PRETTY is a lovely word (as is LOVELY)

Ex-literary agent and author Nathan Bransford dishes out some hard truths:

The thing people should really be worried about is whether they have the willpower to write a novel. That is the hard part. The setting aside of time, powering through when it stops being fun, and getting the whole thing written and edited.

I think I’ve said before that writing can be lonely at times. It’s just you and your words. You slaving over your story. You and your own thoughts that can easily morph into doubts. You don’t know if what you’re writing is any good, if anyone will ever get to read it, much less love it. And because of that, you’re hesitant about showing anyone your work. And then it becomes REALLY just you and your story. After a while (usually around the middle), your story starts to get tiresome, and you’re not sure if you should just give up on the whole endeavour.

But then you remember how immensely gratifying it had been to complete your previous stories. And you decide to push through.

Aww thanks, Ryan!

So that’s where I am now, trying to keep up my flagging enthusiasm for Neverland, keep my eye on the finishing line, so to speak.

Thank goodness for little reprieves such as these:

This has to be one of the most hilarious interviews of McFly I’ve seen. Alan Carr + the boys = a total riot!

This one NEVER gets old. Some people say this is a terribly display of how spoiled First World kids are, but I think they were crying about the injustice of losing what they’d earned (how much trick-or-treating do you have to do to get two bags of candy?)  more than they were crying about the candy itself (though, of course, they were crying about the candy too).

And this! Another classic: Dominic Monahan prank-interviews Elijah Wood.

I died laughing.

And to those who say Orlando Bloom is just a pretty face who can’t take the piss out of himself, check out this video:

Still love him. Once my Legolas/Will Turner, always my Legolas/Will Turner!

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Oops. Those eyes though!

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Sigh. Is it any wonder why the writing’s going slowly?

Anyway, remember Graffiti Moon, that wildly beautiful contemporary YA book by Cath Crowley that I raved about a while back? I only just discovered her blog (how did I only find it now?!) and OMG it might be one of my favourite blogs now, along with Laini TaylorNathan Bransford and Maggie Stiefvater’s. I mean, just look at these random gems Cath posts!

Some prose (click on the link for the full piece!):

Someone will offer you the last page of your life today. You won’t know it’s the last page. They won’t say and you won’t ask.

They’ll be waiting for you on a corner that you walk past every day. You’ll think maybe you recognise them. It’s something about the way they’re clicking the thumb and index finger of their left hand together when they speak – you do that all the time, you’ll think.

So you’ll take the page, they know you’ll take the page because you’re that kind of person. You say sorry when it’s not really a sorry kind of situation. You say sorry at least five hundred times a day. You counted once. It’s a habit. You don’t even know where you picked it up.

You’ll get a strange kind of feeling when you walk down the street. The sky, an uncut blue overhead and the mist coming out of your mouth like a ghost. At one stage you might get the idea that you can suck the cold air right back inside. You can’t, you’ll realise. Air that’s breathed is breathed for good.

The paper will stay in your pocket all day – maybe along with a couple of chocolate wrappers and a piece of gum you didn’t know what to do with because you couldn’t find a bin.

You’ll probably touch it a couple of times during the day – feel the corner when you talk to the one you want but spend most of the time looking at the air just to the left of their ears. Maybe you’ll touch it when your boss says you messed up and you believe him.

In the end you’ll take it out and read it on the train. You’ll be coming home like everyone else, watching the blur of lights out the window, the glass between you and the night, between you and the breath of stars.

Some poetry:

You is my mad aching ship

My sad puzzled light

My honey ocean

My late night, impossible wish

I’m sure the grammatical choice (“is”) is there for a reason, but I don’t want to delve into literary criticism here.

And some more prose:

You’ll look up today. You’ll notice the sky. It might be streaky or blue or brushed with white buckled clouds but there will be a piece of it that seems exactly right. You might take a photograph so that you can remember.

You’ll think about the words that you love – maybe nova and opal and shadow and nest. Maybe flicker and frost, kismet or linger. Maybe bliss. Maybe kiss.

SO MUCH BEAUTY in her words. All that imagery! So tender and sweet it’s almost heart-breaking. I just want to hug those words…

Like this!

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MAD MAAAAAD LOVE! I wish I had her sensitivity for words. Graffiti Moon was gorrrrgeous. It’s just the kind of intense, bittersweet, funny, poignant contemporary YA romance centred around two characters looking for themselves and each other that I wish I had written. Or will someday be able to write with much much aplomb.

Speaking of pretty words, there’s something soothing about finding pretty art in the sinkhole that is Pinterest on a lovely blue-skied morning.

Wolf painting by chantelyoung on Etsy
a painting by Carson Ellis for Wildwood, a lovely MG book series by Colin Meloy
Obviously, Quentin Blake.
The Little Prince by Woo Hee Kwon

Okay okay okay. Enough procrastinating. I’m gone. Have a great week, everyone! :0)

Monday mood-lifters and a gathering of playwrights

Monday! First, THIS: some helpful advice from ex-literary agent and author Nathan Bransford.

