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

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

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

My DnD Character

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about dnd, and since it’s something I do pretty regularly now, I suppose that’s kind of strange. So I thought that I’d talk a bit about the DnD that’s gone on since I started university, then from here on out write semi-frequent updates on my campaigns.

I’m currently playing in two campaigns -one at the university, the other not, but I’m only going to talk about the former in this post.

As a part of games club, we do dnd and other tabletop roleplaying games every week. There’s lots of people who participate so there’s a bunch of different groups, but my current game is run by a newer dungeon master with four players, including myself. The group used to be bigger, but just before winter break a different group finished their campaign and lost a couple players. So when the new semester started, they didn’t have enough to start a new session, but my group gave up two players so they could.

It kinda sucked for us, but we’ve managed so far. Anyway, for this campaign, I’ve been playing a female human cleric. If you’ve never played dnd before, you might see the world ‘cleric’ and go “ugh support so lame” but with that, you’d be completely wrong.

Wyvia Louv is a war cleric. She slices shit in half with her battle axe, blows people to smithereens with thunder waves, and only heals teammates when they’re one turn from dead.

She’s not a bitch or a badass. She just doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything. I guess that’s what happens when you decide to roll a neutral/neutral character, instead of someone with the tendency to do good or evil. At first glance, you might think that makes a boring character, but it’s actually been quite fun to play.

See, just because she doesn’t care about other people, doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about herself. So when someone tries to fuck with her, she’s not gonna tolerate that shit. At first, I spent most of my time observing the other people in my group, our NPC companions, and our surroundings, but I eventually moved from that to keeping an eye on the troublemaker of our group.

It’s been interesting playing a neutral character mostly for the developing characterization. Going from not caring about anything to caring about the group of travelers I’ve been paired with has been a slow, thought-provoking experience. I don’t know how much longer I have to see this character grow, but every session is extremely helpful for learning bits about the nuances of characterization that really make the characters real.

Maybe I’ll go into more detail on that another time.

~Erynn

Some Literary Festival

I’m probably a terrible person for not remembering what it was called and being too lazy to look it up, but the festival itself isn’t really the point of this post so I guess it doesn’t matter. 

Anyway, last week there was some sort of literary festival here in Kelowna. It went on for a couple of days, I went to one reading as part of one of my creative writing classes. Us students had a private reading with Dina Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli, two awesome poets who also run the “Can’t Lit” podcast.

I think everything they read was from one of their poetry books called Rom  Com. It was a joy to listen to not only because they’re great poets, or because it was my first experience at a poetry reading, but also simply because I was having a shit day and listening to them really brightened my day. 

My encounter with them was a lite embarrassing, though. I’d just entered the building after an encounter that left me a little stressed and dizzy, and I was the only student in the room because everyone had just left to get coffee. My professor introduced me to Dina and Daniel, and I kind of stood there like an idiot, then said hi and reintroduced myself. Rip. I was so out of it that I didn’t even try to make fun of myself for being nervous because I didn’t think about it until later on, when I’d calmed down a bit. 

I didn’t say anything during the Q&A, and I kinda regret it. I had a good question, but I just really didn’t to talk to anyone. So I listened instead. I’ve been thinking about emailing one of them and asking that way, but I haven’t decided yet if that’s what I actually want to do. 

During the Q&A, though, I learned something important about poetry. Since I’m primarily a fiction writer, I’ve got it stuck in my head that everything I write either needs to stay hidden because it’s only for myself, or because if I share it, the writing won’t be worth as much if I want to publish it in the future. 

I don’t remember what the question was or what the actual response was, but what I got from it was that there are some things you write for yourself. And if a piece is emotional enough to warrant that title, then it shouldn’t be reserved to be sold and potentially diminished. It should be used by yourself for whatever you need from it, for whatever reason you felt the need to write it. So in my case, that I shouldn’t be afraid of putting some of my writing out there if that’s what I need it for. 

I guess this applies to fiction as well, but I feel like it’s more relevant to poetry because poetry tends to be more emotional or relevant to our lives than fiction. Not that it can’t be or isn’t, and not that poetry always is or can’t be irrelevant, this is just in the general sense.

So I guess that’s another reason I’ll be posting some of my actual writing–be it fiction or poetry or whatever–here on my blog every so often.

~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

How I Live Now

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff was the first novel I completed for one of my creative writing classes this semester. It’s a second-year course that switches the genre it focuses on ever time it runs. This time it’s teaching YA, which I guess is kind of convenient because one of my primary projects at the moment happens to be YA.

Anyway, onto the book. I really didn’t think I would like it at first because at the start the protagonist came off as a little annoying and the novel isn’t structured traditionally, so it was a little difficult to read at first. There’s no actual dialogue, it’s all just a part of the narrative– although it’s not too difficult to tell who’s talking once you get used to it.

I guess I didn’t really like the first half of the book because it was 90% characterization, and since I didn’t really like the protagonist I didn’t care about any of her relationships with other characters. But once the plot started moving, the protagonist changed, she became more tolerable, and eventually, I became interested in her and the overall story. It was an unusual experience because most of the time when I don’t like a character up front, I don’t end up liking them at all.

The book was alright overall. It was a short read and I think with the help of the course I did learn a little from it, so that’s a plus. 🙂

~Erynn