Idealism and the Doom of Humanity

Right, so this has absolutely nothing to do with literature, or anything really. It is just a good ole’ fashioned rant.

I was recently told that I am an idealist. I find that hard to believe considering how I think that mankind is a band of loathsome, self-absorbed creatures. We’re a race of three year olds holding a toy over a fellow playmate saying “Hahahaha, I have the toy and you don’t.”

I don’t think I’m an idealist at all. But just to make sure my understanding of idealism was correct (I often doubt myself on the commonest of knowledge), I did what any 21st century person would do: I Googled it.

An ideal, as defined by the internets and Wikipedia, “is a principle or value that one actively pursues as a goal, usually in the context of ethics.”

FINE.

Maybe I am. But anyone who isn’t an idealist, then, is a jackass. I do believe that there is an image of perfection that we should always be striving to meet. Do I think that I will ever see this image of perfection in my lifetime or anytime before the sun obliterates humanity? No. But I think that any person who does not strive to be better, to do better, and make the world a more pleasant and liveable place, whether that is by picking up your drink cup after a show in the movie theater, or returning that call from that annoying person you occasionally force yourself to suffer through a conversation with, is contributing to the perpetual misery that has infected humanity. Your patience, your kindness, no matter how small, makes the world suck a little less. There is one less moment of disappointment, of sadness, of anger. Maybe it makes a difference, maybe it doesn’t. Who the fuck cares? Is it going to kill you to be nice to someone? Unless you have some unspeakable aversion to politeness (in which case you should be taken out and shot), then you have no excuse. Say thank you to that girl behind the counter. Put your iPhone down for TWO FUCKING SECONDS and have a conversation with the person you’re having dinner with.

Make the world a tiny bit better, asshole. At least you wont be to blame when it blows itself up.

I sounded like an idealist right there, didn’t I? Yup. Nailed it.

(In retrospect, this rant is probably hell-spawn created by my overwhelming hatred for my job in food service. *sigh*)

6th Place Laser Tag Champion

Happy Writing Prompt Day! Are you ready to be creative? I am! Sorry about there being no post for Newsy Friday. I was busy kicking 8-year-old butt at laser tag. Well, I came in 6th. The kid who got first place was a Packer fan, so I didn’t mind losing to him.

Today is writing prompt day. It is going to be mythology themed. I just finished reading Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters last night and I will be reviewing it tomorrow, so tune in!

The prompt is this: Choose a fairy tale, myth, or old story that you are familiar with. Now give it a modern day application. You know how every chick flick is some kind of remake of Cinderella? Even “10 Things I Hate About You” was a spin off of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. So choose your favorite bedtime story and find a way to modernize it. How would these characters act in real life? What jobs would they have? Are they going through a rough divorce that gets a little out of control? Get creative!

Remember, if you want to turn your story/poem/whatever into something a little more professional and you’re looking for a fresh pair of eyes, send your work to me! Check in my “About” section for my contact information.

 

Happy Writing!

 

Sarah

Wendig is my favorite life-coach.

NaNoWriMo is cool and all, but 350 words a day is a lot easier to accomplish than 1,000. Most writers take at least a year to write their book if they take it seriously. Hell, Tolkien spent 30 years writing his back story before he even completed The Lord of the Rings. Chuck Wendig gives would-be-novelists the fool proof method for becoming actual novelists in 1 year’s time. He does this in a hilarious, vulgar, no-nonsense way that anyone with a funny bone can understand.

“Life intrudes upon you. It kicks down the door and stomps all over a writer’s practical aspirations to write. Kids. Dogs. A full-time job. A part-time job. Cleaning. Cooking. Pubic grooming. Xenomorph invasion. Hallucinations. Masturbation. LIQUOR AND MONKEY WRESTLING.” Chuck Wendig

Who doesn’t get distracted by liquor and monkey wrestling?

Wendig is a master of crude imagery that is so hilarious it forces you to keep reading just so you can see what other naughty language comes out of his mouth. Or his fingers… he’s typing.

His plan is completely achievable. It does, however, give many of us a right kick in the ass. He says that any person who doesn’t devote themselves to writing 350 words per day will only ever be “aspiring” and never a real writer. This is something that I agree with completely. 91,000 words in 1 year? Hell yeah!

So if you need a solid laugh, an inspirational kick in the ass, or a new plan for writing that novel that’s been banging against your skull and demanding to be written, take a look at Wendig’s rules for writing. He’ll tell you how to get things done.

