Monday, December 12, 2011

12-Hour Revelation

Let's try something I've only done a few times before; let's talk about what's going on in my incredible life.
December has been a busy month. Exams have been creeping in, projects have been due (both group and solo), and I've been voluntarily picking up shifts at work in order to have money for the upcoming winter break (during which time I will not have a job, as my job is on-campus and closes during breaks).

The most stressful point of this last month was easily this past weekend. I managed to get the majority of my assignments and projects done before the weekend, but not so I could relax and enjoy it. Instead it was so I could work so hard Wednesday through Saturday that I would be able to spend Sunday relaxing in a blissful state of numbness.

You see, a typical week for me goes like this (click to enlarge):
The red X'd out class is one I dropped early in the semester when I realized that 18 credits plus working 20 hours a week was too much for me to handle, and the Saturday shift ends at around 3am (we close at 2am) but I only have it every other week.
However, this last week I came in to work an hour early on Monday, picked up a shift on Thursday from 6-9, picked up a second shift on Friday from 10-3am, and picked up a second shift on Saturday from 3pm-8:45.
When you do the math, that adds up to about 34 hours of work. Also when you do the math, you realize that I'm incredibly nuts.
So Wednesday and Thursday wasn't that bad; 4.5 hours and then 3 hours. Big deal. But what was tough was working 9 hours on a Friday night after an already stressful week from 5:30 to 3:00 Saturday morning, then following that up with a 12 hour shift on Saturday from 3pm-3am.
I haven't spent 12 straight hours somewhere that wasn't a sleepover.
Okay, so I'm not the only person in history to work 12 hours straight, in fact my manager that day was there for the same shift, but in my defense that guy also once told me he was out hunting werewolves during a full moon.

The point I'm trying to make is that this has been a stressful month and week, and while I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, there's still two weeks left until exams and school are over, and even then I need to worry about having enough money to make it until mid-January when school and subsequently my job begins again.
But I'm actually doing it.
I've managed to prove to myself that I can manage my time well enough to have almost none of it to spend relaxing, and still keep my sanity and optimism.
And yes, I spent Sunday mostly at home relaxing. I slept in until 11 and watched a Christmas movie at night with my fiancée. It was very nice.

In relation to Christmas, I'm hoping to have a little gift put together in time for December 25th for those of you who love and enjoy reading this blog of mine.

Here's hoping my work pays off.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Over 100 Monthly Views!

I have some fantastic news to share! As of this month, November 2011, I have surpassed 100 views in a single month!
Now I admit I have no idea if these are all unique views or not, but the fact of the matter is that this is still an achievement for my small blog. The exact number of views prior to this post is 115, here are the facts (click the image to enlarge):
As you can see, the last time we came close to touching the 100 view line was in April. The largest reason for April being so "successful" despite being only the second month of my blog is that in April I posted three major posts and one minor update. This makes November's success even greater because (until this post) I have half as many posts for the month, which is the number I've been trying to maintain for each month, but even more views than in April!

So I would of course like to thank all of you who read my blog's every update, and I would love to especially thank those who comment on my posts occasionally! As you can see the next major milestone will be to surpass over 1000 views total, so let's keep those views coming into the next month and all the way into my blog's future!

As a side-note I'll mention that I am officially done with the planned changes to my blog; I've brought over all the content from my website (and then some) and changed the name and URL of the blog so that everything makes sense and is all in one place. Of course I will always be trying to update the blog as much as possible to make it even better, but for now I have nothing major planned.

Thank you yet again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Name Changes

With the combining of my website and blog into one site, it doesn't make much sense to call the blog "Further Into My Mind" as it has been up to this point.

The name was originally conceived to indicate that my blog would be a place to learn more about my hobby and I than you could by simply reading my website (titled: "The World In My Mind"). Obviously it wouldn't make much sense to continue calling the blog "Further Into My Mind" without the title of the website present to indicate the meaning of it.
The other issue is that a spiffy title may seem like a neat idea at first, but in the long run it will potentially cause problems with convenience. For example if I encounter a person on the street and begin telling them my life story, and they ask where they can read more to get me to shut up, telling them that they can read my blog titled "Further Into My Mind" causes several problems, a good example being the simple fact that "further" could get mixed up with "farther".
Also a titled blog doesn't make conventional sense unless there's a team of writers behind it, or I only plan on sharing it with family and friends. Neither of those is true of this blog.
Therefore I am going to change the name, and subsequently the web address this blog is located at, to my name. You can expect to see this change shortly after this post goes up.

