Books, Writing

On writing and reading

As I have worked on my writing these past few weeks, I have discovered something interesting. I have always been the type of writer who wrote as I went. Now, I’ve never been a terribly great writer when it comes to things like fiction but I could bang out a paper, have it be well researched and get a good grade. Many an English teacher has touted the importance of outlining before you write. I always scoffed at this because I could write papers fairly quickly and very well without an outline. Not a written one anyway. I’d have a vague idea of what I wanted to do in my head. Sometimes it changed course as I wrote but generally it worked well. I have always tackled fiction in much the same way and it’s readable but I usually had trouble getting things to coalesce. Then I started to write down an outline.

Oh. whoa. Suddenly I can see why people talk about outlines as being such important things. I could write a lot more effectively with an outline in place than I could without one. Even though I knew where I wanted my story to go. Even though I have characters in my head. This worked so much better. I will admit that it took a little time. In fact, putting one in place retroactively may cause it to be more time consuming because I have to go back and fix things but it helps a lot. So, I will admit defeat. Outlines are useful things and I can probably see a use for them writing regular papers too, if only to get an idea of where the paper is going before I start writing so I don’t have to rewrite my thesis a dozen times. It means that some of what I write earlier requires some edits but that’s ok. I don’t mind editing. As long as I’m not looking for grammatical errors. That is still a bane of mine.

I still haven’t done my bullet journal post. I keep meaning to and then something else comes up. Like finishing another book or needing to do dishes or going for a run. So it’s still on the list. I’m hoping to be able to use the new layout I have as a more effective tool for watching what I eat, studying, working out and writing. We’ll see how well it goes since Tuesday has me back in classes and with little time to breathe. Also, work, so my whole weekend is pretty much consumed too. Although the last few weeks have been strange with me ending up on the floor a lot. I don’t mind being on the floor. It’s just unanticipated, especially given it’s been more than a month like this.

As a brief aside, I like reading books that nobody else is reading. It makes getting said book from the library much easier. I had wanted to start rereading Outlander because I got halfway through the fourth book and then put it down and never pick dit back up. Now I’ve forgotten a lot of plot points and I feel like instead of picking up book 4 and starting there, I need to go back to the beginning. However, getting ahold of the book is nearly impossible. I’ve had it marked as to hold at the library for weeks. I can only imagine there are a million people in front of me wanting the book. So, you know I may or may not get to that anytime soon. I still have other things to read. It’s just annoying that everybody wants to read it all of a sudden. Honestly, more people need to pursue libraries and bookstores. There are lots of good stories out there but apparently if it’s not on tv, it’s not worth reading which is so silly.

So that’s it. Attempts are being made at lots of things. I still don’t have a post schedule. I really need one. Like seriously. I’m working on it, I swear!

Books, Fitness, Healthy Eating, Running, Writing

It might be a miracle

It’s been several months since I began running again in earnest. It does a soul good to be able to pummel the ground repeatedly with your feet. Unfortunately, I live in an oven. Or at least that’s what it feels like from (usually) May until September. That’s almost half the year if you’re keeping track. And generally it isn’t the heat that is the true problem here. It’s the 90% humidity that accompanies it. That can make breathing hard when you aren’t doing anything. Then put exertion in the mix and you have a recipe for crawling rather than running.

Our weather this year has been odd. It hasn’t been as hot as it usually is and it didn’t warm up until much later than usual. So you can imagine my surprise when I went running Sunday and did three miles with all negative splits. I’ve never run all negative splits, since I started running years ago. I could get the second mile negative but then the third would be a disaster or the second mile would be awful and the third would be better (but not better than the first). Now part of this is a poor ability to pace on my part, which I’ve been working on. But part of it is the horrible heat.

When the weather is cooler out, I can typically run about even splits, a second or two over or under for each mile. Sunday was remarkable because the second mile was almost third second faster and my third was a few second faster yet. It wasn’t a ten minute pace (it was around 10:30) but it was a vast improvement over the 11:00 to 11:30 that I’ve been running. I have no idea what I did differently and could not replicate it today. I’ll keep working at it though.

I have also made efforts to get my food healthy again. I was lax during the last few weeks of school due to stress, so I wasn’t eating as much and some of it was not the best choices (there was a lot of pizza… pizza is my kryptonite). So I’ve really put effort into ensuring that I’m eating a good breakfast and getting lots of fruits and vegetables in, especially while they are really good. I was good about not resorting to eating out all the time. So while my choices weren’t the best choices at home, they were at least choices that I largely controlled the portions and sides for. Small victories, right?

As a brief aside, I will also add that I am working on two more books currently, as I move forward on my day zero project. I have also started a book with a full complement of characters, a brief outline and somewhere around 12,000 words. This is progress and hopefully it will continue. I have research notes and may actually get a notebook to keep details in so that I don’t have to keep flipping to different computer files (it’s easier sometimes to have paper!). I haven’t decided yet what to do with the book once it’s finished. First I have to finish it but I can say with confidence that this one is the most likely yet to actually reach a point where it would be complete. Of course, I’d also need an editor because I am bad with grammar and can make mistakes that are very amateur. A person with good editing skills would need to look over this thing before I even contemplated publishing it.

