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

 

 

Year One Officially Over

Hey guys!

I finished my finals about 10 days ago but I just got my grades yesterday (B, A-, A-, A-, pretty good!). I’ve spent the last twoish weeks relaxing and catching up with video games and anime, but it’s pretty much time for me to kick myself back into gear and start working again…

But before I do that, I wanted to recap a bit on the year and what’s been going on.

So I’ve been going to UBCO to study creative writing. Had to take a second language, chose Japanese, am having fun but am also struggling to hell with it (guess which grade was Japanese, hah). I’ve been excelling with the creative writing side of things though, which I’m happy with.

A quick mention of all my classes. I’ve taken three Creative Writing classes (intro to fiction and drama, intro to poetry and creative non-fic, and second year writing popular fiction with an emphasis on writing young adult), an introduction to Anthropology, an English focused on narrative and writing essays, and two first-year Japanese.

I’m only briefly going to mention my endeavours with Anthropology here– I planned on writing a whole post about that but haven’t gotten around to it yet, so maybe if that’s something your interested in hearing about, keep and eye open for that. That said, a bit on anthropology… I decided to take it this last semester and probably will take more classes in the future, not really because I have a distinct interest in anthropology, but because culture is something I really want to ingrain into my novels because it’s important for character and worldbuilding. Plus theorycrafting and all that stuff is lots of fun.

I’ve probably mentioned it before but I really dislike English courses. Unfortunately, they are a heavy requirement for my major, so I’m kind of stuck with taking them. I don’t mind the reading or the discussions, but the essays are brutal. Honestly the writing itself I can handle, research is a bitch but I can do that too, I just really really hate the stupid citation styles that are used. They’re different for literally every class (and reasonably so, but still) and I hate it. Takes whatever bit of joy I have for writing essays and throws it right out the damn window. Ah, well… I’ll probably get used to it.

That said about essays, I was considering taking a minor in history but seeing as that’s my boyfriend’s major and all he does is write essays for those courses, I’m not so sure that’s what I want to do anymore. But my first history course isn’t until this summer, so we’ll see how I fare with that before I jump in either direction. Anyway, with that, I wandered off a little from what I was talking about.

Creative Writing was straight forward; Wrote some baller short stories my first semester (one that I’m going to try and get published this summer), started learning how to write poetry (still got a lot to learn but I’ve improved– I even did a reading in front of the class! I’ll talk about that sometime), tried and failed to write creative non-fiction (it’s fun just not my thing, I enjoy making shit up too much), and made some excellent progress on one of my novel works in progress, Desolace. I’m going to make some more detailed posts for these things individually later, I think, because there’s a lot I want to talk about in regards to that.

Then there’s Japanese. What a bitch. I really love the language, it’s just super hard. I’ve fallen off a bit with my practising and studying since the end of the semester, but I think I needed a break after all the effort I’ve put into it over the last eight months. I intend to continue studying Japanese over the summer and next year so I can still use it as my language credit for my degree, but I’ll talk about my plans in more detail later on since I’ve put a lot of thought into that and I’d love to share a bit.

AND, with all of that, I’ve earned 21 credits, which is 6 short of completing a full first year. I’m not too upset about that because I only took three classes for my first semester, as I was worried about becoming overwhelmed and doing really bad. But because three classes went well first semester I went up to four in the second semester, which also went well and gave me enough free time to not burn out on school. So next year I’ll likely end up taking four classes each semester. That’ll still leave me three credits short of advancing another year, but there are a couple classes I want to take that are offered over the summer, so at least for this year and next year I’ll be set to advance to second and third years with no problem (fourth year is a big fat unknown until I get to that point).

So yeah, summer classes. Those start on May 15th and I’m taking some less academic stuff that’ll keep me busy and still work toward my degree. I really don’t want to work full-time over the summer, so this gives me a perfect opportunity to do half and half. 🙂 But with three classes this summer and at least one next summer, I should be set to advance to second-year by the end of summer, and third-year by the end of next summer, assuming I stick to my plans and take a total of eight classes next winter and fall semesters.

