I saw The Hobbit

Rob and I went to see The Hobbit the Saturday morning after release.  We’d planned on waiting; we don’t care for opening weekend crowds.  But we found an extremely early (9:30 a.m.) showing (high frame rate 3D) at a theater that’s not at the mall.  There were maybe five people in the theater.

Rob thought it a little exposition-y, a little too drawn out and long, but he liked it.  I expected that opinion.  He doesn’t like long movies.

Me?  I loved it.

But I’m biased, and not someone who’s opinion is all that trustworthy.  I mean, I enjoy watching The Phantom Menace.

There’s more reason for this, though.

I remember watching the animated Hobbit when I was little.  I have vague memories of watching it at my aunt’s condo in Corpus Christi, and then insisting that we had to try and find this other movie my mom had mentioned, or rented, some point previously, even though all I knew about it was that it had unicorns. (It was Legend, and we found it after going to two or three rental places.)  And I remember reading and loving both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Most of LotR, I have never cared for.  The entire section between leaving the Shire and getting to Bree.  None of that.  Was glad it was cut from the movie.

Ah…the movies.

I was in college when I’d heard that LotR was being adapted into movies.  And that Elijah Wood was cast as Frodo.  At the time, the rumor I heard was that he was going to be shrunk by computer.  My reaction was along the lines of ‘uhm…okay…’  I wasn’t sure if I liked or disliked that.

Partly because of the adaptation, I decided to get a copy of the book.  It was a thick, omnibus edition with Minis Tirith on the cover, and a starburst with ‘soon to be a major motion picture’ on it.  I read it and forgot about it for a couple years.

Until the trailers started coming out.

That excited me.  It looked good.  But it came out just as the semester was ending, so I had to wait.  I spent Christmas break with a friend.  Or boyfriend.  We were off-and-on for about five years, and it was difficult to tell when we were off and when we were on; it all blended together.  But I stayed with him and his mom and her boyfriend in Eastport, Maine.

Eastport is a tiny, tiny town, the easternmost city in the U.S.  Nothing to do; going anywhere took about an hour.

I don’t remember exactly when we went to see Fellowship of the Ring, except that it was sometime in January.  I remember more the circumstances around it, and why it was an important moment for me.

See, I’d come extremely close to quitting writing.

That semester, the one that had just ended, I’d taken a novel writing class.  Oh, wait, Writing the Literary Novel.  Though, really, it was more a novel critiquing class.  I don’t remember doing much other than short writing exercises and the critiques.  Nothing on structure, outlining, plot, character, etc.

The story I worked on was one I’d started in high school, a traditional fantasy.  It started in first person point of view, and one of the first, and most helpful, suggestions I got from the professor was suggesting it might work better in third.

So I started rewriting it.  It worked quite well.

Her next question wasn’t so useful.  She asked if I could write it without the magic. My response was simple. “No.”

Originally, the class was supposed to be graded by how far the writing went, or something like that.  I forget the specifics.  It ended up that we were graded on the first twenty-five pages, because a large majority of the class wrote and revised and rewrote the first twenty-five pages.  The class was three months; I worked on revising a very rough 1st POV draft into a slightly less rough 3rd POV draft. And I added secondary characters as POV characters, scenes were added, and I was working toward a beginning, middle, and an end.

I wrote 69 pages.  Still graded on 25.

When the semester ended, we had the option of having the pages, with the professor’s critique, mailed to us.  I don’t remember how long it took to get to me, if it was before or after Christmas, but it eventually showed up.

Our grade was combined from attendance, class participation, the twenty-five pages, and journals.  That last, I think, was probably the writing exercises and such that we did.  I’m really not sure.

My grade broke down to attendance-A. That would’ve been surprising if it’d been anything else.  Same with the C- I got for participation.  But the story?  C.  And the critique covers the front and back of the title page.  (Yes, I still have it.)  There were more notes throughout.  Some marking interesting phrases and good uses of words.  More were questioning details.

The essence of the note was along the lines of “This might work for fantasy, but not for the Lit. novel as I taught.”

