Goals for ROW 80 – A Writing Challenge!

(I believe it is now ROW 53 for me? The original challenge, to plan and meet a writing goal in 80 days, was meant to be from July 4th to September 22nd. But apparently you can jump in every three days by writing up your goals and posting to the ROW 80 writing challenge site – the challenge would still finish on 9-22. Check it out!)

Yosemite! Mountain! Challenge! CLIMB!


So say my goal is to write 500 words of my fantasy novel a day. In 53 days I should have 26,500 words? This number doesn’t really take editing or content “borrowing” from the 40 pages I already have (and am totally destroying and rewriting) into account. I have a feeling that there will eventually be more cutting down than adding if I do this right.

So my goals are:

1. Write 500 words of my novel a day (think of it as developing a scene a day, even if it’s just a ‘background’ scene or experimenting with POV’s – anything as long as it’s story and not just planning – I’ve done plenty of that!)

2. Have 25,000 words down by September 22nd (because 25k is slightly easier to remember and say than 26.5k, and I’m sure I’ll be editing it down…)

3. By September 22nd – have a plan/outline for working on the story further (stick to a daily quota, or just stick to writing daily? Dedicate time over winter vacation, weekends, or next summer to it? Study the craft of writing more to develop my voice and style and improve the whole story? Probably going to write this plan… on September 21st!)

4. Read a book a week (part of learning/developing as a writer – that means about 7-8 books!)

I’m being pretty ambitious in these goals because now is the best time – my summer internship is ending this coming week, and I want to carry on the momentum I have been through freedom, a trip to China, and the very start of school, as best as I can. I sometimes (um often) set goals that are too much for anyone sane to handle. However, I think that this is the best way I can get my story going now, as I really need that push to get off my blog or computer and start writing what I really want to.

So the way ROW 80 apparently works is other ROW 80-ers post helpful or inspirational posts on the main site, read each others’ progress to get even more inspired, and inspire each other by posting inspiring comments?

Too much inspiration to handle… O___________O

Anyway, I’ll keep this post (which I’m making a page) updated with my progress! =)

Life List Club!

Hey all! This is a post that will probably turn into a page, as I’ll keep referring back to it and changing it.

Inspiring symbolic waterfall from Yosemite National Park, on a hike in June 2010!

It started with the idea of some bloggers – why not make lists of goals and share them with others to keep each other motivated? So bloggers started their own life lists – I believe it is organized by Marcia Richards and Jess Wilkins, and two writers and contributors are Carrie Mumford and Pam Hawley – the writers that wrote both of the writing/productivity-focused posts I mentioned last time!

So I’m trying this out for size – seems like you make a life list (a list of goals for the next twelve months – however many you want), subscribe to other Life List Clubbers, follow #LifeListClub on Twitter, and keep your site updated on how far you are in achieving each of your goals! And anyone can do it?

Well I think I’m anyone, and I’ve clearly got a thing about ranting about productivity, so I have probably mentioned all of these in previous posts, like, multiple times shamelessly, so here goes…

I read that you can format these any way you like, so I’m starting big/just um slightly idealistic, and will reapportion goals if needed to next (next) year if necessary.

I thought it would be nice to put some long-term/realllly idealistic goals at the end so that I could take steps to get myself closer to them, whether it’s reading related books or just organizing my life and studies around them more in general. (I hope I’m not, um, breaking the rules…)

Without FURTHER ADO! Number of stars is kind of like the number of ‘YAY”s I have when I think of each goal… like ‘YAY I REALLY HAVE TO DO THIS’…

1. Write my novel! A complete, draft manuscript… in twelve months… then I can play with it for another twenty four months… *****

2. Run a marathon in spring 2012 ****

3. Run triathlons in spring 2012 (right now my goal is a sprint one, and then an olympic one?) ***

4. Run a (cross-country!) 5K in less than 23 minutes (… is this possible in… twelve months…) *

5. Design great websites – for a friend’s club, for my own club/cause, and a personal project… ****

6. Learn how to design computer games with Blender, Java/C++, and storyboard my idea (the rest will take longer than twelve months) **

7. Budget money well and be more on top of finances ****

8. Budget TIME and be on time 99% of the time ****

9. Write the 3+ Supernatural fanfiction stories that I can’t get out of my head (any writing is practice…. riiiight?) **

10. Do well in all classes, aim for a 4.5+/5.0 GPA ****

11. Read a book a week ***

12. Stay on top of the news by reading newspapers and magazines daily **

13. Blog at least every other day, and get all the “queued” posts done (reviews of books, movies, music, Department of Energy conference…) **

14. Develop my writing craft through reading (“like a writer” – Francine Prose!), taking classes (with Junot Diaz!), doing workshops ***

15. Can’t forget – write (creatively) EVERY DAY! *****

Goals that are longer-term or may eventually add to the longer list if I have time:

