Desolace Update #1

So this is my first “official” Desolace update post. I don’t expect this to be a regular thing because Desolace is going very slowly, but I figured since I’m happy with where I’m at, I may as well talk a bit about what I’ve done with it, talk about it, stuff like that.

I mentioned a couple times in previous posts that I worked on Desolace as one of my projects for one of my creative writing classes last semester. By “worked on” I mean I wrote an analysis on some of my plans for the novel in the future, and wrote, re-wrote and extensively edited the first two chapters. I also wrote (not fully edited yet) the third chapter after classes ended and I plan on writing another two of three over the summer in preparation for my next intermediate creative writing class.

My final grade on my writing submission (the two full chapters) was a solid A, which was my goal, so I’m pretty happy with that and hope I can keep it up.

Desolace has always been in a weird spot in the grand scheme of things. Sure I’ve had a good idea of where I wanted to go with it since the beginning, but writing a book is so much more complicated than knowing your characters and plot. Things tend to happen without your consent because your characters do as they damn will please and your world evolves behind the scenes. It gets frustrating, but part of all that is learning how to control the reins and keep things from diverting too far from your original purpose (or knowing when it is appropriate to let it continue).

A couple things I’ve determined from writing these first few chapters is that without an outline (as I prefer) I’m being really particular about the details I add in, and how scenes transition from one to another. Usually, I leave it choppy or whatever and go back and fix it later, but for some reason, with this project, it’s been really hard to move on to the next part if the previous scenes don’t set up everything right. The result has been three good chapters that transition really well from one to the next, but that also makes it slow as hell.

Even without an outline, though, I’ve got the help of the novel analysis that I wrote on Desolace. It helped me solidify some plot points that I’d been thinking about, fleshed out some traits for my main characters and helped me figure out a lot of the why for the novel. So I think the difficulties of writing the chapters so they transition well aside, I’m in a pretty good place to continue writing a good chunk of the story.

I’m considering writing a brief outline just to organize some of the events I’ve got in my head. I’ve had a couple instances already (I’ve got to go change the ending to the third chapter so it leads into something else first) where I’ve rearranged the order of plot points because it made more sense to do it in a certain order. But it’s a pain in the ass to write it out and then realize it’s too early for that, so I figure it would be worth it to write out all the events I have planned and properly organize them in correlation to each other. I don’t want to do anything too fancy, just some bullet points that I can rearrange things visually rather than in my head.

Anyway, I think that’s it for now. Next time I might go into more detail on the characters and what the story is about, but I need to work on accurately summing it all up before I can write anything about that.

~Erynn

 

 

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Wahoo!

Yesterday was my last day of classes for the second semester. I suppose the year isn’t officially over since there are still exams, but without classes left, I feel like it’s close enough to the end to start celebrating.

It feels pretty good to have made it through the whole year. I mean yeah, I’m still taking summer classes, but that’s a little different. I was expecting to make it to the end and absolutely dread the coming year, but it didn’t end up like that at all.

Okay, so kind of a funny story. Last summer when I was deciding what classes I was going to take this year, there was this creative writing class (the second year one I took this semester) that I really wanted to take. The pre-requisite on it was two completed English courses, though, and since I really don’t like English, I was most definitely not going to take two in my first ever semester.

I ended up emailing the prof, she’s pretty great and said I could register without the credits, I just needed to sign a prereq waiver. After that, it was all said and done and I didn’t think about it again until a couple of weeks ago when I started thinking about what classes I want to take next year. Cue absolute panic.

Let’s take a few steps back for a moment. I wanted to take my second English class over the summer, but no first-year classes were being offered. I was kind of upset about this at first, but in the end, I decided it was fine and that I could just take the second English in the first semester of my second year. But the reason I was trying to take the second English over the summer was because I assumed that I needed two in order to take any second-year Creative Writing classes, and I’ve taken all of the first-year ones already. So because I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to take any Creative Writing classes in my first semester next year, I was really, really upset.

But of course, I’m just a fucking idiot. After about a week of worrying, there was one night that I couldn’t go to sleep because I was super stressed about this. I ended up logging into the university website and browsing the course catalogue, which is where I discovered my idiocy. Only some classes had two English courses as prereqs, there were many with one or none. And the two that I would want to take next year only required the completion of the corresponding poetry or fiction first-year class, both of which I’ve completed. So all that panic for nothing.

Now, I’m really looking forward to next year. I can’t wait to get into some intermediate workshops and work on some new short stories or continue with my novel. I suspect that with this to look forward to, the summer will be long, but enjoyable. I’ll get into more detail about that in another post, but for now, let’s just say I’ve got a couple writing goals in mind for over the next couple of months.

~Erynn

The Lesser Blessed

I’ve actually been dreading writing this post… because I really don’t know what to say about this book. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I thought it was kind of interesting, but I guess I can only expend so much energy thinking about a book before I just run out of ways to say things.

The Lesser Blessed is the last book I read for my creative writing class this semester. It took place in Northern Canada, I don’t remember the exact location, but somewhere in the Yukon. So, if you know anything about the Yukon, and anything about YA novels, you probably already have an idea of where this is going.

