Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Was One Strange Kid

My graduation is like, 5 days away, and in the spirit of grad I wanted to do some sort of "looking back" post. My plan was to scrounge up some old journal entry of mine and analyze how much I've changed. However, I don't really write a lot of journals. I basically write journals when I feel really emotional about something (which always seems to happen when I stay up too late reading emotionally intense books, so...), and when I'm on vacation. So... there goes that idea.

Also, it's really, really hard to summarize yourself in a couple of paragraphs. I wrote a letter to myself when I was 12 that I'm supposed to read when I'm 22, and I'm pretty sure the gist of it is "I'm 12 right now and these are my friends: [list of friends]". I have no idea what I would put in a single letter that could give future-me an accurate picture of present-me. Do I talk about my friends, what I like to do, my beliefs? What?

Anyway... while I don't have an old, comprehensive journal entry to analyze, I do have lots of old journals that I've written random things in over the years (very random things) and some of the things were so random I just couldn't help but laugh at how crazy of a kid I was. So I thought I'd share some of those things with you.

Oh, and just a note, whenever I'm quoting from one of my notebooks, I quote exactly - spelling mistakes and all. Just so you know that I actually CAN spell.


2001: 7 years old 

The above journal is from the first diary I had (and the last). The first entry here is talking about how much I dislike my cousin, because she said she couldn't read my writing. (You know what, 7-year-old Alyssa? I can't read your writing either). Then later in life I went back and crossed out "mean" and wrote "nice", but then even later I ended up going back and crossing out "nice" and re-writing "mean and nasty" in red pen.

If anyone's interested, I get a long just fine with my cousin now. ;)

2002: 8 years old!

This notebook was called a "Slam Book" and it had questions at the top of some of the pages that were like "Your best excuse for turning in your homework late is..." and so on. Some of the questions my eight-year-old self deemed to answer were:

The dumbest love note you ever received was from... noneone

The flirting technique that always works for you is... tikling my back

If you had to marry a teacher from your school you would choose... Mrs Turner or Ms Mackinnis

(Reading these questions makes me wonder how my mother thought this notebook was appropriate for an 8-year-old...)
Also, the page shown in the picture above is a list of my friends on the left and then "how they act" on the right side. I'm happy to say that I have now succesfully grown out of having rating systems for my friends... :D

probably around 2004, 8-10 years old:

So I found a song that I am sorry to say that I wrote. It goes like this:

Friends forever
we love and care for who they are
and who they will be
we're always together

Friends will save us from the pouring sadness
and the rock hard hearts
They'll lift spirits and dance in the sky

AUGGH it's so bad!!! "Pouring sadness"!?!? "Dance in the sky"!?!?! Obviously I was a master at imagery back then... haha. Thank goodness I had little to no aspirations to become a songwriter...

2004, probably 9 years old:

So my 9-year-old self decided to make up some jokes and write them down. They are... embarassing.

Lucy: Sniff, sniff.
Teacher: Have you caught a cold?
Lucy: No, it caught me.

Herbert: How do you add 2+2?
Corey: to what?
Herbret: each other
Corey: Swich places
(WHAT?? This is not only not funny but it makes NO SENSE)

Teacher: Amy, how do you spell zebra?
Amy: e-b-r-a
Teacher: Where's the z?
Amy: On vacation

What I want to know is, HOW did I think any of these jokes were even remotely funny??? Little Alyssa, I do not understand you.

2004: 10 years old

"Arielle, someone at camp, said she had a 'pretend friend' named Eddie. Why I'm metioning this is because I thought 'Why don't I have a pretend friend?' I made one up. I'll tell you about her."

I think it's really funny how my first reaction to finding out about someone else's imaginary friend is not a normal kid's reaction of "wow you are way too old for things like that" but "What? Why don't I have one?" Little Alyssa, you were one strange kid.

2005: 10/11 years old

Excerpt!: "When I read I get so scooped up into my book I hardly know where I am"

"Scooped up"???? I don't think that word means what you think it means, Little Alyssa.

