No One Like Them

I have two best friends.

One is shy when you meet her. She’s blonde, blue eyed, thin, but awkward. She wont hold your eye contact. She laughs in uncomfortable situations. She’s dainty and fun. She is crazy and creative. She’s logical and artistic. We dont’ get what the other is saying half the time because we say it completely differently. We argue, but we never fight. We mostly talk about university and how desperate we are to finish. We’re complete opposites in almost everything. I would do anything for her. I’ve referred to her in the past as Cindy-Lou. She is amazing.

The other sometimes shares a brain with me. We say the same things at the same time. We laugh at the exact same things that no one else would find funny. Her eyes are a deep, warm brown. Her hair changes colour more often than my shirts. She’s curvaceous and giggly. She’s not overly outgoing, but she’ll meet your gaze. She’s a goof, just like me. She’s incredible. We understand one another completely, even if we have differing opinions. She’s the author of Lea at Sea.

Both my best friends are completely beautiful, inside and out. I would do anything for these girls. I’ve known them both for just over ten years. Both of these girls have the ability to make me cry just by telling me how much they care or by telling me that they’re proud of me. Yes, I’m that soft and mushy on the inside.

I would not be who I am without these lovely ladies. They’re completely unique and own most of the real estate in my heart. I would jump in front of trains for them. Yes, multiple trains. Sometimes I feel I don’t tell these girls how much they mean to me. I’m a withering pit of despair without you, Ladies! I hope you both know that.

Photo on 2013-09-26 at 10.34 #3This post was brought to you by a lovely package I received from the second of the two. I had been looking for a used copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for quite some time. She found, bought, and sent it to me.

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Writing Outlines

I’ve been writing an outline for my novel. Previously I hadn’t written one as I was going to allow my characters to take me along for the ride. Yes, I’m aware of how naive this is. I was  sixteen when I started, many romantic notions seemed viable then.

As I’m in the middle of my re-write/revision I thought that getting an outline down would be helpful. Turns out, a lot of what I’ve already written needs to be pushed a lot further back than I had originally intended. Also, I’ve discovered that I have duel plot lines, making my novel far longer than intended. One is going to be prolonged into the second novel.

(In the middle of that last sentence I had an epiphany about the plot and just wrote it down into my notes. I’m very pleased with the connections I just made.)

I keep finding deeper and deeper connections throughout my plot, similar to the one that just hit me. The plot is becoming more and more intertwined. I love it when novels do that and I’m trying to the best of my intellectual abilities to make this as complicated as possible. I want the reader to have those “Holy shit! That has to do with that first thing I read in Chapter 2 that seemed insignificant but has a ridiculous amount of meaning!” moments throughout the novel. I love surprises, I love mysteries, and I love cohesion. I also want to love my own work. Because if I don’t want to read it, why would anyone else? I already love and admire my main character Sol. I want to love all of my characters, even my villains.

So, what I really want you to take away from this is that writing an outline can really get the creative wheels turning, not to mention it can give a lot of meat to your plot, even though outlines are generally flat and fact based.

How helpful do you find outlining? Any tips on how I should approach my outline? Should I be combining my first, second, and third novel outlines? I would love your feedback! Help an aspiring fantasy novelist out!

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Lightbulbs Everywhere!

I was in my Dante lecture, listening to my professor recite the first Canto of the Inferno. Her voice has a gentle italian accent and if you let your mind drift even a little the soft melodic sounds of her words lose their meaning and become a thin stream of calming sounds.

It was at this point that an explosion of ideas burst forth in my head! I felt like all the ideas that had been stranded at the edges of my mind for the past few years just came rushing into my consciousness and started screaming, “PAY ATTENTION TO ME!” I sat there, staring at my professor and my mind was reeling with mountains of ideas. I started scribbling these ideas down in the margins of my notebook. I even flipped to the back and wrote a few lines of dialogue.

