Monthly Archives: April 2013

Ta-da!

What an eventful week it’s been. I really, really miss Frisco, and have more thoughts on him that I expect will come later this week as I’ve continued to reflect on such a good pet.

But for now… I get to celebrate passing the 50,000 word mark for Camp NaNoWriMo!

Camp-NaNoWriMo-2013-Winner-Lantern-Vertical-Banner

It’s partially pure celebration for myself–a happy little pat on the back–but also there is some finger wagging involved for anyone who wanted to follow my dare in this previous post and failed. Remember how I’m doing a million things at once and still managed to make time for my passion, writing?

SO YOU HAVE TIME TOO TO WORK ON WHATEVER PASSION YOU HAVE. No excuses! Don’t let your own excuses keep you from your dream, when there are so many other outside forces that are also going to try to kill it! Your dream needs 100% of you behind it!

slow & steady wins the race

slow & steady wins the race

My double-work over Spring Break, while I didn’t have to worry about teaching, made a huge difference because it pushed me over the line early and kept me there. Then, instead of having to do 1,700 a day while teaching, I could focus on only 1,200 words a day. And I kept myself to it!!!

I used to bribe myself with snacks to meet my word count every night during NaNoWriMo-type times… “oh, you finished 500 words? Yay, you can eat three peanut-butter pretzels!” However, I decided that writing was its own reward, and my belly didn’t need the stress-eating, so I altered my food-rewards to be for two times: meeting the 50,000 word mark and then actually finishing the draft. This book’s 50,000 word reward was an enormous handful (or maybe two enormous handfuls) of gummy bears! :) It’s truly the little things in life. haha.

My novel isn’t finished, which is good; I’ve been wanting them to expand  in length anyway so they line up with the size of other YA lit being published right now. And it isn’t super great, either. There’s a lot of weaknesses in the plot, but, I learned a lot! So many people on WordPress have claimed that “pantsing” is more effective than “plotting,” but I stand by my reasoning in a previous blog post (here). I am not a pantser. Sure, characters do some interesting and unexpected things, but for me those results weren’t important enough to have been worth the fly-by-the-seat-of (my pants, hence the term) attempt. I need to work out the kinks in a thorough outline before I actually start writing. I also, upon getting stuck at one point, began writing from Shiloh’s point of view instead of Copper’s, and that was very powerful. The perspective of a mage versus that of a non-magical person in this world is so vastly different that I think all of book two will switch between Copper and Shiloh. It also gives a female versus male flavor without being too drastic, since all of this is still in third person.

For the next month, I plan to calm it down a little and only set a 500-words-a-night goal, so I can put the bulk of my focus on effective lesson plans for my junior English classes. For the summer Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m not sure whether I want to write the third (and final) book for Copper, or switch over to something different and give my brain a new idea to ponder. There are a few stories I’ve been mulling over that need their time to shine.

We’ll see. For now, “winning” Camp NaNoWriMo was a much-needed bright spot in this cruddy week. (Did I mention that the day after Frisco died, my husband rear-ended me in the driveway?? Yeeeah, I’m ready to move on to a better week).

Happy writing and dream-chasing to all! NO EXCUSES.

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Bye, Frisco :(

Frisco, my family’s dog since I was 15-ish, passed away yesterday after a short battle with congenitive heart failure.

So I am deep in mourning. :(

Frisco was so important to my life. My family moved for the first time after my freshman year of high school, and I was devastated. I was so shy and introverted that I could NOT imagine how I was going to make any new friends. We got Frisco shortly after moving and he really saved me. Having a dog truly makes life better; what is there to fear when the dog is standing guard? Who needs to worry about friends when there is a faithful companion always waiting at home for you? He gave me the happiness and confidence boost that I needed as a teenager to hang in there.

And he was funny, too.

Frisco the birthday boy... with a bag on his head.

Frisco the birthday boy… with a bag on his head.

Jenny and Frisco do circus tricks

Jenny and Frisco do circus tricks

me and Frisco being silly

me and Frisco being silly

sit!

sit!

