Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Daily Writer #1, Take Two

So upon further consideration, I decided it would be better to start at the beginning of this fantastic book, rather than in the middle. Like I mentioned before, the book starts at January first, with the idea of doing one exercise per day for a year. However, we'll just pretend that January first is August first, and I'll play some catch-up. :)

Without further adieu, here's #1, take two!

The Daily Writer #1:

Compose an allegory, keeping in mind that each of your characters represents an abstract trait. Give your main character a goal she struggles against powerful obstacles to attain.


"Hey." A voice hissed gratingly in Edda's ear, rousing her uncomfortably from a deep sleep.

"Hey." Something nudged her on the ankle. "Get up!"

"I'm still sleeping," Edda grumbled, pulling heavy covers over her head.

"It's almost noon!"

A pillow buffeted her over the head once, then again.

"Let her rest," another voice said quietly. The pillow-attack stopped and Edda heard a mumbled conversation from the hallway. She cautiously lifted the cloying comforter off of her head, peering into the half-lit room.

Fahima and Miku stood in the doorway, arguing in whispers. They paused when they saw her looking at them. Fahima, tall and lithe, almost vibrating with excitement, motioned her to get out of bed. Miku frowned in a motherly sort of way, folding her plump arms across her chest. Edda paused, looking between them both.

"I guess I'd better get up," she said finally, sighing deeply and reaching for her phone.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Daily Writer #1

So, in addition to being possibly the worst blogger ever, I'm also a terrible procrastinator. I can't make myself do anything or focus on much. If you know me or have been reading this thing, you know that I've wanted to be a writer my entire life, and I consider myself quite good at it. The problem isn't my writing, you see, it's actually putting it down on paper (er, computer screen). I'm kind of a binge writer. I'll write loads in two hours, then not touch it again for months. I know that this is a problem many writers face. I'm convinced that I could be published and read if I could just get myself together enough to write a decent draft.

So! In order to help myself with this task, I've picked up a book (yes, another one). It's called The Daily Writer, and it addresses exactly the problems I have. It gives a short blurb on various elements of writing and then offers one or two exercises, intended to make you write every day! Isn't that fabulous! Well, it obviously starts on January 1, but I figured I could just skip to August 1 and make my way around it like that. I read the first two prompts and they're very interesting. I offer them here for your enjoyment:

August 1

1.) Prepare a synopsis of a short story organized into the three stages--departure, initiation, and return--of the hero's journey.
2.) Write a fantasy or real world short story based on the synopsis you prepared for number one.

Here are my thoughts for the first part:
- Departure: A classic young male hero's village is infected by a terrible plague. The hero, being young and strong, is sent to retrieve a rare medicine from another village by an elder. The village is several days' journey away and there is a terrible snowstorm.
- Initiation: The young hero braves the storm and many dangers to find the medicine and deliver it back home.
- Return: The young hero returns home to find that his entire village has already perished while he was away. The hero realizes that the elder sent him away to save him from the plague, not to fetch necessary medicine, as he knew that it was too late for the rest of the village.
- I'm interested in a kind of parallel between the young hero and the elder, where they both go through these stages in the story, but you don't see the elder's journey until the end. For the elder's departure, he sees that the young hero is the only healthy one in a dying village. As there is no hope for the rest of the village, he realizes that he must somehow save the young hero. Elder's initiation: He must concoct a convincing story to lead the young hero away from the plague, ensuring his safety. Elder's return: I'm not sure. Maybe he can at least be thanked by the young hero's parents or something for saving their child.

Anyway, that's the first part. I'll tackle part two tomorrow when I get home from work. :)

The Golden Notebook

The show must go on! I rolled #64, The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing. I really don't know what to expect. I must admit that I've never even heard of this book, nor of the author. The back cover doesn't give much of a hint, either. I read a page or so and it was just two women talking about wanting to be married... Not exactly promising, but I'm trying not to judge it just yet. More updates to come!

The Grapes of Wrath

So I finally made it through The Grapes of Wrath. It's not that it was a bad book--it was beautifully crafted and engaging when I could make myself read it--I just found it slow and difficult to get into. I also didn't feel particularly connected to any of the characters. I felt for them, I was sorry for the terrible pain and hardship they experienced, but they all seemed so foreign to me.