Once again I regret to inform you that my surprise has been delayed, and definitely won't be out for the new year as I hoped it would be. However I have been able to find more time recently to work on my untitled novelette (yes, apparently at its current word length the correct term is "Novelette") and as usual it is coming along quite nicely, and I can't wait to share it with you guys and the world!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bringing Things Together

I've been doing a bit more work behind the scenes lately, and if you cannot tell, the merger of the website and blog is complete!
I've simplified everything by merging the content of the website with the blog, and hopefully made everything easier to find that way.
I even added more content than what the website had, so feel free to check out what that is! I added a second short story in the "Stories" section, added a new poem called "Poetry is Hard" in the "Poems" section, added 9 full-color comics and a humorous short story to the "Humor" section.

Please leave a comment below telling me if any of the links do not work.

As a general update on progress on things, I'll admit progress has come to a halt over the past few weeks due to schoolwork and work, but that shouldn't last long with things like Thanksgiving and Christmas break coming up. Remember as always to check back here for updates on my latest projects!

Enjoy the content!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Scary Times

I'm entering a very scary but exciting time in my writing.
On one hand I'm becoming incredibly serious and excited about my future in writing. I've been formulating ideas for publishing/releasing my stories, figuring out some interesting ideas for the stories themselves, and getting closer and closer to finishing the second draft of my longest story yet.

But on the other hand I have once again come to question whether or not I am as good as I think I am. Publishing/Releasing my works means totally exposing an area I've so far only shared among my closest friends and family. I may be writing purely for the fun of it, but I still think it's the one and only thing I'm really good at, which means that the first person to tell me otherwise could crush my spirit completely. It's a complicated and contradictory feeling.
I feel confident that I am better at writing than most, simply because most people don't even try or have an interest in writing like I do, but how do I stack up against the people who do?

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Regarding the secret writing project I alluded to in the last post; I'm at a kind of standstill with writing it right now, but am making progress mentally about how I plan to go about it. Remember to check back here for updates, or subscribe with your email address to the right to get emailed every time I post, or "Follow" with your Google account to stay up-to-date!

Wish me luck!
PS: the tabs you see at the top are currently links to my website, I am still sorting out how to get all that content to the blog itself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Incoming Changes and Project

I've been pondering some blog-related things recently.
First and foremost is my blog's relation to my website. The reason they exist as separate sites is simply because at first I didn't have a blog, and didn't plan on having one. My website was supposed to simply be a place to digitally store and share my works of literature. As time went on I realized that having only a website wouldn't allow me to make updates as frequently as I wanted, and thus (among other reasons) my blog was born. Now that I've used Blogger for a few months I'm starting to see the potential for my blog to completely replace my website without losing any of the content, and it's also starting to seem ridiculous to not have my content accessible in the place that most people visit (Blogger tells me that there were 53 visits to my blog last month, whereas my website doesn't even have a way of telling me how many people visit it).
What exactly am I rambling on about? I want to merge the content of my website with my blog, essentially meaning that aside from being able to read my updates on this website, you will be able to read all my literature on it as well.

Somewhat related to this is the fact that I want to do something fun and new with my blog. I am not ready to shell out all the details yet (I will have an entire update dedicated just to that when I have it all sorted out) but what I will say is that anyone familiar or interested with my writing origins will be pleasantly surprised and enthused.