2006: 11/12 years old

When I was in grade six, my family and I went on vacation to Waterton/Glacier National Park, traveling through the U.S. to get there. You know how whenever you visit some landmark, there's signs with information about the landmark around? Well, for some reason I thought it would make sense to COPY THE ENTIRE SIGN. And there are like, 4 pages of signs I copied on this trip. WHY, 12-year-old Alyssa, WHY???

Oh, and I also found a list of 62 questions in one of my notebooks, which I'm guessing I probably thought up to ask my dad when he said goodnight to me to make him stay longer. You can read the whole list of 62 here, if you want.

So, now you know what I was like as a kid, and you can see that I am still pretty weird, just in different ways. ;) (Although I like to think I have a better sense of humor now...)

What crazy things did you do as a kid? Oh, and if you want to hear more about me and my weird family you can follow me on twitter, @AlyssaSherlock. :)

Oh and here's a picture of me when I was six (the scrape on my nose is because I fell off my bike):

Have a great summer!


me & Little Alyssa

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How Imaginations Take Over the World (And Your Writing)

So this post is going to be a sort of follow-up of the ideas I expressed in my last post, "When Your Imagination Is 'Wrong'", so if you haven't read that yet click the link and go do that.

A lot of the time when I'm writing or editing, I find that one of my biggest problems is with description. I have this frantic urge to describe EVERYTHING with perfect, insane detail. I'll use multiple sentences just to describe the walls of a room; I'll use a boatload of adjectives to describe a single action. I'll spend tons of time trying to put onto paper everything I see in my head, because I want the reader to see what I see.

And this, I've come to realize, is stupid. Why? Well...


Reason #1: The reader will NEVER see what you see.

Everyone is different, therefore everyone has a different imagination, therefore everyone pictures things in books differently. Have you ever looked up "fan casts" for certain books? Everyone has a different idea of who the actor should be for which character, based on how they picture the character themselves.

For example, a lot of people pictured Peeta like this:

While I picture Peeta more like this (although now that I look at them both, they look reaaally similar):

Reason #2: The reader's imagination takes what's written and runs with it, anyway.

Just go read the comments on my last post... even though characters are clearly described a certain way, people picture them differently. What's the point of describing something obsessively if your readers aren't even going to picture what you describe?

Reason #3: Imaginations don't need a lot of help to imagine stuff.

In one of the first Harry Potter books, I remember J.K. Rowling described the Gryffindor common room in about one sentence, and the gist of it was "there were some cushy armchairs." There was barely any description at all, and yet I had a perfectly formed, complete and detailed picture of the Gryffindor common room. J.K. Rowling gave me a sentence, and my imagination did the rest.

Reason #4: An author's book, as I said in my last post, does not belong to the author. It belongs to the reader.

So if you want the reader to see what YOU see, you're being like my nine-year-old egotistic author self that I talked about in my last post. You should just let the reader see what they see, whether it's the same as your vision or not, and be cool with that.

So, as far as description goes, I have learned that you really don't need as many words as you think you do.

Just look at this description-overloaded sentence of some story of mine I wrote years and years ago:

She raised her glistening silver sword into the thick black night.

The note in my edits beside this was: "adj. much???"

And now, in conclusion I shall provide you with this summary:

1. Imaginations are cool.
2. Less words are cool.
3. Books belong to their readers.
4. I used to be in love with adjectives, and that was a mistake.

And a really good example of awesome, minimal description (oh my goodness, more adjectives - apparently I am not yet over them) is the book Sold by Patricia McCormick... which is an awesome, compelling book that you should really add to your TBR list.

Oh and follow me on twitter! @AlyssaSherlock. Have a great day.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

When Your Imagination Is "Wrong"

So a few days ago I finished the second draft (yay!) of this story... er, book, I guess... that I've been working on for a while. The first draft sucked and I showed no one (and I will show no one), but once I finished my second draft I sent it off to my best friend and favourite person to send stories to.

