Of Thieves & Imposters

Teddy Roosevelt said (allegedly) that “Comparison is the thief of joy”. By comparing ourselves to others, we somehow find our own successes or projects lacking. Another term for this same idea is Imposter Syndrome. This is especially true when dealing with something we’re passionate about or the field we’re in or aspire to be in.

Writing has always been one of my outlets. Whether it’s blogging, fanfic, or original works, putting words on paper or on a screen has been therapeutic for me. I’ve had a Twitter account for a decade, but I’m not a very active Tweeter. I’m more of a lurker. Someone I follow tweeted a link to a fanfic. I let my curiosity get the better of me & went to check it out even though I don’t agree with her ships at all (shorthand for relationships). It had thousands of hits, comments, & likes. I felt inadequate before reading a single word. My story hasn’t even cracked 3000 hits. I immediately started telling myself that I had somehow done something wrong. Let’s do a quick comparison – I have never publicly linked the story via any of my social media EXCEPT here for reasons that are rather long & complicated. Her entire Twitter account is dedicated to marketing her work. I could create an entire Twitter account dedicated to marketing this story, but why? I know I write just as well as she does (I actually did read some of it eventually). I’d have to make connections in a fandom that can be extremely volatile at times & I really don’t have time for that. And by time I mean the emotional energy it takes to deal with people getting their panties in a wad over the smallest, strangest things. I’d get frustrated, abandon the account, & be right back to where I am now. Her story has all that attention because she decided that she wanted to whore herself out on Twitter (and wherever else), deal with any potential (likely) drama, & she saw results.

Everyone wants validation. It’s part of being human. We want to have someone else (or a lot of someone elses) tell us that our work is valuable & meaningful. My fic started out life as something very different than it is now. I have one very loyal fan who is constantly chasing me down for updates. Other people have read it, some even felt strongly enough about it to comment. I am not worth what other people think of me (or what I create) & sometimes I forget that.

XOXO!

Current Jam: “Sound of Silence” Disturbed

Twitter & Instagram: retroindiequeen

Archive of Our Own (AO3): TheHuntsmansBoss

Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 4 or Bella likes her men like her Saturday nights. Dead.

So who got my Game of Thrones reference last week? Extra points for you! However, unlike Game of Thrones, we can’t hold out hope that Bella or Edward will be cut down in the middle of a paragraph / scene. This makes me sad. Keep your eyes peeled (not squished) for another GoT reference this time around. 😀


I had over 2000 words of content in this post and right as I hit “update”, all but a paragraph disappeared. This will be a much shorter, dirtier, and probably snarkier version of the original. Hang on…

Tyler keeps trying to apologize. Bella is having none of it. Mike & Eric keep posturing, especially now that there’s a Bachelor Number Three to add to their One and Two status. That means our mousey, clumsy heroine has 3, count ’em, 3 suitors. None of them meet her standards, of course. There can only be one…

No one else was aware of Edward as I always was. No one else watched him the way I did. How pitiful.

Thanks to Meyer’s BFF of linguistic ambiguity, it would appear Bella is pitying Edward because no one pays attention to him. It’s already been established that the Fanged Five keep to themselves. If the intention is for Bella to be self referencing, then it didn’t work. Yes, Bella, you are pitiful for being one step away from Fatal Attraction. Let’s hope the Cullen / Hale clan don’t own any rabbits.

Thanks to minor character number 1 who the reader isn’t supposed to care about (aka Jessica), it is revealed that the Sadie Hawkins dance is coming up. The girls ask the boys rather than the antiquated notion that only boys can ask girls to dances. Bachelors One, Two, and Three seemed to have missed that memo. While Bella tells off Number Two for breaking the convention, that doesn’t stop Meyer from running with it. Yes, we get it. The hicks think she’s hot. For being a nondescript klutz, she sure has a lot of potential action. When Bella confronts Edward about not letting the car end all this misery early on we get:

You think I regret saving your life?”

“I know you do,”

“You don’t know anything,” Jon Snow. Bella Swan.

The Volvo once again makes its appearance. It’s established that Edward is driving, but the seating arrangements for the other 4 are not detailed. This is deeply disappointing. I wonder if Volvo paid Meyer to plug their brand. If they didn’t, they should have. I’m curious how many sad sacks went out and bought Volvos after reading this book.

