Motherfuckitude, speed reading, and writing top 10s

Happy Sunday, world! It’s been 10 days since I last spoke with you. Absolutely scandalous. In these last two weeks I’ve been busy wrapping up my projects at work because my co-op term is ending—also working on my own final project for the semester. Busy, busy, busy, with scraps of socializing here and there and racing to finish library books by the due date. You know how thrilling life can be.

So today I’ll just do a simple Weekend Wrap-up. Have a lovely Sunday! The weather’s getting warmer and the skies are getting drier, so go out there and kick a goddamn ball. Or just read a book.

I’ll have a real, original post coming up this week on Sucking Less And Winning More. It’s, y’know, unconventional life advice and shit.

Lists of writing things

  1. Top 10 quotes on first drafts. “I hate first drafts, and it never gets easier. People always wonder what kind of superhero power they’d like to have. I want the ability for someone to just open up my brain and take out the entire first draft and lay it down in front of me, so I can just focus on the second, third and fourth drafts.” —Judy Blume
  2. 6 John Green quotes in nice pretty gifs. Because we all need a pick-me-up from good ol’ Mr. Green on a Sunday afternoon.
  3. 11 writing tips to remind us that, for example, “[p]ublication is not the only definition of success. Count the small victories, too: solving a difficult plot, writing daily for a month, completing your first novel, entering that contest.”

List of literature things

  1. Why copyright extremism will kill creativity as we know it. Something I’d like the music, TV, film, and publishing industry to read.
  2. Modern literature’s greatest anti-heroes and unreliable narrators. We all love the bad boys and the badass bitches.
  3. Writing advice: The Art of Motherfuckitude. Title says all.

Because it’s exam season

  1. How to speed read, and
  2. Why you shouldn’t speed read literature. Sorry English students.
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Weekend Wrap-up: finding Jesus in coffee, social media tips, and really awesome archery

How was your week? Mine was tiring, for some odd reason. Lots of sleep but still feel sleepy kind of tired. However, I finally got around to paying my library fines and actually got handed a few lucky creativity splurges. I think the splurges happened because I’ve been hanging around people who talk about writing, which motivates me to do what they’re doing. Because I’m human and humans are stupid herd animals…

So that’s my writing tip of the week, I guess: surround yourself with people who live, breathe, and talk writing.

Cool things I’d like to share this week:

1. For coffee lovers: the theology of coffee. How you can find God (or whatever deeper spiritual thing you’re looking for) through the warmth and scent of coffee. Because coffee is awesome and makes us feel awesome, of course!

Linea doubleespresso

By Coffeegeek at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

2. To the writers and poets of modern society, Thomas Merton on being an intellectual in a world of technology and an sort of “bystander” contemplative artist. A great introduction to the work and style of Thomas Merton by Jeremy D. Johnson of Reality Sandwich.

3. Christian Mihai on why social media isn’t just a magic marketing tool. How you have to offer people quality entertainment and information in exchange for their time. It’s all about giving! (And then you get to receive).

4. Quoth the Wordsmith on the ethics of writing promotional blog posts for others. When to do a review, when to refuse one, and how to navigate the greyish world of promotional posts.

5. Can you be pro-life and feminist? Chapter TK’s eye-opening post on how the pro-life movement, instead of shaming women for seeking abortions, can spin their approach to a pro-woman one.

6. This really cool post by The Real Zordan on “mind cameras”writing from a cinematic perspective. Writing from your own perspective, you and the reader might imagine your protagonist in slightly different ways. But if you write from a film perspective, and both of you kind of see your protagonist from the side, you and the reader may see something slightly more similar.

Bell Howell Filmo 2

By Holger.Ellgaard 14:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC) (egen bild) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

7. Jess at Gideon Press asks, “Does talking about it really help?” On controversial and difficult issues used as themes in young adult literature. Is it helpful to express these heavy subjects, even when it comes from a biased, unprofessional view?

