Monday, December 31, 2007

This blogs reading level

Apparently college-postgrad. Not always accurate but it is an interesting program. I do believe that those ranked at elementary school level are the best writers around.

I tested the widget. Things with longer paragraphs are a higher reading level, along with the jargon and suchlike. Blogs with incomplete sentences also require a higher-reading level. Only a creature of staggering intellect will understand the angst ridden, chat-speak and slang blogs common to, umm, angsty teenagers I hope. Though I suppose many can make the error of a black background.

In conclusion, a fun toy but do not take 'genius' as is. It might just mean you cannot spell. I tried to make my blog easier to read after seeing that, with the apparent effect of making it harder to read. Apparently I'm a postgrad now 0.o

Spiders are bugs

In fifth grade grade I confused my teachers with my large vocabulary. Sadly my open-mindedness is not equal. I hate to be wrong. I have less arguments now, but that is because I know more; I have more information and more skill in presentation.

At the Rock and Gem show I saw a trilobite and said 'cute bug'. The seller was offended and explained that this wasn't a bug, it was a trilobite. I felt incredibly stupid. Bugs have always stumped me. Spiders are not bugs, those weird sea creatures are not bugs, worms are not bugs. I was never much of a bug-enthusiast, so to me it was just a misunderstanding of definition.

And it was. I encountered the bug obsession again today. I looked it up. A bug is an insect or insect-like creature. To me a spider is insect-like, and so is a trilobite, (manner of locomotion, tendency to segmentation, etc.) So hah! Spiders are bugs, disagreement is simply a matter of definition, not scientific truth of leg numbers and segmentations. Pardon my vindictiveness, I don't like being wrong.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Words for rice

As everyone ought to know what a Cameleopard is (it is a giraffe) so I give you Freerice.com. A charming site, with an elegant design, and a wonderful idea. For every word you get right 20 grains of rice are donated to someone in need. It is all driven by advertisements and will adjust to match your competence. And as Conda says, very addictive :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rococilian fantasy

I remember learning about rococo. I learned it was the fuzzy angels and curvy lines stuff that the baroque artists hated. I learned that the 18th century was a time of frivolous and silly things, and I agree. Like the fantasy stories I in middle school. There was a pure spirit of magic to it.

This is a girandole, an ornamental wall-light. Because the function of the girandole was so slight it was a perfect working ground for designers like Thomas Johnson. So long as there was a place to put the candle they could do anything they liked, make a hunt or recreate a fable from Aesop or carve as many sinuous dolphins as they liked. [Wilson, M. The English country house.]

The baroque era evolved out of this, desiring a seriousness lacking in rococo. Baroque art is introverted, its function is turned in on itself as it looks at the psycology of the figures and the effects of light and darkness. In studying itself baroque art becomes its own purpose.

I love rococo for it's frivolity, permitted by the slight purpose, and I am admittedly frightened by the Baroque which.

'Art for art's sake' seems for many to mean 'art is only art if it is for its own sake', however, if this were true the former would not be necesarry. Now I must find a purpose for my frivolous art, that it shall be outward and not inward-looking. Do either distraction or amusement count as purposes? What about paper weight or door stopper?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Carnivorous fungi

My sister and I were searching for the name for those fungi which go carnivorous if left in dark places for long periods of time. They are in fact called carnivorous fungi, we were rather disapointed.

The follow poem resulted from the wikipedia article we found on the subject. Please remember that carnivorous fungi are a very serious matter and this poem is most certainly not meant to amuse. It is in fact very much filled with pain, suffering, and microbiological angst, enjoy.

From out the stygian muck
the fungus monster crawled
all slime and goo and hungry
and little worms it mauled.

The carnivorous fungi never wanted to die
They wanted to fly, not land in a pie
To be free in a forest, not stuck in the dark
growing little tendrils, digesting a lark.

But now that they are there,
they shall eat all your pie,
for if they did not,
they would most certainly die.

The fungi only needed nutrients,
not to canabilize the animal-mites,
amoebaeotic sprites out of which they took bites.
little amoebae, so helpless and cute,
(though without a microscope
my view is rather moot.)

Predaceous fungi in soil do live
where the species they trap,
not at all like a sieve.

The nematodes eaten
shall never return,
they are all digested
they never do learn.



Alas, poor fungi, all alone in the dark and damp rooms of dirt and cupboard
with no one to love them or mate with them to create more little fungus
monsters.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Writerly rules

One day I was happily googling along when I found a list of rules for fantasy writing. Many things I once avoided I did so because these sorts of rules, rules that were often misinterpreted and led to prose almost as bad as that which it forbid. To that end I wrote this list. It is of humorous intent and nothing more.

There were 30, there are now 28; because the Holy Roman Empire does not relate directly to writing I removed those rules involving his Imperialness.

1. Do not use dragons: they are unoriginal.

2. All stories must be in limited 3rd person.

3. Stories cannot contain more than five leading characters.

4. All stories must have a short intro, three rising actions, a climax, and a tidy clse. 7 parts, max.

5. No story may be written in colloguial english, ever.

6. No story may be based in a school of magic.

7. Absolute villains are forbidden.

8. All stories must contain a lovestory subplot.

9. Charismatic heroes are forbidden.

10. All stories must contain both minority groups in sex, sexual preference, race, and age.

11. All characters must have an interest in popular culture.

12. 400 CE to 1400 CE (the middle ages) are not to be used as setting, in fact stay out of Europe all together.

13. Ninja must never be used as characters (though they are acceptable as plot devices.)

14. All stories must begin with a MYSTERIOUS INCIDENT which leads to confusion and bustle.

15. All main characters must be young (no older than 20), except the wise advisor who must be old (no younger than 50).

16. No matter how large a world you create by the end of the book the reader must know every detail of that world.

17. All writers must create their own worlds.
b. Worlds may have no more than three cultures.
c. There must be gods.

18. No matter how poor the rural areas are the cities must always be highly advanced.

19. Simple problems must take at least a fortnight to solve.

20. Complex or unsolvable problems are to be solved in no more then 18 minutes.

21. Characters must never make factual errors.

22. The main characters must always have horrible flaws.
b. it is forbidden that the main character be interesting or likeable.

23. One should never pay close attention to workplaces, city systems, rural practices, or other mere technicallities.

24. No character may be named Richard, Roy, Harris, James, or any other name appearing in our world (even if they are from our world).

25. All urban heroes must wear trenchcoats.

26. All non-urban heroes must wear chainmail.

27. No character is permitted to be perfect.

28. Kings are either good or bad, there is no in-between.

Not that rules and lists are a bad thing, I adore them. Many people adore them. It may be our utter adoration of them that leads us into these problems. Like feudalism, building on something that does not exist.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Art is necessary

OR why you should buy a piano and take up finger painting.

It is a common habit for me, if I accomplish anything to show any poor unsuspecting creature who crosses my path. A bit childish I suppose, but no brave hero has risen to stop me, so I think I'm safe.

Once I submitted a portion of my work to a critique group. It was awful. The group was wonderful. They told me their impression of my main character, some confusions, pointed out that I had the same narrator as my characters voice, and other good things. It was quite useful and in the end did the piece a lot of good, but I felt ashamed. I thought of other times I had done the same, poems that were absolutely terrible, stories that made me cringe. I didn't want people to see those, and I knew I would show them. I had to stop, and I would.

