9 awkward moments with that office eye candy

1. Weird eye contact

When he walks past your table and you’re secretly like

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But then he suddenly looks your way and you’re like

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Wait … is that a smile? Should I smile back?

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Too late.

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2. The water cooler walk

Is he heading for the water cooler now? Damn, I’m thirsty too.

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3. Facebook stalking

Nothing?! Why is he so mysterious?

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4. Lunch break

He’s lunching at his table alone again! Should you ask him out for lunch?

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… Yeah, just a thought.

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5. At the cafeteria

Oh, shit. He’s there getting lunch. Turn back or say hi?

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6. When you’re lunching in

Do I have food down my shirt? Oh crap, please don’t let him turn around when I’m wolfing down this chicken.

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7. At office parties

Some cake for you? Not you. You.

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8. Lift encounters

You’re in the same lift as him! Enclosed space! BUT. He’s with a friend and they’re talking about some trip he just came back from. Should you join in or hope for this unending lift ride to end?

9. Klutz alert!

When you think you’re all

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That’s the moment you end up like this

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And he TOTALLY SAW.

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Crushes are much more effort than they’re worth sometimes.

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Murakami wisdom, Tinder shenanigans and book talk

1. How girls talk:

That conversation came about after my girlfriends and I piddled around the Tinder app and were trying to figure out what a guy might mean when he doesn’t respond to an emoticon. And people say GIRLS are hard to figure out.

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Our responses to the faces we see on Tinder range from this:

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To this:

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(All the dudes baring their pot bellies or flexing their gargantuan muscles in minimal clothing, you know who you are!)

Occasionally, we’re like this:

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(There ARE some cute, non-creepy ones on the app, after all! Faith in humanity restored.)

But more often it’s this:

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(Why would you put a shot of yourself sitting on the edge of your bed in your boxers eating half a watermelon as your profile picture???)

By the way, can I just say that Tinder still has a lot of room for improvement? Not only are we unable to scroll back to the person we might have accidentally rejected, we are unable to go back and view the profile of someone we have approved until he approves back. Apparently not a fan of hindsight, this Tinder.

For now, though, while my friends have run out of guys to pick from, I’m still highly entertained by the different types of profile pictures (supposedly) single guys choose of themselves.

And because I think I’m permanently scarred by the sight of this one guy in a pair of green floral shorts hugging a huge block of cheese (another head-scratcher), THIS is very much welcome:

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Ah. Much better now.

2. Anyway, speaking of wisdom, here are some snippets of wisdom – so profound, but never self-righteous or self-important – from “the Yoda of Japanese literature”, author Haruki Murakami:

“Life’s no piece of cake, mind you, but the recipe’s [your] own to fool with.” ~ Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1985)

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” ~ Norwegian Wood (1987)

“For ‘a while’ is a phrase whose length can’t be measured. At least by the person who’s waiting.” ~ South of the Border, West of the Sun (1992)

“Even castles in the sky can do with a fresh coat of paint.” ~ South of the Border, West of the Sun (1992)

“A person’s destiny is something you look back at afterwards, not something to be known in advance.” ~ The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997)

“Understanding is but the sum of misunderstandings.” ~ Sputnik Sweetheart (2001)

“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.” ~ After Dark (2004)

I read After Dark a few years ago, in my freshman year at university, and I remember being taken by sparse, beautiful and heart-breaking prose.

Murakami’s characters are always diverse and complex, even when the things they say and the conversations they have seem surface. Plus, there’s something tragically lonely about the characters and their voices, and uplifting about the way they found each other – which, I realise, can be applied to Norwegian Wood too. But while Norwegian Wood got a little draggy for me, I didn’t want After Dark to end.

Go read all 30 of them!

3. Romance writer Jennifer Crusie on how to create conflict in romance novels:

Conflict in general is pretty simple … The pursuit of these goals brings your protagonist and antagonist into direct conflict because neither can achieve his or her goal without blocking and thus defeating the other.

