Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nitpickery: The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey

Hey y'all. 

Dear Peter Jackson,
There is a word I think you might not be familiar with, so allow me to do you the favor of defining it for you.

Subtle (adj)-
1. fine or delicate in meaning or intent
2. requiring mental acuteness, penetration, or discernment
3. characterized by mental acuteness

Arc Rose

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Making a Personality Quiz: Environments

Hey y'all.  I'm going to be seeing the Hobbit on Wednesday, so expect my nipickery review soon.  As for now, there's a really cool idea I have for making a personality quiz.  I'm not sure how the quiz will go, but the base idea is pretty interesting for at least the artsy fart types.

I've done a personality quiz before, based on people's favorite Starcraft characters, but that was more of an analysis.   For example, people who like Raynor, Zeratul, and Fenix, are more heroic types.  People who prefer Kerrigan, Duran, and Stukov might like people with two sides to them, and are powerful political people who are intelligent enough to see what's going on around them. 

That, obviously, is limited to the people who have played Starcraft.  That, and Starcraft 2 came out, and since I don't own that game, I haven't sufficiently observed how it changed the normal characters and added in new ones.  That and they obliterated Mengsk and made him too darn typical.

But onto my new idea!  It's based on environments.  See, everybody has an environment they would prefer to be in or find more inspirational.  My favorite is space.  While, naturally, I have never been there, I find the loneliness and color of space very inspirational and strange.  And of course that says something about my personality.  I'm not sure what, but probably something.

Other people like different environments.  My dad likes mountains.  A lot of people prefer forests.  Beaches are always fun.  Undersea environments can be pretty similar to space, as it's very big and full of strange color.  Though there is a difference in that animals live in water but not in space.  There's more life in that sort of place.

So in constructing this personality quiz, I have to figure out what environments are archetypal, and what each means.

Here's a list of things that come to mind.
- Space
- Forests
- Desert
- Under the sea
- Deep sea
- The beach
- Mountains
- Crowded city
- Prairies

I have no clue how all these work out, but maybe over time I can figure it out.  I just have to know what kinds of people prefer what kinds of places.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Write Club -- Writing Prompts

Hey y'all!  I discovered the secret to making yourself write when you don't feel like it: writing prompts.  A prompts is basically an assignment from a teacher or writer pro that gives you a little gimmicky motive to write.  It entails writing in such a unique way that it's interesting and it doesn't take long enough for your inspiration to dry up.

For example, I created a prompt I call drawing a line through two dots.  Several notepad bits have random words on them, names of objects and places.  The writer takes two of these notepads, and then figures out what they have in common.  By making up the reason in a super short story.  The point of this exercise is not necessarily to finish a tale (unless you want to) but to take two different things and write, in one or two pages, a possible connection between the two.  The possibilities are literally endless.

So, here are some things.  Pick two at random and write a connection between the two.  Pick once and go for it; no switching.
- spoons
- Santa
- the British government
- a train station
- an old rifle.
- pianos
- pizza
- a pot of coffee
- Toronto, Canada.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Parenting Tips: Embarrassed Moms

Hey y'all.  Y'know, one of the reasons why it's so important to have a father figure is because fathers seem to understand how to act better in public.  They might not be such good fathers in private, but when I see a parent acting up in public, it's almost never a male.  In fact, I can't directly remember any bad male parents off the top of my head in public.

I feel the need to get ranty today because I saw one of the worst mothers ever at work today.  While she didn't threaten to kill her child like another mom I saw, she just lost it.  Her cute little daughter was being naughty by banging on one of the drums we have at work.  I went to the child and was like, "don't bang on that, Sweetie."  The instant the mom hears me, she runs up and grabs the child, saying something like, "I told you not to do that!"  She then proceeds to yell at the child and go on a long tirade about acting right while the little girl cries and says, "I wanna get down!"

Seriously.  That is not how you talk to a child.  Would yelling work if you made a mistake?  No?  Then don't use it on a child. 

But what should be obvious from my story is that the mom was embarrassed.  She didn't want to be known as a bad parent.  Ironically, her defensive behavior is what caused me to call her a bad parent.  Children are grabby by nature because they don't understand personal property.  I don't think someone is a bad parent because their child is acting like a child.  That's normal, unless the child is around ten and really is old enough to know better (kids can't read your dang mind!). 

However, grabbing a child and yelling at her is the exact way you'll get me to think you're a bad parent.  Surely the bad mothers must realize they look stupid when they yell.  Honestly, it doesn't work and moms look bad when they do it.  So why do they constantly persist in overreacting?

Another time, back when I worked at a cafe, a little child grabbed some lollipops after his mom told him not to.  I saw him and told him to leave them alone, but I really should have prefaced this with "Mommy said".  Unlike the first mother I mentioned, this second one merely pulled the child away and said little.  However, she did call my manager and tell her that I was yelling at her child and that I'm a bad worker.

First of all, I'm a former nursery worker.  I don't yell at children.  Secondly, I'm trying to help YOU out, mothers, when I reinforce what you tell your kids.  Third, I'm responsible for my cafe, and if a kid is messing it up, I'm going to stop them.  I won't hurt them or yell at them, and I won't touch them unless I have to pull their hand from something.  Sure, parents won't know that right off, but it should be a given that employees are responsible for their jobs.  Do you really expect me to just stand there and let your little kid tear up my candies until you notice them?  Do you really want to pay for all that opened candy?

So let's go over a few takeaways here.

1. Don't take it personally when your kid does something rude or insensible.  Children push boundaries by nature, and when they get grabby, all you have to do is let them know this is wrong.  If you don't care about looking bad in public, your child won't care about you looking bad in public either and rebel against you without concern.

