Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Officially A Vlogger

*Edit 2/1/12*: I figured out how to edit the video on my computer and did so, then uploaded the edited version and deleted the original. So the new one is not as bad as I say below. Still, I could do with a bit more editing expertise. Haha.

So I decided to finally do what I've been whining about wanting to do for months now. I've started to vlog!

Being a huge fan of YouTube and following multiple vloggers, you eventually hit a point where every time you watch a new video by someone you've been following, you go, "Aw, that looks fun. I wish I could do something like that." I hit that point somewhere around May of last year and most of my friends can attest that, "Dude, I wish I had a vlog," has been uttered by yours truly almost daily since.

So I finally did it. I posted an "Introduction" vlog, which my brother has already picked apart. I'm definitely going to have to play around with editing, because the whole one-take-wonder thing is not going to work well for me.

Anyway, I've decided to make my vlogging a bit of a project, or at least that's what I'm calling it. I'm going to post a new one every Wednesday, basically going over what's happened in my week or just whatever I feel like talking about and go from there. I've committed to doing this for a period of about 6 months.

If you decide to watch it, that's awesome, but you'll likely have to bear with me the first few weeks. I'm still getting the hang of things and I am virtually clueless when it comes to video editing -- which means I really need to play around with that before I upload the next one.

Hopefully this will be a fun experience and by the end of it, I hope to have learned plenty from it. So here's the first vlog, if you'd like to watch it. Feel free to subscribe!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Less than Human

I'm currently reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It's a New York Times Bestseller and has recently had a movie adaptation of it hit the big screen. The fact that Emma Stone plays one of the leads had me interested before I even heard the premise of the story.

The premise, it turns out, is about civil rights in the early sixties, back when my parents were mere toddlers.  The book follows the story of three women, one white and two colored, dealing with the racial inequality of the day. It's a story about standing up for yourself and standing up for others. It's a story about racial discrimination that seems so long ago, but was really only a few short years ago.

I won't go into detail about the book. My review of the book will be up in a couple of days on my other blog, Booklist That. That's not what I really want to talk about.

Sitting back and reading this book, I can't help but feel aghast at what passed as acceptable behavior just fifty short years ago. That anyone would treat another human being with the kind of disrespect and condescending nature that was bestowed upon anyone who wasn't white is just disgusting. It legitimately makes me sick that this was considered appropriate.

I don't even know how to put into words how messed up that is.

This wasn't that long ago, though. This was less than a lifetime ago. Only five decades ago, people treated those with differently colored skin like they were nothing better than well-trained animals. Seriously?! I mean, what the hell is that? How can anyone look at that and think it's okay?

But the thing that pisses me off more than that is the fact that some people still think this way. Some people still call black people the "n" word behind their backs. Some people still keep their distance like they're going to get their wallet stolen. The fact that I have black friends that can't so much as stop for gas in certain Southern towns. It makes me want to vomit.

And don't even get me started on how racism has affected Hispanics in the States. It's like people were told to lay off the blacks, so they switched to the Mexicans -- making jokes about illegal immigration, indicating that they're less intelligent than someone with paler skin.

It's that kind of thing that makes me ashamed of being a Southerner.

People are different. That's a fact that people have to come to terms with sooner or later. Some people will have darker skin, some will have paler skin. Some will like loud music, some will only listen to instrumental. Some will have different political, religious, or philosophical point of views than yourself.

THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT OKAY TO ABUSE THEM OR TREAT THEM LIKE THEY ARE LESS THAN HUMAN. EVER.

It's never okay to treat someone like they are disgusting because they are different. The world isn't ever going to get any better until we learn that.

In the words of one of Michael Harmon's characters in his book, Brutal, "It's all the small things we accept that make this world such a crappy place."

So stop accepting it. When you see things like this, you have a responsibility to do something about it. You have a responsibility to change things.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Quoted Love Affair

In my sophomore year of high school, I took a Creative Writing class where my teacher had us buy an index card case to collect quotes in. Whenever we heard or found a quote we particularly liked, we were to copy it down on an index card and keep it for later. I took to this project immediately and thus began my love affair with quotes.

Cheesy as it sounds, it really is a love affair. There's something about finding that inspirational few sentences, that beautiful turn of phrase, that captures something profound that just appeals to me. I still have that index card case. In fact, it's sitting right beside me, looking a tad worse for the wear, and filled to the brim with collected quotes that I like to thumb through every once in a while. And, every once in a while, it does come in handy.

One of my first assignments in Introduction to Humanities this week was to find a quote that you feel represents you. I immediately grabbed my case and chose the one my sister had found for me and posted on my Facebook page a few weeks ago. 

"I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of." -Joss Whedon

But there were quite a few runners-up that I was rather sad I couldn't post, so I've decided to post them here instead. Oh, the cleverness of me! (Anyone catch the Peter Pan reference there? No? Okay, moving on. . .) So here are a few more of my favorites:

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties." -Erich Fromm

"Be yourself. Above all, let who your are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish." -John Jakes

"These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves." -Gilbert Highet

"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." -G.K. Chesterton

"Let there be goblin hordes, let there be terrible environmental threats, let there be giant mutated slugs if you really must, but there also be Hope. It may be a grim, thin hope, an Arthurian sword at sunset, but let us know that we do not live in vain." -Terry Pratchett 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Writing Hindrances

There are two major things that hinder me as a writer. Honestly, there are probably more -- it varies from day to day -- but I'm here to discuss the top two.

