Monday, February 13, 2017

Random Little Thoughts

Well it's been a while, hasn't it?  In the last year so much has changed and as much as I'd like to dedicate this to an update of all the rocks I've been hiding under, I think it's best to just say that it's good to be back.

For those of you who are new to my blog, I am a dedicated rambler of thoughts, ideas, and words that sometimes form sentences. For those of you returning, welcome back old friend. I'm intending to use this blog to talk about my usual nerdy stuff, writing, and most importantly spreading ideas that I can't fully express on my Twitter account. What can I say? I'm greedy and need more characters for the vast majority of my ideas.

I'm sitting here, a pink quilt draped over my lap and a dog snoozing in the sunlight pouring onto the couch beside me. I'm lucky. I'm thankful. Ultimately, I'm saying thank you to all of you because I have finally found direction in my creative life for the first time in a long while.

Twitter has changed my life. I now host a weekly writing chat (#WritersPatch at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays) and I've met so many amazing people I couldn't have ever dreamed of knowing. I'm actually making youtube videos; something I've always dreamed of doing but was too afraid to try. I'm happy and it's because I'm finding my purpose. My goal is to encourage each and every artist I encounter to reach and not be afraid. I spent too much time not following my dreams because I was scared. Now reality kicked me in the a** and told me to get going. You need to get going too. Take a chance. Create without apologizing. Don't be afraid to be happy with yourself. Take pride. Be bold. Share kindness.

I promise future blogs will be far more sensible and formulated. These were just some things I needed to untangle from my mind. Hope you didn't mind.

What are you going to do this week to be bold?

Xoxo <3

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fran Bow

This isn't a review.  This isn't a rating of a game or pros and con list.  No, this is just me talking about a game.  That game is Fran Bow and I never thought a game could impact me so much.  Fran Bow is a point and click adventure of a girl named Fran Bow, desperately searching for her lost cat, Mr. Midnight while trying to overcome and understand her insanity brought on by her parents brutal murder.  The game kicks off with her escaping from the asylum and quickly takes you to fantastical worlds filled with horror and beauty.  To say I enjoyed this game isn't quite right.  I am haunted by this game.  Not because it's frightening imagery keeps me awake at night or I feel chased by its monsters, no, I am haunted because it left me dreaming.  The conclusion of this game is purposely vague.  My husband and I played it together and we are still trying to make sense of what we think happened.  I feel enamored in the twisted world of this little girl.

Mental illness in storytelling has always been a fascination of mine.  Why?  Well, for lots of reasons. In this story Fran Bow can access a different reality via her medicine that she takes throughout the game. I have an overactive imaginations and I can safely admit that this imagination is amplified by my struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder.  I've also combated anxiety problems brought on by social situations and worrying.  Never once have I taken medication to deal this problem. I have often wondered if pills would be the answer to all my problems.  But being someone who will barely take tylenol for a headache, I've never had desire to reach further into what benefits medication could bring me.  I think Fran Bow showed my greatest irrational concern, that medication would make me lose my mind.  It isn't clear if the medication is actually helping or hurting Fran, but it does help her progress through the game.  You could also argue that the medicine is to Fran's benefit, giving her the opportunity to enhance her perspective on the world.  It feels like the creators were exploring that look at mental illness and the duality of medicine.  It paints no clear side to follow and I enjoy that uncertainty. I think uncertainty is my favorite aspect of this game.  Is this character good or are they evil?  Is this place real or is Fran just losing her mind?  There are so many questions and I've never been so happy with no clear answers.

You could argue that there are signs throughout the game to point to Fran being insane, but I think there are just as many signs showing that what she sees is real.  What we do know for sure that no matter what mistakes Fran might have made in the past, she is trying to set things right.  She is a truly loyal character and spunky to boot!  I feel in love so many times with this story and everyone in it.  And, this is the first time I've ever seriously debated writing a fan fiction because I didn't want it to end.  I hope there is a sequel, but I understand if there can't be, because with this game standing alone, we the audience can always keep dreaming.

Fran Bow was created by Killmonday games.  Please visit there website and give them some love.  You can purchase this game on Steam and I recommend that you do.  It's a beautiful journey. Please leave me a comment if you played this game and tell me about your experience.

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Patchwork Thoughts - Outline VS. Pants-ing

I've heard many opinions on how to best start a novel.  During NaNoWriMo there was a huge emphasis on pants-ing stories, where you just let the ideas come to you as you write.  I have also heard other writers scream from the roof tops that you absolutely need an outline or else your story with crumble like wet toilet paper.  I have tried both methods and I am going to share my findings.

