Tidbits: November Edition

Picture / Photo Find

Something I Did

About a week ago, I participated in a school reading called 6x6 that showcased six graduate students and six undergraduates. Writing a small piece to read for that has been both exciting and challenging; I ended up drawing inspiration from Sleeping Beauty and added quite a twist to it in the spirit of Halloween. 

Most everyone dressed up for the event and that made it more exciting. My favorite costume of the night was a couple who dressed up as bacon and eggs - they ended up winning the costume contest. The night was magical in the sense that we were at risk. A storm was brewing all day, all week, really, and we were lucky enough to have a pocket of relief where the rain decided to back away until our last speaker finished her words. The air was muggy, thick with mosquitoes. We sat outside and listened to the readers as they approached a torch-lit stage. The place was a treasure of a coffee shop called Felicitous - newly opened and already bursting with charm and excellent mango tea.

Although rain clouds lingered, just waiting for the perfect moment to pelt us, I still kept my black pea coat buttoned tight. Who cares about sweating in late October, right? I loved my costume. I was a reveur for The Night Circus. I have to admit that no one recognized me, but I'm sure, if this book makes it to film, everyone will be going to the movie theater wearing nothing but black and white clothing - with a spot of red. 

Quote from a Book I Love

To go with what I mentioned just above, I think I've become a reveur after finishing The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The book is stunning with its whimsical imagery that surprises you with its vivid nature - a few times while reading, I couldn't help but gasp at such lovely lines. It's so easy to get sucked into this world of black and white, caramel popcorn, and dueling magicians in love. Reveur in French means "dreamer," an appropriate name for the fans of the circus in the book. They wander the enchanted tents wearing their spots of red. I'd love to be one of them. I have got to see that ice garden. When it came down to it, I had a hard time choosing an excerpt, so here's literally the beginning of this shiver-inducing novel:

"The circus arrives without warning.

No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

The towering tents are striped black and white, no golds or crimsons to be seen. No color at all, save for the neighboring trees and the grass of the surrounding fields. Black-and-white stripes on grey sky; countless tents of varying shapes and sizes, with an elaborate wrought-iron fence encasing them in a colorless world. Even what little ground is visible from outside is black or white, painted or powdered, or treated with some other circus trick.

But it is not open for business. Not just yet." 

Fun fact: there's a free online game that anyone can play - you get to wander around the circus, stumble upon mysteries, and sometimes interact with the characters from the book. I'm kind of addicted, haha. 

A Writer Thing

Sooo... NaNoWriMo. Who's participating this year? I totally am. I can't help it. I tend to fall for challenges, especially when it comes to writing. I get a rush and ideas flood into my head like falling stars. So National Novel Writing Month, in which one must write 50k words, is the king of challenges. And I can't refuse. 

What's really remarkable is that you discover how much time you do actually have during the day. On busier weeks, I find myself tapping away at the keyboard late into the night, but when a brief reprieve hits, I surprise myself by writing a paragraph or two between grading or answering emails. After NaNoWriMo, I'm usually more productive because I get into a time-groove. I know when I can write, what precise music I must listen to and what font is the kind I won't cringe at when I stare at a page. 

My first time NaNo-ing was last year and I failed miserably. It was almost a precursor to Birdcage Girl in that I tried the same kind of bite-sized, fragmented chapters. But I had too many characters at once and wrote out of order (so not good for me), so that I ended up with a tiny mess at the end of the month. I'll be lucky if I'm able to salvage anything from that project. But this year feels different. 

Photo by Dream Bean. So inspiring!
I'm posting my NaNo novel on Figment for this run; it's called Olivia. Basically, it's a strange kind of retelling of the fairy tale called "Diamonds and Toads." Please read it if you're not familiar with it - it's a quick tale. And I say strange because, in edition to the elements found in the original, I'm including silent film, dime museums, real estate, and pratfalls. It's been so much fun already - I love discovering my characters' secrets along the way. Here is a teaser of my project, just for fun:

And so, the fairy said: “You are kind and pretty, so I will give you a gift, Olivia. Whenever you speak, flowers and jewels shall fall from your mouth.”
Olivia bowed her head and twisted her hands. “Thank you,” she said. A diamond slipped from her lips and clattered on the sidewalk. 
To anyone attacking NaNo this year, remember to stick with it, no matter how hard it gets. I don't think it's call about winning, but more so doing. It's hard to write. Truth. So producing something, while working alongside other writers and sharing the journey is just priceless and a feel-good event. I'm cheering you on.

Song I Can't Stop Repeating

"Elements" by A Fine Frenzy.

I've got nothing to say except that this song sends me sprawling across an ocean in a rickety, but loyal boat. I love A Fine Frenzy, but only recently purchased the newest album. I'm so glad I did. Each song really is a gem.

"If the sea should swallow up my house
I will turn the rooftop inside out and the wind will be wailing
But I will be sailing faster

Oh the elements I do not fear but I fall apart when you appear
'Cause you are the greatest
The greatest disaster"

Video I Watched Too Many Times

Okay. Seriously. You need to go buy The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore on iTunes right now. Do it, haha. My intense love for all things Buster Keaton had led me to discovering this. The main character, Morris, is inspired very much my the late Buster Keaton. It is remarkable to see his expressions match and the way he moves his body during sequences (and the slight nod to One Week with the trashed house). I do have an inevitable Buster Keaton post to make, where I will likely talk about this short film again, bur I still couldn't dream of putting another video in this section for this month. The animation is amazing and, if you love books, this film will make you smile and cry. I was tearing up at the end. It's superb.