Random 411: Thoughts on the new year (so far)

So, here we are. Twenty-four days into 2017 and I’m wondering if I’ve been productive enough. You know, if I’m off to a good start or not. And as always, I’ve thought a lot about this blog, what it means to me, and what (if any) are the plans for its continuation into 2017. Should I still do it? Should I keep doing things the way I’m doing it? Should I scrap it and start over? I mean, what’s the point? There are millions of blogs out there covering all kinds of topics. And I tend to focus on movies, television, and books reviewing them at my leisure, but there are so many out there. There are so many better ones out there, why do it? What am I contributing this fine industry that is entertainment? And the internet for that matter.

For me, it started off as a jumping-off-a-cliff type of thing. I wanted to get used to writing for an audience. Before this blog, most of my writing was done on an academic level so only my professors and very few classmates got to read what I wrote. For the most part, I did pretty well as far as grades go. I felt like I needed to take the next step. Or a different step. My research papers, essays, creative writings are, more or less, decent on a collegiate level, but now what? Do I try short stories? Do I participate in contests? Do I submit papers to the school journal?

These ideas terrified me if I’m being honest. I suppose they would intimidate anyone who has never considered writing for a bigger audience. A different audience. The court of public opinion (is that being a bit dramatic? Maybe, considering I don’t really have that many followers (when compared to others, that is). Anyway, I needed to take a step . . .  somewhere.

Blogging was all the rage around 2012. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was all the rage earlier than that, but that’s when I stepped into the blogging scene. And because I’m such a data junkie, I took a look at my stats from when this blog was first published on WordPress.com and then moved to WordPress.org in 2015. I was expecting to see lower numbers than I have. I’m not saying I’m doing immensely well, but for someone who was expecting to see maybe a hundred or so views and visits, I did not expect the 1,449 views and the 899 visits in 2016 alone. I’ve gone from publishing 11 posts in 2012 to 367 posts in 2015.

So, what does this mean? I have no clue. Back to my initial point. Why?

I googled “Why do people blog?” I did this to see what reasons are floating around out there. I know your reason is only as good as your reason, but I was curious to see why others do it.

ShoutMeLoud.com published a post listing the top 10 reasons why people blog and those are solid reasons. Things like networking, connecting with like-minded people, self-promotion, to name a few. One reason did appeal to me, though, because it aligns with why I started. To satisfy your creative side. To quote the section on this reason:

To Satisfy Your Creative Side

Sometimes your mind is abuzz with creative ideas, which you are not too sure of, expressing openly, you have a lot of fear of their acceptance, or you are not too sure how to start something like that, blogs are the best option for unleashing your creative ideas.

It not only gives you readers who might admire your work piece but also gives your confidence a boast.

One also has liberty to write semi-professionally.

(Remember to take a look at the complete list of reasons)

Is my mind abuzz with creative ideas?

Perhaps. Okay, yes. I mean, there are these tiny thoughts that populate my mind constantly and while I journal regularly, some thoughts just want to be heard, or written out loud.

Do I have a fear of acceptance?

I would like to answer this one with a resounding YES! because that seems to be the case, right? I wanted to jump off a cliff, so to speak, and get comfortable writing to an audience. But truthfully, I don’t completely fear acceptance. It may be more like I fear rejection. I fear ridicule. I fear negative comments and feedback.

So, where does that leave me?

411 Junkie started as a way for me to voice my thoughts on the information I gather from daily living. To put them into a post. To send them into the internet, curious to see who actually reads and responds to it. To see who provides feedback.

So it’s going to stay that way. Except, I’m going to open up the floor to include anything and everything worth sharing. Focusing on movies, television, and books is advice given by many individuals who gave advice on how to make a successful blog or how to turn your blog into a business. While I find this to be very good advice, I guess my definition of success is a bit different. I’m not set out to make money with this blog (although, maybe, perhaps, one day, I could use it to help me freelance some stuff. Maybe. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there). And considering the walk-through I just gave myself, my definition of success, the purpose of this blog, was to give my inner musings an outlet.

