Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Laxxed

I have been kind of laxxed the last few weeks on updating this site. It has been a very trying couple of weeks and when push comes to shove, I just have not really felt like it.

Last week I got an F on a paper for my Frank Lloyd Wright class and this kind of put me in a tale-spin. I feel that this is my favorite class, that I am learning the most from it, and that the paper I wrote was among my best papers over the last couple of years (of which my worst grade has been a low B). With only two total papers I felt the only thing left to do was to drop the course entirely. This was a very difficult decision because I really did like the class, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter for my graduation so I just decided to kick it. It will help me get a little more time at any rate.

However, this drop will leave me without my best study time which has been the four to five hours between classes on Tuesdays. Because of this, I decided that I will stick around campus for an hour or two after classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to make up the time. And sometimes I plan to still go to my FLW class as the prof doesn’t take any attendance. I really have found that I get much better studying done away from home than at home. I get too distracted there.

As if this wasn’t enough for my psyche, I have been having a wealth of “relationship” dreams which have been putting me into a state of eternal loneliness. I haven’t really felt that I could talk to my roommate about any of these problems either so I have this sense of being alone that I just haven’t felt in a very long time, if ever. I feel very alone right now, both for not having a girlfriend, and for not having anyone that I feel that I can reliably talk to who actually understands what I am going through.

It isn’t all bad though. I’ve been really getting into my books from Recent fiction and my recent paper for it came very easily to me which I was happy about. In addition to this, I saw Across the Universe this past weekend and this combination has left me feeling very artsy. Because of this, I have gotten back into writing my book and I am pleased with this progress. I feel like I really am doing a better job at fleshing out my story, though sometimes I think I am setting into the details a little too much.

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New Feature: Colour Meanings

I’ve lately been taking an interest into colours (I use the -our variation of this word as I just kind of like the spelling for various reasons and have taken to using it of late). Because of this I’ve decided to start taking a casual look at the meaning of colours and their symbolic values in texts. One reason is just so that I get a better meaning of it, but also because I haven’t really found a really good guide for such a thing online. This I will try to make a regular feature on Tuesdays as I have a bit of time in between classes in order to work on it, but be warned it may come a day late as I try to finish it up. To go with this I have created a category for Colours for these posts to reside in to make it easy for those who wish to go and look up only these posts. To start this out I will start with the oddball colour of gray.

I can’t begin the colour gray without first mentioning a very interesting aspect of the colour… it is spelled both grey and gray. This has actually troubled me as a writer for quite some time as I’ve never been able to figure out which I should be using, which is more appropriate, even though both mean the same thing. I went to the Oxford English Dictionary to find out why it is that there are two different spellings for this word and what is proper, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why it is the way it is. One guess is that perhaps gray used to refer to a darker shade, while grey used to refer to a lighter shade. It does seem to make the distinction though that -ay is used predominately today by the U.S. while -ey is used by the U.K. I also noted while looking at the historical use of the word that back in 1000 A.D. it was spelled græy which could explain why it got split off into two separate words the way it did.

Looking at the list of meanings from wikipedia, I noticed the big meanings they gave as mourning, elegance, March, neutrality, and Wisdom. The rest of the list I sat there and looked at wondering if people actually thought that certain things meant these things, such as Urban Sprawl. I mean who really has a colour that symbolizes Urban Sprawl? As a personal addition to this, I would say gray can also be represented as a sense of melancholy or depression as well as storms or rain.

Wikipedia also notes in the section on gray that mythology generally associates goblins with gray, and Norse mythology in particular tends to dress their gnomes in gray largely due to their association with dusk. So I guess we could also include dusk in our meanings of grey as well as a couple of interesting mythological creatures.

Another interesting side note comes from Dreammoods.com. I am largely interested in the symbolism of things in dreams and they note the meanings of gray in your dreams as indicating fear, depression, ill health, ambivalence, confusion and an emotional detachment. These meanings I think go along with what I would think the meaning of gray would be a little more, with a couple of associated meanings in addition to it. So I suppose a question that I would bring into this is do we give colours a more contextual non-existant meaning in texts, and is the dream meanings more correct to our actual associations with colours, or is dreammoods just a rather faulty source to be looking at for such info?

