Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell to 2010...

It wasn't all that bad of a year. It wasn't particularly memorable or flashy, but it was a solid year. Most of it went by in a blur of monotony, but it had its moments that make me smile. It didn't give me much in the way of completed projects, but it gave me a lot of ideas for projects to be completed. It kept me with a family that loves me and that I love back. It gave me some new friends and connections with old friends.

That said, I look forward to 2011. There's going to be some big stuff coming, I can feel it.

Farewell to Reverb...

December 31 – Core Story What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

As much as I would love to be able to look back and see a central story of ME, it's hard. I mean, it takes so much sifting and cutting and abridgment to find any kind of linearity in a person's life. Sure, in hindsight, maybe, which is biographers can do it, but for a person caught on the inside, it's hard.

That said, I've noticed a few things about myself just in Reverb this year.

1) I tend to obsess about things for quite a while. Like, I watch a movie, or read a book, or have an idea, and I harp on it for a long time afterward. Not that this is a bad thing. As one of my most favorite YouTubers pointed out (among other things) in this video, this is called "being nerdy". And one of the great things about nerds is that we can revel in our unabashed enthusiasm for things.

2) I tend to apologize a lot, or guilt trip myself for things. Actually, I've known this about myself for a long time. For an example of me doing this, just look to all the times I complained about a Reverb entry not being writing-related. After all, this is my writing-related blog. This, even though I told myself at the beginning that the point of Reverb was to keep me writing. And any writing is writing-related.

3) My life revolves around writing. And I think the story of finding yourself as a writer is so intertwined with finding yourself as a person that the two are inseparable. It takes so much development from a person to make a writer and for a writer, being a writer makes up so much of themselves as a person.

I guess you could call number three something of a core story.

I like to gift...

December 30 – Gift Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?
(Lots and lots of non-writing-related posts this month. I'm adding another goal to my 2011 goal list: do more writing-related post.

Also: Do more writing so I have writing-related things to talk about.)

Emotionally (even if the giver doesn't realize it), it was that broccoli and cheddar soup I keep talking about. Tangibly, I'm going to go blatantly materialistic and direct you to this rant I did in another blog a day or so ago, as it explains the gift and why exactly it was so memorable.
It starts in 2006. My younger brother brought home a Game Cube and a box of games he had bought second-hand for fifty hard-earned dollars. 

We had never owned a game system before. Sure, we did some computer gaming, and I think my other brother might have had a Game Boy Advance by then, but consoles had been something we had only dreamed about. Our childhoods had been simple. I'd played Mario Bros. on my cousin's Nintendo before and some sort of racing games on my other cousin's PlayStation, but this was a huge step for us. 

I wasn't interested at first. The box had been full of first-person shooters, and some hack-n-slash and racing games, typical fare for the twelve-year old who had sold my brother the system. I didn't find video games all that interesting (though Mario Kart was awesome), being much more of a book/movie/writing person. But at the bottom, in practically unopened condition, was this:


It was intriguing. I hadn't gotten into anime yet and so the art style was the first thing that caught my eye. It was colorful and delicate and promised something epic, in contrast to the likes of Need for Speedand 


I was even more intrigued when my brother popped in this strange game on one particularly boring afternoon. We had just moved into our new house and the television was in the living room, the center of high-traffic in the house. We don't have cable and we didn't have internet hooked up yet, my books were in the process of being unpacked and my brother was using the TV, so I plunked down next to him and watched. 

This greeted me. I mean, how can you not be impressed by that?

So he started to play. 

This is where it gets a little funny. I started a game almost immediately after he did and so for a while, we were neck and neck with game progress. But we had hit a snag. The first boss was hard. I mean, likehard, what with us being complete RPG newbies and all, not understanding the concept of leveling up. So my brother restarted his game (don't ask me why - it seemed like a good idea the time) and played all the way through to that boss again. And again. And again. He must have done this like five times. We had the opening narration memorized, down to inflection and timing. My game sat dormant, waiting to see how my brother would fare. 

Eventually, we broke through the boss and plowed ahead. From then on, I overtook my brother's progress in leaps and bounds. I could literally sit there for hours and watch the story unfold in front of me. And what an epic story it was.

Apparently, I hit the jackpot with my first role-playing game. Not to knock Zelda (because I will myself admit that the only Zelda game I've played is a few hours of A Link to the Past) but Tales of Symphoniahas character development and story galore. It starts out as a bit of a cliche storm in terms of a fantasy novel's "You are hero. Go save the world", but the characters are so engaging, their lives so wonderfully explored, that I kept on playing (that, and I had no experience with anything else in gaming, so I was hooked). Later on, the "quest to save the world" takes a turn for the dark and crazy and no matter how troperiffic the story or cliche a twist might be, you somehow don't see it coming. I had moments of actual physical shock at twists in this story (and one that I totally jokingly predicted not two hours into my first time playing the game that, when it played out exactly as I had predicted, made me fistpump at my own genre-savviness). I came to genuinely care about these characters, just as much as I would favorite characters from a movie or book. 

It took me over fifty hours to complete ToS. Two discs of sheer awesome. I remember, about mid-way through the first disc thinking "This is it? This is the end. But there's a whole other disc. What is going on?" and then a twist came and a character was introduced and I was like "Oh, I can see how there's going to be another disc." And I rabidly looked forward to it.

The story changes several times over. You think you're going to do this one thing, that this one task is what you are going to spend the entire story doing. Then it isn't. It just leads to a completely different task, one equally important. And the change is seamless. It wasn't like 
and off to something else. The characters would come to what they thought would be the climax, only to see that it wasn't what they thought it would be. There was something wrong with it. They needed to change it. So off to fix this problem with you hardly realizing that you haven't finished yet. It just seems like such a natural progression. Everything builds and builds, getting more and more tangled, until the end, when it all pays off. 

Everyone in the reviews always talks about how innovative the battle system for this game was and everything, but that was always secondary for me. I wasn't a RPGer. I wasn't even a gamer. I was playing for the characters. 

This game ruined me for a lot of other role-playing games, and indeed, games in general. In the years since finding this game, I've yet to be as impressed by anything else. Granted, I'm still a gaming n00b. Everyone tells me that Final Fantasy brings in the stories and characters as well, and I'm playing IV and own X (got that for Christmas too - haven't played it yet), but haven't yet found one that connects with me as much as ToS did. A lot of everyone tell me that I should play Kingdom Hearts. My brother owns 1 and 2, but I just can't seem to get into them. Maybe it's a matter of muscling through to the good stuff, but I've been stopped in the first half-hour multiple times just because I found it boring. In the ever-present conflict between "character-driven" or "plot-driven", I swing very heavily towards "character-driven". Plot grows from character. And hoo-boy, does ToS deliver immediately.

