Monthly Archives: June 2014

Strong Independent Woman

According to WordPress I have been blogging for three years now.  I’m not sure that’s something to be proud of, but I might as well keep on trucking while I figure out if I should be ashamed or not.

I wanted to say a quick word about “strong female characters.”  Well…I mean it started with me thinking about characters, but I guess I could apply it to real life as well.

The thing is, I often fret about what people will think of me because most of my female main characters have a male love interest.  It’s not just that they have a love interest, but that they want that male love interest to remain in their lives forever and ever.  Sometimes the male love interest even helps to rescue them.  And that’s wrong, right?  Because strong women don’t need no man.  Right?

Well…no.  In the end I decided that this is just not the right way to look at things.  Not all women need or want a man in their life, but that doesn’t mean that a woman who does desire male company should be disparaged or belittled for her choices.  Not even her choices necessarily.  More like…her nature, I guess?  In my books I try to avoid the idea of “man rescues woman.”  Most of my female characters tend to rescue themselves, but occasionally they also get helped to do that by their supernatural boyfriends or whatever.  And that’s fine.  There would be a problem with them expecting to be rescued, I suppose.  But if they’re in a sticky situation or they’re in a little too far over their own heads, well…it wouldn’t hurt for them to acknowledge the need for help.  The gender of the person/creature who provides help should be incidental.  What it boils down to is the difference between this:

Pickle Jar 1

And this:

Pickle Jar 2

Okay I’ve officially made a mess of things.  This blog post started with those two images because they were inspired by all my thoughts about what it means to be a “Strong Independent Woman” and all the implications behind that title.  But then I had to try to put my reasons for drawing those pictures into words and it didn’t work out so well.  Hopefully you get the gist.

That’s all for now!

Three years…wow.

I need to get a life.

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Notes to Myself

I have been writing a lot without remembering to advertise!  Blasphemy!

Check out these new things I’ve got in my Etsy shop [EDIT 1/12/15: Etsy shop has since been closed but I’m leaving these images up because I’m a showoff]:

All Leaves 3

Caramel Leaf Earrings 7

Okay on to the blogging.

As some of you may know, I am attempting to write a book almost entirely by hand.  And it’s going well for me so far.  The hand-written method means I am less tempted to reread, edit, and nitpick.  Which is good.  But sometimes three days after I’ve written a page, I remember something I wanted to include in that scene.  What do I do then?  Easy.  I write myself a note in the margin.

Margins 6

Margins 2

Or if I decide I want to embellish a little, all I have to do is go back, add an asterisk and put the extra writing in the margins.  And if I don’t like what I decided to write in that margin, I just leave myself a note to fix it later.

Margins 3

Sometimes I just forget a pattern of colors that I used for a life-sized game board.  The margins are useful for that, too.

Margins 8

And other times when I’m feeling kinda writer’s blocked, I simply doodle until I get back on track.

Margins 4

Margins 5

Margins 1

Lastly, there was this one time I accidentally dotted an E.  So I did this:

Margins 9

Apparently I thought it was necessary for my future self to know why I drew a thought bubble over a word.

What I’m saying is that margins can be useful.  It’s okay to not get it right on the first try.  In fact, it’s preferable.  There’s less pressure that way.

I feel like a lot of people have the wrong idea about the writing process.  Like…they think that first you have to create the skeleton, then go back through and add flesh and muscle, and finally you polish it up with some facial features and pretty hair.  But that’s just not the case.  As far as I can tell, the first step for me has always been figuring out what a skeleton’s even supposed to look like.  My first drafts have a pelvis sticking out of an eye socket, with both arms on one side of the body and the left foot jammed between two ribs.  And that’s okay!  Because the next stage of editing is when you can take a quick anatomy lesson, show your skeleton to friends and have them rearrange some things.  Then, and only then, can you start to think about muscles and tendons.  It’s a tough process, but as I said, it is also liberating.  There’s no pressure to know what the hip bone connects to.  You just go all out, give it your best, and know that no mistake is unfixable.

Soooo…that’s it. I’ll write again soon!  Bye!

