On being tired.

This week I got a phone call. From an agent.

(I'll let that sink in a moment)

An agent called me. To talk.

It was, to say the least, an interesting conversation.

This agent likes my work, but decided to pass on the project I sent him. His feedback was kind, polite and made sense. He wants to see my next project when it becomes available.

After the phone call, my husband asked me how I was feeling.

I said "I don't know."

I was expecting a roller coaster of emotions, excitement, discouragement, happiness, etc.  But all I really feel is grateful and tired.

This is the last submission round for this project. Project #2 is still in the polish stage and should be ready for submission by the fall. Project #3 is aging in my rough-draft closet and will be up for its first serious rewrite next month. Project #4 is... complicated. I see it as more of a writing exercise than anything else.

I have a lot of work to do, and I'm nowhere close to giving up. But I am tired.

I need a recharge, and I'm not sure what it should be.

Should I unplug for a few days?

Take a break from writing?

Sleep for seventeen hours straight?

Advice please! Any ideas for how to recharge a tired writer?  What do you do?

My favorite TV show (and some thoughts about characters)

For my birthday this year, my husband, who is full of awesome, managed to find me something just as cool as what I got last year.  Behold!


I've made it almost to the end of season three, and I have to tell you, I LOVE this show. I loved M.A.S.H. as a kid, but as adult I have a whole new appreciation for the writing and character development involved here.

Would you like some examples? Of course you would!
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Frank Burns

Major Frank Burns is the sort-of-villain for the first few seasons. And I say sort-of because Frank is the poster child for the Bumbling/Wormy Villain. He's cowardly, greedy and not very bright.

HOWEVER, the writers do something interesting with Frank. They write him as pitiful enough so that you feel sorry for him on a regular basis, while still keeping him so awful that you never pity him for longer than a few minutes.

After watching many episodes, I've decided that the way they do this is by never giving Frank any genuine moments of human connection. Even his infatuation with Margaret Houlihan is shown to be shallow and selfish. Everyone else in the show has times of sympathy, bravery, or understanding. Frank doesn't. This makes him a tad one-dimensional, but also allows for a villain who's nicely balanced between pathetic and dangerous.



Margaret Houlihan

Margaret is the head nurse at the M.A.S.H unit, and aside from Pierce (below), she turns out to be the most complex character in the whole series. She has her faults, not the least of which is her creepy affection for Frank Burns in the first half of the series. (They really are quite disturbing together. *shudders*)

Margaret is "regular army", strict, hard-nosed, and devoted to regulations. But she's also devoted to nursing. She cares about her patients, and can even admit that she's wrong if she has to.

Margaret goes through more actual changes than any other person in the series. She starts out with Frank Burns, but eventually tires of his selfishness and marries someone else. The marriage doesn't work out, but over time, Margaret becomes more open, happier, and gentler with those under her command. Her development arc takes time, over all eleven seasons, but it's believable, and excellently done.



Benjamin Franklin Pierce

Captain Pierce is far and away the star of the series, and it's most complex character. He's a classic Super-Competent, the chief surgeon of the unit and the best doctor around.

Pierce hates the army, his job, and the war in general. His hobbies are insubordination, chasing nurses, and fixing his gin still. But he cares very deeply about people. He's the series's champion for women, children, enlisted men and any wounded people that come in, regardless of race, creed, or what side of the war they are on.

Interestingly enough, Pierce is the person who has the most mental breakdowns over the course of the series. The war gets to him, more than anyone else. He has bouts of insomnia, sleepwalking, and even does a brief stint at a mental hospitable in the last episode.

He doesn't have as many changes in his life as Margaret, but Pierce's intense personality and deeply human flaws provide the perfect foil for the inhuman war that the show is set in.
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What do you think? And if you could learn characterization from any series, which would it be?

Monday Snippits: My favorite place on earth.

Sorry this post is so late, but my husband and I took a little road trip today up to Spokane, Coeur d'Alene and this place...





This is Turnbull Wildlife Refuge just outside of Cheney, Washington, a part of what's known as the Channeled Scablands. (don't blame me for the name, I didn't pick it)  My family lived on the edge of the refuge from the time I was six to the time I was sixteen, but I hadn't been back for over a decade.

I have a long list of places I'd like to visit someday: Alaska, Ireland, Italy, England. But the meadows and marshes of Turnbull always make me feel right at home.

How about you? Where's your favorite place?

My favorite thing about animal pictures.