16. Take acting classes

17. Develop drawing and animation skills

18. Learn photography and film-making and become an expert at Photoshop and/or Aperture

19. Make AMVs to all of my favorite music (I already have them storyboarded out… in my head…)

20. Finish my computer games through a collaboration or a computer game startup (haha DEFINITELY long-term)

21. Publish my novel ********

21. Start martial arts training again ****

22. Go on a long, multi-month backpacking trip ****

23. Learn to speak Spanish fluently **

Learn Chinese

Learn Japanese

Learn and study different cultures (like a wannabe anthropologist) *

Land a dream job in environmental and climate change policy, energy, consulting, etc. … with time on the side for creative stuff (OR do that semi-random computer game startup… or just do something fun that somehow has an impact… haha that’s more of a pipe dream than a goal…) ******

Do an unassisted pull-up

Learn guitar

Learn piano

Learn synths

Yup, I stopped counting.

So let’s say the first 15 are the serious ones and the others are serious if they have *’s next to them?

Yay! Do YOU have a life list yet? Start one!!!!!!!!!!!

I probably have this video up here somewhere but this is TOTALLY what the mood of this post is:

Inspiring Blog Posts!

Hey all, this is the lazy post where I refer you to other blogger’s SUPER AMAZING ones! I’ve been surfing the blogs a bit and found a plethora of content regarding productivity, writing, design, traveling, etc. etc.
Without further ado here are two writing AND productivity related posts:

What Training for a Marathon Taught Me About Writing a Novel

Training Marathon Site

Here I just told a potential physical trainer that my goal was to run a marathon by next spring… (and, since it’s > 4 months away, a triathlon too…) and a novel at a more unspecified time, which sometimes seems like it will take another two lifetimes to get onto paper… and guess what I come across?

An inspiring post with great, common-sense advice about finishing any large goal – from a writer who has done a marathon.

New role model? =DDDD

“Why Slacking Off Might be the Key to Achieving Your Goals”

Slacking Off Post

Another writing-related post. Hahahahaha. So much of the advice you find in these blogs is advice that you’ve heard, nodded to and said, “yup, common sense, of course,” but it takes reading that advice in a well-written form, with anecdotes to support it, from someone who’s “been there done that” to actually absorb it. Like that whole “don’t be so strict – be flexible with your schedule because you aren’t going to always have time to write three hours a day – there might be an emergency.” Not that that emergency happens every week or every other day… but you know what I mean. Sometimes you need to “slack off.” (Even if the writer of that article isn’t quite what I’d call a slacker, doing software development and working out and writing, but… =P)

And awesome blog of the… um… summer! (O_O… This IS my first post about other blogs… but it TOTALLY deserves it!)

The Longest Way Home

The Long Way Home

Wow. Such a detailed travel blog. Has stories and advice for traveling in 20 countries from over 6 years of travel, from cultural notes, daily cost including hotel/hostel and food, food notes, and… whether the author thinks that that country is a place he wants to call home. Because his goal is to find a home… you can read his story and background on the about page on the site. It’s pretty amazing and inspiring, and makes the site not just a travelog, but a travelog with a unique purpose. Highly recommended!!!!!

What are your own favorite blogs or posts? I’d love to hear about them!

(Would this be complete without music? Hopefully I haven’t posted this here yet? I listen to this despite the screaming for the clean chorus =D)

Random Attempts to be Productive

Photos above are each from freedigitalphotos.net… free if I refer to them =)

So the thing about being productive, is that it’s hard to do if you go about it, erm, randomly…?

Yup. I believe that’s common sense to, maybe, most people. And I have plenty of empirical evidence.

Random is not a very precise term, though – you can’t really be productive when you have 2 hours and a million things you want/have to do and have not quite settled on which one to do.

Let’s go with this example:

– It’s 9:20 PM. I’ve gone to the gym (yes, one thing off the to-do list…!) so I’m sitting at the computer. Had arrived at 5 PM, eaten, and then wasted 2.5 hours distracted by the question – ‘Should I go the gym? Should I run outside? Should I… (repeat)’

– OK so back to 9:20 PM. I start…

— Researching types of brain injuries for my SPN fanfic in progress

— Looking for existing SPN fanfic for ‘ideas’

— Downloading Firefox Web Developer and going around the Drupal site to see exactly where to edit CSS (since the changes I saved in the CSS files I have… aren’t showing up…)

— Looking at the collage of open source pictures of African animals and children (pictured!) I have and want to put into a header and maybe background for this website in Photoshop

— Think out scenes of this OTHER SPN fanfic I’ve had in my head for *cough maybe two or three years cough* until it has at least ten significant characters and romance and a lot of things happening and try to refresh the scenes in my head since I thought of it last summer

— Think out scenes of this NOVEL idea I’ve been telling everyone about that’s been in my head since at least 9th or 10th (or in a vastly different form maybe even 6-8th) grade, and wonder if maybe I could use this idea I had in 10th grade about transformation that I discarded then but think miiiiight work now in it, and dream up more AMVs with my characters to music…

— Realize I have to get my Chinese visa done like this weekend/Wednesday at the LATEST (was going to go today but it was too far!)

