Category Archives: Bad drawings

Nostalgia Critic best sums up Twilight

A blogger discussing Twilight these days is as old of tale as “Once a upon a time, an internet troll started a flame war”. It’s a dangerous risky domain for any blogger to enter.

Proceed with Caution

I made this sign 😀 I’m so proud!

But if you’re a MANLY blogger, you have to go. You have to get your numbers up. You have to piss off half the internet at one point in your blogging life. This doesn’t mean you can’t proceed with caution.

1001 things to do on the internet before you die: Contribute to the One does not simply Meme. CHECK!

1001 things to do on the internet before you die: #24 Contribute to the One does not simply Meme. CHECK!

Sooner or later I was bound to write about it and contribute to the discussion without sounding like the two most popular arguments:

I couldn't find a 'good' argument pic for Twilight

I couldn’t find a ‘good’ argument pic for Twilight. I don’t want to try too hard.

The only argument I can find for the ‘good’ part is the usual escapism stuff.

Yes, we know, we know:

Twilight is popular and the sales figures speak for themselves.

Twilight is bad because it sets women back 100 years (I agree).

All these arguments have been said and written, discussed and fought over long before a certain blogger decided to enter the scene.

Before I go on, I’d like you to watch Nostalgia Critic’s short editorial piece on Twilight

I’ll just…help myself to avoiding my PhD work in the meantime.

How to avoid PhD work

Done?

I agree for the most part with the Nostalgia Critic. He mentions towards the end of the video that (I’m paraphrasing here) ‘for every moron that believes Twilight represents what life is, dozens are moving on’.

I don’t agree there Mr. Nostalgia Critic.

Last post I linked everyone to a certain book which discusses how media does affect young people.

Yes, people do move on and do change, however, people unconsciously believe what the media portrays there is some underlying truth applicable to their life.

Maybe you don’t believe me. Fair enough. So I’ll ask you this, just observe the people around you and yourself. Especially when it comes to their love life.

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Climbing the Publishing Ladder: To print or not to print! That is the question!

There’s been speculation about the future of digital and printed publishing. Skimming quickly through the news, you’ll read about decreasing printed book sales and the rise of the machines e-books.

Gives ya a general impression that going digital is the future of the written word doesn’t it? But it isn’t as simple as it seems.

There are articles out there discussing the demographic implications of these changes as a way to predict the future of the industry. These demographic changes are important for any writer to understand, why? It’ll probably affect your future contracts, royalties (for sure), and how to manage your own personal brand and PR.

For example, if you are writing  for say, the baby boomers, they grew up on printed books. However if you want to write for a younger audience, the little spoiled brat next door already knows how to use a tablet better than you. That kid will grow up with a preference for digital books.

Or so it seems (Mwhahahah).

This week at Publishers Weekly, an article stated that according to a recent survey 47% of children aged 6-17 have read e-books, a 25% jump from 2010 statistics. However, according to the Children’s Publishing Goes Digital Conference held in New York (On Jan 15th), stated that the transition from print to digital is still at its experimentation phase.  The conference revealed some surprising details:

  • There was a ‘shift’ back to printed books among teens since last spring.
  • Unit share for online sellers is 41%, however, discovery share is 5%. 81% of discovery still comes from a person, in other words, word of mouth.

The article (links below) continue to highlight a series of mixed results. In terms of education, children’s books seem to be doing well. But in terms of discovery…eh, not so much. If the industry, regardless of market or genre, was that predictable or easily observable in any survey then…well Climbing the Publishing Ladder is useless and a waste of your time.

What am I getting from reading this post?

  • Writing full or part time is still a career. It’s affected by the structure and form of the industry. Just as the market changes, so do careers and it’s important to keep track of the industry so any writer can be prepared to face changes in their contracts, royalties, how to manage their ‘brand’ (pen/real name, image, etc.) and their PR (whether it be offline or online).
  • My terrible and lame attempts at humor.
  • Knowledge is power. From my experience, knowing the market means you can navigate better in the sea storms of uncertainty.
  • Join me in this wonderful experience of not using in-text referencing.
  • See what publishers, editors and agents are reading and observe their concerns.

