Saturday, January 31, 2009

Trying New Things: Classe française numéro un

I learned how to greet someone in French today. It was the basics of the basics in my first French class at Alliance Française de Chicago. I also learned the alphabet, the numbers one through twelve, and how to pronounce a few nationalities.

I’m somewhat less intimidated by French now, simply because I know a handful of words. At the same time, I know this is going to be difficult for me. Not only because—as I thought and as other blog posters have mentioned—knowing Spanish is both a bit of a curse and a bit of a blessing. “Spanish will help you identify what some French words are, but it will not help you in pronunciation,” said Professor Erwan Sorel.

Plus, this is the first language class that I’ve taken since high school, having fulfilled all the college requirements before getting to college. Meaning, it’s also the first time I’ve worked on learning a language in eight years. So, yeah, I admit, it’s still a bit intimidating.

But, it’s invigorating too.

Last night, I felt overwhelmed by my novel. I sat down to write and to move around a few scenes, and I felt utterly stuck. I felt like I wasn’t making progress. The scenes I was working on were stale and maybe even unnecessary. What am I doing? I asked myself. My writing stinks. There’s no drama, no tension. My thoughts dragged me under, as if I was being swallowed by quicksand. So, I stopped trying to write, and I picked up a large volume to brush up on the basics of the French Revolution.

Note to self: reading a detailed history doesn’t clear your head; rather it just fills your head up with even more information—information that you know you need to somehow touch on in your novel if you’re going to make the novel understandable to young-adult readers.

So, I admit. I gave up writing, and research, for the night. I felt, at the same time, drained of and overwhelmed by words and ideas. As I said, I was stuck.

French class started to change that. I realized that, by taking this French class, I’m approaching my novel in, well, a novel way. I’m learning the language that some, but not all, of my characters know. My main character isn’t fluent, but she wants to be. She tries studying it too, although in a totally different way than I do. But, nonetheless, by creating a different way to access my novel and my characters, by learning French, I feel like I’m making the first step towards making some real progress with my novel. That reassurance helps more than I’d ever expect.

Writing clearly is not just about writing. It’s also about doing research—but not just the research you discover within books. It’s about experiencing and trying new things, like taking a French class.

What new things have you tried or learned in order to access your writing in a different way?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Writing Prompt #1

This is a new category. I'll post a short blurb about something I've noticed, or a snippet of conversation I've heard, or just something random thing that I've thought of, and then I'll pose a writing-prompt question. Take it any way you see fit, and please post your writing in the comments section so we can see all the different things people come up with.


The homeless man stands outside the Dunkin Donuts on Lake Street, just as he does every day. The snow sprinkles his dark, fuzzy, uncombed hair. He shakes his cup as he stares down the little, white girl walking away from him.

She's looking down at the sidewalk. Her mouth is open wide but her jaw is tight; the tension in her temples visible from a good ten feet away. She brushes off the shoulder of her blue coat with a Kleenex. Not once does she look behind her as she walks away.


What caused this scene to occur? What will happen after? Provide background and more characterization for these two figures.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cafe Spiaggia

Yesterday, I treated Tyler (and myself) to a birthday dinner at Spiaggia Café. While it was a bit pricey, it was worth every cent.

The café is on the second floor of 980 N. Michigan Ave, and is divided into three sections. We ended up in a section that felt like it was once a hallway, long and somewhat narrow. Our table felt shoved up against window, to create room for an aisle, so we felt a little bit cramped. The decor itself, with frescos on the wall and hand-blown light fixtures hanging above the tables, was pretty, although the extraordinarily quiet atmosphere caused the restaurant to seem a bit stuffy, but maybe that was also because we were the youngest people in the café, even though we're in our mid/late 20's.

All of that, though, is overshadowed by the amazing food, even the bread. Spiaggia doesn't serve Parmesan with their bread and olive oil, but that's because it doesn't need to. The olive oil is selected by Chef Tony Mantuano and available exclusively at Spiaggia, even to buy and take home. Along with the bread, the basket also contains some crispy cheese flatbread.

We started with the buffalo mozzarella appetizer; paired with acorn squash and prosciutto, the mozzarella tasted delicate and was sinfully delicious. As for entrees, the gnocchi with wild boar reminded me of my grandmother's Italian cooking; the gnocchi was handmade and fluffy, with the wild boar and red sauce adding a punch of flavor. We also had the ravioli, full of ricotta cheese and more prosciutto (the prosciutto is amazingly fresh). The grilled Treviso—a leafy vegetable—complemented the ravioli and added a crunchy kick to the dish. The sauce was light and sweet, which melded well with the other flavors of the ravioli.

I definitely recommend Café Spiaggia; it's much cheaper than it's extraordinarily expensive counter-part, Spiaggia Restaurant, just across the hall, and is definitely delicious—but be sure to request a table for 4, so you don't feel cramped!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Put Down That Book!

I talked a little about "reading deprivation" in the comments, but think it deserves a post here as well.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to read. A Lot. So, I'm definitely not saying people shouldn't read, not at all. But for you writers/artists/creatives out there, specifically the ones who feel blocked, I suggest not reading - books, magazines, blogs, etc. - for a week. This "reading deprivation" can do wonders for your creativity.

In the past, I justified my copious amounts of reading by saying that reading inspired me: not just through the ideas and images evoked through the written word, but also because reading allowed me to "see" how an author achieved a mood or a feeling. I told myself I was "studying" the way an author wrote.

But reading is also a wonderful way to procrastinate and put off writing, too. When I get stuck on something I'm writing or if I feel like putting off writing for a little while, I tend to pick up a book or a magazine or read a blog. So, when I was following the excercises in "The Artist's Way," by Julia Cameron, I wasn't too suprised to see that she recommended a week of "reading deprivation." But it was hard, by God it was hard.

I first read the chapter on "reading deprivation" a couple years ago, while I was half-way through a flight back home. I knew Cameron was right without having to think about it. I used reading as a "crutch." Despite the three novels in my backpack (I always carry a few spare novels on trips, just in case I get through them super quick), I didn't crack a single one of them open. When you're on a plane and your sister is asleep in the seat next to you, it's extremely hard not to pick up a book. But I didn't. And for the six days after, I didn't either. At breakfast, when I normally thumbed through a few pages, I talked to my mom more, or I sat, chewing my cereal and scribbling notes for the story I was working on. I started using my lunch breaks at work for writing (and sometimes errands). And, instead of reading before going to bed, I wrote.

