Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday's Children 4/25: Laptops, Typewriters, Quills & Creativity

So I'm sitting here at my 'desk' (uh, bed), trying to think of what inspired me in terms of my writing this week.

Confession: I did some writing this week, but not that much. The time I normally spend writing I spent revising, highlighting and commenting all over my ms. And then there's the end of the semester, looming. Only another three weeks, thank God, and after Tuesday, it's just finishing up a final paper (gah) and taking the final.

Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration....

Well, the magical new laptop (HOORAY!!) for one has been inspiring me, but mostly in a hooray-I-have-a-regular-laptop-again-with-the-whole-keyboard-working-now-I-can-write-again!-kind of inspiration.

*pats laptop happily*

It's interesting, how we become so entrenched in our writing habits that if anything is different, your whole flow of creativity is thrown. (I've talked about conditioning yourself into creativity before). The place you write, the tools you use to write... all of it is tied so intrinsically into how we view ourselves and our creativity.

Kind of goes back to the is it all in your head question- how much of the need to have things the way we need to have them an actual, legitimate need and how much of it is us trying to pretend it matters?

And if it is pretending that it matters, why does it matter to us so much?

Typewriters have always fascinated me. The summer camp I went to had a typewriter in the library- a pretty modern looking one, actually. I was obsessed- the typewriter was some sort of magical lucky charm or something- I thought that if I really wanted to be a REAL writer, I would have a typewriter. There I would sit, at my fabulous (and imaginary) desk, looking all fabulously disheveled and put together in a way that I can never pull off in real life, clacking away at the typewriter, words flowing like the faucet on full blast, and it would be so excellent that I would find myself an agent and a publisher and get a seven-figure contract for that one book, like, right away.

Apparently, typewriters in my mind equal instant writing success.

Funny how writing by hand or by quill don't have the same connotations as the magical typewriter.

Quill and ink remind me of some sort of Regency woman, clad in a fabulous gown (and not so fabulous corset), writing a letter. Or of the Declaration of Independence. It's a lot more refined, and more classy, I suppose.

Someone at the typewriter tends to be hunched over, fingers banging, a full ashtray next to them and whiskey in arm's reach. Quills are more of a sipping tea very proper thank you card type of word association. In my mind, Ms. Manners answered all her letters by hand.

I've never actually used a typewriter, though I still would love to. (If anyone wants to give me one as a present, I will not say no. Really ;) ) But I have done the quill and ink route, and at the end of it, I still wasn't sipping tea wearing a ball gown and suddenly possessing a posh accent.

I was still in the seventh grade, wearing the same school uniform I was wearing at the beginning of the year. But did I feel more elegant when I learned to write calligraphy?

I did. I remember the feeling of pride when I looked down at the flourished swoops of my name that I had worked so slowly to get just right. I felt elegant and sophisticated, like the next thing I should be doing was riding to have tea with the Queen. Or a Prince, or some such.

How does a laptop fit into all of the word and feeling associations?

I'm not quite sure, to be honest. Especially since with a laptop there isn't one traditional place to be using it, which definitely throws things off. The background when you're at the typewriter or at the fancy little writing desk are very definite- and the background of a laptop is not.

The laptop conundrum has been more thought-provoking than inspiring, I think. And while it may not have contributed directly to the work I've done this week, it's made me more conscious of my ability to change my mood based on my surroundings.

So, lovely and intelligent blog reader! Word association, or something of the sort, perhaps?

When you think laptop, what background and feelings do you think? Let me know in the comments below :)

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday's Children: 4/18

This week has been an emotional roller coaster of Oy.

I wasn't in Boston this week, and I haven't been in almost five years. But Monday brought flashbacks to the last terror attack I lived through, when I lived in Israel. It's hard. Nobody should ever have to live through something like that. Nobody. I've relived a lot of things this week I didn't expect to. I keep thinking about the conversation I had with one of my friends who grew up during the Intafada, where you would leave home in the morning with no way of knowing if you were ever going to get home again.
The conversation when I asked her how she did it.
How they all did it.
"You just do." she said.
You just keep going.
And so we do. We always do.