Of course, after a couple of years of only me knowing about this story and the characters in it and such, I wanted to talk about it. One of the things I wanted to know was how my friend pictured the characters, purely for curiosity's sake.

There was one character that I clearly described as having darker skin, dark hair and dark eyes. My friend said she pictured him as being blonde. Even though I clearly described him as, well, not blonde.

And to be honest, when I first read The Hunger Games, I pictured Katniss blonde, I don't know why, even though she's not. I'm sure there's lots of people who picture characters differently than they are described, even if things like hair colour and such are clearly described. Yeah, sometimes our brains just skip over stuff when we're reading. But I think more of it is just our imagination taking the story and running with it. It's us as readers using our imagination to make it our own.

That's one thing that I really love about books. There is so much that YOU have to do. You have to read it, you have to process it, you have to imagine everything, YOU have to bring everything to life. Yes, it's a lot of work (for some people maybe :D). But it's worth it, and I think all the more because of all that work that we put into the experience of reading.

When I was, I don't know, nine years old, I remember one time after school I was waiting for my parents to pick me up or something, with one of my friends. I was talking about some story I was working on, that she might have read, and I remember she pronounced one of the character's name's wrong or something, and I corrected her, insisting that because I wrote it, MY interpretation of the story was the RIGHT one. (I had a very big ego as a young writer apparently).

Since then, my view has flipped. Now, I don't think that author of a book holds the "right" interpretation of the book they wrote. I also don't think that a book, once given to people to read, belongs solely to the author anymore.

Anyway, an interpretation is just that - an interpretation. Each reader is different, and each reader's imagination creates things in a different way. That's why I think even if the author clearly describes someone's hair as blonde, it's completely fine if maybe someone imagines that character as having red hair.

Just some thoughts.

Have you ever imagined something in a book different than it's described?

Oh! And... I got twitter (although I'm still learning how to use it...). You can follow me @AlyssaSherlock, so I can follow you!  Have a great day!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thoughts On: Being "Anonymous"

So, I've been thinking about "being anonymous" lately, and I do what all normal people do when they think about stuff... browse Google. So I was searching "blogging anonymously" and whatever, and I have realized that in most people's minds I'm not really anonymous because...

1. I am myself on my blog. I'm not pretending to be someone else (as apparently people do) - I really am an 18-year-old girl from Canada who likes to write and read and discuss stuff. I guess it might be fun (?) to pretend to be someone else, but that was not for me.

2. I'm very transparent about a lot of things - for example, the back of my head (granted the picture shown in the sidebar is from grade 7 and I have since gotten my hair cut to above my shoulders), as well as where I live and a whole lot of other supposedly "identifying" stuff. (I've even made the fact that I'm not using my real name fairly transparent...) If someone were to care so much to do in-depth research, they could find out my real name - although it doesn't matter because the person you'd find is the exact same person as me, they just go by a different name!

3. I'm not paranoid about letting too many people in real life know my blog address. A bunch of the sites I found talked about not telling too many people about your blog, otherwise your identity could be revealed!!! :O Anyway... my entire family reads my blog as well as a few other people I know. It's not something that I try and spread around or anything, though. Why not? Well...

My reasons for being so-called anonymous:

1. The "internet safety" thing we all learn in elementary school.
2. Um, this reason is dumb. But I was (am) like, "Well, what if someone looked up my name and found this?"

Yup. That's basically it. And you probably knew this was coming but I've changed my mind, methinks.

My reasons for deciding not to be "anonymous" anymore:

1. My main reason for being anonymous is stupid.
2. I like my real name.
3. This post by Nicole at WORD for Teens (which is an awesome site).
4. It's just easier, being real. Haha. :)

So, hi! My name, my real name is Alyssa Sherlock. And yes, that's Sherlock as in, well... Sherlock.

And this is me:

Photo Credit: Emily

...and now I start the process of changing my name everywhere. Fun! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

RTW: Where Would You Go On A Writing Retreat?

Time for another Road Trip Wednesday, courtesy of the beautiful and fantastic YA Highway! I haven't participated in one of these for a while!

