I feel like my responses to these prompts are getting shorter and shorter. I really hope this isn’t a trend.
Running away isn’t as easy as they say. I bet no one ever tried to run through a marsh, having the mud suck you in, and each step is a labor unto itself. I lost my shoes a few paces back, but it didn’t make it any easier to wade through the thick mass that was trying to swallow me alive. A root extended into the mud and I threw myself onto it. With a grunt and with a mix of colorful words, I drew myself out. The earth was slow to release me, and when it did it was with a wet plop! I collapsed on my back against the root, shivering (I had lost my socks sometime ago as well), and exhausted.
Lights danced between the thickly woven trees but no sounds followed. No splashed from the murky waters, no crackle of broken branches. Nothing at all except for my breathing and the distant hum of crickets.
They didn’t need to make any sound.
I rolled over onto my knees and pushed forward. Running isn’t easy, but it is easily my least favorite thing to do. The uneven ground didn’t make it better. Each step, each time my heel stuck the ground, a shot of pain reverberated in me. The mud stiffened on my pants, locking the coldness within. My chest burned, I couldn’t breathe.
The lights burned brighter now. I couldn’t escape. The marsh looked similar no matter which directions I turned. Moonlight trickled through the dense foliage overhead but not enough to navigate by. I stopped, I couldn’t go on. My knees trembled, my blood was boiling, I had to lean against a broad trunk in order to keeping standing. I swallowed air in hungry gulps. I wasn’t made for running. They made sure of that.
The crickets stopped singing and the ringing silence fell upon me.
This is actually my second response. I stopped my first attempt after the first paragraph. You aren’t supposed to stop, I know, but it was worse than this one. One of my story ideas leaked into it and it turned into a mess. I’m a bit happier with this one.
I’m very bad at finishing projects. I still have all my beads and supplies for when I used to make key chains in middle school (all that stuff is in a box somewhere at my parents’ house). Even after giving more than half away, I still have so many beads.
I have boxes of unfinished crochet projects, cross-stitching, and earrings.
Maybe because I get bored easily?
Well for crochet, sometimes it’s because I get tired of seeing the same color. Most times, it’s because when making amigurumi (crochet dolls/toys), my hands cramp. Those types of projects require tight stitching to ensure that the stuffing won’t fall out. I remember I got calluses for crocheting three hours in a row…not making that mistake again.
So, I took up cross-stitching. It’s fun, easy on the hands, but takes a while.
As for earrings, it’s fun and quick. I can churn out a few pairs in half an hour. But my real joy comes from crochet.
I find that the closer Christmas comes, the more anxious I become. I will not have enough time to make everyone’s presents. I always say I’m going to start early in the year in order to give everyone at least something.
Yea, that never happens. Maybe that should be my New Year’s Resolution, to actually prepare ahead of time.
So far, these are the projects I want to finish for Christmas.
Macaw (for mom; can’t get the wings just right yet)
Toadette (present for my niece)
Leafeon (just never got around to putting on his eyes and the accents)
The first one is supposed to be a Macaw. My mother used to have a Paulie (from the movie) doll that would greet people when they came to our place. I think it broke, she had that thing forever. She loves parrots, so I figured why not make a fake one? No poop to clean (birds poop way too much), or maintenance of any kind. Basically, it’s going to be a place holder until I can buy her a real parrot. Don’t worry, it will be legal.
The second is Toadette for one of my nieces. She recently got into Mario at school. Two years ago it was Sonic, which I made for her birthday. This year, she’s into Pokémon as well (totally not my fault) and I made her a Snivy.
The third is a Leafeon, one favorite Pokémon of my best friend. He is still unfinished since last year…I’m that bad. Really the only things he needs are eyes and some accents, yet he is still unfinished…
The last two are of a cat plushie for my other best friend who moved to Colorado. She was unable to take her cat with her, so hopefully this will cheer her up.
For my nephew, I’m attempting to make a Great White Shark. Literally, all he talks about are sharks, robots, and cars. His favorite story is Goldifish and the 3 Sharks, which I have to tell him every night much to his sister’s dislike.
Yet, that still leaves my other nieces and nephew who are 13, 10, and 9 (too old for dolls?), my brothers, my sister-in-laws, my dad, my other friends, and so many others.
I like making gifts when I can, I feel they are more personal then just buying a gift, yet so many presents make my head spin.
Seriously, I have to start earlier to avoid all this anxiety.