Too bad the title of this blog will make less sense without the website accompanying it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Stance on Publishing

With the end of my first longer-than-a-short-story story in sight, the topic of publishing has come up in my mind more frequently than before. It's definitely something I should think about, and it's about the right time to do so. The issue is that I need to first understand what I actually think about the whole idea.
The way I see it, I have three options:
  1. Seek publication from some sort of publishing house
  2. Self-publish on e-readers (Kindle, Nook, etc.)
  3. Upload to my website for free
 The way I see it if I do go the route of option #1 I'm not going to try very hard before moving on to option #2. Not because I'm one of those stubborn authors who believes that if their work isn't loved immediately then the publishers are evil and don't know what they're missing, but because as much as I am serious about writing I don't feel all that serious about going through too much trouble to try to profit from it.
"But Ryan, isn't it every aspiring author's dream to get published by a major publisher and make a living off of writing forever?"
Yes, and that would be very nice, but it's not why I write. I don't write because I want to profit from it, I write because I love to invent, plan, and create stories that interest me. Publication and economic gain is an afterthought, kind of like "well if I happen to be sitting on a pile of money, why not take some?" rather than "gee I had better find a pile of money". This is also justified by the fact that I am a college student with hopes of getting a degree and job in a field unrelated to my love of writing, so it's not like I'm depending on my writing to stay above the poverty line.

Now if only I could think of a title for this story.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Year Three Begins

My third year of college has begun, and although it's so similar that at times it seems that nothing has changed, so much is different.

For one thing, I spent my first two years firmly believing I was going to become an English teacher at some high school after college, but dreading it. Now with my major changed to Advertising I'm thrust into fifteen credits worth of classes revolving around the world of Advertising (and three credits of world philosophy to finish off my General Education courses) which is an incredibly different experience. Surprisingly I stay in the same building for the most part, as my school categorizes my major under Journalism (or at least my particular slant of it) but the classes have shifted ever so slightly from "interesting and fun" to "interesting and demanding". The workload may be mostly the same as before(I'm only one week in, so I don't know for sure about that yet) but it's an entirely different type of workload. Reading fiction and analyzing sentence structure and syntax is very different from learning the business of getting a product noticed and sold to a target group.

Seems like a huge shift right? I guess it should but (partially with the help of my summer Introduction to Advertising class) it's seeming quite natural right now, and I suspect this is mostly because of my genuine interest in both my old and new field. People often talk about having to chose between either what you're passionate about or what will make you money, I'm fortunate enough that what I am passionate about doing in the future is actually potentially more profitable than what I thought I wanted to do before.
Of course that doesn't mean I'm not totally scared out of my pants. What if I don't enjoy it as much as I hope to? What if I don't understand it or do poorly when exams begin? I'm getting loaned thousands of dollars I need to pay back plus interest, so there's a lot of pressure to make it worth it.
The one thing that keeps me from calling it quits and focusing purely on writing (which would be a huge gamble) is knowing I've found the love of my life, and knowing I want to be able to live happily and support her for as long as I live.

It's amazing how she influences every little aspect of my life.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Summer is coming to a close and as usual I've not finished anything I wanted to finish.

"Only after disaster can we be resurrected"
Wait, nevermind; I finished a book. It was Fight Club, and it was awesome.

Anyway one of the things I want to finish before summer is up is the second draft/typed draft of my unfinished Lifelong Tragic Love Epic which, if you recall, I made a small realization about and is basically the only thing I've ever mentioned working on writing all summer, and progress has been slow.

Wait, nevermind; I mentioned that one short story I said I would finish by the end of last month if someone simply posted a reply to that post. Well guess what?  Nobody did. I'm going to assume this is due to the Eyewitness Effect (or whatever it's called, I took that Psych class two years ago) and that nobody posted a response simply because they expected someone else to, and not that nobody posted because they were just too lazy or don't give a  hoot about my stories. So yeah, let's pretend it's the first one.

Anyway I've been thinking about experimenting with writing recently, specifically by penning some short stories, flash fiction, messing around with artistic points-of-view and how it can be used to enhance the quality of stories, trying out some alternate settings, tones, and themes etc.
As you can see by the list, this is going to basically be a lifelong thing. But the point is I want to try some of the quicker things first, such as flash fiction, since I have dozens of simple scenarios or stories that I want to tell before I lose interest in them (and I don't think they can be stretched out into novel-length stories at all).

What does this mean for you? This (hopefully) means you'll start being able to read more than just the poems on my website. I plan to release this miniature content relatively frequently (by my standards, at least) so I can start getting some feedback for my experimentation.

