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Note: I wrote this AGES ago and it was going to be a guest post. Since that still hasn’t happened, I’m posting it here. Enjoy.

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Writing novels: more than just “a hobby”

On Wednesday the 2nd of June 2010, I had to write a 10-line speech about anything I wanted in my French class. Racism, inequality, war: anything that I could defend or argue against. I chose to defend writers. Being one, I knew it’d be easy to write about it, even if it did have to be in French. Here I am saying it in English and expanding what I wrote that day.

Now if you’re writer, then you already know that writers in general aren’t always taken seriously. Many writers probably hear “It’s so nice you have a hobby” when they tell someone they write novels. This is what Kiersten, a writer, heard when speaking to someone she vaguely knew. You can read her blog post about it here: http://kierstenwrites.blogspot.com/2010/05/zombies-are-only-funny-until-you-become.html

Sure, not every person who writes dreams of being published, but most do, so being told that the months or even years they spent with a cast of characters, telling a story, being involved emotionally, falling in love with the story and the characters they worked hard to make realistic is just “a hobby” is a big insult. Only other writers can truly understand what it’s like to ignore things like social outings and homework and sleep and to instead choose to spend your free time writing. Alone. In a, most likely, small and messy room. (Like my room…)

When writing a novel, you sit in a chair for hours at a time with your door closed. You lose your mind, your fingers cramp up, you get frustrated when you’re stuck, you cry when you have to kill a character, you smile when the main love interest is shown as nice and caring and your main character is watching him, smiling as well. And you lose a lot of sleep.

So why do we write, people might ask? Surely that cannot be healthy, right? All that time alone and staying up all night worrying about our characters’ problems and isn’t that a bit crazy? What’s wrong with us?

Well it’s better than never telling all the stories you have in you and losing your mind in a completely different way. It’s better than being depressed because you’re not fulfilling your need to write. It’s better than not writing.

And if just one person can say they loved your novel, then it was all worth it. But that’s not the only great thing about writing.

Just think about it: writing is like being a god or goddess. You create a world, characters, a story. Those characters fall in love and they fight and cry and laugh. They become your children, they become real and they surprise you. You become attached and when you make something bad happen to your MC, you talk to them at night, apologizing. When they don’t want to reveal why they’re depressed, you talk to them, and they tell you. Or not.

Huh, I guess at first you’re the god/goddess, but pretty soon the characters take over.

Still don’t get why writers love to basically inflict torture on themselves? (If sore hands, bouts of depression and not getting enough sleep isn’t torture, what is?)

How about this: we don’t need drugs to feel high or therapy to deal with our issues.

Write 6000 words in 8 hours? You’re “high”, so to speak. You fall asleep with a smile on your lips. Who cares if no homework got done and you have a long day of school the next day and nothing else in your life is going right: all that matters is that you wrote 6000 words in 8 hours.

Got a problem in your life? Somebody you hate? Failing classes? Anything bad like that?

Write, torture your characters. Or talk to your characters about your problems. Being a writer means you never need therapy. Well, almost. It can’t cure everything.

And I honestly can’t think of anything else I’d want to do for the rest of my life.

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So chapter 27 of The Way Wars Are Won has been kicking my ass for the past 6 (SIX!) months. I’m serious. Since November 17th, I’ve barely written anything and I just couldn’t bring myself to rewrite the whole chapter. Finally, on Tuesday, I grabbed all my papers involving chapter 27, printed out all the different versions (I have 3 versions of this one scene–it’s ridiculous) and spread them out on the floor.

Items needed:

  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Highlighters
  • Post-its

I used the highlighters to really see the different scenes in the original chap 27. Then I summarized each scene onto a post-it. With that outline, I compared versions and picked which pieces I’d be using. Kinda like a puzzle. Now I just (ha–JUST) need to type it all up. Of course it’ll still be a mess, but it won’t be as much of a mess as it was. So it’ll be an improvement.

Word count: Who the hell knows? Maybe I will tomorrow.

Quote from “Sixteen Candles”.

