Jul 31, 2011

out with the old

Finally, after six and a half long and productive years, I've acquired a new computer. It's been a surprisingly emotional process though, since for some reason, I've grown emotionally attached to the old one (I quite originally named it "Compy"). Now that I sit back and think about it, we have been through a good deal together.
Compy was all glisten and shine when I first opened its package back in 2005. I'd just graduated high school and been the recipient of a good deal of money via graduation checks. All of these I poured into the purchase of my 12" Powerbook G4.
Compy went with me to college. Survived the engraving of my name that I so eagerly carved onto its battery pack. It also managed to survive a three foot fall from my desk onto the tile floor of my dorm room. This put a pretty little dent in its left side. Although my parents bought me a nice computer carrying bag, I decided it was easier to just slip Compy into my book bag between ten lb textbooks and a coffee traveler.
It's keyboard shows obvious wear from the amount of typing I subjected it too. I was an English/Creative Writing major, so writing papers and stories was my life for four years. In addition to all of these classes, I wrote (and rewrote) four manuscripts on it. You can't really see the E key or the L key anymore.
After college, Compy made the great migration with me over to South Korea (where it felt quite incredibly outdated by all of the crazy Asian technology surrounding it). After our year there, I toted Compy on our travels to New Zealand, Ethiopia and Kenya. It was only when we reached Africa that Compy finally started its protest. Every time I opened it up to work on early edits of LUMINANCE HOUR the hard drive decided to crash. This was when I realized that it might be time to start saving money/searching for a different computer. Yet when we left Africa, Compy's hard-drive mysteriously recovered. Perhaps he didn't like the proximity of lions.
Needless to say, 6.5 years is a large chunk of your life when you're in your early twenty's. Compy has been more than a machine, but a companion. I know it's time for it to go on to greener pastures (Which is what? A recycling center? Where do computers go when they die?)
So this is my farewell to Compy, a reliable laptop that helped me churn out some great work.

Goodbye, Compy!

Jul 28, 2011

face time

video

This is me. Saying hello. To you. Just ignore the awkward pauses. Or at least try your best.

Jul 19, 2011

it's the little things

Just finished the rough draft of my latest WIP (all 82,000 words of it) and it feels good.

Jul 17, 2011

dear harry potter


Dear Harry Potter,

I remember the very first time we met. I was eleven, the same age as you, when my mom first handed me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was a reader, and not at all shy to crack open your pages. I promptly devoured every word and chapter about Hogwarts within a mere 24 hours and instantly demanded more. Fortunately, The Chamber of Secrets was already on the market, so I didn’t have long to wait.
It was love at first read. The feelings were so strong that I scrounged up my hard earned allowance (hey, I cleaned a lot of guinea pig cages and scrubbed my parents’ toilets for that money!) and bought the first copy at Barnes and Noble. I managed to buy the second book in your native London, shortly after a visit to the real-world location of platform 9 and 3/4. I was very disappointed to find I couldn’t actually walk through it, being a Muggle and all.
I remember, as your adventures grew darker in The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire, arguing with my friends’ conservative Christian parents on the merits of your virtue. They called you all sorts of names: Wiccan, Spawn of Satan.
I remember the long years between The Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. I grew older, widening our age gap by two whole years.  Then another two years of wondering and waiting for The Half-Blood Prince. Like you, I was very distraught about Sirius and the taste of death. The shadow of what was to come.
I remember being stranded in a third-world country while the rest of America and Britain devoured The Deathly Hallows in single-sitting marathons. I remember plugging my ears and threatening decapitation to anyone who threatened to spoil the end of your story. I remember reading in my parents’ broken in chaise chair, tucking my dreadlocks behind my ears and biting my lip at every page.
I remember crying hysterically at chapter thirty-three (The Prince’s Tale). That chapter still summons a lump in my throat and brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. I remember wrinkling my nose at the epilogue and then shutting the book.
The books might have been over, but there were always the movies I told myself. Our affair hadn’t ended yet. I went on to reread your books with frequency. I even managed to become a teacher’s assistant in an English class dedicated to studying you my senior year of college. I cajoled my husband endlessly until he read the entire series from cover to cover. He stayed up until 3AM to finish you.
I must confess, that I was not in line for the opening night of Deathly Hallows. This is not because I don’t love you. Hardly. It’s because I have a hard time letting go. In a strange way, you represent more than just a great series. You are my adolescence. You are my coming-of-age story. Watching it end is much like arriving into the epilogue. It means that I’ve grown up.
Yes, I know I’m twenty-four. I’ve been married and working and being a (mostly) responsible adult for many years now. This is something different. This is recognizing that your era is past.
In a strange way though, I think I might be ready for it. Ready to step out into the world of storytelling on my own. You have paved the way for my generation to open their imaginations and dream big. You created a whole new age of readers and storytellers. It’s time for us to give back the amazing journey you granted us.
So here’s to you, Harry. To your past and our future.

Much Love,
Ryan

Jul 12, 2011

storyholic

I just went on vacation. It was nice, lovely and cool in the Appalachians. I love the ocean, I really do. Living a mere fifteen minute drive from the beach certainly has its perks, but there's something about the mountains that tugs at my soul. I think, one day in the (perhaps distant) future I'm going to write a novel  that captures that feeling.
Anyway, back from that rabbit trail, I found myself completely free in the mountains. When I go on vacation I always make a specific point not to work on my projects. It used to take an awful amount of discipline to tear me away from my writing for so long. Now I do it well enough. So if I don't write in my leisure time, what do I do?
I hang out with my awesome family and I ingest stories.
I'm obsessed with good stories. Some might say I'm a storyholic. And when I stumble across a story that works, that captures my heart and really steals me away, I treasure it forever. There are many good books, movies and TV shows. There are many GREAT ones as well. But there are a select few that feed me, that keep me coming back to their storylines, even years after I know what happens. I reread books, rewatch movies and TV series just to relive that first experience of discovering such a great and emotionally-wrenching story arch.

What stories are these?

The Lord of the Rings (the books and the movies): As Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy, I've always paid homage to his works. The man was a genius, both on and off the page. While you're reading his world and his mythos become just as tangible and real as our own.

Harry Potter: If Tolkien is modern fantasy's father, then it goes to say that J.K. Rowling is its mother. I hold my ground in saying that the Harry Potter series is one of the great literary masterpieces of our generation. It will be studied and read for years to come. What I admire most about Ms. Rowling's work is how effectively (and subtly) she wove myth and lore into her series. Everything (every name, every place) means something.

LOST: I know there are many people who were dissatisfied with the way that the series ended. I was not one of them. LOST is a phenomenal study in character development and unexpected plot twists. By the end of the show you feel as if you personally know each and every character.

Firefly and Serenity: One of the most tragic events of modern television is that this series got canceled. Joss Whedon's foray into the space western made such an impact on its fanbase that they rioted when the show was cut and got a feature film in return. What I love about this series is the completely foreign yet familiar world they live in and the characters' camaraderie. Like LOST, you feel as if you know these characters on a first name, say hello from across the street basis.

Fables: My brother introduced me to these comics a little over four years ago. I love how they play with age old fairy-tale characters and cast them in a completely different light. Also, the series is quite extensively and beautifully illustrated.

T.S. Eliot: I know his poetry doesn't necessarily count as a "storyline," but I'm obsessed with it anyway. There's something about the way he strings words together that enchants me. I read his poems simply for the feeling their words convey.


What about you? What stories do you keep going back to?