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It snowed yesterday, properly, enough to cover most of the grass and dead leaves. Enough to creak under my boots when we walked down to a coffee shop and heard music: a band with two teachers from my high school in it. I drank a tall mug of peppermint tea. At the set break, they came over and chatted--what am I up to, all that sort of thing.

I hope the snow doesn't melt today. It makes this city feel like winter.

I like my dad's new house. It already feels homelike. I am glad to spend this week here (I fly back to Massachusetts on Friday). Most of the people I know have gone back to school already, or are leaving today; I've enjoyed having social times, but it'll also be nice to be utterly unscheduled. People should be getting back to me on A Returning Power soon, and then I can fix things in that, and keep making sallies toward a query letter. And I can keep working on plans for my hypothetical London jaunt--I've got a goal of drafting my research proposal before I go back.

In the meantime...
boooks! )
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I am pretty much completely recovered! My brain works again! This rocks. Also, sunny winter days are still my favorite.

Yesterday-snow-day I managed to get all the practical things done that I wanted to get done, and also (re)watch the three-part Master-and-Doctor season finale with people (so slashy. soooo slashy) and then complain cheerfully about the ending and then watch "Time Crash" which made it all okay. Oh, and I auditioned for a play, too!

Under practical things, file "finished my physics research applications". All done! Until next year. And maybe the people I do research for this summer will want me back next summer, or else I will have my license and a car and so will be okay with staying on campus next summer to do research or work at the archives or something. Or I will get an actual job. Or an unpaid internship and make the college give me a living stipend. Who knows what will happen in this year?

Responses For Which I Am Waiting:
- Auditions for that play (?)
- Physics research (starting March 1st, onward through March...?)
- Dell Award (who knows? they said three weeks, and then they said "a few", and it's been four and I am Impatient)
- Cicada (February 20th?)

Now I just get to do study abroad applications, and then I will have a full complement of things to wait for.

Maybe one of these days I will actually write something. Like revise the beginning of A Returning Power so I can send it in to Viable Paradise like I've been meaning to. I might almost have enough space in my brain, now. It's awesome to have all those physics applications out.

snooooow!

Feb. 1st, 2011 12:55 pm
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I have been sick. Just a cold, but enough to fuzz my brain and make me not want to do work, or anything else. I did my work, though, yesterday and the day before, and my reward for virtue is a GIANT SNOWSTORM and no classes this afternoon and tomorrow. 6-8 inches already, apparently.

In celebration, we are having tea. And I picked up the copy of Among Others I'd ordered in, so I have some new pleasure-reading waiting for me as well.

As of yesterday evening, most of my REU applications are totally complete! One of them I have to polish the essay for, another I have to print out and mail forms, but all the rest of them are in and so are my transcripts and recommendations.

Which all means that I am a really happy, not very stressed at all Alena, and over the next day or so expect to finish up the last-last-last of REU applications, slush, do homework for Thursday and Friday--but this afternoon to do nothing productive or practical at all.

Massachusetts winter, you have good timing. I think I'll keep you.
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So. Things.

I spent most of this past week being tired, and feeling bad about it until I realized that it was probably my body trying to recover from the massive shock of anaphylaxis last weekend. (Entirely apart from the drugs they gave me at the hospital.) But I met with some people, and came to some conclusions, so that was good and with luck it will never happen again ever.

Friday was really nice; I spent about two and a half hours in the children's books section of the library reading the first 20-50 pages of novels. (I have been thinking about Beginnings.)

Also, I read some books. The whole thing, I mean.
The Changeover, Mahy: I read this when I was entirely too young, and understood practically none of it. Now I understand a lot more! There is a time between these two, though, when I both would have understood it and would have needed a book like this. However, as is often the case, I never picked it up when I was that age.
For The Win, Doctorow: By an order of magnitude better than Little Brother. (In my opinion, at least.) I picked this up as a see-the-beginning thing, realized I was intrigued, and checked it out to take it home with me.

