4 x This Week: Help I Hate My Characters, More Ambient Music, Shepherd’s Pie, and a Tongue Twister

Monday. 2:54 a.m. Nearly forgot to write this post. So a-here-we-go~

**1**

I’m hitting a bit of a writing wall right now, mostly because of some character things. I may write a longer post about it this week, but for now I’ll try to summarize. Lately none of my characters have been clicking for me, and there have been certain points in time when I’ve just hated all of them. Like, what used to excite me about them has suddenly vanished into thin air. After some introspection, I realized this is likely due to events in my own life—but how so, you may ask?

Well, it has come to my attention that the way I perceive my characters is directly related to the way I perceive people in general—not specific people, mind you, but humanity as a whole. Lately, however, certain people in my life have lessened my opinion of relationships (not necessarily romantic) and other people in general. You know how it is—you run into someone who is so infuriating or downright evil that it makes you want to tear your hair out. So opposite your own soul that you cannot believe they actually exist. So present that it makes you question the sincerity of every other person you have met or ever will meet.

Perhaps that is an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Because of personal issues I am dealing with, the characters in my writing are suffering. And, as you may know, writing is usually a pretty personal experience.

My characters now seem too… optimistic about encountering other characters, whereas I suddenly find myself more pessimistic about meeting new people. This also comes at a crucial time when my main character is supposed to be forming her friendships, and creating lasting bonds—something that is now difficult for me.

For a moment I considered taking a break from writing my main work and focusing on some other side thing, but I felt a little better about my characters today than I did yesterday. Mostly I think it’s just personal stuff I need to sort through.

The most interesting thing about this whole experience is probably that I never realized just how closely my characters were connected to my own state of being. Whether or not that is a good thing, well, I guess I’ll find out in the weeks to come.

**2**

Flipping the switch here, I’m always looking for ambient, soundtrack-like music, particularly when I’m writing. Some time ago I posted about jazzhop or something like that. This week it’s, let’s see—“chillstep,” which I guess is like dubstep, but… chill; lofi (lofi hip hop?); and some trap-Japanese mix, which sounds weird (I mean the name, not the actual music), but is good.

**3**

I tend to make this shepherd’s pie a lot, using this recipe. Just made one today, actually.

**4**

Tongue twister I heard somewhere that my sister and I quote a lot:

How many Lowe’s could Rob Lowe rob if Rob Lowe could rob Lowe’s?

x

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4 x This Week: Phoenix, Aimer, and Lightless Rooms

Airplane Sunset on My Way
Sunset from my airplane seat on my way into Phoenix. How did I get this gorgeous shot? I have no idea.

The photo is a bit deceptive. It is beautiful. Light. Almost whipped-cream adjacent.

This post is not.

**1**

I’m in Phoenix! If anyone is reading these 4 x This Week posts (which you’re probably not, but I’m trying to practice being an optimist), you might remember that I mentioned that I would be visiting my sister in Arizona two weeks ago. And then I didn’t. And I went to Seattle last week instead.

Well, I finally made it to the Grand Canyon state. As expected, it’s hot. Like, really hot. As I am typing this (at 8:36 at night, sun is down) the current outdoor temperature is 102 degrees. Now, 100+ degree weather is not what you would call my forte, but I’m coping. We have air conditioning. The sunsets are amazing. I’m adjusting to the heat… sort of.

I can’t say the weather isn’t exciting, though. Saturday there was a weird storm thing happening. In the morning it was sunny as usual, and then all of a sudden in the late afternoon it was raining and the wind was blowing hard enough to break the palm trees down the road. It was kind of fun, but then again I didn’t have to go outside, so.

Update: It’s 10:00 and there’s a storm. Lightning, wind, dust, the works. And yes, it is 92 degrees.

Second Update: 10:15 look it’s raining. A lot.

Still 92 degrees though.

**2**

Right now I’m listening to Aimer. She’s a singer from Japan and I absolutely love her voice, as well as the rock/emo influences in many of her songs. I just found out she’s on Spotify, so she’s been on repeat for a few days. The first song I ever heard from her was Brave Shine, which I highly recommend. Also, I really appreciate the whole blanc/noir theme of her two collection albums. And cats! With crowns!

https://i2.wp.com/aramajapan.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/aramajapan_blanc-noir.png?fit=1024%2C518

**3**

Writing: right now I’m at 42,816 words in my latest draft (give or take—I skipped over a section but also tend to write a lot of notes). I feel like the story needs to happen along faster, or that 42,000 words is a bit much for how far I actually am in the story. But then again, they say that when writing you should worry about the word count later. For now, just write.

Right?

Also I think I have too many characters moving around in the story right now… which I feel has actually been a problem for a long, long time. I guess I just never felt like addressing it. Well, not properly, anyway.

