Handwritten Words

To be honest, most of my writing is done on the computer these days. Writing stuff out by hand doesn’t let me move stuff around like I want. And sometimes when my mind is going a million miles an hour, scribbling is just not fast enough.

That being said, I love writing things out. Maybe not long things, but short stories and notes and reminders are perfect for page and ink. Handwriting just looks so pretty to me.

(And here I take my two seconds of vanity. Yes, I like the look of my own handwriting, I think it’s awesome.)

Not just my handwriting, either. I like to compare how different people write. A lot can be said from other people’s script.

Don’t even try to tell me your handwriting is ugly. Art is never ugly, only unique.

And handwriting is certainly art.

…Even if you can’t read said art.

So I decided I’d hand-write some stuff for today’s post. Sorry if the lines aren’t straight. They probably never will be. Also sorry if you can’t read my handwriting. You can click it to make it bigger, if that helps.

Handwriting by me

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Creamy, Buttery Moonlight

Creamy, buttery moonlight. The phrase really makes me want to eat a cupcake. You know, like a moist, fluffy pillow of a cake plus a swirl of vanilla bean frosting. Ooh and little chocolate shavings. Chocolate and vanilla. Mmmmmm…

…I’m getting off topic. So, anyway, one thing I like to do when writing (besides eating cupcakes) is to mash up all the senses when I describe things. Sure, moonlight (unfortunately) does not feel creamy or taste buttery, but it makes you envision some pretty sweet moonlight, right?

I didn’t know that there was a name for it, though, until a few months ago when my English teacher talked about it as a rhetorical device. What do you know, I learned something at school that day.

The combination of different senses, using one sense to describe another, is called synesethesia.

Wait! I’ve heard of that before!

As soon as she’d said it, I recognized it. While it may be a rhetorical device, synesthesia did not start out as one. Synesthesia is actually a condition in which the senses are sort of mixed together, so that when one sense is stimulated, another one is too, if that makes sense.

The first time I had ever heard of synesthesia, I was in sixth grade, I think. I was walking around Borders (may you rest in peace), and happened upon a book called A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass, about a girl who had synesthesia. In this book, the main character saw different shapes and colors when she heard certain noises or read letters and numbers. Is that not amazing?

Ever since then I’ve been really interested in it. And inspired.

I drew this for my portfolio for art class freshman year. I think of it a lot when I think of synesthesia.

Colored Swirls

And it’s not just sounds and sights that can get all mixed up. Remember the movie Ratatouille? That was one good movie. But remember when they were tasting the grapes and the cheese and all those colors were swirling in the background?

Yes, synesthesia can be something like that.

My teacher said that many people may have synesthesia, but maybe not quite to that extent, and it might be stronger when we are younger. And when I think about it, it makes sense– I mean, I used to associate certain days of the week and certain letters and things with specific colors. But I never actually saw anything, sadly. Just an association.

I have yet to meet someone with synesthesia. I would love to talk to them, to ask them about it. Wouldn’t you?

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

Sometimes the Idea of Publishing Just Scares Me to Death

Say of me what you will, but let me just tell you, I dread the day when paper books become as common vinyl records and electronic books become little terminators bent on world domination. I promise you I will cry. Remember Borders Bookstore? I loved that place. Loved that place. So when it closed I felt like a part of my soul was being ripped into tiny little pieces to be thrown into a fire pit.

I kid.

Anyway, those of you who aspire to be published authors probably know that merely writing  the thing is only half the battle. We’ve all heard the scary rumors about how traditional publishing routes often include the crushing of dreams and endless rejection before anything happens.

(My first slap in the face about the reality of publishing came to me a few years ago in a pretty little package named How to Get a Book Published in 10 Not-So-Easy Steps. The slap wasn’t even that hard, but it still hurt.)

Every author, so we are told, has gone through this rejection. Erin Morgenstern (my most favorite author in the whole entire world) chronicles her journey to get her book, The Night Circus, published here. Stephenie Meyer talks about her Twilight publishing experience here. Many, many others have talked about their publishing roller coasters. And all authors have been on this ride.

This scary, awful, I-WANT-OFF-NOW ride.

So it seems that nowadays people are turning to self publishing through electronic means to get their voices heard. Less roller coaster, less nausea-inducing.

Now, I have no problem with this. I admire you, self publishers, for being your own one-man show and still stealing our breath away. You have guts. And superpowers.

But I think that If I were put in a death ring of self-published authors, and I had been asked to fight to the finish, I wouldn’t last very long.

Traditional publishing I think will work better for me, when the time comes. (And let me just say, that will probably be a long, long time from now.) So I worry. What if it becomes extinct before I even get there?

I would not be happy.

