Vacation!

Just a quick update!


I’m so glad that so many of you have found the 25 Ways to Be A Better Writer so helpful. It’s been fun to put together and I’ve been learning a lot myself. Look for the next installment next week sometime, probably on Tuesday.

For those of you that have been following this blog for the last several months you’ll know that for my MFA I was working on  a paper that focused on Harry Potter. Since you all were so awesome to put up with my ranting, moaning, and various other Harry Potter posts, I thought you might like to know the outcome.

I got an A!

AND My professor suggested with a bit more revision that it could be publishing ready, so woo! Also, I know that I was pretty hush hush about the focus of the paper on here. So I feel like I can finally reveal what I was working so hard on: I was looking at how the characters of Harry and Voldemort relate to one another in the terms of Jungian critical theory. TADA! 

At the moment husband and I are on vacation (with my parents) and are not only relaxing but having a great time celebrating the conclusion of this past semester. Look for regular blog posts next week as well as the review for Divergent‘s sequel Insurgent.     

Frustration

Sometimes I don’t know how I get things done. 


I am over half way done with my frist draft of my paper (out of the nine pages of my outline I have three left to write) and one would think that all that progress would be invigorating. But it’s not. 


Somehow the cursor looks heavier when I see it blinking there on my Word document; like each blink matches the slow beat of my heart. And I just can’t get the words down on the page. They form beautifully in my mind. I know how to weave my web of ideas and scholarly research together with examples from the texts – and it’s so brilliant in my mind. But then it all gets lost in translation. The words don’t come out as well or as easily from my fingers. Dragging the cursor across the page is like pulling a load of bricks across pavement in the middle of July; almost impossible for my little noodle arms. 


BUT THEN! Then I change the front to Times New Roman and get the document doubled spaced, and I see so much more of what I’ve done. Yes, it still feels like a back-breaking load of work to get done, but it starts to feel just a bit lighter. 


As a writer there is only one thing to do: Just keep swimming. Thank you Dory.

Just Keep Swimming

Sometimes I feel as if I have just shot myself in the foot.

I mean, I’ve loaded the gun. Lined it up with my foot. Pulled the trigger. And POW!

Foot has been shot.

That’s how this Harry Potter paper is making me feel. Like, I have all these ideas and plans and evidence from the texts and outside sources and a detailed outline all done. And then I sit down to write the paper and BAM! I run into a wall. I keep looking at my paper and get worried. All I see are quotes that I’ve strung together, my “original thought” sentences connecting the better phrased quotes together.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve tricked everybody into thinking I’m all brilliant and everything. Surprise! I’m not! Ugh.

But then I think: No. You can;t have fooled this many people. Not the acceptance board at my graduate school. Not my husband (who can read me like an open book). Not my parents. Not all these amazingly awesome teachers at my grad school. No. There is no way I fooled them all. So then the person I’m fooling has to be myself.

I am brilliant. I can write this damned paper. And it will be awesome.

So sitting here staring at the screen (not writing my paper), I think of some advice that author Ellen Kushner gave me this summer: Get the words on the page. Get a frist draft done. Let it be shit. Let it be a shitty first draft. Because that’s what it is: a first draft. You can’t fix nothing. If there are no words on the page – you can’t refine them. But I can refine shit. I can take a piece of coal and turn it into a diamond.

And then I think of Finding Nemo

Just insert “writing” for “swimming” and you could have my theme song.

So, what am I going to do?

I’m going to keep swimming. And so should you if you hit that awesome wall of self doubt.

Reflections: Harry Potter The End of the Series

At this point I have finished the Harry Potter series, having read nothing else (apart from research) for the most of January and February. I know when I first started I discussed how reading it now was different from reading it when they first came out. I think I have mentioned this before, but I will again. I grew up with Harry. With each new book I was his same age. Harry was a peer and a friend. I found the books amazing and magical (and I sill do, but more on that in a minute). Now, I am different and reading them has been a different experience. So, for this post I thought it might be cool to look at how reading the series has been different this time around, and how it’s been the same

Different

  1. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I think that my professor is right; the use of magic in this series is almost too easy. No, don’t carry your suitcase when you can just have it levitated up the stairs. Sure, who doesn’t want that choice? But I really like the concept of balance in the magical world. Like in the Wizard of Earthsea books… calling upon the storm to stop tossing your boat around the ocean might just cause a horrific storm elsewhere – somehow that balanced approach to magic makes it a bit more believable. 
  2. I like a lot more of the “minor” characters now. I say minor in quotation marks because in many ways these characters are not minor ones in the least, but they just aren’t major ones. For example: Hagrid (he’ll be getting his own post at some point), Ginny, and even Cho. With the exception of Cho, these characters are just amazing. (Cho I hated when I first read the books, now she doesn’t bother me at all). Ginny and Hagrid give Harry strength and are just such real and well developed characters – I totally overlooked that the first time through. Sure, I liked them, but now I think I love and respect them.
  3. I can’t read an entire book in a day. This probably has more to do with me having a job and reading these books for a paper, but once-upon-a-time I could fly through these books with no sleep and just love it.

The Same

  1. I still cry at the end of books 5 and 6 and pretty much the entire way through 7. I actually had to stop reading the 7th book at my local Starbucks when I was getting close to the Hedwig bit because I knew I would just start crying – and that would be kinda weird in public. 
  2. I still want to go to Hogwarts and study there. I would even consider teaching there. It would be awesome!
  3. I still want to be best friends with Harry, Ron, and Hermione OR Sirius, Lupin, and James
  4. I still hate Umbridge with a fierce passion and find Lockheart super annoying. I think it’s totally because of those two characters that the 2nd and 5th books are my least favorite of the series.
  5. And finishing the series is still like saying goodbye to an old friend. It’s almost like they’ve died – sure you can reread the books and relive the memories (like watching old movies and looking at photographs) but these characters will never do anything new again… and that’s a bit depression.

