parallax23: (Default)
Growing up in NYC, a favorite joke among the teachers was that a tourist walks up to someone and asks, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" and the person replies, "Practice, practice, practice."

I've been noticing lately from random comments that the idea of 'effortless talent' is becoming absurdly common. If I'm good at something that other people admire, they'll say that it's something that just comes naturally to me and it would be too difficult for them to emulate. While I do sometimes forget that I've got a bit of an edge over most people - I can admit to being a slacker savant - much of the time I practice to improve myself.

When I was in high school, I hardly paid attention in class, skipped SAT prep, and I did my homework for 3rd period in 2nd period (if I bothered to do it at all), evenutally rounding out as an A minus student and getting into a great school with scholarships. Another friend tried to emulate me, but I pointed out that I got away with it because I had As on the assignments I did turn in, but she was getting Cs. If those were my grades, I wouldn't play so fast and loose with assignments - that was how I managed to survive physics and math, which weren't my favorite subjects.

As another friend would later point out, I also have another inate talent, which is to know what my weaknesses are and being willing to address them. I don't consider this a talent, but just a part of how I was raised - my parents lived through a lot of hardships in life, and they never gave up trying to achieve what they thought they deserved. Nothing was handed to us, and sometimes I feel like an impostor because of my family's humble beginnings.

I don't just wake up good at everything. My parents and my brother spend their entire lives as underdogs, and they feel validated by proving that they're skilled after being overlooked. I somehow ended up with the opposite problem (okay, the real answer is that I won the genetic lottery to have my dad's ability to learn things and my mom's tenacity) - nothing I accomplish matters because it's expected that I just happen to be good everything, whether I had to work for it or not.

Just because something doesn't come easily doesn't mean you should just write it off. Sometimes it just requires a few practices and a YouTube tutorial to accomplish. I had no idea I liked financial analysis and that I was good at it until I tried it. Sometimes I never master what I set out to do, but it doesn't stop me from trying it. Like I know I'll never be an artist or amazing multi-linguist, but I like to experiment, and I find a new appreciation of other people's talents.

Some people don't even bother to try, and they never know if they could have been good at something if all they did was practice.
parallax23: (no midnight)
I was meandering around the internet when I stumbled across some articles for and against writing fanfic.  It's funny because I've lived through both sides of the lens for equal amounts of time.

When I started writing as a teenager, I was really against fanfic.  My 15-year-old self is throwing all kinds of shade at me right now, and my revised stance on fanfic is probably not in the top ten grievances.  Back then, I thought fanfic was a perversion of what the writers' wanted for their stories, it was using other people's ideas, etc., etc., etc...  I was really caught up writing my own works and I didn't like the idea of someone else using my work in their own ways.  It's everything that's ever been said against fanfic.  Until I was about 22, fanfic did not exist to me, and it was the equivalent of blasphemy.

So what changed?

I had come across an old TV series, Dark Angel, that I was a huge fan of back in the day (no kidding).  Unfortunately, the series ended on a cliffhanger in 2002.  So on a whim, I decided enough time had gone by that I could see if anyone wrote an ending to it.  In 2008, my world changed and I suppose it was a catalyst for me to do the same.  I thought about what a shame it was that the story wasn't complete, and maybe it was okay if someone else took a chance on making it work.  Luckily enough, I had arrived during an upswing in the fandom (from what I could tell, the teen generation that watched Dark Angel in its original run had been hit hard by the economic recession, so I'm not sure how lucky that was).  As I began reading, I realized that none of the stories satisfied how I imagined the story ending, though I had a lot of fun reading the ones that I had read.  Also, I was particularly heartbroken over my career situation, and I used it as a place to escape reality.  I decided to publish my DA fics because I remembered how reading other people's work made my days better, and I imagined that my story would be a nice little escape for someone else. It was also a way to practice writing when I hadn't been inspired for any original ideas.  As of today, the last DA fic update was on June 13, 2010 for an outtake scene from Against Time, which was meant to be the finale that the series never had, and likely never will.  I planned to return to my original works, so when inspiration for DA faded, I decided to let it go.

However, in the interceding years between 2010 and 2014, I didn't make any notable strides when it came to writing. For 3 of those years, I was in grad school and I didn't have much time for anything.  Due to my work and school situations, I was mentally worn out, but I was lucky to have a great set of friends to keep me going.

