Philosophy By Christy

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Contemporary Dystopian

Dystopian

Dystopian – an imagined place where everything seems extremely unpleasant, or environmentally degraded.  (photo by io9.com)

I’ve read some, but not all dystopian novels. I’ve read Utopia by Thomas Moore. You have to have a bit of an idea of what an Utopian society is to really know what Dystopian is. With Utopia, it explores a fictional island society and looks at its religious, social and political customs. This gives a chance to explore a society that seems perfect, but it’s there to truly critique our own society, where ever it may be in time and space. Dystopian is the opposite, but not completely. We see a society of full of the extremes, but gives enough space to critique our own society as well. It isn’t all that simple. Why are we gravitated to this kind of literature in the first place? Since I’m more familiar with contemporary dystopian, I’ll answer the question with it. The horrible moment of 9/11, I believe, greatly influenced dystopian literature. The new texts became more than a critique of society, but also a way to deal with postmillennial anxieties.

This is why young people, as well as adults, are drawn to these kind of texts. News media, as good intending it may be in certain aspects, has increased our anxieties of the world around us, as well as opened our eyes to more negative aspects of our society. The Hunger Games and the Divergent series are some of the most notable for contemporary. There is also Battle Royale, that is a Japanese novel, which seems to be a precursor to The Hunger Games. There is also the horror dystopian novel, Bird Box, that hits home exactly what our anxieties come from (media/real world), and how we deal with them (confront the labyrinth). We feel unsafe, and we find refuge in these texts because it reminds us that we don’t have it as bad as it could be. Reading these texts gives us distance as well to explore while knowing we’re seemingly safe where we are. It’s somewhat like a travel narrative through our exploration of these fictional societies, but it’s more like a labyrinth or a maze.

The labyrinth in western culture has become to represent confusion within society, and the desire to search for self, meaning, or to feel safe. It also a form of development, this is why it calls out to young people, but also to ourselves, since we continue to struggle growing towards our potential. Ultimately reading these texts becomes a rite of passage. We are able to observe a system and find its flaws to help “beat the game.” We look to this literature to help us deal, but also to overcome more than one opponent, and navigate more than one labyrinth. No matter how you feel about the former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, he tapped into something that has been building within these contemporary novels. Our desire for revolution, but most of all, change social injustice. We need dystopians more than ever now with the current election, and politics. Where candidates are tapping into our anxieties, as well as our hopeful desires for a better world, towards their end goal of winning the election. We need literature to find ourselves, and decide how we will make the best decision(s) to improve our world.

testing

Yet a labyrinth originally was seen as a single route with twists and turns that isn’t meant to be difficult to navigate. There is only one path, one entrance and one exit. The only way one can safely enter is to have a tie to the entrance that will lead you back to the exit. With this in mind, the end goal isn’t the destination, but the journey. Exactly what these novels provide a journey for us to experience. At the same time, we have a maze, that is confusing and paths may lead to dead-ends. This is a puzzle that can be changed to different levels of difficulty and complexity. Mazes are used to see spatial awareness and sometimes intelligence. The Testing series uses both versions of a labyrinth, as well as the maze. As you can see from the first novel cover, mazes are large focus for the series. Without giving too much away, this series gives a different kind of critique of society, presenting the flaws of standardized testing in an extreme dystopian world. This society uses tests to determine who is qualified to lead the country. The series becomes a labyrinth the complex journey, while the characters confront not only labyrinths but also mazes to find out what they can do to survive, but also “beat the game,” what can they do to make their world change to be better.

We desire to read these texts, but also to write them. It’s a labyrinth and a maze at the same time. We want to provide these journeys to others, but also to ourself to find out our potential as well as explore how we can change our society, but most of all make aware of what could lead towards a dystopian society to prevent it from happening. Or are we already in a dystopian world finding our way out of it? It’s all really up to us, the readers and the writers.

 

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Experiencing ‘Walden’

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Photo by Christy

  “The earth has music for those who listen.” – George Santayana

 It’s important some times to stop what you’re doing, and go explore the nature around you. I usually don’t have much need of persuasion to go out into nature, but some times because I’m worried about life, I forget that God has created this amazing beauty for me to enjoy.

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, in preparation for the comps exams (basically exit exams for the Masters program), but also because of the web series, Classic Alice. I’ve mentioned this web series before, but I’m very excited for the upcoming new episodes that will start June 9th. So far I know they plan to cover Walden. This web series is a bit different to other literary web series in the fact that they cover more than one classic story. Yet like others, they take a modern twist. What excites me about this amazing web series is the fact that they really promote the reading of classic literature, and find new creative ways to imagine these texts while also creating a unique story. The reason is that they are able take some aspect, or several from the text, and advance the characters stories. The main character literally grows from experiencing these classic texts. When I found out that Classic Alice was planning to cover Walden, I was so excited that my best friend Tabitha couldn’t believe it. She actually didn’t like the novel when she had to read it for class, but then again, she had a tough class to begin with. The reason why I was excited was because the show would be covering a book that I would need to know for the comps exams. So in a way, they are kind of helping me study. Now that I’ve read half way, I kind of see what my best friend was talking about, but at the same time, see why it’s so important for Classic Alice to cover this text. Why? Because it’s not a story per say, but an account of someone’s experience with nature and life. This can seem for some as “dry” because they are used to an interesting narrative with plot that affects the characters and they grow as the story evolves. This text has a different purpose, it’s more personal. The author intends to explain how much nature has impacted him, for others to also go out and explore. He wants personal change for the reader, as well as give us a better appreciation for the nature around us.