When I got home, I decided to make chicken enchiladas for dinner. It was a long process and it would keep me busy.

Here’s where my suspension of disbelief kicks in. If Bella can’t keep her feet under her for more than 30 seconds, how the hell does she manage to cook? I’m surprised she hasn’t slipped in the kitchen & broken her nose on the counter or something of the like. However, she has all the talent of an experienced line cook without so much as a wobble. Sorry, not buying what you’re selling.

It also appears that most of the West Coast does not have Mexican restaurants. If Forks is really *that* bad, there should at least be a Taco Bell. The residents need something to soak up all the booze that makes their lives just a little bit easier in this bucolic locale. I suspect her father is hesitant to try the food because he’s afraid there’s a finger in it, not because he’s never encountered a green chile. Also, cops are brave and therefore will try any food put in front of them.

Let’s back up for a moment to Bella’s internal monologue while doing her Martha Stewart impression:

Of course he wasn’t interested in me, I thought angrily, my eyes stinging – a delayed reaction to the onions. I wasn’t interesting. And he was. Interesting…and brilliant…and mysterious…and perfect…and beautiful…and possibly able to lift full-sized vans with one hand.

And sparkly. You forgot sparkly. And all those ellipses are from the original text. I’m not trying to skip over uninteresting parts. If I were doing that, these recaps would be 5 sentences long. And don’t try to blame your burning eyes on the onions. We all know who you’re getting weepy over. Nice try.

Her dad is the one who calls her out on her flimsy excuse. He asks if she’ll be back in time for the dance. Her response?

Grrr.

I shit you not. After 14 pages of getting asked out then mentally bitch slapping the guy who asked her out, we finally come to something resembling a point.

“Do you want a ride to Seattle?”

“With who?” I asked, mystified.

“Myself, obviously,” he enunciated every syllable as if he were talking to someone mentally handicapped.

Indeed he is. Indeed he is.

“But can your truck make it there on one tank of gas?” He matched my pace again.

“I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” Stupid shiny Volvo owner.

Damn those Germans and their penchant for making mid-sized sedans with excellent paint jobs!

“I said it would be better if we weren’t friends, not that I didn’t want to be.”

“Oh thanks, now that’s all cleared up.” Heavy sarcasm.

Thank you for pointing out the sarcasm. I never would have seen it otherwise. Deadpan.

His eyes were gloriously intense as he uttered that last sentence, his voice smoldering. I couldn’t remember how to breathe.

And let’s keep it that way.

“You really should stay away from me,” he warned.

Dramatic tension fail.

Eighty five pages in and almost nothing has happened. All that has really been accomplished is Bella establishing herself as a whiny unsympathetic protagonist. For being fully named characters, the rest of the Cullens and Hales haven’t spoken a word. All they do is get in and out of a car and not eat anything at lunch. Edward has been unsuccessfully painted as a romantic hero. If you have to beat the reader over the head with how beautiful and mysterious a character is, you’re doing something wrong. As far as we’re concerned by this point in the book, he has no other redeeming traits. He’s as annoying as Bella is whiny. They’re perfect for each other.

I’d also like to point out the Biology teacher is named Mr. Banner. I really hope he’ll turn into a giant green rage monster and end it all now. TEACHER SMASH!!!!

I happened to glance at the acknowledgements in the back of the book. Meyer thanks her editor for “making Twilight better than it started out”. There is only one conclusion as to how Twilight started out.

50 Shades of Grey.

Final Semicolon Count: 11

Final “Jump the Shark” Count: 4

Until next week (where hopefully my original post will remain intact)

XOXO!

Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 3 or If you say “I’m Fine” one more time, you won’t be

I apologize for the late hour of posting this chapter. These commentaries are actually a beast to write because I go through each chapter 2-3 times taking various notes. I also want to make sure I don’t miss anything that might make excellent cannon fodder. All that said…


 

Welcome to Chapter 3, also known as the Chapter Where Bella Begins To Suspect Something Ain’t Right With Edward.

