Of Lunatics and Asylums.

Whittingham Asylum 09 (Photo credit: nickcummins)]
My imagination while writing.

You know the quote:  “The lunatics have taken over the asylum!”  I hear it all the time in movies and TV, not to mention reading it in books.

For today’s post, let’s assume that my fictional characters are the lunatics, and the asylum is my mind.

Everyone on board?

Good.   Read more

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Of Camp NaNo & Self-Evaluation

Yes, I know; long time, no posting.  On with it, then!

We’re in the second week of the April edition of Camp NaNoWriMo.  Huzzah!  On the bright side, I’m loving the “create your own wordcount” idea.  Especially since I’m doing a non-fiction travel memoir on my time spent overseas, it’s helped me not be so stressed out about reaching the 50K mark.  I myself halved it down the middle:  25K.  I did it in part because I know me, and I know how I tend to write – sporadically.

Though if I had someone holding a gun to my head, it probably would be easier...
Though having a psychopath holding me at gunpoint would make consistency less of a problem!

On the down side, writing about That Time is…daunting.  Most of the time, I feel like I’m just rambling on for no reason.  Then thoughts like “What’s the point in revisiting the past in such excruciating detail?” starts sneaking into my mind.

The point, Inner Critic, is to revisit where I was in reality so that it’s easier to sort out the fiction I was creating at the time.

Some of it was created long before my China days, but there was just so much that developed during that time for my fantasy world that it’s hard for me to figure out what was written when, and where I was when certain characters came into being.

In other words, if I ever have any hope of sorting out my fiction in a way that makes sense to other people, I have to sort myself out first!  And Camp NaNo is the best way I can think of to facilitate that.

What do you think?  Do you think sorting out yourself as an artist and/or writer is important for your fiction?  Or is it better to simply accept what you’ve created as-is?  Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Creativity and Impatience

To [write] fiction or non-fiction; THAT is the question!
To [write] fiction or non-fiction; THAT is the question!

Camp NaNo approaches!  Just another week, and it will be here!

I have to admit, I’ve been second-guessing my topic a lot lately.  While I know the memoir needs to be written, there are quite a few Lovecraftian-like monsters dwelling in there that I don’t want to unearth!

But still, I’m going to at least attempt it.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Right. Read more

The Dream Job Motivation

DREAM JOBS

Ever since October, I’ve been wondering what I should do as a career.  I was miserable at my old job!  So miserable that I was getting increasingly angry with Jon Acuff for telling me to give my best at my day job so I could give my best to my dream job.

There were a couple of problems with that.  (1) I didn’t have a clear-cut dream job to work on, other than the vague notion to one day get something published; (2) I’m prone to heavy bouts of depression which can come on despite one’s best efforts to keep it at bay.

Both of these problems have started resolving themselves.  I’ve realized that, while Jon is technically right, one must sometimes get away from the truly horrible situation and cleanse oneself of all the bad mojo before one can think clearly enough to plan for something better.  As a close friend of mine told me recently, “It’s amazing how a bad job can mess with your head!”  And, you know….she’s right.  Just like an abusive boyfriend or torture in a prison camp, a bad job can mess with your head in ways that actually prevent you from moving forward.  If you have to take meds to stay on an even keel even in a GOOD situation, it’s even worse.  Thus I suspect that Mr. Acuff most likely does not struggle with emotional problems beyond feeling a bit too proud of himself at times.  (This isn’t a burn; he’s blogged about this on multiple occasions.)

Let's avoid becoming this woman, shall we..?
Let’s avoid becoming this woman, shall we..?

That being said, God’s given me the opportunity to earn an Associate’s Degree in graphic design, and I’m-a takin’ it!  As far as it looks right now, I can take free classes at the school my husband works at, and will only have to pay for books and such.  (Which, if available, I’ll be getting online for MUCH cheaper than they are in-store, hopefully!)

I’m not giving up on my fiction, but realistically I can’t depend solely on that alone to sustain me financially.  And if I must have a day job, then I need a creative one that doesn’t involve listening to angry people on the phone all day.

I did consider other writerly jobs….journalism, technical manual writing, etc….but it just doesn’t interest me.  In fact, it sounds like another recipe for a horrible job that I loathe from my core!  I’d rather go out and pick corn in the fields all day than do that.

I can’t tell you if Graphic Design is my “dream job”.  I’m not even sure such a thing exists for me any more.  But if it promises to be creative, and allows me the freedom to do what I want with my clothes and hair (for the most part), and provides a better paycheck in the meantime, then that sounds pretty dreamy to me!