Like Alice Rackham, from Classic Alice, who makes life decisions from classic texts. I decided after reading part of the text that I would go explore nature with Tabitha. Don’t worry, I’ll finish the text soon. Anyways, this past Tuesday we went to my favorite beach location, and to a local duck pond. Besides enjoying my time with my friend and taking pictures, I was determined to look at the nature through Thoreau’s perspective. Obviously it’s not going to be the same as his since he lived out there for a period of time, and didn’t have technology with him. As well as being basically on his own most of the time. A way to help you understand his perspective, I’ll let you know two of his best quotes from the text:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” “We need the tonic of wildness… At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough nature.” 

This made me look at nature differently. God created the world around us, most importantly nature. We can’t ever forget that. By reminding ourselves of this amazing beauty, should be something we help share with others. We need to do our part to protect the environment for everyone. The only way we can do that is to know what we’re fighting for. At the same time, when you’re out there exploring nature, you’re also exploring yourself. Leave everything of worry behind, and remember who you really are. Yes, it’s just a beach and just a pond with ducks, but if we look at it closely we can see art, wonder, happiness, life, and remind us what’s truly important in our lives.

Earlier this year and recently, I’ve been inspired to write a bit of fanfiction thanks to some of the shows I’ve been watching. It’s not likely I’ll stop any time soon. Besides that, I’ve been recently inspired to write about nature. I haven’t yet, but hope to do so soon (possibly poetry). I think it’s come from reading Walden, as well as exploration of nature this past week with my best friend as well as with my family. This has also reminded me of two professors I used to have that were really drawn to writing about their experiences with nature that they wrote journals, poems & stories. From what I can tell so far from Classic Alice, Alice is inspired to write more as well from her experiences. Which is amazing how much a character, though different, can be similar when you take a simple step as seeing a text from a different perspective.

If you haven’t seen Classic Alice yet, I recommend doing so. From what I’ve experienced of the show so far, it has inspired and given me a new perspective on how to experience literature. If you have, re-watch now before the new episodes start. It’s worth watching, and especially reading along. Additionally, the series is interactive online through trans-media aspects by story telling via Twitter, Tumblr, & podcasting, along with the episodes on YouTube. I can’t wait to see what other books they end up covering this season. I hope you’ll experience the amazing ride along with me.

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Photo by Christy

We don’t have forever

Photo by Christy

Photo by Christy

As much as I would love to talk about the TV show, Forever, I will not (but I really recommend watching this amazing show & signing this petition). Clearly as other posts on my blog, I’m inspired to write with a theme in mind. It happens that this theme is inspired by the show. So it kind of all works out. Though it also is a bit inspired by the reading I’ve been doing lately, partly for the Comps exams plus Classic Alice (Thoreau’s Walden) & for enjoyment (Rick Riordan’s The Blood of Olympus). Plus recent life experiences. Anyways, all these things have brought me to a continued realization that I should live in the moment and take chances. Unlike Dr. Henry Morgan, we don’t live forever. Yet we can learn from him.

Yes, some memories are precious and we need to hang on to them. but Emily Dickinson wrote ‘Forever is composed of nows’ and she’s right. If we root ourselves too deeply in the past we’ll miss what’s right in front of us.

Sometimes, so we don’t get hurt, we quickly think of all that wouldn’t work instead of taking a chance. You really never know where that chance might lead. So it’s best to be open to possibilities, take chances, and hope for the best. It simple but difficult at times. This also applies with the uncertainty of investing too much of ourselves in a project, or a relationship, that might not turn out like we hope. I find that in some instances I can be spontaneous and confident, but when I have doubt, I’m more likely to be hesitant towards what ever it may be. Those are the times when I need just a little push of reassurance.

I never ride a bike because I have a fear of falling and getting hurt. This explains a lot really. I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to fail. Yet some how I’m still able to drive even after car accidents. We all have a similar fear. Most of the time it’s good because it helps protect us, but most of the time it can close us off from great opportunities. Sometimes it isn’t fear at all, but an uncertainty of how people will respond. We all have our best intentions, but we let these feelings get in the way, as well as forgetting or not quite realizing what’s around us.

If I hadn’t had reassurance from family and friends, along with great feedback from professors/editors, about my essay “Mentoring in the Wizarding World: Dumbledore & His Literary Ancestors” maybe those feelings might have taken control and I may have never completed the project that soon will be published. If hadn’t closed a door to my past, and decided to go to graduate school, I might have not been inspired to write the essay in the first place. So many factors, but it’s clear that when I really want to accomplish something I can achieve it. Yet I’m unsure what lies ahead. Sure I’ve got plans to apply for PhD programs, but who knows if I get accepted. There is still stuff left I need to do before getting on that train if it arrives. I know now that I’m not afraid to get on that train, and head towards a new chapter in my life. Just as we can’t stay too much in the past, we also can’t ponder too much about the future.

