Writing Exercise 01: The Character

“People should feel more as they become older, not less.”

– Page One Adventures

character

Introvert. Too talkative. Emotionally repressive. Intellectual. Stupid. Passive aggressive. Inability to express emotions verbally. Socially awkward. Eloquent. Anxious in social situations. Perfectionist. Head in the clouds. Works too hard. Depressive. Creative. Cliche. Imaginative. Communist. Feminist. Republican. Pro-life. Pro-gays. Anti-life. Anti-gays. Mexican. American. Middle Eastern. Indian. Racially ambiguous. Catholic. Did not want to do her first Communion. Musically inclined. Auditory learner. Partially deaf. Needs glasses. Immature. Insightful. Needs to work harder. Easily bored. Should have been aborted. When I became pregnant with you, I didn’t need to be on my medication anymore. Argumentative. First child syndrome. Older sister. Messy. Authoritative. Hippie. Responsible.

I think of you as a child because you’re always saying you’re too cold. You argue like a child. You argue like a textbook. Stop arguing back. You were like my lawyer when your mom and sister jumped on me over the smallest of things. Good daughter. Political black sheep. Too emotional. Honor student. Average. Below average. Above average. Condescending. Down to Earth. We all thought you would be the one who’d go places and do amazing things. Geek. Nerd. Needs to settle down. Get a real job. Do what you love. Unrealistic. Likes to win. Team player. Over-achiever. Frigid. Blames others. Under-achiever. Assumes all the blame. Devil’s advocate. Too physical. Overly optimist. Too pessimistic for her age. Too direct. Doesn’t get to the point. Adventurous. Recluse. Don’t pick her for the basketball team. Tall. Uncoordinated. Agile. Ugly. Pretty. Big nose. Too thin. Too fat. Unhealthy. Athletic. Overly analytical, to the point of detriment.

Too liberal. Serious. Needs to learn to laugh. Too conservative. Laughs too much. Cry baby. Unsophisticated. Intolerant. Aloof. Best friend. The worst. Impatient. Always so patient with clients. Leaps before she thinks. Thinks she knows everything. Pick her for the group project. Ask her to lower her grade on the chem exam so we can all be graded on the curve. Sit next to her on the day of the test. Ask her for the answer. Freak. Theoretical. Why are you studying something like Politics if you can out-perform the majors in the Geology department who have been studying this for years? Not detail oriented. Why are you studying Politics if you don’t even know what you want to do in the field? No self confidence. Overly subsumed by the details. Does all the extra credit. Does enough to get by in class. Humanities.

Needs improvement. A+. B. C. D. F. In danger of failing. Four eyes. Academic excellence. Witty. Boring. Caring. Thoughtful. Over dramatic. Shares pencils. Reads a lot too much. Mean. Rude. Selfish. I hate you. Kind. Shy. Giving. Always there for others. I love you. Verbalizes complaints too much. Doesn’t say enough. Speaks her mind. Asset to the department. Asks management too many questions. Doesn’t like being told what to do. Goody two shoes always does what she’s told. She’s just always so cheerful. Why are you always so depressing? Failure. Successful. First baccalaureate degree holder in family. I’m glad I met you. What are you doing with your life?

This began as a writing experiment. What kind of character would I be if I had to write myself truthfully in a bildungsroman? Would I even want to be friends with myself? These are the echoes of characteristics/phrases that have been used to describe me or my life situation (as spoken to me by people I have met during my 23 years of life). I used family and friends. Teachers, professors, psychologists. From elementary school, junior high, high school. From college. Of course, from now as well. What we see as a positive trait and what we see as a negative trait will vary. Which is which?

So what is a character? What is a person? Are they simply a list of attributes, personal and physical, like the one above? Are they a spectrum  that slides around on a three-dimensional graph? Is there a point of no return? It’s been an interesting journey, going through those memories of all those years and all those fights and laughs alike but I’m no closer to answering the set of questions that I originally posed myself. In fact, I’ve started to ask more questions than ever before. About myself and about others. About my relationship with myself and my relationship with others. How I perceive and am perceived in return.

How do we maintain a semblance of authenticity in a world that is constantly expecting more and more, that rejects who we are, and in some cases tries to fix us. Or depending on how you view it, tries to help us become better versions of ourselves? At what point do we draw the line between societal expectations and being “who we are”? At what point are we responsible for others, if at all? When as an adult you no longer exude the brimming excitement and curiosity of a child, does that mean you’ve successfully matured? Or are you dead inside? And if at twenty three you’re still too excited to embark on an adventure in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of a prefecture with nothing but nature and rice fields, are you a childish adult who needs to grow up? Or are you simply trying to keep yourself alive inside? It’s so easy for media, for books, for specialists, for everyone to say “Be yourself” without truly exploring the full ramifications of such advice. Being yourself is just as likely to get you passed up for a promotion as it is to make you the hero of the next Pixar or Disney film. But more importantly…

…At what point, is it enough simply to be?