Not to mention it's pretty. I mean, the graphics aren't always perfect, but it's pretty to look at. The music is gorgeous, the colors are beautiful and the voice acting is great. Even the worst of the performances is only minimally annoying. And the best of the performances manages to tug at your heartstrings. 

I've played ToS several times. No joke. This game that takes something like thirty hours minimum to complete has forced me to complete it at least three times. It sounds sad, it sounds lame, but I love this game that much. Not to mention that there are several slightly different endings you can get depending on your characters' interactions with one another. My brother ended up giving me the game because I was practically the only one who played it (though my siblings would gather around during my sessions to watch it all go down, as if they were watching a movie marathon). 

What does any of this have to do with Christmas?

Since that first purple lunchbox of a Game Cube came into my brother's life, he had lusted after a more advanced system. I didn't really care. I still wasn't much of a gamer and between Mario Kart Double Dashand Tales of Symphonia on said lunchbox, my needs were more than satisfied. I'd leave gaming alone completely for months, even nearly years, at a time, then pick it back up for a month or two, then go away again. I had other things to occupy my time. 

Not so with my brother. He upgraded to a PS2 the minute he had the funds to buy another second-hand system from another friend. What he really wanted was the XBox 360. 

Flashforward to the release of the Nintendo Wii not to long after the Game Cube wandered into our house. I was still my un-gamer self and I though the whole thing was kind of stupid. I mean, in the beginning, the choices for Wii were pretty minimal, certainly not appealing to someone who had been spoiled on ToS. It hadn't been that long since I'd gotten it, after all. 

Then, a little later, I saw an advertisement for this

A... sequel? Cue the drool. 

It wasn't that I instantly wanted a Wii because of this one game. It was more like I hated the world for not giving me the ability to play this game on a system I already owned. 

Time passed. I slowly got into anime and games, mostly thanks to my discovery of TVTropes (which I wish, for the life of me, I could remember how I got into). A lot of it, if not most of it, happened this year and last year. I bought myself a DS and began my slowly-growing collection of GameBoy Advance and DS games (total count: 6). I bought myself Tales of Phantasia, the first game in the Tales Series (a group of unconnected games, similar in concept to the FF franchise), mostly because ToS is a long-distant prequel of sorts to it. I bought Tales of Legendia, another game in the series and am working my way through it (though the voice-acting is getting on my nerves in quite a few places).

I'm slightly frustrated ("slightly" being one of the understatements of the year) that there are several Tales games for the DS (which, being the DS, is much more convenient for me than a console) but none of them have been localized in the US yet. I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with the franchise, but it's like finding out that your favorite foreign author had one brilliant book in your language, but none of the others had been translated. You know they're out there and you want to try them out, but they don't exist in a form you can digest.

What does any of this have to do with Christmas, Gryph?

Well, for Christmas, we got a Wii. It's been long overdue, seeing as how we kids had pooled together the money years ago, but hey, we got it. And Christmas morning, I came upstairs to have this exchange with my sister and brothers (who had been up since four in the morning and had, as such, been through everyone's stockings already).

"Hey, look in your stocking!" they clamored, crowding around me as I flopped on the couch.

"I thought we weren't opening presents until after church?" I was grumpy, mainly because I was trying to be a good Jesus-lover and put him before my own wants. It was hard.

"Just look!" They shoved my stocking at me. 

I tipped out the contents of my stocking and then let out a very undignified squeak (I swear, a legitimate, uncontrolled squeak). 

There lay Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World in my lap. Cue the drool.

I had asked for it, sure. I'm notorious among my family members for being vague about what I want for Christmas. Sure, I nerd out about everything I love, but honestly, with money of my own, I'm willing to buy what I want. If I can't afford it, I don't need it that badly. Not to mention that despite the fact I've pointedly asked for a DVD of Labyrinth for the past three years, it's never come. But, when the pressure came from all sides this year, I grudgingly wrote a list. A very specific list. Title drops galore.

I should have put down Labyrinth this year, but I was jaded. Foolish, foolish me.

I got everything on my list. Granted, it was just two games, a sweatshirt from my old high school and that final push for the Wii, but I didn't really expect to get the actual things I asked for. I've always been happy with my gifts at Christmas, even when they aren't what I ask for (not to mention that I actually bought myself presents this year, including, but not limited to, the complete DVD collection of Princess Tutu).

But this time I did get what I asked for. And I was a happy Gryph.

Been playing through it for a while now and I have to say, nostalgia city. I would not be surprised if, after completing the game, whenever that happens, I go back and do another run-through of ToS. Just hearing the music is making me all warm and fuzzy, not to mention seeing my favorite locations from the original in their new Wii dressings. The main characters are new to the game, the original band of protagonists being more secondary (and I have to admit that I am trying to avoid fan!rage about the voice cast changes for some of them), but every time I bump into a familiar face, I get this big stupid grin on my face and happily ramble about it to whoever's in the room until they tell me to shut up and get back to playing. 

My siblings are again sitting around me, watching the story unfold as if it were a movie rather than playing it themselves, and that's as much of a nostalgic kickback as the game itself. 

Happy Gryph. Happy, happy Gryph.  

Right here, right now...

December 29 – Defining Moment Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. 
One of the funny things about 2010 was its intense lack of defining moments. They were very few and far between, mostly being just getting from one day to the other. But as for those I can actually remember.

- Turning 19 in January.
- Getting a job in March.
- Creative Writing class and Mythology class this past semester.
- Going to a write-in this November.
- Soup this December.

Mostly, this year has been a year of progression. If anything, more of the moments have been of a revelation than of an actual event. It's more of a realization about what has happened than of something momentous happening. It's all been building up so gradually that I barely notice.

A to-do list...

December 28 – Achieve What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
As for what I want to achieve, I have several other posts just in the Reverb series this year. As for accomplishing them... I'm not sure. There is always the sense of satisfaction that comes with achieving a goal (I'm looking at you, NaNoWriMo), but sometimes the goal doesn't turn out the way you want it to. I'm really, really shooting for happy. Not completely satisfied, because I want to always be improving, but at least proud of my accomplishment and a hunger to do more.

Another thing I want to try this year is to get published. Probably just a short story in a journal somewhere, but I want to test the publishing waters this year. I've never really done so and I want to get some experience in getting rejected and (hopefully) accepted.