First of all, we have distractions.

I'm very easily distracted. And in this day and age, there's more than enough distractions readily available to do the trick. From the internet to movies, from TV to books -- none are specifically bad for me except when they're keeping me from hitting the pavement on something I consider my passion and what I hope to do with my life.

I'm serious. Even as I was pondering writing about this topic for my blog post, I was scrolling through Pinterest for at least half an hour.

I guess I need to learn to sit down and set boundaries for myself. It's not like it's a punishment or anything. Telling a story that's been bouncing around in my head is one of the greatest joys I've had the privilege of experiencing. Spinning a tale is as much a pleasure as drinking coffee or eating a really good brownie.

(Trust me to make some kind of connection between writing and eating . . .)

Secondly, I have trouble getting frustrated with the fact that the story isn't always perfect when I first write it out. A huge part of writing is the editing, I know that, but I love it when the story just bleeds from my fingers on the first run. If I feel like it's not on par with some of my better work from the get go, I tend to lean toward giving up. It's stupid, but it's how my brain works.

It reminds me of my exploits in art class when I was in high school. I loved art and I was relatively good at it, but it was so frustrating to me that it wasn't worth the effort. I didn't want to do it if I couldn't make it perfect. I've always had trouble with stuff like that. It's my own brand of perfectionism, I suppose. It's a good thing I love writing as much as I do or I would have given up a long time ago.

Learning to let go would probably be my best advice for myself in this case. I need to give myself permission to suck sometimes. Editing can be as enjoyable as writing and can provide new opportunities to make the story loads better than it would have been if I'd just shotgunned it.

Well, now that I've got that covered, I suppose it's time to sit back and start working on that novel of mine. Maybe, if I work really hard, you might just be reading it in a year or two.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Resolutions

I'm a huge fan of New Year's Resolutions.

Now, I know that resolutions have gone out of style, so to speak, but in my opinion the whole I-don't-do-New-Year's-resolutions attitude has also gone out of style. Don't tell me it doesn't work like that! This is my blog and in my blog, that's how it works.

As I was saying, I'm a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. I like to make goals and strive to accomplish them. I like to have a set day where people hope the best for an entirely new year. Yes, I like to romanticize everything about life, but if we don't romanticize things like new years and and new dreams, where else will our enjoyment come from?

So, as I'm sure you're expecting, I've made a list of New Year's Resolutions. Sorry, I can't tell you if I accomplished last year's resolutions because I left my journal in Texas and wasn't clever enough to write them out anywhere else. I did accomplish one of them at least-- I read over fifty books! Here's the post I wrote about it in my other blog, Booklist That.

Anyway, here are 2012's New Year's Resolutions:

1) Create/Write a dream journal
- I have really weird/crazy/imaginative dreams and I figured it was about time I started cataloguing them. I think I came up with the idea after fist fights started showing up in my dreams around late October. I'm a sucker for a good fight and figured they ought to be catalogued. As an aspiring writer with a crazy overactive imagination, I figured I could forego Dumbledore's warning not to dwell on dreams (proven true by the sad fact that is Twilight) and keep these in case they give me a good idea someday, or at least become the start of a good idea. Besides, other perfectly legitimate authors have had ideas from dreams. Let's not let Stephanie Myer ruin it for us!

In order to appease my inner Harry Potter nerd and my love of quotes, I decided to put a quote by Albus Dumbledore on the first page: "In dreams, we enter a world that's entirely our own."

Do you like the Deathly Hallow's symbol on the top left? So do I!


2) Move to New York City
- I'm not one of those people who has been dying to move to New York their entire life. In fact, it's a relatively recent decision of mine (not THAT recent. . . more like a couple of months old), but the more I sit and think about it, the more I am convinced I have to do this. I'll go into it in more detail in a later post.

3) Read 75 Books
-Like I said in the post above, my goal for 2011 was fifty. I finished number fifty-five on New Year's Eve! So this year my goal is seventy-five. You can read more about this craziness on my other blog by going to the link above.

4) Learn Tae Kwon Do
-I hope that's spelled right. Anyway, I've been wanting to learn how to fight for a while now. I mean, seeing as I have an odd fascination with all things superhero and all things, well, fight-like, it follows that I really need to do this. The current plan is that Chull (my brother) and I are going to enroll in a program when we get back to the States. So Tae Kwon Do it is!

5) Finish Writing My Book
-Well, currently my uncle has my copy of the book I was working on, but this still stands. I would definitely like to finish it this year, at least the first draft, and get a running start at becoming a published author already. You know how I was talking about NYC not being a dream I've grown up wanting? Yeah, well this is! I really want to write and publish my own book. Maybe, just maybe, 2012 will be my year to do just that.

6) Accomplish at Least 3 Things on My Bucket List
-I have a rather large bucket list and, honestly, if I complete the rest of my list, I'll have completed this goal as well. But if I don't get all of these resolutions followed through with, I'd like to know that I at least accomplished number six. I would love to say that I followed through with at least that much. Here's to hoping I accomplish six things, though!