— Realize I have to get an interview done for UPOP (MIT sophomore internship program) supposedly by the end of July

— Want to meet two friends in DC maybe tomorrow… but have to contact both of them now, oops

— Visit Dramabeans

— Visit Rebel Souls

— Look for the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument test I had taken in UPOP, where I had scored 70% right-brained and 30% left-brained, mostly falling into the upper right, ‘creative space cadet’ category and weakest in the lower left, ‘conservative, controlled, sequential, detailed’ quadrant.

I was looking for activities that develop my weak lower left quadrant. Found ‘Assemble a personal property list,’ ‘Find a mistake in a bank statement,’ and ‘Jog, don’t run.’

How do you develop your upper right brain? ‘Run, don’t jog.’ And ‘Invent a ‘gourmet’ dish and actually prepare it.’

…Is it OK if I like hanging out in my right brain?

(This is the report I found, that has that information and some more if you are interested!)

— Realized ‘I had this goal to write EVERY DAY RIGHT (and not just compare plot points and plan out mental AMVs)????’

— Decided to blog.

Now…. website or writing… website or writing…



Album Review: Who Speaks for Planet Earth?


Just to start off – “Who Speaks for Planet Earth” by And Then There Were None is what I would call lightweight electronic fare, or perhaps even punk rock played in an electronic fashion. (And… catchy!!!!!!!) The style may not be for people that can’t listen to anything below Radiohead… or may not dig a ton of electronic stuff and synths and production… however, if you want to experiment, this is a sampling of what the genre has to offer! It’s like pop that no one’s discovered – and is different enough for “non-pop-pers” (um?) to enjoy!

After getting several songs from this album on my Pandora playlist, I decided to find the album on Itunes – and after reading the brief reviews, I bought one song. Put it on my running playlist, realized that it was my favorite for the exercise and wanted more, I bought the album – while doing a 5.2 mile run. Those songs kept me speeding through to the end, even with the DC heat.

There are some songs that I found fun immediately because of their catchy nature, and some that I just skipped. After listening to them through at least, er, probably fifty times each on average, I had decided that some of the catchy ones were not quite as good as the ones that I had skipped just because they weren’t catchy from the start. [ETA – And after getting new headphones and listening to them all again, I pretty much decided I still like all the catchy ones! Ahhh yo-yo-ing…]


Album Review:

This band has a clear style in this album – some call it “emo dance music.” It is full and driven with synths, dance beats, guitar chords, distortions, repetition, percussion (piano and, I believe, xylophone?), and production.

The band works to achieve a ‘space’ sound, which if you couldn’t tell from all the synths and songs, you could tell right away from the 40 second album opener (which I frankly think the album could have done without).

I listened to the whole album through once to judge it, and after that I realized that songs that might seem more shallow or ‘catchy’ actually tend to work well as a part of a larger piece (the album) than individual ones. This may be the case with “Thank the Watchmaker” (which I have not reviewed in detail… yet). (Maybe this is why most people immediately buy entire albums?) The album starts off with the lighter, easily catchy songs, and changes it up a little halfway through. There is more complexity in the latter half of the album, but it is still not consistent – and there are synth sequences that are less catchy there too.

That being said, with more complexity and innovation in the beats, and even less reliance on synths, and less blatantly saccharine, cliche, or over-emotive lyrics (at parts), this could be more than a fun exercise track or pick-me-up (or even an emo-pick-me-up) and be something that sets a standard for, um, space-y songs. The lyrics have actually grown on me, especially the ones from ‘Alamo’, which I’ve interpreted to be a song from a dying person to his lover – (translation – Get me out of the hospital! Let’s have a great time together for the last time!), but some other times they fall a little flat.

Song Awards!

Catchy award winners:
Reinventing Robert Cohen
Thank the Watchmaker
Action is the Antidote

Catchy once you get into them award winners:
Action is the Antidote (yes, it’s catchy enough to get on both lists)
Insozz… (opening sounds like a DDR choosing song screen… but the chorus is amazing)
Right Here Waiting (…perhaps my least favorite, perhaps because it is a cover… the entire bridge to the chorus is nice though…)
The Alamo

More serious songs (less catchy but the most honest/different):
Cloak and Dagger
Bed of Nails

My Favorites:
Bed of Nails
John Orr the Arsonist
Action is the Antidote
Thank the Watchmaker
The Alamo
The Hospital

Now for reviews of some songs!

