Friday, October 28, 2011

How I Don't Start Writing.

Dear Globlets,

In my last WRIT100FictionSection class, we talked about how we start the writing process. One person said they go to sleep, because they find dreams to be a good source for ideas.

Well.

I had a dream last night where I was drunk. Surprise, surprise. And the city I was in was a triple-city combo: Victoria, Portland, and San Francisco. And maybe some third world country, too, at some point. First, I was in downtown Victoria. Similar to what happens in real life sometimes, I couldn't remember what order the streets were in because the intersections are all similar, and they get jumbled up in my head. I said, standing on Johnson Street, "I've lived here for two and a half years; I should know the streets like the back of my hand by now." Was I with someone? And I've been here longer than that. But I lived in Chile for two and a half years.

Then, I was waiting for the #14 bus, the one I take almost every day, but on the #6 route way out in Esquimalt, and when I realized this, I hopped on the #4 going down the cross street, and then I was in San Francisco. A couple of friends were on the bus, too, and I said, "This bus is not going to UVic, is it?" And they were like, "No, to Hillside." Which might have actually made sense if I hadn't been in San Francisco, because Hillside Mall and UVic are on the #4's route, but the scenery, of course, was totally different.

I jumped off the trolley (yes, trolley now) and started running to Yates Street, because I knew the #14 would go down it (in the opposite direction from UVic, mind you). I ran, and I ran, and I remember there was a lot more running after that. I ran past the courthouse on Blanshard Street in Victoria, and could see where I needed to get to again. My face was bright red, I was out of breath and drenched in sweat, so I stopped at the Red Lion Inn on Douglas Street, except it was actually a colourful tent in a China Town I didn't recognize. There was Johnny, the owner of the dim-sum restaurant in the Red Lion Inn, who we see every six weeks after we get our hair done. There were a lot of old Chinese men, and they all looked at me.
Gasping for air, I said, "Can I have a glass of water, please?"
Johnny turned around, and turned back with a glass in his hand.

At this point, I distinctly remember thinking whether or not I should chug the water, or drink it slowly so that my thirst would be better quenched. A compromise: I chugged half of it. The men were staring at me. I was wearing a black suit (somehow I realized this at that moment). I sloshed a sip of the remaining water in my mouth. The men kept staring. I swallowed the water, took another long sip, sloshed the water around in my mouth some more, letting every corner of my mouth get a little water, and I swallowed again. I'm surprised I didn't gargle. I did this four or five times, still being stared at, still in silence.

"Thanks," I said, and wiped my face with my black blazer, put on a pair of badass black sunglasses that I don't actually own. Then, remembering I was drunk, I thought about how drinking water and sweating would help me sober up. When I started running again, I dropped my iPod, keys, and sunglasses, which were now my mom's brown sunglasses. I picked up my stuff and shoved it in the ridiculously deep pocket of my black trousers.

And then I woke up.

I think I'll stick to other means of story idea formation.

I'm Gonna Live Forever.

Dear Globlets,

BM47F6HT76WP

By posting this code, apparently I'm going to get famous.

Or, you know, not.


(How have 17 people looked at my blog today? Who are you silent, mysterious people?)



Or better yet:

I confess. For the longest time I thought it was "Babe" Bowie was saying, and not "Fame." That's how brilliant I am. Like you didn't already know.




Ori

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Storytime.

Dear Globlets,

After completely over-thinking my creative nonfiction story for the last several weeks, after trying to work with the truth as creatively as possible, the other day in my scriptwriting class, I wrote a short fictional scene for the first time in ages. And man, did it feel good. It felt like I didn't have to worry about anything. I just wrote. I just became that serial killer who walked into the Starbucks. I became the redhead for whom he held the door open. I became that 16 year-old girl he kept looking at in an overly nice but ultimately creepy way. Come to think of it, I should have become the girl's boss a little more, but it was just a scene. And I have the power to change things as I please.

