squish.

Nov. 28th, 2011 09:11 pm
aamcnamara: (Default)
Today I made these cookies (substitute potato starch for the eggs and gluten-free flour plus a bit of xanthan gum for the flour, use brown sugar not white, what is this "chocolate chips and pecans" thing doing in my cookies?). Except with squash, not pumpkin.

Still not quite like the pumpkin/squash cookies my dad makes, but they're closer than the last ones I tried. They'll do.

Mmm, cookies.

Meanwhile, too many things. The sharp wish for a return to Thanksgiving break. Lots of meetings scheduled this week, too, which adds stuff to my already kind of packed schedule. (Up this week: history paper, physics test.)

Earlier this evening my theater-history textbook was telling me about Cardinal Richelieu's role in consolidating French theater, and all I could think of was Dumas. This is how you can tell I'm a geek, ladies and gentlemen and others! Still--interesting to get even that glimpse of him from outside the world of D'Artagnan. Between this and my Renaissance Italy class and my classics art history course, I feel like I'm starting to get a sense of western history. Which was something I really wanted to get in college, after mainly being taught American history three times over in high school.

Still noodling on the difficult scene in A Returning Power. I think I might have to restructure this whole bit, scene-wise, so it works with what I have to do now. Alack and all that.

What else? Vaguely disconnected, floaty. Not ready for finals. I want winter break, but I don't want the semester to be over. The end of it is racing toward us, though. Next semester will be good but very different and in the middle of it there's J-term, where I will be at home and hopefully doing stuff but I've started kind of wishing I could be here.

So, in essence, as are we all: full of contradictory impulses. And squash cookies. (Nom.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
One of the big weird things this summer has been how close to adulthood it feels. I have a full-time job to which I go every weekday; they give me paychecks; I have a commute; et cetera and et cetera. Which... that's the Received Model Of What Adulthood Is. 9-5, hanging on to bus or subway straps, coming home tired and eating dinner, maybe watching a little bit of TV. Not that all those things are precisely true in my case, or in any case. But.

(Let's not mention the part where I'm turning twenty this week. Shhh.)

One of the big awesome things this summer has been, well, first that I have been writing. The science (and the issues with me getting food) ate my brain thoroughly for the first couple of weeks, and--but--then I settled into a routine, and I have that half-hour on the bus going and coming, plus some time after I scarf down my lunch. And it's really, really good to know that I am able to have a job and also work on stories. My pace is nothing like what it's been in previous summers when I had very little to do, but the fact that it exists at all suggests to me that I might well be able to keep writing consistently, albeit at a slower pace, after I graduate college and have a job for longer than a couple of months.

Which rocks. Classes tend to take up enough of my energy and time and brain that I don't get very much writing done during the academic year; before now, my big writing times have been summers, since I have never had a full-time job prior to this.

The thing that follows that, or comes with it, or something, is how my writing's changing. My process, anyway.

I spend more time planning, because it's easier to spend half an hour standing up on the bus thinking focused thoughts about plot or structure or character than it is to fill up three pages with prose. But it's more focused planning, more deliberate planning, than I usually end up doing. Often the way my brain approaches planning is a lot more loose--I think about the story for a bit and then wander off, get distracted by the Internet/a book/figuring out when I'm going to do my homework/the way the sunlight falls/whatever. On the commute, my brain can zoom in on the story and only the story; my science work stays at my job, and while I might have thoughts about that, they stay firmly on the back burner of my mind.

And I do write prose--the fact that I typed up over three thousand words of fiction yesterday just from my notebook should be some indication of the fact that I do compose the text of the stories themselves. But writing by hand is, for me, a lot different from typing. Typing saved me as a young writer because my hands could finally keep up with my brain: writing longhand was just too slow. I was already half a page along by the time I had finished the sentence. I think my handwriting speed has increased, but I've possibly also gotten more patient, trying to find--if not just the right one, a good--word or phrase.