I may add on reviews for others (perhaps per request?). I like breaking songs into segments and judging each one… so that’s what I’ll do here! Feel free to refer to the playlist at the top to listen to the songs as you read! Perhaps listening to them in a different browser would help if you want to know which part time-wise you’re listening to as you’re reading? Or you could just be less OCD than me (whoa! OCD? Me? O_______O) and just skim and decide if each song sounds like it would be interesting to listen to or not. Also, I rated them out of how much I enjoyed them overall rather than how musically different/robust/critically-acclaimable they are, so the ratings are generally pretty high. Even if I get really nit-picky in the reviews.

1. Murmurs Of…

The album opening. It’s only 40 seconds. If you’re looking for an epic ‘space-style’ opener, look no further than Japanese rock band FLOW’s Microcosm’s Echoes (it’s 1:40 as well!). This one is just okay itself, but it lacks a real transition into the first real song. The true beginning is the next one. Since it’s not even a song I’ll rate it out of 3 points instead of 10 – 0.2/3

2. John Orr the Arsonist

0:00-0:12 – Great, rocky intro! You can hear both the guitars and synths here – the guitars are more prominent in this song than in others on the album.
0:12-0:24 – Great transition and lead-in to the first chorus
0:25-0:36 – “We can’t take this if we faked this if we tr-ied/if I die…” I love the way it’s said the first time, and…
0:36-0:49 – Tunnel voice repeats! One of my favorite parts!
0:49-1:08 – The beats in the beginning are great, but I do not dig the robotic voice. At all. “I never want to see you die you know” – just one example of weak-over-the-top lyrics that make it hard to take the songs seriously. At least harder than the heavy use of synths does.
1:08-1:33 – The first part (the words I don’t know) are fine, and then it goes downhill a little due to the rest of the lyrics. “I was lost, I was lost, and I had no place to go, but I… I don’t think you’d understand…” I didn’t understand why out of all words those were sung the way they were, with high energy (like I grabbed my friend by the shoulder and said, “Hey, I don’t think you’d UNDERSTAND me!”)… this part wasn’t bad, but I think smarter lyrics or a touch more complexity would have improved it to provide the climax the rest of the song builds to.
1:33-2:48 – Reprise of the first transition and chorus. The first parts are good, like the first time, though (not sure about the na-ame on “twenty times less worth your na-ame” – what? I’m picky.) From 1:47-2:10, “…if I die…” is as great as before, 2:10-2:48 is all right but could be improved, in large part in the lyrics.
2:48-3:25 – I liked the lines and distortion work in this part:“selfish pride will take the lives of others you could save.”
3:25-end – That same “I don’t think you understand” part, which again is all right but is slightly less excellent than the rest of the song – and it’s the climax!

Overall: 8.8/10

3. The Hospital

0:00-0:28 – Xylophone-like notes make this beginning saccharine, sounding like a Christmas gift or something… although the lyrics are a little darker. “We lost everything that we had… Just call my name…” It’s like optimistic emoness. Actually those words could sum up this album pretty nicely…
0:28-0:56 – I love the music in this part in this bridge… “it’s not that far to the hospital”… the words “I would tear my two eyes to bring you back here” caught me by surprise, but this album is all about expressing emotions in extreme ways, or extreme metaphors…
0:56-1:38 – ”E-e-e-e-E E E E…” Great, energy-filled, techno-based dance part that echoes the previous lyrics with instrumentation, with guitar riffs, synths that don’t overpower the guitar, and xylophone beats. Not quite innovative, but if you’re already moving along with the song this will seal the deal – this is probably the lightest and most catchy dance song (in terms of the sound) on the album!
1:38-2:07 – Different lyrics! Yay!
2:07-2:30 – Repeat of the “it’s not that far to the hospital part.” Can I say that my favorite part of the song might be 2:21 – that little “happy…E” that happens there? I was sooooo happy in that one second, and I can’t explain it.
2:33-end – Repeat of the instrumentation, which leaves you… rock/dancing…

Overall: 7.2/10 (comes together very well, and is enjoyable! But lacks the innovation and complexity I’d need to give it a higher rating)

