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Writing Anime – Colorful

  • Posted on January 24, 2016 at 3:52 pm

There are very few movies that have managed to reduce me to tears. One I can name was A.I., the movie that was basically a pinocchio parallel except with robots. This movie, Colorful? It reduced me to tears halfway through the movie, and then just kept them coming. I recommend this movie for anyone who is going through hard times, suffering depression, or any sort of problem with belief in oneself.

The premise of the movie is simple. A soul is given a second chance, and that second chance requires that they figure out the crime they committed in their past life, as well as why the boy who’s body they inhabit killed himself. The ending is staggering. I definately didn’t see it coming. But what really did it for me was how it drew me in. The first sequence of the movie is entirely in first person. That is, the characters talk to YOU directly, and there is a beautiful falling sequence that just plain made me sigh with happiness.

Then, after a heart-wrenching scene where the family greets you, and then hands you a mirror to see yourself, it switches from first person into third, but you continue to hold onto that connection. You’re STILL that person, and you’ve STILL got the wonder and the fear and the anxiety that the opening instilled in you. It’s a wonderful technique that often isn’t pulled off well. However, this movie does it masterfully.

How can we translate this work into a literary practice? Well, let’s take a look at a few authors who make regular changes in point of view, and what delineates how well it is done. One of my favorite books that I read recently was Haruki Murakami‘s Kafka on the Shore. In the book, his two main characters, an old man named Nakata and a young boy named Kafka have different point of views. When the book speaks of Kafka’s adventures, they’re all first person. Nakata’s part of the story however, is always in third person.

The way this ends up working is very different from what you might think. In fact, in even more jarring, and therefore attention grabbing, parts in Kafka’s sections, parts of it drop into second person, telling me what is occuring to ME while I read it. Those parts were designed to make one uncomfortable, and they did. It was very uncomfortable reading those parts, but again, it drew you in.

Here are a few things you might consider when doing POV switches:

  • Consider which point of view is necessary for which character
  • if you do switch point of view, make sure it is clearly outlined who is using what pov.
  • if you switch points of view with the same character, only do so when the section needs to be unsettling or paid very close attention to.

Another book that did Point of View changes is one of my favorites, Patricia Briggs‘ Dragon Blood. The sequel to her Dragon Bones, Dragon Blood is told in a different way than her first book. In the first book, it was entirely from her main character, Ward’s perspective. Although we were privy to bits of excitement that happened to other people when Ward wasn’t present, it was clearly presented in a way of “Ward is telling the story, and adding parts he was told after the fact”. In Dragon Blood, however, it’s very clear that the Main Character-ship was shared between Tisala and Ward.

The way this was done was very simple. Each chapter had a denotation of WHO was the perspective character. This made it easy to follow, and also kept the linearness that Briggs is so exemplary for. I would definitely emulate her, were I writing something so straight forward.

These three examples prove that no matter what your medium, you’re going to have to keep an eye out for your POV. It’s not something you should spend only a few seconds considering. And if you get stuck? Well, try a new perspective!

Nightmares Waking

  • Posted on September 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

My world is full of monsters. Everyone I pass is monstrous in one way or another. Some with single eyes, some with mouths too large for their faces. Some are different all together, put together like china dolls strung out too large over bones that don’t fit right. Some aren’t even remotely close to human-shaped, but instead are massive creatures with scales and teeth that hiss when I come too close. My world is full of creatures that look like nightmares, except my nightmares are only ever filled with pink-and-brown-and-yellow-skinned people like me, who have two eyes, and one nose, and one mouth.

The monster people are nice, most of the time. One helps me pick up the worksheets I’ve dropped, the claws scratching some of the answers out for my students. Later, one opens the door to my apartment building for me, with writhing tentacles covered in vein-y thorns. However, I shudder when the principal walks by, smiling at me with his thin lips, those normal straight teeth, the brown glasses over his wrinkled eyes. Something about him sits wrong with me.

In the mirror, I see only myself, my plain dark hair twisted into a bun, my shirt and skirt over my too-thick-body. My face is set in a frown, as always, lips plump if glossed, too serious. My eyes have dark bags under them, but not the way the monster down the hall has, with heavy lids hanging down. No, my eyes are normal, and dull, and human. Perhaps that’s why I hate them so. When everyone else is monstrous and hard to look at, why are my eyes alone human?

