Monday, November 24, 2008

Is This the Twilight of My Life?

Before going to see a movie, I like to read other people’s reviews on it. Otherwise, if it’s something I’m really looking forward to, my expectations go through the roof and are bound to be dashed on the rocks of despair because nothing can be as good as how I’m imagining it (I also don’t like forming my own opinion if I can help it). As I was somewhat interested in seeing Twilight, though not as psyched as the Twihards, I’m sure, I thought I’d better make sure I wasn’t too hopeful about the outcome. Actually, my main objective was to see if the movie would be better than the book. Several reviewers expressed great disappointment with the film, preferring the book, though there were several who loved it (and not all of these were of the teenage persuasion).

I, myself, was somewhere in between…

I’d just read the book about a month ago, so the story was fresh in my mind. Like other reviewers, I found that the movie was reasonably true to the book, though there are a few things that I felt it did better. In my opinion (which I know I’m not alone in), the book could have used a bit more oomph in places, especially in the descriptive and action department. That was not a problem with the movie. The visuals, at least the backdrop of the story, were lovely - dark and dreary and mysterious. The action was better in the movie, as well. The book tended to lead you up to the action, then drop you off before anything really happened (I’m mainly referring to the fight scene), leaving you to fill in the gaping hole. It is a tension tease!

Contrary to some other reviewers, I also thought the actors did a decent job, and some were even quite good. A few predicted that being in this movie is going to kill certain of the actor’s careers, which I think is ridiculous. Sure, some of the scenes were a bit overblown…Bella being all frustrated and confused, for one, and the last hospital scene for another, but I thought Robert Pattinson as Edward and Kristen Stewart as Bella played their roles how they were meant to be played. The book does not provide a lot of insight into who they are or why they are the way they are, so I think they did the best they could with what they had.

My first impression of casting was that someone got it all wrong. Each time I’d see a new character, I had to do a mental race to figure out who they were meant to be. Especially the first time I saw Carlisle. Well, I knew right away who he was meant to be, but he looked terrible in his pancake-white makeup, like Casper all grown up. As the movie developed, however, I was happy to see less and less of the pancake. It was like the director realized the mistake and made changes as shooting went along, but didn’t feel like re-shooting those initial scenes. Also as the movie progressed, I was happy to find that the actors had developed their characters to a point that I was able to recognize them, and maybe even like them more than I did in the book. Case in point, I thought Anna Kendrick as Jessica, the friend, was great. In fact, I thought she even spiced up the character and made her more likeable. I also felt that Peter Facinelli worked well as Carlisle - I would have liked to have seen more of him (once the pancake faded).

There were a few scenes throughout the movie that especially caught my attention, either visually, or through the compelling factor. The one scene where Edward shows up in his car to rescue Bella - that was very Bond-like and quite cool. I also felt that the scene where Bella walked past Edward in the school parking lot and he turned to follow her up the hill and into the woods was very well done. Another scene I enjoyed was the tree scene, where they were perched high as an eagle in that enormous pine overlooking miles of breathtaking hills and trees and lakes, then later, becoming completely involved in the scenery of each other.

I think the main appeal of the Twilight series is not that the story revolves around vampires, it’s the unusual relationship between Bella and Edward. Anyone who has an ounce of romance in them must have felt some allure there. Who doesn’t want to be singled out - chosen - by someone with the power and mystique of Edward (and who hasn’t found anyone else good enough in almost a hundred years)? Who doesn’t wish to have someone who will protect you, take care of you, who cannot be harmed themselves? Edward is the quintessential mate. He has good morals, yet underneath possesses a secret, a burden he must struggle with - he is the lost soul that our hearts go out to. He is beautiful and alluring to all those around him, yet he chooses you just because of who you are. He has power and strength. He cannot die. Edward has it all. Sometimes I think we are all searching for someone like Edward - someone who is so darn amazing, yet finds us so darn amazing that they’re willing to sacrifice or suffer terribly just to be with us. Wow. It’s like he’s God personified (or vampirified).

Bella, on the other hand, is meant to be like the rest of us schmucks. She was obviously written to be very human, glaring flaws and all. She also feels undeserving of any kind of love or attention. Day to day, we look for acceptance, kindness, even a little interest shown in us. We want to seem special, to be more than just another number heading toward inevitable death without anyone noticing. We want to be that ugly duckling we feel ourselves to be, suddenly burgeoning into a swan. This must have happened to Bella (the name means beautiful, of course) and that’s why we can relate to her (well, more that we just want to be her). Having gone so long unnoticed, she is uncomfortable with the transformation, which gets a little old after a while. I wish she would accept herself so that she can actually relax a little. But that's just me.

