Year-End Roundup: 2020

Well howdy partner! I sure am glad you stopped by. I’m a bit late to the party, but I think I’ve spent just enough time in 2021 to be able to reflect on the year that came before. And boy howdy, was it a year. My posts went from happy happy happy to crappy crappy crappy real, real fast. Half of the things I was looking forward to in 2021 sunk faster than a lead balloon…or like a regular balloon, full of human-lung air and not helium, I suppose.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, because this post is a time capsule whether I like it or not: COVID 19. 2020 saw a global pandemic ravage the world, and a lot of things changed. Lots of magazines were hit hard by it, and opportunities for writers to share their work were lost. Many people lost their jobs. Many people lost their lives. I myself was lucky. I didn’t lose anyone, I didn’t catch the virus, and I didn’t lose my job. I’m an essential worker, in fact, so I was working quite a lot during this year. I had two scares, though, four long weeks where I was forced to stay in my home, wondering if I was sick with this disease or not. Forced to stay in my home and watch the people around me show me just how selfish they really were. My goddamn premier broke the restrictions he enforced on the rest of us, for god sakes, so who could expect the little guys to want to protect each other? But still, I saw a change in the value of creativity. People learned to value their time, value the simple things, and value each other. I want this to be over as soon as possible. Even now, January 2021, we are still dealing with the virus, and I’ve had it up to here. However…in reflecting, things weren’t all bad. That’s really the best I can say about it.

While some things changed for the worse, some, most notably on here, changed for the better. The banners I started the year with? Hideous. Disgusting. At least quarantine gave me the opportunity (and time) to improve my graphic design skillz. I also started making different kinds of content, and good content too, at that. Lots changed. I have TikTok now. That’s pretty cool.

I think.

Anyways, I want to look back at the bests of the year, my own progression as a writer and a creator, and what things are going to look like going forward. You might notice that the site looks different. That’s not the only change, but we’ll get to that soon.

Without further ado…let’s begin.

Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts

  • I haven’t seen Season 2 yet (thanks university) but this is still one of my favourite things I’ve watched this year
  • It has everything I like.
    • Surreal sci-fi universe? Check.
    • Fantastic representation? Check.
    • Fun music? Check.
    • Great action? Check.
    • Lovable characters? Check.
    • Cats? Check, check, check.
  • Seriously. Go watch this show.

Saint Seiya

  • This is glorious anime cheese and I love every minute of it
  • The power system? Nonsensical. Every line of dialogue? Delivered with utter bombastic enthusiasm. The action? 80’s anime awesomeness.
  • It wasn’t deep, but it was a great distraction from everything else that was going on in my life, and for that I hold this show in high regard.

RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 5

  • I love all things Drag Race. All things. I adore it. This show is incredible. It has got me through so many hard times and I make everyone I know watch it.
  • This year brought us All Stars Season 5, which to me was the All Stars season to end all All Stars seasons. Some of my favourite contestants of all time returned, and the season was full of drama and fun challenges. There was redemption. There was fighting. There were old favourites and new friends. It was truly a season of All Stars.
  • I feel bad for the winner, as they would not have had as many opportunities due to COVID that previous seasons would have offered, but I am still happy with the season and I think the top 5 was one of the best yet.

Hunter x Hunter Movies

  • I finished Hunter x Hunter this year. Both versions, the 2011 anime and the 1999 anime. I love them both, though I like the 2011 a little better.
  • I haven’t seen the 1999 OVAs yet, because I’m trying to find dubbed versions and I dislike subs, but I did watch both of the Hunter x Hunter movies based on the 2011 anime, Phantom Rouge and The Last Mission
  • Phantom Rouge is my favourite, because it’s a Kurapika-centric story and I love my angsty red-eyed boy. I also loved the little emotional moments with Gon and Killua as well.
  • I enjoyed seeing a little more of the Kurta as well.
  • The Last Mission is also great. I love the action and the new power set and the score and everything. They’re both really good, but you have to watch the show to know what’s going on.

Imager by L. E. Modesitt

  • Imager is my favourite book I read this year.
  • Not that that’s saying much, because I didn’t read as much as I wanted to this year, but this was still my favourite out of all the books I read
  • My partner recommended it to me, and I’m very glad he did.
  • Read my full review for more!

Our Land was A Forest by Kayano Shigeru

  • I almost didn’t include this one, because I read it for school, but it was so good I couldn’t not include it
  • It’s a memoir from Kayano Shigeru, who is a member of the Ainu nation of Japan (Japan’s Indigenous people) and the first major politician from their people
  • His life is very interesting, as are his thoughts on his people. Many people don’t know about the Ainu, their culture or their struggles, and this book is a good place to start to learn about this awesome group of people

Joey the Otter

Cute otter livestream. ‘Nuff said.

Writing

  • Goddamn Transformers fanfiction. Since the beginning of the goddamn year I’ve been working on this shit.
    • And it’s still going.
    • I am grateful, though. People enjoy the fic. That’s the only reason I’ve been working so hard on it. They comment nice things, they ask for more, and they are patient and kind. It’s nice to have that. I want to finish the fic, not just so I don’t have to do it anymore, but so the audience can see the story they’ve been supporting come to a conclusion.
  • Finished Winter Prince
    • I got the idea for this novel from a dream I had in high school…which should tell you how long I’ve been working on it
    • I just finished the first draft. There is still more work to do. It won’t end until it is published, but I am happy to have something to work on, and a full draft to work with
  • Finished Pet Project…after three tries, and then decided to hard reboot it so it’s back to not being done
    • Started as a fluffy romance, then as a drama, and now it’s a dark academia horror/fantasy
    • That’s just where we’re at right now
    • The world building is done, and then soon I will start work on it, but it’s just kind of funny to see how things have progressed
  • 25 Poems in one month
    • Decided to do this after taking a social media course
    • Stay tuned for more on this process, coming later this month

Personal

  • Went back to school
    • Moving back to undergraduate school from grad school hurt my pride, but now that I’m in the full swing of my academics I’m feeling a bit better
    • I have to wait until February until I find out if I got into the undergrad program I applied for, but for now I’m enjoying the process of school, despite my massive anxiety
  • Still struggling through rejections
    • I’m hoping that once COVID is over I can get back into submitting

  • Looking back, I struggled a lot with blogging. It was a busy year, and a depressing year at that, and I didn’t always do what I said I would. And for that, I’m sorry.
  • This year, this are going to look a little bit different around here.
    • Monthly book reviews are going away. I don’t have enough time to read due to school, so it’ll happen when it happens
    • I want to move to more short little non-fiction things rather than blog posts. I have a poll as to what to keep, but as it stands I want to move into more deep dives and analysis and writing related stuff. For now.
    • Also, check out the poll below: I want to know if I should continue with certain types of content or not, and I want some input from my audience.
  • Happy New Year, everyone. I’m excited for another year of creating content, writing, and making connections with all you lovely folkx out there. I hope 2021 is already treating you well, and I hope it only gets better from here.

So, how has your 2021 been so far? Let me know down below!

Yours always,

Month-End Roundup: December 2020

Guten tagen!

We’re finally back on the up swing! Finals were hard, holidays were harder, and I am really, really looking forward to 2020 being over, but I’m feeling much better. Not completely back to normal, but better.

This Month-End Roundup is going to be a shorter entry this month, because, just like every other blogger and their dog, I’m planning to do a year-end roundup too which will be bigger, longer, and uncut. So, in the grand tradition of Saitama…

We’re going to try to keep the “watched” and “red” section entries to 20 words or less! Let’s get reflecting, folkx. I’m ready to get the snowball rolling and finish 2020 strong.

https://elkascott.wordpress.com/2020/12/05/saturday-listicle-my-top-5-christmas-movies/

https://elkascott.wordpress.com/2020/12/13/saturday-listicle-top-five-gifts-for-the-writer-in-your-life/

  • Nick DiRamio
    • Movie, music and YouTube commentary from a flamboyant director living in LA, featuring aloe plants and tiny plastic hands.
  • The Hot Box
    • Sarcastic commentary over top of Assassin’s Creed gameplay, everything from problematic YouTubers to art drama.
  • Hunter x Hunter 1999
    • Different enough from 2011 to hold my interest, still with the same characters I love.
  • Hamilton (again)
    • Forced my husband to watch it with me and the songs have been in his head ever since.
  • He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special
    • Skeletor learns the true meaning of Christmas, and what Christmas is, while He-Man and She-Ra punch robots.

  • The Left Hand of Darkness
    • Who’s left hand is it? In all seriousness, intriguing world-building, looking forward to learning more.
  • Textbooks
    • So boring. Many dates. Much info. Help.

  • 25 poems!
    • And I edited and finished up a few more unfinished pieces, but who’s counting?
    • I’m writing a blog post about it in January, but let’s just say…it was a lot of fun
  • Worked on finishing my NaNo project…it’s not done yet, but it’s going well
  • I also worked on the newest iteration of my pet project. Which is also going well! The timeline is done, and now I have some character sheets to do and fart around in Campfire for a while. And then it’ll be time to write it!
  • I also had some new ideas that I’ve been fleshing out. I’ll probably write about them a bit more next month, when they’re more than just titles with characters.
  • “Suck It Norman” now has a title: Dust Bowl Magik. It’s got magic. It’s got mutants. It’s got road trips with your worst enemy. It’s a blast to write, so I hope people have a blast reading it.
  • As for the fanfiction…you know it isn’t done. Quit playing. At least it’s all the way plotted now. Again. Send help.

Blog Posts for January

25 Poems Later: On Writing 25 Poems in One Month: January 8th, 2021

Top 5 Anime Heroes: January 15th, 2021

Top 5 Anime Villains: January 22nd, 2021

Chained to Hell: A Trauma-Centric Analysis of Kurapika (Deep Dive): January 29th, 2021

Project Goals for January

Writing Goals

  • Social media: start posting more video content, continue posting on TikToks
  • Finish world-building my pet project
  • Finish fanfiction…or keep trying.
  • Finish NaNo project
  • Edit poems
  • Plot out ideas for next projects
  • Redesign blog

Personal Goals

  • Apply to my university’s social work program
  • Use social media more
  • Follow health plan
  • Start the new semester strong

How was your last month of the year of our Lord 2020? Are you looking forward to it being over? How was Christmas? Let me know below!

Until Next Year (And stay tuned for the year-end roundup!),

Edit note (January 1st, 2021): Changed some of the posts around and changed the schedule

Saturday Listicle: Top Five Gifts for the Writer in Your Life

Ho-ho-ho!

I don’t know about you, but I’m stressed about Christmas presents. Shopping is time in this time of COVID, and I don’t want the gift that keeps on giving (giving chest pain, nasty coughs and joint pain, of course) so I’ve been doing most of my shopping online, if I don’t make a gift myself. Now comes the anxiety of waiting, and hoping, that the mail brings the gifts I ordered on time, not to mention trying to fit making gifts in with studying for finals and writing term papers. But I’m lucky enough to have time to do those things, and I’m also anal retentive prepared enough to know what everyone is getting. Some of you reading this might be writers yourselves, or know writers, or both, and you know that writers are really, really hard to buy for. You can’t buy them a publishing deal (well you can, but you shouldn’t) and you can’t buy them bestseller status (Handbook for Mortals did that, yeah, but I’m sure you don’t want your friends compared to Loni Serendipity or whatever her name is). You can’t even buy them more time to write! So, you might be asking yourself, what should I get, then? Well, your critter Mx. Elka has you covered. I’ve prepared for you the best advice on…

Note: Nothing on here is sponsored. At all. I’m not including affliate links or anything like that. No shade to those folkx out there who do, I just haven’t been lucky enough to get sponsors. So, get your writer friends a gift from wherever you feel like! Except #1, which is specific, but they’re not sponsoring me either.

I know I don’t have to, but I would disclose if I was sponsored, too, so I feel it fair to disclose that I’m not. I’m open to it, if anyone out there wants me to peddle their wares.

Onto the show!

  • Look, we can’t ethically buy our writer friends status, or followers, or sales, but we can give them the tools to do so themselves
  • Or, we can give them the tools to improve their craft, or some new ideas on ways to do things different.
  • Skillshare has so many different courses that the writer in your life can use, from social media to cover design to writing techniques
  • Your pal might need some tech savvy to use these courses, but I think it’s just as good of a resource as any writing book.

  • Writers spend a lot of time sitting down. You know it, I know it, my sore back muscles know it…
  • You could get your writing friends and family a standing desk, but that’s not really the best solution, and some people might not have the room for such a contraption.
  • Also, you never know what someone has going on health wise.
  • You know what’s better than that? Buy them a good chair, or more cushions
  • I mean it. A good writing chair can make all the difference, and if you don’t know about a chair, a good cushion can be just as good
  • Comfort can make more difference than you know, and so can lower back support. Help your pal become a better writer by helping them have a better spine.

  • It’s a stereotype for a reason: writers love hot beverages
  • I feel like one of the few writers who hates coffee, but I love me some tea.
  • I love to take tea with me wherever I go, or to have more tea than a mug will provide when I’m at home
  • I’m not breaking flow to get a drink, I tell you that
  • This is the one stereotype you should actually put stock in
  • Caffiene is one of the few substances writers are addicted to that won’t ruin our lives. HELP US GET IT IN OUR VEINS FASTER I CAN STOP WHENEVER I WANT MOM STOP JUDGING ME
  • So, a gift that might be good for your pal is a good thermos. Make sure it doesn’t leak, and that is has options for coffee, tea and has clear care instructions written on it.
  • A cute pattern doesn’t hurt either.

  • Yes, I mean the ones actually for your back, not the adult ones.
  • As I’ve already mentioned, writers sit a lot, often hunched over, and we have sore backs.
  • Even with a nice chair or a good pillow, sitting for long on ANYTHING can mess with your spine.
  • So, because masseurs are expensive and we’re not allowed to leave our houses, a back massager can come in really handy.
  • Then you can make your friends happy without having to touch them! Yay!
  • Or get them the other kind, for grown-ups. I won’t judge you.

  • This one is very personally meaningful.
  • Writers spend a lot of time with their characters, unsure if anyone else will ever see them, or if anyone will love them as much as they do.
  • Giving them some art of their characters can show them that hey, someone other than you cares about this character, and this project, and them as a writer.
  • You don’t have to make it yourself, either. There’s a lot of artists out there who are also looking for work and money, with decent rates and lots of talent
  • You’ll be giving two people a gift at once, which is double the karma!
  • So, whether you buy art or make it, it’s never a good idea to show how much you appreciate your pal’s hard work.

I had to use a new photo editing software for these banners, since mine was buggy. Does it look better? Worse? Let me know.

So. Writers. What do you want for Christmas? What’s the worst gift you can possibly imagine? Let me know down below!

Sincerely,

Saturday Listicle: My Top 5 Christmas Movies

Ho-ho-ho! Time to take down the Halloween decorations and put up the tinsel! The season of spooky is over, and now it’s time for the season of giving!

My favourite holiday is Halloween, but I do love Christmas. Even though where I live, in Saskatchewan, Canada, the weather around Christmas is usually freezing, cold and terrible, but everyone walks around with a spring in their step and joy in their hearts. It’s a month-long nostalgia trip and I have my ticket ready.

As you can probably guess, the El-Listicles ™ this month will all be themed around the holidays. I have some advice lined up, some recommendations, and some recipes. I think it’s going to be a fun month, and I ho-ho-hope you join me on this big red sled as we speed down the hill to Christmas!

So, without further ado, I would like to tell you all about my…

Now, here’s an important note: I am rating these movies on their “holiday cheer factor”. Here is the rating scale:

  • One jingle bell: Vaguely related to Christmas, reminds you that the holiday exists, but misses the Christmas spirit
  • Two jingle bells: Christmas is part of the story, but not the biggest part, and doesn’t make you feel warm and tingly inside
  • Three jingle bells: Christmas is fully present, fun movie with lots of heart, but not the best executed in terms of bringing the Christmas messaging of cheer and goodwill together
  • Four jingle bells: Christmas is essential to the plot, gives you warm fuzzies inside and makes you feel like a kid, but just ever so slightly isn’t perfect. Like a cute little ornament with a dent.
  • Five jingle bells: Christmas is love. Christmas is life. The whole movie is a Christmas explosion of joy and warmth and happy memories.

