Sunday, October 26, 2014

_On Writing_ - Relevant thoughts for NaNoWriMo::October 26

Exactly what I've been pondering on these last eve's before NaNoWriMo ~
Excerpt from On Writing by Stephen King:

"So okay - there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You've blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want. Anything at long as you tell the truth.

The dictum in writing classes used to be 'write what you know.' Which sounds good, but what if you want to write about starships exploring other planets or a man who murders his wife and then tries to dispose of her body with a wood-chipper? How does the writer square either of these, or a thousand other fanciful ideas, with the 'write-what-you-know' directive?

I think you begin by interpreting 'write what you know' as broadly and inclusively as possible. If you're a plumber, you know plumbing, but that is far from the extent of your knowledge; the heart also knows things, and so does the imagination. Thank God. If not for heart and imagination, the world of fiction would be a pretty seedy place. It might not even exist at all.

In terms of genre, it's probably fair to assume that you will begin by writing what you love to read - certainly I have recounted my early love affair with the EC horror comics until the tale has gone stale. But I did love them, ditto horror movies like I married a Monster from Outer Space, and the result was stories like 'I was a Teenage Graverobber'. Even today I'm not above writing slightly more sophisticated versions of that tale; I was built with a love of the night and the unquiet coffin that's all. If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders. It's what I have.

If you happen to be a science fiction fan, it's natural that you should want to write science fiction (and the more sf you've read, the less likely it is that you'll simply revisit the field's well-mined conventions, such as space opera and dystopian satire). If you're a mystery fan, you'll want to write mysteries, and if you enjoy romances, it's natural for you to want to write romances of your own. There's nothing wrong with writing any of these things. What would be very wrong, I think, is to turn away from what you know and like (or love, the way I loved those old ECs and black-and-white horror flicks) in favor of things you believe will impress your friends, relatives, and writing-circle colleagues. What's equally wrong is the deliberate turning toward some genre or type of fiction in order to make money. It's morally wonky, for one thing - the job of fiction is to find the truth inside the story's web of lies, not to commit intellectual dishonesty int he hunt for a buck. Also, brothers and sisters, it doesn't work.

When I'm asked why I decided to write the sort of thing I do write, I always think the question is more revealing than any answer I could possibly give. Wrapped within it, like the chewy stuff in the center of a Tootsie Pop, is the assumption that the writer controls the material instead of the other way around. The writer who is serious and committed is incapable of sizing up story material the way an investor might size up various stock offerings, picking out the ones which seem likely to provide a good return. If it could indeed be done that way, every novel published would be a best-seller and the huge advances paid to a dozen or so 'big-name writers' would not exist (publishers would like that)."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to Emily and Hayley! :: October 3

On Sunday, we celebrated Hayley's 24th and Emily's 18th birthdays.

Bill came by for a few minutes, but he wasn't feeling well, so we sang Happy Birthday and had them blow out their candles before we ate dinner, then Bill went home. He is feeling better now though. Jared and Ruth came over and stayed and ate dinner, hung out, and had cake.

The beautiful birthday girls

Steve lighting the candles

I cheat - I had 1 candle in the ten's place and 8 candles in the one's place for Emily, and 2 candles in the ten's place and 4 candles in the one's place for Hayley

Make a wish!!

I love these girls! I teased them and said that they were twins. Just born a couple of days apart. And a few years apart. By different mothers. :) It is fun that their birthdays are only 3 days apart, though! (except that they might get sick of sharing a cake one of these years!)

Dear Emily,
Happy Birthday!! I can't believe that you are 18!! It was just yesterday that I remember you wearing your favorite yellow dress with your parasol and the puppies yanking on the back of it as you ran down the sidewalk. You were such an adorable little girl then, and you are a beautiful young woman now. I look forward to watching you grow just as much now as when you were little. I am excited to see where life takes you, and I hope that you have all the happiness in the world! I love you very much! <3

Dear Hayley,
You are so dear in our lives! You are so sweet and thoughtful You are such a good mommy to my grandbabies and such a good partner for Josh. Thank you for being you!! I hope that this year will bring you all of the joy and happiness that it can hold! I love you very much! <3

Happy, Happy Birthday girls! Thanks for being such an important part of our family!

