Sunday, December 27, 2009

Obviously, I Watch Too Many Movies

Today's blog concerns "Jennifer's Body," the latest film willing to use Megan Fox's good looks in place of acting.

Watch words spew forth from my pretty mouth like emotionless vomit.

You probably know that the screenwriter was Diablo Cody, the chick who wrote "Juno" as well as a memoir about being a stripper. "Juno" was all right - entertaining, kind of cheesy, with a very unique female protagonist whose name alluded to the Classical world. On the other hand, "Jennifer's Body" struck me the wrong way almost immediately.

The story began with promise - interesting, entertaining, and funny. The story began in a literary fashion, beginning in medias res before quickly shifting to the earliest point in time that the movie was going to cover.

It was at the shift that I began to notice the dialogue.

The quirky, funny dialogue that characterized "Juno" so well appears to have been attempted again - and it isn't executed as well by the character who utilizes it most (*cough, cough* Fox *cough, cough*), and it feels false.

"Jennifer's Body" features a girl who becomes different, of course - I don't think I'm spoiling the movie for anyone when I say that Jennifer becomes a succubus. Yet, it seems quite clear that Jennifer is supposed to be an ordinary girl, on the pretty side, who is far more ordinary than she would like. Jennifer would like to be effortlessly gorgeous and self-assured, and not small town. Nothing about her character, however, indicates that she modifies language for the sake of whimsy.

Juno's interesting manner of speaking suited her; Jennifer's does not.

So watching this movie really makes me think about dialogue.

Dialogue, when utilized correctly, can do so much for a story. Hemingway wrote an entire story in dialogue ("Hills Like White Elephants"). Diablo Cody obviously likes writing dialogue, and has fun with it, which is great. In order to create something that other people are going to enjoy, however, a writer needs to use dialogue that suits the character. Ultimately, this means knowing your characters well enough to know exactly how that character speaks. Sometimes, this might involve doing research. And, of course, if you're too lazy to do research, then don't write about characters who will seem inauthentic without research.

To be fair, I feel like part of Cody's problem is one that many YA authors face: authentic TEEN dialogue. When you're not a teenager anymore, how do you know that your slang is up to date? Cody's solution is to create slang of her own - cheesy slang that not many teenagers would say (certainly not cheerleaders with a reputation to uphold).

Yet we've all read those YA stories that have outdated dialogue, or in which the character talks like a goody-two-shoes, and it feels like the only reason is because the author feels uncomfortable with a teenager saying "dirty" words. Teen dialogue is a legitimate problem, as is dialogue, in general.

I don't think that making up slang, clever and interesting though it may be, should be a writer's automatic response. I'm not exactly sure what I think the general response should be, however - or even if there should be a "general" response.

And no writer wants generic dialogue.

Thoughts? (I love comments!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Julie & Julia - the Movie Version

I just watched the DVD Julie & Julia. It was okay. I had problems with the memoir, I had problems with the movie (though, as all of the reviews said, Meryl Streep did an excellent job).

One of my biggest problems with the movie, however, was the fact that Amy Adams, portraying Julie Powell, kept talking about how she "wants to be a writer." They kind of alluded to what I'm going to discuss in more detail in the movie, and I was going to let it slide, but...spoiler the end of the movie, they did one of those "words rolling across the screen like what we want you to read is uber-important but we're really just trying to wrap things up without another few days of filming" and in those words were contained "She is a writer."

Well, duh, she's a writer. Didn't she write every, or almost every, day for an entire year on that blog about cooking? Isn't that where her memoir came from, and this movie? (There were also annoying words to the effect that a movie had been made from her book. I guess it was supposed to be cute, but it actually just pissed me off.)

Basically, what I don't think the movie made clear is the difference between being a "writer" and being an "author."

A writer is someone who writes. Period. By virtue of having a blog in which I write occasionally, I am a writer (though not necessarily a very good one). All you have to do to be a writer is write. So if you want to be a writer, stop reading, focus on whatever it is you wish was already written, and make the past tense I just used a reality.

An author is someone who has written something that has been published. It is harder to be an author than it is to be a writer.

Anyone can write. Not everyone has the persistence and dedication to get published.

Some people write because they want a big book deal that's going to get them a lot of money. Julie Powell's memoir became a bestseller, and that's awesome. That doesn't happen with every book, though. It doesn't even happen to many books. The huge bestseller is a rarity, like being struck twice by lightning. Therefore, wanting to become famous and rich is not a reason to become a writer and strive to get published.

Yes, realistically, it's something most of us would enjoy, but it's not the reason to write.

In sum, while we would all like to receive positive feedback and feel like creative genius, the only reason to become a writer is because you enjoy creating and/or relating stories.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NaNo: The Final Count

A day late, but here it is...

At the end of NaNo, I had written 44,153 words.

Best NaNo yet, though I still didn't "win."

I might just sketch out where I was thinking of going, and set it away for awhile.

I have a new goal for December: losing some weight. I know this is usually a New Year's resolution, but for personal reasons, I find it imperative to do so now.

I will still be writing, but not nearly as much, particularly as I'm trying to catch up on my sleep and not get sick (everyone seems to be getting ill lately).

All of this, of course, is to provide an excuse for the fact that I probably won't be posting much for awhile.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Last Day of NaNo [Insert Scream Here]

Still horribly behind. I am currently at: 43,253 words.

I have to get ready for work soon, after which I will probably be too tired to type.

I worked hard, and will struggle to get the words count to 45,000, but cannot realistically expect anything above that.

I have written more this NaNo than any of the previous ones, and am currently resenting my "middle-of-the-month whiny bitch" session. I mean, who do I think I am - Bella Swan? (The real answer is no, by the way. I'm not quite that crazy. Yet. I also haven't met a vampire, let alone some weird, "vegetarian" family of good-looking creepiness.)

Okay, I'm off, to write! Running to meet my deadline, with pen in hand, and held out before me, like a rapier. En guarde!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Quick Update

NaNovel currently at 37,733 words.

Terribly behind, headache, must push forward.

Hoping I will not be called into work later.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Over the Half-Way Mark

I made it over the half-way mark on my NaNo novel today!

That's right - I have over 25,000 words (and only a few days to finish about 25,000 more, but trying to think positive).

To celebrate, I came up with the following idea: the Snippet of the Day.

On my NaNo page (username: shellyquade), I will be posting a snippet of my novel which has been written THAT DAY.

Obviously, this is a ploy to attempt to motivate myself to write more every day, so that I have more to choose from. But, if you're bored, or like my writing style on this blog, or bored, you're welcome to check it out.

(I will not be cross-posting snippets to this blog, because I'm paranoid, and don't like the idea of leaving a trail of rough first draft material unless it's a contest entry. Plus, I'm lazy.)