I highly recommend this podcast to get an overall feel about the changes in the industry as a whole.

http://www.writingexcuses.com/2012/12/30/writing-excuses-7-54-four-ways-the-industry-is-changing/

One final note, I greatly respect Donald Maass’s classification of writers: the status seekers and the storytellers. Although paying attention to publishing news can easily be interpreted for status seekers to get the most out of the market changes, I write these articles for the storytellers so they can learn how to speak the business lingo and jargon so their books can come out faster.

That way, I can read your books at 2AM and have the best internal debate ever.

Crop

References:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/55572-kids-e-book-reading-jumps.html

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/55521-why-the-children-s-digital-market-is-still-uncharted-territory.html

http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/01/survey-how-long-can-bookstores-survive-as-purveyors-of-print/


Academic Vs Creative Writing

Chibi

I’ve written two short pieces that are abominations. They both lack story structure and academic reasoning. They can not be taken seriously in any situation or any part of its contents. But….

I did it for a good cause.

There’s a debate going on that’s separating two types of writers out there. Both of them want the same thing though:to be published and recognized among their respective readers.  Yet, they don’t understand each other (as far as I know). So I’ll be their common enemy: the writer of the two abomination pieces.

If creative writing followed academic rules:

A poorly written generic story to illustrate the effects of research writing principles on creative writing through a third person narrative 

An Abstract

(Title translation: The Weird Tales of Bob)

As the evil clown (King, 1986) got closer, Bob brought out his wand (Rowling, 1997) and zapped the clown into a different dimension before the clown started laughing. The sudden appearance of the wand will be discussed in subsequent chapters with Bob’s back story. Bob was irritated on how short his mission was and decided he might go for his part time job of doing weird calculations.  Maybe he’d visit his alternative world (Murakami, 1985) while he was there. It seemed like it was the most practical thing to do after getting rid of the singing  red haired evil clown  (Wallace, 1990; King, 1986). It was practical since the author of this story strongly believes that after you ‘send away’ such a being, it is psychologically imperative, according to common knowledge, to unwind and relax. There are multiple ways a hero can do this and general search on Tv tropes will show readers the possibilities.

Sadly, Bob couldn’t get back to work because he was on probation regarding his “becoming-a-real-vampire” spell used on one of his sparkling co-workers (Meyer, 2005). His co-worker had suffered severe burns when he took a sunny walk in the park with his girlfriend. Instead, Bob had to attend an appointment with the psychologist as part of his evaluation.

Bob’s day was getting worse and the author theorized this story would not succeed based on the hypotheses/plot points. This was due to the following reasons: (1) Bob expected a battle with the clown (King, 1986) and instead this author gave the readers a deus ex machina fight (2) the story has ignored several novel principles (Mittelmark & Newman, 2009; Maass, 2011) and (3) no one in their right mind would read this.

This returns the reader to the initial hypothesis/plot points of the story where it was stated with Bob in a meaningless inner monologue at the start of the prologue:

H1: This generic example of creative and academic writing will make any reader immediately close the tab of this blog,

H2: If any of my supervisors read this, the author of this story suspects the supervisors will (a) have a good laugh or (b) question the author’s sanity. 

If academic writing followed creative writing rules:

The Face behind the Theory-Mask 

An Excerpt 

(Title translation: A quantitative test on the importance of the Distinctiveness Principle/Motivator in work place identities)

Bob Distinctive knew they had his life in their hands. Every conceivable scenario ran through his head as he paced around the marble hallway. If he failed this round of SPSS tests, he would become an outcast until he passed a round of even harsher tests. Yet, if he passed it would be the first step in obtaining a nearly complete golden Partial-Truth-Mask. Even though a golden Partial-Truth-Mask meant so much more scrutiny and oh so many more tests, Bob knew he could pass them and get the respect he deserved.

Bob paused in front of the large wooden door.  Inside the meeting of the 1000 vivas were his superiors discussing his fate. He forced a small smile behind his Test-Mask to try to calm himself. After months of toiling through the tests, the results could be so easily analyzed using the power of the SPSS runes. If only things were that fast and easy he thought.

“Distinctive,” a voice called as the door creaked open. “Meet us midnight, you are to continue your tests…”

“THANK-“

“Silence!” A hand emerged from the darkness, “The results could not be refuted. But at this point, you had indirect support thanks to your conceptual framework spells, you used many references in its composition…You will face harsher tests Mr. Bob Distinctive. Much harder…” As the door closed, John triumphantly removed his mask. It didn’t matter if there was no direct support. They could not refute him.

