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Another creator

I like giving some time, thought, and appreciation to some of the creators and creations that I really admire or enjoy: Calvin and Hobbes, The Piano Guys, Graeme Base, Sherlock, Terry Prattchet, Lindsey Stirling, and so on. I’ve come across another creator I at least admire: Neil Gaiman.

 

Now, it must be said, the stuff he enjoys creating is not what I enjoy intaking. Much of what he does is dark, and I’m not partial to dark or horror stuff. That said, I like the movie Coraline (I can’t imagine why, it’s not in my usual vein) and the movie Stardust (but I had to warm up to it; it was a little much in solitude, but I enjoyed it in company). I warmed up to Mirrormask too.

 

I’m not sure, however, that it is because of his works that I admire him. Maybe it’s because he’s genuine in what he does. There’s something very him about his work, and that’s why he’s able to produce work that stands out. He must have spent a long time developing that mind and what goes on in it. Perhaps I admire him because he’s been able to live his dream and he’s dedicated to creating good art. That takes courage and handwork. I’ve gotten the impression (albeit from other sources) that he is a humble man too, despite all his success. “Impostor syndrome,” was it?

 

I like to think of other creators, partly because I feel they must empathize with some of the difficulties I face as a creator. They know how scary it is, how much work it is. They know what it’s like to have their work rejected and critiqued and ridiculed. Poor darlings. I believe that is why they can be so encouraging, instead of putting themselves up above everyone else because of their honors and awards and suchlike. It’s nice to think that somebody believes.

 

It’d be cool if some qualified individual believed in me, because sometimes believing in myself takes effort and I’m tired.

Follow-up on the Goal

So… workshopping your story is like ripping out part of your soul and handing it to someone else, then trying not to bleed too much while they critique it. Poor little story.

 

Because I care about my story and because I want my story to be good, I’ve taken in to the Writing Center twice, Writer’s Workshop once, I’ve had two people from class workshop it, and I’ve been to my Creative Writing teacher three times. Every time I go, he finds something new that needs work. That’s good. I wish the other resources were as helpful as him (I feel bad going to him so much, since he’s only one person and has an entire class of people to help out). Still, it gets hard, and sometimes it feels like the story will never be good enough.

 

I just want people to like it.

 

It was due for class yesterday. We turn in three stories during the semester. Once I get this one back, I’ll see what fixes I should have made to get a better grade, then I’ll workshop it with a good friend of mine when she comes to visit, and eventually I’ll submit it to the school’s literary journal, Outlet.

 

I know it seems strange that I’m going to submit something after my experience last year. I hated submitting my work. I didn’t think I should submit anything unless I truly that it was worthy of being published, which I didn’t. This time will be better because: a) I like my story better, b) I recognize this will be my last opportunity to submit undergrad work, c) I’ve already gotten a rejection letter before, so it won’t be a new experience.

 

Besides, I’ve got to work toward something. I need to have some sort of ambition, or I won’t get anywhere. I still don’t know what’s going to become of me when I graduate in April. Publishing is not the goal so much as feeling worthy and having the courage to submit the thing. That’s no small thing. It’s hard to have courage when the story never seems to get done, only closer.

 

If I were to get what I want, really get what I want, I’d be able to share the story with others and they would laugh, meditate, find understanding and clarity in the story, and ultimately end on a high note, feeling better about life. A lot of short stories I’ve read end on a low note, which I think is rather mean. I know there are disappointments in life, but I think there are more happy endings than we really believe. At any rate, I want my readers to enjoy the story. Laugh and meditate. That’s going to be the goal.

 

I’ll give you more updates on the story later. It’s called “Cracked.”

The goal

By the way, I think I should tell you that I’ve made it my goal to submit a short story to my school’s literary journal before I graduate.

This is a story I’m writing for my Advanced Creative Writing class. We’re to write three short stories this semester, and they all have to be “literary.” This means no fantasy or sci-fi and it means the work must “deal with the profundities of the human experience.” I never much cared for “literary” fiction myself, but it’s worked out pretty well so far. I think this could be one of the best short-stories I’ve produced– as far as craft and value– while still being fun. I’ve workshopped it with different people, and hearing them laugh is what gratifies me the most. Yesterday in a Writer’s Workshop, I was told that the ending was satisfying and that I paint well with words. O_O

I still have work to do, but I want to the story to be in it’s best form. Then I want to submit it for publication. I have to take this opportunity to submit undergrad work while I can. Wish me luck.

