Saturday, February 22, 2014

Writer in Search of a Writing Spot

I need a change in scenery. Something to spice up the endless hours of burning my eyes out on the screen. Meeting my 1k word count goals every day at the same computer in the same shifting light is fine... but I'm tired by the weekend. I want to go outside.

Or sit inside, in the AC, but somewhere that's not the office or my own house.

Graduate school gave me the chance to write anywhere I wanted on campus. I had my pick of at least five different buildings, each with their own nooks and outlets to suit my moods.

But now I commute to work, come home, and go to sleep. And at work, the only real place to sit is in my cubicle. I'm really good at sitting there for hours. So my project is to find (a few) public places (besides the library) that I can hunker down at and write on the weekends.

I haven't always had this opinion - another point for the Real World. In fact, writing in public spaces had been kind of fun to joke about among my grad peers, because we all knew the stigma behind it. To quote one of my favorite cheeky writing books, Robert's Rules of Writing, Robert Masello says:

Starbucks is where writers who want to be seen in the act of creation go, who treat writing as if it were some kind of performance art. They want to be admired, they want to be soothed by the ambient noise and the occasional glance from an attractive patron. They want to be asked, "What are you working on?" so they can sit back and talk about it.

I'm not gonna lie. Part of the intrigue is that I have a shot at being a little more social. By simply sitting at a cafe or bookstore, the possibility of making new friends or witnessing something inspiring (or funny) is greatly increased than... if I sat at home.

Besides, aren't hip 20-something's supposed to be out in public, soaking up the universe? I dunno. You tell me.

I've been living in the same place for 10+ years (not including the four years at college), so I know what's around here. Businesses close so fast that my memories of failed gift shops, pet stores, and a parade of restaurants isn't so great. The rent's too high, I guess, for some entrepreneur to open a coffee shop down the street from me.

Like any good sleuth, I searched the internet for coffee shops, bakeries, soup and sandwich shops - anything that might be in reasonable driving distance. The shops I found were a good 45 minutes away (without traffic) and/or in dubious areas of town. So.


So. That leaves only one place: Barnes & Noble. *cue ominous music*

My local B&N (which is not so local, driving-wise) is really the only central book hub left after Borders closed. There are no used bookstores. Only one place to go. Personally, I love wandering the two-story store; as much as I love ordering books online, nothing beats the pleasure of finding books by simply stumbling upon them. There's a coffee shop inside the store, so to speak, so I'm going to start going there to write for an hour or two in the morning.

The hard part is making sure I don't leave with a new book each time!

Do you have a favorite place you like to write/read at besides at home? What's your view about writers writing publicly? 

BTW, make sure you stop by Namie's blog, Good Morning Lovely, because she's just posted her interview with me there. Do poke around her blog; Namie's posts are both uplifting and inspiring - and I have the honor of being her friend (like, in real life. We hang out).

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fancy Free

This might as well be my Valentine's Day post. The heart-shaped chocolate boxes have been rotting in stores for months. My co-workers are making dinner reservations at the posh restaurants in town. I'm not sure if love is in the air, or if that's just the inky smell of the communal copy machine breaking down. But one thing's for sure: it's the same old story for me this V-Day.

I'm certainly not complaining.

Life keeps me busy at this time of year. After moving to a new cube at work, I've been enjoying more sunshine (being closer to the windows has its benefits). In addition to work, I've been making great headway on my current manuscript, We Could Fall in Love. I've just reached 30k which, by my estimation, is the halfway point. The plot thickens. From here on out, I'll be making my characters' lives extremely difficult.

That's not to say I'm not in a romantic mood.

There are three things that I'm thrilled to be able to do this V-Day. I've been in the habit of spending each V-Day indulging in the things I love to do and I've got a solid plan this time. Check it out:

3) Belt out Don Bluth love songs.

You know by now that Don Bluth is a big hero to me. This is not a surprise. But there's nothing like the music that comes out of his films. I'm not lying when I say that I love EVERY SINGLE song. If the OST's were actually available, I'd never hit "skip" on any track.

With that said, I've narrowed down my top three favorite romantic songs from his films. This was very hard. The sacrifices I make for you guys.

If you gave me the time, I could spend decades singing the praises of The Pebble and the Penguin. But my most favorite part of this movie is, well, Hubie's existence. HUBIE. I'm a pretty big fan of beta males (aka, the strong and kind male characters that DON'T throw women against walls or exude macho / stalker attributes).

Hubie's totally beta. He's a clumsy, sensitive penguin who is hopelessly in love with Marina. Throughout the film, he learns how to stick up for himself (and how to throw a mean punch), but doesn't change who he is inside (Don't even get me started on Marina. She's so cool). I happen to think that this song is pretty gosh darn romantic because he finds the courage to share his thoughts and feelings with the girl he loves.

Rock-A-Doodle is another bizarre gem I grew up with. I don't have an ear for Elvis (I really don't, sorry), but the songs from this film had me singing along nonetheless. In this song, Goldie realizes that she's fallen in love with Chanticleer - despite hating him in the beginning for stealing her spotlight. I remember being enthralled by the setting, while at the same worried that Chanticleer and Goldie would lose their balance on the swing and plummet off the building (I mean, who wouldn't be worried?). I also got really thirsty for milk. Totally romantic, I know. 

Guys, I'm dying. Thumbelina my favorite Don Bluth film. It's almost one of my top favorite films EVER. I should also probably mention, while I'm at it, that Prince Cornelius is my favorite animated prince. 

No shame. 

Anyway, "Let Me Be Your Wings" takes the cake for romantic in my book. First of all, Prince Cornelius has a pet bumblebee. Which is basically the fantasy equivalent of a motorcycle. Secondly, who wouldn't want to dance in midair, on water, or on top a giant pumpkin? Sign me up. The lyrics are sweet and full of promises that both Thumbelina and Prince Cornelius try to keep in the midst of their respective struggles. Plus, plus, plus! The finale, guys. The finale at the end of the movie makes me sniffle. A happy sniffle. 

2) Play otome games.

What is an otome game? Woo boy. Generally, it's kind of like an RPG, but usually has a female main character that ends up developing a romantic relationship by the end of the game. They usually come in the form of simulation games or visual novels, and I think they're a lot of fun because it's like reading a book (with good-looking anime guys, but you know, still book-like).

Amazon has a REALLY BAD selection of them, so when I got my iPhone, I couldn't wait to try them out.

If you mean agent rejections, then yes, hugs work.

My favorite one so far involves my main character finding out that she's actually the daughter of Japan's Prime Minister. Since the Prime Minister is always being threatened by rebels and other such troublemakers, my character is assigned a (handsome) bodyguard to protect her until the latest threat is over. Fun stuff. Also makes me want to write a more politically-driven story. Maybe.

As a writer, I also find these games to be fun because each guy has a different personality, from how he looks, acts, and speaks. It's kind of a wake-up call for me to make sure that my own male characters are well-crafted.

1) Use my miniature claw machine.

The truth: this claw machine actually belongs to my brother. But he left it at home when he moved out. So now it's mine.

What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Do you have a favorite Don Bluth film? Better question: do you also have a miniature claw machine?