31 October 2008

Wardrobe, work, and woe

I'd like to wish a Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain to all! I went to school today in costume and enjoyed a lot of the reactions I got. Not many people at school wear costumes all day the way I do, so I guess they weren't expecting to see a devil walking towards them looking like this (um...add some devil horns to the top; I forgot to put them back on before I took this pic...)

I got a few stares and a lot of "cool" and "looks good!" My favorite compliment, however, came from a girl in my sound design class. As I walked in, all smiles with a black velvet cape billowing behind me and my backpack giving me a hunchback, she returned my smile. "You would be in costume. That's awesome!" Today's costume provided very few mobility issues, but comfort was a minor sacrifice. My own fault, I suppose, for wearing boots that have heels of about 2 1/2 inches. Oh, well. I've always had fun showing my Halloween spirit!

Checking my calendar put me in a minor panic as I realized tomorrow is November first, the official beginning of NaNoWriMo 2008. I haven't touched my plot or my characters since late August/early October and have no idea whether or not I'm ready to dive headfirst into the story starting tomorrow. I did find an excellent motivational tool here. The simple textbox that is provided - after the main menu - lets you type freely and keeps track of your word count at the bottom. If you stop typing, depending on which mode you choose, you'll either receive a pop=up message or hear an annoying sound once a certain amount of time has passed. The screen changing colors makes it even easier to keep track of time's passage, how long your fingers have been motionless, etc.

Tomorrow, as well as launching NaNoWriMo, will cue the final tech weekend of the fall semester. Fun stuff, always. I also have the cemetery walk on Sunday, a test in Spanish Monday, and a test in English Tuesday. Tuesday marks the opening night of 'Stop Kiss,' our last mainstage production of the fall semester, which will run through Saturday. A bake-sale will be going on during the run of the show to raise funds for the theater club. Strike will be Saturday Nov. 8 immediately after performance with a post-production critique Monday the 10th at 4 pm. On the 15th, several members of the theater club are going to see Stomp, a trip I'd love to go to but keep talking myself out of. I'll likely be spending Thanksgiving studying for finals, which begin the first week of December. The more I think of all this, the more I wonder just how crazy I am to be trying NaNoWriMo this year...

A thread in the NaNoWriMo forums proved that most WriMos who don't succeed fail simply because they don't start. Of course, for me to cite this fact seems something of a moot point since I've never broken a word-count of 10K. Oh, well. This year, I'm going to have fun and stick with it.

I'm off to study Spanish and eat candy. Everybody stay safe tonight!

26 October 2008


What a terrific weekend! My mom has already blogged about it briefly. Now, the activity has died down and all is peaceful again as everyone crawls into bed to prepare for Monday. Ah, Monday... My weeks are very hectic, quite a lot of my free time claimed by school. Here's my planned routine for this week.

Monday: Alarm goes off at six. Whether I wake up then or not remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I know I'll be up by 7:30 to take our family's babysitting charges to school, never mind my own trek to school. NaNoWriMo should actually push my wake up back an hour, so that's a five a.m. alarm to buy an hour's writing time - assuming I stick to that. School starts at nine a.m. with sound design, an amazingly awesome class and one of three theater classes I am enrolled in this semester. We spend the class period discussing mics, amps, connectors, recording methods, and a lot more. It's just plain fun; there's a lot of hands on work and projects and the like that keep me busy as far as homework. After sound design, I have Spanish at ten a.m. What we do in this class is pretty self-explanatory. There are four other theater majors in this class, so it's not too bad. Our professor is from Puerto Rico, which makes her pronunciation difficult to understand, but she brings a lot to the class, telling us about different Spanish cultures. After Spanish is Technical Theater I at eleven o'clock. This class, taught by the department head, is arguably my favorite class of the semester. In Tech, we've been learning the basics of scenic construction: wood, power tools, hand tools, pneumatic (air powered) tools, fasteners, etc. After lunch, at one, I go to my language lab for an hour. These lab hours are spent doing Spanish exercises on the computer. After lab, I'm done for the day and normally get home around three or four.