Ten books that have stayed with me

Some time ago, a friend of mine posted this status. “Latest Facebook game: In your status line, list ten books that have stayed with you. Don’t take more than a few minutes; don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be great works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag ten friends (including me, so I’ll see your list).” Facebook games like this tend to annoy me, because they revolve around bandwagon mentality in such an insipidly blatant way, but I was intrigued by the prompt. So I decided to write about it here. I am, by the way, excluding religious texts since they would seem to me a category all on their own.

 

The Phantom Tollbooth- Witty, intelligent, light, humorous. It made me want to think of the world in a different way, which in turn broadened my vision and helped me engage more what I experienced on a day-to-day basis.

Mary Poppins- It’s difficult to explain the charm of P. L. Travers’s work, and a little disheartening to me that the rest of my family doesn’t seem to feel the way I do about it.

A Christmas Carol- Only recently did I discover this one. I think part of the reason why it was such a great experience for me was that I could listen to an audio performance of it, available at mormonchannel.org. It was a different feel than what I got from watching movies of it. Not that I have seen many, but what I have seen was not have been so enriching an experience as listening to it in Dicken’s words, and I don’t mean that in a cheesy, tacky, uppity,  literary snob type of way.

Thud- This is just one of the many Terry Pratchett books I could have listed. In fact, I rather would have liked a separate listing just for Terry Pratchett books. It would include Thud, Wyrd Sisters, The Truth, Soul Music, Hogfather, and others. They all have such gems, set in witty and intriguing story.

Wednesday Wars, but more so its sequel, Okay for Now- The narrative of these books is particularly interesting to me, because of the many and overlapping plot threads. It also includes a lot of tie-ins, from classic literature and art, to sports and pop culture. It’s told in a lighthearted sort of way, but it could get really deep. It’s hard to get the light mood and still manage to have depth, and still do a good job at the actual story telling without being incredibly tacky or obvious. But when you do get it, I like it far and above better than the hard-core ‘deep’ literature they tend to give you in school. I don’t know if many literary enthusiasts have figured out that you can have great literature without being disturbing, depressing, and/or, boring. Sorry, rant over.

The Hobbit- I actually feel weird mentioning this one, because it’s not as if I really did find it all that fascinating a story or enjoyable a read (I’m sure I’ve now incurred the wrath of a lot of people). It certainly wouldn’t make my favorite’s list in any category. But the prompt asked for stories that have ‘stayed with you.’ That’s rather broad. The fact is, that even though it doesn’t have what I look for in leisure reading, there is something about it that appeals to the core of human nature (here I recommend you take some time to study Joseph Campbell’s Heroic Journey Monomyth). I reflect on it often. Mostly when I’m going out of my comfort zone. I find I’m rather like Bilbo at the start, far to in love with comfort to be prodded out of my door easily.

The Nightingale- sadly out of print, but one of my favorite books. I love fairy-tale retellings, insofar as they are done right, and I have many other favorites in that category (Snow White and Rose Red and Entwined, for example). This one in particular does a good job as far as the setting goes, something I don’t usually take to much note of but couldn’t help but notice in this case. You really feel like you’re in a different culture, a believable rendition of ancient Japan. Moreover, it includes wit, romance, and intrigue– which I love to have in stories. The books I have mentioned here have made me think a lot about fairy tales, and why it is that people are so drawn to them.

The Prydain Chronicles- and actually, a lot of books written by Lloyd Alexander. Again, something about it resonates with the core of humanity, like the Hobbit (this is, after all, another high fantasy adventure story). Except that I like the story, characterization, wit, and narrative far better in this one (though I admit I find Bilbo more relatable than Taran). I think somebody should make a movie out of these books (and I don’t mean like Disney’s The Black Cauldren, I mean a well done live action movie).

The Knight in Rusty Armor- cheesy, I admit it, but when I read it I thought it might make a great thing to read to kids, maybe as a precursor to The Phantom Tollbooth, because it had a similar effect.

The Enchanted Forrest Chronicles- have stayed with me for the simple, but nonetheless crucial, reason that it was these books that got me into reading, and in particular reading young adult and adult books, at the age of 12. Most of the other books I listed above may have read untouched if these books didn’t teach me how fun reading could be (so long as you have a good book).