Pants-ing

To give newbies a little more background, pants-ing is where you fly by the seat of your pants when writing.  You start your story with little to no idea of what you are doing and just go.  This is to help encourage more creativity and not putting pressure on your writing.  Pants-ing is great for generating fresh ideas with little restriction from an outline.  Long story short, though, I find it much easier to pants a short story than a novel.  With short stories you are keeping up a momentum for far shorter than with a novel.  Letting a story go with no direction for an afternoon is simpler than trying to keep the fresh ideas coming for months and months.  I think pants can be helpful if you are fed up with the direction your novel is going, but the portions of my NaNo novel where I pants-ed suffered greatly.  I found my story taking huge tonal shifts or going into places that made no sense in the current context of my story.  It helped me get words out and free up my thinking, but nearly all portions of my story that I pants-ed are going to be cut from the finished product.

Which brings us to outlining.

Outlining 

I'm just going to come out and say it: I enjoy outlining.  Outlining provides structure to my story and allows me to think about future scenes and plan it out in great detail in my head.  I get excited about scenes coming up and that excitement carries over into the energy of the story.  One of the first novels I wrote was when I was about 13 or 14 years olds and the first thing I did was create an outline.  I broke down the scenes chapter by chapter and used that as my jumping off point throughout the story.  It helped maintain my focus and get me to my end goal without any messes.  Outlines keep you from getting exhausted by needing to generate ideas throughout the writing process.  If anyone wants me to break down my outlining process in the future, let me know!

Do you outline or pants your way through stories.  Let me know!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Year-ish, New Goals-ish

Well, well well, look who the cat dragged in!  I'm battered but alive and returning from my run in with National Novel Writing Month in November and my brain break in this early part of December.  I don't think I will update on here much for the rest of the year (Lots of Christmas plans and a honeymoon to take) but I thought I owed it to this humble blog of mine to do some reflection for the new year.

First off, let's recap some of my goals I set for myself and this blog earlier in the year.  My goals I made back in August were pretty simple:

1. Write 1 nerdy article a week - Kinda Check?
2. Write 1 journal a week - Check-ish
3. Create 1 detailed video a month - Fail
4. Vlog more as time permits? - Fail

Let's start with the fails so we can end this puppy on a good note!  I didn't create any videos or vlog this past year.  Why?  Because my only recording source is my web camera on my laptop and it's officially gone down the crappy.  When I record the lip sync will suddenly jump and be off the entire video.  My editing skills/equipment is too limited to fix this problem.  My intention was to buy a new camera, but Christmas was a little spending this year.  I need a little more time to save up my dollars.  As soon as I have a camera, I will start vlogging.  About what?  Writing?  Poetry?  Just me rambling?  We will see....

I maintained my blog writing schedule pretty well this year.  My ultimate goal was to write 2 blogs per week and I did a pretty decent job at that.  One was for reflection and the other was nerd related discussion.  I think I did better at the reflection because I've really been evaluating my life these past few months.  My personal life is exactly where I want it to be and now I want to focus on enjoying my career.  I have been working the same job for 3 years almost for no other reason than that I don't know what to do with my life.  It's time to move forward.  I have officially decided I want writing to be my career but it's going to take a lot of time and work to get to the point where I can write for a living.  I may always have to have a part time job to support this, but my dream is to make writing the focus of my work.

How am I going to do this?

By setting goals!

I have decided to divide my goals for 2016 in quarters.  I'm hoping being more organized will help me put my best foot forward.  I accomplished more the last half of this year than I have in a few years, and it' because I made goal and stuck to them.

Oh!  BTW, I won NaNoWriMo.  The reason for my success really comes from setting a goal and not letting myself opt out.  I am going to write a novel this year.  But the main focus for the first half of the year will be deciding what to write and how to write it.

What are your goals for 2016?

Tootles! Xoxo!!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Patchwork Thoughts - Fighting Your Inner Grumpy Cat

Yesterday morning I was in a good mood.  I sat down to write an overdo blog and the oddest thing happened - everything I wrote was grumpy.  "Grr....my webcam sucks!  I need a camera!  Cameras are expensive!"  I brooded.  "RAWR!  I'm so nervous about NaNoWriMo starting Sunday!  Bahhh!"  I sneered.  It was only two paragraphs long and I was still planning to publish it.  My mouse hung over the "Publish" button and I couldn't bring myself to click it.  I thought it was just a wave of laziness washing over me because I was up too late last night.  I closed my computer, certain I would publish it by lunchtime.

And then I started doing some internet surfing.  The usual volley of bad world stuff started crashing in.  Bacon is going to kill you.  Conversion discussion for and against harassment were cancelled due to threats.  SAD THINGS!  BAD THINGS!  MAD THINGS!

....and then I decided to make a new article.

Today is a great day!  I know that sounds sappy but it's true.  I'm honestly tired of being grumpy and anxiety ridden.  Granted, anxiety isn't something merely banished by the clapping of hands but it sure as hell gets easier to deal with when you look at the positives.
Let's look at the positives!  

