Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WIP Wednesday #3

This WIP Wednesday revolves mainly around my Write-Your-A$$-Off Saturday, because it was a glorious day! Progress was made! Not that I haven’t been writing otherwise, because I have, but in spurts. And on Saturday, I told myself that laundry, that reading, that cleaning and dishes and vacuuming, and all the other things that I do to procrastinate could wait. I walked the four blocks to Panera, found a working outlet and a corner, opened up my boyfriend’s laptop (mine is still laid up with viruses galore), and dove right in. I took a short half-hour break but otherwise I got four and a half hours of solid writing in!! I need to do this more often.

I’ll be honest here. For the most part, I write every day, but not always on my novel, and, as of late, I’ve felt like my novel progress has slowed to a crawl. Rewriting huge chunks of the novel and changing the point-of-view from 3rd to 1st has re-energized me, but I still felt like I needed to make more progress. (Unfortunately, thinking and working things through in my head, just doesn’t count). And so Write-Your-A$$-Off Day rolled around, and I thought this was the perfect time to get moving and make some real, substantial progress. And that I did!

Even though I’ve been telling myself that I need to focus on the middle and the ending of the novel, the beginning taunted me. So I spent my Saturday reworking and rewriting Chapters 1 through 3. Chapter 1 especially, because the opening scene just didn’t feel like enough of a hook, and I felt like I was giving too much away in the rest of the chapter. After over an hour of reworking Chapter 1, I ended up cutting 700 words (or nearly half of the first chapter) and the entire opening scene changed. Progress!

First person is also working out splendidly. Anne’s personality is beginning to really shine through, and I’m realizing how much more I like her now that I hear/see her more in the writing. Her motivations are also coming across more than ever before.

Also, just because I focused on the novel’s beginning on Write-Your-A$$-Off-Day doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring the rest of my novel. I’ve been reworking Chapter 6 and 7, when Anne time-travels and spends her first extended period of time in the French Revolution and inside the head of Charlotte. I’m encountering new questions: how does Anne’s thoughts impact Charlotte? Is it really Anne’s actions? Does she feel like she’s rewriting history? All these questions – and more – are creating some interesting developments that will affect the rest of the novel. And this, if I do say so myself, is pretty exciting.

So back to it!

Life is going to be pretty busy in the next few days; for one, I’ll be up north in Michigan over Memorial Day weekend (meaning, I’ll be without email/Internet). Then again, Michigan is where I always feel the most inspired, so even while I’ll be on vacay with some friends, expect another progress report next Wednesday! Oh wait - I’m volunteer teaching next Wednesday, right after work… so, hmm, maybe next week will call for a WIP Thursday? We shall see!

If you want to join in on WIP Wednesday, check out Kate's blog here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Take the Leap!

The Leap
How I Met Your Mother: Season 4, Episode 24 - the season finale

The Season Finale was all about taking the leap, both metaphorically and literally. Marshall finally musters enough courage to jump 6 feet from their building's roof to the one next door, which has a sweet deck & a hot tub. Ted takes the next step in his career, following the direction the world is pointing him in. Barney (somewhat) takes the plunge in telling Robin how he really feels, and Robin (kind of) reciprocates. And then there's the goat, the story that's been hinted at for at least a year now.

Once again, I found myself caring very little about Ted's storyline: his struggles with his architectural firm, his aspirations, and, of course, who the 'mother' is. But, Lily's speech to Ted hit a perfect note. Planning your life out just doesn't work, she tells Ted, after his "Rib Heaven" design loses out to Sven & their fire-breathing dragon building. She wanted to be a famous artist. Marshall, an environmental lawyer. Robin, a TV reporter (morning shows just don't count). And Barney, a violinist. Hah. But sometimes life just points you in a different direction and it's up to you to listen.

So Ted listens. He makes the leap, and he becomes a professor, where he'll finally meet the Mother. But honestly, I don't care how long they drag that story out (which I'm guessing they will drag out until the final season, which hopefully isn't anytime soon), because what I really care about is...

Barney & Robin! At last! Although I was startled by Barney suddenly ready to "tell" Robin, as evidenced with his "double-breasted suit" metaphor, I liked the way the story played out, even if there is still no closure or sense of where this thing is heading. Robin & Barney's scene in the hospital was my favorite part of the show, especially when Barney admitted to Robin that he didn't want to be saved. That just maybe he wanted to give this thing a shot. Cue them doing "the mosby" to one another, scaring off each other with proclamations of love and wanting to get married. And then - they embrace! But, as Barney says, they'll "sort" it out all later. I can't wait to see how their relationship evolves next season.

This season has under-whelmed me, but I enjoyed the season finale and I'll continue to be a die-hard fan of the show, because even in the stuff I didn't quite like, there were elements of what makes this show great.