4. Reinventing Robert Cohen

0:00-0:12 – Favorite part of this whole song? One of my favorite parts of the album? Maybe one of my favorite twelve second segments. The piano here is amazing. And the marching drum. I turned it up multiple times just to have the next part which is four times as loud try to kill my eardrums.
0:12-0:30 – Last week when I did striders I had this song playing, and would start it up when I had almost finished jogging back to the beginning each time, and then SPRINT from the start when this part came. Strong, loud, energy-packed synths and guitars. Not as elegant as the first part, but…
That being said, the lost potential of this part (and the rest of the song, more so) kills me – that piano was just breezing along at a nice rapid tempo, and this part slowed it down. The band could have opted for complexity, and then periods of simplicity (or ‘slower’ rhythms) in between, but they choose simplicity all the way through. There’s some complexity in the distortion, sure, but couldn’t they keep the piano at its faster pace in these parts, developing or playing with it a little more, to surprise us?
0:31-1:02 – Love the part from :31-:43, even with the human voice and robotic echo. Then from :43-1:02… I was expecting it to go somewhere else, or a little further. So that part of the bridge was serviceable, but disappointing.
1:02-1:33 – Chorus! Energy-filled! I loved it the first 20 times I heard it. The lyrics “Like a fire inside me” were cliché enough that they dampered my enthusiasm a bit by time 21, but “she doesn’t know who I am” fit in perfectly.
1:33-1:57 – 1:33-1:45 were just like the first part of the first bridge: great, 1:45-1:57 were serviceable like the second part of the first bridge, but I liked it better – perhaps because I was expecting it? Strange?
1:57-2:05 – Best repetition of this verse – “She’s in my blood, and like a fire inside me…” with only sparse synth beats behind the tunneled voice… I imagined someone falling… which is usually what I imagine when a song is doing what I want it to…
2:05-2:30 – Chorus, same as before…
2:31-2:55 – I disliked the distorted repetition here… just smelled like ‘over-production’ and ‘cheesy effects.’ The last five or six seconds of human singing are good though!
2:55-3:21 – Bridge again, very good. Then a repeat of “she doesn’t know who I am,” which is good but not incredibly good (it is repetition after all)
3:21-end – “Go O-O-O-OOO-O-OOOON!!!” Another peak of the album. Then the rest is a reprise.

I literally listen for those peaks, in the beginning, the good moments in the middle, and the rest to get to the end. And I listen because it all comes together. Just kills me that if the band had perfected the entire bridge, or the chorus, or just one of them… this might be epic, but as it is… it’s middling as a piece of music, but very competitive when it comes to catchiness.

Overall: 6.8/10


That’s all for now. This is my first time trying to review music, so if you have any comments or feedback, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks! =)

Wrote a story in 3.5 hours!

That being said, while I’m totally trying to brag I probably shouldn’t because:

A. It’s fanfiction – and on top of that, SUPERNATURAL fanfiction – and a good amount is retelling of canon events, with a subtle twist

B. It’s 3:10 AM… and I have work tomorrow… (I’m leaving early tomorrow… but have pilates that’s gonna kill me… after doing inclined sprints AND pilates today… X___X)

Whatever. I wrote more than 3000 words! So there!

Now I should really sleep. But I haaddd to brag brag brag.

(It’s so much harder to get started on the stories that have more complex plots… but practice in the craft is AWESOME…)

If you’re interested the link to it is here: Going On

If anyone wants me to post it here, let me know!!! I looooooooove comments, on posts, and I’d LOVE comments on stories =D As few as there may be at this point – just starting out!

I’m hesitating on posting it here because, well, it’s fanfiction and this isn’t a livejournal, is it? Maybe it would be cooler to do original fiction here. But not too much novel stuff, as I’m hoarding that… =P (If I did post stories I would put them in their own section and have them as their own posts.)

ETA: Also, this particular story probably won’t make much sense unless you have seen the episode it’s based on in Supernatural (2×01), since I didn’t spend too much time on the background… =(

Video of the early morning, a fitting one that has metal and punk… metalpunk? Post metal? (I have no idea how these get classified…):

Here’s an embed, just music:

And the actual music video along with the music, which you can see on youtube:

Story Writing!

Random Video from the band that is now on my workout playlist:

(for some reason this vocalist’s looks and actions reminds me of the lead vocalist from Back On… like from Sands of Time or Flyaway, even if the latter has a much higher voice and is just different… or maybe I just listen to too much J-rock)

Question for you all: Are there any budding (or veteran) writers among you? If so, perhaps I’ll write a bit more about… writing! =)

Okay, here’s the plan. From 11 PM to midnight I’m going to be working on this story idea I’ve had since forever.

I’ve read writing magazines that say ‘Start Writing!’ or ‘How to Become a Writer,’ etc., at Barnes and Noble. But they say things I already know. Or heard a million (+1) times.

1. Write every day.

This one I don’t mind hearing, since you might have to HEAR it every day until you say ‘SHUT UP, I’ll DO IT!’ Took just a few years for me to say it. I’ve been on a (creative writing) roll for… less than a week. Took writing classes over others just because I knew they would make me write. But I wanted to make writing something I did on my own. Like I wanted to make exercise something I did on my own, even if I wasn’t on a team or doing martial arts. Mayyybe become an ‘athlete’ – an independent one? Mayyyybe become… an actual WRITER?

2. Know the elements and format of a story – beginning and introduction of characters/setting, conflict, climax, resolution. And maybe even get into types of conflicts – environmental, caused by others, caused by self, types of resolutions, blah blah blah…

It’s like the 5 paragraph essay. You know what it’s supposed to do, but are you really going to use it forever? How boring. There are all different types of stories, and some of them aren’t balanced – they focus more on setting, or characters, there might not even be a clear climax… a lot of ‘modern writing’ in particular loves to break these rules. (Credit to Mr. Garfinkel from AP English Lang in high school for having us demolish those five paragraphs).

