Posts Tagged “life of pike”

I remember very well a certain day in math class in high school. It was algebra or something, and the teacher had just finished filling up the whiteboard with numbers and variables and equations– a step-by-step proof of how she had solved a particular problem.

And I remember looking at it and thinking it belonged in a book of poetry. Because there were patterns there; patterns and rhythm just like in a sonnet or some other verse, and it was telling a story, just like poems do.

And then I thought, “…does anyone else think like I do?”

This actually bothered me a lot throughout high school. In a time when we were supposed to be deciding what we wanted to be when we grew up, I struggled to decide if I was a writey/artsy person or a mathy/sciency person. Because public school made it all pretty black and white that way.

We took all sorts of tests to help sort of steer us in career directions. These did nothing but further muddle the issue to me. “Right-brained/left-brained” tests invariably stuck me right in the middle, 50/50. The “What Career is Best For You?” tests usually told me my top two career possibilities were “artist” and “analytical scientist”. And don’t get me started on those Myers-Briggs tests, which would tell me I was something completely different every time (“Introvert” being the only constant.)

As the whole university thing loomed closer this dilemma only got bigger, and it troubled me a lot because I felt as though I would never find a niche. All around me I saw the artsy kids and the mathy kids. And then there was me, writing love poems from the point of view of chemical elements. I felt as though I would never be able to find a niche.

This whole issue persisted through my rather haphazard college years, ultimately leaving me rather unsatisfied and wondering if I had made a bunch of wrong choices. (Although, looking back on it, I think I probably would have wondered the same thing regardless of what I majored in.)

Thus began the soul-searching and the wandering around, trying to figure out what I actually wanted to DO.

And finally– just over the past few months, really– I came to a conclusion that I should have come to a long, long time ago:

There is no hard line between my interests. Things aren’t black and white like that.

Instead of trying to choose between what seemed like conflicting interests, why couldn’t I embrace them all? And were they even actually conflicting in the first place, despite what had been drilled into me by neatly defined school classes?

The answer to that last question is no. Because there is beauty in function, and there is poetry in science. And the other way around, as well.

Of course, now that I have had this little epiphany of self-discovery… now comes the hard part, which is trying to figure out what one DOES if one likes a little art in one’s tech, or a little tech in one’s art.

…other than, you know, being drawn like a magnet to things that exemplify that train of thought.

Datamancer is my hero.

I’m still not quite sure what the answer to that question is, but I have faith that I will find it, somehow. It’s hidden away in the serpentine paths of cogwheels and in the milky orange-yellow-violet-white of glowing Neon and in the symphony of the melody of rain on my windshield and my car’s wipers keeping time. It’s in carbon, that element that is valuable as a diamond but even more valuable as the graphite in my pencil which I draw and write with. It’s in the sky and it’s in the extraordinarily complicated flying machines that allow us to experience the romance that is the sky. It’s a story that should no longer go untold. How am I gonna tell it? Well, frankly, your guess is as good as mine.

I do know one thing for certain, though. Question convention. Don’t just step outside of the box, but stop allowing yourself to be defined by it. You just might find yourself in the unlikeliest of places. And that’s probably a good thing.

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What most of us refer to as “creative writing” is something I’ve always done. Always. Like breathing. Remember the “breathing” metaphor, it’s gonna come back. (A lot.)

I asked for notebooks for Christmas and my birthday and filled them up with stories. With story ideas. With character ideas. With journals. With poems. Lyrics. Anything.

I was always writing.

Got it?

Okay.

Now.

Apparently “always writing” as a child is not a common thing. Because everyone was always asking me if I was going to be an author or writer when I grew up.

And I would always look back at them as if they were crazy.

Of course I wasn’t. I was going to be a doctor/firefighter/artist/veterinarian/scientist/astronaut/horse breeder/chemist/animator/whatever I wanted to be at the time.

Asking me if I was going to be a writer when I grew up was like asking me if I was going to breathe when I grew up. If I was going to be someone who sat in a room all day and specialized in breathing. What an incomprehensible idea. Why would I want to do that?

I wrote stories because I had to. Because if I didn’t, I might die. Same as if I stopped breathing.

Didn’t mean I wanted to do it for a living. How absolutely preposterous.