Moving on to now to the first blog post since the 30th of November 2010. (Favorites in bold)

Movies I’ve seen since I last blogged

Gran Torino
Zodiac
Rocky
Case 39
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
The A Team
Survival of the Dead
Le Pere Noel est un Ordure
Australia
Lakeview Terrace
Grosse Pointe Blank
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
The Expendables
Serenity
Eagle Eye
Disturbia
Doom
Two Days in Paris
Basic Instinct
Duck Soup
The Duchess
American Graffiti
Daybreakers
Planet of the Apes
Carrie
Resident Evil: Afterlife
The Big Lebowski
Full Metal Jacket
Queen of the Damned
The Incredible Hulk
Salt
The Runaways
Cry-Baby
Lolita
When Harry Met Sally
Napoleon Dynamite
Braveheart
2001: A Space Odyssey
Despicable Me
The Killer Inside Me
The Taking of Pelham 123
Nine Dead
From Paris With Love
Veronika Decides to Die
Dorian Gray
Legion
Color Me Kubrick
Easy A
Groundhog Day
Ten Inch Hero
Shock Treatment
Scusa ma ti chiamo amore
Winter’s Bone
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Sixteen Candles
Le roi de coeur
Vilaine
Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi
Chocolat
King Ralph
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Circle
Le Herisson
Beautiful Creatures
Catholic Boys

Books

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
Wake by Lisa McMann
Fade by Lisa McMann
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (now that I’ve read the book, I can say that the movie is a PERFECT adaptation)
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Beauty by Robin McKinley
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
Fire by Kristin Cashore (even better than her first book “Graceling”)
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Room by Emma Donoghue (wow)
XVI by Julia Karr
As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
The Carbon Diaries: 2017 by Saci Lloyds
Choke by Chuch Palahniuk

TV Shows

Lost season 6 (finally!)
Scrubs season 9
IT Crowd seasons 1 to 4
Firefly (WATCH IT NOW!)
Supernatural season 5
Dollhouse season 1 and 2
Spartacus: Blood and Sand season 1
The Guild seasons 1 to 4 (created by Felicia Day who played Vi on BTVS in season 7)
Heroes season 4
Misfits seasons 1 and 2
Xena: the Warrior Princess (Now on season 2–it gets MUCH better after that cheesy first episode…)
Glee seasons 1 and 2 (I LOVE it!)

*****

Now that’s done, we’ll move on to answering this question: Why haven’t I blogged in so long?

Mainly, school. Between long school hours, homework, stressful exams, a huge school project, a trip to Italy (!!) and then my Italian correspondent staying at my place for a week, I haven’t been able to write, let alone blog. And soon I’ll be revising for 4 exams: the CPE (Cambridge Proficiency Exam–I need it as a proof that I speak English for unis), the Maths Bac, French Bac (in 2 parts), Physics-Chemistry/Science Bac.

Now I’m going to write a blog post about writing.

Huge blog post of craziness

The second week of NaNoWriMo 2010

  • Monday 8th: 516
  • Tuesday 9th: 1002
  • Wednesday 10th: 305
  • Thursday 11th: 1719
  • Friday 12th: 103
  • Saturday 13th: 162
  • Sunday 14th: 939

Total for week 2:

Current NaNoWriMo total:

Total for novel:

Total NaNo-fail, I know. A mix of school, being sick, having homework and plain ol’ procrastinating got in the way of writing. Also: a problem in chapter 27 that I haven’t been able to overcome. Last day I wrote: Wednesday the 17th of November. And thar was 79 words. FAIL.

But tomorrow morning, I might get up an hour early and write. And I’ve done some homework in advance. *GASP!* I almost NEVER do that.

