The Friday Four: Change of Plan

1. This was an interesting Freshly Pressed post about an ad for a T-shirt company that had a bunch of little girls saying the f-word as some kind of pro-feminism message. I do agree that it’s immoral to get little girls to use the f-word, which they shouldn’t know at all. It’s also sad because I don’t even see how the f-word is shocking anymore… so they had to put it in the mouths of little girls to make it so. I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I do wish the feminists would use better tactics. They’re really not helping their argument, at least in this case.

2. I changed my NaNoWriMo idea, and in doing so, I realized that I obviously can’t write about something I have no interest in. It would be nice to re-do my journal, but nothing goes on in my life. At least not enough to get me 50,000 words. So I’m going to continue working on the background stuff for my main series of stories. It may end up to be a bunch of short stories, but it’ll hold my attention and fill up the word count. It’s not technically a novel, but I’ve rebelled before, and I don’t mind rebelling again.

3. Lynda is a site that offers a bunch of courses on business-related stuff, like MS Office, Adobe, SEO, and time management. I’m taking some of the time management courses because my job requires me to, and I’m surprised to find that they’re actually really good. (This is not a shameless plug for Lynda; it’s a shameless plug for time management skills and how, if you’re participating in NaNo, they are incredibly valuable. So if you don’t do any Lynda courses, at least skim through this book.)

4. This is completely random, but for a long time, I believed the only Limp Bizkit song I liked was “Behind Blue Eyes.” Today, I was listening to a classic rock station on the radio and “Behind Blue Eyes” came on, but it was a much older version by the Who, which was in fact the original artist. I had no idea that Limp Bizkit didn’t technically write that song, and I suppose I should have known better. :)

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Poetry Time: Stay Put

This is for those days when you have way too many ideas in your head and you can’t get them all to stay there.

May 9, 2011

I’ll tack words to this page,
press them like flowers,
pin them like butterflies,
adhere them with magnets,
glue them on like googly eyes,
tape them on like mental notes—

somehow get them
to stay put
on paper
and out of my head.

Mortality

From the WordPress Daily Prompt archive…

At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

I don’t remember the exact age I was when I realized that I was in fact mortal, but it is an interesting question to think about. It also reminded me of a friend I had in high school. He had a T-shirt that said, “You’re Gonna DIE!” in huge letters, but it was supposed to be a Christian message. I forget the entire story around the shirt (and the words on the back), but it was definitely a good conversation starter. At the time, it did get me thinking about death and what would happen after I ceased breathing.

A couple of years before the T-shirt incident, a guy I went to high school with died in a car accident. I went to his funeral, but I wasn’t thinking about my own death at the time. Even with the reality of someone my age having died, I never considered that I was just as mortal. I remember vaguely thinking something like I’m going to be super careful while driving, and I left it at that. It’s a cliché that teenagers do all kinds of risky things and never think twice about it because they feel as though they’re immortal. Then when some kind of tragedy befalls them, they suddenly get slapped in the face with reality.

I didn’t really get slapped in the face with knowledge of mortality… it slowly came upon me over the years as I went through the usual life events that everyone else goes through and as I planned for the future. Because I’m a Catholic, I don’t believe that there is simply nothingness after death. People’s souls are so powerful that they must live on in some way, and there must be some Creator out there who built our intricate, delicate (yet powerful) world and cares about the fate of our unique souls.

So the short answer to the question posed in the prompt is… I was a teenager and I didn’t react in any dramatic way.

Thoughts on Soap Operas

I enjoy watching soap operas* and other types of drama shows, whether they’re reality or fictional. Perhaps this is because I have very little drama in my life and would rather watch drama than create my own. Or it may be because the type of stories I write usually have drama, recurring characters, and other soap opera elements, some of which irritate me:

  • Soap operas and dramas tend to operate based on coincidences. When one character is revealing a secret to another character, a third character will just happen to walk into the room at the opportune moment. I don’t think a writer could get away with this in a book. Each event has to logically (well, based on the story’s internal logic) lead to another event, and relying on coincidence should be done sparingly or not at all.
  • Strange things happen that make you roll your eyes in disbelief. I like when soap operas take a turn for the weird, but not when the happenings are so strange that I’m pulled out of the story and back into reality. In soap operas, you always find out that a character just so happens to have an identical twin or the car crash that supposedly killed the character didn’t really kill him. He just crawled away from the wreckage and took on another identity in the next state. Or his identical twin showed up and pretended to be him just for kicks.
  • With all these odd happenings and coincidences, it stands to reason that a soap opera should be somewhat humorous–maybe more humorous than simply including a few comic relief scenes here and there. However, too many funny scenes also take me away from the story, especially when the same story deals with intense real-life issues that may really strike a chord with some viewers.
  • Every character in the show knows or is somehow related to everyone else. It is unrealistic, but it’s still an aspect of soap operas that I like and try to incorporate into my own stories. Using this technique can tighten the storyline and increase tension and conflict for the characters. One of my favorite revision techniques is combining and deleting characters to make the plot stronger.

My major issue about soap operas and drama shows is that the characters are more difficult to relate to than characters in books; this may be because of all the ludicrous elements of soap operas above, or it may be related to the fact that you don’t get into characters’ inner thoughts that much onscreen. So in my own writing, I try to make the characters a bit more relatable and less like stereotypes.

~~~

*There really is no point to this post–just another thinking-out-loud kind of thing.

Back in Time

I don’t know whether any of you have heard of the Internet Wayback Machine, but it indeed exists. If you enter a URL, the Wayback Machine brings up images of that site from the past.

As an experiment, I entered the URL of my company’s website, which brought back several hundred instances when it had been archived over the years. It’s funny to see old websites from the 90s that look like a little kid put together the HTML code.

Then I put in the URL of an old blog I had back in 2006 that got erased in 2008 because the host site’s servers went down permanently. I wasn’t expecting my old blog to be archived on the Wayback Machine, but sure enough, there it was–complete with two page captures from 2007. It’s odd; I didn’t really think I had changed much in seven years, but when I read those two pages of my old blog, I realized that I had changed quite a bit. I almost didn’t recognize my own words.

As interesting and entertaining as the Wayback Machine is, it’s kind of creepy because it’s proof that anything you put on the Internet can never truly be erased, especially if it was a relatively popular site that a lot of people visited.

Also, anyone can archive sites on the Wayback Machine, so if you want to create an Internet time capsule, that’s one way to do it.