Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

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A BOOK-LOVER RIGHT OF PASSAGE

Reading Atlas Shrugged.

Tis an arduous and intimidating journey of 1167 pages, more if you want surrounding criticism. I’m plugging away at it presently, and you know what? I have a love-hate relationship with it. Here’s why.

My LOVE for it is comprised of its respect for the reader – a respect easily misjudged as disrespect in its mind-directing, even hypnotizing narrative techniques. Ayn Rand expects her reader to be intelligent, hard-working, and dedicated to his or her own life, and this is evident in the way she tells the story. John Rogers said in a blog once, “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” I think, had Ayn Rand heard this criticism, she would have been delighted to have been understood so well. Atlas Shrugged is a strange fusion of utopian and dystopian narrative and the oversimplification that comprises this strangeness is obviously fantastical.

On this level, it’s a fantasy novel. Ayn Rand always claimed to write for herself – She is her own reader and that is why her reader receives the respect of great expectations. Of course, her writing would be her fantasy.

She was far too intelligent to have been deluded into believing that the realm she envisioned was realistic; its purpose was a fantastical forum through which she could explain very realistic (in the reality-relevant sense of the word, not in the feasible sense, necessarily) ideas and ethical postulations.

Reading such a novel at fourteen and failing to distinguish the fantastical and the realistic elements would most certainly be dangerous.

So with John Rogers’ words I completely agree – yet not with his tone.

My HATE for it is comprised of its AWFUL HORRIBLE TERRIBAD DREADFUL ~LENGTH~. And yes, I know Ms. Rand would have rolled her eyes at me for my saying so.

JAPANESE SUPERMODELS, DEFINITIONS OF LITERATURE, AND THE LIME GREEN GOODBYE. WTC?

Yes, my blog is totally revamped. The content will still be basically the same. I’m just taking it in a more useful direction. With any luck.

I wanted a title that would catch people’s attention and stay true to my blog’s theme. TELL ME YOUR STORY, TELL ME YOUR SONG works because:

  1. I really do want to connect with people more and my blogs forum-like.
  2. I want to help others improve their writing abilities.
  3. The caps and the lyrics reference are catchy.

The new theme is more professional, less painful on the eyes, and beautifully clean. I love it.

So today was my first day back at USC. Oh my god. I love my schedule. Again.

1)  AMERICAN LIT with Professor Cowart

This class got me fired up. Looking online I thought Prof. Cowart seemed pretty scary, but in person I loved him. He’s wonderfully eloquent and can recite lines of poetry. He spouted off three wonderful definitions of literature:

  • “An excellent book that delights and informs” ~ Horace
  • “The axe for the frozen sea within us” ~ Franz Kafka
  • “News that stays news” ~ Ezra Pound

It wasn’t like he made a show of it either. He was simply talking about something that interested him and needed use of those quotes to express himself. He went on to talk about impressions of America, still impressed upon the American psyche and reflected in literature, as Eden-like; immigrants saw the new world as an open chance to morally begin again.

Once they cleared out the Native Americans, anyway.

2) ELEMENTARY JAPANESE with Baba-sensei is always awesome. Very sweet lady, very laid back. My only complaint would be that she moves too slow. I plan to move at a better pace this semester and place out of an intermediate class.

3)  JAPANESE CULTURE THROUGH ANIME with Professor Miyazaki = Win. Several times over. We took a quiz that went something like this:

  • Do you like anime from Japan?
  • Would you tie your friends to chairs and force them to watch Japanese anime until they too became hopelessly addicted? (My answer:  Depends on how fiercely they bite.)
  • Would you go without eating to buy the latest DVD release from Japan? (Not with corporations experimenting with letting things leak on the internet these days, we wouldn’t….)
  • Do you go home and watch Yuri and Kei, also known as The Dirty Pair?
  • Do you go to anime conventions… dressed in only a teeny weeny itsy bitsy yellow tiger print bikini like Lum from Urusei Yatsura?

This class is going to be something else. Miyazaki-sensei is like supermodel pretty too. Lots of boys.

4) CREATIVE WRITING with Professor Waldron (Barilla)

I was terrified of this class. I’m very nervous about getting a Masters in Creative Writing, very anxious that it will destroy more creativity than it breeds. The first few classes I take will set that tone.

Tomorrow I’ll find out about British Lit. And hopefully I’ll be back in the language lab with Taku-san, our TA from Tokyo University! xD Now if only he weren’t boring as crap….

A PROMPT FOR YOU

Tell me about your favorite class of all time. Was it a second grade music class? A college course with a crazy professor? Do you believe in education at all? Can’t wait to hear from you!

Love & Peace

STUDIES OF STORYTELLING

I have a very unique way of battling writer’s block. When I can’t seem to make a story fit together, I go back and review the first fundamentals of storytelling I ever learned…by watching Disney movies.

Yes, this works! I’ve told quite a few other writers about it who’ve seen where I’m coming from. Classic stories told in ways that have caused people to love them all their lives. If you’re shooting to be a bestseller (though maybe not a Pulitzer), why not pay a little attention?

I’ve started making a study of storytelling in everything I watch. As an 18-year-old, I believe I am still entitled to my share of anime and That’s 70’s Show, not to mention movies with friends. I always try to pay attention to character development, narration as the way the story unfolds, the effects of setting and time. I suppose I can attribute it to my teacher Mr. Ford, who invented a class called Film & Fiction in the Fort Mill school district and taught students to appreciate film as art. It was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken.

Writing isn’t the only form of storytelling out there. It’s not even the most popular anymore. There is lots of room for writers to take advantage.

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