Last night it snowed a little. I went out to dance in it then, as it was falling, and then this morning got up at seven or so to go out and wander around a lake before it all melted. I hear Minnesota is having a snowpocalypse, and have seen many lovely photos of things covered in a foot of snow, and am envious, but... well. I will be there soon enough, and there will certainly be snow. And I did get falling snow and snow to crunch in on a winter morning watching dawn, so things could be much worse.

This afternoon, I finished my last midterm. Now all I have left in the semester is one day's worth of Greek homework and to Take All The Finals. Yay?
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Some highlights of the rest of my spring break:
- Pretty Concord library and old old graveyard!
- We tried to go to Walden Pond, but it was closed
- So much good food (spoiling me for dining halls, I fear)
- Hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] vcmw and talking books (and going to aquariums and wandering and watching Buffy)
- Maple syrup! Maple sugar candy!
- Maple cotton candy is a ridiculously awesome idea and also well-executed
- Train! Traaaain!
- SNOW

...and then beautiful weather when I got back to campus. Next weekend is ConBust, which I plan to drop in on at some point or other; next week is lots of tests and papers, hooray! This week will be catching up with my life after spring break.

Less awesome: my plant got bugs while I was gone. I hope that it's all right.
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Woke up this morning to a winter wonderland: thick heavy snow over everything, along branches and roofs and blanketing the green.

It still looks nice out the window, now. But it's warmed up some, and the snow on the paths has melted into two inches of a wet slurry that wants into your socks.

--as it turns out, my boots aren't waterproof.

At any rate, it's a day for curling up inside to read. Unfortunately I have work in an hour. At least it's unlikely that anyone will forge their way across campus with a desperate need for rare books. (I like my work. I suspect however I will not enjoy it if I have to spend three hours wearing wet socks.)

It's supposed to turn back into snow later. Maybe the slush will freeze and we can spend the evening sliding around on it in our boots!

(That makes me sound aggravated, but I'm not, really. I do think it will be fun. My friends not from wintry places may or may not concur.)
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1. The math paper is twelve pages long. The conclusion, as it stands, consists of key words followed by exclamation points.

2. Distracted by math, I did not remember to check schedules before I signed up for things. So, a week from Thursday, I will do a presentation in one class and take an exam in another.

3. After an hour and a half of depressing in-class discussion of Kafka's "Metamorphosis", I came up with an optimistic interpretation of the story which now seems blindingly obvious.

4. It's been snowing all day.

5. It's still snowing.
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The Urban Fantasy Novel has so, so many darlings in it. So many characters who make me happy in different ways. So many sentences I go back to and giggle at. So many things that I just think are nifty and want to be in it.

So many things I have stolen from other urban fantasy novels, because this is definitely my response to the whole movement. (From War for the Oaks to de Lint to Holly Black to Bordertown to Faerie Wars to Artemis Fowl to, probably, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And Blood and Iron, I suspect.) As well as my response to college, although I started it before I got here.

I am not sure what all of this says about the novel in question, but I do know it's fun to write.

I now have 10k on it, which feels substantial. I know where it's going; I've outlined it; when I don't know where it's going next, I can go back to the outline and figure it out.


(Also? Despite forecasts of snow for most of the rest of the week in Minnesota, it isn't supposed to snow today, the day when I will be flying. Rock on, world.)
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Finals: over with! And I am going back for winter break tomorrow. So I think it's merited to look back on my first semester of college. Verdict: pretty sweet, considered as a whole. Some things could have been different, but I'm not sure which way they would have been better.

I have printed out my boarding pass, I have started packing, I have surrounded my plant with enough water to keep it damp for months. (Hopefully. Well, hopefully at least two weeks.) On the audiobook theory of plane travel, I have downloaded Pratchett's Thief of Time and put it on my iPod.

Goals for winter break: read some books and novel excerpts and things, write bits of novels and/or stories, hang out with friends I haven't seen since I started college. Give people presents.

They say it's going to snow in Minnesota for Christmas. I can't wait.

(Also: "The Shortest Day". Happy solstice.)
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Finals-o-meter: three out of four done.

Last one will be tomorrow.

I've been working on the solstice-story requests from last year. On the Any writing is good practice theory I have been avoiding thinking that I ought to be working on The Urban Fantasy Novel. I now have two left I haven't started at all; one that's half-finished; and one that wants revision. Then I can start on the currently-around-twenty requests from this year!

The first few days of writing these, the stories were all very, very short, almost all telling and no showing, just a bit of concept and we're done. Yesterday and today I've only managed to write one each day, but they were both longer--one around a thousand words, one around fifteen hundred--and I'm fairly happy with them. So that was worth it, I think.

Snow of doom did not arrive. We got about half an inch: enough to make the paths pretty and snowy, and not enough to cover up the still-green grass I can see from my window. Not cool, New England weather. Not cool.

(Still, it was enough to creak becomingly under my feet when I went to take a final this morning, which is something.)
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Two finals down, two to go. I have calc III and sociology left; calculus shouldn't be too bad (we don't have to integrate things, just set up the integrals! Our professor is nice) and for sociology we get to use our notes and readings, so that won't be terrible either.

Update on the plant over winter break situation: A friend inadvertently reminded me that I in fact own large tupperware containers--my mother pressed them upon me when I was leaving, and apparently they come in handy--and so my plant, which still has no name because apparently I don't name things, is now sitting smugly in the center of its new domain, which is quite a bit larger than its last one.

Which means that all I have to do to prepare for my departure is, Figure out how to pack dinner for the plane, which may be a trial in and of itself.

It's supposed to snow tonight--lots. And possibly not melt for a while, or at least until after I leave for break. It makes me happy to think that my surroundings will finally descend into winter. There's something profoundly disconcerting in being able to see swathes of green grass halfway through December.

I should be studying for my other finals. Will I? Doubtful. I'll probably write some more solstice stories instead.
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Today and tomorrow are Reading Days for the college, so we don't have classes and finals don't start until Friday. Which is nice, except for the part where it's cold and grey outside and ohmigod it's snowing. Okay, so that just made my day about ten times better.

At any rate, I am thoroughly uninspired to study for my finals, which is why I am writing a post instead.

Things I have done:
- written out equation sheets for the physics final
- typed up review questions for philosophy

Have yet to do:
- go over calculus material, obtain 3x5 notecard, write things on it that I will not remember
- actually go through the philosophy review
- study for my sociology final

On the other hand, there is all of tomorrow, so really I am just going to sit here and pretend to work on my philosophy review for a while. (Which is, of course, the best way to make myself do something.)

I also wrote some truly terrible poetry today. Terrible in that--well, it was; but largely because I haven't written poetry seriously for about seven years, or at all really for two, and it's the sort of thing that needs to be in one's ear. My mind is trained for prose, so it doesn't work out so well when I try to stick in a poem here or there.

Haven't decided one way or the other on Arisia yet. Seeing the full programming schedule will probably help this decision.

I've been working on The Urban Fantasy Novel in driblets here and there. (I've been busy, both in the taking-up-time way and the distracting-things way, but making an effort once in a while.) I was going to work on that this morning, but then I got distracted by the terrible poetry. I'm very close to 10k at the moment, which is a nice feeling although in the larger terms it's not all that much progress. On the other hand, J-term should serve very nicely to give me time to work on the draft.

This has been another Rapid Sum-Up of what happened my life while I was forgetting about LJ. Well, not everything. I left a lot of bits out. All the exciting things really. But those are for other posts and other days. Maybe. If you're lucky.
aamcnamara: (window)
The past couple of days proved to me that novels will tell you how to write them--you just have to listen very closely.

The scene I was writing earlier in the week was sort of fun, but it didn't quite seem to fit the rest of the novel. So yesterday I sat by the lake for a while, thinking about large-scale plotty aspects, and came up with, among other things, the big motivations for pretty much all of the major characters.