He was another step towards his dream…

 


Beauty Racism

I’m going to go out of a limb and say that you might have experienced the same kind of racism I’ve dealt with either directly or indirectly.

Today I’d like to write to you about something I call “Beauty Racism”.

When people think ‘racism’ I imagine most people immediately think of skin color or ethnic origin in terms of job roles, socio-political roles, etc. But today, I want to write about a different kind of racism that has spilled from history, social-politic roles and stereotypes to the perception of beauty.

During my undergraduate years, I noticed the guys often went after young ladies with fairer skin. I also heard about several women complaining to dermatologists about wanting to “be white”. This was because being ‘fair’ or ‘white’ was equated with success and, more importantly, in certain collective societies: beauty.

Growing up, I’ve learnt through the subtle and not so subtle messages that people valued women with fairer skin. And it wasn’t just me who picked up on that. One of my childhood friends told me about a nine year old girl who used 4 or 8 bottles of a product called “Fair & Lovely” a month.

What is “Fair & Lovely”? The commercials speak for themselves:

Other commercials, especially the Arabic ones I’ve come across, show pretty much the same scenario about a woman not getting the glamorous job or the handsome man until she uses the product and becomes…’fairer’. I haven’t come across the men’s version of these commercials until I searched youtube.

From my experience, beauty racism mainly deals with skin color but also ethnic origin which affects other physical features such as hair type, nose, you get the idea. I’m sure there’s another side to the proverbial coin (being bronze, etc). So, I’d like to open a social dialogue on this topic to incorporate other people’s experiences’ including men’s perspectives.

Everyone has heard of the famous quote “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Just as individuals have different tastes in food, music, clothing, books etc so do their perceptions of what is considered ‘beautiful’ or handsome. As these tastes evolve over time, so do someone’s perception of ‘beauty’. Remember when you were a teenager? Did you look for the same features in potential partners as you do now? Do you or any of your friends find the same men and women attractive? (If you do, good luck with the competition!)

This can become a sensitive topic as I’ve read in forums some people are not attracted to certain features and asked does that make them racist?

So what is “Beauty Racism”?

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race” or “racial prejudice or discrimination”.

If you reject someone on the basis of your classification of them into a specific ‘race’ because they possess certain physical traits (skin color, hell even eye color) which makes you superior or the person inferior in some way (beyond physical appearance)…

Then yes, you are racist.

If you reject someone  because you don’t find that particular person physically attractive to you and not categorize them to a particular ‘race’ then that’s based on what you find beautiful. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But also keep in mind inner beauty.

I’ve seen some beautiful and handsome people, regardless of skin, ethnic origins just the person’s individual physical beauty, but their personalities made them ugly.

Very ugly.

I’ve also seen the opposite, at first glance not particularly attractive but their inner beauty made them more than beautiful in the physical sense.

Sadly, this topic can become messy.

Easily. I lost count how many drafts I wrote for this post.

So, how do we appreciate a person’s natural beauty without the perfect abs, cultural blabs, or photoshop ads?

Study art.

Specifically, human anatomy. Study the human body as a whole of an individual to see a different beauty the media has failed to capture. Go to photostock websites or Deviantart to try and see a variety of models.

Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal Drawing

For the writers out there, I believe studying art can help with writing. It can help ‘teach’ someone how to describe a character’s figure more than “She was lean,” or “He was robust,” and so on.

Need proof?

Read the Gormenghast novels or the short story “Boy in Darkness” by Mervyn Peake. He used his art skills in his writing to provide more vivid descriptions.

So, have you experienced anything similar with beauty racism? To any gentlemen readers out there, what issues have you dealt with?


Ladders Into the Grave Chapter 1: The Moon’s Midnight Felo De Se

So we begin the writing experiment, this is the first post, first chapter. It was longer than I intended it to be, hope you enjoy it!

Chapter 1:

The Moon’s Midnight Felo De Se

We all did it. Without a second thought, without question, without resistance, just as our grandparents, parents, older siblings, hell, even the younger kids, or spawn as I’d like to call them, have done. This mundane ritual, a Gormenghast onto itself, was fed with the same damn old purpose, the same damn old meaning and the same damn old hags gossiping about it.