Tuesday: The early wake-up calls continue. First up at school is history at nine twenty-five. My history prof is awesome. He loves theater majors and has been cast in productions quite often. He's got a great sense of humor. Next on the docket is Backgrounds of Western Literature. My professor holds her masters degree...and knows it. This is the prof I tire of because she gives the same lecture every day before we get to our assigned text. "When you read a work that has been translated, you are being affected by the word choice of the translator and receive the translator's opinions on said piece of work." No shit, Sherlock! On and on she goes, showing us three different translations of the same text, a twenty line segment we will analyze or, more often, stare at mutely while she points out the subtle differences in word choice between each translation. If I learn nothing else in this class, I feel sure I'll know, for the rest of my life, that reading a work that has been previously translated gives it a bent which matches the point of view of the translator. After Lit. class, I head to lunch and then go to the costume shop from 1-4. Generally, lab students will assist however needed for whatever the next production is or work on a personal project - something they or a family member/friend will wear/use. Right now, several of us are making various sizes and types of vests for the theater department to use in the future. These days, I get home around six.

Wednesday: See Monday. Lather, rinse, repeat. At two in the afternoon, I go to a writer's meeting for our improv troupe's weekly performance. At four, IMPROV at Tarleton performs. Shows last one hour. I get home around six or seven.

Thursday: See Tuesday. Lather, rinse, repeat. No lab hours. Get home after lunch if I leave once class is over.

Friday: See Monday. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lab hours from 1-4 in the scene shop. Here, I help build anything from set pieces to props to flats (false walls) or help paint. These lab hours are attached to my tech theater class and get averaged in as part of my grade. At the end of the semester, the scene shop supervisors - older students who are employees of the university's fine arts department and designate tasks/instruct lab students - will administer a proficiency test, making sure we know how to properly use all the tools in the shop.

Saturday: This weekend will not be like most. Because we have a play performing next week (Nov. 4-8) this Saturday is our designated Tech Weekend. During Tech, the entire theater department gets together to run around doing last minute preparations, builds, paint jobs, light hangs, sound checks, and anything else that isn't quite finished. It's insane and I love it all. I'll have to find NaNo time in the evening.

Sunday: For an even more unusual weekend, we've got the second annual Spirits of Erath County Cemetery Walk performed in the afternoon. Starting in '07, this is a sort of historical reenactment in miniature. Students selected from the theater department (including me) are assigned a specific person/pair that helped found Erath County and the city of Stephenville, where Tarleton is located. Different theater students get into period garb provided by the department and perform the monologues written by their peers in the local cemetery. It's a lot of fun.

Alright. I'd love to type more, but have been typing in the dark for about twenty minutes and my eyes can't take much more. What does your typical week look like?

Word count: 943

13 October 2008

Overheard conversation snippets

So, I'm sitting here in the FAC Mac lab, killing time until this afternoon's post-production critique for our last production, Wylie and the Hairy Man. With nothing to really do, study, etc. I'm half-way listening to the conversations around me. Some interesting comments I've heard include:

"My mom actually wants me to get a tattoo! I'm so scared to get one." I'm proud to be inked, still planning my second tat. Finances is a huge influence for me. My first tattoo I didn't get until five years after figuring out just what I wanted. (Started planning at 16, didn't get it until 21) The delay didn't really bother me because it gave me more than enough times to change my mind. After five years, I still had the same idea, so I knew this wasn't something I would regret having on my body the rest of my life.

"I just don't understand kids these days..." I can't help but wonder how much right, if any, most college students have to make these sort of observations. Not that I don't... Still, in the minds of most, a lot of college students (especially freshman/sophomores) are still 'kids.'

"I'm pissed... No, whatever. I'm mad and that's it." Tell me my ears are tricking me, please. What the hell is this?

"Maybe she doesn't really like him, but if she does..." Ah, gossip! Such an amazing waste of time! I remember once a friend of mine actually made the mistake of asking my opinion. Someone she liked was ignoring her and she was getting 'I like you' texts from someone she didn't like and blah, blah, blah. Me: "We're not in high school anymore. You've already been and broken up with the guy who is ignoring you. Why would you want to get back with your ex? As for the texting that guy #2 likes you, if you don't like him like that, find out what he means when he says he likes you. If it's something you don't want to pursue, just tell him and see if he'll back off. Stop bitching about it; you've got a test tomorrow!"