With that in mind, this week's inspiration may make more sense.

My music tends to reflect my moods, and definitely affects the mood that I'm trying to convey when I write. I've written before about conditioning yourself into creativity using music. This week has been about finding new music as I start a new WIP. (Gulp.)

Confession: I love a Capella. A lot.
As evidenced by the abuse my Pandora a Cappella station gets.
And my obsessive love of The Sing Off. (season 4 next year!! And the latest PTX vid...)

There are two songs that I have on repeat now when I write- and both of them are versions done by Vocal Point, the a Cappella group at BYU.
(There are few things cuter than Mormon boys singing a Cappella.)
Danny Boy and Black Balloon.

And while I think you should go listen to both songs, these were the lyrics that grew hooks and grabbed onto my heart.

"So if you've died and crossed the stream before us
We pray that angels came and met you on the shore" -Danny Boy

"Coming down the world turned over
And angels fall without you there
And I go on as you get colder
Or are you someone's prayer"-Black Balloon

The new WIP is a lot darker than my last one was- dealing with some pretty heavy themes. The style of writing is pretty different, too. But one of the themes that flows through pretty strongly is the concept of being someone else's prayer.
That was one of the questions that the WIP is based on: When the world gives up on someone, what (if anything) can save them? Salvation is a sticky subject- regardless of who you're trying to save, even if it's yourself. When it comes to things like mental illness and substance abuse, the line blurs- normally what we say is you can't change someone who doesn't want to change, but what do you do when someone's lack of changing will be dangerous for themselves and other people? It's a whole different game you find yourself in- where the rules aren't nearly as well-defined. And when someone is forced into changing, what is the probability of them staying that way? Then you fall down the rabbit hole of the argument of whether someone can change if they don't want to at all, or if somewhere deep down we can assume they want to.

I just reread this, and wow, I'm particularly rambley and melancholy today. So, I'm going to stop now, before I suck you down into the strange abyss that is my mind and what goes on when I start thinking- right now we're teetering on the edge. But since we're already talking about music, here is one more song that is getting me through this week.

"And when the cloud in the sky
Starts to pour in your life
It's just a storm
You're braving
Well don't tell yourself
You can't lean on someone else
Because we all need saving
-We All Need Saving, John McLaughlin

There are some weeks that we despair for humanity. There are weeks that we wonder if anything will get better.
It will.
I promise.
It always does.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

News. Holy Cow. (Also, An Apology)

So, last week I said that I was going to be starting a series. And then I didn't post for a whole week.

And this is not a continuation of the series.

This is an interruption.

And an apology.

And an explanation.

And OMG, I'm having a bit of a freakout here.

*takes deep breath*

So, I was planning on posting part two in the series of NA mythbusting- I actually have most of a post ready.

But instead, I did something else last night.

I finished the first draft of my WIP.

I wrote the words THE END.

And then I cried.

I have never, in my entire life, actually finished writing a story.


True, it needs A LOT of help now. (SO MUCH HELP.)

But I finished the first draft.


I don't think I'm going to get over this one any time soon.

So, the series will be continued next week (hopefully written on a new laptop), but for right now, I'm just going to continue wandering around, smiling like an idiot because OMYGOD, guys, I finished a story.

Okay, I'm going to shut up now.

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Adult Books, and Why My Life Does Not Resemble Porn

Well, I'm back, and better than ever! (Okay, so really if I don't see another piece of matzah till next Passover that will be more than fine.)
But nevertheless, I'm back :)
And with a new series of rambling blog posts- THEMED blog posts. (which may be interjected by other topics of conversation should they show up. That whole limited attention span thing.)
THEMED, people. I am so super official now. (or am I? Okay, I'm shutting up now.)

When you meander through the world of writing and publishing, there are a couple of topics that will ALWAYS come up. The traditional vs non-trad publishing, Amazon, disappearing bookstores, and oh, yeah. New Adult.

So, in case you aren't swimming in the trenches of the world of writing, here's a short little explanation as to what the fluff New Adult is.