Movies

  • Bandslam: MUCH better than I expected. What I expected was a cliche-ridden film. I expected the nerdy boy to fall for the bitchy girl and not realize that the quiet outcast was THE ONE for him. I expected stereotypical characters and stupid insults. Guess what? There was only one cliche (that I noticed anyway) throughout the entire movie. And it was a small one. Most surprising part? Almost crying. This movie really seemed like a typical Disney movie. And later, I looked it up on IMDB. Turns out they advertised it by comparing it to High School Musical. That’s exactly what I thought it was going to be like. But that was based on the DVD cover alone. Okay, I’m rambling…
  • A Sound of Thunder: Not a fantastic, brilliant, genius movie, but it was entertaining. And I love that whole “survival” aspect. If you ignore the obvious plot holes, it’s entertaining. Or you can make fun of them, like my sister and I did.
  • Tout ce qui brille: French movie. Sad/funny. The thing I hated the most was seeing this one character pretend to be someone else, all to fit it with rich people. Rich people who didn’t even give a shit about their own kids. And the other main character who DOESN’T do that still pissed me off with some of the things she did. Do not recommend.
  • The Condemned: Kinda like “A Sound of Thunder”: not brilliant, but it’s entertaining. As long as you don’t mind violence that is.
  • Nicotina: Mexican movie. Very similar to Pulp Fiction–characters, dialogue, plot. I liked it.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 1): Being a HUGE HP fan, I SHOULD write a whole post about it, but it’s late. For now I’ll say this: HP7 part 1 surprised me. It was dark, sad, funny, and a 1000 times better than the previous 6 movies. I only hated one scene in the movie: when Ron explains how he found Harry and Hermione, with the ball of light from the deluminator, I found it cheesy/corny/sentimental. Totally unlike Ron. And the music didn’t help either. Apart from that scene, I am VERY pleased with it. And is it just me or was Daniel Radcliffe much funnier in this movie?
  • Simone: Okay, I’m too tired to think of anything to say about this movie. Average. Some funny moments. Definitely the worst out of the 7 movies on this list of movies I’ve recently seen. You’ll be fine if you don’t see this.

Books (this is gonna be short–I have to go to bed SOON)

  • Alpha by Rachel Vincent: Last book in Shifter series. Loved it. Cried. Averagely happy with ending. Want more.
  • Break by Hannah Moskowitz: Devoured it in one day. I was half-happy with the ending (though a lot of people HATED it), the writing could have been better, but she was only 17 or so at time of writing it. Her blog and the excerpts of her new novels she posts show that her writing has improved. (She’s now 19.) I intend to buy all of her books.
  • Fallout by Ellen Hopkins: Last book in trilogy. Loved it. Also devoured it. Very happy. (I own ALL of Ellen Hopkins’ books.)
  • Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead: While I enjoyed reading it, and I definitely want to read the rest of the books in the series, I don’t desperately NEED the next book NOW. Very funny, though. Very interesting to see what writers look/are like to non-writers. Made for some funny scenes.
  • Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles: Some of the writing/dialogue was corny (like some of Brittany’s inner monologue, or her dialogue. She actually says “I’m completely grossed out!”–seriously?), but I tried to ignore the writing and focus on the story. That was the interesting part. Alex (Mexican) and Brittany (rich white girl) fall in love. At first they hate it each other. Hated that Alex and Brittany judged each other based on where they came from–they both knew better. Brittany knew people thought she was a rich bitch with a perfect life and body and boyfriend–and she knew those people were wrong. Alex knew people thought he was a bad guy, involved in drugs and murder–and he knew those people were wrong. And yet what do they do? They judge each other. Shouldn’t they know better?

Other

  • School: My grades range from average to good to very good. Only one is really bad. Overall, I’m happy (and surprised) with my grades.
  • Health: My eyesight has declined a little (yes, I wear glasses–I’m nearsighted) so I have to go to the ophthalmologist the 7th of December; I have lordosis (google it) which means I have to go swimming twice a week and see a physical therapist once or twice a week; I have light aquagenic urticaria, but that’s old news (we found OxyHives–homeopathic and it works). Man, I am NOT a very healthy person… The two fingers I burned the other week are healing though. (Why the look of surprise? Did I not mention I burned two fingers last week? I’m pretty sure I mentioned it on Twitter.)