My excuse, in the weeks prior, for not writing generally revolved around not having enough time. Suddenly, by not reading, I had more time than I expected. And I didn't use that time for just writing, I filled it up with more activites, more time with family, more time with friends.

Granted, I'm still an avid reader. But the week of "no reading" taught me how to find that careful balance, to make time both for reading, writing, and all the other fun stuff.

So, put that book down, and give it a try. I guarantee you'll be surprised by the outcome; and definitely let me know - in a week - how it works out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Will Work For Food

So what if Adam Gertler didn't win on last season's "The Next Food Network Star"? The Food Network gave him his own show, "Will Work For Food," anyway. And, in my opinion, Gertler should have won in the first place, and not "Big Daddy," Aaron McCargo, Jr.

I don't know if this past Sunday's show was the first of the season (the show was originally announced back in the summer but I hadn't heard of it until a commercial last week), and yesterday was the first time I'd seen an episode, thanks to my DVR.

There's no comparison between "Will Work For Food" and "Big Daddy's House." McCargo's cooking show is spliced together strangely (too many takes, I'm guessing?) and he still tends to mumble and say odd things that, really, say nothing about the food. (I only watched a few minutes of "Big Daddy," but that was more than enough). Gertler's show is more about what happens before a person can get cooking; More of a "Dirty Jobs" kind of show, if you will.

The trickiness of any show like this, is that it depends on learning a job from someone who is hopefully interesting and entertaining, like Adam.

In the first segment, Gertler joined the crew of a lobster boat and learned how to reel in lobster cages, measure a lobster, and rubber band the crustacean's claws. The work was interesting, but the man in charge of the lobster boat was not. As Adam asked questions of him, it was like pulling teeth. Adam, with his quirky personality, and his talk of feeling green could only do so much. Lesson for writing? All of your characters need to be fleshed out or have a distinctive personality. You can't have one character take over, for he feeds and works off the other players around him. The captain of the lobster boat did have one redeeming moment, though. "Where's your lobster bib?" Adam asked as they sat down to enjoy their catch at the end of the day. The captain responded, "Real lobster men don't wear bibs."

The second half of the show really picked up, definitely in part because of the beekeepers that were training Adam. While Adam was decked out in a full beekeeper suit (in 100+ degree weather, no less), the professionals only wore headgear, not even bothering to use gloves, saying that they slowed them down. They explained how to smoke the bees before handling the hives as well as the different kinds of honey bees - the queen bee, workers, and the drones (who don't sting). To demonstrate that the drones really don't sting, they shoved one into Adam's suit. Awesome.

Adam's random, offbeat humor makes this non-cooking show enjoyable. Let's just hope his "employers" keep entertaining as well. But no matter what, Adam Gertler has me as a fan.

Monday, January 26, 2009


In the first couple scenes of Spamalot, King Arthur (Richard Chamberlin) "gallops" onto the stage, followed by his assistant Patsy (Brad Bradley), who, in true Monty Python-fashion, clicks two halves of a coconut against one other. Spamalot is, essentially, a modern twist on the old favorite, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The characters talk of swallows, the Knights of Ni demand a shrubbery, and the killer rabbit - in puppet-form - takes a victim, in addition to many other Monty Python moments that get translated for the Chicago Auditorium Theater stage.

Part of the creativity of this musical, though, is the way it pokes fun at and parodies contemporary culture, especially Broadway theater. From tap-dancing to turning Camelot into a modern-day Vegas, the director Mike Nichols goes over-the-top with the musical's bright colors and utter ridiculousness, just as a Monty Python play should. As part of the "contemporary" aspect of the play, expect to see plenty of half-dressed women too. They don't usually have any sort of purpose, like the "Laker Girls" cheer during the first Lady of the Lake song or the many burlesque show moments, but I wouldn't expect them to. Characters, too, have unexpected quirks new to the Monty Python story, such as Robin pooping in his pants every time he gets scared, and Lancelot coming out as homosexual (after saving the feminine Hebert, of course).

The woman playing Lady of the Lake, Merle Dandridge, gives an outstanding performance, one of the best of the bunch. Her vocal range surpasses everyone else on stage - highlighted when one of the characters says he can't sing as high as she does - and she's a delight to watch. Some of the best moments, though, come from the improv, which changes depending on the city that the play is showing in. For Chicago, the Knights of Ni make fun of the "Da Bears," saying they'd have a more contemporary reference if the Bears had gotten into the playoffs. The actors also bring an audience member on stage, creating yet another moment of hilarity in what is already an entertaining story.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

First Chapter: The Boundless Deep

In this category of “First Chapter,” I’ll be writing about—as the name implies—the first chapter of the novel I’m currently reading. This idea originates from my “Intensive Fiction” class with fiction writer and University of Chicago professor Elizabeth Crane. In class, we read first chapters of novels and talked about the ways in which the writer introduced characters and themes, as well as got readers interested (or not) in reading more of the novel. I’ll try to do the same here, and then write a book review when I’m done with the full novel, to see the way my perceptions about the book, characters, etc. changed since writing about the first chapter. So, here goes nothing…


“The Boundless Deep” by Kate Brallier

Brallier starts the novel with a dream. She even writes, “It always starts with a dream.” This could have been off-putting had I not known from the book jacket that this novel is about a girl plagued by dreams of whaling despite never having been to the sea.

The dream itself is vivid, in part because of the highly-descriptive verbs Brallier uses: slapping, screaming, blasted up, chapping, watering (and that’s just from the first couple of sentences). And, from the very start, the focus is clearly on the dream imagery—a sperm whale is harpooned and the crew struggles to control it before it either dives back into the water or crashes into their boat. The main character, the dreamer, just seems to exist as part of the background, the one who is witnessing the whaling; this demands that the reader wonder about the dreams, more so than the dreamer.

The dreamer gives no detail of himself/herself, except when recognizing that they are fully aware that they are dreaming. “As the captain on that long-ago deck, I don’t know it; but I, the dreamer, know it,” writes Brallier.

When the dreamer wakes up, a full five pages into the first chapter, we are finally introduced to the main character, but, again and again, we are reminded about how these dreams have been consuming so much of her waking life, even though both are at odds with one another. In describing the dreams, she compares them to her practical, Midwestern childhood. All of this clearly hints at dilemma #1: why is she dreaming these dreams? Is she haunted, experiencing a universal consciousness, or reincarnated? And, most important to her, why her? Why can’t she just be normal, like everyone else?

