When a Writer You Admire is a Jerk

A few years ago, my novel writing class had a high-profile guest speaker talk to us: the award-winning author of a YA book we had been assigned to read about a week prior.

I was pretty jazzed about it considering how much I’d enjoyed the story. I’ve had predominately good experiences with meeting published authors in the past and have always learned quite a bit from talking with them, so I thought this would be a positive encounter.

My first impression of her was not a bad one. She glided into the room on a cloud of confidence, cool oozing from every pore. She made us laugh, told us a bit about her writing process, and then she opened the floor for questions.

I was the first to raise my hand. She called on me and I asked her how much of the book was based on her own life.

I knew she was an army brat from the bio on the back cover of her novel, but I was curious as to how much of her MC’s life mirrored hers. I had a hunch there were quite a few parallels since most authors derive minute details from their own experiences, but I didn’t want to assume that everything was a perfect representation of her youth.

“Oh,” she replied, “that’s a tourist question. That’s not a good question at all.”

Me:

jontron-gif.gif

Her:

giphy-1.gif

It’s always disappointing when you discover someone you admire is a jerk.

However, it can be a beneficial lesson to learn. It’s a reminder that, in spite of all that someone may have accomplished, they are still a human being, capable of fallibility. Some foibles are more significant than others, but we all have them. Even the most gifted of us. Especially the most gifted of us.

I’m happy this woman could teach me this lesson. So… very… happy.

AubreyPlazaNo.gif

In fact, I’m so happy that I’ve been inspired to write the ultimate novel that will earn me critical praise as well as sacks and sacks of money. I will then use those sacks of money to create a giant pyre and burn all her books in a ceremonial fire.

Beware, jerk writer, I will be avenged through the power of literature!

0aa.gif

 

Thank You To All The People That Follow Me

I wasn’t going to do a Thanksgiving post, but then I got to thinking of how far I’ve come in the last year or so.

I went from having zero likes and scant amount of views to having a fair few faithful readers who are willing to read my stuff and give me their feedback.

I want to thank you all.

It’s not easy for a writer out here. Especially when you feel as though you’re drowning in a sea of people who are wanting to be noticed as much as you. That being said, I’m appreciative of those of you who take the time out of your day to indulge my ridiculousness.

So Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Even my British readers!

You Are The Ranting Queen

I’ve noticed something a bit startling about myself: I am prone to ranting.

However, I like to think of my rants as well-constructed and justified. More often than not, they spawn from a place of righteous indignation about things of no real consequence. Most of my rants revolve around terrible writing in the plethora of mediums I consume, or books that have let me down as of late because, hey, that’s my area of expertise.

I enjoy writing about things that make me miffed, but it may give people the wrong idea about me.

I am not an angry person. I do have things that make me happy. It’s just easier to go on lengthy diatribes about things that irk me.

All of my friends know this. They even have a look they give each other when they realize they’re in for another trademark Rachael Rant.

It’s what a person must look like after they think they’ve found a metal egg in their backyard only to realize it is actually a hand grenade and the pin just fell out.

Or when you accidentally send a nude to your boss.

Which has never happened to me.

As far as you know.

My friends will try to appease me with a sacrifice, usually a goat, or wine poured in libation, but with very limited success.

67ysu.gif

The only true way to stop a Rachael Rant is to hand me the cup of wine and let me drink my fill until I’ve forgotten what I’ve been saying and just start belting out Disney songs or other show tunes.

If wine is unavailable, just prepare the same way you would a nuclear holocaust: hide under a desk and weep bitterly until oblivion wraps its cold arms around you in a suffocating embrace.

SM96caR.gif
My friends to people who have never experienced my wrath

While my friends, acquaintances, family and others in real life are likely to feel the brunt of my self-indulgent ire when it comes to politics and other such subjects, fear not, fair reader. For the sake of this blog, I will stick to giving my opinion on matters of fiction and the written world only….mostly.

God knows we have enough temperamental millennials with blogs blithering on about other things.

Oh, and don’t get me started on….

Crap.

Run.

