Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Spreading the love

I forgot to link back to Misha who gave me the award.  Sorry about that!

I am spreading the love to the following people.
Laughing Wolf
Michael Offutt

Thanks for being interested.

I got an award!

I got a pretty award!  Look:

So now I have to answer the following questions:

1) Are you a rutabaga?
2) Who is your current crush?
3) Upload a heartwarming picture that makes you smile.
4) When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened tomato?
5) Name one habit that causes other people to plot your demise?
6) What is the weirdest, most-disgusting job you've ever had to do?
7) Where da muffin top at?
8) What author introduced you to your genre?
9) Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.

Please see the answers below:
1) Are you a rutabaga?

Am I a Brassica napus? Not last time I checked.  I am neither yellow, nor round.  I am not even buried in soil.  And yet, I have been wrong in these matters before.  I defer to the greater knowledge of the organising committee.

2) Who is your current crush?
Ice.  With lemon peel and strawberries.  And a dash of Klein Konstantia (Small Constantia) muscadel.

3) Upload a heartwarming picture that makes you smile.

4) When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened tomato?

All tomatoes are ripened on a vine up to a certain point.  The last tomato I had was certainly ripened to an edible stage on a vine.  The rest, the part that happens in the cooling chamber, is just chemistry.

5) Name one habit that causes other people to plot your demise?
Just one?  I finish other people's  sentences.  But that's just because I'm smarter than them and when I say it, it has more credibility.  Mwuhahaha!

6) What is the weirdest, most-disgusting job you've ever had to do?
I had to wash the plastic sheet the baby-ish ostriches slept on.  It was a crappy job.

7) Where da muffin top at?
Muffin top?  I don't know nuffin about no muffin top.  Go to Dreary Lane, there you can find a related person who might know where to find the top of the muffin.

8) What author introduced you to your genre?
J.R.R. Tolkien (duh), C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett, Oscar Wilde.  To name a few.

9) Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.
Urderousmay gainstay eoplepay howay inkthay atthay ancay elltay emay ymay objay.

Monday, 8 August 2011

I have an idea

A shiny new one apparently.  And it is both exciting and getting me down.

I sometimes wonder when I'm going to get on with it.  You are probably quite bored with me falling around every other week to a different new story.  Every time I am SO super excited about it.  I get my knickers in a knot just thinking about it.  It is new, it is shiny and it is so awesomely super cool.  For a little while at least.  Then it starts petering out and eventually it dies of starvation.  Lovely aint it?

I don't suppose I am the only new writer who experiences this.  And I don't even think it is a bad thing.  For one thing, how terrible would it be to have a new idea and not be excited about it?  Would you ever actually write?  So yes, the excitement of a new idea is paramount.  But what do you do when you get around to the not-so-exciting part?  The part where you have to sit down and plan, or at least think about what you are writing?  The excitement starts to die off.  What then?

I think I might have found the elixer of life for my writing at least.  Don't plan, don't even think.  Just write.  To start with, anyway.  Obviously later you will have to plot, think, measure twice, cut once.  But for now, to start with, I just write.  No thinking "is this a good name?" not even thinking if your setting or story is good.  Right now I'm like "what story?"  Yep.  No story, just writing.

You're probably thinkin why I only now realise this.  But the truth is that I've been so caught up in writing the right story (and that is very important and still very high on the list of priorities) that I forgot to practise writing.  Just writing for the heck of it.  I used to love just stringing together a bunch of words and seeing what comes out the other side.  Somewhere I lost that.

I couldn't get to writing my main work seriously becasue I couldn't remember what it is like to write creatively.  Everything I wrote was ordered and structured "just right" but all in all quite useless.

I love my shiny new idea.  I love it to bits.  It is nonsensical, silly and stupid.  It will probably never be published.  But it keeps me entertained and somewhat sane.

Do you write something silly or off topic sometimes?  Or do you focus on your main WiP and keep going at it?  How do you keep focus?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A fangirl goes "squee!"

I am a Lord of the Rings fangirl.  More so than an Assassin's Creed fangirl.  I nearly hijacked a blog's comment section.  I realised my mistake.  But to satisfy my need to blog about my favourite book (and to un-officially take part in the Novel Films Blogfest), I would like to continue the discussion.

Please go read Misha Blog "Novel Films Blogfest Part 2: What makes a good adaption?"

It should give you a better idea what I'm rambling about.

"Nice post!  But I think you left out one of the book/movie combinations that should always be mentioned.  Maybe I'm biased...  "

Maybe?  I like lying to myself it seems.

