Day 19- Writing Self Critique and Camp Nanowrimo

So I’m reading through yesterday’s 30 minute story and….

Wow. It is stunningly bad…

Part of me wants to throw it in a black hole where it will never see the light of day or drastically change it so it doesn’t look that bad, but hey I didn’t use the delete key in the original writing of it, so the roughness of the story is understandable.

Still, I am definitely getting rid of that rule the next time I do another story challenge, since there are a lot of repeated words and sloppy mistakes that just look unprofessional.

In this critique -esque post, rather than going through and editing it word by word, I’m just going to list off some of the weird things that just don’t work in the story:

  • Too much description, not enough characterisation – Blue hair was a nice touch of weirdness but why should anyone care? It feels like I am just listing descriptive words for the sake of it, rather than any character or narrative driven reason. Show don’t tell and all that.
  • Where is the character located right now? – its funny that I didn’t notice this while writing it, but I never really say where or when she is. Theoretically, I could have written an excuse it (like she doesn’t want to record it for safety reasons or whatever) but by not mentioning how long ago it was since the kidnapping, there is like zero tension whatsoever
  • Lots of my own “isms” have snuck in – This tends to pop up in my acting (well, what little acting I’ve done at school), where I have little traits (messing with glasses, moving my hands around a lot) that pop up when I am trying to keep it together but failing. In my case, it’s the excessive use of ellipsis and commas, combined with run on sentences that just seem to never end. Oh and the use of “Yup.” since that certainly is something that has stuck around in this semi dystopian world the story takes place in… /s
  • The grammar…. – ‘Nuff said about that train wreck.
  • Where is the plot? – There is a lot of ideas present, but nothing even resembling a coherent narrative. I mean the diary thing at the end was slightly interesting, but there isn’t any reason to care about it. I seem to think throwing things out there without explaining is “mysterious” or something, when in actuality it feels like a game of madlibs with giant “Insert plot here” sections that were semi-filled without care

So basically, what I’ve learned from this trial in improv story telling is that it is pretty freaking hard to do it. Kudos to those who can by the way, though I suspect the reason the works of so many authors seems leaps and bounds ahead of mine, other than their inherent talent and loads of practice, is the editing behind it.

But since it was pretty fun while it lasted, I’ve decided to join Camp Nanowrimo for July.

Normal Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) takes place in November (which I did try it in 2016, but stopped after a few thousand words due to exams), but they are both based off of the same principle. Quantity not quality, just write and put things down on paper.

Which is a bit like what I am doing now, if you think about it.

In the regular one, the goal is to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month, but since it is the Camp and I get to set my own goals, I’m going with a half Nano with 25,000 words in 30 days, toward a story idea I’ve had rattling around in my brain for a while.

So from this point forward, the post quality may go down slightly as I shift focus over, but hey, this blog was never a shining example of good writing, just a way for me to fill up the summer months doing something more productive than binge watching youtube 😛

That’s all from me now! Catch you later.

Rebecca

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Day 18 – 30 Minute Story #1

Since I am hitting writers block right now,  I decided to do something a bit different.

I have a semi-randomly generated “First Line” writing prompt (from Pantomimepony HERE), a timer for 30 minutes and I will try my best to write a coherent story with it.

Also no back button or editing, just pure writing since I am once again running low on time.

Think of it as the “Yes, and then…” improv method from drama.

So let’s do this!


The day my Mother was kidnapped, we ran away.

That move , strangely enough, turned out to be pretty darn terrible for me for me.

You see, the thing they don’t warn you in school about being a internationally wanted fugitive is that unlike walking or blending in with a crowd, running catches the eye.

Running is alarming, it causes people to turn around, to curse you out, and most fatal of all… stare. Look. Remember the features of that coffee brown and electric blue haired, wisp of a girl who is wearing a black wool coat run, somewhat clumsily, through the crowded train stations.

Rule one of my guide to evading a government who is hell bent on catching and arresting you: Don’t run.

Well, that is, if I live long enough to write it down somewhere.

Of course then they would just use my handwriting, compare it with those writing samples the government collected of us in kindergarten, and track my every move through even the darkest alleys of the city.

Fingerprint tracking was a thing of past, what with the rise of surgery and removal of that once vital part of the forensic polices arsenal. My protests against  removal of mine when I had the chance 10 years ago, like much of the advice my Mother gave me but threw a fit about at the time, is advice I wish I had listened to, and something that need to apologise for in the future. If I see her again….

Again, I say “Mother” but in this town, nothing is that simple. It’s complicated….