Sometimes it seems like I am alone in this. As if I am the one girl still riding her bike to school while everyone rides up in their ultra-shiny cars. The cars laugh at the bike. But the girl likes her bike…

And then, there’s stuff like this. (Some swearing, if you care.)

This is John Green. (I actually know him from his Crash Course in World History videos, which are both entertaining and cram-tastic). He’s accepting the Indie Champion Award. And I like what he says. I first saw this on Erin Morgenstern’s blog here (have I told you how awesome she is?)

I don’t think I’d be able to publish anything (if I ever do) without a little help. I think I’ll need an editor and an agent to coax the best out of my work. I don’t swim well in the self-publishing tank.

So what does that mean for me?

…I don’t know. Publishing fears fuzz out my brain sometimes. I have no idea what I’m going to do if I ever even get that far, but for now, I just hope I get there first.

There is a little light at the end of this depressing tunnel: While publishing seems like a horrible/impossible/scary/just-end-my-misery-now/hard mountain to overcome, it is still overcome-able. Just ask John Green. Or Stephenie Meyer. Or Erin Morgenstern. Or J.K. Rowling.

So I hope I didn’t discourage you too much. After all, there is hope, right?

Date A Girl Who Writes by Effie Sapuridis

Two posts in a day– wow, that’s a record.

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to share this with you. I was leafing through the internet when  the most beautiful bolt of lightning struck me in the face. Its name was Date A Girl Who Writes by Effie Sapuridis. I originally read it here on Street of Dreams’s blog, and I’m so glad I did.

Here it is:

Date A Girl Who Writes by Effie Sapuridis

Date a girl who writes. Date a girl who admires the calligraphy of Ancient China more than the latest fall line. She has ink smudges on her fingers, sometimes on her cheeks. Date a girl who comes with a list of unfinished poems, underdeveloped characters, incomplete plot lines, who has been writing since she could read.

Find a girl who writes. Look for the girl with frazzled hair and a pen behind her ear. She’s the one who spends hours deciding which new notebook to buy, only to cave and buy three, the one who rarely makes a grammatical error. If you were to search her bag, you’d find scraps of paper with incomprehensible notes and pens whose lives have ended a long time ago. That’s the writer.

The girl who writes can be seen anywhere, if you look for her. The girl who writes is always looking at you, and anyone else. She knows inspiration can be found in everything. She’s the girl you’ll find on a park bench, pen behind her ear, another in her hand, jotting down things with great, great concentration, just because coffee shops are loud. She will however be carrying coffee in a travel mug. If you looked inside the mug, you’d notice the coffee was finished – the girl who writes needs caffeine like water. Bum a cigarette off her. Notice her eyes give you a full appraisal before she hands you a cigarette. She’s profiling you.

Say something.

Don’t ever start by asking to see her writing.

Tell her something you’re sure she never knew before. A random fact, even. This will grab her attention. This will make her think, ‘what kind of plot twist is the stranger offering to the protagonist?’ When she brings up e.e. Cummings and Plath, don’t act like you know who they are if you don’t. She will test you. Ask her about them. Ask her about her favorites. Ask her if she’d like to go see a movie with you.

Always surprise her.

In reality, it’s not that difficult to date a girl who writes. Accept that she will not show you anything she’s written until she’s ready. Understand that sometimes her stories aren’t developing the way she wants and she will be angry, bitter. Be patient, be jealous of her love for worlds you can’t even begin to enter. Buy her new books, new pens, new notebooks. Surround her with words. Dedicate songs to her. Leave little notes in her lunch bag. Words, for the writer, are more intimate and personal than a sensual touch. She hears their whispers, feels them, embraces them.

If one day, you walk into the house, and she’s in a foul mood. There are pages scattered everywhere. She’s watching TV, which she never does. Don’t ask. The words got the best of her. They put up a wall and as much as she pleaded, as much as she paced, drank coffee, took a bath, went for a walk, pace some more, as much as she played with synonyms and antonyms, made comparisons, expanded the plotline then brought it back to where it was, she could not get through the block. Don’t bother comforting her. Buy paint and a canvas, let her attack it. Carry her to the bed and let her attack you. The girl who writes does not need soothing and comfort, she needs an outlet to rid herself of the overbearing emotions that are sadness or anger. Before she can write again.

The girl who writes knows exactly when a break is needed in a story. The girl who writes expects a climax. But the girl who writes is also almost never in control of her story. The characters dictate to her what they would like to do next. The story is as thrilling for her, the writer, as it is for her close sister, the reader. She relishes in these surprises, in these sharp turns, in these unforgiving assessments. She dreams of the day when her story, her life story, will be as classic as Poe or as tormented as Brite. This day that she waits for, this will be the day her story will begin.