Eleven years later, I can’t tell you a damn thing I learned in that class.  Except that one classmate couldn’t understand brazier from context and asked if it meant brassiere.  Yeah.

The important part of all this is that it depressed me, and I began debating if I really wanted to continue writing.  And I was slowly leaning towards quitting.

Then my friend’s mom took us to see Fellowship of the Ring.

The theater was tiny.  An aisle down the middle, with maybe three or four seats in the rows to either side.  The screen was maybe four feet off the floor, and I don’t think it was all that much taller than about four feet.  It was about half as wide as you’d expect.

Well, it did seem to be a large theater that had been divided down the middle.

There was an intermission with graphics that I’m sure had to be from the ’70s.  I forget where they split the movie.  I kinda want to say the same as the extended DVDs, after the council in Rivendell, but I think it was more likely between leaving Moria and arriving in Lothlorien.

The movie reminded me why I loved writing and telling stories. I think the reason I remember the intermission being before Lorien because I remember being excited for it to start again.  And I had a moment which is crystalline in my emotions.

The scene where the fellowship is taken to see Celeborn and Galadriel, with the camera moving around the tree as they walk up, I had one of those moments of “It looks like that!” in relation to my own story.  And it sent my imagination spinning with thoughts for my story, making that dimming star of imagination flare up into a sun.

I’m not sure I can adequately explain the effect it had on me.  But in some ways, The Lord of the Rings touches me, the writer in me, on a deeper level than Star Wars ever has.

Another funny moment, when the movie was over, the man sitting behind me said, “How can they end it like that?”  He obviously hadn’t read the books, or didn’t know there were two more movies coming.

So, when The Hobbit came out?  I couldn’t stop mentally bouncing.  It struck that same chord in me as FotR did.

We’ll probably see it against after we get to Texas.  And a third time with friends, when we get back.

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About that NaNo thing

So, I tried to do the NaNo thing and write 50,000 words in a month.  That didn’t quite work.  Partly because I was trying to write something I found boring, and I got bored with staring at the same four walls and needed to do something fun.  Which didn’t happen until after November.

I don’t consider this a big deal.   I got back into the habit of writing every day, and my head is back in my story.  I fluctuated between writing around 300 to 2,000 words a day, when I did write, but I ended up with just over 20,000 total for November.  Considering that was about two weeks, not too bad.

Another thing that came out of this, Rob gave me a deadline for getting a rough draft done. Which I knew wouldn’t happen in 50,000 words.  He challenged me to finish this draft by December 20.

This might possibly happen. I don’t expect it to, if only because that’s a lot of story to tell in a short amount of time.  Basically, if an urban fantasy novel is usually around 80,000 words, then I’m at 1/4 of that and need to write about 60,000 words in eleven days.  …Yeah, probably not.  That’d be about 5,500 words a day. (I don’t write on Sundays, and we’ll be out of the house tomorrow.)

But hey, I’ve written 10,000 words in a day before, so who’s to say it’s impossible?


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First, because not everyone knows what it stands for, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The objective is to write a novel, consisting of 50,000 words, during the thirty days of November.

Something to keep in mind–50,000 is at the low end of word counts for a novel.  To give a comparison, novellas go up to around 40,000.  Most novels, at least in Urban Fantasy–the genre I’m currently writing–come in somewhere between 85,000-100,000.

My opinion on NaNo is that it’s good for writing a rough draft.

So, I’m unofficially doing this.  I say unofficially because I’m not signed up at the website (nanowrimo.org), and I’m not trying to ‘win’.  I’m mostly curious to see if I can do it, and to get my head back into writing mode.  Three or four months with little-to-no writing is not the best thing for me, and it’s possible that I would’ve been in a better headspace if I’d been writing, considering the circumstances.

In the past, I never tried NaNo because I was always in the middle of trying to write and finish a story or revise a draft.  This time, I wanted to let the first story sit a bit before really jumping into revisions, and I decided to start on the second and get a draft of that done.  Though even if  I do hit the target, I expect to be maybe halfway through the story.