I think my attitude toward writing drove some people nuts. See, I wrote not one, not two, but THREE full-length novels before I turned eighteen. And yet I had no interest in “being a writer”. A lot of people could not comprehend this, and were always asking me when I was going to major in English. Even when I was in college and majoring in film/chemistry/Japanese Studies/film again, people were asking me when I was going to wake up and smell the roses and change my major to English. (It sort of got irritating, actually.)

I laughed those people off. Every time.

Majoring in English was silly. Like majoring in breathing. I took AP English in high school because it was easy 5′s on the AP tests and thus easy college credit. I had no interest in pursuing it further.

So lemme tell ya, this whole NaNo thing where all of a sudden I’ve been introduced to a world of editing and critiquing and advice and “do and do not” lists and blogs and feedback and publishing and agents and proofreading and all this STUFF, is really throwing me for a loop. I’ve never really had to deal with any of this before. I’ve never looked into any of this before. What an utterly bizarre little world to stumble into.

I’m still not quite sure how to digest this whole process. The whole thing feels so absurd, in a way. Not bad absurd. But, “Huh, I need to edit my breathing” absurd. It’s just never even crossed my mind before.

So if over the course of the next few days… or weeks… or months… you see me flailing around here or on Twitter or LJ, babbling nonsense about this mythical novel of mine, please bear with me. My mind is a flurry of strange thoughts and new experiences and impatience and these characters that have been living in my head for the past six months.

“I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell…”

*twitches*

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I know I’ve offhandedly mentioned my Obsessive-Compulsive tendencies before on Aspect of the Hare. And because I’ve no shame, I’ll delve into the specifics out in the open for possibly the first time… ever.

OCD manifests itself in a variety of different compulsions. Some people wash their hands, some people check their door locks, some people have to arrange items in just the right way. For me… it was (scratch that… is…) numbers. Everything has to be counted. Steps on a staircase, magnets on a fridge, circles in a pattern. Especially if they are lined up in a row. Objects that are lined up in a row are just begging to be counted.

Sometimes random numbers pop into my head. If I do not know where said numbers are from, they must be written down, or Google’d, in case they are important and I just don’t know it yet. “Pike, that’s silly,” you say. “Yes, I know,” I reply. But that’s how it works with obsessions like that. There are some things that you just do. No matter how silly they seem.

Numbers are special. They’re “safe”. They don’t change. It’s funny, because growing up, I was always the writing kid. The English student kid. But numbers had an unchanging beauty to them that appealed to me somehow, and they sort of became my sanctuary.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this or if I’m trying to make some sort of serious blog post about mental disorders. I’m not, actually. This is just the merely-tangentially-related intro for the meat of the post.

The meat of the post is this: Timepieces are one of my favorite things in the entire world.

See, numbers are special. And you know what’s really special? When the clock says 9:00. Or 10:00. Basically any time with at least two zeroes at the end. I have no idea why I find this so appealing. I just always have. 9:30 is slightly less special, and 9:15 and 9:45 even less so, but those four numbers are considerably more special than any of the other 56 found in an hour.

So what is a clock? It’s my numbers obsession. On my wall. Or on my desk. Or on my wrist. Or in my pocket. As the case may be. (Because I carry two watches with me. And have at least one clock in each room in my apartment.)

It gets better, though. A clock is also

beautiful

mechanical

perfection.

A clock or watch is form and function in one elegant package. The ultimate junction of art and engineering. And I love it.

Okay, okay, one more thing, and then I’ll shut up.

Mechanical clocks, specifically, are an elegant timepiece from a more civilized age. An age when things weren’t cheaply made. When things were designed to be fixed if broken, rather than just tossed and replaced.

…yeah I’m one of those weirdos that takes apart clocks and things. I took apart my last one. It wasn’t designed to be put back together so I had to “break it” in order to do so. The ticking remains are sitting on my desk. I’m sure a lot of people would think I’m absolutely nuts. Well, maybe I am. The whole OCD thing, after all…

Anyways. That, in a nutshell, is why I am a clock geek.

We here at Clockwork Hare Enterprises hope you have enjoyed your foray into the Potentially Too Much Info Camp this Friday, and hope you have a pleasant weekend!

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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.

Yep.

(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.

and finally…

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…

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