I still have classes, Comps exams, and applying to PhD programs this year. I can’t lose focus, but at the same time, I need to remind myself to enjoy what I have right now. I’m always thankful to God for my life, family, friends, and everything. Yet I’m constantly reminded that I do have a habit of staying in my comfort zone. Not that it’s all bad because there are also great opportunities and happiness that lie there too, but I don’t want to miss what’s right in front of me and any opportunities that might arise or that I could create through my actions. Sometimes all it takes is making that first step is: going to a certain event (such as seeing a friend’s band), starting up a conversation, writing that first sentence, inviting people, finding something new to read/watch/listen, delving into a new relationship or maybe being completely silent and observe the world. After you make that step it makes you see the world from a new perspective, makes you realize that new happy experiences can happen in familiar places, and/or do something special. There are plenty of things that I need & want to do. Some aspects of my life that I really want to accomplish. All I can do is try to schedule, prioritize, make an initiative and work towards what is really important. Afterwards, let it be in God’s hands. Also I need to remember to not feel too guilty if I don’t get what I want done each day.

Even though I’m on break from grad school at the moment before my next class starts in July, I hope to accomplish a bit more, especially in relation to writing creatively. I must look at all the opportunities available to me continuously, and not let insecurity hold me back, so that way I don’t close a door too soon. Dr. Henry Morgan (who has a pocket-watch) made me look at my great-grandfather’s watch (shown above) in a new and special way. It’s something I’ve seen most of my life as a family heirloom, but never quite thought about what experiences my great-grandfather had with the watch and why it was of value to him. Most of all, it’s a stark reminder how we value time and the past. We want to hold the past and time in our hands because we don’t want to lose what’s most precious to us &/or get hurt, but if we hold too long and stop we may not see what happens now and the potential that lies in the future.

Author Interview: Christina Farley

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Once upon a time, the writer of this blog went to Orlando, Florida for a Harry Potter conference, Ascendio 2012. During this conference, there were many wonderful events in the programming. One of the best sections was called the Quill Track, which featured a variety of authors, agents and editors who were all Harry Potter fans. They were excited to talk about YA, publishing, writing and books in general. In one of the workshops, this blog writer met the author Christina Farley. From that moment on, I’m proud to say that she is my friend.

Besides the fact that we both have the same first name, she is an amazing writer willing to learn and write incredible diverse characters. I believe this comes from her experiences with teaching and traveling internationally. Christina was inspired to write the GILDED series. A YA series based on Korean mythology, about a Korean-American girl who takes her destiny into her own hands. The first two books of this series were published in 2014, one in March and the other in September. Her next book, BRAZEN, will be published this September. If you haven’t read her books yet, I would recommend reading them.

I want to thank Christina for taking some of her time to answer my questions.

1. What is your favorite part about the writing process?

My favorite part of the writing process probably is the first draft because it’s scary and thrilling all at the same time. I never know how the book will turn out of even if I can pull it off, and that’s a really crazy feeling. Definitely a rush!

2. What is your writing routine?

My routine pretty much is after I send my kids off to school, I start either revising or drafting first thing in the morning. I take occasional breaks on Twitter or Facebook. Then after about four hours, I’ll go for a run. Then three nights a week I also write for about two hours.

3. How does your family and friends impact your work?

It doesn’t at all. Family comes first. For my friends we have get together lunches and movie dates a couple of times a month. Lots of fun!

4. How has your experiences with teaching affected your writing?

I think it’s helped me keep my ‘teen’ voice. I’m not sure if I ever totally grew up! I think the biggest help for me is my school visits because I can really teach writing to kids in a meaningful way.

5. How do you accomplish writing about things you’re not familiar with?

I do a lot of research through interviews, articles, and YouTube. If I can take lessons, I always try to do that. When I wrote the Gilded series I took Tae Kwon Do and archery lessons so that those scenes could be more accurate.

6. What kind of tips would you give to writers who want to write more diverse characters and settings?

My tips would be expand your horizons and be open to learning about new places and people. Take time to spend with them, read all the books you can on that culture and watch movies and videos. I try to immerse myself in that culture and it really does make a difference! But more than anything, don’t be afraid to learn and try something new. And don’t be afraid to ask those from that culture to read your work and make sure you got it right.

7. What advice would you give to writers; especially ones who want to publish their work?

Read, Read, READ!!!!! When you read, study how the author lays out their plot. Analyze the character’s growth. Consider why they choose that particular word or why they may have used that sentence structure. Plus reading what is currently being released keeps you up to date on what is happening with publishing now. 

Finally, write because you love to write. Always focus on the love of writing and then you won’t get pulled down into the negativity and frustration that can come with rejection.

8. How have blogging and creating videos helped your writing and promoting your published work? What do you enjoy the most about having an engaging platform?