Another NaNo Update

I'm ridiculously behind. Like, about a week behind.

My boyfriend says he's proud of me anyway, because I've been working on the novel basically every day, though I definitely haven't been making much of a dent everyday. But that's what boyfriends are supposed to say if they don't want to sleep on the couch, so while it's sweet, I don't know that I give it much credence.

I just...I don't know how other people do it. I'm a slow writer. In general, if I write 500 words in a day, I think that's a pretty big accomplishment. To consecutively execute 1,667 words each day for 30 days...

Well, I'm still trying. But I'm also trying not to beat myself up for being an inferior writer who has set herself another goal she probably can't accomplish.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Second Write-In

I have not been feeling particularly well, lately. I'm not very sick, but my lack of energy and drive is astounding.

At the second write-in today, I hit a wall. I felt incredibly tired, went home, took a nap, and got an okay word count today. Not stellar or anything, but...okay.

I will continue to try.

Yesterday's word count: Abysmal

Today's word count: 1,994

Friday, November 6, 2009

This weekend will involve catching up on wordcount

So...I got a little behind yesterday, too.

This is partly because I'm lazy, and partly because I didn't get a dinner break like I presumed, and in which I planned to write.

BUT...I hate it when people make excuses, which is exactly what that is. Dinner break or not, I should have gotten 1,667 words.

Instead, yesterday's word count was: 1,550

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NaNo Report on Day 4

Got a little behind yesterday. Slept in today.

Yesterday's word count: 1,368

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNo Report on Day 3

I don't really want to talk about yesterday. I am tired and disgruntled. As I was washing the filter holder thingamajig (see? this is why I want to be a could I refuse, when I'm so aware of the technical names for everything), I pushed my coffee pot onto the floor.

This means, of course, no coffee, which makes for a very grumpy Shelly Quade. (You might want to just leave now, before my wrath is transferred to you...)

Yesterday's word count: 1,816 words

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNo Reporting on Day Two

Yesterday went much more slowly. I feel more awake, though, despite the fact that chamomile is slowly making its' way down my throat (I couldn't resist! It smells so good...), so, we'll see.

Enough talking! I have work to do.

Yesterday's word count: 1973

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Know, I Know, I Haven't Posted in Forever

Isn't it fun, though, when life gets super busy and then November gets here and you realize you committed yourself to writing 1,667 words a day?

By busy, of course, I mean slowly reading Stephen King's It and occasionally opening a word document when you're not working and staring at the screen as the story has halted.

Then again, it's November, which means working on an entirely new story!

I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty tired right now. So let me just report on yesterday and work on the NaNo story.

Yesterday, I woke up about 10:30ish, got my Starbucks, discovered that both Starbucks & Borders were pretty full at the moment, went to Purdue's union and got a little over 600 words done.

Then, I went to my first write-in EVER, regretted not having brought my headphones (while hearing other people talking can be distracting, it creeps me out not to have any sound around me), and wrote over 3,000 words more. So, yeah. Creepy or not, I've gotta recommend attending write-ins, if at all possible.

Yesterday's total word count: 3,801

P.S. If you feel like further procrastinating, Maureen Johnson wrote a blog post about NaNo.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

November is Encroaching...

And with it comes the necessity of writing the 50,000+ novel I committed to writing this year.

Any NaNo participants who want to follow my journey, or share their own, are encouraged to leave a comment. (I love comments, considering them to be much like Edward Cullen - sexy, sparkly, creepy little things, strung together to become perfection itself.)

To introduce my work, of which I now have an outline, and character names, I *think* it's chick lit. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure of the genre. It follows a couple of the relationships of a young female protagonist, neither of which was complementary to her, and how she begins to heal from both of these relationships (or at least, one).

How about you? What is your book summary this year? Or vague ideas floating in your head? Or anything else you feel like sharing?

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Bump in the Night

Sarah gasped and sat straight up in bed. Like many of her dreams, she could not retain this one. She only knew that it had been a nightmare, that goosebumps littered her arms, that she didn't want to move, and that she really had to pee.

She remained motionless for several moments, debating the necessity of going to the restroom as opposed to causing bladder damage, and then thought to herself, This is ridiculous. You're not five - get out of bed and go to the bathroom. A light breeze fluttered through the window she didn't remember having opened, and Sarah shivered. And grab a robe so you don't freeze on the way.

Lowering her hand to the floor beside the bed, Sarah's fingers grasped the warm fleece of her blue bathrobe. Before she had time to pull the robe up, however, a charred hand abruptly reached out from beneath her bed and gripped her arm, searing her flesh...

Sarah gasped and sat straight up in bed. Like many of her dreams, she could not retain this one. The image of a blue bathrobe she didn't own was prominent in her mind, goosebumps littered her arms, she didn't want to move, and she had to pee. Badly.

She remained motionless for several moments, debating the necessity of going to the restroom as opposed to causing bladder damage, and then said, "What, do you think the Bogeyman's going to grab you or something if you step off of the bed?" Her voice was loud and harsh in the dark silence of the house.

Swinging her legs off of the bed, Sarah was walking towards the door when the trunk she had forgotten about moving to the foot of her bed attacked her shin. "Ow!" she cried, and then bit her lip. She didn't want to wake her family. So she suffered in silence as she hobbled through her bedroom door, down the hallway, and into the bathroom.

The next morning, as she sat at the table eating toast, her mother came into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. "What," she asked, pointing at Sarah's right leg, "is that?"

On Sarah's shin, a large, raised purple and blue bruise was prominent and painful to touch. "That," Sarah replied, "is my bump in the night."

Her mother didn't seem to think her pun funny.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Story in Dialogue

"What's with the cheese?"

"Well, you know that guy I like?"


"Yeah. I want to lure him to me, so I'm setting my trap."

"Elaine, he's not a mouse."

"I know - though he does that thing with his nose."

"He still doesn't look like a mouse - his face is the wrong shape. He looks more like a chipmunk, with those chubby cheeks. So, what's with the cheese?"

"What? Chipmunks don't like cheese?"

"Elaine, he's not a chipmunk! And I think they eat acorns or something."

"Those are squirrels. And I know he's not a chipmunk. But everyone likes cheese."

"I'm still not seeing how this trap is supposed to work."

"Oh, I invited him over for a 'study break.'"

"Did you use those air quotes when you asked him over?"

"No. He's going to be here in about fifteen minutes, though, so you should probably go."

"Elaine, do you really think presenting a plate of cheese and crackers is going to make some guy fall head over heels for you?"

"I didn't say anything about crackers."


"And I didn't say what he was going to eat the cheese off of."

"Okay, I admit it, that trap might work."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Julie & Julia - Is this still topical?