Ha, I have to go to work for pretty much the rest of the day today, so the ten things I can do will probably be very simple, but we'll give it a shot:

1) Finish my catching up for Reverb (seeing as how, you know, it's the 31st today and all that).
2) Scribble out some brainstorming for my hedgehog story if I have any free time.
3) Maybe a haiku?
4) Finish everything on my checklist at work at a decent time.
5) Remember my food for work.
6) Eat my food at work (you'd be surprised how frequently I forget this).
7) Maybe think of some resolutions and goals for 2011 and actually consolidate them into one list?
8) Get to sleep at a decent hour.
9) Decide on a theme for the first post of 2011.
10) Gather inspiration for my kennel blog and have an outline of an entry?

Whew, I have a lot to do today at work...

Mundane angels...

December 27 – Ordinary Joy Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? 
This prompt just reminded me of all the thought I've had this year about writing about the details. The simple little joys. The way my oversized flannel shirt fits me horrendously, but brings out my eyes and skin wonderfully. The fact that my pajama pants have polka dots on them. The way my little sister writes down notes for everyone whenever they leave a piece of paper or word document unattended when she's around.

It's hard to pick out just one. It always is. Mythology class got me thinking about them a lot, but I don't know if I'd classify any specific moment in that class as being joyful. More like contemplative. And how ordinary does it have to be? I could think of my brother and sister throwing me the simplest of surprise birthday parties, but does that count as ordinary because it was so simple and obviously homegrown by two adolescents, or extraordinary because it was my birthday and they were trying to make it special?

I guess I could always pick out soup. Broccoli and cheddar soup, to be specific.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I blame the holidays and work...

Quite a bit to catch up on before 2010 ends, no? Here's a start.
December 26 – Soul Food What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?
Okay, I'm going to do some tweaking with this prompt to make it about writing (though I did eat some fantastic kebabs this year at a little mom'n'pop place about half an hour away. I went with friends, we had a great time and the food was heavenly).

Revised prompt: Soul Food What did you take in this year that you will never forget? What went into your brain and touched your soul?

I didn't do a whole lot of memorable novel reading this year. I could list books from the past few years that I've read and that have stuck with me or influenced my writing, but they were all in years past, not really 2010. I didn't have a lot of time in 2010, or at the least, didn't read books that really made an impact.

Outside of books, however, I read a lot. I was on the internet a lot for school and such (*cough procrastination cough*) and I read a lot of articles. A lot of blog posts, a lot of articles, a lot of TV Tropes. It's hard to pick a defining one.

Outside of reading, I got involved much deeply with YouTube. There is so much more on there besides silly cat videos and shots of people getting themselves hurt in improbable ways. Amongst my greatest finds were the VlogBrothers (especially their "Thoughts from Places" series and just general wackiness), Wheezy Waiter, and bandgeek8408. All with their own brands of wacky, but occasionally the beautiful insight that makes you ache with its truth. Beautiful, beautiful things.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

First off, Merry Christmas! I hope you had a lovely day!

Second off, again, another prompt that has little to nothing to do with writing.
December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself
Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

You know, I actually have very few pictures of myself from this year. I just didn't get in front of a camera all that often. And those that I do have of me are mostly the silly ones that happen when you put me in front of a camera. Silly faces, bad hair, nonsensical pointing at the closest shiny/nerdy object...

And then there is this:
There's a reason I have this as my profile picture. Actually, several...

1) Batman! And Keaton!Batman, who I find to be my favorite actor for Bats.

2) Nerd, nerd and nerd! This is me, being a nerd. I am a nerd, I'm proud to be a nerd. I seriously saw this stand-up at my library and within a few days, I was back, camera in hand, to get my picture taken.

3) Library! I'm a writer, I'm a reader, they give me free books and occasionally chances to get my picture taken with a cardboard cut-out of one of my heroes. I spend many, many hours a year in the library.

4) Orange! Notice my lack of fashion sense. It's something I've carefully cultivated over the years. Actually, I'm slowly losing my touch for such unabashed tastelessness, but here is proof that I did once have it.

5) Pale! Geez, am I pale. That's not because of lighting - I really am that color.

6) Attitude! Actually, that attitude is totally affected. I started giggling immediately after this picture was snapped. But I would like to think that the fact that I had the courage to be standing right near the computer area, completely visible to the entire library, and pose next to Batman shows that I can go to great lengths for things I care about. And not all of them are comic book icons translated into film translated into thick printed paper.

My brother took this picture, being a rather good sport about me dragging him through a public library so I could pose next to a piece of cardboard. He was even kind enough to - on his own suggestion - take several to make sure at least one would turn out. Turns out it was good he did, because I was blinking in two of the others.

There's ME.

Don't worry, be happy...

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK
What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?
Oh, so many moments. It's like God's up there somewhere poking me periodically so I don't forget he's there. 

One of my favorites though (and this has nothing to do with writing) is coming home after a crappy day at school and finding that my siblings had made cookies. And not only had they made cookies, but they had saved me two. And not only had they saved me cookies, but they had specifically made those two cookies for me with our Halloween cookie cutters. Cookie cutters that were shaped like bats, so that I had two Bat-Symbol cookies. Holy delicious awesomeness, Batman!

Why, hello there...

Catching up on the Reverb prompts I missed for the past few days...
December 23 – New Name
Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?
Jessica Collins. Because I love the way my hand flows when I write it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Away, away, come away with me...

December 22 – Travel: How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?
I did a lot of traveling this year. Not really anywhere particularly far away or out of the ordinary (in fact, it was mostly just to college and back), but it did a lot for my growth as a person. I'm getting used to this 'being my own person' kind of thing. I walked around downtown by myself a lot more and went to a few museums and art studios.

As for 2011, I'd really like to go to some more studios and museums. Maybe some concerts and performances. More just places I'd like to go than actual traveling, but I do want to go on a roadtrip in the future, maybe summer of 2011. Not quite sure where yet. Somewhere far away, with plenty of stupid stops and wacky hijinks along the way.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back to the future...

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)
- When an opportunity comes up, take it.

- Don't be afraid to share your work or explain it a little, but don't go overboard and scare people off with your "OMG, guyz, look at the purty I have created all by myself!!!!111!!".

- It's okay to suck. People have been sucking since the beginning of time and the world's still around with a lot of cool stuff in it.

- Keep putting the date on everything! One day, you will want to know when you wrote that!

- Go to the museum a little more. Do some more research. Get out of the house for your craft!

As for ten-year-ago me:

Hey there!

