Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What is your dream place to live?

Yesterday at NSTF (the writing group I'm in here on campus), we had a writing prompt that didn't quite work out: write 400 words on your ideal place.

Today, at my work meeting (that I'm still in. Don't judge me) our "once-around" was to tell everyone our dream place to live.

I think the universe is sending me a bit of a message.

As a college senior, I am supposed to know what I want to do, and where I want to do it. It's no secret that I want to writewritewrite for the rest of my life, but the dilemma arises whenever I try to imagine where I'd like to live.

I know where I'd like to travel; Europe (Denmark, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Italy, Greece, and Russia, those are just a few, for the sake of specificity), Japan, Israel, Iceland, Canada, Egypt, India, and various places in my homeland (Hawaii, Alaska, California, Florida, Colorado, Washington, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Maine, just to start the list. I kind of want to see all of the USA).

I know where I might like to spend a few years of my life: New York, somewhere in Europe, California...

But when it comes to LIVING? As in, spending a fair amount of years in one place? It just seems preposterous to me. While I live with some fantasies of being a nomad for the rest of my life, I know that the chances are slim to none of actually doing that. Still, though, the idea of planting my life in one place for more than five or ten years grates on my skin like sandpaper. I don't know if I can do it. I don't even know if it's worth worrying about. But it's scary as hell.

I guess things will work themselves out, something that tends to happen (though I'm quick to forget it) no matter how much I stress about it.

But I digress. What is your dream place to live (in 400 words or less)?

I think this is close to what mine would look like:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Who Wrote Morgantown? (DFTBA)

Sometimes (and by sometimes, I mean often), I daydream about my life post-publication. I imagine it would turn into something like Oz compared to Kansas for Dorothy. Minus the Witch. Ok, so the analogy isn't quite perfect. Still, I think about how much I would travel, how many new cafes I'd write in, which would coincidentally be in France, or Ghana, or Israel, or Ireland. Or all of the above.

I think about the acceptance speeches I'd say when they tell me my book won the best-book-ever-how-did-this-not-get-published-sooner award. But if the unthinkable does happen, and I get my dream contract with my dream agent, etc. I'll have to fess up that I was not the only writer of Morgantown.

In the video below, John Green (Nerdfighter extraordinaire. Oh. He writes too) talks about his first novel, Looking For Alaska, and who REALLY wrote it (hint: it's a long list). Also? Please go read Looking For Alaska. I'm in the middle, and in love. In fact, watch all of the vlogbrother videos, because John and his brother Hank are smart, funny, and entertaining. You might even learn something from their stuff. It's pretty awesome.

If you have a completed manuscript in the world, or even just lurking around your computer, who wrote it? Besides you, I mean.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stolen from Dybek: Scene

First, a good song:

Now, a little something I'd like to call, "Stolen from Dybek."

My writing class has been particularly interesting this quarter, and though oftentimes advice on writing is common sense, or at least repeated enough that it feels like it, I thought he had a lot of great things to say on writing. So I'm going to paraphrase the gems and hope that his original advice remains intent. I'll try to keep a basic topic with each post, since I'm taking an entire class on writing with him. Without further ado, here is Part 1:


1) Writing Necessitates showing. Showing necessitates scene.

Which leads to...

2) Writers think in scenes. Readers think in narrative.

I'm not sure if I agree completely with this one. Let me tweak it: When you're writing, don't think in terms of a reader. Concentrate on scene. If you just SAY what happens next, you won't necessarily be able to reel a reader into your story. But if a character does something to push the plot forward, then you'll get the reader hooked.

This could be boiled down to the tried and true basic writing advice:



3) Dialogue is the most powerful action in a scene. It's the fastest way to move in fiction.

I think he said this because when you're writing pure exposition, it's easy to get lost in "and then this happened," but dialogue forces you to stay in scene. Dialogue is a tricky thing, and the best writers have screwed it up.

Pop culture reference: I saw a free preview of NO STRINGS ATTACHED last night with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. It was funny, witty, and fairly well done. It's not Inception, but I liked it. However, there is a line in there (and I won't tell you where) when a character says: If you come any closer, I'll never let you go.


Now it's not that this dialogue is bad (though let's be honest: It's seriously cheesy) but it's COMPLETELY out of character! It ruined the scene! It made me sad. And it's only partially related to my overall point. But please. Make sure your dialogue is in character, and not like Cheetos (dangerously cheesy).


Agree? Disagree? Advice is always subjective, and there are exceptions to every rule. But you probably shouldn't break a rule until you know how to follow it, so go write! Now!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Writing Exercise: Fairy Tale Retold


These days, she lives in a small hotel about twelve miles from nowhere. It reeks of the mundane, and she rarely gets visitors, but it’s home. Sometimes when the summer wind creeps in, she walks through the trees with her animals, dreaming of cool marble halls and the salty ocean air. Sometimes it comforts her.

Sometimes she dreams of fair Odysseus, and his body warming her bed. But that mostly reminds her of her loneliness. After all, her servants have gone, her sons are all dead, and visitors are few and far between. All she has now is her little hotel, and her pets.

Tigers and wolves roam her property, along with the occasional pig from an era long since lost. There are lions, but their teeth have decayed. There are bears, but it’s been centuries since the last time one bothered to hunt. She’s contemplated turning them back, just to have someone to talk to, but despite the years she’s spent alone, she hasn’t lost her cruel tongue or sharp temper.

At night, she sways her hips to music that crackles from an old, battered radio. She cooks herself breaded mushrooms for dinner, and falls asleep on frayed sheets.

She does get the odd visitor, though. He finds his way to her with stories of a broken car, or an unreliable map. On those nights, she cooks a feast and they dance to her old radio. On those nights, she does not go to her bed alone. On those nights, she lives again.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's been a month

And my, have things changed.

This quarter I'm taking two writing classes, as opposed to last quarter, when the most writing I got was procrastinating for papers. My favorite class is Writing 307: Fabulous Fiction (which really means non-realistic fiction). I love everything about it, except maybe the lack of happy happy times between my classmates. I want to be friends with the other writers in this class, something I haven't had since Writing 301.

In 301 I made some amazing friends, friends that I hang out with a lot today. It makes me think of the writing community at large, and how supportive and wonderful it is. Despite the apparent competition, people still help each other with tips, editing, and moral support. I love it.

But I digress. I want to actually write in this blog, but my neglect is becoming intolerable. I'm going to post more often (promise!) with more misadventures, tales from writing 307, the Publishing Job hunt (which I'm about to embark on), and of course, writing stuff. Also, check out my other blog if you want to hear about my crazy dreams (and dreams in general). For my 307 class, we've been asked to keep a dream journal, so I'll definitely be posting there more frequently.

I suppose that's all in the name of updates, but here's a video (creepy, just so you know) that I got from one of my other classes (Psychology of Human Sex. Yes, it's awesome). If the video gets to you, just listen to the song, because it rocks: