Friday, April 23, 2021

Playing Catch-Up.

 To my dearest friends and followers,

I began the month of April with every intention to sit down and finish writing my novel, The Death of Jack. I spent the first few days finishing up a few other things and then celebrating Easter with my family. After that, I opened up my document simply titled "Jack" and read the last chapter I had written, to sort of refresh my brain where I had left off several months before. 

I ran in to a problem though. I couldn't remember where the characters were at, or exactly what was happening. I decided to read the 2nd to last chapter, only to find that I still couldn't remember. So I read a bunch of notes in my notebook. The ideas I'd written were all so familiar, but I couldn't remember which ones I'd already incorporated in to the story and which ones I had yet to use. Great, I thought. Even as I read the last note I'd written, I thought to myself, What was this writer trying to say?

The only thing I could do was print the entire book and start from the beginning. So that's exactly what I did. I even told myself, I'm not going to edit the book, I'm just going to read it so I know what's happened. 
As some of you may know, the majority of what is written so far was written during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). What that means, is that most of the book so far was written with the intent to write, no matter what, even if it's crap. Many of the scenes were rushed, and some of the thoughts aren't fully expressed before moving on to another topic. This was due mostly to writing with a timer going and knowing I won't have enough time to fully think about one idea and where I want it to go, so instead moving on to something else I do know the direction I want it to go. I hope that makes sense. 
Basically, it was sooo difficult to read the first part of the book without editing it as I went. So rather than focusing on fixing everything right now, I sort of just read it slow and marked everything that was a simply typo, and wrote notes on everything that needs fixing, and why it needs fixing. I want to completely finish writing the book before I really delve in to revising and editing it.

It's super exhausting for me to read something when I can't just read it for enjoyment. Reading my book again with the purpose of note-taking and future revising, almost felt like homework. Even after I started reading through it, I ended up taking another week off. But I'm ready to finish so I can begin writing again. At this point, I'm pushing for mid-end of June to have the entire thing written. Wish me luck!!
As always, thank you for reading!!
I'll do my best to keep you updated with the progress I'm making.

Yours truly,

I know this is kind of random, but I had to share this. Basically, when I was a kid (maybe around 11 or 12 years old), my parents took me and my sister to Borders bookstore, where we were each told we could get one book. I picked out a book and showed it to my mom. She read the back cover and told me something like, "you're not reading this, find something else." So I picked out Little Women, which won mom's approval. 
However, in the last few years, I've looked for that book which I was never allowed to read. The problem? I didn't know what it was called or who the author was. I only knew what the cover looked like. It wasn't even a cover that I could describe. I just knew I'd know it when I saw it. I tried to recall anything about that day. Why did mom say no? Fairies. I think it had fairies in it. No, not fairies. It was vampires. Yes, that's it. I wasn't allowed to read it because it had vampires in it. But didn't it also have fairies in it? And they were dancing. And it must have been written for middle grade readers, as I remember it was in the children's section of the bookstore. 
So I searched Tween book about vampires. Tween book about vampires and fairies. Tween book about fairies. Underrated tween vampire books. Underrated tween vampire books published in 2006-2007-2008. Tween vampire and fairy books. Tween book about fairies dancing in the full moon. And then I found a section called "retellings of The Twelve Dancing Princesses." I thought, ooh, maybe. And I clicked on it. And I saw the cover I'd spent years looking for!! The book is titled Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. I leave it to you, Dear Reader, to do your own research about this book, but I will say this: I've never read it, but it looks amazing!!

Check out the first book in the series, The Story of Hollyhocks!!

Handmade journals make the best Mother's Day gift!! Check them out in my Ko-fi shop!!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Writing Jack.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I had two recent goals in my journal that I'd like to share with you. First, I'd like to say, you can get the journal I have and others (which I handmade) from my Ko-fi shop for yourself or for the perfect Mother's Day (May 9th) gift!! Anyhow, one of my goals is that I finish reading The Golden Fleece by Robert Graves by or on March 31st. The other is that I begin writing my novel again.

