- I have a couple dozen unread books
- I bought new books two weeks ago including a coloring book and I totally forgot to buy colored pencils
- I have gigabytes of unwatched serials
- I have not, even though November is days away, planned my Nanowrimo project. At all.
- Despite all of the above, I am rereading Harry Potter. After all this time? Always.
Posted here for future references, and by future, I mean this November when I attempt to write yet another novel for Nanowrimo (and hopefully succeed).
- The Rules of Quick and Dirty Worldbuilding
- 25 Things You Should Know About Worldbuilding
- 7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding
- Creating Fantasy and Science Fiction Worlds
- How to Make Your Imaginary World Real
- The Scriptorium – World Building Basic Worksheet – Science Fiction/Fantasy (PDF)
- Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions
- 12 Questions to Ask Yourself About the System of Magic in Your Fantasy Novel
Speaking of science fiction, I made a zombie apocalypse story and posted it on wattpad. I’m uploading it in parts (it’s finished, but I’m still tweaking the draft as I go) one chapter every Wednesday and Sunday. To read it, simply click on that cover image below:
Lately I’ve been feeling hopeless.
What’s the point, I thought, of writing all these short stories and novel drafts and fanfictions? It isn’t like I would ever get published. Earn money from royalties. Have devoted readers. Make people cry and laugh and smile with the fiction I weave. Getting published is hard. And even after, what’s stopping the crowd from tearing me apart? They would read my book, then they would give it one star on Goodreads, write a review with adjectives that would kill me a bit inside. Probably would also accompany the review with reaction GIFs, not the good kind.
What is the bloody point of going through NaNoWriMo if all these would happen anyway? Or worse, nothing happens, and my unfinished draft just sits there in my hard drive pretending it doesn’t exist. Waste of freaking time.
What’s the point of continuing to fool myself that someday, with practice, I could be a good enough writer? I certainly would never be a good enough student. Academically.
I came home feeling terrible. I canceled my night out with friends, because I didn’t want to be in a conversation and risk suddenly bursting into tears, ruining everyone’s night. I wanted to go to a club alone, but I didn’t have the guts for it. Pity. I really could use music so loud and room so dark I couldn’t feel eyes on me or hear my own thoughts. I’m not much of a party girl, but there are nights, such as this one, when I just want to be merely another silhouette writhing through the beats, just me and the pulsating music and the slight buzz of alcohol crawling under my skin.
But that option was out, so I stayed home. I sat and watched as my mom sorted through old magazines, and I remembered something I should never have forgotten.
I am–was? am?–a published author.
Not in the grand sense. I still have never written a heartbreaking novel, or an epic saga or adventure. But I did write a fairy tale (with, surprise surprise, fairies) and sent it to a children magazine. They published it. They sent me a sum of money through postal money order, as honorarium. I was actually paid for my writing, and that was before I turned twelve.
I can no longer remember when, or how much I got paid, or even what the fairy tale was about (other than the faint memory of a very beautiful fairy).
For a moment I was very, very scared that it was my mind playing tricks on me, but I asked my mother and she did confirm it. It happened. There was once a postal money order from a magazine with my name on it.
So damn it. If I could get published before I even went through puberty, I better could get published now. I just have to fucking figure out how.
- Ugh so sleepy I should sleep.
- My download is going to be finished in half an hour I’ll wait it out.
- I am starting to hate the idea for my nano novel. Cyberpunk. Why did I even think I can write cyberpunk.
- Should I just pick up and redo a past nano idea that is ten times more depressing.
- Wait that depressing idea is literary fiction who am I kiding I can’t write literary fiction.
- Actually I can’t write anything.
- So sleepy I should sleep.
Warning to AMD users out there: if you want to install the Catalyst* graphic driver update… be prepared. It may leave your screen all flickering and fugly. Happened to me last night and I had to bring my baby Nyx** to the ASUS service center.
