29 April 2012

Do Something

I've mentioned this before, but I feel it's worth mentioning again. Both because it's important and because the meaning evolves the farther you get into a hobby or a project or a goal or a dream.

I think the very first piece of advise I heard my original sensei utter was this: “Do Something.”

If an attacker is coming after you, don't just stand there. At the very least scream. Lash out, whack them with your purse (or man purse), kick them, jump back, punch them, run away...do something. Nothing will not help you. The cosmos can't work with nothing, but it (and you) can work with even the smallest action.

That's why, in my Kempo class, when a maneuver gets called out and I have one of those infamous “white board” moments (you know the one, when your brain suddenly gets wiped clean of everything that you need right then and all that stares back at you is a pristine, empty white board—if it had eyes, it would give you a slow blink) I do the second thing I ever learned. Defense Maneuver #6—front ball kick, step out and on guard. Sure, I might get punched or berated for not remembering what I was supposed to be doing, but I've never had an instructor (on a test or otherwise) totally take me out. When people stand there with the dumfounded look on their face, not moving—that's when things get nasty.

The same goes for writing. Especially at the beginning. If you want to write an amazing novel or story, and you never put words on paper, then it's a sure bet that your “dream” of being published will never happen. However, if you sit your butt down and do something toward your goal everyday, then eventually you'll get there. It took me six years to get my black belt. Some people do it in two or three, others take five and still others ten. Those that get there faster put more work into it than I did. Sure, a few have a natural talent for the martial arts, but in general, people move faster because they put in the time and effort.

Now that I've received my black belt (something I actually laughed at an instructor for suggesting could happen someday) I have the same problem as before. There is so much Kung-Fu goodness floating around in my brain, that it's impossible for me to go through it all at once. Heck, I can't even remember it all—good thing I take notes sometimes. But the same “Do Something” applies. I have to (okay, I should) practice something everyday. I'm still progressing, but I also need to remember and stay familiar with the basics or I'll get lost and have to backtrack to review the simple things.

Working on plotting for months at a time is good, but if the skill of actual writing has been neglected, then when your fingers to the keyboard then things might be a little rusty. The opposite is true too. But if you don't do something, then nothing will ever get done. And once you've written a novel or two, it can be easy to forget those early lessons of characterization or suspense. It's a tricky balancing act that I'm not sure anyone wins, but playing is still important.

No matter where you are in your writing journey (or whatever your goal is) remember to do something. Anything. Don't neglect your dream, or it will slip away, leaving you at the same place you are now. And I don't know about anyone else, but I every once in a while I like to get a fresh view to look at.

24 April 2012

The Legend of Korra

I'm a huge fan of the original Avatar-The Last Airbender. The TV show, not that sorry excuse of a movie. That, in my world, never happened.

So when my friends (they have kids and keep up on these things—at least that's the excuse they use) told me that the new “Avatar” was out, I was excited. My awesome friend downloaded the first two episodes on I-Tunes and we watched it! Yay!

Yes, I still like cartoons. I will never get over it. Ever.

I was kind of surprised (having not seen even the tiniest if previews for this) that it's geared more toward teenagers. The original definitely went for the younger crowd—elementary school kids. This one might be following the original series' fans as they grow up. They're teenager-ish now, so they'll watch it, right?

Uh, let's mention that my friend and I just got finished watching it...I'm just a few years over *cough* 21.

Anyway, sorry, easily distracted today. I liked it. The original humor is still there, but somewhat subdued. I like Korra, the new Avatar, and the two brothers that she joined on the professional bending circuit. Extreme sports with bending? Yes please.

Not that I have an overly high standard for cartoons, but I can't think of anything I didn't like. There was mystery, humor, cool fighting, bending, good characters, a mystery or two, conflict and a horribly serious statue of Ang.

So yeah, I'll be watching more. If someone downloads it for me. If not, I'll have to wait until it comes to NetFlix.

22 April 2012

Let's Start at the very Beginning

Well, it is a very good place to start.

If you'll notice, the name of my blog is Novel Writing or Kung Fu Fighting. I write all sorts of fun fiction, and I train in Shaolin Kempo. Neither of these activities could be, in any sense of the word, labeled easy. Unless you put quitting in there somewhere. But I'm the stubborn sort, and haven't quit either yet. There have been delays, injuries, months without a fresh idea for writing and years where I wondered if I would ever get better at either venture, but I keep going. It took me a while to come up with the reasoning behind my stubborn persistence, and I think it comes down to one simple truth. I'm a bit crazy.

Most writers are.

And most martial arts students are at least crazy enough to let other people try to hit them in the face on a regular basis.

I wonder if doing both balances out the crazy or just makes it worse.

I have different reasons for sticking with each of these activities. My goals for writing and my goals for Kempo are very different, but the two combined make for a very interesting learning perspective.