  • Rating: PG
  • Year: 2011
  • Synopsis: “Set on Christmas night, the film tells a story about Arthur Claus, the clumsy but goodhearted son of Father Christmas, who discovers that Santa’s high-tech ship has failed to deliver one girl’s present. In response, he embarks on a mission to save her Christmas, accompanied only by his free-spirited and reckless grandfather, a rebellious yet enthusiastic young Christmas elf obsessed with wrapping gifts for children, and a team of eight strong, magical yet untrained reindeer.” – Wikipedia
  • Holiday Cheer Factor: Four Jingle Bells
  • Why You Should Watch It: This movie surprised me with just how good it was. I was hooked from the trailer, honestly, and had high expectations going in, and it still surprised me in how good it was. It was action-packed, funny in a way kids and adults can enjoy, and had a lot of heart. It’s a little over-long, and while as an adult I can deal with that, but I found when I watched it with kids they’d get bored around the 2/3 mark. It wasn’t bad material, but it’s still something to keep in mind. That’s the only thing keeping it from five jingle bells. I heartily recommend this movie!

  • Rating: PG
  • Year: 1993
  • Synopsis: The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life — he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry. – Rotten Tomatoes
  • Holiday Cheer Factor: Three jingly bells (please don’t hit me, just keep reading!)
  • Why You Should Watch It: I’m a very bad goth kid. I didn’t see Nightmare Before Christmas until I was about 22. I know, right? My parents thought that my sister and I would be terrified of it (and they were probably right) so I didn’t watch it, and it kind of left my radar until I decided to watch it online on a night shift near Christmas time. Y’all. It was life changing. I loved it.
  • HOWEVER, whether or not this is a Christmas or Halloween movie is the subject of much debate. And while Christmas is essential to the plot, it didn’t really give me warm fuzzies that I associate with the holiday season. Is it a good movie? Yes. Is it a good Christmas movie? …eh? We shall see what hubsy thinks when we watch it this year. He is finally going to watch it.

  • Rating: G
  • Year: 1964
  • Synopsis: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Rotten Tomatoes
  • Holiday Cheer Factor: Five jingle bells
  • Why You Should Watch It: I’d honestly be surprised if you hadn’t watched it at this point, since this has been on TV every year since the beginning of time (or just 1964), but it’s a classic for a reason. I have the songs in my head as I’m writing this. I was a ‘different’ (read: extremely queer and also incredibly mentally ill) kid and I related so hard to this movie as a youngster. And I relate to it hard as an adult who is still queer and still mentally ill. I liked the message of not hiding your differences, but I also liked the message of still being kind to others, even if they treat you badly. And it’s really cute! The movie is adorable, and the stop-motion/puppet Rankin Bass charm is just a warm hug from start to finish. Am I nostalgia blind? Yes, probably, but that’s what Christmas is all about!

  • Rating: PG
  • Year: 2019
  • Synopsis: A desperate postman accidentally brings about the genesis of Santa Claus.
  • Holiday Cheer Factor: Five jingle bells—I wanted to give it four, because the ending made me cry, but that didn’t feel right
  • Why You Should Watch It: Klaus is a modern Christmas classic. It’s a treat. It’s a kind of fun explanation of some of the tropes of Mr. Claus and the Christmas traditions we know now, set in a horrible town in Sweden populated by two warring families, one grumpy teacher, and Jesper, a postman who would rather be anywhere else. He meets a toy-maker who lives in the wood, named Klaus, and together they bring joy to the town, and eventually, the world! Bwa-ha-ha! But seriously, this movie was a surprise. I watched it at work and my coworker and I cried, and then I made my husband watch it at home and we both cried. It’s beautifully animated, wonderfully acted, expertly paced…and the Sami, the Indigenous people of Scandanavia, feature! Which is really cool! This movie is just…I can’t say enough good things about it. Please, for the love of Christmas, go watch this movie.

  • Rating: PG
  • Year: 2017
  • Synopsis: Christmas comes early for an aspiring young journalist when she’s sent abroad to get the scoop on a dashing prince who’s poised to be king. – Rotten Tomatoes
  • Holiday Cheer Factor: Two jingle bells—I wanted to give it one, but I shot myself in the foot with my rating system.
  • Why You Should Watch It: Memes. That’s it.
    • Maybe I should elaborate. This movie is cheesy and stupid, with leaps in logic equivalent to horror movies. I watch it because my sister and I roast it the entire time. That’s the fun in it; coming together with your family to dunk on stupid movies. Buzzfeed always gets in on the fun, which is always a treat, because the memes are good. Whoever they have to do the write-ups is hilarious. So…is it a Christmas classic? No. Is it so bad it’s good? No. Is it so bad it’s bad, and you can guiltlessly dunk on it? Yes, exactly! And what’s better than bringing the family together?
    • Good movies? Yeah, probably, but this is what we got.

Feel free to yell at me because I didn’t include The Grinch below, or tell me your favourite Christmas movies. I mean it when I say I really want to see some suggestions, because I feel like I’m going to be spending a lot of time inside this year.

Ring those bells,

Saturday (Thursday) Listicle: 5 Artists to Binge While Writing

Hello, friendos and dears.

I, like many writers, use music a lot when I write. I spend hours making soundtracks for my stories, and then I spend even more countless hours listening to them. My tastes in music are kind of all over the place and eclectic, and my soundtracks have songs ranging from soulful pop ballads to symphonic death metal to nightcore. However, when I’m too lazy to make a soundtrack or I just want to put music on while I do some general writing, there are a few artists that I absolutely BINGE. Like their entire discography binge. Sometimes I’ll just binge an artist and move on, but there are a few artists who I return to time and time again. Without further ado…Allow me, in the time-honoured form of an El-Listicle, to present:

  • Notable lyrics:
    • “I was built to be destroyed” – Destroy, Build, Destroy
    • “My life’s a loop that cycles/Look at the clock it’s vital/Seconds are never final/Spins around a lot like vinyl” – Closed Loop
    • “I decided to play when I knew you were fire/It started off warm but now I hear the choir” –Worst in Me
  • My favourite song(s) –because who can just pick one?
  • Why are they so damn bingeable?
    • Unlike Pluto, aka Armond Arabshahi, is one of the most prolific musical artists I’ve EVER seen
    • He puts out a new song once a week, and they’re all good. You’d think there’d be some that are misses, but NOPE. All of them are really good. The quality is consistent from week to week
    • Not only is there a lot of him to binge, it’s also very varied. The songs all have his characteristic flavour, but you can tell them apart. I find it helps me write different moods without getting stuck in one emotion
    • The songs are also about real things, like toxic relationships, mental health, and being disillusioned in the modern world, but in such a way that they’re more digestible, and give voice to the feelings you might have inside
  • TL;DR: Unlike Pluto puts out quality music every week, ensuring you’ll never get bored

  • Notable lyrics:
    • “Heaven will fall/As you hold him in your arms/Blood on our hands/We stand alone” –Mother Mary
    • “Take this stupid halo off so you can see through my charade” –Trauma
  • My favourite song:
  • Why are they so damn bingeable?:
    • Mr.Kitty’, aka Forrest Avery Carney, is a synthwave artist who gained popularity remixing popular songs before starting to release his own music
    • In 2019 he dropped an album with 30 songs…holy shit
    • I’ve only recently started listening to him, but I can’t see myself stopping. Ever.
    • His synth music is very, very cinematic. It’s incredibly evocative and kind of dark? It’s really good for the horror/dark fantasy/weird stuff I write.
    • It has a real honesty to it. You can tell he means what he’s singing, and that it comes from the heart. As a writer who tries to do the same, I really value that.
    • It’s also catchy. It’ll be in your head all day.
  • TL;DR: Funny name, catchy tunes, great mood.

  • Notable lyrics:
    • “Beg me for mercy/Admit you were toxic/You poisoned me just for/Another dollar in your pocket” – Blood//Water
    • “Bow before the violence/It’s a governmental shakedown/Welcome to my breakdown” —Thoughts and Prayers
    • “They put a hole in the back of my head and call it suicide/Woke up with these holes in my hands from the day I was crucified/You decide if you wanna ride, can’t stop us when we unified/I woke up with these holes in my hands from the day I was crucified”–Stigmata
  • My favourite song:
  • Why are they so damn bingeable?
    • Grandson is pretty new on the scene, having only released his first EP in 2018, but he is incredible. He’s not nearly as well known as he should be
    • He is releasing his first full album on December 4th. I can’t wait. I’m counting down the days.
    • His music is incredibly political, but in a good way. He makes you think differently about the issues he sings about—usually, you get angrier about the issue after the song, but that’s just the power of his music.
    • It’s just so powerful in general. It really gets you pumped up, and it’s so cinematic, and ugh
    • Picking my favourite song was really, really hard. Most people like the first song they heard by a favourite artist the most, but his whole discography is so goddamn good that picking a favourite Grandson song is like picking a favourite child.
    • I just love this artist so much, and I hope you give him a listen and get hyped for his new album too.
  • TL;DR: Politically charged cinematic music for your writing needs

  • Notable lyrics:
    • “One of these nights/I’ll take you down to the fire/With red in our eyes/We’re gonna dance to the sirens/Say goodbye to the silence” –Strange Days
    • “Here’s to being human/All the pain and suffering/There’s beauty in the bleeding/At least you feel something” –I Am Machine
    • “Every time we lie awake/After every hit we take/Every feeling that I get/But I haven’t missed you yet” –I Hate Everything About You
  • My favourite song:
  • Why are they so damn bingeable?
    • I’ve been a Three Days Grace fan since I was about eleven years old
    • I’m not telling you how many years I’ve been a fan. Nice try.
    • But, I’ve loved this band through thick and thin. I’ve seen them live twice. I’ve bought every single album, both the ones with the original singer and the ones with the new singer. There’s very little that would make me hate this band.
    • Their music, while not the most lyrically complex, is very evocative. It makes you feel things. It captures a mood.
    • And, a lot is rock music, which is really good for writing action scenes.
    • So, Three Days Grace is my favourite music to binge when I’m writing action packed, emotionally charged scenes. You’ve probably heard at least one of their songs, but you should still check them out.
  • TL;DR: Big fan, good music, action action action

  • Notable lyrics:
    • “Oh, all of these minutes passing, sick of feeling used/If you wanna break these walls down, you’re gonna get bruised” –Castle
    • “Are you deranged like me? Are you strange like me?/Lighting matches just to swallow up the flame like me?/Do you call yourself a fucking hurricane like me?/Pointing fingers cause you’ll never take the blame like me?”–Gasoline
    • “I won’t take anyone down if I crawl tonight/But I still let everyone down when I change in size/And I went tumbling down trying to reach your high/But I scream too loud when I speak my mind” –Devil in Me
  • My favourite song:
    • Control. Without a doubt. Her whole discography is great, but Control is just…incredible. I love it.
  • Why are they so damn bingeable?
    • Halsey makes really great music.
    • Halsey as a person has lived a really interesting life. She is biracial, bipolar, and bisexual, and has struggled with many different issues throughout her years on this planet. But this interesting, sometimes hard, life has given her music a realistic, gritty edge that I can’t get enough of
    • I’ve written about three short stories and two novellas to her music exclusively. I love it.
    • Her songs are all very varied in subject matter, musicality, and emotion. There’s something for every scene on any given Halsey album, and I love every single one.
    • I just can’t get enough of her. I think Halsey is an incredible person who makes incredible music.
  • TL;DR: Interesting person = interesting music perfect for writing.

Who’s your favourite musical artist to binge while you write? Or do you just write in silence? Let me know down below!

Until next time,

Month-End Roundup: November 2020

Hi there, friendos and dears.

This is a couple days late, and for that I am sorry. It has been a month of ups and downs, with a down occurring over the weekend. Long story short, a publication I submitted to has gone on hiatus due to COVID without warning, and sent me a kill fee for the story they had previously accepted. I received no email telling me they were doing this, just a PayPal transfer. Since this has never happened to me before, I have no idea if this is the normal way of doing things.

Either way, it doesn’t matter. This would have been my first pro-paying publication, and I had been telling people about it for months. No, I am in the difficult position of telling them what has happened. Further…I have made no secret of my depression and general lack of mental health here, and one of the things I struggle the most with is self-esteem. I’m sure every writer/artist questions their talent at some point, but one has to feel like they have talent to question it, and I don’t. I was kind of leaning on this to give myself some confidence. I know relying on something external was a mistake. I know that now, now that I feel like my belief in myself has been shattered.

I understand that this isn’t personal. Rationally, I mean. Irrationally, it seems like a sign from the universe to give up, or to stop seeking writing success because there’s no point. Even wins, even good things, are fleeting and pointless. Everything is pointless.

As you can imagine, this has coloured my perception of the rest of the month. Of everything, really. I’ll probably be back to normal next month, but for now, I’ll try to be positive.

I’ll try.

https://elkascott.wordpress.com/2020/11/07/saturday-listicle-5-self-care-tips-from-one-writer-to-another/

https://elkascott.wordpress.com/2020/11/14/saturday-listicle-my-top-five-writing-snacks/

https://elkascott.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/saturday-listicle-5-ways-to-maintain-word-count/

  • My husband and I have been watching some speed-runners on YouTube, and some other gaming content
  • It seems to be quelling his need for a fancy new console…for now.
  • Ezyspeezy

https://www.youtube.com/user/Modtastick1

  • Speed runs bonkers games meant for children
  • Also does regular speedrunning, but his speedruns are oddly uplifting and educational
  • Hunter x Hunter movies
    • I watched both of the Hunter x Hunter movies (from the 2011 anime) this month
    • Phantom Rouge was my favourite of the two, though there was lots to like about both.
    • Phantom Rouge was my favourite because it had lots of shippable moments (Kurapika and Leorio are going to get married, you can’t convince me otherwise, same with Gon and Killua when they get old enough) as well as a lot of emotional weight
      • I liked seeing a bit of the Kurta before the massacre, and the Divine Puppeteers abilities were terrifying and heartbreaking
      • It didn’t have a lot of action, but there was a lot of character growth.
      • Also, Hisoka was there. So that was cool. Not that I’m a simp or anything.

Quit looking at me like that. I’m not. I’m NOT!

  • The Last Mission was also good—that one was more action heavy, and revolved around enemies of the Hunter Association seeking revenge on Netero, the head of the Hunter Association.
      • This one had some great moments with Kurapika (who, if you can’t tell, is one of my favourites) and had lots of good fights and cute friendship moments with Gon and Killua
      • It was still interesting, with the introduction of a new power system (that probably won’t become canon, but whatever) and also the idea that the Hunter Association doesn’t have clean hands
      • Which, to me, is one of the things that make Hunter x Hunter so much different than other similar anime and manga: it’s not afraid to explore things that make people uncomfortable, and not afraid to let the “good guys” have layers, and let the “good organization” have some skeletons in the closet.
      • My only complaint: Leorio and Hisoka weren’t in it enough.
        • Not that I’m a Hisoka simp or anything…

Okay, you win. I am. I’m a goddamn simp. Are you happy now?!

