Monday, March 1, 2010

Why is it so hard to keep on track with things?

I don't really know if I can say that I have a one track mind, per se, but it has to be pretty dang close. I guess it began a few years ago when politics caught my eye. Almost every day after school, I would come home, eat a snack, then watch the stock market close, begin my homework, and end the day with the O'Reilly Factor. Coinciding with this interest in politics was gardening. To this day, I have about a dozen pepper plants just sitting in my kitchen. They produce peppers, sure, but big ones? Not exactly. I even bought tons of gardening supplies: potting soil, shovels, and stakes for lining a small plot of land with plastic mesh. That must have been through 2008 and into 2009, those two interests. And then, I don't know, it kinda all just ended. I discovered something different that all began with one assignment in English class. Previously I had considered myself to be a good writer, but only good and for certain, any creative writing was out of the question. I was strictly good at essays and open-ended responses. That's how it had always been: there wasn't much fun in doing much writing unless I had to... but that isn't fun, either, is it? The thing that made writing not pleasant was that every single year, it was basically the same thing: the fall writing sample, a tacky Halloween story that probably did not differ much from the norm, and finally a spring writing sample to see how I've improved. Sixth grade English class was a joke (sorry) and the only writing we really did was in our journals at the beginning of the period. This was informal and I hardly tried my best. However, everything sort of turned when I hit seventh grade. Around March, we were studying stories which began as a seemingly positive situation that was later revealed to not be quite so positive. Among these stories was "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, "Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," (an episode of Twilight Zone) and a third one which I cannot recall at this time. This brings me back to the assignment that totally pǝddıןɟ my point of view on writing. The assignment was to write about a pleasurable experience that turns into a horrible, unrealistic one. Long story short, I got a 93 on it, because I accidentally deleted a very important detail (oops!). Something, something, about that assignment just... inspired me to write. A few weekends later, BAM!, my mind was whisked away from politics and gardening to writing. I wrote a short story titled "I-19" about... well, I'll just let you read it if you're interested (Link Here). A few weeks later, I began writing a still unfinished novel called "Perfectly Flawed." I have no clue where my mind was for the summer (probs in LaLa Land), but halfway through August, in was back in August. Through October, that's where it stayed, in the Land of Writing-is-the-best-thing-ever-and-it's-all-I-think-about. Of course, with November on the horizon, all I ever thought about was writing. For those of you who don't know, November is occupied by the greatest thing ever - NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for which the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in the thirty days of November. I did it, by the way.) Into December, I still had writing on my mind a ton. It was time for editing. It's March... and it's still, sadly, time for editing, because I have not even finished a re-read. Since, I've been preoccupied with school (still a straight A student and not going to give that up) and the Olympics, writing has faded into the background. Lately, my new favorite past time has been Rosetta Stone. If you haven't tried it, you're missing out. It's a great language learning program that teaches you a language the way you learned your first one, through immersion. I have always wanted to be multi-lingual and found it fascinating. Having the opportunity, my mind is sort of focused on it for now.

Okay, now for the cat. It's yawning, so I figured it would be perfect because it's showing boredom. I think you can connect the dots from there. Any ideas on how I could help my mind stay on track with one thing long enough to complete what I want to do with it?


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Just a week... but could you do it?

Anyone ever heard of the Gospel According to Larry? It's a teen fiction novel about an ordinary kid who just happens to write a blog... that happens to be viewed by hundreds of people a day. He preaches daily about consumerism and its evil grasp on just about everything. For those of you who don't know what "consumerism" is, it is basically the concept that consuming goods excessively is beneficial to the economy. It's basically part of the American way of life. Think about it. How many of you can say you haven't been pressured into buying that new computer, iPod, or jeans from that store that everybody suddenly loves even though things are a fortune? I'm pretty sure all of us have? Things these days are made to expire. In my family room, we have a 55" Sony television from 1999. Back then, they actually made TVs so that they could last. I forgot to mention that the picture is great, equal to the TVs that were coming out only a few short years ago, even though this one is eleven years old. What about computers? Well, every few years, Windows and/or Mac is coming out with a new operating system that makes the old one look like a piece of crap. In addition, the guise of computers has changed so much that if you still have one of the bulky off-white monitors from the technological Stone Age, everyone shuns you. My point is that things are made so that we'll have enough faith in them to buy them again after they break, but not made well enough to actually compensate for the money we paid for said item.
Anyways, this book speaks about all of these issues dealing with consumerism, which is multi-sided. What brings me to blog about it is our assignment on it in English class. First off, I should probably tell you we're reading it in English class, but I figured you'd catch on to that. Anyways, for one week, we were to give up one item that we used every day, but did not need to use. Okay, so I'm not a huge cell phone, TV, iPod, or social networking person, so the only option was my computer. I didn't do so well. Actually, I cheated every day. I learned important lessons, though. There is definitely more to life than the internet, first of all (which I already knew, but it was reinforced), and that it is important not to let technology take over your life.
Finally, I'll address my title, which is wacky and slightly unintelligible, I know. My point is... could you just go without something like your computer for a week? I know I couldn't but maybe that's because I went into it with doubt. After all, Henry Ford once said,
"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right."