NaNoWriMo — week 1

The first week of NaNoWriMo 2010

  • Monday 1st: 1906
  • Tuesday 2nd: 1752
  • Wednesday 3rd: 142
  • Thursday 4th: 207
  • Friday 5th: 389
  • Saturday 6th: 20
  • Sunday 7th: 535

Total for week 1:

 

Current NaNoWriMo total:

 

Total for novel:

 

As you can see on the right, most of the people in my NaNoWriMo support group are doing much better than me. But I vow to catch up by this Sunday, where the expected word count is 23 338 words. *gulp* I can do it?

Muriel’s Wedding

Oh. My. God. That movie was amzing. The characters were all so different and fascinating. It was funny, sad, dark. Muriel was at first annoying and you just wanted to yell at her and tell her to grow up, to DO something. But then she does do something–and she changes. By the end of the movie, Muriel is 1000 times more awesome.

I’d say a lot more, but it’s 1 am and I have to shower. BUT I want to add that I’ve noticed movies released in 1994, coincidentally the year I was born in, are awesome. Pulp Fiction, Muriel’s Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Interview with the Vampire, Little Women, The Little Rascals (which I LOVED as a kid), Frankenstein (with Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter), Thumbelina (another favorite when I was a kid) and the last Freddy movie (awesome series which led to my sister and I often quoting this line “Let’s go kick the motherfucker’s ass all over dreamland!”).

Enough evidence?

Despite being in my before last year of lycée, which means lots of homework and exams, I’m doing NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo?

First, it stands for “National Novel Writing Month”, but really it’s international. (InNoWriMo just doesn’t have the same effect.)

Second, the goal is to write 50-000 words of a (preferrably new) novel in November. Here’s the site: http://www.nanowrimo.org

Third—*SCREAMS* It starts in less than 5 hours!!!!!

I’m insane. Why? Why am I insane this year but wasn’t insane last year? Because last year, technically, I cheated. I used NaNo as a way to finish writing a novel. BUT I did write 6700 words on the last day. I did NOT, however, write 50 000 words in 30 days. This year, I WILL be doing that. I’ll be finishing The Way Wars Are Won and writing the start of another untitled novel about witches and hell dimensions.

List of things I have for NaNoWriMo

  • Notebooks
  • Pens
  • The almighty Internet and even almightier iMac
  • A special NaNoWriMo 1 GB USB key to back up everything I write
  • A special NaNoWriMo word count spreadsheet (linky — download and modify spreadsheet as needed (I checked—you don’t need to sign/have an account to download it))
  • A special NaNoWriMo folder
  • Some outlining for untitled novel and research about Swedish deities
  • A support group composed of www.twitter.com/aekubo, www.twitter.com/nlmars and www.twitter.com/need_tea. We shall e-mail each other, talk on Chatzy, share our writing through Google Docs and keep each other sane. More or less.

Add me as a buddy if you want: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/603186

“What the shit!”

That is a quote from the Matrix, which I rewatched with a friend who HAD NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.

Now, what else have I seen recently?

  • The Invasion: As a Washington psychiatrist unearths the origin of an alien epidemic, she also discovers her son might be the only way it can be stopped. Wow. Although I’m not too happy with the ending, it was amazing.
  • A Knight’s Tale: After his master dies, a peasant squire, fueled by his desire for food and glory, creates a new identity for himself as a knight. *happy smile* Ah, Heath Ledger… And Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer was awesome! Very funny. “You’ve waited your whole life for Sir Ector to shite himself to death?”
  • Iron Man 2: Because of his superhero alter ego, Tony Stark must contend with deadly issues involving the government, his own friends and new enemies. Awesomely funny movie. The technology is this one is even cooler than the first and I love the constant arguing between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts and the way their dialogue overlaps. Very cool movie and I canNOT wait for the third one.
  • (500) Days of Summer: An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman who doesn’t believe true love exists, and the young man who falls for her. Oh my God! Joseph Gordon-Levitt is gorgeous in this and the character he plays is so SWEET. Loved it!
  • Kick-Ass: Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so. This movie blew my mind. After watching the trailer, I had a certain vision of what the movie would be like. It was nothing like that vision—in a VERY good way. It spared no punches (tried to Google that expression, see if that’s correct but I couldn’t find anything). Now normally in movies, no matter how evil the bad guy is, he/she would NEVER get into a violent fight with an eleven year old girl. At least they would hesitate (maybe not if they’re sadists, but when they’re bad, they’re usually not THAT bad). All in all, awesome movie.
  • I’m convinced I’ve seen another movie, or two, but I can’t remember, so maybe not…
  • Ugh. I’m such an idiot! ROBIN HOOD! I saw Robin Hood!
  • Robin Hood (2010): In 13th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power. Liked the movie. Loved Little John.