So now I’m stuck, on the run, with no plan of actions, no allies to help me and a backpack with a water bottle, a sleeping bag, a small knife… oh yeah, and my Mother’s diary containing all her research.

Yup. I’m dead.


So yeah…. that is a really rough, not even first draft of a sorta short story?? Putting that no backspace requirement is a lot harder than I thought…

Also I did waste a lot of time just sitting and thinking what to write, so this wasn’t really 30 minutes of work, more like 20 ish with 10+ devoted to thinking… what the heck did I get myself into????

Still though, there are some good things in it, I’ll probably revisit it later with a more polished draft or carry on the story with more stuff.

Perhaps I should do more of these in the future, since it was quite fun (albeit stressful) to write. Maybe then I can compare my 30 minute speed creative writing skills over time or something

But that’s it for now!

Rebecca

P.s. For future me’s records, I visited my secondary school today with a close friend. Also 3.8 GPA for this sem!!! (though with a B- in Ecology because of a stupid fish essay. Sad bubbles)

Day 17 – Training Wheels OFF! Thoughts on Living in HK as a “Local”

Confession time.

I didn’t learn how to ride a bike without training wheels until I was 11.

Yup.  5th grade.

That revaluation isn’t too startling for my local Hong Kong friends, who live in an expansive concrete jungle with excellent public transport and everything else more or less in walking distance.

But I was living in the suburbs of Texas at the time, where public transport consisted of only the yellow school bus, and EVERYONE drove (or biked if they were too young to drive).

After all, how else are you supposed to get from point A to B. Spend hours walking? Fly? Teleport?

The idea that someone could make it to teenage hood without learning this vital skill of transportation was virtually unthinkable.

And yet there I was.

Why?

It wasn’t that I didn’t have the necessary tools (a few seconds with a wrench to take off those training wheels would suffice)

Nor was there a lack of teachers (any one of my friends could have taught me, if I had the courage to tell them I didn’t know that is)

No, it was something else more sinister. I convinced myself that it wasn’t such a big deal or even that I was better off without learning. After all:

  • I won’t like it… Who wants to spend all day in the hot sun instead of an AC-ed car?
  • It takes too long to learn and I have better things to do.
  • I’m too old to start do so anyways.
  • I’ll make a fool of myself failing to ride.

On and on the “reasons” could go, like the wheels of the bike in question.

Except they weren’t moving.

Because I wasn’t getting on that dang bike and learning.

Had I spent even a few second consciously thinking about it, those excuses would crumble away into dust. 

It took a “Ride your Bike to School” day and me not wanting to be the only one with training wheels to finally try to learn. And at the end? I wanted to kick myself for putting it off for so long.

In a round about way, that training-wheeled bike sums up my experience living in Hong Kong as an expat for almost 7 years now.

Why do I not consider myself (at least partially) a “local” Hong Konger?

Perhaps I feel the label is too strong, given I wasn’t born here. But considering that by the time I finish university, I will have lived here for a decade (almost as long as I’ve lived in Texas) it doesn’t really make sense.

And it still doesn’t explain away my actions.

  • I cling on to my “Local- Non Jupas” (i.e. international qualification) status, never just Local like some of my friends do.
  • I still default to English and Mandarin when speaking to others. My Cantonese, despite all my time living here, is pretty awful, just due to lack of use in my daily life.
  • I haven’t really joined any hall activities with the local students, really sticking with the international or Mainland hall mates. Well, I am in the social subcommittee, but that essentially is for the expats in the same situation I’m in.

I could try and redefine “local” to exclude me, but that feels like a cheap way out to avoid the question. Why don’t I at least act more local instead of clinging on to an expat label?

Its the same excuses as the bike. All over again.

I really should work on my Cantonese and connect more with people that have different backgrounds to me.

Yes, I will probably “speed out of control and crash into the bushes several times” (it would be odd-er if I didn’t at some point.)

But I still need to make more of an effort to step out of my comfort zone and just try being more local, rather than sticking to places that cater to English speakers.

Learning how to ride without training wheels gave me a type of freedom not found elsewhere. To speed along bike trails that don’t allow walkers (not the zombie kind, the normal people kind :P). To feel the wind whip past in my hair. To explore the world in a new way.

I wonder what exciting adventures living in Hong Kong as a local will bring me. Well no time like the present to find out! Its time to take those training wheels off and challenge myself to explore the city, not as an outsider, expat or “psudo-local” but as someone who can say in earnest: “I am a local Hong Konger”

See you tomorrow.