Frisco & Jenny on Christmas with new toys

Frisco & Jenny on Christmas with new toys

blurry but still good

blurry but still good

ah yes, back when his teeth were white ;)

ah yes, back when his teeth were white ;)

He was a purebred Australian Shepherd, once destined for the show ring, but then his freckles grew in and those “aren’t allowed.” So he was sold off and eventually given to us by a family friend when he was 9 or 10 months old. (And we LOVED his freckles). He was very smart, learned lots of tricks, and protected his family… like the time my cousin Jonathan was tickling me, and I screamed, and Frisco came to bite him in the butt. :)

Frisco and the fam at Balboa Island

Frisco and the fam at Balboa Island

so proper!

so proper!

such a freckly face. :)

such a freckly face. :)

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Baby Frisco and baby Jenny!

Baby Frisco and baby Jenny!

stop and smell the roses!

stop and smell the roses!

It’s difficult for people who haven’t loved a dog to understand the depth with which one can love a dog. Frisco had such a distinct personality and was always so loving and cuddly. He was a brilliant family dog who kept us happy and safe.

I drifted away from him since I had to leave for college and the rest of life, so this doesn’t feel 100% the same as when Barney, my first childhood dog died, but I am still incredibly sad. My little sister is 12 (well, 13 as of today, weeeeird), the same age I was when Barney passed, so I know exactly how much this sucks for her and wish there was something I could say to make it better. But there isn’t anything. Our dogs are irreplaceable and leave a hole in our heart, and I can’t believe I’m not going to hear Frisco barking at the door when I go visit my parents anymore.

Frisco on the couch, 2007-ish

Frisco on the couch, 2007-ish

Frisco on the couch, 2013

Frisco on the couch, 2013

Christmas Frisco!

Christmas Frisco!

one of my favorite pictures of Frisco and me :)

one of my favorite pictures of Frisco and me :)

good boy.

good boy.

I’m sad and hope you excuse the multitude of pictures. It’s nice to have the memories saved.

He was a good dog.

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Show vs. Tell

I’ve realized that I’ve been “summarizing” some of my characters’ conversations when the content isn’t that important and I just want to get through it to the next, important part.

If you summarize a conversation by explaining what was said, rather than listing all the lines, is that “telling instead of showing?”

Example:

“Copper retraced her steps. ‘Come on, Shiloh!’ she called. ‘There’s something I need you to see on the ship!'”

That one ^ is the full version, versus the summarized version:

“Copper realized Shiloh would need to see it, too. She retraced her steps and called for Shiloh to follow her back to the ship.”

(Blog-style, with no tabs, always makes novel prose look funny. I’m not even going to bother breaking anything up there into paragraphs).

The point is, her calling for Shiloh is not important; what unfolds at the ship, however, is. So do I rush through it? Does it look bad by saying she calls for him instead of just showing it, when I could easily show it? Is additional dialogue a part of character development?

*sigh*

I ask because I’m almost finished with the rough draft of book 2 and I feel like parts of it really stink. Probably a good 10,000 to 20,000 words could be tossed out with no loss.

That’s depressing.

Not fully depressing… the point of the rough draft is to get the words out there and discover the true heart of the story. Other writers out there have habitually had to toss hundreds of thousands of words out, entire manuscripts even, and I’ll get to that point too. But right now… it’s still a little depressing. Some of it is plot-issues and some of it is writing-skill-issues. Whenever I’ve caught myself doing the summary thing (among other writing flaws), it sounds wrong, and I think “oh gosh, this means I’m not a good writer.” Luckily I have enough self-talk skills and perseverance to shut myself up and keep going.

Once I write the third and final book of the trilogy, I think it will help with the revision of this sluggish second draft a lot. In the same way I planned for this second book to inform my revision of the first one, when I finally get to write the third one (and all its exciting climactic moments), that will inform my revision of the middle book. I’ll figure out what truly needs foreshadowing–which I feel has wasted a lot of space by not being neatly introduced, I did it messily and I can tell–and can add in an adventure of its own. That’s part of the problem, feeling like “we had one adventure, and the next is to come.” The second book needs more action. My mantra has always been “raise the stakes!” And that worked out with the first book; in fact, my beta readers had to tell me to slow down and allow the reader to breathe, because all I’d done was ACTION dialogue ACTION dialogue ACTION ACTION ACTION RAAWR. This second installment really doesn’t have any of that suspense.