I’ve also been reading:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Gracelings are people born with an extreme talent, known as a Grace. Rare enough to be unusual, they are feared for their difference and often exploited for their skill. They can be picked out by the fact that they have two different-colored eyes.

Katsa, the protagonist, has been able to kill people with her bare hands since she was eight and is famous within the seven kingdoms for the violent acts she carries out on behalf of her uncle, King Randa. As of late, she has struggled to reconcile her conscience with these acts, but rather than challenge her uncle’s authority over her, she seeks to employ less debilitating attack strategies and build up a clandestine organization that promotes justice over cruelty and abuses of power. During the course of a secret mission, she meets Po, another Graced fighter and the first person to come close to matching her skill. A bond forms between the two that causes each to discover startling truths about themselves, the other, and the kingdoms.

I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe with Kristin Cashore’s genius. She’s such a good writer that because Katsa hadn’t realized a certain character was in love with her, I hadn’t realized it either. That’s just amazing. And because Katsa thinks her uncle, the King Randa, has complete power over her, I thought it, too, until Po pointed out that Randa didn’t, that Katsa could leave anytime she wanted to.

I loved seeing Katsa and Po’s relationship develop, and the few romantic moments between them are SO sweet. Indeed, the romance isn’t the main focus of the novel. Po’s grandfather has been kidnapped, and they need to find out by who and why. Along the way, Katsa changes from a “brute” (that what she thinks she is) who doesn’t have many friends into someone who cares about others, and it’s a gradual, natural change.

What else can I say about this book?

OH! The one thing that REALLY bugged me is the fact that Kristin Cashore started sentences with “Well, and” about 20 times throughout the book. It’s weird, and only once did it makes sense.

Doesn’t this sound weird to you: “Well, and that was answered.” ?

It sounds so…off.

Apart from that, I LOVED it and I was so disappointed when I reached the end of the book. I want MORE.

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

Cassie Wright, porn priestess, intends to cap her legendary career by breaking the world record for serial fornication porn movies, on camera, with six hundred men. Snuff unfolds through the perspectives of Mr. 600, Mr. 72, Mr. 137, and Wright’s personal assistant, Sheila. With his satirical narrative and thorough research, Chuck Palahniuk reveals through these four characters the little-known facts and histories of not only pornography and sexual deviance, but also acting and life in and out of the spotlight, and throughout the novel shows the rarely acknowledged presence of pornography in modern America.

Wow. First Chuck Palahniuk book I’ve ever read and man is it strange, crude and weird. And there’s a twist I thought I figured out, but didn’t, which was a nice surprise. Gotta say, Snuff is NOT for the faint of heart or for the easily grossed out.

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

Pirates. Love. Adventure. Loss.

In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with “the dust of one hundred dogs,” dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human bodywith her memories intact.

Now she’s a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

Just like Kick-Ass, it surprised me by not being what I expected. And just like Kick-Ass, this was a good thing. The best parts were the flashbacks to Emer Morrisey’s life—she goes from being a poor, Irish girl to a feared pirate who murders and steals. Awesome book. And I saw Saffron and Emer as being the same person, which apparently they are not.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Out of all the books and movies, the titles of ones I think are the best are in red.