Maybe this is a good thing, I don’t know. I still haven’t finished Dead Beat and After Dark, and I need to continue plotting my NaNoWriMo novel. Plus I need to read Ender’s Game. My love for anything sci-fi is crazy lately (I blame Mass Effect) so one look at the book and I made an impulsive purchase.
Yep, I can live without my laptop for a week. It’s just the timing! Just Saturday morning I had a chat with my parents about crime. I told them I always carry my tote bag on the sidewalk side, not the street side, in case some bastard snatchers on a motorbike get any ideas. Then that night, in Starbucks CiWalk, Karina’s bag (along with both her cellphones, her laptop, and her wallet) got stolen while we weren’t looking by some hoodlums***. And the next night this shit with my laptop happened.
Anyway, stay safe people. Evil exists everywhere. Including the AMD official website, that decided to go through site maintenance as soon as my installed graphic driver decided to ruin Nyx’s screen.
*should have known the name Catalyst means something bad. Fucking Starchild.
**yes, I name my electronics.
***may their dicks fall off at night.
In the spirit of getting back to writing and preparing for NaNoWriMo, I decided to ask Chloe to give me a prompt to work with. She gave me one. I worked with it a bit, while toying with the characters I intend to use in my NaNo novel. Not that this is a part of my novel, just… an experiment? Oh well. Whatever you call it, this is what I came up with. Tell me what you think? D:
The prompt: “A minor villain suddenly dies!“
Fusil à Répétition Modèle F2
It was exactly what one would expect from a run-down motel in a Chinatown: dim, flickering lights, narrow corridors, broken elevator, carpet that had seen better days. It was mid-summer. No air conditioner, just exhaust fans rattling around dry, spare wind. Rhys kept his head down. He had given a generic name and paid in cash. Soon he would be out of here and they would not even know where to find him, but habit was habit.
Room 402. The key was old-school style, an actual metal key instead of the plain cards newer hotels use. Something bumped his shoulder and he turned around, key clutched in his fist ready to claw. Instead of a fight, he instead got an eyeful of a gigantic gig bag and the petite girl hoisting it.
“Oof. Sorry,” she said, slightly out of breath—as one would after carrying a string instrument the size of a small person up four flights of stairs—and her mouth quirked up, flashing him a small grin.
He blinked. “Um, it’s okay.”
The girl crouched—properly, like nice little girls did, legs pressed together and skirt held with one hand to prevent it from slipping—to pick up something she dropped. He followed her movements, stole a glance at the fallen object now in her hand. A key similar to his, tagged with number 404. Why someone like her stayed in the dingy motel was a mystery—one he itched to uncover, but he restrained himself from asking any questions.
She looked at him, then at her key. “Parents kicked me out for choosing a music school.”
There was a long silence in which he struggled to find an appropriate response to that, one that did not involve him scooping her up like a stray kitten. In the end, he opted for an eloquent “oh”.
She shrugged, unconcerned. “What about you? Low-budget vacation?”
“Low-budget business trip.”
“Huh.” Her door clicked open. “Well, I’d wish you a nice stay, but that would be giving you false expectations.” And with that, she closed the conversation—or what passed for it, at least—and left him alone in the corridor.
Calling what Rhys was doing in the motel “low-budget business trip” was technically correct. He was there on business. The business required him to rent this cheap, borderline unhygienic room. The pay was not even that big; a couple of grand, enough to cover the meager expenses and a bit more. Low-budget sounded pretty apt to describe this business.
Not that he was complaining. It was an easy job: the typical check in, set up perch, wait, and shoot kind of hit. He adjusted the sight. A quick reading of the reticle of his VKS sniper rifle scope confirmed his initial estimation of the range.
Just under one hundred and fifty meters, straight and nice across the market to the mark’s balcony. Easy-peasy.