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DIY: Inspirational Comp Book

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The DIY section is woefully under represented… My apologies! Also, I just realized the downsides to typing on my phone… spelling and grammatical gaffe fixing commences!

This is a simple collage project that can be completed in a couple of hours and which has potential to become a yearly tradition. Comp books come in a variety of colors and patterns these days, but if you’re jonesing for a more personal touch to keep your writing muses inspired for the long haul (the Great American Novel does not write itself, folks) then scrapping together inspirational pictures from magazines, old holiday cards, and just about any paper material that you can imagine using creatively is a great way to start.

Not only is this project an easy and fun way to personalize the most sacred of writing mediums (let’s face it, fellow writers, our notebooks are like second bodies, repositories for words that come straight from the soul) but it also makes them irreplaceable companions as you go about creating epic worlds and developing unforgettable if only to later kill off quirky characters.

Materials needed:

1 notebook or composition book, spiral bound not recommended but doable

Magazines, comic books, flyers, old ticket stubs, brochures… Anything that calls to your attention as inspirational. Most likely you will already own many of these items and it is preferable as it forces you to get really creative with what you’ve got rather than going out and prefabricating a notebook (but feel free to check out your art store’s scrapbooking area).

Clear masking tape

Ribbon (optional)

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Kimmy’s Tips

1. Go through all of your material before deciding what will make it into the comp book and select everything that draws your attention whether or not it will go well with other previously selected items. Trust me, it will all make sense later.

2. Sit comfortably on the floor/large table or desk and keep your comp book or notebook clear from any other materials.

3. You don’t have to use everything you picked out but you will decorate both sides of the notebook.

4. Once you’ve arranged your materials, cut out a long piece of clear tape and carefully tape down starting on the area you are most afraid will come undone is jostled too much. Maybe you cut out a hundred tiny little stars in one corner and you’ve got them placed just so… Yep, that’s the corner you want to protect most. Left over tape edges will be creased on the opposite side of the notebook panel to secure the entire collage at the end.

5. If you will make a comp book with a book marker like so:

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First, secure the lower and upper portions of it to the outer spine with small pieces clear tape before finishing off with a longer strip that runs down the entire length of the spine. The tape ensures a water-proof notebook so don’t be stingy. Enryoushinaideyo!

And that’s it. Also great for diaries or school notebooks! Spirals are not recommended as they make taping more difficult but Kim’s done many a spiral in the past with equal, if more time consuming, success.

It’s my first time making a comp book so it’s not nearly as creative or amazing as Kimmy’s but not too bad either way 😀

What makes the comp book a great yearly tradition is that you can make a new one for each story you’re planning/writing.

Cinnamon Tea and The Great Snow Writing Challenge

Image Source: Wallpapers AM

Image Source: Wallpapers AM

INGREDIENTS:

2-3 sticks of cinnamon

Pot full of water

1-2 cups of ice cold water

Loving friends

Optional: yuzu or lemon; honey

DIRECTIONS:

1. Fill a pot with water and add 2-3 sticks of cinnamon. Do not cover. Turn on heat to medium high.

2. Bring water to boil. Water should have a bit of foam as it rises to the top of the pot. Add 1-2 cups of ice cold water and lower temperature to medium. Allow contents to brew until water begins to boil again. Shut off heat right away. Serve cinnamon tea with lemon or yuzu and a teaspoon of honey.

3. Drink with loving friends who were kind enough to stay with you through the worst and best parts of your sickness ❤

 I’ve been catching colds on and off since October but this past weekend I had a cold that hit me harder than the others. I was achy, my head hurt, my throat didn’t feel that great either, and my nose was running like a fountain. Lots of love to the friends who helped me get over the worst of my first really bad cold, for running out to the super market to get me some groceries, for keeping me company, and letting me veg on episodes of Angel.

Thank you!!!!

😀

The great snow writing challenge of 2014: write a short story that takes place in the snow!

Snow being in abundance in this ken (prefecture), the travelling guild of writers decided to create a special snow writing challenge for the month of December. A couple other caveats that we considered: a scene with a romantic overture, development of a pre-existing character or world, dangerous things that could happen in the snow…

Ultimately the main challenge is to write a story in and around snow but best of luck with writing and any other imaginative add-ons you can think of for a delightful winter story!