BA Quest

Where College Students Meet Their Fate

Posts Tagged ‘Writing

A job for you and me.

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By Daniel Fockler

Well the time is upon us. The graduating women and men are are being shuttled to the precipice. “Find a job!,” they yell as you fall and look up at them with a confused look on your face. The more I look for the jobs the less I want one.  I have applied to a few large companies. I’ve been turned down by two. I have yet to get an interview or a positive message back from anyone. From a jobseeker’s view it feels like I might as well be putting my resume in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean. The worst part is that I don’t actually want these jobs and I still don’t know what I want. I know what I can do, and I know I have potential to do better. So where does that leave me? The fortunate part is that I can do anything I want. Entertaining the idea of a low-wage job for a while is something I have thought about. It would be nice to not have artificial stress for a while, the foreign concept that it is. After I have graduated there is no one to push me any more. I will have to break out the oars and row myself, which will be a nice change.

Sailing the High SeasLife is out there waiting to be taken, squandered, spoiled, cherished, whatever! The field that I’m in gives me options, and that is terrifying and awesome. It’s just something that you have to deal with if you want to succeed. I think fear is the contributing factor to whether people are able to succeed in life. Although there are two kinds of fear. That lovely paralyzing fear that turns you into a tree, unable to move, then there is that glorious motivational fear. Motivational fear causes you to run fast and far, knowing you are going to die and not wanting to in the slightest. It’s only you, and you must accomplish something on your own. The good fear is not always easy to attain. You need support. You and your trusty shotgun are out there on the road killing the zombies of life. You can’t lay down and die. You’re better than that!

Bam Bam!I’m not sure what I was thinking when I was younger but there are no fantastic revelations waiting for you out there. It’s just there and you can do what you want with it. The world I mean. I recently realized that society is the creation of a collection of motivated and unmotivated individuals. The motivated ones create and force society to move. The unmotivated ones move within society, following the wake of those that determined the will of society. I truly think that the only way to be an individual is to create. Create whatever you want, be it video games, movies, books, art, buildings, science, organizations, anything! If you are not creating you are consuming, consuming what others have made. That fear of death should cause you to create. If you have ever wanted to be immortal, creation is your best opportunity to do so. Take god for instance, his/her only claim to immortality is the ability to create. Shakespeare, Newton, Cleopatra, Einstein, Bach, they all created; they created empires, theories, plays, or music. But we don’t remember them as people. We remember them for the things they did, the things that they created. I’m not saying that you must become great at creating for people to remember you. Just try, people who don’t challenge their own ideas die in them like coffins. They become entrenched in those ideas and they are never able to leave, change, or get any perspective. These are hindrances to creation.

Those are your hands!If you aren’t creating then what are you doing? Wasting, that’s what! You are wasting away, swiftly! You will not have made anything, and you will have not left any mark on anyone. You will become a forgotten gravestone in the ground. It’s a harsh sentiment, but an important one for motivation in the current spectrum of world order. So please, please, please go out and create. It will make you feel better, and the people around you feel better. You may fail in what you wanted, but you will have tried and your ideas will have changed, and made you better. Live a life you would be proud of. There’s nothing you can’t try. Except drugs, maybe only once.

Written by dfockler

06/24/2012 at 11:26 PM

A Question For Today: Nostalgia

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What does nostalgia mean to you? When you hear that word, what do you see, what do you feel?

For me, Nostalgia is a double edged sword. It let’s me see the world with a glitter around the pale edges. Without nostalgia, I wouldn’t smile at the sight of a power ranger costume at halloween, wouldn’t chuckle from the thought of an Amelia Badelia book.

It is something like a crystalized twinkle of joy. Our mind snatches and holds every snapping synapse dedicated to that particular laugh, hordes them together in labeled bundles.

It can be positive. I still start crying if I hear the opening music to the super nintendo game, Secret of Mana. I can watch the spider-man animated series for hours, no matter how much the violence is neutered. Dragonball Z is still an inspiration toward friendship and hard work.