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Snippet

Sometimes when it’s 2:12 AM I go to bed.  Tonight is not one of those nights.  Instead I decided to skim through one of the most terrible books I have ever written.  I do this on occasion because it makes me feel better about myself, weirdly enough.  Like…it’s physical proof of just how much I’ve improved over time.  I mean with my writing.  Not like…improved as a person.  Though maybe I have.  I’m not one to judge.

This particular book is called All That’s Left and it was inspired by an instant message conversation I had with a friend during my freshman year of college.  It went something like:

Me – I have finished editing this book.  All that’s left is getting published.

Her – It is???

Me – buh?

Her – Oh…I thought All That’s Left was the title of a book.

Me – Hmmm….

[Spoiler alert: The book I thought I had “finished” editing was The Dreamcatchers.  As I am now rewriting it a second time, you might be able to see how overzealous I was back in the day.]

So I wrote a book with that title.  But it was during my “I need to give all my characters instant boyfriends and live vicariously though them” phase and also my “I don’t need a plot…right?” phase.  It is unfortunate that those two phases coincided.  Anyway, the point of the matter is that I was reading through this book and something miraculous happened: I found a passage I actually liked.  It’s just a short snippet, but I thought I’d share it.  Why?  Because like as not this book will never see the light of day.  It does not really merit rewriting, and even if it did, it still wouldn’t be high on my priority list.  I’m still embarrassed beyond words that I let my friend, Micah, read it because now Micah has knowledge of just how messed up my psyche was at the time.  That being said, good writing should be celebrated, no matter how insignificant or small the passage may be.  And yes, I’m blowing my own horn a little bit, but I think you’ll let me get away with it.

Here it is:

Without warning, he jumped to his feet and ran to the table. A lone lump of clay sat in the middle of it, and it was this that he fell upon with deft hands. He pulled and pinched, tucked and rolled, until he had created a rhinoceros that looked amazingly lifelike. Just as I was about to congratulate him on his talent, he cursed and crushed the creation until the clay seeped out from between his fingers.

“Why did you do that?” I asked.

To my surprise, he answered, though it seemed he was talking more to himself than to us.

“It wasn’t right,” he mumbled. “It wasn’t what I wanted. Why can’t I get it right?”

“Looked good to me,” Craig said.

He stopped then and glared at us, acknowledging our presence for the first time.

“It looked good for a rhinoceros,” he sneered.

“Yeah? What’s wrong with that?” Craig asked.

“You are assuming that I was attempting to make a rhinoceros,” he snapped.

Then he went back to the floor and began scribbling on his paper again.

[END PASSAGE]

It doesn’t really need context and I’m not sure I’m prepared to provide it anyway.  There would probably be more words in the explanation of the passage than there are in the passage itself.  Suffice it to say that the perfectly sculpted clay rhinoceros is a metaphor.

Hopefully you agree with me that the passage is fun or interesting.  If not…um…keep it to yourself I guess?  My ego is ever so fragile.

That’s all for now!

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Boop!

You know what I really want to know?  What is our obsession with booping the noses of things we find cute?  I boop my dog’s nose like…fifteen times a day.  And he always just looks at me like, “Man…why?  Why you do this?  I do not understand.”  ‘Cause you know…he definitely doesn’t get it.  But I’m not sure I do either!  It’s just something I like to do and I can’t even understand why.

Anyway so yeah…The Fault in Our Stars.  For those who don’t know, this is a movie based on the book written by YA God, John Green.  I don’t remember if I ever reviewed the book, but it’s fantastic.  Definitely my favorite of all Green’s works.  And the movie?  Just as good.  You have to understand that “good” here means “You will cry so much your soul will hurt.”  Which you know…that can be good in a weird way.

The movie stayed remarkably true to the book, and it was very well cast.  You know this is true because going into it I knew exactly what was going to happen and I still couldn’t avoid getting invested in the characters and crying my eyes out and such.  For those who have not read/watched, I highly recommend reading then watching.  That order only, folks.  Let’s not forget that I am always going to promote the book first and the movie second.

Click here to watch John Green at the TFiOS premiere.  And definitely go see it yourself.  But don’t forget the tissues!

That’s all.

*BOOP*

Love,

Bex

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