Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Writing Again

I will not jinx myself. I will not jinx myself. I will not jinx myself. *eyes shut tight, spin in a circle three times, jump up and down, jazz hands*  Whew. Now that I've protected myself with the revered Anti-Jinx spell (highly technical, obvs), we may continue.

There's an end in sight to the renovation, I swear. Every piece of sheetrock inches us closer. After the sheetrock there's spackling all ten thousandy-billion screws and seams, then washing six seven months of demolition dust out of the wood floors, and finally four coats of paint/primer. And then bedrooms!

Yes, it's overwhelming. I've been ready to finish for a while now. And even though there are still a million other things to do, I imagine we'll be taking it easy for at least a month lazing around and enjoying summer, and trying to regain our Carefree Young People status that we seem to have misplaced somewhere between "getting our own place" and "acquiring a whirlwind."

Don't get me wrong: having our own place is absolutely amazing and I would never pass it up, even knowing now how much work we'll have to put into it. It's just very hard to truly relax when you're sleeping in the dining room and walking around a pile of building materials in the living room, and your books may as well be in another state than just at your parents house for as often as you get to see them. (I miss my books.)

In any case, I've finally reached the point where the need to get the story out has outweighed everything else. (Yay!) I'm sitting down for an hour here and there, and writing a few pages each time. But more importantly, I'm thinking about the story constantly, and watching the scene run over and over in my head until I finally get a chance to commit more of it to paper. Work has calmed to a dull roar (that is, I've grown accustomed to juggling five books at a time, when my usual was two, maybe three), which gives me enough free brainspace to think about the story in the back of my mind (or the front, that happens too), something I haven't been able to do for several months.

Even though I knew every corner of my life was crazy and that it was okay not to write for the moment, that I would pick it up again when things had calmed a bit, it's nice to know that it was actually true. It hurt not to write, even though I had no energy for it I still wanted to do it. It was painful to watch characters come into being only to fade away because I couldn't tell their story. And I was worried that I'd lost it. You know, "it," the need to be more than just a reader, to be a creator as well.

I've also been seriously enjoying writing with pen and paper in a notebook. Probably more than I should, or is healthy. But frankly, I stare at a computer screen all day at work. The last thing I want to do is stare at a computer screen once I'm home. For a long time I always started a WIP on paper and eventually migrated to the keyboard because I thought I can't be a "serious" writer if I don't take it "seriously," in other words, treating it like a job (read: taking all the fun out of it). So I'm going to be a hopeless romantic and write with a pen and paper and let that feed my soul. It also helps separate work writing and fun writing. Yes, it's much slower. Everything has it's sacrifices. I also can't click and drag or add paragraphs where I left important information out, and there is a lot of flipping back and forth before I can finish a scene. But I love it. I love the feeling of the paper and I love flipping through and looking at all the pages I've filled.

Plus, I feel much safer carrying a notebook with me than my laptop. Not that I'm worried about getting mugged, or anything (not that it can't happen, I just don't bother worrying about it). But I always feel guilty if I bring my laptop on the train, only to read the whole time and never pull it out. And then it stays locked in my file cabinet all day. And then on the way home it's too crowded and there's no way I'm going to write when ten people can be reading over my shoulder. It's too cold, too technical for writing. At least, that's how I feel about it right now. I worry about my laptop. I worry about losing the only file of my draft in freak accidents. I have this deep-rooted mistrust of all things technological. I think this stems partly from growing up in an old house with above-ground power lines that lost power constantly, and partly because I have an irrational fear of the apocalypse wiping out all traces of human existence. The fire or flooding that may threaten my notebook (and is much more reasonable) doesn't hold a candle to my fear of a freak solar flare wiping out the world's computing abilities. It doesn't make sense, I know. And printing out periodic versions of my drafts doesn't seem to help, either. So I'll stick with the notebook, thanks.

Have some articles I've been enjoying lately:
Writing Magic by Chuck Wendig
I Sneak into your Brain and Make you Think my Thoughts by Maggie Stiefvater
On Revising: Embrace Tedium, Embrace Chaos by Kristin Cashore
On Writing Despair (Juicebox Mix) by Libba Bray