It can also lead to horror. There is no excuse for having fond memories of Sisqo’s ‘Thong Song’ (let me see that booty go, du-du du-du, let me see that booty gooooooo, that thong thong thong thong thong).

I believe the greatest fear is betrayal. For years I imagined the game ‘Ice Hockey’ for the Nintendo NES as an action packed game before its time. When I got it for Wiiware, it was a simple control scheme with modified mario sprites.

I still loved it though. It isn’t ‘Ice Hockey’s’ fault that it eclipsed all other hockey games in my mind. It also kept a beaten path to my childhood. The question is if that path is worth the disappointment in the now, the constant reference to yesteryear.

Please let me know your thoughts below.

Written by MD Kid

03/28/2012 at 6:47 PM

This Big Year

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This last year was life changing for me; I got my bachelor’s degree in English, met my first great love, decided that living well would be too easy, and became a minority again. Not all of this was exciting, but it will all be important going forward.

This whole blog’s purpose has been to talk about my post-degree survival. I have struggled to find work in a crap economy, buckled under the pressure of said economy, given up on ever finding economic happiness, recanted that statement, then recanted my recantment.

It is hard to remember back when I first graduated and dug around in the mud of the internet, hoping to dredge up a job. Now I have a job and a half. I have my desk job, my credentials to assure everyone that I am just as disappointed with my earnings as they are. My other work is in content writing, creating the bland paragraphs you read across any C-list website across the web. It is boring work, and somehow less boring than my desk job.

As I’ve done more content writing I’ve made small adjustments in my view of a writing career. It is, however, my desk job that has changed my viewpoints the most. You see, right now I am a simple file clerk. I get paid better than I used to when I had a job at my school, but probably not as well as I deserve. My tasks include copying papers in files, mailing papers in files, putting files in drawers, and taking files out of drawers. I repeat this for 8 hours, with a 1.5 hour commute each way. Don’t get me wrong, my coworkers are enjoyable, kind, helpful. Also, I understand that you have to start on the low rung, even if you have a degree. That just gets you in the door, and then you claw your way up, hoping to survive life in the meantime. There is one problem though, and it is a rather huge problem, I don’t want to move up here. I know and have heard of plenty of writers who have jobs on the side, I know that you don’t become a famous writer and live your life in paradise. All I’m saying is that if I had to continue doing my current job to make my living wage, I would go insane. This is no small thing, I value my sanity. I give my sanity due for getting me this far in life (though not without its hiccups, like that time my sanity told me to walk home from school at 10 at night), and I won’t sacrifice it over a paycheck.

Creative writers get filthy rich all the time right? RIGHT?!

So what can I do? I guess the only answer I’ve come up with is to have patience. Which is exactly why I intend to be jobless in about 10 days. All right, maybe patience isn’t the best word for it. See here is the situation, my filing job is a temporary job, and they keep extending my time there. That is awesome, it gives me money, all the while edging me closer to a face-to-face with Mr. Madness. This time my job is supposed to end at the start of February, and I intend to stick to that. If I cut this job off, without getting ‘fired’ for some bad reason, I should receive a new job from my temp agency at some point in the future. In the meantime, I hope to steep myself in the process of building my writer’s ‘platform’ and finishing a manuscript or two. Will this work? Not likely, I am dreadfully lucky when I actually get a job. I will probably get offered a full position within the week, I’ll let you guys know.

If I do get February off, I plan to spend it with my first great love. As I like to call her, my FGL, or my Fugul, all of which I have trademarked. We’ve been together for more than this last year, but this year has been quite an adventure in romance. Just three years ago you could have heard me spread my creed of ‘ignoring the ladies to achieve capital gains’. I still believe in that really. My romance is, nearly, exactly how I would have dreamed. No pointless flirting and engagements, we didn’t meet at a club, and I haven’t had to lay claim to a baby created over our 2 years together. I give us an A+.

She is more talented than me, which stings in a petty way. There are benefits to relating to another artist though, in particular I can talk to her. While I was sure that I would be stuck with a life of only showing my work to my mate for the purposes of getting empty pats on the back, instead I have someone who can critique like a pro. We discover more that we have in common every day, and we are different in all the right ways (there are anatomical differences that are of note, IE da boobies). One thing in particular is relatively new for me, but it has been a long way coming.