I know I said that I would be using prompts from the jar, but hear me out…I was scrolling through prompts and I saw this one. As soon as I read the sentence the story sprung up, I had to write it right away. I really love those moments when the story takes over, I guess that is why I love writing, to reach that moment when I’m not even aware that I’m telling a story, the story just…is. It isn’t much but here goes…
This is the fifth door he has knocked on but they answered the same, hello? Oh, no we haven’t, sorry. Some didn’t even look at the paper in his hands. Maybe it was the way they trembled or how terribly crumbled the paper was. He should have taken better care of the paper. He should have taken better care of her. He goes to the next door and knocks, the words fall from his lips automatically, just tumble out. He feels like he is just an observer to this dialogue, and already he tuned the other person out. He is ready to continue his routine when the person stops him, yes yes she looks familiar.
He stops. He needs to fix his face. Needs to find the right emotion. Relief? Hopeful? Happy? He settles on hopeful, he turns around and let’s out a sigh, hand over his chest. That’s great news to hear, he says. The man, older, possibly retired, lets him in and tells him, to wait right here, in the living room. It was crowded with little knickknacks, like ceramic shoes, roosters, and a display of bells that would seem better fit in the place of some rich English elite, crammed together on shelves and tables. The couches even had the annoying plastic that sticks to your skin even on cool days. The man comes with what he presumed to be his wife. She’s short and smelled of very old perfume, old not like vintage but old as in expired. He didn’t even know if perfume could good bad, but if it did she was wearing it. A light blanket of dust had settled over the souvenirs, the old woman tells him with pride she gets a bell from every city they had visited. He didn’t even know cities carried the same brand, or is if type, of bells. They make small talk, the old woman gives him coffee in a rosy China teacup. He leaves it on the table, no need to give others another clue of his whereabouts. He asks where she was last seen, the couple look at each other and think. They go hmm. They go umm. The plastic crinkles as they shift to think more comfortably. The woman gazes up and to the right, staring at the only empty corner of the room. Her husband shakes his head, mumbles, then shakes it again. Finally, before the awkwardness set in, the old man snaps his fingers and tells him it was about three days ago, at the supermarket. His wife nods encouragingly, yes yes, she says, that was definitely her. Pretty young thing with the big eyes. Sweet thing, poor thing, they said. Gave them a quarter for the shopping cart.
Was there more? He lets them think a bit longer but can see from their scrunched up faces, there was none. They have nothing more to offer so he goes. He thanks them for their time, shakes their hands. The old woman drew him into a hug, pulling him down to her bosom. He chokes on the scent of her floral perfume. She pats him on the back and tells him that they’ll keep an eye out for her. He says thank you again, not because he’s thankful but because that was what was expected. He doesn’t feel like continuing down the block but he knows they are watching, shaking their heads in pity and wishing him the best. So he continues with his rehearsed lines and accepting their bland replies, but no one else seems to have remembered her, just that old couple. That unfortunate couple. He’ll make sure that no one remembers seeing them.
I’ve been reading “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz and it leaked into here. It took awhile to get used to Diaz’s writing as he didn’t use quotations when people were talking, but looking back it reads more conversational, well at least to me.
I found it interesting that towards the end, I was substituting “him” with “me”, like “wishing me the best”. It was weird, to say the least. I mean I am “him”, in a sense, but without my notice, I did become him.
One of my favorite mythological creatures is the gargoyle. Most are pretty creepy, but the one above looks cute! like a lizard-kitty hybrid. One of my favorite shows as a kid was “Gargoyles”. I didn’t remember much, mostly that these winged creatures that turned to stone by day and by night protected the city of New York. It was great! Action, adventure, betrayals, and all that jazz. It was awesome! (solely in my humble opinion).
But what was it that made it so special? Memorable? As a kid I never put much thought into it, it was cool so I liked it. Case closed. Yet, as I became more serious with my writing, I’ve gotten into the habit of analyzing things that I like. So, I re-watched the series and was amazed at all the themes and details I didn’t notice as a child. Gargoyles is a mixture of genres, has a great batch of identifiable and unique characters, and deals with some pretty heavy themes for a children’s show.
A trend that seems to be rising is the emergence of female protagonists, just look at the successes of Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. We need strong female roles and I glad for this trend. But for me, Gargoyles was the first one that exposed me strong female leads. Take Elisa Maza, for example. Not only was she a female detective (strong, witty, and competent) but she was a POC. She was of both African and Native American descent, on her mother’s and father’s side respectively. I feel like this was a big deal because most cartoons featured Caucasian characters as the Leads.
