writing: it's a process

Why a chapter of WtM takes so ridiculously long to write:

I decide that Katniss is going to sing an adorable German children’s song to Peeta, but I’m an enormous nerd and therefore not happy with the immediately accessible English translations (remember when I found out Füchslein means “little vixen”?) so I put the lyrics word-by-word into Google Translate and tweak the English version, debating whether or not I care if it rhymes and if I should tweak it still more to fit Panem/Everlark/etc.

[And yes, I could ask for help from a German speaker on Tumblr, but this feels like one of those things I need to wrestle through on my own, like a tricky riddle or a word problem… :P]

Case in point: “Alle meine Täubchen…

Translation: “All my doves…” 
Me: (whose knowledge of German is limited to growing up Lutheran and singing some art songs and sacred choral pieces in college) Doesn’t “chen” as a suffix usually mean “little”?
*seeks second opinion*
Google Translate: Täubchen = pigeon
Me: Um, no.
*types “translate Täubchen” into the search bar*
Google Search Result: “And Hansel answered: “I’m saying goodbye to my little dove on the roof." 
Me: 

Originally posted by 1980s-90sgifs

Wounds don’t heal the way you want them to, they heal the way they need to. It takes time for wounds to fade into scars. It takes time for the process of healing to take place.

Give yourself that time. Give yourself that grace. Be gentle with your wounds. Be gentle with your heart. You deserve to heal. You have a right to know peace in your skin.

— 

With love,

Dele Olanubi

You don’t deserve forgiveness.
You don’t deserve sympathy. Affection. A second chance.
For all of your notorious lies, your malice and your madness,
You don’t deserve to be saved
Because there was nothing left to save.
But he believed in you with all his heart
Believed that everything was for the best
That everything will be for the better,
And he gave you everything you didn’t deserve.

(With process):

I am not for everyone's consumption and I'm ok with that.

Say it with me now:

I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.
I am not for everyone’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional consumption…and that is ok. I am not for everyone.

😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃

What if Jack “Dad Music” Zimmermann’s playlist suddenly starts playing Let’s Get It On when Bitty’s straddling him, and when Marvin Gaye starts crooning, Bitty’s hands on Jack’s shirt freeze. Bitty just stares at Jack with a look that says ‘Is this a joke’ and Jack is genuinely confused because he’s like ‘????? it’s a good song??? why you stop’ until Bitty starts howling with laughter and it takes him at least five minutes to recover, and it just becomes their inside joke. Like Jack starts humming the first four notes in this overly dramatic way when he’s in the mood or joking about the incident (usually 4 out of 5 times Bitty will throw flour in his direction, but it worked once and that was good enough for Jack).

One night at the Haus (post-coming out), Bitty’s doing his dishes and talking about a kegster where some random freshmen were trying to hookup on the second floor, and Chowder actually screamed so loud when he came out of his room (because the freshmen had been pressed against his door, and they fell on top of him upon the door opening) that Ransom heard from downstairs. Jack takes the opportunity to sneak his arm around Bitty’s waist and say, “Oh, so was it like–” before he starts humming the Song as he tries to kiss Bitty’s neck. Bitty is flinging soap bubbles at his head, and they forget that Holster and Ransom are literally eating pie right at the table until they hear choking noises. 

College essays.

Once upon a time, in a chatroom far far away, @astraev taught me how to be freaking amazeballs at admissions essay writing. It’s been a while, but today, when I stayed after school to help the senior class president with his college admissions essay, it all came rushing back. I forgot how much I enjoyed it, working with a strong writer and really honing in on purpose and audience with such real world stakes. It’s #englishteacherfun, but really it was so so fun. 

As he was loading up the common app site, I grilled him on the short essay topics he needed to cover, requirements, his purposes for writing them – super important, that last one, because his purpose was more than just getting into the school; he wanted scholarships. That ups the ante. It’s no longer acceptable to merely show you can breathe and type; you need to set yourself apart from all the other too-smart-for-their-own-good goobers who are trying to get into this top university too.

Here’s the thing about college essays:

  1. Above all else, answer the damn prompt.
  2. Delete empty words (sometimes whole paragraphs) that do not address the prompt. It is better for your purpose that they are gone.
  3. They know your resume; you uploaded it and probably filled the same information out again in the app. Don’t waste the precious word space to highlight the same things in the same way you already did twice already.
  4. This is your shot to reveal you – personality, voice, humor (careful on this one; humor is hard do safely), uniqueness. This is your opportunity to show them how and why you are different from everyone else.
  5. Consider audience–The Admissions Board: how many of these dang essays are they going to be reading? SO MANY. Give them something to get excited about. Make it different. 
  6. Don’t spew out all that stupid empty rhetoric high schoolers say about “time management skills” through balancing “rigorous coursework” as a “student-athlete” and yada yada yada. They probably read that in the essays before yours and they’re probably going to read it in the one after. 
  7. Also, do you talk like that to your friends or any other normal-ish human being? Gosh I hope not. Then don’t do it in your essays. Be real.
  8. I mean, not too real. These are admissions officers, not your BFFs. So no texty-texty acronyms please and be respectful.
  9. Here’s @astraev gem that is a real clincher: show them who you are, don’t just tell them. Instead of telling them about the singular moment that you realized that their school was the one for you, make that moment come alive. Add imagery. Offer minute details. Make them feel like they were there to the point that they also can feel exactly how much that moment resonated with you and why.
  10. Lastly, talk it out with someone. A friend, teacher, parent, anyone skilled or practiced in the art of words. They see things you do not. They can spark ideas where you were stalling out. Write drafts. We only polished one out of three short answer prompts today for the college of my student’s choice, but he left with actionable ideas with which to improve his other two responses. It was positive, and it felt good to help. 

