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What stays with you

25 Oct

I was deeply interested in myths, legends and fairytales from a young age. My first love was Norse mythology, but I’ve dabbled in Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Japanese, Chinese, Malay and quite a few others. The stories were a little strange, and many of the original ones didn’t even have the happy endings I loved, but I couldn’t stop reading them. Some were macabre and dark; I think one of the reasons horror movies don’t really scare me is because fairy tales are far scarier, and I’ve read so many different types from many different cultures.

There was a strange line from a Scottish folk tale I could not forget, even though I couldn’t even remember the story. I haven’t been able to look it up until I got home and dug up the book.

It goes:

‘Ae gude turn deserves anither,
Tak’ ye that for being sae kind to my auld mither.’

I’m not sure why that, in a language that is almost beyond understanding, still remains in me today. However, if there’s anything I’ve learnt this year, what I’ve learnt is the things that deeply impact you, stay with you, words and images that haunt and remain – those are the roots of the stories. What I see, what stays strongly with me, these have the greatest power to move and form and shape themselves into something else altogether.

There are days and nights I sit and wonder, why write? Why subject myself to a life of uncertainties, rejection and heartache?  Then I realise, the words, the images, the things within me cannot be content until they are released, set down yet free to capture other minds that read them.

And I open my laptop and type yet another page.

Notes (that I can’t be bothered to organise into coherent paragraphs because they don’t fit in anywhere):
1) In case you’re wondering, the Scottish folktale in question is this.
2) I’ll be participating in Nanowrimo (again) this year. I’ve never been able to complete it yet, but I’m feeling optimistic!
3) I’ve also read very few Australian and African myths. I probably should fill up that gap in my knowledge.

smiling like sheldon…

30 Nov

So apparently, according to one of my friends, sometimes when I smile, I smile like Sheldon. We’ve been watching a fair bit of Big Bang theory together (as well was Unforgettable, the various CSIs, the Mentalist and HIMYM) and I was going to take it as a compliment until I googled “Sheldon Cooper smiling”.

The images I found had lovely examples such as:


to be honest, I think Jim Parsons has a pretty good smile normally

So at the moment I’m still reserving judgement on how gratified/offended I should feel at that offhand comment. 🙂

In other news, it is the last day of Nanowrimo..and I have only written 20000 words :/ FAIL.  It is however, 10 000 more than I wrote last year. Which means if I keep this up, I’ll be able to complete a Nanowrimo in 2014 o.O.

if the world I dreamt of exists somewhere, shall we go search for it?

21 Nov

I guess I should be a little bit ashamed. After deciding to do my best for Nanowrimo, once again I’ve fallen short. With only 20000 words done, I’m sadly behind, and only massive effort will bring me up to the 50000 mark. I’ve reconciled myself with the fact that the story isn’t going to go where I want it to, and I simply want to be able to reach the goal without worrying too much about plot, content or even grammar.

It’s going to be a tough nine days, but I’ll work it out somehow.

Moving on, I tend not to finish shows I really like, or to be exact, I tend to drag out the last few episodes as long as I can (which is why, with Natsume Yuujinchou, I haven’t even watched the third season because I’m waiting for the 4th to be released, or I’ll be too depressed when it ends :/). I finished Spice and Wolf maybe about 2 months ago and I’m still mourning over the fact that there’s no more of it left.

Leaving you with the first opening song, my favourite from the series.

Oh please tell me what they looked like, did they seem afraid of you?

16 Nov

“I had a dog once. I thought so much of him that when he died I couldn’t bear the thought of getting another in his place. He was a friend–you understand, Mistress Blythe? Matey’s only a pal. I’m fond of Matey–all the fonder on account of the spice of devilment that’s in him–like there is in all cats. But I loved my dog. I always had a sneaking sympathy for Alexander Elliott about his dog. There isn’t any devil in a good dog. That’s why they’re more lovable than cats, I reckon. But I’m darned if they’re as interesting.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams.

I think I will somehow contrive to get all my kids to read books by L.M. Montgomery, disregarding gender (I won’t force the boys into Jane Austen). There’s just something beautiful in how she describes things that I would like them to be able to appreciate. I will have to think of a way to make them want to read it as opposed to forcing them.

And then we’ll read James Herriot together for fun, and laugh over his animal stories. I’ll throw in Pterry’s YA books and let them run with his longer ones when they get older. Garth Nix and Tamora Pierce will also definitely be staples.

It will break my heart if they don’t like reading (but I’ve also read somewhere that it’s all about exposure.. most, if not all people love a good story at least, and even if they hate it at the start, there’s ways to get them interested >) ).

My Nanowrimo progress has abruptly slowed.. I gave in to those two characters running around in my head and threw them headfirst into the story. They responded by demanding to appear multiple times in various guises. Perhaps until I tell their story fully, they’re going to continue to insist on forcing their way into everything else I write. They know the current world isn’t entirely theirs so they’re messing it up to suit them :/ .