After twenty minutes of valient resolve I realised how dull my life would be without writing. I have other goals, I don't intend to be a writer, but it is everything else besides. Writing influences how I function, how I see the world and make use of it. Life without writing is like poetry without rhyme and rhythm, possible but lacking.

Some of the medieval history department function on the theory that everyone in the middle ages (322 to 1481 according to my brilliant essay on the topic) was drunk. That might have helped things, but I refuse to say it fixed all their problems – I am morally against drinking, I have to say that. Most people in time have believed in the existence of chairs and most people in time haven't had mental breakdowns with quite the frequency of the modern age (appeal to population, fallacy). They had tradition and faith, they used these tools to understand adverse circumstances. We live in an age of science, we know the chair is in our head, we do not have that liberty.

I don't know how people function without the arts, and I don't believe they do. It is dangerous to prescribe art as a tool, like religion or tradition, but I prescribe it as a salve. Start now, you are less likely to fall apart that way. So long as you don't take the 'artiste' route that is. And finger painting really is a lot of fun, though quite silly.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Editing is very, very scary

Last year I finished NaNoWriMo and said “I am never doing that again. It is not possible to write a novel in a month.” For all my meticulous outlining and my 70,000 words I didn't feel like I had something I loved.

But I am not a creature of logic; I did it again. This year my goal was to write something that I loved enough to carry through the editing process. NaNoWriMo is a fair goal depending on what you want from it. I find the parts of my brain that create just work faster under a deadline. I daydream half the time anyway, it just isn't as focused.

And I am terrified. I see my novel looming before me, full of spelling errors and misplaced characters, full of subplots that vanish and ideas that never have use.

I read a bit and thought it was okay. I worked through a chapter summary to figure out what story I was telling and found something completely different. Now I'm stuck, just like last year, with the novel I wrote and the one I wish I wrote and I don't even know which is better. I know there are huge portions that need writing, but I don't know what they are or where they are which means I'm going to be writing and editing at the same time.

But this is all silliness. I have no reason to be frightened because I have nothing to lose. Well, actually I do. I have my deadline set out and people agreeing to read my novel when it is presentable in June. If I make a major mistake and let it remain I will feel moral guilt for destroying my art and my characters will never forgive me.

I really have no choice in the matter, I must be afraid and I must do it right.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Being the storyteller

As of yesterday I have in my head the following:

Hear the tale of Sonya, a geeky girl with large glasses, fights the evil snail-monster in the river Po.

Edward defeats the evil and heartless villain and marries beautiful princess Hassaname.

Pat goes to a funeral of her great uncle Mordicae and discusses the meanings of life...and stuff.

Gather round, gather round, hear the tale of the tender-hearted Emily who meets her true love and steals a spaceship from the Martian king.

I am suspicious of models, I am suspicious of questions, I am suspicious of the truth and I am suspicious of anything that seems useful or enjoyable. Hence I must be highly suspicious of THE WRITING OF FICTION by Arthur Hoffman. But I'm not. Hoffman was an editor and a writing teacher and henceforth we must not trust him or place any trust in his ability to aid writers. Writing is art, as you know, and cannot be taught and ought not to be sold. I trust him, in fact I am willing to place my sanity in his hands. Why? Because he is brilliant.

Until yesterday I knew that I wanted to improve my writing, that I was not perfect, and that I could do better if I put my mind to it. I knew that if I practiced show-don't-tell things would be better.

Yesterday I wrote because...(a) it is my natural reaction to an interesting or exciting idea or
(b) because things fell short of their potential and I wanted to reach stories that reached those places I imagined others to be going. Both are valid, and both are somewhat backward.

Taking into consideration the fact that nothing in creative process is sure or reliable and one cannot trust anything and all those silly disclaimers people love to make, I write because want a story. I find something inspiring or exciting or partaking in the greater realities of perfection and then I realise it is only in my head, but I want it to exist, so I make it exist.

This is reactionary writing, something is created in me and I desire to express it. Even if I generated the feeling in my readers I did not do so intentionally. But I will now.

What I forgot is that we are storytellers, I am a storyteller. When I write I should be creating those feelings in others, not simply reacting to them. Or at least I should spend the time that I am not reacting writing stories that make other people do so. The storyteller hangs against the wall or sits near the fire and calls to passers by, and a crowd of children gather around him when he declares he will tell them the story of how the great grandson of Heracles met emperor Justinian and fought in the Neco riots to protect the emperor from demon possessed heretics. It really happened you know – or not. Girl Genius does a very good impression of this, apart from being all together brilliant.

Then there was a little click and I understood. Of course, what else would you do but tell a story that people wanted to hear? Or at least that you wanted to hear? After the click I wandered around the house for a while, wondering how I could possibly be so blind as to miss that. Sympathy and curiosity, that is all. It may not be easy, and I am no better a writer for knowing, but I have a solid goal and that makes the world a much better place.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Revisions plan

This is based roughly on the National Novel Publishing Year plan, but fitted to accomodate the essays, exams, and general impending doom of university. I have no expectation of publishing. I do expect good practice, some fun, and a lot of insanity. This is the best format I can figure out for someone who appreciates the nanowrimo attitude and has exams to think about.

FIRST RUN
December 16 to March 15 (90 days)
Read over the novel, correcting glaring mistakes.
Make notes on the things missing, needed, and causing problems.
Solve the major problems.
Write the missing portions.
Explore off things off camera

BREAK FOR EXAMS
March 16 - April 30 (44 days)

SECOND RUN
May 01 to May 28 (29 days)
Read over novel, correct glaring mistakes.
Solve secondary and minor problems.
Write required portions.

May 29 to May 31 (two days)
Polish, last minute panicked checking.

CRITIQUE TIME
June 01 - Send off novel for critiques

June 01 to July 10 (~40 days)
Write trade novels, do critiques

CRITIQUE BASED REVISION
July 01 – Send three or four queries

July 10 to July 11 (2 days)
Read critiques and have a trauma attack

July 12 - August 22 (40 days)
Read novel, correct glaring errors make notes
Make a list of problems, consider, solve.
Make corrections as needed

BREAK FOR SUMMER'S END
August 23 to September 10 (19 days)

FINAL DRAFT
September 11 to September 30 (20 days)
Read through, correct minor errors.

HARD COPIES
October 01 – October 05
Print off hard copies
File one in a drawer, send some to friends and family, send off any fulls requested.

A year or two later I will read the drawered copy and see what I think of it.

Combating scene-based clichés

I'm sure many fantasy writers have experienced this: you are happily writing along, discussing the coming of the evil overlord when -- bam! -- you realise that what you are writing is horribly, terribly, disfigured and clichéd. This can be a depressing moment, and honestly it is not one I can help you with. You might not have outlined, but if your overlord bothers is preventing progress then you ought either to stop right now and do so, or at least try it next time you are trying to defeat an evil overlord. On the other hand if you try to rationalise one of these plots you can sometimes end up killing it.

Sometimes it is better to accept your evil overlords and love them for who they are, even if they don't really make sense. Fantasy can be problematic in that way. I hate quest stories from a writers point of view: they are full of wholes, ignore historical premises, and don't make proper sense. As a reader I love them.

