Monday, November 28, 2011

If I knew then what I know now Part 2...

Given the chance, what would you tell your old self?
Here are some things that crossed my mind this week...

Value the people in your life but make peace with cutting certain people out. It's not a friendship if it's draining. Toxicity is contagious.

2. Lists are important but the things that need to get done will get done. Don't obsess about things that don't deserve your obsession.

3. Hiding behind loose, baggy clothing doesn't make you look more intelligent. It shows that you aren't valuing yourself. There's a difference between comfort and complacency.

4. It's okay to enjoy every piece of chocolate from a bag of Doves. Don't allow them to pave a guilty road.

5. Drink a lot of water and eat fiber each day. And find the best moisturize for your skin.

6. Be careful with judgment. It will disappear when you're in terrible predicaments.

7. Sometimes going further away from the people you love---family, friends---will bring you closer to them. Everyone needs space to prosper.

8. You'll never regret traveling to an unfamiliar corner of the world alone. Take many solitary bus rides through foreign countries.

9. Cultivate a taste for good food and wine. Your body will thank you for it.

10. Remember it's okay to act your age. You'll waste a lot of time looking forward and planning.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

writers can excite us in many ways

Have you ever wondered what makes something great? How does a piece of work compel us to call it "amazing" or "okay" or "worthy"? Well, I've learned that it can't be whittled down to a single trait. Over this break, I've lost myself in a book by Nicole Krauss: The History of Love. For anyone who hasn't read her work and is looking for a new author, she is worth checking out. While I was happily anti social and curled up on a chubby armchair, I asked myself what made her novel compelling and how other authors can do that for their works.

With an engaging plot

Literary fiction is known for "slower" plots than its commercial counterpart, but as my blogging friend Margo once aptly put it, literary fiction packs in a lot of "micro tension". In The History of Love, the plot jumps around in time and the protagonist also shifts; however, what there isn't in continuous page turning events there is in mental conflict and mystery.

With gorgeous, gossamer words

"He learned to live with the truth. Not to accept it, but to live with it. It was like living with an elephant. His room was tiny, and every morning he had to squeeze around the truth just to get to the bathroom. To reach the armoire to get a pair of underpants he had to crawl under the truth, praying it wouldn't choose that moment to sit on his face. At night, when he closed his eyes, he felt it looming above him. ”

With characters who are easy to empathize with

Leo, the main character, has experienced a lot of loss when it comes to his family.We may not live in the same time period as him but all of us can relate to the feelings of love, hope, and heartbreak.

Friday, November 25, 2011

belated gratitude list

Modern Family marathons with my modern and conservative family
Men's styled button downs
All of the unread books waiting to be picked up
Grilled cheese and avocado sandwiches
Shopping bags being stacked in the backseat, wrinkled with possibility
Sheets warm from the dryer
Warmth of cinnamon
The New York Times homepage
Black Friday madness
Giant mugs
Fluffy socks
My rebellious sister and introspective brother; my driven father and vivacious mother
The spices of chai and peppermint as they hit my tongue
Confusion's ability to guide me in surprising directions
The hazy intersections between writing and medicine; intimacy and independence

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

the importance of being selfish

"Yes" isn't just a single syllable. It's a slippery slope, an unquenchable hunger. This past year, one thing I've been able to do is say no more often. It's been a challenge in many ways. For once, I have to explain myself. "Oh, you can't do it? Why? You always can." I understand. I've built the space for these expectations and am now filling it with an "I can't" instead of what it's used to. But I've realized that time is too easily depleted and that each of us is entitled to our own piece of it. When "yes" comes in the way of adequate sleep and sanity, it's time for a shift.
So while I am thankful for so many things---great family, friends, and food---today, I'll place my gratitude on the power of "no."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Writing the beginning of the end

Since I posted about the elements of the beginning, I thought I'd include a nice list of what should be in the "dark moment" or that crucial part before the ending.
by Alicia Rasley

The 5 Ds of the Dark Moment:

Dilemma-- the situation has disintegrated around the protagonist, and all seems lost.

Desperation-- the protagonist flails about, considering the most extreme escapes from the dilemma.

Despair-- the protagonist surrenders to despair, certain that there is no way out.

Deconstruction-- in the calm that follows despair, the protagonist begins to analyze the situation, deconstructing needs, values, and options.

Decision-- the protagonist decides what can be discarded, and what's most essential to be kept, and determines a course to achieve that.

Inspiration in pictures


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What should happen in the beginning?

November means that the blogging world is hushed. Too hushed for those of us who aren't doing NaNoWriMo. But since I'm sure so many of you are working on your white, crisp starts, I thought I'd include a list of components for the beginning of a novel. (I got this from Charlotte Dillon's website).
I've read sites that recommend the "beginning" to occupy the first 25% of your book.

Starts on the brink of change.

Introduces the protagonist and provides a glimpse of his/her character, goal, and conflict.

Sets up the world of the book.

Shows "before" of the world and the protagonist, what they're like before the story events.

Hints at backstory, or at least indicates there is some relevant backstory.

Initiates the situation of the story.

Shows the inciting incident that starts the plot.

Sets up the major story questions (external, internal, interactional) and probably poses the external story question.

Initiates the external conflict.

Hints at the internal conflict.

Shows the start point of the central relationship.

Ends with the inevitability of change.