Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday Reflections

This morning my pastor preached his third or fourth message in the sermon series he's on right now, about living above our circumstances. This morning's message was about staying strong by focusing on the future, letting go of the past, and letting God and his grace take care of the rest.

I think it's a good message for everybody. Heaven knows there are things in my past that I think about and cringe, comments I really shouldn't have made that soured friendships until the friendships didn't exist anymore...feeling like I had to apologize for everything I said to my friends, starting every phone call with, "I'm so sorry to bother you..." Not letting myself be who I am, in a nutshell. Trying to conform to everyone else's ideals of what Miri should be, and getting anxious and disheartened when they figured out that they didn't like, that either.

I'm ready to let go of all that, I think. From here on out, I want to be me, the best me that I possibly can. Do you want to be you? Is there anything stopping you from doing that? Are you stopping yourself?

See, I like thinking about things like this, even though it's uncomfortable to go back through all the junk that you've been holding onto. It's the writer in me, I think: these are strong themes to work with for a character, too. I've had a lot of good themes for characters come in lately, though I'm so far into my WiP that I won't be able to use as many as I'd like...the desire to be remembered, for instance, or to have a true purpose. Between the song "Dante's Prayer" by Loreena McKennitt and a comic I read about one of my favorite television characters, Jet, called Fighting with Purpose, last night was very thoughtful for me. Might as well link to the comic, though you'll have to click on the big dark block to see it. If you're familiar with the show, so much the better, but I do think it'll stand on its own. (Just before the scene pictured, he said, "I'll be okay," and another character said with absolute certainty, "He's lying." Talk about powerful moments. That episode's been nominated for more awards than I can remember, so other people apparently feel the same.)

As for the song, there's a very nice video to it on Youtube set to clips of Legolas from Lord of the Rings (though I don't think I've actually watched the whole video...I just have it playing in the background as I'm reading other things). It starts off slow, but wait for the piano intro about a minute in. Guaranteed to put you in a pensive mood. It's absolutely beautiful.

Hmm...I had a point in there, somewhere, I think, but I seem to have lost it.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Writing, Visualization, and Music Stuck in the Mind

Firstly, I would like to announce that I've finally hit 45,000 words.

I want 50,000. Now.

Well, not now, but soon. I intend to have it by Monday night at the latest. Nothing like a last hurrah for April. And then...May. And June. And July...but I really do want to have the thing done by May 31st. It's already almost a month past its due date. When I started the file on January 1st, I put a little note under the title: "I will finish this by March 31st." And I haven't changed it yet, because I feel like I need that little reminder, that little "...whoops. Dropped the ball on that one."

I think, though, that when I hit 50,000, I'll be able to change the March to May. Weird how things like this work. 50k is a bit of a magic number for me, though, with my NaNoWriMo "training." And it'll definitely be past the halfway mark, because the chances of this thing surpassing 100k are absolutely miniscule, and do you know why? Because I won't let it. And because I don't think there's enough content to carry it that far.

But on to other things. I was working on Friday morning, on something that required at least a little bit of concentration. I was going just fine until the song "Court of Miracles" popped into my head and would not leave. Now, I love "Court of Miracles." It's quite possibly the neatest, darkest song in any classic Disney movie (Hunchback of Notre Dame, for the curious) and it's definitely the darkest I can remember, but it's also got such a lively spirit to's odd, but I love it.

So I had accepted the fact that it wasn't leaving and was going back to my task, but soon I realized that I was reading the same paragraph ten or twelve times without taking in a word of it, because I was too busy listening to the music in my head.

I tried replacing it with other things (a succession of Japanese songs and eventually "Savages" from Pocahontas), things that I've worked around before, but nothing would depose it. This song was completely in control of my brain.

I was pretty desperate to get it out at this point, so I visualized a CD player and mentally hit the stop button.

The really weird part? It worked.

Have you ever had a specific song running through your head? How do you get rid of it? Have you ever resorted to forced visualization in a situation like this? Are any of you quite as crazy as I am?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Raising Questions without Answers

Tomorrow, a few people in my community (as well as others all over the nation) are wearing maroon and orange, VA Tech's colors, to show support for the school and to mourn the victims.

I'll be one of them.

My school days are very fresh in my mind. Unpleasant as they occasionally were, I never experienced anything that even pretended to approach such an appalling tragedy. What is wrong with this world we live in, where a college kid can go to school and shoot upwards of thirty people...faculty, students, it didn't matter.

And yet...I have to wonder what the gunman was feeling. Obviously he was in dire need of mental health services, but past that, he must have been hurting. Crazy as he was, crazy as any school shooter is, they don't do things like that unless they're hurting. Who was hurting him? A girlfriend? A family member? A professor? What were they doing, and did they realize it at the time?

