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Annotation

  • Posted on February 5, 2017 at 10:58 am
This post was meant to go up on the first Wednesday of the month, for Insecure Writer’s Support group. Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG is a monthly bloghop where writers can share their fears, doubts and insecurities. The support from this group has been invaluable for my growth as a writer, and I don’t doubt it will be for you too!
You’re welcome to join. All you have to do is click here to sign up, or click the nice little picture below too!
Unfortunately, I had an experience that I needed to share with IWSG before then, and so this one got pushed back a bit. But hey, who says I can’t plug the group twice in one month, hm?

The question for this month was: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?
To answer this question, I have to quantify what I was like as a reader before I wrote.

The honest answer is, voracious. But only of things that pertained to my interests.

Now, however, I’m much less voracious. Reading has been a bit of a challenge for me since my ADHD has recently taken a much worse turn. Reading properly has causes my mind to wander, and my focus to scatter. It makes it painful, especially for someone who used to use the entire library as a proving ground.

Audiobooks have become my bread and butter. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of writing books on audiobook, so I have to force myself into listening to books for their metre, their cadence, the way they put together words, and the way plot converges. I enjoy the books the same way anyone does, I suppose, by reading them this way, but I also find that I don’t learn much unless I put my all into actually studying the book.

Since I became a writer, however, I’ve been considering something that I never really thought about doing before. Marking up books. Annotating them, so that I can see what exactly it is I’m working with, how they’re put together and what I can do to emulate them. I have yet to actually do this, only because I still haven’t gotten over the idea that marking up books is somehow sacrilegious.

For those who don’t know what annotation is, the definition on dictionary.com is a critical or explanatory note or body of notes added to a text. Marking up a text with notes on grammar, cadence, meaning, theme, and plot.  This allows you to study how the text is put together, and how the author made their decisions about word placement and usage. This learning exercise was something I learned in my recent Introduction to Literature class. Although I’m still not that great at it…

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I’m picking my books more carefully. I find myself being disappointed in books a lot more often, thinking ‘they could have done this instead’, or ‘this scene doesn’t work the right way’. So honestly, it’s a bit difficult being a reader and a writer at the same time. If only I could turn one off and keep the other.

In the end, the thing I’ve learned the most is to read with intent. Because honestly, when one intends to learn from what one is doing, one will learn, no matter what you read. I challenge you, go out and annotate something! If you’re feeling exceptionally frisky, try annotating My Immortal. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

 

Electric Jellyfish – A Dream

  • Posted on January 5, 2015 at 11:51 am

The dream started as me in a new town. A mountain town, where everyone was rich-ish. I apparently was too, because I was hanging around this restaurant where honestly, they served really good food and wine and stuff. I ended up in conflict with the matron, however. I don’t remember what over, but she bullied me, and in return, I bullied her children. A little girl far too smart for her own good, a genius, really, and I treated her like dirt. She turned cynical very fast.

Something happened, and all the tourists disappeared. The mountain became a death trap. I don’t know how, but there were soldiers everywhere, and the girl’s mother was no where to be found. There were others with me, trying to figure out how to escape. Two sisters, a black man, a black woman, another black woman, and we were all trying to figure out how to escape.

Apparently, I had become immortal at some point, because they wanted to test whether I could survive. They told me, someone was going to take the test, and it was either going to be me first, or the little girl. I didn’t want to reveal myself, much less actually die, because I wasn’t completely sure of my immortality. But I didn’t want that little girl going through it either.

The test was made out of the reservoir. A giant pool of water, with a sharp, dangerous fan moving it through tunnels. In the pool, they’d put electric eel-like jellyfish, and my test was to swim around, gathering these things that looked like the floating seeds in Avatar, And if I gathered them all without dying, I didn’t have to go through the blades to the next area.

I didn’t make it. I woke up before I had to go through the blades, but I didn’t make it, and the little girl didn’t cry for me. I don’t blame her. It would have been nice, though.  I’m thinking of turning this into a short story, maybe. But then, I say that about all my dreams, don’t I?

The Lost Art of the Mary Sue

  • Posted on July 19, 2014 at 1:12 am

In case you do not know what a Mary Sue is, think immediately of Bella Swan from Twilight. Think of the main character from 50 shades of gray. Think of all those odd characters that everyone loves for no reason, and who gets what she wants, no matter what. The Mary Sue is a staple of bad fiction, and worse, bad fan-fiction, and have always been so.

But why? What is it about a Mary Sue that attracts preteen girls like flies? Why do they so desperately cling to her coattails the way everyone in her universe does? What is it about her sparkling opalescent eyes that draws in those who are just on the cusp of puberty?

Wish. Fulfillment.

Pure and simple, we flock to Mary Sues because they offer us something that we will never, ever see in real life. Absolute. Total. Acceptance. Even the Mary Sue’s faults are celebrated in-universe, in such a way that she is essentially a GOD. Even the bad things that happen to her eventually lead to amazing, wonderful things. Like the main love interest losing his shirt while comforting her. Y’know. Typical.

So, what makes us grow out of this entirely selfish wish fulfillment stage and seek out more realistic muses with which to satisfy our need to be someone else? Why, as adults, do we find it absolutely irreprehensible to admit that we ever liked bad fanfiction like My Immortal, that we ever read all of the twilight books cover to cover and wanted so badly to be Bella Swan? (I’d like it on the record I only read one and a HALF of the books, thank you.)

Perhaps it’s a case of I’m-to-old-for-this. Perhaps it’s a case of residual embarrassment. Perhaps we no longer want to admit that we have basic wants. We WANT people to like us unconditionally. We WANT to have the attractive mate of our dreams. We WANT the universe to revolve around us. No one can deny this. Humans are selfish creatures.

So, I say, there is no shame in the residual guilty pleasure we all receive from the pinnacle Mary Sue. Embrace it. Love it. And just remember, no one is EVER going to be as AMAZING as she is. EVER.

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