Besides Elisa, there was Demona, one of the main antagonists of the series. I love her. You just can’t get solid, 3-dimensional female villains like her. My problem with female characters is that they are very 1-dimensional and stereotypical, such as the damsel in distress or the “bitch” (I really dislike that word). Most female villains, especially in children’s stories and shows, turn evil because of their vanity, jealously or they were scorned by an old lover. Their lives revolve around men, whether for their youth/beauty to a get a lover or for revenge for and/or against their lover. But back to Demona. As per the norm, she wasn’t always evil, her plan to protect her clan went awry, and her betrayal by humans lead to her heart hardening. The world turned black and white for her, her goals in life now narrowed down to the survival and protection of her people and revenge on humans (I don’t blame her, we are pretty crappy at times). Her hatred is what fueled her, but she really did believe she was doing the right thing by destroying humans. I loved the complexity of her character and how easily she grew from ripping people apart, to become conniving and manipulating people to carry out her plans (I have weird role models, huh?).
Next, is Angela. Angela was introduced in the second season (I believe, my memory is hazy) as the daughter of both Goliath and Demona. She is strong and independent like the rest of her clan. When Goliath returns to New York with Angela, the younger gargoyles flip out (Gargoyle hormones). The following episodes show the three, Lexington, Broadway, and Brooklyn, fighting over Angela’s affection to the point of her annoyance. She lets them know that they shouldn’t look at her as a female, but as a member of their clan. She didn’t need their protection; she wanted to be seen as an equal.
Throughout the series, gender roles didn’t matter. Both men and women could be evil (they had solid reasons than just “being evil for the heck of it”). Both genders could fight, on equal ground no less. I also like how the clothing for male and female Gargoyles didn’t differ much. I mean, yes what the female is wearing is “revealing”, yet the males are wearing just as little (yay equality), but it makes sense for the characters.
It really saddens me that kid shows today aren’t showing complex characters anymore. I shudder when my niece watches certain shows such as Teen Titans Go. Yes, the shows can be entertaining but they aren’t making kids think. I love parodies, don’t get me wrong, yet this prolonged ridiculing of characters is heart-wrenching. Ideally, I would love it if she read more, but she feels like it’s boring (gasp!).
Moreover, shows are getting shorter. When I was a kid (which wasn’t that long ago), shows were thirty minutes. Like in Gargoyles, shows used to contain long story arcs that would take several episodes to resolve the conflict. Now shows are fifteen minutes long, or less (not counting the commercial breaks). Conflicts are shallow, resolved quickly, if at all.
“Gargoyles” is a mixture of both fantasy and science-fiction genres. The fantasy aspect of it pertains to the wide range of mythologies (don’t forget the magic) tied into the story. Science-fiction covers the technological side of the story (robots, clones, lasers). It really is a cool mix. Basically, if you ever wondered how someone from the middle ages would react to modern times.
Gargoyles tackled several themes during its run time. The most prominent one would be the topic of racism. When the Gargoyles are finally revealed to the public, a sect called the Quarrymen (similar to the KKK) rises up to “deal” with them. This theme can also be applied to the interracial (interspecies?) relationship between Goliath, the clan leader of the Gargoyles, and Elisa Maza, the human detective. I remember hearing that the third season of Gargoyles (when their relationship becomes canon and Gargoyles are no longer a secret) was seen as controversial. Was it because of the parallels the show drew to racism in the U.S. or was it due to the romance between these two characters? I’m not sure, but as a child I squealed in delight when they became a couple.
The show was also culturally diverse. Throughout the series, the characters traveled across the globe and interacted with different cultures. Gargoyles are friendly individuals and were quick to befriend others, regardless of their background.
Another huge theme in the Gargoyle series was the bond between people, including family, friends, and even enemies. Demona, even though she is on opposing sides of her ex-mate and daughter, she still chooses to protect Angela from others, and even her own plans of destruction. The bonds between the Gargoyles and their non-gargoyle friends is also strong, such as the trust and friendship between Elisa and the other Gargoyles.
Lexington and Alexander, Xanatos’ son
Jesus preached to love our enemies. It is not easy to love someone who has wronged you in the past, thus this brings us to the relationship between the Gargoyles and David Xanatos. Xanatos is a self-made billionaire (he went to the past, got a super old penny which he had arranged to be sent to himself in modern times. Awesome, right?), and another antagonist throughout the series. The relationship he has with the Gargoyles is rocky, given he tried to kill them several times, ran them from their home, manipulated them into doing his dirty work, but in the end, they always come to an agreement, albeit grudgingly on the Gargoyles’ side. When Xanatos’ son was kidnapped, the gargoyles protected the infant, sometimes they even babysat. It changed Xanatos’ perspective because he had treated them horribly in the past, yet they didn’t hesitate to help him.