You’ve got a story. What makes it interesting? Why do you want people to read it? For the journey, to live on the streets of 18th century France, smell the scents, maybe see it in a completely different lens than before? Or do you want them to read to find out what happens during the assassination of some fictional (or whatnot) president that your characters are planning?

Plot, setting, climaxes, characters – those are your elements, your tools in your sandbox. Just go ahead and make the story interesting, in whatever way works for you. The conflict-climax-conflict-climax formula doesn’t tell you how to write. Unnn-helpful.

Others: Show, don’t tell; show, sometimes tell; give characters depth; don’t use too little or TOO MUCH detail (that was a problem for me in one class)…

One thing I did find interesting was this idea: outline the story before you start. And roman numerals aren’t your only option; try using index cards for each scene!

I might actually try this (or type those ‘index cards’ out), but I think I need more scene-writing practice first.

Here’s one idea that I have, that might be useful for writers that are looking to improve their craft and descriptions, and not just their plot structure?

Details are everything. You want to know and visualize the settings in their entirety, and then translate those images into words. I think that process itself is an art form – how do you paint just the right amount of strokes, in the right places, so that readers see (and hear, and smell…) what you want them to, while also having room to enrich their experience with their own imaginations?

I’m planning on making a page for each setting that I am thinking of – whether it’s a cave or a forest trail in the west side or on the east, or a city, or school – and write all of the words and phrases that I can think of to describe them. I think this will make it much easier to write scenes and get them going, because I won’t be fishing around for words and thinking, ‘Is this cave dark? Is it damp? Musky? Are there lights on the right or left side?’ Then I can focus more on the action in each scene.

Look at the time – 11:03 PM! Guess I’ll write till 12:03 then.

One more thing (I can stay up ALL NIGHT you know… or maybe not really…):

I find music to really help me with the creative process. I just imagine music videos with my characters as I’m listening to each song. And I just had a kind of breakthrough. As in, a few new VERY important characters, a whole new plotline, and more experiences for my current characters.

This makes me incredibly happy because for the longest time I’ve been focusing on only one main plotline (with supplemental backstory plotlines), and I’ve been thinking, ‘I’m spending so much time thinking about this. What if I write it, and it’s no good – or it’s underwhelming?’

But now that I have a whole different addition to the story that is solid in my mind, and not just a wispy concept that I hadn’t totally decided on…

It’s like having multiple stories in one (technically, multiple interconnected stories in one world! If I don’t start adding worlds)!

The only issue is that the new set of events I have planned makes one side (or part of the side) clearly bad and the other side clearly the victim that started out… not as bad. But I’ve been wanting to avoid black and white in this story. I think some events may just turn out to be black and white… sometimes, as my new character says once, ‘It’s just that simple’ – but hopefully that won’t be the overall case.

Enough vagueness and rambling, hour of STORY TIME!

(Second) Video of the day (this is, I think, the song that was playing when I got the idea for the new plot arc – and no, that arc is not about an arsonist… or maybe it depends on your definition of ‘arson’… hopefully that’s not a spoiler =P And “Inner Universe” by Yoko Kanno helped me develop it further… =D):

A Break from Rules + A “How to Stay Motivated” Thing

This will start off with daily personal rambling and eventually try to give advice/insights. No guarantees on the utility or specificity of any such advice, but we at Aril-where-does-this-name-come-from & Co. will always promise a dose of insanity.

Totally relevant song of the day (you have to listen to the whole thing! =D):

Yes, this weekend I went and watched this korean drama called City Hunter. Up to episode 14. Starting Friday night. With a break for Saturday morning + afternoon sleeping/going out. And then ending Sunday… at 8 in the morning.

Yo this is the FIRST TIME I’ve watched anything this summer, or stayed up anytime past 12:30 (most often) to 2. Cut me a break? Maybe? At least this isn’t the ‘normal’ here, as opposed to at MIT (still didn’t stay up quite THAT late… usually… only till 5 or 6 =P)

I had also made Saturday my ‘off day’ for exercise (after 4-5 miles and 12 striders OUTSIDE on Friday). Mostly to enjoy my new music and City Hunter. And while I was walking around, listening to “Reinventing Robert Cohn” and “I Fell Through” on repeat, I wondered where that drive was to… you know… do more productive stuff. I mean, I had all day and had decided to sleep in and then go to Barnes and Noble again. (But I did install Drupal! And write novel stuff, for two – and soon to be THREE nights in a row!)

That’s probably the way it should be, right? Taking time off regularly to chill out, do nothing, and not feeling guilty about it. (Especially now that it’s… summer, and work for me started the Monday after finals ended, no weeks off.)

