Tag Archives: writing

blog then ask questions later

16 Apr

So if you have check back on this blog every now and then, you may have noticed I have been posting frequently recently. You have no idea (or maybe you do because you can relate) of the number of drafts I have. Okay, a dozen, not a crazy number, but whenever I had tried to write something in the past few months, they all ended up as drafts, lonely latchkey children without their own Instagram account.

So what has led me to break out of my draft cage and actually hit the publish button? This paper for class I have. It’s about analyzing the data sample and critiquing on its strengths, weakness, limitation, and additional thoughts.

Too bad I can’t save that assignment as a draft indefinitely unless I want to sacrifice a chunk of points. Nope. School has conditioned me grades are more important than what I have to say. Oh, low blow cynicism, I know. And you know too.

I guess it’s just when I’m assigned to write something abstract or detached from my interests or anything that has to do with the ivory academic tower writing, my brain operates on this weird mode. Just say stuff that makes sense…I don’t give a damn if it touches my heart or some sentimental loco stuff.

All this anxiety and procrastination pressed me to write something, and lo, hello again WordPress. No need to potty-train every single sentence (gotta have one to be the butt of the jokes).

I could understand highbrow people might furrow their brows toward blogs because some posts might have some grammar potholes, getting the it’s and its confused as well as the there, their, they’re.

So you know that paper I talked about? It’s due tonight. (It was due two days ago, but the professor has extended the due date.) And another assignment too.

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So head down to your local blog post shelter, and adopt a neglected draft, teach it some new tricks, and take it to the WordPress show.

add new post

20 Aug

Isn’t so strange how laborious the task of communication had been decades and centuries ago? The pony express, pigeon messengers, and snail mail. (Thank goodness the last one wasn’t literal as the first two.)

And here we are now, or me at least, stumped by what to say. Something worthwhile, before pressing the publish button. I tried writing two different posts earlier, but clicked “save draft” instead because I felt like it wasn’t substantial or syntax-ready enough to appease ravenous readers and Grammar Gazis. (And also appeal to the poets with penchant for alliteration.)

I really do hate my involuntary part-time job as a perfectionist that happens to take place whenever I’m creating something. (“Why aren’t you going to change it to Nazis? You know there’s also the Spelling Soviets in the supposed readership to worry about losing, ya no.”)

I know, another “I’ll talk about not knowing what to blog” filibuster but hey, my fingers are quite lividly tapping at the keys. It’s already 11pm. I had made an announcement weeks ago to update every Tuesday and hey you know what, I’ve been able to do so. So I feel compelled to have some content on here. Yup, like the good times back in college when I was frantically typing up my last-minute paper to submit to the virtual dropbox by midnight. Those all-nighter stands are quite nostalgic.

How easy it is to just consume than to create. Well, daydreaming about creating something is just as easy as consuming.

Nevertheless, I just got to stick to this, with updating this blog once a week as a start. It’s like batting practice. Not all of those posts will hit a home run, but to hear the sound of the ball meeting the sweet spot of the bat, of how these sentences connect with me and make sense with all of its quirkiness and all. (Being figurative here, of course. And you’re welcome, poets with penchant for metaphors.)

overdone detailed fiction drivel

9 Jul

If I tried to write a story and you got to see it being formed in my mind, it might turn out something like this…

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Sean parked his car in the parking lot. It was a red Honda Civic. Actually, it was not exactly red, but crimson red pearl according to the Honda dealership that was exactly 32.522 miles away from where Sean was when he parked his car. (The manager running the successful enterprise has a name, Tom.) The odometer read 20,432 miles, the left taillight was out, and there were some white bits of pigeon poop across the windshield.

Oh, and Sean. Seriously, who do you, dear reader, think Sean was the past three sentences? Was it just some human-size question mark hovering until the author described him, or did you think of him as a tall, mysterious man with a frown visceral as a dark and stormy night? Or a femme fatale who was disguised as a businessman so she can infiltrate a booze cartel and take it down inside out? (Also, a time-traveler from the Prohibition Era who still thought alcohol was illegal.) Of course, being the author of this short blog entry that consists of semi-sensible drivel to make a point of how difficult it can be to write a story without having a porridge that is not too hot to eat or a bed mattress too soft to sleep on, he decided that Sean is just an Asian-American male in his mid twenties.