I read Julie & Julia a few weeks ago. I contemplated writing a blog about it right away, but I'm kind of lazy, and honestly thought I should let the material and my feelings about it simmer for awhile first. (Notice that clever cooking reference? Huh? *nudge* Huh? *nudge* Okay, I'll stop.)

Anyway, I had mixed feelings about Julie & Julia, and thought it was a good example of my feelings for the genre that is memoir itself, which is why I'm writing about it on this blog, rather than doing a general review on my other blog.

One thing I will mention right away - unlike a lot of people, I took no offense from Julie's frequent use of certain words. I don't mind swearing, and in reality, most people without kids don't mind swearing. I am more in Julie Powell's book myself, possessing the mouth of a sailor, and offering few, if any, apologies for it. People swear. It's a part of the modern vernacular, it's normal vocabulary to use. If anything, I give Julie kudos for refusing to censor herself despite frequent request. Good for you, Julie! Stick it to the fucking man!

Particularly as a writer, I think that swear words, even if you don't use them yourself, are something you need to not be afraid of. If your main character stubs his toe, or she feels overwhelmed, most likely, he/she/it is not going to say: "Gee Willikers! That hurts/sucks/etc." That would be unnatural, and probably kind of creepy, like you're stuck in some weird fifties TV show universe, where Mrs. Cleaver has a Valium-induced smile pasted on her face as she secretly contemplates whacking her kids with the kitchen knife she uses to chop vegetables.

Timmy ruined another pair of pants today

Of course, a writer doesn't need to use swear words all the time - remember that fiasco that was the Blair Witch Project, with "the f-word" being spoken nearly every other word? Yeah, when you're scared, that's what you do, but such frequent use without furthering the plot is just irritating.

Words of Wisdom: Don't be a Blair Witch Project

Without much transition, I'm going to continue discussing Julie Powell's writing. I noticed something in Julie & Julia that I've noticed in a lot of memoir - sometimes the writing rubs me the wrong way. Since this has happened in several memoirs from authors who have an entirely different voice/writing style, I think there is something in memoir itself rather than Powell's writing that caused this.

Perhaps it's the reality? Knowing that this work is marketed as a memoir, and therefore, ACTUALLY happened? Yeah, some of the words may be flubbed a little bit, but Augusten Burroughs lived through some really crazy shit, and Julie Powell's apartment really was that dirty.

As I was lying in bed the other night, trying to go to sleep, the thought of Julie finding maggots in her kitchen just popped into my head, and really freaked me out. I mean - EW! I'm shuddering as I type this.

Does anyone else get this reaction? This feeling that you have to set the book aside for at least a few minutes before continuing? The mental equivalent from reading that some people physically get when they feel the texture of styrofoam or hear styrofoam being rubbed against itself?

It's... duh duh dun... styrofoam

Of course, I don't think there's anything wrong with writing or reading memoir. If you have a story to tell, whether it actually happened or not, you should write it down. But I think that when I read memoir, knowing that this author is claiming the events actually happened to him/her sometimes makes me cringe.

Maybe that's a good thing. I have a pretty strong stomach, and even if I'm disliking something I'm reading, the writing is inspiring strong feelings.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Mermaid

Blue-green, aquamarine water

sifts and coils

in its’ own intricate dance

that I have no choice but to follow,

my tail entranced and constantly moving.

I tire

of the incessant journey,

and my voice often warbles

as it drifts in the air,

luring sailors to lean over the sides

of those small wooden vessels

in which they expect to safely traverse the ocean,

all too often falling over,

into the water they realize

too late

they don’t want to be a part of.

I don’t pity them.

They had a choice,

and they chose to make the ocean

a large part of their life,

rather than using spindly legs

to run from the life-sucking water

as quickly as they can,

breathing in gulps

and gulps

of thin, largely salt-less oxygen.

My weariness remains –

I have no options –

yet I am strengthened –

through anger

with humans

who have the chance to do almost anything,

and far too often,

do nothing at all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


As you'll note, from the rather large badge to the left, I have committed myself to doing NaNo again this year.

The site doesn't officially roll over for the new year until October, but the new badges are up, and I've written a rough outline for this year's novel.

If you know YOU want to write a novel this November, let people know!! You feel more encouragement to continue if your friends/family/the bum on the corner know you're participating.

Okay, my preaching for the day's done. Hope you'll join me in this year's NaNo.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A New Twist or Plagiarism?

I'm sitting here on the couch, watching the movie "Obsessed," and I'm a little disgusted.

I realize that Hollywood's not an area known for showing a great amount of originality, but I think it's a little ridiculous how many parallels this movie contains to the '80s classic "Fatal Attraction."

I'm also not too happy with the manner in which the film differs.

Basically, "Obsessed" looks like the drunken result of someone ranting about the fact that women can claim that Dan deserved having to deal with that crazy Alex character because he shouldn't have cheated on his wife. Add Beyonce's poor "acting" ability, and if you like movies, I strongly suggest skipping this one.

But this is a writing blog, and while I watch far too many movies to be considered completely sane, I am not a movie critic.

So why am I writing a blog about this movie? Because it's a recent DVD release, and therefore provides a recent example of the concept of how much a writer can steal from others before it becomes plagiarism.

Many people contend that there are no new ideas. Everything has been done. Every plot has been written. Adding to this philosophy the fact that all writers are human, and therefore influenced by the media which surrounds us every day, and every word which graces a page (or a computer screen) these days is an appropriation from a myriad of previous works and ideas.

Thus arises the question: when is it NECESSARY to cite a source?

One situation is in an academic paper, when a scholar is often directly replying to a certain academic writing, or wants authoritative sources to back his or her point of view.

Another situation, such as I saw in this movie, is when there are enough parallels to an older book/movie/etc. that if the writer of the material hasn't read/seen/etc. this prior work, then the writer is clairvoyant or something. (In case anyone missed this, I think "Obsession" is one such case.)

Upon taking a brief, biased survey of the people who are watching "Obsessed" with me, my mother noticed the parallels when I pointed them out, my boyfriend had never seen "F.A.," but guessed that I had that movie in mind when we watched the commercial, and my 17-year-old sister and her 19-year-old friend had no idea that the "F.A." movie existed.

So maybe Hollywood thinks it's okay to do a movie obviously taking many cues from an '80s movie, because the under 20 crowd has never heard of it.

Yet I think that we writers need to pay attention to our influences, and make sure that we don't copy too much material from another work. Or at the VERY LEAST, that we make sure to note our sources if we're going to so blatantly take ideas from a single source.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Art of Contest Writing

So, I type here, procrastinating from the short story that is going completely off-tangent and inducing headaches (or maybe it's the humidity here in godforsaken Lafayette, IN...). As I was staring at the aforementioned story, waiting for words to magically appear on my computer screen without my actually having to TYPE them, this little light bulb lit up over my head. It kind of freaked my boyfriend out. And by "kind of," I mean, not at all, because it didn't actually happen, and my boyfriend is so engrossed in his new MLB '09 game that he wouldn't notice if a homicidal maniac came through our front door right now and hacked my screaming body into itty bitty pieces.

