Off to camp!

PT is at Camp NaNo

Some of you know, and some of you don’t, that NaNoWriMo doesn’t just occur in November. Every 30 Day month hosts a NaNoWriMo– albeit, just not the official one.

It’s called Camp NaNo. And the April fiasco begins tomorrow; or tonight, at Midnight, if you prefer. I know I’ll be up at midnight cracking out my words and rocking to a blue moon. I’ve set my goal at 25k; half the November NaNo, but not quite 1k a day. Is is a thirty day month, after all. But I do this for a reason.

NaNoWriMo is important to me. I’ve clawed my way through November every year for a few years now, but I always do one thing: I write original work.

Now, some people know me. I write a lot of fanfiction. I like writing fanfiction, it’s my playground. But I use NaNos strictly for my original work; my books, those things I hope to one day publish. One in particular I’ve been working on for… three years now? And that’s the one I’m doing this April. I’ve stepped into the major second arc, and it’s time to hunt the villain down, and figure out how to play nice with our partners.

I’ve also set my bar lower than typical because, as fate would have it, I’m a smidge addicted to videogames and cartoons, and may end up taking a day or dabbling at those. Also, I have a job that I just cannot dump because I feel like it; if I did that, I’ll never make another penny, and pennies add up when you start storing them together.

Not all of my Cohort is doing Camp. But some of them are, and that’s a start. Not everyone reading this is doing Camp; but some of you are, and I applaud you. Every word you write today is another word you didn’t have yesterday, and I have faith in you.

–Natasha

 

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Writing Prompt: March 2016

Once upon a time, I took a refresher course for the various particles of the English Language. I did this mostly because I’m really bad at things like nouns, verbs, and whatnot; I find it very hard to remember which ones fall into which category, even though I’m fairly decent at stringing together cognitive words.

My first week in this class, we were given two small sentences only three words apiece and and told to expand them into something beautiful. I think there was also something about marking something because I have things highlighted for reasons I cannot comprehend. Oops.

This week, I’ll post the first of the prompts, and what I got out of it back then.

Sentence Chosen: The flowers bloom.
Constructed Sentence: The moment the flowers bloom, the inexhaustible expanse of the field comes to life in a riotous kaleidoscope of incandescent colors to herald the first breath of a brand new spring.

Now here’s your challenge: Take the chosen sentence– and use it in a writing prompt. It’s tiny, so I know you can do it. What you make out of it doesn’t have to be more than a sentence long. But if it blooms a paragraph, or two, or a short story– or a novel proper– then that’s great and perfect, and good for you. You’ve written something.

Remediation Essay: Variation in Lord of the Rings (Autumn 2013)

Below is the Essay posted in it’s entirety, without editing or revision by my current hand. It was written in my Autumn class of 2013.

 

Introduction: I have decided to write my essay based on my own personal experiences reading, viewing, and visiting Weathertop. I do this because choosing just one thing to focus on about this scene is a difficult thing for me, so I felt it best to give a rounded account of what I felt during each piece and how it influenced or effected me. The next three paragraphs cover each medium in question.

On reading the scene of Weathertop: There is considerably more depiction of Weathertop in the book, worldwise; it’s described fairly confusing, but it gives us more of a view around the hill that I haven’t seen in-game or in the movie. My upset with distance and space below, I’d rather focus on the descriptors we see in the book. There’s enough in the book, before and after Weathertop proper, that gives us a good view of it; it’s a scene of hope when they get there, because it gives them a wide view of the world that is around them, what they’re facing. In the book it also serves as a focal-point to coalesce how very dangerous the enemy they face happens to be. In the book the scene is rather dialog-heavy, with us learning about the history of the fort, elves, and the birth of Aragorn’s own bloodline. It’s a very rich, cultural experience, but it doesn’t really… give to anything else, even putting me in the area with them. But can I see Weathertop in my mind, with just what the book gives me? No.

On watching the scene of Weathertop: One thing that stands out concerning Weathertop in the movie is when you first see it, and you try to gauge distance between Aragorn and the ruins. It’s hard to get a good grasp of the presumed size of it; are those trees between them? Grasses? How big is this place? It’s impossible to tell, and it’s the only real good shot we get of the whole fort and mountain in daylight. We immediately move to Aragorn and the hobbit-folk tucking in under an overhang, and while we see a wide-view shot again, it feels… short. Stumpy? The characterization, however, really pulls home how much the hobbits really do not know what’s going on, how unaware they are of their danger and mortality. Aragorn goes to scope the area, Frodo takes a nap– everybody else lights a fire to act as a beacon and tell the whole world they’re there. Suddenly Weathertop has become a guiding lighthouse for the Nazgul. My issues of space being discussed in the next paragraph, the main point the movie drives home is just how unprepared the hobbits are for this journey, their fear, but their willingness to try and fight anyway. The one thing I really don’t like is how it makes Aragorn seem… equally unprepared for this circumstance, when he clearly saved their hides in Bree. Sure, he came back, but why leave four Shire-folk alone with so limited a rule-set in the first place? As a viewer, I would like to understand this motivation, but as a person I understand that Aragorn is being shown to be able to make mistakes, and this humanizes the character.