Planning and improvising are the two basic ways to find your plot, but there’s only one way to find your voice: start writing, and keep writing until you find it … Write your way to your voice.

It took me a while to find Sean and Ian’s voices. If you recall, I’ve received feedback from a literary agent who said that Sean and Ian from BLOOD PROMISE sounded too alike. But after I managed to distinguish what it is that sets them apart – by narrowing them down to three adjectives each (i.e. Ian: angry, vengeful, brash; Sean: concerned, skeptical, protective) – I set about amplifying these qualities and tweaked their voices as such. Hopefully, it’ll work better this time. I can’t trust myself to be objective about my own writing; I need my critique partners! My saviours.

Speaking of BLOOD PROMISE, I’ve found a few images that fit the idea of the characters I have in mind. Pinterest, man. I’m addicted. But it’s also opened my eyes to so many visuals that lit my brain on fire. Follow me, if you’re interested!

APRIL, the changeling struggling to keep her craving for human souls in check:

This is April from Sean’s POV – because of his colour-blindness, he sees her eyes as a startling shade of blue. This leads to a twist that I won’t reveal here, of course.
I actually had the Australian model Gemma Ward in mind for April. April is not conventionally beautiful. She has eyes a little too widely spaced apart, a button nose and lips that typically curve in a sad wistful bow. Still, she’s meant to be beautiful in a strange otherworldly way.
SEAN, who moves to Frosty Island with his mother after he hears the news of his best friend’s disappearance while vacationing with his parents on the island: 

He’s the closest I can find on Pinterest. The Sean I have in mind is someone with an easy smile, dimples, and wide friendly eyes. Your favourite boy-next-door.

Maybe this one might be a closer approximation of him:

But nah. He’s my Peter Pan. Not quite Sean.

Case in point:

Oh Donghae, you are just too precious. (Can you tell I’m obsessed with this little boy? Ha.)

Ahem. I digress.

IAN, who moved to Frosty Island to live with his aunt Mel after his parents died on this island a week ago in an alleged car accident:

This one’s perfect. From the hardness of Ian’s features to the danger in his eyes, that spark of recklessness when he realises he’s got nothing left to lose anymore.

Anyway, how was your weekend? (I never have any idea whom I’m talking to whenever I ask questions like that on my blog. I’d love to hear from you if you’re reading my blog! Comment away; don’t be shy. I promise I’ll reply. Nicely.)

Yup, that’s pretty much me. Except this weekend, I finally went for the annual play-writing gathering last Saturday. It’s actually the final reading for the semester’s EN3271 play-writing students, but Huzir invites the ex-students back for a gathering of sorts. He opens his house up to us and have us all gather around in the living room for a cosy reading session – so generous.

It was so lovely to see my writing comrades again, and reminisce about the times when we stayed up to finish our plays or scramble to print out the copies for readings in class. I took both EN2271 Introduction to Playwriting and EN3271 Advanced Playwriting (both conducted by Huzir), because EN2271 was the most rewarding class I took in uni.

It’s wonderful to be part of a writing community and have people to commiserate with when the writing isn’t going well. Before that, I’ve never had writer friends or been part of a writing group, and the class made me see how rewarding it is to be part of one. It’s nice to be able to hear other people’s stories, share your own with them, and exchange ideas on how to improve one another’s scripts. It’s nice to have them root for your characters and have your classmates act out your characters; to hear Huzir’s insightful and immensely constructive and honest feedback on your writing; to have a group of writer friends you can keep in touch with after graduation because writing will always be the thing that bonds you all together.

These two play-writing modules have given me so much, and for anyone in NUS undecided on whether to try out for these modules, my advice is to TAKE THEM. THEY WILL BE THE MOST FUN CLASSES YOU WILL TAKE IN NUS. At least, for me it is. I’m not forcing anyone! *runs for cover*

There were close to thirty people who attended last Saturday’s gathering, including this semester’s playwrights. I didn’t manage to get everyone in the photo, but here are some of us. To those not in these photos, sorry! Next year, we’ll take a proper shot all together.

We basically just decided to make a 180-degree turn because we were profiled against the sunlight. The rest were by the refreshments table or in the washroom, so here’s us. I’m obviously the one in pink 😉

The plays this years were great! Funny and poignant character-driven stories. But the feedback was the best, especially when it was served with a dose of candour and insight. All the best with the final rewrites, playwrights! (That totally rhymed.)

Till next year, guys! And all the best for NaNo!

Unfortunately, I missed Lord of the Rings: Return of the King as a result of attending the gathering. When I realised it was airing on TV afterwards, I was like:

And here are your Monday mood-lifters:

Man, I miss this show! GILMORE GIRLS was funny and smart and sweet – almost everything you could as for in a TV show. It ended on a crappy note as it was slated for another season which, sadly, never came to fruition.

Some Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings crossover for you?
I totally heard this in Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice.
Oh, Siwon. You are such a derp.
And on a less creepy note:
All together now: AWWWWWW.
Have a great week, everyone!