Rebecca

 


This post is the result of two Daily post prompts: <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/local/”>Local (26/6) </a> & <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/wheel/”>Wheel (27/7) </a>

(Because of time zones, I don’t see today’s “official daily post prompts” until the next day, so these will always be slightly behind time wise, like with the Blossom one on Day 7)

Day 16 – Quick Letter to a Younger Me

Dear Past Me,

Specifically 16 year old me, for several reasons:

  1. You have just finished IGCSE and are starting the crazy world of IB… I pity you, and want to reassure you that: Yes you do get through it and go to university.
  2. 2014 was a pretty dang eventful year (Ebola, Sochi games, MH370 & 17, Occupy Central etc), but 2017 is… well Trump is president of the  US, the UK is fixing to leave the EU and I still have acne. On the plus side, I’ve run 10km in the Standard Charter Marathon. I’ll give you a second to recover from the shock, no I am not messing with you here.
  3. 3 years ago seems just far enough back that I could give myself good advice without causing a paradox that destroys the universe via a butterfly effect
  4. I needed something to write for this post a day challenge I’m doing on day 16. No, it is not for homework and yes, you do make a blog and write stuff to fill your summers with.

Since you probably think this is a hoax:

You own a green diary that you switch over to a blue diary on the 31st of December. You wrote down “Walking on Sunshine” as your favorite song (really? REALLY? I mean I we never claimed to have good taste in music but man…. oh wait cus from that episode of Supernatural… still though) and felt the need to tell me that your favorite kitchen smell (the heck?) is and I quote: ” COOKIES! :P” . You are in that “soo random lols” phase of my life aren’t you…

Yes I do have that diary on my lap now and am not-so-subtly judging you.

Sorry ’bout that, but hey you did call me an old fart and did write one of your pages in glittery freaking orange pen, getting the herpes of craft supplies on me… “not having another nearby pen” is not an excuse for booby trapping a diary. Jerk.

Anyways, to inject some positivity into this…

This is where I put advice isn’t it… huh. Never was any good at this, though I’ll still try (cus that is what you do dang it! You go off an try your hardest at any dang thing that comes your way.. ehem.)

*spoilers ahead I guess *

  • I don’t have any betting advice for you – just putting that out there first. Just don’t get involved with it, even if there is time travel involved
  • No, you still don’t have my life “sorted out” yet. I’m doing both by doubling in History and Biology in Uni- no no not ivy. You didn’t get in and besides would have been absolutely miserable there if you had. You end up going to HKU and having a blast so far, though don’t want to jinx it!
  • Listen more than you talk. You tend to miss a lots of things you would have noticed had you paid more attention, or lose things easily because you are so absent minded. Try to kick the habit early, it would be very helpful.
  • Your instincts are right. there are some jerks in the higher ups at school, especially after 2015 when a lot of the awesome teachers leave your school. Keep calm and carry on. Don’t get confrontational cus it is just going to get you pissed beyond belief and they won’t care. You will end up fine in the end despite some people pulling you down.
  • Keep in contact with your close friends. Even though they may go abroad to study, they still will give you good advise and their whatsapp messages will brighten almost any down day you might have.
  • Get out there more and challenge yourself more! Lots of things you try turn out well (such as that first aid thing you have been thinking about forever and finally do in 2015) and if they don’t, well you have learned from the experience!
  • Don’t stress out so much about things beyond your control or push yourself too much. You don’t turn out to be a mega super famous star actor, writer, athlete, whatever by 19, and that is fine, great even! Gives you more of a chance to spread out and learn about things that interest you. Compare yourself to yourself, not to others.

I suspect I’ve lost your attention by now so I’ll wrap this up (its getting late here as well).

Forgot to mention that the family is doing great: happy and healthy, which is the most important thing!

But yeah, hope this advice was helpful and that I prepared you somewhat for the years to come. Perhaps I will write a letter to future me some day, though that is for another time.

Good luck and all the best!

The Future 19 year old Rebecca

Day 15- Halfway point! (+ Brutalism?)

I really need to type these things out ahead of time, or at least have pre-made topics at the ready so that these aren’t so rambly and incoherent

So its 11:30pm right now, less than 30 minutes until I sort of fail this challenge (well, not really, I mean no one is really keeping track, just doing this for the fun of it, but still, feels a bit disingenuous to keep the day counter going up without actually posting once per day)

At the half way mark, so that is promising! Just 15 more days of this left before I complete the month of typing quickly and coming up with BS topics and stuff without editing or stopping for a minute.

So I just randomly picked a letter out of the alphabet ( got the letter B) and just thought of something random.

Since I spent the day moving our stuff from our old storage room to another new one (since our old one didn’t pass the fire inspection) and it has gotten me thinking about old concrete buildings, I for some reason have come up with Brutalism Architecture….