8. For those of you who watch The 100: why sexuality matters and why it doesn’t (on how the show introduced its first queer character). For those of you who don’t watch the 100, boy have you been missing a lot. Not only is it an extreme nail-biter and candyland for teen dystopian fans, it portrays a futuristic, what I would call “perfect society” where racism, homophobia, and sexism (especially sexism) don’t exist because everyone’s too damn busy trying to survive. It’s a good feminism case study…and I’ll write a bigger post about this show’s phenomenon later.

9. And this amazing archer who uses ancient archery techniques that have long been forgotten. Because archery is cool.

Weekend Wrap-up: Geysers of talent, Charlie Hebdo, and more

I hope everyone has had both a productive and recreational week, polishing off your newly-renewed optimism for the new year! I started the year off right, completely missing out on exercising and eating way too much ice cream. Well, at least I got started on turning my NaNoWriMo project into a screenplay. If you want proof I’m not a complete lazy ass, here’s proof!

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 8.40.52 PM

Turning prose into screenplay has been exciting and challenging. I have to admit – the particular way a screenplay looks makes me feel like a particularly cool brand of writer 8-| (no offense to all you wonderful prose writers, haha). But it’s not easy. There were many instances where I’ve had to scratch my head and think hmmm, how can I turn the gist of this character’s thought process into something the audience can actually see? More on screenwriting later…for now, it’s Weekend Wrap-up time!

I haven’t done one of these wrap-ups in a while, so I’ll be breaking the backlog of websites on my reading list over several weekends…please don’t mind me.

1. Get a kick out of authors criticizing each other. “No more Keats, I entreat: flay him alive; if some of you don’t I must skin him myself: there is no bearing the drivelling idiotism of the Mankin.” So said Lord Byron about John Keats. Read 34 more author-on-author hilarious (and ego-boosting…?) put-downs.

Erupting geysir

Iceland: a land of geysers erupting with literary talent? Photo by Dieter Schweizer (Obersulm, Germany) (taken by author) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

2. Why in Iceland, 1/10 people publish a book. Everyone loves reading and writing here, apparently, and “some even get a salary”!

3. English majors: hear, hear! Author Warren Adler militantly defends his choice to pursue a humanities degree in English. Some of us were meant to pursue our passions, even at the cost of a “pragmatic” career.

4. Giving New Years “intentions” a go instead of New Years “resolutions.” Why changing perspective on your goals just a little can help get things done.

5. What do strangers (really) think of you? I’ve always believed we judge ourselves more than other people judge us. This video (above) supports my claim. People stand in front of what they think is a mirror, describing how they feel about how they look, when little do they know strangers are on the other side of the mirror, making observations they wouldn’t expect.

6. Post-Charlie Hebdo, this writer condemns both the murderers and the xenophobic journalism of the victims. A compelling article with a catchy tl;dr: “Nobody should have been killed over those cartoons. Fuck those cartoons.”

7. Lastly, a big congratulations to my talented friend and fellow Creative Writing major Emily on her publication with Lemon Hound. Read her hilarious and adorable poem “How to fart in front of your boyfriend” – do it, do it!

Why Old Stuff is Cool

antique store

“Paris – Vintage travel gear seller at the marche Dauphine – 5212” by Jorge Royan – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Recently, I’ve been very interested in media. Specifically, media before the Internet age. As someone who grew up with computers and social media, it’s very hard to fathom a world without computers and social media. The idea of a world where you can’t just Google something is mind-blowing. A world where you had to look something up not on the laptop two steps from your bed, but in the library down the street. A world where the only interactions you had with your friends were vis-a-vis.

Because things weren’t digitized or virtual, I somehow imagine this “old world” as being more real.

I’ll illustrate with a few media examples.

Books vs. eBooks

"Egg companions" by Augustus Egg. Public domain.