 

These books all have my recommendation. They do the soul good, and their fun.

 

The classics

I wish I had a better idea of what this upcoming vacation will be like. I don’t know how much time will be on the road, how much time will be spent at various sites, and how much time will be spent camping or staying at motels. I figure, if a lot of the time will be spent on the road or camping, that would be a good opportunity to do some reading. I have a folder set up on my kindle specifically for reading material for that trip. Mostly it includes stuff in the public domain which I got from Gutenburg, so I can get familiar with some of the classics. At the very least, I want to try out Peter Pan. I’ve watched Hook recently, so this would be a nice way to get closure on that experience. And then I want to have a go at rereading Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass. If I’m feeling ambitious, I will attempt Jane Eyre.

But I also have other books planned, in case I’m not in the mood for classics. Mom’s written a story that I haven’t read yet that I think I’ll like, and it’s possible that I could check out a kindle book from the library. I’m hoping a copy of Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett is available. It can be wonderful reading the Tiffany Aching books… and it is so good to see Granny Weatherwax again.

I just… I dont’ want to waste dead time. If I’m going to be spending a lot of time on the road, it is best I do something productive while I do it. I’m going to regret not taking the chance while I have it.

Just finish and Office hours

I started playing around with a sort of fairy tale multiverse kind of story. Not much of a plot, just little romances. I’ve got 5,000 words on it, which is an accomplishment. But already I have a problem with it- with the story. But I’m afraid that if I stop, even to rewrite, at this point- I’ll never get it done. I’ve never really ever finished a story. I’d like to think that maybe this time I might. At the moment, it seems more important to finish a story than to be 100% satisfied with the logistics of the thing. When it’s done, then I can focus on quality, or doing rewrites.

 

 

Do you know, I like getting help from teachers outside of class. But I think teachers like it to. I think they like being directly involved with the students, and I think it feels good when they can see the results of interacting with their students.

Plot bunnies

There are times in life when I am on my knees thanking God for my great imagination and creative talents. There are other times when I can’t imagine why anybody would want to be a writer or an artist- it’s so painful at times.

I have expressed to you before the difficulty that sometimes exists when you live in a family with a lot of writers. You begin to feel out of the loop. At first it wasn’t so bad. Consider when I was twelve, for instance. At that time, it was pretty much just Mom who was writing. So when the extended relative asks you if you’re going to be a writer like your Mom, one can feel pretty comfortable in saying ‘no,’ quite confidently. I still say it with with a fair amount confidence. “No, I am not going to be a writer.”

But am I going to write? That’s a harder question to answer.

I’m older now, and most of my younger siblings have shown an interest in writing of some form or another. And in recent years, plot bunnies have been invading my mind. I think it’s safe to say they started their attack my junior year of high school. They’re just fragmented ideas or characters, nothing of real quality or substance- nothing has even ever been complete. And I want them to be complete, so that I can write them down and get them out of my head. But they just stay up there.

For the most part, they are good company and I enjoy having them. They help me get to sleep at night and keep me from getting bored. But it can go too far, and every once in a while you want to get them out so you can think of something else for a change. One wonders if the solitary writer is just an illusion, what they’re really after is getting fictional characters out of the house and into the world where they can be the reader’s problem.

Art is different. I can complete artwork, for one thing. Besides, artwork doesn’t invade my head unbidden. Not typically anyway. I might be unusual in the sense that I don’t pre-visualize my art that much or very well. I sort of get an idea, and then figure it out as I go. That’s not so easy for me to do with writing. As a result, I tend to think more kindly of art as a hobby than writing. Even though I think the end result of writing is cooler to have.

On the other hand, I’ve only been dabbing into creative writing for four years are so. Art I have been practicing… pretty much all of my life. It is the one hobby that has stuck with me since childhood, unlike scrapbooking (which I gave up on) and journalling (which I got into after I gave up scrapbooking). Nevertheless and notwithstanding how much I enjoy art, I don’t consider it the be all and end all- also it’s a pain sometimes. I don’t want to stop there, and writing would be where I’d go to next. I’ll keep dabbing into it, it’s just that every once in a while, you stop and wonder why anyone would chose to put themselves through it.

Must slow down

I’ve been reading all day!