This is my writer’s resource for the week. Let’s get going! Who is up for the challenge?

Much love and inspiration,

Sarah

Click HERE to go to Chuck Wendig’s blog and writing plan:

Honestly, I’d Rather Be a Caterpillar.

“I have an existential map. It has “You are here” written all over it.”

Steven Wright

If you have ever had an existential crisis, then you know that you can look calm and serene on the outside, but there’s really an unstoppable fucknado going on inside your brain. I’m going to be fairly candid in these Wednesday blogs because, it’s hump day and who doesn’t like to just spew emotion before the weekend? It’s all a part of my cleansing routine. Inhale deeply, scream like a pissed off rage monster for 30 seconds. Repeat.

I’m in the midst of a year-long existential crisis and dodging the debris of self-doubt, frustration, and boredom is getting very exhausting. I am making progress, though. I’ve finally found a large and very general target to aim my mental arrows at. 6 months ago, you might’ve found me sprawled out on the floor of my Slovak apartment, clinging to a jar of Nutella and sobbing uncontrollably over the death of my college career. Well, it’s not really death… more of a cozy retirement. I graduated. Cue the unenthusiastic cheer of “Hazah”. Now what the hell do I do? That was the big question. Now what? And I can’t tell you how much … HOW MUCH I hate it when other people ask me this question. I hate it so much because I am constantly asking myself that very same thing.

And I still don’t know the answer.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog on a different site of mine about climbing a mountain. When I made it to the top a-huffin’ and puffin’, I was so proud of myself. I felt as if I could conquer anything that was put in front of me. Any challenge. It was so disheartening to size up this mountain before I climbed it. I really didn’t think that I could make it to the top. Obviously, I did (because I’m a boss) and I got to have that amazing, empowering feeling of accomplishment. However, my celebratory experimentation with absinth at the top of this mountain wasn’t planned very well so I spent the entire trip down trying my hardest not to fall face first into rocks. This is where I’m at right now. I climbed and conquered the mountain of teaching overseas and now I’m suffering through the drunken hike down.

Now, I have a new mountain to climb, only this one isn’t as easily defined as the other. At first I thought this mountain was named “Unemployment”, but the more that I evaluate my issue, the more I realize that its true name is something closer to “Inexperience”. Yes, I am unemployed. I could have a job, though, if it didn’t matter which one. I could be a janitor, but the problem is I don’t want everything that I spent 4 years learning and will spend 10 years paying off to go to waste. Let’s face it. My extensive knowledge of the writing styles of Ernest Hemmingway and Flannery O’Conner are not going to bring me any closer to understanding how to get shoe scuff marks out of tile floors. According to society, I’m over qualified for jobs like that but under qualified for the jobs that I want.

Continue rolling on the floor in misery.

Wait. Stop. Despair is for people who have NO skills. I have skills… they’re simply underdeveloped, damn it! Realistically speaking, I can’t just sit around in my parents house, eating Chef Boyardee and doing the dishes so I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Jobs are necessary for survival. Thank the Heavens I have a wonderful family that will help and support me when I am in need.

The more that I think about it, though, the more I am convinced that things would be so much easier if I photo(6)-001were a caterpillar. If life were like caterpillar life, then I would just inch along in my wriggly state of ignorance, go into my cocoon of college, then emerge fully trained and ready to fly off to my first spectacular job. Alas, I am not a caterpillar and I didn’t emerge from my college cocoon fully trained. I came out confused, blinded by the stupid sun and very aware of all the predators that are just itching to chow down on my fluttery flesh.

So what to do? I know I’m supposed to be a damned butterfly, but I missed getting my corporate wings. The obvious solution here is to grab some duct tape and toothpicks and fashion my own.

That is essentially the reason for this whole blog. The only time I feel sane and like I can keep my brain from reeling off into a supernova is by constantly reading and writing. I like being sane (most of the time, when it doesn’t deter my creative genius), so the obvious thing to do is to keep reading and writing. This is my pledge to you, Internet. I plan to USE you to make the biggest, prettiest, and best fracking wings ever seen EVER.

Bring it on. Let’s do this. And all those other cliché one-liners that fictional heroes use.

No more fucknado. No more Nutella misery coma. No more cocoon of fail. Time for awesome.