Some of you may have noticed that I occasionally post pictures of cute animals on the blog. The reason I do this is that sometimes a picture can say more than all the witty words I can come up with. 

For example, I could TELL you about Evil Friday yesterday, and how all kinds of little things went wrong, or I could SHOW you...
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This was what life did to me yesterday:



This was how I felt last night:


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See?

What's your favorite kind of picture?

On turning thirty, part 2

For those of you who were here last week, I mentioned that I freaked out a bit about turning thirty. This not-quite-mid-life-crisis lasted about two weeks, and then I realized something.



I'm an adult. I can do whatever the heck I want.
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I'm not saying I don't have to be a decent human being, or that I don't want to live up to the things that I believe in. But as long as I'm responsible at work, committed to my marriage, and kind to the people around me, I'm pretty much free to shape my life however I choose.

I'm no longer a child being trained by parents. I'm no longer a teenager navigating high school. I'm no longer a twenty-something trying to figure out who I am.

My peer group is no longer limited to school or work or my neighborhood. I don't have to try to fit in anymore, or worry about being lonely if I don't please a narrow sub-set of people. There's a whole world out there, full of interesting, quirky people and some of them will like me.

(Some of them won't, but that's okay too. I don't like everyone I meet either.)

I'm thirty. That means I've been practicing life for thirty years, and I have a pretty good idea about what makes me happy. And if I know that, why not just go with it?

So I'm simplifying, cutting out things that don't make me happy. I'm letting myself off the hook for not being a perfect housekeeper, or a educated career woman. I'm owning the things I love, like listening to country music in the car and watching 80's televisions shows. Reading fantasy and YA and mystery and old Tom Swift books. Dancing whenever good music plays, whether anyone is watching or not.
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And you know what? I can't wait to be forty and fifty and sixty. I'm getting better at life, and better at writing. I'm a happier and more content person now than I was ten years ago and, God willing, I'll be happier and more content ten years from now.

The world tells me that the life I love is not everything it should be.

But I'm an adult.  And my favorite thing about turning thirty? I don't have to listen.

Monday Snippits: My favorite part of a first draft...

...is when it's done.

*cues celebration music*

Woo-hoo!!!!!  *dances*

(pictures via zooborns.com)

My least favorite part was the crash afterwards, but that's an entirely different post.

Done any celebratory dancing lately?

On turning thirty, part 1

As some of you know, I turned thirty on Tuesday.

It hit home last month that I was turning thirty. That my twenties would be behind me, along with any possible claim to young-adulthood.  Now I'm just an adult.
 


I do not feel like an adult.
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I do not feel thirty. I feel twenty-three and fourteen and five.  I don't have a college degree or kids or a house, or anything at the moment that counts as a stable career.

I serve coffee for a living, recently pared down my wardrobe to exclusively jeans and solid color tee-shirts, and live in an apartment that is only slightly less messy than my room when I was in high school.  My idea of cooking is to throw a can of soup in a bowl and stick it in the microwave. I'd be happy eating deli turkey and apples for breakfast for the rest of my life.

I'd rather watch M.A.S.H. and Murder She Wrote reruns than talk about politics or the economy. I'd rather spend an hour networking online than answer the phone when I'm tired.  I forget to call people back all the time; I forget to return emails.  I take long naps in the middle of the day.  I avoid driving whenever possible.

I'm still obsessed with books. I read every time I get a break at work. I can read and walk at the same time. I fall asleep imagining myself into my favorite stories, just like I did in elementary school. I rack up fines at the library and cheerfully pay them just so I can check out more books.  I have a huge vocabulary, yet consistently pronounce words the wrong way.
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When I'm not watching movies/TV or reading, I'm playing let's-pretend. I believe in fairy tales and hokum. I put words down on paper and declare them crap, and then spend hours rearranging them. I worry about what ice dragon scales should feel like and how cats sound when they laugh.

I get paid for none of this. I may never get paid for it.

I do not care.

The world tells me this is not what an adult should be and do.

I don't care about that either.

But for a brief period of time last month, I wondered... if I should.

My favorite Disney movie (and some thoughts on steampunk)

Yesterday I found out that I'm much cooler than I thought I was.

How did this come about, you ask?  Well, I was floating around the Interwebs in my usual morning fashion, and I stumbled upon this blog post by Scott Westerfeld about Disney and steampunk.



(For those of you unfamiliar with steampunk, here's a link to the Wikipedia article.)

