Sunday, November 27, 2011

Occupy Black Friday

How appropriate is it that this picture popped up on my Facebook newsfeed this morning?

I didn't even notice the (because television says so) comment on the bottom until just now, but how appropriate is that? The media has such an encompassing influence on our lives from the moment we're born - promoting Black Friday, which wasn't even a big deal until a few years ago; glorifying one political party while tearing down another; stalking celebrities like hawks (I'm definitely guilty of this one).

Take a moment to think about what you base your behavior on - politically, commercially, socially. Is it because it makes you happy or you want to do it or you've though about it? Or is it because the television, or Internet, said so?

More Blessed Word Count: 13,359

Friday, November 25, 2011

Unbitten by the Black Friday Bug

I hope everyone's had a happy Thanksgiving! I sure have. It's lovely to be around family, especially when you don't get to see them that often. And eat yummy food, of course. But mostly the family :)

But after the joys of Thanksgiving come the menacing hours of Black Friday. I'm not a fan of consumerism to begin with, but today's craziness is just too much. I feel like a lot of people feel the same way - especially the ones that have to work ridiculously long hours. I understand that spending is good for the economy, but I don't think the economy cares whether you buy stuff at 4 a.m. or 2 p.m. Or whether you buy it in one mad dash or spread the same purchases out over a few days. It's Commercial Christmastime, everyone's buying stuff.

Still, I wish we were buying more of the right things - fair trade, organic, items that support various charities and causes. I don't know if I'm more cynical or just practical, but I find myself wanting less and less of the stuff I used to love. Trinkets and figurines? I have more than enough, thanks. Clothes? I have too many. Electronics? I'll wait until something breaks before I buy a new one. Too bad our American culture wants new, better, more, even in the middle of a recession.

One thing I can never have too many of? Dream catchers.
What is so inherently wrong with having less? I can tell you, after spending six weeks in Peru, that it's not necessary to have McMansions and department stores and Hummers. We all did just fine cramming into the vans that serve as city buses or the crowded stalls of vendors in los mercados. My room there was probably half the size of the one I have here, but I don't know what I would've done with more space. (It did help that I brought only a tiny portion of my possessions with me, but that's just another symptom of the same problem.)

I admit to being a packrat. I make myself sort through all the junk I've accumulated every summer so that I throw at least some of it away. It's easier now that I can keep so much nicely divided into folders on my computer, but I still manage to collect an odd assortment of papers that I "might one day need." The thing is, I never look at any of them again, they just gather dust underneath my bed.

So this year, as with all of the years before it, I did not stay up late or wake up early to find mountains of stuff on Black Friday. I don't need any of the things that are going to be on sale. (I did go discount store shopping with my sister, but we left at 8:30 and I spent less than $9.) What I would rather have? More of the same - food, movie watching, family, writing, singing, friends, etc.

And something no one can ever have too much of: BOOKS!

Official More Blessed Word Count: 13,000!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Devil of Dialogue

You may think I'm being slightly melodramatic with that title. However, you would be incorrect. I've always felt like the worst part of my writing is the dialogue. I don't know if that's necessarily true - I think after really writing for a while, everything in that document looks like crap at some point or other. But dialogue is the part I worry about the most.

Part of this is my fear over my character's words sounding too contrived, too bookish. Sometimes when I'm talking to myself, I use all sorts of fancy, old-fashioned words that no one uses anymore. Like that scene in National Treasure (haven't seen that in ages, geez) where Diane Kruger tells Nicolas Cage he talks weird - that's how I wish people would talk all the time. And so half of me wants my characters to sound like that, even though I know it makes no sense whatsoever.

The other half of me wants everyone to talk "normal." But what on earth is normal? I'd really like to someday record every conversation I have during the day to figure out what people really spend all their time saying. Has anyone else every thought about that? I mean, we have so many words in our languages, but which ones do we really use? I refrain because I don't have a recording device and that would probably come across as really creepy.