RUN!!!!

tumblr_nqdihingka1u9hpu4o3_250

This is a Story about YOU: a Documentary

A few weeks ago, I was given an assignment to create an autobiographical piece for my documentary class.

No big deal, I thought. I talk about myself on my blog all the time. Producing a 10 minute video over a subject I know intimately should be no struggle.

It is such a struggle.

I’ve amassed a pretty impressive collection of B-roll (a supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot), but I am completely blanking on what to write for my voice-over narration.

I decided that the scope of the video should be over my writing. However, writing has encompassed so much of my life, it seems nearly impossible to cover the things that have influenced my craft.

Because everything has impacted my writing: relationships, moves, friends, adventures, boredom, books, journals, good days, bad days, age, etc.

There are so many moments, too many to count, that have changed how I view the world. However, I can’t, nor should I try to, address every instance. For one thing it would be too long, for another it would be too boring.

Melodrama is also a factor I am trying to avoid.

Nothing is worse than watching a self-indulgent cheese-fest for 10 minutes while trapped in a classroom for over an hour.

giphy.gif

Nobody cares about your dead parakeet, Judith! No one!

Well, time for screenwriting attempt number 300.

Anyone have a tragic background story they aren’t using?

A Most Photogenic Cat

My boss went out of town to a business conference in another state and asked me if I wanted to watch her house and look after her neighbor’s cat while she was gone.

She had forgotten she told her neighbor she would look after the tabby while he was out of town, so she would need me to make sure his pet was taken care of as well.

It wouldn’t be difficult, she assured me. The cat spent most of its days outdoors but had a food and water bowl in the garage that needed to be filled regularly.

When I first met the cat, I noticed he was different from most of his kind in that he was unusually friendly.

I named him Barnaby and we became best friends.

I ask you, is there anything more beautiful than a low-maintenance relationship?

All I had to do was feed him and he would treat me like Cat Jesus.

IMG_4939

We had a good thing going.

I’d take care of my boss’ house, make sure Barnaby had enough food and water, and then we’d hang out and take a bunch of pictures at his place.

IMG_4953

I remember when we sat by the pool for the last time. He stretched out on my lap and I thought this would be a perfect time to snap a photo.

My instincts were correct.

The wind picked up at just the right time, causing my hair to fan out to the side. It would seem the tiniest bit of dust got into Barnaby’s eye at that moment because, when I examined the photo afterwards, I saw that he appeared to be winking at the camera.

IMG_4964

My brief friendship with Barnaby taught me a lot of things that will follow me throughout life.

However one lesson stands out above all the rest:

I am horribly allergic to cats.

Prior to this experience I had no idea. While many of my friends have owned cats, their felines typically just eyed me suspiciously and flounced away.

Barnaby, however, was intent on killing me with kindness and I didn’t even know it.

I’d go over to the garage, take care of him, then I would come home and feel like I’d been hit by a semi.

My head would feel as it it was grow exponentially and congestion would make it impossible to breathe. I thought I was coming down with the flu.

But I put the pieces together as soon as I realized I always felt worse after coming to see him.

So thanks for the memories, Barnaby, I forgive you for trying to kill me.

At least I have photos to remember you by.

What I Haven’t Learned From Blogging

I have been writing in this blog for a little over a year now, and I can honestly say I love doing it. I enjoy being able to communicate my ideas through a medium I’m at least moderately competent with.

It was a gamble for me to start this blog, but in the long run I am glad I did.

However, as I have discovered through reading other blogs and observing the feedback I have received for this blog, I have learned that Jon Snow and I have one thing in common: We both know nothing.

I have spent hours crafting posts that would often get 2 or 3 views at best, while others I would crank out in the span of 30 minutes and they would get 7 to 10 likes.

I am grateful for every like and follow that I have received, but I’m nowhere near close to figuring out what people want.

I have mainly been concerned about what interests me (books, writing, inspiration, etc) because I know writing about what I love is the best way for me to produce something worth reading.

I’m not the type of person who could write about fashion, or cooking, or politics.