One thing that was very interesting was to compare the events described in Steinbeck's novel with modern day. We're supposed to be in a recession right now, but to be blunt, it doesn't even compare. It's like comparing a cat scratch to a beheading. Right now, I feel like things are just kind of annoying and somewhat rougher than a few years ago, but the Great Depression was truly crippling. I can't even fathom it... and maybe that was my problem. It's almost like I couldn't believe what was happening in the book could actually happen. The logical part of me knows it was all based on truth and is a very accurate portrayal of what so many people experienced then, but I still find it unbelievable.

I think one thing The Grapes of Wrath has taught me is the importance of being relate-able. In his own way, Steinbeck is relate-able right now because of the recession, but I think that it's crucial to the longevity and future understanding of a piece of writing to not be so strictly bound to one time period or one place. Of course, chronicling history is fundamental to our growth as a society, but future generations need to be able to feel something for your work other than shock and disbelief.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Grapes of Wrath

Just a quick update for now! I'm still plowing through The Grapes of Wrath (get it? "Plowing through?" I crack myself up), but it's slower going than many of the other books I've read. It's a longer novel, of course, but the language is also very intricate. It's not always easy to follow, especially when Steinbeck goes off on a little tangent. Luckily, the tangents are nice to read.

Overall, I find the plot intriguing so far, but not much has really happened. I'm enjoying the story and the characters and Steinbeck's writing is quite beautiful at times, especially his descriptions of the desolate landscape. Who knew the Dust Bowl could be beautiful? However, sometimes I think he gets a little bogged down in all those purdy words. It slows the plot and makes me less connected to the story.

In other news, I've decided that I need to put in a few hours a day in my writing. What do you think is appropriate? I want to get up to six hours, but I think I should start small for now. Maybe an hour and a half for now, then move on to three hours, then move on to six hours. Now that I've graduated, I really want to complete one of my novels and start looking for a publisher. It's exciting, but a bit terrifying. I think if I can just make myself focus and finish something (for once), it will turn out well. Here's hoping...

There's a hard freeze moving in tonight. I can hear the leaves crackling already. A good day to stay inside and read and/or write, don't you think?

Saturday, December 25, 2010


So, I was pretty disappointed in Wide Sargasso Sea, but I thoroughly enjoyed Othello! I've never read it before and now I think it's one of my favorite Shakespearean plays. I felt more pulled in to the story than almost any other of his works and the characters were all fascinating. I truly felt for Othello. The war and military aspect of this play took a back seat to the emotional turmoil suffered by Othello and Desdemona, and the cruel cunning of Iago. It was no easier to read than any other Shakespeare, but the time seemed to pass more quickly because I was so invested in the characters, their motives, and wondering what the ultimate conclusion would be. I highly recommend it, even if you don't usually like Shakespeare!

This was a good week for reading, considering I have a two-week vacation from work and I was stuck with the family for several days. Moving on to #21, The Grapes of Wrath. So far, it's slow but interesting.

Wide Sargasso Sea

Well, to be completely honest, I'm not sure what to say. I still don't really know what to think about this one. Wide Sargasso Sea is certainly a unique book, with a very unique premise. Rhys apparently wrote it as a kind of high-class fanfiction, telling the story of Mr. Rochester's mad wife from Jane Eyre. Perhaps I'll feel differently about the book once I get around to reading Jane Eyre again.

I was pretty excited about reading this book, which might have been my first mistake. I'm not sure what I expected, but it certainly wasn't what I got. Rhys writes beautifully, it's just not quite my style. A little too stream-of-consciousness, I think. I was always interested in the story, especially the gorgeous setting (post-colonial Caribbean islands), but I didn't feel attached to any of the characters. It was written as a sort of "descent into madness" novel, but I could never sympathize with the main character, Antoinette. This may have been due in part to my unfamiliarity with the history and racial tensions of this time and area. As hard I tried, however, I just couldn't like Antoinette.

I remember disliking Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, but in Wide Sargasso Sea I felt sorry for him because he was duped into marrying such a nut-job. At times, I felt like Rhys was trying a bit too hard with the whole crazy thing, if that makes sense. It felt faked in some ways, and pretentious in all others. I felt at once confused, bored, and a little bit offended throughout the first two parts. Once I got to Part 3, I was finally happy with the book, but then it abruptly ended.

I really don't like being overly critical, but this was definitely not the book for me. Maybe I can give it away to someone who will enjoy it more. On a different note, I'm fairly impressed that a novel can feel heavy and frivolous at the same time. Sorry Jean Rhys.