On endings, purchases, and decisions/Check-in #4-end of May and early June edition

It’s hard to know where to begin this post since so much has been happening, and most of it within the past four weeks.

  • I guess the first thing to talk about is that I bought my first car! It’s a white 2017 Kia Forte. I bought it used and it’s been wonderful to have my own set of wheels. I’ve already been planning lots of different trips, both local and long distance, for the future, the first of which is happening this weekend for a friend’s wedding. It’s also been kind of interesting at what an insight into the relationship between adulthood and money this has been. When I parked it on the lot at work, my coworkers kept congratulating me and telling me that they were proud of me. A few of them commented on how responsible I had been and how this was a step further into adulthood for me. And yes, while I did work hard to save up, I felt odd accepting their praise. All I did was spend a bunch of money, money that could have been spent in so many other ways. It seems that spending certain sums of money makes you appear to be “more of an adult” or more “responsible”. Yes, having the car means I have another loan and an insurance policy to pay into now, but I’m not sure it makes me more grown up or responsible, especially since as I was driving to work that first day, I accidentally drove onto the curb of a street while unintentionally running a red light. I’d like to think that I possessed those qualities before I made this purchase; spending money should only grant you the physical things you’re paying for, not status or approval or maturity in the eyes of others. Reading over this, it makes me sound like I’m upset with my coworkers’ reactions, but I’m not. I’m lucky to have and am grateful for their support, but all of that attention, while nice, made me feel quite strange. Sorry for the tangent.
  • A week after I got the car, I finished the second draft of my book! IT IS FINALLY DONE! Yay! I feel like I should have told you about that sooner, given that I posted about my struggles with heading toward the finishing line. But I finished it on Memorial Day, which I had off of work, and wrote with a single-minded determination that I have never really displayed before but would have been nice to have had during finals time in college.
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    This is the rather flattering photo I sent my friend after writing the words “The End”. It was 11:17 pm.

    I wrote nearly 18 pages in one day, about thirteen of those in the span of two or three hours. I write longhand and by the time I was done, I was totally brain dead, unable to do more than be glad and text my friend about it, who has cheered me on through so much of this process. I also damaged my thumb from all that writing, which has not been fun and is only now, a little over two weeks later, just feeling better. The second draft totals at 343 pages, bringing the combined total of both the first and second draft to 619 and a fourth of a page. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m not working on that story right now. I miss it. I’m not ready to try draft three, but I do miss it.
  • I’ve decided that I’m going to try to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I made this decision a few months ago, but I’ve been loath to talk about it even, to my family.  Those programs are incredibly selective and I don’t want someone coming up to me and saying “Well why aren’t you in graduate school?” after I applied to and was rejected by different schools. I know there’s a whole debate about whether an MFA is necessary in the writing world, especially since those types of degrees are held by fiction writers who produce literary, oftentimes contemporary, fiction. I’m not brave enough to try for an MFA in poetry, but we’ll see how it goes with fiction. I’m still trying to figure out exactly why I want to do this thing, but the plain and short of it is that it feels right for me and I think it will help my career in the long run. We’ll see how it all goes. I’m going to spend most of my summer writing different short stories for my samples. And if I don’t get accepted into any of the schools I’m going apply to, at least I’ll have those stories to submit to publishers. Any thoughts or advice about applying to an MFA would be appreciated.
  • My first poem got published! I’m now officially a poet! You can read it here. As always, this will be linked under the writing tab. Also, for you fellow writers out there, if you’re looking for a place to submit to, the editor for this website, Nate, is incredibly nice.
  • I’ve become obsessed with PBS’s new adaptation of Little Women, this scene in particular. I could do a whole post about what I think about this adaptation. Is that something you’d like to read?

I think that’s everything. Like I said, it’s been a busy few weeks. I think that’s all I have to update you on for now. I’ll write again soon. Thanks, as always, reading.  Take care!

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Four sentence book reviews #3

Hello, everyone, and happy Star Wars Day! I’ve been reading quite a bit lately and I want to discuss some of the books I’ve read. It’s been nearly a year since my last one of these, so let’s do it!

Ink, Iron, & Glass by Gwendolyn Clare
Elsa’s mother, a renown scriptologist who can literally edit and write worlds into existence, has been kidnapped. Elsa, a budding scriptologist herself, sets off to find her with the help of an old family friend and a gang of other magically gifted teenagers who are beginning to realize just how much of their world is a lie. This book is truly excellent in terms of its characters, setting, magic system, and world building. It balances all of these elements well to create a believable, multi-layered universe and with lovable characters, and incredible tension.