  • I read two books for school that wound up being really good, that I could recommend to anyone looking to learn
    • Both books were read for a school project on the Ainu people of Japan, the indigenous people native to Hokkaido (or Ainu Mosir)
    • I’ve been interested in the Ainu for a while, since taking a Japanese history class waaay back for my first undergrad, and I’ve been researching them on and off ever since. When we had to research an Indigenous people for class, I jumped on the chance to learn even more.
    • These two books were excellent, and I was grateful for the chance to read them
  • Harukor: An Ainu Woman’s Tale by Honda Katsuichi & Kyoko Selden (Translator)
    • This book is written by a Yamato Japanese (the descendents of the people who came to Japan from China, who are thought of as the Japanese today) but they researched the Ainu so well that they managed to capture the world of the Ainu as if they’d lived on Hokkaido forever
    • My personal favourite part of the book was the section on Ainu mythology (also known as “yukar”). I’m a big mythology nerd, so I enjoyed this a great deal.
    • It’s a good story, as well as a source of information, which is all one can hope for when reading historical fiction
  • Our Land was Once a Forest by Mikiso Hane, Kayano Shigeru, & Kyoko Selden
    • This book is written by an Ainu, and the first Ainu politician to boot.
    • In this book, he gives a brief background on the Ainu people, and then he goes into telling the audience the story of his life.
    • And boy howdy, has he ever lived an interesting life.
    • Shigeru was a logger, and he was a craftsman, and a performer, before becoming a politician. He has done a great deal for the Ainu people, and he describes his accomplishments with an endearing humbleness.
    • I’m always looking for Own Voices work, and I appreciated such an in-depth look at the culture from a member of the Ainu people.
    • Beyond that, Shigeru weaves together such a great description of the place he grew up in and the things he’s seen that you feel like you’re there with him, walking in the snow or setting up a logging camp.
    • This is a great memoir, and one of the favourites that I’ve read.
  • I’m hoping I’ll be able to read more in December, once my assignments and finals are over. Here’s my TBR for December:

  • Poetry
  • I’m making my tik-tok debut as a poet soon. I’m not super optimistic, because I’m not a conventionally attractive white teenager who wears tight clothes, but I have faith in my talent to get me where I want to go
  • Novels
    • NaNoWriMo
      • I worked towards finishing my Camp NaNo project for NaNoWriMo. And I wrote 50 thousand words…and I’m still not done.
      • Sweet Lord. Why have I chosen to do this to myself.
      • The story is getting long, as I’ve added more POVs since starting it all those months ago, and they all need to be developed
      • Coming up with a unique voice for the villain has been hard, as he seems to talk like a cartoon right now, but hey, that’s what the edit is for
      • I still have a lot to go to even have something coherent, but I’m still happy with how it’s going
    • Pet-Project
      • Still working on the world building and timelines, but I wrote some snippets just for fun and I’m pretty happy with the results I’ve been getting
    • I also started a new project (because I’m a moron) that I’m going to try to pants my way through, considering that the idea just kind of…happened
      • It’s actually kind of a funny story: hubby and I were watching a review/reading of a book called Empress Theresa, a novel written by a man who’s name I dare not utter, because he got banned from Amazon for arguing with people reviewing his (terrible) book.
      • Oh, who am I kidding. I’m not scared of no punk-ass bitch. Come and get me, Norman Boutin. I’ll be right here.
      • Frederick Knudson, who runs the channel Down the Rabbit Hole, did a reading of the chapters, and the writing had me so mad that I turned to hubby and said “I bet I can write something ten times better in fifteen minutes”. And then I did that.
      • I will give more information next month, after I’ve pantsed my way through a few more chapters.
  • Fanfiction
    • Still trucking along (ha!) on the Transformers story, and started a Berserk series. That was the fandom I mentioned last month. So that’s fun.
    • Finished off a Fantastic Four story too, which was nice.
  • Not doing more short fiction for the time being. See above.

Blog Posts

  • My Top Five Christmas Movies
  • Five Gifts for the Writer in Your Life
  • Five Ways to Stay Balanced During the Holidays
  • My Top Five Christmas Cookies

Projects

  • Let’s get them pants on boys: As of Yet Untitled Project (Working Title: Suck It Norman)
  • Keep world-building my pet project
  • Get on TikTok and try to get 100 followers
  • Redesign social media/blog
  • Just…try to finish the Transformers fic

Personal

  • Finish off the school year with good grades
  • Apply to my university’s social work program
  • Use social media more
  • Keep making healthier decisions
  • Start exercising twice a day
  • Keep my house clean
  • Finish making/buying/wrapping Christmas presents for my family and friends
  • Try to recover after this blow to my self-esteem

How was your November? Let me know down below!

Until next month,

Saturday Listicle: 5 Ways to Maintain Word Count

Hello friendos and dears!

The year 2020 is almost over. I know, I know. It’s been a crazy ride, and I think most of us are both terrified and esctatic that this weird, weird year is going to be coming to a close. For myself, despite the pandemic, I’ve had a great year for writing. I mean, a great year. I started tracking my daily word count in March and I’ve seen that, wow, I really write A LOT. This is coming off a streak where I didn’t write more than a few hundred words a month and hated my writing, my life and myself.

Now I only hate one of those things. Okay, two of them. Fine, all of them. I’m a depressed writer with mental health problems and student loan debt. Happy!?

I kid, I kid.

I’ve come from a place of dreading writing and hating everything I write to actually liking some of it? And finishing two novels in a year? Maybe three? And I thought to myself, how in the hell did I get here? And is there a way I can help other people in the same boat as I was two years ago?

And here, my friends, I have sat in deep meditative reflection (read: sat on my butt rewatching JoJo’s Part Four for the second time) and came up with these five things that I do to maintain word count. Some of them might work for you, some may not, but I hope that something in this El-Listicle ™ may be useful to you.

Without further ado,

  • At first, back in March, I only tracked my big projects in my spreadsheet
  • Then, in July I added a new column: “other”
  • That was a catch-all for other writing: poems, blogs, stories outside the big projects
  • This was done, at first, because my word count was dropping off and I felt like I was writing a lot and I didn’t see where the drop off was coming from
  • Then, it grew into separate categories, and now it’s just a thing that’s a part of my word count
  • And I started to see that I wrote much more than I thought, because I started realizing that more things were writing
  • Fanfiction? Yeah, it’s not using my characters, but it’s still writing. I still work hard at it, and people really like it. I think. No one’s told me they hate it…yet
  • Blogging? That’s not fiction, but it still requires a lot of effort to write good non-fiction content. And it all kind of tells a story anyways. And somedays I count my Instagram posts and Tumblr posts, both the official ™ and fandom one, because that’s writing too
  • So my advice: diversify your view of what writing is, and what writing can be, and you might be surprised at how prolific you really are.

  • As I mentioned above, I have a word count spreadsheet.
  • Many, in fact, for each month since March
  • I also use Write Track, which I’ve mentioned before on this blog
  • Write Track gives me something to shoot for every day, which has really helped me get projects done
  • My spreadsheets also propel me forward, because I like seeing a really big number at the end of the month and it’s fun to see just how much over my daily word count I get in a day
  • Something about having a measured goal really makes me want to achieve it. Maybe it’s that SMART goal shit people keep talking about, because having a vague goal like “work on (insert project here) today” just wasn’t doing it, but “write 200 words of (insert project here)”? That gets me going. That gets me grooving.
  • So, if you’re the kind of person that’s motivated by numbers, this may be a good option for you!

  • I’ve talked about this before too, but I used to write linearly. I couldn’t move onto the next scene. So I’d be stuck for days, hitting my head against the wall trying to figure out one scene, the whole flow of the project grinding to a screeching halt as I watch two overly muscular men get chased around a field by rats with magic gun powers….so, basically, not a good time
  • So, when I was working on NaNo last year, I couldn’t get slowed down. I had a deadline to meet, goddamn it, and I was going to meet it!
  • So, since I had everything expertly plotted out, I knew what was coming next. It wouldn’t be so bad if I just….skipped ahead a little bit, right?
  • And, lo and behold, word count was made. Praise the lord.
  • And it was made for many, many days afterwards
  • See, even though stories follow a path, it doesn’t mean that you, as the author, have to. The reader doesn’t see the first draft anyways, and you can connect it all later! Linear progression is for time. You’re creative! You can do whatever you want! Write the action scenes first, who cares?
  • It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey. And journeys can take any path you want.

  • I love music.
  • I listen to music constantly. I love it.
  • I find that, just like with exercising, I can go for hours if I have the right tunes.
  • It took a while to find my current writing favourites, but now that I have them, I adore it.
  • That doesn’t meant I listen to the same music all the time, or that I listen to it while I do all my writing. As I’ve mentioned above…I rewatch stuff all the time and write while I do
  • But, if I’m stuck, or need that last push to get to word count…music makes all the difference
  • I personally recommend Spotify, because a) the artist gets money and b) if you’re looking for a certain mood, or a certain sound, there’s a playlist for it. You don’t have to make it yourself! More time for writing!

  • This last one is related to writing linearly.
  • Sometimes, I’d come to a scene in my outline I just wasn’t in the emotional place to write. It was too happy, or too lovey-dovey, and I was in a dark mood.
  • So, I listened to myself, and wrote the next scene based on my emotions at the time.
  • I think, in search of genuineness and honesty in writing, that writing from your emotions and through your emotions is a valuable tool.
  • I think, also, I use writing as a form of therapy. Being able to write about what I was feeling that day made my mood better, because I wasn’t going against it, I was exploring the emotion through my writing, and then I could express what I was feeling verbally and move on.
  • I’ll always preach about using writing and art as a form of self-therapy, and I think, if you’re stuck or you’re looking to make your wordcount, you can use your emotions as a source of inspiration, not as an obstacle.

And that’s that, some of the techniques I’ve been using to make my daily word count goals! Do you have any techniques? Let me know below!

Until next time,

Elka Scott

Saturday Listicle: My Top Five Writing Snacks

Hello friendos and dears!

Wow, writing sure is hungry work, and hunger waits for no one. Neither does writing inspiration. Of course, it’s a pain in the butt to stop writing to go get a snack, but you have to eat to survive. It’s so unfair! So, it’s helpful to have a snack that’s ready to go so that you, the writer, can just swallow down the sustenance and get back to creating. But not all snacks are created equal, and this El-Listicle ™ is going to tell you the best of the best.

*disclaimer*: I have celiac disease. There are probably better snacks than these ones, but alas, I can’t eat a lot of ready-to-go food. I also don’t eat meat, so I’m biased against things like beef jerky. Of course, I’m always right, but keep that in mind before you rush to the comments to ask me why I don’t like (insert no-no food here).

  • I love this.
  • It’s so unhealthy, while disguised as being healthy. It makes me feel less like a sedentary lump of creative flubber when I eat it
  • My personal mix is dark chocolate, peanuts, almonds and dried cranberries, but really, any would do.

  • This spot used to be chips, but I’m trying to get healthier and eating less chips is a good way to do so
  • Also, when eating chips, you get grease and sheen all over your keyboard. Not to mention chip crumbs Eww.
  • So, celery and hummus it is! You get the satisfying crunch of celery, and the smooth flavour of hummus. It’s pretty filling, but it’s also low calorie, so if you accidentally eat too much of it you won’t feel the same heavy bloat that comes with eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting
  • My favourite hummus flavour is roasted garlic. Hubby likes the super-spicy kind. If only there were a super-spicy garlic…

  • This snack is nearly perfection for a writer’s needs
  • It takes a little more prep than some of the others I’ve mentioned, but if you have the time…*chef’s kiss* perfection
  • You’ve got the protein, you’ve got the brain-boosting delicious fruit, you’ve got the sugar, you’ve got the thick, tasty liquid…and you barely have to tear yourself away from the page to drink it! It’s a win-win!
  • I have a very, very specific way I make my smoothies, but I like the berry blends with cherries and blueberries the most.

  • Look, if you’re going to be unhealthy…at least be smart about it
  • These two snacks are really easy to make by yourself, and you can buy them for a reasonabl price from the store
  • They’re also (once the wrapper is off the muffin, at least) easy to eat one-handed
  • You have some crumb issues, but they’re easier to deal with than chip crumbs. I mean, cat hair is easier to deal with than chip crumbs, so that’s not saying much. You also don’t get the same grease as you would with chips
  • It’s sweet, it’s filling, and easy.
  • I’m going to share my personal favourite cookie recipe; I make it with gluten free flour, milk chocolate chips and peanuts or pecans, and a healthy dose of my special blend of spices, but it’s easy to mod to your taste. Just be careful with the liquid.
  • https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/ultimate-chocolate-chip-cookies/77c14e03-d8b0-4844-846d-f19304f61c57

  • I know I’ve been shit-talking chips this whole list, but for all their flaws, all their greasy-ness, and all their crumbiness, and all their salty, unhealthy goodness….they’re still one of my favourite writing snacks.
  • They’re just so easy and tasty, and you can fit a lot in your mouth at once!
  • I know I shouldn’t, but it’s easier to just eat chips sometimes than to bother with anything else
  • But, as with all things, moderation
  • I buy those multi-packs of chips at the store and I will have one bag at a time. Then, I’m not accidentally eating ten dollars worth of doritos in an hour and stuck back at square one
  • Plus, it’s cheaper in the long run.

So…what’s your favourite kind of trail mix? Favourite cookie? Favourite smoothie blend? Favourite hummus flavour? Favourite chip? Let me know down below. Please talk about food with me. I love to try new things.

Until next time,

Saturday Listicle: 5 Self-Care Tips from one Writer to Another

Hello everyone! This is my first official El-Listicle ™. I’m switching to this format for a little while, while I take my social media training (which I am LOVING, our teacher is an absolute joy and my classmates are all blessings to this Earth) and I’m actually kind of excited for it? I love sharing my knowledge, and sharing my favourite things, and sharing what’s on my cold, dead heart.

So, without further ado…

I’ll be the first to admit that self-care hasn’t been easy for anyone in the past few months. The world is on fire, but not in a fun way like in “All Star” by Smash Mouth. I know that in my life I’ve been struggling to stay positive and take care of myself. My writing, my blogging, my social media and my general existence have been suffering because of it. But, I think I’m starting to turn things around, and I thought I should share how I’ve been doing it. Maybe, just maybe, I can help someone out there on the world wide web.

You’re not alone. Let’s not be alone together.

  • I am genderqueer, and identity as a non-binary woman, so my relationship with make-up and my physical appearance is…complicated
  • HOWEVER, I haven’t been feeling well, emotionally and physically, and I wasn’t wearing makeup/brushing my hair/wearing anything other than sweats and a t-shirt for months
  • But I thought that maybe I wasn’t feeling confident when I went out into the world because I knew that I looked like lukewarm garbage, not even hot garbage.
  • So, I started doing my make-up again. I started doing “looks”, where I matched my makeup and clothes and jewelry and shoes. I started wearing my nice clothes, ones that I had just left in the closet for MONTHS. And goddamn, does it make a difference!
  • I feel a lot more confident when I leave my house, and I think I’m acting more like myself as a result.
  • So, what I want to pass on is that the outside does matter…but it’s what you make of it.
  • For those of you who don’t wear make-up, perhaps wearing a nice pair of socks might be all it takes.

  • I love to write. Obviously. It’s all I talk about here when I’m not bitching about anime.
  • However…I also love to draw. I love to make fan videos. I love to paint. I love to sew.
  • I’ve been forcing myself to do more of these things, rather than writing. I was starting to stress myself out by pushing myself to be the best I could be, and all I did for a while was work, sleep, cook, write
  • Even cocaine-era Stephen King did things other than write. Like cocaine, for example.
  • But I can’t afford cocaine. What I can afford are drawing pencils.
  • I find now I am refreshed by my writing, rather than exhausted by it, because I have a break from it.
  • Plus, and this is shown in research, different art engages different parts of your brain. So exercising a couple different parts of your brain is good for the whole network.
  • TL;DR: Writing is good, cocaine is not, and practising different forms of art is better

  • I have depression and anxiety. My brain loves to tell me what a piece of shit I am on a regular basis.
  • However (these days, at least), the people around me aren’t telling me what a piece of shit I am. They actually kind of seem to like me. And they like to tell me that. A lot.
  • So, I decided to start writing the nice things they say to me down in a pretty journal with a subtle bisexual reference on it (show picture). Now, when I’m depressed or anxious, I can look at the compliments journal and remind myself that no, people do like me, and they want me to know that.
  • Maybe one day I can put my own compliments to myself in there. Until then…other people can love me, until I learn to love myself.
  • Because if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell can you love somebody else?
  • Can I get an amen?

  • This is the most bougie thing I can think of, but I’m a magpie who likes shiny things
  • I was thinking about this in social media class. That sometimes, just buying yourself a nice thing is the best thing you can do for yourself.
  • For a long time, I thought I wasn’t worth spending money on. Every dollar spent on myself had to be justified, which I didn’t even notice until I was trying to justify buying a $1.50 hot cocoa to my old therapist and now I can’t stop noticing
  • Dang you, Michelle, for doing your job right.
  • Anyways, now I try to be kinder to myself. Who earned my money? Me. Who deserves that money? Me. Who worked hard to go to school? Me. Who deserves grants for living as a marvel of mental illness? Me. Who’s taking all my money eventually? The government.
  • Dang you, Trudeau, for being the current face of the government.
  • Now, I allow myself to have nice things. Name brand margarine. Nice winter clothes. Fancy alcohol. Expensive make-up.
  • I recognize that I can only do this because I’m privileged. But I hope that, even if you’re going through poverty right now, you know that you don’t deserve to live in poverty and that you deserve nice things.
  • That’s an Elka Scott Guarantee.