I don’t know. It’s hard to remember just what it was like reading the books for the first time. All I know is that when I was done with one I was hungry for the next which I would devour as soon as I got my hands on it. It’s not like that now. I think this time through I was looking more for specific things – things that would support my argument of my paper. I was looking more at Voldemort and how he and Harry would fit into this box I’m trying to build.

    I know I won’t do it for a while, but I would love to read these books again and just enjoy them. Read them for fun. I have learned in this process that reading a book you love for school can be almost as bad as reading a book you hate for school. I want to read them and pay attention to how Rowling captivates readers of all ages. I want to see how she makes her characters feel so real and have them grow. Those are the kind of riddles of Harry Potter I want to unravel. 
    I was going to end my post there, but it just didn’t seem right. It seemed as if there was something missing. Something more I wanted to include…. I found this video after I’d written the original version of this post a few weeks ago. Back then I hadn’t finished the series yet and wanted to get some ideas out before I lost them. So, right before posting this I found this clip. Sorry for the quality, but I think it’s a fantastic note to end on.

    Video Tuesday

    Tuesdays are my off days from work. So that equals more time to work on my Harry Potter quest. I apologize to all of you readers whose lives aren’t being inundated with Harry and Voldemort – but mine is and therefore it is leaking over into my blog. I promise that all my posts won’t be about Harry Potter.

    But….tonight’s is! So in honor of finishing my research and finishing reading the 6th book, I am posting my favorite HP YouTube videos!

    (drumroll)

    This one is a parody of a Super Bowl commercial from a few years ago. Harry Potter: A Google story…

    And this one, just a little music video to get your jam on…

    And how can a Potter Puppet Pal video not get into my top favorite?

    And lastly, this one that made me giggle the entire way through….

    TADA!

    There they are. My top favorite.

    But I will say this. I do not spend epic amounts of time searching YouTube for amazing Harry Potter videos… So, any of you have a favorite HP video? If so, I think you should share –> just link it up in a comment.

    Reflections: Harry Potter (Part One)

    Okay, so as of today I am about half way through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (yay!). I’ve been reading Harry Potter non-stop since mid January and I’m finding it not as easy as I thought it would be. I mean, I FLEW through these books when they first came out. I’m pretty sure I devoured each one within 24 hours of the midnight release.

    It has me thinking, why aren’t these books as good as I remember them being?

    I think I have the answer.

    I’m not the same person I was when I started reading them. I’ve grown-up and began reading other things. My approach to fiction is no long strictly for pleasure – now I look at how the story is crafted, what the writer did to make the characters memorable, how they drove the plot. I look at things like an academic. Has that ruined Harry Potter for me? (Because at the way I’m starting to sound you might think so). But no. I still love the books.

    I have such great memories with these books. When I settled down to start Goblet, I remembered being 14(ish) and the outfits my mom made me and my best friend. I remember waiting in line in our costumes and running out to the car as soon as the books were in our hands. I remember my best friend sitting on the bottom bunk (several pages ahead of me because she’s a faster reader) while I sat in a beanbag chair on the floor – her giggling at Pig the owl when I was stil pages away. I remember being enchanted by these books and the characters. I wasn’t thinking of the balance of magic or the plot structure.


    Sure, now I am a bit annoyed with the world-building of the HP series. Look at LeGuin’s stuff for example. Magic is all about balance. You use magic to make your ship go faster (by calling up the wind) and you’ve created a hurricane someplace else. That makes sense. This whole wand motions and incantations is fun to read about – but still, it’s not the artful magic in other places.


    HOWEVER having said all of that stuff up there, there is something indescribable about these books. Was it that they were just written at the right time for the right audience? I don’t think so. If that was the case than it wouldn’t be the world-wide sensation the books were. I mean, how many books are there that have not just launched an 8 movie series but also a theme park?

    Yeah, I’m drawing a blank too.

    So, there is something magic about them. They speak to all ages in all countries. And this is something that I hope you all will ponder with me as I keep up my project. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some Harry Potter Reflections posts where I look at different aspects of the series. Will any of them shine light onto my paper topic? Maybe. You’ll just have to read and find out.  

    Checking In

    Not much has changed since the last post…

    Except I’ve read much more Harry Potter, done mounds of laundry, and been working a ton. Seriously, when you work between 35-40 hours a week and try and read all the Harry Potter book in two months there isn’t time for much else.

    I have found time to “window shop” on my favorite webpages (Etsy and Wanelo) and I found a shirt with this image on it…

    Needless to say I 1) agree and 2) want that shirt. And while there may be no such thing as too many books, there is such a thing as not having enough space to store them all.
    Whats a girl to do?
    Well I am now 1,228 pages into the 4,100 pages that I need to read by February 27th. I think that’s like 30%…
    I will say this. I am not the biggest fan of this whole *fingerwiggles* independent study thing. At first I thought “Sure, it’ll be hard but not that hard.” It’s not the reading that’s difficult. It’s the research. Ugh. The public library only has so much of the type of research materials I need and I have to pay $50 to join the local university’s library (that is just illegal if you ask me) and the library on my campus can send me things but I’m getting tangled in all of the red tape I have to get through to get the books and documents. 
    *Sigh* I am done freaking out/ venting/ whatever-ing at the moment. 
    I promise that I will be back sooner (rather than never) with new and exciting blog posts. My friend’s blog is really starting to show mine up and I’m super competitive – so we can’t have that now can we? 😉