Hobbies Are Important I Guess…

Howdy, howdy!  I’ve kind of been in a funk for a long time.  None of the things that used to excite me (anime, manga, even music) have held much interest for me.  While I was sick, I even stopped playing my mindless games for a few weeks.  The only thing I’ve been consistently doing is reading, and that hasn’t really drawn me in either.  I read a chapter or two at a time, then get bored no matter whether I’m enjoying the book or not.  And I think we all know (if you’ve been following my blog) that my writing schedule has been super inconsistent.  So, I decided to try finding some kind of hobby that might interest me.

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Apathetic, not sad.  Thank you very much.

While we were running errands on Friday, Dad and I stopped by Hobby Lobby for some yarn for a project he’s doing in the pond.  As he was searching for a certain type of yarn in green, I looked around the aisle just for the fun of it.  I like yarn and random crafts.  I used to love cross-stitching.  But I don’t do anything like that anymore because I have a stupidly limited range of motion and can’t get my hands close enough together to manipulate everything that needs manipulating.  It’s the same reason I stopped playing video games.

Anyway, when I was younger, I had tried crocheting.  I never finished anything and have no idea why I stopped, but I never started back up because the hooks were all too short for me to reach with both hands.  Needless to say, I was surprised to see a few hooks that were super long hanging above the normal crochet hooks at Hobby Lobby.  After much internal debate, I decided to get one and a skein of multi-colored yarn.  Actually, Dad got them for me (thanks, again!).

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This is going to be more fun than I thought.

A lot of writers I know seem to knit or crochet or have similar hobbies, so when I saw that hook (which is apparently a Tunisian/Afghan hook designed for a special type of crocheting, but can be used like a regular hook) I figured I could give it a shot.  Granted, I remember absolutely nothing from my earlier attempts at the craft, so all I’ve been doing thus far is research, but I feel that little tug of excitement that I’ve been missing.  I have a project picked out (and approved of by a friend who crochets as something a beginner can handle).  I’ve been watching videos of how to do the chain and single crochet, as well as how to sew the project together when I reach that point.  All I’m missing is a yarn or tapestry needle, but I won’t need that until I get the crocheting done.  I hope to start on that part soon.

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Me: “Wish me luck?” Also me: “Nope.”

What about you?  Do you have a particular hobby (or two, three, forty)?  What drew you to it?  Are you currently looking for a hobby or learning a new one?  Feel free to share your thoughts or comments or questions here or on my social media pages!

P.S. If I succeed at my first project, I’ll make sure to post pictures!  If I fail, I’ll probably just let this whole thing fade into oblivion with no further mention.

Seven Things I Believe: Then And Now

Howdy, howdy!  I was cleaning out the notes on my phone yesterday, when I came across something from one of my workshops at Stonecoast.  This particular group was led by the lovely Theodora Goss.  Just about every day, she would send us off with questions to think about and we’d discuss our answers the following day after we finished our critiques.  One day, she asked us to list seven things we believe.  There were no guidelines beyond this, so things went in a lot of different directions from what I remember.  Anyway, I thought I would share my old list and make a new one.

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It’s just a pretty picture.

The old (2014) version, in no particular order:

1. I believe music keeps me sane while inspiring me.

2. I believe growing up and acting your age are scams created by people who are jealous of the young at heart.

3. I believe in priorities: food, sleep, and eye candy.

4. I believe life is too short to be serious all the time.

5. I believe family is more than blood.  It’s the people who love you and keep you around because of your flaws.

6. I believe coffee and booze were created to be mixed together.

7. I believe the angels punted my soul into the wrong body at birth.  I should’ve been Japanese.

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I just found this, so I thought I’d put it here and save it for later.

As you can see, I wasn’t very good at the whole introspection thing back then.  Spoiler alert: I’m still not.  I still completely believe in all of those things, especially the boozy coffee one.  But I thought I would give it another go now that I’ve graduated and have no one to ask me these weird questions anymore.

Here’s the new (2018) version, also in no particular order:

1. I believe there is more than one way to be a professional writer.  As long as you get words on the page and out into the world, it doesn’t matter if you write every day or not.  Find your own rhythm.

2. I believe binge watching anime (or whatever makes you happy) is good for the soul and cleanses the mind.  Not every day, but once every couple of months, just to give yourself a break from reality.

3. I believe puppy kisses have magical powers to perk people up.

4. I believe it’s important to surround yourself with people who have different viewpoints/backgrounds than you.  Along with the understanding that we don’t always have to agree, but that we can have civil discussions if we put in a little effort.

5. I believe in a thing called love!  Please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers that song.

6. I believe it’s perfectly reasonable to buy a book just because the cover is pretty.

7. I believe in myself.  This is not something that even crossed my mind when I was originally asked to list things I believed.  Despite all the rejection and failure, I’m finally at a place where I can say that I believe in me.  I will succeed.  Eventually.  At something.

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Yeah.  That song by that guy.

There you go.  Seven things I believed back then and seven more from now.  What are seven things you believe?  Feel free to leave your list here or on my social media pages!

Character Questionnaires: Yes Or No?

Howdy, howdy!  While I was searching for something writerly to blog about, I kept coming across ideas for character questionnaires (getting to know your characters, things to know about your character before you start writing, etc.).  The questions varied from basic stuff about looks and personality to weird things like “what’s in their fridge right now?” (the main character of my novel-in-progress currently has pizza, coffee creamer, and pouches of blood in her mini fridge, in case you were wondering).  And, at first, this seemed like a really neat idea, until I came across a list of 1,000 questions I was supposed to know answers to for my characters.  Yes, three zeroes.  It seemed pretty excessive to me.  I started to wonder when something like that went from a useful tool to being something to procrastinate with.