Again, rewind two years. If you asked me what my beliefs were as I headed off to school, I would have told you that I was a spiritualist. My family is technically Baptist, with a few Jehovah’s witnesses sprinkled in there. My belief in the structure of the church was already shot. I don’t care about what a pastor or priest has to say, and I knew that there was no house that you could shove god in. For me, there was likely some power out there though, and I was willing to believe in a spirit inside me. Maybe I read too much manga.

Now I can firmly call myself an atheist. An interesting turn for such a short period. It dawned on me one day that I shed everything else related to religion. I had no god, I had no church, I had no faith community, I had spirit within. I believed in this one life, and on treating everyone around me as a human being, not a representative of a future life. As my self-identification changed, so did I. This election cycle has definitely helped. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot connect myself, even passively, to a group that would impede the progress of the society around me and purposely harm innocents in the name of their collective beliefs. This is not a knock against the teachings of my previous faith, or any other. Christianity is all right in small doses, and I won’t hate on anyone who wants to go along with the mutated creature that is usually brought up when we speak of Christianity. That is, all the talk of ‘love and charity’ that gets left behind.

Good old Jezus!

The public application of Christianity is something different though, and exactly what I had to escape. I joined my fellow students to stand up to the Westboro Baptist Church, I have listened to people speak of their god defining marriage while ignoring the wishes of their fellow man, I have seen the leaders of faith blame the poor and sick for their trouble while hoarding power for themselves. As a person, Christianity is a failed experiment. As a writer, Christianity is a well crafted tragedy, the smiling cult welcoming the world’s ruin. It turns out that only 15% or so of my country is atheist, so I guess I’m a minority here.

This is only January though, so who knows what may come in the months ahead. Maybe I’ll get famous and meet you readers in the funny papers. Alternatively, I could find a constructive way to use my degree in the workplace, while continuing to learn. Most likely I’ll be complaining about my job for a long time now. Only one way to find out.

Written by MD Kid

01/11/2012 at 3:49 PM

NaNoWriMo: The Aftermath

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Well it is over, National Novel Writing Month is done. It was 30 days of grueling work, but the deed is done.

I first wrote about NaNoWriMo back on the 27th of October. When I started the exercise, I didn’t have a good memory of exactly what it took to forget the world around you every evening and just write. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing. I have a degree in creative writing, if there is any dedication to a cause greater than getting a laughable degree and going deep into debt for it, I can’t think of it. Oh right, there is also dying… I guess there is that.

I got this from a stock image site. I made myself sad.

When I Started

…everything was okay. I thought I knew where I was going, I had my outline and I charged ahead. My hook was tight, my character was interesting from the first page. That is when I ran into my first problem. The character had an interesting personality, but by his own nature, he was quiet and stand-offish. He didn’t have wild conversations with others, he put them down, or ignored them. So as a writer who thrives on dialog, I wrote a main character that couldn’t participate in my favorite writing mechanic. Brilliant move on my part. I was determined to stick to the character in my head though, so I stuck with it. The obvious solution eluded me.

In The Middle

As the weeks went on, things got difficult. This is what I call the ‘OH JESUS THIS OUTLINE IS NOT AS LONG AS IT NEEDED TO BE’ phase. I have tried outlines several times now, and it always ends the same. I know the start to my story, I know the characters and setting, I know the viable ending, and I know some important stuff that will happen in the middle. What happens is that you write a scene that you thought would be good, but it turns out to be three pages instead of 10 pages. You go through a dramatic moment, and it turns out that it took a page to finish, and lead a different direction than you expected. So what is there to do? You power through it, there is no time for revision, you cannot reverse the flow of time, this isn’t Prince of Persia this is NaNoWriMo dangit.

My character’s lack of dialog was drawing conversations to a close much faster than I expected. My new succinct writing style gained from school was ending everything in half the time. This wasn’t looking pretty. So some changes happened in the story, dark changes dreamed up in midnight fevers.