The romance plot has a protagonist and an antagonist (or vice versa) who are drawn together and who, during the course of their story, move through the physical and emotional stages of falling in love … Over the course of the story, they change as people so they can connect, learning to compromise and forming a bond at the end that will keep them together forever.

The hard part [is] taking the romance plot and giving it conflict. A good conflict has the protagonist destroying the antagonist completely (or vice versa). A good romance plot ends in compromise with both protagonist and antagonist safe, happy, and bonded. Trying to navigate the space in between causes most of the problems in romance writing.

Romance novels aren’t just the usual, fluffy boy-meets-girl, done-to-death stories that everyone thinks are so easy to churn out. (Well, there are some stories that go like that, but we try not to emulate them.)

Romance novels are, in essence, highly character-driven, and that’s what makes them so tricky to write. What makes this character different from another? Why choose to write his or her story? How do they grow as a result of each other? What do I want them to become at the end of the story?

My characters usually end up sitting around talking, so I try to toss in some action that is totally lame and pointless, and it all ends up looking contrived and my characters get really confused and annoyed with me.

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Still, it’s just the first draft, Joyce. Just the first draft. You can rewrite and edit the shit out of it later.

4. And from a literary agent’s perspective, Carly Watters believes writers should compete with themselves and not with other writers:

It doesn’t make it easy when you know how many other writers there are out there trying to get published, too. But that information has to light a fire under you and make you want to revise and want to write the best book you can. Competition is about writing better than you did the day before, and the book before this. You are your own competition. Make that your mission.

Also, she offers candid insight on what publishing requires from a writer:

Publishing is where creative writing meets Hollywood: Does it have a hook? Can you sell it in a sentence? Are the characters memorable? Is their journey compelling? Does it start when we meet the characters at an interesting point in their lives? Getting published requires some stripping down of overwriting and self indulgence. Getting published is about making your writing accessible to mass readers.

For more advice, go here!

5. Due to the slew of less-than-glowing book reviews that have popped up, particularly on sites like Goodreads, some folks are starting to question: Do we really need negative book reviews?

Of course, the first reaction would be to say no, that it’s unnecessary and let’s just all talk about books we love and enjoy instead of directing attention to the “bad” ones.

But without criticism, how are we writers going to learn what works or what doesn’t? I’d much rather be told candidly why my book is mediocre than be assured that it is deserving of critical acclaim if it isn’t true, even if the criticism may be harder to stomach.

Of course, if the negative review is mean for the sake of being mean and getting some laughs at the expense of the author, then please fold some origami and shove it up your pie-hole because the world doesn’t need more bullies.

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6. I don’t want this post to end on that note, so here’s some happy:

The Infinite Gallery : Cornwall, England

Okay, okay. Off to do just that now! Happy mid-week, everyone! :0)

metaphorical roller coasters … and something called Tinder?

Jennifer Crusie offered some great advice on keeping the dream alive (and reality at arm’s length):

… what separates the successful writers with long term careers from those who don’t make it is that the successful writers have the perception that they’re in control, that if they keep going, somebody will finally see the greatness of their stories.

So you’re building your island based on unrealistic dreams and convictions made of thin air. What’s the worst that can happen? You never get published or the book of your heart tanks, and you never reach your goal, but at the end of your life you look back and say, “I had a dream and I fought for it, I believed in myself and my work, and I never, ever gave up.” That’s a life well lived, folks, a helluva lot better than, “I had a dream but it wasn’t realistic so I quit and watched television.” Do not let reality push you around, do not be sensible and kill your own dreams, and for the love of God do not let people who are only guessing about what’s going to happen next tell you that you’re a fool for believing in yourself and your stories.

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Thank you for sharing this post, Laini, and thank you for writing it, Jennifer! (Loved Wild Ride, by the way.)

