn’t pretty.

And it makes the writing process a chore, not the superawesomecoolfulfilling pursuit that I want it to be.

My new goal (to add on to all of my other goals because I’m addicted to goals) is to focus on enjoying the writing itself. And now that I’m writing the second first draft instead of the first first draft for Nanowrimo, I’m going to focus on quality over quantity, especially late at night. 

We’ll see how it goes. 

How do you keep your eye on the prize without losing sight of your love for the writing?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rusty Swords and Flaming Rackets

I was never very good at writing and listening to music at the same time. So far all of my stories have been accompanied only by the sounds of silence, or whatever music the coffee shop people force on me. 

This means I don’t get to share YouTube videos of The Awesome Music That Inspired My Work the way other bloggers do. 

Until now. 

A few months ago I discovered Vampire Weekend on Pandora. The more I looked at the thumbnail of their album cover, the more I thought the girl on it looked like one of my MCs. Not wanting to ignore a possible sign from the universe, I eventually bought the CD. Yes, the actual physical CD. Antiquated, I know, but I wanted that cover photo in the flesh. I give you a rough approximation of my protagonist Helen, assuming that the popped collar was an accident. 

I even tried to listen to the CD while I wrote, but as usual it was too distracting. BUT I listened to it when I was idly brainstorming instead, and the song “Giving up the Gun” gave me the idea for a whole new character and scene. 

And when I  looked for the music video online (just for YOU!), I discovered an incredible bonus sign from the universe. While the video wasn't what I was expecting, it focuses on a girl dominating at tennis, which is exactly what Helen does before I wrench her out of her normal world. 

I’m definitely declaring it an inspirational music victory. 

Enjoy (what may or may not be the only song I ever post here)!


Your sword's grown old and rusty
Burnt beneath the rising sun
It's locked up like a trophy
Forgetting all the things it's done

And though it's been a long time
You're right back where you started from
I see it in your eyes
That now you're giving up the gun

When I was 17
I had wrists like steel
And I felt complete

And now my body fades
Behind a brass charade
And I'm obsolete

But if the chance remained
To see those better days
I'd cut the cannons down

My ears are blown to bits
From all the rifle hits
But still, I crave that sound
I heard you play guitar
Down at a seedy bar
Where skinheads used to fight

Your Tokugawa smile
And your garbage style
Used to save the night

You felt the coming wave
Told me we'd all be brave
You said you wouldn't flinch

But in the years that passed
Since I saw you last
You haven't moved an inch

I see you shine in your way
Go on, go on, go on

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Photos in Floral

"Weather-wise it's such a lovely day..."

And it has been most of the week, letting me get in plenty of riding and wandering and occasional photo-taking. 

What are you doing inside at your computer on such a lovely day? Go outside and smell some of these:

 And if there aren't any flowers blooming nearby, go outside anyway. Who knows? Maybe you'll find some flowers after all... confused ones guarded by a very surly man.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Surprising Stephen King

I hate horror. I hate haunted houses and scary movies and even creepy campfire stories. If the concept behind a horror flick looks so amazing and interesting that I just can’t miss it, I’ll read the plot synopsis online instead. I was going to start this entry with a gruesome horror-themed picture, but I didn’t want to have to look at one for more than a few seconds.

I also went to grad school to study Renaissance literature, which makes some people assume that I’m obsessed with Shakespeare (true), that I’m picky about the quality of what I read (true, and much worse after grad school), and that I only read the classics (very false).

Which is why it may seem weird that I love Stephen King. 

I initially had no interest in him, and then I only read his books that were dystopian or science fiction rather than horror, like Firestarter and some of the Richard Bachman stories. (If you liked Hunger Games, check out The Long Walk and The Running Man.) 

Dark Tower Art from
Years later, thanks to my husband’s large King collection, I branched out and read some that actually qualify as horror: Misery, The Shining, ‘Salem’s Lot... I’m still too much of a wuss to read Cujo or IT (because I already have dog issues and I have no desire to develop clown issues), but for the most part I found I didn’t mind the horror and the ickiness much because everything else was surprisingly good. King has an incredible knack for developing characters and capturing how they interact within their families and communities (you know, before they end up dead and mangled somewhere). I was already becoming a King fan when my husband and his best friend finally convinced me to read The Dark Tower saga, even though I told them that I didn’t like Westerns and that I didn’t have time to start such a gargantuan series.
Not only are the characters amazing and the plot suspenseful and the writing clever and etc. etc.… The series essentially links every other book he wrote. The connections blew my mind. I would occasionally just need to close the book and reflect on how King is an epic world-building genius.

(And yes, he does some strange and self-indulgent material near the end of the series, but if he needed to include _____  in order to finally bring the series to a close, I’m okay with it.) 

Alright, so why I am telling you all this, other than possibly overcompensating because I feel bad that I ever believed King's hack reputation?

First, so that I don’t need to go into this introduction again when I do some Reading For Writing entries on King books. 

Second, and way more importantly, STEPHEN KING IS WRITING ANOTHER DARK TOWER BOOK. It will fit between books 4 and 5 and explain what happened to the band of travelers between the Emerald City and the Calla and I AM SO EXCITED! You can read the announcement letter here.

And third, one of the books that really converted me to King is On Writing, which is a fascinating mini-autobiography and very helpful writing book all in one. I would tell everyone to go and buy it immediately, but you can first try to win it on Christine Tyler’s blog if you enter by Friday. 

Go go go!