Of what, pray tell, did this epiphany consist?


In case that succinct reply was not definitive enough, I will go into a bit more detail.

As some know, I recently entered ktliterary's "prompt contest." (My entry is a bit further down this page.) Not surprisingly, I was not the winner of a coveted free book, but that's okay. I didn't really EXPECT to win. I just thought, "What the hell?"

One of the best feelings, to me, when writing is that rush I get when I've finished a piece of writing. It's like the world becomes a better place, and I will be set for life because I've finished a crappy first draft.

With contests which a person chooses to enter, comes a deadline, comes pushing oneself to finish a piece of writing, rather than lolly-gagging (I have no idea how to spell that word; corrections are welcome) and saying, "I've written five words...that's good for today...where's my beer?"

I'm exaggerating, of course - I don't drink beer.

To conclude this blog entry, I come to a resolution: enter more contests. More writing means, hopefully, that the writing will get better. I think I'm going to write a contest entry every two weeks.

Now, on to working on this difficult short story. I think...I think my characters HATE me. ;)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A la mode

For a guy, it is as American as apple pie to lose your virginity at sixteen. This is when all of my friends did - relating the fulfillment of a long-term relationship or drunken luck at a large party to me the following day.

So here I am, seventeen, the only one of my friends to retain the purity valued in women and scorned in men.

I guess my problem is that I don't have females figured out yet. I'm a nice guy. Or, at least, I'm not an asshole. Yet when I work up the courage to ask a girl out, she tends to be busy. A smile and a half-hearted apology should lessen the blow of rejection though, right?

I'm too old to be a virgin. So, since I'm not charming/asshole/nice/Robert Pattinson clone enough to seduce my peers, it is time for more drastic measures.

* * * *

"Room 13? Are you serious?" I ask. Not that I'm superstitious, but it doesn't indicate a long, fulfilling sex life, to lose one's virginity in a motel room of an unlucky number. "I thought motels skipped 13."

"Relax, kid,"Trixie says, fidgeting with her shiny gold top. With a name like Trixie, which she assures me is her real name, no matter how many times I ask, a person has to wonder if her parents foresaw what her career would be. "It's just a room. It doesn't mean anything."

I have to wonder, for a second, if Trixie maliciously picked room 13 to screw with me because I'm just a kid. Then I realize I'm paying her to screw with me, so if she does it in the figurative sense as well, I'm probably getting double my money's worth. We walk to room 13.

It's not really that different from the more expensive hotel rooms I've shared in the past with my parents and younger sister. The carpet's a little more worn, the television's a little older, the bedspread's a weird brownish-purple color.

Trixie leans forward to kiss me, and I feel nervous, suddenly - even though this is what I want. "So, how did you lose your virginity?" I ask her.

She raises her eyebrows. "You do realize you're paying me by the hour, right?"

"Well, yeah. But it's just - too weird, to lose 'it' to some chick I don't even know."

"Okay. If you must know - I was raped. Under a stairwell during a school assembly. Other students were cheering while a guy I knew took advantage of the fact that they wouldn't notice my screams."

"Really?" I ask.

"Nah. I lifted that story from a movie," she says, smiling. "Do you mind if I smoke?" I shake my head. She lifts a slender white cigarette to her mouth, lights, and inhales deeply. "What does it matter where I lost my virginity, or who I am? You know where I end up, so it's not a happy story."

"I'm sorry."

"No you're not. If I didn't have an unhappy story, you wouldn't be about to get laid."

I nod my head. She's right.

"So - are we done with this 'getting to know you' shit?" she asks, placing her purse on a square table to the left of the door.

I take a deep breath. "Yeah. I'm ready."

She kisses me, with firm pressure, with her soft mouth, and I taste the smoke that lingers in her mouth.

* * * *

"So, kid, do you feel different?" Trixie asks.

"I'm not a kid," I answer.

"Sex doesn't make you a man," Trixie says, lighting another cigarette.

"I know." I find my pants on the floor, and retrieve my wallet. As I count out the proper number of bills, I say, "I do feel different. Not grown up, but...okay with myself."

"That's good, kid. Let's hope it's not just afterglow." She takes the money from my outstretched hand and walks out of the motel room.

The room's still paid for a half-hour. I turn on the television, and sit against the headrest of the bed.

*This story is a piece written in response to the kt literary blog. I hope you enjoyed it.

The Question

The idea that "There is no such thing as a stupid question" is well-known, and often said. How much truth there is in the stated idea, however, is another matter.

I, personally, think that it is the sign of an intelligent person to ask questions if you need to gain knowledge. I also, however, contend that there IS such a thing as stupid questions.

I was asked one the other day. One of the stupidest questions I've ever heard, in the most condescending manner.

At the moment, one of my jobs is at Coldstone Creamery. For those who have never been there, let me say that the point in going to Coldstone is to get your ice cream with toppings mixed-in. You can watch us mix the toppings in on this cold slab, and you get toppings in every bite, etc.

So this girl got some ice cream the other day, and one of the toppings in it was whipped cream. Whipped cream is one of those finicky items - so I asked her if she wanted the whipped cream mixed in, or on top. She chose on top.

Then: "Why would anyone want whipped cream inside?"

To begin with, this is a poorly phrased question. Inside what? Inside the store? Inside the universe? Inside your mouth? Presumably, she meant inside of the ice cream. Still, a poorly worded question is a poorly worded question.

I will admit, my response to her was less intelligent than could be desired. "Um...(shrug) some people like it mixed in their ice cream, and some like it on top. (Pause) It's just a matter of preference. (Longer pause) The whipped cream makes the ice cream fluffy."

All factual statements, and I was slightly thrown off by the question, which seemed idiotic to me, but not one of my strongest moments.

I restated something which was obvious. I indicated that the preference might somehow be connected to texture.

Overall, I could not be rude to the girl who asked me this question - but really, the obvious, smart ass replies to her question would be the most correct.

"Why not?"

"Why do YOU like whipped cream on top?"

"Does it matter? Do people always desire things that make sense?"

What thinking over this matter really leads me to think of, however, is dialogue.

In writing, stupid questions can help the story, effectively portray character, etc. And the answers are just as important - and hopefully, better than mine was the other day.

Do YOU have a funny, stupid question? Share it in the comments.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Responding to Criticism

I love Alice Hoffman's writing. Even when it concerns sentimental matters, she resists (for the most part) my gag reflex - the one that acts up when I'm reading something that is cliche or ridiculously implausible. She writes about magical things, and in turn, her writing is magical.