Rebellious children, drugs, lots of sex, fighting, bad parenting, and the like. Personally, I knew about all this being an issue in the North because that’s where my boyfriend and his family are from. But while they’ve experienced it first hand, I haven’t, so I still thought it was amazing to see knowledge like that confirmed through completely unrelated means.

Otherwise, I guess the book was pretty typical. A boy tries to figure out his life, as a young teen, in high school. The only real difference compared to other stories I’ve read is that the protagonist is Native American, and so many aspects of that are incorporated into the narrative through the language used by the character, as well as by their experiences.

~Erynn

 

Skim

So I’ve only got two books left to talk about for my creative writing classes, Skim being one of them. Unlike all the others, Skim is actually a graphic novel and not an actual novel. So even though the story of Skim wasn’t something I was super interested in, I did enjoy reading it simply because it’s a graphic novel and I’m a bit interested in writing those.

EDIT: I’m not sure what happened to the rest of this post, but I don’t really remember what I wrote, so I’m gonna leave it like this. 😛

~Erynn

Music, Music, Music 

A long time I mentioned here that I really liked listening to video game music when writing because it drove me to focus. And it was always helpful to pick songs that were somehow relevant to the mood of the scene I was working on, as that made it easier to picture things in my head when writing.

All of that is still true, but I seem to be drifting away from video game music in general. I’ve still got a couple songs on my Spotify playlist, mostly stuff from Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, but other than that the playlist has turned mostly into a bunch of lyricless music. I don’t normally like listening to lyricless music unless I need to focus, so really, it’s perfect because that’s exactly what it does. All my other playlists serve different purpose (like the silly angsty music playlist I have for when I’m mad at the world, teehee).

My musical tastes in general have been shifting lately, I guess that’s a big part of reshaping who I am and what I want to do with my life. I have this sad song playlist that I used to listen to almost exclusively, but not so much over the last week or two. I’ve moved to listening to ‘poppier’ music, I guess? Generally more upbeat, happier songs, or stuff that I can sing along to since I like singing (even if I’m bad at it).

I’ve also been going through my general playlist, which is where I used to throw any song I stumbled across that I liked, and sorting those songs into their new, respective playlists. I’ve got one for writing, one for sad stuff, ones with Japanese lyrics, dance music, and of course my ‘fuck the world’ playlist. The plan is to sort out all of those into those playlists and keep pretty much everything else in the general one, so that it really is general and not overtaken by a bunch of other music that’s better when listened to on its own.

~Erynn

Eleanor & Park

This was the second book I finished this semester for one of my creative writing classes. It’s probably my favourite of all the required readings I’ve had so far.

I read it for my second-year class, so it’s YA, but I actually thought it was pretty good. The story takes place sometime in the 80s, the protagonists being 15 or so. The girl, Eleanor, is pretty poor and also the weird new kid in town that nobody likes just because she’s new and weird.

She was pretty weird, honestly, but that was part of her charm. I really liked her character because she ends up being one of those people who isn’t weird on purpose, she’s just weird because of her circumstances, and I guess it kinda resonated with me. I’ve felt like that most of my life.

Anyway, like most YA, it’s a love story, and I thought the dynamics of that was pretty good. There was no love-at-first-sight nonsense, the girl isn’t some “secretly super attractive girl with low self-esteem” and no “super ridiculously hot dude who has a thousand different chicks all over him but he picks the weird girl for god knows why” thing in it, which I really really hate. Eleanor is some chubby redhead and Park is a short, rather feminine Asian. That might be as far as you get from that cliche.

My favourite thing about this, though, was that the two started feeling something for each other without speaking more than a couple of words to one another. And they basically fall in love over comic books. I thought that was super cute. I even recognized a bunch of the stuff they referenced! 🙂

I was a bit upset about the ending, though. It was realistic, but I found it a bit rushed, and that kind of ruined– for me, at least– what could have been an excellent ending. Oh well. There aren’t any perfect books, anyway.

~Erynn

Early Spring Cleaning

I decided a couple of days ago that I’ve got too much shit and that I need to get rid of stuff. I don’t know what exactly I’m going to get rid of just yet, just that I’ve got a lot of useless junk that I’m never going to use. And all that stuff is taking up space.

I decided that I’d start with some of my old YA books and some video games that I don’t play anymore (or intend to play ever again). The hope is that I’ll be able to sell some of them for some much needed $$$, but who knows if that’ll end up happening. I might just need to donate them somewhere if I want to get rid of them. After that, I’ve got some old toys and collector’s items that I might be able to sell off at some point, so that seems like the next step to take.

Once those are all gone, I’ve got boxes of random shit everywhere that I need to sort through. I’ll either need to find a practical use for or decide whether to throw them out or donate them somewhere. I’ve got some stuff that I know I’d use if they surfaced and were put somewhere that I could access, and then there’s plenty of other stuff that I’ll probably never use and there’s no point having. The problem is that there’s so much of it.

