Pen and Scribbles Are Me Right Now (Updates: Drawing, Books & Writing)

Pen and Scribbles Are Me Right Now

This is me right now. Lots of things are happening in my life, both behind the scenes and on stage. Mostly bad, but eh, what can you do? Some good news is I got a new phone, so my casual pictures are looking a lot nicer.

We’re taking a break on the blog from the drawing challenge today (even though it’s been like eleventy-million years since I last drew something for the challenge) so I can mention the state of a few things.

Drawing. The drawing challenge is still going on, stuff’s just gotten in the way (I know, I know, shame on me.) Two other design projects have popped up– one logo for a new client and one for a friend– with deadlines, so those kinda have to come first. I’ll try and get back on the challenge schedule this week, maybe discuss the design projects.

Status: Not done.

Books. Summer is when I do the bulk of my reading, since I have more free time then, and the library has reading challenges and so on. Those are fun. I talk about some of these books on the blog occasionally, usually highlighting my favorites. Today I’m mentioning not a book, but a list of books: finally I have complied a loose list of all the books I like on one page, which I’ve put here.

Status: Well, the page is done. (Ignore the 20-something unread books I have checked out from the library alone.)

Writing. Yeah, I’m still doing that too, even though I haven’t posted about it since eleventy-million x 100000000 years ago. It’s hard to talk about it, though, since I can’t really tell you what it’s about. But anyway, this should be the last draft before peer edits, which I want to start by 2017. Hopefully. Maybe. It’s exciting, but also… daunting. I get the feeling that the story will need to be seriously curtailed. Slash-and-burn type. Kill your darlings, right?

Status: Not even close.

I wish you a pleasant day. May you be more productive than I.

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On Timely Writing and Random Resources

A drawing of a girl daydreamingIn writing, I’ve heard all kinds of things about trying to write as much as possible and trying not to remain stuck in one place for too long– and I agree with these. They’ve helped me improve a lot.

But I think that, while I should try not to let myself become stuck in a muddy rut of writer’s doubt, I’ve also learned something else: that sometimes, it takes as long as it takes.

And let’s just say, it’s taking me a long time.

But who knows how long it really takes to write something you can be proud of? A month? A few weeks? A few years? I don’t think anyone really has some perfect number-formula that takes in a certain number of days and spits out a novel.

So for now I’m taking my time. I’ve set a new deadline for myself at the end of July, and here’s hoping all goes well with that.

Anyway, since I haven’t blogged in a while, I’ve decided to jot down a few resources I’ve been using, for further use by me or anyone who might need this stuff.

What Should I Read Next? is a website that suggests books based on books that you’ve read before– just pop in a title and it gives you a list of other books you might like. Nice.

Wordcount tracks how often words are used. Currently the most commonly used word is “the” (no surprise there), and the least commonly used word in their collection is “conquistador.” Kind of useful if you’re making up names based on already existing words.

The library is an awesome resource, and not only for the books. Many libraries have free encyclopedias and databases that you can access with your library card. For example, there is an awesome resource available for UW library members/students, the Daily Life through History Encyclopedia, that does pretty much what the title implies. Really useful if you want to know how the ancient Mycenaens went about their day-to-day business. You can also get free music from certain libraries. And you thought libraries couldn’t get any cooler.

If you want to get really specific about living during Jane Austen’s time (or you just want to know what Austen means when she talks about a barouche), try this website. I’ve been using it a lot lately, just to understand the atmosphere surrounding the time period.

Baby name websites are like gold. Gold, gold, gold. One website I like is 2000 Names, mostly because of its special categories page, which sorts names into categories like “elemental names” or “color names.”

If you’re looking for some movie-soundtrack-like music for inspiration, try HDSounDI‘s channel on YouTube. It’s AWESOME. Check it out.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I like taking personality tests for my characters sometimes, just to figure out if I know them well enough, or if I think they might all be too similar. I personally like the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator Test, which I usually take at Human Metrics.

A giant encyclopedia of tropes at TV Tropes. Fun to look through, and helpful for simultaneously avoiding cliches and getting ideas.