It was an exercise we started in class. We created characters to walk into a coffee shop, gave them some physical description, came up with a few details of their past and character, and established why they were in a coffee shop at that particular moment. Then, we put our notes in a pile, mixed them up, and picked a page to create a scene from. The one I picked happened to be about a serial killer. Then, my prof said to make the character lose the struggle we create for them. Interesting, huh?

I missed writing like that - with just a couple of guidelines. It just flowed. I didn't have to stress over it. And I don't really know why, but I seemed to be really stressed out in my CNF class. To make matters worse, I don't think I did very well on the exam. I don't know what was up with that/me. Maybe I gave too much detail on the definitions and that's why I didn't have enough time for the essay question. At least my scene got 90%. I think my story will do well, especially since my friend Tom helped edit, plus at least 10% of the class's stories weren't actually creative nonfiction. I know my exam was only last Thursday, but I really want to know my mark, simply so I can accept it and move on.

While I have yet to move on, the class has. We're onto fiction now. The introduction to it consisted partly of bashing creative nonfiction. Apparently, I'm the only one in my class who likes the genre - or at least it seemed that way. I don't have to like a CNF class to like the genre. On one hand, I hope the class hasn't ruined the genre for anyone; on the other, if it did, that means less competition for me! Contrary to popular belief, reality can be just as emotional and sensitive and interesting as fantasy. CNF writers can't tell stories about aliens, so there are some limitations, but that doesn't make CNF dull. People are interesting. Beauty can be found as easily in the mundane as it can be in the grandiose. And sometimes it's the littlest of things, the quickest of looks, the sincerest of moments, that make real life interesting and worthwhile.

It is interesting, however, how little I wrote for the CNF section of WRIT100, and how little I'm expected to write for the fiction section. It's one story each. One story? Each story for WRIT100 has had a maximum word count of 1,500. I wrote eight or nine short stories for my fiction class at Camosun, and I believe each had the same maximum word count as these two stories. One of my short stories turned out to be over 2,000 words. I'm not trying to belittle what we've been doing in my WRIT100 classes because I do value it, but I wish we had more opportunities to actually write, as opposed to read and react. Why can't we do both? Read and react, and then workshop a thousand-word short story? A scene. Flash fiction. A conversation. The description of a town. A character sketch. Anything.

I'm probably just being impatient. To do so much at Camosun and then go to UVic to do much less has been weird for me.

But scriptwriting... Scriptwriting at Camosun is getting me thinking. I'm coming up with ideas again. It's like the CNF course sucked the life out of me, sucked the stories out of me. I couldn't think about anything else. All I thought about was, "Dear Lucy, how am I going to end this?" and "What am I trying to say with this piece?". But not anymore. I'll keep writing my own creative nonfiction, but now it's time for something completely different.

It's storytime, Globlets.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Workshop of WRIT100

Dear Globlets,

Great. They've changed the blogger interface and it now looks like a word document. When I couldn't stop over-thinking my CNF assignment, I started writing it as a blog post so that I could get out of that Blank Word Document of Disillusionment and Despair environment, but here it is again. It is nice and clean, however.

 In other news...

In my Writing 100 class, the creative nonfiction (CNF) section, we workshopped our stories, just like we will in every Creative Writing class. The workshop exercise is fundamental and, I think, extremely valuable.

For those unfamiliar with the process, you usually read over a piece the first time to get a sense of the story. Then, you go over it again with a highlighter and/or pen, making notes as you go along. "This doesn't make sense," "This is too wordy," This is AMAZING," "The phrasing is awkward here," "Can you give some more detail?", and you make grammatical and spelling changes or suggestions. You scratch out adverbs and highlight powerful verbs. You suggest which parts need to be condensed and which need to be elaborated on, but you also point out the good parts. You tell the author which sentences add veracity and verisimilitude (what a word, eh?), which ones show character, describe setting, evoke emotion. And you write up the good along with the bad. Some people like to give "feedback sandwiches": What works, what doesn't, then what works again. You have to be honest, but you also have to have tact. Destroy the piece if you have to, but do it gently, and actually consider the possibility that the author may be emotionally attached to the piece.