I am proud to say that I finished reading the book exactly on schedule!! The Golden Fleece is an amazing piece of literature, published in the 1940's. It is both beautiful and tragic, funny at times, and a bit dull at times too. I've said this before, and I'll say it again, it really honors the epics that came before it, and if you enjoy The Odyssey and The Iliad half as much as I do, I think you'll really enjoy The Golden Fleece

With that wonderful distraction of a book out of my way, I feel like I am ready to start writing again!! In September last year, I began working on my second novel, The Death of Jack. I wrote only a few thousand words, and then in November, I partook in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and finished with over 50k words written!! I took a little break, and then my sister came for Christmas, and then she stayed for 22 days instead of the 9 days we planned for, and then I began working on a few other projects, and then I really wanted to finish the book I was reading before I began working on my own, and now here am I. 
For those of you who don't know, The Death of Jack is the sequel to my first novel, The Story of Hollyhocks. The story isn't going to pick up directly where the first book left off, but instead, it is going to serve as a prequel almost, the first half of the book takes place in a time long before the Hollyhocks's story is told, while the second half of the book will eventually lead us to what happens after the events of the first book. I hope to have the story completed by the end of May, if not sooner. I'll definitely be keeping you up to date on how my progress is going. To learn more about The Death of Jack, click here: My NaNoWriMo Project.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,

Check out the Journals in my shop!!

Peter Pan and Me.

To my dearest friends and followers,

So many of us, as small children, dreamt about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I remember wanting to be a singer and an artist.
Sadly, when we grow up, many of us don't live those dreams and instead feel lost, spending so much time wondering what we want to do. I have personally known people who have said to me, "I always wanted to do _____ (fill in the blank)," or "I always wanted to be a _____ (fill in the blank)." It's so sad to me. Why didn't they spend their time doing what they always wanted to do instead of working so hard at something they didn't like? There was always a reason of course, and it's always one of these 3 reasons: "I needed to make money" or "I didn't have the time" or "I needed to get a real job."

I wish these people had someone in their life to tell them it was ok to pursue their dreams. I wish someone had encouraged them to work hard at what they wanted, not at what they didn't want. I would rather live my life knowing I tried my best, whether I succeeded or not, than to live with regrets, forever wishing I had done that one thing, or worked a different job, etc. I firmly believe if you truly want something, you have to go for it. Don't spend the rest of your life wishing you had.

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was about 12 years old. And so I became a writer. I wrote my first ever novella, which ended up being just under 20k words. I then went on to write 3 more novellas, a bunch of flash fiction and short stories, and 1 novel. I only recently became a published author, but I became a writer the moment I began writing.
Some of you may know, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I read Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I remember after I finished the book, I had a bizarre dream which inspired my first novella, The Enchanted Island

There were so many reasons I loved Peter Pan as much as I did and still love it to this day. I think the reasons I loved it back then were a lot simpler than the understanding I have for it now.
Wendy, John, and Michael, were all very fun characters. Getting to see the dreams of the children was always such a memorable image: one child dreaming that the island had birds flying over it, the other child dreaming that the bird had islands flying over it.

I loved the first interaction with Peter and Wendy, as it was both very telling of who these characters were, but also quite humorous to me at the time. Peter is obviously crying because he cannot get his shadow to stick, but when Wendy wakes up and asks, "Boy, why are you crying?" Peter instead asks her what her name is, and the conversation shifts away from the topic Wendy asked about. Only when Wendy learns that Peter has no mother, she says to him, "No wonder you were crying." Peter denies it of course.
And there was always something so enchanting about the line "come away, come away," leading the children to the adventures Neverland had to offer. I remember being nearly equally as excited to read about the fairies and mermaids and pirates and native Indians as the children were to see them!! I remember well the little house built for Wendy when the Lost Boys think she is dead (after they shot at her under Tinker Bell's orders). I remember the narrator taking an entire chapter to decide which of the children's adventures to tell us, because there were too many to tell them all. I remember the 20 questions "played" between Hook and Peter. I remember the lines, "Pan, who and what art thou?" he [Hook] cried huskily, to which Peter replies, "I am youth, I am joy!" That answer still gives me shivers.

I remember thinking Peter Pan was the first book to ever evoke a certain feeling in me. It made me feel...I'm not sure. Alive. Infinite. I remember so many lines that were beautifully and poetically written. It made me appreciate the little moments both in the book and in my daily life. I remember thinking to myself, "I want to write something like that. I want to write something as good as that."

Looking at the story now, I see it very differently, though my love for it remains the same. 
I love the childhood innocence it brings. The first line of the book is, "All children, except one, grow up." It sets the stage, almost seeming to state that it is sad that all children grow up. Peter is different though. I think that's a sad thing as well as beautiful. As I got older, I began to think that even though Peter says he doesn't want to grow up, I think he is scared to. He's afraid of feelings, he's afraid of abandonment.

