Into the Woods: Part 2

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I got the rest of the photos off my phone, so here they are. Three of them are of the same ivy-covered rotting trunk because I thought it was awesome and was trying to find the best angle for it. Enjoy.

J

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Into the Woods

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I’ve been dog-sitting for my parents this past week and during that time, we’ve been going on some interesting walks.  I discovered a river and some forest that runs through some of the neighborhoods a little ways from my house.  There’s a lot of litter and it’s noticeably polluted in places, but it’s quite beautiful over all and the whole feel of it takes me back to Zinthe.  When we went yesterday, we wandered through the woods for over a mile and I took a bunch of pictures with my phone.  The whole sense of it was quite inspirational and add Enya or my LOTR Pandora station, and it really puts me in a place to channel Will.  I wanted to get them all up on my computer and share them here, so I had them in one place (and because I wanted to share the awesome that is woodsy inspiration with ya’ll), but my dumb phone would only send 4 of them, so here they are.  If I can ever get the rest of the pics off my phone, I will post them as well.  The quality isn’t great, because they’re just from my phone; someday I need to get a decent camera and go back through.  In the meantime, enjoy.

J

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Stubborn as a Muse

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When I start a new story, I get excited; I get into it.  I have all kinds of great ideas for the characters and plans and things.  Unfortunately, this can peter out pretty quickly.  I’m currently working on 3 stories and all began with promise, but I am inevitably blocked.  In addition to Isaac and Sarah, I’m working on a novel in a series about a character I’ve had around for a long time: William.

William is in a fantasy universe in the middle of a war.  I love him to death; he’s one of my favorite characters and I’ve written a lot about him, but I’ve been struggling to write this particular story for a very long time.  I don’t know how to handle a war—it’s such a broad thing that I can’t even really process it—so because the things that happen to Will in this book are all dependent on the events of the war, I just really don’t know how to go about writing it.  I’m considering jumping around and just telling the little pieces I know, but I’m not sure I can do that before I figure out what leads up to them.  I’ve been very excited about this story and I’m especially excited to work with William because he is—in my humble opinion—a great character, but after the thrill of the few scenes I wrote for Packet 4, I’ve fizzled out and I am yet again blocked.

I think I was blocked before I even started writing Isaac.  I have an idea of what goes on, but no specifics and I really don’t know how to write a teen superhero as a hero with his particular set of talents.  I’ve done a little research with the help of my super-nerdy sister, but I’ve basically concluded that in order for him to be a hero, with his skillset, he has to battle a supervillain.  My series has a supervillain, but he’s a major one and I didn’t want to introduce him yet because he’s supposed to be the antagonist to the whole group.  I could also bring in a sidekick superhero, but again, I didn’t want to introduce him as a super until later in the story, even though he’ll be getting his powers about now.  Ugh.  So, basically, I think that story’s dead in the water and I’m going to just have to let it be for now.

As for Sarah, I really do want to tell her story; it has significance for me, and, I hope, significance for the audience for which it’s intended, but I’m a bit stuck.  I have come across some new plot ideas, but I’ve gotten sucked into the whole Diary bit and I’m not sure how to tell her story truthfully outside of that.  I don’t think straight diary is the way to tell this story, but that’s all she’s giving me at the moment, so that’s what I’m moving forward with.

My muse is being very stubborn, but I am dragging her to work, kicking and screaming.  Hopefully she’ll submit to my demands soon, so I can go out with a bang this semester and be ready to hit the ground running in June.

May your muse be more generous than mine.

J

“it’s all material.”

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“That’s why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can’t control life, at least you can control your version.”

Chuck Palahniuk

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“Bad things don’t happen to writers; it’s all material.”

Garrison Keillor

Life is hard.

The universe often throws things at us that we don’t know how to handle.  Sometimes we wonder if we’ll even survive the latest torment.  At least as a writer, I can make something good out of these trials.  When I’m powerless in my circumstance, I have a way to deal with it because I can put it to paper.

And life goes on.

J

Time for Revelry! (or sleep…)

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Packet 4 is in the mail!  Now on to finish my taxes, then a brief, self-imposed recess before I press forward with Packet 5.  I can’t believe the semester’s almost over.

J

Sleep

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“Writers do not have the privilege of sleep. There is always a story coming alive in their heads, constantly composing. Whether they choose it or not.”

Coco J. Ginger

In honor of the ZERO hours of sleep I got last night.  Unfortunately, the lack of sleep was due to the stress of all the many things I have to do today to meet my deadlines, not because the muse was whispering in my ear.

