1. NO SET SCHEDULE:
“Whoops, I stayed up too late tonight watching House reruns. Oh well, good thing I don’t have to be anywhere in the morning~!”
2. NO FEELING BAD ABOUT SPENDING THE DAY ON THE INTERNET: With a job: “Awww, I wanted to be productive today but I spent the entire day sucked into a link spiral on Wikipedia. I guess there’s always next week.” Without a job: “I spent the entire day sucked into a link spiral on Wikipedia. AWESOME! Let’s do it again tomorrow!”
3. MORE TIME TO DO ALL THAT CRAP YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO DO BUT NEVER HAD TIME FOR, LIKE REMIX MIDIS OF LADY GAGA SONGS.
4. SAVING MONEY YOU WOULD HAVE OTHERWISE SPENT ON GAS OR LUNCH AT WORK
Seriously I probably dumped close to $100 a month on lunches/the snack machine alone. And let’s not get into gas money.
5. PLAYING WOW ALL DAY
“Holy crap suddenly I have time to do randoms. On all my characters. OMG. OMG.”
1. PLAYING WOW ALL DAY
“If I do the Argent Tournament dailies on one more character I’m going to punch a toy kitten.”
2. BEING BROKE
“GUYS GUYS I FOUND A $5 BILL I DIDN’T KNOW I HAD. THIS IS THE GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE. I’M GOING TO CELEBRATE BY BUYING ONE MOUNTAIN DEW AND DRINKING IT SLOWLY THROUGHOUT THE DURATION OF THE WEEK.”
3. AWKWARD MOMENTS Phone Rings
Bill Collector: “Hi uh, your bill for such-and-such is past due.”
Me: “Yeah, I don’t have a job.”
Bill Collector: “Oh.”
Bill Collector: “…well, it’s still due. Just an FYI.”
Me: “Yeah I know.”
Bill Collector: “Are you sure?”
Bill Collector: “Okay because I just wanted to make sure you know that your bill is due and–” *click*
4. CABIN FEVER
“I’m going to go drive around for a few hours.”
“Why? Where are you going?”
“Nowhere. But it’s at least slightly more interesting than walking in circles around the house.”
5. GETTING OUT OF SHAPE
“OMG MY FEET ARE SOOOO SORE”
“…um, you were only at Wal-Mart for like ten minutes.”
“SHUT UP I’MA GO LAY DOWN. AND PLAY GAME BOY.”
Still job-hunting. Your good vibes: send ’em my way!
So through a very long and convoluted series of events which I shall not recount here, it appears that I am moving again. This time I’m not just moving across town, though. I’m actually returning to my birthplace and moving to:
Specifically the whole island part in the middle of Puget Sound there.
What’s really funny is that I was actually born there so it’s a homecoming more than anything, but I moved away when I was like, 1, so I don’t remember anything. I do remember snatches of the Seattle area, where I lived for a few years after, but even those memories are sketchy. So instead my paranoid brain last night came up with a list of things that scare me about this impending move:
1.) Slugs. They don’t have those here in Podunk Montana. I was looking forward to never seeing one again, but…
2.) Trees. According to my allergist I am allergic to “All trees, all molds, all grasses, and all weeds”. Actually as I type this I have a kleenex stuck up my nose. My solution is clearly to move to the Evergreen State, apparently.
3.) Being at sea level, which freaks me out for some reason, possibly because I’m used to being a mile high and surrounded my mountains. Did I mention that deep water terrifies me?
4.) Traffic/highways etc. I love driving. I do not love billions of cars. Tailgaters scare the daylights out of me. “Rush Hour” here in Montana means I’ll be waiting an extra twenty seconds at the stop light and I might be a few minutes late. I don’t wanna think about how it will be when I’m like an hour from Seattle, especially since commutes and such seem to be likely.
5.) Nobody knowing how to drive in the snow, and me not knowing how to drive in anything BUT snow. Actually I have no idea if that’s true or not, it’s just my guess. When I took Driver’s Ed, there were raging snowstorms going on, the roads were a solid sheet of ice, and I was constantly swerving to avoid hitting deer. I am the master at that sort of thing, but unfortunately they don’t teach us rednecks how to survive in the city. I still don’t know how to parallel park.
But! I am making myself think of the positives, such as:
– More job opportunities
– More school opportunities
– Being closer to a ton of friends/family
– Actually being close to a real city with real stuff
…who me, one-track mind? *innocent*
Anyways this whole thing is apparently happening next month or something, so this will be exciting.