The book we know as Peter Pan started out as a novelette titled The Little White Bird. Though this original version written by J.M. Barrie portrayed Peter as much younger than he would later become, the story itself was much darker. Much like in Peter Pan, Peter was a baby when he ran away from home to live in Kensington Gardens (I don't know how babies run away from home, but he did). However, in the original version, he never ages past babyhood. He never doubts that his mother will love him, and so he assumes the window will always be open to him, should he ever wish to return. Eventually he does decide to go home, but finds he cannot enter, as the window is closed. He perceives his mother has forgotten him and moved on.

We see this theme in the version that would later become popularized. Wendy and her brothers leave home to go to Neverland with Peter. Wendy's mother, Mrs. Darling, leaves the window open for them to return. Peter is selfish and wishes for Wendy to stay with him and thus flies back to Wendy's house to close the window, hoping Wendy will think her mother has forgotten her and have no reason to return home. However, Mrs. Darling opens it again. I also noticed how Peter wants Wendy to be his and the Lost Boys' "mother". Maybe this is because he secretly does wish for that affection, to be loved as any child does.

I have also noticed some other dark themes in the book. Like the fact that Peter kills the Lost Boys without any hesitancy, as well as the pirates and anyone else he sees fit to. One of the things that always stuck out to me as being disturbing though is when we learn that Peter would alter the boys, not the tree, if they could no longer fit into the tree that served as the door to their underground dwelling-place. He also kills the boys who start to grow up. We see that Tinker Bell wanted to kill Wendy because she was jealous. We see the mermaids trying to drown Wendy, again jealous that Peter has brought a girl to the island. And the scary thing? No one seems to have remorse. No one comes to the realization that what they are doing is not ok.

At one point in the book, we see Peter and Wendy and the boys playing pretend - even carrying it as far as to pretend to eat. They do this because Peter tells them to. And they don't dare tell Peter that they're still hungry. Why? Maybe he would kill them. But this shows us a Peter who is so disconnected from reality, that he doesn't seem to even be aware that they can't always play pretend when it comes to eating. I remember thinking as a child, "Wouldn't he get hungry too and then the game would be over?" But that question is never answered, at least not that I am aware of.

Peter has many bad qualities, some of which Wendy even takes notice of. In the first chapter, it says, "...he is rather cocky," Wendy admitted with regret. And later, she hides in her bed after he impudently takes credit for the work she did in getting his shadow to stick. The narrator tells us he is "a sly one" and that he became "frightfully cunning." Mind you, this is all the while he is trying to convince Wendy to go to Neverland with him. But he is also filled with a sense of childlike wonder at the world around him, has a great sense of adventure, and can be quite charming when the moment suits him, such as the time he said Wendy's name in "a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist." It is even said, as we learn in the first chapter, that he cares for the children who have died and accompanies them halfway to the other side, so they won't be scared.
Oddly enough, I think it is the bad qualities as well as the good ones that make him likable and memorable. He will be your best friend so long as you are a child at heart and want to have fun. He will fight for what he believes is right, and do everything he can to protect those he cares about.

I think Peter Pan is the embodiment of all of our desires to be a child again, but perhaps the darkness in him is also the darkness in us as adults, like he is a man and a boy all at once - who we are and who we want to be.
I think we would all like to be taken back to a time when our lives were easier, and when we had that sense of wonder, like anything were possible and we believed in everything.

As someone who very much holds on to my past, this book is so good and so beloved and so special to me for many reasons.
I think you can see the inspirations from it in my own novel, The Story of Hollyhocks. While I wrote about my own experiences, I masked them in a medieval fantasy setting. I wrote about a child seeing the darkness in the world for the first time, and coming to terms with that, that it's not as beautiful and perfect as she thought. She's trying to find herself, trying to find happiness again, and seeking to hold on to that childlike innocence and trying to believe that there is still good in the world. This is a theme that runs throughout my first book and my second book (which I am still writing). It's something I really hold on to - the idea of there being beauty in childhood and never losing that, or "never losing the light," as my character would say.

Thank you so much for reading.

Yours truly,

Check out my favorite movie adaptations of Peter Pan:
Peter Pan (2003)
Neverland (2011)
Here are the books I own/want to own:
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
The Little White Bird - illustrated by Arthur Rackham