Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The End is HERE!

I finished the first draft of The Clockwork Experiment!!!!!!!!!!

The thought of finishing was infinitely better than actually finished, though. Now all I can think about is the editing and how much more I have to do before the book itself is actually done.


My dad told me I need to start reading Snow Crash this morning. I told him there are 33 minutes left of this morning (which there was at the time). I said "I have only one sentence left before I am done with the first draft of my book and you will let me write it!" Of course, then he grabbed my wrists so I couldn't type.

But I got it written. Ha.

But now I should probably go play Super Smash Bros. with my cousins. My parents don't want me on the computer all day.

The End Is Near

In a good way, I promise.
In case I haven't mentioned, my goal for the end of March was to get to 80,000 words.
Yesterday morning, I logged in and started to write. I reached my goal. I kept going. I wrote every second I could (which means in-between my mom yelling at me to clean and stuff), but she eventually kicked me off entirely. I got back on later after she was satisfied with the state of the house.
At some point, I looked at the "Rough synopsis of the rest of plot" document on my flash drive, and I realized just how close to the end I am. When I went to bed, the word count was about 84,500. I don't think it will go above 90,000.
Needless to say, I am at the climax. I've never written something so big before (for want of a better word). Literally, the entire book has been building up to this point. And I reached it, and I wrote it, and I can't wait to hear what all of you have to say about it. I think the part I'm at now will be the most difficult to write, but we'll see.
Writing the end has been invigorating, exciting, and also terrifying. Some part of me doesn't want to finish (but don't worry, I will) simply because that will be such a huge accomplishment.
If you saw my Facebook status, you will know that two of the more recent scenes have made me cry in the writing, and that the recent chapters are some of my favorites. This is good.

So now I will go back to working on that.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sequels To Books We Like

I went on Shelfari to update the books I'm reading (I finished two yesterday and started Incarceron).
While there, I noticed two things.

  1. There is a sequel to Incarceron, and it is called Sapphique.
  2. There is a third Hunger Games book called Mockingjay
Figured I'd tell you.
I've got a bunch of family coming into town next week, so I probably won't get much done then writing/reading-wise. Mostly I'll play video games and watch Doctor Who with my cousins.

Friday, March 26, 2010

South Park & Books

My dad told me to watch the most recent episode of South Park, which makes fun of books and censorship and stuff. He thought I'd enjoy it, since I'm a writer.
I did find it was hilarious, but I was also thoroughly disgusted. But that's not the point.
The point is, at the end, one of the kids says something about how people like to find meaning in books, when there isn't any, they like to make up their own meanings.
The episode made fun of this tendency of people, as if it was bad, but I don't find it so. A piece of literature can have different effects on different people, depending on the person.
Example: As Orson Scott Card says in the introduction to my copy of Ender's Game, a group of gifted children wrote to him saying they adored the book and identified with Ender immensely. A guidance counselor, however, wrote saying that she hated it and it doesn't accurately portray how gifted children think (obviously, considering the other letter, she is wrong). Same text: completely different reactions.
An author writes a book. He or she does their utmost best to make the writing itself as perfect as possible, describes the setting in vivid detail, includes character arcs and prunes their plot relentlessly. But it's the reader who learns from it. Why does it matter if messages were included intentionally? All of us have things to learn, and we all learn in different ways. Sometimes a certain book will help us learn those things, but it has something else to teach others.
This is why, when I write, I don't worry too much about messages when I write (of course, I do think about it, but it isn't one of my top priorities). I believe people will find things they need to find simply because they are secretly searching for it.
I wrote an email to John about Paper Towns, and the profound effect it has had on me. (This is the second time I've read it- I didn't get as much out of it the first time). He wrote a very nice email back to me. In that email, he said that the writing and reading of a book is a conversation, and the "story isn't complete until [I] read it."
This is something I completely agree with.
As Orson Scott Card said in his introduction, "the story isn't complete until you make it your own."

Those people in South Park took that book, despite how horrible it was in all ways possible, and made it their own.
Those gifted children took Ender's Game and made it their own.
I took Paper Towns and made it my own.
I hope, someday after I'm published, someone will take my book and make it their own.