But I've got to say, after her reaction to a critical review of her latest book The Story Sisters, I respect her a bit less.

I will admit, I am biased because I myself occasionally write reviews of the works which I read, but this incident is disheartening.

When a person is a writer, and she gets her work published, or puts it on the internet where everyone can see it, there is going to be criticism, whether good or bad, and probably both. The nice comments are uplifting to the heart and soul. The bad comments hurt. But both of them have to be taken with a grain of salt.

I don't think that literary critics tend to want to hurt the feelings of authors. However, in order to do the task which they intend to do effectively, these critics need to be honest. If they didn't like the book, they can point out its merits, but ultimately, must admit that that book was not for them.

Yet they shouldn't be attacked. It might be cliche, but two wrongs do not make a right, and hurting the feelings of the literary critic will, in turn, just result in more bruised hearts. And if the critic is not strong enough to turn the other cheek, then a circular pattern of abusive comments can begin, in which neither party gets anything good out of the interaction.

We all have our asshole moments, so I'm going to pass this off as one of Hoffman's, which was  unfortunately made public. And I'm still going to read her work. But it's been a disheartening moment in time, nonetheless.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fond Recollection of a Reputed Pedophile

Unfortunately, the only people who will ever know the truth regarding my title are the boys who accused him of inappropriate behavior, and Mr. Jackson himself. There is no winning answer to the question of "did he really?" - if he didn't, then the boys who accused him have sick parents who were willing to traumatize their children and hurt a man's reputation for money; if he did, then Mr. Jackson himself was mentally ill in a manner that hurt other people, and those boys' parents are still dicks because they took a settlement rather than persecute the man who hurt their sons.

Since I can't know, for certain, what Mr. Jackson's status was, I prefer to dismiss the issue from hereon out, and think of a simpler time. A time when the brat pack dominated the teen movie market, the yuppie society which American Psycho would later satirize was in full force, and Vincent Price did some voice over work on what would become one of the best selling music records of all time.

I was born in '85, and I adored "Michael Jacks," as I called him. Most likely, because he habitually grabbed his groin for his adoring public, thereby giving me something else with which to horrify my parents by imitating.

Michael Jacks, despite his emotional problems, which would become well known later on, was a great performer. He sang, he danced, he smiled, he wore jackets with huge shoulder pads. He gave us music that is still worth listening to, twenty years later.

I really hope that more people are stunned, and remembering the good things that Michael Jackson did, rather than judging him for being screwed up (as a lot of us are, in our own way).

Now that Michael Jacks is dead, "Darkness falls across the land..."

Rest in peace, Michael Jacks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Admitting to an Inadequate Amount of Blog Posting Recently

I am sorry. I always mean to blog more frequently, and then I always allow the world to overwhelm me so that my body craves sleep to obliterate my need for work and money. I recently twittered a request for money, addressed to all billionaires. Sadly, I received no response.

Anyway, I will amend my shortcoming slightly by posting today.

I have lately been rather infatuated with YouTube. Particularly make-up tutorials and reviews. Partly because I wear make-up, when I'm not too lazy to apply it, and I learn nifty little tips and tricks. Partly because I marvel at the amount of money a lot of "make-up gurus" spend each month on new make-up. Partly because a lot of the gurus aforementioned are really enthusiastic about what they do, and have a nice voice to provide background noise as I work on my writing, and ramble in an adorable manner.

Yet I found myself unsubscribing from one of these gurus recently, because of her stance on words, and the manner in which she sometimes spoke to her viewers.

I'm not going to mention this person's username - I do not want to be petty and mean, and for the sake of this blog entry, it's not really necessary for anyone to know it.

This person was one of the cute ramblers, and frequently posted reviews. Recently, however, she made a video putting some restrictions on what she would review (mostly having to do with monetary limitations, which I completely understand), and regarding the disclaimer she inserted in the beginning of every video.

A lot of make-up gurus have disclaimers in the side bar, or in little yellow pop-up balloons, or on their profile, etc. This user had it in the beginning of her videos, and apparently people had been complaining about it.

Some of this complaining was the usual bitch and moan because it "annoys" a person, rather than because it has no merit. (Which it did (have merit); I understood why the disclaimer was there, and personally had no qualms with it.) Some of this complaining had to do with the manner in which the YouTube user had phrased the disclaimer, however; some people thought that it was a bit mean. (And I could understand how it could be construed that way.)

To the latter people, the YT user replied that words do not "emote," and that they should stop complaining, and if they had a problem with it, that was their problem, and things along that line. In the comments, someone wrote what part of the disclaimer could be seen as a bit rude and off-putting, to which the YT user wrote a text comment along the same lines as what she had said.

Now, technically, this YT user was correct. Words do not emote. Not being living beings, words are incapable of actually emoting.

I think, however, the YT user was a bit too dismissive of the complaint. If the YTU didn't mean any offense, she could have simply said so, and possibly that people were reading things into her words that weren't intended to be in those words.

I am a living being, however, and I suspect you are, too. People are capable of emoting, and people read words with emotion. People are supposed to read words with emotion. When a person writes a poem, that person intends for his or her reader to feel something as a result.

Words have connotations to them. Words have emotions associated with them.

If they didn't, there would be no fun in writing. There would be no fun in doing a vlog. It is through words that a person tends to express emotion. So please, do not sit in your chair before your camera, using words to tell me that words are much more sparse things than they really are. It is narrow minded and ignorant to think that people should not, sometimes, be offended by words.

Don't you agree?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Living the Dream

This post is in reponse to Pensive Tuesday's post from May 11, in which he said:

"Adults often talk about their childhood or adolescent dreams and aspirations, the things they wanted more than anything but were too afraid to go after. They'll talk your ear off about all the regrets in their own lives, all of their past mistakes, and when you're a child they even tell you not to make the same mistakes. They tell you to follow your dreams, or you'll regret it for the rest of your life."

Pensive Tuesday (sorry, P.T., to talk about you in the third person if you're currently reading this) then goes on to talk about how parents talk about college.

Which brings up the ultimate dilemma: realism v. dreams.

Honestly, I don't remember getting talks about how I needed to follow my dreams, lest I awake with regrets later in life. I guess that's because I was such a dreamer when I was a child. What I heard while growing up, as I dreamed about my future career as a prima ballerina in New York City, was "Well, you better go to college and have a back-up plan." Which is sound advice, of course, but did not exactly convey the connotation of confidence in me that I might have wished to receive.

Not surprisingly, I gave up on the dream of being a dancer - when I was 14, in ninth grade of high school. I decided I wasn't good enough, I didn't know how to get good enough, and that since my parents didn't support me, I should just give up on the idea.