The rest of my reluctance to write dialogue can be blamed on action movies. (I'm not really blaming you, action movies! I love you! I just love you a bit too much for you to be helpful in my becoming a better writer.)
There aren't monologues or even long conversations in action movies. Truth be told, there aren't that many in real life either. I LOVE THAT. Too much talking in a book or movie makes me bored. As a result, I spend more time sighing over explosions than I do witty conversations. And therefore would rather be writing about said explosions, even when they don't fit into the story either.

It's getting easier though. I think I wrote a big chunk of pretty organic conversation today - no action, no explosions, just small chat. It also helps that I was using Write or Die, a handy little application that gets angry at you when you stop writing. I got 1,373 words done in two 20 minute segments, which was a nice little boost to my word count :)

Official More Blessed Word Count: 12,391

P.S. Does this post still look nice without pictures? I wanted to add some action movie examples and a screenshot of that scene in National Treasure, but then I couldn't find one and I figured it'd be strange to have a random montage of action movies.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wanted: Properly Functioning Brain

So it's taken me this long to realize I hadn't updated my word count on that last post! Agh. It shot up this weekend and then has stagnated during the week. Majorly. I am so looking forward to some relaxing writing time over Thanksgiving. I only have to get through two tests first :)

Make that three. I have to take the English CLEP exam tomorrow so that I don't have to sit through a painfully repetitive college English class. Given my college physics lab experience, there is no way I'm putting my poor head through that nonsense.

I took the time to make this. Evidence of my brain's inability to function? I think yes.
School has been turning my brain to mush, even when I skip physics. This semester has just been rough - a lack of focus combined with increased time spent online (reading other people's blogs) and trying to write has made me very sleepy and not thinking cohesively all the time. I'm capable of reading fun books, but my attention span goes down the drain when I start homework or writing. I've already given up on any hopes I had for finishing NaNoWriMo (which I'm totally fine with). I don't think the write a lot of words every day method is going to work for me just yet.

On a much more positive note, I did just finish my new favorite scene in my book! I've finally gotten past introducing the characters and mysteries and got to have a bit of Delaney running for her life. My favorite part of books, or movies or plays or anything with a plot: ACTION! That's probably why I got so much done this past weekend, now that I think about it.

Official More Blessed Word Count: 11,008

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This I Believe...Technology

Me and technology do not always get along.

Part of this is because I lack an understanding about how things work. I don't even have the slightest amount of curiosity for the subject. This isn't such a big deal when your dad has an engineering degree - although living away from home makes it harder to get help when things won't work. I'm glad that someone cares about this stuff, otherwise our society would be hurtling even farther down the drain.

Most of the time, I like having technology around, even if the mechanics of it confuse me. After years of living with all this nonsense, I can't imagine surviving, permanently, without my computer, fast Internet access (something I missed dearly in Peru), T.V., fridge, microwave, etc. I must admit to loving automatic sinks and paper towel dispensers. Less germs!

On the other hand, I hate the automization of everything possible - toilets, doors, staplers (terrifying). I do, of course, make an exception to the doors thing for people with physical disabilities. But other than that, why do we waste our finite resources on this stuff? Electric can openers confuse and annoy me - they take the same amount of time as hand-crank ones, but don't leave the lid ever-so-slightly attached so you can drain the can. Electric mixers are the stuff of nightmares. I prefer using whisks. Again, same amount of time with a lot less worry.

Interestingly enough, Google image searches using such phrases as "evil electric mixer," "electric mixer menace" and "electric mixer DANGER" did not yield any helpful pictures. In fact, a good portion of the mixing devices shown were NOT electric. I did find this though:

I don't really know what the point of all this is. I guess I want to say that while some aspects of technology are good, some of them I'm either really ambivalent about or totally dislike. I may be very separate from American culture in my longing for a more tech-free life. I'd like to see us be more connected to nature/books/ spirituality/each other than to machines.

