K is for Killer Instinct

I’ve been trying to wrap a lot of my blogfest entries around to writing, and it took me a while to think of something that I could write about the letter K, but then it hit me.

You see, I have a secret fear when it comes to my writing… that fear being that I just don’t have the killer instinct required to be great. Villains are hard for me to write, because they involve motives that don’t always make sense to me (in an emotional way, not in a logical way). And then my other characters, my non-villains? Well… I like them. I like them too much, maybe. A part of me worries that I’ll always pull punches—that I’ll never put my toys away and play with the big girls.

This is, I think, Stephenie Meyer’s great fault. One of the Cullen clan ought to have kicked it by the end of the series. I was betting on Rosalie being killed off in Breaking Dawn. It would have packed enough of a punch, and torn Emmett to shreds—a depth of character possibly well beyond him with Meyer as his creator.

Good writers—great writers—don’t pull punches. Great writers make you feel every inch of indecision, or hurt, or loss that the character does, and lets the worst of things happen to their characters. My latest favorite author, Maggie Stiefvater, has torn my heart to pieces on more than one occasion, and by goodness do I love her for it.

I worry, though, if I’m capable of that. If I can really destroy a character I love, for the sake of good fiction. It takes a lot to take or destroy a life, even a fictional one.

I want to be able to do that, though. I’m seeing some hope in my future, as lately in plotting I’ve come across ideas that both horrified and excited me—and I think that must be the way it starts.

J is for Jethro

Jethro, Arizona isn’t on any maps. That’s mainly because it’s plucked straight from my imagination. I was traveling all over the southwest a few summers ago, on business with my dad. Luckily this was made interesting on account of my father knowing the southwest like the back of his hand, and his willingness to travel off the beaten path.

I had a story in my head that, while not exactly just beginning to form (it had been a story before, you see, but it had been demolished and salvaged for scraps when it had gotten out of control and unpublishable), was definitely in the beginning stages in most cases. A lot of my time on this trip was spent writing poetry about desert lizards and musing on this story.

I was looking for a place. I knew it would be in the desert, but it had to be somewhere special, somewhere that was mine. And then I found a place that was almost perfect. We drove through Jerome, Arizona, a small mining town that’s all topsy-turvy and thriving on tourism alone, with intrepid architecture and dangers of mine shafts all round.

I knew that I had found something magically close to where I wanted the setting of my story to be. I regret that I haven’t woven more of its magic into the story yet, as I feel that will be something left up to the rewrites, but it’s all the glory of the modern world in an older western settlement, with the beauties of the hot Arizona desert, a desert I’ve grown to love in my years of traveling across it time and again in my youth. This is a story I love, so it’s fitting for it to have a setting that I love, too.

And I’ve just realized I now have two J entries… le sigh.

I is for Incognito

So, posting about this isn’t very Incognito of me… but ah well.

I’m a member of a writing group. It is a writing group made up of LDS writers. Not necessarily writers who write LDS stuff, but writers who happen to be LDS. (Like me…)

I don’t talk a lot about my faith here, mainly because I have other places to talk about it, but also because—well, other than keeping my books pretty language-free and otherwise clean, so far I can’t say that my religion has affected my writing much. I consider myself pretty mainstream, and am aiming towards the mainstream market.

I went to my first writer’s conference last year, though, and it happened to be the LDS Storymaker’s Conference, because I was in the right place at the right time, and through that I joined Authors Incognito. Really, AI is a support group. A big network of writers, some published but many not, who are all on a Yahoo listserv.

I spent a lot of time on the edges of the group because there are so many emails that come through that they can be a little overwhelming, but eventually I dove in, and while I’m still not super active in the group (I’m a bad blog-reader, and mostly a lurker as yet) I’ve met some fantastic people in it, and what’s more, I always feel like I’m connected to writing, and I think that has actually helped me a lot, creatively.

It’s something that’s true about other things, too. If I socialize with crafting people, I craft more. If I socialize with writing people, I write more.

Really, it’s as simple as that. If you’re trying to write, connect with other writers. It’s a great way to start. Or to dig yourself out of a hole, or through a wall. The great thing is, there are lots of ways to find other writers out there online. Be careful who you share your writing with, but if you’re just trying to figure out the whole writing thing in the first place? Get talking to other writers. The creative energy will nip at you more than it ever has, I promise.

H is for Handmade Movement

I’m a little late in the night, but I have to give a shout out to the Handmade Movement. As an Etsy seller, buying handmade is something that’s pretty important to me. Handmade crafts are something that I grew up with. My mother is a quilter, specializing in Hawaiian and Jacobean applique, and creativity has always been encouraged in my family.

There are really a lot of reasons to buy handmade, though. Firstly, buying directly from artists and artisans means that you know that your money is going to the people who put together the product that you’re getting, something that you can’t be sure of in almost any retail situation. Secondly,with websites like Etsy and Artfire, it’s easier than ever to do.