This is such timely* advice, given how I’m SERIOUSLY losing steam for Neverland. It’s so tempting to want to toss it aside and not think about this train wreck anymore, but then you read such upbeat posts and you reconsider that notion.

*Even though the post was published waaaaay back in 2005 – I got directed there from Laini’s old posts** Hey, never too late for some encouragement.

**Why yes, I’ve read all the way back to 2006. Obsessed, you say?***

***I can’t hear you.

Right now, it kinda feels like this:

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I was looking through Until Morning last night and I realised what is amiss as I write Neverland: the magic.

Not in the literal sense (although Until Morning and the Neverland differ in that sense too). No. What I mean is that feeling of being pulled into the story, until I’m scrambling to put all my thoughts into words, typing feverishly as the story sweeps me towards the final scene.

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That feeling of knowing your characters so well that they become an extension of yourself, and you realise the characters were inside you all along, banging against your chest, clamouring to be let out.

That feeling where you know their stories so well that their problems become yours, and their actions and motivations lead neatly up to the final act.

That feeling at the end where everything comes into place in the end and makes sense and you can finally see what the hell your story was meant to look like. And you’re so psyched you’re pretty much like this:

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That feeling. That huge whoosh that takes you right from the start to the end. That eagerness to write. To discover. That was how it was with Until Morning**** I had FUN writing Until Morning. But for Neverland … not so much. Maybe it was that magical element that made writing Until Morning more fun (Until Morning is contemporary YA with a touch of magical realism). But I’ve written realistic YA before, and it didn’t feel as uninspiring as Neverland.

****Or is it just post-novel selective amnesia, where I only remember the good bits from writing the completed novel and not the bad parts? Is there even such a thing???

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I know I’ve bitched and moaned about this enough in my previous posts, and the last thing you want to read is another lament on flat, limpid characters and a plot that’s meandering nowhere. I get it. Like, get it together already, woman! Believe me, there is nothing I would like to do more than that.

So that’s that on the writing front. I’ll let you know if anything changes.

*

So apparently, there’s this new app called Tinder, which looks like another dating app but supposedly isn’t, because you get to look at Facebook profiles (the app is linked to Facebook) of people (set preferred gender) around you (set radius)…

And then you swipe right if you are interested and left if you’re not. If the person you swiped right for shows mutual interest, you two will be automatically mated for life put to chat.

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Put bluntly, it’s pretty much man-shopping based on profile pictures. Way to encourage people to judge based on appearances – like I don’t already do that on my own.

I told my (single) girlfriends about this app (why is it called Tinder anyway?), and they seem to be having more fun with it than I am. I don’t know, maybe I’m more into serendipitous encounters than casual conversations on a cellphone. You know, more Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop and all that, instead of You’ve Got Mail.

Yeah, I’m aware that if I keep waiting for a chance encounter with a handsome, sweet and funny stranger at my usual hideouts I will probably end up like this:

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Ah well. For now, I’m keeping busy. Neverland, be kind to me!

At least I have him in mind for Peter Pan.

Besides, so many books, so little time! Right now, I’m reading this:

Night of Cake and Puppets, a Daughter of Smoke and Bone novella by Laini Taylor

SO MUCH LOVE for this! Unlike DOSAB, it’s written in first-person POV, and alternates between Karou’s crazy, tiny, fierce, funny best friend Zuzana and her crush, sweet, shy, talented violin-playing Mik. The prose is pretty, lovely, funny and completely Laini, if you read her blog.

Here’s a snippet I love:

Snow flurries
Rose bush
Light vines

See how her prose sets off so many visuals in your mind? The words may look dull on the page, but with the right dose of imagination they can come so completely alive and paint such a vivid picture. I just can’t get enough of her pretty imagery!

After Night of Cake and Puppets, there’s Blackbringer and Silksinger. But then I want – no, need – to reread Days of Blood and Starlight before April (i.e. Dreams of Gods and Monsters) comes along.

Damn. Those titles. Epic or what?

Have a great weekend!