(Also: the South Park episode just goes to show how incredibly subjective the publishing industry can be).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ender's Zombie Fame

We were required to write fan fiction in Creative Writing yesterday. I'm serious. Our assignment was to take whatever book we're currently reading, pick a protagonist of our own invention, and write a story with that protagonist in a setting within that novel and involve a chase scene.
I ended up with Agent John Johnson chasing a "Decepticon" (his name for enemy agents) running through Battle School (in Ender's Game. Read it.) and into the Battle Room (where there is no gravity). I normally don't like fan fiction, but it was surprisingly fun to write. It's called "Ender's Fame," just to be corny with the rhyming names.

Expect more of Clockwork in your inboxes sometime over the weekend. Hopefully.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Some Writers Drink Coffee...I Drink Iced Tea

I wasn't going to do Script Frenzy. And then I was. And then I wasn't. And then I was. And then I wasn't. And now I'm sort of going to. Mostly not.
I'm not going to write a script, so in that sense, not.
I am, however, going to (hopefully) type 100 pages of script in April. Two of my friends and I wrote a play last year (technically, I did most of the actual writing, but they told me what to say), and I never typed it up. I hate typing up long things. It's so daunting. But SF will hopefully give me the motivation I need to commit that play to the wonderful world of Digital Existence.
It's called The Other Oz, and can be described as Very Stupid and Very Awesome, but Mostly Just Stupid. It's a parody of The Wizard of Oz, that tries (and usually fails) to make fun of lots of different stuff. The writing is bad. The characters are bad. The humor is bad. It's generally very, very bad. And I'm not just saying that. It is a piece of crap. We were bored, and that is what happened.
But I like it anyway, because of the nostalgia it brings and such.
Bonus: since I'm cheating and not writing a new script, it doesn't matter that I already have some of it typed. Ha. I am ahead.
Obviously, I won't consider myself a winner of Script Frenzy if I do manage to type up that much. I just need an excuse to type the stupid thing up.
Despite how undeniably bad it is, if you want to read it, I'll post it to the Google Group once I'm done. (For my fictitious readers who are not in my writing club, too bad for you. You don't get to read it.)

In other news, I read Doctor Who: Ghosts of India, which was enjoyable. The Doctor is very much a Gandhi Fan-Man, which isn't at all surprising. What is funny is that the feeling was reciprocated. They got along very well.
Continuing my rampage through the sci-fi section of my bookshelf, I'm now re-reading Ender's Game for the first time in about three years (Dad read it to me during mid-elementary school, censoring out the language, I read it again in either late elementary school or early middle school, and then again in middle school). It's just as awesome as I remembered. See, I never read Speaker For The Dead. I thought Ender's Shadow was the second book in the series, not the first in the Bean books. So I'm sort of missing out on material there. I've read 4 of the 8 books, but not either complete set.
Also, Dad and I are reading John Green's Paper Towns to each other, which is also very awesome. There's some parts that are slightly awkward to read together, but we're getting through them.

In other other news,
I've been thinking about my last post...and I might have to let you read bigger chunks after all. There's no way we can get through the entire thing in a reasonable amount of time when I bring in about 10 pages every other week. We wouldn't be done until 2011, probably, unless I read longer bits, but that wouldn't be fair to the rest of you, so I can't do that. So I'll edit longer passages during the time in-between meetings and post them for you to read. Then it's down to you guys to give feedback up to your usual standards... :)
The way things are going now, I'll probably get to 80,000 words by the end of the month as planned. (I reached 75,000 today).
April, in addition to typing The Other Oz, is Finish First Draft Month, May and June are Major Editing/Revising, I'll order my free copy by the end of June, and then I'll do more fixing while sending out letters... Exciting, yes? I just hope I can actually manage it. Everything looks so simple and easy in my imagination, but I bet it'll be a lot more difficult to actually pull it off.

But in the meantime, I'm sitting here with this unbelievable slow laptop that is sort of mine specifically for the purposes of Writing Downstairs, eating Girl Scout Cookies and drinking iced tea while my neighbors and family play basketball outside.
Today has been a good day, both productivity and food-wise. (Also: biscuits for breakfast. Yum.)

Thoughts? Suggestions? Dashing of dreams?

Also: a teaser from what I wrote today: "liquid intestine"

The funny thing about the title of this post is, well, I actually rarely drink iced tea. We didn't have any lemonade in the house today.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Procrastination in Productivity's Clothing

I refuse to post/email Clockwork for a number of reasons, one of which being that I just like to make you guys wait. :P

But the most important one is this: I get better feedback from you if I read a few chapters at a time. If I give you all of it to read, the specifics will be lost.