Much love and inspiration,

Sarah

***If you have any experience with existential crises, or are suffering through one right now, share your pain and your plan for butterflyery. I’m curious to see if I’m just crazy or if this is a common post-graduate thing. Safe circle, remember? No judging. So comment below! I like hearing from you all.***

Hollywood Films – The Land Of Remakes, Book Adaptations, And Sequels/Prequels

I completely agree with what this article says. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Are film writers are lacking the creativity to produce original work that other writers seem to have an abundance of? Or is this just the easy-way-out solution…

Geek Force Network

Today’s films hardly feel new and original. Every year it seems like we have remakes of old films, films based on books, or sequels/prequels of Hollywood blockbusters that studios want to squeeze every last cent out of if they can. I don’t care for remakes of older films, especially if those oldies are perfectly fine on their own or not even that old to begin with. Good examples are Footloose and Total Recall.

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Delirium by Lauren Oliver: compelling, shocking, and utterly captivating

Today is review day! 2 weeks ago I was in Alabama for a wedding and my friend happened to bring what she called a “beach read” with her. I was bored, I like books, so I borrowed it. 24 hours later I’d devoured its 400+ pages and was craving more. During the past year, I’d been consistently disappointed by novels I’d read staring a female protagonist so I didn’t have high hopes for this novel. It was a beach read after all. However, this book was a pleasant surprise and reminded me of why the world needs more literary heroines.

Delirium Book Cover

Picture from laurenoliverbooks.com

Book: Delirium

Author: Lauren Oliver

http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/delirium.php

I generally don’t like modern day love stories, but Delirium by Lauren Oliver is not a typical romance like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. The skill with which Oliver paints her world brings it just close enough to reality for it to be mildly disturbing, but it is still far enough away to be immensely entertaining. The world in Delirium is set in a potential future where love is considered a contagious disease and at the age of 18, all citizens are required to get “the cure”. The main character, Lena, cannot wait to be cured. In fact, she is counting down the days until she is rid of her ability to love so that she can join the ranks of peaceful,  cured people of the world. But how often do things in books ever go according to plan? Oliver tells Lena’s story with the language skills of a master wordsmith, uses well-developed and believable characters, and makes her audience really consider the consequences of losing all ability to love.

One of the things that makes the world of Delirium so believable is the diversity of language Oliver uses. The voice of Lena is very strong and fits her situation well; but aside from the language the characters use, Oliver includes invented excerpts from various sources within the Delirium reality. The Book of Shhh is the government issued book that reports the dangers of the deliria (love). Its official language and technical speech brings a sense of authenticity to the story. Sections of the Bible, historical books, and medical reports are all included in these intriguing chapter starters. The government has obviously warped religious beliefs and philosophical teachings to fit its needs. To me, that is entirely believable because, according to the more sane conspiracy theorists, that happens in the real world today.

Another aspect of her writing that makes this world so darned believable is her medical babble. In her novel, excerpts from various medical pamphlets which talk about all the dangerous side-effects of the delirium are referenced. Sweaty palms, irrational behavior, tendency to lie, and accelerated heart rate are all filed under symptoms of this disease. Interestingly enough, her phrasing of this sounds like something right out of a medical text book. I’m sure that if Dr. House were to write his own anthology of human biology, love would indeed be classified under “Deadly Diseases” using Oliver’s exact phrasing.  Oliver’s words aren’t her only strong point in this novel, though; her ability to write believable characters is another way she ensnares her audience.

Lena is unlike any female heroine that I’ve read recently. One of the reasons I like her so much is because she is not completely obsessed with a boy. Lena has concerns in her life other than romance. She is deeply attached to her best friend, Hana, who appears to be a bit of a rebellious rule breaker right from the beginning. Lena is written as rather innocent, but not in a way that makes you feel sorry for her or think she couldn’t handle herself in a fight. Her history and the struggles she’s had to go through give her a solid backbone and some claws to fight with. Despite her challenging past, she isn’t broody and tormented by her past. True, she’s parentless, but that doesn’t make her meek or pathetic. There is strength in her character and as the story progresses she becomes someone that little girls who might read this story can look up to .