On the day when she timidly, a deep blush rising on her cheeks, extends a bundle of loose sheets of paper, some old, some new, towards you, you’ll know you’ve successfully captured the heart of the girl who writes. Read everything she has given you, unless she stops you. Recognize, and tell her, about the beauty of her words, the conviction of her prose, the pain behind her poetry. Don’t look at her with pity when she hands you a poem about a broken heart – following it, you’ll read one about you and how maybe her heart was not so broken after all. In any case, the girl who writes does not accept pity. She is the amazon goddess of the writing world. She is the soldier, the fighter, the good guy. She is stronger than a house of bricks and her writing keeps her demons in place, holding them down and releasing her.

Date a girl who writes because she will change your world. She will bring color into your grays. When you propose, she will have known for months that it was coming. She could read your body language from miles away. She will say the simplest phrase you have ever heard her say – yes, I do – and then she will begin to carefully craft the story of your lives. Through ups and downs and births and deaths, through funny family moments and trips to unknown places (in search of new inspiration), through misadventures and inky cheeks, through everything, anything, and all that is not yet written, the girl who writes will be the doe-eyed, love-struck narrator of the story and you, her forever after knight in shining armor.

• • •

You can read the original here.

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.

Writings Page Updated

I have finally added a picture to the writings page. Sorry it took so long! As promised, there is hot chocolate– in a pretty blue mug. I probably should’ve used coffee, but  unfortunately I don’t actually drink coffee, although it smells heavenly.

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go click on the “Writings” page. Go ahead– I’ll wait here…

…Back so soon? Okay, continuing:)

My favorite book of all time also happens to make an appearance. I read it last year, and ever since then I’ve loved it to pieces. I’d planned on putting it in the picture from the start, so I waited patiently until it came back to me so I could take the photo. If you happen to know what the book is, know that I think you are awesome. Here’s a gold silver star: * If you don’t, I think I’ll keep its identity a secret for now.

Upon putting up the picture I realized that the top and the bottom were cut off (surprise!), so I’ll re-post the photo here as well, along with the other shots I almost put up.

The paper stars (big and small) actually have stuff written in (in, not on) them. Maybe I’ll talk about those later.

The crane was nice looking, so I added it.

Thanks for sticking around guys! Hopefully I’ll update my other pages too… They’re a little bit of a mess.

A picture of my favorite book, some hot chocolate, and some paper stars

A picture of my favorite book, some hot chocolate, and some paper stars

A picture of my favorite book, some hot chocolate, and some paper stars

A picture of my favorite book, some hot chocolate, and some paper stars

A picture of my favorite book, some hot chocolate, and some paper stars

Ink Pens

I recently got a new set of pens. Nothing fancy– although they do look pretty fancy– just a grocery store variety. But I think they are very cool.

New Pen 2

I really really really love opening a new pack of pens. Especially the inky kind. It makes my handwriting look fifty thousand times better than usual.

Opening a new pack of pens has that crisp moment. You know, like when you first open a large bag of fresh, un-crushed potato chips (or marshmallows or whatever you eat). Or when you first cut into a very perfect cake, preferably chocolate. Or maybe when you first pop open a can of soda and it makes a really clear cracking sound. Or when you buy a new journal with smooth, unwrinkled pages (equally as important as the pens). Or when you first write in the journal with the pens while consuming chips/soda/cake/marshmallows.

*Sigh* If only. But at least I have my pens. Hopefully my new pens will help me get some real writing done. Creativity from crisp moments!

Or maybe they’ll just motivate me to not be so lazy and just start doing things. After all, what’s more tempting than this:

New Pen 1

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

• • •

Wings & Antiques, Consignment Store

I took this photo of our dining room cabinet earlier this year for my photography class:

Teapot Cabinet

It kind of fits. Kind of.

Anyway, a while back I entered a contest for my local library. All I had to do was submit a piece of writing under 1000 words, about anything. Simple right?

No. No simple. No no no no no.

I am a writer of length, unfortunately. I love formulating whole stories and words with very drippy-juicy descriptions that are sometimes too long for small boxes marked limit: 1000 words.

But I tried anyway. I thought it might be fun, you know, pushing myself to try to fit into this tiny little box. After all, little things can be very special in their own little ways. So I poured my heart into this box and let it sit a while. (It took a long time to fill– you can guess how many times I crumpled it and started over.) I even asked my friends if they would like to edit it for me– I was totally terrified about the responses I might get, since I didn’t like people reading my stuff then. (They were very nice about it– constructive and kind, a beautiful combination.)

Once the box was filled (and the story was actually a coherent story now), I bit my lip, submitted it, and waited in agony for results.

Result: well, I tried. The loss wasn’t unexpected in the least. But it still stung a little…

So I didn’t win, but I am proud of my 999-word story (1 word below the limit! Success!). I thought it would be a waste just to let it languish on my laptop for all eternity. It needs some sunlight. So here it is:

• • •

Wings & Antiques, Consignment Store

Mary walks as fast as her little legs can carry her, eager to get out of the cold. Pale clouds loom above her, as gray as the sidewalk. The whole block is soggy from yesterday’s storm. Mary scurries forward, hoping that it will not rain again.