“Travelling Companions” by Augustus Egg. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I’m a literary purist. I tell myself that I will never succumb to the ebook phenomenon. And so far (so far), I’ve been successful…

Books have a tactile aspect that ebooks can’t reincarnate. You walk up to your book shelf. You run your fingers over the spines of your collection. You make your decision. You slide out the book (sometimes it gets stuck). You open the book and breathe in its musty papery scent. You fan through the pages with your fingers, noting the weight, feel, and texture of the paper chosen by the publisher.

Whereas you tap a screen and open a PDF and well, yeah…that’s kinda it.

There are so many things that make up a book. Books are not just the words written by an author. There’s the shape of the book: is it hardcover, paperback, big, small, square, rectangular? The smell of paper: is it old and musty, like your grandfather’s attic, or new and crisp, as if still warm from the laser printer it was printed off of? How about the font: is it serif or sans-serif? Or the cover art: is it conceptual artwork or photography, or conceptual photography?

Ebooks, PDFs, .docxs…they’re imposters.

Records vs. MP3s

Phonograph

“Phonograph” by Walker, Harry [photographer]. Licensed under Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication via Wikimedia Commons.

Recently, I’ve been really interested in vinyl, and am pondering whether or not to purchase a record player. I like retro music and retro stuff, but of course my practical millenialism made me Google all the pros and cons before settling on a turntable.

Through my research into turntables, vinyl, and people who collect such seemingly useless, bulky, kinda stupid, impractical things, I’ve discovered there’s a real difference between how we listen to music as millennials today and how our parents and grandparents turned on, tuned in, and dropped out.

These days, you hear a song you like on the radio. You stream it on YouTube, or you torrent it from the net. You listen to a bunch of different songs from different artists on the radio or a YouTube playlist or Songza, and a few songs will stick with you, but most likely you won’t listen to more songs from the artist. Not many people actually buy songs nowadays, which makes music seem more expendable, like it’s a less tangible thing that’s just passed around. This guy has a pretty interesting opinion:

I can’t speak about the old days because I wasn’t alive in the old days, but I somehow imagine the experience to be a little different. People bought albums and listened to them from a-side to b-side in the order the artist intended. People got to know the artist by buying full albums and looking at the album artwork in its original, 12-inch length and width. People bought these tangible records at stores, supporting the artist and actually making a financial commitment.

The experience has definitely change. I wouldn’t say it changed for the worse, necessarily. I do like listening freely to all sorts of music in the comfort of my bedroom.The radio is still a great medium for spreading musical awareness and it’s a good thing many artists get exposure by radios, social media, Songza and YouTube. And radios (hence social media?) has existed long before the 21st century.

Social Media vs. Real-life Encounters

Campfire war buddies

“Pancho Villa Expedition – Around the Campfire HD-SN-99-02005” by C. Tucker Beckett. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Social media gives us both losses and benefits. We’re connected to more people by social media. Social media keeps us in touch. We’re less shy with the indirectness of social media, and we’re more likely to share personal things we may not share face-to-face on social media. We’re more direct due to indirectness, but we’re also more…indirect.

Personally, nothing has yet exceeded the experience of sitting down in the dark around a campfire with your closest friends, telling stories, getting philosophical, and goofing off until the early hours of dawn. Being with people in person is such a simple, almost primeval, experience that is profoundly human.

I believe it’s written in our DNA to plunge our hands into the rich, cold earth of our gardens. We’re programmed not to program, but to wrap our limbs around trees to climb them. We yearn to dive head first into the welcoming, raw waters of a lake. Evolution has given us the gift of literacy and media enjoyment, and so we must take our hands out of the dirt sometimes. But who says we have to depart so far from reality?