This morning I dragged out a notebook and wrote down a list of numbers for chapters, sketched in approximate wordcounts, and put in the major plot events. You should probably understand in this that I don't tend to work with outlines. For the novel I wrote this past summer, I did a couple of very very brief outlines, after about half the novel, just to get what was in my head down on paper.

This, on the other hand, was very much "all right, so this event should happen about twelve chapters in, and it should last about this long--okay, so there's a big blank space between these major events, what can happen here?". I invented new plot points, planned out what events would happen in which order and how many chapters they would span.

In the course of this, I discovered what the main hinge of the chapter I'm writing ought to be. Which necessitated a delete of the scene that I was writing earlier this week--about 800 words--and a new direction for the chapter. (At the moment I'm stalled on what the intermediary scene between this and the end-scene of the chapter ought to be, which probably means, Go back to the outline.)

It's sort of disorienting, working with an outline. In the normal way of things, I never would have thought, "Hmm. This scene isn't working, how about I write an outline?". But I was very quiet this morning, and the novel snuck up and whispered in my ear.

For posterity (that is, me at the beginning of the next novel, when I'm going "how could I possibly outline?"): the trick is, I think, that I like the characters enough as people that I'll follow them even though I know what's going to happen to them.

(In other news: It's snowing.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
Life:

Snow.

---

The Universe:

No school for two weeks.

Papers I have to write over winter break:

* ~4000 word essay on the motif of angels in Ursula K. Le Guin's PARADISES LOST and Elizabeth Bear's DUST (final draft; I have a rough draft and a promise of comments)
* 1200-1600 word essay on the usefulness of simplifying things in one's life (final draft; I have a rough draft)
* 1200-1600 word essay on the representation of Iago (OTHELLO) and Raskolnikov's (CRIME AND PUNISHMENT) characters through their monologues (rough draft)

Also, my college applications.

---

Everything:

Rejections on "Sun and Spirits" have been piling up lately. Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies have all passed on it within the space of a couple of weeks. I'm not sure where it's going out next, but it's going somewhere.

My Writers of the Future entry for this past quarter received no recognition--but then, I knew that it probably would be.

I managed to get "The Mermaids, Singing" together in time to submit it to Interfictions 2.

I need to start another story. Rewriting stories from Odyssey is fine and dandy, but I also should be writing new pieces. Winter break should help with the having-time thing.
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Final revisions on "The Mermaids, Singing" are done, such as they are; the story is off to Interfictions for consideration.

Next project? My homework.

... seriously, though, after that, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I know I should write something new now, and I want to, but it's always been difficult for me to get ideas and start writing stories during the school year. Continuing stories, finishing stories, revising stories, those have historically been fine for me to do; but starting stories, for some reason, eludes me a lot of the time.

So far I don't have any particular strategy for how I'll reverse this trend, unfortunately. Trying a lot of things and seeing what works could be good; additionally, if anyone has ideas or suggestions of what they do to get themselves going, that would be great.

---

In other news, it's snowed here twice in the past few days. It's beginning to look a lot like winter.
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I'm supposed to be writing my NaNoWriMo novel, but I'm not.

In fact, I'm three days behind on word count. I think this is the furthest behind I've been this early in the month, without flood, (homework) storm, or having to run lights for a show physically preventing me from writing.

Instead, I am attempting to rewrite a story from Odyssey. So far it's going better than the last time I tried to rewrite it; my theory is to be blatantly obvious with everything. After this, I think I'll have to test it out on some poor unsuspecting victims who'll tell me if I'm hammering the point home too fiercely or if it just makes sense for a chance.

--

In other news, it's flurried here twice already.

I'm glad the snow is coming. Summer was nice, fall is good too, but it's time for curling up in blankets with warm cider and watching the snowflakes now. To me, snow justifies the winter: the grey days, the lack of light, the cold air coming through the window right in front of my computer so that my feet feel like they might freeze up while I'm typing LJ entries instead of rewriting my story or doing homework or going to bed.

