Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Unlikely Dilemma

For Novel #1, I tried planning it. It didn't quite work, but that was alright in the circumstance. I wrote the novel, it was 300+ pages, 97,000+ words, and very gawky. Think leggy colt in place of grand stallion. The experience was remarkably satisfying anyway, but reading, much less editing, a manuscript as wandering as that one can be pretty tedious stuff.

So this time around, for Novel #2, I find myself fiercely adhering to the idea that says If I don't have a plan, writing is a sin.

Every writer has different modes of crafting. I think that mine would be in the middle of the spectrum: I want a plan, but I am currently incapable of conjuring one up.

Now, this may be a sign of a weak imagination--if it is, I'll cope with that. Or maybe it's a sign of hesitation. 'If it isn't going to work, don't build it.'

But aren't iffy experiments and risky ideas an integral part of writing fiction?

Could I really write a satisfying ending that is completely ambiguous?

If I could, I would. But can I? Not sure . . . yet.

As a novelist, I work best when I have a goal, an end my characters need to reach. Right now, at the edge of the trenches of outlining Novel #2, there isn't one. So my work is slow and hesitating.

Tonight, I am definitely eager to forge ahead with my novel. It's enticing and exciting, in all its unknowns. But this eagerness, if its gonna stay, will mean my planning without an end in mind. I'll need to embrace those unknowns.

This has major disaster potential.

You may watching the beginning of this novelist's demise as a sane person . . . or maybe this is the beginning of a delightful new freedom to work in.

Buckling her seat belt,

PS--I just reread the post I wrote a few weeks ago when this novel idea was only a few days old and I was completely impassioned. I confess to being guilty of flippancy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's Monday. Have some cuteness.

because it's Monday....
Corgis are small dogs the color of foxes. They have short legs and no tails. They are enchanted.
~Tasha Tudor

And I really, really love mine!

I'll get back to more serious posting soon. This past week has been a busy one, preparing for Easter and such. All of this spring weather is really making me . . . well, 'giddy' is a good word to describe my happiness.

Having a beautiful April,
PS--Random question: Is anyone reading any good books right now? Please share . . .

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Looking Backwards

Q: What do digital files and good wine have in common?
A: Absolutely nothing.

Okay, my mom didn't think it was funny either.

Since I got into photography a couple of years ago, it's been common to unload the memory stick onto the computer hard drive. Well, after a couple years of rather steady uploads, things get boggy on the computer. So I've been ruthlessly and poignantly going through the accumulated files, deleting a lot, but keeping plenty, too. I have been learning that:
~Digital files do not improve with age. (See above riddle.)
~I take a lot of incredibly useless photos.
~Movie files don't have to be 1080p to be huge.
~It's perfectly okay to delete stuff. It's even delightfully fulfilling! Keep positive and think of all the better photos you'll have room for. :)

A lot of memories come surging back with each folder I cull. Here are some of them, not quite in chronological order.

June 2009: Camping up North. This pretty trail is at one of my favorite state parks.

June 2009: Sunny summer evenings in the backyard.

July 2009: FLOWERS. There are--were--scores and scores of flower shots on the hard drive. I had fun taking them, but . . . most of them were positively mediocre. I was okay with sending most to the recycle bin, but there were some I had to keep. One of the interesting facets to this operation has been to see the evolution of my photographic eye and taste.

October 2009: Aftermath of a morning rainstorm. This photo is one of my favorite finds of the deletion sprees.

April 2010: Successful library visit! Love those. :)

April 2010: Springtime sunset from my deck.

April 2009: Trip to the state capitol to show our conservative colors at a Tea Party! There were so many amusing banners that evening. They ranged from witty to angry to sardonic . . . most of them were likable. :) I am not sure who made this one.

March 2010: Spontaneous trip to the art museum with my brother. Mmm, that was such a fun day. He needed to find a painting to write a paper on for art class, and we scoured every section looking for the right one.
There are a lot more, but I'll stop here. It's been great to take photos and document memories over the last few years . . . nostalgia reigns today!


Monday, April 11, 2011

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Cassandra Mortmain leads an off-the-wall life set in a medieval castle in the English countryside. Her father is a celebrated novelist suffering from writer's block; stepmother Topaz is an artist's model and lover of nature; older sister Rose is beautiful, bitter and desperate to escape from the semi-poverty the Mortmains live in; younger brother Thomas is a schoolboy. And then there's Stephen, a nobly-souled young man who works for the family is in love with Cassandra, and Miss Blossom, the dressmaking mannequin is Cassandra and Rose's bedroom.

The ebb and flow of life in the castle is altered when an American family buys the neighboring estate; a family with two sons. Cassandra and Rose are determined to snag one of them for Rose to marry and bring the family out of destitution.
Their efforts do not always go smoothly, but eventually they pay off and Rose is engaged. Life looks hopeful for the entire family, and that should be the happy ending of the story . . . but then Cassandra surprises herself by realizing that she is in love with the man her sister is going to marry.


