Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bibelot & other words; No I don't spend too much time online?'s word of the day is bibelot! You heard it here first! (Well, probably.) Now go look up anfractuously. Just because you know defenestration and antidisestablishmentarianism doesn't mean you have to pretend you know them all.

In other news, I am having way too much fun on Twitter. But I have lots of reading for class...and I need to shop for textbooks online. So perhaps I should get off Twitter, off this blog, perhaps even- gasp- off the computer entirely! A girl can dream, can't she?

After the recent report saying that kids these days (I say that like I'm old or something) spend more hours using media than there are actually hours in the day (waking hours anyway) then perhaps I should be more careful. One could metaphorically say it like this:

[Twitter/ Facebook/ blogs/ insert preferred social media of choice] is a drug. You start saying you'll only use it a little bit and then suddenly you find yourself saying, I can quit whenever I want. Only you don't. And slowly it consumes your normal life, until your social life is semi-dependent on it and you just can't stop...

Scary stuff, eh? But that won't stop anyone from continuing, will it Let alone me and I said it! I make excuses of why I need it. We all do. But sometimes I have to wonder- how would my life be different if all this stuff didn't exist? Or if I had never gotten started using it?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Mouse's Schedule

A mentsch tracht und der Eibeshter lacht. Man plans and God laughs. An apt expression for what happened to me this morning. Not that I can spell in German or Yiddish or whatever language that is. (My friend, E, used to say it a lot.) Or, "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley," if you prefer. (I always liked that Robert Burns poem- can do part of it by heart in fact.)

So what's the laughing and the mice got to do with my first day of classes this semester? My schedule- my busy plan- it was full. But I liked it and was excited for all of my classes. And then I walk up to the door of the first one and get told I'm in the wrong section, I should be in a later class, which conflicts with my next class and basically half my plan just fell apart in a rude awakening.

So I told myself, "Get used to disappointment." (Ooh, Princess Bride, I am full of quotes today!) Better than anger or denial or whatever, acceptance is best, right? And I am sure it's for the best ultimately- my schedule was too hard before.

Now I think I'll go eat lunch and make an even better schedule this evening. One setback does not a disaster make. A schedule with any other class can be as sweet. Happiness is where you look for it. I'll have a great semester regardless, I hope.

Monday, January 18, 2010

First or Sequel?

I'm heading back to the spring semester, so as I bid a fond farewell to winter vacation, I want to talk about first books vs. second books. (Ha, I wish I'd written even a first book. But as a reader, for now.)

I read Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, before it was quite so popular. I thought it was good, nice writing, good characters, nice plot, but it didn't really stand out for me. I was sort of surprised as it rose up the best seller list. And then I picked up Fire. Wow. The prose scintillates, the characters are so much more interesting and compelling than Katsa and Po ever were for me. I haven't actually finished it yet because I no longer had access to the copy of Fire I was reading but I am seriously impatient to get back to it.

There are other authors, though, who work the other way around. For example, Maria Snyder wrote Poison Study, which I loved. Yelena and Valek are the perfect characters (not in an annoying way either) and the setting of Ixia was well thought out and interesting. I totally love Valek and the Commander's conversations. And the evil is real (unlike some books where the villainy is contrived- not like that here). I was eager for the sequels- and while there was nothing wrong with them, they just didn't compel me to keep reading as the first had. I was in love with Poison Study from the first scene. (Snyder is publishing a new book soon, Inside Out, which is set in a completely different world and looks really good, and I hope I will like it as much as Poison Study.)

I loved Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle, but when I read the sequel Castle in the Air I was so impatient for some Howl/Sophie action to show up, that I couldn't appreciate the book in itself. If it was set in its own world, I'd have loved Flower and Abdullah for themselves. But now they paled next to my anticipation for the characters I knew and loved already. I guess she felt there wasn't enough of a story left to tell for Howl and Sophie. But is it better to have them as guest stars then not at all? (Although Christopher Chant, I'll take in any form. He's possibly my favorite character in all of fantasy.)

So why does it work that way? Why do some sequels work for the story and characters and have that magical combination of elements that make a book really excellent? (In Fire's case, pushing Graceling higher up on the bestseller list as well even though you don't need at all to read them together.) And others just fall flat or land in the shadow.

Speaking of shadow. I just read Ender's Shadow over break and loved it as much- but differently- as I'd loved Ender's Game. I like that he calls it a parallax, that name works well to describe its function. (Midnight Sun, anyone? I couldn't finish that, I tried it after SM posted it and it wasn't as good as the main books. But Midnight Sun isn't really a parallax proper, as it's not that different from Twilight itself.)I believe there are more books about Bean, right? Always wanted to find out what happens down on earth after Ender leaves. I read Game, Speaker, and Xenocide and I would love to read more of those too.

It would be great if every book you read was just as good in different ways. Failing that, we tend to go by author. Sometimes, this works, and sometimes, it doesn't. And sometimes you can be surprised. Maybe it's better that way.

In other news, I now have a twitter account. I begin with haiku but will go far from there. If I feel like it. I'm heatherlette if you want to find me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Writer's Block- version 2.0

I have a new form of writer's block, and it's a doozy. It might not be new to the world, but I'm pretty sure it's new to me. I simply can't write more than a few pages of any one story without freezing up. I come up with a million and a half reasons and excuses of why I'm not ready to write just now, and go and read one of my endless forms of procrastination online.

This has resulted in a large number of files with stories just-begun, or nearly done but I somehow can't bring myself to finish them. I flit between one and the next like a hunter-shy bird, not able to stay longer than it takes to type a few words and then I come up with an idea for a new story, or I cast around for something to read in a book or online.

How do I get out of this pattern? How do other people do it? Usually I'm pretty good at concentrating on only one thing for a long period of time if it interests me. How can I get my stories to interest me again? One at a time, I mean.

So much for new year's resolutions, right?