Now I would love to go back and look over this post for errors in grammar, continuity and flow (did I need to bring up summer? I don't think that was relevant at all) but I've got to be going now as I must pick up a certain special someone from work and then prepare for a weekend-long vacation to a secluded, undisclosed location up north with that special someone's family. I really just wanted to blog this before then so I can come back from my mini-vacation to see all your wonderful views and posts (if there are, in fact, any at all).

[end motivational and/or philosophical-sounding statement]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Issues with Optimism

Being an optimist doesn't mean nothing's wrong. It just means you manage to get through the tough times better, or you lie to yourself into believing everything is okay.

I've always prided myself in being an optimist. Up until college I used the same beach towel since I was a baby because whenever my parents asked if I wanted a new one I would respond "it works just fine" despite the fact that it was a third of the size necessary and featured large cartoons of baby Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Pluto complete with pacifiers-in-mouth.In my mind I didn't care if it looked incredibly foolish because I was just happy to have a towel to dry myself off with after going for a good splash.
But recently it seems that being an optimist has left me blind. I forced myself to learn the hard way that just because it seems like everything is going just fine doesn't at all mean that it actually is. Especially when you've committed yourself to a life of loving someone for the rest of your life. It's all too clear to me that I wasn't at all ready to be in such a serious relationship, and on some level I knew that all along, but regardless it is no excuse for being so oblivious to the way that my actions combined with my optimistic view were tearing apart my relationship and the woman that I love before my very eyes.

I am not writing this in the heat of a recent argument or revelation; this discovery of my lies occurred twice over the past year, most recently about two months ago. I have been living with this regret and shame for quite some time now, and it's changed my life forever.

Throughout my life I always thought of myself as quite a prodigy of life. Yes it sounds ignorant and pompous, but that's how it was. I stayed out of trouble, worked with the philosophy that we are put on this earth to take care of each other before ourselves, made the personal choice to never smoke and to not drink until I was of legal age, and promised to stay abstinent until I was married. Above all I knew I wanted to find the one I could love forever as soon as possible, and direct my entire being to keeping her happy and safe.

Life threw me a curve-ball; I actually found her. I found the girl I could love forever, and she found that she could love me forever as well. Life was essentially telling me to put my money and time where my mouth had been for seventeen whole years before then; it was time to prove my words weren't just empty promises.
Unfortunately doing that was something I apparently couldn't do. Yes we kept each other happy and optimistic about our future together for three years through thick and thin before I asked her to marry me, but I was still fighting off demons that I had promised and sworn I had gotten over. It now seems so foolish and insulting to have asked her to promise to be mine forever when I couldn't even keep my promise to be honest and open to her.

My demons were discovered in two parts; once was during the school year when a close friend of mine got fed up keeping my secrets from my fiance, so she took it upon herself to come clean for me without much warning. Unfortunately (and I use that word very lightly) the nature of some of the secrets meant that in order to keep my relationship from shattering I would have to cut off all contact with the very friend who had made the revelations, and who was offering support and advice on both how to fight the demons and to be a better fiance the whole time I knew her. The reason I use the word "unfortunately" so lightly is that because as anyone with relationship experience should know; you should never seek an outside friend for help with your relationship in many instances, because your partner is the one you're supposed to be able to depend on. I take full responsibility for my failure to see this, so I take full responsibility for being the reason the friendship was cut off and that my relationship almost failed.
The second time was more recently, just about two months ago during the summer, when it was revealed to my fiance that I had been lying to her for the past two and a half years about something we had already discussed the severity of before, and of which I had promised to cease immediately.

I am 100% sure through all of this that I found the love of my life, if for no other reason that she's stuck with me to this day, and although she is scarred by my lies and deceit she still finds strength to support and love me as she always has.

It took me twenty years to realize how imperfect I really am, and I risked everything I love about my life to find out. I am now on a journey of somewhat self-discovery; by which I mean that although I am certain now more than ever of who I am, I am discovering who it is I need to be in order to stay true to myself, and the love of my life.

I must work to better myself if I am to better my life.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ten Thousand Words

Yesterday I achieved a personal milestone (is that the correct phrasing? I don't do this very often).
I deserve one of these filled with macaroni and cheese.
As I was writing my latest short story (which I have decided to describe from now on as a "Lifelong Tragic Love Epic" because that sounds cool) I glanced down at the bottom left corner of Microsoft Word to see that I had added a digit to the "Word Count" counter. I am in only the third section/chapter out of a planned five, but I've surpassed ten thousand words!