Laptops

I have long hated laptops. They have been a huge fad over the past few years where more and more people are getting them for apparently no reason. I mean unless you actually travel a lot, most people don’t actually need a laptop. I mean, in this age you do need a computer, but you get a much better computer for a comparable price when you actually buy a real computer… laptops are essentially a waste of money for all those who aren’t hardcore travelers… and a lot of people buy them even though they aren’t. So now, I am thinking of being a lemming and buying a laptop… but why?

Well the initial reasoning is to help my note taking… a lot of people these days bring laptops into class to take notes in class, and even record the class on webcams and microphones. I cannot deny that this in itself would be worthwhile, especially considering I have about 4 hours between classes on Tuesdays in which I am sitting doing homework. Well if I had a laptop I could be working on essays as well. However, this logic is very low as I am in my last semester of school and the purchase of a laptop is more worthwhile when you have more than a year left.

The secondary reason I’d buy one is to help me with my writing. Now let me explain. When I am home, I get super distracted. Something that I don’t think is uncommon for writers. I sit around and play games or watch TV or other things when I’m home and before I realize it the day is gone and I haven’t done anything.  My thought process is that I could bring the laptop out to lounges or coffee shops or libraries, or even take vacations out of town where I could more easily work on my writing without getting distracted by household things.

So the idea is appealing to me… but it is $600 I don’t have to spend on frivolous things. On the other side, if it helps write books which make me more than $600 can I afford not to? But what if I don’t use it ever? What if, even though the thought is good, I never go out of the house to use it as I say I would. After all, I am very good at making promises to myself (like going out every day/week to go exercise) and not fulfilling these promises. So what makes this one different?

It doesn’t help any that my roommate has decided to quit her $18 an hour job because she doesn’t like her boss and now I may need to help pay for more of the rent than we originally planned….

Still… it could help me get a book published…

First Week

My first week of classes has come and gone. Overall, I like my schedule quite a bit, I only have one morning class, and the classes are fairly well spread out so that I only have 1 class every day and 2 classes on Tuesday & Thursday, giving me plenty of spare time nearly every day to play games and study.

Every semester I pick up 5 classes with the intention of dropping down to 4 after I see which is the one I want to drop the least. This semester I had to have 2 english classes of which I took The Figure of the Rake (some sort of lush not the garden equipment) and Recent fiction, the latter seems interesting the former is the bigger requirement. I also took my usual gaming class which I didn’t want to lose so basically the two classes that I had as options which I needed to drop were Frank Lloyd Wright and Churches Under Hitler.

From the get go, I wanted to drop the Frank Lloyd Wright class as it was on two days a week, and ran till 5:15pm at night on Fridays (which interrupts my pick up for my daughter), so dropping this class would have allowed me a better schedule with her, but also given me Fridays off completely, and the Hitler class was also only one time a week as well as directly after my English class on Tuesday. However, the professor for Wright was really really good where the Hitler class had a somewhat boring prof as well as a ton of work to be done for it as well. This made it so I pretty much had to drop Hitler despite the fact that Wright would have been an easier drop.

Still, despite having a late class on Friday, I’m pretty appeased with my schedule. I am particularly excited about my Recent Fiction class, of which we are currently reading “Crying of Lot 49.” Which is a brilliant book written by Thomas Pynchon. The book has very largely inspired me  to think about my own book in different ways. For one, I have long struggled with the point of view of the book, largely being attracted to the first-person for the perspective I get, but understanding this to be a much more difficult type of book to read than the third-person perspective, even for myself. This book is written in the third-person omniscient which to me seems like a great compromise, giving a feel like the first-person gives, but without the much of the same difficulty. Overall, I think the book is brilliant and is a great start to the course, hopefully they are all as good as this one is.