That's why I separated out colleges by "Does it snow there?" Anywhere I go, there'll be some change in the seasons. The least I can do is make sure that I'll have snow to keep me awake and dreaming.
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It snowed yesterday.

Now--don't get me wrong--I love snow. Earlier in April, I was able to gush about flurries and small accumulations without being untruthful at all.

But after a week of seventy-degree-fahrenheit weather, it just seemed wrong.

Still, there was something beautiful about it. You'd think, having lived here for my whole life, I would be sick of it by now, but I haven't gotten there yet. I hope that I never do.

--

However, I have gotten tired of taking standardized tests, which is too bad because I still have to take a lot of them.

It's an interesting point in the school year: when all one's classes cease to be about Learning and start being about reviewing, and doing nothing. And then the test creeps up on you, and you go and sit in a windowless gym full of other students under similar torture for three hours and fill in bubbles and write essays until your wrists cramp, and then you skip school for the rest of the day and pretend you never have to go back.

You do, of course, but you don't have to tell yourself that.

--

One of my struggles this year has been to figure out how to be a Theatre Person while still being, well, me, along with A Writing Person. (Sometimes Me and A Writing Person intersect. Actually, most of the time. The trick is getting the Theatre Person in there, too.) It seems like all three could be full-time occupations, and I've put the problem off for a while by being a tech person, which doesn't seem to demand as much attention as being an actor, or a director.

Then my theatre class got signed up to show ourselves off to the Theatre Teachers of the Grand State of ---, and it's on Tuesday, and one day I started talking to myself when I was home alone and ended up writing a monologue. (Along with being a Theatre Person, the goal has been to figure out how to write for theatre, so this is a promising step.)

I read it for my class a few days later--which was frightening enough, because some of the people in my class are phenomenal theatre artists. They seemed to like it, but I'm still uncertain of it. And, oh yes, I'm doing it again on Tuesday. For ~40 fine arts teachers from around the state. I don't think I ever do anything by halves.

--

Which ought to be enough for anyone's life, but like everyone's life it isn't, and there are two hundred and seventeen other things that I'm doing right now. Homework for the classes that don't have tests, review for the classes that do, worrying about this and that, trying to write more short stories, edit papers, have time to breathe. Have time to watch the snow, if the world gifts me with it.

One of the reasons that I keep returning to the idea of shaving my head is that I get caught up in the hurry too often. A lot of my fellow students are in it with me, but that's no reason to stay in it. It's worrying about this and that and not taking time to breathe, or watch snow. It's having no time to stop and think about yourself, and your place in the world, and be yourself as you want to be.

Watching your hair grow out isn't usually the best way of reminding yourself of the slow pace at which the world moves along, mostly because if you have long hair, it doesn't look that much different. But starting from nothing--I think it might work.

I'm still not sure, but who's ever sure of anything, these days?
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Ironically for someone whose livejournal was started at 11:00 at night, I've realized now that late nights really are my damnation. All evidence points that way, at least.

When I was littler, I used to get to bed early and wake up in the morning completely fresh. Now I am usually tired, in body and in mind, and I think that's partially what makes the creative side of my brain go dead. (This point proven by trying to write Story #2 all this last weekend, and consistently failing.)

So my decision now (which you may laugh at me for when I don't keep) is that I'll get off the computer at 9:00 sharpish, evenings, and after that only do bits of offline homework, read, and go to bed. Having followed this program last night, I can attest to its success--or maybe it was just the idea's time--since while falling asleep I thought of an idea.

Story #2, then, is now officially In Progress. Knock on wood, it will keep being nice to me. I've sketched out the beginning and I know how it goes. Like Story #1, one of the next things I'll probably need to do is hash out characters and their dynamics.

Best of all, it involves snow, which has always been one of my Cool Bits to use in stories. Yes, even in February.

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