Weekend Wrap-up: First Week of July

iced tea

Was going to use a picture of a relaxing weekend cuppa, but thought the iced version was more relevant for the fresh hot air of July. (Photo: Melissa Doroquez CC BY-SA 2.0)

Another weekend, another adventure! I haven’t done weekend wrap-ups for a few weekends, so please forgive me if I include Internet stopovers from several weekends ago 😛

On Writing and Books and Stuff

On Everything Else

Weekend Wrap-up: First week of June

coffee

Some highlights from bloggers I’ve read this week:

  • Christian Mihai’s post on not thinking, just writing. A classic “kick-in-your-pants” post about getting your ass moving and dirty. Writing is dirty, and the reason you’re not succeeding is probably because you haven’t invested enough dirt. I know I haven’t. And “I’ve been busy” is the lamest, most inexcusable excuse at all. If you don’t know Christian Mihai, look him up. He’s not afraid to get down and dirty, starting self-publishing from a grassroots, DIY level. Don’t be afraid to get proactive, lazybums!
  • This highly relatable post by an English major. Because I’m an English major too and people ask me all the time what books I’ve been reading/would recommend. And it feels kinda like a test, like if I don’t say something “high-art” I’ll disappoint. But if I do say something “high art” I’ll be labelled as a douchey pretentious nerd…
  • An interesting post I stumbled upon about the concept of time. Can’t say I understand the concept in this article as well as its writer, but it is food for thought. Especially since for the first time in my life I can honestly say “I have no time” because for the first time in my uni-student life I’m working a full workday and work week with a 3 hour commute every day. Suddenly having the entire day disappear in front of me is scary. But what if time was only a matter of perspective? A matter of relativity?
  • A thoughtful post on why people commit suicide by someone who’s been there. Lately, I’ve been mulling over the concepts of life and no life anew, and it’s interesting to see my understanding of life and death evolve as I get older. I grew up in a household where something like safety was a topmost concern and it was drilled into me that life is precious and you must do everything to preserve it. Anyone who doesn’t take their life seriously is stupid, selfish, and careless. But isn’t it a little more complicated than that? All lives are different, and I can only speak for and determine the worth of my own life. (I think I may expand upon this in its own post.)
  • The above theme continues in poetry by a beautiful poem written by a high school freshman. Proposes the question: do we live because we choose?
  • Writers, BACK UP YOUR PROJECTS! Because we’ve all been through this at some point…and we all know it’s mournfully horrifying.

Elsewhere on the Internet:

pharell

  • Someone is hiding cash, beer, and marijuana in my city and tweeting clues about. Good ol’ Vancouver, eh?
  • Cultural appropriation (thanks to Will Pharell’s blossom of controversy this week). I’m not sure what I make of this issue. On one hand, I can see how Native Americans can be offended if someone uses a symbol equivalent to a war medal of valour as fashion. At the same time, would there have been a similar uproar if a cross was used in fashion? I agree with some of the comments that we have to be less uptight about being PC all the time and accept the reality that we live in a shared culture and cultural appropriation doesn’t have to be offensive. Perhaps sacred symbols should be out of bounds, though.
  • Weird sleeping epidemic in Kazakhstan. I hope they figure out what this is! People collapsing randomly into week-long sleep comas.

Missed last weekend’s wrap-up? Click here to catch up.

Weekend Wrap-up: Fourth Week of May

Lenin_reading_Pravda

Because I’m an incredibly original person, I’ll be gathering all the interesting Internet musings and news I’ve discovered over the week and putting them all in one post. This is my way of saying “thanks!” to awesome content-creators out there. And also my way of keeping up to date with my postings!

From Blogs I Follow

Writing News

Angeloupoem

  • Respected and renowned American poet/writer/screenwriter/renaissance woman Maya Angelou passed away earlier this week. I’ve never read her poetry, but I’ve learned she’s led one heck of life, going from fry cook/prostitute/nightclub dancer to poet/director/actress/professor & more. I mean, the lady lived enough to write 7 autobiographies!
  • Gove’s “axing” of To Kill A Mockingbird from English GCSEs in the UK have got the readersphere all abuzz and indignant. As a Canadian, I’m pretty certain that if all I got to read was Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro in high school, I’d go insane. (No offense to those authors, but c’mon…we’re talking about Mockingbird!)

My Featured Blog Post of the Week (aka CHECK OUT WHAT I DID, MA!)

  • Breakfast with News...the joys and sorrows of waking up at 6am every day and commuting 3 hours a day