The statistics of this unfinished Lifelong Tragic Love Epic:

Pages: 16
Words: 10,133
Characters (no spaces): 44,027
Characters (with spaces): 53,858
Paragraphs: 304
Lines: 721

To put this into perspective, my longest story before this was a whopping 4,721 words total.

Speaking of that 4,721 word story, post below if you want me to comb through it once more quickly and then upload it to my website by the end of the month. I don't think I've currently got any stories on my site so it would be a great way to show you exactly whether or not I am as good as I think I am (although it was first written during my 8th year of school and was simply covered in a new coat of metaphorical paint several times over the next 4-5 years, so it doesn't exactly showcase my current skill level).

Writing has never felt so rewarding.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Small Realization

Firstly I apologize to my semi-loyal readers for being absent for so long, I've been dealing with some personal things recently as well as now having a full-time job and summer class and haven't gotten around to writing much (hence my previous post on my other hobby of playing video games).
However I recently picked up my metaphorical pen again and began typing away at more of my latest untitled, unfinished masterpiece which I am happy to say is going better than I expected. In the transition from paper to computer, I am constantly making the story both more streamlined and more detailed as I copy it to my computer.
Pictured: Completely unrelated but funny nonetheless.
I have also come to a small realization in my style of telling this particular story which fits my "streamlined" statement above. I've gotten so wrapped up in explaining every little detail to the world I see in my mind that I was running into problems with awkwardness. At one point I had two characters noticing and heading towards a stairway and came to the creative problem of trying to declare that they were now ascending the stairs without sounding too clunky, detailed, or messy about it. I was trying to find a way to better say "they began to walk up the stairs, and then made it to the top" when I realized that the whole sentence was completely unnecessary. The audience/reader isn't stupid, I decided, so instead of including a sentence declaring how, why, or to what end the characters ascended the large but simple staircase, I instead said something along the lines of "the second floor was more interesting than the first" and left it to the reader to figure out that they got to the second floor by using the stairway that they were previously headed towards.

Simple isn't it?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Some Classic Gaming: RollerCoaster Tycoon 2

The sounds of cash registers, toilet flushing, and people screaming in joyous excitement (possibly followed by the sound of a few of them throwing up).
These noises fill my ears as I play the classic and addicting theme park simulator: RollerCoaster Tycoon 2.
The first stage of my first attempt at re-learning the game.

The game had been sitting in a pile of classic computer games collecting dust for quite some time, but then I got the sudden urge to play it again and re-live my childhood favorite, hopefully playing it correctly and successfully this time instead of trying to make rides crash, people get stuck, and going bankrupt every time. (I give all credit to my wanting to play it again to Vertigo Games' own classic simulation game: ONR2 which I randomly re-downloaded while bored and subsequently made me think of RCT2)
My first park (pictured above) was the "Crazy Castle" theme park, in which my objective was to get 1500 people and have a rating of at least 600 by October, year 4. Immediately the rating proved to be no problem and I stopped worrying about it at all, as I was naturally keeping the park clean, safe, and no one seemed to want to vandalize it at all despite not having a single security guard. The problem was getting people in. I had forgotten about being able to advertise and didn't rediscover it until about year 3 into my park, and as much as I knew that Roller Coasters drew in the most people, they were incredibly expensive to make and took a lot of space, which I clearly didn't have either of.
Pictured: One month before my inevitable failure.
To make a long story short, I didn't make my objective. I was short by about 300 people and had no more room in which to construct in, even after resorting to building a go-kart track almost completely underground to save space.
 Still I couldn't help but feel accomplished, I had started getting the hang of the game and by the end of my allowed time to make the objective, I was actually reaching it pretty quickly.

Being the owner and operator of a theme park is undoubtedly a fun fantasy for anyone to live, and it's truly surprising that more developers of video games haven't tried to cash in on this with any real effort. There are plenty of simulation-styled games out there similar to this (for malls, jails, etc) but few of them do it as successfully and are as addicting as the RollerCoaster Tycoon series (though from what I hear and the demo I played, Zoo Tycoon is an exception).