See what I can accomplish when I have time off?

Books, Writing

About writing

I can get attached to fictional characters. This probably sounds pretty silly to most people but it has always been true for me. I have been reading since I was very small and often those books were a place of refuge for me, letting me go to places that I couldn’t actually go to and meet people who might have been friends. Since I have always had a fairly creative imagination, I would think about what might happen to those characters after their book ended. Eventually, I discovered tv shows that engrossed me as much as my books and I would find myself contemplating what happened to those characters as well.

Somehow, I never thought about creating my own characters until I was much older. As much as I loved books and to write I never felt as though I was a writer. That was a purview for other people who were better at it than I was. In fact, throughout most of school I felt as though I simply wasn’t good enough at anything for it to be important or valuable. That’s how I ended up graduating from college long after I should have with absolutely no direction. I was lost. Mostly within my books because at least those people were nice to me. Which makes it sound like I had no friends which isn’t true. But often I felt misunderstood and like a background character. I had issues.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more attached to characters because I can see so clearly who they are. I have television shows that I’ve watched now for so long that I know everything about those characters (two shows come to mind, NCIS and Criminal Minds) because I am invested in those characters. That happens when you watch a show for more than a decade, I guess. There are also books that I’ve gotten invested in, where I know those characters and love them. This to me, is very different from being a fan of a director or tv show. As an example, I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith. I’ve seen all of his movies. Some of them were not great but I still love him as a director. I am not invested in those characters though. I mean, I can tell you a little about the characters but I’m not invested in them. NCIS – that I am invested in. I have cried over that show (like when Ziva was killed or when Tony met his daughter). I feel as though I know the personalities of those characters and could write stories that involve them.

I mentioned yesterday that I was using fan fiction as a way to work on my prose. Mostly what I mean, is taking those characters and trying to learn how to be invested in them. Sometimes when I work on writing stories of my own, I have issues with keeping an interest in the characters, which shouldn’t happen since they’re my creations. So I’m working on finding ways to learn more about the characters when they seem to be at their worst. Fan fiction is letting me do that without creating a world for those characters because that world already exists. I’m just playing with it. I feel as though it may be working. I have written more in this particular fan fiction piece than I have in anything else. I don’t know that I have the character personalities down yet but I’m making progress. I’m trying to use their voices and speak as they would. Again, work in progress. But there is progress, so that’s good.

As a side note, I have almost completed one of my day zero goals: complete a 30 miles challenge. If you’re unfamiliar, the goal is to run 30 miles in one month. For a lot of people, this is probably a monthly accomplishment. I don’t think I’ve ever done it… maybe once when I was doing half marathon training but that would be five years ago now, so I’m not counting it. I’ve got about five miles to go for July and it’ll be done. I’ll actually run more than 30 miles but I’m good with that. It means I’m back on track. I took time off last week and only ran once so I thought I wouldn’t reach my goal but I have 6 days, so it should be doable. That would be my first official goal crossed off the list. Of course, I still don’t have 101 things on the list but I’ll add some more eventually. I’ve still got 2 years and 11 months.

Books, Life, Nursing School, Writing

School’s out for summer

This is officially, the beginning of ten days of vacation for me. I started my job just over a year ago and since then, I have worked every weekend and have been in school almost every week. So as of now, I am working on several things all at once. We shall see how successful I end up being.

First and foremost, I worked on cleaning today. That’s not to say that I haven’t cleaned in over a year but aside from little daily tasks like sweeping and dishes, lots of things get neglected day to day. So I scrubbed a bathroom today (1 of 2), took out some garbage and folded the laundry that had piled up. I have one basket still left to do but I thought I’d sit down and write first.

Speaking of writing, I have been practicing my writing. What I mean by that is I have been writing fan fiction (nobody needs to read that though cause honestly, it’s fan fiction). This seems like a silly way to practice but it really allows me to focus on things like prose and point of view without having to think about characters and backstory because none of that is mine. I have started a new story in my head but it’s in the very early stages of thought. Sooner or later, one of these stories will stick and I’ll actually finish one. I have so many bits and pieces that don’t go together, it’s kind of funny. Creativity is fickle like that, I guess.

I spent time working on my bullet journal. Not a lot of time, mind you but some. I got August going and while I have a few spreads to still work on I could put next week in if I didn’t get any further. I am still seeing how this new weekly spread works for me. It’s a little wishy-washy right now. That’s probably a result of my not being sure how to best use the space which happens when I try a new way setting up. That’s ok though. This spread may work a little better, in terms of functionality.

July is almost over. I’m not quite sure how that happened. I suppose the fact that I was in school for the first half of the summer explains it. I have started filling in my day zero project list but at this point it’s mostly books that I’ve read or planning for bigger things. I have been considering a few of my photo projects that are on the list. I will update that tomorrow. For now, I’m going to put away the rest of the laundry and then watch another episode of NCIS (because I’m watching last season and I’m LOVING IT!!!). See you in the am!