  • Oh lord.
  • I don’t know why there’s such a stigma against writing fanfiction, or fan work in general. What’s wrong with liking things!?
  • Oh, right. It’s prejudice against women, people of colour, and queer people. Almost forgot that.
  • Anyways, I find that writing stupid, smutty fanfictions has been keeping me sane lately. I’m enjoying getting practise to write steamy fun times, as I’m eventually going to have it in a novel. Eventually. Wait and see.
  • Also, the immediate feedback? Wonderful. People go out of their way to tell you how much they liked your work. It’s beautiful. There’s toxicity, but I’ve found nothing but positivity through my work.
  • I’m also older than some of the people involved in drama, and it’s very hard to convince my old ass to do anything I don’t want or have to do
  • Still, writing fanfiction, getting to play in someone else’s sandbox, has been rewarding, and has been helping me keep myself sane through these wild, ludicrous times.

So, that’s my first El-Listicle! What did you think? How have you been staying positive? How have you been taking care of yourself? What’s your favourite food? Let me know down below!

Until next time,

Month-End Roundup: October 2020

Hello friendos and dears!

Well, October sure didn’t go how I wanted it to. Most of my planned posts just…didn’t happen. I really, REALLY underestimated how busy school and life would make me, and for that I apologize. I don’t even have a Halloween costume, which for a Goth is heresy. Please let me keep my Alt Card! I promise I’ll be good!

All jokes aside…I can’t see myself getting less busy. So, as I’ve mentioned on my Instagram (which you should follow, btw, because you’ll get the scoop before anyone else) I’m planning to focus on Listicles until year’s end. I’ve already written quite a few, so you’ll get content during NaNo (which I haven’t really done before, so that’s a win!) and regular content once a week. This will also give me time to get ahead of the posting schedule, instead of planning out what I want to do and then rushing to get it done month after month after month…so, things are going to be a little different around here for a while.

Also! I was selected to take part in social media training for writers, so things might look even more different here once the course ends. I hope it’ll be for the better, and so far I’ve learned that I’m doing more things right than I thought I was, so I have hope that I can make this whole shindig the best it can be. So, stay tuned!

Due to the school-induced busyness of the month, I haven’t been reading or watching anything new. I’ve instead been finding comfort in re-watching some of my favourite content over again, like RuPaul’s Drag Race and D’Angelo Wallace. However, I think I watched and read enough new things to make the Round-Up worthwhile.

The government did finally get their butts in gear, and I have a new Laptop! Yay! It’s so much easier to do anything computer related, you folkx have no idea.

https://elkascott.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/spooky-season-listicles-my-top-5-vampire-novels/

https://elkascott.wordpress.com/2020/10/20/a-brief-announcement/

I didn’t watch a lot of new things….anywhere but YouTube, and even then, I only really watched two new channels.

Kendall Rae

  • True crime videos with a lot of style, and substance
  • Very good production value, and an appropriate amount of emotion
  • Her videos are extremely well-done, well researched, well executed, just….really, really good true crime content.
  • I’ve been binge watching her a lot, and she has a lot of different videos and covers a variety of cases, from the supernatural to the more grounded, from the old crimes from the annals of history to ripped from the headlines recent crimes

Caleb Joseph

  • I’m trying to get more into Book-tube, because I secretly want to be a book-tuber don’t judge me
  • Anyways, I’m really enjoying Caleb Joseph
  • His reviews are really funny, and genuinally insightful
  • I started watching him when I was looking for reviews of Handbook for Mortals, and I thought I’d seen every criticism possible for the book after spending hours reading reviews on Goodreads (which is a hilarious experience, if you ever want to have a good laugh at a bad author’s expense) and his review is one of my favourite videos now
  • I found his thoughts on Handbook really insightful, and different from other criticism I’ve seen
  • His other reviews, while long, are also really good. I enjoy his style of delivery and his style of editing, and I find a lot of joy in his videos and a true love of reading. Go check him out!

The Secret…yes, really

  • My therapist told me to, so I did
  • I don’t mind it, but I felt like the movie was about….45 minutes longer than it needed to be
  • It was also full of early 2000’s epicness, jump cuts, special effects….it reminded me of this movie I never wound up seeing, but everyone was writing fanfiction about, The Covenant, and also a little bit of Blade or the Crow…which I don’t think worked for it
  • I disagreed with some of it, but it’s not terrible. That’s all I really have to say about it

  • Still working on The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Read a couple of books for school that I really enjoyed about the Ainu people of Japan
    • Our Land was a Forest: Written by Ainu activist and politician, (). Very engaging and interesting look at the author’s life growing up as an Ainu, which I was looking at for a school project. It really brought some of the academic papers to life, and contrasted some of them, which was fascinating. It’s a decent length, and it’s full of pictures to illustrate the author’s story. It’s really good, and I recommend it.
  • My partner started the Shades of Magic series, which is really nice, and he’s enjoying it so far
  • Other
    • Fanfiction, of course
    • Started looking at lesser known fandoms, which has been fun!

  • Poetry
    • Wrote three new spoken word pieces! Yay!
      • Since the training I’m in is specially for performance artists, I figured I needed to get back into writing performance pieces. So I did, and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve created
  • Novels
    • The Pet Project….took a turn
      • I was stuck on it for half the month, then I thought about switching it out of contemporary into spec fic…and low and behold, the muse came back
      • Now, instead of a college romance, it’s a dark academia fantasy story with demons, exorcists….and still romance.
      • I’m not surprised, because the fluffy romance the thing started as already got dark, and now getting darker is just a natural progression
      • Thankful I allowed myself to try a genre I don’t usually write in, but I’m back to my usual bullshit and it feels GREAT
    • I’m going to finish up my Camp NaNo piece for NaNoWriMo this year, which is a dark gothic story about a young goblin lady who is married to a vampire, and slowly discovers that he has big plans for the city they live in. I’m looking forward to having it done, and making it to three novels finished in one year. Not a brag, just a goal.
  • Other
    • Fanfiction…still the same thing. Ugh, it’s so long now. I just can’t help myself
    • BUT! Managed to write a few shorter pieces, including one in a fandom I am a massive stan of but haven’t written in before, so that’s fun. Hopefully people like it. If not…I like it, and that’s what matters

Blog Posts

  • Five Ways I Stay Positive and Take Care of Myself : November 7th
  • My Top Five Writing Snacks : November 14th
  • Five Ways I Maintain Word Count : November 21st
  • Top Five Favourite Artists to Binge While Writing : November 28th

Projects

  • Continue working on Transformers fanfic, try to finish it by year’s end
  • Complete NaNoWriMo
  • World-build and plot my new Pet Project
  • Edit some short work and start sending things out again
  • Keep working on social media coursework
  • Write even more poems!

Personal

  • Finish off the school year with good grades
  • Apply to my university’s social work program
  • Use social media more
  • Keep making healthier decisions
  • Start exercising twice a day
  • Keep my house clean

What did you get up to this month? Let me know in the comments below?

Until next time,

A Brief Announcement

Hey friendos and dears.

If you’ve been here for a while, you know how much I value transparency and honesty. If you’re new here, then…

Hi, my name is Elka, I write all sorts of dark stuff my mother hates and I think too much about everything and then blurt it out here. Also I review books sometimes.

Anyways, all joking aside, I realize that I haven’t really been living up to my plans for the month that I set out in my September Month-End Round Up. I was considering just quietly ignoring that I was doing that, talk about it in the October Round Up, and then announce my plans to participate in NaNo, but that’s just not me. I may not have the biggest audience ever, but the audience I do have is awesome and they deserve my best. So, I want to tell you why you, the audience, haven’t been getting what you deserve.

With the help of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

In short, my personal offline life has gotten very, very hectic.

Work

As I’ve said before, I’m an essential worker, so I’ve barely had time off for months. My job is demanding, even now that the kiddos are back at school, and there’s been a lot of changes in the organization I work for that I’m not necessarily sure are for the better. I’m trying to adapt to this new paradigm at work, but my coworkers and I have been a little bit stressed while upper management tries to sort out their stuff.

School

I’m also back at school, and while I’m only in two classes, I’m not the seventeen year old autumn chicken I was when I started my first degree. Since grad school is…a mess, I’m back at the same college I did my undergrad at, doing another undergrad, and it’s a different ballgame than grad school. Or the first degree. I’m older now, and I’m having to relearn how to balance school and work again. In grad school, I took one to two classes at a time, with very structured work plans. Now, I’m a self-directed person, and I manage my own time decently. But….it’s still hard to be a student. Unlike my undergrad, I’m a grown up adult who has to pay rent, work, and care for children. So I’ve been having to make sacrifices, and blogging, unfortunately, has been one of those sacrifices.

Writing

I’ve also been getting ready for NaNoWriMo. I want to finish my Camp projects from this year. Luckily for me, most of my assignments are due in October. Unluckily for me…most of my assignments are due in October, and my prep-work has been stunted as a result. In addition, and I don’t want to go into too much detail yet because I don’t have all the details yet, I was selected for a program in my city to teach creatives social media, and I’ve been working on that too.

So…

So, what does that mean for the blog? Well, I took last November off to focus on NaNo, but I’ve been seeing a lot of upward momentum here and I don’t want to kill my own buzz. So, I’m going to put up some listicles for the rest of October and November. Things might start to change due to the training I mentioned, but I’m at least going to keep going in my current style for a couple more months. I’m really thankful for the audience this style has garnered, but I think I need a change sooner or later regardless of how this training goes. So, TL;DR: Change is coming, and so are listicles.

I’ll have more to tell you fabulous humans at the end of the month. Thank you for being on this journey with me.

How have you been doing, friendos and dears? Have you been hanging in there? Please let me know down below…and if you don’t want to get into it, that’s cool too, and I really hope you have a great October.

Until next time,

Spooky Season Listicles: My Top 5 Vampire Novels

Let’s start Spooky Season ™ off right with my first love in the horror genre: vampires! I was an angsty gothic fourteen year old AFAB, so you KNOW I read a crap-load of vampire novels as a young person. I was fortunate enough to be a teenager right in the middle of the vampire craze…but unfortunate enough at the same time, because I hated Twilight and that was the only point of reference my friends had for vampires. Still, I managed to find some real gems along the way, and I’m going to share them with you today!

  • The story of Dracula updated and adapted to the modern (ish) era
  • Creeping horror
  • Fun with the old tropes that have largely been left behind
  • Actually really enjoyed the child character
  • The vampire is not sexy. Sweet Apollo, he is not sexy AT ALL. And I love it
  • Maybe the movie will ruin it for me, but I’ll keep you posted.
  • Fun take on the vampire mythos
  • Set in Australia, which is probably the worst place to be a vampire TBH
  • Characters were lovable and fun
  • Worldbuilding was interesting
  • Vampire writing vampire fiction writing vampire fiction
  • Where it all started
  • This was the first proper grown-up vampire I ever read….at fourteen
  • And that was it. It was over. I was HOOKED.
  • The books are a little dated and very campy (especially Queen of the Damned) but they’re a lot of fun
  • Loaded, and I mean LOADED, with homoerotic tension
  • Also, Lestat is a bisexual disaster (TM) and I love it
  • Incredible story
  • Well written, well crafted, everything about is *chef’s kiss*
  • The characters are very well done, and I enjoyed my time with them
  • True creeping horror, starts kind of horror lite and just ramps up
  • The ending stabbed me in the goddamn heart and I loved every minute of it
  • If you’ve only seen the movies, you’re missing out
  • The ending is incredible
  • Biological vampires = gold. Pure gold
  • Very interesting social commentary on horror, culture, and the idea of monsters as a whole
  • Also, very claustrophobic. So claustrophobic
  • I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like anyone in this book, and I’m okay with that.

And there you have it!

Did I miss your favourite vampire novel? Let me know down below, I’ll probably read it!

Eat, drink, and be scary,

Month-End Roundup: September 2020

Hi there, friendos and dears!

What a month. What. A. Month. I feel like August was three months ago, and that summer was years ago. September was a really busy month, and didn’t really slow down from August. I went back to school, there was a bunch of changes at work, and my attempts to get into a routine haven’t been going well. It’s just…it’s hard. I’ve been sick on and off, I’ve been tired all the time, and I just want things to go back to normal. I also wish the government would get their butts in gear so I can pay for my schooling and get a new laptop, but that’s neither here nor there. 

On the plus side, while I didn’t post as much as I said I would, I did post a lot. I had quite a few posts, and two were unplanned–I’ve discovered a love of tag games, so please feel free to tag me in those, should you ever feel like doing one! I’m proud of that. I decided to cut back on the quantity of posting I was doing on twitter, instagram and tumblr and I’ve been focusing on quality. I haven’t been seeing the engagement or gains I was hoping for, but I have been happier with myself and my own artistic integrity, so there’s that. 

I’m looking forward to October; I have a lot of spook-tacular things planned, and it’ll be very busy here on the blog. I hope you’ll join me in the new month, and I’m looking forward to sharing the scary season with you. 

Video Editing and Writing: Lessons Learned

Reviewsday: Imager by L. E. Modesitt

Finally Fall! Tag

Backpack Chronicles: A Birthday Special; Or, Dragons all the Way Down

TV Shows

  • Drag Race All Stars Season 5
    • Just gotta say: I called the top 3 from the very first episode
    • Very good season of All Stars. Not as shady as season four, but with enough juicy drama to keep you going
    • Who knows how much is real, but it did keep me watching
    • I just love drag race. That’s just it. Having something new to watch was nice, until I can *ahem* legally obtain Drag Race Canada

YouTube

  • D’ Angelo Wallace
    • I’ve watched his Dramageddon Aftermath series about three times this month…which is about 12 hours, which is a little sad, but hey
    • D’Angelo in general has really good content. He doesn’t pull his punches and isn’t afraid to go after people or companies with massive followings while being funny and charming the whole time. 
    • Do check him out, he’s funny
    • Check out his channels here and here
  • Joey the Otter
    • Livestream of a rescued baby sea otter 
    • That’s it. You just get to watch this baby otter eat, and swim, and sleep. He’s so cute. Even though he’s a chonky adolescent otter now, he’s very cute
  • Brutal Moose
    • Entertaining man reviewing video games, movies, and food
    • He also does cooking shows, which is where I found him because your critter loves to cook
    • He seems like a very nice, very normal guy just doing interesting things and cooking weird food
    • Check out his channel here!
  • Casually Explained
    • Just discovered this channel the other day, but I enjoy it
    • He’s Canadian, so I appreciate his perspective
    • He’s also really funny and explains things in an extremely funny way
    • I haven’t watched his dating videos, because I’m married and that just doesn’t really appeal to me, but his other videos were pretty good. Healthy eating is a good one to start with.
  • Penguiz0
    • This man is an absolute legend.
    • It’s hard to describe what this man does, exactly, because he does a little bit of everything. Music, movie reviews, comedy…mostly comedy, but all sorts of different kinds of comedy
    • I watched his (insert name) series, which is just him giving a funny narration over as seen on TV products, and it’s my favourite.
    • Check him out here

Movies

  • First Knight
    • Richard Gere is a vampire. He looks the same now as he did in the 1990’s. I’m not judging, I just want him to bite me so I can also be a vampire, just as God intended
    • Anyways, the movie is a version of the King Arthur legends where King Arthur is old, Guinevere is young, and Lancelot is somewhere in the middle and also played by a very smiley Richard Gere
    • It was fine. It was serviceable. I like the ones with Merlin in more, because period dramas are boring and wizards are cool
  • Troy
    • I’m a big Greek mythology nerd….and I hated this movie. 
    • They made Paris a bitch, removed the Greek pantheon, and made Achilles straight. 
    • It was Ancient Greece. Heterosexuality hadn’t been invented yet…it wasn’t created until shortly after the invention of saltine crackers
    • I kid, I kid. But in all seriousness, Achilles has been straight-washed in this movie, and it’s kind of offensive. I didn’t care for that. 
  • Hacksaw Ridge
    • Very good movie. I’m biased, because I’m Christian, but I really, really liked this movie
    • I thought Andrew Garfield did a good job, which wasn’t surprising, but I think Vince Vaughn also did a great job, which WAS surprising
    • This is a really inspiring movie, and I think it was well shot. The director, Mel Gibson, is a trash fire, but if you can separate the art from the artist (and can pirate it, fight me NSA) give it a go

Imager by L. E. Modesitt

  • See the above post
  • I managed to finish off this book in September! Yay! Only….*gulps* seven more to complete my reading challenge! *weeps internally*
  • Great book, still recommend it, 10/10

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

  • I just started this one and I’m really loving it
  • This will be my first full length Ursula K. LeGuin novel–I’ve read and enjoyed her short stories before but not her longer works
  • She’s describing being bored, hot and sweaty at a parade…and I love it. I love it so much. I’m looking forward to reading more of this in October!