They were beautiful. Like a Dostoyevsky character, madness and frustration drove me to the edge, and there I found salvation. Actually, I found it in driving my character mad. His personality was slowly corrupted by the pressures of the world around him, and instead of a background madness his became real. This change is exactly what makes me love NaNoWriMo, by forcing my hand, I came up with an alteration to my original idea that was better than anything I could have originally imagined. Would I have gone there eventually? Maybe. The event is a fire that burns away impurities and leaves something at the bone, but it may not always be the delicious marrow you want.

Okay, not this 'mad'

As I pushed forward, several obstacles got in my way. Star Wars: The Old Republic, an upcoming MMO, had beta events several weekends in a row, and I gave them a try. I had nights where I did no writing at all because I played so late that I had no time before I had to get some sleep. Thanksgiving loomed as well.

The Big Finish

Finishing the story wasn’t going to be easy. I was behind by thousands of words. I was so far behind my 50k word goal that I was wondering if success was even possible. I pushed ahead anyway, writing down new daily goals. Soon I was supposed to write 3,000 words a day instead of 1,660.

My conclusion no longer made sense either. The development of my character was straying from my original plan, which now seemed shallow or even offensive. So something had to change, and fast. I turned my character’s friends against him, made his own mind a torture dungeon. As I threw more obstacles in front of him, I had my character climb to a conclusion that was way beyond the original. What started as a argument between former lovers was now a trial for an ostracized man.

This was about when I realized my horrible mistake. Every situation with my main character was stuck with him and his stunted personality. He was the one having a crisis, but he also never voiced it. I found myself yearning for the minds of other characters. Except I was in first person. That was the solution I missed back in those first days. The story should have been in a close third, and I would have had the freedom I wanted. Instead I had the troubled mind, but nothing else. It dragged me down every day.

The days got harder, and soon I hit the last few days. I had to write over 5k words each day. Each night I stayed up and fought my keyboard until it gave up words. Even if my story didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted, I would reach 50,000.

As the month ended, I stayed up late on that last night and threw up my word count on NaNoWriMo.org. I was over the 50k, 2,000 over actually. I made it.

NaNoWriMo tested me more this year than any previous year. The world around me was tougher than before, working a day to day job with hours that forced me to sleep at 10pm. My goal was greater, to write a story that had a serious edge, to write in a genre I never wrote in before. Still, the essence of NaNoWriMo, and the support of my friends, got me over the finish line again.

A Winrar Is Me!

The novel is a piece of crap, but that is a problem I’m saving until January.

Thanks for reading everybody.

Written by MD Kid

12/11/2011 at 10:13 PM

TOP 10 REASONS THERE ARE TOP 10 LISTS

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Top 10 list are everywhere. Lets face it, if you’ve been on the internet for more than a few hours, you have probably seen one of these. We count from number 10, all the way up to number 1, which is supposed to be the best of the best. It doesn’t have to be 10, the number could be 20, 6, 100, 3, it isn’t important. These are all ‘top’ list, the slough of the internet. Cracked.com is a whole website of them.

So why do we need so many lists to count stuff down? Why does the human race torture itself with these numbered cookie-cutter examinations? To answer that I’ve created a top 10 list.

#10 Humans Love Countdowns

Walk into a public restaurant, somewhere quiet but not too snobbish, bring some friends. Now everyone get up and start counting down, maybe start at 15 or something and head down toward 1. If the people in that place don’t join in, you’ll see the tortured faces of those that want to. When a count happens, it is contagious. The whole crowd wants to be part of it, whether it is because the noise overtakes us, or we just want to see what is at the far end.

Bonus points if we know confetti is coming

This is why you should never make a list the old fashioned way. Bullets are for chumps, they are the sort of list a pansy would make. If you want to list right, you go from the biggest number, and lead right down to the number 1 spot. Do you need to explain the finer points on why your spouse should respect you more? 10 to 1. Need to tell someone why you’re deleting them off your friends list? 5 to 1. Writing your essay on why Miracle Whip is superior to Mayo? You get the picture.