I have to give an author presentation on Diana Wynne Jones in my Young Adult Lit. class- which is supposed to include three book talks. I wanted to present at least two books of hers I had not read before. But they take so long! And I don’t read as fast as I would like.

I found myself feeling a little irritable in class, but I calmed down because Ben replied to my e-mail. I needed advice from him. It’s irritating at times that I cannot speak face-to-face with him anymore, since I consider him to be my mentor. How’d he get to be so wise, anyway? How does he do it? And he’s encouraging. He thinks that if I develop my talents the way I have been, I could create a series of illustrated short-stories. Have I told you it has been my goal to have a collection of short-stories? Not for publication, but because I like stories and would like to create some. Of course, I think he’s being a bit too optimistic of my chances of obtaining this goal- but its nice to hear his assessment anyway. It can’t hurt to try anyway.

Anyway, I thought I should slow down enough to take that in and to… settle before I have to buckle down for another long session of reading. Oh why couldn’t Diana have seen fit to write shorter stories! I enjoy being busy, but this would be much easier to enjoy if I had time to pace myself.

Thank goodness I’ve finished it.

Don’t settle

I love my Young Adult Literature class.

I’m doing a Unit Plan for my Application Assignment. Basically, I take a book and I create two pre-reading activities, two during reading activities, and two post-reading activities. And I chose to do a Unit Plan for The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. I’m kinda sad not many people I meet are familiar with the Prydain Chronicles. It was challenging but fun to come up with activities for it. I lost track of time yesterday working on it. I’m so proud with what I have, I think The Book of Three should be taught in schools. It’s a classic example of High Fantasy Adventure, that I think people would appreciate.

Books. Those are one of this life’s greatest gifts. Not that all of them are wonderful, far from it. But there are so many good books, I think the trick is just finding them amongst all of the mediocre books. How can we settle for less when there are too many greater things out there that can possibly be read in a lifetime? Sometimes I get picked on by family members for being picky about my books, but I have never regretted it.

Don’t settle for that which is mediocre. Not in books, music, or movies. You’re better than that, it’s not worth your time.

Especially given how time seems to be slipping by. I don’t get much time for artwork these days. That’s typical of my student days. But yesterday I couldn’t keep my hands still, and I ended up with quite a few papers full of doodles.

Art. Books. Music. Movies. All these great and wonderful things that we can only scratch the surface of. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

It makes me think about the Carpe Diem poems. Of course, I don’t agree with all of the ideas related to them- like the ones in Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress. But perhaps some of the ideas? Maybe if I just took the first line;

Had we but world enough and time…

We don’t. That’s why idling is a crime.

And then there are books

Well, this is my first experience with a paranormal romance and… well, it didn’t exactly exceed expectations.

Actually, I’m not finished with the book, but still I’ve got the feel for it.

I believe there could be a right way to do a paranormal romance. There’s probably one out there I would even like. But… the trick would be finding it. There have been so many since the ‘Twilight era,’ how are you actually going to be able to find the good stuff? Especially when you have to go at it in just the right way for it to be good.

It’s not that I don’t like what I’m reading, it’s just that I have no cause to like it. Especially because character is so important to me as a reader, and I don’t find anything particularly interesting about these characters. Being a witch/vampire/werewolf etc. is not enough to make a person interesting. Just like being an elf/fairy/sorcerer isn’t going to be enough to make you interesting in the fantasy books I read. And the plot/setting isn’t interesting enough to make up for lost ground the characters weren’t able to cover.

So I probably would put it down if it weren’t for the fact that it was homework. I have to read a supernatural or horror book so I can do a book talk on it in my Young Adult Literature class during our group presentation tomorrow. And I’m discussing the issues I have with the book here, because if I discuss them with the wrong person, they can get really defensive. Well, I discuss it with them anyway. But at least here I’m less likely to get that kind of response. I don’t usually get any response. Which is okay too, because then I can still believe that were people who actually read this, there would be somebody who could understand my point of view here. Also somebody who would nod in agreement if I said “I really don’t like vampires.”

I could probably go on a rant about vampires. But what would be the point, you know? Some people like them, some don’t. I don’t.

But I did want to write something here- just to take a break from the reading. Journalling is so therapeutic. I would recommend it to anyone. Except that it’s not for everyone. I wonder what they do when they take a break from homework.