So if the person who is reading this right now is actually me from the future, I hope you’ve done something about this. And if you haven’t? SIT DOWN, GRAB A PEN, AND FIX IT.

NO, DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.

FIX. IT.

**4**

Besides all the stuff above, nothing is really happening right now. I mean, if you don’t count my inner turmoil (which is almost always happening, *eye roll*). The thing is, I knew something like this would pop up eventually—that one day I would sit down to write this post and realize that there is nothing of interest for me to write. Nope. Nothing. Blank.

Most days I just wait for my sister to come home from work, since I’m not at school and do not currently have a job. It’s just minutes upon hours upon days upon months of in-between, transitory waiting time. And in those minutes to hours to days to months, I get these flickers. Flickers of fear, flickers that I will be forever in this waiting limbo. Doing nothing, contributing nothing, enjoying nothing. Just… waiting for something to happen to me that is not a blood sugar crash or a panic attack.

I can rationalize and say that this transitory state is, by nature, transitory. But I can only realistically see this and/or feel it to be true once I am outside that state. It’s like being in a room that’s completely dark, a room whose dimensions are unknown. It could be five feet across. It could be a hundred. But I won’t know until I cross the lightless room, touch the walls, and possibly find a light switch. Until then, I am endlessly in the dark, waiting, waiting, waiting.

For eternity? Maybe.

…Anyway, sorry. Got a bit depressing there for a moment.

On a lighter note, I have realized that Emma, my current read, is actually the basis for the movie Clueluess. Huh. You learn something new every day.

***

Well, that’ll be all for today, folks. Stay tuned for the next 4 x This Week, where we’ll discover whether or not our young heroine can pull herself out of her own misery. Will she be forever waiting in a lightless room? Will she find a job? Or is her life about to take a turn for the worse? Find out next Monday!

Fill the Oceans Without the Salt? On Writing Endings

Happy or Angry or Sad Faces

As of today, I’m finally reaching the end chapters of the book I’m writing– ahem, attempting to write– and everything seems to be wrapping up pretty nicely. Only… now I have a difficult decision to make, one I think a lot of writers must struggle with as they approach their ends.

Should I write a happy ending? Or not?

I borrowed a line from the song World by Five for Fighting for the title, because it describes me and my writing pretty well right now (good song, check it out, I highly recommend). I and my characters are at a crossroads right now. I could give my characters the gift of a happy ending after all the hell I’ve put them through. I could. Or I could give them a nice, tragic ending. I’m a sucker for a good tragedy. I mean, as a writer, I can decide my characters’ fates (up to a certain degree, of course). So what do I do with all this power? Do I let them heal? Or make them suffer a little more?

Oh, the possibilities seem endless.

I’m trying to decide at this very moment. Endings leave a great impact on the mind. Whatever emotion I plant here will color a person’s (and my own) perception of my work permanently. It’ll disperse like ink in water, tinging the whole bowl a certain color. But what color? I’m not so sure. Right now I’m trying to go back and look through my work for clues, to see if the story leans more towards one ending or the other. I’m also thinking that maybe I should just write out all my alternate endings, then pick one. Who knows, I may discover that I like one the best.

Well, when you write up a world, I guess you become responsible for this kind of stuff. Kill or keep your characters, poke or push them forward. What I’m going to do now? Still not sure…

How a Book About Birthdays Helped My Characters

Birthday book Page

Yes, the pages of this book are actually purple. You are not seeing things. (Although I will admit, the purple’s a little more saturated in this photo.) Now, this purple-paged book just so happens to be one of my new best friends, because:

  1. My rag-doll characters are finally coming together, stitch by stitch, and I think we’ve finally stopped hating each other.
  2. I bought this 751-page monster a while back for $10 at the much-beloved Borders bookstore (may you rest in peace).

After buying it I kind of forgot about it for a while, sad to say. But in my greatest hour of need, just when I was giving up hope that I’d ever be able to build up my characters they way I knew they could–should— be… there it was. Sitting there in all its purple, scintillating glory, staring at me with an expression that said It’s about time!

So what is this magical purple unicorn of a book I’m talking about?

It’s actually an astrological book of birthdays. Birthdays!

Who knew?

Called The Element Encyclopedia of Birthdays by Theresa Cheung, it’s basically this book details the astrological meanings behind each and every single birthday of the year. You know how horoscopes always tell you things supposedly about yourself, based on the planets and stars and things? This is a book of that.

And each and every single day has a certain personality type associated with it.

LIGHT BULB!

I’m not a firm believer in astrology, but I’ve always found it quite interesting. Each day in the book has negatives and positives about certain personalities, plus insight on how we interact with others, according to our birthday/personality/astrology things.