I really love blogging and vlogging! Videos are a fun way to interact with fans, have them experience each book’s journey, and a great way to teach others how to become better writers themselves. I blog here and vlog here.

A Quick Update

Set the time, Doctor. (BBC Doctor Who, The Caretaker)

Set the time, Doctor. (BBC Doctor Who, The Caretaker, Peter Capaldi)

I have to write a quick blog post for two reasons. One, I’m a bit busy right now keeping up with my grad classes & working on my essay project (more on that a bit later). The second, is that I feel like I’ve done a good job so far posting something on this blog at least once a month. I can’t break that good cycle.

Like always, I find myself working on figuring out how to schedule my time and try to get as much done of what I need to do (school, church, my essay project), so that way I have free time to do stuff that I want to do (aka time with my family, chat with friends, exercising, additional reading & watching TV).  So I’ve tried schedule out my time on paper that way I can get everything done. You know what I’ve forgotten to add to my schedule… Creative Writing time. I know I don’t have to do much, but if I do a bit each day, or per week, I could do more than I already am. Some times sprints can force you to write, and forget what your unsure about. I need to find time to pencil that in.

I’m working right now on revising my essay (that going to be published some time in the future). I found that it’s been better for me to revise a section at a time on at least one day out of each week. I’ve got to keep up the momentum because my next draft is due by October 15th. I think it helped a bit to have signed a publishing contract. It made it feel even more real to me. It pushed my determination to do as much as possible without slacking on my school work. I’ve got one large section left to revise, but I’ve realized that I’ve got to narrow down my essay more because my word count must be around 4500 to 5500. If you know my writing, especially when I worked at the university newspaper, I had a bad habit of going over the word count. It bugged me to cut because I felt everything was important in some way. That’s kind of how I feel now on my essay as well, but to say in the word count and include everything I need to, I have to cut what isn’t quite necessary. I’ve worked on this long enough that I know what isn’t as important. Please send positive thoughts/prayers my way. I would really appreciate that. Thanks.

Besides all the literature I’m reading for classes, I really want to finish reading my advanced copy of SILVERN. Even though now it’s not advanced anymore since the book is now available for everyone. This book is the second of the GILDED series, written by my friend Christina Farley. It’s an amazing modern Korean myth story, with an amazing female main character. I recommend reading the series, if you haven’t already. I’m trying my best to read a bit at a time. It’s surprising that I haven’t finished it by now. I read many Young Adult books very quickly. At the same time, I’m glad that I’m taking my time and enjoying what my friend has written. Plus it’s nice to have something different to read outside of my classes.

I’m really enjoying my classes, especially since they are literature focused. My only issue is that I feel we’re rushing a lot because we have to read books quickly and we don’t have much time to discuss. It does keep everything interesting. Plus the stories aren’t boring, even if they aren’t my favorite stories ever. Every class period, I’m reminded why I choose to study literature. I need that more than ever because the world around us can make us doubt everything. I’m thankful that I have my family, friends and God on my side.

I hope you all are doing well.

Chapter One of 2014

Molly Hooper (BBC Sherlock)

Molly Hooper (BBC Sherlock, The Empty Hearse)

Beginnings never truly start at the beginning, but when the story has already started. We’re all works in progress hopeful that the next chapter will bring something worthwhile. At the same time, we forget to live in the moment, and enjoy what we have. It’s not quite our fault though. We’re ingrained to plan ahead to help us decide what choices we make. Some times the choices are small, and other times difficult, and each one changes where our plot turns. Just like a writer on its first draft, we don’t really know how everything will go, but we’re determine to do what ever we can to make the best of it. Many goals don’t really need a deadline, but we choose to put one, because we’re afraid that we won’t complete that goal without it. Goals are different from resolutions, because you can never truly fail. If something doesn’t work out, you can change or rework the goal to become something doable. A goal can be possible any day, any year, and any time in your lifetime, it’s just up to you to decide when it will be. At the same time, a lot of things in life are out of our control. They are in God’s hands, at least that’s what I believe. He can see the full picture, while we only see parts. It’s the unexpected that makes life bittersweet. It can either be amazing, okay, or painfully difficult. We need all the parts of what makes a story to live life to its full potential.

Here are some of my goals for this year book:

  • Grad School: Just because I’ve finished my first semester, doesn’t mean that everything else will be easy. I’m determined to work just as hard this year to do my best in all my classes.
  • Moving On: Last year, I had to let certain things go (people, situations, memories, emotions) in the process of working on the next chapter of my life, which is grad school. It was difficult, but I felt there was no other option left. I trusted God would get me through, and he did. There are still moments, that make me feel like I’ll never move on, but some things take time. I just have to keep going, and not let it bring me down. Even though, those who meant something are very hard to forget, no matter what I do. It’s important to focus on the good that came from it.
  • Less Stress: I must take everything one step at a time. Freaking out about a final paper, in the beginning of the semester even though it’s due at the end, doesn’t help. Complete what needs to be done first, and then plan and work on the rest. It’s easier said then done. Some times it helps to just have some one to talk to, and to remember to reach out for help when I need it.
  • Pray More: No matter what, unless I’m really ill, I go to Mass every Sunday, and when I’m not traveling, I sing in the church choir. As it’s been said before, singing is like praying twice. Even with that, I still feel like I need to pray more each day. I pray before meals, and when ever I feel drawn to doing so. I want to continue to pray for my family, my friends, my teachers/professors (past, present and future), and all those who need him, no matter where they are in life. I also want to continue to thank God always for everything that I have, and that he has given to me. I just don’t want it to be something quick, but actually reflective.
  • Write & Read More: As an English scholar, this should be an easy goal to accomplish, but it’s still difficult. When it comes to classes, it’s all about being prepared as best as you can, with the time that you have. So there is a lot of scheduling, and planning when to get everything done. At the same time, since there is so much to do, it doesn’t give much time to write and read for pleasure. By the end of the day, I’m usually so tired, all I want to do is watch an episode of one of my favorite shows, though I don’t do that every day, but I still try to because it’s a reward. Some times I read for enjoyment, when I can as well. I tried writing poems when I could in November, during NaNoWriMo. So when the semester was over, I was ready to read the list of books, that I’ve been wanting to read lately. I’ve gotten some of them read. After going to a writers meeting, this past weekend, and visiting family in Mexico, I was reminded how much I was slacking on writing my own stories. I want to keep writing, especially stories and poems. As well as continue to write on this blog. I might not write often, but I’ll try my best to write when I can.
  • Better balance: Even though there are things out of my control, I want to make sure that I still make time for my family and friends this year. There were times last year that I felt so over whelmed with my classes, that it made me decide to stay home more to get things done. It helped when it came to grad school, but it pained me to put school first over the people I cared about. Many understood, and I’m thankful for that. I still want to try my best to make time whenever possible. Thankfully some of the break time in between has given me a chance to enjoy that time with them, as well as relax. I’m so thankful that I got a chance to visit my family in Mexico during the Christmas holiday. It’s not often I see my mom’s side of the family, so when I do, I treasure every moment of it. I think I treasure the time I have with those who I care about now more than ever before as the years have gone by.
  • Carpe Diem: I want to make sure every day is another opportunity to live life to the fullest.

What are your goals for 2014? You don’t have to write them out, but sometimes it helps to see them written out. You can always go back and look at them, but most of all, it helps to understand where your headed. They are like maps to help guide you where you want to go.

Life is all in the details

Today was almost perfect. It started with my best friend Tabitha inviting me to eat lunch at the Hu-Dat Noodle House restaurant, which we ended up eating bun bowls… yum! Anyways, it was something new for me. I had never been to that restaurant. So we had fun chatting while we ate, and since we still had some time before I planned to go to the movies. We went to Barnes & Noble. This is normal for some of my closest friends and I. Tabitha and I like to do silly things, especially in bookstores. We looked around at books, and magazines (especially a Doctor Who one [Issue 462], that had really cool, but small, comic inside). Later on, we got an idea as we were walking through the bookshelves. Tabitha posed for a picture where she was lifting a set of Anne Rice books higher than a set of Twilight books. As I was taking the picture, a guy walked by, and I started to laugh. He must have thought we were weird. Though for us, we don’t mind. We’re nerds, the cool weird is what we like to be always. When we were leaving, Tabitha realized that she left her keys in her car.

She didn’t know what to do, and I had planned on going to the movies soon. I thought about it, and knew what was really important. My friend needed me. So I gave her a ride back home to pick up her extra key, and head back to the bookstore. From there, I wasn’t sure if I would make it to the movies on time. There was only two showings for digital, not 3D (it costs more, and I can’t afford right now to spend extra). The time was getting closer to 2 pm, but I still decided to head over to the movie theater. I got there just in time. I couldn’t believe it. There was even some previews that I got to see before the movie started. Why does this all matter, you might say, well hopefully you’ll understand by the end of this post.

 

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As they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. What if the pen becomes a sword? That is what Percy has, thanks to his father Poseidon, to defend himself.

As I watched, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, it was nice to dive into a familiar story, and see it visually enfold in front of me. I had read the book, but it had been a while. So it still felt a bit new, besides the fact that I wasn’t sure how they would show the story. The movie turned out better than I thought it would. After I got out of the movie theater, I was really excited, that it surprised me. So much so that I was laughing about seeing a UPS truck as I was driving (it made me think of the movie), and skipping through Half-Price Books. Yes, another bookstore, I just felt in the mood to go. As I was wandering around, and looking through the books, I found a book [Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life]  that a few local writers recommended from the writers group, South Texas Scribes. There was one book left, and knew that I had to get it. I’ve been trying lately not to spend much money, for many reasons, but I knew that this was a book worth buying. So I picked it up, and kept looking around.