You've been experimenting lately with storytelling. Remember that horse story you wrote? It's pretty cool. I still have it, still in its folder. Well, in about a year or two, you are going to be taking storytelling a lot more seriously. The first fantasy epic is going to rock major socks, but you're going to have to eventually give it up. It's okay. You're going to learn a lot from it. It's good for you, I promise.

Don't obsess about Kevin in the future too much (yeah, I know, right now, boys are gross). That'll work itself out. You don't get together, but it doesn't hurt. I promise.

You look cute with short hair and no bangs. Don't let Mom make you get bangs if you don't want them.

You're going to get that little sister you've always wanted. She's going to be a clingy pain sometimes, but that's what little sisters are for. She's usually pretty cool, wanting to do everything her big sister does. She even wants to write a story too. You're going to be a big influence. Try and be a good one.

In ten years, you're going to be sitting at your computer, trying to think of things to write to your nearly-ten-year-old self. It'll feel really short, really lame, and not very helpful at all, but know that it was done with love. You're going to turn out all right, kid.

~Your Future Self

Monday, December 20, 2010

Coulda, woulda, shoulda...

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)
- Should have written more. Like, a lot more (trying to fix that now).

- Should have read the box of library books sitting across my room (seriously, some of them have been out for, like, months).

- Should have watched the last few episodes of the last season of Beauty and the Beast (for real, that has been out for months... I want closure, I just can't bring myself to sit down and look at Elliot's mullet again).

There's always going to be "shoulda, woulda, coulda"s in life. But all of the above were avoidable. Like, easily avoidable. But that means that they could still happen. I just need to stop watching YouTube videos and start on Maddigan's Fantasia.

In hindsight...

So, I just recently got my Createspace copy of my NaNo novel and flipping through it and thinking back on it, there are many things I both like and dislike about it. (For the interested, Glass and Salt can be found in all its unedited NaNotastic glory here.)

Things I like:

- I like the narrative structure. I have three different kinds of narration: a main 1st person narrator (Chevy), a secondary 3rd person narrator (Ian) and a sort of interlude narration that is fashioned after simplistic fairy-tale type storytelling. I like the way it works. I might be using something similar for my hedgehog project (yay for blatantly stealing from myself!).

- I like Chevy's voice. It's like my homage to Mal from Firefly. I didn't mean it to be, but as I read it, I am reminded of our favorite space western captain.

(Because we all know our favorite pirate captain is Barbossa.)

- I like the ending. It comes out of nowhere, involves the death of innocent zombies and really resolves none of Chevy and Mel's problems I'd been hinting at as if they were important. I have no real basis in my love for it. I love it anyway. 

Things I don't like:

- I don't like how I kept forgetting that Chevy was claustrophobic. I mean, for real, you would think that would come up a few more times. But it doesn't. Because I forgot about it.

- I don't like how angsty it got, with a lot of coming and going without doing anything. It's like I couldn't bring myself to actually make something happen (I think that's why I like the ending, because I finally bit the bullet, stopped trying to make the characters resolve their differences when they clearly weren't interested in doing so and instead just proceeded to eliminate the problems by lopping their heads off - literally in some cases). 

- I don't like that I forgot to align the right edges of the text in my printed copy. Oh well. Each year, the Createspace copy gets a bit better-looking. Next year (if they do it again next year), it will be that much more awesome.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In which there is a video and healing...

December 19 – Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

(It seems like all of my subjects have to do with the past few months, rather than, you know, like the entire year. I blame the "disjointed" schtick of the whole year that I talked about on day one of Reverb.)

I go through periods in writing. I have peaks and valleys. Sometimes, I am high on myself. I am feeling awesome, writing a crapload, feeling deep, feeling funny, feeling fine. Half the time, I'll go back a month later and not know where half the stuff I write came from, but still feel really good about it. I have a notebook (my "Idea" notebook, so called because it was my writing journal and it had a lightbulb that lit up and "idea" scrolling across it when you tilt it up and down with that 3D effect thing) from last year that was entirely filled during a high point in my writing and just reading it makes me happy. Just holding it makes me happy.


Yes, I went and pulled it off the shelf and have it next to me right now. Yes, I feel happy.
There are times, though, that I feel as if I am worth crap. Like, crap. I can't get myself to actually put pencil to paper, let alone actually make words come out. And there are times when I am writing, but I know that what I am writing is stupid, is silly, isn't worth reading.

I was going through a phase like this just before NaNo. I'd been slacking on YWS and that was making me feel bad, my blogging felt stupid, I wasn't writing anything and it all sucked. Not to mention my writing class was driving me nuts (I swear, I get so much mileage out of that class... I predict quite a bit more too). I mean, it was just so serious and at a time when I was taking myself too seriously and angsting about it.

But NaNo helped me with that, as it usually does. And in NaNo were the NaNoers of my write-in group.

I feel bad. I haven't kept up with them too much in the past few weeks. But in following them on Twitter and Facebook, I discovered Reverb, which got me in a groove for blogging. Which, in turn, has gotten me in a groove for everything.

Maybe there is something to this scheduled writing thing. Perhaps not a writing time, because my schedule is hectic enough that I would rather sneak in a YouTube video of a funny man talking about deep things in a nerdy way (I'm looking at you, John and Hank Green) than my crap writing, but knowing that I need to write something every day is good for me (I already have another month of challenges set up for January and you've seen my list of things I want to get done in 2011).

So, I would say that Reverb has been healing me. I go through peaks and valleys, but, because of Reverb, the post-NaNo valley was avoided. Normally I slump into post-NaNo inactivited, just having finished a huge undergoing and just sort of looking around in a daze. But this kept me going, which got me thinking, which got me listing things I wanted to do and ways in which I wanted to do them and I'm creating. It's awesome.

Thank you, Reverb.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bring it on...

December 18 – Try What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?
I actually am compiling a list of things I want to try next year. It's not super long as of yet, but here it is for what it's worth (mostly writing-related):

- NaNo documentary
- write "They Fight Crime", a song based on this website
- some sort of interactive story, possibly involving video
- mah hedgehog story
- at least two short stories
- at least one short film
- "Inasmuch"
- at least one other script

In terms of things I wanted to try this year, the list is even shorter. I didn't really have set goals.

- NaNo documentary (yeah, it was supposed to happen during November and December, but with the new year rapidly approaching, it's gonna have to wait)
- my angel project

The documentary actually had some footage filmed that needs to be edited. I just didn't/don't have time for it as of yet. And the angel project had actually a bit of research and scribbling done, but it just fell through, relegated to the "to be scavenged from" folder.

I'm excited for 2011.

Playing with ketchup...