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Photo attributed to Goodreads.

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Tess, who has a painful past, has never had much support from her family, except from her sister, who is about to get married. Even though Tess helped bring the match about for the advantage of their family, she is not happy about it. An accident prompts her to flee her family and set off on her own road, to find her own adventures. Set in the same world as her previous books, Seraphina and Shadow Scale, Hartman makes a remarkable, poignant, and timely return to her world of dragons, people, and how the two get along.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Jude and her two sisters were taken away from the human world when they were little to live in the High Court of Faerie, where their humanity is something they constantly struggle with, especially since everyone holds it against them, from the faeries they live with to the prince himself. This was my first experience with Holly Black’s writing and I can’t say it was quite a favorable one. I was frustrated with the characters due to their lackluster personalities and since they all wanted to change things but they didn’t really get around to doing so until the last fifty or so pages. I doubt I’ll continue with this series in the future.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
Artemisia lost her mother when she was twelve and she has grown up fulfilling her father’s artistic contracts. When a man who has been helping her with her art rapes her, it is up to her to find her voice, both tell the truth to her father, to herself, and to the Italian society that disbelieves her. I truly appreciated the timeliness of this story and the fact that it was told in verse, but I found the characters and setting lacking. I wish McCullough would have invested more in them, made them more complex and wide-ranging, since that would have made the story richer.

 

That’s all for now, everyone. I’ll definitely be writing more of these over the coming months, especially since there are some books coming out and on my to-be-read list that I’m excited about. On the writing front, I have six chapters to go and I’m already planning to start on my next book project after I’m finished with this draft.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Soon…soon

The title of this post pretty much is my mantra in regard to my second draft right now. I’m nearing the finishing line with it and while I’m excited, I’m also getting doubtful and tired. People always compare pursuing any creative work to giving birth, so in terms of that analogy, I guess I’m at the part where you’re exhausted and breathless but you’ve got to keep pushing because there is no stopping now. Never having given birth, I don’t know how accurate this analogy is, but it does seem apt.

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The picture is of my current page count. Subtract 275 from that number and you’ll get how long this new draft is. I didn’t mean to hand write the whole thing, but that’s just how it turned out.

Like I mentioned before, the doubts are starting to speak louder than they have at any other point during this process. They keep telling me that no one will want to read or publish this and that these characters are too broken and unlovable for people to root for. The important thing is that I loved and believed in this story first and if I do my job right, then others will care and want to read it. I’m not there yet, but this draft is so much more book-shaped than my first one and I already have so many ideas for how to move forward. I’ll get there and if you’re struggling with your own things, know that you’ll get there, too. Soon…soon.

 

 

P.S. To all of you who have just subscribed via email, welcome. ❤

Some drawings

Hey, everyone! A few days ago, I was given a white Chanel box by someone close to me who wears their perfume. It’s now my new pen box. I decided to draw on the box and I wanted to share some pictures with you. I draw quite a bit though I don’t normally show my drawings to people. I’m trying to change that. Hope you’re all doing well. 20180316_202555

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Yes, the wheel is purposefully lopsided.

A silly meet-cute

I haven’t told a story from work in a while. But I have one for you today. And, for those of you who don’t know, a meet-cute is the point in a movie where two characters, generally love interests, meet.

I was back at the reference desk one morning about two weeks ago and a man came up to ask about our mobile printing services. I helped him out as much as I was able. He hung around the desk then went to go back to his seat. A woman came up from the computer lab with a lot of papers to print off. I helped her out then went to go get the stapler she would need to staple all of those pages together. The man came back and started to talk to me about books. I checked the stapler to see if it needed to be refilled and it did, so I was trying to refill the stapler while talking to this guy. He was a nice guy and was interested in donating to the library and we were talking about horror stories and just having a nice time. He then politely introduced himself and stuck his hand out for a handshake.

While all of this was going on, I was fiddling with the stapler, which had jammed, and decided to test it. I didn’t realize my finger was in the way. A staple sunk one of its prongs in my finger, just as he offered me his hand. So our introduction went something like this:

“Oh, I’m sorry, I should have introduced myself earlier. My name is Brad.” *Cue extended hand* (His name wasn’t really Brad, I would feel awful if I put his real name here.)

*Me, stapling myself, trying not to cry out in pain while trying to yank the staple out of my hand for an absurdly long time. Finally get it out after about three yanks* “I’m…bleeding. I mean, my name is Elizabeth and it’s nice to meet you!”

I shook his hand then, the hand that didn’t have a  bleeding finger. He was a good sport about my little mishap, made sure I was alright, finished what he needed to do, and left shortly afterward.