And I do regret it, of course. (Especially as I would be in better shape if I was currently a professional dancer.) But that's not really what this blog is about. It's not the regret that I want to focus on - it's that I allowed myself, my aspirations, to be quashed by the unkind words of others. It's that now I don't know what I want.

I've come to realize something recently. Being a dreamer, being ridiculous and having large dreams, is a large part of who I am, as a person. When I let the "realistic" advice of my parents, my teachers, and my peers override my innate feelings, I gave up on myself. A lot.

Dreams are important - as Michael Shurtleff writes in his book Audition, dreams are what people live for. Perhaps we can't all actually achieve the things we want most in life, but it's not healthy to just give up when you're in the middle of the race and nothing's physically wrong with you.

Now, since this is a blog about writing, (see, I was going somewhere with all of this), I'm sure any aspiring writer can see how my topic applies to his or her future. Writing is an arduous journey. Each work is difficult to perfect, and demands a lot of time and effort. Writing is setting dreams down on paper, whether they actually happened or not, whether it's a fairy tale or a nightmare. Writers are, perhaps, the biggest dreamers of anyone.

The key to writing, it seems to me, is persistence and not losing that dream - that this idea is worth putting down on paper, that you will finish the story, that you will publish the story, that you might even get PAID for the story, etc.

You shouldn't do it for fame and money, though every writer, of course, would love to become famous and get paid plenty of money for his or her work.

You need to have a dream. And you need to be strong enough not to lose it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Being Lazy and Insecure

The problem with yearning to be a writer is a love of reading.

All good writers read - this is something which countless authors have said in countless interviews.

Yet I think one of the problems with my own writing is my love of reading.

I have been wanting to be a writer of some sort since I was in elementary school. I remember sitting in my fourth grade classroom, reading an R.L. Stine "Fear Street" book, thinking to myself, I could write something like this. Then, I would write snippets of the story I was creating in my head, and they did sound like imitation-Stine.

When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a short play about some princess who liked to sing or something (I was very into musicals), and showed it to my teacher, who pretended it was good.

When I was in middle school, I wrote the beginnings of countless stories, and began touting the theory that I didn't like poetry. "There is so much bad poetry out there already," I said to myself, smugly (I was a very smug middle school student). "Why would I want to add to it?" I received the "promising young writer award" or something like that, and my response was - "Of course."

In high school, I wrote a 79 page story about a vampire and a witch who are vying for the same boy's attention, filled with my "insights" into high school life. Then, I took a creative writing class, where I was forced to write poetry for ten weeks, then hurried through writing sketches, a one-act play, and a short story. My teacher liked me and my writing. But I was beginning to feel a sense of disappointment with myself.

As I grow older, my writing, past and present, seems worse. I don't think it actually gets worse, but I think that it doesn't get better, fast enough.

And as I read better and better works of literature, I am no longer capable of rolling my eyes and saying, "I could do that." I'm more prone to sighing wistfully, and saying, "I would give anything to one day write something as great as that."

As my reading grows, so does my opinion of a good book. I'm now in my twenties, and I feel like my writing should be coming more easily, now. I should have better first drafts, or be better at revising them. The ideas in my mind should fall more easily on the page. My understanding of human behavior shouldn't be so naive.

Ultimately, I should be able to write something I would want to read.

Nothing I write, unfortunately, is very good. It's okay. It's better than some of the writing out there. I could post it on the internet, and feel safe in the knowledge that it's not the worst thing out there. Yet, I don't. It may be good enough to get a few reads on the internet, but is it good enough to be published? Is it written well enough to deserve readers? I don't know. I doubt it.

It's so hard to write something, and not feel like I'm wasting my time.

It's so much easier to curl up with a book that's well-written. To become lost in a world that someone else created.

And so, you see - it is my avid reading that has inspired a decrease in my writing. There is such better writing out there than anything falling from my pen, or keystrokes. And it's just so much easier to read what others have done than to create something of my own.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Grammatically, I know what a sentence needs to have: subject, verb. Sometimes, a direct object is needed. Yet, in my first drafts, I invariably find myself writing long-winded sentences. Case in point: this sentence is taken from my current writing project:

"Plus, her papers tended to be very depressing, and resulted in Herman’s hoping the school board was putting their prayer to good use, and trying to convince God to grace the school with a miracle by giving Faith a sense of humor."

(Yes, I am still writing the schoolteacher story. But I wrote another story in between posts, so it's kind of okay! I'm really not being super slow. Just slow.)

So I have a question, for those who chance upon this blog - what do YOU think of long sentences? As a writer, and/or as a reader. Are they okay? Are they annoying? Do they make it harder to read? And is that necessarily a bad thing?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Think you're funny?

Prove it.

There's a contest looking for funny plays.

If you know how to craft plot, write dialogue, and make people laugh, then you should submit a play to the contest. Deadline = April 1st.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


So I heard about a few anthologies which are currently seeking submissions. It seems kind of weird to me, though. These anthologies are supposed to be published in June of this year. Submissions are due at the end of this month. The pieces which will be published are going to be picked by April 10.

Doesn't that timeline seem a bit fast to you? Or is that the way it usually works? I don't really know.

I might submit something. We'll see.

Here's the information about it, if anyone else is interested: Click Here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fun Question

I'm currently writing a story about one of the worst teachers on the planet (hopefully, he'll become more humane later). He never really wanted to be a teacher, and he doesn't think very nicely about his students.

And I added a little bit to the story where he's grading pop quizzes, and he gets some really weird responses, because a lot of the students obviously haven't read the book. He's teaching The Great Gatsby.

So I thought this would be a fun little exercise - if you hadn't (or haven't) read The Great Gatsby, hadn't ever heard any discussion about it or anything, what would you think it was about?

I'll start it off with this bit from my story:

" One student had written: 'The Great Gatsby is set in an alternate universe, where gadflies are the top of the food chain, but the ruler gadfly falls in love with a pretty human girl named Melanie.'"

Your turn.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stephen King & the Short Story

I thought this video is pretty interesting. King is talking about the short story.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Becoming More Realistic

I'm about to start at least one, and possibly two, new jobs this week. Also, I've been feeling really tired lately, for some reason. It usually starts around 3 or 4 in the afternoon.

So, I'm going to need to revise my goal of writing something complete every day.

I'm not totally giving up on myself, it's just that if I don't revise what I want to do, I'll feel overwhelmed, and then, most likely, nothing will get done at all.

So instead of daily output, I'm going to look at weekly output. Since I plan on focusing on short stories, this means I want to finish at least one piece of writing per week. I might deviate from short stories. I do have an essay on Emma I want to finish sometime this decade, and there's the high school story I've been revising for awhile that's at least half done now. Overall, though, I'll probably finish one piece a week.

I don't plan on publishing my pieces on this blog, as they'll be pretty rough, but I can give synopses, I guess.