Why am I not in school right now, you ask? Maybe you aren't asking, but I will tell you anyway. I'm getting a simple dental surgery done this morning. I'm not allowed to eat or drink anything, so I'm starving until they start dripping "sugar-water" into me through the IV. Which will probably not be for at least another hour and a half, since my appointment's at 9:30.

Right. Moving on.

The second reason is that whenever I bring pages to a meeting to read to you, it's the 3rd draft. Words 1- around 62,000 are in their second draft, and when I print them out, I attack it with my blue pen before bringing it to a meeting. I don't want you reading the parts in their 2nd or 1st versions. Let me make it better before you read it.

The third reason: if you finish everything that I've written and are clamoring for more (in theory), I'll feel pressured to get another few chapters out as often as possible. I'll give less attention to the quality, and more to the quantity. I want the 1st draft to be as good as possible, because a) it saves me time in editing and b) I feel less ashamed of it.

The fourth reason: Reading it aloud to you in itself is amazingly helpful. I hear when you laugh, or make some other noise. I can tell when sections are droning on a bit long. I catch awkward phrasing that I didn't catch by looking at it.

The fifth reason: Reading it in pieces gives me time to think about it and give myself feedback. Even if each of you kept a notebook next to you while reading and wrote down every single little thing that came to mind (and who would do that? I wouldn't), I wouldn't be giving as much specific thought to each section.

Lastly: Thanks for being awesome, guys. Going to a meeting always gets me inspired to work on something, regardless of what it is. This week, I ended up writing about 800 words of Clockwork before I went to bed and editing the chapters I read to you. After the surgery, while I'm eating ice cream and doing other generally envy-worthy things (there are definitely advantages, even though I don't get to see any of my friends at school today), I'll work on it some more. Speaking of which, I should go to that now. This blog post is Procrastination disguised as Productivity.

Oh, and what did you all think of Terry/Reymfla getting her name from an unknown book (no, I did not actually get her name from a book)? I feel like it was a weak point in the chapter, but that's actually probably what I would do if I was looking for a new name. Does it work?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pink Nation- Lyrics!

One thing I've learned today: songs need considerable editing just like novels and short stories do. Unfortunately, it's the story I need edited for class by tomorrow, not the song. Guess which one I finished.

Without further ado...

Pink Nation


There's just one country that's the best in everything
We've got people on both ends of the string
We've got the fattest, we've got the thinnest
We've got the slobbiest, and we've got the trimmest
both sucking up money in a vortex of greed
Keeping from people the things that they need


And there's one kind of people the others don't have at all
We've got loads of them and they are Pinks
They've got their big pink faces
And their pink sunburns
From fat, blush, and tanning
They never learn
It's a Pink Nation
Pink Nation all around
Pink Nation
Pink Nation plummeting toward the ground


We eat and work and argue, and laze around the house
When the weekend comes, we don't get off the couch
We've got the strongest, we've got the weakest
We've got the boldest, and we've got the meekest
Zombified by stupid shows like the Marriage Ref
I can't help but think "WTF?"



Pink nation, pink nation
At least we've got a space station
But also CEOs in mansions with loads of free time
While Hatians sit on streets with barely a dime
There's both good and bad in the USA, I find
But it's the worldsuck that's making me lose my mind


Segregation coming back in schools to save about an hour
The Board's appeasing parents to remain in power
Gravity of culture's dragging all of us down
Lack of moral motivation turning smiles into frowns
Sports pumped with money while academics get less
Won't even get to try hard physics tests


Currently the most important order of business regarding this: does anyone have any suggestions as to how I should change the lyrics?

And do you want to write the music? My composing skills are...let's just say that it's questionable as to whether or not they even exist. :)

(Update since I got home and am now finishing the post). I tried to figure out the music...but I ended up accidentally figuring out the choruses to two of the songs on This Machine Pwns Noobs. It's when I attempt to write music that I feel like a creative failure...anyways.


That's the line that marks the space where I change topics completely. Why make another post when this one will work just as well?

I started reading the last of the galleys I have today: The Ghosts of Ashbury High.
 It's amazing. I love it. The story is told through 4(?) different students' final exams in Gothic Fiction (the assignment is to write a memoir exploring the topic of first impressions using their knowledge of gothic fiction). Three of them are writing about the same thing, while the other is ignoring the "personal memoir" part and retelling the true (true, as in, within the fiction of the book) story of a guy in 1806. I have a feeling this story hooks up with the main one later on...

