13 December 2014

The Art of Not Being a Dying Art

I made a thing. 
It squiggles.

Over the last little while I've been prepping for art school. I'm going to study animation, and I eventually intend to be involved with the production of some groundbreaking 2D films.. It's been on my heart for a while, but I haven't had the courage to pursue it till recently.Just thought I aught to let you know.

2D animation is a dying art, but it really shouldn't be. Do you know how much skill, time, and knowledge goes in to a 2D production? I mean, do you even know?

I'm sorry, I guess I've just been going through a bit of a crisis of art lately. I feel like people are losing the taste for hand drawn elegance.

I'm not saying this to knock on the 3D world. My husband is a 3D artist. But in my mind replacing all 2D animation with 3D animation is like replacing all paintings with sculptures. They're in the same field, they convey the same emotion, but you cannot just up and reeplace one with the other because it's cheaper or easier or more practical.

We need a new Renascence of 2D film. And I'm not just talking a Disney Renascence, they already got theirs and we will always thank them for that. I'm talking more people need to pick up their pencils and tablets and do more art.

If you stumble upon a spectacular 2D project, let me know. I want to hear about them. Here's one that I found recently - it's kind of restored my faith in humanity.

16 October 2014

Writing Binges and Ice Cream Binges and Why Those Two are Somehow Mutually Exclusive

Okay, so it's been a year since my last NaNoWriMo post... or two posts, really. See it how you wish. It's been a crazy year.


In the last year I have gone through a lot of development both as a write and as a person (no
seriously, you have no idea). And the year came around and all of a sudden I wanted to write again. Yeah, really, I had sworn off writing for the previous 11 months. This is a huge deal for me. I haven't had such a huge lapse in my writing since, well, since I first learned how to write. And let me tell you, I had a "Kiki's Deliver Service" moment.

You know what I'm talking about. That moment from our beloved Studio Ghibli classic when you come to terms with who you are and what you're capable of and you finally realize why you've been given the talents you've been given and stop binge eating ice cream?




Well, let mesa essplain dis to ju. 

It's a pretty old-ish movie, but in case you haven't seen it:

The movie is about a little girl, a witch who leaves home to be trained by the real world, essentially. She can barely fly, and doesn't know much about her craft, but she's 13! So, whoo-hoo, real world here I come!

Along the way she goes through a lot of twists and turns, makes friends, unmakes friends, looses stuff, gets insulted (like, a lot. This girl takes personal offense to pretty much everything) and generally starts doubting everything she ever believed herself to be. Her friends try to help her out, but nothing really seems to work until  finally one of her friends (whom she has really only met once) stops by and offers to take her away on a vacation... of sorts.

They camp out at this friend's cabin, talk about art and talents and the purpose of life - you know, normal girly slumber party type stuff - and Kiki realizes that she really has no purpose in life, she doesn't even know why she flies or why she's a witch or anything.

Well, I had that moment for the past... year. Like all year. Like I said, binge eating ice cream kind of rough. 

And then it happened! The moment when I realized that writing was sort of an answer to my prayers. I had almost given up on it, and instead turned to drawing as my sole means of creative outlet. Which, in and of itself is not bad - I mean, I've massively improved my art form - but something was missing, and I knew it was writing. 

I thought I could solve it with comics. I decided to go crazy-go-nuts with the comics, but I just couldn't bring myself to finish any of my projects. My world had gone to crap, I felt lost, alone, talentless, worthless. Until I noticed that NaNo was wright around the corner.

To boot, my friend Shallee keeps posting all this awesome stuff for her debut novel The Unhappening of Genesis Lee and all of a sudden it smacked me in the face like a ton of bricks.

I needed to finish my novel from last year's NaNoWriMo!

And with that one sentence came a wave of both excitement and dread. You have the "I'm going to write a novel!" Where you bounce off the walls and start doing sample writings and character sketches. And you have the "I'm... Going to write... A novel..." *gulp* "Please hold me and tell me that I haven't gone completely insane."

(As a side note, I'm also doing NaNoWriMo this year. So... 2 novels in 2 months. Wish me luck.)

So, yeah. It took working up a little bit of courage and several days of trudging through word much, going through the motions, and generally just trying to get a word count, but eventually I got in the swing of things. And now?

Now I'm 16 days and 21,000 words in. So, not quite half way through my goal word count... yet only 5 chapters in to a 29 chapter novel. Yeah, I'll have some work to do afterwards, wrapping up and what not, but it's totally doable!

Wish me luck.

Oh! And as an added bonus, here's some of the art I've been working on for the last year. (these ones are actual artwork that I used for chapter images for Red as Blood - the book I'm working on.)

22 August 2014

Confessions of an Avid Reader - And Other Such Nonsense

I stumbled across a picture on Facebook today and it reminded me of something that I've been coming to terms with over the last little bit - some of my favorite books, the really good ones that have me hooked and will never ever let me go are really, really poorly written. And none of us avid fans care.

Shakespeare doesn't seem to have a lucid grasp of the English language half the time. (This probably has to do with the era in which he lived, but that's another blog post for another time.) Most turn of the century works are very dry and matter'o'fact, among these Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, Princess of Mars, and Dracula. Go back and read the beloved and lauded Harry Potter novels, yes, go back to the first one, and you will see that even the esteemed J.K. was extremely immature in her writing of HP and the Philosopher's Stone. I could even argue that that well renown worker of magic, who taught many of us classic fans what a novel is, is guilty of some things that many editors nowadays would be aghast to find! She uses *gasp* semicolons abundantly and frequently places conjunctions at the beginning of sentences - both things an editor friend of mine insists are major no-nos in writing. But somehow they all get away with it!