Well, that’s all I got. I should also mention that I bought a new sketchbook for writing and drawing, in which I drew the picture above. The girl has my haircut.

Good luck to all you writers out there. Or anyone working on anything. I’m rooting for you.

The Sprint

Motivational sticky note on my desktop that says, "You can do it!"

It’s exactly 10:31 right now and I am just finishing up “the sprint”

That’s right. Quotations and italics. This is serious stuff.

Okay, so– I like to think that I manage my time pretty well. I mean, I’m also pretty lazy, but it’s an acceptable amount of laziness. I get stuff done. Usually. I know when this is more important than that and so I should do this first. That’s usually how I get stuff done. Make a list. Check stuff off. Boring, but effective.

But then–then– there are those times when there are just so many thises that they all have to be done first. Immediately. At the same time. For example: this past week. I had a bunch of tests and a 300 point-paper due by midnight on Friday and I had to write and draw a kid’s book. In French. (Mind you, this was all in the span of three days.) Apparently I have become a machine in which you put unfinished tasks in and get finished tasks out. One after the other.

And then today, we ran around a few different grocery stores preparing for Christmas. That part was actually kind of fun, but I was still in a hurry.

I think you see where I’m going with this.

The formal definition of sprint is: v. to race or move at full speed, especially for a short distance, as in running, rowing, etc. (thank you dictionary.com).

Whenever I accumulate a whole bunch of ginormous things that need to get done, I feel like a distance runner on the track who’s been pacing herself during the race, turning laps at a steady, measured, manageable pace (sort of). And if you know anything about distance runners, you know that they usually sprint the last 100 meters or so.

That’s me. I feel like by the end of the race I’m so tired i just want to quit and sit down and eat a bagel or something. So what do I do? I make myself push past all those awful things I have to get through. I sprint through them. Or I try to.

Let me be honest: it’s downright awful. I have to mentally prepare myself in the morning. In my head I’m literally repeating the words just a little longer. This is the sprint. You’re almost there (even though you’re really not). Rinse. Repeat. When it gets really bad I put up notes all over the place to keep myself motivated.

My sister laughs at me every time she sees that sticky note on my desktop.

But hey, it works. Sort of. I mean, you can only sprint so many times in a row, right? Perhaps. But for now I’m staring right at the finish line. I’m almost there! I can see the end! Prepare the celebratory cake!

So for all you sprinters out there, metaphorical or no, just know that I’m with you. You can conquer this!

You can do it!

Goodbye Summer in Not-So-Pretty-Bows

Summer is coming to a close, and I have to admit I’m not so good at goodbyes. Even so, the end of summer means that I’ve got a few things to wrap up in pretty little end-of-summer bows.

You remember this list, don’t you? The summer list? All in all, the grand total is:

THE SUMMER LIST 2013:

  1. Finish writing a book
  2. Take on the reading program at my library
  3. Learn to drive
  4. Finish a knitting project
  5. Finish an art project
  6. Memorize a song on the piano

Would you look at that, I’ve done almost nothing.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Do you remember me mentioning my problem with finishing things? Well, here is specific evidence that finishing isn’t always my strong suit. But I’m improving… I think.

Finish writing a book:

While my beloved novel may not be finished, it sure is a lot further along than it was at the beginning of the season. At this specific point in time, it is 80,454 words long, give or take some because of all of my notes. (Plus I like to put in chapter titles that are really long and that make almost no sense whatsoever.)

But one important thing that summer gave my book was a real, solid backbone. Before, the plot was still very move-y and gelatinous, and the beginning was an all-over-the-place-peanut-butter-and-kitchen-sink mess. Now it’s sturdier, and definitely better. Definitely.

Take on the reading program at the library:

Hooray! I actually finished this one! I read some pretty good (and some not-so-good) books this summer. And those book reviews…? I’d rather not talk about those *shudder*.

Learn to drive:

Heh. This one’s funny. There will be more on this later.

Let’s just say, I’m not the best driver in the world.

Finish a knitting project:

I got one glove done. Enough said.