Of course, this is heavy on the instinctual side. This is unconscious. There are other pressures at work.

#9 How Do You Avoid Them?

So lets say you aren’t such a big fan of top 10s, or tops in general. What do you do? I have scoured the internet, and managed to come up with the only five ways to avoid these things while browsing. I will use the less popular ‘top 5’ format for this.

5 – Die. Surefire way to avoid just about anything. That is unless someone’s after-life includes DSL.

4 – Remove your eyeballs. You might still hear a top list, so this one is not recommended.

3 – Unlearn to read. This one is expensive, very experimental, and requires a brain surgery technique that I just made up in my head.

2 – Get off the internet. There is a world out there, it just isn’t all that interesting. Watch out for pamphlets though.

1 – You don’t. Well that’s not a very good answer, not a good #1 either. Doesn’t seem fair. I’ll come back to this later.

THEY.ARE.EVERYWHERE

You better start liking tops list boy, you're in one!

The internet is metaphorically, literally, and metaphysically, inundated with tops lists. There is at least a tops list for every single subject you can think of. If there is not one, it is because your topic is very new, you will have to give the internet at least two hours to churn one out of its cess-hole. Even better, if you need a way to find the best tops list about a subject, you may even be able to find a tops list for the proper tops list.

If this hasn’t driven home yet, that means there are people out there collecting the top 100 websites with top 20 park rides, and then they post them on their GoDaddy.com site and they wait, in darkness, for you to come along and enter just the right words in your search box. Suddenly, when you hit their front page, they are assured that their righteous quest was the correct path all these years.

#8 Silly Internet Pictures and Videos

Well this one is easy. If it comes with cute and silly pictures, the internet cannot get enough of it. This is twice as true if the pictures are obviously photoshopped.

Something isn't right

I'm sure you've seen this one before

If you are going to sit through an inane list describing the top reasons that the N-sync should have a return tour, you may as well have silly pictures included right? This means that when you nod in agreement that Justin’s voice is the 8th wonder of the modern world, you can be tickled pink by the photo of him surrounded by a tourist trap line. Isn’t that funny? They captured your feelings through a badly edited picture. If it was any other way, you wouldn’t be sure if they truly agreed with their opinions. The bad picture is the extra miles that prove they mean business, in the least business-like way possible.

#7 Doing Actual Research is Hard

I’ve done some of that school stuff myself, I know how you feel. Sometimes you want to know a little more, you want some information to itch that little tickle of curiosity. You don’t need any of the hard stuff, forget peer-review, even hard dates are a little much for you. Who needs to know when, where, or why something happened, I just want to see something cool and fast.

Newspapers are hard to hold

What is this? I didn't go to school so I could read at home.

I know that there are some topics that are just too annoying to research myself. So I trust the ace reports of therestoftheinternet.com to do the work for me. You see something that interest you, and you just go with it. The other day I saw someone mention the top 10 ways for a writer to get noticed, well **** yeah I want to know about that. Who is this person? I don’t know, probably some other guy who read a list on the top 5 ways to get noticed as a writer, and listened to the number 1 that said, “MAKE A TOP 10 LIST!”

Besides, who cares if the person’s research is faulty, you probably won’t share the things you saw there anyway. I mean you’ll just link it to your friends, post it on your facebook, retweet it on twitter, and then drop some of the factoids into casual conversation. You won’t take it seriously though, that will cross a hard line.

#6 Boredom

This one is about halfway up for a reason. When you’ve had a long day and can’t find anything to do, sometimes you want to put your brain to sleep and see what the internet has to offer. So why not read a list. There will be funny pictures, maybe a joke or two about a movie you recently saw, I bet someone will even throw in a nostalgia bomb. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll count down to 1.

LOVE ME

I made this a puppy to wake you up.