I wish I could just spend a whole day sorting through stuff to get it over with, but unfortunately, I don’t have the time for that right now. Even during the short break I get from university next week, I’ve got shit that I need to keep on top of every day. Preparing for mid-terms, reinforcing my Japanese, writing, drawing, etc, so I simply won’t have the chance to take a whole day off just to clean and stuff. So instead, I’m just gonna spend a bit of time every day doing what I can, sorting through a box here and there, setting some things aside, whatever I do have the time for. That way I’m making a little bit of progress at a time, and it’ll get done sooner rather than later.

Yay!

~Erynn

Writing Non-Heterosexual Characters

I’ve never really set out to write a character specifically to be diverse or to fill a certain status quo or whatever. I exclusively write characters who “come” to me in one way or another, I really hate forcing characters who I can’t picture clearly in my head onto paper. They never come off as real that way.

Anyway, 99% of my characters end up being heterosexual. Not for any specific reason, because I definitely don’t consciously choose their preference, that’s just who the characters are. I might be the writer, but anyone who writes knows that characters tend to have minds of their own. They choose for themselves. But, every so often, I think about characters who aren’t heterosexual, and writing them always ends up being a curious process. 

Let me back up a bit.

In high school sexuality didn’t matter to me. It still doesn’t, but back then I had the habit of seeing things as male or female because that’s just how things are divided. It’s like that in most cases. Hence, when I started writing back then, I tended to write my characters as heterosexual without really realizing it. And in some instances, it ended up being that the reason some of my characters weren’t working the way I wanted was because I was forcing them into an identity that they weren’t. But now I see things differently and am able to let my characters be who they actually are.

An example of this would be Arianne from Desolace. I originally wrote her as a straight female, in a relationship with a male. However, while this worked for some parts of the story, it was not satisfying several plot points that I planned. Of course, I never realized that this was the problem, and me being unable to resolve these plot issues was part of the reason I put the project on hold. 

But now, having looked at it from a different perspective, I’ve realized that the problems in these plot points have arisen because Arianna’s motives weren’t in line with her true character. So once I figured that out, her real character came to light, and since then a lot of these plot points have made so much more sense. 
I don’t think that writing non-heterosexual characters is much different from those who are. The essence of creating a character remains the same across the board, and the desires of characters are almost always different from person to person in the first place. It’s just a different kind of difference. 

~Erynn

The Crown

I really hate it when I like a mediocre book or series and then it ends up letting me down. The crown is the final book in the second part of The Selection series, where the protagonist’s daughter from the original series is kind of put in her mother’s position– she’s gotta pick a husband to quell the masses (somehow that’s a thing).

There was one character I was rooting for from the start, one who seemed really unlikely to win, but seemed to be having some good luck due to some circumstances in the story. It’s possible that there was some foreshadowing in the book before The Crown that I missed (or couldn’t remember because I read it so long ago), but the guy I was rooting for ended up not getting picked, and some other character that seemed to jump through the rankings out of the blue ended up winning instead.

Feels pretty unsatisfying to me. I don’t know, I guess maybe it was the right ending for the book, but the way it played out seemed cheap and ill-thought out. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t dedicated to keeping these posts spoiler-free because for a book like this I’d really like to rant on and on about what I think should have been done instead, but alas, that can’t really be done without mentioning details… and besides, I didn’t write it, so I feel pretty silly to want to actually go through the process of explaining how I think it should have been done.

Anyway, I was pretty disappointed, because the only thing worth reading the series for was the romance, and I liked how two characters had it going. Just didn’t work out how I wanted it, I guess. Oh well. Shit happens.

~Erynn

A Strange Memory

It was 3:26 PM and I was in one of my two creative writing classes, waiting for the professor to begin the lecture. I was on my phone, listening to music in one ear, listening and observing through the other. 

It was then,  for some reason, when I recall a strange memory back from the days where I actually attended highschool, so perhaps grade 9 or so, of when I was first actually discovering music that I liked– music that actually interested me up until that point had been a foreign concept. 

I listened to mostly J-pop and classical, although I eventually moved on to a playlist that consisted of Rise Against, Breaking Benjamin, and Celldweller. I’m now a little more sophisticated in my musical tastes now (and by sophisticated I mean that I don’t usually prefer one genre over another, I’ll really listen to anything that sounds appealing), back then that was my jam. There was a point where I listened to exclusively Owl City but I’m not sure where in the timeline that period of my life existed. 

Anyway, what I actually was thinking about when I started writing this, is that I was sitting in class listening to music and no one gave a shit. I remember in highschool several instances where I got shit from the vice principal for listening to music in the hallway, although this was a time before smartphones dominated the world.

There had to be a half a dozen times where my DS or phone was taken away from me because I wanted to listen to music. I wasn’t even a bad student at this point. I had good grades, attended pretty regularly, and was on good terms with most of the teachers. I only had detention once throughout the whole five years I was there. And still I got shit for listening to music. 

I dunno, I guess I gave up after a while and then eventually I just stopped going to school. I just wonder what it’s like now, does that still happen? Have most schools begun to accept technology? Have adults in a position of power over students finally allowed them to pursue their interests when it doesn’t affect them? 

I guess there wasn’t really any point to this point. Was just an unusual memory that sparked a question I felt like writing about. 

~Erynn