I have faith that I’ll figure out how to fix it… eventually.

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“The Fault in Our Stars”

I decided that I needed a treat due to being successful so far in my teaching, ahead on my word count, and mostly I just haven’t bought a new book for myself in a long time and I’m not used to that. I’ve really wanted to read John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”–the reviews both from the land of the internet and from my personal acquaintances have all been really great–and basically, I bought it and started it right away and accidentally finished it in a day.

What can I say? I’m a fast reader sometimes.

The book was amazing. I know “amazing” is not a very descriptive word and has lost a lot of its meaning in the past few years, but it really was. I laughed, I cried, I couldn’t put it down.

the-fault-in-our-stars book cover

The basic summary is that Hazel, our first person narrator, has cancer (thyroid, lungs, etc.) and is forced to go to a support group by her well-intentioned mother. She makes friends there and meets Augustus (one-legged due to cancer), with whom she falls in love. They both read a book that brings them closer together and even leads to a bit of adventure. There are twists along the way, some much more surprising than others, and you can make your own assumptions about why I cried at the end.

I thought Green really captured a great first person perspective; so often first person sounds awkward (*cough*StephenieMeyer*cough*), but not this. Even if you don’t have a personal connection to cancer sufferers (though I do), the pain of the characters is real, and their love story is powerful, too, despite their young ages. The family dynamics added a lot of depth, and the amount of humor and little jokes sprinkled all throughout kept me chuckling through all the tears.

Cathy’s vote: highly recommended. Go buy it, and read it, but not in public (because TEARS). I had the Kindle version so I have no idea how thick the book was or what the cover/any inner art looked like (until I Googled the cover to include in this blog, haha).

I’ve been meaning to read Green’s “An Abundance of Katherines”–on the principle that I am a Catherine and should read books with my name–but now that I’ve actually seen his skill on the page, I’ll finally get around to it.

____________

On another note…

look how colorful and flag-filled my stats-view map was immediately after my last post, on Tuesday!

HI MULTICULTURAL FRIENDS

HI, MULTICULTURAL FRIENDS!

It was exciting. hahaha.

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Camp NaNoWriMo and a new resource

Just checking in…

My Camp NaNoWriMo adventure is going strong: I passed the halfway point by day 9, thanks to my double-duty the first week of April (3,500 words a day). So now I can cruise along at 1,200 words a day and still reach 50,000 words by the end of the month. Hopefully the story will still have room after that–I’ve said before that I need to get better at expanding my books to viable selling points closer to 80,000 words. Right now I have a little more than 34,000 words written.

Book 2 of Copper’s story is definitely much slower than the first one, and of course much slower than the planned third one where everything comes to a crazy head. I’m going to have to go back through some of my favorite trilogies to see how those authors made the middle story work. I distinctly remember feeling like the middle story was basically useless in “The Golden Compass” trilogy and don’t want to end up in that situation myself.

I’ve earned a bunch of “badges” in Camp NaNoWriMo, by the way, and those are kind of fun. They don’t mean anything but are nice to have. ;)

And can I just say: “I love writing!” It’s so great to have a job I love now, and get to spend all morning teaching, only to come home and work on writing next… it makes me so happy. Life is MUCH better than it was merely a few short weeks ago.

I’ve also found a new writing resource! It was on a reddit thread somewhere, which I’ve since lost track of, so I can’t really give credit for the discovery where it’s due. Lo siento.
Here’s the link! Click me click me

It’s ambient noise! I didn’t think I would like it at first, but gave it a try and have loved it. There’s a “cafe” option and a “rain” option. I preferred the rain one at first, but there is a weird high-pitched part in it that got bothersome. If you’re old enough to have lost your ability to hear that frequency, though, it could be great! haha. The other option, cafe, is what I have been using more often. (In fact, I’m composing this post with it on in the background now). For whatever reason, it helps keep me focused. Hopefully it’s a useful tool for others, too. And if you really want, you can turn on both at the same time! Hence its name, the Rainy Cafe.