I couldn’t help but laugh about that little incident for most of the rest of the day, equal turns amused and embarrassed by my little meet-cute.

My social graces know no bounds, apparently. Bye for now, everyone.

It’s Lent

“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart…”-Joel 2:12.

Lent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons for many reasons. One of them is how honest Christians are about how sinful we are and how vast and overwhelming God’s mercy is. Being honest about that stuff is difficult but at least during this one point in the year, we are honest with ourselves, with each other, and with God. We are so honest about this sinfulness that we begin this season by literally smearing it across our foreheads. It’s humbling and shows that we all have room to grow. But the best thing about having room to grow is that you can still grow.

I have a really good feeling that though this Lent is going to be challenging, it will be so rewarding and healing. Please, God, make it so.

Happy Ash Wednesday, everyone.

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A patron left us Mardi Gras beads at the library last night, so I’ve been wearing them most of the day. It occurs to me that my face looks really puffy in this photo. I had gum in my mouth when I took this, so that’s why.

Check in #3

I wasn’t sure what kind of post to start 2018 with, and after much dilly-dallying with different ideas, I just decided to make this a check in, which will cover some really random stuff. Hi there. I hope the not-so-new year has been kind to you all. It’s been an interesting one so far.

  • The most interesting thing that’s happened so far is that I’ve learned more about what makes me who I am. Literally. I bought my mom a DNA test for Christmas last year and we finally got it ready to go at the beginning of December. We used the 23 and Me test, for those of you who care about that kind of thing and both my mom and I are so pleased with their service and how they present their findings. I bought the test because she’s always been curious if she had Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and the test confirmed her hunch. We were also staggered to discover that a small portion of our DNA comes from Scandinavia (it looks like Finland, specifically) and Northern Russia. The test also showed that, though my mother’s DNA is predominantly European, way far back, we come from the Middle East and Africa. It’s been really interesting to learn more about DNA and the tools and information that are available to help people learn about where they come from. If you’re looking for a DNA test, I highly recommend 23 and Me.
  • I’ve started tracking my daily writing progress, which I’ve never done before. My best friend and former roommate gave me a special calendar for Christmas and out of the blue, I decided to use it to track my writing progress, not only for the novel I’m working on, but also for short stories, articles, and other writing projects. So far it’s been helpful in making sure I get stuff done and also helping me prove to myself that I do more work than I think I do. I don’t know why, but it’s astonishingly easy for me to make myself think that I don’t work as much as I should. Having this calendar has helped me to realize just how much I do and to be more conscious of the time it takes me to do it in.
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    This is what this month’s page looks like so far. Please excuse my bad handwriting. If I decide to continue this in the future, I definitely need to learn to write smaller or to get a calendar with bigger boxes. 

     

  • At last, I heard back from some editors that I sent different pieces to, so be on the lookout for more things being added to my writing page. I’m really excited about these two pieces, since they’re different from what I’ve had published so far. That’s all I’m going to say for now. 🙂
  • I finally saw Star Wars VIII. I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t like it, but I did! It was different than I thought it would be, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s too much to go into here, but suffice it to say that I think this installment in the trilogy is not just a good addition to an already amazing canon of films but it provides a good springboard into episode IX. We’ll see where they decide to take the story next.
  • Charles Dickens has been hard core stalking me from beyond the grave. Ha, in rereading that sentence, it sounds like he is the Marley to my Scrooge. No, I don’t mean that kind of haunting. I just mean that he’s showing up a lot in my life. It started when I started watching the TV show “Dickensian” last month (trailer is linked here.) It’s a fantastic show, which I want to watch again and again. The one bad thing about that show is that it’s made me realize just how ignorant of Dickens I am. I’ve only read Great Expectations and have seen “Bleak House”, “Little Dorrit”, and “Oliver Twist”. I’d really like to get more into his work. I think I’m going to start with Hard Times, simply because it’s one of his slimmer works. Plus the opening paragraph is amazing in terms of establishing character. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions as to which of his works I should read.
  • Should I get an Instagram? I’ve been thinking about that question off an on since I got my phone last year. I’m really on the fence about it. On the one hand, I think it would be quite fun, especially to tie it in with this blog. On the other, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be too good at keeping up with it. If you have any ideas, let me know.

That’s about it for now. Sorry it’s been so long and for the rambling nature of this post. There will be lots more to come soon, you can be sure. Bye for now, everyone!

P.S. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten a lot more email subscribers in the past few weeks. Thank you for signing up! Welcome!