I am very flattered to have been nominated for a Liebster Award this year by the wonderful obscura at Ancient Armitage. Thanks, obscura! My ego is feeling properly warm and fuzzy, just the way I like to close out a year.
The Liebster Award is a form of blogger-to-blogger recognition for blogs with fewer than 1000 followers. Or 200. Or 3000. The specific rules seem to be different depending on where you look, but the point is that it’s a way for one blogger to show some love to another and hopefully drive a little traffic to some excellent blogs you may not have discovered yet. As obscura is the one who nominated me, it seems sensible to go by her rules:
- Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog into your post.
- Answer 11 questions which you have been asked by the nominating blogger.
- Nominate 5 to 11 other bloggers who have less than 1.000 followers.
- Add a new list of 11 questions for the nominated bloggers.
- Paste these rules into your post.
- Make sure your nominees know about your post and their nomination.
These are obscura’s questions to me, and my answers: Continue reading
Sometimes the universe affirms you on a bar napkin. I’m not too high and mighty for it.
As the calendar closed out on November, I knew it would be possible to finish my novel by the end of the year now that my personal Novel-less Non-Writing Month (NoNoWriMo – I think it has a certain ring to it) had passed. I knew the finish line was in sight, and had been making slow but steady progress toward it since my breakthrough in September.
What I needed, I determined, was to force myself to write in sprints, and that was exactly what I did. Madly. Barring necessary days off for the various Christmas concerts I had to perform, I wrote pretty much continuously from the 3rd to the 15th with very little time allotted for non-essential things like food and sleep (and definitely none for housework.) It got even harder to take breaks for human necessities after I’d written the climactic scene and its immediate aftermath and knew that all I had left was to manage a bit of denouement. When I woke up from a jittery three hours night’s sleep on December 16th, it was with the knowledge that I had only one scene more to write, and I would have a completed manuscript.
I’ve talked before about the fact that it was The Hobbit in particular of all books that first got me interested in the idea of being a writer and inspired my love of the fantasy genre. So it was beyond appropriate that I got to celebrate finishing my novel by attending the opening night screening of the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films.
My state going into the film was, I would have to say, euphoric. Maybe a little swimmy, a little disconnected. I hadn’t really eaten or slept the way a person sort of needs to for at least the previous week, and I was stumbling suddenly under the weightlessness of a six-year burden removed. I lead with all of this because perhaps it contextualizes my response to the film in some meaningful way. My state coming out of the film was something else entirely.
I’m going to try to get at why that was. My thoughts are helped along by the fact that I have now been able to see the movie a second time, on the proper amount of sleep and sustenance and having had some time to come down from the I-just-finished-my-freaking-novel-after-six-years high.
My very spoilery thoughts about The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, such as they are, beneath the cut.
I know I’m a bit of a contrarian. I don’t respond very well to orders. No, that’s not accurate; I respond very not-well to orders. But it’s not just a childish knee-jerk response to being told what to do. Blithely going along under the assumption that someone else always knows better; that there’s no need for you to ask questions because you imagine that someone will ask them if it’s important; trusting that there’s no reason to question authority because how else would it have become the authority unless it was right; thinking that things will be fine if you just let those other, more knowledgeable people take the reins only leads to trouble. At best, stagnation. Personally, societally, globally. I very much question the motives of anyone who expects or advocates for that kind of obedience.
I’m not saying you should never trust anyone ever, but I am saying the first person you have to trust in this world is yourself.
I didn’t know there was an N24 Awareness Day, which goes to show just how unaware we are about this. I’ve never been diagnosed, but my lifelong struggles with sleep point very clearly in the direction of N24, a disorder I had no knowledge of prior to following Unstrange Mind. It’s a relief to know that my struggles have been (and are) real.
“I think that pop culture is a vital arena for feminism. Because pop culture is the media we consume and we are what we eat when it comes to that cultural diet. I think if it’s in the water and the food (so to speak), it’ll grow from there. The stories we tell are the cultural seed-bed.” – Chuck Wendig
“Commentary about fiction is really never about the fiction, fyi, it’s always about the fact that fictions are created and consumed by people and we go out into the world and behave towards other people in ways that are reinforced subtly and not-so-subtly through what gets into our brains. There’s a reason that JK Rowling made sure to include characters of color explicitly in the HP series. There’s a reason why defaults are destructive.” – Kristen McHugh
“Offensive things aren’t offensive merely because they hurt feelings – they’re offensive because they contribute to the societal harm of marginalized groups. The end goal isn’t to get everyone to love each other, it’s to destroy power imbalances.” – Tumblr user queers-in-space
“Look at any major cultural revolution and writers probably started it. I think that’s probably why coups and dictators shoot us first.” – Kristen Lamb
For the record, no. No it is not 0 degrees in Mesa, AZ on November 2nd, and it never has been. Especially not while it’s apparently 70 degrees 30 miles away in Phoenix.
That five-tornado forecast, though.
I love having the kind of friends who will text me to let me know they’ve spotted nearly-black calla lilies at the store, because they know how much I would love to see them.
I also love that I have successfully eliminated fluorescent lighting from my home, so that the nearly-black flowers in question go from looking like this:
very nearly black indeed
wasn’t expecting that
Guys. Guys. Guys. Did you know that Autumn is real?
What is this color change madness? It really happens?
Consider my mind blown.
edit: I have been reliably informed that PA is not New England (and I am a clueless rube who knows nothing beyond the desert.) But still. Look at the leaves!
When you desperately need to get some sleep because you have to be up and doing things in just a few hours, but every time you try to close your eyes you realize you’re running lines of dialogue and description.
Pardon me while I indulge in a moment of squee, but I’m bursting with excitement and I need to shout this somewhere: I can see it, finally.
After realizing that I can’t write a scene unless I can see myself there, in it, I put myself through a series of sort-of-stupid-feeling visualization exercises. I made myself see the physical location of the scene, become familiar with its details, the props, the lighting. I populated it with background people and their motivations. I mapped out what my characters had to do in the scene, physically. Where they would start, how they had to move through the location, how long it would take them, where they would end up. What clothes they had on. What their postures would be as they spoke to each other. Anything I could think of, any visual detail.
And then I saw it.
Dimly, like the lights were low and I didn’t have my contacts in. But I could finally see myself there, see it happening. I could finally start transcribing the overheard dialogue, record the action. Slowly. Even though I’ve been writing other things all through the fallow year to keep myself in practice, it felt like I’d forgotten how. I kept at it, kept examining the details, re-rooting myself. The resolution started to clear.
That was four thousand words ago. That’s approximately three thousand and nine hundred more words than I’ve added to this manuscript in the entire past year combined.
As I typed up the final lines of the latest scene, I realized that what I was seeing at that moment was the next one, already. I know what it looks like. I was there. This is nearly it, nearly the end of the story, and I can see it.
It’s all hands on deck now, because this ship is about to make berth.