I have made progress, but it has been very slow.

Like riding-a-little-red-wagon- with-three-wheels-through-the-Everglades slow.

Who knows. Maybe I just need to shut up and keep climbing.

I’m still having fun and still learning. That’s the important thing!

Right?

slow-down-o

The Big Ben Conspiracy

WARNING: POST CONTAINS TRACE AMOUNTS OF TONGUE-AND-CHEEK HUMOR. 

Author’s Note: Big Ben actually refers to the bell inside of the tower and not the tower itself. However, since everyone calls it Big Ben regardless, I will refer to Big Ben as the tower, clock, and bell for coherency’s sake.

As part of the British Isle study tour class I am taking this summer, I’m doing a presentation on the most obvious site I could possibly think of: Big Ben.

I chose this mostly out of laziness because all of my other ideas for a project such as Baker Street and Buckingham Palace were shut down. I thought this lovely clock would be the easiest touristy area to squeeze information out of.

However, I discovered some disappointing information in my digging.

Apparently only UK citizens are allowed to tour the clock tower. 

Not only is this tour excluded from people outside of the UK, but these tours must be sponsored by a Member of Parliament or a Member of the House of Lords. 

Um…what?

I looked through several sources just to make sure this wasn’t a lie, but, yes, people outside of the UK are not allowed to go inside Big Ben.

Well, there go my dreams of reenacting the fight scene from The Great Mouse Detective.

Come on, British People.

I know we don’t always see eye to eye and we’re not always as witty or fit as you lot, but how could you deny us our cliché tourist attractions?

Is it because we pronounce “Thames” incorrectly?

Or we have extreme difficulty remembering which countries are actually British?

Or because we call your favorite sport “soccer” even though literally everyone else in the entire world calls it “football”?

Is it because we sew Canadian flags onto our possessions to trick you into thinking we’re Canadian for some stupid reason?

If so, I suppose I understand.

I am a bit disappointed though as I’ve seen a few tours of it online and the view is beautiful.

At least, if I’m able to journey to London while I’m abroad, I’ll be able to see Big Ben from afar and hear the chimes before they silence them for the next three years for repairs.

As for the rest of the non-British world, we’ll just have to build our own touristy attraction and not invite the British.

giphy

Finding Life Advice in the Restroom

I was using the bathroom before my 11:00 class, when I noticed the utility cupboard was open for some reason. It had multiple quotes written on the inside of it, all in magic marker or pencil.

I have no idea why people wrote on the cupboard or why it just happened to be ajar when I walked in. Regardless, curiosity got the better or me and I decided to inspect it.

I expected there to be your standard “Class of ’16!” or “Joe is hott,” but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and beauty of each quote. I chose a few of my favorites:

IMG_7650

IMG_7653

(By the way, quoting Harry Potter is always a good idea.)

IMG_7652.jpg
In case you can’t read it: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body”-C.S. Lewis

IMG_7655.jpg

………I have absolutely no idea who Leroy is since The Doctor said this to Rose but, for some reason, not knowing makes it better.

IMG_7659

I found all of these quotes gorgeous and awe-inspiring. However, none of them quite encapsulated the spirit of the school season quite like this one:

IMG_7660.jpg

Have a good day, everyone!

IMG_7650 (1).jpg

Fighting the Apathy: a Writer’s Senioritis

There are two weeks of school left before summer vacation.

Normally, I would be in full-fledge panic mode, but seeing as this is my 5th year in college I give myself a slap on the back just for showing up to class.

I’ve changed my major two or three times which has hindered my progress quite a bit.

Many of my classmates are blowing up Facebook with pictures of themselves, holding a shiny new degree and talking about their wonderful job opportunities while I’m curled in a fetal position because the job I want requires another degree.

I admire the nontraditional and grad students that go back to school either to get a Ph.D, or a degree that will help them secure a better job.

I also admire people that can do the same job for 30 years and not wistfully daydream about what bleach tastes like.

How do you do it?

After circling the same bowl for half a decade, I want to leap out and explore new surroundings. Even if I just wind up getting eaten by the cat or flushed down the proverbial toilet.