Sniper rifle set, he waited. This was the boring part. Rhys took the dossier folder and flipped through it out of neurotic habit. Most of what was in there, he already knew. The mark was a small-time dealer, his stash disguised as yet another herbal store at the edge of the market square. Apparently, he pissed of a lot of people when he refused to pay off his sources. Compulsive liar. Forty two, unmarried. A string of lovers—most of whom were immigrant prostitutes, if the exotic names meant anything. Heavy smoker. There were several photographs of the mark, all of them clear and not at all grainy. The setting was different in each picture—one photograph was of him in a party, a woman under each arm. Another was of him and the client, from long before the relationship turned south. A couple of candid photographs. And the last, a mug shot. The black eye hinted a drunken brawl or something of the sort.
Fiction often depicted assassination as exciting, high-risk jobs with a lot of opportunity to hook up with blondes. The mark would be an attractive, charismatic mafia boss or world leader. When it was done, dramatic music played in the background as the assassin walked away, sheathing the bloody katana or whatever hip weapon was in style when the movie was made.
So far, the only accurate part about that depiction was the slowly rising tones of a string instrument next door. A classical, dramatic piece, played with heavy strokes. Cello? Contra bass? Whatever the instrument was, the girl was good.
The music ended. The pitter-patter of tiny feet, the sound of running water. Then the music started again. It was already dark outside, red lanterns dotting the marketplace square, neon lights glowing from underneath stall canopies.
And then, finally, the windows of the mark’s second floor lit up. He just got home, closed up shop. From the vague shadows behind the curtain, he was not alone.
Twenty something minutes later, the door to the balcony opened. Rhys pressed his eye on the scope, waiting, aiming. The mark walked out to the balcony with a lit cigarette and a buxom girl on his tail. The girl was probably not even legal drinking age. Or maybe not. It was hard to tell. She curled herself around the dealer’s left arm.
Another misconception made by movies and novels was that snipers were detached from their kills. It couldn’t be further from the truth. A sniper was present through their scope. A good enough scope was all it took for a sniper of Rhys’ caliber to make out every expression that flashed through the target’s face, mere split-seconds before their death. The flutter of their eyelashes, the glow of the tip of their cigarette, the disgusting smile aimed at the mistress hanging from his arm.
The scope made it personal. Made every death not a quick one among many in a battle, but a singular event observed and memorized.
Rhys inhaled. Held his breath. Aimed the crosshairs at the mark’s head. He felt pity for the girl’s soon to be scarred psyche, but then, she would probably be better off without him. He counted. One, two, in time with the tempo of the crescendo coming from 404.
Finger poised on the trigger, Rhys exhaled.
The mark’s head exploded into a bloody mist.
He hadn’t squeezed his trigger.
The music went on next door; the buxom mistress screamed; and under it all, through the thin wall between 402 and 404, Rhys heard the click-click of a sniper rifle’s hasty disassembly.
The door to 404 clicked open, then closed, and hasty footsteps hit the threadbare carpet of the corridor, then down the floor. Rhys waited two full minutes—long, excruciating one hundred and twenty seconds—until he was positive that she had left the building. She would clear out. Wouldn’t she? In around fifteen minutes the police would secure the dead dealer’s house. Another five minutes, less if they sent the good ones, and they would have determined that it was a sniper. The bullet left somewhere in the balcony would soon confirm the angle, narrowing the sniper’s location to this exact motel. In total, half an hour, maybe less, until the cops swarmed little Lucky Fish motel.
He walked down the stairs as calmly as possible. Asked the people in the lobby what the commotion was about, a la the typical scared tourist. Then he left the motel, blending in with the market crowd.
Rhys walked through the crowd, but merely skirting the edges where it was less thick. He got close enough to the balcony—fifty meters or so—until the crowd was so dense he couldn’t go further. Safe to say they were all too occupied with the carnage to even notice one more disaster tourist. He heard faint sirens coming closer, so he turned left, away from the heart of the market, away from people.
Then he saw her—or rather, the silhouette of her hulk of an instrument case—and he froze, momentarily.