Going back to play old games is just fun.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Two Years of College Down, Two to Go

Today I took my last exam of the year and turned in my last paper of the year. Of course I have a summer class and a full-time summer job, but this doesn't stop me from celebrating!
With only two years of college left, things are looking up for me. Yessir I'm engaged and half-way through college with a decently good idea of what I want to do with my life!

Now if only those damn neighbors upstairs would keep it down and stop spitting on my sidewalk.

Well, at least mostly everything is going perfectly.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Short Story vs. Novel

I have many ideas for potential stories, but I have recently run into the problem of trying to decide which ideas will be short stories and which will be more novel-length stories.
This is difficult for several reasons, first is that I've never written a novel-length story before. Second is that it's difficult to figure out which ideas are even capable of being long, and which cannot be lengthened without becoming boring or redundant. Third is that it seems some ideas aren't even worthy of being long.

Here are two real examples of simple ideas I have in the works.
  1. A person finds a way to never fatigue/gains the ability to never wear out.
  2. A person begins having recurring dreams of killing someone close to them, the dreams may or may not eventually begin occurring while awake. The person must figure out how to end the visions/dreams.
They are both very simple ideas that both seriously need to be "fleshed out" in order to do anything at all with either of them. The first should be pretty easy to run with, after all the possibilities of what to do with such an ability are endless; from seeing how it affects mundane day-to-day activities, to how it helps in the event of some disaster.
The second idea I can see myself running into trouble with. It certainly sounds interesting enough to make novel-length, but I don't know if it's possible (for me) to do. It's a very specific problem, and the main character with the problem may therefore not be dealing with it all the time, so what keeps the story interesting while they aren't having the visions/dreams? Clearly this idea will take a lot more thinking out in order to make longer than a short story.
Then again, there's no shame in writing short stories. Maybe I shouldn't try to do something I'm not comfortable with simply out of fear of short stories being less popular or taken less serious.

Besides, short stories make better movies.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Two Weeks Until I'm Halfway There

There are two weeks left of my second year of college. It's suddenly dawning on me that I'm halfway through with college (assuming I manage to get out in two more years) and it's quite surreal.
A crudely-drawn picture to make the page look more interesting.
It's definitely true that as you get older, you perceive time as moving faster. I always felt that this was somewhat true since I remember summers lasting forever when I was younger than they do now, and it certainly makes sense that time seems shorter/faster the more of it you have to compare it to, but halfway through college? That just seems impossible! I remember completing my second year of high school and feeling that it took so long to get there, and feeling I had so much more time ahead of me until I graduated, but now two years is feeling more like only one.

Of course as much as I love to dwell on the past and miss high school as much as I'm sure I'll miss college looking back on it, I am quite happy for time to be moving so swiftly as well. It's comforting that before I know it I'll have a degree in my hand, and a more certain future in store for me (and of course a wife at my side). I guess I feel like most people do at my age; I'm excited to get to experience being an adult since all my life I've waited and dreamed about it, but I wish there was a way to go back to being a kid once in a while (though I'm a firm believer that you live twice: the second time being through your children).

Well I suppose I should keep this post short, as I have exams and papers due in the weeks ahead. I wish good luck to everyone out there who also has exams coming up!

And keep in mind, you only really "fail" if you never try.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Technology in Stories Today

Technology is evolving so rapidly that a story written a year ago including then-modern technology may become culturally irrelevant today. Of course this is not the only thing that changes with time and makes old stories a bit stranger to read (slang, obsolete references etc.) but technology is by far the most rapidly changing, so the question is; where does technology belong in stories today?

This idea struck me as an important topic while I was watching the movie Burlesque  (a movie in which Christina Aguilera decides that the best possible career to aspire to with her amazing singing and dancing talent is to work as a singer/dancer at some funky pseudo-gentleman's club called Burlesque) which by all accounts could have been set twenty or thirty years ago with the exact same plot and dialogue. A positive way of looking at this is that it's what people call "timeless". The only indication throughout the movie that it was set in the present day was the cars, some buildings, and a cell phone or two that were never used on-the-go, and were for some reason used exclusively for verbal communication; two things that a house phone could have easily replaced.
Could children of today identify with this? For example: at the end of the dancer's shifts they were talking about going to get pizza together, they decide they will do so and leave. That's exactly what happened. What's missing? Not a single one pulled out a cell phone and began texting her other friends. Not a single person was seen texting at all, and as any young person today knows; texting is as abundant and natural to see as walking nowadays.