The bunny rabbit on my bed, a childhood treasure, tells me that I’m beautiful, and that I would look very nice in a coffin. He reminds me that there are sixty two pills in my pill-bottle, and that I should use the refill my doctor gave me, so that I have even more, just in case. I sigh, heavily, because going to the market is like trekking through the jungle. If someone talks to me, I’ll get that tight, taught feeling in my chest again, like someone has reached in, and is squeezing my heart with their ragged claws.

I leave for the supermarket. Every step is a painful reminder of how much my body doesn’t want me to go. I’m desperate and hungry, so I continue to push myself toward the market. I wait, nervous, as the woman with no eyes, and a mouth too large for her cheeks, filled with needle-sharp teeth, fills my prescription There is a frond dangling from her head, blinking in the light, like some subterranean fish. Her nails are lacquered pink and white with flowers when she hands the bag to me.  I pay with a debit card that I can’t remember the code to, until I think about the rabbit sitting on my bed, and then I remember.

Going home, I sit at the table, counting the pills once more. My rabbit sits next to me, it’s stitched eyes black and beady. I do not place any of the pills on my tongue. I count them, slow. I put the lid on the bottle, and pull up a notepad on my computer. Typing comes second nature to me now. I’ve been a teacher far too long, not to know how to type without looking at the keyboard. Who knows what my little monsters are up to, if I don’t keep an eye on them. Notes, and the like.

I type out an agenda. Tomorrow night is the night I do it. The night I end this all, before I can ruin the world anymore with my rosey cheeks, and my two hands, and two eyes, and two ears. I have decided. After work, I shall go, and find a new dress, and get my hair done, as if I am going to a wonderful dinner. Then, when I get home, I shall cook myself something nice to eat, and have a glass of wine. I type these all down with little bullet points next to it, and then print it out.

In class the next day, the Dulsey twins refuse to use seperate desks. And why shouldn’t they? Bound together from the waist down, their bottom half a spiderly amalgamation of doll’s limbs, their upper halves naked of clothing and doll-jointed. The brother’s face is cracked, one eye hanging from it’s socket plaintively, by some kind of ribbon. The sister is the one whom looks at me, her face pale as ice, and her eyes dull as mine when I look in the mirrors. Her long hair is limp and tangled, reminding me of a doll I had seen in a window as a child.

For once, I let them sit however they wish. The bird child, the one with the razor sharp beak, and a head too large for his shoulders, caws out how unfair it is, but I pay no mind. He’s always chirping about one thing or another. One of the monsters is odd, a swirling whirlpool of water, with little ballons floating tethered to it. Her face is on the balloons, and when she’s upset, she makes an odd squeaking noise. Today, she makes that noise, and I have to stop class, and ask her to come outside with me. She refuses to tell me what is wrong, and why she is squeaking. Her balloon face looks at me oddly, as if I’ve said something strange. She asks if I am alright. I tell her to go sit back down. I shall have to call Mr. Snyder, her father, later, and ask if anything is going wrong at home.

Ah, no… No, I won’t. I smile when I remember that, and sit back at my desk. The jack-in-the-box boy punches the back of the seat of the teddybear wearing chains, and I have to tell him to move back. I wish I had the strength to deal with the boy’s father again. An overbearing monster with tusks and a pig’s snout, wearing a uniform like a military officer, and I hate speaking with him. Never again, I think to myself, and smile again.

The Heller girl, an odd thing made of rusty metal curled into beautiful shapes, like a peacock, who’s heart is a cage, fidgets. Inside, a little girl sobs and cries, and I can never reach that little girl and get her to speak, only ever does the peacock’s beak splutter and shout. I ask if she needs to use the bathroom. She does, and I let her go. When she comes back, she elbows the bird boy in the head,  and I have to send her out into the hall. I make her leave her cell phone, so that she isn’t texting. That way, it’s actually a punishment.

Having decided to end it all, I decide to skip my normal lesson. I feel light, for once, the ball of worry in my stomach gone, and I invite my little monsters to give me ideas for games we can play. Someone says Heads Up, Thumbs Down, which was a delight from my childhood. I agree, and allow the children to play, heads down, or what passes for them, anyway, and watch Nathan White, the mass of black flesh, tied up in chicken wire, with no head but a cloud of dark dreadlocks falling to the floor, go around, tapping the bird child’s thumb. Victoria Kingston taps the finger of Brie Snyder, which causes her balloon head to wobble oddly. At the end, when everyone has guessed, I call for the next round.