Enter Jane, Liza’s roommate. Jane changes the color of her hair once a week, doesn’t know how to cook, is intelligent, and wants to know what’s going on with Liza’s dreams, even more so, it seems, than Liza herself does. (Most of this description of Jane is given through the telling of the story, not thrown in as facts unrelated to anything else).

This first chapter, we also learn, takes place the day Liza and Jane are to leave on their summer trip to Nantucket, to stay with Jane’s Aunt Kitty. Liza is finally doing something about her dreams; she’s going to the place she’s been dreaming about in hopes of figuring out what is causing her dreams. From the very start, Liza is breaking out of what is comfortable for her. As she justifies it, “After all, there’s only so long you can live with your head buried in the sand before you suffocate, right?”

So, strange whaling dreams plus main character reaching out beyond what she knows (and is comfortable with) equals a novel that I’m interested in learning more about. Brallier successfully introduces the main character and her sidekick, while also portraying the character’s main conflicts—and, it all happened in the nine-pages of the first chapter.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Trying New Things: Learning French

I signed up for my very first French class this morning. It's about time; I've been working on my novel, set in 2005 Paris, for well over a year now. And, I'm currently planning a trip to Paris in July, so I'm sure knowing a couple phrases of French could only help me.

As with anything new, it's kind of intimidating, trying to learn a new language now, after only having studied Spanish during high school. (And I know French is nothing like Spanish). When I walked into Alliance Francaise de Chicago, everyone - including students standing at the front desk - chattered in French. The receptionist turned to me and rattled off a question in French; I only understood the word, "Bonjour."

"Beginning French?" I said. He immediately switched to speaking in English, his speech heavily accented.

This is definitely going to be interesting. Classes start next Saturday. I'm sure I'll update on my "progress" in French.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Convo with the Cashier

Setting: Buying food from the grocery store attached to my building

Characters: Me; Cashier


The one and only SCENE

Cashier: How are you doing today? (scans my purchases)

Me: (nods head) Pretty good. How about you?

Cashier: (in high-pitched voice) Super-Duper!
(cashier shakes his head and starts putting my food into a bag)
Cashier: I don't know why I said that. It made me sound like Barney.

(I raise my eyebrows; Barney Stinson of HIMYM jumps to mind - yes, that's how obsessed I am with the show)

Cashier: You know, the purple dinosaur?

Me: Oh, of course.

Cashier: I swear. I don't watch Barney. Ever.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why "Finding Inspiration" is So Important

I've already noticed, in the days since my Jan 16th post, that I'm tending towards tagging my posts with "Finding Inspiration" more often than not. I wondered if I was using this tag too liberally, if I was treating it as a catch-all rather than a specific category. Then, today I realized that "Finding Inspiration" is so pertinent to writing life that it's only natural for most of the things I write about to fall into this category.

As writers, we notice things. If you're like me, you keep lists of things that catch your eye, or of interesting - and, often, random - conversations you have during the day. And that's where "Finding Inspiration" comes in; it provides a place for you to remember and share those moments, actions, images, and conversations that might influence what you and I write about next.

Today, in Jenny Rappaport's blog, Litsoup, there was a Book Block about the middle-grade novel, Emmy & The Home for Troubled Girls, by Lynne Jonell. As with all the Book Blocks Jenny posts, the feature author summarized her novel and talked about where she got her inspiration. The last paragraph discusses the genesis of any story (italics mine):

"I think, as writers, our subconscious minds push up images, snatches of songs, tantalizing odors, evocative phrases; and we need to pay attention. These incoherent fragments are the first tiny green shoots of something that has an elaborate root system already in place. I watch for these. I kneel down and give them my full attention; I water, fertilize, weed, I do everything in my power to coax the stories up. But without the seed first rotting in the ground for years and years, and then sending up a first exploratory frond, I have nothing to work with."

By posting to the category "Finding Inspiration," I'm taking the first step in noticing that "first tiny green shoot." I'm thinking about images and conversations, and wondering where they sprung from, why they're stuck in my head, and why I even noticed them in the first place. Someone once asked me how I came up with the idea for my work-in-progress novel, Through Charlotte's Eyes. It started with a footnote in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Then, I started researching - I knelt down and dug into the earth - and the story started falling into place. This is just one example of the principle at work in "Finding Inspiration" and in the sentiment expressed by Jonell. It's also why I'll keep posting to "Finding Inspiration" as much and as often as I'd like.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Review: In the Shadow of the Sun King

Golden Keyes Parsons delves into the religious intolerance of 17th-century France in her first novel, In the Shadow of the Sun King, which is part of a planned series.

French Protestants, or Huguenots, are persecuted, imprisoned, and put to death when they refuse to convert to Catholicism, by order of King Louis XVI, the Sun King. When the King's dragoons fall upon the Clavell's countryside estate, Madeline - the young, naive mother of the Clavells - rushes off to Versailles, in the hopes of appealing to the King, her former lover, to save her family.

The beginning of this Christian historical fiction novel struggles along as the characters face false dilemmas, such as when the Uncle despairs at having lost a matchbox, only to find it seconds later. The overall story, while one about religion, is also burdened by the Clavell family's overwhelming, and never faltering, faith in God. They never doubt the presence of God's hand in their lives, despite their house being burnt to the ground, despite Francois spending years in the galleys of a ship, and despite their youngest daughter being torn away from them to be re-educated in a convent.

At the same time, these obstacles still make for a fast-paced story full of careful, historical research that shines through on every page. Unfortunately, all these obstacles are resolved much too easily - especially given how many tragedies the family faced from the beginning - and their happy endings are explained away by the Clavell's utter devotion to God and Protestantism. The happy endings, in such a tumultous and intolerant age, just didn't seem realistic. Yes, the novel is about religious intolerance, but the history and background of that intolerance never got more than a few sentences here and there. Perhaps this wouldn't have been so bothersome had the characters, their thoughts, and even their faith, been fleshed out more than they were.

Overall, In the Shadow of the Sun King provides an intriguing historically accurate tale, sparked by Parsons' own family history, that is an enjoyable read even though it leaves the reader wanting in regards to understanding the characters and their motivations. Anyone interested in 17th-century France, and the persecution that many faced, should give this book a try.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Was (Not) There

Every morning, I turn on the TODAY show so I have something to watch and listen to while I get ready for work. That's where I first saw the images of the US Airways plane crash in the Hudson River. It's where I heard the interview of Casey Anthony's ex-fiancée. It's also where I learned how to escape from a car that has crashed and is sinking into the river.