This novel was in the form of the main character's journal, and I usually don't like books told in that way. But I Capture the Castle was different, in the sense that it was such an honest journal! Cassandra freely wrote about her rapidly-shifting emotions and thoughts in such a poignant, often humorous way that it was impossible to find them corny or fakey.
Her feelings are certainly not the only part of the journal, however--Cassandra relates her experiences wooing the brothers, trips to London, and life in the castle just as winsomely and truthfully.
The characters were definitely my favorite part of the story. (Surprise, surprise.) Everyone was well-developed and interesting, and the balance between believable and unique was perfect. Cassandra is espeacially good. She's 16 on the first page and 17 by the last, and she matures and grows through the story in a well-crafted sequence.
Oh yeah . . . and the last page is one of the best last pages I have ever read.


There were several curse words throughout the novel, as well as some references to Topaz's peculiar habits while communing with nature and an artist photographer's photoshoots. I would recommend this book for ages 13 and up.


Aside from hints of objectionable content, I can't find anything bad to say about this book. I Capture the Castle, like almost every other novel out there, had lots of chances to be tacky and "Yeah, right" worthy. But it never was. It is a novel that is purely winsome, quite often funny, and sometimes heartbreaking.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lovely Photo Wenesday, Etc.

It's a lovely day because:
The sky is wide and blue and dotted with clouds.
The air is ridiculously warm.
The snow is nearly gone.

So it's only appropriate that it's Lovely Photo Wednesday at Aspire!

37/365 pretty, average

I like this one because it's light and fluffy and pretty. That said, I don't like because it is only light and fluffy and pretty. Very not Ansel Adams-esque.

Sometimes a departure from one's ideal is refreshing, I learn.

Lovely Photo - Wordless or Not-So-Wordless Wednesday at Aspire

Oh, and it's also my one-year birthday as a blogger! Wow, a whole year has gone by? Time positively fliiiiiies. No joke. Thank you everyone who has made blogging so interesting and fun!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Guilty Pleasure

Yup . . . Polyvore is mine.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What just happened?

I say . . . is March over already?

It was beautiful. It was a blur, too. Time pulls pranks like that.

1. Novel

I finished the first draft of my first novel, and it was glorious. At least, it was for the first evening. The next day, reality struck and I realized that I should probably read it before designing the cover and crowing about this wondrous story to everyone I know. After a quick page through, I became subtle pretty quickly. I realized that the novel, all 97,000 words of it, were not exactly what I had in mind when I thought of Best Novel Ever.

So I am going to set it aside and wait to read it. Then I'll consider editing.

The same night I finished the novel, a new idea came to the beginning of its potential in my head. And that is what I work on while I wait to reach emotional stability with Cadish the White. (Don't worry, a new title is on its way!)

I am in the process of honest-to-goodness outlining for this new idea, which is something new for me. After hardly outlining for Cadish, I knew that I didn't want to go through the annoying, wandering process of writing a novel like that again.

So I am happily reading books on the craft of structure, thinking of plot twists and character backgrounds, and being generally relaxed as I iron out a new story to write. This is the photo that really reminds me of my new project:

I don't want to jinx myself, but . . . I am pretty happy with the prospect of the array of new people and places at the fingertips of my mind. And I love outlining. Just had to add that.

2. Random Photography

50/365 enmity
Misty and Daisy get reacquainted during Daisy's visit. Don't worry, attitudes improved from there.

run x3
Yesterday at grandparents' house, enjoying the April weather.

67/365 ancient
I visited my oldest brother's college for the first time last week, and this pretty cross was in town as well. Anybody know how to read old runes? I'd love to know what it says.

3. Adventures
I managed to not kill myself and the driving instructor during my first behind the wheel! I was having such a blast in the school's little Scion . . . compared to my family's big ol' van that I practice on, that car was a dream come true.

I also completed my lifeguard course from the Red Cross! *rejoicing* It was intense and challenging, but not so much that it was awful. The training videos were almost as funny as they were serious (I crack up every time I see an AED now), I got to know some fun people, and on top of that, I know how to lifeguard.

And . . . I got some new dreams for the future. My other brother's (Hmm, I think I called him James last time I mentioned him) collegefornextyear had a student/parent(sister) intro day, and I loved seeing the place and watching James get excited to go. It was so interesting. I could prattle for hours and hours and hours . . .

4. Goodness
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I don't suffer as much "momentary affliction" as the people who read this first did, but it is good--so good--to know that my God is strong enough to strengthen me day by day, all the time, and that He has so much good in store for me. It's good to know that He loves me.

Enjoying springtime,