The school bell rings, and for once, the little monsters are sneering and laughing, sharp teeth on display for who knows what reason. I still feel light, and take out my to-do-list. I read off my first stop. A dress. Walking to the shopping mall in town takes twenty minutes. I find a beautiful dress there. Red, like I would never wear to work, with long sleeves made of lace, and a beautiful bow in back. The hips and skirt of the dress are tight, which does wonders for my figure, so I get it. I see Skip, the birdchild, with his grandmother. His grandmother seems determined to put him in a dress small and frilly. I’ve never understood why. I pass them by, without a word from either.

Next is my hair done. In the salon, while the girl is curling and tying my hair back, I see the mother of the bear-in-chains who sits in the third row of my class. Mrs. Tinderfoot is in uniform again, a police officer, sharp and steady. She’s chatting with the woman who owns the salon. I wonder if she knows how much her son shakes when he’s in my classroom? I think, for second, about asking her if she knows. And decide against it. I’d rather not have a black spot on my otherwise perfect day.

Once done, I smile into the mirror. The woman looking back at me is beautiful and dangerous. Not a monster at all, and for that, she is terrifying. I slide a five dollar bill into the maw of the creature who was just cutting my hair, and thank her. She chitters at me with a beak that doesn’t fit her face. Monsters everywhere, and I walk right past them on my very last day. I will no longer have to suffer this place. Never again, and it makes my heart sing. But as I walk back through the park, a sort of sadness sings through me as well.

I will never again get to see the sun set through the trees the way it is now. I stop, and enjoy it, and the fresh smell of sunshine fading away. I enjoy the soft touch of the wind, and revel in the slow crawl of the storm clouds headed my way. The wind is rising, now, and so, I pass through, heading instead for my room. Locking the door, I pull off my shoes. The bunny rabbit greets me, and I smile for it. It tells me my hair will look beautiful surrounded by funeral flowers. I agree.

I set the food to cooking, and when I have a moment, I change into the red dress. It fits just as it did in the store, and I wrap myself in it like armor. I feel invincible in this dress, and that guides my hand to take the bottle and set it next to my glass of red wine. Taking a second thought, I pick up the wine, and sip it. It tastes like something died in the bottle, or like it might have been fruit once. I put the wine glass down. The timer dings, and lets me know that food is ready. I serve myself, arranging the food as prettily as I can. I take a picture, and upload it. It’s the first post I’ve made in months, and within two minutes it has three likes.

It tastes like heaven, in my mouth. Warm and thoroughly cooked, and for once, I don’t feel the gnawing emptiness of hunger in my throat, and I don’t want to. I love this feeling, of being warm, and eating, and chewing. Something about the slow sensation of growing full… Ah, there’s nothing like it. I think about the last sunset I would ever see, and realize that this is the last meal I would ever eat. I have seconds. And then thirds. Without thinking, I put the food away in tupperware, so that some lucky officer  will get to finish it off when they find my body.

Then, I sit on my bed. The bunny rabbit is next to me, and I can see the rain pattering against the window in the dark now. I halt, as the streetlights make the water shimmer on the dark asphalt as it falls. This was the reason I moved into this apartment, years ago. I’d seen a view like this no where else, and I’d wanted to keep it. The beauty of rain in the dimness of night, made into cold sparkling stars falling to the earth all thanks to the lamplights the city keeps on for weary travellers. It makes the world into a whole different place, and I watch for a moment, before the bunny’s voice calls me back.

I count out pills. Five, for a breakup that happened two years ago, after he said that he couldn’t stand my negativity. The bunny pushes my glass closer, as I swallow them down. I count out three. Three for my mother who went on a trip to Cancun on my birthday. She’d been planning it for years, so I couldn’t be angry with her. She had quite the time. The pills go down like sorrow.

Four, for the day that my skirt ripped just before getting to work, and when I called in, my boss told me that I might as well not come in that day.

Two, for the weekend that I just couldn’t get out of bed. Not for food, not for drink. I’d slept all weekend. It had been the best vacation I’d had in years.