According to Wikipedia, the source of all credible information, "New-adult Fiction or post-adolescent literature is a recent category of fiction for young adults first proposed by St. Martin's Press in 2009. St. Martin’s Press editors wanted to address the coming-of-age that also happens in a young person’s twenties. They wanted to consider stories about young adults who were legally adults, but who were still finding their way in building a life and figuring out what it means to be an adult."

Which is pretty accurate, all things considered. New Adult fiction is still an emerging genre, going by Big Six publishers. With the incredible success of New Adult books (Beautiful Disaster, Slammed), it is starting to trickle through from being a predominantly indie genre to becoming more mainstream.
But like anything new, there are still all kinds of arguments over what falls into the genre of New Adult.
And so, with that being said, I've decided that perhaps having people who actually ARE the age of a New Adult should express some opinions about New Adult fiction. The same way we expect Young Adult fiction to cover the full spectrum of teenage-hood, the same could and should be expected of New Adult fiction. And so we're going to be debunking New Adult myths and stereotypes here, one at a time.

MYTH/STEREOTYPE NUMERO UNO: New Adult fiction is just Young Adult with lots more sex.

As someone who actually falls into the NA age bracket, I want to tell you that personally, I'm kind of offended.
According to the lovely people who think that 50 Shades of Gray is a good example of NA (because a surprisingly large number of people do) all my life consists of is sex. Like, that's it.

I really hate to break it to all of you, but, uh, no.
Not really.
Like, for real.
In real life.
Abso-freakin-lutely not.
Just to make sure I'm making myself clear?
If for some reason, you ever wonder, Gee, I wonder what KK's life looks like, the answer would not be porn.

Not everyone's 18-24 experience will be the same. (I know. That was utterly scandalous of me to write. I should be ashamed of myself for making a gross assumption that just because two people are the same age, it doesn't mean their lives are the same. I mean, come on. Who would DO that?)
I have friends who got married at 19, and at 22 are pregnant with their second child. Other friends who headed straight to college after high school. Some who took a year off to try to figure things out. Some friends who just started working, and didn't go to college at all, nor do they plan on ever. I can go on for approximately the next four days about how there is no one version of new adulthood.
And yet, as far as I know, none of their lives resemble porn. (Unless they're really good at hiding things like that, or porn is a little different than I thought.)

Are there some 18-24 year olds who are currently living 50 Shades of Gray? It's entirely possible. True, I haven't met any of them, but there are millions and billions of people I've yet to meet.
But Ms. 50SoG's existence does not negate the 20 year old who still lives at home and works while she goes to city college, and has no boyfriend, nor does she want one. Nor does it negate the 23 year old who is trying to figure out how to balance life now that she has a grown up job, and all her friends are still partying. Or the 18 year old high school drop out because she got pregnant at 16, and has to figure out how to reconcile her dreams now that her baby is a year old.

Like any other genre of books, NA is not and should not be limited to steamy romances. (Not that I have anything against steamy romances, but really.)

Contrary to seemingly popular belief, we're not just walking hormones.
We worry about school. We take spontaneous road trips and have too much fun. We worry about our career choices. We're stuck in between kid and grown up, and don't know which one we want to be a part of. There are times we're thrust into the grown up position, only to have, minutes later, someone treat us like we're kids. Our relationships are changing as everyone drifts together and apart, trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. There are times that we don't like the people they find that they are. Friendships break, friendships form. We stay up too late, and chances are, we drink too much coffee. We experiment with everything, and revel in the fact that nobody can tell us what to do, except for when they do. We listen to our music loud, and have soundless conversations. We try to figure out how to juggle everything that's thrown at us without losing ourselves. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail miserably. We are brilliant and completely stupid, often simultaneously. We're reckless and overly cautious, and we're trying to hang on to our dreams even when there are stadiums full of people saying we can't.
Everything makes sense and nothing makes sense, all at the same time. The world is changing, and it's all we can do to keep up.

We're just a bunch of not-quite-adults who might not know what we want to be when we grow up.
And it's demeaning to shelve us as nothing but sex-starved college students.
For your sake, for my sake, for everyone's sake.
We might be different ages, but we're all just human.