I tried to do that a lot last semester. But I wouldn’t feel guilty about it while I was doing it. When procrastination and guilt coincided, it was like looking down and realizing I was walking on air. And when procrastination left, the guilt remained for a bit, but was part of what kept me on track.

Just as a note, or clarification – I don’t write these types of ‘personal’ posts just to rant and resolve or reveal my own feelings for my own sake. But I think maybe others that have similar stories, whether at a college, another school, or a job, could feel some comfort in not being ‘the only ones’ that feel that way, as cliched as that sounds. I know that perhaps only family members or friends read these posts occasionally. But just in case, I’m sharing some of my stories.

I feel like the most effective – and least personal – way to help people in school would be guides, like ‘How to Overcome Procrastination from Someone Who’s Not Writing for Fortune 500 Company Heads.’ Like ‘How to Stay Motivated to Exercise,’ ‘How to Get Enough Sleep when You’ve Been a 5-AM-er for a Year,’ ‘How to Finally Put the Advice Everyone’s Been Giving You – at least the helpful stuff – Into Action.’ Because sometimes someone saying ‘Just DO IT!’ doesn’t make you immediately spur into action.

But everyone’s different. Some people are more motivated by one of the following more than the others: financial goals, ideals and morals, or out of a love of what they’re doing (there are people that love being in labs, love designing things, love photography, etc…). In school, there is also that genuine insatiable curiosity students have to learn about how the world works, how physics works, how governments work and interact, etc. And there’s competitiveness as a further motivator, and people have different comfort zones for it.

So what motivates you? A lot of people want to change the world, make a difference – but how exactly would you want to do that? Do you like organizing things and dealing with numbers, writing code, teaching kids new things, putting things together in a wood shop? If you want to be a doctor, say, but can’t stand those organic chemistry classes and find the other classes hard, and are kind of hating life, how do you manage your classes and stay happy – or figure out if you need a change?

I feel like I’ve been trying to do some self-discovery for a grand total of two months. Despite my efforts that’s probably not enough time to claim to be a master of… motivational coaching, or something. Even that thought is pretty funny. (But it sounds like a REALLY fun job!)

I think one of the keys to overcoming school and work-destroying procrastination is to keep your goals in mind, and make a plan – formal or informal, depending on your style – to reach them. In making your goals, don’t ignore your hobbies. What you do to procrastinate. I mean, you procrastinate by doing things you LIKE to do, right?

Why not consider a procrastination tool as a career, or part of one? If you draw things or write in your spare time, maybe you could be a graphic designer, architect, or journalist for a magazine or newspaper? Or an editor? Maybe you want to have time to explore your hobbies, so what type of job would give you that flexibility (while still satisfying your other needs, like alleviating poverty, facing a challenge, discovering new scientific knowledge, etc.)? What do you need to do now to get there?

As for me, I go to work on time each day, happy to have an internship where I’m basically working on my own project. I relish the tasks – getting to figure out the company’s needs, finding the best ways to meet them by communicating information to the manufacturers that might sell us the needed equipment, learning new technical skills such as how a controller works and how it is programmed, and trying to think of new ideas of what to do within the scope of the project. At the same time I pay attention to the actual internship experience, considering factors such as the work environment, the nature of the work, and the tasks I have – and how well they match my own preferences and interests. At the end of work each day I feel accomplished and responsible. Those feelings – these needs – keep my self-expectations high, just as receiving this internship opportunity had – and it is sooooooooo much easier to do things when, at a subconscious level, you believe you CAN do it.

And then I have time each night to get exercise done, listen to music, read or write, and try to teach myself some web design or GIMP/Photoshop. Or walk around Georgetown/Dupont Circle/Eastern Market looking for Indian food. So I get to satisfy my ‘get me exploring the city or art’ needs.

So maybe the key is planning out your days with just enough structure to make sure you satisfy your own ‘needs,’ both financial and personal, every day?

That’s my working theory!

And this is what your world sounds like when you’ve had an awesome day, like the above:

(ahhhhhhhhhhh GHOST IN THE SHELL I STILL HAVE TO WATCH YOU… cough I meant go to sleep…)

Goals on a Friday

Off of work early (really, was I going to stay there when no one was there, and there are a million things to do?), and the plan for today is:

– Laundry

– Listen to more Mr. Meeble and Little People and Yoko Kanno

– Clean room and possibly locate passport for Visa to China

– Exercise (running or yoga? Hmm…)


If that last endeavor is successful, today (the ides of July) might go down in history. Um, at least for me. That’s totally the whole goal of this post. It will be a landmark for a beginning… or not… we’ll SEE!

Got to start somewhere, right?

(if there’s more time…

– City Hunter episode 3 [who am I kidding? This is happening whether there’s time or not…]

– Ghost in the Shell episode 1 [the thing is that I almost certainly would NOT stop]

– Configure Apache, MySQL PHP and Drupal correctly

– Finally review Oscar Wao + Joy Luck Club

– Go skydiving)

Guess what’s next?