  • I’ll be honest, it’s been a mixed bag.
  • On the good side….
    • As I’ve tweeted and Instagrammed about, I finally finished my NaNo project from last year! It’s finally done! Until I rewrite it, which I’m not sure when that will be…I’m taking a break from it before I start. I have lots of good ideas to make it a better story that I’m really excited to work with. 
    • I also was selected for a social media training thingy in my hometown! Things might start looking a little different around here, depending on what I learn. I’ll keep you posted. 
  • On the downside…
    • I have writer’s block. I’ve been really struggling with my confidence as a writer lately, and I’ve been having trouble with some of my work because I keep over-thinking everything. I try to read more because I’ve heard that helps, and then I just feel bad and like I’ll never be as good as the people I’m reading, or I see friends who are working on an MFA and I feel like I’m wasting my potential as a writer by not devoting my entire life to it, and I feel like everything I write is garbage and no one will ever like it…
    • Getting form rejections for some of my submissions isn’t helping either. Some of these places had my work for a year. An entire. Freaking. Year. I know editors are busy, but it’s still very frustrating. 
      • It just feels like…my friends and acquaintances tell me that they love a piece and it’s my best work, and then I’ll send it out and get told that it’s mediocre. It’s aggravating. I don’t think my friends are lying, but I don’t know if they can separate their esteem for me from my work, and I can’t pay an editor, and I either hate all my work or think it’s awesome, and neither is conducive to effective editing…. 
    • So…yeah.
    • Thus, my other two projects, my fanfiction and my pet project, are really suffering as a result. I’ve been working hard on them, and things just aren’t going the way I want to. It’s really exhausting. 
    • I try to write what I feel like, so I’m at least writing, but it can be hard to keep motivated to keep being a writer and to keep pursuing the level I want to be at. I’m hoping, as I keep working through October, that I can get there.

Blog posts

  • Blog: 
    • Spooky Saturday Listicles:
      • Top Five Vampire Novels
      • Top Five Short Horror Movies
      • Top Five Horror Comics
      • Top Five Frankenstein Movies
      • Top Five Under-rated Horror Monsters
    • On Writing Villains: A Two-Part Examination
    • Deep Dive: Frankenstein, and Who the Real Monsters are
    • Reviewsday: TBA

Projects

  • Finish rewrites for Transformers fanfiction
  • Finish world-building for pet project
  • Start rewrite for pet project
  • Write more poems
  • Write/finish a short story
  • World-build and make profiles for NaNoWriMo

Personal

  • Book a therapy session
  • Do well in school
  • Finish school papers
  • Get ahead at school to prepare for NaNo
  • Make healthier decisions

Until next month,

Backpack Chronicles: A Birthday Special; Or, Dragons all the Way Down

There’s a quote that you’ve probably heard, from an author (G. K. Chesterton) you might not have heard of: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed”. I think of this quote frequently, especially now that I work with children who’ve faced more dragons than I could ever imagine. I’ve been thinking of it a lot lately, now that another birthday is looming ahead, reminding me that I am growing further and further from childhood. Things have certainly changed since G. K Chesterton passed on. Media for children has evolved past written fairy tales into expensive, expensive movies. As I’ve grown older, I’ve been getting more and more contemplative of the media I consume. And that’s saying something because I’ve been overthinking everything I’ve watched since I was a child in the early 2000s. I won’t argue that children don’t need media that remind them that dragons can be beaten. I find myself wondering, more and more if adults don’t need to be reminded of this too, from time to time.

Stories that proudly brand themselves as “adult” and “mature” seem to revel in the existence of metaphorical dragons with no desire to show that they can be eliminated. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown especially critical of “edgy” content, because I think the term has spun out and changed so far from the original usage and now is an umbrella term for anything remotely dark. It’s an insult now, usually used to disparage young people, but I think it can be a useful term. It refers to things that are on the edge of good taste and the expected, that are pushing a boundary, and that deal with subject matter that may not be socially acceptable to talk about in a more mainstream context. I’ve had my own writing dismissed as “edgy” before but I didn’t really start critically thinking about it until I was out of my teen years and into my 20’s, and was starting to develop a certain sense of nostalgia. It was easy to dismiss “the haters” because I knew what I was creating. What I didn’t understand was why.

Let’s put a pin in that.

There was a recent…adaptation of an old show from the 1970s called “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour”. The original program was a variety show centred around a fictional band of cartoonish costumed animals. I will admit that it was before my time. Way before my time. It’s almost before my parent’s time, to be honest. However, thanks to the magic of Teletoon Retro, I’ve seen bits and pieces of the show (waiting for Transformers to come on, of course). I liked it. I thought it was sweet and innocent, and cute.

Then they adapted it into a horror movie, where the cute animal characters go on a killing spree around the studio.

When I saw a video about the body count of the film, I was horrified. However, I couldn’t figure out why. I had very little emotional attachment to the show. I like horror movies. I don’t usually go for slasher films, as Halloween was the first one I saw and it ruined the rest for me with its quality, but I still appreciate horror and darkness and gratuitous bloodshed. As I contemplated, I started to notice more and more changes in how people spoke about and interacted with properties made for children. Whether it be fan theories stating that Megamind, the lovable anti-villain, is probably a murderer or violent criminal, or ‘edgy’ YouTube parodies, there’s almost a push-back against things being just…pure. I don’t think people should stop making those things. I just found myself, again, wondering why.

I think, on the cusp of my twenty-seventh birthday, that I’ve figured out why.

Now, I see the point to some of the ‘edgification’ of innocent/pure children’s process. For one, children’s media often perpetuates and reinforces the values of society, telling children what they are supposed to think or do, or how to be a functional member of society. Pointing out the flaws in this media is an important way of critiquing the culture as a whole. I also understand why people would want to find darkness where it doesn’t appear immediately on the surface. The world is a dark and scary place. It would be naive to dismiss that. I think there’s a sense of artistic beauty of making something pure into something gritty, or dark. I think, when done right, it can be a comment on growing up, or on losing innocence in the modern world, and provide another opportunity for cultural critique. However, it’s usually done wrong, and done without artistic purpose, a cheap way to grab attention and shock an audience.

I used to like that sort of thing. I used to be drawn to it. When I was a kid, I clung to anything cute as a security blanket. I felt very alone and very, very small, and I was too sensitive for most people to deal with. I didn’t feel understood by anyone except the characters I saw on TV or my stuffed animals. Even as I got older, I was still lonely. I had writing, and I knew if I kept working on it I’d make something out of myself one day. But I didn’t really have any deep connections, and I was naive and curious about “adult things”. I was a lone traveller laden with gold, walking down a deserted path through the forest, oblivious to the dragon circling above.

The dragon swooped down. Everything ruptured. I was taken out of childhood and shoved into a liminal space between childhood and adulthood that I didn’t know how to navigate. I was floating, and I was empty.

After my abuse, after surviving it, I wanted to see things corrupted. I wanted to reassure myself that my new belief that the world was a terrible, dark place where innocence went to die was true. I wanted to think about things in a new way because I had been violently forced to shift my world-view. I wanted to be grown up and be tough because I didn’t want to feel weak. One of the things my abuser liked to tell me was that I’m cute. I’m not fishing for compliments. I know I’m cute. I was a very small critter. I was short and pretty scrawny (I wasn’t skinny, I was a weird stick person in the middle of puberty) and I have a gentle, soft speaking voice and fluffy hair. I am quite cute, but cuteness made me a target. I didn’t want to be cute. I didn’t want to be something small, I wanted to prove I could handle the world and try to regain a sense of power.

I didn’t want cute around me. I wanted to be a grown-up.

As I got older, I left high school, the place where I saw my abuser every day. I could finally heal, away from the place that reminded me of the hurt. And when I had some time away, and some clarity, I could fully understand what I’d lost.

Even though I was a teenager, already losing some of my childlike whimsy, I’d had most of it taken from me by force. I was still, in many ways, a child, when my ex found me, and after he was done…I wasn’t anymore. It was gone. I didn’t figure out how sex actually worked until I was 14, shortly before I met him, and I was naive and sheltered from some of the bad things in the world. I already knew adults weren’t the gods they seemed to like, but now no one was trustworthy. Everyone was bad. Everyone was a dragon, and they seemed immortal and undefeatable.

Part of my recovery was taking some of that back, and picking up what I’d dropped. I had grown up and been pushed down, and I was wallowing in edgy sludge. I love animals. I’d forgotten how much because loving animals (to me) was childish (I thank my dear friend, who became a vegan, for showing me it wasn’t). I now openly obsess over animals. I love children’s cartoons. Some of them. I stopped watching them, but I love them. I love Winnie the Pooh. I have Winnie the Pooh and stuffed animals and cute things all over my house. My partner acts like he doesn’t really like it, but he deals with it. I think he secretly loves the cute little stuffies and figures around the living room. I’m not saying the world should conform to what I want. I’m saying that I seek out things that are pure, and that are innocent because I want to feel like that again.

I think there’s a lot of people out there who feel like that too.

As there’s value in being edgy as a cultural critique, there is equal value of remaining hopeful, and optimistic. Optimism, real, true optimism, is counter-culture. While toxic positivity permeates the culture, there’s also money to be made in making people feel bad about themselves, and in reminding them that there are so many dragons out there. It’s dragons all the way down. There’s beauty in being the last bastion of hope, the last knight with a half-broken sword facing down a murderous flying lizard. While the world changes, I think there’s something profound about staying innocent and staying pure. I think, for example, of Archie Comics. Like many kids, I grew up reading my parent’s Archie collection. While he’s gotten an…edgification (I’m not talking about Riverdale. I’m not talking about Riverdale. I’m not talking about…) The main comics themselves have stayed upbeat over the years, despite pushback from the real world. I think of how Kevin Keller gets to just be Kevin, and have wacky adventures with his friends, away from the homophobia and bigotry that makes so many queer lives hell here. There’s something subversive about it, about imagining a world where being different doesn’t make you a villain, or a tragedy. Where you just get to be.

There should be places to go to contemplate the dark realities of the world. There should be art to explore it. But, in turn, in the interests of balance, there should be places to go to escape from them. There should be something I can watch without being reminded that things like murder and bigotry exist. I know damn well that dragons are real. I’ve faced them before. But as I recover, I start to see that the dragons aren’t everywhere. Maybe there’s a little enchanted forest away from them, where I can take a break, catch my breath, and go back out with the sword.

Media made for adults has lost something along the way. I think that creators forgot that adults need to be reminded of hope and strength and goodness too. After all, we know the full extent of the cruelty of the world. I think, as I prepare to get even closer to thirty, that we should know the full extent of its wonder and kindness too.

We know the dragons are real.

But goddamn it, they don’t get to burn the world to ash.

Finally Fall! Tag

Hey there, friendos and dears!

The lovely Amber over at The Literary Phoenix (https://theliteraryphoenix.com/) recently participated in a fall-based tag, and invited everyone who wanted to participate to participate in it. So, while I wasn’t tagged directly (please tag me in things, friends! You know I’ll do them) I thought it sounded like a lot of fun, so here we are! Fall is my favourite season, so I just jumped on the chance to share some fall favourites with you folkx.

Let’s begin!

In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!

Imager by L. E. Modessit

Summary from Goodreads:

Imager is the beginning of a whole new fantasy in a whole new magical world from the bestselling creator of Recluce. Although Rhennthyl is the son of a leading wool merchant in L’Excelsis, the capital of Solidar, the most powerful nation on Terahnar, he has spent years becoming a journeyman artist and is skilled and diligent enough to be considered for the status of master artisan—in another two years. Then, in a single moment, his entire life is transformed when his master patron is killed in a flash fire, and Rhenn discovers he is an imager—one of the few in the entire world of Terahnar who can visualize things and make them real.

He must leave his family and join the Collegium of Imagisle. Imagers live separately from the rest of society because of their abilities (they can do accidental magic even while asleep), and because they are both feared and vulnerable. In this new life, Rhenn discovers that all too many of the “truths” he knew were nothing of the sort. Every day brings a new threat to his life. He makes a powerful enemy while righting a wrong, and begins to learn to do magic in secret. Imager is the innovative and enchanting opening of an involving new fantasy story.

  • This one feels like cheating, because I literally just reviewed it, but I’m not kidding when I say that this book has the most vivid setting in any book I’ve ever read
  • It felt like I was in L’Excelsis from the very first chapter, and it didn’t let go until the very end
  • I’m not going to go into too much detail, I’m just going to plug my review here

Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

God and I Broke Up by Katarina Mazetti, Translated by Maria Lundin

  • I haven’t read this book in a long, long time…but I still think about it, a lot.
  • I still think of the line about Pia’s cucumber smile when I write description
  • It was really well written, and kind of like poetry in the flow of the prose
  • That is rare for a translated book, because I feel like written art has the tendency to lose something in translation, especially books that are translated to English from another language
  • There are so many words that don’t translate between other languages and English that sometimes translated books just aren’t as good as they were in their original language
  • Many, many memes have been made about dubbed versus subbed anime, after all
  • This one, however, was really, really good, and the emotions carried over.
  • It’s really sad, but it’s worth a read

Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

The $1,000 Genome: The Revolution in DNA Sequencing and the New Era of Personalized Medicine

  • I’m a big genetics and science nerd, so I ordered this book for that alone
  • I don’t know very much about economics. I know some of the basics, but I don’t know all that much—and I don’t care to. I find most business kind of stuff a little dull, and with my dyscalculia the numbers make no damn sense.
  • But, I think the intersection between science and economics is interesting, because research is business. Discovering something is only half the battle; then you have to deal with getting your discovery monetized and out to the public
  • With biology, it gets even more complicated, because you’re monopolizing living things
  • For example, this book talked about genetics as a form of data that companies could buy, sell and use, or that could be used to deny people things like loans, health insurance, and jobs…and I’d never thought of that before!
  • This book is very dense, but it’s very good. It’s really getting me to think about the business of biology.

In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

X-men

  • I’ve always wanted to be an X-man. They appealed the lonely little queer kid who just wanted to have some damn friends
  • And, you know, super powers, instead of the actual mutations I have, which consist of having a self-destructing digestion system and pretty eyes
  • Even though they always are in danger, they have each other. They’re not a family like the Fantastic Four, which is fine with me, I’ve already got one of those, and I want to spend my time with sexy folkx in spandex or leather
  • Hugh Jackman…oh, yes….
  • Where was I?
  • Oh, right. Teams.
  • What I always loved about the X-men is that they weren’t related to each other, but they stuck together no matter what, even if they were upset at each other…even if someone left, they were always welcome back (after proving they’d learned from their mistakes, but they were always given the chance to prove that)
  • I’ve always wanted to be a super-hero too, and I love to help people
  • Flying around in an awesome jet plane with my awesome super powers and hot friends? That’s the kind of team I want to be on

The colorful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-colored spines!

Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • I don’t know if this counts, but you know what? I think it does, and I relish the opportunity to talk about this book
  • Some books are classics for…reasons. I’ve read them, and I have no idea why they’re so famous. I could go on and on about my hatred for Wuthering Heights, but I won’t.
  • My point is, I know EXACTLY why Great Gatsby is a classic
  • It’s so well written, and so timely even now, as the tide of Western society shifts more and more towards materialism
  • I don’t think the story would be as engaging without Nick’s voice, and the way Fitzgerald uses him to tell the story is expert and perfection. I love it. The story gives me fall energy too; Gatsby is desperately trying to hold onto summer, but he cannot avoid the cold that’s creeping in, where Nick just accepts that the seasons are changing
  • It’s perfection, and if you haven’t given it a chance, please do. It’s worth the hype, and it’s like hearing a story from your sad old uncle on a cool fall visit with the family

The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read.

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

  • This book is an emotional roller coaster through a graveyard
  • I don’t want to say too much about this book, because I feel like telling people too much takes away from the spooky surprises contained within the story
  • The story takes place on the margins of society, right under the surface, and I think using vampires as the main characters was spot on for this particular story
  • It’s not your grandmother’s vampire novel, baby, and the New York setting, which is associated with both glitz and glamour and grit and grime is perfect
  • It’s atmospheric, and it’s perfection, and if you’re looking for a book for Halloween this is it. You can’t do better.