  • I expected more with the goat. Okay, the hoof print on Ted's forehead was funny, as was the "Four Skins" Murder song playing as they fought, but there was a year of anticipation for that? Then again, I also liked how Lily related the goat's obsession with the washcloth to Ted's pursuit of his architectural dreams. That and Ted got beat up by Missy, a female goat.
  • Marshall trying, again and again, to jump from the ledge (his vampire outfit was the best), and then blaming Lily for why he didn't complete his latest attempt at a jump. The situation was bizarre - but bizarre is what HIMYM typically does best. The exchange between Lily and Marshall, with Lily lying about being pregnant and Marshall saying she's gained weight recently, was awesome.
  • Lily talking about her inability to keep a secret. I've been frustrated by the inconsistency with this over the season, believing she'd kept Barney's secret, except in this episode she reveals to Robin that she's known for 8 months, and Marshall admits to knowing for 7 months and 29 days. She can't not tell Marshall!
  • "The Mosby": scaring someone off by admitting, too quickly, that you love them. Oh so reminiscent of "don't 'ted out'" - love it!
  • Everything about Barney & Robin's burgeoning relationship and difficulty expressing their feelings. Yeah, I'm frustrated by how they didn't totally sort things out, but that just means there's more to look forward to!

What did you think of the goat story? Were you satisfied with the conclusion to Season 4? Did you like the way the Robin & Barney story played out? Can you believe it'll be three months til we next see the gang? Ah! I know; I'm obsessed. Share your thoughts!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm Still Around...

... just not blogging as much, for a few reasons:

1. The Internet in my apartment has been sucking. And now my computer has a virus so I'm loathe to go on the Internet for more than a second (if at all).
2. I've been blog lazy... but I don't discriminate. I haven't been keeping up-to-date on my blog reading either.
3. But I have been writing. The more I write on the novel, the less I tend to blog. And this Saturday, I'm participating in Write Your A$$ Off Day! Although, I might have to partake in long hand, due to reason #1.

So there. I'm still around, but just not around as often as I was before.

And, oh yeah... this is blog post #100! Go me!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Speeding Ticket Metaphor

As Fast as She Can
How I Met Your Mother: Season 4, Episode 23

This will be a short(er) review/recap compared to usual. Why? Because I don't have that much to say about it, except:
1. Stella's not the mother (and is, in fact, engaged to Tony). Phew!
2. Since when can Barney drive?!?!

How I Met Your Mother is typically all about continuity and flashbacks and making the past and the future tie together nicely. But, again, I ask, since when can Barney drive? In "Arrivederci, Fiero" (Season 2, Episode 17), Ted tells the story about attempting to teach Barney to drive in the Fiero; alas, Barney is too scared to go above 5 mph and freaks out when he sees a dog ahead of him. After rolling into a hedge, Barney decides to never change and, therefore, never drive. Then, in "Moving Day" (Season 2, Episode 18), Barney steals Ted's moving van, so Ted can't move in with Robin. I suppose this implies that Barney can drive, but if he was so scared to, when did it happen? Just one line of explanation, really - it's all I ask for.

So, why is Barney driving and getting speeding tickets a big deal in this particular episode? Because getting out of speeding tickets was the theme of the night. Marshall got out of a ticket by tempting the police officer with a bratwurst at a BBQ. Robin once cried to get out of a ticket. And Barney? Well, Barney failed 15 times to get himself out of a speeding ticket.

And then there's Stella's story at the end, about the police officer who said, "I've been waiting for you all day." Stella's response, "I got here as fast as I could." This little lesson was applied to Ted's love life: the future mother, Ted's "one," is getting there as fast as she can.

Progress towards Ted meeting the mother is clearly being made - but Barney is still the one keeping me tuned in week after week. (That's a lie; I love a ton about this show - Ted and his quest for the mother just isn't one of the things I love). But I hate when things suddenly change for characters and the continuity of the show gets ruined - i.e., Barney driving, Lily able to keep a secret. Let's hope the show gets back on track for the Season Finale, when the story of the goat is finally revealed - and hopefully, Barney's love for Robin?

My favorite moments from last night's show:

  • Ted's ring tone: "Let's Go to the Mall"
  • Barney calling Ted from jail, scared by the people he shares the jail cell with, who promptly ask for their spray paint back
  • Robin demanding that Ted "bump" her fist, when Stella bemoans the fact that Tony dumped her because of something Ted said
  • Ted admitting that he wants what Marshall and Lily have. Yeah, yeah. I don't like Ted all the time, but this was a moment where I felt for him. He's best when he's at his most romantic.

Did Barney driving annoy you as much as it annoyed me? Were you glad Lily returned, albeit only a couple seconds? Do you hate Stella's character as much as I do? (I really didn't like Stella in this episode). What were your favorite moments from this episode? Share your thoughts!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

WIP Wednesday #2

After all the helpful comments last week, meeting with my writing buddy CB on Sunday, and rewriting a few chapters, I decided to change the POV in my WIP from third person to first. Commence screaming, gnashing of teeth, and pulling out of hair.