Anything else to add?

2

His Dark Materials fan appreciation month: week #2

favorite quote(s)

And Mrs. Coulter drew herself up, and snapped her fingers to the Specter feeding on the witch’s daemon. The little snow bunting daemon lay twitching on the rock as the Specter moved toward the witch herself, and then whatever Lena Feldt had undergone before was doubled and trebled and multiplied a hundredfold.

“Don’t rewrite someone’s work how YOU would have written it. That isn’t editing. Editing is bringing out the best of the story in line with the author’s voice, tone and goal.” - Amanda Pillar 

I have seen too many non-professional people who fancy themselves to be editors (and a couple of pro editors) fail at this very thing. Not to mention editors confusing ‘editing advice’ with ‘emotionally abusing a writer.’ If your editor - after you get back rewrites and notes - makes you feel like you want to write less, sweat bullets over the idea of writing, stress out about writing ‘right’ or feel like the process of creating is becoming only more and more painful over time, ditch them, and ditch them fast. Not everyone gets notes they like (that is the point of editing, after all), but you always have the right to reject anything that doesn’t click, and you should always walk away from a collaboration with an editor feeling stronger, not weaker.

I’m very fortunate that I got to interact with professional, lauded editors of great projects at university, and then later on in life as I pursued varied professional projects. All in all, I’ve probably met about 20-30 editors over the years, and I’ve learned much, including what a good editor won’t do to you or your work. I’ve had the privilege to work with professional editors on different published works (from poetry, to short stories, and now onto novels - some award winning and nominated) and I know how this process is supposed to go. I’ve seen too many authors and authors-who-don’t-know-better get crushed by people who believe they know best for a story and really don’t. 

Remember - You always have the right to ask for a new editor at a publishing house if your visions don’t mesh (and they won’t always). You always have the right to pull your work from an editor if they are destroying your work (it does happen, and I’ve recently seen one publisher in particular begin to fall apart because of this). A relationship with an editor should be collaborative. The editor needs to be consummately respectful of the author’s concept of style, execution. Ultimately an editor is there to assist a writer in the writer’s own work, not sneak their own voice and style into someone else’s work. The latter is not making a work stronger, but making it into something twisted. The true collaboration is when two people come together to make the original story shine in the way the author always intended it to, and the editor knows exactly what to bring to make that happen. 

An editor who insists brutality is key is not a professional. They go against most codes of ethics in many editing organisations in the world. An editor who uses abusive language is not a professional. An editor who tells you ‘this is how real editing is’ when they aren’t a member of an Editing Society and do not have an Editing Degree and don’t have any published books behind them is grandstanding. They are also lying to you about what the editing industry is like. Don’t believe me? Ask an editor affiliated with a Society with multiple published books behind them. An editor who is proud of their ability to be brutal above and beyond respecting the author’s voice, is an editor who enjoys the feeling of being right (whether or not they are) above respecting your creative work and passion.

If you tried to write the equivalent of a rose quartz, and your editor insists you need to be writing the equivalent of a smokey quartz - do yourself a favour, get the fuck out. 

The Stan Twins Pranks #1

Ford nods off over his schoolwork, it’s the middle of the day. Stan very swiftly covers all windows, space under the door, any possible source of light completely. Wakes his twin up. 

Stan: “Wake up Poindexter, I gotta show you something, just look”

Ford, all dazed: “Wha- Stan, how long was I sleeping, how come it got so dark?!”

Stan: “Huh? For about 10 minutes. Now stop foolin’ around and check out what I did”

Ford: “BUT I CAN’T SEE!!”

Stan: “What is it with you?! It’s bright daylight, what the hell do you mean you can’t see?!”

Ford: “I’VE GONE BLIND, STAN, OH NO, WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO, HOW AM I GOING TO TELL MOTHER, SHE’LL BE DEVASTATED *continues to panic*”

After Stan finally tells him it was a joke Ford doesn’t speak to him for a week. 

Oddly enough it’s not choosing as much as something occurring to you, so strongly, so severely, so deeply, so graphically almost, that eventually you find you’ve written the first paragraph without meaning to.
—  Colm Tóibín on the writing process (2010).
You are missing me by which I mean:
I like you less when I am not with you.
You seemed more principled under my gaze.
Maybe my eyes were just too unforgiving.
(Maybe that is why you don’t miss me anymore.)
The lesson in all this heartbreak:
I cannot make you into someone I can love.
I cannot make you stay.
I am a furious creature, always too intense.
I am forever reaching. You, like the others,
ran from my smoke, knew you’d only crumble
in my arms, suffocate in my forest fire grip.
—  ‘dragon girl sings goodbye from the ashes’

I just watched Gem Hunt, and man, Pearl was especially adorable in this episode. She was so playful and happy, more than what she usually is,  and it made me happy, too.

And I just love the bond she has with Connie. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that it’s the first real bond she’s forming with a human (other than Steven), and it’s so sweet, the way she cares about her and respects her abilities.

What a good Pearl is Happy™ episode. Bring me more of those, please.

Paraphrased actual conversation I had with a friend:

Friend: Is it egotistical if I spend a lot of time looking at my own art?

Me: I don’t think so. I think consuming your own work is an important part of the creative process. Even if you’re not analyzing it or looking for strengths and weaknesses, I think you’re subconsciously getting data from it. Like when kids eat their own boogers to give information to their immune system. Or like how rabbits sometimes eat their own poop to re-absorb nutrients. 

Friend: Do you have any metaphors that aren’t disgusting?

Me:  No.