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I Have a Nemesis

I have decided that grading is my nemesis. The friend who recommended me for the position gave me some grading rubrics to use. They were really helpful, but when I went to assign the actual letter grade, I NEARLY DIED. The rubrics weren’t mathematical! They were . . . narrative. Literary. I tried about five different mathematical equations to make them work, but no go. Once again, proof that I am a non-creative brained, logic-brained, creative fiction writer. Who knew? Finally, I just came up with my own system, and it appears to be working. Yay!! I’m only half-way through grading these papers, and I have a new round of papers due in a week. I hope I get faster at this . . .

Aside from grading being my nemesis, I am still enjoying teaching. 🙂

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New Year, New Venture

I hope you all enjoyed my series on visualization.

This year is starting a bit crazy for me. I took a job as an adjunct English professor! I have often dreamed of teaching college English, but it was more of a “sometime, down the line” idea. I feel in some ways like I’m learning to swim by being thrown in the ocean.

Something really surprised me, though. I enjoy teaching! This is fun. When I was growing up, the one thing I always said I didn’t want to do was teach. Teaching runs in the family, and I think I wanted to do something different. Teaching is also a certain amount terrifying.

But I really enjoy it! I love sharing what I know and the things I’ve learned to make me the writer I am today. I’ve never enjoyed a job quite like this. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it even more once I’ve got the wrinkles ironed out.

The challenge now will be finding time to write! Even just a couple of classes take a lot of prep work and grading. I hope to still keep up with this blog.

Happy Writing everyone!

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Movie Trailers

I love imagining movie trailers. I’m a visual person, and I always see my stories acted out like a movie in my head. For me, making a movie trailer comes more easily than writing a synopsis, but it serves a similar purpose. It helps me focus on the meat of the story. What is the story really about?

If I’m really trying to focus and hash things out, I’ll write a kind of transcript for the movie trailer. For me, they usually consist of mysterious, simple music and quotes from the story rather than a voice over.

Sometimes, I get ambitious and actually make a video using my sketches and my own music. They’re generally disappointing since they aren’t nearly as good as what’s in my head, but they can be a whole lot of fun. I’m impatient and low-tech, so I just take poor quality photos of my sketches with a digital camera and download them on the computer. The only person I’m doing this for is me, so it doesn’t have to be spectacular. 🙂

Over Christmas break my freshman year of college, I was just being introduced to Window’s Movie Maker. I dug out my old fashion dolls (all characters from movies like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Disney princesses) and took stills of them. I then put them together as my first movie trailer. I showed it to my roommate, and she died laughing. It wasn’t exactly the response I was looking for, but at least she liked it. 🙂

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I don’t have much experience with Scrivener thus far, but I’ve met people who take a lot of the things I’ve been talking about and include them in the Scrivener files for their stories. I’ve done this some. I can take the maps, location sheets, character sheets, pictures, and timelines and include them all in one convenient place.

Honestly, I think it confuses me more than helps me because I can’t keep everything separate, but for some people, it works great.

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html/Web Design

I love hardcoding html. It’s very soothing. So sometimes, when I’m tired of the unstructured creativity of drawing, music, and even writing, I open notepad and use the structured creativity of computer language. I haven’t learned anything new in ages, so what I code is way too ancient to be shareable. XD But it’s so much fun.

I made a whole website once complete with a detailed history of my world, a story timeline, a calendar of character’s birthdays, song lyrics, and photo galleries. This was about ten years ago, so I also included AIM buddy icons (anybody remember those??), desktop backgrounds, and interactive personality quizzes (I was in a C++ class at the time 🙂 ).

More recently, I’ve put the results of personality tests into html format so I can easily reread them.

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Back when I had Microsoft Office, I used Publisher ALL the time. One of my favorite features was the calendars. I can tell you the exact date for most events in my story because of those calendars. I picked a year to correspond with the year of my story and printed a calendar for that year. I like to print one with lots of room to write. I always write in pencil.

I keep the calendar in my story folder (remember, I’m a long-hand writer) and consult it as I write. I jot down the date of particular events. I also can keep track of cyclical things and moon phases as well as character’s birthdays. (Birthdays are important to me.)

I actually have a separate calendar just with characters’ birthdays and anniversaries, including very secondary characters who have been completely cut out of the story. XD With that calendar, I chose a template where I could add my own pictures. I included sketches from my story, which made consulting the calendar lots of fun.

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I love making up songs. They may not be any good, but they help me to think and work out characters’ emotions. Sometimes, I make up “inspired by” songs. You know, songs that aren’t actually in the soundtrack but have to do with particular scenes or emotions.

I also have a running soundtrack for my story. I’ve written instrumental pieces for scenes as though the story were a movie. I’ve also written folk songs and pop songs that exist within the story.

After a basic intro class, I taught myself to play guitar in highschool. My MC also plays guitar and works as a minstrel, so I love writing songs on the guitar. I’ve written a few for him to sing, and those are fun. Probably not what a tenor would sing, but hey! They help me think.

I’ve recorded some of these songs, just using the microphone on my computer, and compiled them into a playlist I can listen to while I think and revise.