Anyway, I think this turned into a big ramble, but it’s one am and I just felt like writing something. Will be posting regularly again!

~Erynn

 

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

Nevernight

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff was such a good book that I ended up writing an essay on it for my second-year creative writing class. A quick look at the blurb and you immediately think “super cliche” (female assassin bent on vengeance, school of assassins, etc) and I thought this too when I first saw it, but I picked it up anyway because I loved the cover.

Honestly, my essay was probably garbage (it hasn’t been graded yet…) but I went into a lot of detail about the characterization of Mia Corvere, the protagonist, and her experiences. I thought the detail that went into her development was astounding (even more so that I was able to identify a lot of it) and that’s what sparked the idea for my essay.

I’d suggest the book to anyone who likes fantasy, specifically in the young adult/ grimdark subgenre. For most advanced readers you might see a lot of the plot mechanics clicking about as the story progresses, but I found the writing itself very good, so it’s still worth the read.

I hope someone else decides to pick it up. It’s definitely one of my new favourites. 🙂

~Erynn

Summer Classes

So I guess it’s official that I’m taking summer classes.

I decided a couple of months ago that it makes more sense for me to go to school for as much of the year as possible. As much as I love writing, when I’m writing for work I’m more focused on writing for other people than for myself, even if I do make time for my own writing. But so far this year with school, even through all my classes and assignments and other bullshit, I’ve made quite a bit of progress without any additional stress. That’s actually because in one of my creative writing classes I haven’t really had to write anything new, but rather I’ve been able to work on Desolace and flesh out scenes I’ve already got in my head. I’m not sure how much more of that I’ll be able to do, but I think that as I get into the higher level creative writing classes, things will become more focused like this, rather than super generalised like both of the first-year creative writing classes I’ve taken. Fingers crossed!

But on top of that, school, overall, has kept me productive and active. I’ve been working on a bunch of stuff– writing (personal and for school), drawing (personal and for school), I’ve been actively studying Japanese — rather than playing lots of videogames. You know, I would like to have time to play games every now and then when I want to, but right now about 80% of my time is devoted to school related activities– mostly because Japanese is a pain in the ass.

The summer, though, will be pretty light on class time, so I’ll be able to get lots of writing done on the side and (if I want to) even some work. I’ll probably make time for both. I’m planning on taking a history and two arts classes– one drawing, the other digital media. I’m not really sure what the second one entails, but it’s required for my degree, so I figured it would be good to get that out of the way over the summer. The history I’ll be in is about the ancient world, like Egypt and Rome and a couple other places. Pretty generalised, but I’m still looking forward to it, nonetheless.

~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

 

January As a Whole

So I intended to write this post at the start of February, but I kinda forgot. Whoops. I suppose 18 days late is better than not at all–hopefully this’ll be enough of a reminder to keep me on track for similar posts in the upcoming months. 🙂 

So… January. I guess it was a good month overall, albeit stressful. It started out pretty crappy, I was a bit depressed around New Years, but that passed once classes started again, replaced with the stress of learning. 

Japanese has proven to be as difficult as I suspected, although I’ve spent the last two weeks catching up and working on a system to memorize everything I need to know, as well as get ahead. Creative writing has been a handful; in January I had to write and edit the first two chapters of Desolace, which was probably some of the most strenuous writing I’ve ever done. That’s worked out, thankfully, though I don’t think I have the energy right now to continue onto the next chapter just yet. 

I guess January ended up being a month of discovery for me. I learned some about my academic limits and have begun working around them, planning so I don’t burn out and making it easier to study, stuff like that. I learned more about managing my time, more about interacting with people, and learned how that interaction can sometimes sting.

I belive that I’ve finally caught a glimpse of who I want to be, and grabbed that person and taken hold of them. Obviously it’ll take a while to grow into that person, but you know, it feels good to feel like I’m getting somewhere. 

Anyway, yeah, that was January. 

~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

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