Okay so that just sounds like nitpicking. Still you certainly must see my point. When do you use technology in a story to make it more authentic, and when do you ignore it in order to focus solely on the story? On the other extreme of my Burlesque example is a movie that came out in 2004 called Cellular which revolved its entire plot around the evolving technology in cell phones and how they can both help and hinder the progress of a man's rescue mission in various creative ways (a low battery becomes a desperate chase for a charger, and redialing a received call from a bad guy loudly announces his hidden position with his ringtone) . Unfortunately time has yet to tell which movie will appear more outdated; the one with no modern technology, or the one with.

It's clear that either way, technology must be considered. Even though Burlesque didn't use cell phones in any meaningful modern way, it didn't need them either. Meaning that there was never a point in it with a  problem that could have been solved by a cell phone (like a "where did they go?" thing).

So what's my stance in all this? Personally I think a good story doesn't need to consider modern advances in technology unless the technology is so incredibly common, and a problem could be so easily fixed by them that it becomes ridiculous to ignore it. What I'm saying is that if technology is to be used, it ought to be used to enhance the story. Then again everything in a story ought to be for that purpose.

If all else fails, set the story in the 1990's.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Physical Rough Draft

Recently I just finished writing a story in a college-ruled 1-subject notebook. What makes this so special is that I took up the entire notebook with the story, whereas usually my stories would only last a few hand-written pages because I've had trouble making them much longer. Now I admit that although the notebook advertises 70 pages on the front, it was a slightly used notebook in which I counted exactly 43 pages ... but still; this is a personal accomplishment nonetheless!

Something else that makes this paper-written draft special is just that: it's written on paper. The first short story I ever wrote (the one which I wrote for a class as a last-minute assignment but sparked my interest in being a writer) was a page long and typed on my parent's home computer. I haven't penned a whole rough draft of anything since before computers were a practical tool for doing so (remember way back when you'd type it out and the program would crash, causing you to loose all your unsaved data? that's the last time I wrote on paper). When the computer became a reliable way to write out a rough draft (and of course after I learned to type) I never looked back. Maybe I would hand-write the first page or so of an idea down if I was away from a computer or in class, but that was it.

So what caused me to go back to the age-old style?
Nothing special. I was bored in class and had a story stuck in my head. The only difference was that it stuck with me so much that I couldn't pull away the day after that, or the day after, etc. ... I wrote a 43 page (college-ruled) story almost entirely during class time (don't worry, as my recent test scores have proven I managed to pay attention at the same time). The reason being that I've never really been able to find much time to write when I'm at home. Even in high school I was always too distracted by homework or video games to write a single story. Somehow it turned out that I was the most inspired to write when I technically had absolutely no "free time". Even during spring break I could only be bothered to write on one of the last days despite my incredible interest in the story.

Speaking of my interest: I had more interest in this story than any story I've ever written (or thought out) and the only reason I can think of is that this story is somehow more meaningful than anything I've ever written.
This one could influence people's lives.
Without giving anything away: it's not eerie or supernatural or fantasy like most of what I've written or thought of; it's basically a love story that spans a lifetime, and it's honestly probably the best story I've ever written by far. Normally I would be nervous to say that before anyone else has read it, and because as a writer I feel I should be modest about my work and not have high-hopes, but I really believe it.

So now the next steps are to type it up, flesh out the bits I may have rushed, give it a title, and who knows ... maybe I can get it published.

The best part? I know exactly what story I'm going to write next, and I'm just as excited for that one as I am for this one.