Who said that entertainment had to be intellectually stimulating, no one, ever. If someone wants to tell me the top places I can go to see people bungee jump, it is only a matter of time and lack of other things to do before I’ll read that list. I have never bungee jumped, I don’t plan to ever bungee jump, I don’t even particularly like heights. That list is still on a slow-moving to-do list that is waiting for me to give up on every other productive task in life.

#5 Getting Trolled

Still A Troll

Adorable

Now for one of the reasons these things get created. You ever been halfway through a list and seen something that just peeves you to next Tuesday? How dare they put Ocarina of time as #40 on the list of greatest games. They said that “Thriller” was below what song? Any list made by an expert, a protopper if you will, includes things like this. They want you to glow with anger early in the list, that way you have to see what else is there. You can’t just tell your friend “They said Snooki was only the 8th worst thing to come from New Jersey”, someone will ask you, “What was number 1?” Well what do you say then silly goose?

That means you have to finish the list, so you can have strong categorized points of frustration to tell everyone who gets in your way right after you read the list. I feel sorry for those poor saps.

#4 We Love To Similar

Anyone who tells you they are unique is either lying, or plotting to murder you. It is just a matter of scientific fact, we are a giant pack that strives to do whatever the cool kids are doing. The more unique someone claims they are, the more likely they are trying to join some popular group. I don’t need to tell you this though, this is the internet. If you don’t know this by now, you have other problems, and should probably just shut your internet box down.

Family

It feels good to be special

When you see a list that includes something you might know something about, you are already making a list in your head of where things should be. You create your own top 10 before you even see their top 10. You and the author are suddenly co-topping, which is probably also the name of a dangerous sex position. When you see anything on their list that matches your top, you now can give a little cheer. You aren’t so weird, you are part of the crowd, just as cool as this cool guy who managed to put something on the web. If it is on the internet, that means a famous person had to be involved right?

Well I’m not going to argue with that. Every right answer is going to give your mind another one of those instinctual jumps. Hoorah, I am one of the pack. The author gets the same thing, though usually in some after-the-fact satisfaction through comments or forum posts.

Of course we don’t always like to agree, especially with those we are actually close enough to know.

#3 Competition and Vindication 

Sometimes you just want to know that you were right and everyone else was wrong. This is especially true for any top list made by more ‘official’ sources. Which usually means that some giant company hired their media managers who hired their PR guys who hired a writer you don’t know to write a top 10 about some product that the aforementioned giant company owns. Maybe some technology was used to calculate this list with hard data, or maybe it is just based on random opinions and TMZ articles, it is obviously fact and you are obviously smarter than Stephen from 8th grade, that jerk.

Whoever is to the right is a busta

Everyone who doesn't agree is a loser

Not that pointing and laughing is the best way to make new friends, but it is one of the best ways to start a petty argument with old ones. Sure there is probably an equally important list that says the exact opposite of what your list just said, but this is the internet people, and we play for tops. That means facts aren’t important, the only thing that is important is that number 1 spot.

#2 Anticipation

Once you’ve come this far on a list, you don’t know what to do. I mean, number 2 is always a downer. Maybe it is your favorite, maybe this is the ultimate troll spot that is going to force you to head down the page further to check out number 1.

That poor barely dressed white woman

Everything was suspenseful in black and white

How could you possibly stop at this point. The final answer is just right there. Especially if you haven’t seen your favorite answer in the list just yet. I mean, I read through 14 Disney movies so far and they haven’t listed the Genie as the worst sidekick, so that means he should be #1 right? It is the only possible solution. I don’t have to commit myself to this, I can just look down, get my answer, and leave. Come on weakened heart, you can make it, we will get through this together.

So you prep yourself, still your baby-bladder, and you move forward to see what is at the top of the list, by looking at the thing at the bottom of a web page. Alternatively, they will enhance your anticipation by putting the #1 on a different page, or making you wait until next week. Okay cool, now I’m dedicated to your ridiculous list, and your funny pictures, don’t mind me as I subscribe to your site just so I can forget to read the conclusion.