Gargoyle family bonds were also not tied by blood. Gargoyles believed in communal raising of their young, so all the children were loved and treated equally. Princess Katherine saved the Gargoyle eggs and became their adoptive mother. This became important later on, as Angela believed all humans to be kind like her adoptive family and Elisa. She didn’t want to believe such racism existed, but it made her appreciate the family she had all the more.
In short, Gargoyles was a cartoon but it held complex characters and story arcs that modern cartoons lack. I feel if we are going to be feeding kids junk food, at least make it the 60% reduced salt/fat. We owe it to the emerging generations to give them quality stories, whether through television or through a book. I’m all down for “quick fixes” but not all the time, like candy, you need them in small doses.
Sorry for the long post, but it was something I’ve been meaning to rant write about for a while.
In my last post, I mentioned Mistakes 1-3. This was an issue I ran into when I began crocheting. The following images are based on Bonita Patterns’ Crocodile Stitch Slouchy Beret. My skills cannot do the actual beret justice.
Let’s move onto the exhibits, shall we? Exhibit A: Mistake 1a and 1b.
Now, in patterns the recommended yarn weight and hook size are given. I tried to go the cheap route because sport weight yarn is so much more expensive than the worsted weight yarn I can get from Wal-Mart.
See where this is going?
The red was my first unfortunate mistake. The yarn actually ripped when I tried to close the hole. Twice. I had to sew it close. I might put a button on it to cover the weird marks.
Overall, it’s shape is weird and it is very heavy (for a hat). On the plus side, the color is pretty?
Yea…let’s go with that.
On to the second mistake!
This came out better than my first attempt. The yarn was listed as worsted, but it was so soft and shiny. I bought it anyways and here is the result.
I love the color because it makes me feel like a dragon >:3 but it’s also misshapen. I found that this yarn works best with simple berets. I’ve also used the yarn to make little kid’s hats. Unfortunately, I have none to show, for those were the first to be sold, and my shiny yarn stash has dwindled to almost nothing.
Thus, unto my most current attempt.
This one is the closest to my ideal but no cigar. Also from Wal-Mart, (not that I hate Wal-Mart, they just lack the variety that I need) is this Baby Sport Yarn. I thought it would work seeing as it is sport weight, yet what happened?
I guess it isn’t the yarn but my own inadequate skills.
Perchance I’ll make another attempt with my Mulberry Brava Sport Yarn.
I’ve learned my lesson. While it might be fine to change yarn weights for let’s say amigurumi, but when it comes to apparel, it’s best to follow the instructions.
There’s something I would like to try, it involves this little jar here.
About a week ago I came up with this idea to do blind writing prompts. I cut my index cards into four rectangles, wrote a prompt on them, then placed them in this jar. I got up to 40 by the time my hand cramped up.
I hoped this would help me to get more words on paper (so to speak) rather than spending time scrolling through pages and pages of prompts until I feel the “AHA!” moment.
Most of my “brilliant” ideas never seem to stick, I hope this one does.
Here is the first prompt I got:
Take a timer and set it to 10 minutes. Start the timer and begin writing from the point of view of a person drifting in space. The catch? In 10 minutes they will run out of oxygen.
The beeping intensified, thrumming its incessant high pitch ring into my brain. My stomach did loop-the-loops as I went upside down, flipping effortlessly. I couldn’t stop flipping over, spinning, or whatever the hell I was doing. Although surrounded by the stars, their light never seemed so dim. The pinpoints of light were like blurs as if ink smeared across a paper. A black paper. A very empty black sheet of paper.
I wasn’t slowing down. The beeping was getting faster or was that my heart? It hammered in beat with the alarm.
5 minutes now.
That’s all I have left. I was drifting away, the ship was no where to be seen. Maybe if I tried twisting my body, try to at least slow my inevitable voyage into the endless abyss. My beaths are shorter now. Deep breaths. slow. On who am I kidding, I’m not going to live.
Part of me knows it’s useless but my body keeps jerking, just a little bit more.
I feel myself slowing. My lunch is in my throat. I swallow. No need to make my day worse than to suffocate in my own vomit. Yes! I’m spinning the other way now. The Ship! Oh sweet mercy! I see it. A dot extends towards me on a bungee cord. I’m crying. They saw me. Just a bit longer –
This piece was inspired by the movie Gravity (as if I needed another reason to fear Outer Space). I was actually rooting for my guy but the timer ran out. We can’t fight time, well unless you’re Max Caulfield.
Even from this small passage, I’ve learned a bit more. I still have problems with tones and description, most of the things I wrote don’t make sense. While typing this up, I had to stop myself several times from adding more to it, I needed it to stay raw. I think that’s the best way to analyze it.