“Write a book” is one of those things that is on most everyone’s list of things they’d like to do at some point in their life, so much so that it’s almost become cliche, itself. Well as most everyone knows by now, I’ve written a few, and while I can’t claim to speak for the professional side of things seeing as I have not yet been published or anything, a lot of people still seem to be interested in the process I’ve gone through because they want to do NaNoWriMo or whatever. So here is my list of five things I wish I’d known beforehand, in the event that it helps anyone else! <3
1.) NaNo/Deadlines are AWESOME
When I was about, oh, 14 years old or so, my parents gave me a watch. It was accompanied by a little ceremonial sort of thing wherein I was informed that the present was because they knew I always made good use of my time. I don’t remember anything about said watch, I don’t recall what it looked like or even where it is now, but it was my first real “grown up” watch and I wore it everywhere, and thus launched both an obsession as well as the terrible feeling of nakedness I have if I am not wearing one.
I digress, though. The point is that looking back on it I have no idea what my parents were on about when they said I made good use of my time. I really don’t. I mean yeah, I generally have a good idea of what time it is, because I am an incessant clockwatcher, but then I procrastinate… and procrastinate… and procrastinate…
Enter NaNoWriMo, which not only throws a deadline at you, but peer pressure, too. I dunno about you, but for me, this is a dangerously effective combination. NaNoWriMo’s little daily-word-count graph prodded me into writing 50,000 words in 28 days, all while I was working a full time job and trying to keep up with my WoW blog. In contrast, the seed of “Windshifter” had been percolating in my brain for at least a decade, through countless summer vacations before I even had a job. All that time to write, and I didn’t, because I had no motivation.
It’s funny because I had heard of NaNo before but never participated, primarily because I didn’t like the idea of having one’s creativity confined to a timeline. It sort of bothered my inner free-spirit-artist. Never again will I doubt, though.
Now, I will say that NaNo does not work for everyone. I know of some people for whom the deadline is a serious hindrance or distraction. But keep in mind that I felt that way, too, until I actually tried it. Any aspiring writer who has trouble with motivation should give this a shot at least once, in my opinion. If it works for you, the results will be amazing.
2.) Have an Outline
When I wrote my book for NaNo I quite honestly made it up as I went along. While a few of the characters had technically existed in my brain for years, they were completely revamped for this book, as was the entire story and even the setting of the story. The idea of my book when I started writing was very different than how it ended up being.
…somehow it managed to turn out all right (hopefully), but a lot of editing was needed to hammer everything into place. This all would have been a much smoother process if I’d had a basic outline (even just a couple sentences) that I was working off of, instead of just a nebulous concept.
3.) (If you want to be published) Don’t Just Write For “Everyone”
If you are one of those people who is of the mindset that your book is for whoever wants to read it, regardless of age, then congratulations, you are just like me and like tons of respected authors. The trick, though, is that publishers and literary agents don’t see it that way (did you know there are a such thing as “literary agents”? I sure didn’t, until I had actually finished my book. GG, me!)
I have come to the conclusion that you have to sort of balance the belief that your book can be for everyone but can still be marketed to a specific audience, because that latter one there is what the publisher is looking for. This is more complicated than one might expect, because for example, did you know that there is a type of novel known as “middle grade”? Yeah I didn’t know that either, until a couple months ago. From what I understand it’s the type of stuff you read in middle school. Well I look back at the type of stuff I read in middle school (Watership Down, His Dark Materials, etc.) and most of it falls into the “But that was a pretty deep book that I still enjoy as an adult” category, further muddling things up. As you can see, this whole thing can be pretty complicated.
As such, I wish I had known all of this before I started writing. I don’t think it would substantially change my book, but it might have helped to focus it a bit and perhaps given me some inspiration from similar books.
4.) Your Main Character Needs Some Sort of Tangible Personal Problem/Character Arc
For the first draft of my book I went off of the idea that my main character was sort of a socially awkward geekface, and that would be his character flaw. Unfortunately I got some feedback that this didn’t work very well, because while being a socially awkward geekface is all well and good, it’s not really a tangible flaw, unless he stops being a socially awkward geekface at the end (which he really didn’t.)
Readers don’t really buy it unless the character has an actual flaw that manifests itself throughout the book and which said character learns from or corrects by the end. It sounds pedestrian and like something you’d see on saturday morning cartoons but there is a reason it’s pedestrian, and that’s because that’s really how stories work.
I managed to get away with this problem in the first draft because I had a secondary character (who I think could be argued as the “true” main character of the story) with lots of Emotional Baggage so I think I was able to keep the audience’s interest that way, but that is tricky to pull off and I think it’s best to make the most prominent character of your story have his own character arc.
And so here I am again doing tons of editing with a big ol’ scalpel which could have been prevented if I had planned this from the start!
5.) Ask Your Characters Questions
This is one of those ones that probably sounds either silly or insane, but it is endlessly useful. Learn how to pretend that your characters are real and that you are interviewing or chatting with them. Ask why they are helping your hero, or what their motivation is for doing some plot point that happens seemingly out of nowhere. This will help tons in the long run not only for making realistic characters but also for making your inevitable deus ex machinas seem not quite so deus ex machina-ish.