Scott, along with many others, argues that, far from defiling this subculture, Disney has always been at the forefront of steampunk. And as I was reading the article, I realized he was right.  Specifically, I'd like to talk about my favorite Disney movie, The Great Mouse Detective.
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I have loved this movie for two decades, and it's always been one of my top five Disney animated films, along with The Rescuers, The Aristocats, and Duck Tales, the Movie.  It combines my love of Sherlock Holmes with my affection for cartoon mice (long story) plus there's no "icky kissing". (a direct quote from my eight-year-old self)

However, The Great Mouse Detective  is now permanently on the top of the list as my All-Time-Favorite-Disney-Movie-Ever, because it is also excellent steampunk.

Don't believe me?  Here are some stills from the movie.




And I couldn't find a picture of the STEAM-POWERED ROBOT  that the main villain wants to put on the throne, but here's a clip that has it.  (the robot shows up around 2 min, 30 sec.)




So to recap, Disney has been doing steampunk off and on for decades, and one of my favorite Disney movies is steampunk. Therefore, that makes me an early adopter of the subculture, and not at all someone who had to have it explained to her three times before she understood what it was about. *cough cough*

No one ever told me I was such a trendsetter.
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What do you think?  Is Disney making steampunk uncool? Or are we all now a little cooler since it turns out we liked this kind of story all along?

Monday Snippits: My favorite haircut ever

I haven't had short hair for years, and I mean years.  I don't care much for it, since I had some traumatic childhood hair experiences.  

But on a whim, and remembering how hot last summer was, I decided to go for it. Live large, seize the day, etc, etc...

I was nervous, but the gal knew exactly what she wanted to do, and she did a GREAT job.


And a closer look...




Sometime you just have to take a chance.

What about you? Taken any chances lately?

Favorite things are back! (or, what I love about people)

As many of you who were here last year remember, June is Blog Your Favorites Month over here at the Dancing with Dragons blog. This month I'm going to be blogging about all my favorite things, and asking you about all YOUR favorite things.

Everybody ready?

Good.

To kick us off, I'm reposting a post I did quite a while ago on my obsession. Hereby retitiled, My Favorite Thing to Talk about is People.
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My Favorite Thing to Talk about is People

It's a dangerous thing to ask someone about their passions. For one thing, passionate people can talk your ear off! But the editors at Redroom did just that when they asked us to blog about our obsessions.

Believe it or not, I didn't really think much about this until early this year. If you'd asked me before then, I would have said, "I'm passionate about writing, period."

But is being passionate about an art form--in and of itself--really enough? What is it that I'm actually trying to SAY in my writing?

I know I love books, language, and good storytelling. But I discovered this year that there's one overwhelming passion that informs what I write.

I love people.
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People FASCINATE me. What they do, why they do it, their loves and hates and hurts. I'm intrigued by why people lie, and the way they lie, by how they can try to do the right thing and still screw everything up.

And I'm consistently blown away by the uniqueness of people. Sometimes I feel like an etymologist who has just discovered that there are six billion new species of butterfly in the world. And no two of them eat exactly the same thing, look exactly the same or behave exactly the same.

I want to study ALL of them! I have so many questions.

Like...

What motivates a young girl who gets drawn into drugs and alcohol and partying?

How can two people love each other and still have a misunderstanding that leaves them estranged for years?

What does it feel like to be elderly and have the world change so rapidly around you?

What would it be like to be raised in a refugee camp?

To be the unsatisfactory child of wealthy parents?

To know only one other person with your color skin?

To be so afraid of something that you become bitter and hate-filled?

To live on the edge of starvation?

To struggle with obesity your whole life?

To have a history and a heritage that goes back thousands of years?

To not know who your father or your mother or your grandparents were?


*stops and takes a deep breath* (See, I told you this was a dangerous question.)
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So I write, and I love writing. But I love writing primarily because it allows me to study people and say things about what it's like to be human and create characters that can be known, in a way that few real people can.

That's what fascinates me.

What fascinates you?

Announcing the winners of my Super Contest of Awesome!

Thanks everyone for your follows and comments! This was my first contest, and I was a bit nervous, but now that I know how much fun it can be, I'll have to rustle up another one soon.

In fact, I had so much fun with this one that I decided to pick TWO winners. The first place winner gets first choice of any of the three prizes, and the runner up gets next pick.

And now, the moment you've been waiting for. The first place winner is...


*sounds of applause* *cheers*

And the runner up is April!

*more applause*

I'll be in touch with the winners later today to find out which prizes they want and where to send them.  Thanks again everybody for your kindness and participation! You ALL get an Awesomesauce award!


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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.