I love learning new things, but I’m tired of the too familiar surroundings. I want a change.

I’ve only dipped my toe into the real world briefly, and it gave me a few startling revelations. Nonetheless, I’m stuck at the bus station of life and I’m ready to arrive at my destination. I may leave a bag or two behind, but I’m ready.

Amelia-Pond-Caitlan-Blackwood-in-The-Eleventh-Hour

I Admit It, I Like Coloring Books

When I was a kid, I didn’t care about coloring books.

My mom bought them in bulk because she heard coloring could help improve my garish handwriting, but I hardly even touched them. 

For the most part, I’d color half a page, then get bored and draw things in the margins. I couldn’t really get into the whole coloring-within-the-lines deal. I just didn’t see the point in it. 

It seemed like many children felt the same way as, for a while, coloring books seemed to disappear into the ether for several years.

However, over the last few months, I’ve been bombarded with them.

When I went to Barnes and Noble about two months ago, they were everywhere. Only this time, they were being targeted towards adults.

IMG_7503

They featured Native American art, Scandinavian art, Celtic art, animal art, Indian art, etc. Some of them even came with their own colored pencils. They bore titles like “Art Therapy” “Stress Relief” and “Creative Coloring Inspirations.”

Inwardly, I groaned. As far as I could see, this was yet another attempt on my generation’s part to infantize themselves.

Being an adult is hard so let’s sit around the floor and break out a box of crayons. We’ve been saying things like this for years, but I never thought it would actually become a thing.

I anticipated more backlash regarding this movement. I searched the web for cries of “hippy dippy bullshit.” However, most were surprisingly silent or encouraging on the topic of this trend.

Furthermore, many psychological experts have fully supported the coloring book movement, and have provided sufficient reasons as to why coloring is beneficial to peoples’ mental health. Coloring, they said, helps alleviate stress and has proven to be a healthy activity for those with dementia or alzheimer’s.

IMG_7508

The more cynical part of my brain was weakened after reading some of these articles, but still not completely satisfied. It was just the principle of the matter. Coloring is for children. Adults should do other activities to relax. Then again, I thought, some of the things adults do to unwind aren’t always healthy.

Thoughts of coloring began to seep into my brain like some sort of virus.

I caught myself thinking about coloring while listening to an audiobook, or sitting in class. Hmmm, it’d be cool to be able to do something with my hands while I listen. Like many from my generation, I find it difficult to devote all my concentration to a single task. Maybe coloring would allow me to satisfy my ADHD side, while also permitting me to retain what is being said.

One fateful morning while I was gift shopping for a friend, I finally caved.

IMG_7504

I browsed the broad selection of adult coloring books until I found one that looked interesting. It was more expensive than I had hoped, but I tried to console myself with the possibility that it might be worth it. There were pictures of animals with intricate patters woven into their faces, menageries of fishes and sheep, dragons too.

After purchasing some colored pencils at Target (and feeling as thought I’d brought great shame onto my family), I went home to test out this new craze.

To my utter dismay, I found that I enjoyed it.

I liked performing the menial task of filling in the blank lines with color while listening to audio dramas. I enjoyed the waxy smell of crayons and how simple it all was. I found a small sense of accomplishment after each project was finished as well.

IMG_7495

More than that, I found my retention was greater while listening to audiobooks and coloring than when I was just sitting in my chair or playing games on my iPhone.

I’m not addicted to coloring. When the day has been hard I don’t feel the call of Crayola the same way alcoholics might their booze, or druggies their narcotics. I can’t see myself sitting around a table with my friends, coloring in pages of animals as we talk about our days.

However, I don’t think it’s something to be ashamed of anymore.

It’s better for your mind than TV and it’s definitely healthier than drugs or alcohol.

If someone approached me and told me that what I’m doing is juvenile, then I couldn’t really disagree with them. Afterall, I came from the same mindset.

But at the end of the day, does this activity really hurt anyone?

I, personally, don’t believe so.

My handwriting still sucks, though.

IMG_7500