Hana, Lena’s best friend, is also complex and intriguing. Sadly, a lot of her character is left unrevealed in Delirium, mostly because it’s Lena’s story. Thankfully, Lauren Oliver has foreseen our curiosity and has provided us with a novel that revolves completely around Hana. The book is cleverly called Hana. I haven’t read this one, but assuming that Delirium wasn’t a literary talent fluke, Hana should be just as thought-provoking and entertaining as Oliver’s other novels. I think that Hana is an exceptionally realistic character because she is just as emotional  as any teenager without being overly moody. In the first few chapters, Hana seems to trick you into thinking that she is going to fit into some stereotypical revolutionist role when she says her nearly heretical line “You can’t be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes”. It shocks Lena as much as the rest of us. How can a 17 year old kid have so much wisdom when she’s been deprived of such influences? She read it somewhere online, of course. Just because she turns out to be a bit of a rebellious teenager instead of a revolutionist doesn’t make her less interesting. In fact, it makes her more realistic. Hana is a part of the system. A dysfunctional part of the system, but a part of it all the same. She is sassy, witty, and just a little emotional, and a perfect Number 1 to Lena’s Captain Kirk.

Lastly, and probably my favorite reason for why this book is so captivating is that it focuses on something more than romantic love. Oliver realizes that the love between friends and siblings is equally as important as romantic love. Lena sees that her friendship with Hana is going to change drastically when she gets the cure.  What she doesn’t realize is just how much this is going to affect her life. She loves Hana, but soon that will all go away. The loss of love coming from her sister stings Lena too. The two of them used to confide in and rely on each other. They went through the same struggles when they were children after they lost their mother, but now Lena is alone. Rachel, her sister, was cured after she was infected by some boy she met. According to Lena, Rachel only comes over to visit her out of obligation now and has little tolerance for her childish nonsense. When Oliver writes Rachel, you can see the uncaring in her eyes. You can hear the monotone of her voice. It’s passionless and horrifying. To me, she felt like a zombie… or maybe a husky. I can never tell what those dogs are feeling. The reality of a world without love is deeply disturbing the way that Oliver portrays it. We lose more than just that fluttery feeling when you have a crush. We also sever the true bonds that hold families and friends together. She shows us that  without love, people simply become convenient and optional.

I really have no complaints about Delirium. Well, I have one complaint, but it’s not really a complaint. I hate the ending. It was brilliant, moving, and thought provoking; however, the final lines made me want to chuck the book into a deep, dark hole where I never have to think about it again.  Violence against a book I’ve just finished is always a sign that I thought it was exceptional.

Happy Reading!

Sarah

Writing Prompt #1

 “This is the journey of an aspiring writer. Her ongoing mission: to discover strange new writers, to seek out new poetry and new literature. To write boldly what no woman has written before.”

At least the Trekkies are still reading.

Welcome to Dog Ears & Bookmarks. Each day of the week I will post something different. Some days these posts will be long pieces of writing, other days they will be short assignments. Mondays, for example, will be writing prompt day. I will try very hard to not steal the prompts from the NaNoWriMo page. So bust out your pens, keyboards, tablet and chisel, whatever form of writing you prefer and start a-scribbling.

The purpose of a writing prompt is to test your skills. Writers need to be flexible with their subjects. Whether you are a fiction writer, poet, biographer, or non-fiction enthusiast, you need to be able to write about a variety of subjects. These prompts can be used later in your writing if you find a purpose for them. Who knows? Maybe one of your prompts is the beginning of a juicy new story or an award winning article! Or… maybe it’s dog poop. There’s no way of knowing until you tap your fingers to exhaustion.

I’ll also be writing entries for these prompts, though I won’t be posting them on here for your greedy little eyes to read. However, if you are interested in sharing entries or want help refining your story, please send them to me! I’m looking to boost my proofreading skills in exchange for references! And yes, that is shameless advertising. Everyone needs practice, right? No writer is perfect and everyone has to start somewhere. I’m not ashamed of my lack of experience! So there’s no judging here. Safe circle. And if you do decide to share your writing with me (and I with you), I will not share it with anyone unless I have your permission. I expect the same from anyone I share my writing with! If you share it without my permission and I find out, I shall hunt you down Deadpool style and stick thumbtacks on all your chairs for the rest of your life (because I’m a ninja like that)! Muahahaha.

Back to business. The writing prompt for this week is this:

You are on your way to an important meeting. This meeting can be work related, friend related, anything. It doesn’t matter. On your way there, you discover that your typical driving route is blocked. So instead of turning right for your normal drive, you have to turn left. While you are driving, something unexpected happens.

Write as much as you can! I’ll see you next week with your prompts!

Much love and inspiration,

Sarah