Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RTW: Friending up with characters

This Week's Topic:
If you went to high school with your characters, would you be friends?

Wow, now this is definitely a GREAT topic!

Sadly though, I don't think we'd be close friends. We'd probably be friendly, since I like to model my characters after my own psyche, but the truth is, my characters would probably end up being either the "cool kids" or the "loners" and I'd just either be a "geek" or an average joe.

You see, most of my characters either have special abilities or can leap 10 feet in the air with a cutlass and hijack a pirate ship.

This is why I create characters who seem so much cooler than I am...lack of self-confidence?

Anyways, this is actually a good question to reflect upon. I'm really tired right now - it's been a hell of a week - but I WILL think about this all through tomorrow's boring classes because it's a good way to get to know your characters. In fact, if I was in high school with them, I'd like to ask them a few questions...

What are your favourite classes?

Which teacher do you hate?

Like the caf food?

You failing classes? Yeah, I thought so...

But most importantly...

(I'm hopeless when mapping out romantic relationships...)

So what kind of questions would YOU ask your character if they suddenly showed up at your high school one day and you were the given the duty of showing them around?

I apologize for the randomness of my writing this post. Just kinda overwhelmed by now...but have a few blogging topics I can talk about in the near future.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The autumn rains have arrived. Winter approaches.

Much to everyone's annoyance, the change of seasons has come early for Vancouver this year.

Yep, it's that rainy weather again. Rains about once every two days or every single day now. Most annoying thing about it is during those pouring nights when I'm trying to sleep there's a steady "PLUNKPLUNKPLUNK!" rhythm of the rain hitting the pipes. And it is loud. And it is irritating. And it get the point.

Fall brings about a change of mood. The mood I'm experiencing right now is stress. Actually, that isn't the right way to express it...


Okay that's more like it.

Actually, Grade 11 is so far better than I expected. There are interesting courses this year where I'm actually inclined to read the textbook (amazing, right?!) And the stuff I'm learning can actually make my writing better. Which is good. Very good... I'm also taking a writing class and you'll probably agree that having fellow writers' support is a giant bonus as a writer. Life doesn't seem so lonely after all...

The biggest challenge right now is FINDING TIME TO WRITE. My teachers have a passion with tests, and it feels like no matter how much I enjoy my courses there's always a heap of work waiting for me. And at the end of the day...I have to sleep.

And then I found a good piece of advice here.

You see, even though I am a student, a daughter, a friend, a musician (kind of), and an insane psychopath, I have to keep chanting this mantra to myself "You are a writer, you are a writer, you are a writer, you are a writer, so WRITE. NOW."

So how do YOU tell yourself to get off your butt and write? In the wind and the rain?

Ok, end of random musings here. I've been skipping out alot on blogging lately. I'm a real nutcase when it comes to SCHEDULING. Forgive me :(

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

RTW: Historical eras!

This week's RTW!

This Week's Topic:
If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?

Wow, this one's fitting. In writing class today we had to do an exercise where we pulled genres out of a hat and wrote on them. One of them was historical fiction, and although I didn't pick historical fiction (mystery/suspense and sci-fi FTW) I had a backup plan as to where I would set it.

There is no question.

18th century Austria.

Why? Because that is the era of a great man I admire called Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Possibly the most gifted (and likely eccentric) musician to grace our planet.

Whenever someone asks me what kind of autograph I would like, the first name that bounces in my head would be "MOZART!" And then my shoulder slump as I realize "Oh right, he died when he was 35.." Almost all artists hold sad stories...

It's true, though. I'm a music junkie. I love Mozart. I love Debussy too but there is a quality to Mozartean music I can never get enough of. It's true that he is a simple composer. Compared to the complexities of Bach counterpoint and 19th-20th century chord exploration, Mozart's a doodler. But it's because of his simplicity that I admire his genius. You really have to listen to understand...

Okay I'm getting off topic here but really, I'd love to research that era FIRST HAND!

So I really wanna meet Mozart... :( *fangirls*

Where would YOU go if you suddenly found a time machine in the inner bowels of that mysterious thing we call our government?


Monday, September 13, 2010

How to factor writing into your busy life

Ok, I gotta admit I am probably the worst advisor on this million-dollar philosophical question. I'm a professional procrastinator, after all. Then again, I feel exactly how you procrastinators feel too, so perhaps I have some insight :DD

Right now I am a 16 year-old Canadian high school student in Grade 11. I have school 8:35-3:07 (yeah, I know, weird times...) five days a week. Depending on the day, I usually have an average of about 2-3 hours of homework to do (more if it's math because I suck). Some weeks I try to factor in 30 to 45 minutes of piano-practicing per day (it's part of a volunteering job). I also need to exercise 150 mins per week for Graduation Transitions. Last but not least, I need to volunteer for as much as I can (we need 30 hours, but most people do up to like 100). In addition, we all have stuff like church, family, friends, clubs, exasperating phone calls where the person can't stop blabbing, books that make you stay awake until 2 in the morning and, of course, we need time to WRITE.

So here are my tips for a student-writer-person like me. I hope they work, and I'll have the entire 2010-2011 school year to figure out if they do! So wish me luck.