Growing frustration

My roommate recently quit her job without having another job lined up. Financial issues aside, this has become very frustrating already for me as now she is around all the time. It used to be that I used the afternoons to work on random stuff. Whether it be an NWN module for an upcoming contest, cleaning, working on my story, or some other random project that I have, I did it in the afternoons. The problem is that the reason I did it in the afternoons was that I was awake and also because she wasn’t around. With her around, I get distracted, i don’t feel I can concentrate on what I am doing, and a small part of me feels embarassed and more pressured than what I need to feel.

What makes matters worse is that she feels bored all the time and thus finds the need to force me to do stuff with her. It is one thing if she went out on her own, in fact I would welcome this as a chance to do what I need to do. But she needs me to go because she doesn’t want to do anything alone. This complicates matters not only because it is more lost time, but if I am out and about doing things, then when I get home i am usually tired and either want to take a nap or I just want to sit down and play my game. Thereby taking away still more time.

The whole process is frustrating. I am not getting anything done. I have decided to put my book on hold for the time being and concentrate more on my NWN module as that is due in mid-July and I feel like I can win this competition. I also would like to work more on my resume, its webpages, and business cards to help me get my name out and be able to get a job after next semester. However, if this continues and she remains unemployed for long, I will certainly have to go up to the cottage alone so that I can concentrate on the book fully. It is just not something I particularly wanted to do because of gas prices and no air conditioning in my car, but more and more it is seeming like a good idea.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

One thing I think I have to become accustomed to when writing a novel is that I don’t need to worry about writing it out precisely as I go. What I mean by this is that I have always been the type of person who if I get stuck on a certain part, I can’t just go on to the next part without completing the current part. I always complete the current and then move on. However, when writing such a major story, I don’t think this will benefit me in the least bit.

For one, I am not that great at writing the details. Those little things that really flesh out a story. I think one thing that will really benefit me is if I just go through and write the very basic bit of the story, not worrying too much of the little things. And just getting from one major plot area to the next and figuring out how I get from one point to another. And then once this is done I can go back and flesh everything out a bit.

Another reason to do things this way is because I often sit and think on the book and I come up with an idea of fleshing it out, or how to work a particular scene, even down to the wording. However, no matter what I do I always seem unable to really put it into the story because I don’t have it written out. I do what I can to write it in a journal that I keep for ideas, however, when I return to it at a later time I often am not exactly sure where I was coming from when I wrote it and I feel that I lose some of the effect. If I have the major points already written out, I can take the idea and put it directly into the story where it belongs. I think this will be nice.

All this sounds well and good, but it is far more difficult to actualy sit down and write what comes next without having the current finished. It is difficult but hopefully I can prevail.

The woman dream

Last night I had one of those dreams where you are with someone else, married this time I think because I was giving her a surprise party for her like 40th birthday. This morning I began to wonder how people in a happy marriage respond to these types of dreams. As a single person I tend to feel depressed and extremely lonely all day (I have a great day to look forward to, yay!). However, does this happen to married people too? Or do they just wake up next to their spouse and wrap their arms around that person and forget all about it because they already have it?  Or do they wish they had a wife like that instead of the nagging wife they currently have?

I put a lot of stock in my dreams though. More than one story idea I’ve had has been influenced by dreams. Either directly by giving me the idea, or adding to the idea that I originally had. For instance this dream I had may not seem like much right now to anyone, after all many people have these ideas, however I can now use this dream to work into a story that involves a romance in which there are people of that age and types. And yes I have one that this fits perfectly into.

See sometimes it is difficult just figuring out the everyday life stuff when writing. The easy stuff is the big stuff, wife cheated on husband, someone dies, etc. The hard writing is really the little stuff… what did the wife do today before she cheated on the husband? What was the morning like for the person who died? These are more difficult questions. Often we can pick out the big events and describe it really well but can’t do the smaller steps that surround them. One way I cope with this is to use my dreams as best I can. Dreams have an innate ability to look real to us and thus are often easier to describe in writing than just coming up with the idea out of nowhere.