Yeah... She hasn't asked me for advice since then. I won't tell you what you want to hear; I prefer to boil the problem down from the mountain its been turned into and look at it realistically. Can't help but wonder why college students, these people who are supposed to be my peers, are so concerned over who is dating who and who broke up with who and why and who is sleeping with who and where. Some of the things I've heard... *shudder*

I distinctly recall one night about a month ago when I heard about a friend's recent...sexual conquests. She's looking to me and the other two friends who were there, both of them freaking out as she asks us not to judge her. Poor thing clearly doesn't know me well. I look at her and told her the truth. "Hon, first of all, you're straight. Therefore, I don't care who you sleep with. Secondly, it's your choice and doesn't affect me at all. Again, I don't care. And thirdly, that doesn't change who you are or the fact that we're friends. I may not look at him the same way again or go there again, but it's not going to change anything between us." The hug she gave me made me wonder: just what kinds of friends does this girl have if she's worried about being judged over a fling?

And now, my random wonderings must cease, primarily because the room just emptied. I promise plenty more randomness later.

For a good laugh, check out the link in my title. This had some of my theater professors cracking up!

Word count: 628 {At some point, I'll stop doing this word count thing, I'm sure...}

10 October 2008

November planning

Here it is; my first blog entry...FINALLY! I've been in the grip of writer's block, or so I tell myself. It seems more likely that I'm wanting to write something that "has meaning" or some such nonsense; something that's more than me just talking about my life. Then, I realized, again...for about the billionth time in my life, I'm sure...that all that matters for me is that I write. As my mom always says "you have time for what you make time for; make time for what's important" and "you have to repeat a task until it becomes habit." That's what I'm trying to do: make writing a habit. Why? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Writing is something I've always wanted to do. However, I've never been able to actually finish writing a story. As a result, my computer is bogged down with old stories, some of which will never see the light of day no matter how much potential they might have because, really, after five, seven, ten years, who cares? My storage unit also is (was) drowning with spare scraps of paper, extra spirals filled with random scribblings and sporadic stops and starts of story after story. In '05, I discovered National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo) which can be found at www.nanowrimo.org and which I'll likely be plugging for all of October. NaNoWriMo is a world-wide event in which authors, both hopefuls and already established, work to compose 50,000 words in the month of November. I've participated since '06, but have never completed a work or even broken 10,000 words. This year, I'm changing tactics. Here's how.

#1 To get into the habit of daily writing, I'll be keeping this blog. (Duh.) What I'll wrote about remains to be seen.

#2 As a part of my blogging, I'll be keeping track of my word count so that I'm ready for NaNoWriMo. This necessity for word count might lead to a lot of repetition on my part, unneeded sentences, etc. (Much like this one.)

#3 Checking my schedule, I've noticed some very fortunate scheduling, which may help me succeed.

A. November starts on a Saturday. Hooray for weekend writing!

B. The one play TSU performs in November is scheduled for the first week of the month. Since I'm not cast onstage or placed backstage for anything, I'll only have to show up Saturday for strike (and to see the play, of course - hooray for free theater major tickets!) Better yet, my theater classes have no real mid-terms and my history mid-term was yesterday. This means the only exam I'll be studying for is in my English class.

C. My family already knows about my goal, as do several of my friends. My best friend (I hope) will be participating this year with me. Hello, word wars!

#4 Halloween candy goes on sale November 1. I'll be tearing off to the dollar store to buy large goody bags at half-off, which makes it .50 to 1.50 per bag! Hooray for cheap sugar!

#5 I plan on getting up earlier in the mornings, which will be my writing time. This will guarantee that I don't fall behind in classes and can do my homework and studying in the evenings.

That's the only plan I have so far. Now, I just have to figure out a plot... Already, the forums at NaNoWriMo have opened up to be flooded with participants as well as posts. I'm bumming around as scagamer, reading up on tips and tricks left by past winners of NaNo. A few things I need to remember:

1. School work > NaNovel

2. Delete key is off limits. Typos are okay.

2A. Re-reading is off limits. Typos are still okay.