Several stores along the street are open, but there are very few people. Mary thinks about going into one of the stores, but decides against it. All those coffee shops and boutiques and bookstores would look down upon a small, nine-year-old girl like her.

As Mary continues to walk, she becomes increasingly lost.

She does not recognize any of the shops here, which all seem extremely similar to one another.

That’s when she notices the store in front of her.

The storefront is a warm chestnut brown, unlike the sea of gray windows surrounding her. She reads the store’s sign: Wings & Antiques, Consignment Store.

Mary goes inside. Surely there must be someone who could help her.

A soft bell rings as Mary pushes open the door. Immediately a burst of warm air greets her, and she feels as though she has just walked into her grandparents’ kitchen as her grandmother is baking cookies. She no longer feels cold.

The store is filled with rows of dark, floor-to-ceiling mahogany bookshelves.

“Why, hello.” Mary turns to see the store’s owner, hidden behind the counter. He is rather grandfather-like, with his wispy gray hair and small round spectacles. “Come in from the rain, have we?”

“N-no… No sir,” Mary says timidly, hoping he will not send her away. “S’not raining outside yet, sir.”

The man chuckles softly. “Well, rain or no, you’re welcome to look around. Try on a pair or two, if you like.”

Mary has not the faintest idea of what he means, but all she can say is, “I haven’t any money, sir.”

“Not a worry!” he proclaims. He tosses something towards her, which she manages to catch rather clumsily. It’s a coin. “I will not turn away a customer. Think of it as a small favor.”

Mary, not wanting to offend the old man, shoves the coin into her pocket. She looks around a little, not wanting to tell the man that she only came in because she was lost.

As it turns out, the front shelves are not full of books, as Mary had thought, but all sorts of interesting things. Jars of all shapes and sizes. Candelabras, standing like little trees growing out of the mahogany shelving.  A bowl of rather odd buttons. Curling picture frames. Elaborately engraved silverware. Glinting jewelry in a kaleidoscope of colors.

After Mary comes to the end of the shelf, she moves eagerly to the next one, wondering how much these things must cost. None of the items seem to have prices listed on them.

The next shelf holds antiques, but not as many. Instead, on a particularly dainty stand, sitting between a porcelain doll and an open-faced pocket watch, rests what appear to be a set of wings.

They are only as big as a paperback book, but they are extremely beautiful. The feathers have a glossy, translucent sheen, as if each feather is an individual dragonfly wing.

Mary remembers something about trying a pair on, so she decides to pick them up. She holds them very carefully, as if they might break. They are quite light, and silky in texture.

As she holds them, they start to move. Mary gasps as the wings begin to flutter of their own accord, floating upwards, then disappearing behind her.

Mary feels a tickle in her shoulder blades, and then, suddenly, the wings, now large enough to accommodate her size, appear to be growing out of her back.

She twists around to see them. She can feel them as surely as she can feel her own hands. She tests them, flapping them once or twice.

As she flaps them, a sparkling dust seems to fall from the wings. She rises, little by little, as her wings move. Mary laughs as she ascends, but then realizes that she cannot stop ascending. Her head bumps into the ceiling.

Panicked, Mary wishes the wings off her back. Instantly they fall away, floating to the ground like paper. Mary drops, but finds that she is not hurt.

She picks up the wings and puts them back in their place quickly, but not before noticing the tag attached to them that reads: Altitude.

She moves on to another pair.

It is a pair of butterfly wings. They are as black as night, with an intricate lacy webbing stretching across them in a glinting silver. They remind Mary of her mother’s best necklace, reserved for expensive dinner parties. The tag reads: XL.

The wings attach themselves like the ones before, but instead of growing to fit her, they continue to stretch, becoming heavier. They start bumping into the shelves, continuing to grow. They only stop when the tips of the wings are curled against the ceiling, and Mary is pressed against the mahogany.

Mary tries on others. Some move quickly like hummingbird heartbeats; others cast rainbows off as she flaps them. Although each is extremely wonderful, none seem to fit her quite right.

It is not until Mary reaches the very last shelf in the very last row that she finds a pair of white-feathered wings.

They sit lightly on her back. The feathers are soft and airy, like dollops of fresh whipped-cream. Mary stretches them, admiring their fluffy, cloud-like appearance. She lifts up into the air with them, feeling light and free. They are easy to maneuver, and seem to listen to her. They do not crash her into the ceiling. They do not grow to unmanageable sizes.

They are perfect.

Mary decides that she will get them, if the old man will sell them to her for one coin.

She walks towards the front counter with her wings, and the tag that reads: Small favors.

• • •