So, here’s to 2017! To being amusing, random, and freeform!

NaNoWriMo-slash-NaBloPoMo 2016

All right, all right, all right she says in the best Matthew McConaughey impression, in her head.

It’s National Novel Writing Month and for the blogging community National Blog Post Month. A push to kick it up a notch in the writing department.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with these terms, feel free to do a quick Google search because there is tons of information on both events. Or you can just continue to read on. I used to post links to sites like BlogHer for more information, but it seems the links have disappeared on earlier posts on the subject.

National Novel Writing Month is when authors, and writers, push to reach 50,000 words by the end of November. A motivation, a goal, to get your novel done or at the very least make a sizable dent.

Piggy-backing on this writing event, is National Blog Post Month where bloggers post one post a day every day for the month of November.

It’s been three years since I discovered this event and the one time I successfully completed 30 days of blog posting was last year. This year, I hope to keep up the momentum. And as it happens every year, when you think you’re ready for it, you have a game plan, you realize you don’t. This year is no different for me. You’d think I would be better prepared for it. Regrettably, this is not the case.

The rough outline I have scheduled for the month is to post the usual stuff (I know, I know. It’s sorely lacking, but I’m trying. I promise!) and more mindful of what I post. I want to say I want to up the ante on quality as well, but I’m not so sure I’ll succeed at that one. So, one step at a time. One step at a time.

Let us see where Words take us this month. I’m interested to see how this plays out this month.
Photo: lovelygeek.com

 

 

Table Talk: Fan fiction


I guess it’s time to broach another controversial topic in the land of entertainment: fan fiction. Truth be told, I’m ambivalent about fan fiction. I don’t have any loyalty to a particular fan fiction and, really, I don’t read fan fiction at all, but I used to read fan fiction back in my wonder years. And I’ve dabbled with a story or two, but that has officially been torn up and no trace of it can be found (so don’t ask). I will say that it wasn’t based on any particular fictional world either, and I’ll leave it at that.

With fan fiction, I understand the fun in writing and the reasons people do it. At least, the reasons I feel that writers of fan fiction, the serious writers of fan fiction, are because the love the world or the possibilities of it. For instance, if you don’t like how the author ended a story you can always continue the story in this fan fiction world. It takes the quote “if you want a happy ending, that depends of course, on where you stop the story (which I first heard from Mozzie in White Collar but then found out it is credited to Orson Welles)” quite literally. Another instance is if you want something to happen between “real life” people i.e. your favorite actors or a favorite band, you can make it happen in the world of fan fiction (though I find this kinda creepy since, you know, it’s real people). So I understand wanting to continue the fantasy. I tend to do that in my head. If I am disappointed with the end of a story I really love *coughs: Sookie Stackhouse*, like really disappointed, I close my eyes and rewrite the ending in my head. It doesn’t take away the sting of disappointment entirely, but it helps.

As much as I understand all that, I understand the flip side. I understand that certain fan fiction can borderline plagiarism. For those that need a refresher, plagiarism means “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing it off as one’s own.” I know this is a real gray area. At least, I see it as a massively huge gray area. The reason is, if the author of said fan fiction has mentioned that the characters belong to another author or that if their writing is based on the works of such-and-such, is that plagiarism? There is a disclaimer and they are crediting the characters and such as property of another so are they really passing off someone else’s work and/or ideas as their own when they do that? Another reason I see this as a gray area, I tend to view fan fiction as a hobby or a side gig. The fans do it because they love that world and I cannot see them, ever, as making a profit off their writing. They do it for pure enjoyment.

Which is why I find it hard, at times, to side with authors who hate fan fiction because they feel it is taking away from their livelihood. I mean, fan fiction will generally be enjoyed by other fans, right? And as long as the author of the fan fiction doesn’t make a profit off of them, is there really harm being done? Perhaps it comes in the quality and value, in which fan fiction degrades the value of an authors work. Even here, I sympathize with the argument, but can’t quite see how it does that. Again, fans know the characters belong to someone else. The cannon has already been written so I can’t see how a particular fan fiction takes away from that value.