I can’t recall when the exact idea entered my mind to change the meaning of the ritual, maybe on a subconscious level I was always trying to find the right ‘outlet’ for it. Since my first ceremony, I remember thinking to myself ‘hey I’m not doing this because they’re telling me to! I’m climbing to the moon!’

It was a coward’s way of saying I’m still following everyone else…because I was afraid. If I didn’t follow the ritual, I was afraid I’d receive the wrath of my community and somehow the entire universe. If you didn’t follow the ritual, you committed an unforgivable a sin.

Yet, climbing to the moon…Brings back a lot of memories. I suppose by saying that to myself, it was like the smallest Matryoshka doll in a set. So tiny and insignificant, but an important part of me.

In the center

Until one day, the smallest Matryoshka doll found the mother lode of steroids that hurdled me to start my journey.

Gisa_1

“?”

That day was induction day. The day I enrolled at the institute.

*

At the end of the superficial introductions, tedious explanations, lame jokes and the beginnings of brittle friendships, the staff announced we would take part in a special treat.

“Instead of having a daybreak ceremony, we’ll have a midnight one instead! Now you can get more sleep!”

Theoretically, yes.

Practically? Hell no. Everyone would be up half the night  memorizing the rankings and figuring out what to do get higher next quarter. And who they should be ‘friends’ with to help get them there.

But, everyone was all smiles and gleeful expressions. Even me. My smile stretched from one cheek across to another which probably looked like a five year old drawing of a happy face.

A happy friendship?

But I smiled for very, very different reasons. We were going to be guided by the eccentric midnight keepers.

The theatrical masters.

They liked adding a little originality to the mundane ritual. Sometimes it was flavors of macabre, mystery, science or fantastical depending on who was the 1st keeper. If anything, I’d describe them as a drunken grim reaper, a spiritual noir detective, a celibate space opera hero, and a magical princess that actually saved her kingdom all playing a game of Cards Against Humanity together.

I probably took a shine to them since we were both trying to do the same thing: change the meaning of the ritual.

Moving on.

It was ten minutes before midnight.

I stretched my neck, eager to catch a glimpse of any of the midnight keepers. I saw one of them raise their hand, calling attention to themselves, and I fidgeted trying to skillfully not draw attention to my little jumps. I expected something, anything unique coming from the institute. It was one of the biggest institutions in the sector, naturally I had high expectations.

“Next! New residents, board your platforms!” One of the keepers yelled. “Get a move on before the second hand reaches 12! Come on!” There was something oddly ordinarily average about the tone the keepers shouted in. I shrugged it off and continued with my jumping exercises.

“Hurry up!!!” Another keeper yelled. Disappointment struck when I finally caught a glimpse of the nearest keeper. He was dressed insanely normal. As mundane as the ceremony. If he wasn’t directing us, anyone could have easily mistaken him for another ‘new resident’.

I only sighed and continued walking to my assigned platform. I resigned myself to ‘getting over with’ the ceremony and decided to use my classic ‘climbing to the moon’ defense mechanism to make things…easier.

“And don’t forget!” One keeper’s distant voice shouted with all his might.

“Don’t-“

“Fall off your ladder!” Everyone chanted irritably.

I raised my eyebrow at the keepers, all of them silently communicating with their eyes. It took a while for me to notice the familiar drop of sweat fall from their foreheads down to their cheeks. It wasn’t like they were going to be part of the ceremony directly. It wasn’t like they were going to go to their new homes and be under the watchful eyes of the temporary champions and losers. It wasn’t like this was the closest thing to an oracle to predict how your academic, economic and social status would be for a quarter.

That’s when it hit me. They didn’t want anything to go wrong as the institute left them with a big responsibility. Right there and then, before my platform appeared, I had an idea which grew faster than damn jack’s beanstalk .The next thing I knew, I was plotting when would be the perfect time.

I turned to my left. My peers were nervously clutching their hands or trying to mitigate their nervousness through self-promotion of how great their last ranking turned out. On my right, the same thing except some people were shivering. I swallowed not hoping this time I wouldn’t be in the last group but that I wouldn’t chicken out on what I was about to do.

I stepped upon my platform and closed my eyes. I heard the sudden swoosh sound of something coming from the ground. The keepers yelled “Go” and for a second I listened to the breathless prayers and curses my peers murmured as their hands slapped cold steel. I felt the darting eyes of my keepers watching my still body, as if willing it to move.