At the moment, I'm working on a story about a teacher who is obsessed with one of his students. It's about idealization, perversion, and that tricky feeling of love.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thoughts on Romance

I wrote a story a few days ago dealing with road rage, and my boyfriend read it yesterday, and commented that "It reminded him of Tim Dorsey stories. Except he didn't know if I would like Tim Dorsey stories, because they don't have romance like my story does."

I was a bit perplexed. I didn't think my story had a bit of romance. There's a guy who gets road-head from a hooker, and a girl who gets jumped by her bisexual friend, with no indication that she's into it. When I put it that way, my boyfriend replied, "Well, maybe you will like Tim Dorsey's books."

I guess this situation makes me curious about what people think of romance. I think of it with regard to the time period referred to as Romantic - full of ideals and passion. I also think of romance as an intimate connection, a nice, old-fashioned way a guy treats a girl. Or a new, inventive way a person makes his or her significant other's heart flutter.

But is that what the word means?

My boyfriend seemed to think it just meant physical intimacy. Or perhaps he's naive, and doesn't think people have sex unless they are in love.

The bookstores seem to think it means a book with a predictable plot and detailed sex scenes. (I guess I'm kind of a book snob, but my favorite romances are found in the classics or the literary fiction sections.) has many definitions of it, many of them pertaining to creative works.

Is that the secret, then? Maybe romance isn't real. Perhaps it's something which artistic people have invented - a way of looking at relationships, but not really seeing what that relationship is, and instead seeing the relationship as what you wish it is, or want it to be.

What are YOUR thoughts on romance?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day One of Goal = Failure

But I really valiantly tried. And I am still sick, so I think I'm going to cut myself some slack.

Today I began a story about a girl named Kate Prattle. She's a bitch, and I have no idea what's going to happen to her. But I'm having fun. And I wrote 2009 words! That's a huge deal for me; I'm a notoriously slow writer.

Tomorrow, I'm going to finish the story. Period. And I have all day to do it, because I should be free after 1:00 or so in the afternoon.

I don't know if I'm going to post it here, though.

Being sick for the last few days has made me feel utterly useless

It has also made my nose sore. AND it has also given me time to think.

Too much time to think. As if I don't already think too much. Anyone who's a philosopher on purpose probably has to see a therapist non-stop. Of course, this therapist probably just sits in her chair and repeatedly says, "You need to CHILL. Do yoga or something. Geesh."

Anyway, what have I been thinking about? Mortality - which, I'm not going to lie, I was kind of hoping would soon end when I couldn't breathe, and I didn't want to blow my nose because the enraged, raw nasal passages were giving me pain for incessantly placing a tissue against them. I mean, the fact is, we don't live very long. I want to do things I enjoy, because those things probably have the greatest chance of living on. Plus, it would be really cool to write and discover there are people who enjoy my writing.

When I was in high school, my creative writing teacher forced us kids in the class to submit pieces of writing. So I did. Even though pretty much every assignment I ever did for the class was half-assed, because - well, because it was high school, I guess. Yet I still won second place for a "one-act play," and some money from it. I also got published in Kaleidoscope - some poem. I don't know. Like, I'll write poetry if you make me, but it's basically me being a smartass. I don't care for poetry much, and there's enough of the bad stuff out there that I'm not going to terrorize people by adding mine to the garbage heap.

I guess the point I'm trying to make in this meandering blog entry is that I feel like I used to write well. Yes, I did use past tense for a reason. Because, while I feel pretty confident in my essay-writing skills (even if Writer's Digest isn't particularly fond of it), I feel like my talent for writing fiction has significantly decreased.

I want to get better. When I write something I like, I have this feeling of accomplishment. And the only way to get better is to write. Which is hard, when I feel like everything I write is dreck. That's right - dreck.

Anyway, I've made a new goal for myself. I want to write something complete every day - a short story, or a character sketch, or SOMETHING, so long as that something is complete. Maybe even a poem. A really bad poem that I'll never let you see.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This is Great

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, talks about looking at the creative process differently.

I admit, I've never read anything of hers, at least, not yet. But she is a truly gifted speaker.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My V-Day Essay Wasn't Good Enough

But I like it. Also, it's seasonal, so I figure it's fine to post it here. I hope it entertains you.

Love Gladiators

Since Valentine's Day seems to be a holiday designed to torture the single (or make it easier for men to seduce females with no interest in a long-term relationship), this essay aims to assure the date-less that they are not unnatural. Everyone has trouble in the arena of romance. We are all trained by media influences as to what romance is supposed to consist of, and then we jump into the amphitheater, bearing our breasts, and are quickly stabbed by more experienced lovers, who know how to aim for the heart. Unfortunately, the Emperor feels that our training has been too costly and extensive to allow us to die, and so we are just tortured, repeatedly, because most of us cannot bear being alone.

Yet, do not despair! For even the goddess of love, and her son (who prefers arrows to pierce the hearts of people), have had trouble with their own love lives. Surely, if the gods themselves endure difficulties, we mortals should not feel too terrible about being single for one night of the year, even if that day is dedicated to a Christian saint who thought getting laid was so important, he defied a Roman Emperor, and married couples behind Claudius' back.

In one of the oldest known poems in the Hellenistic culture, one of the Homeric Hymns to Aphrodite, a tale of one of Aphrodite's disastrous romantic relationships is recounted. According to our poet narrator, Zeus, tired of Aphrodite's supercilious manner, caused her to feel love for the mortal Anchises. The consummation of Aphrodite's desire for this mortal resulted in a son, Aeneas, and the feeling of shame in Aphrodite herself. As a goddess, it was beneath her to make love to a mortal. The Valentine's moral that can be gleaned from this tale, of course, is that it is better to celebrate the holiday by yourself, than to cave in to loneliness and have a one-night stand with someone who is beneath you. Such doings can, if proper precautions are not taken, result in bastard children, sexually transmitted disease, and, regardless of whether or not a prophylactic is used, shame.

Not yet cured of Valentine's Day depression? Then take heed from the tale of Cupid and Psyche. Psyche's so beautiful she makes the goddess of love jealous. So, this brave, calculating goddess tells her son to avenge her (there's some feminist action for you). While originally intending to do his mother's bidding, the son, Cupid, falls in love with the transgressor instead. Cupid and Psyche marry, and he gives her riches and luxuries. Psyche, however, thinks she's married to a monster, and at the urging of her sisters, looks at Cupid by candlelight. Wax slips from the candle, however, awaking her husband, who flees, and causing a quest on Psyche's behalf to get her husband back. From this tale, the observant individual notes that beauty can hide horrible things, chief among them, a curious person who will burn you with candle wax.

Doesn't the word "single" have a ringing tone of purity to it?