Of course, the name Sean reminds this author of his friend he had back in high school. Back-then Sean was short, about five feet and two inches. And Asian-American. He was quite a talented student who played the violin well and aced his classes; the author every now and then would be jealous of him. The author hopes back-then Sean, who is probably grown to be today Sean, is not reading this blog.

So it should be reminded that Sean is a fictional construct, a figment of the imagination, the consensual collective delusion, and any similarities to back-then Sean or the author are really just a coincidence. Wait, was that already assumed by the dear reader? The author is now confused, frustrated and constipated.

And don’t get him started on describing Tom.

obsessive compulsive detailing when writing fiction

2 Jul

Whenever I consider writing a story, my eyes stare at the wall in my room with my mouth agape.

How do fiction writers make their characters radiate with such vigor and have the narrative flow like a river in a Thomas Kirkade painting?

I have trouble giving names to characters because they would strongly remind me of someone from my life or the name wouldn’t fit. Then there is trying to develop their personalities…and don’t get me started on describing places.

2013-07-02_23.17.55

I prefer not to describe this.

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One misconception that’s difficult to shake off is to assume I have to provide every single detail and connect the dots for the reader. In theory, that would mean lots of details must be spilling out and all I have to do is get a big bottle of whiteout and blot out the excess. Actually, not much is able to come out because all of those details are all jammed at the door, leaving me mentally constipated.

Of course, it’s the hackneyed yet tried-and-true advice to heed: Write, write write. From all those words and paragraphs that are piling in the junkyard, I would be able to collect a few and tinker with them into bigger ideas, which can yield to great characters and narratives.

The prescribed laxative: Write, write, write.

timestamp: one good habit to have

4 Jun

Whenever I write in my journal or draw in my sketchbook, the first thing I would do is scribble a small timestamp. For the journal, it would be date/time/place while for the sketchbook, it would only include the date.¹

I would use my watch to get the time, but if I don’t have it on me, my iPhone or a nearby clock would do. Should it be the unfortunate scenario where I’m unable or too lazy to get the time, I would make a rough estimate based on the time elapsed since I had last checked the clock. As long I know it happened at a particular part of the day, like early in the afternoon or late at night.

The approach also applies to the date as well, but rarely would I guess the date and leave it at that. I can’t stand to have an entry off by a day or two. (When I went to visit my relatives in Korea, I wrote KR+17 next to the timestamp in my journal as not to be confused what timezone I was basing the date on. I guess my temporal home is the Pacific Standard Time.)

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I can’t pinpoint any particular person or event that caused me to have this habit of creating a timestamp, but one theory I have is that it must had developed from writing my name and date on my countless school assignments. (And no, I don’t write my name down in my journal and sketchbook every time. I still remember how to spell mine.)

As for the time, I must have begun adding it when I needed to clarify the entries written 11pm and 1am (i.e. the next day). It’s more out of a personal preference.

Writing the place is a recent innovation. As I began writing in my journal outside of my house frequently, I thought it would be nice to include where I was whenever I wrote. A spatial point of reference if you will.

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While writing the timestamp came out of habit, there are two reasons why I have enjoyed doing so.

First, it helps me to put the entry in a time-related context. So while I have the hindsight to see how ridiculous or profound I was, one quick look at the timestamp and I could determine at what part of my life I was at, like being in high school or college. Like skimming through a yearbook, flashes of the past would pop into my mind and I would remember some unmentioned events that happened or unwritten thoughts I had when I wrote the entry. Like listening to surround sound speakers and catching those subtle riffs and whispers.

Second, I get to enjoy traveling along the memory lane with the help of the nostalgia-powered mental teleporter. Strange and yet pleasant how a string of numbers can evoke a glimpse of the past.

It’s convenient that blog entries, tweets and other social media fodder have the timestamp automatic and down to the second, but writing a timestamp in my own handwriting feels more personal and satisfying. Like I’m a Time Lord.

