How many balls can you keep up in the air at the same time?
I’ve been pondering this question a lot this week.
Like I said I was going to, I eschewed the blogroll in favor of my midterms, which is why I don’t have a Sunday Link Love today. Needless to say, I’m excited to return to the lovely worldwide web this coming week.
But I’ve also realized something about my social media time – that things go better for me when I do one content post a week rather than two. Therefore, I’m taking the Thursday post out of the equation and only posting on Tuesdays and Sundays.
So yeah, I’ve been doing lot of thinking about time management this week. Honestly, I have it pretty easy. I have responsibilities and commitments but it’s not the sort of thing where I’m constantly going going going. There’s definitely time in my week to accomplish the things I want/need to get done, I just have to figure out how to maximize it, and this week I realized that I was overcommitted to one thing (the blog posts) to the detriment of other things (the blogroll, actual writing time).
But I’ve also thinking about this question in regards to the outline. I’m sure at this point, someone out there must be rolling their eyes at me. Believe me, I’m rolling my eyes at me too. Which is physically difficult but not impossible. You mean I’m still not done with the outline? Well…yeah.
In my defense, I’m in the final arc and working out the climax. And it’s at this point that you really have to show up, so to speak.
Everything that I let go for the moment, that I decided to figure out later? Yeah, it kind of has to be decided NOW. Part of the problem is that KTLO has multiple POVs (at least four, maybe even six) and innumerable plot lines. So how do I tie them together? What questions do I answer now? What questions do I decide to leave for the next book? And this is the point where you seriously start sacrificing things. There are at least two major plotlines that I’m probably just going to write out completely, because I don’t see them as going anywhere satisfying, and they’re sort of cancelled out by more interesting plotlines anyway. In addition, KTLO is Lost-esque with the questions, so it’s absolutely paramount that I answer certain questions at this stage of the story, but in my efforts to do so, I’ve created a monster of an exposition fairy. So how do I fix that without disrupting the whole web?
I don’t want to sound down on the outline – there’s still progress being made, and I’m excited about it, and I’m really really grateful that I decided to outline because I would have gotten lost in this story otherwise. No, I vent these conflicts as exemplary of the question – how many balls in the air can you juggle at one time?
Meaning, how many plotlines can you have without diluting all of them? How many characters until the reader feels incapable of committing to anyone? What questions do you catch (i.e., answer) and what do you leave hanging up in the air? When it comes time to catch the plotlines, will you be able to catch all of them at relatively the same time in a fluid fashion that feels emotionally satisfying for the reader?
How many balls can YOU keep in the air at the same time?
Hey, I managed to find an adorable video of kittens turning on a vacuum. You’re welcome.
But you know what else is pretty cool?
The epitome of cool
Aliens are also pretty diverse. I mean, if I spent a lot of time last week talking about how the diversity of mermaids – imagine how much trouble I could get into with aliens! At least mermaids tend to have scales and smell fishy. But what does E.T. have to do with to the monsters from Cloverfield? How is that (wickedly stylish) pug from Men in Black related to the alien from Predator?
Most importantly, where does Roswell figure in?
By which we mean that one show with Katherine Heigl before she was Katherine Heigl – why, what did YOU mean?
I’m going to do something a bit different today. Rather than even try to fully represent the broad diversity of aliens, I’m just going to focus on two of my favorite science fiction films: The Monsters are Due on Maple Street and The Day the Earth Stood Still.
The Monsters are Due on Maple Street
Okay, before I say anything else, let’s get this out of the way: that title. Seriously, that title. How can you look at that title and not immediately be intrigued? If that title doesn’t do anything for you, then I would consider getting your curiosity receptors checked out. Like, stat.
Strictly speaking, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street isn’t a movie. But it’s one of the classic episodes of The Twilight Zone, so it might as well be.
At first glance, Maple Street has a pretty simple premise. For no discernible reason, the power goes out on Maple Street – even the cars. Neighbors congregate to investigate, as people are wont to do when their power inexplicably goes out. A boy with comic books insists that it’s because aliens are attacking. But he’s just a silly boy citing silly books with silly drawings – right? At least, that’s what the grown-ups tell themselves.
But then, for some reason, one car starts to work – why that car, and why that family? And how do you explain some of the neighbors’ weird behavior? There’s that guy who’s building a radio that no one’s ever seen, and then there’s that other guy who stares up into the sky at night…
If I went any further, I would have to slap spoiler warnings on this post. Let’s just say that there are monsters on Maple Street – and that there are aliens, too. But they’re not who you expect.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
I discovered this movie while lost on-campus during my semester abroad in Ireland. I don’t remember what I was trying to find, but I do remember that it was not the dark student lounge where some film club was showing this movie. It’s not exactly the kind of movie you want to walk in on while discombobulated, especially not in a foreign country, but I liked it so much that I sat down and watched the rest of the thing in its entirety, having entered probably somewhere around the 30% mark.