So, what about you good folks?  Do you think Dream Jobs exist?  What would YOU like to do?  Are you working towards that?  

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So I didn’t update yesterday.  I blame Eve’s Curse.  Forgive me, dear Readers!

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Stephen King Isn’t A Satanist

STEPHEN KING QUOTE

For as long as I can remember, Stephen King has been a part of my fictional world.

Not literally, of course; I do not personally know the man, nor have I spoken to him.  I’ve never been to a book signing of his.  The closest I’ve gotten to meeting him is a rather twitchy woman in an auto repair shop in Dixielad claiming to have known him once.  Intimately.  (Like I said…she was twitchy.)

Despite this, I feel like I might as well have known him personally, for as much as his fiction has been a part of my family’s library since long before I was born.  So, when I say I was somewhat raised around SK, I want you to understand my full meaning.

For a long time, SK’s material freaked me out, partially due to reactions from family, and partially because the man’s stories are often quite freaky.  It wasn’t until my late twenties that I decided to give his novels a real go, starting with The Dark Tower.

So.  Much.  Wasted.  Time.  I could have been reading him all along!  I could have started realizing that the craziest novel ideas are often the best, no matter how crappy I may think they are.

I could have realized, too, that just because a book has foul language in it occasionally doesn’t mean it should be avoided at all costs.  As a young Christian, this is what I believed:  Avoid it all, because it may cause you yourself to slip up, to say a word that may be displeasing to the Lord.

Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t think God likes foul language any more than I do, but I *do* think there’s such a thing as taking things too far.  What SK’s books did for me, I couldn’t have found in a Christian book store.  And trust me, I tried.  Hard.

But the same rawness, the same delving into the darkest part of humanity to find that the light still exists, the same assurance that mere humans can still conquer evil….I couldn’t find that in Lifeway.

Is there foul language?  Of course!  But if I’m going to try and completely avoid foul language, I’d have to actively avoid all my family members.  And that’s simply not what Christ has called me to do.

Is there disturbing imagery?  Ohh, man, like you wouldn’t believe!  But, let’s be honest with ourselves:  The Bible itself has disturbing imagery.  (If you’ve never sat down and really visualized some of the more violent, disturbing things in the Bible, I highly recommend it.  Sit down, and really think about what happened during the ten plagues of Egypt.  Look up pictures of boils, or think about what a swarm of locusts would look and feel like.  It will completely change your perspective.)

But, along with all of that, there’s also the story of Good vs. Evil.  Of overcoming fear with courage.  Of standing up to that bully.  So on and so forth.

Will these books help you in your walk with Christ?  I honestly can’t answer that.  I *can* say that they haven’t turned me into a demon-worshiping Satanist yet…but they’ve definitely put the fear of evil in me, as well as a healthy appreciation for all things of the Light.

And, in the end, isn’t that what a good book is supposed to do for Christians?

Question For The Reader:  What Stephen King books/movies have you read/seen?  Did you enjoy them?  Did they scare you?  Analyze that fear!

I need to write a story about a Victorianesque 'Jurassic Park'./
No one expects a Victorian velociraptor.
They are the unicorns of the time/space continuum.
Sometimes, I think I put too much pressure on myself to try and turn out an awesome product.  I forget to have fun with it.

I think it’s better to be okay with the idea of not being the greatest writer, etc. in the world, rather than stressing out over whether or not other people will like what I’m doing.

I believe this because, most of the time when I stop worrying about the ramifications of what I’m doing artistically, I come up with the best ideas that people seem to really like regardless.

The worst thing in the world is to work super-hard on something that you end up hating because it took so long…and then not even have folks like it very much.  Likewise, it’s ALWAYS fun to have just been doing your thing without thinking of what other folks might say, and then have them come up to you and tell you how awesome your stuff is regardless.

I’m going to try and keep that in mind.  It’s not the destination that counts half as much as the journey.  🙂

~L. A.~

The Achiever Quandry

PLANNING

I am a great planner.  I can plan like nobody’s business!

But actually sticking to said plan, now  that’s something else entirely!

Inevitably, if I set an alarm to go off at a certain time, I will hit the snooze button, wondering in my half-asleep brain why in all of creation I set it for so early.  It won’t be until I’ve finally been awake for a while that I’ll realize why I set it for that time, and what I meant to do.

This is about the time that I start feeling really down on myself.  What kind of weak person lets sleep get the better of them?  Surely I can manage a simple thing like getting up when the alarm goes off!