Now, just before I’d rediscovered my very purple friend, I was having a little trouble getting putting my character’s real personality into words. He was there, a diamond covered up in mud and coal dust and other junk I couldn’t filter through. I wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted, who he really was. I couldn’t find his bleeding, beating heart, so-to-speak.

(And yes, this is that same character that I hated only a scant few months ago.)

But then I was hit by a burst of purple goodness. Looking through the pages, I was able to really define who my character is. The thing that I thought my character was just… wasn’t. I’d been trying to force my character this way and that, but in the end, what I needed was a different perspective. Something to remind me how all these different characteristics came together. This book helped me clean the grime off the diamond, if that makes sense.

And I was able to find my character a birthday, ha ha.

Now he’s finally where he needs to be, all thanks to a wonderful purple book.

Not bad for $10, eh?

It Has Come to This: I Hate My Main Character

Did I just say that?

Yes, I just said that.

…I can’t believe I just said that.

Here is an angry face, because I am not happy: >:(

It’s really strange, because this character that I am directing all of my unhappy faces towards used to be one of my favorites. Nothing about him has seriously changed or anything, but all of a sudden I realized I just didn’t like him.

I was sitting there staring at a page of what I thought was worthless junk, drinking some green tea and praying that I wasn’t catching a cold/the flu/the plague because my throat definitely felt itchy.

I stared. I stared some more. My brain began talking to itself. This is ugly. This is really ugly. Why did I write this? Why isn’t this working? Did I mean to write cat or act? Why are there so many h-t-e’s instead of t-h-e’s? Maybe it really is supposed to be h-t-e. Is this supposed to be definitely or definately? I don’t even know English anymore. I’m a writing failure. Doughnuts. I need doughnuts. Donuts can fix anything. Is it doughnuts or donuts? Stupid Dunkin’ Donuts, I can’t even spell donuts doughnuts anymore. I’m hungry. I could use some eclairs or something.

Unfortunately, there was nothing of the doughnut-type in my household. There still isn’t.

…I need to fix that.

Anyway, I was in the middle of not eating chocolatey fried pastries when oh no, the solution hit me. BAM! Or I guess the problem finally hit me. I’m sorry, dear main-character-person, but I don’t like you anymore. In fact, I feel like printing out everything I wrote about you so that I can have a physical object in my hands to crumple. (Not that I’ve ever done that.)

To clarify, I should mention that he isn’t really the main character, but a main character. (The main character and I are still on good terms… For now.)

I used to love this main character. He fit right in with my story. He was the only character I didn’t have problems with. He was awesome! And it’s not like I did any major reconstruction of his persona or anything. All of a sudden his personality became more and more annoying and then I realized that he was annoying and that something had to go.

Everything had grown around him– my other characters, the setting, the plot, the world, the author– but not him. Now he doesn’t fit in with anything anymore.

Has anyone else ever experienced this? Because I am both happy and frustrated. On one hand, I now know what I need to fix. On the other hand… I now I have to fix it. *sigh*

He must be rewritten. He has to be taken apart and reconstructed and burned to ashes then brought back to life like a phoenix. There’s no other way to remedy this. I feel like I’m about to take a pair of scissors to a scarf I knit by hand for five-ish years. I have to cut through the threads, slice through my work, snip it to ruins. I can’t do it!

Yes, yes you can. Breathe, girl. Get a grip!

Okay, okay. I am not excited for this. Obviously. But it must be done. Sort of. I know what I have to change, but not how I am going to change it. He’s so pivotal to the story, I don’t want to have him be like any of my other characters. And these other characters are somewhat of a problem– I’ve already looked at them, thought they were flawed, and improved them, way before this disaster happened. But now I feel like I’ve used all my good ideas on them, and so there is nothing left for him. I feel like Prometheus right now, in that myth where he and his brother Epimetheus were given the tasks of creating the creatures of the earth. Epimetheus was given the animals, Prometheus the humans. When making the animals Epimetheus used up all of the good traits like speed and claws and things, so there was nothing left when it came time for Prometheus to make people.

Great. I’ve used up all the traits on this earth. So what do I do now? According to that, I either:

a) Steal fire for my main character, prompting Zeus to chain me to a rock so that eagles can pick out my insides, or

b) Delete some of the animals of the earth and give their awesome claws and beaks and wings and things to my main character

Um… I don’t like these options.

So I guess it comes down to me, stretching my creative muscles in order to recreate this character. I must overcome this barrier. When I think I’ve used up my last option, I have to remember that THERE ARE LIKE A BILLION MORE OPTIONS AFTER THAT. I just have to work harder to find them.

I’ve basically got to take him apart and put him back together again in a different way than he was before. I can do it. I will do it. I’m holding up the scissors right now. I’m striking the matches, pouring gasoline all over the pages… I’m… I’m…

NO I CAN’T DO IT AHHHHHHHH

…This is going to take a while.

Wish me luck.