So, back to what we can deal with. Scene based clichés. You know that scene where your characters go down into the dank, dark, dubious caverns to hunt some unforgettable forgotten evil or travel to some improperly named 'other side of the mountains' where the populace conjugate their nouns and all the grown ups wear sheets. Or maybe just the caverns.

When you realise you are writing a cliché here is what you do: Stop; Give yourself half a moment and let what you are writing register. And ask a questions or two, get to know this scene.

1.Why do I want to write about this?
Maybe you just love the princess who finally gets hit over the head with reality. Or maybe you don't want to write it but feel obligated.

2.What does it have to do with the rest of the novel?
Maybe it makes perfect sense for the princess to enter reality right now, and the sarcastic hero needed to tell her that she was an idiot to make it happen.

Once you understand the scene and why you are writing it you can probably do better then to simply repeat what has been done before. Though there is much to be said on the impossibility of originality it can be said that your novel is unique. It may follow the same storyline as another and have similar characters to this one, and discuss a land that reminds you of this other one, but unless you are writing fanfiction you are in your own world. Make the most of it, and make sure everything fits into that world and has that particular flavour that only this one novel can give it.

Actually, this advice stands for any scene. It never hurts to know why a thing is happening and what it has to do with anything, it is just urgent to deal with when you are getting writers-block from it.

Tropes: genreness

Trope: A significant or recurrent theme; a motif.
Cliché: A stereotyped expression, a commonplace phrase; also, a stereotyped character, style, etc.

So says the OED.

From this we see that well a cliche is a bad and evil sort of thing a trope is good. The tropes in 'a cure for magic' apparently include government, productivity, and elves. Or were those themes? Elves aren't a theme, so I don't think so.

From this I can also say that trope is not exactly the word I am looking for. What I mean is that particular thing which keeps a genre together, the genreness. This Genreness acts as as glue to keep ideas, characters, plot lines, and magic all working together.

Sometimes people forget this; sometimes the genreness takes over. If it takes over you end up with something along the lines of genre-trash, but less interesting. A story is good because if the characters, and if the characters are subsumed by their roles as hero and villain you lose character. Next the plot line will be taken over by little hero-quest goblins that tell you to follow formats. The problem being that genreness isn't plot line, and you end up with weird series of not really connecting events.

But it goes the same way if you deny your genre completely. I'm happy for those who want to be new and original and I hope that they succeed, but they have no write to complain if they do not. I don't read fantasy for the new and original. I read it because it is fantasy. If I wanted something else I would read something else. But that isn't to say that I don't like clever and interesting stories, I just don't like people saying they write fantasy when they are really writing speculative fiction. I like a story that is individual and powerful, that stands out from everything else because it is just that good, not because you've written your fantasy without elves, heroes, magic, feudal institutions, or at the very least some disconnection from reality.

So there are different levels to the amount of genreness a novel contains. Dragonlance has a lot more then the Hobbit, but both are in the realm of the fantastic.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A cure for magic

From the "15-minute plots" thread on the nanowrimo forums. This is a fun little thing, especially because I get to make fun of myself. I hear it is a bad idea for people of my level of experience to make fun of themselves, as it might deter or spoil their developement...but it is just so much fun. This is what is pretty much what I followed during november, there will probably be things added when I star going over it.

Title: A cure for magic
Genre: fantasy

North America, the dystopian future

SETTING: Imagingery backstory
MASTER WINTON: What a cute little evil creature, I'll raise it so it can consume my soul or something.

SETTING: a street

JEK: I'm a street magician! I do magic and steal peoples money sometimes.
MASTER WINTON: ahh, the perfect tool for my evil scheme. Come with me.

SETTING: house

SAMANTHA: I'm nice
LYDIA: I'm 14. I do magic.
MORGAN: I'm not relevant to the story. I also do magic.

LYDIA: Were those zombies?
JEK: I believe so.

(weird things happen, time passes)
JEK: You know, I think Master Winton might be trying to use me as an evil tool in some diabolical plan or something. And I'll let him too, because I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings.

-LYDIA is kidnapped by WEREWOLVES and they RESCUE her-

JAMES: I'm a werewolf, I think I have flees.

MASTER WINTON: mwahaha, my scheme has succeeded. Now I can return to my loving family, mwahahaha.

JEK: No it hasn't, I'm just nice...and bit egotistical too. (is heroic) I can handle it, you go home to your family.
(Everyone LEAVES. Jek FAINTS and wakes up two months later.)

JEK: Oh look, a forest! ... and everyones gone.

JAMES: Hi! I came to live with you because my family is dead.
JEK: Oh good, you can be the cashier.

LYDIA: This is my brother, we're coming to live with you. Oh, hi James.
CLARENCE: I kill things with guns. I also kill things with swords. I'm really awesome.
JEK: Oh good, you can do these tax forms for me.

(Time PASSES, they sell things, an old lady buys magnets. There is an earthquake.)

JEK: I miss Samantha, she was nice.

SETTING: a Cafe somewhere
SAMANTHA: Hi! I missed you.
JEK: I hate you because your father is mean.
SAMATHA: -is sad-

SETTING: house
SAMANTHA: The author likes me so I came back.

CLARENCE: There is a dragon making the city fall apart.
LYDIA: Dragon?! -squee-
CLARENCE: We should, ah, do something.
JEK: Monster has made me sad and nondirectional, so I don't want to.
SAMANTHA: Haha, you're being controlled. -mocks-
JEK: Hey, there's a dragon destroying the city, let's go stop it! And I am not.

SETTING: under the city
ALL: Wow, tunnels. Wow, a river. Wow, we need boats.

(They go and get boats and paddle around until they find beach and climb out into the rocky mountains, which is RANDOM)

JEK: The dragon is coming, back to the boats

CLARENCE: okay, the dragon is asleep, lets stab it.

-they do, Lydia is MAD-

LYDIA: I'm going to stay here because I like dragons.

SETTING: house

CLARENCE: Jek I'm going to kill you for leaving my sister.
JEK: She wanted to stay you idiot.

SAMANTHA: Jek, I stole your magc and put it in a vase so now Monster won't like you anymore.

JEK: Oh, that explains the dizziness and lack of desire to kill things.

LYDIA'S DAD: Hi Jek, want to learn real magic?

JEK: okay!

THE END.

Argument against NaNoWriMo

I was writing something about the joys of teaching yourself in a nonacademic environment, the touch and go sort of stuff and how wonderful it is to learn to write through those methods as averse to a classroom style, but I don't think I will.


For the second night in a row I made the unpleasant mistake of reading commentary by someone against national novel writing month. Now, if it were intelligent and rational (not Hume's rational, but the other sort) then I would be happy, in fact I would be quite interested in what they had to say. I love debate, debate is good, crass devaluation is not. But I am rather afraid that I will end up treating these people with the same contempt that they treat us, so I will attempt to rationalise and explain their views before I defend our beloved cause.

1.That the more people who write novels the more people there will be who think of themselves as writers, the more who think they are writers the more who will say they are and try to query agents. This creates disrespectful behavior to those who have worked for a long time to call themselves writers, second it puts more amateurs in dangers of being scammed.
2.That writing 50,000 words does not mean you have written a novel, and people who believe this are annoying.
3.That it is not healthy to write 50,000 words of trash, especially when it isn't even sequential.
4.That the serious work comes in the editing phase and telling someone they are a novelist is a pre-emptive move.