By the end of 2014, I had graduated from grad school and found a new job.  Things were looking up...  until this time last year (2015), when the organization decided to restructure my division...  It's hard to imagine that it was a year ago, because it feels like an entire lifetime passed between now and then.  Around the same time, I had been watching El Internado: Laguna Negra.  To prevent myself from becoming depressed, I threw myself into writing scenes for the series   as an outlet for my stress.  I ended up with a ton of one-shots and snippets, which I've been progressively posting since last year.  I didn't really decide to return to writing fanfic, it was a fluke more than anything else.  And why lock away my writing?  Wouldn't it do more good shared with the world than locked in a drawer with some dried out pens? Besides, I'm not turning any benefit from it besides sharpening my writing skills (the show was great to help me with an old story I wrote about a mysterious boarding school back in the day).

I think there's more sides to the world than what you're supposed to do.  I write because it's how I express myself, it's how I function as a person.  I share that writing, because I've seen the good that sharing experiences and ideas brings.
parallax23: (no midnight)
I found this new song on Spotify.  I decided to look up the band, and I discovered that the song was released on my birthday last year.  It's silly, but it made me feel hopeful after the challenges I've had this week.

Lyrics )
parallax23: (stagger)

When I look back at 2015, I can hardly imagine that so much took place in one year.  I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that I'm going to be 30 years old this year.  When I was 28, I dreaded the thought of how much time felt like it had slipped away from me since the time I had finished college.  I hadn't achieved what I wanted in life, and nothing turned out the way I expected it.  But when I turned 29 about 2 months ago, I realized that a lot of things had changed.  I began to think about what made me happy, not about expectations.  Life's too short to worry about where you haven't gone, make sure you get where you want to be today.

I finally made it to San Francisco, Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam last year.  It wasn't well planned out outside of 'To hell with everything, I'm going to do what I want for once.'  I joined an improv class and took a class in comedy sketch writing.  The main thing I've taken away from writing class is that writing by trade is much much different than writing on inspiration.  It pushed me to new creative places, which is what I wanted.

I started writing again last year.  Not for anyone but me.  Sure, it was fanfiction, but that's like complaining that professional athletes train during their off-season.  At the same time, I'm haunted by old bad habits of not finishing what I've written.  It's always fun to start a new story... finishing it?  Well, that's the hard part.

The strangest thing of all?  I'm into fantasy again, the genre that has always been my one true calling to read and write for.  It felt like an odd sense of homecoming when I sat through watching The Shannara Chronicles on MTV, like I'd stepped back into the wardrobe and walked past the lamp post, into my adolescent kingdom.

And so we begin 2016...

parallax23: (sweet)
While I was working on Alter the Ending, I stumbled onto the Wildfire TV series again.  (Seriously, what is my deal with dead fandoms?  This is the second one revolving around 2008, the year the show ended.  El Internado Seasons 3 to 7 took place in 2008.  I started writing Dark Angel fanfic in 2008.  I graduated from college in 2008.  Clearly, I have a subconscious problem.)  After watching the show all over again, I wrote a random post-series fic for the show, The Shortest Distance,  that was supposed to be a 'one-shot.'  Now that I'm typing it up, it's actually longer than I realized...  I'm somehow up to a third chapter now, and that's the midpoint!  When I wrote it, it was just a free flow into a notebook that I had, which ran a couple of pages because I thought it would be one chapter.  I blame the long commute, but this is a good thing / bad thing situation - it's good because this is shows that I've got the stride to build an entire novel again, but it's bad because it takes a lot of time to work on.  It just needs to be edited and posted, then I'll have more of Alter the Ending typed and also another few one/two-shots for El Internado (Ivan and Julia's wedding, Noiret's funeral, Christmas post-finale, another S4 'Roque finds out about Ivan and Julia' fic, and a fic about between S4 and S5 about how Ivan and Julia began dating, summer scenes), then it's lights out on the fandom.  Okay, I'm looking at that list, and I'm not sure how I wrote that much...  Or how in the world I can edit all of that in a timely manner...