That's one of the annoyances that becomes apparent only when the tragedy fades out a little. There are so many questions that the world has, and the only people who could have answered them are dead.

But this just reaffirms something I've always believed: it is everyone's responsibility to stop things like this from happening. Someone knew that gunman was hurting, and they didn't do anything. Someone had an idea of what was coming (they had to), and they didn't stop it. Back when he was in high school, or middle school, someone probably had the opportunity to sit next to the weird Korean kid at lunch and make a friend. But you know what? They didn't.

And that's what leads to a time and place where thirty-three people are dead. Thirty-three people with so much potential will never see what they could have been. Thirty-three sets of parents have to bury their children. All because of some turning point that's already gone by.

That's why we can't afford to be absorbed in ourselves. There are people who need us, and if we're watching for it, maybe we can prevent this.

No one sits with him, he doesn’t fit in
But we feel like we do when we make fun of him
Cause you want to belong do you go along
Cause his pain is the price paid for you to belong
It’s not like we hate him or want him to die
But maybe he goes home and thinks suicide
Or he comes back to school with a gun at his side
And a kindness from you might have saved his life

No one talks to her, she feels so alone
She’s in too much pain to survive on her own
The hurt she can’t handle overflows to a knife
She writes on her arm, wants to give up her life
Each day she goes on is a day that she is brave,
Fighting the lie that giving up is the way,
Each moment of courage her own life she saves
When she throws out the pills a hero is made

No one talks to him about how he lives
He thinks that the choices he makes are just his
Doesn’t know he’s a leader with the way he behaves
And others will follow the choices he’s made
He lives on the edge, he’s old enough to decide
His brother who wants to be him is just nine
He can do what he wants because it’s his right
The choices he makes change a nine year old’s life

Heroes are made when you make a choice
You could be a hero
Heroes do what’s right
You could be a hero
You might save a life
You could be a hero, You could join the fight
For what’s right, for what’s right, for what’s right...

- Hero, by Superchick

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Yes, I've lost track. That's what happens when real life sneaks up and bites you in the neck like the little wannabe vampire it is.

All I know is that over the days, I've averaged approximately three hundred twenty words a day. Yes, there is a zero in the average. Monday killed me. I have not uphelp the pledge to write every day. I just sat down at the computer and couldn't face it. Bad Miri. No cookie.

...okay. I can't do that. There are fresh chocolate-chocolate-chip cookies and I'm having one, dagummit. And besides, another large reason I didn't write is that I was reading and critiquing my mother's novel. That's definitiely good for brownie points, right? (For those interested: past the fact that I want to hit her over the head with a comma in the hopes that she'll learn to use them (love ya, Mom!), it was very, very good.)

BUT. Today, during in a lull in my traditional 7:40 to 8:25 A.M. activities, I bit the bullet and outlined the next bit of my own WiP (in narrative form. I'm not dealing with all those little literal bullets). I have a definite direction now and, while I can't have everything outlined from the get-go, I'm at a point where I do kind of need to know what's happening in the immediate future. I'm over my bout of "This novel sucks. I suck. Why do I bother? {repeat ad nauseum}" and I'm ready to get this thing done.

I've determined that I need to do it in big chunks if I'm going to get anywhere.

So tonight's for a warm-up round (1500 or bust!) and tomorrow I'm going for a marathon. 4k at the very least.

Oh, and I thought you all might find this interesting. It's part of my signature on a forum I frequent.

Status: Finally, movement! They're alive, I tell you! (Or: When all else fails, mess with the established group dynamic.)


(That last bit is a quote from one of my critique partners. Hey, Sarah!)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day Seven!

First off, thanks to everyone who comments with words of encouragement. Seriously, it helps a lot.

Now, my big news.

40k! YES!

I wrote 2,022 words yesterday, and it didn't feel like all that much. I realized that if I can do that for the next month, I'll be done. Sweet.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Days Four, Five, and Six

Because I've not been able to update every day.

Day four: 778. Yay!

Day five: 385. Still respectable.

Day six: 452. Not bad.

My total wordcount now is 38,400ish. (I'm on a different computer.) Think I can hit 40k today? I do.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Day...what day are we on again?

Three, I suppose.

Last night, I wrote a total of (Do I really have to admit to this?) 147 words.

Y'know what? I'll take it. Especially considering we had company last night.

Hope you have/had/will have a blessed Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Writers Write: The Challenge?

Well, apparently, I'm racing Erica and Annie this month. The idea is to beat each other's daily wordcounts and finish our novels first. Sounds good to me!