In the end, the book and the movie are fantasies and that’s what I took them for. If you aren’t falling for certain things (some people hated the glittery skin idea), I recommend just letting it go. Fantasies have the power to do whatever they want, no matter how unrealistic. That’s why they’re called fantasies! Admittedly, I would have liked to see more of this and that in both the book and the movie (why is Bella so down on herself? What does she see in Edward beyond his beauty?), but I can’t deny the allure of them both. Stephenie Meyer happens to have caught that appeal. Her story gets at the heart of a basic human desire, and that is, we all want unconditional love.

Though I ask you (and Bella), what good is unconditional love if you don’t feel that you deserve it? Come on, Bella! You ARE good enough, smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like you! So just take it and enjoy your vampire love.


Friday, November 21, 2008

When the Skies of November Turn Gloomy

Gordon Lightfoot is one of my favorite singers. Whenever November rolls around, I think about his song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," a moving homage he wrote about the ship, The Edmund Fitzgerald, which went down on Lake Superior, November 10, 1975. It’s a fitting tribute to this dangerous month, when the winds blow up trouble, the skies turn gloomy and winter thunders in.

It is particularly fitting this year…

That’s because I’m doing this challenge. I almost wrote stupid challenge, but I didn’t. Even though I desperately wanted to. I’m tired out. Not yet burned out, but getting there. This isn’t good, you know. I started out so positive and full of spirit at the beginning of the month. Now I just want to kick someone to the moon.

There are various factors as to why I feel this way, one of them having much to do with the temperature. It is 29 degrees outside. Since moving to New England eleven years ago, I have never seen it this cold this early in the season (though maybe I’m repressing it so don’t go looking it up, Anal-Retentive Guy). Of course, when I first moved here, the weather forecasters would say things like, "It’s going to be frigid tonight, folks. Down to eighteen overnight, I’m afraid." Silly me, being a native of Minnesota, automatically thought eighteen below (zero, that is). Nope. Just eighteen. These New Englanders are a bit wimpy, I thought.

Well, I’m singing a different tune now. Eighteen is frigid and that’s all there is to it.

Anyway, I was talking about the challenge. It’s going slowly. I’m on page 140 as I write this. I have definitely made progress and also only have 40 pages left to edit for Anaedor 2. Still, it seems to be going so slowww. Really, though, I should just be happy that in the midst of preparing for a craft show, for Thanksgiving, for the holidays (I like to get all my shopping done by the end of November because I like torturing myself), and for death, that I’m making any progress at all.

Part of the problem might be all the time I put into these blogs. I slave over them, I pull my hair out over them, I weep over them. I’m sure that it shows.


Anyway, I plan on doing something relaxing soon, which should help with this blah feeling. I’m going to see the movie, Twilight. Being as it’s a book about a female heroine and mysterious creatures (kind of like Anaedor), I thought I should read the book, which I did, and see the movie, which I will, then review it. So stay tuned for my definitive blog on the movie.

I bet you’re all-aflutter!

Friday, November 14, 2008

NaNoWriMo Is Hard to Say

I think NaNoWriMo is hard to say, probably because I say it wrong. I say the Wri part like ree instead of the correct way, rye, which makes a certain sort of sense, but is much less fun to roll off the tongue.

Do you even care?

I hope not. Okay, so the challenge continues. This week has definitely been slower on the writing/editing front, but I’m still making forward progress. Why are things slow? Because there have been a few distractions along the way, like hospital visits, allergy attacks and reading other people’s blogs - dang them for being so tantalizingly intriguing! During my bloghopping, I came across an audio commentary that you should take a listen to. It definitely has an alternative, perhaps less supportive, view of NaNoWriMo, that I think you should be aware of. Here’s the link. Come back when you’re done.

So did you listen to it? I think Jeff DeRego makes some valid points, although I can’t say he’s completely right about everything because I’m taking the challenge, and agreeing with him would make me look like an idiot. I do agree with his take on the process of writing. Writing isn’t simply about producing, it’s about making sure that what you’re producing isn’t complete crapola. On the other hand, before starting the Anaedor series, I wrote four novels that were complete crapola and I wasn’t even in a hurry.