On visiting Weathertop: Visiting these old fort ruins in LotR:O was a pleasure for me in many ways, as it proved, once again, a certain faithfulness to the franchise. In the book and the movie both I had the feeling of a much smaller area than what I felt in-game, which had upset me because when I think “fort” I measure a great deal of space. In the movie the scene felt like it belonged to a watchtower as opposed to any kind of… castle of a sort, with limited space to move, little lone fight, but great for seeing large distances. However in the game I was much more pleased to find that it actually covered a great deal of area. I can imagine a nicely sized garrison in the space given, the fort itself in it’s proper glory capping the hilltop/mountain, and jutting like a spire for all the world to see, and to see all the world. Part of the “ground floor” arches and columns were depicted as well, but what really caught my eye was actually the way the “floor” itself was done. Most of the flooring is gone, except what appears to be a sliver of circle-motif buried under dirt and stones, but it still peeks out. It screams “age” and timelessness, but also it holds to the sheer stubbornness of the architects, the architecture, the people and culture that lived and fought there.

In conclusion: Although I love each and every different medium for itself, some things render easier a depiction for people to follow. There are not enough words used in the book for me to visualize Weathertop, although I desperately wish it were otherwise. While I also love the way it’s depicted in the movie, my favorite ‘vision’ of it is certainly going to be the space in the game where it’s settled. In my experience interacting with Weathertop in these fashions, the book left me wishing for clarification, the movie left me vaguely frustrated, and the game has made me feel longing. I would have loved to see what it would have looked like in all it’s glory.

About the Author: Power Rangers Lost In Space

A word of warning for people concerned about Spoilers: This post will contain SPOILERS concerning much of Power Rangers: Lost In Space, up through the series and all the way to the season’s completion. If you have not watched the show and intend to do so, hoping to do so without spoilers, please do not read this post.

That said, I fully recommend you go watch Power Rangers.

Now!

As some of you may know, I, like many in my age group, watched Power Rangers growing up. I fell in love with it from season one (ala Mighty Morphing Power Rangers!), and I am still very much in love with it to this day. I like the concepts, the execution, the characters, plot lines, and various resolutions of situations. I like monster designs.

I love the world of Power Rangers. There is very little that I would change in the universe. So preciously little.

But like all things, there’s always something that sticks a thorn in your eye. In Power Rangers: Lost in Space, that thing was the conclusion.

That’s right. The very last episode itched at me. As a child, I didn’t really understand why, and I didn’t have the words to explain it. But watching it set wrong with me, especially the death of one of the arc’s villains, Ecliptor, who died in a blaze of power via Zordon’s timely death which “destroyed all evil in the galaxy.” I liked Ecliptor. I was sad he died, and I wanted him to live. Why  not? He was a great dad to Andromeda, wasn’t he?

Of course, this show aired back in 1998 through 1999, and I was eight and nine in those respective years. Children don’t have a lot of words for concepts, and I have always had excessive difficulty in focusing on things for large periods of time. I went on to watch more things, more things, Power Rangers included. But through the years, I carried with me Lost In Space the strongest. There was something about it that didn’t settle in me, and I couldn’t rest easy due to it.

As an adult, I decided to go back and watch Power Rangers from it’s inception. Being a writer and a grown-up, now, means I look at things in a different light. I have more words for concepts, I get more of the hidden jokes, and– more importantly–  I can focus better on things, and for a longer period of time.

So I watched Power Rangers. I started at the beginning, ever-eager to get to Lost In Space, but unwilling to skip the rest of the seasons. Something in Lost In Space still nagged at me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it…

Until I watched it again.

Of course, there are things I went in knowing, remembering. I remembered Ecliptor’s death, if not his name. I remembered that he had raised Andromeda. I remembered that Andros was attractive– he and Tommy made up some of my earliest crushes on real people– and that he had a friend who he’d put in hibernation in hopes of finding a cure for… something. He was sick, and so he had to. I also remembered that [spoiler] Andromeda was Andros’ long-lost sister.

There are things I didn’t remember, like the fact that Andromeda had a crush on Andros’ best friend, or that Ecliptor was such an awesome father. I didn’t really remember them finding any of Andros’ people, hidden away and waiting for the day when it was safe to be seen again.