EDIT: Retroactively noticed this was my 100th post. *happy!dance*
December 17 – Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? 
I'm telling you, these prompts are coming at the best times. I'll have something on my mind that I want to ramble about

You know, I learned a lot of lessons this year. But I think one of the more important ones is one that's been being slowly pounded into me this past year. And that's not to take myself too seriously.

I mean, you would think I would get that after NaNoWriMo two years in a row before this, but not so much. It took a class that took itself really seriously and a great video by a great YouTuber to help me see the light. Oscar Wilde was very correct when he said "It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously."

The story behind the class has been beaten to death here already. Basically, the prof took it really seriously. Which is awesome. I mean, I probably would have hated the class if the teacher had thought writing was a joke. But he took it seriously in a way that was taking it a little too far. Writing can be done for the sheer enjoyment of writing, not just for a living. I learned, through him taking what I wrote super-seriously, that don't have to take what I write super-seriously.

The story behind the video actually involves a bunch of other videos as well. The video in question is actually a submission for this year's Project for Awesome (a day of charity awareness sponsored by the awesome VlogBrothers who you should totally check out). And while Project for Awesome is indeed awesome, it brought me down a little when I realized that I had done so little to be awesome for other people. Then I watched this video and I realized that even the smallest things can be awesome. You don't need to do something huge to make the world suck less. (Also, not to brag - well, not too much - I'm one of the gang vocalists in that video.)

So yeah, pretty much, it came down to realizing that I can do what I can with what I have and that's the best thing I could do. Work within your  means. I mean, I work at a kennel that fosters homeless dogs. Right there, right at my job where I get paid, I am helping the world to suck less, savings dogs from neglect and abuse and making it possible for families to adopt them and love them and let them grow old and fat and happy. Right there, without any extra effort on my part, I am doing awesome. Every step I take after that, every can I drop into a food drive box, every pocketful of change I toss into a Salvation Army bucket, every silly blog entry I write, every review I leave on someone's creation, is just more awesome.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Alone, bad. Friend, good...

December 16 – Friendship How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

Sudden burst. Over a chicken, swiss and bacon sandwich at Arby's.

This even relates to writing too! Awesome.

We grew very comfortable with each other in creative writing class. Like, sometimes too comfortable. I learned a lot of things about people that I didn't want to know. But I still liked them. But while we were comfortable with each other, I never really hung out with any of them.

Until one day, when me, a classmate and a friend that we both knew outside of class all went to Arby's for lunch and just generally had a nerd-fest. It felt like we had always been close friends, had always been hang-out buddies. It was nice to know that there were people out there in real life in my community (you know, not just on the internet) who liked the same things I did.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Don't go away...

December 15 – 5 Minutes Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. 
Not all writing-related here. Five minutes and go!


Everyone remembering my birthday because my brother told all of YWS about it. Multiple phone calls from friends and a surprise party thrown by said brother.

Creative writing class and the kooky antics therein (Cujo, duct tape as the key to meaning).

Riverby books.

Job interview with Percy the Corgi-mix.

First day at work.

Soup (broccoli and cheddar).

My grandpa holding out until 2 am on January 26th. Thanks, Grandpa, for waiting, selfish as that "thank you" is. You were an awesome grandparent.

Volleyball coaching and our two wins in the last two games (kinda sad that they were both against the same team).

Princess Tutu.

NaNo and the wonderful write-ins.

Newseum and White Sox.

Live violin outside the school.

The other dude running the red light and smashing my bumper. Then, a few weeks after fixing said bumper, I back the car into the tractor.

Writing, writing and more writing.


Yeah, I feel like I should have been able to remember more. The trouble is, a lot of the moments I want to remember happened in '09 and I keep thinking they were this year. 2010 went quickly when I think about it. A lot of wonderful moments that were rather like the moments before them. Picking out the special ones, trying to decide which rise above the others, is not fun and unfair to all the other perfectly mundane but perfectly wonderful moments. I want to remember the whole year, not just these little snippets.

This prompt actually depresses me, the more I seriously consider losing my entire memory of 2010. There's a lot of memory, a lot of shaping, a lot of ME that would be lost. It's just a sum movement rather than individual spurts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Congratulations, you've won...

December 14 – Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

The internet. Oh, thank goodness for the internet.

It gives me automated, archived, and free textual communication in the form of e-mail.

It gives me instant access to the combined knowledge of most of the world's population.

It gives me the random funny cat video.

It gives me communities of people that will never meet in real life, but form the best group of supporters you could ask for.

It gives me a platform to host my ramblings and scribbles on, without having to weave my way through a maze of publishers that would likely (and very rightfully so) kill them before the helpless public was subject to them.

It gives me TV Tropes.

Yes, thank you, thank you, thank you for the internet.

I pretty much express my gratitude for the internet by using the internet mostly-daily. And occasionally posting about it on itself.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Awesomesauce on rye...

You know what's awesome? Automated writing.

Okay, so it's not quite automated, but Celtx has got to be one of the coolest things I've played with as a writer.

A friend of mine is making a film. He sent me an outline and I'm writing at least a draft of the script. Super cool. Only thing is, except for a foray into scripting for Screnzy that involved a mangling of the television script format, I have no experience with script writing.

My friend presented me with Celtx (which offers a free download!) and I pulled up a window to begin poking around the "Screenplay" option.

Omigosh, there is so much there, so much already formatted for you, so much to add in. Character bibles (useful for television scripts), lists of people who might be needed for a particular scene, so much! I don't know how to use half the stuff and half the things it offers are things I know nothing about, not being a filmmaker by trade, but it is pretty awesome to be experimenting with.

It has other options, like comic books, text, stage plays, etc., and I can't wait to start playing with those too. It makes me want to stretch my creative fingers into other mediums beyond just the novel or short story.

Perhaps I shall use it for "Inasmuch" whenever I get around to that sucker.

The untruth of this is truly untruthful...

I lied.

In this post, the very first post of Reverb, I said that I hadn't completed anything in 2010 besides NaNo (and now my short story for Creative Writing).

That's not true.

Trawling through my flashdrive at the end of the semester, throwing away temporary files and multiple copies of assignments, I'm finding papers and projects that I did all throughout the year. Completed papers and projects.

Now granted, they weren't necessarily things I wanted to be working on, and they are nearly all non-fiction, but I was writing. I did finish stuff. And, reading an essay I wrote for History this spring, it was stuff that I'm proud of. I might not have liked doing it at the time, but reading over it now, I like it. I feel smart and writerly and bold, like I can actually accomplish something. And I have a lot of it.

Yay me.

The deep end of the swimming pool...