Thus here we go, Brutalism explained by a clearly not architect (in less than 5 minutes because it is 11:42 and I still need to do the tags and post the thing)

 

In short, it is the building style that I can only describe as a “concrete block” that arose following the end of WWII and ended in the mid-70’s that is seen in uni campuses everywhere. Basically, what a kid would draw if I said “tower block building”.

 

Of course looking at the wiki page, architecture people have managed to describe such a cold unsightly style of concrete as “raw” and “uncompromising, anti-bourgeois” which… okay maybe? Personally I feel that they just made that up as an excuse to call it “stylish” in order to build as many buildings as cheaply as possible following the war.

 

Then again I’m not artistic in the slightest, so maybe it does look good to some? I’m not sure…

 

Well better end it here! Thanks for listening to me ramble on and ponder random stuff for 15 days so far, here is to 15 more!

 

Rebecca

Day 14 – Return of the Wifi

And the wifi is back at home! Whoop!

Bit unsettling how much I rely on it these days… Like it truely is something you don’t realise how much you use, until you have to switch over to your phone’s 3g 

But yeah once again it is getting late (28 minutes to finish this post) and I am frantically typing away. I really nees to work on my planning for these things.

As I was typing this date out, I just noticed that tomorrow will be the half way mark to completion of this challenge.

Still not sure how I’m going to end this thing off, though I have a few ideas based around some of the reoccurring themes that seem to crop up in my posts (late minute typing, book and or greek myth references, talk about Austin/HK etc). We will see though! 

Been thinking (or more accurately worrying) about my uni scores (coming out soon) and just my general life goals and where I will be in 5 years time a lot in the past few days

Not sure why, I guess it is a combination of meeting old secondary school friends and realising that I am not a kid anymore. Like my future is quite literally in my own hands and I can’t really rely on those childhood fantasies of hidden innate talent or a dream of being famous without effort now.

And that I am behind, like so many other people my age not only have done something, they’ve succeeded ans made a carreer out of it. Heck many people younger than me have won olympic medals or acted in shows that will continue to be seen years from now. 

In comparison, I’ve… gotten into uni I guess? Doesn’t seem the same does it…

I don’t know, it seems like all the young adult fiction books have the heroes doing something fantastic with their lives by the time they turn 16 or 18 at the latest, no one really talks about being there at the cusp of adulthood and teenager years. Maybe I just need to read more books XP

Well I’m running out of time (11 min now) and still need to put tags on this thing! More tomorrow!

Rebecca

Day 13 – On the MTR

This might be my most extreme version of this post a day challenge ever… 

Had a lazy morning and spent all may day hanging out with my secondary school friends who are back from their unis in the UK. 

On my way home and just remembered that I haven’t typed anything today, with it being almost 11pm and no topic at hand.

So here I am, posting on the go, with the shuddering and swaying of the car while it whisks under the streets of Hong Kong (and under Victoria Harbor), looping my arm around a hand rail and just typing away (glad its not rush hour, HK ones are crazy!)

MTR by the way is the Hong Kong equivalent of the Metro/Subway in New York or the Underground/Tube in London.

Its seen a lot of changes during my time here so far. Two new line extentions, a new line, with a combined 10 brand new stations, but always carrying people on time from place to place.

This is starting to sound like an ad…. it isn’t, more like I’m trying to think of something, anything, to talk about.

I’m curious as so whether there is a term for the subtle things that make a city’s transport unique. Aesthetic, I guess?

Here are some of the unique features to the MTR in my mind, that are hard to convey through only pictures (which I will add later):

  • The cheerful “doot” sound as you pat your octopus card on the reader
  • The “Please hold the hand rails, don’t keep your eyes only on your mobile phone” warning on the escalators in Mandarin, Cantonese and British English. 
  • The free wifi in the stations
  • The strict no food or drinks rule thay make it extremely clean (at least in my experience compared to other ones around the world)
  • Quick transfers between trains, just a stream of people walking from one line to another
  • The vibrantly colored station walls, with subtle meanings (red are big interchange stations, some are hint to station names like 鑽石山 (Diamond Hill) being black with silver specks etc)
  • HK rush hours. They are really something special XP
  • The silent tutting of people behind you when you hold up the line at the ticket barrier

    Also uniquely it is the only subway system in the world that makes a profit without government subsadies (since they own the land around the stations, they can make money from store rent of the nearby shops)

    So yeah, a quick peek into this small part of HK life today. See you tomorrow (hopefully with fixed wifi)!

    Rebecca