La musica!

Thoughts on a Room – Mid July

Yup, I’m writing about those and leaving book reviews for the weekend, after I get my VISA for CHINA! (Playlist at the end!)

Video of the day (there may be anime violence, but what I saw of it was pretty tame):

(Goal #0: WATCH GHOST IN THE SHELL. I listened to the rest of the OSTs on Pandora and they are epic epic EPIC… it Oh anime I have MISSED YOU SO)

Today I was really bad… I got Matchbox pizza (veggie with tomato sauce instead of cheese), this chocolate + passionfruit sorbet (YES) at this organic place called Pitango (by the way it was totally worth it, unlike the #1 gelato place in DC called Dolcezza which for like $4.50 gave me this:

Yup, if I swirled my thumb around in a natural circle/wiggle it would cover the volume made up by that kiddie cup of ice cream. And it wasn’t even sorbet. It was like 70% Valcerona [sic?] dark chocolate. And then I thought Valcerona or whatever was actually wine or something, because it seemed like there was something that wasn’t chocolate or milk in there. It was like… a shot glass? A shot kiddie cup?

Compare and contrast –

Now this one I could hold in the palm of my hand, about. Still not extremely large for the price, but that chocolate sorbet has chocolate cacao BITS that are AMAZING and all of the fruit flavors I tried were like eating the REAL fruit…

(And then I took a pilates – I mean Xtend Barre class – that killed me, my form is still horrendous but I was still dying. And I hadn’t brought water. Aaand then I got a vegan smoothie. And a dark chocolate bar from Trader Joe’s. Didn’t eat it – besides a piece or three – yet!)

New career goal: open a juice/smoothie bar/vegan ice cream/lite healthy meal place that has chocolate sorbet WITH THE CACAO BITS for $3.50 or under, raw ice creams/puddings/brownies, salads like Chop’d under $5, $3.50 all fruit and nut (and maybe veggie) smoothies, the best hummus ever, the best GUACAMOLE ever, vegan samosas and lassis and dosas because they are AWESOME… (maybe whole wheat thin crust pizza too)

(I was reading this book in the bookstore about how we use different skills – feeling, thinking, sensing, perceiving – and how we have a dominant one, and the rest develop around when we turn 12 (#2), 30(#3), and 50 (#4). Or maybe I threw that 30 in there, and we develop #4 when we’re 70 or something. I’m forgetting, but I definitely remember 12 and 50.

Anyway it seems like I am more of an ISFP than an INFP, which means that my own “skills” in order of dominant to weak, according to the book, would be Feeling, Sensing, Intuition, and Thinking. I think realism depends on that last one, and maybe a bit on good intuition too. So I’ve got a ways go to before I start… thinking… =P)

Whoa so this post is called “Thoughts on a Room” – let me get to that.

I kind of felt like trying to paint a picture of an “ideal room” for myself. I feel like I can survive in either world – the world of the electronics where people have rooms or  the world of the tent or tarp – but for now clearly I’m focusing on the former. I was just thinking that in the past I might have well said ‘A tent,’ but that’s going to have to wait. Mountain climbing, Appalachian Trail-ing, and exploring the wilderness are goals on the horizon, but not short-term ones!

So back to this “ideal room”: I was trying to find pictures online of an “ideal room,” but can’t find one that really appeals to me. That’s one reason that I think I’ve developed a sudden interest in design – I’m either super inspired by graphics/artwork that scream out to me (like in games, anime, or in creative music videos) or I get bored by the lack of “that kind of design” in other things (i.e. rooms). I’ve never decorated my rooms before, always trying to keep them sparse (at least on the walls… but still making a HUGE mess) because I didn’t want to define myself too strictly – I wanted to keep myself open. Or something.

But now I know that I want to have a room that has awesome music that inspires me to design/write/or do other productive things. I’m thinking of a green/blue/dark grey low light scheme, with an awesome lounge chair and desk, a computer-turned entertainment center with stereo speakers and a remote, and a neat dark green modern bed and maybe circular carpets or platforms that lead up to the main desk. I really liked what my roommate in my living group last year had going – she had great speakers and played cool techno or trance music. I feel like there are different flavors to trance and techno, and I’m especially a fan of the anime flavor. So my playlist would look something like this:

Can’t find ‘Storm’ by Yoshida Brothers, ‘Carpe Diem’ by Yellow Generation (yes, this is more poppy – but aren’t they good?), or ‘Moratorium’ by Alanis Morisette. By the way, these are mostly Pandora discoveries. From today. From my AKFG ‘Rewrite’ station. =D

What would be a better idea – taking crazy singing and diction lessons and starting a rock/trance band, or doing that health food cafe/restaurant/bar thing?

I think the chances are the same either way. .000002% =D