♥ Melody

Thursday, September 18, 2014

September 2014 Photography Competition::September18

This is my favorite picture that I entered:

Take a Bow

I took this pic at Hogle Zoo when we were there in May. There was a bird show going on, and this owl had done its performance, bowed, and got a treat. I was thrilled to get it as it was bowing.

For the alteration of the pic, I erased all of the background that was irrelevant and distracting, then cartoonized the owl. I adore it! I think it should be an illustration in a book :)

* * * * * * * *

This next picture is one that one of the judges liked a lot, giving it a 7 out of a 9. From the club's website: "7 – 8: Exceptional – Exhibiting very good to excellent photographic technique, composition and technical merit; however the image is lacking in a small way." 9's are virtually impossible, so I am thrilled with the judge's score of 7! If only the other judge would have felt the same way! ;)


I took this picture at the Hogle Zoo as well. I have other pictures of this bird, but I love the split lighting on its face and especially the way that the light is landing on the left eye. It is one of my favorites.

* * * * * * * *

This one fell flat at the competition. Perhaps I'll enter the original, unaltered picture next time around and see how it does then.

Breakfast to Go

This was a pic I took on my lawn (I happen to think of dandelions as children's favorite flower to pic, so I have quite a few of them on my lawn. ;) ) To photograph a bee in motion and have it come out in focus is a small miracle, so I enjoy it whenever it happens.

* * * * * * * *

I love the colors in lilacs - in fact, aside from the glorious scent they provide, the color is my favorite part. This was a macro picture I took as the lilacs were blooming. I rather like it for its simplicity and beauty, but it too fell flat at the competition. Ah well, you can't please everyone!

Color in Bloom

* * * * * * * *

There were no awards for me last night. I have to admit to a flaw I have: I am a sore loser. As soon as the competition was over, I wanted to leave, but I made myself stay put during the critiques. We stayed until 8 o'clock, and I was fortunate enough to have one of my pictures critiqued. "Hiding" was that picture, and the first judge went on to find many parts of the picture that he found distracting - he is a commercial photographer, so all of his pictures are set up and skillfully arranged; he would joke every once in a while about the fact that he wished that this or that could have been removed from the picture - unfortunately, real-life doesn't work like that (at one point he said, "You should have had that guy move his boat.") He said that I should crop it on the right to make it obey rule of thirds. The second judge offered the suggestion that I could have followed rule of thirds by cropping on the left, and said that most of the things that distracted the first judge hadn't bothered him - I am assuming he is the one that gave me the score of 7.

I intentionally didn't crop it to rule of thirds. I intentionally left it absolutely centered, which is seen as a no-no to many photographers. I have heard, and live by the adage, learn the rules and then break them if they don't suit you - but you better know why you broke it. I kept it centered because while the shot is about the bird, it is also about it hiding. It is about the bird thinking that I can't see it because it is behind a limb. I felt that if I cropped in deeper, which is what the first judge offered up too, it would be only about the bird - not about the bird's feelings about me - it is trying to hide, it is trying to be inconspicuous, it is trying to not be in my focus - anyway, all of those things went into my choice, but the even more honest answer is that I *like* it in the center.

The competition went fine, even though I didn't win, but I'll tell you my biggest beef that made me want to leave: as they were showing all of the pictures under the section of "Altered", out of 10 pictures entered, less than half were actually altered. When I saw that, I thought mine was a shoo-in! I thought that the lowest place I'd rank is Honorable Mention. Imagine my surprise (and terror!!) when a totally unaltered picture placed!

I hold in high esteem the virtue of Fairness - I felt like the entering of an unaltered pic was in poor choice (perhaps the entrant was new and didn't know better), but I felt that the point that it wasn't disqualified was unfair. I want those pictures to be disqualified unless the photographer can defend them being in the altered category. If all of the pics that were altered had won, and mine had not, I would feel disappointed, true, but this goes beyond disappointment to injustice.

Ah well, yes, I am not always a good sport, though I clapped for all of the winning pictures - they were good!

When I got home last night, I posted to facebook, "So I'm tired and grouchy. I just got home from my photography competition. Let's just say that I do better at sports competitions when I can yell, "The Ref is blind!!" You just can't do that at photography competitions. Go figure. ;) "

That about summed it up :)

♥ Melody

P.S. I went and cropped the bird pic like the 2nd judge had suggested - I'm surprised that I like it even better than the original! :) What do you think of it?