But, seriously, I'm excited! While it seems like this huge, overwhelming project - because it is - it's not that much more work than I was planning on. I've already been working on rewriting huge sections of the novel, so changing the POV is just one more step in that process. At least, that's what I tell myself.

Plus, during this past week, as I've been rewriting chapters 4, 5, & 6 into first person, all sorts of new ideas have emerged, as if they've been there all along, but I just needed to discover them. It's an invigorating feeling, and I'm more excited about this novel than I have been in the past couple months.

I initially wrote Through Charlotte's Eyes in first person because of Anne's time-traveling escapades; I couldn't imagine the way the time-traveling would play out, with Anne being inside Charlotte's head, experiencing the French Revolution, without it being in third-person omniscient. That, and the fact that there's so much history involved, which no single character knows, that I didn't think I could write the novel from first person (Anne's perspective) alone.

Yet, so far, so good. The issues seem to be working themselves out as I write. (I had a wonderful 'aha' moment yesterday as I discovered a way for Anne to know things about the past, and about Charlotte, that she shouldn't know... but I'm not going to give too much away about that). The real challenge, I think, will come with rewriting the switches between 2005 and 1792/1793... but Bob & I are excited to take on the challenge this week! We're very excited about this development, if you couldn't already tell.

Til next time, happy writing!

If you want to join in on WIP Wednesday, check out Kate's blog here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Return of the Yellow Umbrella

Right Place, Right Time
How I Met Your Mother: Season 4, Episode 22

Bays and Thomas, the writers of HIMYM: why oh why do you taunt me? Ted leaves his apartment, carrying the fated yellow umbrella that we've been told will somehow lead him to the mother, and eventually waits on a street corner, where a woman taps him on the shoulder... and it's Stella. STELLA! I wanted to scream - NO! She CAN'T be the mother!!!

Now that the surprise has worn off at that unexpected "reunion" between old flames, I think I may have over-reacted.

It's all about fate and the decisions you make, Future Ted explains to his kids. The idea is reminiscent of previous (better) seasons, especially the episode about the "Lucky Penny," when a series of seemingly random occurrences leads Ted to miss his flight and, therefore, not get a job in Chicago - thankfully, otherwise he would have never have met the "mother."

Last night's episode was also full of seemingly unimportant decisions/incidents that lead Ted to the right street corner, at exactly the right time.

Decision #1: Upon leaving his apartment, Ted turns left, instead of right. He would have gone to his favorite bagel place, but that's where Robin got food poisoning, which led her to throw up into some very expensive hand-made purses.

Decision #2: Ted stops at a news-stand to look at a magazine and see who was the 199th... err, #200th woman that Barney slept with.

Previous to Ted's fateful walk in the city, Barney was about to go on a date with a supermodel to celebrate sleeping with 200 women. The entire gang is appalled at the number, but Barney says he did it because it's awesome... and to prove, to his 7th-grade bully, that he could.

But it turns out, according to Robin, the list is wrong. Desperate for the supermodel to not be #199, Barney has two hours to sleep with a woman. His quick-witted lies and attempts fail at McClaren's, so he's off to the gym, where a woman, who Barney claims isn't his "type" because of her muscly size, has been pursuing him. He returns to the bar, in pain - only to find out that Robin (still studiously pouring over the list) realized that Barney used the same number twice... so the gym gal, who posed for a magazine, was actually #200.

Decision #3: Ted takes a different route, so he can give $1 to a specific homeless guy. Why? Ted threw out all of Marshall's charts and graphs as part of Marshall's latest intervention, because Marshall became obsessed with making them (thanks to GNB graphics department). He has a pie chart showing which bars are his favorite; a bar graph showing which pies are his favorites. Unfortunately, Marshall actually needed some of his charts for work. A homeless guy demands a million dollars for the charts, since they're on his blanket, so Ted promises to give him a dollar a day.

And all of this bring us to Ted standing on the corner, under the yellow umbrella, when a hand reaches out to tap him on the shoulder. Stella. Sigh. Disappointment.

The way the writers play with time, mess with our heads, talk about fate and all the small choices we make - that's some of the many, many reasons I love this show. I'm glad to see these ideas returning, but... Stella? I still don't think she's the mother but after all that lead-up, including Ted imagining running back and hugging everyone who participated in his three decisions, I didn't expect her. But then again, I have faith in our writers. There's a reason, as Ted would say, that he ran into her that day.

For the first time in awhile, I got excited again about who the mother may be... but it was the ending tag that made my heart melt. Sitting in McClaren's, Barney tears up his list of women, asks "What now?" and gazes longingly at Robin standing at the bar. Aw!

Were you disappointed that it was Stella? Do you want to know who the Mother is? Do you miss Lily? (I do.) Did you like the reference to the "Intervention" episode? Did you enjoy the reasoning behind all of Ted's decisions? Share your thoughts!

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