Welp, I hope that list was of some use to someone out there. NaNoWriMo is coming quick and it’s never too early to get a headstart on thinking about it. Regardless on if you plan on participating or not (and yes, I fully intend on doing it again… I want to make this a yearly thing from here on out, seriously), happy writing! <3
As most of you all know by now, I majored in film. This gave me two valid career options: fast food and retail. (I opted for the latter.)
Really, “What are you going to do with that degree?” is a question that will probably haunt me for the rest of my life. The reason I went was because I was hoping it would be an outlet for the stories in my head. See, I’m very visual; when I was writing my NaNo, for example, I had to keep stopping to draw pictures or make storyboards or what-have-you. I still can’t listen to most music without little “mental movies” springing unbidden to my mind.
There was a problem with film school, though; namely, there was sort of a… conflict of interest, I guess.
Professor: “So, what sort of movies do you guys want to make?” Everyone Else: “Memento” / “Fight Club” / “Some black and white indie art film”. Me: “THE LION KING!” *Everyone turns to stare at me* Me: “…what?”
…on top of that, take a wild guess on what’s cheaper to make on a shoestring college kid budget: “The Lion King”, or “some black and white art film”? Yeah. So as you can see the “outlet” I was hoping for turned into tagging around on everyone else’s art films while I daydreamed that I was making cartoons instead (although the senior film I ultimately worked on was trying to be “Buffy”, so I guess that was a decent compromise.)
Still, I look back on my time at film school rather fondly. I had fun and learned a lot of interesting things. Among them…
TOP TEN THINGS I LEARNED IN FILM SCHOOL:
10. “Apocalypse Now” is the answer to every test question.
Sound design question? Apocalypse Now. Editing question? Apocalypse Now. Directing question? Apocalypse Now. Seriously. Even if it wasn’t the original answer, you can usually convince the professor that it works somehow.
9. Everyone Gets to do Everything.
The professors hated when you did this and tried to lay down rules. “Everyone in your group needs to specialize in something! I don’t want to see you as an extra in your own movie!”
Yeah. Um. Not happening. In the senior film I ultimately worked on I was producer, co-executive producer, location manager, assistant camera/clapslate, boom operator, and yes, an extra. Good times.
8. Yeah, Hitchcock is cliché, but it’s because he’s a genius.
(Oh, the shower scene from “Psycho” is your backup Answer-to-Every-Test-Question should “Apocalypse Now” fail for some reason.)
7. What the Difference Between a “Grip” and a “Gaffer” Is.
…but I’ve since forgotten.
6. 95% of foreign movies will inject insanity directly into your brain.
Exceptions are made for Kurosawa (’cause dude, SAMURAI), and Bollywood. Bollywood (aka Indian cinema) is basically big-budget Disney films except live-action instead of animated. And thus awesome.
5. Script Breakdowns Will Destroy You.
“Script Breakdown” is a nice way to word the following: taking a script and going through it line by line and making a note of every character, every prop, every location, every sound and every special effect in the entire movie, and then organizing them into various lists and charts. It will give you nightmares and it will be a good six months before you can watch a movie again without wincing because “uuuugggh that scene would be so expensive and such a pain and augh.”
4. Animated Movies Will Help You Learn2Story.
See, maybe I was on to something with this “Lion King” thing I was talking about earlier. We watched “The ChubbChubbs” in my screenwriting class as an example of setting up a premise and then delivering a solid story. And I have a very distinct memory of some Hollywood professional who had worked on several films coming into our class and showing us clips from “Finding Nemo” as examples for how to make a good story. I don’t remember anything else he said, except for his high praise of “Finding Nemo”.
3. “Don’t Be Afraid to Kill Your Babies”.
…rather less gruesome than it sounds, I promise. My editing teacher said it, and it was to prepare us for a moment that he knew would come in each of our little film-student-lives at some point where we’d have to leave some beautiful scene on the cutting room floor because it didn’t advance the story.
I still mutter this phrase to myself sometimes when working on my fiction writing.
2. Film Professors Say the Darndest Things.
“This must be a leftist VCR”, “Remember: Actors are sheep”, and “Fidel Castro was starting to get on my nerves, so I told him to stop it” come to mind.
1. When You Give Your Story to the World, It Isn’t Yours Anymore.
Another thing my editing teacher said. At first, this sort of miffed me. It was my story, afterall, it meant what I wanted it to mean. But I’ve thought about it a lot since then and I’ve come to agree with him. Sure, my story means one thing to me, but to someone else it may mean something else entirely. And you know what… I think I like it that way.
(This may or may not have added fuel to what would become the Open Source Fangirl Fire.)
Ah, film school. Good times.
Maybe someday, I will get to make my “Lion King”. In the meantime, I daydream and doodle… and ramble on blogs…