I hope I have properly represented these ideas, I must admit that it is difficult considering the black backgrounds on most of these sites (web designer's code for amateur, but I deserve one ad hominem don't I? I had to put up with all their swearing and poorly chosen photographs, I deserve one attack.)

First is the view that only certain people have ought to write. This seems very common with lit fic writers (I hope I do not aim this at the innocent), it is understandable I suppose, they went to school for this and we are disrespecting it. It is like the singular 'they', it may be of use but it goes against the grain.

I disagree with the idea that nanowrimo corrupts the idea of what makes a writer. For one thing from what I have seen nanowrimo is not a freak incident. These people want to write, they have always wanted to write and they like it very much when someone gives them permission to do so, and those are the ones who aren't writers to begin with. There is at times a sort of competition on the forums, who started writing first. I lose, I only started when I was 13. Clearly I am a late-bloomer, because most of these people started when they were seven. Doesn't really sound like a freak occurrence now does it?

I accept that nanowrimo does put more people into the danger of scams, but the site does it's best to protect it's writers. In fact I find it to be one of the most protective and encouraging sites in existence, I love to see everyone helping and encouraging. It is rare indeed that a truly cruel remark is scene, very strange for a writing forum, though our mods are awesome.

I have read novels that are 50,000 words long so it is strange to learn that such things do not exist. However it is true that these novels are rather short, I think that might explain all those scenes I left out that I need to go back and write in January.

Now, the idea that it is bad to write things that are bad is...umm...begging the question. Forgive me, I had a philosophy exam today and it is still in my head. True, it isn't good to write badly. It is good to give yourself the freedom to be imperfect, to allow your muse to take you on grand adventures not permitted by some unspoken cultural norm, and to write so quickly that the dead end never catches up to you.

The final claim, or an edition, is usually that editing is more important then writing. Now, if this is true, then it is better to have a quickly finished rough so that you can get on to the important part. I know that some people do not edit there nano novels. Many do, and those people could not have done so without have something to edit in the first place.

I hate this sort of thing, it reminds me that there is filth and unhappiness in places it has no need to exist and in people who have no right to be either. It is a sad lesson, and one I am getting tired of learning.

The worst part about this is that bit of me that stumbles to its feet somewhere in the back of my mind and starts to growl. I think it might be me pride, I put it back there whenever it misleads me. It makes me want to publish, to fight until I find a place for myself and then laugh in their faces. This is not right, and it is certainly not the reason I write and certainly not the path I want to take at this point in my life.

As to the editing on the other hand, I'm a bit dizzy with excitement for that. Sort of like a power high, I am quite convinced that I can take what I wrote and turn it into something worthy of existence. It sort of feels like the month before nanowrimo, except I know that this will last a great deal longer and probably make me a great deal less stable.

But back to people who disagree with nanowrimo, they do have valid points and it is important to consider the other side of things, but I do not agree with the way of doing things I have so far encountered. For anyone of delicate sensibilities, avoid these sorts of places. These people are not interested in explaining their disagreement, they are interested in attacking the sort of person who would want to write a novel in a month. They do it poorly, I defend them better then they defend themselves, and do not consider that they are hurting people by voicing such harsh opinions, or at least creating vulgarity in the flame-wars they start.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The secret to being a writer

Now, you may have been told that there is no secret to being a writer, that there is no hidden star to find (or possibly buy on the black market). If you have been told this you will also have been informed that all you need to do to be a writer is write. Simple as that. Just put one word in front of the other until you have that book or poem or history essay or whatever it is you need to have done. Now, there is something odd about this. Writing your history essay does not make you a writer. Writing your thesis does not make you a writer. Oddly enough writing a blog about writing does not make you a writer. So it cannot be that, it cannot simply be sitting down and writing. Yes, a writer must write. But can you be a writer if you don't?

I go to a cafe to meet up with some writers in the area. It ends up that you are the only 'non-writer' there. I meet one as I go to buy my coffee, her name is Susan. Susan is dressed in brightly-colored clothes and has her hair down to her ankles. She is very eclectic, a little too artsy, but overall seems harmless. Another, Jeffrey, moans about the cost of the cafe, dressed in black with a baret and an empty notebook. Apparently he has writing block. Dressed in jeans and a grey tea-shirt, I feel a tad bit out of place. Why? Because I'm not a writer. I wrote a novel in november, I know what they are talking about when they discuss the problems with characters in the head and disobedient plots, but I'm not a writer. Not like they are...even though I'm the only one there who has written a novel.

So what is it that makes a person a writer? Is it how they talk? Do you need a beret to be a writer? What about a funny accent? Do you need to be depressed? Do you need writers block?

I'm sure most people will not think that these are the things that make up a writer, except possibly writers block. So there we have it, that secret that lets you into the guild of writerlyness. Writer's block most mean you are a writer, because the poor scholars writing their history essays don't get writers block. No, they procrastinate. It is the same thing of course, but a different name and a different feeling. Procrastination is more useful for a student, it can be used for a wide variety of things. Writer's block means staring at a blank page, which in some places is considered very productive indeed.

But what about Jeffrey? He is a writer in the eyes of those around him, but I don't like being compared to him. I don't like him going around saying how he is a writer when I know very well that he hasn't written more then once in the last two years, and when that once is:

These tears that fall,
are sad and all black
make me cry, sadly
like water, salt
droplets
from my eyes.
Because Susy
I love you,
for ever.

Or something like that. Now at least I know why he wants to be a writer, Susan likes him well enough but she is more interested in her craft fairs and her cat photos. He actually let Susan read this poem, she didn't really get it I don't think.

Eventually, I fell out with the group. I was too busy editing my nanonovel. Not much of a writer I guess, but I'm really too busy revising to be a writer and I need to find some trust worthy agents so I can't really figure out what a 'writer' is at the moment, maybe after I send off that full they requested.

---

That is a writer (it also isn't me in case you were wondering, I certainly wouldn't be caught wearing jeans!)

It is like anything else, it cannot be said with two or three little words. Why would we need novels if we could communicate all our dreams and thoughts and hatreds and passions and humour and confusion a in limericks? A writer is not someone who writes, or someone who dresses like an writer, or talks like a writer, or takes writing classes, or keeps a blog, or writers. But you will make yourself a writer by doing these things. Take on the clothes of it, understand the attitudes and act like a writer, eventually you will become what you are acting like. It will be a bit of a surprise from time to time, especially if you write a novel in a month and suddenly you are off in the airy places of publishing contracts and fan letters and you think 'oh, thats what a writer is'. Or maybe not.

So, sadly the advice remains the same: Writing does not make you a writer, staying up late into the night trying to figure out what went wrong with that plot twist until you are giddy does not make you a writer, nor does dressing or speaking like one, but you must still do at least the first to BE a writer.

So there you have it, there is an initiating, there is a secret code. We can't explain it, we lack the words to explain. It is sort of like a conversion, mysterious and better to be taken with a shining light in the a heavens then a late night novel editing session.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tradition and novelty

Now, I've always hated this idea. I believe it is just a pessimistic excuse not to bother. On the other hand I don't really agree with the obsessive drive to make it new and fresh and fresh and shiny and new and better and better and bigger and shinier. I find it rather excessive.

There are great things to be said for tradition, even in the genre of fantasy, some of what we do may be worn but a great deal of it is just done badly. Fantasy is not an easy genre to write in. It is not an easy genre to write in because a large number of people thought it was, they came in and messed things up and now we have to deal with it. Even the brilliant ones aren't always safe. Imitate Oscar Wilde and you will be at least moderatly admired, imitate Tolkien and you will be sneered at. Why? Because Oscar Wilde was, without a hint of a doubt, brillaint. Tolkien was also brilliant, but in a different way. Fantasy should not imitate fantasy, fantasy should imitate life, philosophy, history, just as any other sort of story.

So yes, tradition is good but don't imitate. I think there might be a problem there. Hmm. Imitate a style and tradition of fantasy, not the particulr conformities of a certain author.

But back to the impossibility of a orginality (though, if I can be annoyed by it, it must exist at least to some degree)...

a story can be...
a. man vs man
b. man vs nature
c. man vs himself

and can end with
a. success
b. failure

Oddly enough most stories discuss all of these the same time and end with both, but that isn't important. What is important is that we end up with six stories. My personal favourite is 'man faces himself and fails.' It really leaves us to wonder.

Now, this is true if a plot is a book and if similiarity at the most basic level creates overall similiarity. It is the same as the diversity and similiarity in creatures, all come from the same basic ancestry, have the same basic needs, and live on earth, but that doesn't mean that cats are exactly the same as humans, nor does it mean that Emma is exactly like the Eyre Affair.

Now, diversity must come at a more complex level then the most basic building blocks. How is that possible? Well, there are various things, but let us stick with plot. The plot can focus on a differet thing, take for example, war.

We have three novels that discuss a city under siege and a man who defends it from the enemy. This makes them seem similiar, but I could tell you with all honesty that these books are nothing alike. Why? Because people understand things differently.

Say these books are all about the same city, even the same man. The city is under siege for three days, one out of two thousand decides to write a book about the man. He he saw it first hand and writers from his own interpretation. Later the man's son, who has grown up with stories about the war, decides to write about him. Last there is the scholar, who after researching and making careful notes, wants to write his own story (most likely about how the man was actually an evil nasty man who tortured innocent hay stacks, because that's what scholars like to do).

Now, all three would have different information, would be telling a different version of the same story. The question would arise if this ought even to be called the same story. I'm not going to answer that question, I don't know. I think it depends very much on the particular circumstances. But, seeing the huge amount of diversity even in the telling of one incident can we really imagine that there is not possibility for originality? Three people looked back and saw the war in completely different ways, and there are hundreds of others just for that one battle, thousands upon thousands in the world as a whole.

The problem is, of course, the amautur, the one who is not there to see the battle, does not learn of it extensively from those around them, and does not study it. They acquire a vague idea of what the war was about, they adopt a few views from others but do not fully comprehend them, they become confused and then they write their story. This is what we should not do. Tolkiens writing reflect how he understood those sources. That is why a writer must read, we must go back and look at the sources, understand the points of view from which a thing is seen, allow them to become our views and our beliefs, and write from that. Of course, you could just write about the world of today and then you wouldn't have to dig as deep into all those old myths and stories...though it never really hurts.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Finishing nanowrimo

Because I heart typewriter I am to announce that I have completed my second novel, or rather that I have completed my second nano novel. Apparently that doesn't really count, even if it is novelish in form and content.

Now, I should know better then to discuss my writing with my friends, family, and random people on the bus, but I don't. I'm just not the sort of person who can write a novel in a month and then keep quiet about it. I don't mean to brag, it is just the thing on my mind...like when some dull bloke wins some sports with the hitting and the yelling and the green fake grass and you are just so excited that you tell me, even though I hate sports. Now it shouldn't be like that, because (1) I have never actually MET someone who hates novels and (2) if YOU won some dull sports thingy I would be interested; I would be happy for you, and I would make you explain exactly how awesome you were, because no matter if I like people watching sports or not and accomplishment is exactly that and should be appreciated.

But no. My sister seems to think that I didn't actually have a plot, which might be true no more then it is true for many stories...and I'm pretty sure that that thing I was writing about was a plot anyway, just not the normal sort of fantasy plot. I mean, of course it is going to be difficult when all I can think of is hero-quest and all I can write is the opposite. Seriously, it has happened twice now: both my novel began conceptually as heroic journeys, which I then proceeded to pick apart until they made some kind of sense, a kind of sense that may or may not destroy their forward motion.

More interesting is the fact that apparently what I am doing cannot possibly be art because I enjoyed doing it. Now, it is quite true that love writing but even I am not quite so crazy as to write a novel in one month and enjoy every second of it. I HAVE to love this, I don't really have a choice in the matter. If I didn't I would be miserable, but still writing. For me this is a prolonged obsessive streak, twice I've seen it at the beginning of October and I haven't had a choice in the matter after that. On the other hand there is truth in the matter, a weird sort of truth that is difficult for me to deal with because it is linked to all sorts of conclusions I have come to to protect myself from my writing and my writing from ever being published. I am not an artist when I write. There are two halves to this, the first being that I am forbidden until I am 30, because I believe strongly that though much of what is written isn't published much of what is published is trash. I refuse to allow that sort of thing into the world, I refuse to let myself take pride in something that is not worthy of pride. The other half is that I want to write things that people will enjoy. Like many fantasy novelists I take after Tolkien, though my approach may be a little different then most. He said that society traps people, and it is our job as fantasy writers to help as many people escape as possible. I don't want to write some brilliant timeless epic full of symbols that will last for centuries, which scholars will puzzle over and concoct absurd meanings for. I hate aspirations to brilliancy, I cannot imagine someone sitting down and thinking 'oh gosh am I gonna be meaningful today', and if they do I cannot imagine how they can produce something worth looking at, but neither do I want to write some trash novel that people will forget five minutes after its gone. This leaves me in the inconvenient situation where I cannot aspire to brilliancy without betraying myself but neither can I be less then brilliant in order to please my sense of what is right and good. I am sure, however, that there are people who manage this. I've seen them, and I hope they don't mind me taking them as my role-models, but again it seems as if I am reaching too high, being too presumptuous. I hope I'll have this figured out in eleven years.

The strangest response was the person who suggested I print it and hide it in a drawer, to be discovered for future generations. That just scared me. I think I might do a bit of editing instead.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Muse got into my novel

Last year I discovered a very strange and rather frightening muse. It was a greying elvish sort of creature, whose movements resembled those of a monkey and whose thoughts resembled those of something somewhat evil. I wanted an elven character for a novel and discovered it--him. Needless to say I was rather afraid to write about him, but agreed that he could be my muse. At that point I was intending to take the creative writing course at my university and he agreed to help me in exchange, but he wanted to eat any characters I wrote about in the class. Since I had now gone beyond talking to things in my head and into the realm of things in my head eating other things in my head I was rather worried, but agreed. I didn't have the class, which saved me I guess.

So my muse sat, and I didn't speak to him much. Generally I converse with my characters one on one, and my need of him was created by the need for some sort of help and protection when writing literary fiction. I hate literary fiction and I haven't a clue how to write it, as might be guessed from the fact that I needed a monkey-elf to protect me from it. I also doubted that the sort of characters one wrote about in literary fiction were the sort that you talked to one on one, fantasy is much better in that. The characters are far more eccentric and often very talkative. I have no way to guarantee that isn't the way with literary fiction, but it seems fantasy writers (maybe because they are the least sane sorts) talk to their characters more often then people writing in other genres. Let me know if I'm wrong.