The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

  • God I wish I had something to plug here, but that just ain’t me
  • I also don’t read a lot of heartwarming books—I get most of my heartwarming from fanfiction and webcomics, which are often pretty short
  • It’s not a read, or shade, because my Mom loves those kinds of books and I think they’re well written and valuable, it’s just not something I usually seek out
  • So, when I looked back through my Goodreads history, I remembered one of my favourite books ever: Ella Enchanted
  • I read this book at least five times when I was a little critter, and I still reference it
  • I’m trying to convince my husband to read it, I like it so much, and he is WAY out of the target audience
  • It’s a story we all know and love, but told in a unique and funny way, and Ella is a really engaging character who I wanted to see more and more of
  • You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll have a good time
  • And, because it’s written for a younger audience, it’s a nice short read.

Fall returns every year: name an old favorite that you’d like to return to soon.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

  • Frankenstein:
    • Frankenstein is one of my favourite books ever, and it’s the season of spook
    • The Creature is one of my favourite characters EVER. I paint him. I collect him. I’m planning to get a tattoo of him.
    • The real monster, of course, is Victor Frankenstein. I will be returning to this topic next month, and I hope you’ll all join me, but I am looking forward to re-visiting this timeless classic for this season of spook
  • I Am Legend:
    • This is one of the best vampire novels of all time (another topic I will soon be returning to) and it’s just…none of the movies do it justice. If you think you can skip the book to watch any of the movies, think again.
    • This book is full of surprises every time. Every time I read it, I see something different in it
    • I’m not spoiling it, even though it’s old, but it also really makes you think about the notion of monsters, and who is a monster and who isn’t, and who makes that distinction
    • It’s also a spooky book about being stalked by hordes of the undead. Fun for the whole family!

Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: share your favorite cozy reading “accessories”!

And that’s that! Thank you for the open invitation, Literary Phoenix! I had a lot of fun, and I welcome anyone who wants to participate to do so as well!

Yours,

Imager: Reviewsday, September 2020

Hey there, friendos and dears!

We haven’t…been here for a while, have we? I think it’s been four months since my last Reviewsday. I don’t know if any of you lovely folkx have missed it, but I sure have! I’ve been too busy to read, with moving, going back to school, life crashing down around me in the wake of a global pandemic….you know, normal stuff for this topsy-turvy day and age. I’ve been working on the same two books for months, and they were both very dense and, while interesting, took some brain-power that I just didn’t have at my disposal all the time.

HOWEVER, now that things have calmed down a little, I’m ready to tell you about one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. Oh yes, really. Without a single word of a lie, “Imager” by L. E. Modessit is an incredible book, and I am so happy to tell you about it today. Without further ado:

From Goodreads:

Imager is the beginning of a whole new fantasy in a whole new magical world from the bestselling creator of Recluce. Although Rhennthyl is the son of a leading wool merchant in L’Excelsis, the capital of Solidar, the most powerful nation on Terahnar, he has spent years becoming a journeyman artist and is skilled and diligent enough to be considered for the status of master artisan—in another two years. Then, in a single moment, his entire life is transformed when his master patron is killed in a flash fire, and Rhenn discovers he is an imager—one of the few in the entire world of Terahnar who can visualize things and make them real.

He must leave his family and join the Collegium of Imagisle.  Imagers live separately from the rest of society because of their abilities (they can do accidental magic even while asleep), and because they are both feared and vulnerable. In this new life, Rhenn discovers that all too many of the “truths” he knew were nothing of the sort. Every day brings a new threat to his life.  He makes a powerful enemy while righting a wrong, and begins to learn to do magic in secret. Imager is the innovative and enchanting opening of an involving new fantasy story.

Bests:

  • Food, glorious food (and other description)
  • Characterization
  • Worldbuilding
  • Magic System

Flaws:

  • Pacing
  • That’s it, that’s the only one. This book was that good.

Food (And Description in General)

Modessit made me want meat. I haven’t eaten meat for six years. I’ve been a pescatarian forever, and L. E. Goddamn Modessit made me want chicken like nobodies business. He has such a gift for description. I’ve talked before about the movie set problem, which is when I feel like a story takes place on a movie set, like I’m watching a play rather than being immersed in the character’s lives. Modessit’s descriptions made me feel like I was right there, with Rhenn, eating chicken, getting nosebleeds, and stopping assassins. It’s honestly some of the best description I’ve ever read in any novel ever, and I’ve read a lot of books in my time. It’s incredible.

Modessit has the opposite problem as some books I’ve mentioned before, which had the “movie set problem”. It was almost too real, and while I was seeing things from Rhenn’s viewpoint, I wanted to see more. I wanted to know more. I know that’s a bit of a weird complaint, but I felt so immersed that, when I had questions, I wanted them answered, and I wanted them answered quickly. I felt like Rhenn knew things I didn’t, and I didn’t think that was fair! It made sense, since he grew up in the universe and I didn’t, but come on!

Still, I loved this. I loved getting to walk through this world, and learn about it as Rhenn did. I felt like I was there with him, every step of the way.

Are you ever happy, Elka? The answer to that is no, I’m not. I’m never happy.

Characters

The characters are the other stand-out feature of this novel. While there were characters I didn’t like, that was because Rhenn didn’t like them. They were real enough that I had an idea of who they were as people through him, and I decided that if my boy Rhenn hated them, so did I.

Needless to say, I adored Rhenn. I thought he was fantastic. He was a really convincing young person, and really well-rounded. He’s the viewpoint character, so he had to be good. I found him very funny and very likable. Of course, as a creative myself, I was just as invested in his journey as an artist as I was in his journey as an Imager, but his whole story is interesting. I feel like today’s young people would relate to him a lot—you train for years at a craft (or a subject), you finish your training and get a crappy job where your boss talks down to you and half the people you work with are there because of nepotism, and then you lose that job through no fault of your own and it’s back to the drawing board (literally, in Rhenn’s case, because, you know, artist). I feel like that’s a struggle a lot of people today can relate to, despite this story taking place in a world we don’t live in. But, he doesn’t wallow in self-pity. Rhenn never gives up, and doesn’t even stop doing art when he becomes an imager. Mad respect, Rhenn D’Imager. Mad respect.

All of characters felt like real people. They weren’t given as much attention as Rhenn, which makes sense since we spend all our time in Rhenn’s head and young people are nothing if not self-obsessed (that’s a joke, I’m under thirty please don’t cancel me), but I love all the side characters—the ones that Rhenn does, at least. There are a lot of characters in this novel, and most of them have fantasy names that I’m not 100% sure how to pronounce, but each of them are their own people, even the other imagers that he talks to a few times, and never for more than a page. I particularly enjoyed his love interest Seliora and her family, who come from a different race than Rhenn that I’m told will become more important later. They’re a tight knit but large family, and Seliora takes no shit from anyone, especially not Rhenn. While in some stories the love interest of the hero is all worried about the danger they’re in, and Seliora (perhaps due to her precognition) is 100% behind Rhenn, and is fine with him getting into danger because she trusts he can get himself out of it. I LOVE this. It’s such a refreshing dynamic compared to other, similar stories. Her entire family was so cute, and so entertaining, that I’m mostly reading the sequel to see more of them. Sorry, not sorry.

I also enjoyed Rhenn’s sister. She was spunky, smart and a good counterpoint to her artist brother. While Modessit’s female characters are not the focus of the story, they were all extremely well written. I cannot thank the man enough for that. He’s one of the best fantasy writers I’ve ever read, and this is part of it. It’s sad that I have to appreciate good writing that should be the norm, but here we are. Even beyond that, the man has a real gift for writing characters. Even if the development of the female characters was the norm, his writing is still stand-out in it’s craft. The fact that he’s so far ahead just makes it better. All the characters were fantastic, but these ones stood out to me the most.

Worldbuilding

The world that Modessit created was also very interesting. I hinted to it in my section about the description, but this world-building is incredible. I felt like I was there, as I said. I won’t belabor the point, but I’d like to expand on it. There was a lot of detail put into it, despite the…mundane-ness it could have had otherwise.

Let me explain. A lot of fantasy worlds are big, bombastic and in your face about how they’re different from our world. See: Avatar, the Last Airbender. See: A Darker Shade of Magic. I LOVE both of those stories. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having a big, loud, world that makes sure you know how different it is.

On the surface, Solidar isn’t that different from our world, beyond differences in religion, time telling, etc.

Yes I know those are big differences. I’m not done explaining!

But, most people’s daily lives are the same as they would have been in a similar time period in our world. Hours are still around sixty minutes. Religion is still…religion. The biggest difference is the prescence of imagers, which is very subtle.

But I love that.

To Rhenn, all this stuff is normal, so to us, it all feels normal, until we get to the weird stuff, and then it’s introduced to us in a way that’s not jarring, or obtrusive. The world is built like a real place. Everything is thought out, down to the last details.

The politics are there, but not in your face, as it would be in real life, and I appreciated that.

I don’t mind politics in books—if that’s what I’m expecting. But, I liked that I felt like it was a story with politics, rather than a story about politics. There was enough to tell us about this world, and about Rhenn’s place in the political system (The Imagers are a political class, because of their differences—more on that later), and about how things worked—and that’s it. It was real. I liked that.

I loved the way the religion worked, which was also there but not in your face about it. I find myself talking about the nameless and the namer with my partner, who is the only other person I know who’s read this book. I was raised Catholic, so I have a special appreciation for their religion, and Rhenn’s boredom at church. It’s even less in your face than the politics, but you get a sense of where it fits in this society, and it lets you know what the society values and how it views people who go against it’s values. I feel like Modessit is setting up something. Lead on, baby. Lead on. I’m with you to the end of the line.

The whole place felt real, is what I’m saying.

The Magic System

The magic system was very interesting. It reminded me of Full Metal Alchemist, which is only a bit of a spoiler if you’ve actually seen FMA.

Imaging appears to be the only magic at play, and it’s very interesting for a fantasy novel. Many stories have magic as a protected skill that only some can do, but this novel plays with that idea. The Imagers are powerful, but realistically so. I don’t want to go into too much more detail on that, because exploring the system entails a lot of spoilers. We learn as Rhen does, and we learn only bits at a time, so I’m not telling you a lot about it on purpose.

Basically, imagers can create things. Not out of nothing, much like FMA (honestly, more things should be like FMA. FMA is great), but that’s how it appears to the average person, and to Rhenn, at first. Despite this, the Imagers have limits on their powers. It’s a very hard magic system, and that works for this story.

I also appreciate the power scaling. I find in some magic systems there is no good reason for the magic users to not be in charge over the non-magic users. See; X-men, Tokyo Ghoul, Harry Potter.

I love all these things, but…some of the realism is sacrificed to tell a good story. And that’s okay! But here’s the thing:

  • X-men: most mutants may not be Magneto, but they still can do things other people can’t. There’s enough powerful mutants that the ones that aren’t would still be in charge, because there’s no reason that the first mutants wouldn’t have just taken over as soon as they appeared. Alternate history hub made a video explaining it better than I can
  • Tokyo Ghoul: the ghouls have their “quiniques” and they eat people. If they had some actual weaknesses, it would be believable that they’re a hunted class, but they’re freaking bullet proof. The one thing humans have to even the odds in most series just straight up doesn’t work. The ghouls are hella powerful. There’s no way the humans would have developed their anti-ghoul tech before the ghouls took over. Maybe I need to finish Re: but whatever. In the original series, there’s no good reason the ghouls aren’t running people farms.
  • Harry Potter: Bullets actually do work on wizards, but that’s a recent invention. Wizards and witches have been around for a while, there’s no goddamn reason they’re not in charge. What’s a stick or a spear or a sword going to do against expliearmis, or a freaking patronus!
  • J. K. Rowling, perhaps, should put more thought into what she does, and she would see the clear and obvious flaws in her reasoning.
  • And she’s a transphobe. I’m saying, in a very long-winded way, that she’s a transphobe and she sucks.

But, in Imager, it is very clear why the imagers aren’t in charge, despite their powers. Modessit actually thought about this. Thank Christ, someone finally did. Their powers make sense, their isolation makes sense. It all works. It’s *chef’s kiss* perfection

Pacing

HOWEVER, and hubby might hate this, but nothing is perfect, and this book, while excellent, is no exception. I LOVED it, but there are some distinct flaws that stuck out more because the rest of the book was so good.

My biggest complaint in this book was the pacing. It was very slow, and that worked for the first…three quarters? And then I noticed that I was nearing the end and there was a lot left up in the air. There was a lot to tidy up before the book ended, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to get dusted, swept and put away.

And…I guess disappointed is a strong word, but anti-climactic is not.

As a result I felt like the ending was anti-climactic. It was like a water slide, smoothly going along until one big drop right at the end. (Side note: why do all waterslides do this? Are they all made by the same person? WHY?!). I felt like they didn’t wrap up enough for it to feel like Rhenn had accomplished much besides getting his magical powers and getting shot at a lot. Oh, and meeting this blonde THOT…if this turns into a love triangle, I’m willing myself into this story and slapping Rhenn because Seliora is a queen and he’d better not forget it.

Too much was left open-ended. I was a little disappointed. Even the grand battle at the end seems like it’s over so quick. I swear, Modessit spends more time describing a pie than this crucial moment. (Another side note: Please write a cookbook, L. E. I’d buy 100 copies. It would hit the best-seller list). It left room for a sequel, which is good, because I didn’t feel satisfied AT ALL by the ending, but I cared enough to read more.

This is one of the best books I’ve reviewed on this blog. Pacing issues aside, I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. And I have. I think my friends are sick of me telling them to read it. It’s just that good. Please, give it a shot. Imager is well written, it’s expertly told, and it’s criminally underrated.

That’s the TL:DR right there. I give it four and a half chickens out of a possible five.

Have you read Imager? Are you a fan of authors describing food so well you want to get it in ‘ya? How do you feel about the Drag Race gifs? Let me know down below!

Yours in the Nameless,

Video Editing and Writing: Lessons Learned

I don’t know many artists, whether they be writers, visual artists or musicians, who only dabble in one form of art making. This seems to confuse people who aren’t artists, or who don’t know any well enough to know their hobbies. If this is you, then what are you doing with your life? You should get out more, once we’re allowed to again. Meet more people, especially artists. We’re not so bad when you get to know us, I promise!

See? Look at how friendly we can be!

You see this way of thinking with celebrities. When an actor goes into music, or vice-versa, the public seems to wonder who they think they are, using their fame to promote their sub-par work, when there are “real” musicians who work hard for their fame. What they miss is that a lot of these people trained in both. This confuses people. Why, they ask, when one form of art is so hard to master and perfect, would they bother branching out further than their “one big thing”. The answer is deceptively simple: because doing one thing all the time is really, really boring. Nothing exists in a vacuum. One discipline has much to teach an artist about another discipline, and about life itself.

Well, maybe not that last thing, but definitely the art thing.

I myself am something of an artist myself. Other than writing, I dabble in visual art, such as drawing and painting, cooking (making good gluten free and pescatarian food is an art, shut up) and video editing, such as creating amvs and fanvideos. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at the sheer cringe of it, and some others may be genuinely excited by this. I’d wager most of you are wondering what the hell an amv is and why it’s art. The acronym “amv” is short for “anime music video”. If you don’t know what anime is, I’m not sure why you’re here. Fanvideos is the generally accepted term for music videos made with Western media. It is the act of, essentially, making a music video with a property you love. Here are some examples (some of which are mine!):

I started video editing when I was around 11, because my friend was doing it and I thought it looked cool (shout out to Gillian, that shit was rad). Of course, I was writing far before that, but I enjoyed both of them immensely. I’ve putting my work on YouTube for almost as long. I’ve seen it all, kids. I’ve been through mean comments (who’s that mean to a twelve year old? Honestly?), arguments over military engagement in Afghanistan in the comments of an X-men video (yes, really) and losing subs. I’ve been on YouTube (not with the same account, because you will never find my old videos, mwa-ha-ha) for YEARS. Things have changed. I’ve changed. I finished puberty. I have a job. I have a bunch of life experience that I couldn’t dream of at that age. And I’m still making fanvideos.