And perhaps it’s because I’m not an author. Of course there is always that loop hole in the argument. I have never written a bestseller, nor do I think I ever will, so I cannot relate. That is a good point, however, I tend to agree with Joss Whedon on this one: “All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn’t your pet—it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.” Fan fiction, even though it’s borrowing from someone’s world, is art. Literature is art. If we held the standard that all interpretations of a said fictional world created by one author is off limits, where an author can penalize another person for using their world differently, then what can we say for works who are based on Shakespeare or Jane Austin? Not only that, most authors have borrowed an idea from someone else and/or have spawned their own idea from a story of another. I remember learning in my English class that there are typically three tensions a story can tell. The first being man versus man. The second being man versus nature. The third being man versus …, okay. I forget the third, but it was something like man versus things. If conflicts boil down to a few concepts and ideas, considering the amount of stories floating around out there, everyone has borrowed from everyone.

Which is why I’m ambivalent about fan fiction. Although, all things considered, it sounds like I’m pro-fan fiction. I would like to amend that though. I am pro-fan fiction to the point that it helps you with your own writing. If writing fan fiction helps you exercise your creativity as a writer, than do it. But let that evolve into your own voice, your own work, your own ideas. Don’t limit yourself to a particular world. As writers, we use experience to color our stories and ideas. We use life. Fan fiction is a part of that live so why not use that to create your own world and your own characters. Let fan fiction be the foundation in which you build your writing on. Let it be the first steps onto a new path, not the only steps.

 

A Month of Letters 2016: Halfway through

For those of you who are new to this blog and have never heard of A Month of Letters Challenge, where have you been?

Just kidding. Sort of.

A Month of Letters is a challenge to write a letter each day throughout the month of February. It’s not Send an Email a day or a text a day or anything in electronic form a day. It’s write a letter a day. As in physically picking up a pen and putting words on paper.

This is the third year I’ve been a participate. In 2014, I found out about the challenge about a week and a half left in February so I participated as much as I could in that last week and half. I loved it. As a letter writing junkie, who can blame me?

In 2015, I started off okay, but by day five I got sick and then couldn’t keep up and then I got all frustrated with myself so I didn’t finish out the month. Childish, I know, but I’m a perfectionist (of sorts), who can blame me? 😉

So this month, I was better prepared. I prepped my badges, for motivation. I made a Correspondence Log, for organization. And I made sure I stocked stationery and a good working pen in my bag for when I have down time, I have no excuses not to write a letter.

So, where am I halfway through the program?

Well, if we’re counting a letter a day, then out of the 15 days I missed five of them and it’s weird because they were on the weekend. Both Saturdays, both Sundays, and yesterday–the President’s Day holiday. The first weekend I had some medical tests done and just didn’t feel up to writing. The next weekend my family is preparing for a food booth we’ll be participating in this weekend so it was a bit exhausting. And yesterday, I spent the day with family celebrating at my cousin’s baby shower. So … while I didn’t write, I did spend the time experiencing life.

And while I missed writing day-wise, I sent out more than one letter/postcard on most of the ten days so correspondence-wise I’ve sent 9 postcards and 6 letters for a total of 15 pieces of handwritten correspondence.

I’d say that balances things out.

What I love most about this challenge is that I am not alone when it comes to handwritten correspondence. I have met many interesting pen pals participating in this challenge and they enjoy writing letters just as much as I do. It is fun and exciting when you come across others who share your passion.

The second thing I love the most about this challenge is the art of letter writing. There is something about tangible correspondence. There is something in the air when you pick up a pen and put it to paper and draft a letter to a friend overseas. Whether it’s because you’re forced to slow your thoughts, whether it’s because you’re actively engaged in writing the letter more than just tapping a few keys, whether its the fact that you get to choose the color of the ink or the print of the stationery or the stamp that gets posted to the letter, there is no denying the magic in the experience.