Maybe one of the biggest reason to buy handmade, though, is because in today’s mass-produced world, one-of-a-kind pieces of self-expression can only truly be found in the handmade market. Buying handmade is also a great way to support local artists instead of big chains, and a vote for quality—something that has been sacrificed in the mainstream markets in favor of price cuts.

The coolest thing about the handmade movement, though? Is that it also means that YOU can make things. Today learning how to knit, crochet, sew, make jewelry or whatever it is that interests you is easier than ever, because the internet literally has endless information on all of the above subjects (and lots more) available with just a Google search or two. Want to learn how to make soap? How about how to do embroidery? Or how to spin yarn? If you’re more of a visual learner, I’d suggest looking through Youtube. I personally learned how to spin, crochet, and bind books off of youtube.

Maybe selling online isn’t for you. Maybe selling at all isn’t for you. But there’s nothing like making something useful of your own.

This is also why I write, by the way. I have to be creating something all the time, whether it’s literally putting together a journal or notebook, making something wearable out of yarn, making the yarn itself, or telling a yarn of my own. 😉

G is for Gilmore Girls

I have a deep and abiding love for Gilmore Girls. I watched this show from day one, and have a special relationship with it, mainly because Rory was my same age, and interested in a lot of similar things (okay, BOOKS) as me.

I was so happy with a teen show about a kid who was actually smart. Not just smart, but intelligent (yes there’s a difference!), driven, and full of aspirations. The show went a little too strong on the small-town aspect sometimes, and did often feel like wrenches were being thrown into the mix just to shake things up… but then again, doesn’t life do that too?

Since Rory was my age, she kind of felt like a fictional foil for me. She made bigger mistakes than me (probably took bigger risks, too) but she was faced with similar situations at similar times… like trying to figure out which college to go to, then later what to do after college. I have to admit that during the campaigning for Obama vs. McCain, my thoughts kept going back to how Rory was supposed to be on Obama’s campaign bus… and I’d feel simultaneously proud of her and lonely for her at the same time.

A little crazy? Yeah. But proof as to what an impression this show made in my life for seven years. I still miss it.

F is for Firefly

In case you are unfamiliar, Firefly was a short-lived TV show that had a movie called Serenity. It was about Captain Mal Reynolds, an ex-sergeant from a war against unifying worlds into one government—sort of like the few that didn’t join the Federation in Star Trek. His side lost, and so Mal became the captain of a little ship called Serenity, named after the valley he fought his last losing battle in. He and his crew—such that they are—take jobs as they come, despite their legal standing, and somehow things have a way of not going as planned.

It’s true, there are few shows, fandoms, or what have you that I love as much as I love Firefly. In fact, in some ways I could almost say that it beats out every other thing I’ve ever fanned over. This isn’t to say that I love it more, necessarily, but that there’s more to it. Firefly has science fiction, an epic, expansive universe, and diverse and fascinating characters. It has romance, humor, real stakes and lots of secrets—still, even though the show and movie are long over.

Now, I’m not your average Firefly fan, a devoted Whedonite (that’s a fanatic for creator Joss Whedon of Buffy and Angel, both of which are shows I’ve never seen). I have been interested in the show since the beginning, since I saw advertisements for it on Fox before it began. I was particularly interested because of Nathan Fillion, who plays Mal Reynolds—I’d been a fan of his since he was the charming fiancé on Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place. (I can also claim having fallen for Ryan Reynolds long before he was on the A List because of this show—do you remember the episode where he tracked Ashley all the way to England—where she wasn’t even, really—just to tell her he loves her, only to find out she has a boyfriend? That’s an overblown sidetrack, but oh man, a little piece of my heart has belonged to that man ever since.)

Ahem.

I never watched the show as it aired. Fox famously played around with the Firefly schedule, changing the time nearly every week and not even showing the episodes in the order they were supposed to play—no wonder it got canceled after only half a season, right?

I didn’t watch the show until just a couple of years ago. And really, I did it for one of the silliest reasons ever. I watched all thirteen episodes and the full-length movie twice in a row (the second time with commentary) in a very short amount of time, all in order to write a compare/contrast between the Serenity crew and the legends of Robin Hood for my Robin Hood class. (Yes, I took an entire course on Robin Hood in college, and it was one of the coolest classes I took in college ever.) I even pitched the idea to my professor before I had seen the show, if you can believe that, just because I’d seen a website somewhere mention that the two stories had vague similarities.

In fact, there were a lot more than I could begin to remember off the top of my head now. Reference to their surroundings by color only (the Green, vs. the Black), refusal to trust someone unwilling to share their actual name, lots of characters that bore similar archtypes to famous merry men, etc.

What started as an idea for a school essay, though, became one of the great fandom loves of my life. If you haven’t dipped yourself into the world of Firefly just yet, I suggest you give it a try. It has a lot of heart, though the movie might break yours, a bit. Did I mention it’s only 13 episodes? Definitely worth the investment of time.

I got an A+ on that essay, by the way. And in that class in general.

Oh, and it’s my birthday. Wish me a happy one! 😉