Time for dinner. Fajitas and yellow rice. Yum.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Before I Fall....Finished

I finished the book today. It wasn't as much of a piece of crap as I thought it would be. It got better about halfway through. Sam's actions during the day she relived varied enough throughout the last half to make it bearable. Sam became a bit more of a decent person as the story went on, so that was good as well.
However, the end was still pretty cliche. I wouldn't recommend the book. However, if any of you want to read it anyway, say so and I'll bring it next week. Otherwise, I'll just give it a spot on my shelf in which to collect dust until someone either in my family or one of you guys wants to read it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pink Nation- Where I Get Many of My Ideas

I was going to include this with the last post, but it is about an entirely different topic, so I am making a new one.
Last night I had a dream that Hank Green (of the vlogbrothers, and also my favorite musical artist) came to the elementary school I have mentioned before to do a show. He was teaching me and a bunch of other people (who in real life don't even know of his existence) how to play his songs. There was an entire band, including guitars, ukeleles, trumpets...
I didn't have any music, because I was playing guitar. He told me the chord progression (C-F-G-A), and started passing out music to the other people. I didn't recognize the song we were playing, which was weird because I have heard every single one of his songs except for the ones he is still working on.
I looked at the music of someone near me, and saw that the song was called "Pink Nation." This is not a song Hank has ever written. That made me more confiused.
The alarm went off. I woke up with chords and a song title in my head- a song that does not exist.
Needless to say, I have begun writing the song.

Most of my ideas for creative works (be it song or story) are either leftover from a dream, or something that came to me in the evening when I was almost asleep. Clockwork was like this. Parts of When The Sun Was In Your Hair (which, yes, is just psychotherapy, but some of the more story bits) were like this. The first wizard rock song I ever wrote (and best, so I believe), "Red-Headed Lament," was like this. Several other things probably were too, but I can't think of them right now.
Speaking of waking up with things in my head, one time it was a word: "ergo." I didn't know what it meant. I had never heard it before. I looked it up, and it turned out to be a Latin word. It means "therefore." I use it fairly often now. There's no point with this story about that word-- it's just an interesting thing I felt like telling you.

The point is: sleep/almost sleep is good for being creative. The first chapter of Clockwork, which I believe to be the best part of it, was written at midnight, when I needed sleep. I planned on going to sleep in 15 minutes. My brain was preparing for it. Maybe it's because the subconscious is coming to the forefront in preparation for dreams, and maybe it's just because my logical mind is relaxing and shutting down for the night, but it works. That's where I get many of my ideas. Perhaps I'll share "Pink Nation" with you once it's finished.

Before I Fall

Today I started reading Before I Fall, which is one of the galleys I took home last week. It was published today, but that's an irrelevant detail.
I'm around page 150 out of 480-- just so you have an idea of where I'm coming from.
I don't like this book very much. The main character and her friends are cruel, nasty people. I can't identify with them in the slightest (which isn't necessarily a problem). The only things I have in common with them are gender and age. I have those things in common with a lot of people. I feel like these characters are providing a bad, immoral example for readers. Again, lots of main characters are like this, and I don't have a problem with it. The problem with this is that they are portrayed as good. They're popular. They're happy. They've got boyfriends. They're supposed to be the people teenage girls aspire to be. They disgust me.
But even that isn't the main problem I have with the book. I can get around these issues. That just means that this isn't my type of book. I could put it down with little if any resentment if not for the final problem.
The plot of the book consists of the main character (Samantha) dying, then reliving her final day on Earth seven times. Interesting concept. It could have been done well. But no. The author (so far, I'm only halfway through the 3rd time, I think) basically took the exact same 50-odd page story and rewrote it seven times while changing slight details, adding/subtracting paragraphs based on those slight changes, and adding things such as "I'm having deja vu. This has happened before. I know what's going to happen. Am I going crazy?" That's not an actual quote by the way, but that's pretty much what Sam is thinking.
She may as well have written a story, revised it seven times (which is not a problem. Revising many times is good), and then decided to use all of the revisions as her final copy.
Maggie's done a similar thing in which she rewrote the same scene from three different perspectives. I only heard one of these, but I liked the idea. The thing was, she didn't combine them into one cohesive storyline. If she were to publish them together, she would present them as three views on the same story- not one story as a whole. This I am fine with. Before I Fall I am not.

At the moment, I plan on finishing the book. I want to see how it ends, and I would feel like it defeated me if I didn't. Of course, if it continues to deteriorate, I will stop. Probably.

Okay, rant is over now.