Unlike Maple Street, The Day the Earth Stood Still has a complicated plot that’s difficult to relate here. An alien named Klaatu comes to Earth with his robot Gort. They don’t exactly make a secret out of it, as you can tell from that picture above. But secrecy is not really the mandate – they’re on Earth to warn Earthings about atomic power, which other planets have deemed too dangerous. If Earth doesn’t do something about its deadly ways, then those other planets will have to exterminate Earth completely. Not that they want to – they’ll just have to. Sort of like pest control.
Of course, Klaatu isn’t able to get his message out easily. And of course, even when he does get his message out, people aren’t inclined to listen. And! Of course, while on the run from the United States government, the human-looking Klaatu shacks with a pretty lady for a few days. Did I mention there’s a robot named Gort? There’s no robot doctor, but that still earned the movie extra points in my book. (It’s a very easy book.)
And yes, it ends tragically. I won’t tell you any more than that, although I will say that I found the ending surprisingly moving and meaningful.
Apparently there was a remake with Keanu Reeves in 2008? That’s what Google’s telling me anyhow. I have not seen this movie, so I have no right to pass judgment, although the reviews don’t seem favorable. If you’ve only seen the remake, I recommend watching the original. Really, if you haven’t seen the original, then I recommend doing so. Admittedly, it moves somewhat slowly (as black-and-whites from the 50s are wont to do) but it’s a smart little film with a main character that you really root for.
So those are my two alien recommendations for the day.
Wrong, Google Image search! That is clearly a pirate.
It’s interesting, because there are so many fantastic movies where aliens are the bad guys, yet none of those movies strike me as particularly memorable (at least for myself). I must admit that I haven’t seen Alien yet, which is a huge cultural failing on my part. Still, I think I’m attracted more to stories where aliens highlight humanity’s faults, rather than their strengths.
What are your favorite aliens?
Any great alien movies/shows/books/comic books that you would like to recommend?
This post was for Monsterfest 2011! Check it out.
SUNDAY LINK LOVE
- I love Chuck Wendig’s post about how both roads to publication – traditional and self-pubbed – are valid. Kudos to Vernieda for sharing the link.
- Oh my gosh, this video about little kids reacting to certain key events from Empire Strikes Back? ADORABLE. Found through Feminine Miss Geek.
- Okay, I know I already linked to this before, but I’m seriously loving this post from Amy Sunderberg about owning your own creative process. Seriously, if you’re a writer, go read this. Right now. And while you’re at it, give yourself permission to breathe.
- I’ve been meaning to post this link for pretty much forever, but somehow it keeps slipping my mind. Chira (warning: some stuff NSFW) is an incredibly talented visual artist who draws the wonderful webcomics Sfeer Theory and The Fox Sister. A couple months ago, she posted 10 Helpful Notes On Character Design. Now, that advice is supposed to be for visual artists, but IMO it has amazing applicability for writers. Check it out!
- Also, this week she posted an interesting trailer for a documentary about female representation in media. Check that out, too!
- Oddly enough, the blog entitled ‘This has nothing to do with writing’ sure has a lot of great links about writing. My personal favorite is this picture of one of JK Rowling’s outlines. Now, I’m not 100% sure that the outline is authentic, but nonetheless? Purdy cool, as Miley from SNL would say.
- And here’s a nifty NPR flowchart for science fiction and fantasy book recommendations.
- Apologies, as I can’t recall where the following video was sourced from. Please let me know if you posted it, as there’s a real chance that’s where I found it. Anyway, it’s an awesome mash-up of Disney princesses and Mean Girls. Just as cool as it sounds.
ROW 80 Update
To recap, my ROW goals are:
- 1.) Finish outlines for the three books in the planned KtLO trilogy.
- 2.) After the outlines are finished, write 4000 words a week on KtLO.
You know what happened this week that was great? I attended a real-life critique group that was very helpful, respectful, and constructive. Therefore, I want to add a third goal – to write a short short every month for the monthly critique group. So, now I have three goals.
In terms of progress on the goals I already had?
I only really hunkered down on my outline one night this week. So I’m going to try to do better next week – this week was particularly crazy because of visiting family and midterms, but I should be able to carve out more outlining time tomorrow night and Tuesday night.
However, the only way I’m going to be able to do that is to sacrifice blogroll time. It’s that time of year again – meaning, midterm season. So apologies ahead of time to all those precious blogs I’ll be neglecting – trust me, it’ll hurt me more than it’ll hurt you!
Here’s a dog in a Star Wars costume.