You see, I'm naturally drawn to competition. I respond well to a challenge. (Hence a two-year NaNoWriMo winning streak. Hey, I'm proud of it. I also snagged the highest wordcount in my very well-written NaNo region. ;) 73k for the win.) I've needed a good kick in the pants for quite awhile (my original I-want-this-finished date was March 31st...whoops!), and this is just the thing.

So wish me luck! I'm going in!

(And I WILL have more than 88 words tonight. I will!)

Day Two...

Last night's total wordcount: 88.

Yes, 88, eighty-eight, two digits, less than 100. In the words of my eighth-grade language arts teacher, PI. TI. FULLL.

But it's something, isn't it?

Siiigh. Tonight I'm going to try to do better.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Writers Write! Day One

My total for last night: 2,165 words.

And a whole box of Mentos.

At first my system was, I wrote 100 words, I got a Mento. Then I realized that it just wasn't coming, so I started eating more Mentos. Eventually...well...I added another box to that rather large pile by my mousepad.

So later on, I set up a new system. I recently unearthed my Gameboy Advance from several years ago. (Of course I still play SuperMario. Who doesn't?) Every time I died in the game, I had to turn around and write at least a hundred words.

It was actually kind of scary how well that worked.

2,500 is a nice goal. Let's go for that tonight.

Others from Diana's call-to-arms: how did you do yesterday?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The ABC Method of Writing

This morning I read Diana's post on discipline in writing. At the end of it she made the statement that she will write something every day this month and asked who was with her.

Being the waffling writer that I am, I threw my hat in the ring. (Why do I have the nasty feeling that I mangled that particular saying? Hat in the ring? Hat on the ring? Ring in the hat?) Because if there's one thing I need, it's...well, I could say something noble like discipline or whatever, but really it's competition. I don't want to be the first one to skip a day. Do you?

So this month I'll be going back to a method I found highly effective during NaNoWriMo. I call it the ABC method.

Butt to
Chair and type.

I will be posting every day how much I wrote the day before. It's likely to be pitiful, at least at first. That's okay though. Pitiful is better than nothing.

And a post-script:

I have defeated my closet! (Insert lame crack about OVER 9000 POWER! here.) Now I just have a lot of laundry to do.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Miri vs. Closet: Round Two - Interference by Spider

That says it all, really. I was coming along great on my closet this morning when I found a rather large spider in my stuff.

Okay, ew.

I despise spiders. Really. They're...eeewww. I just don't like them. I can't even read spider books. (Hangman's Curse was a darn good book...except for all the spiders. Ew.)

I got myself together enough to put on thick socks and sneaker, kill it, and suck it into the Dustbuster before I ran screaming from the room. Except without the screaming. Didn't want to scare anyone.

The stupid thing had better be dead.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Miri vs. Closet: Round One

Inspired by Robin's cleanliness crusade and the gentle promptings of a certain close relative, I've gone up against that most formiddable of foes: my closet. Mind, it had gotten bad enough to start annoying me, and that is a goal not easily accomplished by any disorganized space.

I wish I'd thought to take a "Before" picture, but in reality it probably would have broken the lense. Yes, it was that bad. I even forgot to take a picture after yesterday's beginning of the excavation, and now I can't get pictures to work on the blog. Suffice it to say that I've pulled two trash bags out of there already. This closet is maybe seven feet by eight feet by three feet. Maybe. Not a large closet. And yet somehow, even with two garbage bags worth of age-old junk gone, the remaining closet-fillers cover the entire floor of my bedroom.

I have to admit I'm kind of proud of my closet, though. Not very many closets can defy the laws of physics.

Well, I'm off to have another round with my unnatural closet. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, April 2, 2007

This movie has stuck itself to my brain...

...and it will not let go.

I saw Meet the Robinsons with my family on Saturday. You know, the animated G-rated Disney movie that just came out? Though it got B minuses all around on Yahoo, I thought it was really, really good. I was almost positive I'd like it, because I've always been an absolute sucker for orphan stories, and I was absolutely right. I choked up at the end, too. Only just stopped myself from bawling like a baby.

But despite the obvious things--orphan story, quite a bit of the adult-kid dynamic (which I love), and the kind of haunting "this is how things could have turned out" theme that I like so much--I really have no idea why that movie affected me as strongly as it did. I seriously can't see a cutesy little preview for it without going into this weird pensive mood, and I really want to see it again. And again. And again.

So now I'm trying to analyze it. Figure out exactly what got to me so much about that movie. Because I've seen combinations of all three of the above before, and while they were good, they didn't stick with me nearly as much. So I figure it must be something else, and I want to know what, because if I find that then I can use it in my writing, and I'll be able to write things that deeply affect me, at the very least.

To be honest, I'm a bit weirded out by this. I just can't figure it out.

Now I really want to see that movie again.