Failure is the condiment that gives success it’s flavor.

I shipwrecked myself.

I had a goal and a deadline. I had a plotline and a series of characters that would interact with each other wonderfully and awkwardly and every bit in between. And somewhere along the way, I took a wrong turn (or deliberately ignored my GPS) and decided not to go to the final destination that I chose for myself nearly one month ago.

I had a dream of completing another novel this summer. I’m sure you guys heard about the plan in one of my previous posts — I think I even posted about it on another blog!

But I failed.

Worse than that, I made a choice to fail.

I got home every night from my second internship and told myself that after dinner, I would write. I would write because I spent at least 8 hours thinking about science and contemplating complex ideas like chromosomes and florescent DNA stains and fruit flies with legs coming out of their heads (oh, its a thing!) and I need to switch my brain into English mode.

But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit myself down and force myself to write anything worth keeping. I tried everyday for the first week and a half until I realized that there was no possible way that I could finish 50,000 words in two and half weeks. My characters were perfect — a good friend forced me to do a writing sprint where I wrote as much as I could in 10 minutes and I wrote everything I possibly could about my characters.

Heck, the main one was actually supposed to be like me. My protagonist never usually represents me and this time, she was! Oh, I had goals. I had dreams of a witty book, full of one-liners and humor that people would try to emulate. A tale that everyone could relate to and yet was shrouded in a mist that clouded people from true understand — after all, how many people have worked with fruit flies and the segregation distorter gene?

I barely breathed one page of life into my book. And as I look upon the dwindling days of June and see July hovering in it’s sticky humidity, I wonder if I truly failed?

Don’t look at me like that. It’s true! Maybe I didn’t fail after all.

Maybe last summer was a summer of growth. Maybe it was a time where I got to do whatever I wanted in order to discover exactly what it was that I wanted. Maybe I was able to settle my roots into a new city and meet new people and see how strong my roots could be. It was a happy summer and one that nourished my creativity and inspired me to write over 50,000 words of a book that I could be at least a little proud of.

And maybe this summer wasn’t meant for any of those things.

Maybe this summer is a summer of testing. Maybe it’s a time where I don’t get to do whatever I want so that someday I can do whatever I want since I fattened my resume. Maybe it’s so I can learn how to be transplanted somewhere I didn’t expect to live. Maybe this is where I find out just how strong my roots are when things don’t go my way and I don’t know anybody. This isn’t a happy summer, but it’s one where I get to see just how much I can take and see how many gardening puns I can dig up.

And you know what? I think I can be proud of that.

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I travel light. But not at the same speed.

I was reminded today of two things:
1) Although I like travelling fast, I rarely enjoy running.
2) I’m not a morning person.

I completed my first writing sprint on the other blog that I co-author (link at the bottom) at 8 AM! I simply wake up, plug in the computer and follow this schedule:
Prepare/finger stretches – 7:45
Writing sprint – 8:00
Rest and record word count – 8:15
Writing jog and stumble – 8:20
Rest and record word count – 8:35
Word vomit – 8:40
Collapse on keyboard and record final word count – 8:55

Note to self: in order for brain to work at full capacity, drink full cup of coffee 15 minutes in advance.

There was very little of quality in the resulting 1,723 words. However, I did get several ideas down for character development for my second novel attempt.

For example, I realized that my main character is far too practical to wear Louboutins. Good to know, right?

I also realized all the flaws in my current plotline (better now than in 2 weeks, right?) and the difficulties in the story I’m planning. Unfortunately, there was way too much random dumping crappy words on the page to get the highest count for me to enjoy doing it too much.

I see this more as a refreshing thing to do every two weeks maybe, but never anything more frequent than a weekly basis. That being said, I did it!

Here is the link to the original post.

Localization in the spaces of our intimacy is more urgent than the date.

It’s always warm, with a slight breeze. The sun tickles my toes and I can smell Mother Nature’s perfume lingering on sweet summer’s breath. The birds call to me like I’m Cinderella, but they haven’t tried making me a ballgown yet so it seems that they are appropriately friend-zoned.

It’s my new favorite place to write.

It’s my screened-in back porch.