#1 Disappointment

Baby tears

Your tears fuel the internet, random baby

You will be disappointed with the top spot. Those few times that you are not disappointed, you won’t even remember. It will be just another thing on the internet, some code that floats off into the aether. That isn’t what a top 10 list author wants, that isn’t his or her diabolical plan. When they put this list together it is to drag you, kicking and screaming from the page your mother linked you, to its horrible conclusion. Then when you get there, you face the horrible monster at the end of the page.

Your own rage.

I just want to strangle myself

If you see red, they see green

Why should they make you hate them, why should the top spot be something you will categorically disagree with? Because that is what keeps people coming back. If you agreed, if you liked it, you would go to sleep satisfied. I don’t go around the internet reminding people of things that made me feel really calm, neutral, mellow. My links are about my unfathomable rage, that will be exacted against JTBLOGGER94 and anyone on his, I assume, respectable staff of internet writers.

So when you go spreading links to their top 10 just so you can tell everyone how much you disagree with it, they get hit after hit. Notice this is the opposite of how a lot of things work. If I wanted to get more hits on a news piece, I would try to be agreeable. I want the hugs and kisses of all the internet peoples. A top 10 list? I want you to hate my guts, I want you to think I have betrayed mankind on a fundamental level.

What will I be doing? Collecting your screams of agony in specially prepared bottles meant to keep me alive for another 10 years. My plan is in motion, and there is nothing you meddling readers can do about it.

Well, you could write a top 10 list of your own, that would show me.

Written by MD Kid

11/07/2011 at 2:33 AM

Now You Must NaNoWriMo!

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Over the last four years there has only been one event that has made me put all other goals on hold. That is the amateur writer’s digital pilgrimage, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo to its friends.

From November 1st through November 30th, writers from all around hunker down for the chilly holiday season by spilling their sanity across notebooks, loose leafs, and keyboards. If you aren’t already getting paid ‘phat ducats’ through your writing, there is very little reason not to participate. Well, there is the whole time-consuming-exercise-purely-for-your-own-benefit thing. No one will pay you, sure, but if you manage to make it to the 50k words that signify a NaNo winner, you won’t have much left to do in life. I mean, writing a novel in a month’s time has to be at the top of a lot of bucket lists.

For this junior starving artist, NaNoWriMo started off as something to do because I really had nothing to do. I was done with community college, and I hadn’t started going to university yet. What could I do that would signify that all my talk of being a writer wasn’t a bunch of bluster? Well I could have started an internship at a publishing firm, or started writing on blogs so that I could actually have a career today. Yeah, that would have been the ticket. Instead I did NaNoWriMo, and the rest is not even worth history.

My trophy

I wrote 50k words and all I got was this microscopic .gif

So what does the average NaNoWriMo look like for me? It usually starts a few days before the big event. I remember my first year I made the decision of what to write about the week before it started. This may not cause alarm for some, but let me spell this problem out for you. When you are writing a novel, fifty-thousand words, you need an atomic butt-load of content. I’m not talking your momma’s butt-loads, this is some new age junk. I had a wonderfully creative idea, that I stole from the anime Big-O. What if everyone woke up and didn’t have their memories? I decided that I didn’t like how Big-O was conveniently sometime later when everyone got over losing their memories. I wanted the nitty-gritty, the chaos and bloodshed, the return of civilization from the ashes of amnesia.

I just didn’t plan out a single darn word of it.

The story started well enough. A man wakes up in a bed, doesn’t know who he is. What can I say, I was a genius in 2008. The story trailed from event to event, with the man stumbling, without language or comprehension for the world around him, through the remains of civilization. He finds a dog, he finds a girl, and then he finds a community. Altogether it wasn’t the worst thing ever written. I learned a lot while writing it. Romance is very hard to do when a character should only understand the basics of their body and non-verbal communication. Things get stereotypical quick when you don’t have a plan in advance. Your novel will never end where you want it to end.

My original idea ran dry at about 20k, too far away from the 50k goal. While the original idea was going to be guy meets lady, figure out they can do this together, credits, I trailed into a plot of jealousy and revenge. The ending was far from what I expected. I clamped it closed with the ‘twist’ I designed when I began, that the main character was not as cool as he thought he was. At that point though, the twist was a hanger-on to a deeper story, with a deeper purpose.