Today's question...

If you could go on a writing retreat anywhere, where would you go and who would you bring?

I love canoeing.

I know it's really boring, but I would just go to a cabin in some park somewhere. Actually, I would probably go to Clear Lake, Manitoba. I've already been there quite a bit, since my family goes there every September long weekend, but I love it. There's tons of awesome places to bike, there's a little town for shopping for trinkets (my favourite kind of shopping), and there's a beautiful lake.

The pier at Clear Lake... where we always have to watch the pretty sunsets.

Although for now it sounds like I'd be more distracted than anything... but I find nature inspiring. I also find when I'm biking around by myself, I think a lot. And usually what I think about is... story ideas. The combination would be good for my writing, I assure you. Also, who doesn't love a refreshing breeze coming in through the window?

Biking down the pier... my dad is the pumpkin, and a little to the left is my sister

As far as who I would bring... I would go by myself. (Although with my bike, of course). I'm one of those people who doesn't need a lot of motivation from other people to work. Especially if I'm going on a writing retreat, where the sole purpose is to write. If I went by myself, I would be able to concentrate and spend lots of time in my own thoughts.. which might not be good for my mental health, but is good for my writing. ;) Although it is kind of fun having a friend you can say "ONLY ONE SCENE LEFT!" and such to.

Biking down a trail close to the water with my brother.

So? Where would you guys go for a writing retreat?

Friday, June 8, 2012

7 Things You Shouldn't Do When You Should Be Writing

1. Do not go on the Internet, because it is a black hole.

2. Do not convince yourself that going on the Internet is OK.

Me #1: But, vlogbrothers videos are educational.
Me #2: NO. Write.
Me #1: But... tumblr. There's... bookish stuff on there.
Me #2: Really? I think you're reaching, there... do you not understand you are procrastinating and wasting time???
Me #1: OK, you're right about that one. But... blog posts. C'mon, those have to do with WRITING!!! By reading blogs, you're pretty much writing anyway.
Me #2: Well... uhm...
Me#1: See, even you know I'm right.
Me #2: *surfs internet frantically for fun things*
Me #3: No... all hope is lost...

3. Don't read (for the sake of not writing).

Me #1: READING. It is important. That is how you learn to write properly.
Me #2: Yes but writing -the actual action of it- is pretty important when writing, don't you think?
Me #1: SHUT UP I LIKE BOOKS *buries head in book* Now go away.

4. Do not allow yourself time to dawdle.

Me #1: *rereads what I wrote last time* *stares at following blank page* What now?
Me #2: I don't know.
Me #1: ARGHHHHH I hate this...
Me #2: Look! I wrote something!
Me #1: Um... all you wrote was "ARGHHH why can't someone else write this for me???"
Me #2:  So what?

5. Do not try to convince yourself that your story is almost done anyway, so you don't need to work on it.

Me #1: 7 more scenes!! Only seven more scenes!
Me #2: Yes! 7 scenes that will never get written if you don't stop talking about it and just WRITE.
Me #1: Yes, but on average that's only 7 hours! I could be done by tomorrow!
Me #2: You still aren't writing. You have to realize this will never happen if you don't write, right?
Me #1: Can you imagine being DONE this monster?? And then I can FINALLY send it to my friends to read. Did you know I've been waiting two years for this?
Me #1: Yeah, but I'm almost done!!

6. Do not replace the action of writing with something you trick yourself into thinking is equally important.

Me #2: Oh, like blogging about how you keep procrastinating instead of writing? HUH?
Me #1: um...

7. The #amwriting tag on twitter. (Also, see #1 and #2).

Random Person: Working on stuff blah blah blah #amwriting
Me #1: You are not writing... you are on twitter.
Me #2: Well, you're not writing either, so...
Me #1: Would you just go away already!

Me #1: All of your blog readers are going to think you are crazy when they see how much you talk to yourself...
Me #2:  Hey, this is the funniest post I've written in a while! I'm going to publish it, and you can't stop me!

How do you distract/excuse yourself from writing?


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