Some of the TODAY segments are admittedly fluffy, but I often like how they approach subjects/news. So, between that and the way NBC has been hyping it's "continuous live coverage" of Inauguration Day events, my expectations ran high for the 20 or so minutes that TODAY was on in my apartment.

Instead, the camera was focused on the back door of the Blair House every second my TV was on this morning. NBC was waiting for Obama to exit and get into the town car, but he and Michelle were running late.

I suppose this is a risk that comes with "continuous live coverage”; unexpected things occur, like Obama running late, and they don’t know how to fill the time. The commentators (who might have been in New York, I don’t know; they never once showed them) tried filling the time by talking about how today was history in the making. One of the commentators also mentioned that when Obama and Michelle left the Blair House, whenever that might be, it would be the audience’s first chance to see what the Obamas were wearing.

Don’t get me wrong. I was and am just as excited as the next person for Bush’s last day and the new beginning that Obama promises to usher in. But, seriously, after all this hype, I get to watch the back door of the Blair House?? Even when they went to a reporter standing outside of the White House, reporting on the final hours of the Bush presidency, the TODAY show producers split the screen so we could still watch the Blair House and wait for Obama.

I wanted to see the crowd forming in the National Mall (they cut to that for about two seconds). I wanted to hear from the people about what this day means to them. But, instead, I got to watch the back door of the Blair House. What is the value of ‘live coverage’ when it just means watching a door? Does it symbolize how long we’ve waited for this day??

I was there in Chicago’s Grant Park on Election Night. I was there to see Obama become President-Elect. I was there to see excitement and happiness exude from each and every person in that crowd. But I was not there in the National Mall—where the crowd was double what it was on Election Night—to witness Obama’s inauguration live and in person.

Perhaps I’m venting about the TODAY show’s focus on the Blair House back door just because I’m disappointed at not being there today. Or, maybe I just didn’t get lucky in the 15 minutes of news coverage that I got to see this morning. Or, perhaps TV news stations should reconsider doing live coverage every single moment of today, and focus on the importance of this day in other, more memorable, ways.

I’ve been watching different parts of the live coverage (which, admittedly, I did record), and my favorite parts are hearing Obama speak, seeing the crowd’s excitement, and hearing what this day means to people the world over. But, this morning, I got to see the back of Blair House.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Portraits: Children

I'm branching my portrait business out into customized portraits of children. I think that adults/parents are more inclined to buy a portrait of their kids, rather than of themselves, if only to document their child as they get older.

My first portrait of a child is in progress, and it is of the son of a fellow grad student from The University of Chicago. I'm quickly realizing how different it is to draw a child's face than an adult's. For one, the pencil lines need to be soft (created using hard pencils that are of a lighter color, more gray than black), otherwise they quickly look like wrinkles, which ages a child well beyond their few years. Prior to starting this portrait, I've studied how other artists have handled this, and the unsuccessful ones tend utilize thick dark lines around the eyes and mouth. The successful ones use more shading rather than distinct lines.

The dimensions of the child's face are also drastically different. Children's faces, typically, are rounder, and the placement of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are also different, encouraging me to be extra careful in sketching out the entire face first before starting in on the detail. The size of a children's eyes also tend to be bigger.

Then again, children portraits are easier to do in that kid's faces tend to be more symmetrical than adult's faces, making it easier to line up where the nose falls in comparison to the eyes and the corners of the lips.

Portraits are not done all the same way. Switching from doing an adult portrait to one of a child keeps me on my toes because it encourages me to think about the way I begin and approach a new portrait.

How does this connect to writing? I don't start portraits the same way every time, and I shouldn't start stories in the same way every time either. A story can spring from an image or from a character sketch, or from a story I hear on NPR. Every time we set out on a new artistic pursuit, think about different ways of approaching your new subject. Don't rely on what you know or think you know. Experiment.

Maybe I'm stretching the connection between the beginnings of a portrait and the beginnings of a story, but I think there's something there. Let me know if you agree.

Click here to see some of my customized portraits.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The True End of Christmas 2008

My real Christmas tree finally came down yesterday. It was about time. Not only was it January 17th, but the tree was dried out and every time I touched it, the needles dropped to the ground. Tyler and I unwound the Christmas lights, both white and copper balls, which caused branches to break off. Then, because of the condo building regulations, we had to bind up the branches, in hopes of not dropping too many needles on our way down.

We used plastic packaging wrap since it clings to everything. It worked alright, as you can tell, but it didn’t bind the tree enough. You can also see all the needles on the ground (clearly, we made a mess).

As we (literally) carted off the tree to the bowels of the condo building, where the dumpsters are located, more needles and pieces of branch fell off, leaving a trail behind us, especially when we squeezed the tree through doorways.

I know it’s way late to be taking down a tree, but I justify it by the fact that the Daley Plaza tree is still up as well. Granted, the hundred or so foot tree is really about 30 trees and I know it’ll take just as long—if not longer—than it took to put it up (more than a week). The other difference? While the Daley tree may still be up for a little bit, now that my tree is down, Christmas 2008 truly feels over.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My New "Thermometer"

This is my view of the Chicago River from my apartment. This, as well as a sliver of a view of Lake Michigan, helps me determine how cold it is outside before I head out. There's ice, so it's cold, but it's not one big sheet of ice so it's bearable. Ever since we moved in to our downtown apartment, this has indicated how bundled up I need to get (which has been very helpful in the recent below zero wind chills).

But I have a new indicator too. My own body. I'm not talking about stepping outside and shivering and seeing my breath and all that jazz. I'm allergic to the cold. I break out in hives. In normal Chicago weather, it's only slightly bothered me and only on my legs, so I just dealt with it, figuring it's no big deal. But, again, in recent days with the below zero temps, the hives have spread to my back and my waist. It's irritating. It's itchy. And it makes sitting at my work chair SO uncomfortable. So, if I couldn't tell how cold it is outside, at least I know my body will tell me, whether I like it or not.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Taking Stock

It's officially been half a month since I joined the January Blogroll of NaBloPoMo and so far I've successfully posted to my blog every day this month, not to mention all of 2009 to date. =)

So, has it been worth it?