I am currently reading the book To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing by Simon Garfield and he touches on this very subject. I am four chapters in and I have agreed with everything he’s said so far about letter writing. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, I suggest you skim through this book.

So, with 14 more days to go, I’m hoping to write a letter each one of those days :).

Cheers to Letter Writing![AMAZONPRODUCTS asin=”B00BPDR158″]

NaBloPoMo15: Wrap Up!

What a month!

Can you believe in 30 minutes it’s December 1st? That is, for folks in Hawaii Standard Time. I realize that half of the world is already into December 1st. The point is, can you believe it’s already December?

Where did the year go?

And just 30 days ago, National Novel Writer’s Month started.

Stats! (59)

Total words written (up until that “59” marker after stats): 14,878
Total Daily Posts: 29
Average words per day: 496
Longest post written: November 6 at 1,378 words (NaBloPoMo15: That Biggest Fear!)
Most words written in a day: November 6 at 1,378 words

Did I accomplish my goal?
Even though I didn’t really set goals except for posting daily, I do feel I accomplished what I set out to do. I wrote everyday and I posted 29 out of 30 days (and only due to operator error which was forgetting to click “Publish” before closing my computer).

Any takeaways?
Loads! This is my second year participating in this event and I love the chance to work and focus on writing. And now that I’ve met my goal of posting daily, it’s time to work on content. How to improve my writing.

And that’s not just for blogging but writing in general.

I also appreciate looking back at what I wrote and deciding whether I could have done something different. I haven’t gone through that process yet, but as the year comes to a close, I know that I’m going to be analyzing what went on this year.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I love having an excuse to write everyday, to think about life everyday, and to think about how I want to spend that day so I can write about it.

So, fellow writers and participants in this annual event, how did you do? I hope you were able to accomplish your goals this month and had fun doing so.

Until next year!

Week Ending: A week of writing

This upcoming week will be the final full week of National Novel Writing Month and all its equivalents, including National Blog Post Month. The goal for novel writers is to hit 50,000 words towards that novel by November 30th, 11:59 p.m. The goal for National Blog Post Month is to post to your blog everyday.

Well, I am happy to say that as of right now, I have managed to post 20 out of 21 days (even though I wrote that one post on the day, operator error did not post it). I have also written 11,488 words averaging 547 per day. I was thinking about those numbers, feeling pretty good, when I realize these numbers did not count all the writing I have been doing for school.

And I realized this when I was going over this week’s study schedule for my classes. It is finals week for Intro to Social Psychology and our final is a comprehensive exam with twelve questions. Each question has a word limit of at least 300 words each question, not including citations. This is a whopping 3,600 words! It is also mid-terms for Ancient Greece History. Our mid-term is a short paper with a word limit of at least 1,000 words, not including citations. This work alone puts me at 16,088. This doesn’t include the weekly form posts I need to turn in for each class. Each post has a word limit of at least 250 words. which comes out to 1,500 words so far, if I’ve been following correctly.

I am not including any of the letters I wrote or the endless social media communications. I’m only counting writing where writing is the goal and intent. And that is still a lot of words.

In the end, I know it’s not really about the numbers, at least it’s not that way for me. And I am not posting these numbers to brag, but to show how much writing we do without thinking. What I love about this annual event is that it allows me to focus on writing. It allows me to be aware of writing and how much writing I am doing and if I’m writing at all.

There are eight more days in the month. The home stretch. The final sprint. There is Thanksgiving and Black Friday and the crazy holiday season still left on the list of topics to push your writing.

And while I’m not writing a novel, I am still rooting for all those who are.

And while I have a lot of writing ahead of me this week, the importance of free writing or creative writing is just as important as academic writing. I see academic writing as a way to practice structure and prefect content that is to the point whereas creative writing pushes the limits of your imagination and storytelling.

I hope to accomplish both.

So, with eight days left of this wonderful event, best of luck to my fellow participants! Cheers to writing!