But who am I kidding? I spend most of my day inside using the technology that I complain about. Sure, sometimes I read or clean house or do non-computer related homework, but I doubt that makes up the majority of my time. The worst part is I know how bad being glued to a computer makes me feel.

Not today, though. Actually, this whole week I've been pretty good about leaving my computer off. I wasn't online at all on Wednesday, hardly got on this weekend and spent a lot of time reading books instead. I need to do this more often. Not relying on technology for constant entertainment makes me a much happier and headache free person. So, while I'm glad you're using technology to listen to me rant about it, I'd feel better (and you would too) if you turned your computer off and went on an adventure in a new book (because I admit to not being as in love with nature as I'd like).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dilemmas and Perspectives

Would I be a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad person if I added my pre-November writing to my NaNo word count? I can't decide if that's being a cheat or just being honest about how long my book is. It would definitely be an ego boost to have 9,000 words already up there - especially because I am pretty sure I won't make it to 50,000 this month (without some serious help, say, stopping time or creating clones of myself).

Then again, that 9000+ word count is being buffered by about 2000 words of those 3rd person flashbacks I got really excited about and then decided to cut. And just...haven't actually cut yet. Can I make it a tradeoff - if I cut all that stuff out, can I boost my word count without feeling guilty?

I realize it's not that big of a deal, especially if I don't get to 50,000 in the first place, but I keep going back and forth on whether or not I should do it. Do other people have miniature moral dilemmas like this?

Sometimes I'd like to be able to see the world from other people's perspectives. Actually, a lot of times. I've thought this almost every day this week while walking across campus (and I'm mildly surprised I can make an analogy out of it).

You see, for me, walking is not just getting from point A to point B. Due to a (mild) case of OCD, I have to pay attention to the bricked sections and other patterns in the concrete. I need to remember which sets of steps have even numbers and which are odd. (And I have a bunch of other self-imposed rules that I won't bore you with.) My point is - I wonder, as I do all this to myself, how do other people view walking down steps or across patterned floors? Or, you know, other, more important stuff like human rights and adoption and world hunger.

Right now, I'm thinking of adding the extra words in bit by bit. Especially since it's my first attempt at finish a book and NaNo (and November is kind of a crazy month school-wise), I think I deserve this bit of a break. Hopefully, I'll be more motivated to write when I see those nicer word count numbers :)

Official More Blessed Word Count: 9,721

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sad Days and Fangirl Moments

We're already four days into November. How is my first NaNoWriMo going, you ask?

Ha. Hahaha. Sob.

I've written 200ish words on a short story. Nothing so far on More Blessed. Hopefully that will be fixed shortly.

I've just felt completely exhausted all week and don't want to do anything other than lie in bed all day and read pointless stuff online. (I did get two books read, at least). I put equal blame on the mean wintery weather and the past couple of weeks of school. I'm cold, tired, grumpy and craving junk food. Not a good combination for writerly inspiration.

I realize this is not a very uplifting post. Sorry. To make it up to y'all - now for something completely different!

If you know me at all, you know that my role model/favoritest actress ever is the brilliant Angelina Jolie. I love seeing pictures of Angelina with her freaking adorable kids or looking hot on red carpets or being an amazing humanitarian, but I miss seeing her in movies. I happened to be reading through her IMDB page today (ever heard of In the Land of Blood and Honey? It has a December U.S. release!!) and something fabulous caught my eye.




(And Cleopatra's pretty awesome too. And FDR. Or Teddy, if that's the Roosevelt they mean. But it's probably FDR - nobody liked Churchill when TR was in office, right?)

This woman is my hero. She gets to act in powerful movies and raise a beautiful multicultural family AND save a bunch of people's lives. I think I would faint if I ever got to meet her. I had a dream that she came to the orphanage school I ran for a tour and we became best friends. Also, the twins were born on my 17th birthday. So yes, I am not ashamed to admit that I am probably her biggest fan.

Official More Blessed Word Count: 9,289