(Side note, though: the cafe setting REALLY confuses my dog. Poor Benny always wanders the house for the first few minutes, trying to find where the other people are…)

Now back to meeting my wordcount–let no day pass unachieved, right? :)

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A Fairy Tale: Part Deux

Below is the latest installment in the fairy tale/kingdom short story series that I’m messing around with. The original one can be read here. :)

 

Once upon a time, there was a joyful kingdom ruled over by a peaceful king and queen. They had four children: two princes and two princesses. Prince Riordan the powerful had joined forces with the influential Princess Heidi; Prince Eli the clever had married the ever-reading Princess Candice; and Princess Audrey the beautiful had married the warm-hearted Prince Jordan.  Princess Deborah had recently begun to court Sir Evan, a knight of the kingdom, after a disastrous two years with Korbin, a court singer and “complete pile of shit from an ancient pox-ridden lactose-intolerant donkey,” as they say.

Sir Evan had begun to spend quite a lot of time over at the castle. Though everyone liked him, Prince Eli pointed out that it was only after Korbin had moved into the castle that his true issues had begun to reveal themselves.

Princess Candice nodded. “I sure hope he doesn’t turn out to be a complete pile of shit from an ancient pox-ridden lactose-intolerant donkey too. No kingdom should ever have to deal with two of those.”

Prince Jordan ran past them chasing his daughter, the princess Maya. He spoke as he swooped her up. “If he ever became anything like Korbin, I’d make sure your dragon ‘accidentally’ got loose in plenty of time to take care of him, Candice.”

She nodded and grinned.

But this is not that story.

 

This is the story of how Princess Candice ended up with her dragon in the first place.

 

She’d grown up in a kingdom much different than the one Prince Eli was privy to: wars, discord, bandits, rats, all the dark side of things that Prince Eli’s kingdom in its benevolent splendor had never been required to deal with. It was fine; it had made her grow up tough and wise. She knew life was rough and reality was as un-fairy-tale like as anything could be.

But youth has its perks, and so the princess would often escape from the stress of the world outside by climbing up one of the cool, grey, stone towers with a book in her hand. Usually one of the palace dogs would follow her. Her favorite was a dark brown shepherd with a furry white star on his chest, who was called Noah. Noah and she would reach the tallest room and gaze out the window at the vast expanse of the world below them. Then, Princess Candice would bundle them up among the pillows and blankets that had been placed there for her comfort, and read the story aloud to her dog.

Stories were magical. Some told of far-off places, daring adventures, the joy of romance or the despair of defeat. She read about evil witches, horrible rulers, true love’s kiss, and the power of a defiant woman.

And she also learned about dragons.

Dragons, so said the books, were even more magical than the stories themselves. They could read words, breathe fire, and–her favorite–fly.

Princess Candice dropped the book then, and draped a wool blanket around herself so she could peek once more out the open window. She shivered at the breeze and let Noah stand close.

“A dragon could fly me away from here,” she told the dog quietly. The kingdom below reflected the weight of the world back–a fire burned on the horizon in some new hooliganery and a line of beggars wailed for coins at the well-dressed courtesans hurrying past.

“Noah, I love you, and perhaps I could one day make a difference in a world like this. But I can’t get my start here, and you can’t take me away. No prince will want an alliance with a kingdom like mine right now.” She thought back through the many fairy tales she’d read, and pictured Rapunzel in her own tower, even less free than Candice. Though she had her long blonde hair for a savior to climb, the princess remembered, stroking her own long brown locks. And I am not looking for a suitor to rescue me.

“I need a dragon,” she resolved, and marched back down the stairs with Noah.

 

The slight hitch in Princess Candice’s plan involved the distinct lack of dragons in the area. Indeed, when she’d mentioned it to her father, he merely laughed and tousled her hair.