The Lord of the Rings fall into the same category as The Chronicles of Narnia when it comes to movie adaptations.  The book is written is such exquisite detail that you can't go wrong if you follow it closely.  Great descriptions of breathtaking views and of clothing and armour in the minutest detail.  The filmmakers spent quite a lot of time perusing The Lord of the Rings and other books by Tolkien concerned with Middle-earth.  It is to their credit: it took seven years to film all three movies.  And they did an excellent job.  From the level of detail in the movies you can see that they took it very seriously.  It was truly a job well done.

And yet Peter Jackson decided to move away from the book at some points. For example, in the movie Faramir takes Frodo to Osgiliath (on the way to Minas Tirith to take the One Ring to his father, the Steward of Gondor).  In the book it does not happen because Faramir states "I would not take this thing if it lay by the wayside".  Jackson had a good reason for doing this.  In the book it is made clear that Faramir is very different from his brother, who tried to take the Ring by force.  It is a very important sub-plot in the book.  However, it would be impossible to create a sub-plot of the same strenth in the movies without extending the already lengthy movies (about 12 hours in total) quite a bit more.  The problem then arose that the Ring is a powerful seductress.  How is it possible that a man would just say "nah, not for me"?  Without the backgroun in the book, the movie had to make a different plan.  And it all worked out all right: Frodo still went on his journey and completed his quest.  He just took a bit of a different road to get there.

Did it lessen the story?  I think it did, actually.  But not in such a way that I don't like the movies.  I love the book, and I read it once a year.  And I love the movies.  I love them for different reasons, though.  The book I love because it is an absolute masterpiece of writing.  I love the movies because people spent such a long time with the sole purpose of carrying accross a much loved story as faithfully as possible.  They made the movies in honour of Tolkien, not despite of him.

The things in the movie that I disliked was thoroughly made up for.  There are certain passages, sometimes whole paragraphs in the movie that are direct quotes from the book.  The same detail that is in the book is carried over to the movies.

I dream of writing a book that will have the same impact on movie makers one day.  The Lord of the Rings is a book with no equal.  No-one can improve on it.  Jackson and his team didn't try to.  I think that is what goes wrong with adaptations.  People think they can make the movie better than the book.  Maybe they can.  In this case, they didn't have a chance.  Well done to them for not trying.

Do you aspire to write a book that can be made into a movie?  Does that influence your writing style at all?

On a side note, how/where do I find out about these blog fests?  I hate getting on the back of the cart all the time.

Friday, 29 July 2011

I dare you to move

I recently re-discovered Switchfoot.  I know - not everybody's cup of mint-laced tea.  Or cyanide-laced tea, whatever.  Gotta love the almond flavour.  Anyway, getting the derailment out of the way.

Switchfoot has a song called I Dare Your To Move.  I kind of like the song.  I won't say it is my favourite song, not by a long shot.  But it is good and thought-provoking.  They probably meant it to have bearing on living for more than yourself, and not settling for second best.  And that is great.  But I started thinking that it is more than that.  If your parents were anything like mine, then you would have had a constant struggle with doing well enough.  At school, university, wherever, I was always supposed to be able to do better.  Hell, getting 85% average in my last year at school wasn't even good enough.  They didn't expect me to actually do that well, I could tell.  But even when I exceeded their expectations, they said "so why didn't you get 90%?"

As you can imagine, I am kind of screwed up because of that.  I am scientifically inclined.  I like to analyse requirements and meet them.  Exceed them if I can.  But how am I supposed to meet or exceed expectations that are so fluid?  Not that that is the point of this post.

My point is this: what are your expectations for yourself?  What do you expect from your writing?  If you expect it to be excellent, it will be excellent because you will work had at making it excellent.  If you think your writing will be mediocre, that is what it will turn out to be.  Because you will work at it untill it meets your expectations.  And that is where it will stay.

I have realised that it is my responsibilty to set my expecations where I want them.  They don't have to be realistic.  But "if you shoot for the moon, you may land on the stars."  There's a reason why something becomes a cliché, by the way.

A final word on my academic exploits.  After seeing the reaction to my high school results, I stopped giving a stinky rat's ass about my marks.  I passed all my subjects the first time around.  I studied hard but it stopped ruling my life.  Why would I try my utmost to meet other people's expectations if it shifted all the time?