Books, Bucket List, Bullet Journal, Life, Running

My Day Zero Project

So, the premise of the day zero project is to complete 101 tasks in 1001 days. These tasks are intended to be things that are challenging or interesting to you. Things you might not otherwise try to do. So, in the vein of accountability, I’m going to list the 52 things that I have on my list currently. I am also open to suggestions, if anyone has a suggestion about things to do that should or could go on my list. My official start date was July 1, 2017. That means I have util February 26, 2020 to finish everything. I still need 49 things. It’s a bit varied and there is some overlap… and some places where I’m not overlapping. It’s my project that will hopefully get me adventuring again. I will update when I make some progress (I have started on a couple of things). Wish me luck!

My list is

1. Go on a road trip
2. Complete a 365 day photo challenge
3. Do some volunteer work
4. No fast food for a month
5. Write a book
6. See 10 classic movies I’ve never seen
7. Complete a coloring book
8. Write a letter to myself to be opened when the 1001 days is over
9. Learn a poem by heart
10. Ask 20 friends to suggest one book, and read them all
11. Get a facial
12. Go rockclimbing
13. Attend the New Orleans Jazz Festival
14. See the Northern Lights
15. Make a Christmas song playlist
16. Mail a letter to Santa
17. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life
18. See the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree
19. Host a cookie-baking party
20. Deliver homemade holiday treats to someone unexpected
21. Do a random act of kindness for a stranger
22. Have a Christmas cookie swap
23. Learn meditation
24. Learn to make cheese
25. Learn to longboard
26. Write one page of my novel every day for a year
27. Learn how to paint with oils
28. Blog at least once a week for a year
29. Take a photo of the same place every month for a year
30. Run a 5K every month for a year
31. Send one handwritten letter per month for a year
32. Bake something new every month for a year
33. Spend an afternoon taking photos once a month for a year
34. Complete the 52 week money challenge
35. Keep a blog for a year
36. Drink from a coconut
37. Swim in every ocean
38. Visit a friend in a different country
39. Attend a TED event
40. Sleep in an overnight train
41. Save $500 in an emergency fund
42. Perform 5 random acts of kindness
43. Complete a 30 Miles in 30 Days Challenge
44. Complete a 30 Day Yoga Challenge
45. Climb an indoor rock wall
46. Go to Disneyland from opening to closing
47. Make a pie on Pi day
48. Eat lobster in Maine
49. Take a picture for each letter of the alphabet
50. Make a list of the top 5 people who have positively influenced me and write them letters
51. Keep a “My Day in Six Words” journal for 6 months
52. Read 50 books
Books, Life

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

So, just for fun, I thought I’d do a book review. This is mostly inspired by the fact that this series is one that has me enraptured and I can read quickly but I still want to reread. Now, I am keeping in mind that the series is incomplete and there are three more books that are supposed to be written. Also, I haven’t read the third book yet and I’m not done processing the second. Bear with me.

The book strikes me as one that is well thought out. I’ve read plenty of books that had a storyline but it didn’t seem very well thought out. Mostly, I feel that way when weird things start happening that seem out of place or the author just seems to be adding on to the story for the heck of it. This first book has a feeling of purpose – the story is going somewhere. The characters also seem to be well thought out, with backstories that are consistent and don’t change wildly from book to book. That is also something that I’ve seem happen and drives me crazy. The author seems to know her characters and her world, which makes the story always seem to follow a path.

I liked the characters a lot. There are more books with women as the main character now but there are still fewer than should be. It took me awhile to determine that the narrator is female but it’s nice to heat the story from her point of view. It’s also crucial to the story that we hear it from her pov, but it’s always wonderful to read a female lead who isn’t a damsel in distress and doesn’t act like a frilly girl. Feyre is definitely strong and determined and not afraid to fight when she has to which is nice. Now, the story does revolve around a relationship but it doesn’t progress in a typical way which is nice.

The world the story is written in is also really detailed. I got the impression that the author knew a lot more about her world than she needed to for writing her story. That always makes the story more interesting. Authors tend to drop in details that have nothing to do with the overarching story arc but still makes the story more interesting which is fun.

As a brief description, the first book introduces Feyre who ends up being taken to the fairy world after an incident (I don’t want to give away what happens if you decide to read it, so I apologize if this is vague). Feyre is a human and is terrified of fairies. The story follows somewhat of a Beauty and the Beast arch, where there is a spell that needs to be broken. The fairies are well written and very interesting. Feyre meets several different kinds of fairies and they all help her move forward in her discovery of what is actually going on. There is a lot of confusion in the writing since Feyre doesn’t actually know what’s going on and it’s told from her perspective. That allows you to learn about the world as Feyre does which is always interesting. The ending of the first book is what you would expect but it leads into the second book (A Court of Mist and Fury) which does not go the way you anticipate – or at least, I didn’t. The third book is out but I haven’t gotten it from the library yet so I don’t know where this part of the story goes.

Originally the books were a trilogy so I don’t know how the next set of three will play into the story but I will probably read the fourth one and see how the story goes from the end of the third book.

I just thought I’d throw this out there since I had some unexpected extra time today. I hope everyone has a great week and I’ll be back with regular type stuff tomorrow. Until then!