“Sweetheart, there haven’t been dragons for a thousand years,” he’d said, and turned back to care for one of her many siblings.

Candice sighed and returned to the palace library, where she combed through every tome looking for information on where one could find a dragon.

Nobody agreed on the appropriate method for dragon-catching. Some said only a powerful knight could manage it, by besting the creature in a battle and wounding it by sword. Others said they could only be tamed if stolen as an egg and the hatchling raised by hand, perhaps among eagles and hawks who could teach it how to fly (if not roasted and eaten at some point before that). One book claimed they could be caught only by a pure virgin who waited in a meadow with the innocent intention of befriending the dragon; but Candice thought the author had obviously gotten dragons and unicorns mixed up.

So, with little guidance but much curiosity, Candice saddled up her lovely dun mare, borrowed one of the swords from the weapons room, and headed out on a quest for a dragon. She traveled at night and wore a thick cloak that covered her features so none would know the princess galloped among them. Her tutors had been thorough in her education, so the roughness she passed did not surprise her. She thanked the stars that her mare’s steps were sure as they raced safely outside of the gates and entered the dense forest beyond.

Surely a dragon would dwell in a forest, she reasoned. There are plenty of deer to hunt, and certainly some sort of cave in which to rest. But the farther she traveled, the closer together the trees grew. Her horse whinnied nervously as she had to pick her way through darker and less obvious trails.

Finally, Candice decided a dragon would not choose to live in such a place–it would need room to stretch its wings. So she set her eyes to the mountains above, and led her horse yonder. Since they can fly, perhaps dragons prefer the heights of the mountaintops. She’d never seen the telltale signs of fire and smoke from the mountain range, but then, the castle was rather far off from them. So up they climbed–and ran straight into a dragon adoption center.

Candice rubbed her eyes and stared at the large, semi-charred wooden sign again, reading it over and over to make sure she had it right. “Dragon Adoption Center” was carved in straight lines in the wood. To prove the point, a green dragon swooped low overhead and flapped its wings to soar over the horizon.

“Ye lookin’ for a dragon?” a man’s voice asked from the shadows. Candice nodded and dismounted, tying her mare up to graze next to the fence.

“Aye, sir. I didn’t expect it to be quite so easy, though.”

“It ISN’T,” he said with a glare, stepping out from the shadows to reveal his grizzled old face. He wagged a finger in her face. “You first must prove that you are worthy of being a dragon master!”

Candice cracked her knuckles. “Alright.”

The old man stared at her intently. “First: d’ye know wha’ dragons EAT?”

She thought. “Flame-broiled meat, I expect: goat, deer, and the like.”

“THAT WAS THE EASY QUESTION,” the man snarled. Candice hid a grin. The man continued, “And d’ye know wha’ dragons do for FUN?”

Again, Candice thought. “… Fly?”

“THAT ONE WAS EASY TOO,” he said. “If you truly want to be the master of one of my dragons, tell me now: wha’ do dragons treasure and desire above all else?”

Candice reflected on her various readings of dragons, and the claims made of the beasts: that they loved gold, wisdom, damsels in distress; melting knights, perhaps; or sleeping for eons in hidden caves. But she thought too of what she wanted a dragon for, and had an inkling that it was the most correct of all possible answers.

“Freedom,” she answered confidently.

The old man stared at her. “That be yer final answer?”

“Indeed.”

He whistled so loudly that the low trees nearby shook as though facing a breeze. A jet black dragon shot down from the sky and landed with a resounding thud next to the wizened, strange man. The dragon’s tail had spikes running down the center, and his opal eyes twinkled intelligently at the princess. “This is Corleone,” he said. “No dragon has a master, for all wan’ nothing more than freedom.” He gestured to the fenced area behind him, completely devoid of dragons. “They come and go as they please. They don’t need us. But since you understand that, he will befriend you ‘n remain loyal ’til the end of your days.”

Candice reached out a hand and Corleone pushed his massive head in to meet her palm, doglike. His scales were as hard as rock and radiated a quiet warmth. The princess couldn’t help but smile at her new friend.