Then, of course, there's the tale that, while not dealing with a Greco-Roman love god, is still in the Greco-Roman mythological family. Pluto, god of the Underworld, sees a pretty girl picking flowers in a field, and "falls in love" with her. His amorous feelings cause him to rip asunder part of the earth, from which he emerges in his chariot. He kidnaps the beauty, Persephone, and hauls her back to the Underworld with him. This tale reminds us all that it's better to be at home watching romance movies and munching popcorn, instead of on a date with some jerk who, before the evening ends, will rape you.

Thus, the Greco-Roman tales recounted provide evidence that Valentine's Day, while revered for its' romantic connotations, might really be better ignored in favor of being alone. While the candy boxes and cute stuffed animals smirk at the single from the aisles, the single should simply smirk in return, remembering that romance has its hazards. Better to avoid the dating scene on this day, rather than perpetrate acts unnatural to one's moral fiber, and result in feelings of shame, be burnt by curious (or kinky) lovers, or suffer that ultimate act of depravity at the hands of a jerk. These mistakes can easily be avoided by refusing to date someone just because it's Valentine's Day.

The End

Sources: The classical analysis comes from my own education from good ol' U of M, where I received a Bachelor's Degree in Classical Civilizations in April of 2008.

The snarky little remark about the origins of Valentine's Day, on the other hand, was derived from (specifically, While I really already should have known this tidbit of information, I didn't, and had to Google it, like many others.

And here's a link to the possibly winning essays, poems & letters, which are, of course, duly superior to mine: All About V-Day; it's not a war, though it sounds like it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

MY essay is done

And I have submitted my Valentine's Day essay to the Writer's Digest contest.

I wish all other submitters luck!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The 2-Day Challenge

Today is February 4th. February 6th is the last day for Writer's Digest's Red Heart, Black Heart contest.

That's right. Valentine's Day draws near, and Eros readies his poison-tipped arrows to torture us poor mortals (and, most likely, his mother (again)). Whether you're sappy, or of a more cynical nature, you can surely write something concerning Valentine's Day in poem, letter, or essay form.

And, to get you in the mood, here's a bit of the movie Mansfield Park. (I seriously have a crush on Henry Crawford...)

Monday, February 2, 2009

I Feel Like I Don't Post Enough

And I certainly don't post regularly.

So here's a video of Joyce Carol Oates talking about writing, particularly focusing on characters.

There is one part in the video where she looks like she's fidgeting with/fixing her bra, but I really liked listening to her, especially her talk about how she hates writing her novel for the first six weeks.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Submission

Remember my New Year's Resolution to try to get one thing published?

I'm actually working on it for more than a day or two this year.

In fact, I've just submitted something to be published - the Barbie anthology thing. It was exactly 150 words, and it made my boyfriend laugh (which I'll take as a compliment, even though he kind of has to...).

It's kind of uplifting. Even if it doesn't get picked (and I'm sure a lot of people are submitting, so it very well may not), at least I tried.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Like it or not,

"Barbie is a role model!" (As the character Starla so charmingly puts it in the movie She Gets What She Wants.)

Now, I must admit, I was definitely one of those girls who loved Barbie. But whether you loved her or hated her, chances are, at least if you're a girl, you have a Barbie anecdote.

If so, check out the website of Tanya Lee Stone. She's writing a book about Barbie, and she wants anecdotes of, at most, 150 words. So polish your skill with succinctness, and take a stab at getting published.

And, to give credit where credit is due, I heard about this opportunity from the livejournal of Sarah Dessen.

I'm going to try. I even think I kind of know what I want to do... The hard part is keeping it to a mere 150 words. Eesh. Why am I so wordy?

Oh, and to get you in the mood, here's the first Barbie commercial. Ever! (Courtesy of YouTube)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Bit of Dialogue

This is something I whipped up as application to a writing position. I'm not surprised I didn't hear back - the writing sucks. But, still, it's something I wrote, and therefore feel a compulsion to save somewhere before deleting it from my computer. And it's not all bad. It's not executed great, but the scene is there, and might inspire someone with greater writing talent than I possess. So read on - at your peril. ;)

Setting: A college classroom, with a chalkboard on one wall. In front of the chalkboard is a long table, behind which are two chairs. There are various student desks facing opposite the long table. About twelve students are seated.

Graduate Student Instructor (GSI): (walks into the room and sits at a chair behind the long table): Hello, everybody. (Removes a copy of the Aeneid and a legal pad covered with notes.) Now that we’ve finished Vergil’s work, we should be able to hold an interesting discussion.

Meg: Who’s Vergil?

Tiffany: (disdainful) The author of the Aeneid.

Meg: Oh, right.

GSI: Anyway, what are everyone’s thoughts on the end of the poem?

Meg: Poem?

Tiffany: I hope you don’t pass this class after making it so obvious you don’t do the reading.

Meg: (pouting) Well, that’s not very nice.

GSI: Now that we’ve covered the fact that the Aeneid is an epic poem written by a guy named Vergil, why don’t we begin analysis of the piece?

Tiffany: I thought the end of the poem was perfect. I mean, there’s a reason this poem has withstood the test of time – Vergil was a great writer.

Andrea: Well, Vergil was a fairly good writer, but I didn’t really like the ending. It was so abrupt.

GSI: It does seem abrupt, but that may not have been the way Vergil planned on ending it.

Tiffany: (haughty) That’s right. Vergil died before he considered the poem finished; he actually asked them to burn the manuscript entirely. Thank God they didn’t.

Andrea: You know, as much fun as it is to hear you sucking up to the GSI, I have SparkNotes, too. Why don’t you shut up and allow those of us who actually did the reading have the discussion?

(Conspicuous silence)

GSI: (wearily) Did anyone literally hold their copy of the Aeneid open and read the words contained therein?

(Andrea raises her hand)

Meg: (sighs) I wish you wouldn’t use such big words; we already know you’re smart.

GSI: (raises her eyebrows for a second, then lowers them) Well, it seems pointless to hold a conversation about something only a couple of people have read. If anyone actually does the reading, and wants to talk about it, come to my office hours. Next week, we’re having a quiz on the reading – one you can’t pass by glancing at SparkNotes. (picks up her bag and storms out of the room)

(Students glare at Andrea, who giggles nervously.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year; Hello, 2009

So, an important part of a new year is, of course, setting goals.

I'm not much of a goal setter, but I've been pretty unhappy lately, so I figured, maybe that's one of the things that need to be changed.

Other than the weight loss and new job, I wish to focus on writing, as well.

I really am revising that silly story of mine from high school. It's going slowly, and I want to work on it everyday.

Then, I'm also working on a couple of short stories, and occasionally, (really shitty) poetry.

So this year, I want to focus on writing, and trying to get one thing published. If I can get one piece of writing published, I will be satisfied.

I mean, I'm bound to write something good sooner or later, right?