As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve grown as a video editor. During the “big stop”, a time in my life where I stopped writing entirely for a couple years, I stopped video editing. But it was getting back into video editing that made me want to keep going as a writer. These disciplines have always been tied for me, despite how different they seem. One is writing words on a paper, or on a screen. There are no fancy filters or jump cuts here. One is making it seem like two characters who met once are deeply in love. No word play, no literary devices. Why, you may ask? Because one taught me about the other.

It seems a bit dorky, I’ll admit, but it’s a recognized art form. Early slide-show style fanvideos (of Star Trek, because what else) are featured in national galleries. Now, we’ve evolved past timing slideshows to music. There are so many programs you can use, so many types of video you can make, and so many things you can do with them, but the core of it all is this: It’s about self expression, and appreciation of the art you’re borrowing from to make it. It’s digital collage, but with complicated zoom effects and strobe lighting.

Yes, really.

Read on, my friends, and I’ll tell you exactly why.

When I edit videos, I like to tell a story. To tell the story of why these two characters either love or hate each other, or to portray the state of mind of a character, I chose from the clips of the show. Sometimes, in certain shows (especially anime) there are many scenes that are similar, or many scenes that convey similar feelings. I can’t put all of them in. The video would be longer than the song, and it would be painful to watch. So, I have to pick the most important, most impactful moments to use, even if I like the look of another scene more. It’s not exclusively about aesthetics, despite being an audiovisual medium. It’s about what works best for the mood, story or moment in the show you want to capture.

In writing, sometimes you repeat yourself. That’s fine. Everyone does it. The question then becomes, what do I do with this? How many scenes of a character deciding whether or not they want to murder another character is too many? Is murder bad? When did that happen? Like video editing, I’m trying to incorporate visuals into my work. I want people to be able to imagine my story in their heads. I want them to see what I want them to see. Too many murder moments? Which is the best one? Which tells me the most about the characters involved? Pick that.

Video editing has given me some insights into how and when to do this, through the process of concise editing and visual storytelling.

Not the murder thing. Video editing doesn’t teach you much about that.

Sometimes, I have ideas for videos that I think are really, really good. I think they’re going to be the best thing I’ve ever made, or that they’re going to be really cool and get me mad YouTube amv clout (I want it so bad. Please. Give me clout). Then, I get partway through, sometimes two hours into a video, sometimes half an hour, and sometimes five, that a video just…isn’t working. Maybe it has less clips than I anticipated, maybe the song’s mood just isn’t working, maybe it’s a pain to edit and every second I work on it feels like another year off my short, miserable life.…

Let’s pull it back.

Sometimes, even if you put a lot of work into something, and had high hopes for it…it’s just not meant to be. I could keep plugging away at it, but that’s time I could spend editing things I’m more passionate about. I could come back to it later, but…I could also just…not?

I used to be convinced that I had to finish EVERYTHING I started. EVERYTHING. Even stories I started when I was eleven that I found hidden on a USB as an adult. Even stories that I HATE writing. Even stories I know I don’t know the ending of, and more writing isn’t making that anymore clear. Video editing takes time, but so does writing. It’s deceptive: you don’t always notice how much time it really takes. If I spend all that time finishing things I hate, that’s time taken away from projects I actually like. I didn’t start letting it lie until I got back into video editing. Coincidence? I think not.

We’re about to get a little more…fancy with this one.

There are many ways to edit videos, depending on what you want to express. But the way I see it, there are two ways it boils down to: Linear versus non-linear. Linear would be picking clips in the order that they happened in the show/movie/media, and non-linear would be picking clips from any part of the media, and putting them out of chronological order in the video. I used to think about videos like I thought about writing. Everything had to be linear. A story had to be told as it happened, didn’t it? Or else how would it make any sense.

No, not so.

You CAN do that, but sometimes, especially for a video focusing on emotions or on a pairing, non-linear is the better option. Is it harder? For me, in some ways. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an inferior style.

As I got more and more comfortable with this style of editing, the more my poetry and stories changed. Especially my poetry. I felt like I could jump around through time and it would still make sense, as long as I focused on the feeling or point of the piece. Would I have gotten there without video editing? Maybe, but it wouldn’t have taken so long, and it wouldn’t have been as seamless as it was. It would have felt like a shock to the system rather than a natural progression of my art, and I know that for a fact.

Videos take a long time.

I’ve done some math and I take about 1-2 hours per 20 seconds of video. Most of my videos are between 2-3 minutes long, so that’s about 6 to 9 hours per video. It used to take much less time. I would finish a video, give it one watch through to make sure that the clips were actually where I wanted them to be and that nothing went wrong in the exporting process, and then post it. Done.

However…then I’d be re-watching the videos and I would see all the easy fixes I could have made to make them better. It would have taken an extra hour, maybe, to have gone back in and fixed the bad transitions or the weird effects or what have you. The point is, making it perfect would have taken some time, but it would have saved me a long of embarrassment in the long run.

Now, in writing, I went through a similar process. I used to be a one-draft wonder (in my mind only, I’m sure) and then I’d read it back and see all the easy fixes or places where things didn’t quite work. I was, like, 13, so please don’t judge me too harshly.

Then, I realized the importance of drafting. It was okay to do more work to make it better. I wasn’t a special savant: I’m just a writer, who was learning their craft, and learning the importance of drafting. Like my Dad always told me: If something was worth doing, it was worth doing it your absolute best.

Still, I was stubborn with video editing. I didn’t want to have to re-do the long, loooong process again. But, I realized the same thing I did with my writing. I wasn’t perfect. I needed to fix things and make it the best it could be. Does it take longer? Yes, yes it does. Do I cringe at my videos anymore? No, not really. I’m proud of the work I put out, just like I am with my writing. And at the end of the day, whether you have no subscribers and basically do it for your own amusement or have thousands waiting for new videos or new stories, that’s what counts: what you think of it.

When I write, I try to be as “tight” as possible. I don’t want to be Hemingway levels of sparse and minimal. I personally think that way of storytelling is over-rated and works better for visual media, but that’s a tale for another day. The point is, I try not to have things that are unnecessary, and I try to have everything in the story serve the purpose of the story. No fan-service, no pointless repetition, no unnecessary scenes. I try to think of the story like an essay: what is the thesis? What am I trying to say? What is this story trying to do for people? I narrow my focus when I edit to figure out exactly what I need to do to make the story shine.

Related to my above point about the most impactful moments, I used to just use the first clip I saw when I was surveying whatever I was working with. Beyond choosing the most impactful moments, I also realized that I needed to focus on something for each video. What feeling did I want my audience to take from it? What is the thesis? What am I trying to say? So I started tightening my editing skills, and I started making more efficient, tight videos that are cohesive and tell a complete story or paint a complete picture of the mood I want to communicate

Editing isn’t just about taking things out, even though that’s part of it. You can edit while you’re writing. Crazy, but true. It’s also about focusing, and knowing what you want to do as you’re doing it.

Now, I make videos like I write. Tight, concise, and full of things that make sense to me and me alone.

I love to write. I am DEDICATED to my craft. Part of my dedication is writing in different styles, and trying new things, in service of becoming a better writer. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. But I tried, and I always take away something from each failure. That way, I haven’t wasted my time.But, I’ve also gained a lot from my experimentation. I’ve written some good stuff, stuff I never would have thought of otherwise.

My videos used to be all the same. They were all these linear things, with minimal effects and transitions, focusing on the exact interpretation of the lyrics. Then, one day, I saw some videos from other editors I’m subscribed to, and I saw how experimental and artistic they were, and I thought of my writing, and how much fun I had experimenting.

So, I started switching up my style. I started adding lyrics to my videos. I started getting more metaphorical with the lyrics of the songs I picked. I started using film-making techniques to make my videos. And I’d watch them back and think that I did something cool. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes, it didn’t. But I was happy that I tried. I was happy I’d tried something new and that I could take those techniques to another video that might work better.

I doubt I would have done this without my experimentation in writing. It’s part of growing as an artist, and I feel more like an artist now than I ever have.

High School Musical lied to you.

No one is just one thing. It doesn’t matter what they seem to do the most, be it drawing, writing or music; most people have a lot of stuff going on. Most people do more than one thing with their time. It’s not a sign that they’re bad at their main thing, or that they secretly hate it. It’s just part of being human, and part of being an artist. It’s good to branch out, and try new things. You never know what you could learn, and you never know what you can create.

For me, it’s Berserk amvs. For you, it could be something legendary.

With sore fingers and sore-er eyes,

Month-End Roundup: August 2020

Well hello there.

Welcome to the Month End Round-Up for August 2020. I haven’t done one of these for a while, and it feels like I’m stretching my sea-legs. I’ll start with some house-keeping before I get into the official Roundup. Yeehaw?

I didn’t post as much as I said I would this month, and that’s on me. I’m having trouble getting into a routine. Summer is a super busy time for most folkx, but I found it incredibly hectic this year. I’m an essential worker, so I’ve been working a lot. My partner and I have been over-loaded with family camping trips and moving and unpacking and getting ready to go back to school. None of these are bad things, but it really ate into my time and I’m sorry for that. I’m going to hold myself accountable for September to post more (on both the blog and my social media) and to prepare further in advance. While I can’t guarantee I’ll post every day, like I want to (because of school and work and ugh) I’m going to post at least four days a week.

Also…we finally unpacked the last box in the house. I think we’re finally, officially, moved in!

And it only took three months. ;klj;kljs;ij;gkld

August’s Posts:

https://elkascott.wordpress.com/2020/08/06/the-state-of-the-blog/

https://elkascott.wordpress.com/2020/08/12/from-storybook-weaver-to-scrivener-a-brief-review-of-writing-software/

Broken (On Netflix!)

  • Re-watched this documentary this month. I’ve seen it before, but I was telling my partner about it and realized I’d forgotten a couple things, so I binge-watched the entire series in one day
  • My personal favourite episodes are the ones on counterfeit make-up and furniture, though I enjoyed the vape one as well.
    • By favourite, I don’t mean that I enjoyed watching them, but that I found them well-made and interesting in addition to being INFURIATING.
    • Seriously. I’ve never been more angry at a dresser in my life. Give it a watch. It’s a great documentary series.

(Un)Well (On Netflix!)

  • Half the YouTubers I watch were talking about this Netflix series, so I hopped on the bandwagon and drove it all the way to Alternative Health Town. I enjoyed the ride, but I’m not staying in this little municipality.
  • Full disclosure: there were a couple episodes I skipped because they made me uncomfortable (the breast milk episode and the bee-sting therapy episode, respectively) and I fast forwarded some of the weird moaning in the tantric sex episode for the same reason. No shame on anyone participating in tantric sex therapy, I just did NOT want to listen to other people making sex noises. No. I have housemates, one of whom is a kid. NO.
  • HOWEVER, I really enjoyed this documentary regardless.
    • I am personally someone who believes in both natural remedies and modern medicine (since I take daily medication to keep myself sane), but I don’t think you should take ANYTHING medicinally without researching it, whether it’s essential oils or anti-depressants.
    • The oil episode has been getting the most attention because of it’s connection to two massive MLMs, but the whole series is really, really interesting. My personal favourite was the one on ayahuasca.

Saint Seiya

  • Oh, my goodness. This show is absolutely bonkers, and I love every second of it.
  • It’s…it’s hard to explain. So, there’s these magic suits of armour called cloths, and they’re from the zodiac, and they belong to “saints” for the Greek goddess Athena, and there’s bad saints who work for an evil pope…I’m only on Season Two and it’s a RIDE.
  • If you’re not familiar with the shonen style of anime/manga/story-telling, it might be a bit of sensory overload, but if you are familiar, Saint Seiya is one of the first big shonen properties and it’s very influential.
  • I actually watched Saint Seiya: Lost Canvas before this one, and so far I like that one a bit better, but I’m going to finish the OG Seiya before I go back to Lost Canvas. If you like mindless action with lots of heart, this show is a good choice.

PhilosophyTube (On YouTube!)

  • I’ve actually been watching the lovely Oliver Thorne’s YouTube channel for a while, but I’ve recently binge-watched all his videos again.
  • Mr. Thorne does videos about philosophy (wow, great observation there) but explains things in a way that everyone can understand.
  • He also employs theatrics and costumes and humour to teach you about these really complicated concepts.
  • I recommend him to anyone with a passing interest in philosophy, and a major interest in social issues and making the world a better place.

ALSO!

In a similar vein, I’ve also been committing to reading/watching more content from marginalized authors (BIPOC, 2SPLGBTQIAA+ people, older people and younger people). I’ll be putting some of the people I started following in a special round-up sometime in September.

  • I didn’t read much this month. I’ve been too busy, and I find it easier to just put something on to watch rather than sitting down to read.
  • I’m still reading Imager. Don’t judge me. It’s a long book, I’ve been busy, and it’s very densely written. I’m really enjoying it, and I’m hoping I’ll finally have it finished in time for September’s Reviewsday.
  • I also started reading more academic articles to research for my writing. It’s been cool to learn more about 2SPLGBTQIAA+ therapy and PTSD treatment in the 90’s.

  • This section won’t be as detailed as usual. Nothing new is really happening. I’m a little disappointed in myself, given that I’m still working on the same stuff as I was in April, but…you know what, I’m not going to give into negativity. I’m doing my very best.
  • I’m still working on re-writing and simultaneously writing new material for my novel-length Transformers fanfiction. It’s going pretty well, mostly thanks to WriteTrack keeping me on track, and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve created. I hope that my audience forgives me for taking so much time to do this and that they enjoy the new material.
  • I’m almost finished my NaNo (the OG November one) project. Almost. It’s been a slog sometimes, because I’ve been working on it for sooooo long, but I’m looking forward to having a completed finished draft that I can edit and incorporate some of my new ideas into.
  • Speaking of re-writes, my little pet project is also going well. I’m re-doing the timeline and making the story more complex and rounded. I hope to have something concrete and ready to show people by the end of the year.
  • I also wrote some poetry! I’m trying not to neglect the forms of writing I do outside of novels, and I wrote parts of about four poems, some spoken word and some page. My poetry has been getting rejected a lot and that’s discouraging, but I’m going to keep on writing it because I like it.

Blog:

  • Reviewsday: Imager by L. E. Modessit
  • Canadian Crime Stories: Some People are more Equal than Others (A Look at Racism in Canada)
  • On Writing and Video Editing
  • Back-Pack Chronicles: Birthday Special
  • Round-Up Special: Content from the Margins
  • Get started on Halloween/October posts

Projects:

  • Finish “The Winter Prince”
  • Finish rewrites for Transformers fanfiction
  • Finish world-building for pet project
  • Write more poems
  • Write/finish a short story

Personal:

  • Get healthier (exercise every day, eat out less)
  • Book therapy session
  • Start school
  • Get a second pet

Until next month,

P.S: Please consider buying me a ko-fi! https://ko-fi.com/inkyscott

From Storybook Weaver to Scrivener: A Brief Review of Writing Software

Back when I was a young(er) person, a nineteen year old just starting their blogging journey, I drafted a post about my history with writing software. I’m glad that I didn’t bother to post it, because I was very ignorant and computer illiterate at the time. However, there was one element of this old post that stuck out to me: my adventures with a program called Storybook Weaver.

I started my post talking about using Storybook Weaver back in grade one on the old Macintoshes in the computer lab. I remember it vividly, even now as an adult. It was a welcome break from the usual boring typing lessons (god, I wish I’d paid more attention to those now), and it was also pretty “radical”, and “sweet”, as was the parlance at the time. This program let you create a story book, through stickers you could add to the page, with a space to add text at the bottom. I remember that my classmates were in a competition, almost, of who could make the silliest, most outlandish story, and I was so focused n my own equally outlandish stories that I paid them no mind. I paid no mind to most of that class, honestly, and always lost the floppy discs I saved my masterpieces on. I wanted to create the stories that I wanted to hear, and being able to do this was part of what made me realize that I wanted to do this forever.

So goddamn you, Storybook Weaver. Everything that has followed is your fault.

And thus, I gaze upon my doom

(If you want to experience the program for yourself, it still exists. You can try it out here: https://playclassic.games/games/educational-dos-games-online/play-storybook-weaver-online/)

It was also the beginning of my experience with writing software. Despite software evolving with me as a writer, it took me a long time to start using it as frequently and reverently as I did with Storybook Weaver. My opinions at the time of my initial draft were based on the observations of a university student with no money, who didn’t believe in paying for writing software. Part of this was stubbornness, and the fool-hardy, young person belief that you should do everything yourself, with no help from anyone or anything. Part was from a general lack of understanding as to what software was out there, as all I’d heard of at the time was Scrivener. There simply wasn’t the same amount being widely used, because that was a few years ago, and I don’t have to tell you, fellow denizens of the internet, how much things have changed in seven years.