“Hello,” she said happily. “May I fly with you?”

The dragon roared and sent a flame up into the sky above them. He then knelt, offering his withers for the princess to climb.

“Keep my mare groomed and fed, please. I shall return for her before long.”

So Princess Candice and Corleone the dragon took their first flight of freedom together.

The wind ran its cold fingers through her hair as they climbed higher and higher. Riding the dragon felt natural; Candice could tell when to shift her balance thanks to her time logged on horseback. The trees below shrunk into tiny green triangles as they flew over the world. It was a new view, so much more than what a window could ever show her.

“Thanks, Corleone,” she whispered in his ear as they soared through the sky.

Princess Candice did return for her mare, and to her kingdom. She finished up her studies and princess duties, formed an alliance, and found a role that worked for her–though more on all that later. But the best part of her life was the fact that she was no longer trapped: Corleone and his wings set her free.

Never underestimate the importance of freedom.

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lessons from Van Gogh

I think all artists can learn something from other artists, even if their medium isn’t the same. For example, though I’m on a writing quest in my own life, a painter like Van Gogh still holds a lot of education and inspiration for me.

[Full confession first, of course: I spent some time last week re-watching some of my favorite Doctor Who episodes, one of which is “Vincent and the Doctor.” So I got kicked into an “awww, I love Vincey” mood and got curious about what his lesser-known paintings looked like, and that’s how this post got started…]

At this marvelous website, a huge list of Van Gogh paintings can be viewed in chronological order of creation. Remember, Van Gogh* was an artist who never got to experience fame in his lifetime; in fact, he only sold one of his hundreds of paintings. He had no idea how famous and influential his work would later become. Yet he persevered through such discouragement, and we are all grateful for it.

Guess what? He’s actually a great example of the importance of practice and persistence. I say that because I spent time clicking through every single picture at that website, in chronological order, and…

I kind of thought his early stuff stunk.

Not all of it… here are a few that I enjoyed:

"Edge of a Wood," 1882

“Edge of a Wood,” 1882

"Bulb Fields," 1883

“Bulb Fields,” 1883

"Autumn Landscape," 1885

“Autumn Landscape,” 1885

However, many of his paintings are strangely dark–not like “morbid” or “scary” but like “dude, won’t you light your candlleees“–as seen in this one:

"Footbridge Across a Ditch," 1883

“Footbridge Across a Ditch,” 1883

And then he wasted a lot of time painting various “peasant women.” I’ll save you the struggle of clicking through all the links; anything that has “peasant woman” in the title is basically a sliiiiight variation of this:

"Head of an Old Peasant Woman with White Cap," 1884

“Head of an Old Peasant Woman with White Cap,” 1884

But many of his landscapes are beautiful. You can start to see him playing here with the swirling motions that would end up in Starry Night, which I believe is considered the most famous of his paintings:

"Landscape at Sunset," 1885

“Landscape at Sunset,” 1885

He also drew a skull smoking, which, come on… kind of awesome before his time, eh? You can’t go anywhere without seeing skull motifs anymore:

"Skull with Burning Cigarette," 1885

“Skull with Burning Cigarette,” 1885

As the years went on, Van Gogh kept experimenting, developing, and improving:

"Bridge Across the Seine at Asnieres," 1887

“Bridge Across the Seine at Asnieres,” 1887

"Fritillaries in a Copper Vase," 1887

“Fritillaries in a Copper Vase,” 1887

"Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes Maries," 1888

“Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes Maries,” 1888

"Wheat Field with Cypresses," 1889

“Wheat Field with Cypresses,” 1889

I think one of the reasons I like him so much is his frequent use of bright blues and yellows (my wedding colors) and, of course, his interest in sunflowers (my wedding flowers)… good taste, Vincent ;)