Okay, so here’s the deal. Whether or not you agree with either of us, if you’re going to take the challenge, do it with a big grain of salt. It’s nothing, if not motivation, to get yourself seated on your hiney and putting in some time. People are their own worst obstacles. I think that if you sit down and write a lot of pages, maybe even complete something, you’ve shown yourself that you can do it - that writing a book is achievable. In the beginning stages of becoming a writer, I don’t think it matters what you’ve written. What’s important is getting over that hurdle of starting and then finishing what you started. Keep in mind, as well, that editing was invented for the main reason that most of us don’t get it right the first time.

As Jeff maintains, you certainly don’t have to write every day to be a writer, but it also doesn’t hurt to write as much as you can for the simple fact that more practice means better writing (and it also becomes easier over time). However, if you don’t write every day, if you don’t complete the challenge, I truly believe that somehow you will survive and maybe even flourish. The main point is that you need to find what works for you and then try to stick to it.

In the end, books don’t write themselves. Sad - shocking even - but true. If you want to be a writer and someday, hopefully, a published author, then you’ve got to write. It’s that simple.

So far this challenge has forced me to be productive at a time when I kept putting off writing to do other things. I am sincerely thankful for this push because while I was missing my writing, I was not carving out the time to do it. Whether or not I meet my goal of completing my book this month is not important to me, but getting back on track is.

So thank you Jeff DeRego for putting this challenge into perspective and thank you NaNoWriMo for kicking me in the butt!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Momma Done Called the Cops on Me!

Yes, you read that right. My mom called the cops on me, and I didn’t even do anything wrong. Loyal readers, you know I can’t go too long without something strange happening in my life. This is the latest.

It all started on a wet and wild day…

It was around 4:00 in the afternoon and I decided to take the kids and our puppy out for a walk. I needed the exercise, as did the dog, so I decided we’d all head out in rain gear, with umbrellas clutched firmly in hand. Having discovered a lovely stream a couple weeks ago that was about a 20-minute walk away, we headed for that. It was slow going in rainboots, but we still made good time, enough for the kids to muck about and make leaf boats when we arrived at the stream.

We couldn’t stay long, though. It was daylight saving’s now, losing us an hour’s daylight, and overcast from the rain, to boot, so I decided we’d better head home - it was starting to get dark. So we tromped and trudged along on the journey back, not thinking about much of anything but getting home. We weren’t too far from the house when my mom scared us by calling out my name. When I finally figured out that it was her and not the fairies I’d been discussing with my four-year-old, I answered back that we were coming.

She met us at the garage and told us she’d been worried because it was dark (it looks much more so on the inside looking out). I assured her that we’d been able to see the whole way home and then asked her what time it was (not too long after 5:00). We’d only been gone a little over an hour. I thought she was overreacting a bit, but, oh well. Little did I know.

So we get inside the house and the kids are stripping down and toweling off, when my oldest son says, "What’s that big truck in the driveway?" Well, it turned out to be a fire truck, lights a-flashing, along with several other trucks. I gaped. Two of my sons are in their underwear, I’m wet and trying to dry off a sopping puppy whose only goal in life is to eat the towel I’m using and my mom says, "Oh, I know what that is. But I canceled that." Well, apparently they didn’t get the message and showed up in force to track down the missing lady and her kids who, might I remind you, had only been gone a little over an hour. Needless to say, I was feeling very embarrassed by this turn of events. Having come from a strong Norwegian background, asking for help was like asking someone to stick a pencil in your eye, God forbid you get noticed for anything, even good stuff, and looking foolish is as good as getting a death sentence. I can just imagine the conversation at the fire station now…Remember that idiot lady who took her kids for a walk in the woods in the rain and dark and nearly gave her poor mother a stroke from the worry? What a neglectful mother and daughter she was.


I eventually forgave my mother for jumping the gun…she’d made soup for our supper, along with excellent homemade crescent rolls so I told her she was off the hook, though she could still bet her booty that I was going to be blogging about her boo-boo. That’s what she gets for being a worried mother. Sigh. It’s nice to be cared about, but I hate that kind of attention. It did help that all the guys who came out were really good about it. Said they were just glad they didn’t have to go trekking through the woods. As they were leaving, Dorrie tried to go with them and I had to pick her up in her little towel and carry her back inside, mumbling about how I was going to kill my mother. Luckily they didn’t hear me or I’d really have been in trouble.

