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In the Throes of Debilitating Grief: #TVD Thoughts

Whirl-fire

Whirl-fire (Photo credit: Loving Earth)

Spoilers abound in this post. If you’re not caught up on the Vampire Diaries, you might want to get lost. 

Wow.

The name of the episode was Let it Burn, but in my mind, it was the Episode of Debilitating Grief. When we left off, Jeremy looked dead. Really dead.

Last night’s episode confirmed what I had already thought true; Jeremy is gone, killed by Silas. His ring couldn’t save him.

When Elena brings Jeremy’s body back to Mystic Falls, she’s hoping he’ll wake. Stefan and Caroline are discussing the fact that Jeremy being a supernatural being (a Hunter), precluded the ring’s ability to save him, but Elena has hope.

And that hope gets smashed into bits.

I’ve heard some people complaining about Elena being “whiny,” but I think she’s handled the multitude of deaths with remarkable poise. I would challenge anyone to lose not one but TWO sets of parents, a beloved aunt, a surrogate father (Alaric), and all the other friends she’s lost along the way while maintaining sanity.

It only makes sense that losing her brother, her single remaining link to humanity, would be her snapping point. Because Jeremy is dead.

The only other television show I’ve seen to handle grief in such a spectacular way was Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the episode The Body.

You see Elena crumble as she realizes Jeremy’s not going to wake up. As she realizes she can smell him beginning to decompose. That her brother is really, truly gone. I think watching last night’s episode hit me so hard because of the year or so that my family has been through. Granted, two of the people we lost were older relatives, dying at the end of a long and fruitful life. But one was reft from us violently, and there is no other emotion I’ve ever experienced that is so painful, so debilitating. That’s the kind of grief that rips your legs right out from under you. It snatches away your breath and blows a hole in your insides so ragged and deep that nothing will fill it, and there’s no way to pull the edges back together.

That’s what Elena Gilbert experienced in last night’s episode.

And Damon helped her the only way he knew how: he told her to turn it off.

Some people were bashing on his decision to do that. I think he very probably saved her life. You can’t lose that many people to violence and pain without it changing you. He gave her psyche a respite, a chance to gain some distance. Yes, she’ll have to deal with it eventually and it might be just as bad or worse. But she was about to explode.

After all that, there was more going on. Silas is up and at ’em. Katherine whisked away the cure. Rebekah finds Shane’s broken body, and it’s made clear that Silas is the one whispering into Bonnie’s head and essentially pulling her puppet strings. That alone is an interesting revelation — Silas gets his revenge on the line of witches he couldn’t control in life by controlling its most recent offspring.

This could very well destroy Bonnie. Caroline is falling apart. Stefan and Damon are watching the woman they love disintegrate in front of them, and her ten thousand yard stare as she flips the switch on her emotions is one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve seen on the show, topped in this episode only by her utter brokenness.

I found it interesting that Elena’s first act after she flipped the switch was also the exact thing she’d been about to do before she flipped it.

She burns her house down.

That act is of course rife with its own symbolism. Whether she finds the cure or not, whether she takes it or not, Elena Gilbert will never be the same girl who went off Wickery Bridge at the end of last season. Never again.

Let it burn.

What were your thoughts on last night’s episode? I felt like someone wrapped their hand around my heart and squeezed until nothing else could come out.

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Tiiiiime, Why Do You Punish Me?

Fountain pen

Fountain pen (Photo credit: Sven Van Echelpoel)

Sunday is for writers round these parts! Welcome to today’s edition of Sunday, My Prints Will Come!

I was talking with a friend this week about things that get in the way of writing. Namely, procrastination.

I thought I’d share with you my own personal novel-writing timeline to get us started:

Novel #1: Epic fantasy. Begun 2001. Never finished.

Novel #2: Urban fantasy. Begun 2004. Finished fall 2008. (Four years.)

Novel #3: Urban fantasy. Begun fall 2008. Finished fall 2011. (Three years.)

Novel #4: Urban fantasy. Begun fall 2011. Half-finished. (Got to that point in about 2-3 weeks of writing.)

Novel #5: Urban fantasy. Begun May 2012. Finished June 2012. (Six weeks.)

Novel #6: Urban fantasy. Begun November 2012. Finished December 2012. (Eight weeks.)

Novel #7: Magical realism. Begun January 2013. Ongoing. (See progress meter in the right side bar!)

You’ll notice a very obvious fact if you read through all that.

I went from not completing novels to completing them over the course of several years to finishing books in a matter of weeks or a couple months. The obvious question to go with that obvious fact is: what changed?

Unfinished...?

Unfinished…? (Photo credit: Laser Burners)

The easy answer is that I just decided to write, plunked my ass down in the chair and did it.

But if it were truly that simple, many more people would have finished novels, and the publishing industry would be a lot more competitive than it already is. Which is very competitive.

For me, it boiled down to a few things that truncated years of procrastination:

1. NaNoWriMo

Even though I did NaNo rebel style my first time through in 2011, I finished something. I finished my second full novel and got almost halfway through the third. The real thing this lent to me was the knowledge that I could do it. That I could pound out 60,000 words in a month — or more. Once I knew that, the length of time it had previously taken me to write a novel seemed long, tedious, and rather silly.

2. Consistency

About a year and a half ago, I started blogging every day. Sure, I’ve missed days here and there, but it took me a looooong time to watch through all the fireworks WordPress created at the end of 2012 to celebrate my year of blogging. I write something every day. Even if it’s only a little bit. I do it every single day. This consistency has helped me become a much better writer.

3. Epiphany

Four years is a lot of time. In that time, I graduated from university, wrote a few hundred pages of term papers, wrote a heap of blog posts and journal entries, and wrote copy for real estate fliers and brochures for a year.

