I won NaNoWriMo yesterday! I have to dedicate this win to Written? Kitten!, #Ch1ConRUN, and most especially @NaNoWordSprints. It's been a tough run for me, probably the hardest since the first time I did NaNoWriMo, and I think working on this novel in the future will also be hard. It's strange and different and difficult to get through, but once I get it all together, it'll be a good one.
When you're an artist, you have to pick and choose what ideas to run with and which to hold off on. Some you even throw away completely. The way people make these decisions, I think, tends to reflect what their purpose is in writing. Some of it is done by instinct (some ideas light in your mind so strongly you can't let them go), but there's also a qualifier underneath that. For example, you may be writing primarily to give others an escape, or to sort out your own brain, or to expose the truth.
A lot of this hinges on your moral code, the things you prioritize in your life. Morality and art tend to be the two things at the core of an artist, I think, so it's impossible to separate them oftentimes.
For me, writing is a mix of addressing the issues I'm facing in my life and wanting to make a positive difference in others' lives. The things I believe in, religiously, morally, and otherwise, are the center of my novels. For example, I am a terrible romantic and this shows in all my books, with the triumph of courage and love and friendship. I also, as a conservative religious person, have drawn lines as to what kind of content I'll include in my novels in terms of language, sex, drugs, etc. (This one can be difficult, as you need to reflect real life and stay in the head of someone who isn't you while staying true to those standards in your writing. It's a tough balance. For SAMMI, there have been more cuss words than I have ever used in my life, thanks to the POV.)
This year's NaNoWriMo is almost complete! Though I'm working hard to get mine done, I'm already looking forward to next year's session, during which (tentatively) I will be writing a fantasy retelling of Hamlet!
To go with that, I thought I'd share some more book recommendations today! These are the best YA story retellings I've read: meaning, YA novels that modernize or otherwise retell things like fairytales, mythology, and classic literature. There's an infographic via EpicReads that covers a number of these here. Without further ado, here are the ones that I like!
How many of you have heard of the Bechdel Test? Raise your hands. You in the back, no? Okay, how about if I describe it? The Bechdel Test is a kind of unofficial feminist thing with movies. In order to pass, the movie has to have two females characters who have a conversation at some point in the movie about something other than a guy. Preferably these two characters also have names.
It's amazing how few movies pass this test, and it's a good talking piece to think about how sexism is still rampant in the movie/arts world. For a list of movies and their pass/fail status, check out this site. And then think about how many movies would pass if it were reversed, men talking to each other about something besides a girl.
This post is a quicky, but I just thought I'd bring it up, because I think it's a really interesting thing. I think less books than movies would fail it, but that would be interesting to look at as well. More importantly, it tells us that we still need to be aware of prejudices and their effect on the arts: sexism, racism, ableism, and more.
I'd like to start a conversation on this, so please give me your thoughts. Why is sexism still a big problem in the arts? How does all of this apply to books? How does your favorite movie rank on this test? Do you think it's even a good idea to put movies to the Bechdel Test?
Thanks for your contributions, and I hope to see you next time for some book recommendations!
In other news before I go, I saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 1 (which does pass this test) on premiere night, and I'm still mildly traumatized. Trigger warning in terms of abuse/assault/etc! But it's really good overall. as for NaNoWriMo, I can tell you that this is the weirdest book I've ever written in my life, which I guess is good, because it makes up for the fact that it's a contemporary novel instead of fantasy. Haha, good luck to those of you still working on NaNo right along with me! I'll see you next time.
One of the interesting things about writing as a career is how much of it is self-taught, more than many of the arts and much more than any science or business career. Yeah, anyone in any career need to know how to learn from their real-life experiences, but nothing seems to have that aspect quite so much as writing.
When you're young, you learn to read and write in school. You keep taking English classes after that to keep your skills up. If you're an English major in college, you take extra English classes that look at both reading and writing, and there are creative writing classes available to take--but none of those things make you a writer. Novelists in particular won't find many creative writing classes that focus on their craft.
So today, I thought I'd make a list of some of the things novelists need to teach themselves on their own, things that we don't learn in school.
Today, halfway through NaNoWriMo, I'm going to keep it simple with a picture tribute to reading, because reading is awesome and also good for you. Thanks for checking in, click on the images for their source, and come back next time for a post discussing what writers don't learn in school!
Hey, guys! Today I'm participating in the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain, which, as a brand new TCWT team member, I will be participating in until I turn 21.
This month, we're blogging in a minimal-word format while trying to capture the essence of what it means to us personally to be a teenager. So I present to you: my teenagerhood as expressed through a handful of pictures. You can click on each one for the source. *Mild language warning and domestic violence mention*
Before I get to today's post, a couple of important announcements. First, on Thursday, Ch1Con revealed our new design and announced our exciting new partnership with Teens Can Write, Too! (TCWT), an awesome teen blog/community run by the famous and fantastic John Hansen. We're teaming up in order to bring you a GIGANTIC TEEN WRITING EMPIRE OF DOOM. There's a lot of stuff going on in line with that, which you can learn about in the announcement posts by Ch1Con and by TCWT, but the main thing I wanted to tell you guys is that I am now an admin, editor, and blogger at TCWT as well as Ch1Con! So keep your eye out over there for my posts--and just in general because awesome. So much exciting stuff is happening!
Second, a NaNoWriMo update: After a rough first week, I'm finally catching up on my word count. It's fascinating, working from the POV of OCD itself. Trying to create a relatable character out of a mental illness while staying true to the nature of that illness and the fact that the OCD is, essentially, a "villain" in this story is a wonderful challenge. I'm enjoying it a lot. :)
Okay, on to today's post now!
In the past, I've touched on this topic, but recently I've been thinking about my past and it really brought it to mind. (It also aligns nicely with TCWT's theme this month, which is "Beginnings.") So today I'd like to talk about my very first fans as a writer.
I started writing at a pretty young age, as you know. When I was younger, I was a lot more vivacious. I don't think I'd say I was an extrovert, but I didn't have nearly the volume of anxiety problems as I do now. Therefore, I was not one to ever shut up about my writing .
Today, I explain how to be a college student during NaNoWriMo using selfies! Clearly, this is a very important topic that needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness.
1) Glare at the homework you have to do before you can do NaNo.
It's November, which meeeaaaansssss NANOWRIMO! I'm excited about my project, which is my first real attempt at a contemporary novel since my first disastrous attempt in middle school. You can friend me, check out my progress, etc., here at my profile. I also have my nifty widget up on the blog sidebar! And if you're interested, try NaNo yourself! Here are 25 reasons why you should.
Now, here is your monthly humor, and I'll see you next time for advice on being a college student during NaNoWriMo. (Also, stay tuned with the Ch1Con accounts--we're announcing some big news very soon!)
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. Basically, stories are my life.
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