Once again, we open with a commentary on the weather. But wait! This time it’s not raining. It’s snowed! Whoopie! Except for the wild contradiction:

That wasn’t the worst part. All the rain from yesterday had frozen solid – coating the needles on the trees in fantastic, glorious patterns…I had enough trouble not falling down when the ground was dry…

So you’re giving the ice compliments, but you still call it the worst. That’s like saying “You’re really pretty…” on a date and then the awkward silence hits. She also has to remind us that she’s a klutz. Oh if only you would fall down, suffer a traumatic brain injury, and wake up as a completely different and vastly less annoying character. But that would be too easy.

I threw down a quick bowl of cereal and orange juice from the carton.

I have this mental image of Bella standing the kitchen, throwing the food on the floor, then yelling “BAM!” Emeril Lagasse style. Alternately, she could be staring down the cereal and orange juice sumo style. If Ms. Meyer is looking to convey speed while consuming morning nourishment, might I suggest “grabbed” or “downed” as the verb? If there’s a throw down involved, there better be spandex & folding chairs involved.

Here’s the part that really got my goat. She managed to hit 3, count ’em, 3 tropes in 2 pages.

Exhibit A: The Mousey Girl Can’t Possibly Get The Totally Hot Dude:

I was well aware that his league and my league were spheres that did not touch. So I shouldn’t be at all anxious to see him today.

Of the three, this is the trope I hate the least. It’s just so overdone. I’m so ugly! There’s no way he’ll like me! Because men are disgustingly shallow and my only worth is my looks! Riiight. Good thing this isn’t a zombie book because the poor zombie would starve to death.

Exhibit B: The Damsel In Distress:

Perhaps my crippling clumsiness was seen as endearing rather than pathetic, casting me as a damsel in distress

Only this time someone needs to leave your ass in the tower while you wave your white hanky out the window. If only it were literally crippling. Of course, then we’d be right back to the traumatic brain injury improvement. I’m okay with that.

Exhibit C: The Child Raising The Parent(s)

I wasn’t used to being taken care of, and Charlie’s unspoken concern caught me by surprise

I’ve railed on this one before and unlike Ms. Meyer, I won’t beat the dead horse. He put snow chains on your car because he knows it snows and you can’t walk across a room without killing yourself, much less drive on ice.

P.S. Even snow chains won’t help ice.

While she’s waxing nostalgic over metal on tires, we get the chance to end it all. Then Edward’s ass has to go and stop a car from crushing her. Why, Edward? Why? Oh right, because you know nothing! Shit, sorry, wrong series.

For anyone who has seen Mean Girls, I had to giggle at the gym teacher’s name. Coach Clapp. Moving on…

Only then does she start to realize, wait a sec, there’s more to this guy than weird eyes and an inability to speak in a normal tone. But what could it possibly be? His unfathomably poor life choices, obvs. Meyer dangles us around for a bit hoping there *might* be some kind of head injury involved, but we leave disappointed. Like one leaves disappointed from the grocery store when they’re out of your favorite kind of cream cheese and you have to get the generic.

More inane exposition about the hospital and how fine she is. Once Bella’s whining finally gets her what she wants, she pokes and prods Edward for an explanation. Sorry, love muffin, that comes in a later chapter. The real shock of the chapter was I *agreed* with Edward:

“Can’t you just thank me and get over it?”

Yes! My inner goddess is prostrated on the floor begging for assent! Nice try. Bitch doesn’t know when to just drop it. A successful relationship in the making. This book could have easily been 100 pages shorter if she cut out all the mind numbing arguing. Though if all the mind numbing parts had been cut out, it would be a short story.

Final semicolon count for Chapter 3: 6

Final “I’m Fine” count for Chapter 3: 7 (16 if iterations are included)

Final “Emily Resists Throwing the Book Across the Room” count for Chapter 3: A 1 with a lot of zeroes after it.

Until next week!

XOXO!

Of books and writing good ones

Writing has always been one of my favorite hobbies. Even when I was a kid, I would write stories  based on my favorite books. I’m one of the American Girl generation. When the American Girl of Today dolls were released (now called “Just Like Me”), they came with blank books for you to write their stories. I was all over that. I think I still have it somewhere in my parents’ basement / uber expansive library. When we moved from Virginia to Georgia in the days when the Internet was still a luxury, I wrote a *ton* of poetry. I had no way to connect with my old friends except through physical letters and expensive long distance calls. Kids these days will never understand that *shakes cane*. Writing was the only way I could express my feelings. Going back and reading what my 12 year old self wrote, I was in a deep depression. I just didn’t understand what it was at the time. I met one of my closest friends through blogging *bows head for the passing of Teen Open Diary*. I still kept my creative writing close. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo a few times. I took a playwriting class in college. I’ve dabbled in longer works. I love creating new characters and seeing what happens to them. Plot has always been a bit of a sticking point for me. I’ve got a whole bunch of characters, but I can’t make them do anything.