After a little while, I started to look at the books by Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. On the back cover of a small hard back was a quote by Louisa, which said, “I want to do something splendid… Something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead… I think I shall write books.” It was as if the quote was calling out and reminding me. Suddenly after things started to click, things that I had read or watched today, and it just made sense. First it was the Doctor and Amy Johnson telling Clara that it’s important to live in the moment. Then it was Percy Jackson, feeling like he maybe he wasn’t meant to be a hero and then rising up to do just that. What does this have anything to do with writing? Well, it reminded me that I need to live in the moment so I have something worth writing about. As well, to not give up, even if you feel like you’re not good enough, but keep going and you’ll make your own destiny. I want to write to explore, but also have something that I can leave behind. I needed all this to remind me why I want to write. I think some times we lose that, or at least I do.

As I got home, I chatted with my friend Melissa, and I was able to explain what had clicked into place in my mind. She was a bit distracted, since she was walking her dog while talking on the phone, but I could tell that she was happy that I was excited about my day. She was even having a good day herself. Which was nice because we had talked the day before about things that were bothering us. That conversation, yesterday, gave us a chance to vent out what we were feeling. I think we all need to vent out to our good friends, who are there for us always. We can’t hold it in because it just will continue to make it worse. It’s like little negative thoughts piling up, so sooner or later that pile will begin to painfully fall down. Though if we open that bottle up, and pour those thoughts out either by talking or writing, we get a reward of feeling better. I believe it’s all God’s way of helping us out. Not just the letting out those emotions, letting go, but also giving us signs to tell us what we need at the time, in a way that connects with us.

After the phone call, I began reading a bit of the book I had bought. I knew instantly this was a book I needed to read. Anne Lamott writes in a way that it feels like she is sitting right next to you, and talking to you about writing and her life. I feel almost like she is a kindred spirit, as well as my future self, and mentor all rolled into one. I would have read a bit more tonight, if I hadn’t stopped and decided to write this blog post, but I felt the need to. I guess it comes down to reading, the words that Anne said which caused me to write. “… We may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, this is a great gift.”

It’s elementary, says Sherlock. As long as we pay attention, we’ll notice what is really happening around us and gives us a chance not only to solve problems (or cases), but also have something that you can write about. It might not be perfect the first time around, but almost. Why? You at least have words to work with after you write it all down. Later on, you can go back and see what could be improved. Then repeat. It’s what all writers say to other writers, keep writing even if everything seems to suck, because you’re practicing and as long as you do that, you’ll get better. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that not every day, or every time we sit down to write, it will be easy, but that it will be worth it. Anne is talking about her creative writing students when she says, “This is why they are here: they love to read, they love good writing, they want to do it, too.” Though it also applies to us, the readers of her book, as well as writers. That’s what it all comes down to.

I wouldn’t had almost perfect day, if I hadn’t paid attention. Why do I say almost? Well, you know nothing in this life is perfect but it sure can come close.

Thank you, J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter!

J.K. Rowling reading Harry Potter to children at the White House during Easter Egg Roll event, 2010

When I was very young, my parents were the ones who help me love reading. As school began, reading became harder for me, and the magic of the story had started to disappear. In middle school, the first Harry Potter movie came out. I had heard so much about it that I decided that I would watch the movie to see what the book series was all about. The movie amazed me, and I came out of the theater wanting to know what happened next. Luckily some of the books were already out, so I began reading the series. I fell in love with reading all over again.

There was something about Harry’s story that interested me, very likely the magic element. I’ve loved stories with magic at a early age, and I still do. Though it’s more than that. I can’t fully explain why the series means so much to me. The books taught me about the importance of love and friendship. It even made me understand my Catholic faith better. It’s a bit hard to explain that, with out spoiling the story. From that moment I began Harry’s story, I continued till the end the series, books and movies. The story led me to the most amazing friends as well.

I believe every writer had to fall in love with several stories, that made them realize that they wanted to be a writer. Well, the Harry Potter series was one of the reasons why I wanted to be a writer. Not for the fame, but because I wanted to write a story that would mean a lot to someone else, as the series meant to me. It might never happen, but it still doesn’t stop me from trying to write a story worth reading about. There are other stories, authors, even characters, that have inspired me to be a writer but not as much as J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (WB)

J.K. Rowling was on a train ride, when she began to think about Harry Potter. She didn’t know then, that she would be famous, but found the story interesting. She explored the possiblities of what the story held. Though she didn’t have any thing to write with, some how she was able to remember when she did. Maybe that gave her a chance to fully imagine Harry’s world, with no distractions. Later we have been told that she started to write Harry’s story in cafe shops, with her daughter in tow. She was struggling to keep everything together, especially after her mother passed away. She has mentioned that Harry helped her get out of the lowest time in her life. Which shows how important stories are for us. We need them to strive for the future. Today is the birthday of J.K. Rowling, as well as her character Harry Potter. Every year, this time, I remember the series that she wrote, and thankful that she did. J.K. Rowling still continues to write other stories, though they will never be the same as this series, I still look forward to them to see how she grows as a writer and what stories she creates.

I know my life would be completely different if J.K. Rowling hadn’t written Harry’s story. I know it would be the same for many others in the world. That is why, today I’m also thankful to God, because He is the one who gave us everything, and everyone, as well as free will. We have the talents to make a difference in this world, but it’s up to us to make use of them. “It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  

Happy Birthday, Jo and Harry! 