December 13 – Action When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

In progress. I'm currently doing the pre-writing doodling and scribbling and brainstorming, sort of wetting my toes in preparation to cannonball right off the diving board.

My next step is to actually start writing. I've sort of been putting it off, keeping myself limited to the scribbles and rants about other things while school is still going on, for fear that I'll get distracted by my new shiny. But school is over now and so I plan to do the jumping.

The thing to be avoided, of course, is the dreaded "I have tons of time to write, but no motivation". Therein lies the actual challenge of this whole thing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


December 12 – Body Integration This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

I'm going to admit that this particular prompt sound incredibly New-Agey. Not that there's anything wrong with New-Age-ness, but it's not particularly my cup of tea. But I'll run with it.

I've never really noticed a gap between my mind and body, anything that wasn't ME. I am ME and that's who I am. That said, there are times that I feel more ME than usual. That's most often when I have a slightly-dull pencil and an old stack of lecture notes that were printed off the school computer, leaving me with mostly-clean backs of scrap paper. It's in the stolen moments, the times when I have an idea, a feeling, a scene, that has to be written at that moment, no matter what's going on around me. There's just this single-minded drive to get something done and even when it turns out to be crap, I'm still happy with it. It's ME.

That, or when I've had a really great day and am singing way too loudly to music while I make myself some good food. There's embarrassing dancing and air-guitar riffs. And it's awesome.  It's ME.


December 11 – 11 Things What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

And here's where it becomes difficult to make these things work for writing. Ah heck, we'll take a swing at it anyway...

1) Self Doubt. For real. There are times I just need to get over my crippling insecurities, pull on my big girl panties and just write without worrying about how horrible it is.

This goes hand in hand with...

2) Perfectionism. Having high standards is one thing. Demanding that everything come out exactly right the first time is quite another.

...which can lead to...

3) Guilt. Sometimes, you miss a day. Sometimes something happens. It's okay. Not a big deal. No need to stress about it. direct contrast to...

4) Fecklessness
5) Laziness.  Sometimes, you do need to kick yourself in the pants to get something done.

6) Wangst. In both real life and my writing. This is "duh" in real life. In my writing, I seem to have been leaning towards the wangst a bit. Angst is fine in fiction, provided it doesn't become excessive and annoying. But because I tend to write character-driven pieces and my characters all seem to want to have whiny pasts, the wangst piles on. I need to cut it out, to realize when something is becoming too much.

Other, less serious things I don't need in writing...

7) Pens that run out of ink.

8) Stupidly designed notebooks (or the guilt of not filling them up because they are stupid to write in... curse, you, lavender velvet contraption that is so not writer-friendly!).

9) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (though there's really no helping it now that I've got it...).

10) Not knowing what to write.

11) Cardboard.

Mmm, got to scraping a little, I did there. It's what I get for trying to twist these prompts around to writing. But it's what I want and according to number two, I can allow myself to hit a mark less than perfect.

Most of this is just mindset. And, oddly enough, all I really need to do is not think about avoiding it. I think about it too hard, I inevitably find myself angsting about it, and then bad things happen. The key is to just go with the flow.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The blind presenting suggestions to the sighted...

December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

I think it was to let my angel project go fallow for a while at least. I think it's likely mostly-permanently shelved, but of course there is always the chance some part or other will be resurrected and transplanted somewhere else. But it's knowing when to leave well alone that makes the difference and keeps you from beating your head against a brick wall.

I've let projects go in the past and it always hurts. The Sphere and the Singer, my first attempt at a fantasy epic, was started when I was eleven years old. I worked on it and worked on it for years, writing and rewriting the same beginning and scenes over and over again. It went nowhere. It stagnated even as I tried to breathe new life into it time and time again. It was painful when I finally put it on the shelf. I had grown so much in the years I worked on it that it was no longer recognizable. It had grown like a tumor and all that I could do with it was cut it off. I still find elements of it here and there in my writing and I still have fond memories of Gregory, Chris and Burt, but they've been more or less retired.

Sometimes I'm ashamed with myself for letting projects go. I mean, if I put that much effort, that much promise into a project, am I really going to just drop it like that? Isn't that quitting? Giving up? Surrendering? Can't you just make it work? I'm a believer that to get something done, you have to do it. Just relying on bursts of inspiration isn't going to work.

However, I still allow for the occasion of the dead horse and I won't force myself to beat it. Sometimes a project just becomes too unwieldy, too close, too much, and the best way to deal with it is to put it aside, let some distance happen, some objectivity take root, and move on to something else. Maybe you'll come back to it. Maybe you won't. In any case, you have learned something from that experience, even if it's just to "never try something like that again".


December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

The NaNoWriMo write-ins. Oh, the NaNoWriMo write-ins. I have always written solitary. It just seems like writing would naturally be a solitary pursuit. Sure, you can have people read and talk about your work with you, but the writing itself is a one-man job. But then I went to a NaNo write in at a local bookstore.

I was a little late and I wandered through the bookstore, looking for something, anything that looked like people writing. Right smack in the center of the store, clustered around a little table sandwiched between the music display and a six-foot fountain, there were three or four people hunched over laptops. I sort of walked by them once, pretending to browse, trying to work up the courage to ask if they were NaNoers. I mean, if they weren't, I'd have to explain myself and look like an idiot as I wandered the store to find the actual NaNoers.

I sidled up apologetically.

"I feel a little silly, but are you the NaNoWriMo people?"

Suddenly I was surrounded by the gushing welcome of writers to one of their own. They ushered me into the cramped space, arranging chairs and laptops so I had table space. My knees were pressed uncomfortably to the table leg and my backpack nearly tripped several people where it peeked out from under the tiny chair, but it was marvelous.

Almost the first thing I did was yank the bookmark out of my notebook. It apparently hadn't been glued in too well, because it just popped off in my hand as I tried to flip it out of the way. I stared at it for a moment.

"Oh, that's not cool," I said in a tiny voice, still afraid to talk, as if I might be interrupting.


"I pulled my bookmark out." I held up the sad little scrap of ribbon. Again, the gushing began, an outpouring genuine sympathy. It was such a wondrous, comforting display. I was at home. These were my people. I could write with them.

The evening was spent in mostly-silence, with little bursts of conversation about nerdy things, writerly things, serious things, before going back to writing. I spent three of the happiest hours of my writing career there.

I went back the next week.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A little ramble through Never Never Land...

Well, I submitted my info for the Createspace copy of my NaNo novel. We'll see what it looks like when it gets here. *nerves*
December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.
(You know what I love? Coincidences. Coinkydinks. Lucky manifestations of fate. Times when you  have something in mind and then that thing pops up, like say, in a prompt for your blog.)