1.) Don't overbook yourself. This goes for anyone doing anything. Seriously, it's a headache. I was in 5 clubs last year. Stressful, I know. This year I'll just be focussing on newspaper, and perhaps environmental, but that's about it.

2.) Make a time to write. For me, this is usually later in the night, when I've done all my homework, when my friends have gone to bed so as to not call me, and when the house is quiet and my parents are safely snoring in their beds... I'm a night owl who doesn't need to sleep too much, so it's not a big problem for me if I stay up (which I usually do). I've always had an assumption that writers are typically night owls, but if you're not, factor in a time - even just a little time - to write regularly.
*DO NOT compromise sleep. I learn this the hard way. It'll make you a zombie in the morning. Sometimes I have too much confidence in myself and wake up in the morning feeling like a vampire in daylight.

3.) Join a writing class. If you're still in HS, chances are there's a writing class. I'm in one right now. It gives you a time to write without wasting anytime. Actually, school seems even USEFUL if you join one,, you can form a convenient critique group and have a free professional help you (your teacher!).

4.) Don't procrastinate. I was meaning to finally start revising Dancers last weekend, but I didn't. Procrastination leads to guilt. Even if you're just going to write a few sentences, do it. It'll feel much better and it won't take long!

5.) Try not to be a hermit. We all have that writer's high where you just want to shut off the world and do your own thing. But take the time to talk to a friend, walk outside, or just close your eyes and give yourself a breather. Life is busy, and writing is just one facet of the business. Try to balance everything. (I suck at this.)

6.) Don't forget to read. I read somewhere that a good way to read at night yet not lose sleep is to tell yourself beforehand where you're going to stop, preferably at a place where there's not much of a cliffhanger :)

7.) Write in between. Perhaps you can write in short little breaks. My only problem with this is I'll get pulled into it and those "breaks" turn into 5-hour sessions.

8.) Tools. One of the best books I've read is "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" by Sean Covey. There's also a version for Highly Effective People. I also use iCal and if you don't have a Mac Google Calendar is a good alternative.

9.) Never ever neglect homework/other work/other important stuff. I think that's self-explanatory...although I think I'm ready to see my grades drop this term as Dancers is going to be a biiiig part of my daily life!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

RTW: What is in your DUFF kit?

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link in the comments - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

This Week's Topic:
What's in your DUFF kit?

AKA what is your "night-to-chill" kit if you haven't heard of the book "the DUFF".
...Which I'm hoping to get my hands on sooner or later. Hunting for it in Canada...

1. Drink>> Green Tea Frappucino with Creme! Biggest size too for maximum caloric guilt ;)
2. Comfy and old shoes - my Nike slip-ons that were tossed into the trash...but my new DC Chelsea skate shoes are breaking in quite well!
3. Movies of your favorite male actor - haha I actually don't have a favourite male actor and I'm not a very good movie-watcher (I know, it's a sin!) I think I'll spend the night watching cheesy martial arts films though. You gotta love cheesy martial arts films!
4. Favourite junk food - Cookie Dough Ice cream! And CHIPSCHIPSCHIPSCHIPSCHIPS!! What the heck, dip the chips in the ice cream...
5. Most comfy clothing - old PE Tshirt, plaid PJ pants, and $7 bathrobe :DD

Enjoyable post. Especially since I have at least an hourful of homework today (eeps!) on the first official day of school and I'm procrastinating. Already.

How do YOU chill?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why I choose Art. In school, and in life.

Why does the world need art?

I'm writing this post because it's almost school season (*barf*), and all my friends and fellow students are talking about courses and what courses to take to ensure the best university degree and the best financially-secure job.

Now, I'll tell you a little about my school: University Hill Secondary is an extremely small (we only have about 500 people) but competitive school. Most of the kids come from cultural backgrounds that put education at such a high standard it's usually more important than social life. So it won't surprise you that it's almost always the #1 public school in the annual rankings. And it won't surprise you that it's a little academic heck for all who go there.

Not to mention that it's mainly a science/math-oriented school.

Back in January when we had to do our course selections for next year, everyone was abuzz. Gr.11 is the big year where you're either gonna make or break the course requirements for university. Things start to narrow down. If you don't choose physics and chemistry now, forget the science degree and any hope of medical school. Quite naturally, most of my friends (who are very intelligent) chose the science stream that calls for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math, Calculus...the bunch.

And, quite naturally, being the math dufus I am, I decided to forget science and math for all eternity and chose courses like Writing, Comparative Civilizations, and Psychology.

Now, I'm not gonna say what is superior than the other - science or art. Because the world needs both. We need scientists and we need artists. And I commend my friends whom I am sure will become great doctors and scientists one day. (I even tell them to get ready to support the future starving, welfare-dependant attic resident of an artist who's me!)

But this is a message for those students out there who really want to do art, but society pressures them to do otherwise. At least society pressured me. For a moment I wondered if I should give up. After all, there seems to be more careers that have to do with science, and scientists earn so much more money. I have to prepare to get a Masters degree in a form of art at the very least, and even then, I won't be making as much money as the scientists.