The writer’s block that had sparked my massive re-write/revision suddenly melted away to reveal all these wonderful things. By the end of class I was itching to get home and start the clickity-clack of my keyboard until I had blisters on my fingers. But I had an appointment after class, which I had just enough time to change for when I got home, so the typing had to wait.

While I still need to write the main plot progression for Dawning of the Sun down, I made a lot of progress idea-wise. I discovered a world of new Gods and Goddesses and their origin myths. I found my Underworld, its purpose, and unearthed a few mysteries about the afterlife. I discovered some things about my characters that they had been hiding from me, including their shameful pasts. But, best of all, I figured out that I’m writing a trilogy. It was always my intention to find a way to keep Sol’s story going. I had originally intended for her to discovered her heritage and meet her family in the imaginary second book. I was so very wrong. That’s part of Dawning of the Sun. Sol will have far greater challenges to deal with in the second book, because they wont be her own.

I’m overwhelmed with all the ideas that are flooding my insides. It’s like I’m going to burst! I haven’t had anything like this happen in a very long time. But what I’m most grateful for is my ability to make connections. Everything I’ve already written or thought I might write play into the new ideas, they make them richer. Everything is connected.

I’ve been really down on myself the last few weeks, as some of my friends and family have pointed out. I was losing faith in my abilities, not just in writing but school and my future. This day couldn’t have come at a better time. While, to do all this I have once again neglected my studies, I now have a renewed passion for finishing my degree. When I do, I can put that diploma to good use: funding my writing. I’ve decided that I don’t care what day job is going to be anymore. As long as when I’m done for the day I still have energy to write, I’ll be happy. I had this romantic notion that I would love my day job and write in my off hours. Silly me. I want to make up stories. I want to write them down. I want to share them with others. That’s my big dream now. It’s no longer second to a fancy career.

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I’ve been overly stressed out lately. I’m in the midst of the hardest semester that I will ever have to endure and with two jobs and trying to be a social human being it really takes a toll on me. I always forget to take time for myself. Yes, I’ll sit and watch a show or movie to unwind, but it really doesn’t do the trick. I always forget that the best thing for me is to listen to music.

I listen to music whenever I’m driving. I hook up my ipod the old school way with a tape-deck cable and off I go, zoom! But, this doesn’t do it. I listen to music in the car so my mind doesn’t wander. When I let my mind wander I end up in all sorts of places I don’t want to be, mentally and physically.

It’s the calm music I listen to that allows my mind and body to take that very large sigh of relief, if only for a half hour or so. The best scenario for doing this is when I turn off the lights, light candles, lay down on my bed, couch or in the bath and just listen.

I just listen and allow my emotions to overtake everything. I rarely do this. I bottle most of my reactions and feelings up during the day. But with the music it just all spills over like a tranquil stream breaking its banks in a hard rain.

Sometimes I sing along. I like to think I have a relatively decent voice, but it helps with the relief none the less. Sometimes I’m silent; I close my eyes and allow my brain to let go of words and just imagine. Other times I don’t even listen to the lyrics, I just let the music flow over me as I think about how to better understand myself, because let’s face it, I’m only in my twenties and a very large, tangled, mess of a human being. I know I’m not the only one.

Here’s a list of my favourite songs for decompression:

Little Bird – Angus & Julia Stone
Santa Monica Dream – Angus & Julia Stone
I’ll Be Seeing You – Billie Holiday
Time & Space – The Cinematic Orchestra
To Build A Home – The Cinematic Orchestra
Home – Daughter
Medicine – Daughter
Youth – Daughter
Asleep – Emily Browning
Reading in Bed – Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton
Telethon – Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton
Your Hand in Mine – Explosions in the Sky
Still True – Feist
It’s Okay – Land of Talk
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Calendar Girl – Stars
Comatose – Timmy Curran
Troubled – Timmy Curran
Alice – Tom Waits
When I Come Home – William Fitzsimmons

These are just a few of those that I listen to. I urge you, don’t forget about yourself. Make the time and spend it trying to find your sanity, your reason, your creativity, and your contentment. I don’t do it nearly enough; don’t be like me. 
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Chapter Two: Not so much a re-write

So, instead of reading Dante’s Inferno for class I decided to finish my re-write of Chapter Two for Dawning of the Sun. It turned out to be more of a major edit than a re-write. I needed the events to continue on as they were, mostly it was an introduction of some new characters and some insight into Sol’s family history.