My original intention for the blog, Liz's Ink, was to write about writing. For the most part, I've done that. But there are days when I don't. I recently wrote about my health, or lack thereof when I was sick, and last night I just posted a picture I liked, along with a short caption. In my defense, yesterday I worked late and then got home minutes before friends came over and we headed out for a late dinner. I knew I only had those few minutes before they arrived to post, so, well, I posted a picture.

In my attempt to stop veering away from the intention of my blog, I'm going to set up different topics as a way to focus myself as well as to provide a jumping-off point for my postings. In ways, I think I've been naturally leaning towards this from the very start. Even when I've written about TV shows, like the awesome comedy HIMYM of course (haven't you been able to tell by now that I'm obsessed?), I've focused on the show's character or plot development.

Here is a working list of topics/tags that I'll start using to hopefully ensure that this blog stays about writing and writing about writing.

* Finding Inspiration: This will, obviously, include things I notice that might spark an idea for a story. This could also include random encounters I have, such as the post I wrote about meeting "RICHARD," or just about things or people I notice as I walk to work, such as the post about people-watching from way back when. This is a broad category and one that I will be using a lot.
* First Chapters: I have yet to write a topic in this category, but I'm planning on it soon! This will focus on how other writers start out a story and how they hook a reader.
* Reviews: Reviews will be of movies, books, and TV shows. Again, I'll try to focus on why I like (or don't like) something, character development, plot development, writing tricks the writer used, the ways in which the visual added to the speech, etc.
* Moods? Settings?: As much as I hate to admit it, my mood affects my writing. This category (and its title) needs to be tweaked, but I like the idea of writing about different things (like where you're sitting down to write) and how they affect not only your writing but your ability to as well.
* Artistic Musings: I work as an Executive Assistant by day, but, by night, I moonlight as a portrait artist. ( While writing and my artistic endeavors are totally diffrerent, both encourage my creativity and right-brain thinking. This category will provide a spot for me to think about how my art ties into my writing, and vice versa.
* Get Inspired: This one differs from "Finding Inspiration" in that I'll offer up different things and activities that I have done (and that I would like to do) that might inspire some good stories. Typically, this will focus on Chicago, but when I travel, I'll of course post about that too!

Again, this is a working list of categories . What other topics haven't I considered, that I should be? What would YOU like to see me writing about? Let me know!

Before I finish, I need to answer the question I posed for myself: So, was joining NaBloPoMo, and writing every day in the month of January, worth it so far?

YES. It's gotten a bit difficult on days when I struggled to come up with an idea to write about, but what I know matters for any writer is that you show up and you try to get something down on paper (or Microsoft Word, or Blogger) every day. So, that's what I'm doing - showing up at the blog every day to write.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Michigan Pic

This is a random pic from up in Traverse City, Michigan. I like the fact that this isn't a pic of the lake but of the river. And plus, the random fisherman is also pretty cool.

Northern Michigan = BEAUTIFUL.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I was planning on writing about the crazy Chicago snowstorm and below zero temperatures, but everyone knows how frightful Chicago weather can be.

Then, I was thinking about writing about a guy I saw on my walk to work through the snow this morning. He was roller-blading - or trying to - down the Randolph Ave. sidewalk. He had to go pretty slowly, considering the snow kept getting caught in the wheels, forcing him to stop rolling.

But that's just plain weird and attention-seeking. I mean, what did he do on his way out this morning? Did he look out the window and say, "Gee, it's snowing, so I better get my rollerblades on?" ?!?! What I've written is more than enough attention for that dude.

On to more, well, interesting topics?

An interesting guy randomly walked into the office today. His name is Richard (no last name given) and he takes things companies no longer need or want to get rid of, like furniture or cabinets, or binding equipment. Somewhat normal. He's a trash collector.

But he's also so much more. He also declared that he "finds stuff."

"What stuff?" I asked.

"Anything you can't easily find through normal channels," he said. "I'm not talking about pens and pads of paper. I'm talking about things that you search and search for and can't seem to find. I'm good at finding anything, like lost file cabinet bars, just to name one example."

Completely intrigued, I asked where he found all the miscellaneous things that people asked for.

But he didn't give away his secret, instead declaring that he has various channels that he finds the items people ask for. "So, if you think of anything, you just call me, 'when you get around to it' because if you don't ask, I can't say yes!"

He handed me the token (see pic above), to remind me, yet again, to call 'when I get around to it.'

He also handed me a flyer that proclaimed he was also well-versed in fixing things around the office, like file cabinets or even chairs.

And then, last but not least, he handed over his business card, below. Apparently, he really is "a man OUTSTANDING in his field." Ha.

Meeting Richard has been the highlight of my work day. It's good to know that there are real, genuine handyman out there who know how to find and do anything you ask.

If you live in Chicago, look him up. (All you have to do is google, "JUST CALL RICHARD"). I'm sure he'll be glad to help you out. And after all, he can't say "YES" if you don't ask!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Barney + Robin = AWFSOME

The beginning of How I Met Your Mother’s fourth season may not have been as ridiculous and hilarious as earlier seasons, but last night’s episode had me oohing and aahing and sighing over Barney (NPH) and his continuing affection for Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders).

Maybe it’s partially because Neil Patrick Harris’s acting skills are above and beyond or maybe it’s because his comedic timing is simply genius (why oh why, didn’t he win the “Best Supporting Actor” at the Golden Globes on Sunday?!?!?). Or maybe it’s also because of the great characters that creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas created years ago.

As the CBS show was originally conceived, the main character of HIMYM, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), was supposed to fall in love and (eventually) marry Robin. Sure, Ted fell for Robin and even dated her for the entirety of Season 3, but it was clear from the very first episode of the very first season that Bays and Thomas had changed their mind about this particular couple. C’mon, at the very end of that first episode, Ted reveals that she ends up being “Aunt Robin.”

Cue Barney and Robin’s potential as a couple.

Both of their characters—like the rest of the cast, including Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel)—have distinct personalities. Robin is the gun-toting, scotch-drinking, hockey-loving, two-time Canadian pop star. Barney, from the start, has been defined by his womanizing ways, his magic tricks, his theories about relationships (the Hot-Crazy scale, Lemon Law, and, last night’s “every single international conflict essentially boils down to sexual tension,” etc.), his catchy phrases said in a high-pitched voice (“Suit up!”, “AWESOME”, etc.), and his eternal devotion to the Bro Code—all of this combined makes Barney one of the best and biggest crowd favorites of the show.