Anyway...looking at the cast of my novel I realised something. I have a large, frightening, shadowy sort of monster (whose name is Monster) who tends to eat characters or destroy their souls--he particularly likes to eat elves. Muse says it isn't him, but it is surprisingly similiar and leaves me wondering if they are in this together or maybe they are just the same kinds of creature.

Rambling on heroism

I've always loved the corporate heroes, those groups of clever and witty individuals who are all in some way blessed with being fabulous. They sit around a table and discuss the problem and find ingenious solution. Or better yet everyone sits in the living room, someone balances on the edge of the couch, and another stands by the window. Someone is pacing up and down by the door, looking nervous. In this situation there is always someone who is the most organised, who has notes and a a pile of books, which they ought to put on the coffee table. So everyone drinks tea and discusses the whatever it is, and find some solution. Then they go off shield banging and solve the problem, some separately to their own little skills but most of them in a group. And they probably help each other with the preparations too.

I went into nanowrimo thinking of these people, and please note that they aren't really there. There is no organised person, though one of my characters does like to sit on window sills (mostly because he likes to keep track of when the forest vanishes). The thing about this group is that it requires a third person and various points of view, my novel is third person limited. I have a problem now, that everyone is clever but random people run into the room to plot something because nothing can go forward without the main character and the main character cannot know anything without one of the characters coming and telling him. But I don't know where I'm going with this, so I think I will tell a story instead.

I am not behind, I am not ahead. I was ahead last year, but this year I decided to be average. I am exactly that. The emails never apply to me, the comments never help me, the calls for help don't aid me, and the congratulations never apply to me. Maybe I should fall behind so that I can be desperate like everyone else, but that isn't the sort of thing I do.

This is rather peculiar, because in the rest of my life I am panicked and haphazard, but for nanowrimo I seem to be exactly what I ought. My chi tea just overflowed, which shows you exactly how much I am what I ought to be. School nights I start at about 10pm and write as fast as I can to midnight, and I finish. On reading break I pulled ahead a bit, but being busy put me back to just where I ought to be.

My characters are average. I love them and I find them interesting, though sometimes I wonder. The work I do on them isn't brilliant, and I feel like I don't give them enough. That is normal, everyone feels that way. My setting is fuzzy sometimes, which is normal. My writing is somewhere between silly and bad, which is normal. It is rather disconcerting to be this middling. I feel like I'm missing that black-eyed and forbidding panic that nanowrimo is all about, I ought to be losing my mind right now, but I'm really not. I always said I was a passionate sort of person, but it seems like I ought to feel more.

I think I just managed to numb myself. I'm not allowed to get published for a long long time, so I say to myself, which means that anything I write is for me and not to be evaluated on that level. Sometimes I have this strange delusion that I could get published. "Hmm, I'm not really doing so bad, this is about as good as I can see it getting and if I can just get those little problems worked out and give it a good edit it will I'll be set." But that isn't the sort of writer I am. I write because I love writing, I'm going to do it no matter if I get published or not, to me it shouldn't be a goal. This is good and bad, good because it gives me much more freedom, but because in order that I never feel worthy of publishing I set the bar higher for myself, that I never WILL be able to publish. I look at so much of what appears these days, and the writing just isn't brilliant. The story is action: 'event event event, bam! event event' but the gift of words seems too often to be lost. I don't see that gift in my writing either, and until I can discover it I will never feel worthy of publishing.

And that is the sort of person I am to be doing nanowrimo and remaining precisely average, a very confused sort of person. My current fear is that writing in limited third person is making a novel where the only character who really does anything is Jek, my mc. He isn't all that exciting, and most often what the other characters does sets motivation, but it seems like everyone runs to him for help when they could ask each other, and no one ever hides secrets from him. Rather problematic and I will be very happy when I find some solution for this.

Friday, September 28, 2007

How nanowrimo got me again.

Warning: you are being warned.

I should be writing an essay, I should be reading, I should be drinking hot chocolate, but I'm not. What am I doing? Fidgeting. But I have a story, a good story and I want to tell this story. Henceforth I shall forgo cocoa drinking.

Last year around this time I was on a strange old site called avid gamers, which is blue and green. Not tree-green and sky-blue mind you, but still blue and green. My attempt to start a writers group had been thwarted through lack of interest and I was at a loss for my favourite hobby of designing role playing websites and than becoming bored of them, and then I found nanowrimo. My sister had told me about it, but I don't like writing competitions. Competitions make me sad and sour when I lose, and I doubted I could win one with a novel. But soon I understood the full glory of nanowrimo. A link was posted on avid gamers, the writer was discussing what they intended to write for nano (as it is called for short). I was shocked to learn they intended to enter this competition with a novel about vampires, and another intended to write fanfiction. Hardly suitable for a Japanese writing competition (as I assumed it must be). But I was curious. I followed the link; I started reading; by the sixth rule I was doomed. I tried to sign up but it wasn't October yet. I read all the content on the site. I stalked to old forums. I had an idea by that time and it kept growing and growing. I started learning and reading and as soon as I could sign up I did.

I was, of course, rather foolish. Being well informed by this time I didn't need to ask any questions, yet I was still missing interaction and wanted to talk to someone. Making the mistake of admitting this acquired me the only harsh criticism I ever experienced on the site. Once I found my place (the fantasy forum of course) I went happily off to talk about the proper protocol of knights, the importance of fairies, and how one might examine and implement magic into a society. Well, not all those things all first, but I have discussed all three; the fantasy forum is one of the most fun on the web I have yet to find. These people are intelligent, interesting, ready to debate, AND interested in fantasy. How much better can one get?

I started writing at midnight. By the time I went to bed I was nearly to my word count for the first day, but I kept writing. Getting a head start is good in case you lose it. I kept getting them and I kept keeping them. The requirement is around 1666 words per day to reach 50,000 by the end of the month. I wrote around 2400 and reached 70,000. I was bloody proud of myself. I kept expecting to fall flat on my face, but I didn't. I just kept going, and having a novel in progress is one of the most wonderful things I have ever experienced.

So I finished, won, and gained a great deal from it despite the fact that my prize was a cup of hot cocoa. Though there were some good pieces and I discovered an interesting world through my writing (not to mention becoming peculiarly knowledgeable on Persia) I did not find myself in possession of a whole salvageable novel. There are so many things that I learned from nanowrimo that taught me what I ought never to do again, integral parts of the novel which could not be removed. After some months of attempting to rectify the situation I gave up and started writing again. I learned a great deal from that attempt as well, and do believe I will take the beginning of the story as a cautionary tale, and borrow my darling air pirates (yes, it was that fantastic) for other stories.

But on the whole I found it to be too fast. If I had had more time I could have done something better, and since I knew what I was doing after my 'fix novel--oh wait--writers block--'ll quit--all better now' experience I decided that one nano-adventure was all I needed, that I was grateful for what I had learned, considered it invaluable, but would not be doing it again. This of course goes along with the fact that, being an extrovert, I was unable to retreat inside myself after I had finished in order to rebuild all those broken things and strange opinions I had gathered from nanowrimo. I over extended myself, and it was scary. That is the one place I could have used a mentor who was able to warn me what might happen. But I'm still fairly sane..or something of the sort, so I think it is okay after all.