I wonder sometimes about myself and how people in general can view the world in such different ways. A perfect example would be Princess Tutu (obsessed? me? what would make you say that?). If you were to look up a review online, one of the first things people will say is that it's weird. Like, apparently, really weird. 

I didn't notice. Sure, there were some unusual things going on (like animals in clothing, a duck who turns into a girl, an incorporeal dude ranting about a story), but I didn't find it "weird". It seemed perfectly normal within the context of the story. I wasn't confused. I wasn't put off.

Similarly, Neon Genesis Evangelion. The series has a reputation for being a strange, strange thing. The last few episodes in particular, as they suddenly devolve into surreal, abstract navel-gazing. Again, I didn't have a problem with it. So many people talk about what a mind-screw the whole thing was, but it made sense to me. Don't ask me to explain it, but I understood it. 

So yeah, things that apparently are supposed to be confusing make sense to me. Just don't ask me to explain them.

Also, dreams. My dreams tend to follow a story. The story may not make much sense and the premise may change several times, but it's a story nonetheless. And I'm the only one in my family that way. Everyone else gets little moments they remember, or they don't remember their dreams at all. I have epics going on in my head every night.

I didn't think this was too odd until my prof mentioned dreams in creative writing class. He was talking about how dreams literally have no limitations, so they are the strangest, most random things. Unless, he said, your writerly brain works out a story to put them to.

So, do writers and storytellers have a different way of dreaming from other people? Do we take all the little tidbits and force them into a story, even subconsciously? This is something I actually really want to know, or whether it's just me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Magnetic poetry...

I love Magnetic Poetry. Somehow, having a word bank to create poetry from rather than having to decide on the words yourself makes it a little more friendly, a little more accessible, a little less daunting.


the sky sings a song under my bed
the stars look for socks
the sun practices jetés in the mirror

the moon scrambles eggs in a non-stick pan

All the (not) lonely people...

December 7 – Community Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Oh wow, so many communities this year. There are the write-in folks for NaNoWriMo (so awesome and supportive and funny and yeah), the blogging community that I am slowly getting into (with its wealth of fantastic, emotional, hysterical writers), the YouTube/film community that I am sort of lurking around (oh gosh, too much awesome for one internet to contain), and my creative writing class (with the people who tell me too much about themselves and things I don't want to know about them, but manage to make me laugh and think).

In terms of 2011, I want to get more deeply involved in all of these communities, except for my creative writing class, which ends next week (on the one hand, I am excited - my stupid short story is done! - and on the other hand, I am sad that I will not be hanging out with those cool/awkward folks twice a week anymore).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thank you, internet...

I've been blog browsing a lot lately. Reverb10 and the lovely list at Dining with Small Monsters have been feeding an itch that started quite a few months ago. Google Reader got me through some tough spots in November. Ever since discovering the wonder that is the RSS feed, I've been subscribing to scores of blogs from writers and authors alike, webcomics that make me want to cry while I smile, and a crapload of other goodies. Just recently, I actually finally subscribed to Neil Gaiman's blog.

There's something to be said about reading about people's lives. Some people brush off their activities, preferring to jump into what they were thinking about rather than their physical actions, some people will linger on the smallest details. Some people manage to make their lives sound like novels and some people are abrupt and funny and satirical. 

I mentioned Neil Gaiman because, reading his blog, I felt so comfortable. There are some blogs that are "informative". You read them like a newsletter. There are blogs that are deeply personal, almost exclusively so, making references and in-jokes that no one but the author understands. There are blogs filled with random thoughts, or carefully crafted humor. Gaiman's blog felt like a conversation, like a storyteller weaving his magic about the simplest things, which is what it was. And it was beautiful, even when it talked about things that I didn't understand because I have no history with them. The entire thing felt so careful and yet so relaxed. It made me happy just to read it, even without context to what he was writing about. 

I have a hard time writing about myself in anything that resembles beautiful writing. I feel presumptuous when I do so, like my life is too boring, too mundane, and trying to add deeper meaning makes it silly and that I'm silly for doing so. But at the same time, I want to talk about the little things I notice, tie my life together into a story, write something that will take people's breath away. But I don't know if that's me, if that's my voice. Perhaps that's something I can cultivate.

All I can say is thank you to the people who bring us the internet. It is such an amazing thing in being able to read the wisdom and nonsense of others, as well as put out my own musings and scribblings.


If not here then definitely in my head, I've bemoaned the fact that writers get no bling. Sure, computers, pens, notebooks, programs... But when it comes down to it, we don't really need them. Plain old paper-n-pencil works just fine. We don't really need anything else.

Then it hits me.

We don't need anything else.

So much to do, so little free time...

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Mah NaNo novel: Glass and Salt. Used a G-2 fine point blue ink pen and a Picadilly medium notebook with college-ruled pages for the first half or so, then switched to my trusty Compaq, Write or Die and Word '07 when I realized that there was no way handwriting was going to get me to 50,000 in time.

Omigosh, there is so much I want to create right now. A short list:

- a novel about a hedgehog princess
- a short film about robots in love
- a song about fighting crime
- poetry

There are times I feel like artists and musicians are more artistic than writers. I mean, they get to use materials, to make images and figures and shapes and things you can touch, see, hear and smell. There's such a beautiful tangibility to what they do. Writers can only grasp at it, try to spell out what they want a reader to envision, rather than just making it and letting them see it for themselves.

But then I see a page of handwritten scrawl, and run my fingertip over words that have been pressed deeply into the grain of the paper, and smell the way the oil from my hands rubs off onto the fibers, and listen to the gentle hiss of the pages rustling together and I feel better.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The shelf...

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? 

(These prompts could be so depressing if I were writing about things other than writing.)

There is a reason why my writing this year was so disjointed. I did have a long-standing project for a while, begun in February, if my notes are correct, but I eventually shelved that. It had been based on the "Mundane Angel" poem series I scribbled last year and a particularly vivid dream. It became an idea for a novel that actually had some research put into it, but it was finally shelved because I lost sight of what it was supposed  to be about. And despite the niggling voice in the back of my head telling me I should have worked with it some more until it worked, I don't really regret shelving it. I can always pick it back up and I have other things that I can move on to.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Looking for more...

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

(*whoot* Back to 'writing' as a theme.)

I can't say as I deliberately went about cultivating a sense of wonder. It wasn't a conscious effort on my part. However, I would have put down my creative writing and mythology classes as having been the greatest sources of wonder this year.