J.K. Rowling

Please donate to this wonderful charity, Lumos, for J.K. Rowling’s birthday. You can click on the image above, and it will send you to the charity’s website. Thanks!

For those who miss the Harry Potter series, now that the series is complete, remember this…

This quote is from J.K. Rowling’s speech she makes during the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Movie Premiere. Check out the video clip where the trio (Dan, Rupert, and Emma) and J.K. Rowling speak at the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKXuOj9d5o8

Breaking Down The Wall

Have you ever felt like there is an invisible wall blocking you from moving forward? You know it’s not real, but you can still feel it. There are many reason why I may be feeling blocked, but I just wish I knew, and what I could do to change it. At least I feel like writing a blog post, since it’s been a while that I’ve written one. I mentioned how I was feeling to my friends on Facebook. A few friends responded back. Julia said that she would practice forcing herself to write, even if she wasn’t feeling it. She also carries around a notebook and if she hears something beautiful she would write it down for inspiration. Christina told me that her  favorite author, Marie Force, gave the advice to write even when you don’t feel like it, and it will come back eventually. She added, write about anything, even if it’s a silly story or something about your day. Devorah suggested that maybe I needed a creative battery recharge. I’m not sure exactly what that entails but it sounds like something that would help.

So what’s my problem? Well, this month, I’ve been trying to write another novella for Camp NaNoWriMo. The first few days were tough but some how I was able to write until I reached, or almost reached, my daily goal. Then onward there was a steady progress towards my month goal till this week. I asked for help from a few of my friends who are, or have done, Camp NaNoWriMo plus my cabin-mates. Gloria suggested that I move my month goal to be a bit lower. It sounded like a good idea. Though it only seemed to work for like a day. One of my cabin-mates, ZonaXNiletak, who suggests focusing on the title of “winner” and having the draft completed as well as sprint wars, giving yourself rewards after writing, and just typing anything to get the words flowing.

I’ve mentioned that timed sprints have helped me, but lately they haven’t. I just feel physically tired (for some odd reason), and not motivated to write anything, even a blog post. Yet suddenly I’m able to write this so maybe I’ll be feeling better soon. I want to think positive, but I’m just not happy right now. Maybe my mood is effecting my writing because I didn’t have as much trouble in April. Though from the advice I’ve been given, I’m suppose to just sit down and force myself to write. I know it’s true, and I know it works. It’s obviously working right now. Or maybe my mind just needs to let out all that I’m feeling right now.

Yes, there are other personal things that are bring down my emotions, but I would think that I would be able to draw from it. Every thing I try to write, doesn’t seem to work. I know I’m suppose to ignore my inner critic, but I can’t seem to block it from doing its dirty work. It’s making me feel like I’m not good enough, even though I know I’m not. I’ve tried different things to help me feel like writing, but they don’t seem to work so far.

So what should I do? I want to complete my story, but at the same time I don’t feel like it’s interesting enough. If it’s not interesting to me, then why would anyone find it interesting if they read it. Not like there is that many people who will read it anyways. Though that’s not what’s important. I need to finish what I’ve started. I just don’t know where the story is going. Some would say that’s a good thing because then you explore where it might go. Though I’ve tried to figure out where it might go, and it just doesn’t seem to work either. I wish I could just pants my way out of this, but I don’t think that will work either. Though planning hasn’t helped. Do I need to go out and have a walk, and let inspiration come to me? I thought about it. I’ll be doing a bit of walking through my local bookstores later today, so who knows if that will help or not.

I really liked being able to go to Cafe Calypso, which is the neighbor of Half Price Books, and write. Though I mostly write with my laptop computer, especially during any type of long writing. I can’t go by there anymore because they removed the accessible power plugs. I liked sitting there and being able to just be somewhere else for a while, as if it was my writing office. Plus I could look around at the books in the store next door, before and after writing. It wasn’t really the sounds of the Cafe that I liked. I just felt comfortable there. Sure, there are other coffee places, but that was my favorite.

I don’t know what to do. Do I stick with the story I have, and force myself to keep writing? I can’t even think of trying to write something new. I feel my only solution is to stick with the story, but find a different approach to write it. I just don’t know what it will be. Lately I’ve been reading more (thanks to The Cuckoo’s Calling & The Lost King), and writing less. I figure that reading could be useful, as well as exercising more (which I’m slacking on). I just wish I had some kind of sign that could direct me towards what I needed to do exactly. Though that isn’t likely to happen.

Can these words count towards my Camp NaNoWriMo goal? I wish.

Castle and Beckett are breaking down their wall…
So if they can do it, so can we, right?

P.S. I recommend checking out this great blog post from my friend Gloria (aka Philosopher) about her struggle to crumble writer’s block. As well as this blog post from my friend Wendy where she talks about writing tips and tricks.