I'm not entirely certain what any or all of this means. I know that the different way I've been approaching planning stories or novels has been affecting the plans that come out and that affects the story itself, but I can't pinpoint how. I think that the hand-written prose is different from the prose I would have typed for the same scene, but again, can't pin down precisely why, or whether it's better.

For now, it's enough that I am writing. That is the thing I'm most glad of, I think.

(I got invited to meet up with some MHC friends/acquaintances yesterday, one of whom was coming into Boston to visit for the first time all summer, and sort of eased out of it--all right, okay, it was a last-minute invitation, and yes, it was very hot out yesterday, and it would've taken me half an hour on public transit to get there... but part of my reasons was, selfishly, that I needed to do those three thousand words, type everything up so that I could recenter and figure out where I was, what I had, what I should do next. And, dammit, I was not going to give that up.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
So I'm (re?)writing a short story. It started life as a first chapter written for my YA GLBTQ lit class last J-term; now I'm going back in, realizing it doesn't need to be a whole novel, and overhauling it into short-story form. (Longish short story, but still.)

(This may also have something to do with it--but hey, why not, and I've been meaning to do something with this idea, anyway.)

What's weird about this story is, okay, first off that it has no SF/F-y elements, but secondly and more importantly that it's set right here right now today. I have a bunch of early-teen characters, and all of them are at least vaguely geeky. All of them have accounts at a bunch of different websites: various blogs, Tumblr, Twitter. I'm having to get the cultural references right--research included currently-popular fandoms at fanfiction.net. I have to do the research, but this is really familiar ground for me. I know where to look, even if I don't know the particular details when I'm starting out.

Which is a complete change from a lot of my other stories which try to steer clear of particular here-now references, maybe a cell phone or two but largely that quote-unquote timeless stuff, things that won't change too much over the next few years or maybe in the next decade. It's weird to see how the story comes out, what changes and what stays the same.

...I don't know. Is making specific references a good or bad thing? Does it date a work, or enhance it? If I get one little bit wrong, will it throw people completely out of the story--more than if I just left it vague? Possibly there are no good answers.

(Either way, I think maybe I will try to keep some of this specificity when I slide back into genre, even if it's not what social networking sites my characters frequent. What people do on the Internet, at least in my corner of it, is something I know a lot about, so maybe I should make that level of know-how and detail my baseline for everything else.)
aamcnamara: (alena)
My life runs in these cycles--I suppose everyone's must. Sometimes LJ is where I go to say whatever's on my mind, where I go to put my thoughts out into the world. Other times, my thoughts and energy go other times, there isn't really anything I feel like putting on the Internet, and once in a while I think guiltily about how few posts I've been making.

So, in typical Alena fashion, I am posting about not knowing quite what to post. There are all these little gems that drop daily into my lap--things my professors say, realizations I have, moments shared with my friends. I treasure them, and yet they don't feel like things to be processed and put into LJ posts as some things in my life do. I haven't been running everything through my mind as through a sieve, straining out the finest grains of experience.

Even the writing-related things I do (finishing a first draft, working on a revision, writing a little bit on the new novel) don't seem to merit posts here at the moment.

Probably the correct answer is, "So don't update your LJ. Just live your life." Which is wise advice, and I know that probably not many people do notice when I don't update for a while. But part of what makes LJ appealing to me is the community here, and I haven't been participating much in that community lately. I've been keeping up with reading my friends page, to a certain extent, but I haven't been commenting, haven't been posting. I don't want to let my position as a member of this community slip just because I've recently entered into this whole new community that is college.

(Also, I really do enjoy having this space to introspect generally, think about what my life means, talk about whatever's on my mind.)

This post, then, is to say (to myself and to anyone who's reading) that I will return eventually and I know I'll be the better for having taken this time just to live. That I'm aware of this step I'm taking away from using LJ as a main vehicle for my thoughts into the world, and I'm okay with that. But that I will, in turn, try to remember to participate in the community when I can. To try to work out that balance between communities. Because both of them are part of who I am.

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