Just think about it.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ellen Hopkins... ever hear of her?

Delilah (I think I've mentioned her before) gave me this book of hers to borrow. It's called Impulse. Basically, three kids (Vanessa, Tony and Conner) end up in this treatment facility for kids who have mental illnesses like Depression or Bipolar Disorder. Tony and Conner both attempted suicide while the manic depressive Vanessa regularly cuts herself. Just to give you an idea of how much I loved this book: it's 666 pages long (yes, I know it's the devil's number) and I read it in a day. Now, for those skeptics out there, it's true, I read it in a day because it's written in poem form and some pages only have a stanza or two on them. Basically, you can read a few pages in a minute. Anyways, I have just finished Burned by her, as well and it was quite good, though not as stunningly awesome as Impulse.
My point, I guess, is that I really enjoyed this book and it taught me a lot about the truth of suicide and sex. I learned that cutting one's wrist is more than just self-mutilation, but that some do it because it is the only sort of pain they can control. In the end, it really opened my mind. Highly recommended. I plan to read all of her books, by the way. They are... Crank, Glass, Tricks, Identical.


Monday, January 25, 2010

I dream of... plaid?

Ever have a really strange dream? I remember in third grade I had this weird dream about eclipses .my teacher was teaching about the moon phases and she briefly went over solar, lunar and the recently discovered fog eclipse. (Obviously not real, this was just a dream.) As soon as she began to talk about that, a purple lady (yes, purple) appeared in our classroom. Basically, she cast a fog eclipse over our planet for a full seven years. Personally, the only thing better than having these dreams is hearing about them.
Recently, I dreamed that everyone in my school wore plaid one day and no one had the courtesy to tell me! Another time, before entering middle school, I dreamed of the first day of sixth grade. it began in my mom's car. We drove down the driveway of my house, went around the cul-de-sac and went back up my driveway. However, this time the house was the school. Once there, we weren't told our locker combination, we had to figure them out. Once we finally did open them, we had to take massive rugs out of our lockers and carry them down the driveway.
So, why do we dream? And why do we have them some nights and not others? Some scientists think that dreams serve no real purpose. Others think that dreaming is essential. However, despite the great amount of time we spend in the REM cycle (Rapid-eye-movement, when dreams occur), there is no generally accepted answer among scientists. It is common for people to say "Oh, I didn't have a dream last night." Unless you slept only a couple of hours, you did. Probably two to three times a night, people dream. If you didn't dream, you would go insane. You are more likely to remember dreams if they occur closer to when you wake up. For example, if you are in deep REM sleep at 7:00 and you wake up at 7:05, your recall will be increased. Research says that within ten minutes of your dream, you can completely forget all details.
Is there a way to remember all of one's dreams? In fact, there is. This concept really interests me, since I love dreaming. Ever hear of lucid dreaming? The word lucid literally means "clear or easily understood." In a lucid dream, the sleeper is aware that he/she is dreaming. At the low end of the spectrum, the dreamer is only aware of this fact, while some lucid dreamers can fully manipulate not only their actions but all of their surroundings. Lewis Carroll's book, Alice in Wonderland is said to be based upon a lucid dream.Chances are, you have had a lucid dream before, in which you realize you are dreaming, but never have been able to remember it.
There are several ways to get yourself to realize you are dreaming once unconscious. The first is to look at your hands repeatedly during the day. Your subconscious mind oddly is not aware of the number of fingers one has and will sometimes distort this number in a dream. Another strategy is to constantly look in the mirror. Your conscious mind understands that you are looking at yourself on that piece of glass, but your subconscious mind will have no clue. If you happen to look in a mirror in a dream, you will not see your face. This may shock you into waking up, but if you manage to remain asleep, you should realize you are dreaming.
Finally, if you are trying to remember your lucid dreams, train yourself to shut your eyes tightly during such a dream and then open them quickly. This will usually cause you to wake up. Once awake, remember to lie still for at least a minute, recalling your dream. Every muscle neuron that is fired will cause your memory to be slightly destroyed. After this minute or so of stillness, use a pad next to your bedside to record details of your dream.