I didn’t remember Andromeda’s heel-face-turn, her helping the Rangers there at the very end, or Ecliptor’s quite resignation for it, his desire to protect his daughter turning into helping the Rangers escape a fatal trap that he himself had helped set up. I didn’t remember these things. But watching them again.. remembering what I did…

I realized why it bothered me.

There is a line Ecliptor says, when he is talking to Andromeda shortly after she learns who she really is. He admits that he is a created creature; he was made, and he was made to do evil. Andromeda was born, and people who are born are inherently neither good nor evil, that is a choice they make, part of who they’re raised to be. Ecliptor had raised her to be evil, and he begged her not to go good.

And this is what bothered me. Because even as a child, my concept of evil was– well, negligent at best, but somewhat existent. People who did good things and who helped other people couldn’t be evil. Ecliptor was made to be evil– and he had defied his nature, even in raising Andromeda. Helping her, and the Rangers, only further highlighted it.

I understood the lesson. Good people can do evil things, and evil people can do good.

And then he died; Zordon killed him, and further impounded this lesson into me in words that I only had as an adult. Only, it added to it; good deeds are ever-punished. And you cannot tell me that this was not the lesson. I have seen other crafted villains turn good and survive. I have seen the Power of the Rangers turn some of their villains human, even when their choices were their own.

But Ecliptor died. Ecliptor, though designed and crafted to do evil and subjugate the world, did good things. He raised a little girl who had been kidnapped from her family, taught her how to love the things that were hers and to live, he taught her how to fight and survive and be strong, and more importantly, he loved her, he loved her enough to go against his own nature and defy the calling that he was crafted for.

And Zordon, touting the title of benevolent and generous defender of galaxies, killed him.

I suppose… Zordon is not evil, inherently, because of this. Zordon has done wonders. He has saved more people than I can fathom. But what Zordon has also done is murder a man– and to me, Ecliptor was a man– who was trapped by virtue of not having been born. A man with literally no choice but to be who he was, and fighting it.

Even going back to watch Zordon in the earlier shows, I listen and I watch and I remember that Zordon’s view of the world is purely in black and white. That Zordon cannot fathom anything beyond that scope, and does registers lack of choice as being a choice to be against him.

That Zordon murdered a man who loved his daughter. Andromeda later became a Ranger, in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy; but some part of me suspects that she gave it up so easily because she realized that this.. herald.. wizard.. mentor of the Rangers had killed her own father, for nothing more than not having a choice to be good.

Let’s Talk About: Language

The thing about language is that, even if you’re speaking the same one, you might not be. Everyone uses language differently. Definition is perceptive. You can be talking to two different people, say the same line, and get entirely different reactions.

Why is this?

This is because of perception. Perception covers comprehension of the word, the meaning, nuances, and how it’s applied to a given situation. Perception is influenced by upbringing, family culture, surrounding society, the age of an individual, the time they live in, their schooling, their occupation and various hobbies. All of these things shape an individual, and this influence their perception of things in the world. In turn, these things influence the words they hear or see.

Let’s try an experiment. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you read the following sentences? Go ahead, write them down. It’s alright. No one is going to see them but you.

“These glasses are beautiful.”
“The plates shifted.”
“It’s running.”

That’s good. Now. Consider your answers. What did you come up with? Why did you come up with those answers?

A doctor might look at these words and think: pretty eyeglasses. A collapsed stack of dinner plates. An intestinal parasite.

A waitress may look at these words and think: pretty drinking glasses. A stack of plates. The refrigerator.

A scientist may look at them and think: Eyeglasses. Specimen plates. A mouse.

But what about a child verses an adult? Young children have fewer, more broad concepts. A Child may look at these words and think: the glasses are pretty because they’re yellow. Maybe a car is running, or a horse. The dishes were stacked wrong.

A poor person might look at the glasses and say: they’re beautiful, but not pretty enough to warrant being so costly. The plates are paper, they shouldn’t shift. The electricity is still running. A rich person may say: the glasses are nice enough for spare change. Oh no, the plates made a noise when they touched the table. The horse I bet on yesterday is running today.

A leather craftsman may look at all this and say: the plate shifted and my pattern is ruined. The person making jerky could say: the dehydrator is running, the jerky will be dry soon. A glassblower may look at his finished product and say, yes, these glasses are beautiful, they may be my best work.

Perception changes based on individual. Exterior context helps determine what it is a given word is being applied to, in visual or audio format; but without context, words are just words with different things applied to them by a  person. Let’s have another example.

My brother is a hard-core video gamer. He builds video games and he enjoys doing it. I am a gamer, though somewhat more casual. Furthermore, I write. When we attempt to discuss the merits and drawbacks of a game, we see different things.

I see: story lines. Characters at creation and through development. I see the little details that made the world richer.

My brother sees: pixels, frame-rate, model crafting time, depth and scope and scale of the play area. Difficulty and complexity of the three-dimensional universe that it is created in.