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Pretty sure this would be the reaction from my novel-in-progress’ main character and her bestie.

I just feel like there are things you should naturally know about your characters before you start writing, even without a questionnaire.  Name/nickname, the basics of how they look, main personality type, any distinguishing features.  For me, these are all things that come naturally with the voices in my head.  I don’t need to write them down, because I know them.  Occasionally, I’ll make a conscious decision to change an eye color or hair color if I have too many blue eyed blondes or whatever, in which case writing it down somewhere is helpful.  But all the questionnaires that start off with these things feel more like a way to procrastinate than anything useful.  On the other hand, if you’re the type of writer who works on multiple projects at once, I can see how you might mix up characters without having some kind of reference sheet.

Then, there’s the group of questions about character motivations which seems a lot more helpful to me.  Knowing why your characters do things helps when you’re writing and trying to decide how they’ll react to different scenarios.  It makes writing believable scenes easier.  Say your main character freaks out when their roommate pulls out a sword in a non-threatening manner.  Why?  Well, if you know they witnessed their sibling getting stabbed, you can hint at that or build around it even if the reader doesn’t know it yet.  Something less severe: why does your main character throw a tantrum every time her boyfriend steals her Oreos even though she’s a grown woman?  Maybe her siblings always ate all the cookies when she was a kid.  If you know their motivation, you can figure out how they’ll handle things realistically.

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A completely acceptable reaction.

Last, they have the really out there questions.  The “what’s in the fridge” and “favorite sex positions” types of things.  These are the ones that I’m almost positive people answer to feel productive, but they’re really just procrastinating.  I don’t think my character’s preference for red Gatorade over blue has any impact on my story, unless there are monsters in the Gatorade, then maybe.  These are the questions that are fun if you’re having trouble writing one day and are hoping answering them will spark something.  Otherwise, you’re just goofing off.  And that’s okay!  I understand the desire to put things off, but don’t lie to yourself about it.

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It’s totally procrastination.  Own it.

Overall, I don’t find character questionnaires that helpful.  They’re fun and something to do if I’m stuck or really don’t feel like writing, but, honestly, I’d rather just write most of the time.  What about you?  Do you fill out character questionnaires wen you create your characters?  What are some questions you find the most useful?  Which ones do you ignore or consider unhelpful?  Feel free to comment here or on my social media pages!

Changing of the Seasons: A Flash Fiction Piece

Hello, hello!  I didn’t really have anything to blog about today, so someone suggested that I post a flash piece inspired by the pictures I post on Mondays (follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or G+ to see the posts).  I decided what the hell, I’ll try it.  I picked a picture and wrote the following piece.  It’s a first draft, unedited, so keep that in mind.  I will admit that I like the idea, but I’m not sure that flash is the right format for it.  Maybe a short story?  Feel free to offer constructive criticism and feedback.  What format do you think would work best?  Advice.  Or just a quick “it sucks/rocks” works too.

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Photographer: Peter Brownz Braunschmid

Changing of the Seasons

Autumn leaves swirl and twirl on a breeze tinted with the scent of blood. The lifeline of thousands seeps through the soil, bathing and nourishing me as it beckons for my awakening. They pray to me, the mothers and daughters and sisters of those lost at war. Why me? Because only a woman will understand their suffering. The men pray to Him for victory, for the ability to rule, no matter the cost. But the women, they simply ask for peace. They don’t realize how peace is achieved, they don’t know what they’re truly asking for. Still, I will soon be able to grant their wish.

Once every five thousand years, as the ground becomes inundated with spilt blood, I will inevitably rise from the roots of the Mother Tree as Fall passes into Winter. The changing of the seasons allows my release, for I cannot be freed while the Mother Tree lives. Their blood slowly poisons her until she can no longer survive the first freeze. I bide my time, soaking in the nutrients they provide while the tendrils that bind my wrists slowly weaken, becoming as brittle as the dead leaves clinging to the Mother Tree’s branches.

The days pass as if each second has morphed into an hour, but it is almost time for me to rise. To bring peace back to this chaotic world. Their cries grow ever stronger. Peace. Victory. Whichever will put an end to the suffering.

Fear not, my little loves. A new day is coming. I have heard you.

Finally, a twist of the wrist shatters my shackles. Fingers pale as sun-bleached bone are free to break through the slush of soil and blood and ice crystals. The air up here is thick with a metallic, rotten scent. The frigid temperatures haven’t had time to wash away the aroma of death. It’s invigorating. Mixed with the pleas for help, some might call it downright orgasmic.

I know what I have to do.

Near the Mother Tree is a spring. I must bottle the icy water as the full moon strikes it. I will take this gift to the children of the nearest town. Once they drink of it, a deep sleep will overcome and protect them. Then, I will feed. First, the women, unprotected in the fields and the shops. The children unaffected by the elixir will come next. Lastly, those on the battlefield. I will rid the entire world of the agony perpetrated by humanity.

Once the world has been purged of this plague, I will return to the slumbering children. They will awaken and I will raise them as my own. I will teach them compassion and respect and compromise. Peace and love will reign for many years to come.

And when they no longer need my assistance to survive, I will dig my toes deep into the ground on a pleasant Spring evening on the edge of town, where I will transform into the Mother Tree. My branches will reach out to protect my children even as future generations forget my teachings. As they inevitably devolve into a world of bloodshed once again. All the while, the mothers and sisters and daughters will pray for peace, which my next incarnation, growing among my roots, will provide.