I’m also quite interested to note that the work of an author that I am increasingly admiring is possibly being turned into a movie. Although The Shapechanger’s Wife is my least favourite of all her books I’ve ever read, admittedly, it would probably make a better movie that some of her other things that I like much better. The site is quite pretty, and I’m hoping to eventually see the actual movie. I’m actually quite happy that Aubrey’s getting a chance – he’s probably one of the least irritating “knowledge-seekers” that I’ve come across in a long time. Take Taran of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander; I just reread the series and spent quite a few moments screaming at his incompetence, over confidence and the fact he’s constantly getting knocked out for extended periods of time (without sustaining substantial brain damage. Hm.) He does win points for eventually developing into a character well worth liking. The screaming did seem to be amusing to my current houseguest though.

Day 11

11 Nov

I hope my love can blind you
I hope my arms can bind you
So you’ll never have to see
What we’ve grown to be

One may think we’re alright
But we need pills to sleep at night
We need lies to make it through the day
We’re not okay

pills.the perishers.

My mind is currently filled with that song, so I suspect the story will take on something of that. Currently the focus is on madness, a concept I personally find interesting. Toying with the idea of one (or both) of the main characters being slowly driven over the edge by things they can’t control. Perhaps the journey itself will be a test of their natural resilience. Or maybe I should try a happy (happier) story for once. have I ever written a happy story :/. I like to read them (if they’re well written) but I seem rather unable to produce them. Happy endings on the other hand have been within my grasp – though they generally have to earn it somehow.

Back to plodding along, I’ve fallen behind somewhat. :X

Day 5 of Nanowrimo

5 Nov

It turns out the male character is not as confident as he pretends to be (I think I’m slightly influenced by Howl’s character from the Castle series Diana Wynne Jones, especially since I’m currently rereading the series), the female has more confidence and conviction than she appeared to have at the beginning (but she was also quieter and more respectful, which she was disillusioned out of) and she is forced to confront and examine one of her fears – character development, YAY.

I suffer from writer envy a lot, most of the time after I emerge from being caught up in some superior story with excellent plot, detail and style. Sometimes I try to reread to analyse the amazingness, but I end up getting caught up in the story all over again, so it fails. I know I should probably do a sentence by sentence dissection (especially with the aforementioned Diana Wynne Jones, I get caught up if I read even just one paragraph), but… there are still so many more books to read and admire…  >< It feels sometimes I’m just going around Oooh-ing and Aaah-ing over everyone else’s fantastic works and there are still so many gems to be discovered out there … why is there not more time in my life?

(and my order of six books by yet another grand master of fantasy arrived yesterday. I can’t wait!)

Priorities, priorities, priorities.

past the point of self indulgence

4 Nov

I’ve promised myself for YEARS that I’d participate in Nanowrimo. It’s been years since I’ve first heard of it, and I decided in 2008, that was the year. I barely made a start. In 2009, I decided that it was ridiculously that I could not consistently write about 1667 words a day and went for it. I had 7667 words on the first story, and then decided it was rubbish. For the second story, I reached about 5100 words, and then dropped it for some reason (I think exams did affect it somewhat). I didn’t even try in 2010.

For the first time, this year, I don’t have exams to interfere with me, so I am desperately forging ahead and trying to be consistent. This is only day four, so I’m only allowing myself to be mildly pleased that I’ve consistently kept up with the recommended daily wordcount so far (6687 words and counting!).

Because I know I’m not too good with massive casts of characters, I’ve kept it simple – 2 mains. I’ve realised that I have a tendency to do this, to the point they get too caught up in their little world, and I get bored of them and long for different personalities to work with. The world they are in? Vague. Their greater purpose? Vague. Their backgrounds? Also vague. They don’t even have names, but I found a way to work that into the story. I deliberately started off this way, to try and discover the characters as I write them, feeling almost like an outsider watching them as they develop.

It’s difficult because there are three characters who have been living in my head for years begging to have their stories told, but the nature of their stories and destinies are complicated enough that I haven’t finished building a world for them to live in. They try to intrude in on the current story, which is too fragile for them and would be destroyed by their presence. However, I’m choosing to push them all aside for now, and only allow just one through, to build slowly until I finally reach 50 000 words.

Of course, it would be easy to just spill out the words, but after the 30 days, I still want something I can be moderately proud of, not complete drivel that I’ve pulled out for the sake of the word count. And who knows.. perhaps the two nameless characters now will be able to grow into something special. One of them is already showing some potential and hopefully the other will grow too, rather than just remain a snarky mouthpiece for some of my thoughts.

In case you’re wondering, Nanowrimo wikipedia link here for the curious.
For the lazy, Nanowrimo = online commitment to write 50 000 words in 30 days. Happens in Novermber *every* year. There are certain rules and stuff but it’s mostly just for you [the writer], as an exercise (50 000 words is about the length of a short novel)… but it’s nice to have a community to encourage you along (knowing others are suffering with you is always nice).

Peter Galen Massey

Haiku, Book Reviews, Commentary & The Occasional Nonsense


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