I’m a big fan of the Writing Excuses podcast. Across the board, they recommend reading A LOT, ideally in the genre you’re looking to write. Any series with the major architecture of the desired book is fine. After much throwing at the wall and seeing what stuck, I’m looking at a 5 novel collection with each book told from the POV of each major character. I love the idea of a major story arc. That said, I haven’t a clue how to go about it. I put together a list of series I’ve enjoyed with an overarching plot. I’ve also taken suggestions from the audience (Boy). They all have a fantasy element, either traditional or modern. My list currently includes:

1. Harry Potter (duh)

2. NewsFlesh triology by Mira Grant (reread).

3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (new read).

4. Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer ( My “how to write a really crappy series” case study. I only made it halfway through the first one last time. Major Deities help me).

5. The Caster Chronicles by Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia (reread-ish. I’ve read the first one, but not 2 & 3).

In the spirit of learning more, feel free to jump in with a series, regardless of genre, that’s worth a read. Ideally, it would be a series between 3 and 5 books. I would also prefer books with multiple POVs, but not rehashing the same story just from a different perspective. That said, I’m willing to try pretty much anything.

On that note, back to my coffee and Book 1 of the NewsFlesh trilogy (Feed, if you’re curious).

XOXO!

Of fanfic and a shame on English degrees

Since reading the recaps of the 50 Shades trilogy, I’ve been pondering my own ideas about fanfic.

I tried to read Twilight and gave it the ol’ rage quit three quarters of the way through. For someone who claims to have a degree in English, the writing was high school level at best. That’s also doing a disservice to high school students who didn’t sleep through class. Her editor also has a lot to answer for. I’ve heard the excuse that Ms. Meyer was trying to capture the voice of a high school student. I strongly disagree with this point as well. I’ve seen very well written stories (Beautiful Creatures leaps to mind) which successfully captured the voice of a teenager. The idea had the potential to be a lot more than the final product was. The execution fell short of the idea. She was unsuccessful as a writer because of the mechanics and her editor either didn’t catch the mistakes or glossed over them. The fact it became a runaway success makes me shake my head on behalf of all English majors who don’t suck as authors.

When 50 Shades of Grey first came across my radar, I thought “anything that started out life as a Twilight fanfic can’t possibly be good”. In that instance, I was correct. I gave the book itself a rage quit by chapter 9 before switching to the recaps. I question the morals in both stories, but that’s another blog post for another time. However, I do think I was unfair to paint all Twilight fanfic with the same brush. I’m sure there’s a lot of Twilight fanfic floating around online that is either on par with the original or elevates it. I understand Twilight isn’t high art. It’s the literary equivalent of candy corn. The source material is just a jumping off point. Fanfic is a great way for budding writers to get some experience. The characters and setting are ready made. As had been exhaustively pointed out, it’s one thing to borrow from an existing work. It’s entirely another to take another writer’s work wholesale and just change the names. I hated Twilight, but it wasn’t fair of E.L. James to pluck Edward and Bella and plop them in a room with pleather and riding crops. I’m sure the erotica writers are also shaking their heads right now.

I’m not a published writer (obviously). I have a lot of ideas that I’ve put into writing, but they never get past 20 or 30 pages because I get distracted by something shiny. I, personally, chose the original work route. I’m awesome at creating characters who are interesting and real, but I can’t make them do a goddamn thing. Pesky, pesky plots.

For those keeping score at home, my dad is doing much better. The surgery went well and he was even up and walking around yesterday. He’ll be on IV antibiotics for a few weeks, but they’ll send him home tomorrow. It’s very, very likely he caught the original infection from the hospital the first time around. His hip that’s sans lymph nodes was prime real estate for the infection. It took 8 days, but it’s good to have it all behind us.

XOXO!