50,000 words in thirty days breaks down to 1,667 words a day.  I started the month lagging behind because two days without power and heat make writing difficult.  Not because I couldn’t recharge my laptop–like I’ve said before, I write with pen and notebook.  The problem was more that no heat meant trying to write with cold fingers. Writing-wise, the power outage only affected knowing the actual word count.  Saturday was a minimal writing day–there were errands to be run–and I don’t write on Sundays.  That’s the day I do laundry and play games and generally relax.  Most Saturdays I write more than enough words to make up for Sunday.

Overall, I have 6,350 words, not counting Friday (those aren’t typed up, but should be around 1,000), and I should be at 15,003 (including Friday, but not today).

I’m not worrying about that.  I tend to do the majority of my writing on Friday nights and Saturdays when I have larger blocks of time to spend writing.   My typical daily goal is 500, and I can write at least that much in thirty minutes at lunch.  While I can write 2,000 on a weekday, those days tend to be rare, and they’re days when I don’t exercise and have no other distractions.  Plus, the clearer an idea I have about what’s going to happen, the more I write.

And I write less when I use my writing time on blog posts.  Which, yes, means I should be writing instead of doing this.

So, I will write.

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Me and Rob, with Peter S. Beagle

Rob and I went to NYCC the past weekend.  The picture there?—>

That’s us with Peter S. Beagle. He wrote The Last Unicorn.   I also got to meet Tess Gerritsen–Grandpa helped her when she wrote Gravity.

It’s the small things like that which catch me and make me sad.  Because they’re the things that I would’ve told Mom, and that I would’ve posted on facebook, and she’d like them.

And when I caught myself thinking a signed copy of The Last Unicorn would’ve been the perfect Christmas present.

Those moments, I have to remind myself that Mom’s gone.

But that moment–crouched in front of the table to hear Mr. Beagle talk (he’s very soft-spoken), and telling him that Mom got me into  the movie, and then the book, and that she’d passed away the previous week–that was worth the price of admission, worth the aggravation of the massive crowd.  I have to thank Jennie (@Autumn2May) so very much for mentioning that she saw him.  If not for that, I never would have known to even look for him, much less look in the Artist Alley area of the con.

Grieving is something of an odd process for me. It tends to come in bits and pieces. I attribute this to having lived in New England for so long–the same thing happened when my grandmother passed away, and then with my grandfather. Every now and then, I still have a moment where the phone rings, and I half expect to hear my grandmother’s voice, though those times are much more rare than right after. That’s sort of how I’m reacting with Mom–those little moments I mentioned earlier, and expecting to see her name pop up to like pictures or statuses on facebook.

I made one very conscious decision–I will not remember Mom as she was in the hospital. I cannot reconcile that memory with all the other memories I have. Instead, I’ll remember her from her visit at Christmas, and as she was at my wedding in Alaska. And I will always remember the silly faces that she would sometimes make for the camera.

And the unicorns.

So many unicorns


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Another update sorta thingie

I haven’t done much since I finished the draft of my story. Mostly reading, very little writing. I was pretty much a lump. I’ve changed that in the past couple weeks–slowly started in on revisions-very slowly-and I bought a new treadmill and have been using it most days.

I’ve kinda been burying myself in all this lately-reading, writing, exercising-because my mom went into the hospital with an intestinal blockage. She had surgery-a large part of her intestine was removed, but enough for her to function normally-and she was doing well. There were some stressful moments when things could’ve gone either way, but there was improvement.

Then, this past weekend, she took a step backward. There was an abscess, and then another was found, and she’d have to have a drain put in. And infection, so she’s on three antibiotics. These made breathing difficult, so today she was moved and put on BiPAP. But that made mom anxious, even when they gave her something for it, so she’s been moved back into ICU and intubated.

It’s very much wait and see, so I’m keeping my thoughts positive. I read and write, and watch tv or movies, to keep my mind from throwing up every possible scenario it can think of, and to keep from dwelling.

And I want to say thank you to everyone for the good thoughts and prayers; they are appreciated.

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