Seven for the cat I’d run over the last time I drove the car. I don’t own the car anymore. Driving makes my breath choke, and my heart clench painfully.

I’ve lost count now, and the world is slowly turning fuzzy. The clock ticks so loudly that I think it sounds like someone knocking. But I have no friends. And my mother lives two towns over. Who would bother visiting me? Ah, that’s another three. I can’t count anylonger, so the bunny counts for me.

It hurts. I’m dizzy and hot, and cold, all at the same time. My head aches, so I lay it down, my pillows not soft enough. The agony inside my body is nothing compared to the swirling nausea biting my throat. I press a hand tight to my chest, right where my heart is beating, and tell myself to sleep. I close my eyes, darkness thumping behind them,  and obey.

Nightmares2

 

– This particular story was written a long time ago, as the opening for a videogame I had planned on making. I still have the entirety of the videogame’s story in mind, and am thinking of making it a series of short stories.  Don’t worry, the next section has her revival, and her new purpose. Please, look forward to it!

In the meantime, do tell me what you think in the comments! If there’s a way I’ve misrepresented something, let me know. If you find this cathartic, or in any way something that you relate to, let me know that too!

The Day Robin Williams Died

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Today, I found out grave news. Robin Williams is dead. A comedian, an actor, a legend, and he died. To be completely honest, it felt like the passage of some great age. It reminded me that anyone, at any time can die. It reminded me that death is the only certain thing in this world. And it reminded me of immortality, and all the ways we can acheive it.

Robin Williams touched millions of lives. More than he ever knew. And the man, that poor, poor man, was suffering silently inside, maybe for years. Who knows how long he fought off the demons of his mind, telling him it was better to end it now. To get out. To be done. I know how hard it is, to have those demons whispering in your ear. Depression is a serious illness. One that doesn’t have a cure. One that stays with you forever. Robin Williams was bipolar, and part of bipolar is depression.

Thinking about how he died, thinking about what he must have gone through… Makes me wonder, just a little, what I’m doing all of this for. What I want to be a writer for. What I want from life. It makes me think that maybe, just maybe, my goal is selfish. My goal has always been to be a household name. I want to be immortal, in the only way humans can achieve.

But if someone like Robin Williams can feel that that isn’t enough… What is it that I will find, once my goal is achieved? Once I have the recognition I crave, once my books are on the english highschool reading list, or on Oprah’s reading list, or whatever it takes, what will I have? Hearing Mister William’s story, reminds me of one of his quotes.

I am lucky. Because I have friends who love me. I have family that cares. I am lucky, and I hope, forever, that I am lucky, and do not fall to the same temptation and fear that Robin did. He was a great man, and it is so, so sad, that he suffered as he did. I hope, sincerely, to ever be able to touch as many hearts as he did. And I hope, that like him, I use it for good. To make others laugh. To make them smile. To help them learn. Rest in peace, Mr. Williams. You will always be in our hearts.

