Monday, June 27, 2011

Grammar Police Log #062711

A rare sunny weekend

I had finally decided to take a shot at my first short story contest with an entry fee. Until now, the only contest I've entered that has required a fee was a drawing contest held by a club at my university. And it doesn't get more legitimate than that, does it?

Since I joined the mailing list for this writing contest, however, I've been receiving frequent emails from the site owner and judge, full of more prompts to enter the contest than the promised writing tips.

He came off as too much of a hard-sell for his contest, so I started Googling. Now, maybe I'm just paranoid, but though there doesn't seem to be anything negative -- anything at all, really -- on his contest (at least, not buried among the search results), it still smells like a scam to me.

Maybe it's because the results are flooded with his posts on "free article" websites and the occasional forum -- basically all promotions for his contest, in the guise of short story writing tips.

Maybe it's because his name doesn't show up on any academic websites. This means he's either using a pen name (though it seems to make sense to use your real name if you're claiming to be a PhD holder and university instructor) or just one of those individuals who pay to host a lecture/workshop at a university and, from then on, claim to be "a ___ University instructor". It's actually a very common ploy, since a lot of people do not know that universities rent out lecture space to pretty much anyone not promoting hate crime.

Or maybe it's because I read some of his articles and forum posts, and it looks like he doesn't know the difference between an en dash and an em dash. Hmm.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Date Night and a Date Movie

My dear Raccoon whisked me away to see "Midnight in Paris" today, more on a whim than anything. Neither of us liked romantic comedies, so I was surprised when he insisted, especially when I found out that the only theatre showing it in Vancouver was in Chinatown... generally a seedy area in most cities.

In the three hours we spent in the building, we saw one man argue with McDonald's staff before fleeing on his scooter (wheelchair, not skateboard) with unpaid-for food, and another man light a crack pipe and smoke it indoors as we passed each other.

I really enjoyed the movie, though. I had gone in with preconceived notions about "Woody Allen humour" ("Scoop" being foremost in mind) but the movie was really funny. A little predictable, a little unrealistic (in terms of human interaction), but sweet.

Raccoon liked it, too, though he admitted he had never heard of half of the literary icons.

He doesn't like to walk in the rain, either.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time Drain

Sax x pink clay cupcake necklace

The next post will start with a non-craft-related photo, I promise.

Etsy is really eating up a lot of my time, even though -- or precisely because -- it's just a hobby and not my day job. If you procrastinate, too, you may have the same problem. That is, I always find myself working hard at whatever is second on the to-do list.

Back in university, I always avoided writing papers until the day before they were due (or even later...). If I tried to sit down and write a paper ahead of time, I always ended up doing a month's worth of laundry, or tackling a piece of freelance work, or anything else (1) that would've been top priority until then and (2) that I'd been consistently putting off until then.

So for the past two days, I've been hand-sewing a little felt camel instead of working on my entry for a short story contest closing in one week.

It (the camel, not the story) is turning out quite well. It will have the tiniest stitches ever, with lovely chains of beads and floral fabric all over, inspired by old Persian fairytales.

At least it's productive escapism.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hand-Mind Co-ordination

Denim flower hair elastic

Spent a lovely day watching The Ricky Gervais Show with Raccoon while sewing a huge strawberry plush for my now two-year-old niece. Just need to pop the leaves on now.

I made the above flower last night after finally getting away from the computer... and sitting down in front of the TV, with a movie on. At least it turned out quite nicely, even if the pale blue tulle petals disappeared into the white background. I'm starting to think I'm one of the few 20-somethings around who are not into photography at all.

The corsage also balances out my Etsy shop a bit, because the offerings were getting too cutesy. For some reason, there's always a gap between what I like and what I produce. I have a pretty distinct style/taste and am fairly good with my hands, so I don't know why my brain likes this stuff and my hands make, for example, this.

In the same way, I'd read Dickens or Gaiman all day, and write, well, possibly the most uneventful short stories ever. And let's not even get into the Mozart and Ravel I love vs. the tuneless wailing that comes out of my mouth...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Birds and Spiders

Newest listing: Chubby Chirpy blueberry bird

The picture shows my latest project -- a fatty plushie bird. I usually only make miniature to palm-sized things (for cuteness), so they don't take much time. This fellow took snippets of free time over two days.

Speaking of free time... I started Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman) last night and finished it in 4.5 hours. I COULDN'T STOP. My eyes barely left the page even when I was getting snacks or walking over to the laptop to look up "Jaffa Cake".

D, my most literary friend, recommended several of his favourite books when he last visited. I've since purchased and read Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) and The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafón), but Anansi Boys didn't seem that interesting, so I borrowed it from the library.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for brotherly love -- being pretty much stuck as my brother's snooty little sister -- but while I didn't find Anansi Boys quite as funny or sad as Neverwhere, it was somehow more moving. Sure it might've ended more effectively at the last mention of Tiger, but Anansi Boys is immediately captivating, improves as you read on, and is steeped in storytelling magic and family love.

It might have ruined my resolution to start getting to bed by 4 am, but it was worth it. I will have to finagle a copy for myself. And make a spider for my Etsy store.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Post

Clay finger puppet and bead rings, all handmade by me

Today I received my second rejection letter ever. It was for a short story (sci-fi). The previous was for a non-English piece of flash fiction submitted to a newspaper.

Of course I made excuses (
I can't write well in other languages; it was only my first attempt at science fiction) but it's still pretty terrible. Two doesn't sound like that many, but I only quit my last office job (in editing and copywriting) five months ago, and have been spending much of this time reading, taking ballet class 2 to 3 times a week, doing crafts...

and not writing enough.

So I hope that starting this blog will motivate me to do more with each day, and most of all, distract me from the rejection slips.

On a happier note, the bunny finger puppet I've been using as my Etsy avatar (sloppily pasted over my face in a photo :P) has lured in a potential first buyer! I hope to make this bunny a friend very soon.