2B. Visit NaNo forums, check BDV as reward. 1000 words = 10 minutes online goof-off.

2Ba. Use reward time during the day instead of in the a.m. so as to not be late for school.

3. If net wont' work, use M&M/candy reward method.

3A. Freeze candy when possible so it'll last longer. (Charleston Chews, York Peppermint Patties, generally anything that starts as "chewy;" no Bit-O Honeys though - must avoid breaking teeth)

4. When hit by writer's block, skip to next scene/next exciting scene.

5. School work > NaNovel

6. Coffee, Cherry Coke, etc. is your friend, but water is great too.

7. Snacks/meals are better when prep time is brief and/or someone else can fix it and/or it can be eaten with one hand.

8. Keep notebooks by bed, in backpack, in car, in pocket, etc. at all times. Writing utensil behind ear. If no utensil can be found, check green room/call board or hit up friends. Writing in blood is a last resort. ;)

9. Chain up and gag inner editor in late October. Feed editor intravenously while allowing muses and characters to feat in sumptuous fashion. Only release editor for school related projects. Ignore muffled screams.

Hm... I know there was supposed to be more here. Ah well. That gives me something to write about in my next blog. So, does anyone else plan on joining me in this madness? It's a lot of fun; I promise!

Now, for my plot ideas. Which one should I use!?

Idea #1 came to me in July/August. The story centers around a group of 20 something college students who will be better described below. They're all screwed up in their own special ways as they try to navigate life in the real world. The first character to talk to me is likely to be my Female Main Character (FMC). As I stood at the bathroom mirror, she appeared out of nowhere in all her OCD glory as she studied the counter top. "Would it really kill me if I moved the brush? It's been on that side of the sink for so long," she wondered. Slowly, with a slightly trembling hand I know she was trying to hide, she reached for the brush as if it were a bomb. Her fingers wrapped around the handle, moving as if she expected a snake to strike, the brush flying to the opposite side of the counter. As she moved her hand away, I saw her look up and smile wide, a look of simple victory. "Yay, me!"

The next character to appear, the Male MC, stood with smart military carriage, looking straight into the mirror. Slowly, slowly, he sighed, shoulders relaxing as he looked down. "I don't want to be here. This isn't for me," he whispered, posture still ramrod straight though he had relaxed. It took nothing for me to study him and realize he was in the Navy at his father's demand. He grew up in a military family, seemed more mature than several of the other characters, and didn't want to admit how scared he was, how much he wanted to get out. I saw him escaping the base only to be told he could leave anytime. An OTH discharge will cause his family to disown him as he tries to find his feet in the civilian world.

The supporting characters came next, one of them still trying to steal the spotlight. He's older, a sophomore or junior who acts as resident adviser to Navy boy and plays teacher's assistant in several freshman classes. This guy has both sympathy and attitude to spare, loves wearing all black, and is always two steps ahead of everyone else mentally. Quick witted and impatient of stupidity, he wont hesitate to tell a freshman their concerns of who to date are stupid. He's an academic through and through and loves that people judge him by appearance, expecting him to know nothing just because he's got a lip ring. This guy is the one I've got to pull from the spotlight a bit. The other SCs are pretty straight-forward cardboard characters at this point. The self proclaimed 60s flower-child is rooming with FMC, trying to get her to loosen up, do what feels right, etc. while the spoiled rich kid and the scholarship case who took a year off to work and save up more $ just might kill each other down the hall.

Idea #2 was inspired by the famed "play within a play" scene in Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream.' It's fairly straightforward, but has more room for the random insanity of ninjas, zombies, et. al. that seem to infest NaNovels when the word count drops or the plot bunnies go on strike. For this idea, my MC is participatin in NaNoWriMo. It's a novel within a novel, or more to the pint, a NaNovel within a NaNovel.

Well, I've babbled plenty about my plans for November. More to come later, I'm sure. NaNoWriMo, here I come!

Word count: 1467; approximately 200 short of minimum daily word count for NaNo.