"Two Cut Sunflowers," 1887

“Two Cut Sunflowers,” 1887

"Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum Arles at Night," 1888

“Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum Arles at Night,” 1888

"Starry Night over the Rhone," 1888

“Starry Night over the Rhone,” 1888

"Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers," 1889

“Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers,” 1889

"Blossoming Almond Tree," 1890

“Blossoming Almond Tree,” 1890

Van Gogh, despite being unloved, unsuccessful, and unsupported overall, kept painting. He followed his passion and practiced it in the hope that he would improve and finally find success. Look how much more advanced he gets from one of his earliest paintings (1882):

"Man Stooping with Stick or Spade," 1882

“Man Stooping with Stick or Spade,” 1882

to his most famous painting, done in 1889:

"Starry Night," 1889

“Starry Night,” 1889

“Try to see what I see. We’re so lucky we’re still alive to see this beautiful world. Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character. The black is in fact deep blue. And over there! Lights are blue. And blue in through the blueness, and the blackness, the winds swirling through the air… and then shining. Burning, bursting through! The stars, can you see how they roll their light? Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.”
~ Vincent Van Gogh as portrayed in the Doctor Who episode, “Vincent and the Doctor.”

Van Gogh’s technique improved over time, within just ten years! He figured out what worked for him and evolved the unique style that we know him for–which, if I had any kind of art background beyond learning to use a color wheel in a 6th grade GATE event, I might be able to accurately describe. He was prolific and painted the messages and beauty that he wanted to paint in the short time that he had. He knew he loved to paint and had to keep painting, even if he wasn’t making money or becoming famous for it.

Hopefully, you see the applicable lessons to writing here.

It’s nice to look at his artistic path of growth because it’s so much more visual than mine. Clearly, he had talent early on, but it needed to be developed–and it was. His later art, 1887-1890, are all far better than his earlier paintings.

I need to remember to look at my old writings when I’m feeling down on myself to see that yes, I’ve made progress too! I no longer closely mimic other writers (seriously, when I was 12 I “created” this great world full of unicorns that 3 kids stumbled into and had adventures, aaaand basically it was Narnia) but have developed my own voice and style, understand characterization much more, and can vary my syntax and vocabulary much more now than in years before. I have many years of writing stretched before me to continue to grow, develop, learn, and improve.

And if nobody ever wants my stuff? Well, that’ll be okay. I write because I have stories inside of me, characters who need to get out and live their lives on the page. It is my passion and I would wither if I tried to ignore it. Quitting is not an option and beauty takes time: those are some things to take away from Van Gogh and his paintings today.

“He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world; no one had ever done it before.”
~ The curator character discussing Van Gogh in the Doctor Who episode

* Also note that Van Gogh’s life was written about by none other than Christopher Moore, in another of his books, “Sacre Bleu.” I wrote about enjoying his fictitious portrayals of historical people in an earlier post (namely Jesus, in Lamb).

Bonus:

These two paintings made me laugh because the first “girl with ruffled hair” looks like David Bowie in Labyrinth and the “nude woman on bed” looks like Mr. Bean:

"Girl with Ruffled Hair," 1888... vs David Bowie in "Labyrinth," 1986

“Girl with Ruffled Hair,” 1888… vs David Bowie in “Labyrinth,” 1986

"Nude Woman on a Bed," 1887, is clearly Mr. Bean

“Nude Woman on a Bed,” 1887, is clearly Mr. Bean. I censored it because nobody needs to see Mr. Bean’s pubic hair today, okay??

hehehe.

Maybe Vincent really did travel in time with the Doctor!!

:) Anyway… be inspired by Vincent

"Self Portrait with Straw Hat," 1887

“Self Portrait with Straw Hat,” 1887

"Self Portrait," 1889

“Self Portrait,” 1889

and his beautiful paintings

"Enclosed Field with Rising Sun," 1889

“Enclosed Field with Rising Sun,” 1889

"Still Life: Vase with Irises," 1890

“Still Life: Vase with Irises,” 1890

to follow your dreams… like creating a pile of books all written by you!

"Still Life with French Novels and a Rose," 1887

“Still Life with French Novels and a Rose,” 1887

"Still Life: French Novels," 1888

“Still Life: French Novels,” 1888

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