Other people's expectations of you can break you or it can help you gain the highest step.  I was so blessed to hear how some friends of ours encouraged their daughter to do what she loved.  She loves to write and they encouraged her to write.  She recently won a national essay writing comeptition hosted by the US embassy in South Africa.  She is 16 years old.  She won the competition.  She got to meet Mrs Obama, she is lauded everywhere as an awesome writer.  I am so proud of her.  More than that, I am proud of her parents.

I guess what I'm trying to say is be careful who you listen to.  Some people have good intentions but bad execution.  It hurts.  But don't let that stop you from being the best you can be.  If you are one of the really lucky ones like Carla, be very grateful that the people who surround you and have influence on you are encouraging you and building you up.

After all of this, I want to say one thing more: it does not matter if the people around you help you or harm you in your writing.  Or in anything that you set your mind to doing.  Your future is in your hands.  If you don't work at it, nobody is going to do it for you.  It's up to you.  Take God's help and input.  At least you can be sure that He has only the best advice.

I dare you to move.  I dare you to go out there and live above the expectations people put on you.  Even if those expectations are great, don't be limited by that.  Set your own expectations.  Go for it.  Move.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

It's time to be honest

I'm sorry for anyone who read the half of this post that was up earlier.  I had a bit of posting problems.  I see the post ended in half a sentence too.  I'm fixing that...

This weekend I attended a women's conference organised by our church.  A lot of things fell in place for me today.  Things about my life and things about my story.  I want to share some of it with you.

I have served God for most of my life.  I credit Him with everything I have, most of all my talent to write.  I have always written.  Not always on paper and not always structured.  But there have always been stories.  It's just that I never felt fulfilled in my writing. It never had a purpose beyond who I was.  That frustrated me immensely.  I always wrote for myself, to please myself.  Now I have found my purpose.  A seed that has always been inside me germinated today.  Today I know why God gave me the talent to write.

Human trafficking is a big problem all around the world.  It is abhorrent that one person can abuse and sell another for profit.  It is modern day slavery.  It is the evil of our society.  And God wants to put a stop to it.  He has a plan and I am part of it.

My story has a new purpose.  I realised that what I thought it was for was totally wrong.  I know that I don't have my talent for nothing.  I was selfish in my writing.  You will remember how I went on about it being MY writing and I will write the way I want to blah blah blah.  Whatever.

I also realised that I was trying to write in my own strength.  I was doing it my way without help from anyone.  If someone gave me advice I would listen, but I would still do it my way mostly.  Most of all I never prayed about my writing.  It was like I thought God had nothing to do with it or that He wasn't interested.  I know now how wrong I was.  God is interested in every little thing that you do.  I just never gave Him the opportunity to give His input into what I was doing.  Silly me.

I have a new idea of what my writing is about.  I was right about the theme and subject matter.  I wasn't sure about the story, though.  I have a much better idea of where it should go.  I even have the title.  I am well on my way to writing a Masterpiece.  Anything I do that is for God's Kingdom WILL be a masterpiece.  And yes, this book is for the glory of His Kingdom.

I'm not trying to make my writing sound extra super special!  I just know that whatever I do for God will prosper.  It may be a small purpose, but it is a purpose nonetheless.

Have you found the purpose of your writing yet?  How do you keep that in mind while you write?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

I'm writing backwards

A while ago I my character was interviewed by Misha.  In that interview I learned that my character once lived on a farm in a house next to a river.  To me, that is the start of the story.  I learned that she was taken by my main antagonist from her mother when she was young, etc.  All of this was the start of my story, at least chronologically.  But Chronos was defeated with one fell swoop of the pen!  I have now written what I have thought would be the end.  But no, my entire plan was thwarted by an old lady.

We all know someone like that.  The kindest, sweetest old lady.  She never rushes, she is slightly bent over from age, she holds all the wisdom of the world in the palm of her hand.  And she is one of those "Why, no, dear.  There was nothing in the tea.  It was in the brownies." -people.  The scariest people on earth are those old ladies who seem so meek and frail but who are very, very dangerous.  Kind of like Gandalf.  Just female.

My MC has a granny.  A granny who knows everything about her.  A granny who will probably turn out to know how to do the Jedi Mind Trick better than Yoda.  This granny boldly kidnapped my MC and took her to her childhood home.  Against my wishes.  And I am thrilled!  I couldn't have asked for it any other way.  My planning is absolutely stuffed, but I am so excited to see where everything goes from here.

I don't even want to ask if this has ever happened to you.  If probably has, lots of times.  I know I am new at writing, but it is really cool. :)

So have you had the experience?  What happened  Did it make the story better than you first thought it would be?