Everything for these fics was pre-written, unlike Dark Angel's series, which I eventually fell behind with over time.  Managing a long running series rather than one-shots is definitely different and more difficult because of the momentum that has to be maintained.  El Internado fics came about by a sheer fluke, and I had no idea that I'd write so much for the fandom.  It's especially ironic because the show isn't in English, not all of fans are Spanish (the show was big in several international markets around the world) and no one reviews.  Sometimes I don't know if that means that I'm a good writer or not.  I thought it would be a waste for these stories to never have anyone read them, so I'm excited that at least I can imagine that someone else in the wide world is deriving some amusement from them.
parallax23: (stagger)
I've gotten into another show, El Internado Laguna Negra, (Black Lagoon Boarding School), which is the Spanish boarding school version of Lost, and fits as a muse for a few older YA stories I have.   Max/Alec fans might enjoy it since Julia/Ivan have a similar dynamic.  Personally, Fermin is my favorite character.  Since I might be posting some El Internado fics in the future, I wanted to close the curtain for Dark Angel. The reason I decided to put the writing version of training wheels back on is because I really need to rebuild my ability to write. While I don't think it's going to be as prolific as Dark Angel for my writing, I don't want it to be. I stumbled upon El Internado because I was watching Gran Hotel on Netflix, and went through the IMDb list of previous shows the lead characters starred it.  For some reason, EILN caught my eye and reminded me of a show I loved when I was younger, and I happened to find someone posting the series subbed in English (oddly fortuitous timing? how can I say no?).  Since then, Julia and Ivan have replaced Max and Alec as my muses for scribbling.  The show has its faults, but for some reason it's got my imagination in gear because it needs so much "fixing" that I can work with it.

I've always had a thing for TV shows with glaring logistical errors that I could fix through writing, and so I've spent more time writing for myself and making sure I kept up the momentum to write with this new gust of minor inspiration.  DA fanfic a few years ago was to keep my writing limber, but I need to feel confident in my writing again.  I once read that if a writer restarts too much, it means that she doesn't have faith in the story and lacks the confidence to see it through.  Based on what I've lived through, I think this is true.  I haven't been able to see my stories clearly, and I keep circling the writing drain of too many cold openings that go nowhere.

In my experience writing, it's clarity of vision that comes through in writing.  Scenes that I wrote clearest were always the ones that I could see the clearest.  It was obvious when I got stuck writing, the words dragged or got tangled.  But clarity comes with confidence.  If I can't confidently see what's in front of me, then there's no hope for writing.  If I don't believe in what I see, then I can't write it.  Watching the show kicked off my muse again, and I had started writing original plots again.  I was about to hit a stride when I got some disruptive news that almost stopped my writing again.  Instead of giving in, I pushed through to keep writing since my day to day activities hadn't changed.  This incident also gave some insight into why I had problems writing over the last few years, which had to do with bouncing around between jobs and going to grad school.  My mental energy was getting sucked into finding and learning new jobs so often, my brain couldn't find space for writing.

I'm using the scenes coming to me from the show I'm watching to rebuild my ability to see a scene from start to finish.  The first one I wrote, I wrote 3 different versions with different set ups and dialog and events.  At first, I felt like I had failed because the first one didn't come out the way I had wanted, but I realized that I could rewrite it as many times as I wanted.  I keep small notebooks with me for short scenes and ideas, and I've almost filled up one I bought last November.  Usually, it takes 2 years to fill a small notebook, because I'm not supposed to write stories with multiple scenes in them since they can eat an entire small notebook.  I changed the rules a bit to keep my writing momentum going and to vent about how things were going.  I've made some progress.  I'm crossing my fingers for more and bought an extra notebook.
parallax23: (sweet)
I stole another meme from [ profile] dreamstrifer.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
I went to a gay night club and danced with a cute gay guy.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't make specific resolutions, but I did achieve some big goals I've had for a while.  I guess I have the lofty goals of losing all the weight I gained after college and finding Mr. Right to keep me busy enough.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My uncle's wife. I told everyone that it would be a boy because we were past schedule for one.  Everyone cracked up when I was right.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Fortunately, no one.

5. What countries did you visit?
Nowhere for varying reasons.  But living in NYC, all I have to do is pick an ethnic bar or neighborhood to visit.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
"A boyfriend. I'm serious." -- dreamstrifer
I actually woke up crying over this after spending a night out with my friends and feeling like the odd man out.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
There are several days that I think will stick with me for a while.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Landing what is pretty close to my dream job (outside of being a professional author).

9. What was your biggest failure?
I'm waiting for grades, but I'm thinking I could have tried harder in that statistics course.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Physically, I've been ok.  Mentally?  That's something else entirely.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought myself a new all-in-one printer/scanner/fax thing.  Now I just need to hook it up...