The Value of Fan-Fiction

fanfic writing Ah, fan-fiction… It’s something that I’m sure a lot of writers know about. How many actually admit to read, or even writing some of it? If you don’t know what it is, basically it is fiction written about characters already existing in some kind of media. It’s always interesting to imagine what stories we could come up with our favorite characters. Though I feel some times it can be seen as amateur. Some question the value of fan-fiction, especially since it’s not original work. Though I believe that it is important.

Fan-fiction might seem like a recent developement, but it isn’t. It has been done long before the invention of the internet, and some of it has been published. For an example, there are a lot of stories based on the character Sherlock Holmes, though the author who penned him originally has already passed way. Also how many Pride and Prejudice related books are published right now? I won’t even try to count. Plus there are tie-in novels for certain television shows, which could be like published fan-fiction as well.

So why would we feel that fan-fiction is amateur? I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s because we’re piggybacking on someone elses characters, and/or ideas? Though what is really original work? Since we’re part of the human condition, there really isn’t anything that is completely original. They are just shades of something that has been done before. Either way, authors have been split over what to do about fan-fiction since it multiplied with the internet. Some authors have tried to defend their copyright such as Anne Rice, while others like J.K. Rowling and Douglas Adams encourage fan-fiction writing. According to the Guardian, “Douglas Adams claimed that fanfic expanded his understanding of the parallel universes he’d created in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and that they increased his sales.” The Guardian mentioned in 2003, J.K. Rowling was “flattered people wanted to write their own stories” based on her characters, but on one condition – that they did not try to make money from their creations. Her stance was tested when fan/author George Lippert, wrote a continuation fic, James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing, based on the fictional son of Harry. According to the Guardian, “Rowling threatened legal action for infringement, but after much adverse press from fans she relented and allowed the publication to go ahead. Check out what Naomi Novik says about Fan-fiction being part of literary history in this video. She is a published author who has a passion for preserving fan-fiction online. Novik has worked with the Organization for Transformative Works to create an online archive for fanfic called An Archive of Our Own.

Though for fandoms, fan-fiction gives fans a way to explore the what ifs. It’s part of the community. As a fan of Harry Potter, I know how much the fandom really is important to keep the stories alive even after the last page of the book series. Though I’ve tried to write Harry Potter fan-fiction. I just couldn’t do it, but I liked looking around at other stories to see what fans would think up, especially now that the series is over. I have written more fan-fiction related to TV shows. It’s likely because that’s the fanfiction I read the most of. I try to write my own stories, as well as fan-fiction. With both, I’ve learned how to write, and how to improve in my writing. I can really see how much I’ve improved when I look at what I’ve written. I’ve always been interested in writing stories. I feel that fan-fiction helped bring an interest in writing a story, because I knew I could instantly publish and get feedback. It was something different from what had seen in school. I wish I had teachers who did the NaNoWriMo Young Writer Program when I was younger. I might have improved dramatically in my creative writing, as well as academically. Though I still had some great English teachers who inspired me to write, and recently some English professors too.

i_love_fan_fiction_magnetSo what’s the point? Well, I believe that fan-fiction is a great way to experiment with writing. The world is already built, the characters are already introduced, and all you have to do is imagine the possiblies and write. There are plenty of writers willing to give feedback (especially on Fanfiction.net & An Archive of Our Own). Though don’t worry if you don’t get much feedback. A lot of people just like to read, but not comment. Be thankful for the comments you do receive, and the stats of how many people are reading your fan-fic. Though no matter what you do, original or fan fiction, it’s important to write, and have fun writing. That is the only way we can have a chance to explore, and let our voice be heard.

Remember even fan-fiction is okay for NaNoWriMo, and Camp NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo

Another reason why I’m mentioning about this topic is because of my plans for Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I’ve tried to write an original novel last year in November. I completed an original novella in April during the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo. This time, I want to write a Doctor Who novella. There are so many BBC books published on the show. I’ve really fallen for the Doctor since 2011. Though I don’t believe that I’ll ever get a chance to write a script for the show, or write an official BBC published book. I thought I would would still try, for Camp NaNoWriMo, and in honor of the 50th Anniversary in November. Since I won’t be able to write much creatively in the fall, since I’ll be going to Grad School. I thought July would be a good time. Plus I want to do something fun before I start school up again. Though I love being an English major, I don’t really enjoy the stress of essays and papers. Anyways, I’m a bit nervous and excited about my Doctor Who story idea. I’m trying my best to plan ahead. I’ve even tried out the 30-day free trial of the writing program, Scrivener. So far, I think it’s amazing, especially with the help of some tutorial videos on YouTube. I hope I can receive it for my birthday (July 3rd), or some time soon. I believe it will be useful for Camp NaNoWriMo in July, as well as my writing for Grad School. This program has helped me so far figure out a basic outline of what I’ll be writing, and create character sketches.

What do you think of fan-fiction? Have any tips, advice, or suggestions about writing my Doctor Who story? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Ten-Writing-in-his-Diary-doctor-who-13076806-500-281

This image would have worked well with my last blog post… 😀

Now who wouldn’t want to write about this adorable man, who loves to travel in a blue Police box (aka the TARDIS) through time and space?

20120717174303!11th_Doctor_wearing_a_Fez