Verisimilitude: a likeness or resemblance of the truth, reality or a fact's probability. (From Wiki.)

Workshops are great when you're struggling with a particular part of the story because the others will help you come up with ideas, and they're great when you need someone to fix the awkward  bits you missed.

I recently gave out copies of my story to my workshop group, and collected the group's stories for editing, too. I have participated in numerous workshops in the past at Camosun, so I had a certain level of expectation going into it. The skill level of so many of my former classmates was incredible at Camosun. Even when the spelling and grammar was wrong, or the phrasing was awkward, the stories were still very impressive, with only a few exceptions. Forgetting that WRIT100 is a first year course, one that people choose to take even though they're not interested in becoming writers, I was a little disappointed with some of my peers' stories. A couple were quite good and had a lot of potential, and most of the time I understood the author's intentions, but some stories were not actually creative nonfiction. I was expecting more, even if they were more likely to excel in another genre (like poetry or drama).

When I got the edited copies of my story back, there wasn't too much for me to change. I already knew the ending was inadequate, and everyone agreed with that - without actually saying, "Your ending is inadequate," of course. But a couple of the copies only had the occasional "I like this," "This is good," "Nice job here," which wasn't really enough. On one girl's piece, you could hardly see the original text because of how many notes I made on it. Another editor marked errors in my piece when it was really her suggestions that were wrong. It's hard to take advice when it's coming from someone you know doesn't have the experience. It sounds bad, and I sound totally pompous, but some of the edits were nowhere near as detailed and helpful as those from my first year fiction class or first year creative nonfiction class at Camosun.

Of course, my peers at UVic are still learning. The ones at Camosun are, too. And I am definitely still learning. But this experience in WRIT100 has, once again, proven that great talent does not stem from large pocketbooks, or slightly shinier pieces of paper. UVic is more prestigious than Camosun, sure. If I say "UVic," most people know what that is. If I say "Camosun," I sometimes have to explain that it's a college. It's just a shame that the talent at Camosun might not earn as shiny of pieces of paper that UVic hands out after going through the Creative Writing program. Camosun should offer shiny pieces of paper for Creative Writing.

I just wish talent was rewarded more often.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy People.

Dear Globlets,

As you might have read before here, I'm not a fan of overly happy-sounding music. Fun, for example, is one band I can't stand for that reason alone. This is how I previously described the way the music makes me feel:
"When I hear this I can't help but think, 'PLEASE, PLEASE MAKE THE GODDAMN JOY AND HAPPINESS STOP!' Which is probably bad... but true. It's too happy. I hate it. I hate it I hate it I hate it. Somebody needs to rip out this person's heart, trample on it, and make him eat what's left of it with a huge side of peas, because seriously."


Because seriously.

And maybe it's bitter of me to look at a young couple holding hands, kissing on the street corner, looking into each other's eyes with love and devotion, and then think to myself I give it five months. Unless he has a nice car. She's probably looking at him like that because he reminds her of his brother, or worse - her cousin. And you can read into this however you like: I'm a writer, so it's natural to invent characters and conflict, or it makes me feel better when I'm not the one getting my neck slobbered on. Those are both accurate interpretations.

No matter how many times I've rolled my eyes and muttered, "Fucking Happy People," I know it doesn't take much to be happy. Cats, for instance, are supreme happiness-inducers - have you ever been on YouTube? And I am happy, which makes it okay for me to make fun of other Happy People. It's like racism. Racial slurs are okay as long as you're part of that race. Or when no one of that race is around.