These kinds of thoughts continue until I’m downright stymied with self-pity, and I’m having myself a nice old fashioned party while wallowing in my own low self-esteem.

Thus, I’m going to endeavor to stop feeling sorry for myself, and take control of my day.  Even though I stayed up until 3 AM (a luxury often only bestowed on the jobless or night job person), I’m going to endeavor to stay up the rest of the day.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity if I do in fact give in to the very basic need of rest, I’m not going to feel sorry for myself.  If I’m still up at midnight, I’m going to do laundry.  Or, I’ll write.  I’ll put down the controller and leave Fallout:  New Vegas and Fallout 3 for another time.

I’ll do the things I well-intended to do during the day, except at night.

What’s more, I’ll try once again to make a plan that works.  One that’s simple, manageable, and above all, realistic.

A plan very similar to what Jim Franklin is doing over on his blog, Write Way Around.  

My list won’t be as extensive as his, nor will it be as bold as Jon Acuff’s.  But, it will exist, and I will endeavor to accomplish it.

But only by God’s Will, and His Blessing, because I just don’t have it in me to keep with it on my own.  (What I’m saying is that yes, I need divine intervention to help me out, folks.  🙂 )

When the list is finished, I’ll share it with you good folks.

Viva la 2013!

QUESTION FOR YOU FOLKS:

What is your plan for the upcoming year?  The upcoming month?  Week?  Next 24 hours?  

The Average Normality

ABNORMALITY

Sometimes I read things like Jon Acuff’s recent blog post, and I have to stop myself from replying with the following:

“All my life I’ve worked towards average. Being ‘unique’ or ‘special’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

I have to stop myself from saying that because I know that he’s not talking about emotional or psychological stability. He’s not saying, “Be weird! Be strange! Be downright DEMENTED!!”

Yet, that’s what I think, almost immediately, whenever I see someone lamenting how average things are.

What they are saying isn’t “I wish that nuclear bombs would fall so I can be more traumatized than I could ever imagine.” Rather, they’re saying, “I’m bored,” or “I’m tired of being bored; how can I change that for the better.”

Today, I’m going to try and remember not to be bored.

Today, I celebrate the creativity that years and years of hardship brought me.

Today, I let my abnormality shine through, with God’s blessing.

QUESTION TO ANSWER IN COMMENTS:

What do you consider “normal”? Do you prefer “normal”, or do you want to be different? In what way do you want to stand out from the crowd?

The New Year Analyzation

Happy New Year-2

As I write this, there is only an hour left in 2012.  In 60 minutes or less, 2013 will be upon us with all of its hopes and dreams.

As I look back on 2012, there are a few things I will remember.  On the negative side, there were a lot more shootings of schools and other public places.  (May God comfort the beloved of the fallen.)

On the positive, and somewhat surprising, side, I’ve not heard of any cults going all David Koresh or Hailey’s comet, which is something of a surprise to me, considering.

As for me personally, I’ll come away with some good memories:  my first missions trip in seven years, seeing an old friend for the first time in forever, and being forced to move on in my career, (whether I wanted to or not).

In the end, it was a good year.  I have a few regrets, (mostly related to lack of self-motivation) but I can’t say it’s been a bad year!

Then again, any year that Bethesda decides to put out not just one, but TWO expansions to my current favorite game (and use one of my most favorite fictional mythoses to boot!) has ‘a good year’ written all over it.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  Name three things you loved about 2012, and three that you disliked.  They can be general or personal. 

The Thanksgiving Word Count.

 

 

If you are a part of NaNoWriMo, you can read the chart above and see that I’m severely behind on my word count.  However, I’m confident in my ability to bring it up over the next week or so, and win this thing.

 

That being said, I’m not sure I understand folks who have word counts well over the daily prescribed amount, but still complain about how they have “no time to write”.  Perhaps it’s just me, but if I was ahead by a few thousand words, I’d feel like giving myself a cookie, relaxing with some hot chocolate, and watching a fantastic movie!

 

But yet, there are these mystifying people.  People who, either because of NaNo or in spite of it, have fallen so in love with writing that they feel they must write every single second of every single day.  It’s awesome!!  It’s wonderful!!  But it’s not worth failing Algebra for.

 

As it is, I still can’t decide if NaNo helps folks to venture out and do something they’d never considered before, or if it’s something primarily used as an excuse to have a little down-time in the middle of a hectic holiday like Thanksgiving.

 

QUESTION:  What is your word count?  Are you behind or ahead?