She was crying, lashes glinting with tears under the neon lights. Her face was puffy and red, and a middle-aged woman—one of the stall owners, perhaps—was patting her shoulder in a comforting manner. They made a typical picture of girl in shock after seeing a local murder and her auntie, only two people in hundreds.
If Rhys had not heard her packing not an hour ago, he would never have thought…
How did a girl that tiny handle something as heavy as a sniper rifle, anyway?
And just like before in the corridor when she sensed his curiosity, the girl looked up at him with wet baleful eyes. Then, so thin he might have imagined it, her lips press into a small smirk before she pressed a handkerchief to her lower face.
He felt her eyes on his retreating back, even long after the marketplace was long out of sight.
References for the prompt:
Lately, what spare time I have is spent reading, and planning, and reading. Currently, I am reading two books (when I need to get away due to boredom/mood swing/emotional reaction to plot points, I switch books): Haruki Murakami’s After Dark and Jim Butcher’s Dead Beat (Dresden Files #7). Quite an odd combo, I know.
Dead Beat is the seventh book in the Dresden Files series. The series is about a wizard named Harry Dresden in modern-day Chicago–no relation to Potter, and the Harry is a reference to Harry Houdini. It actually is nothing like Harry Potter. Think Sherlock Holmes with magic, action, and more snark. Now, this seventh book, like all six books before it, is quirky, fun, fast-paced, mind-blowing. You have necromancers and vampires and faeries–I’m sorry, sidhe–being involved. It is so action-packed at times that reading it exhausts me–just like how Dresden limps home after a long day of exploding buildings, gunshots, magic and whatnot. And so I read the other book: After Dark.
Now, this other book. After Dark. It paints a stark contrast to Jim Butcher’s writing. Murakami opts to tell a story that is slow-paced and surreal. The events unfolding are ordinary: a young woman spending her night reading in a chain restaurant, her sister, sleeping in her home, a love hotel manager taking care of a battered prostitute. Sometimes a scene is filled with a conversation, serving not much purpose to advance the plot, but simply an unraveling of character. Yet slowly you see cracks, hairline cracks all over the eggshell of “realism”. Hints that everything is connected, that a breath drawn by one is somehow related to another’s exhale. And you know, you just know, that there is something deeper sleeping underneath all these, that the plural first-person perspective (“we”, not “I”) hints on something.
After Dark has the nuance Supernova (book one, Ksatria, Putri, dan Bintang Jatuh) tries to imitate–tries, and fails.
Anyway, I digress. I suppose what I was trying to say is that I am planning my novel for NaNoWriMo, and one of the things that happens when I plan is that I read. That will be item number one, I think. So, Things That Happen When I Am Writing (Or Planning):
- I read. It helps. I learn stuffs when I read, even if it is small things like how no, contrary to what most game fanfiction implies, a flesh wound in the leg will most definitely impede your movement. You’re lucky to even be able to walk. And that is just one of the things I learn. I learn even more when I analyze: why does this character do this? What is her background? I will admit one thing: A Feast For Crows bored the hell out of me, but I took delight in all Cersei chapters, because I gained an insight on her character. Yes, she’s a scheming bitch (a description that applies to like 65% or ASOIAF cast) but she has all rights to be, after all the shit patriarchy has given her in her life. (That does not make her smarter, sadly.)
- I go to the weirdest, darkest corners of the internet. It’s not intentional, I swear. Alright, maybe it is. At times. Like this morning when I googled “is it true that a headshot with sniper rifle will make the target’s head explode”–now that was just asking for it. I’m not surprised that it brought me to these TVTropes pages. More often than not, though, I am just researching innocent things: ingredients to a cake, details on some diseases, tech stuffs to make my hacker character realistic. And I end up in TVTropes anyways. Damn you, TVTropes.