Do you see where I’m leading with this? The quality of the writing in my first novel was very uneven. I’d started it in 2004. I finished it in 2008 — after four years of writing other stuff prolifically and reading some great fiction. When you write a novel over the space of years, chances are the writing at the beginning will be drastically different than the writing at the end.

Last week I talked about rereading the second and unfinished third book of my trilogy. The first half of the second book I wrote in 2008 after coming off the high of finishing the first book. The second half of the second book (keeping up?) I wrote three years later in NaNoWriMo 2011. The difference in quality is almost staggering. I could literally see the evolution of my writing skills on the page.

There are benefits to writing quickly. I don’t mean everyone has to write a novel in a month, or even two or six. But there is a huge benefit to the consistency of quality when you are able to do it faster than years.

4. Motivation

This can be just about anything. For me it was a teaching job I couldn’t stand. Now I wait tables, which is fine, because it lets me sleep in, but my job is still a motivating factor for me. Knowing that I’m not yet making a living doing what I’m truly in love with and good at spurs me forward. It makes me put my ass in my chair every day even when I know I’ll be at work for eight hours afterward. Even when I come home from work and need to write the next day’s blog post.

So how do you beat procrastination?

You beat it by figuring out what you really want. You beat it by holding yourself accountable for the hours in the day. You beat it by making a choice. You can start small. You can build up to things. But ultimately, the only thing that’s stopping you from writing is you.

So get out of your way and go.

What clicked for you in your writing habits? When did you decide to do what you love no matter what? Do you still struggle with procrastination? How do you make yourself do what you need to do?

It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green

Description unavailable

Green sour melon Powerade (Photo credit: MattL)

If you were around the Twitterverse last night, you might have noticed my tweet about writing today’s post about my green melon Powerade.

Fear not, gentle viewers. I won’t subject you to 800 words about that.

But the title popped into my head anyway, and any of you writery types out there know that when something pops into your head, you go with it. Today’s prompt on WordPress was to write your own eulogy, and so you get to see me combine green Powerade, musings on life, and self-eulogizing all in one splendiferous post. You’re welcome.

Kermit

Kermit (Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)

It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green

I’m not really talking about color here. Or Kermit, though he’s lovely, and I’d go all fangirl in a hot second if I got to meet him.

No, the green I’m talking about is the kind when you’re just plain new at something. It’s that just-starting-out sort of green that I mean. The problem with that sort of green is that you never really get over it. Sure, you can gain experience at fixing toilet drains or whatever endeavor it is that you undertake, but there’s always going to be something new to learn.

Especially in the publishing industry. I remember four years ago when I was just coming off the high of finishing my first novel. I took the first couple chapters to a writing group, and they got shredded.

And I mean…shredded.

English: Piles of shredded tires

This was my soul. English: Piles of shredded tires (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was green. I was new. This was the first thing I’d ever finished, and I’d written that first chapter about two or three years earlier, when I was even greener.

They did the right thing in shredding it.

Fast forward a few years to last January. I went to the Writer’s Digest Conference and pitched my novel in person to agents. And again, I was green. But I had spent four years learning about the industry and How This Thing Worked. On the top of a long list of things to expect is one word in all caps:

REJECTION.

I got my first rejections that day, face to face with agents. Very nice agents who probably don’t remember me now, but someday I’ll tell them they were my first and grin and laugh about it. I was green. I thought my manuscript was pretty good. (It wasn’t great.)

Fast forward nine months when I started querying SHRIKE in earnest. I wrote a query letter that I thought was pretty good. (It wasn’t.) I sent it to some agents. I started getting form rejections. So I asked someone for help (the lovely Julie Kenner, who I mentioned yesterday), and she helped me (along with Amanda Gardner and Kristin McFarland and many others). With them, we shined it up and I threw it back out there, and BAM. The next morning I had a request.

Four-ish months later, I’m still green. I’m still new at this. I can’t tell you how to write the perfect query because though mine works okay, it kind of works like a speedboat with a broken rudder. Sometimes it went straight where it was supposed to go, and other times it went round and round in circles.

The best part? Once I do move on to that next step, the agent-having step, I’ll be back to a very bright shade of green again.

And again when I get my first editor. And again when I try and do revisions for her. And again when I have to market my book. And again and again forever ad infinitum.

But that’s the beauty of life. There’s always something to learn.

plant sap /goutte de sève

plant sap /goutte de sève (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sappy Bit

No matter where this post was headed, it was bound to have a sappy bit to it, and here it is.

If I had to write my own eulogy, it might go something like this (but please, universe, don’t smite me yet, because I’ve been a very good girl):

Emmie spent her life being green. 

From the time she was four years old and debating the merits of becoming an astronaut or a professional hang glider, she wanted to learn. Her mother taught her how to read at that young age, and in doing so gave her the power to learn just about anything that could be found on this planet. Emmie wanted to explore new worlds, both on our planet and beyond. She spent her life starting fresh and learning things from scratch. Like how to read. How to write. How to love. How to speak Polish and make tiramisu from scratch.

Emmie never minded being green, because being green led to new places where there was new life and magic. Being green meant she had to step out of her comfort zone and move beyond what she knew, what was safe, and what would remain. Being green meant that sometimes she tried new things and got hurt. But it also meant sometimes she tried new things and got life’s most beautiful gems in return.

And passing on from one stage of being green to another might not be easy, but it’s an adventure. Passing on from this life is easier to take when it’s just another new experience and a return to the green of the earth.

It ain’t easy bein’ green, but it sure makes life more interesting.

So, gentle viewers. What do you think about being green? In what ways are you still green? In what ways are you becoming green all over again?

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