The Gender Binary – A Myth

  • Posted on March 21, 2014 at 2:59 am
In Northern Colorado, a *transgirl was refused access to the girl’s bathroom, because the school board did not understand that she was in fact female, despite what genitalia her body was born with. This is a sad state of affairs, and also the current norm for our societies functioning. Those who do not fit into the Gender Binary are often shoved to the wayside, and told to conform. Instead of being allowed to determine their own autonomy, they are told what to be, male or female. This is not only damaging to the individual, but to our society as a whole. And while there are those who view these people as dangers to society, as deviants and people to be ‘fixed’, this is sincerely not true. One can no more fix those who choose to live outside the gender binary, than one can fix those who have different shades of skin.
Now, to explain what the Gender Binary is. This is the belief, however mistaken, that there are in fact only two genders. These two genders being Male and Female. However, studies have proven that many times, a person, usually between the ages of 12-25 find that they do not, mentally, fit into this gender binary. Often, someone born with male organs will wish to indulge in feminine ideas, such as wearing pretty skirts or painting their nails. Sometimes, someone born female will feel more at home with shorn hair and pants than the traditional female garb.
These are of course, not anything to actually be afraid of, although often the idea is met with revulsion, or violence. The rates of violence against transgender or gender queer individuals is almost equal to that of the violence against gay individuals, or even African American individuals. Often this idea confuses people, and for those raised in heavily traditional homes, this often means that they feel threatened by this lack of traditionalism. There are those who even believe that there is something inherently wrong with those who feel this way, and that in order to correct this behavior, one must strictly adhere to one’s gender roles.
There is a mistaken belief that gender roles exist for a reason. That women are inherently better at caring for children, cooking, housecleaning, and various other homey activities. Men are often touted for strength, and logic, and various trough qualities as well. The problem with this is, it is too general. Too narrowed. In this day and age, there are women who have proven to be just as adept at logic as men, scientists, doctors, lawyers. There are men who have proven to be more capable of caring for children than the women who birth the children. There are kindergarten teachers who are male, and their children love them. So holding to these mistaken gender roles does nothing but refute that people are in fact people and capable of being good at things not because of their gender, but because they work hard at it and try.
This ties in, just as much, to the scientific studies that children without male and female gender role models will grow up somehow lacking. Even in most human sexualities classes, we are taught that without a female role model, women will somehow be unable to relate to other women. Without a male role model, men will become weak willed and unable to stand up for themselves. This is just simply not true. There are numerous single-parent households where the children come out with healthy outlooks on life, and the ability to decide for themselves whether they wish to adhere to these roles society places upon them. Even more so, there are children who grow up in households with two mothers, or two fathers, and they too are quite capable of providing good role models for their children.
In fact, by denying that these individuals, these gender fluid people exist, we are setting a very bad example for our children. By saying, no, it is not alright for boys to wear dresses, we are saying that boys cannot be free to choose their own clothing. By telling girls that they are not allowed to be rough and loud, we are telling them that their opinions, and beliefs should not be upheld however they need to be upheld. A long time ago, there was such a thing as segregation. At this point, we have segregated the genders. They are so separated that boys playing with girls toys are made fun of, and girls playing with boys toys are called ‘tomboys’, as if it is better to be a boy than a girl.
This is saying to our children that to feel other than what WE feel, is in fact, unnatural. That if you do not conform to what society tells you to conform to, you are wrong, and need to be ‘fixed’. This is not a healthy outlook for children. In fact, this sort of parenting has lead to massive suicide rates in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender queer teens. Instead of embracing, and allowing our children to change as they need to, to learn about the world, we lock them down, force them to conform to our ideas of the norm. This is no better than locking a bird in a cage. Safe that bird might be, but never happy.
The most radical views upon our gender-non-conforming populace say that they are unnatural, that ‘God does not make mistakes’. These are the same sort of people who will refuse a transwoman her hormone treatments and force her to dress as a man. These are the sorts of people who will say that prayer and bible camp can fix a child of his homosexuality. These people have been proven wrong, time and time again. Hiding away someone under false clothes will only lead to depression, to pain and possibly to suicide. And the camps they send homosexuals to, to cure them, have been proven dysfunctional, and often cruel. There is no reason to consider these people deviants or unnatural. Those who do not fit into the gender binary are in fact to be celebrated. They add new life to the world around us, new perspectives to enjoy it from. It is one of the most natural things in the world, and diversity is required for a species to thrive and live.
Often, the final question is “How are we supposed to act around them?” or, “How are we supposed to treat them?” These questions can be answered with an old idiom. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If the one asking wishes to be treated with respect, treat the gender fluid individuals with the same respect. If one wishes to be allowed to be accepted for who one is, others have the right to expect the same acceptance of who they are. If it’s confusing to know what pronouns to use with someone, ask. If something said might be offensive, bite the tongue. Just treat them with all the respect that they, as a person, deserve.
It really comes down to basic decency. Just because someone has chosen to live outside what is the norm for society doesn’t mean that we must shun them, or that they are wrong. It simply means that they are different, and we must accept them. The gender binary is something we as a society created in order to feel more comfortable with ourselves. It is a construct that is outdated, and tired. No longer are there only two genders, but a whole spectrum. Those that feel male some days and female others, those that choose to be female when born with male genitalia, those that choose to be no gender at all, and those who do not choose, but instead know; they are, all of them, beautiful people, just as those whose genders match their genitalia are beautiful people too. Be kind, be respectful, and care for those around you, no matter how different from yourself they may be. That’s the simplest rule one can follow, and the oldest commandment in any religion. It is time Society accepted it, and began to live by it.

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