I'm not saying they were both fantastic classes. I've ranted about my creative writing class before and my mythology professor wasn't too good at encouraging original thought and discussion, but neither of them were particularly horrible. The most frustrating thing would be that we would touch on something for the briefest of moments and then move on, or we would beat a particular subject to death without really getting to the core of it. Partially due to frustration, I would scribble out rants and musings about such subjects, expanding them or exploring other facets that the class didn't.

Mythology in particular led me to a lot of realizations about writing and myself. The idea of the vast reaches of the human race being connected by the thing that is myth, and myth being so ingrained in all cultural products, and the idea of writing, of storytelling, of understanding the human condition. It's just so incredible how much potential there is out there, for anything, and how much of it gets wasted, and yet how much of it is used.

It's a matter of just being bored in class and wanting more out of life. And I think that's the best way to cultivate wonder. Want more out of everything. Not selfishly, but just looking for more meaning, more reason for being, more 'oomph' in everything.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jones and Miyazaki...

I've found that the best way to get something done is to stop whining about how it isn't done yet and actually do it. The hard part is convincing myself that the truth of this is truly truthful.
In the wake of NaNo, I've been spending some of my newly-freed-up time rereading Howl's Moving Castle and its sequels and I just have to say... I love them. I mean, they're confusing as all get out sometimes and the end always involves every character even briefly mentioned in the book being thrown together into mass chaos and the endings are always saccharinely happy, but I really, really like them.

And, due to the way my exposure to both turned out, Howl's Moving Castle the book will forever bring Howl's Moving Castle the movie to mind and that leads me into my love affair with Studio Ghibli.

They make great films. The animation is lovely, the characters are heartfelt, and all in all, they just have a simple "feel good" feeling about them. Even Princess Mononoke, one of the darker, bloodier films, makes you just plain feel good. (I'll admit to not having seen Grave of the Fireflies, which I understand is mindblowingly sad and depressing.)

And, because they are on my mind, I felt like going through a timeline of how I discovered the wonderfulness that is both Diana Wynne Jones and Studio Ghibli.

(I have a feeling this may be long and rambly. Beware.)
I have my library to thank for it all. I have my library to thank for a lot of things, but to list all of them would take too long, so I'm just going to restrict myself to this one particular thing.

Summer reading recommendations. My library does them. I'm sure your library does them. Up popped Howl's Moving Castle the book, mentioning that it was also made into a movie. Don't ask me why I put the movie on hold before the book, but that was how it went.

I watched the movie. This was one of my early introductions to anime and my first to Studio Ghibli. I fell in love. The atmosphere, the characters, the music. All lovely. It was a sort of whimsy, filled with hope despite any darkness that loom.

It took me a long time to get to the book itself. I'd actually read Diana Wynne Jones before (Year of the Griffin, I think...) and I'd always found her a little off-putting. She does have a style that sort of zooms along in the strangest way, details that will be immensely important sort of being skimmed over and requiring the reader to think about what they're reading as they read it in order to make sense of it. That hadn't been my thing at the young and tender age of maybe twelve or thirteen (I think?) and so I'd sort of skipped over her. But the movie made me want to read the book and so I did. I liked it a bit, but my love for it has grown over the years with each rereading (and the fact that I keep rereading it says something) and today it is probably in  my favorites list.

Anyway, I watched Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind next. Again, I have the library to thank for that. I was browsing the shelves and came across the manga for Nausicaa (which, by the way, I highly recommend) and picked it up, recognizing the name "Miyazaki". I read, I think, the first three volumes before I watched the movie. Loved it. Loved the movie. Was deeply in cinematic love with Studio Ghibli.

I think it was Castle in the Sky that was next, then the others after that sort of run together into a blur. I watched them all one right after the other, but I'm not sure of the order anymore. All of them were marvelous. Even the weaker ones were still fantastic. Castle in the Sky and Nausicaa are some of my most favorite movies of all time.

Diana Wynne Jones is still a taste I'm acquiring, I think. I know that there are some people out there who love anything by a particular writer, but I'm much more of an individual book person. Not that I don't get excited to see a new book by a particular author, but I try to take each new thing in stride. Of course, I'm a complete and total hypocrite in that I will instantly buy, borrow or steal my way into a Pixar or Studio Ghibli movie (though I do have my doubts about Cars 2), but I am testing the waters of her other books again and seeing what comes of it.

Freedom is...

December 3 – Moment.
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
This is difficult. I could pick out particular moments in my life when I felt most alive, but none of them really happened this year. But, if I were to have to fudge it and pick one from this year, I'd have to pick sitting in a tree on my friend's college campus. It really has nothing to do with writing, beside the fact that I'm writing it here.

I'm at community college right now. I live at home with my parents and drive to class every day. Been doing this for a year and a half now and just one more semester to go before I transfer to a four-year school. However, about a month or so ago, I went to go spend the weekend with my friend at her four year school.

There's something to be said about the freedom that comes with moving out. I'd never experienced the complete lack of other people depending on you before. It's always one thing or another at home. If it's not that there's some chore you have to do, it's that the car needs to be back, or you need to be home, or someone needs to be driven. Or, even when there isn't anything to be done, there is the chance that something will come up. And you're obligated, because you are at home and are under your parents' roof, to help out or be there or something. 

Away, that disappears. There might be other obligations that come up with friends or class or anything, but it's a different kind of obligation. You got into them because you wanted to, not because you were born into them.

So, sitting in the tree, nearly twelve feet off the ground, on a branch big enough that I couldn't wrap my arms around it, I was free. It was cold, because I was in short sleeves and it was getting dark. It smelled like autumn, like pine needles, like the precursor to ice. It was remarkably quiet on campus for the hour, it being a Saturday and everyone being away. There was just the sound of my and my friend talking, laughing about something or other, with the quiet thumps and rumbles of construction a block or two away. Everything was just starting to turn brown. The volleyball court beneath us was muddy. My heart was beating just a little too fast, because, despite my bravado in clambering all the way out to the end of the limb like I had, I was twelve feet in the air over a solid concrete sidewalk and the way the wind blew on me, I didn't feel quite secure.

But I was there and there was no one telling me to get down, or telling me that I needed to come eat dinner. In fact, there was no one telling me to do anything. My friend and I were free to do what we wanted. We ended up sitting on that tree for a long time, then wandering around the campus as it got dark. We watched The Nightmare Before Christmas at nearly one in the morning. We were our own people and for someone who's always been considered a responsible adult by everyone she knows, it was nice to be able to be irresponsible and not feel like I was in fact being irresponsible because there was simply no one to be responsible to.