That is what NaNoWriMo does, it takes what you expect to do, and it turns it on its head. You cannot just pull NaNoWriMo out of your atomic butt. You also cannot just turn off NaNoWriMo. If it sticks, it is going to take you for a ride that you didn’t expect. That is why it has ballooned up from its original 21 participants to over 200,000. A community that should be in major cities across the US (and more?).

This year I will be writing a story that I don’t think I can share with the world. At the same time I’ve done more preparation for this novel than any other I have written. Four short stories have already been finished in the same alternate-history setting as the main novel, and one more should be done before the 1st of November. I know my world, I know my character, I know his problem and his views. Now I just need to shut myself away from the world, and go mad for a month or so.

I’ll see you all in December. Hope you do something amazing in the meantime.

Written by MD Kid

10/27/2011 at 3:43 AM

Posted in Other

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The Trickster’s Ruse

with 2 comments

The worst part about trusting people isn’t when you give them the initial okay, it is the eternity afterwards while you hope you made the right choice. This isn’t so important if you want to gain employment at a place like Taco Bell. The structure of Taco Bell is mechanical, no one worries if the manager at their local Taco Bell, Wal-Mart, or Minimum-wagetown, is trustworthy. As long as they don’t sexually harass you, and give you enough hours to pay your bills, everything is fine.

Someone finally gave me a shot to do content writing for them. It may seem odd to say it, but it has been the most stressful thing that has ever happened to me. That isn’t shocking, my life has been short and rather easy. Compared to say, sleeping in until 11am and then walking to class, something like this should seem stressful. The problem was why it was stressful.

Let me say that my final goal is not to be a content writer. The work seems fair, the pay is workable, but it is not what I spent four years learning. It is not what keeps me awake at night with a passion that forces me to scrounge about for my notepad at 4am. Content writing is a means to an end. It allows me to work where I play, to sit on my butt for 20 hours a day instead of just 12. So when someone bit, and asked me to do some content writing for them, I didn’t know what to say. Ignore that I quite literally didn’t know what to say, and then put on top of that the metaphorical “I didn’t know what to say”. How much money do I ask for? How do I ask who they are? How do I get paid? A few hundred questions went bouncing around in my brain.

I’ve accepted the work. Then I was asked to give a rate, aka how much do I want to be paid. This is a funny story, you’ll like this part. Now I was told in original e-mail correspondence that I would be doing a ‘couple’ of articles. Couple, 2-3 right? So I went on a grand journey to figure out how much I should be paid. The end goal of being paid is always to make enough money for the time you put in. A couple of articles a week said to me that I should be able to work on these couple of articles, and at least make enough money in a week that it felt like I was actually working at minimum-wagetown. So I set my per-article price at something like forty dollars each. The reality? I was going to be working on around 20 articles a week. Making my original rate sound like I was trying to murder them debt. It was all worked out in the end though.

Not all of it, actually. I still only make minimum wage if I can finish each articles in about 20 minutes. If I take any longer, I’m being underpaid. I also still don’t know anything about the people paying me. Since they aren’t public, they didn’t want to give any details they didn’t have to. All I have is a name, and an e-mail address. I get paid through pay pal. I haven’t received a new assignment for a week and a half. It isn’t perfect, it wouldn’t even keep me off of the street if I didn’t have the support of my family. It is a start though, an extremely shady foot in a dark door.

Should I worry that I’m effectively making spam for someone who doesn’t want to be named? I’m more worried that days after I got my first paypal payments, I received an e-mail in Chinese that said my paypal account was going to be sending $300 dollars to some guy named Wong. I wish that was a joke.

So I’m just going to trust these people for now. They seem alright, and they have actually given me a chance, and paid me. That is more than I can say for Wal-Mart or Taco Bell. I’ve already learned from these people, my resume is growing, and I’m still not being sexually harassed. So it seems like everything is going great so far.

I’ll keep pushing forward.

Written by MD Kid

10/04/2011 at 8:18 AM