The truth is, we can find a cure for cancer, construct the slimmest Mac, fit 99,000 songs into the palms of our hand. But what will we do after that? Sure, we can find a cure to global warming and save lives, but what use is a life if we do not try to find the MEANING of life itself?

The meaning of life. That's something that science cannot promise to explain.

And that is where Art comes in. There are many definitions of art. My computer's in-built dictionary defines art as thus: ( arts) subjects of study primarily concerned with the processes and products of human creativity and social life, such as languages, literature, and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects).

I define it like this: Art is how one sees life.

No human will ever have the capacity to know the million-dollar question of What is Life? but art is the bridge that is available to us. How else do we dig into the deepest confines of our soul and find our truest emotions? How else do we express these emotions? How else can we use these emotions and bring about change? Change to society. Change to injustice. Change to the world. And after that, I can only see myself using art to find the thing I am looking for most in this world: that is, to find myself.

So for all of you out there who are in love with the arts, we need you! And if art's really not your thing, well, we need you too. But I encourage you to give art a try.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Night Cap-off: parties...AND A FINISHED FIRST DRAFT??!!

Welcome to another Friday Night Cap-off!
I may be a little late today because I just came back from yet another Sweet 16. Have a happy happy birthday Cara! Wear plaid!

Oooh, I'm starting off with the writing status. Why?

Wheeee. I took it to Staples today and got it printed out. All 400+ juicy pages of it, right on my lap. I'm touching it. I can't believe I've done it! In the nick of time, before school starts on Tuesday! It was my goal to finish it before the summer holidays have ended, and I actually did it.

Now, here begins officially The Journey.

I'm not gonna slack off this time, not like every other novel I've written and hidden into the back of my bookshelf. I'm going to research agents, research publishers, edit, revise, get as much input as possible from others in the extraordinary field of literature, and bang up my game.

This time I am going to do it!

World, meet Dancers.

I'd like to thank a few people though who have made this possible:
1. Juliet, for making me write it in the first place and being the first to draw fanart.
2. Anson, for reading it ahead of Juliet :)
3. My mom, just because.
4. Anyone else who so much as glanced at it or patted my back physically or emotionally.

Thank you all! I love you <3

Um, I finished a first draft?? It's more than 150k (which is a problem), but I'm soooo excited about it I'm ready to dance around the room like Taylor Swift does in the You Belong with Me music video.

Synchronicity, an instrumental electric violin piece by the great Sugizo. Who also happens to be the new edition to the revival of my favourite band, X Japan. Which I am going to see in October! Another dream come true... They are simply the greatest. Those who don't know me: good looks like JoBros and Bieber don't have an effect on me. X Japan are in their mid-forties with too much makeup 90% of the time, but their musicianship KILLS.

Still on Hunger Games. Been reading that, The Passage, and Inkpop stuff in and out these days until 1:30 in the morning.

School starts on Tuesday. Going to be in Gr.11, which translates to "junior year" in the states. I'm kinda scared (they warn it's worse than Gr.12) but then again I'm taking a few interesting courses like Writing, Psychology, and Comparative Civilizations.

Have a fantastic Labour Day weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

RTW: Favourite book = toughest question in the world

Well, I have to admit, I haven't done that much reading this month. I bought 5 books and visited Portland, OR for the COLOSSAL bookstore called the City of Books. (I think everyone should make a pilgrimage there!) More details a few posts below...

I don't remember when August started or ended (today???) so I'll just list all the good stuff I've read recently here:

I know, I know, I know...I'm late into this trend! But I didn't read Hunger Games until I saw how popular it was on the Internet! Big mistake. So I got in that giant freak of a bookstore in Portland and now I'm hooked. It kept up last night. I think that says all...

Ok, this one ain't YA, but it is an AMAZING book. Ok, so it's like 700+ pages long and takes me almost 60 seconds to flip a page because it's so dang loooong and the print is way too small (I'm only on p.200-something). But writing is excellent, heartfelt, and brimming with talent. It's long and descriptive, yet not boring, which is miraculous. There's an equal dose of action, thrill, and reflection on the frailty of humanity. Hard to come across a book like this these days.

A very very very helpful book! Haha. Bought this in Portland too. It's written by a variety of successful authors which makes it trustworthy (James Patterson, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King etc.). It has everything you'll need for your dream career: how to write the story, how to revise the story, how to survive the genres, how to publish, how to's all there!
(Sorry it's the only picture I could find! You can't look inside..)

I'd also like to say a word about a fantastic writing community called Inkpop. I joined in the middle of August, scared already as how to navigate through the thousands or millions of users, but it's actually a very, very friendly community that ACTUALLY READS YOUR STUFF. AND LEAVE QUALITY COMMENTS. Of course I read their stuff too, but I've been very impressed so far. It's 90% teenagers, most of whom are younger than me, but I've been wowed almost every day by the quality of writing there! This site is definitely worth the visit!

By the way, before summer ends, I recommend you ALL go outside and breathe in the summer air. As I said in the last post, being outdoors is a great place to be for writers!

Now, what have YOU been reading lately?