From the start, a Barney and Robin coupling made much more sense than Robin and Ted. Look way back into Season 1, Episode 14, “Zip Zip Zip,” when Robin has a “bro’s night out” with Barney and not only plays laser tag but also “suits up” to go smoke cigars. Barney declares that Robin is a much better wing-man than Ted ever was. Or, ask other die-hard viewers, and they’ll say they were rooting for Barney and Robin since Season 1, Episode 4, "Return of the Shirt," when Barney paid Robin to say things like “booger” and “I’m a bad, bad girl” during her news broadcasts.

The initial and most obvious problem with Barney falling for Robin is that he is a show favorite because of his ridiculous womanizing ways. He can’t be womanizing and be in love with Robin, can he? The writers have been struggling with balancing his womanizing with his crush on Robin for some time—ever since Robin and Barney’s one-night stand, or maybe even before.

This season the writers have even forgone certain themes to make Barney’s secret crush stay secret. For one, Lily’s inability to keep a secret isn’t a factor in that she’s kept Barney’s secret (even from Marshall!) since the first episode of this season.

Yet, Barney is changing. Sure, he’s failed miserably at trying to stop sleeping around, but throughout Season 4 so far, we’ve had small doses of Barney pining after Robin, such as him turning on her newscast just to see her on TV, as well as his attempts to show Robin how much he has changed, such as initially ignoring the large-chested waitress on their pseudo-date. But, all in all, he’s been the same ol’ Barney who will sleep with anything that moves.

This brings us to last night’s episode.

Robin and Ted’s decision to start sleeping together in order to avoid fighting as roommates didn’t result in Barney congratulating Ted with a “Relapse High 5” as in previous episodes. Anything but. Instead, upon hearing of Ted and Robin’s “friends with benefits” relationship, Barney exclaimed, “So, wow, you two, slept together, that is awfsome. Awfsome.” He also started breaking TVs (as well as buying TVs to break) to deal with his unspoken frustration at his best friend sleeping with the woman he loves.

Barney eventually takes action by cleaning up Ted’s apartment and fixing anything that might cause a fight between Ted and Robin—consequently, cutting them off from sleeping with one another. He takes out the trash, buys 10,000 stamps, fills the fridge with milk, and buys them a dishwasher (and forgets to take off the price tag). Ted quickly realizes that Barney has cleaned his apartment because Barney is in love with Robin. Of course, Barney doesn’t man up to this, opting instead to share his feelings to Lily’s Kindergarten class during Tuesday’s sharing time. (The fact that Ted is okay with the idea of Barney being in love with his ex is just another reason why this show is awesome, but that’s another post for another day).

Even when Barney decides to admit to Ted that, yes, he really is in love with Robin, he runs into Robin instead. But he hears the news he’s been waiting for: Ted officially called off the “friends with benefits” relationship. Unfortunately, Robin doesn’t get it, thinking that Ted is the one who will “get hurt” if they had kept it up. Then, she only makes it worse (thereby causing Barney’s face to drop—which just pulls at your heartstrings) when she declares, “Dating friends never works out.”

Considering all of Barney’s quirky reactions in this episode, the writers were quite successful in keeping around the same-old Barney we’ve come to love over the past few seasons while also creating a Barney capable of caring for and having a relationship with Robin. Barney, really, doesn’t have to change that much, and, really, he shouldn’t. Barney and Robin’s established personalities naturally fit together and have from the very start. They work. If only Robin saw it too.

Luckily, we still have plenty more episodes. And now that Ted knows? It’s only a matter of time before Marshall, and eventually, Robin will too.

And then just imagine all the possibilities of Barney navigating a relationship for the first time!!! Yeah, he’s still going to be the Barney we know and love—but he’s going to prove he’s capable of loving Robin too.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Don't be shy, reply!

It's not as awesome as National Speak-Like-A-Pirate Day, but it's still a holiday that everyone online should be aware of: it's National Delurking Day 2009! I discovered this on Misadventures with Andi and think the word needs to be spread. So, if you visit my site and read my blog, it's time for you to comment (even if I don't know you)!

Don't be shy, reply.

And don't worry about replying to this post (although you can if you want), I'd be happy to have a comment on any of my posts thus far, because, seriously people, I know you're out there, I know you're reading this, and I want some comments on what I've been writing! =)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My New Writing Space

I tend to get more writing and work done when I'm out of my apartment - no surprise, there - so I'm all for looking for new places that are comfortable, inviting, and conducive to getting stuff done. My local Panera sometimes does the trick, but with classes back in session at the downtown Northwestern, it can get a bit crowded on the weekends. So, last weekend, Tyler and I tried working at the Fox & Obel Cafe - not the section right next to where you order food (because that's always just way too crowded and loud), but in the atrium that is tucked off to the side of the store.

We've studied at Fobel - our abbreviation for the sometimes-expensive but always worth it grocery store and cafe - three times, including twice this weekend, to do work. I suppose the down-side and up-side of this is that we have gotten lunch each time we've studied there, and that can get pretty pricey even though it's always delicious.

Both Tyler and I wholeheartedly agree - studying and writing here in the atrium rocks. Even if there are a bunch of people eating and talking, the high timbered ceilings keep in pretty quiet. While the inside is nice in and of itself, with a small kitchen at the far end for the occasional cooking classes, it's the view outside that makes this spot pretty awesome.

The trees along a slip off the river still twinkle with white Christmas lights. Today, the water in the slip was frozen over for the most part - a large glacier of white. Near the slip's walls the ice had melted, and a large sord of mallard ducks slid into the water as if the ice is a slip 'n slide. On the other side of the water, a bunch of kids built snowmen, even as the snow kept falling. Yeah, I can definitely spend some time here writing - but maybe I should get coffee instead of a full lunch the next time I'm here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Getting to Know Anne

(WARNING: Spoilers for my forthcoming novel lay ahead. Read with caution).

The other night, Tyler and I were watching the first episode of this season's Nip/Tuck (Note: This was the first episode I've ever watched of Nip/Tuck, and I think I'm already kind of hooked - but that's a different post for a different day).