A smile goes a long way. So long, in fact, that if a boy looked at me and smiled - good Lucy! - I'd be ecstatic for the rest of the day. But, you know, a cute boy. Not a 12 year-old. But, as I found out yesterday, there is one thing that can really make a person, and everyone around that person, happy:

It started off when I lost my mind yesterday morning. Either because I was abducted by aliens overnight and had my brain removed and poked at, and when it was put back in, not everything was the way it used to be, rendering me even more insane than usual, or because I stayed up late writing an assignment that was due the following day, or both, I left for school an hour early. I've often made the mistake of thinking I had to leave earlier than I actually needed to, but I had never followed through with it until yesterday. My class was at 1:00PM, and I bolted out of my house with wet hair at 11:15AM. I couldn't believe how late I was going to be. I put on my earrings as I walked down the street and I cut through the park. It takes me fifteen minutes to get to the bus stop, another fifteen to get to the university, and about ten minutes to walk from the bus terminal to my class. Luckily, before I left home, I checked the bus schedule to see when the #9 would go down Cove Street*, the road that goes straight to my bus stop. Taking the bus saves me ten minutes, so I rushed over to the nearest stop.

As I turned the corner, I faced an unusual sight. My first thought, of course, was Is this person crazy?. Her hair was up in a messy bun, but a few chestnut-brown strands insisted on dangling around her face. I approached with caution. Thin and tall, she wore tight black pants and carried a backpack. As I got closer, I realized what this was. This was a Happy Person. But she was no ordinary Happy Person. She was a dancing Happy Person. She was the president. I smiled at her when I got to the bus stop, and she smiled back without stopping, without considering what I might think of her. And what would I think of her? Apart from the initial "Is this a crazy person?", I thought she was ballsy as hell. But what did it matter? She was so into her iPod that she really didn't care.

I stood there next to her, thinking about how I'm nothing like her. There are so many things that I wouldn't let myself do in public because I don't have what this woman had. She was shaking her hips, tossing her head back and forth, and smiling the biggest goddamn smile I ever saw a Happy Person make. And then I looked at the people in the cars driving by. Almost every single one looked at her and smiled. A couple of people honked, and instead of feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable or exposed like I would, her smile grew. Maybe she is crazy, I thought.

Soon enough, the bus came.
"Must be a good song," the bus driver said when she got on.
"Yeah!" she replied.

We both got off the bus at the same stop and headed towards the next one, university-bound. She was in front of me and I got a whiff of her perfume: pink flowers. I don't know why pink, but pink.
She looked over at me a couple of times and finally said, "Going to university?"
"Yeah," I replied.
"Nice! Lots of midterms this week?"
"Actually, no, since most of my courses are writing courses."
"Oh, sweet! Are you getting into journalism or English?"
"Creative Writing. Like novels and short stories and stuff. How about you?"
"Science. I've got a chemistry midterm tomorrow."
"Oh? Sounds like fun! Hey, I wanted to ask you where you got your balls."
"My balls? Ha, ha. I don't know, I just get really into it. It can be hard at first, but once you get a couple of smiles, it's easy, and then you just keep going. It gets me ready for the day, and it's good exercise, too."
"What kind of music do you listen to?"
"Anything. This is actually my friend's iPod."
"Huh. That's really neat. I don't think I could ever do what you do."
"Sure you could! It just takes some getting used to. Just try it out. I'm telling you, once you get a few smiles, it's a breeze."

If I was spiritual, or, rather, really self-centred, I could look at this day like it was planned out by some divine entity. If I hadn't lost my mind and decided I needed to leave an hour early for school, rushing so much I didn't have time to find my stapler or paper clips for my assignment (I had multiple copies to be workshopped), if I wasn't so late for being early, I wouldn't have gone to that bus stop and I wouldn't have seen that fascinating, fearless, Happy Person. I didn't even realize I was early until I was on the second bus.

After my encounter with the Happy Person, I started thinking about what might deter me from doing what she does - aside from the obvious "people will think I'm crazy but awesome but also crazy" issue. I don't like that I'm so hung up about what people think of me, so my excuse turned out to be my choice in music. The songs I dance to are embarrassing on their own, never mind the way you dance to them. So, today I decided it would be a good idea to prove that dancing to disco and music from the 80s in public is dangerous. I started filming. But then I thought, Maybe this isn't so bad. Maybe I can do this. Maybe I should. And by that I mean show the pretend-public: the internet. Millions more could possibly see the video than if I danced at a bus stop, but somehow it's less scary. I think this is where "ignorance is bliss" comes in, since I can't hear you laughing at me or talking about me. I can't see your raised eyebrow or wide-eyed stare. I do worry about what guys will think, though. There are creepy people in real life as well as online, but I have a plastic screen to protect me here. Out there, all I'd have is this new mini stapler I just bought.