Finish an art project:

I… I don’t even think I started one. Did I? Not that I can remember. I still drew and painted (ish) and stuff like that, but, yeah… no Mona Lisas this time.

Memorize a song on the piano:

Okay, this one was just pure laziness.

Oh well. There’s always next summer, right?

I’m actually kind of sick of this list. Aren’t you? I am I am I am. So you will notice that The Summer List page is no longer in the menu. I don’t think I’m going to be doing this again, so, poof! All gone.

(Actually, you can still view the page here. But there’s not much to see. There wasn’t really much to look at in the first place. I’m also getting rid of the list categories. The tag will still be there, though.)

What can I say? Summer sun makes me lethargic. Maybe that’s why I like cold, fresh autmn-winter-spring air. Mmm.

And so, without further ado– goodbye summer!

Much love,
Jackie

Not a Book Review

THE SUMMER LIST 2013:

  1. Finish writing a book
  2. Take on the reading program at my library
  3. Learn to drive
  4. Finish a knitting project
  5. Finish an art project
  6. Memorize a song on the piano

As many of you may or may not know, I have issues finishing things. Is it because I’m lazy? Perhaps. But in any case, it looks as though another project will go uncompleted.

Originally this was going to be a book review, and I guess it still kind of is. But I’ve realized something very important, and it’s that I don’t like writing book reviews.

Maybe it’s because a lot of times the expectancy is brutality in book reviews. Unless I have a burning hatred for a book, shredding it just doesn’t sit well with me. Or maybe it’s because I don’t like to dissect books after I’ve read them– then it’s more like reading for school than reading for fun, and dissecting things makes those things unmagical sometimes.

So it looks like I’m calling it quits on the book reviews. And if I do write about books, they won’t be very review-y.

But because this was going to be a book review, I might as well talk about some books. Book covers are courtesy of Goodreads.

Man in the Empty Suit

Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell

I had a lot of fun reading this book. I mean, a lot. It wasn’t exactly a birthday party with like eighty different versions of my self being the only guests, exactly, but it was extremely entertaining.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This is the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve read (yes, I just said that. You may now pelt me with tomatoes if you feel the need to), and I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. I fell in love with the magic and the mystery. Beautifully done.

And that’s that. *Wipes brow* glad that’s over. Next year we’ll try something more fun, yes?

Getting Stuff Done

At about 9:47 yesterday night I ran out of words. Literally. Just burnt out. Semi-productive day, ended in me staring at blankness. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any ideas, but more like I had so many in my brain, all talking at once; so loud that I couldn’t hear a thing that they were saying. And so ended my day.

But today I woke up refreshed and ready to write. So I got up today and tried something new. I got it from this article on Write to Done (lovely blog, for writers and bloggers).

Set a timer, spend 25 minutes writing. Pure writing, no editing, no email checking, just writing. The stress of trying to race the clock causes you to be efficient, apparently. So I tried it. I set a timer, turned the volume all the way up on my laptop, and wrote like the wind. When the timer went off it scared me to death.

But you know what? It worked. I wrote, quite efficiently. I made a few tweaks, though– after the timer went off I kept writing until the end of the section, and yes, I glanced up a few times *ooh look there’s a bird outside* but I think I will definitely try this again.

On a different note, I am getting close to finishing knitting a pretty new glove. Last summer I knitted myself a pair of fingerless gloves with a fish scale pattern on them (cool, right?), and they turned out nicely. I’m about 3/4 of the way through another glove for my sister. I actually started my sister’s gloves last summer, then basically stopped during the school year. So hopefully those will be done soon.

Mine:

Gray Fish Scale Gloves

And the unfinished one:

Pink Fish Scale Glove

Oh, and here’s the pattern for the gloves, if anyone is interested. How do people finish these so fast? It takes me forever to knit. It takes me forever to do anything, actually.

Well, better get back to getting stuff done.

Gray Ball of Yarn

AND THEN.

When it comes to writing, I’ve come to understand something very important about myself.

I write backwards.