I hope to at least try this exercise once a week, take a break from my regular characters and explore for a bit.
At first, I was tempted to toss it back in the jar. It was hard to pick something I didn’t want to write, or feel inspired by, kind of like an English essay prompt, but I like thinking on the spot. I’ve found that all my essays in school were better when I didn’t have much time to plan for it. Which is weird because I don’t like writing stories that aren’t planned to a “T”.
My question to everyone else is, are you a Pantser (write by the seat of your pants), a Planner, or a hybrid of both?
A few days ago, I received my yarn shipment from KnitPicks. I really like them; good prices and quick delivery. I can’t survive off of Walmart’s limited section (see Mistakes 1-3) and the craft stores aren’t near me so, I only go on special occasions (namely when someone else is driving).
I’m super stoked about the projects I’m going to make this winter. The Variegated yarn came out so much softer than I anticipated; it was worsted weight and here I am comparing it to my stacks of RedHeart. I wish I bought more because it was being discontinued, still I got two balls, so I’ll be good for a while.
New Yarn!!! I heart sales.
Umber Heather (love the grey undertones)
Mulberry (looks more eggplant to me)
This one is being discontinued. Wish I bought more than just 2
Larch Heather (my favorite)
I began my new project yesterday, mind you I have about twenty-or-so started projects that still require attention, but hey!
Unfortunately, I don’t have an E hook, so I used my D (hook, people). It’s coming out quite nicely. The pattern is from Bonita Patterns. I’ve already made a few projects based on their patterns. The Crocodile Stitch Hood is really popular amongst my friends and I’ve already gifted two. I’m planning to make myself one with the umber heather.
Now, we can all stand up and stretch, sleep, eat, leave the house, all the things we forsook in the name of writing. Go outside and enjoy the crisp autumn air and walk off Thanksgiving feast to make room for the Yuletide.
And I finished!
…Is what I would like to say.
I don’t know about everyone else but I couldn’t complete it. Oh, I have plenty excuses from homework to the stomach flu to writer’s block, but I won’t use ’em. Like Yoda said, “It’s do or do not, there is no try”. Just gotta shrug it off and get back in the ring (training montage anyone?).
Good news is I made some interesting discoveries about my characters. My best friend and I had a conversation yesterday about characters and how they love to run the show.
I’ve heard people talking about how characters can take over a story. That’s so silly, I thought. You’re the writer, you’re the one in control…at least that’s what I used to think. It is a funny thing when characters take on their own life, once they cease being ink and words on a paper (or screen).
There are so many instances, I want to yell at my characters. Why did you do that? You’re not following the outline! I yell as I angrily slap the paper. There are rules you know.
For the most part, I feel like I’m dealing with teenagers, maybe some rowdy toddlers. They do want they want.
My favorite part of writing is discovering my characters. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I’ve discovered a lot about them. For instance, one character that I didn’t like, Viveka, is now close to my heart. She was supposed to be the mean girl trope, harpy-like but she is also kind underneath that posh exterior. I feel bad that I never bothered to get to know her, she isn’t just some little rich girl who has had life handed to her, she’s had to fight for her happiness and struggle with her power (it’s a magical story, pun intended). I like her so much now, she went from a single chapter character to becoming the companion to the protagonist (at least for a while).
The second character goes by the name Cenwig (I pronounce it Sen-vig). I guess going in, he was a bookish little fellow, fighting for knowledge and other noble causes. Turns out, he’s really a big jerk, who loves solving a mystery/challenge regardless of who gets hurt. Re-reading his part, I’m so shocked how much his initial character changed.
Last semester, in my writing class, we had to write a conversation we had with one of our characters. The story I was writing at the time was Mine, which really only had three major characters, Trygg, Toril and the Grimm. I chose Trygg, as he was the main protagonist. I had to scrap the paper several times, because every time he tried to kill me…
It was very disconcerting. I felt like Alan Wake running from my characters in sheer terror, stumbling through darkened woods, cringing at every shadowy crevice.
When I voiced my concerns, the professor laughed. I had made progress, she said.
Thanks, I guess?
Trygg still hates me. He’s like the hamster I had when I was nine: cute but will chew through my hand whenever I pick him up, steals my candy, hates being caged, the usual hamster business.
I also found a method to the madness and will be totally prepared for next year (yea right). Everyone works differently, but I’ve found that I work best when I write in short bursts (20-30 minutes). It would be ideal to continue the routine [write-break-repeat] all day but of course that’s unreasonable when Responsibility is at the door with a shotgun.
Does anyone else have a special routine or method that keeps them writing? And how do you balance writing in your life?