So I was quite set, though I still frequented the fantasy forums to partake in the clever and exciting discussions, that I would not rejoin the ranks of nanoers in 2007. Unhappily I made the mistake of going to the nanowrimo website a few days ago. There was a note there about how the site would be shutting down until October to set up for the coming year. And I was caught. Just like last year, following that link. There it was. Bang. I doubt I can escape, not without more will-power than I have. And it is very hard to escape something when you cannot make any argument that cannot be defeated with “I'm just being lazy not to”. So I guess I will be going back again; hopefully I will be able to keep whole and sane during and after.

Two things must be noted that are here missed. First is that November is the last month of the fall semester, which means essays and midterms are given at the end and beginning respectively, but there is a nice reading break in November with helps a little. Second is that during my first nanowrimo an idea monster (far more violent than plot bunnies) attacked me as I was reading over the site information, it infested my brain and proceeded to build a nest in my thoughts. I have sent some of my brain tissue to the labs in a vain hope that they might find a cure for such rampant infestations in the future. This year I had an idea that I was in love with, and nano just happened to pop up at the right time. Now that I have written once I want to try again, but this time with something that in which I can have pride. Fantasy of course, but I am greatly convinced that a good fantasy transcends all other things, as it involves the mind and the world of the imagination most directly of all forms. Some consider being so closely involved as this to be a weakness, and I think they are quite right that it is a weakness. But it is a crippling and lifelong weakness, like any such thing, and should be honoured and not denied.

And so begins the tales of nanowrimo 2007.

I've been running through Google looking for people having discussions, trying to convince my friends and family to write, and above all writing to me a little less vocal about it than last year. I talk a great deal too much, hopefully I can keep most of it here.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
DEFINITIONS
Nanowrimo: national novel writing month. link
nanoer: a nanowrimo writer, best people in the word
nano: either the book or an abreviation of the abreviation
avid gamers: a hosting site commonly used for roleplaying and with a vibrant discussion community

Nano2006: “the flying ship.” involving a girl kidnapped by an accidentally summoned demon and sold to a group of air pirates.

Nano2007: Will be about either the fall of a hero or a girl named Percy who doesn't really visit Europe in a very small boat.

The problem of individuality and the group

Now here is a peculiar problem, which I have named as such but must think has another name, a name that is scholarly and contemplated and carrying all the fabulous goods and trinkets which over time become attached to such a problem. But I do not know that name or those arguments and shall therefore give it a new name and make my own little argument.

To begin at the beginning I must discuss myself. As a particular person with a particular eccentricity about me I cannot bear to be excited by those fads and sub cultures, which so often tend to inflame the world. If it is a common thing, and a recognised thing, such as an apple or a particular philosophy than I may love it. But if it is something personal, such as a television show or a book, than I have difficulty reconciling my personal love of the thing with its greater popularity. I feel that I am being shallow in loving it, for if I were to be more informed I would certainly have better loves and I do only love such a thing because it has passed into the sphere of popularity.

At some point in time I encountered the idea that originality had dead, struck from the face of the earth and most wholly gone, a hopeless thing to recover or to save. Which is, of course, a very good and noble way to view such things. Clearly it is hopeless to entertain such vulgar notions as the ability to create anything of merit, use, or beauty in our so prominent modern age. The argument follows of course by numbers: how could something possibly be produced when there are so many writers in the world, (a student of Probability might argue that this actually increases the chances, but we don’t allow them in these discussions so that point is null.) Problem represented is the overwhelming amount of writers in this world who desire recognition. The suggestion is to discourage writers from writing; to decrease the numbers to a select few aristocracy gifted enough to speak. The right to speak may not be an invitation but excuse me if I find this just a little bit absurd. Yes, tell those struggling writers that they should not even bother, all our writing is crap anyway so what’s the bloody point?

The point is, I might argue, that if those writers want to write than they should be writing. The number of writers increases in equal parts with the numbers of educated and imaginative people. The number of writers increase nearly equal to the number of people who love books. Those who love stories, who love poetry, and who adore the drama. Those are the people writing our books and our poetry and our drama. It seems that were we to discourage a writer we would also discourage a reader.

Let us take the example of a small fishing village off in the mountains, many come there for some creative pursuit, some have lived there for their entire lives, and others take advantage of the first two groups by selling them such frivolities as toothpaste and milk.

Population =50

Writers who read = 80%
Non-writers who read = 25%

Non-writers=40 (Who read= 10)
Writers=10 (who read=8)

Readers=18

Though these numbers are a bit elevated from the actual data one cannot think them as any less correct than any other survey of tastes, there are a great many pockets of readers and writers even when a general member of the population might not read. From this we might conclude two things:

1. Our population and education are great enough to support our growing population of writers
2. Older writers encouraging younger is a guarantee that another generation of readers to read their books will be born.

And henceforth we see that in our own rich and dynamic world to have fewer writers than we do would not be a blessing but in fact a shame. These numbers show not an increase in the sub par through corruption of media, but a spontaneous one encouraged by an increasingly civilized world (never mind what I really think of ‘progress’, literacy will always be dear to me).

But there is a failure in this romantic view, a personal one. The logical part of my mind creates rational and encouraging ways in which I might meet a writer at every bus stop, in every job, and in every course I pursue at university, but the logical part of my mind does not reign. Every where I turn I meet someone who writes, many of whom tell me they want to take a writing class. Now, being thwarted in my own attempt to do so I may be thought of simply as bitter, but I am not at first a creature of logic.

I believe in the community of writers, all striving and writing and reading and glorying in a shared art. I am a great lover of comradery, saying not ‘I shall stand alone’ but ‘I shall stand with all those like me and together we shall triumph.’ This is where there must be bitterness. I was deprived of that community when I did not take the writing class, I could not feel allied to the writing group I joined, and when I meet another writer I do not feel that we are the same sort of creature. (Though that may be because they do not write fantasy and henceforth cannot share with me the—ahem—true joys of writing). In fact I do not believe I have quite often encountered a fantasy writer, and I know quite well that we are not uncommon so this makes me wonder. But I digress. My point is that meeting another writer does not give me the glory of a cultured and clever society, but instead makes me ashamed. Writing is absurdly personal, and when I see so many pursuing something I hold dear it makes me question whether I have chosen well in my choice of loves. If the world and half is writing why should I? With so many writers in this world what could I, low as I am, contribute? This of course has been answered. I know it well; there is always room for more writing and henceforth more reading. But it is a question of individuality. When I rally writers as a group, than we are no longer individuals, but when I encounter writers I – as an individual – have the same reaction as any other.

So why should I bother? If writing is such a common thing why am I wasting my time there instead of taking a true challenge? Making an obscure and worthy pursuit? My dearest love of course consoled me by saying that ‘they could not possibly be as interested as I’, but that is not an argument that I can make. Degrading another writer is not only an unhealthy way to win esteem, but it undermines those theories of group and individual I might entertain. No, I cannot say that I am better than these people, and henceforth I am forced to very writing as a fad, as a thing that is personal and popular and yet a thing which affects the very nature of a person.

I could argue that I wish to be the very best (and be in danger of imagined existentialists questioning my ability to even know what best is) or I might argue that for me it is not a fad. But all think that, there are very few who say ‘I follow this because I am shallow and it was the first thing to catch my interest’. So where am I left? I am left in disgust of myself, but unable to even admit it without insulting those I should call my comrades. If I say that my loves are low and common things, I call their loves low and common. If I say their loves are low and common, whereas mine is true, I undermine my sense of honour and shame myself.