I think that's the advice I'm going to shoehorn into NaNo inspiration right now, you need to look at the positives.  We are probably going to be feeling very grumpy in a few weeks and we need to learn to be happy right now!  We don't have to master happiness, we just need to surrond ourselves with good thoughts to help us push through.  I have a half day at work.  I'm going to get my house clean.  My puppy is snoring next to me right now.  My husband shaved!  Now take those happy little things and store them like a big ball of light in your chest.  Keep them glowing slightly throughout the day to keep you in a nice lull of happy.  Something go wrong?  Bust open that little ball and let the light fill you completely.  Do this every day for the month of November.  Every morning wake up, make a mental or physical list of little good things in your life and save them for when you get really grump about your story.  Know that times are going to suck, but at the end of the month you are going to have a really, really happy thought to use: YOU WROTE A FREAKING BOOK!

Yay?

Yay!

What positives are you going to store up for November?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Patchwork Thoughts: #NaNoWriMo Nerves

It's getting close.  There are only two weeks and some change left until NaNoWriMo officially starts.  From there, I don't know what will happen.  Will I write 50,000 words?  Will I get 30 pages into my story and realize it's a complete snooze fest?  Will I write the next great American novel?  I have been running these questions frequently through my head, as if mulling it over one more time will give me a clear view of the future.  I've been known to over think, well...everything in my life and this is no exception.  So for the sake of piece of mind lets talk about some writing fears and what we can do as a team to combat it!

1. I don't think I'm going to reach my word goal!

The point of NaNoWriMo is to get to 50,000 words by the end of November, but I've been encouraging my friends to just make a goal and not worry about the 50,000 if it seems to daunting.  I on the other hand, have made it my actual goal to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I'm hoping that have a very strict time frame will force me to just sit down, get over my anxieties and just write the damn thing.  I think that is the key to dealing with your goal achieving worries, just write.  You have a much better chance of getting there if you just write.  Also, I'm finding the energy of other contagious.  When I'm feeling discouraged I watch a youtube video about NaNo or go on twitter and follow people who are participating.  This community makes me feel a whole lot better and as if I can achieve anything.

2.  What if my story sucks?

I have made a really detailed outline for my story, but do you know what?  It still has a lot of wiggle room in it.  I did that so that I can add more action if the pace seems dull and also, it supplies me with escape routes if I get dissatisfied with what I've done. If you feel like you story is weak, take an escape route and try a new direction.  Just because you veer off the path doesn't mean you won't make it to your end goal, you will just be taking a different route!

3. Is this going to be good enough to publish?

When I was in third grade I decided I wanted to be an author when I grew up.  I proceeded to complete only 2 stories in my young adulthood but started and stopped about 50 stories.  Why?  I constantly asked myself (yes even as an elementary school student) is this good enough to publish?  I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to be perfect and to only write things that could someday be published.  The result?  Nothing was ever good enough and I have yet to publish anything.  You need to write for the sake of practicing sometimes and not everything needs to be publishing quality.  Deep down the point of writing should be that you have something to say and you need to get it out.  Of course having readers for your work is fantastic, but you need to write for yourself.  You need to write because it makes you happy, not because it will a hit.  First find happiness and then you can worry about success.  It's what I'm still striving for everyday.

What are you worried about for NaNoWriMo?  Or what are you worried about in general?

Tootles!
Xoxo!!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Patchwork Thoughts - Adulting

Ugh....ugh....ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Bills to pay, ovens to fix, light bulbs burning out, laundry needing folding, interviews, resumes....I've been adulting pretty hard the last few weeks. I keep finding myself paniked, wondering how on earth I am going to keep up with NaNoWriMo when I have a day job and responsibilities at home.  My husband is a first year teacher and it's taking so much out of him but he's loving every moment.  To make his life easier, I've been trying to pick up the slack but I'm just getting out of the busy season of my work and I am FINALLY not having to do 6 day work weeks anymore.  There is just so much time and so little to do!  Wait...ugh I'm too tired, just keep that last sentence.

And I know I could be doing dishes instead of carving my Halloween pumpkin and watching Scream Queens last night.  I just need a break.  I think I'm going to need to get in the habit of regularily waking up at 5:00 a.m. to write my story for NaNoWriMo or else I will risk being too tired everyday when I get home from work.  I'm thinking about announcing to my friends right before November my intentions for the month, but will they really understand what I'm doing and the commitment I'm making?  Luckily I have a few members of my writers group joining me on this crazy November adventure.  I'm getting pumped.  Listening to others excitement about NaNoWriMo is getting me excited!

OH!  And you should totally join me and be my writing buddy!  Go to nanowrimo.org, create an account, and search for me under Alexandra VanHorn.

I promise some normal, nerdy articles are coming.  It's just that talking about this goal has been so important in making me fully commit to it.  My worst fear is that November will come, I will write 500 words, throw my hands up and go, "Nope!  Too much going on!"  I need this to work.  I need to do this.

My pup is snoring.  Lol!

Tootles!
Xoxo!!!!