But here it is, and good Lucy help me, in honour of President Happy Person, a video of me dancing.

I just watched it again and started perspiring like I had just run a marathon and not been lying down this entire time. Like a hot flash. I'm scared as shit, Globlets. I don't know if I can do this. I worry that it's too much ... upperladybodybits and bum. And Thanksgiving dinner and dessert. I don't think I was supposed to sing along. And that last one? I WORKED HARD TO GET TO THAT. I'm not a dancer, okay? I YouTubed a how-to and practised for maybe an hour. Or half an hour. I don't know. And it's not like I have zombie attire for every day of the year. My room isn't big enough to do it full-on, either! You people are so demanding.

Just. Shut up. Here it is. I'm going to be like President Happy Person now, okay?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AudavGjZAuE

MY LIFE IS OVER NAO.

But nobody reads this anyway, right? Right?

-----
What is so strange/startling about a person dancing in public? Isn't dancing something humans do? Don't we walk around with music plugged into our ears all the time?

Here's real dancing:

(She should have worn less clothing in this film.)

*Street name and bus number changed because I always feel like somebody's watching me.
Oh-ooh-oh.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Traditions.

Dear Globlets,

The most amazing thing has happened. I bought pants... that don't have to be hemmed! And I know what you're thinking. "But your legs are the shortest in the world, second only to midgets' and some Asians'." Because you're insensitive like that. But it's true. I changed in the car from skirt to brand new pants and walked into that supermarket like a man!

In other news...

This was my Facebook status on Saturday:
"New shorter hairs! Finally. :) Chemainus tomorrow - the tradition continues. Also, Costco today, so if you don't hear from us in five hours, send help."
Help was not sent. TEN hours later, I commented:
"GEE THANKS.
I just got back.

I had to dig myself out of the Costco Members Pit of Death. Do you know what's at the bottom? Rotting corpses. Just so you know. I had to use someone's arm to beat away other Costco Members. Someone bit me, I probably have rabies, and to think that the Costco workers just kept throwing more sample food into the pit... Ugh! (The taquitos WERE tasty, though.) Many had given up and were making shelters out of inflatable pool toys. Of course, those got popped once someone opened a 10-piece pack of Henkel knives. Some suffocated among the ruins, some used the deflated alligators and dolphins like capes.

It was a sad day for all. And you did nothing!"


Why Chemainus? Because of this:



Why Costco? Because of this:



We don't usually like traditions, but some of them are good. Our yearly trip to Chemainus, for example, is always fun, and should happen more often than once a year. My mom had never made a turkey before, and while this is not the WHOLE turkey, (because, well, be reasonable, there are only three of us) it still counts. There were mashed potatoes with gravy and Brussels sprouts with pancetta, plus mushroom-bacon stuffing and caramelized carrots. Everything was delicious. Especially the stuffing. >.<

And I even decided to take the Thanksgiving tradition one step farther and made pumpkin pie:
Happy Thanksgiving/Excuse-to-eat-yummies Day.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Glob Update.

Dear Globlets,

I've just added a section to the header of my Glob called "UVic Website of Chaos and Doom + related stories" where I'll post all globulations regarding UVic and the stupid things that I, as a student, have to go through to get the most common things done, like pay school fees.

There are two globulations there now: "Congratulations on Your Outstanding Academic Achievement" (which has been slightly revised) and "Bad for Business," plus I have one more stewing in my mind. I expect there will be more stories of inefficiency and poor communication to tell as I go along.

If you have a story you'd like me to include about UVic or another university's general or website issues, feel free to contact me. I'm going to see if I can include an E-mail Me gadget on the page so it's easier to do.

Please bear with me through the silence; I promise I have some ideas brewing and will post soon.

Don't hate me.