For more on this topic:
"Beginner's Guide to Lucid Dreaming" eBook Download (pdf file)
"The Art of Dreaming" eBook Download (pdf file)
"School of Lucid Dreaming" eBook Download (pdf file)
"Lucid Dreaming" eBook Download (pdf file)
"The Matrix is Real. Hack it! A Practical Guidebook" (about lucid dreaming) eBook Download (pdf file)
Wikipedia - Lucid Dreaming


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Coke Zero... Tasty or Fatal?

Personally, I believe that diet soda, particularly zero calorie cola is amazing, no sugar, just the taste. So many times I have heard, "Oh, I don't drink diet 'cause it gives you cancer." First of all, it does not give you cancer. Obsessively multiplying cells in your body give you cancer, not a drink. If it gave people cancer, we would be in a much different place now. But, is it true... is aspartame (the artificial sweetener in most diet beverages) carcinogenic (can help cause cancer)? Testing has shown that unfortunately, it is a carcinogen.
So now, the debate is whether people should go for the carcinogenic diet or fattening regular. Regular soda contains mounds of sugar (1 can = 39 grams). On the other hand, it is more natural, made from natural flavors and sugar. I think we can all agree, soda is not the healthiest thing for you. (Except ginger ale... I think that helps stomach aches, right? I wouldn't know, never tried it for that). Plus, on diets, if you consume too many artificial sweeteners, you may not lose any weight.
So, aspartame is a carcinogen, but then again, many things are. Deodorant has been shown to be carcinogenic, along with radiation (from x-rays and microwaves), too much sun, lead paint, etc. The truth is, there are many things today that contribute to the creation of cancer. Some suggest that only now that we live longer cancer has become a problem. I wouldn't be able to say. So, again, it's a personal choice... artificially sweetened soda with no sugar and a carcinogen or naturally sweetened soda with a lot of sugar and no carcinogens. Personally, I think I'll go with the diet for now.


Books, books, books!

It has come to my attention recently that it really annoys me when people either:
  1. Recommend books to me
  2. Tell me that they have no books to read.
Let's deal with the second one first. Okay, there are millions, probably billions of books in the world, and you are telling me that you have nothing to read?!?!?! Doesn't sound honest, does it? Plus, I have so many books to read, it just does not seem probable that someone could possibly be searching for a good piece of literature.
Now, I happen not to like when people recommend books to me, because I already have too many to read. Just to give you an idea, here's my list. Enjoy!

  1. Among the Hidden
  2. Among the Impostors
  3. Cry of the Icemark
  4. Son of the Mob
  5. Burned
  6. Unwind
  7. Dangerous Days of Daniel X
  8. City of Bones
  9. City of Ashes
  10. City of Glass
  11. Things Not Seen
  12. The Body of Christopher Creed
  13. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  14. The Final Warning
  15. Max: A Maximum Ride Novel
  16. Th1rteen R3asons Why
  17. The Sphere of Secrets
  18. Day of the Scarab
  19. Crank
  20. Glass
  21. Identical
  22. Tricks
  23. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  24. Among the Betrayed
  25. Among the Barons
  26. Among the Enemy
  27. Among the Free
  28. The Book Thief
  29. Daniel X: Watch the Skies
  30. Flipped
  31. The Graveyard Book
  32. Gregor the Overlander
  33. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane
  34. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
  35. Gregor and the Marks of Secret
  36. Gregor and the Code of Claw
  37. Fang: A Maximum Ride Novel
  38. Crusader
  39. Schooled
  40. The Westing Game
Oh, and by the way.... this only includes a few books that we actually own. If I added those to the list, we would have many more, my friend. The ones with the strikeout have been read