Now, I am being facetious, of course, but you get the idea! If you go through any great work of literature you are sure to find many technical problems, misspellings, grammatical errors, plot bunnies, and what may be considered generally as poor storytelling. Some write their narrators with no voice. Some have no real taste for aesthetic appeal, specifically when describing things (if any of my fellows have read The Neverending Story, you may know what I mean). Others oversimplify, even for children's books. And yet, without fail, we love them. We read these books over and over and over, devouring them like a favorite meal - or a favorite dessert. We consume, share, read aloud, and get new copies of these books the instant they come out. We even get multiple copies if we really like the cover or size of one, and then we turn around and get the eCopy for light travel reading!

Case in point - Stephanie Meyer.

So, confession time. I love The Host. I'm nearly done with it and it won't let me put it down. It is like the experience of reading Twilight (yes, I read the whole thing) but ten fold. If I didn't know better, I would say that the book is possessed and calls to me with a the voice of a siren whenever I have a spare minute. What's worse, once I have the book in hand, it's as though the binding grows hands, reaches out and holds my nose to the page. It becomes increasingly difficult to put the book down. I've had this experience before, with other books, of course, but it seems very prevalent with Stephanie Meyer because... it's just... so... bad! 

I had a friend discuss this with me once. She summed it up with:
"It's like book crack! You open the pages and you're hooked on some new kind of drug. Because the writing really isn't very good." And I'd have to agree! 

From her frequent mid-sentence interruptions to her inane ability to force her reader to loose track of who is talking due to her under-use of nouns and inability to use quotation marks to carry over into another paragraph when speaking in short sentences (can I just say this is really annoying) to her blatant overuse of the word "chagrin" Stephanie seems to break most literary rules. Things that would normally really irritate readers are somehow over-tolerated. I've even seen multiple typos which makes me wonder about her editor. o.O Still, I cannot put the book down.

Now, I must take a moment to defend her. Stephanie's writing has vastly improved. You can tell just by the first few lines that she's really grown as a writer by the time she started The Host. Her writing is more mature, and it's not just that she's writing for adults rather than for teens. She reached her million words by the time she finished the infamous Twilight Saga.

I've heard over and over the Rule of 10,000 - 10,000 hours spent actively, consistently working on a skill usually equivocates in an expertise regardless of education level. This is also true for writing... but it's less like ten thousand and more like one million. It has been said that a writer must write one million words before they write their first original word. This seems pretty obvious in most premature writers. Take Christopher Paolini, his first truly great piece was his final book, which seemed the most original and most clearly defined. It just seems deeper than the others, and maybe that's because it is. The number one complaint I heard from most of my friends while reading his absolutely fantastic series was that they wished that his parents had given him more time and let him mature as an author. I would contest that this has something to do with the one million word rule. And this seems no different for Stephanie Meyer.

By the time Stephanie finished the Twilight novels, you could already tell that she had vastly improved as an author. I have said many times and will say again, if she had just started with the final book in the series and went from there, the literary world would be the better for it! Seriously, hold your vomit and take a little of your time to actually go and read ALL the books in the Twilight Saga. Gag your way through the twisted relationships, and the sparkly vampires and read the books as though you were watching the writer struggle, rather than hearing Bella be a useless bag of... well, you know. The journey of the character Bella is on par with Stephanie's journey as a writer, going from being a holier-than-though why-do-I-even-bother kind of a person, to an emotionally devastated why-do-I-even-write-this-crap sort of person, to someone that can not only stand on her own two feet and say "I have something to write for!", but also into someone who has near-godlike super powers that has us all under her spell.

And by Breaking Dawn, Stephanie has taken her characters on a journey of actual improvement. She dragged her characters through an emotional roller coaster on par with Six Flags and then bothered to end the thing without even inciting violence. I could go on, but this is an argument for another time.

All of this brings me back to The Host, all the wonderful, addicting, book-crackiness of it. The narratorial style is annoying, you want to punch the pacifist main character, and yet by the end you find yourself wondering why you had ever thought such horrible things and, dare I say, you even love them.

But along the way she annoys every perfectionist bone in my little writing body almost to the point of making me want to go through the entire book with a red pen, marking all the confusing, annoying, chagrin-having spots and sending her back the copy with an angry note saying, "Why do you have to get me addicted to this sort of BS?!"

But I don't. Instead I devour the entire thing in record time (for me anyway) all the while giggling and snorting my book-crack down to the very last author's note.

So, what is it? What draws us back to these super-addictive, badly written books? Is it the characters? The plot? The world building? The bad-writing itself? Or is it some bizarre mash of all of them? I would say it's probably the latter.

Orson Scott Card once said that children tolerate one form of bad writing, while adults tolerate a completely different kind of bad writing the trick is finding the bridge between the two, the comfy place in the middle where both adults and children will want to read the book. I would say the Stephanie has probably found that middle ground, specifically with The Host. For us, as adults reading this novel, the words being said may be flawed - and looking back on it now, I can see how she may have done this on purpose given the difference in storytelling between the two main characters - but still, the story is worth telling. It's worth reading, and, quite possibly, that's why we tolerate all the mistakes in all those classic novels. Because the story itself is bigger than the words that contain it, because the story itself is more important than those mistakes.

As a note, yes... me and my Mormon writers. *sigh, ugh, the whole shebang*.