2. Children learn by example.  If their parents freak out easily, they'll freak out easily.

3. When children do something that embarrasses you, don't let it.  Okay, so the little child was banging on the drum when she really shouldn't have.  Should the parent feel bad?  No.  The child should feel bad.  Not horribly bad, but just bad enough to realize banging on a drum that doesn't belong to you is rude.  Don't be emotional about it, just let the child know she was in the wrong.  If you yell, your kid will just assume you're a crazy person and continue to rebel.

4. It is okay for other authorities to speak to your child.  If someone says a child was behaving improperly, don't assume that your child is a perfect little angel and the person in question is a jerk for trying to rationally tell your child he is behaving improperly.  Other people can tell you things to help you with your kid, and if you think you're the only one who can tell your child anything, well, then your child is probably going to be hell on wheels to his teachers because he know you'll always take his side.

5. Always remember: you are not a bad parent if your child is less than perfect.  You are a bad parent if your embarrassment turns to anger.  If you feel yourself starting to get mad, calm down and say very little.  I know it's embarrassing when people tell your kid not to do something, but don't feel the need to control your little one to the point where you can't stand them doing the slightest thing wrong. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Three Writer's Books

Hey y'all.  So I finally found the one book I really, really wanted: 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected.  This is a fabulous book that explains the ins and outs of the writing industry.  True, it's somewhat negative because it focuses a lot on the statistical unlikelyhood of your story getting published, but somehow its realism and up-front honesty makes me feel hopeful about being published.  It clearly defines things that could be obscure or doubtful to a new person trying to get published.

It occured to me then that there are three types of writing books.  Books that help you write, edit, or market.  While all these things are clearly interrelated, the differences between the three become necessary when you want to find a book to help you specifically.  There are so many books out there for a writer that it becomes harder to choose which ones you want.  So you have to pick one that helps you out the most.

77 Reasons is clearly a book on marketing because it talks about how to pitch your story (or nonfiction piece, for that matter) and how to promote yourself so that it sells well.  There are also other books out there on publishing and getting your work out there, and this is the category of people who feel they are ready and have the other two aspects down.

However, it's always good to go back to the basics and get a book on writing or editing.  Writers tend not to like repeating the basics, especially when they've learned a lot about writing simply from writing itself.  However, they still don't know proper formatting, or necessarily how to keep motivated.  That's where the other two come in.  Though, notedly, how I define "writing" and "editing" in this blog is a little more specific than the usual definition, because there are two different needs that two kinds of writers want when they buy a writing book.

Editing is the category for people who are confident in their plot, but not so much their grammar, spelling, and how their plot is arranged.  This is the hardest part for a writer, because it's the nitpickiest and a lot of the time our inspiration runs out of steam once we get the idea down -- we don't want to rehash it over again unless we've learned discipline. 

However, there is a third type of book that is not like the other two.  It's more intuitive and sometimes the authors of them are just weird.  But this category is the one that helps writers develop the writing process itself -- forcing oneself to settle down in front of the computer to write, drawing out inspiration, and building discipline.  This is different from editing in that it is step one; you can't edit if you don't have anything written down in the first place.

The reason this last one has the weirdest authors is that inspiration itself is weird and ill-defined, and at our core everyone is a strange person.  All those normal behaviors are something that people have learned to use to communicate with others.  On the inside, everyone has awkward feelings and ideas that they want to get out, and the writing process books help them learn to use these feelings to communicate universal ideals through the use of story.

So chronologically, writing process books are first, editing is second, and marketing is third.  While some books might hit all three, most generally focus on only one of these, because each writer needs help with a different aspect, or is simply interested in one aspect at a certain point in time. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

INTP and Understanding

Hey y'all.  I'm reading more about my Myers-Briggs personality type, and apparently the dude Richard Dawkins is the same personality as me.  Also, INTP people tend to be task oriented, intellect-worshiping, principle admiring folk.  Sounds about right.

There's little quotes beneath each person, and Richard Dawkins said something that I totally understand: basically, that he doesn't like religion because it encourages people "to be satisfied with not understanding".  I get him.  He wants to know everything, and thinks it's weird not to try to know everything. Trouble is, there are some things we cannot know -- like who killed JFK, for example.

However, he is slightly incorrect.  One, he shouldn't lump all religions together, and two, God likes knowledge.  It says in Proverbs that wisdom is greater than silver and gold, and people should seek knowledge above precious stones.  It also says that it's the glory of God to hide a matter, but the glory of kings to seek a matter out.  Therefore, God wants us to seek knowledge and created within us a desire to know more.  He wants us to be intelligent, and directly tells us to learn, right there in Proverbs.

Y'know, the trouble with Dawkins is that he's looking at God only through logic and thought.  Well, the truth of the matter is that God cannot be reached through intellect alone, though I daresay a few people have grown closer to God through studying his creation.  No, the truth is, getting to God through intellect is like trying to call your neighbor with your intellect.  How do you call someone or meet them simply by thinking about them?  You have to go and meet him, or let him meet you.

It always reminds me of how CS Lewis said he was dragged into the Kingdom of Heaven kicking and screaming.  God's existence is not dependent on logical thought, but through study.  For example, I could, on an intellectual level, create a masterful hypothesis on how the kiwi bird does not exist (hey, if people believe in zombies, they'll believe in anything) and persuade some non-travelling people that kiwi birds are all a scam.  However, the trouble with that theory is that all the logic in the world cannot disprove a kiwi, because you can just go to Australia or a zoo (do zoos have kiwis?) to find them.  Likewise, God is a person, not an intellectual principle.  All you have to do is go to him.