However, there are certain things that I still believe. The more things change, the more things stay the same, as it were. One thing I will standby is my assertion that one shouldn’t download the first program you see off Google, as (especially now) those might be the most popular (and have the most money to spend to get their program at the top) but popular does not mean best (see: Twilight). I also asserted that lists, articles and forums are your friend. As someone who uses writing software daily, I thought that perhaps I should create an article. Consider this me being a friend to you, yours, and the internet, by sharing my experience with different writing apps, software, and tools.

Presented in point form for your convenience.

Also: Not sponsored. No one paid me to say any of this. That would have been nice, though. If you want to send me a couple coins….I have a Ko-Fi now, which will be linked at the end of the post.

  • Writetracker is a site that I use every day
  • Yes, it is software, I checked with my IT Guy (TM) husband
  • I tried a few different word-tracker apps, and this is the one I landed on, and the one I like the most
  • It’s really easy to use, and works with other sites and programs like NaNoWriMo and MilWordY
  • It actually works much better than the NaNoWriMo site, in my humble opinion
  • You set a goal, it tells you how much you have to write every day to meet that goal, you track your progress, and that’s it. It’s really that simple.
  • My one complaint is that I don’t believe that there’s an option to set a goal for editing, and while that’s not a deal breaker, that’s good to know going in
  • The whole site was developed and is maintained by one man, and I also think that’s really, really cool. He’s kept it free since it launched, and that deserves respect.
  • Maybe I’m just stupid.
  • Most of the people I know who use Scrivener love it. However, most of them have Mac books, and I use my shitty HP Laptop my Mom gave me for free from her work, and before that I used my custom desktop that, while proficient with word processing and web browsing, barely ran iTunes
  • Even beyond the technical issues, I found that I could not figure out Scrivener AT ALL
  • I tried to go through the tutorial, but I found it long and confusing.
  • I’ve tried three times to figure out Scrivener, and I just don’t think it’s worth it. I need a program I can pick up and use right away, rather than spending literal hours trying to figure out how to add notes
  • Look. I love, appreciate, and respect the good folks at NaNoWriMo for running a great contest, and I am a better writer for having participated in the event last year and camp this year, but God. Damn.
  • The site itself is notoriously slow and buggy, or that’s what I confirmed for myself after I read an article when I Googled NaNoWriMo and got a post complaining about the site
  • You guys need better SEO. Just saying.
  • If you want something simpler, you’re better off going with WriteTrack, because it doesn’t have the same bells and whistles
  • I do appreciate that the site has statistics beyond just word count, and it’s nice to look back and see when I wrote the most, or how I felt when I was writing. I could navigate easily to these features, which is a plus
  • I only use it a few times a year, for the events, but you can use it all year round, should you choose to, you just won’t get the same badges (I don’t think)
  • I just wish it wasn’t so slow! I’d rather use something a little simpler, just to get my tracking done so I can get write back (ha! I crack myself up) to writing
  • Bare bones version of Scrivener
  • When I say bare bones, I mean bare bones. I didn’t realize how bare bones it was until I started using programs where I could create relationship webs, for instance.
  • Pretty easy to figure out, and has some cool features
  • However, it’s interface is pretty clunky, and multi media features like pictures don’t integrate well with the rest of the program
  • Some things are hard to find, and hidden within the tabs of the interface
  • You can’t upload two pictures to one category (ie: the outside view of a house in the story and the internal floor plan) and it’s hard to look at multiple things at once
  • If you accidentally move a chapter, good luck putting it back where it was
  • I decided to stop using it and move to a program I paid for because I just wanted more
  • So, if you want something really basic, and can handle a bit of clunkiness, this program is fine, but it’s not my favourite
  • Decided to give this a try after seeing it on the NaNoWriMo site
  • My husband likes it. He uses it for his D & D. I, on the other hand, find it kind of frustrating
  • Maybe I went in with the wrong expectations, but I expected to have the ability to make maps and stuff like that, but it’s more of a wiki for your story
  • And that’s cool and all, but that’s not really what I wanted. I already have a program that can do that, which confuses me a lot less
  • It’s very much made for role-players, and I’m glad my partner likes it
  • However, I don’t know if I want to use a web-based program to do what World Anvil does, as I want to be able to use the program if I don’t have access to the internet
    • This isn’t the site’s fault, to be clear. My partner and I went through a phase where we were really, really broke and our internet was cut off several times. Even though we’re in a better position now, I’m biased towards programs that don’t need the internet to work.
  • Purchased this product after winning Camp NaNoWriMo
  • While the coupon code was misleading, I still bought the software, and I’m still using it
  • I’ve been playing around with it quite a bit, and I’ve found it pretty fun so far
  • I like that I can do things that I couldn’t do (or figure out) with yWriter or Scrivener, like create character relationship webs and timelines within one program
  • I will update this post as I work on this software further, but I have a few nitpicks about it.
    • I don’t like that I have to click on the icons to figure out what they do. I’d prefer if it could show me it when I hovered over it, but that will just take a little while to remember on my own what each icon represents
    • When using the character tab, I moved some of the boxes around, and I couldn’t get them into a nice straight line again. This is such a nitpick, but I’d like to be able to make everything pretty again! Come on!
  • However, that said, I find the whole program easy to use. I figured it out pretty quick, which is big for me because I sometimes have trouble with new programs because I’m old and crabby and am not the wide-eyed, skinny bitch I used to be with a more plastic brain
  • I really enjoy this program so far. It does what I want it to, and a few things I didn’t know I wanted until I got it.

Look. At the end of the day, your writing is your writing. You know what you want, and you know what you need from any software you’re looking for. Whether you’re an old time pro or a newbie, there is a program out there for you. I cannot cover every piece of writing software in existence, and I don’t have the spoons to review all the ones I’ve tried, but I wanted to at least talk about the pieces of software I’ve used extensively. At the end of the day, all I can do is throw my voice into the ether, and hope that my thoughts give you some helpful advice, and a place to start.

With sore fingers,

https://ko-fi.com/elkatheinkyscott

The State of the Blog

Here ye, here ye, denizens of the Internet! Four score and…forget this.

Hi everyone.

Firstly, I need to apologize. I took an unplanned break and didn’t say anything at all. I just dropped off the face of the Earth. Well, not literally, but in social media terms, and that might as well be the same thing. I’ll get this out of the way: I’m fine. I’m not sick with COVID, I’m not debilitated by my mental health, and I’m doing mostly fine. I’ll give you a quick play-by-play on what I’ve been up to:

  • Moved into a new apartment which is much, MUCH better than my last one (see Instagram for a house tour, which will be posted on Friday, August 7th)
  • Almost got a dog (not going into it here, it’s not cool to air out dirty laundry on the Internet, but I mentioned it on Instagram so I felt it appropriate to mention)
  • Signed a contract for a short story publication, details to follow
  • Kept on working—my job is essential, because I look after children in care, so I’ve just kept on trucking, going to work and making my money
  • Signed up for school in the fall—without going into too much identifying detail, I am going back to school instead of doing practicum in the fall. It’s a bit of a bummer, but I like learning, and the classes are online so I can do them in my pyjamas.
  • Camp NaNo! I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo again this July, and signed myself up for fifty thousand words. Why? I don’t know, but I’m happy to say that I completed it. Is the piece I was working on done? No. Not by a long shot. Is it off to a good start? I’d say so.
  • I also went camping! Literally! I do it once a year, and I always have fun, even if the outdoors are full of spiders and there’s no wifi.
  • World built a fan-fiction. A FAN-FICTION. I’ve never done that before. Ever. Fan-fiction comes with a pre-built world, like a playground, you get to just run in and start playing. However, the Transformers canon is convoluted, even in the canon they developed with the sole purpose of being less convoluted (seriously. The novels in the WFC canon contradict each other, the cartoons contradict the novels, and I want to pull my hair out and bang my head against a wall WHY IS THIS HAPPENING). I then made a whole new tumblr for the world-building, because it was clogging up my other accounts. I hate…no, let’s go for some positivity. I love myself, I love Transformers, and I love all the wonderful people who read my stories and leave nice comments.
    • God, I wish I could legally get paid for this shit.
  • I made a Ko-Fi! I don’t expect much yet, but it’s good to have it there. Please consider checking it out at https://ko-fi.com/elkatheinkyscott

…I’m so sorry, but in all fairness you shouldn’t have believed me when I said I’d be quick.

So, what’s the state of the blog, you may be asking, because that’s what you’re here to see. Well, it will be back to business as usual for the rest of the year. I considered revamping things, because that’s what everyone seems to be doing in quarantine, but then I realized that I actually like the content I’m creating and I’m having fun. I’ll look at it critically in January, but there’s no point messing around with what’s already going pretty well.

I know that ‘everything’s going back to normal’ is really anti-climactic, but I think it’s pretty hopeful. That being said, it will still be a short month for posting, so I can enjoy a little bit more summer before getting into a routine for fall. I hope my dear readers can understand. It means you’ll have even more to look forward to in September, when I’m (fully) back on my bullshit. Then, in October, I will be doing a themed month to celebrate the goth’s holy day of All Hallow’s Eve. What you can look forward to this month:

  • Reviewsday: Imager
  • Writing Software: A brief review
  • Month-End Round-up

Here’s what you can look forward to in September:

  • Reviewsday: TBA
  • Canadian Crime Stories: Some People are more Equal than Others
  • On Writing and Video Editing
  • Birthday Special

Here’s what you can look forward to in October:

  • Reviewsday: TBA
  • A Brief Guide to the Sexy Undead
  • On Writing Villains: A Two-Part Examination
  • Frankenstein, and Who the Real Monsters are
  • Saturday Special: Listicles!
    • My Personal Top Five Short Horror Stories
    • My Personal Top Five Horror Movies
    • My Personal Top Five Horror Monsters
    • My Personal Top Five Horror Comics

I hope that I’ll see you again in August, and beyond. Please consider donating to my Ko-Fi, or visiting my social media to vote on what books you want to see for Reviewsday, or just to see cute pictures of my cat. This is the current state of the blog, and this is Elka Scott, signing off.

25 Poems Later: A Retrospective

In December, I decided to write 25 new poems in one month.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying this as a brag. I’m using it as a lesson. In the advent of COVID-19, and the shuttering of the windows of many different magazines across genres and pay scale, I realized that I needed to change how I do poetry. I’m not naive enough to think that I can get into poetry for the money. I know very well that making a living off of poetry ranges between difficult to impossible. That’s never been my real concern. What I want is for people to see my writing, or to hear it, to experience my words and have an emotional connection with it. I am a shy person. I want to help people, I want people to feel less alone, but I also want connection. My words are me, and I am them. I want to reach out and touch people and feel just a little bit less alone, and perhaps make someone else feel a little less alone as well.

Wow, that was a little pretentious.

Perhaps I’ll try to publish again, after COVID is over, but I’ve found mostly frustration with trying to get poetry published. This has been a theme in my writing journey, even before the pandemic. Many literary journals don’t seem to have a rhyme or reason to what they publish, send form rejections that tell someone exactly zip about why they’re rejected, and most of the subject matter in my work has trouble getting published. So, why should I try to edit myself to fit these gatekeepers, and their nebulous ideas of what is good and what isn’t? I wanted to take out the middle man. The middle man is full of crap.

I decided, after spending 8 weeks learning about social media with other (incredible) artists, that I wanted to try to write more poems I could perform both online or in person (again, when COVID is over). I wrote a few poems that were short and snappy, and I liked it. I wanted more. So I created more. And more. And more. I had a vision in my head of what these poems would be, and how different they would be from my usual work. They’re shorter, punchier, quicker. They would be easier to memorize, and then I wouldn’t need to look away from my audience as I performed. And then my….physical defects would be much less obvious. Shorter videos would also take less time to create, and I then could focus less on editing and more on interacting with any viewers who were so moved to comment on the piece.

Why 25? I don’t know. It had a good ring to it. It was easy to break down into 500 words per piece. It seemed achievable. I figured if I performed/recorded one a month, I was setting myself up for guaranteed content for two years, that I could build a following and a legacy out of. 25 poems gave me a lot of room to explore different topics, different pain, and different ways of connecting to an audience.

I crave connection, especially during these pandemic paranoid times. So I sat down and wrote 25 poems. Here’s five things I learned about the writing process. I hope you can find inspiration in these words.

On that note, my first understanding is this. One: Find your inspiration. I would listen to other poets. I thought at first that I would feel great envy if I did this, or I’d get down on myself and think that I could never be nearly as good as them. I can say that I never bit off their style, but listening to them made me want to be a better poet. It ignited me, rather than stomped my fire out. I mean, Brandon Lee just won America’s Got Talent as a spoken word artist. The world is ready to experience our art, and I am inspired by the gains and strides of others to make my own.

Of course, it wasn’t all great people with great work. I listened to a few poems from one artist before learning about their….less than stellar past. I will not give lip service to their name, as a) I’m afraid of their fanbase and b) I don’t want people to support his work, even to hate watch it. I don’t know if I’m the one to expose them. If you disagree, let me know down below. But the reality is that sometimes people with great talent can be utterly terrible people. Again, rather than stomp me out, this kindled a great rage in me. It’s hard not to want to be better than someone like that. I also used inspiration from music, or from the shows I was watching, but not to the same extent as I used other poetry. Find your own. Find what moves you. Use it, be inspired by it. Create, create, create.

But, at the same time, sometimes inspiration just won’t come. Here’s what I have learned from attempting to write 25 poems in one month, a time when one would assume I needed to put pen to paper and get it done. Two: don’t force it. When I tried to force it, I managed maybe 50 words before I was sick of my own writing and needed a break. So I took it. There was no point forcing it. If I couldn’t get my word count today, I would try again tomorrow. I would say to myself that I had no inspiration, and there was no point in forcing it. I would go off to do something else. Clean, write fiction, study, rewatch Hunter x Hunter for the fourth time…Then, because I wasn’t trying to think of anything, a poem would come to me. Or part of one. But they were words, and that was what I needed. They weren’t always great, but they were still words, and it was still practice. And that was valuable in it’s own right.

To jump off of the point about practice, this step is crucial. Four: read your work aloud. You’d think this would be obvious for a spoken word poet, but it wasn’t. I hate the sound of my own voice, both when I listen to it in a recording and when I listen to it as my dumb mouth blabbers. So I didn’t really read my work out loud until starting this project. Sometimes, in the before times, I would not read something out loud until an hour before I was to perform, and would be frantically editing out things that sounded great on paper and terrible out loud. Why. Why wouldn’t I do the most obvious thing? Was it self sabotage, was it laziness, or was it just inexperience? Probably all three, really. Did my performances suffer from it? Time will tell, but I am leaning towards yes.

So now, I have read most of these poems out loud twice. All 25. I want to start doing this with my other word, including my fiction. That will take longer, of course, but if the results I’ve seen so far are any indication, it will be well worth it if I can find the time to make it happen.

The fifth thing I’ve learned is arguably the most important. It was what made the whole process truly worthwhile. Five: find joy in your writing. I confess that I hadn’t been writing much poetry before this because I found no joy in it. But then, once I found that joy, once I found a process to produce joy every time, I was hooked. It has carried over to my other projects as well. I struggle to find joy in my fiction writing too (there’s so many more things to keep track of in fiction!) and I was starting to struggle with motivation. No longer. I have found a new sense of joy in my work, one I want to hold onto and ride the waves of for as long as possible.

I know being a writer can be really hard. It’s one of the most difficult hobbies, between the writing, the rejection, the editing, the rejection, the re-writing, the rejection, the world-building, the rejection….and the rejection, of course. The process is hard, long and lonely, and you often don’t see a tangible reward from it. I’m not saying if you haven’t found joy in your writing that you’re a bad writer. What I’m saying is that joy can be it’s own reward.

Where to go from here? Well, if you want to see those 25 poems, follow me on my social media. As for myself, I am going to keep creating, keep challenging myself, and keep growing forward.

Have you ever given yourself a writing challenge? Let me know down below!

Until the ink runs out,