This is me finally taking my talent and love of writing seriously.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Filling in the Holes

Writing fiction can be a real pain in the butt. I have no problem thinking of interesting overall plots, I've got about a dozen ideas I've written down that are just itching to be brought to completion by way of the story, what's difficult is filling in the empty spaces.
For example, say I have an idea where a character named Fred is suddenly distraught over something and searches out his friend Stan for help. Maybe this is a pivotal part of the plot, maybe Stan learns something about himself through helping Fred, or maybe this is the turning point for Stan and he rejects Fred as a friend and becomes a psychopath (Stephen King style, of course). In this example we know who is involved, we know the initial situation between the two (they are most likely good friends if they come to each other for help with such matters) and we know what we want the desired end result is. What we do not know is something that seemed completely insignificant until it came up in the middle of writing the scene: what is Fred distraught over?

So obviously as a writer I try to explore the simplest and most realistic options available; work, school, money, or some personal romantic relationship. But how can I make it work? How does (A) combined with (B) equal (C)?

There is a story I was working on all throughout high school in which I encountered this very problem. It was about how a particular man dealt with his girlfriend of several years breaking up with him just when things seemed to be going best. What I realized halfway through the story was that I knew she had to be the one to change her mind and want him back, but also needed a very good reason for breaking up with him in the first place. Seems like an impossible situation right? It's like trying to figure out an elaborate reason that a person is murdered but the murderer is regretful later on that's still simple enough to understand, and "misunderstanding" is a cliched and, quite frankly, bologna reason. Luckily in that instance I had a friend go through a similar event, in fact it was scary just how similar the situation was; the only difference was the amount of time they had been dating. She broke it off and then took him back a week later. And throughout the whole week they were apart he and I spent time trying to figure out what happened, what he did wrong or what changed her mind. Once she came back to him he informed me of his uncle's theory:
"She was scared of how she felt"
And there it was! It didn't matter if this was true for my friend's particular situation, but I had just been hand-served a perfectly fitting piece of the puzzle! What if she loves him so much that she's scared of losing him, and reacts offensively before she fears that he does? BRILLIANT!

Unfortunately the reason I blog about this now is because I have run into just that same situation. Life is complicated and figuring out reasons for things happening is difficult when you can't just ask a living person involved in it to explain it for you. I have an idea or two floating around in my head, but I just don't think they fit just as perfectly as they need to. I've texted four creative minds I know for suggestions, but I am restrained from asking the people who matter most because to get their advice is to give away part of the plot, and these are the people I want to experience the story as it is meant to be experienced: lifelike and with no hints to the future's events.
If none of my four creative minds report back with anything of use, I'm on my own.

This is one of the thrills of being a writer.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

First Blog

Hello, my name is Ryan and this is my new blog.
 Okay I suppose that's one way to start this off. I used to have a blog a few years back with some other service, and I found it to be incredibly fun even though only about three people read whatever I wrote. Why did I stop? The service that I was using ... stopped. Whether it was due to a lack of funding, users, or some personal matters, it was taken down. I didn't immediately try again because things started happening in my life, not necessarily good things or opportunities or anything like that, just things. I'm actually quite hard-pressed to remember what they are.
My First Blog

Recently the idea began popping into my head again. It's a cool thought that people may actually find what you blog about interesting and "follow" it. I also keep a private journal (which I don't update often enough) and I've always been interested in the response I would get if I made some of my thoughts or life events public. Still I wasn't certain that blogging was something I should be using my time for.

Then a week ago I went to go see a Career Counselor at my school in hopes of figuring out what I want to do with my life and my interest in English above any other school subject, and among more helpful suggestions was that I should write a blog. "People will read it" my counselor assured me "and it's a good way to get your voice out there and get noticed", and while my first thought was "easy for you to say, you have a position of status, people have to read your blog to figure things out. Who's to say anyone wants to know what's going on in my life?"
I reconsidered after she told me a success story of a friend of hers who started as a blogger who got noticed and now works full-time making a monthly newsletter with his wife "and he's doing quite well for himself" she finished. This was the icing on the cake; everyone assumes that any person with a degree in English will inevitably be broke and hungry while trying to scrounge enough money from recycled cans to pay the last month's rent, and here was proof to the contrary.

So maybe I have high hopes and low expectations, but isn't that what a lot of great achievers start out with? A dream with a lack of confidence?

I don't know exactly what I'll write about. I don't even know if I'll keep this up in the long-term. All I know is that I have a passion for three things: talking until my throat is soar, keeping a record of my thoughts, and a certain someone who supports and loves me in spite of the former two.

This is my life ... blogged.