An Introduction to Me

Okay, I may not be the most exciting person in the world, but there is certainly enough about me to keep someone interested (or at least I hope so). Telling by the title of my blog, you probably have gathered that my name happens to be Ethyn. Weird spelling, I know. First off, writing is a passion of mine and I try (operative word being "try") to do as much of it as I can.
Let me just brief real quick on my writing background. In third grade I entered a short story contest via my teacher. My piece, about five hundred words or so, was published in an anthology. That was my first taste of pride with creative writing. The following year, I entered again and consequently had my story selected and published again. After that, envy at better writers kept me at bay from doing much creative writing other than was required until seventh grade.
We had been studying stories in English class (best class ever... it's one of the only places I can be worry free for two-thirds of an hour) with plot lines that twist. Among them were "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson and the Twilight Zone episode script of "Monsters are Due on Maple Street." The point of the matter is that we were assigned a short story in which an ordinary, possibly positive, situation could turn into something awful. I wrote a piece titled "An Unexpected Dinner" which just topped thirteen hundred words. It is currently posted on, if you would like to read it: "An Unexpected Dinner".
Though this was for an assignment, I think it would forever change my life. Only a few short weeks later, I sat down, laptop on top of my lap and with an idea, I began to write. I composed a five thousand word long story about murder, innocence and a sprinkle of romance. In the end, it was to be titled "I-19" as in Interstate 19. It can also be found on "I·19."
After that, it was simple: I was hooked. The weekend after having posted it on FictionPress, I sat down one night with an empty marble composition book and let the ideas come to me.
Three came. The first, I have no idea what the source is. The idea was about an ordinary kid in an ordinary house who ventures into his attic one fine day to find a note written by a dead guy. Alright, simple enough, but the catch is that the noted has a date: that exact day when the narrator finds it. The protagonist later goes on to find out that the guy who wrote the note was killed after he had won the 100m in track in the 1948 Olympics. I have no idea who the guy is who really won that race, but for my sake, I hope he is not real. Anyway, that is still in the making, that story.
Next, we have an interestingly lousy idea. A kid finds a map and his grandfather tells him about his days as the general of some major war. What's important is the next idea. A girl, Athenis, she would come to be known as, had a story and once I had uncovered it, I knew I would have to put it down in book form. I decided that it would be a story of romance, for my good friend, Delilah, who devours romance novels on a weekly basis. Plus, to be honest, I have the biggest crush on her. I have, for more than a year, that is. Anyway, not only would it be a romance but a story of self-discovery.
In May of 2009, I set down to write my first novel. Perfectly Flawed, it would be called. Two chapters, I wrote before school ended. After that, summer rolled in and it sunk to the bottom of my radar screen, relaxation a more important task. Of course, the warm months or summer drifted on and before I knew it, August was half over before I even laid another paw on Perfectly Flawed. But then, I churned out three and four and eventually, chapter five. And through the month of October, I worked on it whenever I got a chance. To this day, I stand in the middle of chapter eight, with the rest of the story beautifully planned out.
The reason why I mention October as basically the end of PF, is because of what comes next. November, the bearer month of one of the greatest things ever manifested. NaNoWriMo... it stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal, for those of you have never heard of it before, is to write a fifty thousand word novel in the thirty, short days of November. I had decided months before, (September, actually) that I would write that novel about clones. About how they were treated as second class citizens compared to the non-Clones, called Earthpeople. And, if I told you right now how the month ended up, you wouldn't be as inclined to read on, so I think I'll just describe how it was, then tell you.
Week One was fantastic, stellar. I churned out approximately 21k that week, almost completing half of my work in seven days. If only! However, week two barged into the party, unfortunately. That next week, I strung together a mere 7600 words (about). Week Two is when you start to worry about if everything is going to work out all right, if you can make it. I didn't even write three out of the seven days. I think you can imagine what that did to my word count.
You might think Week Two was bad, but Week Three is the work of the devil. I didn't even have any inclination to write, at all. Miraculously, I managed to scrape together a little under sixty-six hundred. Ah, but then... Week FOUR! It starts out all too much like week three. For Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I didn't touch the keyboard. However, in that Sunday and the rest of the week (plus the 29th, which was a Sunday), I wrote about 14,900 words. So if you add those numbers together, I basically wrote one hundred words over the goal of 50k. In short, I did it. That novel was therefore finished.
In the month of December, I waited a few weeks and began to read through it (began is the operative word). That's exactly where I stand today... one unfinished first draft and one unedited first draft. No, I have not titled it, yet.

I eventually hope to publish both of my novels. That's a while from now, but the one thing that I need to do is get back into the hang of things... writing everyday and so on.

Thanks for reading, feeling free to comment,