When Sean McNamara got stabbed in the back by that crazy, old lady, Tyler expressed shock that Sean didn't try to turn around and knock the knife out of her hands. I immediately referenced Charlotte - the main historical character in my novel - and how she killed her victim with one, perfectly placed stroke. Historians say that had she stabbed him one centimeter below, she would have hit a rib, resulting in just a minor wound instead of near-instantaneous death.

I've been doing this a lot lately. Things I see or talk about inevitably result in me referencing Charlotte in some way, as if I actually knew her. That's how well I know her and her life. It also reminds me of how little I know of my other character, Anne, in comparison.

Granted, Anne is fictional, so I had to start from scratch with her, whereas I just read a ton about Charlotte and just had to fill in what the history books left out. I need to get to a point, though, where it feels like Anne is a historical character too. I need to know the everyday and mundane things about Anne, like her favorite color or favorite drink, just as much as I need to know her life-changing moments, like how she found out her mother died when she was just eight-years-old. I need to be able to reference Anne's life, as if she was real, as if she was human - just like I do with Charlotte.

So, this is what I've been doing lately with my novel: I'm revising, but I'm also going back to my original character sketches. I'm filling them out more, writing more background - not to include in the story, but just to know. Because if this novel is going to be about Anne and Charlotte - I need to know every detail I possibly can about both of them, whether it's fiction or not.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The beginning

Let’s make one thing clear from the start. I know I’m a geek. I love to read, and I love to write (well, except when I can’t figure out exactly how to say what I want to say – you know what I mean? – that kind of drives me crazy.)

This geekiness of mine has its roots back in elementary school: I used to ask my teachers to stay in at recess to write. Seriously. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Engle, loved it. Sometimes I would grab any Encyclopedia, flip it open, and write about whatever topic I happened upon. This is how I wrote a factual story about the sun. Seriously. I wish I was kidding.

One of my favorite topics was ghosts, particularly ones that popped out of library books. I also worked on Nancy Drew-like mysteries, but with the main character named Julie, and her best friend, Beth. They traveled the world, visiting castles, and solving mysteries (involving ghosts, of course). These are the stories I wish I could find, but, alas, this childhood series has been lost somewhere along the way.

Mrs. Engle was the first teacher of mine to really nurture my writing. She suggested that we start a Friday writing workshop that met during recess, and anyone in the class could participate, if they so chose. Surprisingly, they did. A group of about six of us all met every Friday for the rest of the year, shared our stories, and wrote. It was the first writing group I’d ever participated in.

Over the years, I’ve had more than my share of classes and workshops. I’ve met famous writers. I drafted one novel when I was in high school (training wheels!) And went to grad school at The University of Chicago, where I drafted another novel—which I still have high hopes of (eventually) getting published. But my participation in all of these things has been driven by one thing: the desire to write, the desire to tell a story—and that’s been a part of me all along.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I'm all done talking about my "health" and my "cold." Not just because I'm feeling a ton better (which I really am), but also because I want to get back to what my blog was originally intended for: writing about writing (and other related matters).

Early this evening, straight from work, I went to a tutoring/volunteer orientation at 826CHI, which I learned is just one of the many 826 tutoring/writing centers located across the country and which was started by Dave Eggers in California.

While I won't be an after-school tutor - since I work 9 to 5 - I'm looking forward to volunteering in the non-profit through volunteering at writing workshops, events, and working in the Boring Store on the occasional night and during weekends.

I went to grad school to take a large step forward in my publishing and professional career. My job right now, while a good one and a necessary one, feels like a step back; I'm not doing what I set out to do, namely writing and publishing. Finally, I feel like I'm again moving in the right direction. I can't wait to start working with students, helping them with their writing, and becoming a 'secret agent.'

Check 826CHI out for yourself:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Half-chipmunk face

Just when I thought I was getting over this cold, this morning I woke up with the left half of my face, from just below my eye to the underside of my chin, swollen and red. It didn't just look horrible, but it also felt like someone had stuffed a wad of tissues through my eye and down my face. Hence, the title of this post: I currently have a half-chipmunk face. (Sorry, NO photos of this new look of mine will be posted!)

With what little voice I had, I called in sick to work and then hauled ass to the Northwestern ER. I know, a bit drastic... perhaps. But, I still have no doctor to speak of, because I relied on the University of Chicago Student Clinic up until August, and, honestly, I've had no real need to find a doctor in Chicago yet. And my face was swollen, and who was to say it wasn't going to spread to my neck? So, maybe, drastic, but I'd rather play it safe than sorry on this one.

Despite the ER being totally packed, I was let in within a minute of sitting down, which only seemed to confirm my worries that something might be really wrong. Luckily, I was in there for barely over an hour, definitely acceptable in my book. Also, luckily, as of right now, it's nothing serious, just another result of my sinus infection. Granted, I've never had this 'swollen face' side-effect even though I've been the queen of sinus infections over the past year, ever since my month-long sinus infection / cold that totally knocked me out for the last month of my first term as a grad student.

The doctor gave me a prescription, in the hopes of it being a bacterial infection rather than a viral one, and told me to come back if the swelling gets any worse, my vision becomes fuzzy, and/or my teeth start to hurt, because then apparently I'll need a CAT scan and a whole lotta luck that my sinuses aren't all screwed up.

My ER experience was obviously not nearly as dramatic as it could have been (thankfully), but, after I left the hospital and headed to the pharmacy, person after person kept staring at my misshapen face. Seriously, people, it's not that bad, and what happened to Chicagoans not looking at one another as they walk down the street?

That was annoying, but, if that was the worst part of my day and the worst part of me having a half-chipmunk face, I can deal with that. Like I said, it could be a whole lot worse than it is.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Voice

I'm losing my voice. My consolation prize: I feel a ton better than I did yesterday, meaning it doesn't feel like a needle is jabbing at the back of my throat anymore. Definitely a plus!

Since I have to strain to speak, I'm going to try to keep my lips sealed for the day. Granted, I'm still at work (go me. I'm such a good employee =0), so talking, at random points throughout the day, will be involved, but I'm going to try my best to rest my voice so as not to lose it completely. That's only happened once before, and I'd prefer not to re-live it.

It was about a week and a half before I graduated from Augustana College. I hadn't had a cold, I hadn't been drinking (heavily) the night before. I just woke up, and, boom, no voice. I felt completely and utterly fine -- my throat didn't feel scratchy whatsoever. But when I opened my lips to speak, nothing came out.