- I play mini-games. This stems from the need to play games, and the guilt RPG stems (why are you playing a fullscreen “serious” game Kirana you should be plotting for your novel now STOP PLAYING NOW DO YOU WANT YOUR NANO TO FAIL). So I switch to Candy Crush Saga and exhaust my five lives, then I switch to Minesweeper to wait for the refill. Not that I can’t spend two hours on Minesweeper. I can. Been there, done that. Don’t look at me like that. JK Rowling plays Minesweeper, and she’s really good at it (99 seconds for expert, sheesh), and she’s really good at writing (obviously), so playing Minesweeper will make me a better writer, right? Right? DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.
- I start reading fanfictions. At one point, in the middle of reading whatever novel I am reading, this odd sense of insecurity will creep up my spine. Dear lord, why are Haruki Murakami, Jim Butcher, JK Rowling, and George RR Martin so perfect? How do they write these stories? Why do I even think I could try doing what they do? Fanfictions ground me. They show me that there are aspiring authors out there, who are also trying just like I do. Their writing skill is more or less on par with my writing skill, sometimes worse (I judge people who spell “definitely” as “definately” and “defiantly”). They make me feel less alone and inferior. Then I will stumble into a very good fanfiction and the insecurity will kick me in the shin again, out of spite.
- I re-read my old stories. By old, I didn’t mean old like seven-eight years ago. I won’t touch my Junior High School writing with a fishing pole, it is so disgusting I have already kept them somewhere the sun doesn’t shine. No, I mean a year, two-year-old stories. I will feel warm and fuzzy to find that I still like some parts of them, and a slight disdain on some other parts. I will see how I can feel disdain, which means my judgement has grown, which means I am now a bit better. Hopefully.
- I find myself watching cat videos. I mean, duh.
- I blog about things that happen when I am planning. Because: a) I am an attention-seeker; b) I find these things amusing; and c) I need to practice my writing but I am not in the mood to write short stories.
- Translation projects are soporific
- So are literature references for final paper
- And pretty much every other thing that is not: a) fictional, and/or b) scandalous.
Speaking of sleepy things, I had the most terrible dream the other day. I dreamt I had a baby. With whom or how was not–still is not–important; I just had a baby. A beautiful chubby baby boy, burping and gurgling in my arms. I was so, so in love. Then the baby died, because I was a neglectful, horrible mother. I woke up crying. I’ve always wanted to be a parent, so the dream struck right where it hurt the most. And they say dreams are part of our subconscious. I fear the meaning of this dream.
But let us not talk of such horrible things, yes? There are plenty other things we can busy ourselves with. Other stuffs happening around here (by here, I mean my own personal internet haunts, not just my geographic location):
- Currently plotting and world-building for my NaNoWriMo novel. I can’t say much about it yet, except that it involves guns and will be all sci-fi futuristic badassery. Hopefully. I need to win this thing.
- Gunnerkrigg Court is an awesome webcomic. There. It needs to be said. It is steampunk and mythology and coming-of age story rolled into one huge ball of beauty. The characters grow. The mystery unfolds (and thickens, at the same time). There are endless mindfuckery and sometimes you think you got it all figured out until WHAM something happens. Like today’s page. WHAM. (Do not read today’s page if you haven’t read all the pages before.)
- I will say the same about Girls With Slingshots. If Gunnerkrigg was fantasy, Girls With Slingshots is Mundane Fantastic (mostly reality, but there are story arcs with fantastical gags, in which the fantasy element is treated as mundane). If you are not convinced, let me tell you this: there is a perverted talking cactus called McPedro, and he has a moustache, a sombrero, and a Scirish (Scottish x Irish) accent.
- I am currently psyched about the upcoming Season Premiere of Legend of Korra Book 2: Spirit. My spirits–all pun intended–is dampened a bit, though, knowing that Makorra is canon and Korrasami isn’t. Plus, I don’t think we’ll ever see any more Tahno. Siiiiigh.
- CANDY CRUSH SAGA WHY YOU NO LET ME PASS LEVEL 147 GAAAAAAARGH
And with that, I shall return to me (extremely soporific) work.