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
My friend Will.  He's stuck it out with me through good times and bad.  Even when the chips are down, he's there to pick me up.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Someone I'll refer to as my ex-best friend.  Guys were more important than her maintaining friendships, now she's alone and she's got herself to blame but she won't see it that way.  She does more ridiculous things for attention now.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food, tuition and a finance industry exam I didn't pass.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
New York Comic Con 2012

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
"It's Time" by Imagine Dragons.  It really fits what's gone on this year for me.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?  Happier.  Exceedingly so.
ii. thinner or fatter? Slightly fatter.  Stress eating is now over and I will lose it.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer ;)

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Worrying about the future.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Stuck with my relatives, trying to get a new high score on Angry Birds and reading books on my Nook & Kindle apps.

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?
No, but I wasn't in the place to do it.

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favourite TV program?
Merlin.  I had been watching on and off for years, then right before the final (despicable) fifth season I got caught up.  I just watched the series finale today, and I'll mourn the show for what it could have been.  Also, I have a thing for messed up TV shows, where I fix them via imagined scenarios and use that to inspire my original stories.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Yes.  I didn't know I was capable of actually hating people.  Mildly despising everyone, sure.  Full on "I would laugh if you were on fire" hate, that's a new one.  All I have to say is that karma is a bitch to pay back.

26. What was the best book you read?
I read a lot of books this year (like about 100) and I'd say of all those, Melina Marchetta's The Lumatere Chronicles was the one series that stuck with me the most.  It was on the fringes of being literary in my opinion. I managed to get a hold of all three books in the series in the latter half of the year, and I think it ranks in my top 20 best book series of all time.  I also liked: Waking Up to the Duke by Lorraine Heath, Tangled by Mary Balogh, Black Heart by Holly Black, and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Glee! (I didn't have the time to watch it before.)  I don't think any of the artists I found were that noteworthy.  I started listening to Florence + The Machine more, but I knew about them before and the songs are really hit or miss with me.  I guess the bands Imagine Dragons and Parachute would count.

28. What did you want and get?
The job I'm at now.

29. What did you want and not get?
"A boyfriend (I KNOW I KNOW)" -- dreamstrifer

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Wreck-it Ralph, with Rise of the Guardians as a close second.  Yes, I know how immature I am.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Karaoke and dinner for the birthday that I officially stop counting at.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Finishing a draft of one of my stories.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Smart casual.

34. What kept you sane?
Reading.  Lots and lots of fantastic (and not so fantastic) escapes from reality.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Colin Morgan from Merlin.  After he put on some weight, he got really hot.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
It was an election year.  Take a wild guess.

37. Who did you miss?
No one in particular, just people who've left my life that I wish hadn't.  I do sometimes miss aforementioned ex-bff, but I miss who she used to be, not who she is now.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My new boss at work.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Don't underestimate or undersell myself.  I'm willing to stand up to someone who doesn't treat me the way I deserve to be treated.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have The Facts of Life, The Facts of Life."
parallax23: (on your own)
Freedom!  Summer is finally officially here for me - no classes and no exams until the fall starts!  I'm crossing my fingers about a new job opening, and I'm finally free to write again. 

First on my agenda is finishing up Between the Lines.  There's only a few chapters left and I already have the ending worked out, all I have to do is write it.  Other DA fics are currently on hold, I'm sorry to say.  I really want to get back to my original writing.  I have this new story in the works - steampunk/urban fantasy that involves a girl with a curse.  Since my inspiration lies there, I'm going to set my focus on that one.

I'll also be posting some of my original unfinished stuff on TWA, since maybe some feedback will kick-start my motivation to finish them.  I have changed career fields and I'm still in grad school (which are two very big goals I had set for myself last year and am proud to say I accomplished), so things will be erratic for a long while.  That doesn't mean I will give up though.
parallax23: (sit alone)
Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes.  I had a wonderful time turning a quarter of a century old.

I'm also more and more freaked out by how coincidental the shows Once Upon a Time and Being Erica are with my life.  Sometimes I feel more like a character than a writer.

I know I haven't been updating or writing much in general, but I still have goals to finish.  I'm happier now than I was this time last year.  I've made peace with things I can't control and I feel like I'm building momentum to something great.

Cheers to another birthday gone by and many more to come!