Keep on keeping on, peeps.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

House-y Things

Look at those sexy walls.... and ceilings! It's almost like we have actual bedrooms in our house! The bedrooms, each half the size of the living room, are each taking just as long to hang the sheetrock because there are so many damn things to cut around. But the stack of sheetrock in the living room is slowly getting smaller and smaller!
The other bedroom still looks like this.
Remember that tiny pile of stuff I move in with way back when? It's now evolved to this. We consolidated the "stuff" in the front room with the tools in the back room, and Phil moved most of his stuff over. (Most of my stuff is still at my parents.) Once the bedrooms are done and we have fancy things like dressers and bookshelves, most of this will have a place to live. But we were able to make room for...
This! An actual bed! In an actual bedroom! Granted, it's just temporary, but do you have any idea how luxurious a bed is after sleeping on an air mattress in the dining room for four months. AMAZING. We ripped out the carpet (we also ripped out the carpet in the basement) and it feels really great to get it all out of the house. We were going to wait to do this when the bedrooms were done, but nothing ever goes as planned.
And here is the no-longer-a-bedroom dining room! With the awesome table! And chairs, so we can eat like normal people instead of balancing plates on our knees! (And speaking of knees, that's mine on the right.) And the purty floor that goes into the kitchen and will eventually also go into the nook and the hallway. But that's a job for another, hopefully soon, day. The light looks really yellow coming from the kitchen. It's not that yellow in real life...
The pretty clock that fits the mildly-steampunk theme to the kitchen. (Except it TICKS. DIE TICKING DIE.) This won't be a problem when we are sleeping upstairs, but until that happens I am in sleeping right next to the kitchen, and THE TICKING IT DOESN'T STOP.
And my nails, because I had a picture. They glow in the dark! And yes, I'm 25 years old and still can't paint between the lines. I'm over it.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Convos with my 2 year old. O.M.G.

2Cellos - We Found love. Thanks to Kristin Cashore for posting this. I've been watching their videos all morning!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ready Player One

A long, long time ago, not long after this book came out, one of my good friends read Ready Player One and loved it. She told me about all the 80s references and the great story, and how it was one of her all-time favorite books. But she also mentioned how a lot of the references were over her head, because we are all children of the 90s. And that completely killed it for me. While it stayed on my radar because she had loved it so much, it never got further than that. I just wasn't interest.

Fast forward to several months ago. My company keeps a "Leave a book, Take a book" mini-library in the cafe. I check it out every time I'm waiting for my daily gruel to microwave. One day, a hardcover of Ready Player One appears. I grab it. R loved it, and now here it is, beckoning me to read it, a sign to stop neglecting it! I bring it back to my cube and stick it on my shelf. One of my coworkers, J, comes up a few days later, and immediately gushes that I was lucky to grab it, that he wasn't quick enough and missed out. I gave it to him. I wasn't going to be reading it anytime soon, I only grabbed it because it appeared and I had already been thinking about it.

He brings in a paperback copy a few days later and gives it to me. Tells me it's one of his all-time favorite books and I NEEED to read it. I tell him my qualms about all the over-my-head 80s references, and he said not to worry about it because he gave it to his young son, who also devoured it. Ok, I say, I'll take the paperback.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I finish my book on the train in the morning, on my way in to work. It was Little Brother. It was amazing, one of my all-time favorite books. I am depressed because I've had several amazing books in a row, and now I've no idea what to read next and I am going to be bored out of my mind on the commute home. So I start raiding my file cabinets, looking through the books I lent to people and never brought home and the books other people have lent to me. I see Ready Player One. I pick it up on a whim (I've had it for several months now, maybe I should just read a few pages) and I start reading. I am in love with it by the time I am finished the 5-page introduction.

So let this serve as a warning to YOU ALL that this book is amazing and don't let something someone may have said to you about all the references turn you away. This is one seriously amazing book. I even created a new word for it, and I'm pretty in love with it because it describes the book so perfectly:

This book is a cross between The Matrix and National Treasure. It has amazing characters who you cheer for the entire time and they're smart and witty and they are normal people doing extraordinary things. The references are mostly from the 80s, but I recognized more than I thought I would, and even the ones I didn't know didn't bother me because Ernie Cline wove them so seamlessly into the narrative. Seriously, this is now one of MY favorite books of all time. I would have read it a second time, except I went out for coffee with another friend right after finishing it, and I was talking about it the whole night that she didn't let me go home with it again. I gave it to her, and she is loving it. This is just one of those books that deserves every good thing said about it, and it's really a shame that it isn't mainstream enough for it to become the next Gone Girl. I was seriously slow to get to this book, and it really makes me cringe when I think about how easy it would have been for me to never pick it up.

Do I need to give you an actual summary of the book? It takes place in a bleak (but interesting) future, and the internet has become synonymous with life, controlling pretty much everything. You go to school in the Oasis, shop, play games, everything. There are planets you can go to that are exact replicas of the Death Star and Serenity and you can investigate them. It's a cross between an MMORPG and RL. The creator of the Oasis dies without an heir to the company, and creates an Easter Egg hidden somewhere in the Oasis, and a series of complex clues to find it. Whoever finds the Easter Egg gets the company, and the competition is intense. Wade Watts is just a chubby poor kid from the stacks with no money and nothing going for him, and yet he starts kicking ass. Seriously, even if this description doesn't sound good to you, like it's too obscure or you don't think you'll be into the video game aspect of the story, give it a shot anyway. Just go read the introduction and see if you fall in love with it as quickly as I did. 

You know you are reading a great book when you don't want it to end more than you want to know the end. But you finish it anyway, because how can you stop reading such a good book?

Here's the official description from BN anyway:
       At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
       It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
       Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
       And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.
       For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
       And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
       Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
       A world at stake.
       A quest for the ultimate prize.
       Are you ready?
( BN | GR )

Even with how amazing Graceling and Little Brother were and the other great books I've read this year, Ready Player One tops them all. If I find another book that is better than this one, I am a very lucky girl. Seriously folks, you have to read this book.