While I have my share of bad habits like poor time management, which I hope to will correct soon, I’m proud of having this good habit that had stayed with me since elementary school.

¹The reason why I only include the date in my sketchbook is that I might add more sketches throughout the day and to have each one with a specific time would interrupt the visual flow. As for the place, it doesn’t seem important enough to include. Maybe it’ll start happening down the road when I start drawing people and places more often.

typos give me anxiety attacks

9 May

A few weeks ago, I finished hosting my virtual seminar for my Genres and Topics in Youth Literature course with an emphasis on graphic novels. Mine was titled “Nonfiction and Comics: A Novel Idea.” I just received my grade today along with the following comments.

  • Evocative questions
  • Informative, effective and relatable content
  • Lovely and relevant introduction [as shown below]

Compliments are truly the freshmaker for the soul, not Mentos. My handling of the seminar, which was really reading the online discussion posts by my classmates and responding to them, was also noted: “very responsive to your classmates, additional material and ideas offered in your responses.”

And then all that glorious self-esteem boost imploded into chalk dust as I saw that I was dinged half a point for the following sentence I wrote in my self-evaluation:

“Being aware of my classmates may not be familiar with nonfiction comics, it was better to have gone with an overview of nonfiction comics.”

Despite my solid good grade, I couldn’t ignore this glaring oversight. The anxiety I felt was like realizing your pants was unzipped the whole time. You didn’t first have me at hello; you had me with your fly down.

Being a graduate course in the Master’s in Library and Information Science (MLIS for short), I understand the need for the professor to connect with the eight-grade grammar teacher within to enforce good grammar for the good of humanity. Without good grammar, our language would have eventually break down into caveman grunts.

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My fear of being called out on grammatical errors is this notion that I’m just some fob with English as his second language when in reality I was born in Maryland and English is my native tongue, and I’m someone who happens to get his verb tenses mixed up every now and then. And his Korean is enough to get him by.

I have been tinkering with some soon-to-post blog entries the past week or so, and feel like the idea and the paragraphs are just off-kilter. I also have two papers to turn in on my plate.

Nevertheless, I’m still going to write and post. There’s going to be the occasional lopsided sentences and whenever I see them, I’ll be sure to chiropractorize them real good.

As I still remember what my TA told me in my early years in college, and I paraphrase: ideas are more important than having goody two shoes grammar. No need to vivisect your sentences into diagrams. Just a decent pair of decent hiking boots will do as you walk through the street of the loitering there/they’re/their and the grunting typos.

nc-virtualseminar

i am a blogger

12 Apr

For quite some time, I thought of myself “writing on my blog” or “updating my blog.” I avoided the terms blog (as a verb) and blogger. Probably it was the negative preconceptions like this comic that made me think blogging is some coping mechanism that unpublished writers go through.

Growing up in the 1990s to the early 2000s, I became drawn to the popular dream of being published. I always read books at the public library in the 808’s, which consists mostly of inspirational thoughts about writing. So I began thinking that great writing must start with submitting a bunch of manuscripts to magazines and being rejected some thousand times. (I read too many comic strips with Snoopy getting his manuscript rejected.) I once submitted a collection of poems, and yes, got a small, impersonal rejection letter, which I still keep as a souvenir.

Thus this developed some negative impression of blogging somewhere in my unconscious. Sure, I’ll admit that I did use Xanga in my high school days, but even then, I knew it wasn’t going to be Pulitzer Prize material. I thought great, serious, and awesome writing only resided in magazines and literary journals.

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I must admit, there is that magic when it comes to blogging. Instead of sending your manuscripts to mysterious editors hidden in the shadows of literary elitism, your posts are instantly available to the everyday Joe, Jane, and [insert your name here] browsing on the blogging website and the Internet. You can write whatever you are passionate or introspective about, and reach out to your audience who look forward to reading your latest posts. You can view the likes and respond to the comments in real time without waiting a few weeks if your manuscript got accepted. (Of course, it would be nice to get a physical letter saying your work is accepted.)

I have finally come to the point to admit this: I am a blogger, who blogs.