But reading over some of the things I wrote… just awful. I used the phrase, “he seemed very sketchy.” It’s a pirate novel set in a fantasy universe during a colonial time… what the hell was going through my head when I wrote that down.

I had to change a few major details and now realize, as awesome as my revision is, I have two sets of twins. I feel like this may be a problem. I know that twins aren’t that uncommon, in fact I know three sets of twins and a set of triplets. But in a novel, should I really have more than one set? I could change it, but both sets of characters work so well as twins. Anyone have any thoughts? Are two sets of twins in a novel one too many?

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I’ve stopped wearing my headphones.

Every time I take public transit, which is any time I head off to class to finish that daunting Bachelor’s Degree that’s been weighing over my head for the past five years, I’ve worn my headphones. I don’t look around, I don’t look at people, I lose myself in the wonderful world of music and lyrics. But I have to stop.

The other day I was sitting on the skytrain (it’s like the subway but above the roads not below them, for those of you not familiar with Vancouver transit) and I had forgotten my headphones at home. Curses! No music. I’d also forgotten my leisure reading. Curses a second time! I was not in the mood to read my textbook either, because let’s face it, when are we ever in the mood for that? So I sat and I watched the world of public transit. Everyone, apart from a very small percentage of individuals, was on an electronic device or had headphones in. Of the few who did not have an electronic taking up they’re travel time I think I saw maybe two people reading.

It occurred to me that none of these people were experiencing the world in that moment. They were all somewhere else. I watched each person and I started creating reasons, characters, stories. I watched as a girl texted vigorously with an elated smile on her face; she must have been texting someone who gave her butterflies. A man stood without any distraction just staring out the window watching the world pass him by; he was thinking of how quickly his years have passed or what he was going to make for dinner that night.

These are the types of things I began to notice, to think up. I listened to the creaking of the tracks as we whizzed past on them, or the distinctive bing-bang-bong sound that indicates the closing of the train doors. I listened to people’s phone conversations and the crumpled sounds of music through other’s headphones.

I experienced modern life from the side lines.

I will no longer wear my headphones.

This is what writers do isn’t it? We go out into the world and find stories in life, in experience, in living. Don’t we?

I love my music. I could listen to it for hours, hell I do. But enough is enough. I need to experience life, even if it’s as mundane as traveling on the skytrain or bus. I need to pay attention to human life so that I have an overflowing cache of anecdotes and experiences to fuel my writing.

Life is happening whether we’re looking up or not. I suggest we start looking up. You never know what might happen, I’m hoping it’s something extraordinary or even ordinary.

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A Little Something

Here’s a little something I wrote in class yesterday. Just something that came to me so I wrote it down.

There’s a woman who sits across from me that’s dressed all in purple. Not a regal purple or a deep purple, but a light purple, a mauve-type purple. It’s timid, shy, and calm but obvious.

Why would one dress all in purple? The same shade of purple?

Her face reflects the mauve attitude of her outfit. It’s clam. There are no harsh edges to her face or markings there. She’s all together quite unnoticeable, except that she’s all dressed in purple, even her shoes are that same sedate mauve.

This colour both calmly and politely says, “Please, if you wouldn’t mind, could you notice me today?” While also saying, “I’m ordinary, please glance over me.” Why would anyone choose to have these things be said about them? Why is she so sedate in her calm oxymoron of a colour?

Now, I can’t help but think what the woman in purple thinks when she looks over at me.