Whereas I see the game based on the universe that the game is depicting, my brother sees the game based on craftsmanship– and purely the visual craftsmanship at that. He sees each piece based on parts individually, whereas I see them based on how they link up and connect to the world.

For example, you have a 2D world with a 3D hero– that’s two-dimension and three-dimension, and to put that in scope, real life as it exists is four dimensions– and the hero loves his cat, his sister, and his king. My brother will wonder why the hero is in three dimensions instead of the hero and the world matching, and I will wonder what he named his cat and what his king did to draw his affection.

There is nothing wrong with different perceptions. Nor is there anything wrong applying different definitions to a given word.

But everyone uses those words differently, because those words mean different things to them than they do to you. So even if you and a friend are using the same word in a conversation, bear in mind it may not be the same word at all. If there is a misunderstanding, it’s not always due to the lack of poor communication: it may very well be due to the differences in your perceptions.

The way we interpret our world, and the way we’ve been taught to interpret our world, means we are all going to have this difference. There’s no way around that. But once we acknowledge that although we’re all speaking the language that we really may not be, communication gets a little bit easier.

The best part about this? I’m a writer. My favorite thing in the world to do is to play on your perceptions. But sometimes even writers get tripped up. We’re not infallible.

The other day I was in a chat room with some other writers, and the concept of a lost bunny being friendly popped up in conversation. One person immediately assumed a wild hare with rabies; another assumed a tame rabbit that had gotten out of it’s hutch.

The conversation spiraled from there: if it’s a tame rabbit that is loose, it’s likely dead. Why? Because tame rabbits don’t know to run from predators. But who said there were predators? Why is the rabbit not loose in a house, trying to figure out how to get out of the building, or else back to the room where it lives? Why would a hare be in a house?

We were all speaking the same language, that’s true. But our perceptions of the world, and the definitions we hinge on words, changed the conversation.

I confess I really have no idea what happened to the rabbit. But it did make me think.

When we recognize that we are speaking another language, communication becomes easier on each of us.

Infinite and Versatile

Let me give a shout out and say thank you to Amanda over at Author Amanda McCormick for nominating me for The Versatile Blogger and Infinite Dreams awards!

 

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  2. Nominate 7-14 other bloggers for the award. Link to their blog and let them know!
  3. If applicable: Answer your nominator’s questions and ask 7-11 questions to your own nominees.
  4. If applicable: Share 7-11 facts about yourself.

 

Facts about me:

1: I can write anything to a love song, and I don’t know why.
2: I go by both the 12 and 13 Sign Zodiacs; I’m a Libra/Virgo as a result.
3: I accidentally got my mother addicted to the works of some of my favorite authors. One of those was fanfiction.
4: I’ve read some fanfiction that I consider better than the original canon.
5: I consider fanfiction to be some of the height of flattery, and have a high desire to one day see fanworks of my own original work.
6: I’ve literally been in one play in my whole life. It was at the church I was later banned from. I played the Angel and the Bell, and somewhere I still own a copy of the script.
7: Because of this play, a frequent inside joke in my family is that my Halo is in the Vacuum cleaner.
8: I learned to lie through my teeth at a young age, with a smile on my face.
9: I am pan/asexual and pan/aromantic. I know those don’t look like valid types. That’s just how it is.
10: I am a self-admitted prude even though I am utterly fascinated by the human body.
11: My #1 turn-on is human musculature.

And now that you’ve gotten the TMI update, my nominees are:
Literally everybody. I don’t know that many people on this website yet. But let’s try the few people I do know, shall we?

1: Tor
2: Meggan Walsh
3: Miss Emily
4: And those of you whose names I have forgotten belong to which blogs in specific. Meep.

Random Fact #12: I have a shoddy memory, and I can’t remember names to save my life.

Insights into the Mind of Me

It occurs to me, albeit retroactively, that I can use some of my classwork to function as blogposts. I’m not sure what, if anything, you might get out of it, except an insight into my head when I’m studying.

Perhaps, if I am very lucky, you will be able to use them to prompt your mind into thinking in new methods. If not, then at least all my old coursework is not merely sitting and collecting dust. I know some people who were truly interested in the material I wrote, though of course I could never, actually, at the time show it off.

Still. I shall do my level best not to flood anybody with my essays and thoughts too overly much.

The thing about my coursework, though, is that now that I’m no longer taking the given course and can show it off, I’m of course going over it, and have a desire to indeed rewrite a given article based on my new thought processes and experiences with a particular subject. I know it’s not much, but to me, doing this makes me feel like I’ve grown as a writer.

Some of it I can even break down into prompts for you readers (if there are any of you poor souls out there reading this….) and you can give them a whirl of your own.