By now I have kind of recovered, and am glad we’re new to the town so I shouldn’t get teased about being lost in the woods for an hour. Just in case, though, I think I’ll wear sunglasses and a scarf for the next few weeks.

Anyhoo, I wasn’t going to blog about any of that, but it came up so I thought I’d better get it down while I was still mad.

Now…back to my regularly scheduled blog. Remember that I’m attempting to finish a novel in the month of November without going mad? Well, on November 1st I started with about 73 pages with the hope of completing the rest of the novel in 30 days. So far, I am rocking the house! Somehow I am managing to write 5+ pages a day and enjoying it. Working around kids, a puppy, storytime at the library, the election, a baby shower, and getting ready for a craft fair (I ordered 1000 bookmarks and have to trim them all because the stupid company didn’t cut them right), not to mention the whole cop trauma, I am still managing to write.

Of course, getting enough sleep is another matter.

Relaxation time has gone out the window, as well. But here’s what’s helping. Both my husband and I are taking the challenge. He’s not writing a book, but he’s making a new website and wants to finish it this month. It always helps to have a partner who is working as hard as you do. If he were sitting on the couch watching Ghost Hunters and eating Cheezits all evening while I was trying to keep my eyes from closing for a little snooze, I would be tempted to join him. Instead, he’s in here with me, working just as hard. Misery sure does love company, doesn’t it?

The strange thing is, I’m not actually miserable. While I trim bookmark after bleepin’ bookmark (and permanently cripple my back), we catch up on our day, discuss world events, wonder what to do about the puppy who keeps chewing on our computer cords, and sing along to Dido. It’s actually been kind of nice.

So far, I have written 32 pages. Of course, that’s 32 pages with lots of dialogue, which really can make a book fly by. Yeah, dialogue! I’m sure I’ll slow down as the days pass, but it’s definitely an awesome start. I’m shocked by it, actually. What also helps is knowing that the Thanksgiving holiday is coming up. I want to get most of the book written before then so I can actually enjoy the vacation. Which I do think is achievable.

But only if I don’t end up on COPS for being in the toilet too long.

Thanks, Mom!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Scariest Challenge Ever!

For the last of my Halloween blogs this year, I am actually going to write about something happening in November, and I'm not talking All Saints Day. I am talking about a challenge. This challenge is so scary that I'm not sure I'm up to it myself.

What is it, you ask? Well read on, oh intrepid ones!

Okay, here's the challenge. I didn't invent it myself, but I am going to try and do it anyway (other people's challenges are always risky). According to the website, NaNoWriMo, which is short-hand for National Novel Writing Month, November is the month to finally write that novel you've always wanted to write. Here's the catch. The creators of this website challenge you to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Off the top of my head, I figure that's approximately 1666.66 words a day (4 1/2 to 5 typewritten pages, give or take). Why? Because they are sadists. And because issuing such a challenge, with a deadline, will give you motivation like you've never had before.

Personally, being somewhat of a rebel, I'm going to take on a modified version of the challenge. I have already started a novel, about 70 pages in, and my challenge is to finish it by the end of November. Doing it this way, I won't qualify for the website's contest, but I'm okay with that. This is a personal thing.

But I'm too busy, Kristina! you cry. I'll write my book when I'm ________ (fill in the blank - retired, done with having kids, recovered from malaria). Well, I'm busy, too. At the same time that I'll be writing this novel in one month, I will be editing another novel, potty training a puppy, raising three boys, running a household and taming a wild Rhinoceros.

Beat that.

This will probably be the death of us, but what do we have to lose (other than our lives?). Mostly sleep, I suppose. And any possible relaxation time. But what will we gain? A book. An entire novel filled with words we put together all by ourselves. It may not make any sense, it may be a pile of crap, but it will be ours.

To prove that I'm not making this up, visit nanowrimo yourself to see what I'm talking about. It's a neat website and the creators seem like fun, albeit sadistic, people (although the two may go hand in hand for you). Also, stay tuned for weekly updates on my progress and feel free to comment on your own. Remember, united we stand, divided we fall. So don't let me down. Also, just so you know, if I fall, I'm taking you all down with me.

Good luck and Happy Halloween!