For the next few days - through graduation parties, phone calls from my mom trying to make plans for visiting for graduation, and my best friend's engagement party - I had to whisper if I was going to talk at all. But, even after a few seconds (not minutes, mind you), my throat felt strained.

So, I gave up speaking as much as possible. I literally became a wallflower, an observer of everything. It was extremely hard, not being able to partake in the convos around me, but at certain times it was kind of nice, just being able to listen. Plus, I noticed more around me since I didn't have my own voice to distract myself. For any writer, I think that can be useful - learning to be an observer, utterly and completely.

Yet, not being able to speak gets extremely tiring. At Razan's engagement party, I was introduced to her huge family - many of whom I was meeting for the first time - and I struggled even to say, "Hi. How are you?" My friends and roommates had to explain to them, especially the older crowd, why they couldn't hear me.

I don't want that again. I like my voice. I like talking. I like participating in conversations.

But, maybe, in case this happens again, I should start learning sign language - just to be safe.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to Work

If it isn't bad enough to come back to work after nearly 2 weeks off (I worked a half-day here and there), I've been fighting the beginnings of a cold all day. Sore throat, headache, starting to lose my voice, the works... not enough for me to go home--but just enough to make me uncomfortable as I sit at my desk and try to do work.

To top it off, I took down all the office Christmas and Hanukkah decorations today. (Yes, we had a menorah, with eight blue lightbulbs). Christmas and my work vacation is clearly and officially over now, and to that I say - BOO.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A New Kind of Cabbie

Today, I met Ellis "Chubby" Miller, a cab driver in Chicago... but he's no ordinary cabbie.

He's a matchmaker, and has been written about in Germany for his skills. He also has an airport car service that includes various Dunkin Donuts packages. And, to top it off, he says he's from P.M.A., a Positive Mental Attitude, as evidenced by his handwritten 4x6 sign posted next to his cabbie's license.

As I got out of the cab, he said, "Aren't you lucky, that out of thousands of cabs in the city, you got me?"

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Movie Review: Seven Pounds

The previews before Seven Pounds may confuse viewers even before the movie begins. In order, there was the preview for Ben Affleck's latest action flick, a biopic about Notorious B.I.G., a romantic comedy staring Katherine Heigl, and (best of all) a Disney nature documentary... Seriously. Aren’t previews supposed to give somewhat of an indication about what a movie is about? Or, at the very least, what genre the movie falls into?

The TV trailers advertising the movie seem just as confused about what the plotline is in Seven Pounds: a mystery? A drama? A romance?

The movie, directed by Gabriele Muccino, focuses on Ben Thomas (Will Smith), who works as an IRS agent that seeks out people who are "worthy" of a gift from him.

Thomas himself is a troubled man - often angry, upset, and depressed - and is only drawn from his melancholy through his budding romance with Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) who is suffering from a heart problem. But the reasons for Thomas’s depression and why he refuses to talk about his past remain, like much else about this movie, clouded until the last fifteen minutes.

Considering all the confusion within the movie, viewers should expect to pay extra-close attention to the plot, in hopes of figuring exactly what Thomas is up to. The revealing ending is only somewhat satisfactory, especially since the beginning has, you quickly learn, given away a large chunk of the ending: Thomas dials 9-1-1 to report his own suicide. Why, viewers might ask, do the writers give away this enormous chunk of the ending, but leave so much else in the dark?

With the suicidal beginning (and ending), Seven Pounds promises to be a sad, depressing movie, and that it is. But heart-wrenching? It tries to be and nearly does so, but the mystery and confusion of the majority of the movie is unfortunately overwhelming and distracting.

Genre-less movies can be appealing, but this one falls short of the mark since it’s trying to be too many things at once. Save your $10.50, and wait for the movie to be released on DVD.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I wasn't going to make a single New Years resolution this year. In years past, I feel like I haven't ever really stuck to them, so why bother? But, in thinking about why I don't like resolutions, I realized that resolutions mainly don't work out when you don't have a specific plan and when you feel that you have no one, or nothing, to hold you accountable to them.

This blog, and those who read it, can hold me accountable, especially if I tell you all my resolutions. =) With this in mind, I also think accountability doesn't just come from me posting a few words about my resolutions but by surrounding myself with people who hold me to my word. With that said, here are my resolutions, many of which I've already been working on, well before the start of this new year!

1) Eat better. Buy more veggies and fruits, rather than junk food.
2) Exercise more. Stick to morning workouts, and throw some fun activities in there, like rock climbing - which me and Maggie#2 have been planning on starting as a weekly activity. Yes, a workout buddy to hold me accountable!
3) Lose weight. Clearly #1 and #2 will help me achieve this one.

Other resolutions not involving health and fitness...
4) Write every day. NaBloPoMo helps with that, again.
5) Finish - and I mean not just another draft but really finish - my first novel, and start sending it out to agents and/or publishers. Carla, my writing buddy, will help me hold myself accountable to this one!

Looking at this list, I suppose I have made variations of all these resolutions for a good few years now, but I looked at them as unsuccessful because I didn't accomplish all I wanted to with each of them. Maybe I should be looking at resolutions in a different way - as a way of making progress, because I have made a ton of progress in the past year.

I started doing morning workouts before work (although in this cold weather, waking up to swim is extraordinarily difficult for me to do). I've been eating more fruits, and been more careful about what I eat (rather than jumping on a diet, only to jump off it a week later). I graduated from The University of Chicago in June, with a full draft of my novel done -- something I never imagined I would be capable of doing two years ago. So, okay, resolutions can work -- if you're willing to put in the effort time and time again, year in and year out.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Not too long ago, I found this website,, which encourages people to post every day to their blog for an entire month. I signed up for the month of January, so expect to hear from me each and every day.

Considering that I usually only post a couple times a month, this might be hard for me. I also am kind of worried that I might be sacrificing quality for quantity.

Then again, I think the principles behind NaBloPoMo are good ones that I've heard time and time again from my creative writing professors over the years: write every day; no matter how crappy you think your ideas or writing is that day, get to the page and put pen to paper, or, in this case, cursor to Blogger post. But, as always, I'll strive to only put intresting stories or thoughts I have on my blog each and every day. This is definitely an experiment; we'll see how this works out, or if it even does. =)

For those that read my blog, I do urge you to comment on my postings. Tell me what you like (and don't) about my posts. I find both comments and criticisms useful in that they help me generate even more ideas for future posts! So, here's to writing each and every day!