I’m not sure why, but locations have always held an extreme importance to me. I’m a very visual person. I like to know where things happened; if it wasn’t meant to happen there, then why didn’t it happen somewhere else?

I still remember my first house. And the second. And when I see the third, I almost cry. When I go to my old high school, I have such strong feelings of nostalgia that I can’t even speak to anyone when I pull into the parking lot until I can pull myself together. My high school reunion might be a emotional train wreck…

I’m at my fourth house now. When I graduate, I’ll probably move into a little apartment and become quite attached to the cheap, dingy place because that’s the only I’ll be able to afford. I’m one of those stubborn trees who stick roots down deep into the dirt and cling there like a child to it’s mother’s leg when she leaves for the first time.

Maybe it’s because I know they won’t change.

And yes, I know that they do. The landscape ages like the wrinkles on a person’s face. Give it a few years and you’ll see a new mark that wasn’t there before. Trees pop up like pimples, babbling streams crinkle in the grass like crow’s feet around laughing eyes, and weeds sprout like unruly eyebrow hairs.

But it’s still the same person. Going to a new place is like meeting a stranger for the first time.

We will see how long the inspiration lasts with this new writing haven. I’d say it’s the start of a beautiful and terrifying friendship.

Aren’t those the best?

This post was also found on this site that I co-author with many lovely people.

These flashes of irrational happiness: probably a vitamin deficiency.

Firstly, if you’ve never read Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, do so immediately. However, side effects include: pondering what exactly makes someone human, wondering about the bioethics of genetic engineering, and bemoaning the two-sided coin of the beauty and sheer ugliness of this world.

If you’re up for that and constant overthinking for about three days on your morals (and enduring some very base language and situations — it is a dystopian society), pick it up.

This dystopian book (a trilogy actually, which I am currently making my way through and am loving so much that I bought it for my own personal collection) entertains the possibility of the extremes of genetic engineering for profit. Without giving too much away, the people in this book are loosely split into two categories: science types and wordsmiths. The goggle-wearing clans compete for the top-paying jobs at the large corporations that have more-or-less taken over the class structure. Meanwhile, the nose-in-book nerds are shuffled around depending on how competent they are at advertising for the scientific discoveries.

Since I do my best to balance on this see-saw, you can imagine how much I connected with this book.

What Atwood does phenomenally well is her manipulation of language. Two best friends (the scientific prodigy, Crake, and the mediocre master of words, Jimmy) are forced to live in this rapidly evolving world on both sides of this interesting divide. However, it isn’t necessarily what is said; rather it is how it is said.

Crake and Jimmy are both romantically involved by the end of the book (no spoilers here). What is fascinating is how Crake is reduced to nothing but the basic human drives: food, water, and sex. There is no description of emotion when he pursues his woman, if pursuit is even the right word. It is all very matter-of-fact and the reader (myself) is left wondering how this relationship is even at all fulfilling.

But for Crake, it is! He is fulfilling a basic human drive. For all this knowledge and all his ability to cut and paste genes into a sequence, he is reducing himself to nothing to but needs. His brain is simply a machine that functions to keep him alive. What kind of life can that be?

Falling in love, although it resulted in altered body chemistry and was therefore real, was a hormonally induced delusional state, according to him [Crake]. In addition it was humiliating, because it put you at a disadvantage, it gave the love object too much power. As for sex per se, it lacked both challenge and novelty, and was on the whole a deeply imperfect solution to the problem of intergenerational genetic transfer

And Jimmy. The entire book is told from his perspective. Can you even imagine the torture of being in this black and white world that’s melting into a cacophany of grey and never being able to find the correct words to describe any of it? Even if you could, words are useless; there are nothing but sprinkles on a cake that has already been genetically modified to thrill your taste buds. What the point of sprinkles when they have no taste or color??

Stupid sprinkles. Stupid science.

When any civilization is dust and ashes,” he said, “art is all that’s left over. Images, words, music. Imaginative structures. Meaning—human meaning, that is—is defined by them. You have to admit that.”

Just as Crake is reduced to nothing but needs, Jimmy is described as being so much more than that. There’s a depth to his life that Crake simply cannot understand.