And there we have the problem of the individual and the group. I cannot become a part of the group without denying my individual love; I cannot be a proper individual without accepting the communality of my love. Clearly the solution is denial. I shall be in denial from now on.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dead sites and things I distrust

Contemplating some other topic aside from writing, there is nothing more disturbing to find then a dead site. Some are not quite so bad as others. Sites with old updates or comics that were promised to appear are one thing, but forums always disturb me. Here we have a flourishing group of friends, people who know each other and have spent time together. Suddenly something goes wrong, the forums go silent. Someone comes back, maybe a month later, and considers that the site is dead. Sometimes you see people who discuss how their lives have gone to hell and they have to leave. It is worrying when there is one person to consider, on a blog or the sort of site maintained by a select individual, but more so in a group. What can you do if that nice girl you spoke to over the Internet has a nervous breakdown and kills herself? Absolutely nothing. It isn't your business, you don't know her, and if you did get involved it would be more likely to label you as an internet stalker than a friend. Sometimes one can cross the boundaries but not always, there is no way to protect such communities, and they can die in the blink of an eye.

Moving along, the last website I saw to be dead was a writing website (were back here, the trouble with a preoccupation is that it preoccupies a person, but really if this were a religion it would be heresy to worship method and henceforth I should really stop...I won't comment on how into it I am now, it isn't even worth it.

But yes, dead writing website. People posting are of two kinds: those who want to brainwash the naïve writers who don't know better than to protect their cash, and naïve writers trying to convince people to buy their work. Interestingly enough I put these two in the same category. Both want something from you, both rely on tricking you in some way, and both relate to naïve notions (though in a rather different way). These two creatures co-exist in a sort of harmony, feeding off each other. And I better conclude before I begin sounding like a mock nature video and making up scientific names and saying 'these rare creatures' or 'often seen in the writers kingdom'. Yes, better to stop now and save a little of a soul.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In which I declare hopelessness and disagree with myself.

A logical being might conclude – taking into account that I have not updated this blog, and as I suggested in my previous post that I was unlikely to get into the Writing 100 class – that I did not, in fact, get into my writing 100 class. Of course a logical being might just think me lazy or busy, as is very often the case. Unhappily it is the former, though I am at times lazy and busy. I made it to number four, which guarantees that, had I registered an hour earlier, I would have been in the class.

The question I pose now is, what is to happen to this blog? What should be done with it? Clearly I should continue to update it, as I am such an interesting person that the world not knowing my random interests would be…umm…I run out of words, sadly I can only pretend absurd self-importance for so long before my fingers rebel. But I do desire to continue this blog, and may do so. I am quite passionate about writing, and if I were to continue I believe it would be my main preoccupation. On the other hand I cannot think writing about writing will bring anyone forward in the world. Such things only distract one from proper and rigorous pursuits. I do like distraction. I like it especially when I am in school, and cannot allow myself to fall deeply into my own creations without my grades falling deeply into the realm of not-quite-so-good-as-I-would-like.

Therefore I may or may not return to post an update, and if I do return it will likely travel in at least three circles and contradict itself twice. Hey! Now I know what I must write about. Well, that works at least.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Waitlist update

I feel obliged to note that the writing100 are now closed to the registry system. I am unsure whether this means no one can add the course, or if no one else will be getting in as well. I have been number four on the waitlist since thursday, and unless four people change their mind by monday I will not be taking the course.

Henceforth I must conclude that, unless I suddenly become very clever and think up something else interesting to blog about, no more posts shall be made.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Oh, the horror of waitlists.

I cannot bear it so well as those for whom the word 'tedium' suffices to describe a waitlist. Even those classes for which all of logic guarantees my place I am nervous, and for those in which I am not guaranteed a seat I am more nervous still. I know many share this lack of composure and I must assure them all that it is irrational and they should stop it. I also believe a waitlist support group is in order. Oddly enough I have been the most sure of those around me. This is my second year, and I know from experience that one almost always finds a place in the class that they aim for, but then I needed reassuring. Now it falls to me to reassure worried friends that I will in fact find a seat in that history class I need so desperately.

One day until my first writing class and I am eleventh on the waitlist. Is this cause to panic? Maybe. If you happen to read this blog for some peculiar reason on this exact day and for some reason or other take a fancy to it, than it may be a reason for a very minor amount of regret, as I cannot possibly blog about my creative writing class without said class. Or rather I could, but it wouldn't be as much fun when everyone learned I had been lying and someone hired a ninja to have me assassinated. Do ninjas assassinate people? That is beside the point. I shan't blog if I don't have a class, so I order my invisible gnomish audience to be compassionate and make sad sounds.

Priority for the writing class I meant to enter is given to writing majors, priority over all is given to first years at this university; these things are fair, rational, unavoidable, and annoying. As one might guess I am not a writing major, a first year, or someone clever enough to trick my way into the faculty just to take the class. I happened to be at work (I worked far too much this summer) when non-writing majors were able to apply, and made the grand commission of signing me up over to another (who promptly forgot). Henceforth I applied two hours later and found myself 24th on a waitlist for a class of 148. This is not a bad position, compared to the one of 54th acquired some hours after that, but it is not a good one. The assumption is made that 15% will drop the class, or in this case 22.2 persons. Meaning I shall soon be finding myself as rejected to the course, being the 1.8ths person on the list.

Writing 100 works on a rather peculiar system. In order to keep all first year writing students in one lump, and give them the most information in the least time, the class is split into 4 'tutorial' sections. Each is assigned its own teacher and subject (Poetry, creative non-fiction, fiction and drama). The four sections each contain 35 seats, which means that six people will be accepted into the course but waitlisted for the tutorials, those students will be permitted to attend tutorials. I will not. This is quite unusual, as all other faculties allow for waitlisted students to attend classes and receive handouts and information. From what I can tell the writing program has one of three opinions: only six will be shuffled in after the first class and all others ought to be ignored, 35 is the most creative people one can allow in a room at once, or the writing program is so much superior that they must prevent any student not properly enrolled from acquiring their valuable information.

For those first years reading this who happen to be on a waitlist, do not despair. What is the drop ratio? If you are the sorry individual who is 54th on the waitlist remember that almost 80% most drop before you get in, but most often you ought to have hope: everything that can be done is being done for your benefit. On the other hand, make a backup plan. What will you do if this doesn't work out? My backup plan, as writing is almost completely a pleasure course (I do need 1.5 out of 6 credits from something other than the humanities, but it is easy enough to get that elsewhere) my arrangement consisted of finding a course to fill the second semester slot. For those with serious ambitions taking other necessary classes, or even a note to the faculty might be required.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Translating the sites latin

Because I hate to leave a blank slate untarnished I shall now attempt to translate the latin found on this site without textbook, dictionary, practiced skill, or sleep.

Lorem ipsum vim ut utroque mandamus intellegebat, ut eam omittam ancillae sadipscing, per et eius soluta veritus.

verb: itellegebat
past, preterite, third person singular

his intelligence?

They themselves held his intelligence, with my axilery admittence of something unimportant, as with his true solution.

***

With post exists to prove that I cannot read latin, contrary to common belief.