J

Forests of Inspiration

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Forests of Inspiration

There’s no better inspiration than writing in the woods. Trees make forests; Words make stories; it’s the magical circle of life.

Muses are happiest in nature.

In the forest, anything is possible…

J

High on Writing

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This evening I spent two hours completely rewriting 3 pages of creative work I sent in with my last packet.

It was a scene for my superhero story, the moment when Isaac embraces his power and becomes a hero.  I’ve had the idea in my head for a long time, but I never got around to writing it, even with all the writing I’ve already done for his story.  In my grasping at straws to find a thesis, I thought maybe I could work with him, work on his backstory a little bit, so I wrote that scene and turned it in.  The scene was crap.  Sometimes I think something’s pretty good, and it’s really not, but this time, I knew full well it was crap when I turned it in.  It was a horrible first draft throwing in the ideas and outlining the event.  I haven’t written Isaac in over a year, so I didn’t have his voice at all.  I’d been playing around with first person, present tense for a couple of my other pieces, and his story is 3rd person, past tense, so the switch was very hard for me and I did a bit of wiggling around between tenses.  On top of that, there were plenty of problems with the scene itself, things were unrealistic, even for a superhero story.

As I said, the original was close to 3 pages, more like 2.75, not that that makes that much of a difference.  My advisor’s response was: “Not much to go on here, in terms of quantity or quality (not an insult—I just mean that the drafts are obviously quite rough).”  [Note: I turned in about 6 pages total of creative work that packet—as opposed to the 20-30 in previous packets.  The other three pages were Sarah.]  He marked up the 3 pages like nobody’s business, confirming my suspicion that it was crap.

This time, rather than let it go and move on because I’d already lost interest in attempting Isaac’s story, I decided to do major revisions and see if I could make it better, decent even.  Regardless of whether or not I continue to write this story, I wanted to use it to improve my craft.

This leads me to the 2 hours I spent on it this evening.  I basically wrote it from scratch.  I checked the original a few times to make sure I wasn’t making any of the same mistakes again and to get the gist of the original idea, but I kept maybe two lines of the original.  The rest is all new.  It was an intense experience.  I drew on everything I’d learned about the craft in my recent annotations and I sat down and wrote that scene.  It was hard work—golly, writing is hard work?  Who woulda thunk?—but I came out the other side with at least a half page more and the scene feels much, much better than the original.  I don’t know if it actually is that much better, but it feels like a good scene to me and I’m proud of it.  The whole experience—getting so wrapped up in the process and the triumph of completing a good piece of writing—gave me such a high.  It was awesome.

So now, I have two other—longer—pieces of creative work to edit before I mail Packet 4 on Monday.  I don’t know that I’ve got the energy to keep at it, but I’ll give it a shot.  At least I’ve got one thing to be proud of in this packet—I hope.  At least these are new scenes, so it’s okay if they’re crappy.  And they’re not as bad as the original Isaac scene, so I’ve got that going for me.

So, off to write and/or procrastinate.

Over and out.

J

Grad School is Making Me Fat

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Apparently that whole “Freshman Fifteen” thing they all talk about applies to grad school, too (although, my first semester of college I actually lost the 15 rather than gaining it because I was too stressed to eat).

My essay/creative writing routine goes as follows:

Open document.  Stare at blank page.  Eat candy.  Start a draft.  Get blocked.  Eat candy.  Check Facebook.  Check email.  Look at draft again.  Eat candy.  Write some more.  Eat candy.  Get stuck again.  Look for food.  Eat frozen dinner because I’m too burnt out to cook.  Eat candy.  Return to draft.  Eat candy.  Realize it’s oneinthemorningandI’mtiredandbraindeadandyetstillnotdone: Eat candy.

It’s no wonder my jeans are tight and I only wanna wear baggy clothes.  If I actually get dressed…

Too bad the gym’s upstream and it’s been way too cold to leave the house.  Maybe I’ll at least get better about the exercising part now that the weather’s warming up, but once it gets over 80, I won’t want to leave the house anymore.  I can’t give up candy; I’d probably go mad without my fix.  It’s all good stuff anyway: chocolate covered almonds—some of them even dark chocolate—so it’s all protein and vegetables etc.  Yes, chocolate is a vegetable.

On the bright side, my method works:  Today I finished two annotations and my second short critical paper, so I’m done with the critical work for Packet 4.

And now, sleep….

J