So here I am, reading this book. I understand both sides. I’m the zebra. Part of me is the white lab coat, data-oriented, goggle-wearing scientist. The other part of me is the tragically understanding pair of reading glasses, the dark writer who broods about what I’m trying to say, the dictionary-toting girl who knows the ultimate power of words.

This post started out about me wondering if my soul overpowers the three basic human drives and I came to the conclusion that I’m a zebra.

Oops.

We all wear masks and the time comes when we cannot remove them without stripping our own skin.

She was beautiful, of that there was no doubt. Chocolate-hued hair curled delicately on her shoulders in perfect ringlets and her pale skin seemed almost translucent in the sunshine.

I was talking nonsense as my eyes skimmed her face. What was I saying? She smiled at me anyway. Her teeth were straight and white as the paper cup in her hand. I couldn’t help but smile back when I saw the way her eyes crinkled at the corners. But when she spoke, her face was unlined and innocent; she was so young.

She spoke about sweet nothings, rattling off small talk easily, as if she had had a lot of practice. We chatted about the weather and how I took my coffee. She mentioned something she had read in the newspaper yesterday and how she ran out of time to do the crossword puzzle.

All the while, my eyes soaked up the image of her like a dry cornfield drinks in a summer rain. She was beautiful.

But there was something else. Something wrong. Something off, like coming home to a house and all the furniture was moved three inches to the left. You almost didn’t notice it except that you were always bumping into a chair and whenever you stretched your hand out, the item was just out of reach.

After a few minutes, her voice drifting into silence and I could find nothing else to say. She tipped the cup to her lips and her painted fingernails caught my eye. They were chipped. All of them. I stared at her hands even after she lowered her drink to the table. French manicured, white tips — nothing extraordinary. I wouldn’t have even noticed how she was missing flakes here and there, but it was strange. Everything else about her appearance was immaculate.

So I looked again. Her white skin glowed in the sun’s rays but now the shadows under her eyes became clear. Her face was still gorgeous, still flawless except for the valleys under her eyes and in the hollows of her cheekbones. Nothing about her had changed but I felt as if I was looking at a dying creature rather than a blooming one.

She flashed a smile and I was momentarily blinded. “Is something wrong?” she asked, sweeter than the pastries they sold at the coffee shop we inhabited.

My eyes drifted down to her chipped nail polish. Back to her face. To the nails. To the face that stared innocently back at me. Her mask was perfectly in place and her blank eyes met mine. For all of her words, she had told me nothing about herself. The only remotely personal thing I knew was that she liked to do the crossword puzzle in the newspaper and that would describe half of the people who bothered to read the thing.

I wondered how hard it was for her to take off the mask she constantly wore. My eyes drifted to her chipped nails before meeting her blank eyes once more.

“No, nothing’s wrong.”

A goal isn’t always meant to be reached, but rather something to aim at.

I have officially edited the first third of my book. I have continued to send the chapters out to my professor, two of my editing friends, and several of my family members so that I could continue to get constant feedback and opinions from everyone. While they don’t always agree with what I have written, I value the different perceptions of the ideas that I present. In this way, I can answer questions and take note of certain problems that reappear in my writing.

I appreciate everything that everyone has told me, although there can be some days when I wonder why I haven’t just tossed the whole thing in the trash. I haven’t done so as of yet.

I haven’t completed my goal yet, but I’m proud of how far I have gotten. It’s not every person who can say that they have written a book-length manuscript before they were 20. I was speaking to a friend and we were tossing ideas back and forth about age and youth. If I continue to check things off my bucket list at this rate, I should be able to look back at my youth and be satisfied enough that my age will not bother me.

I could go on and on about that subject (and I think I will at some other time) but I’m running out of time at the moment. But I’m 1/3 of the way done with my book editing and I’m proud for acting upon my goal.

If any of my editors are reading this, I thank you for your work and I appreciate the time you’ve put into reading this. You’ve been such a help to me and I hope you will continue to help me in the last 2/3! If my head ever gets too big, don’t hesitate to smack me with a good dose of reality by some heavy criticism with the next chapters 🙂