And not like, emit eht lla sdrawkcab etirw I backwards, but more like, Goldilocks was eaten by the three bears after she broke their furniture and ate their porridge backwards.

It’s been that way for a while now, I suppose. English papers are the same. I come up with little snippets that form into a bigger story. I know where the story is going, how it will end, but not how it started. No clue. It’s like trying to fill a jar with honey– when you pour it in, it starts at the bottom and slowly fills to the top.

So I’m in the middle of attempting to write a coherent book (a very long process, not going so well), and for the longest time I could not fill the jar to the top.  Those people who are good at making awesome beginnings and know just how to start: I envy you. I knew exactly what was going to happen and I knew what kind of ending I wanted to put, but the beginning… let’s just say it was a mess. A big, sticky, wad of a mess that I didn’t even want to look at for a while.

And then. And then.

The other day I was reading through some old stuff when it hit me. The aha! moment I’d needed for so long has finally graced me with its presence. I know how to fill the jar! I know what I want to write!

Best. Moment. Of life.

After that I sat down and re-outlined until 11:00 at night. (Bad idea–I went to bed sometime after midnight even though I had to be up early the next morning. But it was worth it.) Now I need index cards– that would be helpful.

Granted, this feeling isn’t going to last very long. In fact, in a few weeks I’ll probably think my giant awesome idea is stupid and won’t work.

But for now, I feel pretty good. I’m actually writing new stuff– that’s always a plus. One day I’m going to finish writing that book– but for now, I have a lot of work to do.

The jar’s not nearly full enough.

It. Is. June.

It’s June everybody! Hooray!

It is almost summer. Almost summer. We are this close to summer. Thiiiiiisss close.

With that in mind, it’s time to make the list. Yes, that’s right. It’s my to-do list for summer. As it turns out, this is the perfect time for me to accomplish all the things I don’t have time for during the school year. Because I will actually get them all accomplished before next school year. And then I’ll win the lottery. *cough sarcasm cough*

But no, this year will be different. Why? Because I will finish the list, that’s why!

THE SUMMER LIST 2013:

  1. Finish writing a book
  2. Take on the reading program at my library
  3. Learn to drive
  4. Finish a knitting project
  5. Finish an art project
  6. Memorize a song on the piano

This list is organized according to priority. Yes, reading for the library is above driving– but only because reading for the library is very doable during the summer, whereas the driving may take longer. Much longer, in my case.

I’ll be posting updates when stuff happens with the list. I’m already sweating just thinking about it.

So now it’s time to buy some new pens, grab some paint, and dust off the ol’ bookshelf, because it’s June 1st.

Let the battles begin.

Little, Little Fish

This is a poem I wrote in one of my notebooks. For some reason I was on a poem-streak and I actually completed some.

Doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Finishing things is always a challenge for me. Especially when it comes to writing big things. I. Just. Can’t. Finish. This happens to me with paintings/drawings/knitting/everything else too.

So here’s a finished piece. Hope you like it!

• • •

Little, Little Fish

I am a fish, a fish in a barrel
but fish, little, little fish, have no wings,
and are stuck in their little, little pond

Water is a slice of glass, with ripples from agitations
that make the glass grow and shrink as it heats and cools
but alas, though the ripples may be there,
and many a creature punctures through

we are stuck

It is a glass we cannot break
no matter our kingfisher leaps
no matter how we jump and flop,
and agitate the surface
we never truly break it,
we never truly break through

And like those fish, those little, little fish,
all boarded up in the barrel,
to that little, little barrel, all must we return
past the slipcover barrier of the glass

because in truth, to breathe pure air is divine
and fish, us tiny, tiny fish, were not made to fly
We have no wings with which to hang alate in the air,
soaking up sunlight, taking in the sky like fresh peppermints

feeling the wind rushing

And so it is, little, little fish,
that as you attempt to shoot straight from glass and barrel
to freefall, spinning with the airy sylphs
that taunt us in their unreachable atmospheres,
that gravity will pull you back down,

to plop

below the surface of the glass
in the barrel
and you will thank it, if halfheartedly

and deep in the skin of water, you will be able to breathe

• • •