That was my first and last warning for them.

My hands once again touched the cold metal bars and began to lift my body to the next one as the soles of my shoes followed. As I climbed up, higher and higher, each time stepping on a step I climbed dozens upon dozens of times, slowly getting closer to the moon, I would do something only a first timer would do. It was two minutes before midnight. Two minutes before my theatrical show.

Shivers ran up and down my spine as the larger Matryoshka dolls united to stand against their tiny but formidable adversary.

I stretched out my hand as another bar appeared. The moon had an eerie blue glow. I don’t know how long, but I knew the bells would ring any second.

I took one last look at the moon. The dolls were beginning to crowd up against the smallest one. It was surrounded.

I stretched out my hand to the next bar, maybe…maybe next time I thought.

The bells began to ring. I stopped and closed my eyes. I was ashamed and my tiny Matryoshka doll cowered in fear as the others waddled away.

The ripening fruit of my idea had become a strong cocktail of fear, desperation and oh the sweet alcohol of my life: rebellion. So then, what was I so afraid of?

It wasn’t death. It was something more powerful embedded in me, stopping me, preventing me from loosening my grip any further. Looking back, it was the monolith the ritual had created. We were a part of it; it was a part of us since we were born. To suddenly sever ties with it…To defy it was sin itself. To not be part of the ritual with everyone…was a different kind of death.

But in that single moment, that single precious moment where fear and disappointment battle with each other, I became….fearless….without consequence. My hands shook and trembled as I loosened my grip again.

The wind grabbed my hair, pulling it upward, like the moon was trying to reach me. I ignored all the shouts, screams, and shocked gasps.

Never had I breathed air so pure yet so intoxicating. It was like a massive weight had been lifted from my chest.

I saw the moon become a little blue speck in the night sky. Before everything went dark.

I was ‘awake’ for a while in that darkness. I remember feeling beads of sweat run through my hair and my stomach constipated with fear while my chest grew heavy with guilt.

But in the darkness, I had a drunken smile of bittersweet rebellion.


The Writing Experiment

When I write any “complete” piece, I think my work looks something like this:

The spiral of BS

The spiral of BS

A spiral of BS which has the power to give any editor nightmares for the rest of their life…

And sometimes in the middle of night the paranoia monster creeps up from under my bed whispering in my ear: “Maybe I’m worse than fanfiction writers and Stephenie Meyer”. It’s a scary thought which makes me regret spending all that money on writing books.

Interestingly, I imagine the work of students in writing programs look like this:

The Starry Night

The Mona Lisa was too obvious

Either that or their Yoda Writing Jedi master will teach them to use the force against Darth Procrastinator and his master, Emperor Self-Doubt.

I’ve written a few short stories and sent them to editors of online magazines. I’m proud to say I’ve started building my mountain of rejection emails with the occasional sprinkle of encouragement. Sadly, like many people I don’t feel like I’m improving fast enough compared to the students in writing programs.

That and the annoying thing called “Life” gets in the way of precious writing time. Like your ‘guaranteed to get a job degree’, your best friend’s latest attempt at world domination or catching up with The Big Bang Theory.

So in order to get a bit serious, I’ve devised this formula:

(Pressure from reader(s) +  Deadlines) * TheInternetiswatchingyou = Time-Magically-Appears-For-Writing

However!

  Time-Magically-Appears-For-Writing = Required-Medium= ????

After days of endless calculations, sleepless nights and help from the paranoia monster, I found the answer…With you, dear reader as my guinea pig…I mean my ‘first reader’.

I want to conduct a writing experiment.

I’ve had a story racking in my brain for a while but I always felt I wasn’t ‘skilled’ enough to write it. The whole writing is a journey is an understated modern proverb. Unfortunately, I can’t join a writing program (due to several reasons) and I have other commitments at the moment.

The experiment is this: I will write short progressive posts of this story while reading and taking into consideration your feedback, comments and opinions in the general story direction. Every few weeks, I plan on posting a ‘deconstruction’ of these story posts to see what was right and wrong.

At the same time, I plan on writing other posts reviewing books that cover writing fiction as well as any other stuff that comes along the way.

And funny stuff too.

We gotta have funny stuff.


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