Kempo and I shouldn't get along. I'm short, getting old, overweight, fight with one extra bad knee and have never been good at anything physical. (Unless mouthing off can be considered physical.) I don't jump, run, do back handsprings or climb up walls, but I can throw a mean combination when I spar, and my right jab is pretty quick. Our style of Kempo is awesome for me, because if it works on a short guy and not a tall guy, I get the chance to figure out how to make it work on the tall guy. Okay, I usually just look helpless and ask Sensei for advise, but the point is that he is willing to do that, and I can get creative when I need to.

Writing and I get along great. Our relationship started with reading. Ah, reading. It's easy to read and think, “hey, I can write something better than that!” Doing it, however, is a different story. If not for the years and years of Kempo, I might have quit writing a long time ago because I like to get things right the first go around. That never happens with Kempo, and it taught me a lot of patience, which I then applied to writing. The first time I had to re-write a novel I would have quit for sure. Don't get me wrong, I still don't like to re-write anything, but I understand that a better story is a better story, and I want to put out the best that I can give.

So I've got all of these lessons that I've learned. In an attempt to not forget them, and to maybe help someone else out, I'm going to put them here. Once a week you'll get a dose of Novel Writing vs Kung Fu Fighting.

It'll be fun, I promise!

19 April 2012

Dratted Second Draft

I wrote the first season of Babes in Spyland in less than two weeks. I edited it over the next two weeks and pretty much had it “finished” in a month. Bing, bam boom...done!

Season two is proving to be MUCH more challenging. I'm not sure if it's just because my mind keeps wandering off into the realms of writing three other novels I want to work on, or if my plan for the plot just wasn't quite good enough to keep the words and scenes together, or if I very simply don't write well in the spring, or if the pressure of a follow up season is nagging at the back of my mind, but I've been working on it for six weeks and have just now finished the first edit.

Okay, so a season is between 20,000 and 25,000 words. So not that many, right? But I've learned that the wrong 8,000 words in the middle messes up the entire lot! Argh...

Breathing. Still breathing.

In an attempt to look on the bright side of life (as opposed to never expecting the Spanish Inquisition) I am going to take some time and chronicle what I've learned about storytelling over the past six weeks. Because it's been quite a bit. And I've got quite a long way to go, but I hope the distance has diminished somewhat. I'm hoping all of this will help me get through my next novel faster. And most of all, I'm hoping that as I go, both my writing and my storytelling will improve. The plan is to entertain people—that's what I want to do. :)

On a funny note, as I was editing the last few episodes of Babes 2, I found myself laughing out loud. Always good when I laugh at something I wrote. Hopefully it's not just funny to me.

18 April 2012


A writing buddy of mine posted this "challenge". It's the 7-7-7 something or other. Blah, blah, blah. Well, I've been lax on the whole blogging thing for the past few weeks, so I figured I would do it.
Take the 77th page of the current novel (I'm going with season, because that's what I'm working on...should be doing it now, as a matter of fact) you're working on, go to the seventh line, and then post the following seven sentences.

Knowing my luck, It's the end of an episode and there's only one line on the page. Let's find out...

Black spots started to dance in her vision, and she realized that her throat felt swollen and shut, leaving only a small hole for oxygen to get through. She silently cursed her fear of needles and willed her body to move. After a moment it did, and she stumbled forward like the wall she'd been pressed up against suddenly disappeared and she was free to go.

“Pattern Cashew Cluster!” Hans bellowed.

Seriously? Amphibian Queen thought as she charged after him, cashew Cluster? She hoped her phone was recording this.

Well, it made me laugh anyway! Happy writing.

08 April 2012

Almost Died...

Really. I did!

You see, Saturday I went to sparring class at the dojo. The usual line-up of ruffians was there. Nothing terribly interesting, just the regular sparring goodness that is Saturday's class.

In preparation for tournament in a few weeks, Sensei had us all judging the point sparring. I think he gets sick of people complaining that “I totally hit him under the guard!” when the instructor can't actually see on that side. So he made us try it out. I've done it a few times, but it doesn't really get easier. And I usually wait for a good shot, not the trading blows like kids in a girl fight.

So anyway, that was fun. I judged first, and ended up being the last one that needed to spar. Normally that means I get to pick my poison. Yay!

But that didn't happen yesterday. Oh no, Sensei takes off his huge, expensive watch, hands it to one of the other students, motions me out and says, “Who wants to judge?”

“What?” I said, staring dumfound. He's way faster than I am, and a second degree, and the grin on his face tells me he's about to have me for lunch.

What have I done??? I thought, getting on guard and knowing that any of my next breaths might be my last. I offered to just stand there and let him hit me a lot, but he was having none of it.

So we fought. I think I may have put forth a “valiant effort”, and even scored a point or two (pretty sure those were pity calls), but my life did flash before my eyes when I got him in the, er, almost face...and nicked his glasses.

Not good.

Sorry! I pulled it, I promise. So he took off the glasses and we went again. This time I almost got him in the, er, nether regions.

Oh don't panic, there was no contact, but the girl judging almost had kittens. “You hit Sensei in the groin!”

Uh, no, I did not. You see, I'd be dead if that were the case. And I'm still alive (I think) so that didn't happen.

Pretty sure ninja wannabe lost three years off her life. Playing with the big boys is stressful! And I get hit a lot.